Red Mountain Roundup, 4/20/2017

Red Mountain Roundup is a roundup of all of the things to do, places to stay, and other information to help you plan your visit to Red Mountain.

Helloooooooooooo warmer weather!

Events, Places to Visit This Weekend:

(for events further in the future, click this link.)

If there are no tasting fees listed, it’s just because I don’t know what they are.  I believe all tasting rooms on Red Mountain charge a fee.

  • Red Mountain Trails — Wagon Rides and Trail Rides available.  Click here to reserve! 
  • Chandler Reach — open Weds through Monday.
  • Col Solare – tasting room open 11 am – 5 pm Weds – Sun. 
    Sundays, 2:00 pm.  Vineyard and Winery Tour.
  • Cooper – tasting room open 11am – 5 pm DAILY.  Tasting fee $10.00  A portion of tasting fees often go to various charities.  
  • Fidelitas – tasting room open 11 am – 4 pm daily.  Tasting fee $10.00, refundable with wine purchase.  
  • Frichette – tasting room open daily 11 am – 5 pm.  Tasting fee $10.00, refundable with wine purchase.    
  • Hamilton Cellars – tasting room open Sun – Thurs 11 am – 5 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am – 6 pm
    Saturday, 4/22/17.  5:00 pm – 8:00 pm.  Pork and Corks.
  • Hedges – open on weekends, 11 – 5 starting Saturday April 22nd!  
  • Hightower Tasting room open 11 am – 5 pm Thurs – Mon.
    Saturday, 4/22/17. 4:00 – 6:00 pm.  The Winemaker Series: Blending.
  • Kiona –  tasting room open noon – 5 pm daily.  Tasting fee $10.00 (refundable with purchase) 
  • Linda Ellis Andrews — Artist in Glass and Bronze.  Linda is a fabulous artist and wonderful person!  Make an appointment to visit her studio, you won’t be disappointed!
  • Monte Scarlatto — tasting room open 11 am – 5 pm Thurs and Sun.  11 am – 6 pm Fri and Sat.  By appointment also.  They have a 9-hole golf course among the vines, check it out!
  • Portrait Cellars — tasting by appointment only.  509-588-4534
  • Purple Star Wines — Wednesday – Sunday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.
    Saturday 4/22/2017, 10:00 amStretch & Sip.  
  • Tapteil – Fri – Sun 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.  509-588-4460  
  • Terra Blanca –  tasting room open daily 11 am – 6 pm.  
    Vineyard Grille open noon – 5:00 pm Friday through Sunday. 
    Thursday 4/20/17, 6:30 pm.  Chef Series Dinner.  Info here.
    Friday 4/21/17, 6:30 pm – 10:00 pm.  Hanford Music Benefit Auction.  Info here.
  • Tucannon – tasting room open Fri – Sun 11 am – 6 pm, Wed – Thurs 11 am – 5 pm.  $5.00 tasting fee.  
  • Tri-Cities Events
  • Red Mountain AVA Site (info, places to stay, calendar of more events)

Places to Stay:

  • Vacation Rentals by Owner — Red Mountain has some really nice vacation rentals available for your visit.  Most of these are right on Red Mountain and visitors get a discount on their trail or wagon ride when they stay.  
  • Bella Luna House — gorgeous vacation rental offered by Tapteil winery.
  • Camping and RV — 
    • Beach RV Park – situated in Benton City — lots of pretty trees, gorgeous setting along the Yakima River waterfront, 5 minutes to Red Mountain.  If you stay here we can deliver your bike rental to you!
    • RV Village Resort – West Richland.  Easy access to Red Mountain and Richland for restaurants, shopping, and wine-tasting.  Indoor pool and spa.
  • The nearest hotels are located in Richland and Prosser.

