Saturday at the Wildorado Cattle Company Bull Sale


Yes, no kidding, I took my Italian exchange student to something so typical of where I live, a livestock auction.  However, this was not just any livestock auction.  With the guidance and support of the Ag Teacher, the students at Wildorado ISD, where I teach, have created their own cattle company.  They did the advertising, contacted potential buyers and consignors, marketed, everything.  Top bulls from various ranches and producers were in the sale.  A few brought over 4000 dollars and many brought over 3000.  Mostly these were top of the line registered bulls. Several were bred and raised by the students themselves. The freshmen and sophomores spent most of the week washing (no kidding) and moving bulls to Amarillo Livestock Auction where the sale was held.

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Although there were two other breeds of bulls in the sale, The Wildorado Cattle Company raises purebred Angus cattle.  The students have learned to AI, doctor, maintain records, and every thing it takes to maintain a superior quality cattle herd.  I was especially impressed with several students the night before the sale at the pre-sale dinner.  The students introduced the speakers and top consignors, introduced the Cattle Company program, waited on tables.  Kudos to all my students who worked so hard to make this sale such a big success.

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Spicy Brisket for a Crowd


Originally, I had no intention of posting this.  I was simply making an easy dinner for ten guests on a hot summer day.  However, I received so many compliments that I decided to post it even though I took no pictures.  The only time I ever cook brisket occurs when quite a few people are coming over and I do not want much to do just before the food is served.  There is another rather odd reason I like to cook brisket in the summer:  I can use my electric roaster and plug it into the outlet on the patio and not heat up the house.  Since I do not particularly like barbecue, I try to do something different.

1 4-5 lb. brisket, trimmed of fat

1 large purple onion, coarsely chopped

Cumin, enough to completely cover the top of the brisket when sprinkled over it

2-3 Tbls. mild Mexican chili seasoning

1-2 tsp. coriander, ground  (optional)

Brown sugar

1 bottle cheap, dry, red wine

1 15 0z. can chopped, salt free tomatoes

4-5 jalapeño peppers (optional)

Place the brisket in a roaster fat side down and pour in the red wine to a depth of 1 1/2 inches.  Cover the top with the cumin and chili seasoning.  Evenly scatter the chopped onions over the top.  Bake at 325 for 2 hours.  Turn the brisket over so that the fat side is up.  Bake another 1-2 hours.  Turn the temperature down to 275 and turn over again so the the fat side is down.  Cover the top of the brisket with the tomatoes.  Sprinkle two small handfuls of brown sugar evenly over the top of the tomatoes.  If using the coriander, sprinkle it over the brown sugar.  Check to make sure the broth is not becoming too dry and add extra wine as needed. Bake another 1-2 hours.  If using the jalapeños, cut into halves and deseed. Add them about one hour before serving.  Usually, I cook brisket 6-7 hours.  I do not want it to become too dry, but I do want the broth to cook down so that it creates a natural sauce for the meat without using any thickening.  Just before serving, slice the brisket into pieces and stir around so the sauce covers all the pieces of meat.  I like to use the jalapeños this way because it does not increase the “heat” for those who do not like hot food, but there are tasty tidbit of hot for those who do.  Enjoy!

Costa Rica 5, Fauna


Costa Rica continued to surprise me.  I did expect some of the animals, photos of which are posted below,  but did not expect so many cattle, especially the dairy cattle, including Jerseys, Guernseys, and Holsteins,  that populated the steep mountain slopes.  They grazed everywhere up to their tummies in grass on even the steepest mountainsides.  I kept wondering how they learned to balance themselves and why they did not fall over, catapulting down the mountain.  Everyone in the group commented on the fat, happy cows.  Such abundance resulted in fabulous steaming milk for morning coffee, rich cheeses, and the creamiest ice cream imaginable.

A cow pen near the top of a mountain on the Caribbean side next to the restaurant that sold cheese and where I ate the raw turtle egg.  Most of the cows roamed free up and down the mountainsides.

In the lowlands on both the Pacific and Caribbean sides of the country, Brahma cattle relaxed or grazed in the lush grass.  It reminded me of the landscape near Veracruz, Mexico, where I lived many years ago.

The most common meat besides fish, most of which is talapia, is chicken.  Near the mountain top where the Jersey cow above was photographed, I saw a huge shed and when I asked about it, was told it was a chicken farm. However, pork is frequently served as well and occasionally beef.  I took the following photograph at a small place on a dirt road.  We stopped there to drink coconut water.  The spotted, pregnant pig was due soon.  However, the fate of the black pig remained less lovely–food.  Their girth resulted from eating coconuts; they constantly gorged themselves.

Birds abound, from the protected scarlet macaws on the Pacific Coast to tiny hummingbirds.  Hundreds of species I had never seen before and many I had seen rather often like various egrets and herons. And then there were the monkeys which I did expect to see but found difficult to photograph with my ordinary camera.

These white faced monkeys roamed everywhere near the beaches at Manual Antonio National Park, begging for food and if that did not work, actually stealing it.

While the white face monkeys remained highly visible, the howler monkeys could be heard easily but were much harder to locate because they tend to stay high in the tallest trees.  Without a good telescoping lens, this was the best I could do.

Look for the dark blob in the middle of the photo.  They also move fast so hard to locate and follow and even harder to photograph under those conditions.

Just as we arrived, walking, at the entrance to Manuel Antonio, a downpour began.  Not fond of drenchings, I stayed back, hoping it would stop, and suddenly saw a small sloth, the grey spot in the nearly leafless tree in the middle of this photo.

Lizards of many varieties abound.  The tree near my hotel room in Jaco contained four iguanas that appeared nearly lifeless since they never seemed to move.  Again, without a better lens I could not really photograph them.  However, at Manuel Antonio many other kinds of lizards ran here and there only slightly afraid and relatively easy to photograph.

When I think back as to what I expected, it never occurred to me that huge, brackish (salt) water crocodiles existed in such abundance or even existed there at all.  Near Jaco, on the Rio Grande Tarcoles the Costa Ricans created a preserve to protect the endangered scarlet macaws and crocodiles.  We arrived early in the morning and floated around the river, into a mangrove swamp, watching birds and crocodiles.  The list of common birds included 58 species and we saw others that the guide referred to as “bonus birds”.  The following photos come from this lovely, relaxing river ride.  Truly, I loved this part of the trip.

Entering the mangrove swamp.

Two months old.

Where the Rio Grande Tarcoles enters the Pacific Ocean.

The boat captain feeding the crocodile in the mud barefoot.  I thought about touching this one he was so close until I was told they could swim as fast as 55 miles per hour.  It occurred to me that he could turn around really quickly and snap off my hand so…