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Rock Soup for a Cowboy's Soul

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Yep, we're getting fancy now.

This little ol' missive has grown to two columns! Am I getting crazy good at this tech stuff or what?

We are finally--finally!--winding down to the end of calving. Sure can't complain about the weather, but of course we are, because if it's not snowing and blowing or mud up to our butts in April, we assume we're headed into a drought.

Ranchers: always on the lookout for the tarnish on the silver lining.

Thanks to the warm, dry weather we've been able to do the majority of our calving out in the pasture, instead of keeping the 'heavies' (aka, cows due to calve soon) around the yard where we can put them in the indoor arena at night. The only cows left here in the lot are the special flowers. The one first calf heifer that was three weeks later than all the rest. A spare calf we're trying to graft onto a cow who lost hers. And these three:

First, there's Einstein.



Yes, he always looks that dopey. He was born with some sort of neurological deficit and though he can now walk without tripping over his own front feet, he still has a tendency to lose track of his mother in a one acre pasture, so we shudder to think what might happen if we turn him loose out in the big field. 

Then there's this calf. He had flexion contractures in his front feet that made them knuckle under. To solve the problem, Greg applied the latest in veterinary technology--a couple of chunks of stiff radiator hose and copious amounts of duct tape. Viola! From crawling around on his knees to running and bucking in half an hour. 



Because yes, duct tape is the answer to all problems. Including the lack of cupholders in our new used chore pickup. 



Of course, the calf isn't always the problem. This is what we call a swing bag, for obvious reasons. (If it's not obvious, just picture what happens when this cow starts to walk.) The cow's teats are so big a newborn calf can't handle them on his own, so we have to bring her in, put her in the headgate and milk them down to a more manageable size, then help the calf figure out what to do with them. After the first couple of days the calf is big and strong enough to suck on his own, it's just a matter of making sure he doesn't starve in the face of excess bounty. 



Add to this all the usual sorting, tagging and doctoring and we haven't had a whole lot of spare time on our hands. Optional chores (i.e, tending of home and hearth) get shoved not only to the bottom of the list but, in the case of housework, right off the page. This is when you're really glad you live miles from the nearest neighbor and no one outside your immediate family gets past your front door. I even make a point of meeting the UPS guy halfway across the lawn so he can't see inside my porch. Luckily, I have plenty of warning because ever since the frost heave in the middle of our driveway tried to swallow his truck, he has taken to parking on the road clear outside the yard gate.

These times are also when the electric skillet becomes the most important appliance in the house, with the possible exception of the microwave. Starting with pancakes at breakfast and ending with burgers for dinner, we can go days at a time when the only purpose for our range is to act as place to set the skillet. 

Over the years I have accumulated all kinds of recipes that can be made with a bowl, a plate and the electric skillet, usually in less than an hour, so I thought I'd share a few of our favorites. You'll find the first one in the column on the right. Turns out, the hard part is having to actually measure things while I'm cooking, since so many people seem to think that's a necessary part of a recipe. Nitpickers, they are.

Oh, yeah, and in the left hand column you'll find a little something about my latest book news. 

And keep an eye out, there will be a special edition of the newsletter popping up in the next week or two with details on a giveaway for all you fine folks who read and reviewed my debut novel, The Long Ride Home.  I'm thrilled to say that so far, all of the reviews I've seen have been very complimentary, including these kind words from Goodreads reviewers:


Kari Lynn Dell knows of what she writes and immediately draws the reader in with a vivid description of a rodeo cowboy and his horse during a calf roping event. You'll feel as though you are sharing the ride. - Linda

And my personal favorite....

More! I want more. - Christine

I am also considering attemptng a live, online book club event, depending on the amount of interest. Or I would be happy to do an online chat with your bookclub. Or if you live within a reasonable distance of Glacier County, we could just meet up over beer and nachos. Newsletter subscribers get first shot at all three. Contact me at karilynndell@gmail.com if you're interested. 
If you want to keep up with what's new on the ranch and writing fronts between newsletters, follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook. I solemnly swear you will never be assaulted by a People of  Walmart photo in either place. Ever. And probably not cat pictures, either, but I make no promises about dogs because Max the Cowdog is too cool to ignore.
NEW BOOK DEAL!



Yes! Last Monday I signed on the dotted line (except signature lines are never dotted any more so that doesn't actually make sense), but whatever. I have a shiny new three book deal for what Sourcebooks is calling the Texas Rodeo series, because all three center around a rodeo stock contractor and their extended family who live--wait for it--in Texas. Each of the books stands alone, but they share characters and the setting. Why the Texas Panhandle instead of some other perfectly good state with lots of rodeos like, say, Montana? You know, a place I've actually spent a lot of time?

