Meet Your Maker #26: Cowboy Poet Salsas
Having been in TX for nearly 2 months, you would think that I had run across a real cowboy – but it took meeting a fellow judge at ZF to show me the meaning of a real cowboy. Enter Rusty Feather, a genuine cowboy from Montana – who also happens to be a famous cowboy poet in Montana. Rusty & his wife Sabrina make a fantastic salsa that I had the opportunity to try in Fort Worth. This husband and wife team are working hard on their ranch and their salsa and it shows! Now a few words from Sabrina & Rusty…
1. Why fiery foods? Where did the idea come from for you to get involved doing this?
Cowboy Poet’s Salsa is a family recipe. The idea of marketing our salsa came from the friends and family that liked it so much that they asked to buy it.
2. How did you get started in the industry?
By doing my own research. I found a certified kitchen (the local community center), applied and received my processing license (not an easy task) and started processing salsa.
3. What was the biggest challenge when you first started?
Trying to juggle my time between my full time job, work with my horses and make salsa.
Now? Trying to juggle my full time job, raise a family, work with my horses and run a company on limited finances.
4. If you had to pick a favorite product of yours, which would it be?
Cowboy Poet’s Salsa ““ Medium.
5. Where do you see the future of fiery foods 5 years from now?
I think it will grow, peppers are loaded with vitamins and Mild, Medium and Hot sauces has something for everyone.
6. What do you think is going to be the next big trend in the industry?
All natural foods, quick, something for kids, food that makes us feel good all the way around.
7. What sets you aside from the other manufacturers out there today?
Cowboy Poet’s Salsa is 100% natural, but what sets us apart from the rest is that we are a jarred salsa, but we taste fresh and that is hard to find.
8. What is your inspiration before you embark on a new concoction?
My inspiration is creating something that tastes wonderful, easy to use and is healthy. Cooking for a family is challenging.
9. How many different recipes do you go through when developing a new sauce?
We’ll I’ve been working on my green sauce for over 6-years off and on. I just can’t seem to find to perfect it. But I have changed my recipe 4-times to date and still I am not satisfied. Though I have one change to make on my next test batch that I feel will be the ticket.
10. What is your favorite product that you don’t make?
Green sauce. I prepare it at home from scratch all of the time. It’s WONDERFUL!
11. What do you eat hot sauce on?
I eat Cowboy Poet’s Salsa on everything from eggs, potatoes, pasta, salad, tacos, you name it.
12. If you had to choose only one hot sauce to use for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Cowboy Poet’s Salsa. It compliments all food.
13. Outside of creating hot products, what else keeps you occupied or out of trouble?
My kids. Ages 7 and 9 years. My job, a school secretary. My husband Cowboy Poet, Rusty Feather’s. Our horses, American Quarter horses and Paints. And distributing to large grocery chain markets. That takes most of our time. There is NEVER a dull minute in our house. Never.
14. Any weird stories or uses for your hot sauce that you would like to share?
I’ve had customers come up to me during in-store demos and shows to tell me what they eat Cowboy Poet’s Salsa on. Some of the things are Cottage Cheese, pasta, mixed with sour cream or Velveeta cheese. One gal said that she used our salsa instead of butter on her baked potato for her weight loss program and it worked.
15. What is the most common question you get?
How Hot is your Hot?
16. What’s a typical day for you?
We live in Montana where we build our own home. Weather sometimes is a factor but we trudge on.
I get up at 5:00 AM M-F. Leave for work by 6:00 AM, drive 7-miles out on a gravel road and through a private ranch and then 30 miles to work. My husband, Rusty gets up at 6:30 AM and gets the kids up and off to school. Then he loads up his truck and leaves for work him self. (He is a self employed builder as well as a Cowboy Poet). I work at a public school as the secretary and manage over 400-student records. I leave my job at 3:30 PM and race back home to get to the bus stop (2-miles from our home) by 4:05 PM. I pick up our kids from the bus stop and drive on home. We unload the car and I head straight to the barn to feed the livestock. I then go into the house and start dinner while the kids take out their homework and start on that. I have dinner ready for our family meal by 6:00 PM. Rusty gets home anywhere from 6:00-8:00 PM depending on the current job he is working on. We eat dinner, I do the dishes and head back out to the barn to clean stalls, water and sometimes ride if time and weather allows. During this evening time, I check for orders from Albertsons or Associated Food Store warehouses on my fax. When orders come in I schedule the delivery appointments and make notes for Rusty to deliver. On Friday’s Rusty distributes to our local stores within a 300-miles radius.
In between building, distributing salsa, and helping with the kids he makes calls and sets up appointments with food buyers.
Our weekends contest of going out of town to do in-store demos, shows, Cowboy Poetry Gatherings, horse shows or rides or we stay home, build a fire in the woodstove put on a good old movie and do laundry and housework! Of course Rusty rarely gets to sit down because he always has some thing to do at home, e.i.; chop firewood, work on the barn, or fix fences.
Some have said that we are the busiest people they know. I tell them, “I don’t know about that. But then again, I don’t have time to think about it”.
We love doing what we do.
17. Worst burn ever?
Back when we used to make salsa at home before I started the business, my sister and I were chopping jalepenos by hand. It was one of our first huge batch days and I decided not to ware gloves like she did. I learned about burning hands that night. I tried everything from rubbing vegetable oil on my hands, to drinking lots of beer and finally sleeping with both hands in a bowl of ice water to ease the pain. It was terrible.
18. Best burn ever?
I’m not a Hot Hot sauce lover, can’t take too much heat, but when I do shows and hand out our salsa I’ve got to get my “fix” of one large bite of our Breakaway Hot salsa. I only do it at shows or demos but for some reason I’ve got to have it.
19. Any new products we should be ready for from your line?
Cowboy Poet’s Green sauce.
20. What do you want to know from the readers of the HSB?
What do they look for in a sauce (salsa)?
Nick & Rusty Judging Salsas at ZF – Rusty knows his stuff!
Cowboy Poet Salsa
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