Feeding the Cows

A month or so ago I was back home and I spent a little time down at my grandparents’ place riding around with Paw Paw, doing something that was one of my first jobs on the farm — feeding the cows.

When I was little I used to ride around feeding the cows with Paw Paw. I had a little bucket and one particular cow that I would feed one little feed cube at a time. What patience that cow must have had.

Paw Paw was happy to show me his new barns and the contents therein.


We haven’t seen clouds like that in a while.

P.S. – Happy birthday, Paw Paw!


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Continue reading “Feeding the Cows”

Meanwhile, back at The Ranch… (Part 2)


My hand flew up over my mouth as I uttered a word my mom would not be proud to hear me say. It starts with a “C” and ends with a “rap” (and I’m very thankful to the Food Network for NOT airing that audio).

And then, in the midst of all the shouting and applause, my sweet, sweet Jen

“Who’s that?”

“Bobby Flay.”

“Bobby who?”

“Bobby Flay. It’s a Throwdown.”

“What’s a Throwdown?”

And every bit of that exchange is on some film, somewhere at Food Network. (I’m sort of waiting for Jen to call and suggest some kind of B&E to get the footage out of their hands.)

Then things got crazy. The ovens were cranked up, all the burners were on, and those two got crackin’, along with their assistants. A full Thanksgiving dinner in just a few hours? There’s no time to play here.

The aroma was incredible. So was the heat. I had no idea that the air conditioning had to be off for filming like this, but woo boy. With lights everywhere and the entire kitchen running on all cylinders it got hot real fast.

The producers asked if anyone would like to ask Ree a question and since no one was jumping to get in front of the camera and I had a pair of trained monkeys poking me and urging me to do it, I gave into peer pressure and raised my hand. They ushered me over to the other side of the room, in front of where Ree was cooking, she smiled, and I threw her a soft ball about ciabatta bread that she had talked about before everything really got rolling. Of course, you know I had a great question about the composition of turmeric, but that wouldn’t have made good TV now, would it? Soft ball my question may have been, but my face was twitching and contorting in ways rivaled only by the time I met DRUNK MEREDITH from The Office.

We hung out while they cooked. My husband, as usual, kept himself busy catching the random fly that would come in when someone opened a door. In his hand. Sticking his arm up in the air and grabbing flies.

I know. I just shake my head and move on.

Like Ree said, it’s a working cattle ranch and the fact is…there are flies.

Oh, and can I just take a minute to say how well-behaved her kids are? I was raised with two brothers and I know how little boys that age can be. Those fellas and their big sisters are certainly a crew for their mom to be proud of.

Finally, it was time to eat. Here’s my breakdown on the food.

Turkey – Ree wins. Hers was moist and flavorful. I now know that brining is the only way to go.

Dressing – Not stuffing! I preferred Bobby’s. His wasn’t so much like a traditional dressing though, as it was more of an interesting side dish. Loved it.

Side dish – Ree’s mashed potatoes. Hands down. So good. Bobby did brussel sprouts and while they weren’t my favorite, he did succeed in getting me to eat every brussel sprout on my plate, something that has never happened in the history of my life.

Gravy – Tie. Can’t say one stood out more than the other for me.

Cranberry sauce – I liked Bobby’s, but not for the purpose it was serving. It was primarily blackberries and belongs on a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, in a bowl, in front of me, RIGHT NOW. Ree’s was more traditional and I thought it complemented her dressing well.

Dessert – Confession time — I don’t really like pecans. GAH! And I love bread pudding. I mean, did you see my face when they panned to me in the crowd. I SO approve of bread pudding. Add pumpkin to that and I’m sold.

For me, Ree was the winner. Her meal seemed to come together a whole lot better than Bobby’s. It was very cohesive and there were mashed potatoes. I mean, really. Who has heard of Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes?

After we ate, I was, in the words of many of my kin, “fuller’n’a dog tick” (more full than a dog tick — Google that if you’re from the city and have no mental image for that). We stood around for a little while longer, then Jen pointed out to me that Ree was back behind all the commotion getting her makeup touched up. With a little encouragement from my posse (it takes a little for me as I am NOT an interrupter) I went back behind the kitchen area to talk to our hostess. She greeted me with a hug and I introduced her to Kevin and Jennifer. I took a minute to thank her for inviting me and told her, “You don’t have anything to worry about. You’re going to win this thing.”

The crowd moved outside for a bit while the crew prepped for the judging portion of the show. When we were ushered back inside to stand in front of the fireplace, I really had no idea exactly WHERE I was standing.

This is me, crazy-eyed and excited. (Bless the silly ol’ heart of my good pal, Delisa, for pausing her DVR and taking these photos — without me even asking. That’s what friends are forrrrrr…)

So I’m standing down below with Jennifer and there are a bunch of rowdy cowboys AND MY HUSBAND behind me. I’ve never wanted to see him in a cowboy hat more than I did in that moment. (Please, Kevin, for me?) We’re all crammed in there and it’s stuffy and we’re waiting on the judges to come out and Ree looks over her shoulder and, uhh…jokingly says something about blowing on her neck.

And in one of the most awkward moments ever, (cause, I mean, I had only just hugged her a little while before) Jennifer lifted up Ree’s hair, fanned her a little and…

I blew on the Pioneer Woman’s neck.

And I don’t regret it. Not one bit. Homegirl was burning up. As a person who does not sweat, I know overheating can be a very serious thing. Don’t take it lightly, people!

