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Welcome to Our Patch of Heaven!

Howdy friends! In honor of our 100th year in operation (it's incredible!), the Bar Lazy J is going high-tech! Now not to worry--there's still none of that allowed here while you're on vacation, but while you're away and anxious to keep up with what's going on (or you just need your "ranch fix"), come check in on our ranch blog where you'll find hoards of photos, we'll follow our staff and you'll hear all the latest happenings first! Of course reading about it isn't nearly as good as the real thing, so we hope to see you out on the trail real soon, but until then, check out what's happening and leave your comments--we love to see that our friends have stopped by! Happy trails everyone!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Sleeping Beauty and Her White Christmas

        December started mild and dry. No snow to be found in our part of the county, but nights cold enough to start freezing the river. Pretty mild for this time of year here though typically. Usually the river is frozen over by Thanksgiving. Anyone for some fly fishing?? Gold panning? I think we’ll skip the river crossing on the horses this morning…..


        It’s pretty typical for locals in these parts to head up into the mountains with permits and cut down their own trees from the National Forest. Cheri found the most beautiful one ever on Mt. City Market and conveniently a forest fairy in a blue apron helped her load it up—a Christmas miracle!


Jerry and Chad welcoming it to the Bar Lazy J—that’s one lucky tree…..


        You can bet it’s a cowboy Christmas around here! Ornaments of chaps, boots and spurs hanging in front of twinkling lights make for a welcoming western glow down here in the valley.


        A drive out to check on the herd tells us they are enjoying the grass while it lasts. When the snow finally comes, they aren’t likely to see it again until the Spring sometime. Everyone looks great!


And then as if Mother Nature heard our thoughts…….


The temperatures plunged and the snow came….and came……..and came….


        The river looks only like a stream, but it’s still wide and rushing underneath that frozen layer of snow and ice. Not quite ready to walk across, but well on it’s way.








And here Sleeping Beauty lies….


A frozen paradise!


Yes. That’s a negative symbol in front of that 26. One might call it “cold outside”….


But you might also refer to it as…….absolutely magically gorgeous.


        Do you know what this is? Some people call them “sun dogs”, but essentially, it is a 30 below rainbow. When it’s cold enough, even the invisible moisture in the air crystalizes until the whole world around you is shimmering like diamonds—like you’re surrounded by magical dust. And through the sunrise—on a perfectly clear Colorado-blue-skied day—there was suddenly? A rainbow….


This is one of those moments you’ll never forget. Awed by nature’s beauty.

And here’s some more of that “nature’s beauty” stuff!





The back pasture!


       12-21-12 as many of you know created a stir around the world as the Mayan calendar was ending and thus signified to many that perhaps the world was ending as well.  Although we weren’t actually worried, for a brief moment, we were a bit—ummm….concerned?-- with this “cloud formation” over Spruce Mountain to the east……


(But if you gotta go? At least we were exactly where we wanted to be!)

        A drive out to see how the herd is faring after the snow fall. The hay is green and plentiful and our “kids” are all fat and fuzzy! Some of them look like different horses with their winter coats on, but you can bet we know each of them on sight. After a head count (many you have heard the tale of “Rocky and Hayden’s Great Adventure”), we check everyone for soundness (i.e. no injuries) and to make sure their weight is good. If any of the herd are struggling with the cold, our first indication is their weight. At the first sign of weight loss, we bring them back to the valley and supplement with grain for as long as they need. These are typically our older horses, if there any at all, and we know who to watch for. But everyone looks great right now!


And they were anxious for some lovin’!

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Christmas Eve blessed us with a fresh layer of snow—a White Christmas indeed!


    Now don’t tell anyone but……we will share with all of YOU our friends of course….

Here it goes…..

        Jerry and Cheri are the real, true, actual Mr. And Mrs. Claus.  There. Now you know the truth. There was only a short amount of time to snap some quick pictures because they had to get to that whole flying all over the world thing. Chad and Tammy were out hitching up the team and putting those ridiculous little antler headbands on the horses’ heads. (They hate those things, but everyone expects them, ya know?) So anyways, that’s what we were doing Christmas Eve—hope everyone enjoyed their presents we brought!


But we didn’t forget our guys of course!  Christmas carrots for the whole crew!


We hope everyone enjoyed all of their holidays and despite our cold, we send lots of warm wishes to all of you!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Bunch of Bull…and a Buck

      Grand County is a paradise for many reasons. Year-round it brings people from around the globe for the various seasonal activities offered here. Gorgeous hiking and riding trails in the summer, fly fishing almost year round, skiing and snowmobiling through the winter and in the Fall? Hunters come from across the country to get “lost” in the woods for a few days.