Places to Eat

There are a number of chain restaurants around but here are some “off the beaten path” recommendations:

    • Red Mountain Trails  — we offer dinner on Friday and Saturday nights starting in May.  Reservations can be made here.  
    • Tacos Garcia Taco Truck — West Richland.  The best taco truck around, and I love their ceviche.
    • The Vineyard Grill at Terra Blanca — Red Mountain.  One of the only places on the hill to eat.  Beautiful views and great food and wine!
    • Hacienda del Sol — Benton City.  Large portions of great Mexican food and excellent customer service!
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10 Things to do on Your Visit to Red Mountain

If you’re under the impression that Red Mountain lacks dimension or tourism diversity, I count that as a personal failure.  You must think we ride horses, play with chickens, and guzzle wine straight from the barrel.  That IS the majority of the content of our newsletters, after all.  I apologize for probably misleading you.  We don’t guzzle, per se.

I came up with a list of 10 things to do here, most of which you can do year-round.  Surprisingly, none of them involve chickens or wine guzzling (necessarily).  (Is chicken yoga a potential business opportunity?  Stay tuned, I heard that the goat yoga at a winery nearby was a huge hit.)

These are in no particular order or ranking:

  • Get Edutained  — Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Wine is bottled poetry.”  Learn the art of wine tasting from people who make it.  Start your wine-tasting tour with an edutainment class at Frichette Winery where they’ll teach you the fine art of the swirl.  
  • Read a Book — Enjoy a glass of Hedges Family Estate wine, kick back on their patio overlooking the AVA and valley, and dig in to “Red Mountain” — written by Hedges’ own Boo Walker and featuring Red Mountain.  (We read it, loved it, and found ourselves in it!)  Spend the rest of your visit trying to identify which of Red Mountain’s many inhabitants may have inspired characters in the book!  Also, check out my blog post with more great places (and books) to enjoy!
  • Ride Horses — Sure, we offer all kinds of wine tours but did you know that we offer trail rides without the wine-tasting?  These are fun for the whole family (ages 6 and up).  Beautiful scenery, gentle horses, and our typical wonderful weather make our 1-hour rides a great outing!
  • Golf  — Yes, there is golf on Red Mountain!  Head on over to Monte Scarlatto and check out their beautiful 9 hole, par 3 golf course on the estate.  Finish your game at the “10th hole” tasting room and enjoy their wonderful wines. 
  • See Amazing Works of Art — Red Mountain is home to some great artists, such that a person could make a day of visiting the local art scene:
    • Kiona Vineyards Winery — hosting artwork from photographer John Clement and metal art from Ted Neth.
    • Linda Andrews — Linda is an exceptional artist working in fused glass and cast bronze.  Check out her website and call for an appointment.  Her fused glass can be seen at Kiona Winery and Col Solare.
    • Tapteil — Jane Pearson’s beautiful acrylic paintings adorn the walls of the tasting room and her artwork is featured on their wine labels.  
  • Eat Great Food — The Vineyard Grille at Terra Blanca is a beautiful and fun bistro.  
    Love the way the sun shines through the spinach and arugula leaves.

    Dinner al fresco

    Have lunch or dinner on their beautiful patio with a glass of wine, or ask for something to go and take it to your favorite spot on Red Mountain.  Also, check out our list of best picnic spots on Red Mountain (um, actually there are no bad places to picnic out here, which makes my job easy).In the warmer months it’s easy to find a food truck or two out here, too!And, we have to throw our hat in here too — Red Mountain Trails offers sunset dinner tours among the vines on Friday and Saturday nights.  Check us out for reservations!

    Practice Yoga — What’s better than yoga?  Yoga at a winery.  You will love the Sip n’ Stretch series at Purple Star, offered Saturday mornings.  It’s the perfect way to start your weekend in wine country.  

  • There is also a yoga series at the beautiful setting of Hedges’ Family Estate.  Click here and look for “Yoga in the Vines”. 
  • Do A Good Thing — Red Mountain Wineries (and tour operators) have banded together and planted “Giving Gardens”.  The produce from these gardens is donated to the Benton City Food Bank.  Tour the wineries and check out their Giving Gardens.  Participate in one of their events (which usually involve gourmet food prepared with produce from the Giving Gardens) and the proceeds will be donated to the Food Bank.  Last year the Giving Gardens donated 750 pounds of produce and purchased two freezers for the Food Bank!  
  • Go on a Bike Tour — I don’t want to make this 13173953_10153588762249135_3347042651575701560_npost all about Red Mountain Trails, so I’ll just say that if you want a guided bike tour, we provide the guides and bikes and gourmet food and can take you to awesome places where no one else goes and you’ll love it and that’s all. 
  • Camp — Bring your RV to Red Mountain!  Monte Scarlatto will soon offer RV parking right among the vines.  Imagine camping among the vines and being surrounded by all of these things to do, without having to drive anywhere!  

