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Articles written by Susan Metcalf


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  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Jul 11, 2024

    Julie Kinsey was one of my teaching colleagues for 25 of the 30 years she taught at Big Timber Grade School. She and her husband Don were known for raising Columbia sheep on their place north of Big Timber, Montana. Julie lost her second battle with cancer on April 25, 2024. She was a good friend, remarkable teacher, and she loved to card, spin, and knit fleeces from their flock into beautiful creations. One of her many community services was knitting soft hats for cancer vict...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Jul 4, 2024

    One of the unsung heroes of the horse world is the horse packer. He has to understand horse anatomy and mule psychology, spend long days in the saddle, have nerves of steel, a strong back, and it helps if he ends up in one piece at the other end of the trail. Jerry Yoder was one of the packers for the K Lazy 3 when it was owned by Brett and Julie Todd, and I was always really nice to Jerry (just ask him), because he was responsible for the eggs and other valuables that I...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Jun 27, 2024

    We live on a beary creek under a big beary hill, so we often see black bears wandering through the yard. The other night we decided to have bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches for dinner. Of course I overcooked--well, technically burned--the bacon, so I threw the sliding glass door in the kitchen wide open. A few minutes later as we sat down to eat our slightly smoky crunchy sandwiches in our smoke hazed kitchen, one of our resident black bears wandered past our porch.. The...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Jun 20, 2024

    If you live along a creek, you have to co-exist with beavers, and that is not always easy. It seems that they do not share the same vision for property management as most landowners do. Living with beavers, who are remarkably persistent, focused, and motivated, is a constant struggle that is not funny, What is funny is this (allegedly) actual letter sent by the Pennsylvania DEQ to Ryan DeVries regarding a pond on his property and Ryan's ingenius response to the letter: Dear...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Jun 13, 2024

    This week marks the third anniversary of the grand opening of our main street boutique that uniquely sells food. Honestly, it does not seem that long, perhaps because we have been too busy to count the days. Owning a restaurant that sells gifts has been fun and exhausting. To make it even more interesting, we also cater special events, so there is literally not a dull moment. However, there is something I need to get off my chest. I decided to look back on this column that I...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Jun 5, 2024

    Summer is the time when I decide to roll up my sleeves and clean out some junk. However, my parents were children of the Great Depression, so I can still hear their voices ringing in my ears when I think about pitching stuff that could potentially have some use in the future--even though it has received no usage within the last 25 years. Marilee Robinson of Billings, Montana sent me her delightful book East Meets West, and one of her essays, which I have abridged this week is...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated May 29, 2024

    School wrapped up this week, and I am proud to say I survived my first year of teaching Family Consumer Science at the high school level. Fortunately, all of my culinary students survived, and no one got cut, burned, or came down with a foodborne illness. In case anyone is wondering, I did not get fired, but I will be leaving the position in Debbie Hathaway's capable hands and returning to my County Superintendent position to embark on my 43rd year in education. What is wrong...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated May 23, 2024

    With Memorial Day coming up on Monday, I feel it is important to remember that Memorial Day is about much more than barbecues and a day off. It is a time to remember and honor loved ones and especially fallen military heroes .I love this essay so much that I have to share an excerpt from "Memorial Day: A Time for Heroes" by Nancy Sullivan Geng: I picked up the photo and turned it over. Yellowing tape held a prayer card that read: "Lloyd 'Bud' Heitzman, 1925-1944. A Great...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated May 16, 2024

    Several years ago I discovered a hilarious self-published book from Maralee Robinson of Billings, Montana. It is called "East Meets West: Real Dude Meets Real Cowboy: Indoor Plumbing Meets Outdoor Plumbing, and All the Things They Have in Common." The book is a collection of reflections of a city girl who married a cowboy. The book was somewhat longer than the title, and it was so funny I couldn't put it down. Maralee dedicated the book to her cowboy husband, their children,...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated May 8, 2024

    Over the 27 years I have been writing this column, I have shared every Mother's Day anecdote from my life that you should be forced to endure, so I decided to research a few Mother's Day thoughts for you. In 1907, Anna M. Jarvis (1864-1948), a Philadelphia schoolteacher, began a movement to set up a national Mother's Day in honor of her mother, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis. She solicited the help of hundreds of legislators and prominent businessmen to create a special day to honor...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated May 1, 2024

    The hardest thing about being a weekly humor/recipe columnist for coming up on 29 years is getting my facts straight--especially when many of the facts are made up on the spot. I write what my family calls creative non-fiction. Some choose to call it downright rubbish. Generally that creativity does not get me into trouble with anyone except immediate family members who only tolerate me for food service and maid service anyway, but I manage to get into trouble in many other...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Apr 24, 2024

    Another one of my teaching colleagues, Alice Bassett, has passed on to that big school in the sky where there is eternal duty free lunch. Alice's husband, Charlie Bassett, was my teaching partner for 23 years, and I taught with Alice until she retired. Alice was an amazing kindergarten teacher who suffered from very severe arthritis, which forced her to take early retirement. Although she lived with daily pain, she had an indomitable spirit. Before she came to Big Timber to...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Apr 18, 2024

    In the last five months I have had three cardioversions, one angiogram, and two ablations. Those procedures have made me appreciate the technological advances in treating heart issues, and it served as a general wake-up call. It seems to be the general consensus that I need to cut back on a few of my obligations, so I am working to do that. However, ranchers and farmers either have to die or go broke to get out of the business, so retiring from ranching is not really an option for us—yet. Still it is interesting to think a...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Apr 11, 2024

