Saturday, September 25, 2010

Breakfast of champion cowmen

I will get back to writing about the last couple of weeks and a few things I observed over the fairs and in life tomorrow. Today I went on a tour of 5 ranches in eastern Washington State. The tour was sponsored by the Oregon Washington Northern Idaho Hereford Association (OWNI). I left home early to meet our WCA Executive Vice President Jack to carpool. It was a gorgeous fall morning with a spectacular sunrise. I met up with Jack and we continued on to Ritzville and the Perkins restaurant where the tour was to begin. We arrived early and had time for breakfast. I think Jack, MT and his son Cinch (what a great cowboy name) had an idea of what they wanted for breakfast when the waitress arrived at our table. I happened to be the first one to order and let my heart lead the way. “Peach pie ala mode” I said much to the surprise of my table mates. They got over the initial thought quickly and as Jack joined me in having peach pie alamode for breakfast, MT and Cinch decided on chocolate peanut butter pie.

There were several other participants from all over the Northwest and after finishing our cowman’s breakfast of champions we were on the way for our driving tour. I will not go into great detail but I will talk about a few highlights of the tour. We traveled from Ritzville, south through the channeled scab lands from the ranch of “Ritzville Bill Harder” and ended in Kahlotus at the ranch of “Kahlotus Bill Harder” who explained his proper name was “William George Harder”. These ranches were homesteaded as early as 1883 and as recently as 1906. The Harder families are icons in the commercial cattle business in the northwest and are mostly Hereford based operations. The ranches we toured today comprise about 8,000 mother cows total.

Each of these Harder family ranches really make it tough to keep the commandment of “thou shall not covet” if you are a commercial cow calf operator. Each operation has acres of dry range with wonderful sub irrigated meadow bottoms. They each also have the one item hard to come by in much of the eastern part of the state, water. Every single one of these operations is meticulously maintained and has an excellent balance of “old school” buildings coupled with modern corrals and working facilities. At the Jake and Joan Harder family ranch we were treated to a great cowboy poem by Jake and also a story about cougars lurking around their calving facilities. The family has erected several steel appendages above their corrals that look like miniature football goal posts. Jake explained the purpose of these towers of steel in saving calves. Everyone from eastern Washington who is a Washington State University football fan knows you will rarely see a “cougar” near a goalpost!

We enjoyed an incredible Certified Hereford Beef tri tip lunch at the ranch courtesy of OWNI and the Harder family. It was during lunch that I did one of those things that make me……well me. As we ate our lunch one gentleman explained that he was from the Starbuck, Washington area. Being the inquiring mind I am I asked him a question after issuing a statement. I told the gentleman that I had purchased at a bred cow auction some older cows a few years ago from his area. I asked the gentleman if he was familiar with a man named Van Seny? “Yes” the gentleman replied, “I know him really well.” Little did I know that I was talking to the man I was asking about! Luckily these cows had been excellent cows for me and I had not said something to put my Tony Lama in my mouth. On the plus side I now know a fellow cattleman that I did not know personally before the tour today.

I cannot fail to mention that we also toured the Clinesmith family ranch today. They treated us to freshly made, hot, homemade donuts today that were absolutely incredible! Let me tell you something, Krispy Crème, you got nothing on these guys. I sure wish Dad could have been on this tour today especially to see the Clinesmith “redneck” cows with the red brockle and black crossbred calves standing next to them. They were clones of what he felt were the perfect kind of cattle for this country.

Thank you to the Harder and Clinesmith families as well as OWNI and everyone else who made today’s tour an extreme success. I also need to personally thank JC for bringing the cooler and contents. I take everything I said about you in the past back. Well, almost everything ; )!

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is a Cassins finch aka Carpodacus cassinii which is very rare for my area in September from some research.

The Cassins finch is also today’s picture as I captured a picture of this colorful bird resting on a gate last week.Remember all pictures can be seen in larger size by clicking on them.