This is not a comprehensive list at all, there’s plenty more!  If you’re planning a trip out here, check out our newsletter and sign up for news of upcoming events and itineraries to make the most of your visit.  

Hope to see y’all soon!



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Best Places to Read a Book on Red Mountain

I read the book “Red Mountain” by Boo Walker and it inspired me to write this post.  I loved reading the book and trying to figure out the people and locations that inspired his characters and settings.  (And yes, we’re in there!)


There are actually a number of great places to read a book on Red Mountain, in any kind of weather.  There are few things as indulgent as a beautiful setting, fantastic wine, and great books.  Here’s a round up of my favorites (and some books I like):

Warm Weather

  • Location: Fidelitas patio, in an Adirondack chair overlooking their vineyards and the Yakima Valley.  You can see Mt. Adams on a clear day.  
    Book: Cork Dork, Bianca Bosker
  • Location: Hedges Family Estate, in a chair out by the fountain.
    Book: Red Mountain, Boo Walker
  • Location: Terra Blanca patio.  Nosh from the Vineyard Grille, sip wine, and relax overlooking the pond. 
    Book: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain
  • Location: Cooper Wine Company.  The laid-back party vibe and fun folks here pair perfectly with some Mark Manson, and I mean it in the best possible way.
    Book: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***, Mark Manson.
  • Location: Hightower patio.  One of the highest viewpoints on the hill, with breathtaking views of the AVA.  Cozy patio and bold wine, perfect for some Norse Mythology.  
    Book: Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman
  • Location: Tapteil patio.  Next to Hightower, another gorgeous viewpoint that takes in the entire AVA.  Great wines, beautiful patio.
    Book: A Sudden Country, Karen Fisher
  • Location: Col Solare patio.  Fabulous wine and the patio is so nice in the sun!
    Book: A Room with a View, E.M. Forster

Cold Weather

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The Bird, the Whole Bird, and Nothing but the Bird

You may be surprised to know that despite my schmoopy missives about how much I love our birds, we do actually raise some for meat.  (Is it weird that I love them almost as much roasted as I love them alive?)

The majority of what we eat is raised specifically for meat and is butchered at about 8 – 10 weeks.  As part of our flock management, we also cull out some other chickens (except the hens, I just can’t do it) that are older.  These guys are pretty much good for stewing and not much else.  But oh, the things you can do with a whole bird…. it’s the gift that just keeps giving. 

Note: this post doesn’t even get into the chicken livers, gizzards, and hearts that we set aside from the birds, but I have a pate recipe that will knock your ever-lovin’ socks off.  And I don’t even get into giblet gravy, that’s sort of a no-brainer.  

First, stewing.  

This is easy — just put your bird(s) in a crockpot on low overnight or in a dutch oven.  I used two birds, one of which I believed to be Romeo who was definitely on the tough side.  I didn’t even season them since I knew I was planning lots of mixed uses later.  (Also, Romeo’s meat looked super dark and I wanted to get the unadulterated flavor and see what I was working with.  Also, lazy.)
Once they’re done, let them cool.  Then just go through the carcass and pick out all of the meat.  You can separate it by dark and white, but I didn’t.  I’m the low-fuss type when it comes to this.  Save ALL of the connective tissue, fat, bones, and strange-looking gross unidentifiables.  
Take a hand mixer to the meat to really shred it up if you want.  I can’t emphasize enough to you how lazy I am in the kitchen, so I skipped this step.  
I put the shredded meat in a ziploc and the carcass/broth/stuff in another and keep them in the fridge until I’m ready to use them.  At this point I’ve done enough work in the kitchen and probably need a glass of wine (for heart health, obviously).  A rose’ goes great with this task.

Next, eating.