Then, out of nowhere, Trisha Yearwood.

Now HOW did they know she was my favorite country singer? Trisha and I go way back. Like, singing “She’s In Love With The Boy” in the school bathroom in 1st grade, way back.

The judging began and all I could think about was how hot it was and how I was surrounded on all sides by people. *goes cross-eyed* The moment they announced the winner was a relief (knowing I’d get some air soon) and a thrill because REE WON! And then somewhere in the midst of all this we broke out into our state song, “Oklahoma!” Possibly the best point of the night.

After it was all said and done we scurried outside into the cooler night air and I watch Ree’s boys lassoing each other on the hill below the Lodge. Talk about icing on the cake.

We thought about waiting around a little longer to talk to the woman of the hour, but it was getting late and we had a 2.5 hour drive ahead of us. Luckily, we timed it just right and had a handsome cowboy offer us a ride back up to our car.

Ladies and gents, it was Cowboy Josh. His accent was fabulous (and honestly, after this trip, I’m a little disappointed in mine) and I not-so-subtly elbowed Jen a couple of times. You know, raising my eyebrows and grinning, and nodding my head his direction.

I hope he didn’t look in the rear view mirror. I’m sure it looked like I was having some sort of episode.

We thanked him for the ride and bid him farewell. There was still a little light, so we got a few pictures before we headed out on the road.

There’s a cowpie in that picture 😀

Then I insisted on picking a wildflower. This is me frolicking through the pasture.

This is me investigating the “wildflower” and finding that it was some type of nettle instead. I know better than to go picking nettles.

What a lovely day it was. Our hostess was gracious and so welcoming. She is exactly who you see on her blog — a hardworking mother who is charming, beautiful, and hilarious.

Thank you, so much, Ree, for inviting me and letting us all be a part of that day. It was fantastic. Congratulations on your win!

Meanwhile, back at The Ranch…

So you know how I got invited, now here’s the rest of the story.

It was a slightly chilly morning when we got into the car and headed north to pick up my pal Jen and continued on further north and a bit to the east to get to The Ranch. Upon Jen’s entrance to the vehicle I announced that I brought both Maalox and Pepto with me, in the event of a gastro-intestinal emergency. Hey now. I don’t know much, but what I do know is that you don’t want to be 2.5 hours away from home, getting sicker than a dog in a car.

Or maybe I think about this stuff too much? Eh.

I share way too much sometimes.

What I thought would be a long, arduous drive turned out to be a very enjoyable one with good company. As we got closer to our destination and saw fewer and fewer cars on the road, I started wondering just exactly what we were walking into. I had no idea what to expect, but I did have a few ideas about who would be there. Of course, like any good private investigator nosy blogger, I had Googled the email addresses of the other people who were invited and checked out all of their blogs. Some of them I’d visited before, some of them I hadn’t, and one of them turns out was a Livejournal friend/member of GodlyGals from waaaaay back (this was only discovered a few days ago, though I think both of us really thought that we knew each other while we were there at the taping…I’m looking at you, Laurie!).

Off the main highway and down a long gravel road, past an unmanned table, we pulled up to the Lodge. Yeah, that’s right. Just drove right up. We’d been told there was going to be someone waiting for us so that we could check in with our confidentiality agreements, but of course, we were early. We hopped out and moseyed on over to the porch where we met Ree’s mother-in-law (sweet lady) and visited for a bit before we were told that we had to drive back up the hill and sign in.

Lucky us though, we got up there and who was waiting to escort us back down to the Lodge in his pickup? None other than Julie’s (of Another Chance Ranch) husband, McD. Of course my husband, a man who is normally pretty laid back and quiet but who cannot turn down a conversation with a stranger (I’m exactly the opposite), started asking about the size of the ranch and all those details that sound like the teacher from the Peanuts cartoon to me. Just take me to P-Dub!

There were drinks and snacks outside for us and we seated ourselves there on the porch, waiting for the festivities to start. And it was clear that it was about to get very festive. There were cameras and crew members everywhere. No sign of Ree yet, but we made ourselves comfortable there and enjoyed the very windy Oklahoma day, gazing out on that expanse of rolling plain. It was breathtaking.

And then my husband started breaking out in a rash and his eyes were watering like nothing I’d ever seen and it was pretty clear that we had a serious allergy attack on our hands. Good thing Jen was there because she was armed with Benadryl.

FYI – Oklahoma has a lot of grass. A lot of weeds. And man, if you’ve got allergy issues…watch out. Especially on a day where there’s a constant wind of around 25mph. Just a warning.

Finally, we were ushered inside and we found a place to stand near the front. After a little crowd prep — a lot of “oooohs” and “ahhhhhhs” — it was time to start.

Looking splendid and excited as could be in her empire waist blouse, Ree walked out and welcomed us all to the Lodge after a long round of applause. There she was in all her red-headed glory. She was super sweet — very welcoming and in her element. I know she was probably feeling some nerves, but she hid it pretty well. I would have been doing the potty dance the whole time.

And then she said, “Hi, Miss Wisabus!” and waved.

And I was all, Who, me? But instead of making myself look like a fool, I just smiled and waved back.

Missy and Hyacinth came out and the three of them started talking about what they like to cook for Thanksgiving. They asked us a few questions and then out of nowhere…


Read the rest in Part 2!