From Pipi’s Pasture: Memories of January
This afternoon, a sunny, snow-covered scene here at Pipi’s Pasture took me back to Januarys when my siblings and I were growing up on the ranch at Morapos. There’s not a lot of snow here at Pipi’s Pasture right now, but everything is white, the feedlot is packed down with the cattle’s tracks, and when it’s cold, we can see the cows’ breath — all of which remind me of those snowy, cold winters on the ranch.
On those cold January mornings, as in Pipi’s Pasture, there were morning corral chores. I don’t remember if Dad did chores first, which included milking the cow, or ate breakfast first, but one thing I do remember is the hearty breakfast. We had some kind of meat (perhaps bacon or fried venison), eggs, and sometimes biscuits and gravy, Dad’s favorite. After breakfast, Dad got ready to feed the main bunch of cattle.
If it was the weekend or vacation time, some or all of us kids went to feed with Dad. Most of the time, I opted to stay home and help Mom, because I have never liked the cold. Waiting in the cold for all the feeding to be finished was torturous. My feet were so cold I felt as if I were wearing wooden shoes.
Whoever went with Dad grabbed the kid sled and met him at the corral where he was hitching the team of horses to the feed sled. Before long, the horses headed for the lower pasture, where a hungry herd of cattle waited on the packed feedlot for the sled to appear. They had spent the night tucked in among the trees that grow thick along the pasture and were eager to see the horses come into view. Sometimes, the horses had to buck a lot of snow to get to the feedlot.
The first stop was the haystack, where Dad pitched loose hay onto the sled. We girls found a hill suitable for sledding, and when Dad had filled the sled with hay, he took his turn going down the hill. Then, the cows were fed, sometimes more hay was loaded for the corral, and we were ready to head home. This time, we secured the kid sled to the back of the feed sled and experienced a thrilling ride to the house. Sometimes, the kid sled hit a bump and spilled its rider(s).
Meanwhile, Mom was at home cooking dinner (that’s what we called it — not lunch). It was the big meal of the day and consisted of some kind of meat (roast beef or chicken, venison steak, pork chops, among others), potatoes and gravy, a vegetable, rolls, and dessert. Supper consisted of leftovers, if there were any, or something else Mom cooked up.
After dinner, we girls did the dishes, then amused ourselves with books, games, and paper dolls, or listened to the radio — activities for staying indoors on the remainder of a cold winter day. Then, there were evening corral chores, supper, and a quiet evening of listening to the radio.
It was January at the ranch.
When we’re not cooking something on the grill, it’s great to be able to whip up nutritious casseroles for summer dinners. This week’s column features two casserole recipes. I make “Skillet Beef–a-Roni” often. I don’t keep the ingredients for the other casserole on hand so don’t make it as often.