Being born in the 1950’s, I have seen many changes transpire from the mid-20th century up to today’s timeframe. I guess like every other generation, you have the opportunity to see how other generations lived through your grandparents, and in some cases, if you were lucky like myself, through some of your great grandparents.
When I was a child, I spent a lot of time at my grandparent’s small farm at Centralia, Ok. Centralia, which is now a ghost town, still had several individuals living from the generation of my grandparents and even a few were still left from my great grandparent’s generation. Most of these people had made their living as farmers and ranchers. Although it was the age of the tractor during my childhood, a lot of these people had farmed at one time using horses. Same with the cowboys that worked on the ranches, they were still using horses to work cattle, but were now moving them from pasture to pasture in the back of a pick-up truck with wooden stock rails on the bed, or in an open top cattle trailer.
During that timeframe of my youth, many of the ranches in the ranch country of Centralia were still raising their own horses for ranch use. Also, at that time, the western movie and western television programs still dominated the airways and Hollywood needed an endless supply of horses for the movies. They would buy these horses from ranches in Texas and Oklahoma. There were even some horses purchased from these ranches around Centralia that went to California for use in the movie industry.
In a small farming and ranching community as Centralia was at the time, there just wasn’t much entertainment around for people to enjoy, other than radio and television. The men of the community usually gathered at the small store to sit and visit, or at one of the repair garages to play moon. So when word got out that the local ranches had all gathered and penned their 2 year old horse colts to be changed to geldings, it was an opportunity for some entertainment to go from ranch to ranch, and watch these real cowboys do their job.
The cowboys back then were still doing much of their work the old-fashioned way. The job they were performing this day, did not include a shot to put the horse out and a licensed Vet performing the operation, no, the cowboys would rope and throw the horses, then the procedure would be performed. We ended up going to a couple different ranches that day, and watching as several young horses that day, took their first step toward becoming a part of the ranch remuda, or being sold to the movie industry. I was only a child at the time, but the man who was castrating the colts that day, was a gentleman who I would befriend later in my adult life through horses, and would one day train a racehorse for him, his name was Bill Cass from Welch.
Whether these young horses stayed on the ranch or ended up on the silver screen, one thing I do know for sure, the cowboys riding them at some time or another would feast themselves on a pot of beans. After all, isn’t that what REAL Cowboys eat, whether on the trail or in the cook shack? The recipe I’m sharing today, would probably never be found either place, but if you want a great pot of beans to serve your family, give these a try…..
Donnie’s Navy Beans and Ham
1 lb. white navy beans
Spiral cut ham pieces
½ sweet Vidalia onion chopped
½ Jalapeno chopped (seeds and ribs removed)
½ cup shredded carrot
1 tablespoon bacon drippings
2 tablespoons Knor Chicken Flavor Bouillon
½ teaspoon Cumin
Salt and black pepper to taste
Soak beans 4 hours to overnight in the fridge. Over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven, add the bacon drippings, onion, jalapeno, and carrot to sauté. Add the ham pieces to the pot and stir. Now add the beans and enough water to cover the beans by about an inch. Add the chicken flavor bullion and stir. Cook on medium to low heat, adding water as needed, until the beans become tender. Add the cumin and stir it in, then salt and pepper to taste. Serve with fresh made cornbread or hush puppies.