First day of Cow Camp starts this year on St Paddy’s Day. About 15 of us will head 2 ½ hours out onto the desert to gather over 1000 head of cattle and bring them back to the main ranch. It takes a week to ten days to do so,
as they are spread out over 150,000 acres.
We take a semi truck out which has had the box trailer turned into a makeshift kitchen/eating area. The old stove inside is run off a portable propane tank, and a generator. It will be the only warm and draft free spot at camp.
The rest of camp consists of some hundred year old wood shacks where bedrolls are laid out for sleeping and a wooden outhouse. NO shower is available, so thankfully, it stays pretty cold. If it does warm up, there is a horse trough and bathing is done with
a 5 gallon bucket.
The day begins before sun-up, as we have to heat up water on the stove to wash the dishes, pots and pans that have been soaking overnight, as no one has the energy to wash them at night. After breakfast is made, the horses are
caught up, and we split up and haul out in different directions to find and drive cattle back, which is usually 8-10 hours of riding each day, commencing at or before 6 am. It’s hard country, with lots of sagebrush, greasewood, rocks and deep ravines that
are invisible until you come upon them. It’s easy for cows to hide and brush up, so a lot of country has to be covered to get them all moving in the right direction, and of course, we all have to ride alone in order to get the job done…which has its benefits,
as there are no restrooms out on the desert range and privacy is a precious commodity under those circumstances.
After arriving back at camp at the end of the day, the horses have to be unsaddled, and put back into the makeshift corral and fed, saddles and bridles piled in another shack out of the snow and rain, whoever has lost a horseshoe
has it replaced by some unlucky cowboy.
Anyone with energy left might play a game of cards, or read a book. It’s a good time for a nap too.
Breakfast dishes are then finished, dinner is prepared, gratefully wolfed down, and dishes are set to soak again for the night.
In past years a sweet old feller used to come and cook, but as he is reaching his late 80’s he has decided not to come this year. That means all the cooking falls to yours truly.
It is usually too cold and windy to do any grilling or campfire outside this time of year, so the gas stove top is pretty much the main method of preparation. I found a an electric roaster which will come in real handy, if the
generator has enough power to run it.
Feeding 15 guys with so little to work with is a little intimidating to me, hence several posts on the AR, but with a little prayer and planning, I think I will be able to get them back to the ranch without burning too many
pounds off them.
Here is my plan, since I too, will be riding, and kinda tired to do much in the way of meals. I am going to be cooking night and day this weekend and putting these in the freezer for heating up, leaving a minimal amount of work
to do at camp. Any other suggestions are appreciated. We have only a couple of coolers to put food in, and most stuff has to be made from scratch with what we already have on the ranch. I’m only short about 3 nites. Mornings are always bacon or sausage, eggs
and pancakes, and no one makes it back to camp before evening, so lunch is moot.
We are a beef ranch, so doing much in the way of pork or chicken is frowned on. We’ve got hamburger, 2 roasts, a pork roast, and a few ham slices. Veggies are limited.
Burritos made with Charley's Mexican Meat, Refried Beans without the Refry, all frozen ahead and Spanish Rice
Sandwiches made with Kahlua pork, frozen ahead.
French Dip Sandwiches-made ahead and frozen and french fries
Chili-made ahead and frozen
Chicken and Dumplings
Delicious Ham and Potato Soup