Keeping shredded chicken in your fridge will change your life.  Man, it’s so easy to have on hand:

  • Throw some garlic, pesto, parmesan and chicken on a pita and stick it under the broiler for a pizza
  • Put it in a wrap with some bacon ranch dressing, vegetables, and it’s a great wrap
  • Throw a little on your salad when you make one
  • Easy-peasy stir-fry with veggies
  • Take some of that broth you had left over, some veggies, and make chicken soup
  • Make chicken salad unlike any you’ve had before

 I opted for Chicken Posole, Thai Chicken enchiladas, and Chicken Tamale Pie.

Easy Chicken Posole
Serves 4
Wonderful mexican chicken stew kind of dish.
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  1. 2 cans fire-roasted diced green chiles
  2. 6 garlic cloves
  3. 1 large onion
  4. 2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) white hominy
  5. 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken
  6. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  7. 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano*, divided
  8. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  9. 3 cups chicken broth
  10. 3 tablespoons ground red New Mexico chiles*
  11. Garnishes: sliced avocado, lime wedges, cilantro sprigs, and sour cream
  1. Cut onion in chunks and pulse in food processor with garlic until chopped; set aside. Drain hominy; set aside.
  2. Heat oil in 5 - 6 qt. pan over high heat. Turn down to medium and add 1 tsp oregano. The oregano will become very fragrant -- sprinkle shredded chicken with salt and toss with the oregano/oil until the chicken is heated through.
  3. With a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a plate.
  4. Set heat to medium-high. Add onion mixture and remaining 1 tsp. oregano to pan and sauté until onion is softened, 3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe bowl, microwave broth until steaming, about 3 minutes. Add ground chiles to pan and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add broth, hominy, and chicken to pan. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer to blend flavors, 10 minutes.
  6. Stir diced chiles into posole and cook 1 minute. Ladle into bowls; top with garnishes.
  7. *Find Mexican oregano at well-stocked grocery stores, along with ground red New Mexico chiles.
Adapted from Adaptation from Sunset's "Speedy Chicken Posole"
Adapted from Adaptation from Sunset's "Speedy Chicken Posole"
Red Mountain Trails

The other recipe I love is Thai Chicken Enchiladas.  It’s a bit of a stretch to call them “enchiladas” as they can be a bit soupy and best eaten with a spoon.  Maybe more of an enchilada pie?  There are times when I just crave this dish.  

Thai Chicken Enchilada
Serves 4
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Cook Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
  1. 8 flour tortillas
  2. 1 1/2 cup shredded chicken
  3. 1 tablespoons canola oil
  4. 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  5. 1/3 cup chopped/shredded carrots
  6. 1/2 cup chopped/shredded cabbage
  7. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  9. 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  10. 4 green onions, sliced
  11. 1/3 cup chopped + crushed peanuts + more for garnish
  12. 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro + more for garnish
  13. 2 1/2 cups light coconut milk
  14. 1/3 cup + 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add canola oil. Throw in onions, cabbage, carrots, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring to mix. Let cool until vegetables are soft, about 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in chicken, green onions, peanuts, cilantro, remaining salt and pepper, tossing to coat, and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Add in 3/4 cup coconut milk and 1/3 cup sweet chili sauce, mixing thoroughly to combine. Turn off heat.
  3. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Whisk together remaining coconut milk and sweet chili sauce. Pour about 1/2 a cup or so on the bottom of the dish. Slightly warm tortillas if desired to make them more pliable, then place a few spoonfuls of the chicken mixture in each, rolling up tightly and placing in the dish. Cover with remaining coconut milk and chili sauce mix. I usually take a spoon and cover every inch of the tortilla with the sauce, just to make sure it’s coated.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove and top with additional peanuts and cilantro. Since sauce is not as thick as traditional enchilada sauce, when you remove them from the oven, spoon sauce from the bottom of the dish all over the tortillas. Additionally this can be done halfway through cooking too.
Adapted from How Sweet It Is
Adapted from How Sweet It Is
Red Mountain Trails

Jeff and I had some polenta left over from a previous dinner, so I used that for my tamale pie instead of masa de maiz. Seemed like a good enough substitution.

