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Calf Fries – The Original Sack Lunch

Last week, we asked our Facebook followers if they’d be game to try Calf Fries.  For those of you less familiar with cowboy lingo, that’s one of the many names we’ve given to bull testicles. Y’all have a lot of opinions on the subject — it was one of our most popular posts. The overwhelming answer? Not only would you, but you already have. This is a book about real Texas cowboys, after all, and if you’re following along you probably know a thing or two about cowboy cooking.

Calf Fries on the Waggoner

Once upon a time, Western ranchers needed more cheap & easy nutrition, so they tried eating previously discarded cuts of meat.  Like my Mama always told me, “Waste not, want not.”  The ranchers grilled, baked, battered, and fried them into all sorts of delicious recipes.  The rest is history.  The images below are just a few of the unfiltered cowboy life photographs Jeremy Enlow captured in Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch. It’s a real life look at the inner workings of the Waggoner Ranch cattle operations as they were before the sale, from beautiful sunrises to the gritty, hard work the cowboys do daily.

Dinner on the Waggoner Ranch, cowboy style

Calf testicles and ears are sorted out in the field after they’re removed.

 

Dinner on the Waggoner Ranch, cowboy style

Waggoner Cowboys keep close track of the ears cut to make sure every calf has been attended to.

 

Dinner on the Waggoner Ranch, cowboy style

Waggoner Cowboy, Daly Welch fills a glove with the day’s collection.  This will be supper.

 

History

We Westerners weren’t the first ones to enjoy these resourceful recipes.  The ancient Romans are the first people we know of that made use of the calf’s testicles.  They believed eating organs of a healthy animal would improve the health of the corresponding human organ; thus the common belief that Calf Fries are an aphrodisiac.  While we’re not sure about that, these organ meats are a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.  There is no measurable effect on the hormone levels of humans who eat them though.

Calf Fries by Any Other Name

These days they’re called Calf Fries, Rocky Mountain Oysters, Cowboy Caviar, Swinging Beef, Prairie Oysters, Dusted Nuts; we’re pretty creative with our euphemisms.  Call them what you will, they’re a dish enjoyed by many.  See the photos below for a couple of examples of ways modern folks eat Calf Fries.

 

Calf Fries battered and fried, served with cream gravy.

 

Calf Fry Pizza

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Looking Back on the Waggoner Ranch

For the last year and half, we’ve had the honor of sharing the story of the Waggoner Ranch cowboys. From the pages of our award-winning book Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch to the stories we post every day on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, we love helping more people discover these hardworking cowboys.

the waggoner ranch sold recently after 165+ years of family ownership

Today, we’re sharing some of our favorite stories of the W.T. Waggoner Ranch from the last year and a half.

Good Morning, Waggoner

Start your photographic tour of the Waggoner Ranch in the dark morning hours. The Waggoner Ranch cowboys go to work under the light of the moon. This gallery shows the vivid Texas night sky and as the cowboys and their horses head to work.

Never Before Seen Photographs of the Waggoner Ranch

During his time on the W.T. Waggoner Ranch, Jeremy Enlow capture more than 14,000 images. That’s a whole lot of #cowboylife photos. Obviously, most of these photos never made their way into the book. Take a peek into his archives here.

Bobby Daniel Retires After 51 Years

Bobby Daniel is a legend around the Texas ranch. Cowboying on the ranch from 1965-2016, he comes from a long line of Waggoner cowboys. Learn more about Bobby’s story (and the Daniel legacy on the ranch!).

Stan Kroenke Closes on Famed Waggoner Ranch

This is the sale that put the Waggoner Ranch front and center in national news. After years of legal disputes between the heirs, the ranch was sold to Stan Kroenke. With a listing price of $725 million, the sale made headlines.

The History of the Waggoner Ranch

Want to learn more about the history of the largest ranch under one fence in the United States? We round up the most important facts (and some of our favorite trivia) for you here.

 

 

Thank you to everyone for following us! We hope you keep sharing the Waggoner cowboys’ story.

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Rocky Mountain Oysters

Last week, we asked our Facebook followers if they’d be game to try Rocky Mountain Oysters. For those of you less familiar with cowboy culinary lingo, that’s one of the many names given to bull testicles. Y’all have a lot of opinions on the subject — it was one of our most popular posts. The overwhelming answer? Not only would you, but you already have. This is a book about real Texas cowboys, after all, and if you’re following along you probably know a thing or two about cowboy cooking.

Dinner on the Waggoner Ranch, cowboy style

Dinner on the Waggoner Ranch, cowboy style

Dinner on the Waggoner Ranch, cowboy style

Once upon a time, Rocky Mountain ranchers needed more cheap nutrition, so they started eating previously discarded cuts of meat. Thus, the most familiar name for this cowboy meal was born. The images above are just a few of the unfiltered cowboy life photographs Jeremy Enlow captured in Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch. It’s a real life look at the inner workings of the Waggoner Ranch cattle operations, from beautiful sunrises to the gritty, hard work the cowboys do daily.

