Monthly Archives: August 2017


I planted about six little baby yellow squash sets in the spring, hoping to have enough squash to cook with. Now, if I miss a day picking, we have straight-eight squash the size of footballs! And every bowl in the kitchen is filled with squash, even after I’ve given buckets away to friends and family. People are beginning to avoid us for fear they will have to take another bag of squash!.

One way we’ve found to use up squash, in addition to freezing it for use in the cold months (should there ever be such a thing again!) Is in making Calabacitas, a northern Mexican favorite dish.

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 to 4 cups diced summer squash (yellow)
  • 2 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • Green chilies to taste (we use a half cup or more, “hot”, depends on how spicy you like it.
  • 1 cup diced Roma tomatoes
  • Fresh cilantro,
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt,
  • cover with grated Monterey Jack cheese.


Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. Sauté the onions until tender. Add garlic for a couple minutes, then squash until softened, about five minutes. Add the rest of the oil, with corn, green onions and chilies, and continue to sauté for three to five more minutes. Finally, stir in the salt, tomatoes, cilantro, and top with grated cheese and put in the oven at 350°F, or put the lid on the Dutch oven and put coals on top for about five minutes, or until the cheese melts. Some folks put cream in or use creamed corn. This serves around eight or 10 people.

Tagging Calves

Not all cows are happy about the tender loving care of ranchers and cowboys.

And now, for my next understatement!

There are bovine critters that almost seem to have it in for drovers, horses, and pick up trucks.

Years ago we had a herd of Simmental and half Simmental cattle. Like a friend of mine said, “They look kind of like extra large Herefords.” Mostly these were pretty domestic cattle. However, some were true river bottom brush snakes.

One old battle-ax in particular maintains a special place in my memory as well as a special place in hell. Old 113 was her number.Even though our particular lucky number is 13, it didn’t apply in her case. She was difficult to pen in the corrals. She didn’t like horses. And in particular, she was averse to her calves being messed with. Never was this brought home more clearly than when her newborn calf needed to be weighed and ear tagged.

Normally we caught newborns when feeding “cake” (range cubes), either by roping or tackling them. Then we hogtied them, and weighed them with cotton scales. Next, we put a pierced ear tag in with mama’s number. Ordinarily this whole operation took less than a minute, and since mom was preoccupied with chasing cubes, there wasn’t much to worry about.

Not so old 113!

As soon as we caught her calf, and he started bleating, she was right there! She had a set of ivories like handlebars on a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and she knew how to use them. In order to get away from her, I swung the calf up into the bed of the 4 x 4 pickup.

She spun around the truck, flipping nines in her tail and bawling. Finally, in a fit of angry frustration, she came up over the tailgate, into the bed of the pickup!

I had all kinds of plans for the little fella, but only had time to snap the ear tag in his left ear and bail out over the side.

It’s the only time I can remember training a range cow to load into a pick up!


It was sunny at the Albuquerque airport, unlike Trementina, New Mexico where I’d come from, which was all snow and mud. We had finished loading out seven possum belly cattle trailers headed for Caprock-5 feedlot. Some of the trucks had to be pulled up the dirt road with a bulldozer because the snow melting had turned the red clay into slick ooze. Once on the oil top road they ground gears to pull out for the Texas Panhandle. The next morning, Howard, the ranch owner, offered to take me in his Cessna to the Albuquerque airport to come home to Texas. We loaded my bedroll and saddle into the nosecone of his plane and took off for sunny Albuquerque. As I boarded the Southwest Airlines turboprop I found my seat next to a man who was preoccupied looking out the window at the baggage being loaded. He briefly glanced up at my sweat stained Stetson and asked “Is that your saddle?”

“Yep” I said.

“You a rodeo performer?”

“Nope, I’ve been up here penning and loading cattle for a friend.”

“Really! So you’re a cowboy?”

“Yeah, but I don’t rodeo, I’m more kind of an agricultural worker.”

I had to spend half the flight trying to explain the beef cattle business and how cattle are managed on marginal land that won’t serve as suburban housing or good farmland for mechanized crop management. Then I pointed out, when he said there weren’t any real cowboys anymore, that you don’t see them from the road. Also, since millions of people eat hamburger and roast and steak, and close to 50,000 steers are slaughtered every day, there are more cowboys in action now than there ever have been.

My mind flashed back to pushing steers up out of the brakes of the Canadian River through light rain, then snow, into muddy corrals. By the end of three days, the eight of us looked pretty authentic! Our horses had accumulations of mud, sweat and cactus thorns on legs and stirrups. Our leather leggings and chinks were mud, manure and blood spattered. We were a collection of five-day shadowed, or even outright bearded, sunburnt, frost bit, felt crowned bowlegged dukes of choya and snake-weed country. Standing in a circle, surrounded by horses ground tied or too dang tired to escape, someone found a bottle of Old Charter under the seat of a pickup.We pulled the cork, heaved it into the corral and passed it around. The stories began there. The headache that I was experiencing as the plane climbed to altitude began there, too.

To try to explain all that to this civilian whose only connection to cowboys was Hollywood and the National Finals Rodeo on television, was like translating Chinese arithmetic into hip-hop poetry.

Strains of an old 60s song “We live in two different worlds” came to mind.

The Peake Line

I mentioned the stallion “Slim” in an earlier note. His full name was Sugarwood Slim. He was a humdinger of a cutting horse! In fact I brought a number of mares to him and got some of the most memorable colts and fillies we’ve ever had.

I got to thinking that this phenomenon was not a matter of chance alone. Slim had some really super genetics going for him. His own sire was a story in itself. Little known at the time because of the fame of his brother “Freckles”, Son o Sugar, Slim’s sire, was taken early in his life from Texas to California. There he was spotted by a noted cutting trainer and quickly became pacific coast cutting champion, and on a small book of mares, earned the title of leading sire of money earning quarter horses with his offspring.

Slim’s mom, however, had her own claim to fame. A daughter of Speedy Peake,son of a horse registered as Driftwood, she was a real producer. Driftwood, however during his racing in roping career, was called “Speedy”.

One story was about the time that he was to match race the inimitable Clabber.  The race was hampered by false starts. Each time the horses were pulled up, Clabber snorted, cavorted, and fumed worse and worse. Speedy, however,  just pulled up and quietly walked back to the starting line, conserving his energy.

Finally after many attempts they got a good start and Speedy won! He had beat the legend, Clabber!

And it was sure thought that much of his success over and above his speed, what is cool demeanor under stress. He was also a legend in his own right as a roping horse.

Asbury shell who owned Speedy, roped off of him and earned a lot of money even in the early forties when there wasn’t much money around because of World War II.

Finally when the Peake family contracted with him to purchase the stallion, Shell asked one final favor. He wanted to rope in Scottsdale one last weekend. They said yes, and he roped off Speedy, also renting him to other ropers; and earned $4000 that weekend. The Peaks had paid him $4000 for speedy as well! I suspect that was a retirement program for that cowboy!

Years later, in the fifties, I was watching the Salinas California rodeo on television. I noticed that a lot of people roped off gray horses. Then I listened to the announcer and realized  that it was the same gray horse every time!

His name was Poker Chip. His whole name was Poker Chip Peake, a son of Speedy, now registered in the new quarter horse association as Driftwood.

The genes of that same stallion run in our herd, and I can’t help but have a little swelling in my chest when I look at those colts and fillies and remember those stories!