Insanely Easy Chicken Tamale Pie
Serves 6
Tamales are a pretty simple dish, and this is even easier. In fact I'm probably taking great liberties to even call this a tamale pie. To me, tamales are just a base, and can be dressed up with condiments. I listed some of my favorites.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
  1. 1 18 oz roll polenta
  2. 1.5 c shredded chicken
  3. 1 can green enchilada sauce
  1. sliced olives
  2. salsa
  3. cheese
  4. cilantro
  5. avocado or guacamole
  6. lime
  1. Preheat oven to 350f.
  2. Slice polenta into discs and place in bottom of 9 x 13 pan.
  3. Spread shredded chicken over the top of the polenta discs.
  4. Pour the green enchilada sauce over the top.
  5. I added a can of diced green chiles because I pretty much add them to everything. Then, I topped it with olive slices and cheese. So, yeah, this is a completely bastardized version of a perfectly good dish (tamales).
  6. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
Red Mountain Trails

And lastly, bone broth:

I had to look up “bone broth” to make sure it wasn’t some new hipster term for… you know… stock.  or broth.  or the bouillion our parents used to buy in little cubes.  

Turns out bone broth is a little different, and with my upcoming knee surgery I decided to make some.  

  • Broth — water simmered with vegetables and meat.  Some bone.  Used as a soup base.  Stays liquid when chilled.  Takes around 45 minutes to 2 hours to make.
  • Stock — water simmered with vegetables and bones, with some meat.  Simmered for 4 – 6 hours.  Gelatinous when cooled. 
  • Bone Broth — kind of a hybrid.  Simmered for often over 24 hours.  Uses primarily bones.  Clear liquid when chilled.  

I opted to make bone broth because it really extracts the minerals that support the immune system, as well as collagen and is supposed to promote joint health.  

Here’s what I did:

I picked out all of the bones from the carcass and laid them on a sheet pan and roasted them for 30 minutes at 350f.

Then I put the bones and all the other “stuff” from the ziploc bag in a pot, covered it with water, and added 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar.  I let that sit for 30 minutes.  

Making sure you have enough water to cover the “stuff”, bring the pot to a vigorous boil.

Then turn it down to a simmer, and keep it there for about 5 hours.  Periodically skim the foam and impurities off the top.  Apparently you’ll have a lot less of this with pasture-fed, free-range critters.  I will say that I was a bit surprised at how “clean” it was compared to other times I’ve made stock or broth.  

After 5 hours, I added 2 quartered onions, 3 carrots cut in half, rosemary leaves, and 2 stalks of celery.  I put it all in the crock pot on low, and left it overnight (about 12 hours).  

I strained it all through a cheesecloth and set the pot in an ice bath for 1 hour.  You’ve never seen anything so beautiful.  It was liquid gold.  I measured it out into ziplocs, 1 cup each.  It wasn’t very salty and I didn’t add much salt because I prefer to manage my seasonings in the recipe I’m making.  I do add salt to it when I heat it up for drinking.  20170327_192042

The bones were nearly crumbly, like chalk when done.  It’s tempting to grind up the veggies and bones to give to the dogs, but I’d hate for them to get a sliver.  So, with heavy heart, I did throw that away.  

Still, getting 12 servings of delicious food and 16 cups of healing bone broth from 2 chickens is possibly one of the most rewarding aspects of our little farm-to-table operation.  

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Hello? Spring? Is That You?

We have two small glacial remains in our backyard, the last remnants of Winter 2016/2017, aka “oh my god when will this white horror end?”  Tonight’s weather forecast predicts an inch of snow.  20170219_120640

Nevertheless, we persisted.  

25 fluffy little chicks arrived in the post the other day.  I welcome the constant peeping of the little fluff balls, they sound like spring.  And we are darn ready for it.  

20170225_114828 20170225_114410

This is also the “non chapstick” time of year.  The horses are shedding their coats at a rate such that if you’re not careful you’ll have a Shetland-pony’s worth of hair stuck to your lips.  Honestly. 

The hens were withholding eggs during the worst of the winter and now they’re cranking them out like a Pez dispenser.  Eggs everywhere.  