You may also be interested in:

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Serving Up Some Cowboy Wisdom

Cowboying on the largest ranch under one fence is no easy task. Many of the cowboys featured in the book have been at it for decades, working the Waggoner Ranch for 10 hours a day, five or more days a week. Along the way, they’ve learned cowboy skills and a heck of a lot of wisdom. We can all learn from the way Waggoner Ranch cowboys live their lives.

“They are cowboys. They live by another ethic that reveals itself in their work and how they relate to each other. They value people over things. They have a sense of personal responsibility. They know who they are, and they aren’t going to be less than that for anybody.” –from the book

We’ve collected some of our favorite bits of cowboy wisdom and quotes from the book below. Want more? Be sure to follow us on Pinterest where we share Western wisdom, Texas cowboys, and ranch life photographs.

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Weldon Hawley Retires

Weldon Hawley came to the Waggoner Ranch in 1972 after serving in Vietnam. His father, Charlie, was a cowboy on the ranch, and Weldon carried on the family tradition. He started at the bottom, living in the bunkhouse before working his way up to Ranch Manager. He retired at the end of February after 45 years as a Waggoner Ranch cowboy. In 2005, Weldon was presented the Top Hand Award at the 25th Annual North Texas Rehab Ranch Roundup

“When I started thirty years ago, we had two vehicles,” he says. “We rode in the camper in the back of the wagon boss’ truck. The chuck wagon was out (instead of cowboys driving in to eat at the cook shack). We have radios and cell phones and the helicopter. Everything else is about the same as it always has been.”

 

After 45 years as a Texas cowboy Weldon Hawley retires

 

Weldon has a reputation as a hardworking man of integrity. People often visit our Facebook page to leave comments about him, recalling old stories and praising his hard work.

People stop to congratulate Weldon Hawley on his Top Hand award at the North Texas Ranch Roundup

 

In 2016, Weldon was interviewed in Western Horseman Magazine for a story on the book. There, he reflected on what it is like to work on a historic ranch. “We’ll be the last bunch of cowboys working under the W. T. Waggoner Ranch. The book shows we’re still surviving doing things like they did 100 years ago, the cowboy way.”

For 45 years, Weldon has devoted himself to the Waggoner Ranch. It’s been an honor to get to know him, and we wish him all the best in his retirement. You can see more photos of Weldon Hawley from the book below.

 

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Jeremy’s photographs of the Waggoner Ranch document many iconic aspects of the ranch.  Taken a year before the ranch sold to Stan Kroenke, they capture the ranch right before its historic change of hands, preserving a way of life for future generations. Some things have changed on the Waggoner since then, including the closing of the Waggoner Ranch cook shack. As time passes, this photographic history of the ranch becomes increasingly precious.

Debbie’s cooking philosophy was simple: “Lots of calories,” she laughs. None of it goes to waste. The cowboys filled their plates from the cafeteria-style line up of from-scratch comfort food. When the cook shack was open, Debbie made breakfast and lunch six days a week for the twenty-six cowboys.

You can see more photos of the Waggoner Ranch cook shack here, and what it looked like in the 1980s here.

Jeremy Enlow of Steel Shutter Photography photographed the cow camp at the Waggoner Ranch

It takes a lot of coffee to be a cowboy.

Debbie’s cooking was always mouthwateringly delicious and filling.

Weldon Hawley, right, is always the last to eat and the first to head to work.

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Never Before Seen Photographs of Waggoner Ranch Vol. 3

Good morning!

To celebrate Equus International Film Festival this week, we’re sharing 10 more previously unpublished photographs from Jeremy’s archives. If you enjoy seeing new photos of the ranch, follow us on Facebook and Twitter where we share new images every week. The photographs in Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch and Jeremy’s archives show a side of cowboy life that’s not often seen, as the reviewer below says:

“Being a life long Texan (and you’ll understand this if you’re one too), I have seen more than my fair share of “The Cowboy Life” portrayed in the worst way by some slick New York or Los Angeles artist/producer/photographer/journalist… In my travels, it never fails, that I am presented with some misconceived and ill informed lore of how Texas, Cowboys, and country life if portrayed elsewhere. So when I heard about this book – I was naturally skeptical, and fully expected some mockery and over zealous portrayal of country bumpkins, akin to another horrible Woody Harrelson and Kiefer Sutherland performance.. I was horribly, horribly WRONG.”  -Amazon book review, (May 7, 2016)

We love this review of the book and are honored to show Texas cowboys in a way that honors them as the living legends they are.

 

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