Texas doesn’t have all the cowboys, or Oklahoma, Nebraska and so on. Here’s the second part of my tell-all interview with my favorite Iowa cowboy. If you missed Part I Newsflash: There are Cowboys in Iowa, you’d better check it out by clicking here.
Let’s roll right back into the good stuff, the funny stuff, the heavy stuff and more.
First and most important question to lead off… is about manure. (Yes you are not only on a food blog, but a farm blog too. Upgrade!)
Part II: Interview with Drew
Covered in cow manure or change a dirty diaper?
“I purposely don’t roll around in cow poop, but getting dirty is one of the perks or hazards of the job, however you see it. I never really notice how much of a mess I am until the day is over, things move so fast while we are working. I guess I just don’t notice. One thing I can assure you, a dirty diaper is in a completely different category than being covered in cow poop. They make me gag. I’m not proud of this.”
You sound like you are on the fence about this, are you sure?
“Yeah, it’s not even close. I’ll take work-dirty over changing a dirty diaper any day.”
Name the most important trait of a successful cattleman?
“Don’t ever stop learning, you’ll never know it all.”
Anything else, can you tell me a bit more?
“Cow sense is what they call it. Comes with experience and some mistakes. Learning from those mistakes makes you better, just like with anything in life. The most important advice I can give is listen to what the ol’ boys tell ya. Sometimes there’s decades of experience behind one simple instruction they share with you, like how to watch out for the onset of an illness, to keep the cows healthier by just being observant. It is the little things that matter most. That kind of wisdom from the older generations is priceless for a guy like me.”
What scares you the most, in what you do?
“Weather. Bad weather. Snow storms, wind, lightning all have me waiting until morning. Their immune systems drag a bit from battling extreme weather. Death or sickness is something you are always looking to prevent, but bad weather situations are out of your control. I don’t like being out of control. I want to manage every part of that cow’s day so I know she’s safe and content. Luckily in the event of bad weather, their instincts keep them safe more times than not. But I’m always sick to my stomach worrying.”
Most important thing you take to work every day?
“I bet you are expecting me to say my horse, tractor, or truck, but I’m not. Starting the day off with an optimistic mind is the one thing you can’t be without. Market prices, crazy weather, stuck machinery and other surprises can make it easy to get down on yourself. You just can’t start off the day that way, can’t. I won’t.”
Speaking of starting off the day, how do you take your coffee?
“Black. Straight up. No fancies.”
If you could have a “best day”, what would happen during that day?
“The best day? Well that’s pretty easy. I would get up early, be on my horse checking cows by dawn, after my black coffee. Haha. But really, I need the coffee because my kids don’t sleep some nights. I would ride through every cow we had. Something like that, almost as if it were a movie. Because some of what we do is cool enough to be in a movie. But then the days where you have sick animals to treat or machinery that breaks down or you have a look at the falling markets… well reality slaps you right back in the face. Savor the good days, because some days are hard, not only physically but sometimes on the mind too. At the end of the day, I just want to go home and have dinner with my family. That’d be the end to my best day.”
(The custom chinks above were made for Drew by BeeJay Scott of BS Custom Leather here in central Iowa. For more information on all of the beautiful, thoughtful gifts BeeJay creates, click here.)
Food! Since you mentioned it: Tell everyone how you best enjoy chili, since this is the recipe I made up for you?
“If I’m eating chili, I’ll take double the beef. When we are in our busiest season of calving, the weather is cold and I’ll never turn away a bowl of chili. My preference is double the beef, because… well the heartier, the better. Protein is one of those food buzz words seem people talk about a lot. I am no food expert, but I know beef has a lot of protein and vitamins, and it keeps me satisfied longer. There’s nothing worse than trying to focus on an empty stomach when a mean cow is staring you down when you’re trying to help her baby. Plus, let’s be honest, does anyone really want a whole bunch of beans in their chili?”
Nope… no they don’t Drew.
*Special thanks to my brother in law, Drew for being in the spotlight for this interview. I know it isn’t the place he wants to be, but every farmer in Iowa should have a chance for people to know how hard they work.
Makes 6-8 hearty servings
2 pounds ground beef, browned and drained
1 – 28 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 – 28 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 – 14 oz can plain tomato sauce
1 – 14 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 TBSP chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp salt or seasoned salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
For serving and garnish: shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped green onion, chopped cooked bacon, oyster crackers
Method: Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Stir well. Cook on high for 4 hours or low 6-8 hours. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped green onion, chopped cooked bacon, and oyster crackers. Makes 6-8 hearty servings.
*use fire roasted tomatoes, instead of plain diced tomatoes for a bit more punch in flavor!