The first day of Spring is March 21st or so, and I had my doubts that we’d make it.  Despite the forecast for snow tonight, my optimism is returning.  

Hope to see you out here soon to enjoy it with us!




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Best Picnic Spots on Red Mountain

Time to start thinking about spring and spending more time outside!  Red Mountain has some awesome places for a picnic:

  • Terra Blanca Winery — you can either get something at their Vineyard Grille and eat outside, or get it to go and wander down to the gorgeous pond to enjoy your picnic.  Beautiful views, quiet.  Bring a blanket for this one.  
  • Kiona Winery — Sit on their deck overlooking the estate and enjoy the views.  You’ll have to bring your own picnic, and you’ll have a fun time pairing it with their great selection of wines.  Lots of tables and chairs on the expansive deck.
  • Fidelitas — Adirondack chairs.  Great wine.  Views for miles.  You’ll want to bring your own picnic or check their site to see if there’s a food truck in the parking lot.  The Adirondack chairs fill fast on a sunny day, so bring a picnic blanket for backup.
  • Hightower Cellars — one of the highest vistas on the hill.  Their cozy little patio overlooks their vineyards and the Yakima Valley.  Get inspired by their Giving Garden and check it out.  Pack your own lunch or check their site to see if there’s a food truck in the parking lot.  
  • Tapteil — large patio full of seating, tables, and umbrellas.  Really, it just begs for a picnic.  Bring your own meal.  Great wine for pairing.  The views, as with Hightower’s, go on forever!
  • Hedges Family Estates — the beautiful landscaping begs for a picnic of croissants and quiche.  Enjoy the pretty little tables on the patio or bring a blanket to spread under the trees.  Lovely and scenic, very romantic.  If you’re in the proposing mood, this would be a good way to do it.  
  • Col Solare — great views and broad patio with tables and chairs.  A nice way to spend your Sunday would be to picnic on the patio and then join the 2 pm vineyard and winery tour.  
  • Monte Scarlatto — pretty fountain and nice tables and chairs with umbrellas.  Cozy and fun.  Sometimes they have food trucks.  Enjoy a picnic and then a round of golf.  
  • Cooper Wine Company — casual picnic tables, often a food truck, very much a laid-back vibe.  Sort of like Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, but a winery.  
  • Tucannon Cellars — super friendly staff and gorgeous grounds around the Sugarpine Barn event center.  Nice, cool, relaxing place to enjoy a picnic.  
  • Frichette Winery — pretty patio and expansive lawn.  Laid back, wonderful place to linger and enjoy the people, location, and wine.  Frichette is a busy place, so bring a picnic blanket or lawn chairs in case seating is limited.  

Stop on by and enjoy!

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This White Bull****

***Disclaimer: I don’t know if this is true, but it’s funny and that is what matters.  Also, swearing. ***

There’s a story circulating that a man was arrested for attempting to remove snow with a flame-thrower.  The  operator of said instrument of doom stated he, “did not possess the willpower necessary to move four billion tons of white bullshit.”

I feel like he’s my spirit animal.

I mean, I don’t want to complain about the weather.  Mostly because I’m afraid that every time Mother Nature hears someone complain, she says, “hold my beer, watch this…”  And we are shellacked again with a quarter inch of ice… or just more of  “the white bullshit.”  (TWBS)

I’ve learned that there are no limits to the creative heated chicken-related things you can buy — heat lamps are obvious.  Heated waterers – handy.  Heated roosts?  That’s a dimension I refuse to enter…  I simply cannot abide in a world where chickens require heated roosts.  Ain’t right.

The horses love TWBS.  They roll in it, lay in it, run around and play in it.  They buck, rear, fart, and run in it.  Even a couple of our oldsters who wouldn’t muster a trot if you chased them in a T-rex costume have found a new spring in their step.  

The problem isn’t TWBS so much.  I mean, we deal with this up at the cabin and of course skiing.  And the bitter cold we had, well, I’ll live.  It’s just that it’s not normal for here.  We can usually get through a winter with a couple of 500 watt stock tank heaters and a bag of salt for the patio steps.  I’ve since learned that we needed insulated stock tank covers (which I built), 1000 watt heaters (which we bought), block heaters for the tractors, heat lamps (which the chickens were afraid of), heated chicken waterers (bought online), and — this is the most upsetting — a snow shovel.  

