Filed under Books of the West by on .
David M. Jessup writes from his family’s working dude ranch in Colorado, where he introduces cattle and horses to guests, and guests to the ways of the West. He loves preserving open space, battling invasive weeds, catching wild river trout on a fly, singing cowboy songs, and telling stories about the American West—some of them true.
We don’t mean to rub it in, but Linda and I managed to escape the cold north and our flood recovery woes for a few days at the Key West Literary Seminar. I was invited to join eleven other writers in a workshop/cri…tique group led by Paula Alden, with the purpose of “taking your writing to the next level.”
The workshop was very helpful as I work to put the finishing touches on a prequel to my historical novel, Mariano’s Crossing. The new book’s working title is Mariano’s Choice. Mariano Medina falls for Takansy when they first meet at Fort Bridger in 1842, then must choose between abandoning her or betraying his friend, and her husband, Louis Papin.
Paula Alden is the author of The Answer To Your Question, a literary thriller. Linda and I are half way through it, and are totally in its grip. A devoted mother is awakened by police looking for her college-age son, who they claim is a serial killer. The harrowing hunt unfolds in alternating chapters, first through the eyes of the mother, then from the point of view of a poor, uneducated young woman seeking the mother’s help to resolve her own troubles. Each point of view is authentically rendered, each with a distinct, and very believable, voice. We find ourselves caring about these people, even the son, and can’t wait to keep reading.
When I started twelve years ago to write my historical novel, Mariano’s Crossing, I never thought I would be sharing a speakers platform with two of my favorite authors, Laura Pritchett and Patty Limerick. Now, I am pleased to say, that moment has come.
On Saturday, October 5, starting at 10:00 AM, the three of us will be speaking at a “Conversations with Authors” event at the Embassy Suites Hotel near the Budweiser Events Center Near Crossroads Blvd and I-25. Sponsored by the American Association of University Women, the event raises funds for post-graduate scholarships for women. The cost is $50.
For reservations, including lunch, contact Martha Diccico by e-mail or call 970-461-5794. The RSVP deadline is Monday, September 30, but if you get this too late, try anyway!
I first learned about Laura Pritchett when I got hooked on her book, Hell’s Bottom, Colorado. It’s a collection of inter-connected short stories which, taken together, create a compelling account of three generations of a ranching family in a town suspiciously like Bellvue, Colorado, where Laura lives. Word is out she has a sequel in the works, and I’m elbowing everyone else aside to be first in line to buy it.
Patty Limerick runs the Center for the American West at CU, and in her previous books has transformed the way we view the history of the American West. Her latest book, A Ditch in Time, tells the fascinating story of Denver Water, with some characters that appear stranger than fiction. Each wonderfully readable chapter begins with–you guessed it–a limerick.
Hope you can join us. For me, it will be a nice break from Sylvan Dale flood recovery!
PS. Click here to read an article about this event in the Loveland Reporter Herald.
A couple of years back, we learned about "carbon ranching" at the Quivira Coalition conference, and decided to experiment with adding compost to selected areas of our pasture. Carbon ranching, building up soil carbon, is supposed to enrich the soil, increase forage yields, and enhance water retention. Makes you feel good too, as it pulls carbon out of the atmosphere and helps reduce the planet’s greenhouse gas burden.
First, we needed some baseline data. We sent some soil samples to Kinsey labs, which gave us the percent humus. More samples were taken by Professor Richard Conant at Colorado State University, to measure carbon content. I’m not quite sure of the relationship between humus and carbon, but from these baseline figures, we’ll be able to know whether carbon and humus are going up or down after several years of soil treatments. Read more on Carbon Ranching at Sylvan Dale Ranch…
Can ranches and farms in the Poudre-Big Thompson watershed improve the quality of water used by Front Range urban dwellers? That question is being addressed by a pilot project at Sylvan Dale Ranch, a 3,200-acre working guest ranch located at the mouth of the Big Thompson Canyon west of Loveland, Colorado. Read more on Water Quality Improvement at Sylvan Dale Ranch…
If you ever get a chance, go to Crested Butte, Colorado. Boosters call their town the Wildflower Capital of the World, with good reason. Our visit, on August 1, was two weeks later than the peak blooming season, but the valley was still spangled with yellow coneflowers, blue asters, red firecracker flowers and scores more. The Slate River meanders through the flat valley floor, meeting itself coming and going like a gray snake coiling for sheer pleasure through the green meadows.