    There are many negative attributes of social media, but there are also posts that are truly enlightening. One such post recently led me to check out Warren Johnson’s Facebook page, which led to discovering his blog. I do not personally know Warren, but he is a larger than life character whom everyone connected with horses, rodeos, and outfitting knows about. The primary thing I knew about Warren prior to discovering his posts and blogs was that he upstaged us back in May of 2013. A Today Show film crew visited our ranch to d...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Apr 4, 2024

    Another teacher that I taught with for 25 years at Big Timber Grade School has gone to the great classroom in the sky. Marion Beley was a fourth generation Montanan who taught a total of 46 years with 41 of them at BTGS in the county where she was born and raised. Both of Marion’s great grandparents came to Montana in covered wagons to establish cattle and sheep ranches. This poem is my tribute to this sweet woman and great educator who epitomized “native Montanan.” Her memorial service will be held at noon in the Big Timbe...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Mar 28, 2024

    As Easter approaches, and the robins return, my thoughts turn to digging out the spring and summer clothes. I look at my white flabby arms and panic. Then I look at my white flabby legs and become inspired to unload the ironing off the exercise machine, dust it off, and take it for a spin. A few moments later, my inspiration has turned to perspiration, and I begin looking for ways to justify returning to hibernation. I just received my health screening results in the mail and was delighted that none of my cholesterol levels...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Mar 21, 2024

    This past few months I have been having heart rhythm problems. Long story short, I have to have a second ablation procedure at the Missoula Heart Institute on the very day that calving starts. Now, calving doesn’t really start on the first date that the gestation calendar says it would be biologically possible. Calving usually starts days or even a couple weeks early, so often by the “first day of calving season” there are quite a few calves on the ground--especially if a storm blows in. However, we say we start calvi...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Mar 14, 2024

    We are at the stage in our lives where we find ourselves in the bleachers every Saturday for elementary intramural basketball, because we would never miss a game of grandson basketball. Where else can you watch your grandson celebrate an assist with a breakdance move that would have made Issei swoon? (No, I do not know who Issei is, but I do know how to type into the Google search bar, “Who is the best break dancer in the world?”) Unfortunately, we have no video of Jasper bustin’ a breakdance move on the basketball court in t...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Mar 7, 2024

    Our community is mourning the loss of Judy Vidack, who moved to Big Timber to teach at BTGS in 1969, touching the lives of hundreds of students plus parents and community members in her forty year tenure teaching elementary school. She lost a short, valiant battle with cancer on February 25, 2024. Judy, who was raised in Bozeman, Montana had a huge family with seven aunts and uncles on her mother’s side. Her second cousin is Shelly Goggins, so many readers might have known her. Judy became my friend the minute that I walked i...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Feb 29, 2024

    When our son Bret bought into our ranching operation when he came back to the ranch after college, I no longer had to be the unpaid hired hand man in this operation. I was demoted to Assistant Nobody, which is a great title. I love my life of part-time cowgirl and part-time school teacher/dishwasher/journalist. However, occasionally I come to the conclusion that I need to get a full-time job. The problem with a part-time job is that the ranch manager/CEO/husband person feels that since my hours are somewhat flexible, I can...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Feb 21, 2024

    Calving season is almost upon us. It is a time that fills me with both enthusiasm and dread.There is nothing more rewarding in ranching than helping calves come into the world. The dreaded part is the small percentage of mamas that have delivery problems and/or attitude problems as in they seem to have both severe pre and post partum depression and resent human intervention. Once they are on the ground, it seems like the hard part is over, but that is not always the case especially if a nasty spring storm blows in. For...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Feb 15, 2024

    The best part about winter used to be skiing, ice skating, and ice fishing. However, as I have grown older, it has become harder and harder to find a winter sport that I can participate in, because I don’t dare risk my knees, my hips, my skull, etc. So when our friends, Keith and Holly Williams from Virginia, suggested a snowmobile outing, it sounded fun and harmless. We met them in Jackson, Wyoming and headed out for a three day ride through Yellowstone Park, and then one final day in the Grand Tetons along the C...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Feb 8, 2024

    Covid 19 effectively ended our ranch vacation business when all of our summer guests cancelled during the spring of 2020. The silver lining of the pandemic was we found that it was much easier just to rent out cabins than offer guests a full-fledged ranch experience. During our years of hosting ranch vacations, we hosted several travel writers and journalists. I recently found this column written by a New Jersey journalist, Erin Boyle, who visited the ranch with her Northern Irish friends, Cathy and Jules. The following is...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Jan 31, 2024

    I just love those helpful hint columns, books, and posts full of tips on how to remove every stain known to man or cure anything from warts to arthritis with a home remedy. Sometimes though, I have to question the effectiveness and efficiency of the remedies and helpful hints. I have actually had less than miraculous results with many of those tips. A tomato juice bath is supposed to be the cure-all for skunk spray. Do you know how much a tomato juice bath for a small boy costs? Back in 1992, it was $92.00 cheaper and much...

  • Cooking in the West

    Susan Metcalf|Updated Jan 25, 2024

    I always dread when our kids ask us to babysit the grandpets, because it is more responsibility than I want to tackle at my age. I worry that one of the pets will get injured or worse yet--die on my watch. I am much less worried about keeping the grandchildren safe than the grandpets. In fact, I remember the first time our daughter Brooke asked us to “babysit” for her when she went on a little trip. She didn’t have children yet, but she brought us her boxer and her cat for the longest four days of my life! Boston, her boxer...

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