I’ve been thinking of writing about my first year of total self-employment.  It has been hilarious the kinds of crazy things that have happened — stuff you would think I was making up.  Crazy relatives you have to take to court?  Check.  Freakishly cold winter?  Check.  Record-breaking snow pack?  double-check.  4 wheel drive goes out on the tractor?  of course.  Flooded basement? yup.  Injuries?  of course! 

But the cool thing about all of that is that the business has been the one big, bright, wonderful spot in all of this.  Jeff keeps saying, “you’re so much happier!”  

Yeah.  I am.  

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This Weather, Though!

I tell ya.  Over the weekend we were in the single digits, negative degrees at night.  We had about 8 inches of snow on the ground and my sole occupation was “breaking ice”.  

This morning it’s 43 degrees out.  So, like, 40 degrees warmer than Sunday morning at 5:00 am.  

It’s a chinook.  You know how every time it rains, it’s followed by winds?  That’s the pattern around here.  In the winter we’ll get a cold front with some precipitation, and then right on its heels is a warm wind.  That’s a chinook.  

My uncle never heard the word before coming to visit us, and quickly adopted it for his nickname for me.  I think maybe I talked a lot or something. 

I’m glad for the change in weather – the horse troughs are full, I don’t have to break ice, and I can actually sleep through the night without worrying about the critters quite so much.  

Not sure why I worry, horses are made for this weather and they love the cold.  This was them the other day when it was about 6 degrees out.

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Many Thanks

November marks the beginning of the end, it is the month when we begin to end the year.  We butcher the birds, harvest the last of the walnuts, cut down trees for the Christmas tree lot, and kick off the last frenzied efforts of the year.   Lumber Jill


The last few days have been especially busy.  We went into the mountains on Friday and began cutting trees for our Christmas tree lot.  Most of the trees we get are spruce and they are beautiful. 


Sunday and Monday we thinned our flock, which is not-so-secret-code for “butchered.”  It may be a little disconcerting to read that statement after seeing a picture of me with a chainsaw, but rest assured the two are completely unrelated.  (Except: I wore those same Carhartts for butchering.)


These are what we butcher with.

We butchered 5 geese, 6 turkeys (plus one a few days earlier), and 2 ducks.  The turkeys were impressive, our biggest weighed in at 55 lbs live, and 42 lbs dressed. The hens were in the 20 – 30 lb range.  


I never thought I’d get sappy romantic over butchering birds, but it’s a testament to a man’s love for you when he takes over the “dispatch” part of the process because:
Me:  “Okay, I think I got the jugular….  Oh my gosh, it’s flapping.  Okay, it should be done… wait.  oh geeze!  OH MY GOSH IT LOOKED RIGHT AT ME!!!!  I’m a terrible, terrible person!  Oh god!  It saw my soul!!”  
Apparently we reached Jeff’s tolerance level for how much of my wailing and gnashing of teeth he could take.  


When it gets to the point of actually dressing the carcass — pulling the internal organs out and cleaning out the body cavity — I’m apparently “in the zone.”  The annoying zone, maybe, but then I’m all, “Oh my gosh come and look at this!  Look at his liver!  Oh wow, look how beautifully the lungs came out!”


Here’s Jeff and Jackie (a goose/duck/egg customer and friend) with Jackie’s Christmas tree she picked up yesterday.

It’s tough work but few things are as gratifying as living so close to the land.  It’s time-consuming and sure isn’t for everyone, but we sure enjoy it.

Speaking of birds and farming, we have eggs available — chicken and duck — and will have them all winter.  Contact us if you’d like some fresh eggs!

Also, if you want to order any birds for next year (chickens and turkeys), we’ll be taking orders in January and plan to butcher in the spring and in the fall.  (Chickens in the spring; chickens and turkeys in the fall.)

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and hope we see you at our Christmas Tree lot!


