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A quarter-century of restoring old wagons.

In a spectacular canyon up on Glade Park, Colorado, there is some very unique work going on. Gary Kroft has been in the business of restoring old carriages and sheep wagons for over 25 years. His wife Marilyn helps with the wood varnishing, upholstery, and the refurbishing of the inside camps to look just as they were in the early days, whether they're started from scratch or from odd remnants.

Gary puts in about 70 hours on building new camps from the axles up, and about 125 hours for restoring the old ones. He has made or restored about 196 sheep wagons, replacing the frame with canvas or aspen wood frames, and has more orders coming in daily. The sheep wagons are moved all over the Western United States They are used in cow and sheep camps and also on dude ranches for tourists, who love to stay a night in an original shepherd's wagon. They are also used for hunters in the fall and winter and sometimes, just a place for the grandkids to camp out for the night when fishing.

Gary and Marilyn have traveled all over the United States finding old carriages, and have a wonderful collection, from a Canadian snow sled to carriages from the late 1800s--one with a foot warmer in it. The hot coals are placed in the iron container and used to keep the feet warm on cold winter nights. Gary also reproduced a horseless carriage driven with a 5.5 gas engine in the back, taken from rare pictures and designs from museums, and geared with a handle in the carriage for steering and turning the wheels, probably one of the first cars to be invented.

The wheels are made or restored as wooden wheels or rubber tires but now regular truck tires are put on the more modern sheep wagons, as they are easier to haul into camps and along the highways. Wooden wheels in this day and age would not tolerate the highways and roads of modern times.

The more modern sheep wagons are adapted with air conditioning, backup heaters, and even a television. If you want the original or a modern version, Gary can build it. They are still decorated inside with the older sheep wagon items, i.e., a wood burning stove and some basic groceries that were seen in the sheep camps many years ago, such as coffee, flour, canned milk, beans, sugar, etc.

Gary and Marilyn entered the first hard top sheep wagon contest this year in Hotchkiss and won 1st place in the Antique Sheep wagon Competition and also got the People's Choice Award. It's a cozy place where you can retire and have a very dreamy night. The outside boxes are filled with veterinary supplies, and the boot on the back holds horse gear including saddle and packsaddle. Maybe in your imagination you can go back a hundred years or so and see the way life was at that time.

The following are just a few of the excerpts and recipes from Shirley's book:
Oxtail Soup

3 pounds oxtails, disjointed and
 floured
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced onions or 12 shallots
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon thyme
4 juniper berries
2 tablespoons parsley
1/2 cup oil
2 quarts beef stock
2 cups red wine (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large Dutch oven saute onion
and garlic until translucent. Remove
and reserve in a bowl. Add floured
meat to oil (add more oil as necessary).
Brown the meat on both sides.
Add all other ingredients and simmer
until meat is tender, about two hours.
To thicken make a roux and add until
desired consistency is reached. The
meat may be taken off the bones, but
it's finger licking good when left on!

Wagon Wheels

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup water
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice


Mix 1/2 cup shortening, with 1 cup of sugar. Stir in 1 cup of dark molasses, 1/2 cup of water. Mix rest of ingredients together and add to other mixture. Chill dough several hours. On floured surface roll dough 1/2-inch thick, cut in 3" circles. Sprinkle with sugar. Place on well-greased baking sheet. Press a raisin in the center of each. Bake at 375[degrees]F until when pressed lightly, no impression is left. Leave on baking sheet for about 5 minutes to prevent breaking. If desired make spokes of icing.
Grandma's Steamed Carrot Pudding

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup grated potatoes
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup orange juice (can substitute
 for any juice)
1-1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Allspice to taste
Pinch salt

Fill cans or jars (any can may be used)

Place in a double boiler or water.
canner for 2-2-1/2 hours. Make sure
there is a small amount of water in
steamer or canner. Serve with Lemon
Sauce.

Lemon Sauce

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup hot water
Lemon juice to taste
2 tablespoons butter
Flour to thicken


Cook until thickened.

The following items are from the Cookbook and Household Hints book, written by Mrs. Francis Owens in 1883.

Very cheap soup (Costing less than 10 cents a gallon)

Take a cup full of little cut pieces of meat, either cooked or raw. Take a cup each of carrots and turnips, half a cup of onion, all cut small; one cup of rice, salt and pepper to taste; five quarts of cold water; cook slowly for two hours. Add a cup of tomatoes when in season. If mutton is used, substitute barley for rice.

Liquid bluing for clothes

Take best Prussian Blue, pulverized, 1 ounce; oxalic acid, also pulverized, 1/2 ounce; soft water, 1 quart; mix. The acid dissolves the blue and holds evenly in the water so that speckling will never take place. One or two tablespoons of it is sufficient for a tub of water, according to the size of the wash. This is far preferable to the bluing sold in stores, and much cheaper.

To purify water

A tablespoon of powdered alum will purify a whole hogshead of water. It precipitates all impurities. A teaspoon will only be required for several gallons. (Ed. note: Remember, purified water is not the same as potable water.)

Miscellaneous hints

* To cut butter in cold weather, heat the knife, and all crumbling is avoided.

* The very best thing to clean Plaster of Paris statuary is common white calcimine. It gives them the look of the purest white marble.

* Pack horseradish in a box of earth, and grate it as it is wanted in winter.

* Grease may be removed from a white floor by making common hasty pudding of cornmeal and laying it on the spot until cold.

One cannot realize how hard it was to live then, and all we have to do in this day and age is run to the store and choose all the hundreds of items that are available, but what would happen if we did not have all the conveniences in life--how would we survive?

Shirley's book Times, They Are A' Changin', But Good Memories & Food Never Do!, and 2007 calendar ($11.95 ea., plus $3 p&h), contain tips and recipes like those above. Contact her at Shirley Sieving, PO Box 23231, Glade Park, CO 81523-0231 or call 970-243-6391.

SHIRLEY SIEVING

GLADE PARK, COLORADO
COPYRIGHT 2007 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 
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Title Annotation:The country kitchen
Author:Sieving, Shirley
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Mar 1, 2007
Words:1276
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