       Now we realize not everyone is in to the whole “hunting thing”—we have a few vegetarians around here ourselves—but we respect those who hunt by the law in order to provide food for themselves and families for the winter. There is something to be said about naturally lean red meat—AND I guess we could call it organic. No added hormones here. And when you can provide all the meat for a family of four for the entire winter for under $50? Hard to argue it’s not a good option for those with the ability.

       A few of our Bar Lazy J family members take to the woods every Fall and this year was a bountiful one for them.


Ron and his nice 6x6 bull elk.


Shane (our farrier) and his humungous 7x6 bull elk.


Chad and his large 5x5 Mule Deer buck.

     And now that the meat has been hung and then processed (yes, they do it themselves—only way to save that money!), it’s time to pull out the Wild Game recipes for some of the tastiest dishes around. We thought we’d share a few of our favorites and keep in mind—these can be used with beef as well, but since deer and elk have little to no fat, using beef might be a little different. With that said, here are some tried and true delicious recipes from our hunters—they are sure to please!


Microwave Venison Chip Dip

This is super fast and a HUGE crowd pleaser at gatherings. Easy to substitute any ground meat including turkey and beef. We give this recipe away a LOT. Makes about 3 cups.

1/2--1 lb. of ground venison/elk (depending on if you want a “meatier” dip)

1 lb. Velveeta cheese with Jalapeno peppers, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup chopped, seeded tomato (or equivalent of drained canned tomatoes)

1 can (4 oz.) of chopped green chilies, drained

1/4 c. diced black olives

1/4 tsp. EACH of ground cumin and garlic powder

1/4 c. of green onions (I have left these out when I didn’t have them on hand and it’s still perfectly delicious.)

In a 2 qt. casserole dish, microwave the venison on high, for 2 minutes at a time, until meat is no longer pink. Stir in between. Drain if needed. Add the rest of the ingredients and microwave for 2 minutes at a time until cheese is melted. Stir in between. If desired, you can reserve some of the tomato and green onions as a garnish to put on top afterwards. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips or use as a potato topper. It’s a winner! (*Make a double batch and put it in a crock pot for your next potluck appetizer dish . You can thank me later!*)


Cranberry Elk and Rice

2 T. of vegetable oil, divided.

2 lbs. Elk top round or substitute, cut into 1 inch cubes

3 medium onion, each cut in 8 wedges

2 c. beef or venison stock

1 c. dry red wine

2 T. balsamic vinegar

3 cloves of garlic,  minced

1 tsp. dried thyme leaves

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 package (12 oz.) fresh cranberries

1/2 c. packed brown sugar

1/2 c. flour

1/2 c. water


In a Dutch oven, heat 1 T. of oil over medium-high heat. Add half of elk cubes and cook for 4-6 mins until no longer pink, stirring frequently. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Drain pot and repeat with remaining oil and elk.

Return meat to pot. Stir in onions, stock, wine, vinegar, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 hour or until meat is tender, stirring occasionally.

In medium bowl, combine cranberries, brown sugar, flour and water. Stir into meat mixture. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until sauce is thickened, stirring frequently. Serve over rice. Yum!


Four-cheese Pasta

8 oz. penne or other tube pasta

1 lb. ground venison or elk (we use our homemade Italian sausage—recipe follows)

1 (14.5 oz.) can stewed tomatoes

1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 c. sliced green onions

1 (3 oz.) package of cream cheese

1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese

1/2 c. shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 c. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese or cheese of your choice

Cook pasta as package directs; drain. In skillet, brown venison. Salt and pepper to taste if meat is not already seasoned. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic powder and cook uncovered, until slightly thickened. Stir in onions and cream cheese. Toss with remaining ingredients. Cover 5 minutes to melt cheese and serve over pasta. Pass the garlic bread!

Italian Game Sausage

3 lbs. ground game meat

1 lb. ground pork (for more “leanness” and less “sausageness”, nix the pork and use 4 lbs. of game meat. Still delicious.)

2 cloves minced garlic

2 tsp. fennel seeds

1 T. salt

1 T. parsley

1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper

1 tsp. crushed red chili peppers

1 T. Italian seasoning

2-3 teaspoons of cayenne pepper (optional for hot sausage)

Mix all ingredients and blend by hand. Roll into 4 equal balls and freeze in 1 qt. freezer bags or freezer paper. Don’t forget to leave one ball to use fresh! SO good!


     Enjoy! We’re off to make our most favorite wild game dish—essential for hikes and all-day riding expeditions—jerky!