My husband was commissioned to make these custom chaps… by a wife – for a Valentine’s Day gift! How cool is that?! That is one lucky man! I thought they turned out beautifully.
Now we’re just hoping they fit, since it was all very secret.
My husband has been working on this pair of custom batwing chaps for a few weeks now. He finished them last week. They are a unique mix of styles, reflecting the diverse tastes of Wyoming cowboys. I thought they turned out exceptionally well. Feel free to contact my husband; Cliff, via his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ckcustomleather
Or email: ckcustomleather (at) yahoo (dot) com
When I started tying mohair cinchas, I didn’t know much about the benefits – my artistic soul just loved the beauty of a hand-tied, colorful, mohair cinch! But as I have worked with them longer and have learned more and more, I am now sold on the benefits of this traditional fiber.
There are many choices with cinchas, and I can appreciate the various personal reasons for selecting a type to fit your need, whether it be usage, appearance, or just plain ole finances! (mohair tends to be pricey)
But – if you love traditional gear, and enjoy your gear being a piece of art – as well as solid function – then you may like a mohair cinch! I really enjoy making them. Working with my customers to design that special gift, or dyeing my own colors is so satisfying. I strive to keep my prices as low as possible, so the average working cowboy can afford nice-looking gear.
And in other news, I am honored to be a contributing writer for Cavvy Savvy! A website that offers practical advice for performance and working horses.
I wrote an article on the benefits of a mohair cinch over there today, if you want to go check it out: Benefits of a Mohair Cinch.
I am impressed with the great group of writers at Cavvy Savvy. They are the real deal, and have so much knowlegde of working horses. I am excited to learn from them in the coming years.
Like to see what I have been up to?
Nothing too spectacular, really. Just living. Working. Cooking. Made this simple, comforting beef pie that reminds me of James Herriot and Yorkshire.
Savory Beef Pie
Spent a while in my husband’s leather shop, working on some rustic, leather-bound journals…
So I got a bunch of stuff crossed off my list, and yet my list grows instead of diminishing! I am also picking, shelling, and freezing peas from my garden. Watering and otherwise tending to my precious tomatoes. I plan to do a garden update one of these days. My greenhouse is crazy and out of control! 😉
What have you been up to lately?
It was still dark when the alarm sounded.
I didn’t hear it.
I was sound asleep – tired from being up late. I forgot to make a dessert to take to the branding, and it was bedtime till I remembered. So when the alarm sounded, I was too zonked out to even hear it. Thankfully, my husband heard it and woke up.
The kids crawled groggily out of bed at 5:15, yawning and rubbing their eyes. The baby was stretched out so comfortably in sleep, that I hated to wake her. But I did. Because that’s what you do when you want to go to a branding. Meanwhile, My Cowboy was making hot, black coffee, and saddling his horse. When I finally got the kids all herded into the Suburban, we drove over to the barn and loaded the horse.
For just a few minutes, the sunshine lay a golden mantle over the land. The tall, prairie grasses glowed with light, and all the trees and hills had a soft, muted look that made you want to just sit and stare.
We drove back the two-track through miles of green grasses, with the birds swooping and darting beside us. There was fresh-cut hay in the fields, and a young elk – trying to figure out where to run to.
We arrived at the pasture where there was already a long row of ranch trucks, each one sporting a horse-trailer. We parked beside the last one and sat quietly while my cowboy unloaded his horse, and mounted up. After instructions from the Cowboss, he rode off with the others into the sunrise – over a grassy knoll, and they were gone. We sat in silence, still sleepy.
After an hour or so, we could see the cows drifting over the hills, followed by the cowboys. They had ridden to the back of the pasture, then worked their way to the center and front, pushing the cattle before them.
As the sun rose higher in the morning sky, the cattle got closer, and soon we could hear the mooing of the cows. The cowboys rode close behind them – close enough to keep them moving, but far enough back so that they wouldn’t start running.
Once the cows were all in the branding trap*, the boss’s wife brought out some snacks for break. Huge cinnamon rolls and buckets of cookies and brownies. Plus the coolers full of ice-covered drinks.
Soon the pot was roaring, and the Cowboss had given instructions on how he wanted the roping to go. Some of the cowboys mounted up and started roping calves, while the rest of them stayed on the ground to wrestle calves, give vaccinations, castrate, and brand. They took turns, roping and working the ground.
The kids were encouraged to git in there and help any way they could. For the littlest ones – like this tiny cowpoke – the best job is to mark the calf once it has had it’s vaccination.
*Branding trap is the term used for a small fenced off pen out in a pasture, used primarily for brandings, so they don’t have to trail them all the way back to the corrals. Often they will set up a trap on the day of the branding – using steel fence panels kept for that purpose.
All photos are property of Kay Schrock.
I want to show you a bit of my husband’s leather work today. Spur leathers, specifically.
Don’t know what they are? Basically, they are a piece of leather that holds the spur onto the boot. But like most cowboy gear – they are usually made to be fashionable as well as functional.
