Monthly Archives: May 2017

Custom Built Saddle

I had the chance to try a custom made saddle the other day and I rode in it for two days on a trail ride. I have to say it’s the most comfortable saddle I’ve ever ridden in.

This is a 16” seat Wade Style saddle built by Kevin & Dale Moore, instructors of Montana Horseman Saddle Building School in Belgrade. It is built on a Timberline Tree, 6 ½ gullet, Montana Horseman Hape bars. If you’re not familiar with this style of tree, what it basically does is to flare the front of the bars out so as not to dig in a horse’s shoulders, and it starts the twist a bit back in the bars. A nice tree to build a saddle on and a very nice tree to ride. I was riding my young horse Bob with saddle bags, a slicker and going up rough steep terrain and his back wasn’t sore at all. That’s impressive!

It is rigged with Montana flat plate rigging. It has an Oregon cross over rope strap, which lets you snug your rope up tight. The horn finished out at 4 ½ inches and is wrapped in mule hide. It has tooled stirrup straps on the outside, which I think looks really good. The Wade style tree looks really good with a straight up cantle and a frog lip rolled under in the front. The bucking rolls are secured in place so they cannot slip up or back. The seat has a medium to high rise, and a nice dish. It’s thinned down the front of the seat just a little bit, to not spread out a person’s hips too much.

Dale Moore started building saddles around 1963 from Jack Miller in Helena Montana. He had five kids and was a school teacher and could not afford to buy a new saddle, so he started building them.
After retiring from the Montana school system Dale started Montana Horseman Saddle building school. He tells the story ever once in a while saying that he thought a couple of people may want to learn to build a saddle. Now they have students from literally all over the world, from Australia to France and back to South Africa and everywhere in between.

The class run six days a week for five weeks. During the first two weeks the students are put through an orientation from sewing machines, to welts and braiding, and horse conformation. The students build demonstration saddles to begin to learn how to build saddles and then each student builds a saddle of their choice to take home. Students leave the class with the knowledge to build saddle for themselves or friends or open their own saddle shop. We have many successful saddle makers running their own businesses around the United States and the world.

In my opinion it is one of the best saddles around.

Happy trials!


Ready to Roll?

Cinnamon Rolls

Are you ready to roll? I have two cinnamon roll recipes I like to use, one is sourdough, and the other is regular. Both of them are good tasting and have their distinctive differences in taste. I’m getting ready to take Bob the horse on a trail ride so I decided to make a double batch of these cream cheese frosted rolls for everyone.

I wanted to show you how I do it because it only takes about 2 1/2 hours start to finish and most of that time you are inactive.

This is the dough going into a warm oven to rise, run it to about 120 degrees then turn it off before you put the dough in.

Here it is after one hour of rise time.

Clean your workspace well then lightly dust it with flour to roll your dough out.

Roll your dough out into a giant rectangle and slather it with butter. You can’t have too much butter!

Blend your sugar and cinnamon together well before you sprinkle it over all that awesome butter.


After you roll it up in a long log use a string to cut your rolls so you won’t smash them to smithereens.

Just cross them and pull.

Here they are ready for the second rise.

Here they are after the second rise.

Now are you ready to roll?


Wood Fired Oven

I’ve always been fascinated with cooking over hardwood. After tasting some pizza that was cooked on in a wood oven I was hooked! I looked online and researched plans and different companies ready made ovens and eventually decided to go with a kit.

I prepared a steel stand with a concrete top as they suggested and waited for my oven to arrive on a freight truck. The one I chose weighed about 1800 pounds!

Here it is in the crate before I unloaded it. We just rolled it off the semi onto my flatbed, then I used my tractor front end loader to move it off the truck. I you plan to build one of these you’ll need some equipment (or a bunch of weight lifters) to help maneuver it.

The first thing you do is put down a base of sand and level the floor insulation that sits beneath the floor.

Next you assemble the fire brick floor and level it over the insulation. This will be your actual cooking surface so you’ll want to spend extra time here to make sure all your seems line up.

The dome pieces fit around the floor and actually sit on the thick insulation. Positioning these pieces in place without moving the floor brick is quite a task! So far everything is just sitting in position not actually bonded together.

This kit came with hi temp mortar to mix and fill all the gaps in the joints. You apply this liberally and its fine for it to be rough and uneven because it won’t show.  After the mortar dries you wrap it with several layers of and insulating blanket. Wrap that with wire and apply stucco over the whole outside.

After several days of low temperature curing fires you are ready to cook something, so it had to be pizza.

Here it is all finished and painted.

Besides pizza we’ve made kabobs, cookies, breads, steaks, chicken, beans and BBQ. The pizza cooking temp is about 600 degrees Fahrenheit and the oven holds its temperature really well. My favorite thing to do is cook pizza one day, shut the oven up and let it sit until the next day, then put on a brisket to slow cook. The temp will usually start around 350 from the day before then cool through the afternoon to 220 or so. Man! That makes the most tender brisket I’ve ever eaten.

Happy trails!


Honey Bees

Spring is a really busy time for us, it seems like everything happens at once! When you farm and ranch you have to be diligent to do everything in a timely manner or risk losing something, in this case honey production.

I thought it was time to put the supers on last week because there has been a lot of activity in the bee yard. In order to smoke the bees and install the super its best to have little to no wind and a sunny day at the same time. Lately those two parameters have been in short supply!

That’s me all decked out in my sword fighting… I mean my be suit with smoker in hand. A lot of people don’t even suit up for this as the bees are pretty gentle this time of year but I don’t like to take a chance on getting stung.

I like to use a queen excluder between the hive body and the super to prevent brood in the honey. The queen won’t fit thru those slots so there is no chance of that happening.

Here the bees are busy going in and out of their hive carrying nectar and pollen no doubt.

This is the super. This particular one has ten frames with honey comb below the boards that you see there on top

Next is the inner lid then the outer cover, I only put one super on each hive and then check them periodically to see if they are getting full then add another.

The one that Sara is standing by has four supers on it. That was a good year and a good strong hive.

Come fall we’ll reap the sweet rewards!

Happy trails.