That, my friends, is a very long and convoluted story. One which has left me driving around Dumas and Amarillo via Google Earth and accosting total strangers on Facebook to beg them to take more photos of the area where they live.  From now on, I stick to the places I know. Or have at least visited since 1989.

As of now I don't know the release date for the first book, which stars a professional bullfighter and a female pickup man. Person. Whatever. I do know it won't be before next spring. The book is complete, until my lovely editor sends me what's called an editorial letter and we see how much red ink is dripping from the manuscript. I'm currently nearing the end of the first draft of the second book.

Book three is still up for grabs, with a choice of three potential leading men who are secondary characters in the first two books. Somewhere on the list of homework I was assigned by said lovely editor is the job of producing proposals for each of those stories, then deciding between the two of us which gets the nod. So, if you're counting, that makes a total of five books and all their characters yakking and bickering inside my skull, all quite certain they should have my full attention.

And my husband wonders why I forget to check the mineral tubs for the heifers.

In addition, I am doing the final round of edits on a collection of short stories I've had loitering on my hard drive for three years. Check out this awesome cover, made for me from one of my photos by the amazing Crystal Posey, who also did the gorgeous design on my website. 

 

 
I had hoped to have them polished and up for sale online (e-book only) by April because each of the stories is set during the same spring snowstorm. However, as I believe I mentioned earlier....calving. So I'm going to be a little out of season, but what's new? Besides, it's not Memorial Day yet, so a spring snowstorm still isn't out of the question here in the frozen tundra.

I will be sending out a special edition of this newsletter to let you know when the collection goes up for sale. That is, unless my imaginary friends distract me again and I forget. Or you can visit my website and check the News and Appearances section.

Speaking of appearances, I will be at the Glacier County Library in Cut Bank, MT on May 7th at 6:30 pm to talk cows and books and whatever else pops into my head, which is a little scary if you think about it too hard.

On May 12th-15th I will be in Dallas, Texas at the Romantic Times reader conference, if you happen to live in that area and want to pop in. Check the barbecue joint nearest the conference center, that's where you'll most likely find me. Sadly, I was not able to work in a quick tour through the Panhandle while I'm in Texas. Of course I had to pick the only state where everything is even farther apart than in Montana.
Pineapple Pork Chops
 
Before we start--yes, you could substitute something like canola oil, but the butter is whole point when making a caramelized sauce like this one so please don't. It would be a waste of good pork chops.

2-4 pork chops
1 15 oz can of pineapple chunks, do not drain
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Melt the butter in the skillet. Salt and pepper the pork chops, sprinkle with the thyme and brown on both sides in the butter. Reduce the heat to simmer and add the pineapple with the juice, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cook down until the sauce is thickened. I like to smash the pineapple chunks with a fork when they are tender, to form a chunky marmalade-like texture. Serve the pork chops with a dollop of sauce. 

Yep. That's all there is to it. I have also made this recipe by substituting two cans of peaches for the pineapple, or three or four sliced apples, depending on how big they are. When using apples, you can also add half a sweet onion and/or sprinkle on some chopped bacon.

So there you go, three recipes in one.


 

 
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Meet Bailey, aka, random photo inserted because I cannot stand to have one column of this newsletter end up longer than the other. If you're reading this on your phone, of course, this makes no sense because the columns are stacked vertically so feel free to disregard.

This is also photographic documentation of why I've been suffering frequent bouts of Short Woman/Tall Horse/Winter Clothes syndrome. It's seems utterly unfair that the shorter you are, the farther your stirrups are from the ground. In this day and age it seems like I should be able to sue for some kind of discrimination.

A couple of weeks ago I posted this photo and commentary on Facebook, whereupon several helpful readers immediately suggested that I use the fence as a mounting aid. As much as I appreciate their advice, this is not a workable solution for two reasons. 

First of all, Bailey is only brown on the outside. On the inside he is a Roan Hancock, and no horse of this bloodline has ever been dumb enough to stand next to a fence to let me climb on, though they will fake it long enough for me to get halfway there then drop me on my butt with a perfectly timed sidestep.

Secondly, climbing on via the fence is fine and dandy at the barn, but it doesn't do me much good when I'm two miles from home and have to get off to open a barbed wire gate. 

And dang it all, this column is still coming up short, but at least it's closer so I'll shut up now.



 
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Copyright © *2015* *Kari Lynn Dell*, All rights reserved.


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