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Fat Ponies on a Green Background, Apple Cake, and Hours

Fat Ponies on a Green Background

We’ve been working on getting our place greened up.  It’s been a long process of replacing our pump and 400 feet of pipe from the aquifer to the surface.  My dad drilled the well himself 45 years ago.  My older brother and I have replaced/repaired the pump probably 4 times now.  The pumps are supposed to have a life of about 7 years, but we milked about 20 out of the first one.  Ah, the good ol’ days…

Dad and I, 4/20/1975, the day we struck water.

Dad and I, 4/20/1975, the day we struck water.

Anyway, that was step one — getting sufficient capacity to water pasture grass.  The rest has been a matter of planting, watering, and rotating the horses so the grass has time to establish.  We have done it in thirds, a bit tough on a small acreage with a herd of horse, it’s hard to sacrifice that third of our place for a year to establish the grass.  

But the rewards…  First and foremost is the health benefit to the horses of grazing and getting that variety in their diet.  Our pasture is a mix of drought-tolerant legumes and grasses.  

Second is seeing healthy, happy horses grazing in vibrant, lush, green pasture.  Seeing how excited they are to go from their dry lot to the pastures is fun, too.

Third is that monetarily it helps offset our hay costs a bit.  This is pretty nominal, but I do think that the health benefit of grazing saves us money as well, though hard to calculate.  Horses actually have small stomachs and are made to graze for up to 18 hours a day.  We’ve experienced dramatic changes in horse health and behavior by switching to a free-feed program — either constant access to grass hay or pasture, or both.  And happy horses is really what it’s all about, isn’t it?



Apple Cake

It’s harvest time and so I made Apple Cake with Streusel topping.  I don’t know, does that make it a coffee cake?  It makes it good, ’nuff said.  So good that I took some to our neighbors and while my BFF Eve took a nap, her husband ate it all.  

Jeff and I are trying a more conservative pace of consumption, though as long as it’s still in the house I’ll sleep with one eye open to avoid the tragedy that befell Eve.  

Here’s what I made:

Red Mountain Trails Apple Cake
So many apples it's practically a pie!
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For the cake
  1. 2 eggs (I used fresh duck eggs, chicken eggs are of course great!)
  2. 1 c oil
  3. 2 c sugar
  4. 2 t ground cinnamon
  5. 1/2 t salt
  6. 1 t vanilla
  7. 2 c flour
  8. 1 t baking soda
  9. 6 c peeled, cored, and thinly sliced granny smith apples
For the Topping
  1. 3/4 c brown sugar
  2. 3/4 c flour
  3. 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  4. 1 T water
  5. 1/4 c walnuts (I've used halves and the processor chops them up nicely)
  6. 1/4 c cold butter, diced
For the cake
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan or 4 small loaf pans. (I like to use the small foil ones.)
  2. 2. Prepare the apples. I like to use a corer/peeler tool and it takes about 3 large apples. Just core, peel and spiral slice them. Then I slice the apples lengthwise to get nice slices of apple.
  3. 3. Beat oil and eggs until creamy. Stir in the sugar and vanilla.
  4. 4. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and ground cinnamon together. Slowly add this mixture to the egg mixture and mix until combined. This makes a dense batter.
  5. 5. Fold in the apples by hand using a wooden spoon. It will seem like there are way too many apples, and that's perfect! You basically are coating the apple slices with the batter.
  6. 6. Pour the batter into the large pan or the small loaf pans.
  7. 7. Sprinkle the topping (below) over the batter.
  8. 8. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, or until the cakes test done.
For the Topping
  1. 1. Combine dry ingredients in a food processor.
  2. 2. Slowly drizzle the water into the mixture, with the food processor running.
  3. 3. Slowly add the diced butter, a little at a time, while pulsing the food processor.
  4. 4. Once the mixture is combined, process for another 15 seconds.
Red Mountain Trails


We are open all winter long! Yup, don’t hesitate to contact us if we get one of our characteristically warm, mild, sunny winter days and you want to go for a wagon or trail ride. It’s wonderful out here!

Posted in Chuckwagon, Home on the AVA, The Horses | Comments Off on Fat Ponies on a Green Background, Apple Cake, and Hours