My husband does amazing leather work. I am always impressed with the attention to detail and the quality of work he produces. Yes – I am prejudiced, 😉 but I have been to many leather shops and shows with him, and I have seen a lot of work. I still think his is outstanding.
Like any good artist – he tends to be his own worst critic – pointing out flaws. I, on the other hand – have no problem bragging him up. No problem, I tell you!
Check out the fancy silver buckles on these babies.
The thud of his hammer is often heard during tooling… For those of you new to the business – he cuts the designs into the leather using a very sharp little swivel knife, then he uses a small steel ‘stamp’ and pounds the leather down in places – to give the design a 3D effect.
Another pair of custom spurs. Beautiful. Oh wait… actually – I think these are his own spur leathers! Yes, he wears his own handwork. Rides in his own saddle, too. (cinched down with his wife’s hand-made cinch.)
Check out the gorgeous Jeremiah Watt spurs! Pretty, pretty! Here’s another pair of custom spurs.
If you want to order spur leathers (or any leather item) just contact me, or shoot Cliff an email at ckcustomleather (at) gmail (dot) com.
My Cowboy works hard for a living. All cowboys and ranchers do. But after the ‘official’ workday is over, (is there such a thing on a ranch? ) he goes back out to his leather shop and continues working. I know a lot of cowboys who tinker with leather – often making or at least repairing their own tack and saddles. But My Cowboy took it a step farther, and turned his hobby into a side business. He makes custom saddles, chaps, tack, belts… you name it.
This is the first in a series of posts shining a spotlight on his work. He specializes in pairing aesthetics with function. He can carve leather beautifully, but it’s not finished til the chaps fit right, the tack is made of the best leather, or the saddle seat is as smooth as butter.
Here is a pair of custom, two-tone armitas he made for a rancher’s wife here in Wyoming. I really like them. When my babies grow up a little, and I start riding enough to justify it – I want a pair very similar to these. Just pretty. That’s what they are.
Old Man Winter has come to stay awhile. I am OK with that. I never thought I would say that – but after nearly 5 years in WY, I am acclimated. I think.
You know, in the Midwest you have Summer – then a few months of winter before getting back to Summer. In Wyoming, you have Winter – then a few months of summer before getting back to Winter.
I like the Midwest better for that reason, but hey. It’s an imperfect world. (That’s my new favorite phrase. just ask my sister and my husband. they have to listen to it at least 10 times a week. It explains so much so well, though!)
So anyways, its winter. Which means snow. And icy roads. And wind. Repeat multiple times. My kids go sledding the first 2 times it snows, then they get tired of it. It has snowed at least 6 times so far this winter, so they have filled their quota of sledding. At least for now. I, on the other hand, would likely never go sledding if I didn’t have to take my kids out.
I have been checking the ice frequently, however, trying to determine how thick it should be to bear the weight of three small kids and one large mom at the same time. How thick should ice be? And should one carry a long pole the first time across, just in case one falls though, while testing the safety? I don’t know these things. Because when I was a kid, I spent most winters in Florida – where all normal people winter. And they don’t exactly have frozen ponds down there, if you get my drift. Now, I could tell you when to go to the beach to find the very best seashells, and which beach is the most secluded, and where you will be likely to see dolphins playing, or where you just may step on a jellyfish if you aren’t careful.
But ice…well, its just not my thing. And My Cowboy loves to ice skate, so I am trying to instill the same love in my kids. I am glad we have a nice-sized pond in our backyard, so we can go skating at home.
In other news – we have been ‘dog-sitting’ for a friend the last 10 days or so. A border-collie, no less. I am not a fan of border-collies, but My Cowboy is. he has been hauling the dog around in the truck. He is getting the urge to get another border collie, I think. A working dog, of course. A good cowdog is worth 2 men, sometimes. At least when working cattle. But the problem is; either you have to get a puppy and train it, (read: Time) or you have to buy a trained dog, (read: Money) either way, its gonna have to wait awhile.
My Cowboy is currently working in his leather-shop most evenings, trying to get caught up on orders. He has a saddle that is long overdue, (sorry, Axel!) And a few other misc. orders to fill. I like that he has a waiting list, though, that just means he’s good!
My current project is finishing a quilt that was ordered a long time ago. I am almost done! So ready to get it out of the frame, and get some other things done. I have some sewing that I wanna get done before Christmas, and I really want to make some cute aprons. I was looking at some pictures of aprons online, and was reminded how much I like aprons. I don’t have any I like right now, though, so I want to find some cute fabric and sew some up.
I have a new craft that I want to learn. I am not going to tell you what it is just yet. (I will soon, don’t worry!) But I will give you a hint: It will help My Cowboy in his saddle shop, and it has to do with Mohair. If you are not familiar with mohair – I am sorry. And if you do not, or have not, lived with cowboys – my apologies.
Enough rambling for today – I have a quilt to finish!