My reason for visiting was to give a presentation and book signing at the town’s Old Rock Library. Book club members had read Mariano’s Crossing and wanted to meet the author. I was only too happy to oblige. “Readers in the Rockies,” they call their author series. Not only are they enthusiastic, gracious hosts, they happily promoted my book to the local “Townie” book store, which bought several copies. Icing on the cake.
Like many mountain resort towns, Crested Butte’s shops, restaurants, and art galleries draw crowds of tourists. But celebrity wealth is less on display than in Aspen or Telluride. It feels more accessible somehow. The Old Rock Library’s historic, two-story stone walls embrace a thoroughly modern, well-lighted interior, the kind of classy, comfortable place that makes you want to curl up with a good book when those summer rains fall.
Mr. Alexander and Kolohe joined our Sylvan Dale herd in July 2013.
Some breeds of cattle do better than others when it comes to getting fat on grass.
Come meet our new bulls; Mr. Alexander is a registered Red Devon bull, an English breed preferred by many in the grass-fed beef world for flavorful, tender meat.
Kolohe (Koh-LOH-hay), which means “rascal” in Hawaiian, is a registered Lowline Angus bull, the original angus breed before it was selectively modified over the years for maximum weight on feedlot grain.
Both breeds produce smaller offspring than most cattle used in commercial feedlot operations. This means fewer pounds of meat per animal, but more pounds of meat per acre. The reason: these breeds need a lot less forage to mature.
In other words, they are more efficient in converting grass to meat, so you can have more cattle on a given amount of pasture.
Most of our cows are a mixed red angus breed, also known for tenderness. We’re eagerly looking forward to the offspring produced by this combination. Check back in two years to see the result.
The results are in, and our pure grass-fed beef scored a win.
Every year we retain one small rib-eye steak out of most processed animals to send to a local meat lab to be independently tested for tenderness. Out of forty-one steaks tested, forty scored as tender. The breakdown is as follows:
|Very Tender (Shear test score less than 3)||61%|
|Tender (Shear test score 3-4)||27%|
|Medium (Shear test score 4-5)||10%|
|Not Tender (Shear test score greater than 5)||2%|
We’re pleased that our Heart-J Beef score high in tenderness, it confirms we’re on the right track in our beef-raising practices. For a more complete discussion of the factors that contribute to tenderness, see The Grass-Feeder’s Dilemma.
Of course, tenderness is a consideration mainly for steaks, about 25% of the cuts in a side of beef. Ground beef—about 40% of what’s included in a bulk purchase—is always tender, because it’s, well, ground.
And the remaining 35 percent of the cuts, mostly roasts and stew meat, are wonderfully tender when properly cooked, slow and over low heat. Six to eight hours in a croc pot is great.
For cooking tips, download our free Heart-J Beef Cooking Guide.
Sylvan Dale Ranch Heart-J Beef
As of July 24, 2013, we have ground beef on hand, as well as some organ meats. The ground beef is super-lean, 10% or less fat, and comes in 1 lb. vacuum-wrapped packages. Ten pounds is the minimum purchase. Prices are shown below.
10 lbs. – $7.45/lb. ~~ 20 lbs. – $6.95/lb. ~~ 40 lbs. – $6.45/lb. ~~ 80+lbs. $6.25/lb
Organ meats (heart, liver, tongue) are $4.00 / lb. We also have some oxtails and some marrow bones at $3.00 / lb.
We are taking advance deposits of $100 on wholes, halves and quarters for beef to be processed this fall. The demand for grass-fed beef is growing fast, and we are already three-quarters sold out for our fall availability. Beef is provided in the order that deposits are received. As of July 24, those who place bulk orders can expect to receive the beef in late November.
It wasn’t your usual gate crasher. Long legs, big ears and a schnozz the size of Rhode Island. A young moose, big enough to be dangerous, splashed into the end-of-the-week party for fifty guests at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch Friday night.
At one point the moose appeared to be headed for the buffet line of fresh rainbow trout and grass-fed beef bar-b-que, but the flashes of cell phone cameras seemed to dissuade it.
The moose was last seen heading up the Big Thompson River toward highway 34.
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