Saturday, August 21, 2010

Longhaired twang thang

So you know you are getting older when it is 10 p.m. on a Saturday night and you are working on a blog post. That is ok because today was a great day and next week will be a great week. Next week is fair week and for our family basically our summer vacation even though Christine and I will both come home a few times during the week for a few hours. I know for some of you this sounds terribly boring or hickish but I will have a better time than most anyone in the world next week. I plan to try and post a few times just to show you why and to keep you updated. For some of you local readers I will be looking for a handy laptop around the fair. Hint, hint.

In my very first blog post I made a disclaimer that I would probably offend a few people at different times. Today is one of those posts that it may be possible to be offended if you are someone who gets offended easily. If you are someone who does not get offended easily you will probably still be offended but hey, for the price you pay for this blog consider it a bargain and a chance for mind expansion!

So this morning we did some irrigation changing as a family and a few things at the corrals with Dakotas fair steers and with some miscellaneous animals I currently have there for various reasons. Two words “cervical prolapse” *eye roll* was today’s fun exercise .Then Dakota and Chris headed to Connell to use the printer at Chris’ work for some pictures and various other items needed for the fair. They continued on to Kennewick to the fairgrounds to set things up for this week. We set up a borrowed for beef travel trailer from one of Chris’ coworkers there yesterday. Thank you to Amy and Dave for the use of the trailer this week.

That left me alone for the afternoon which is seldom a good thing. I changed the rest of the irrigation water and that went well. I have mentioned before how much I enjoy music and today I felt I found a real future “classic” as far as my musical preferences go. I am pretty open minded when it comes to music. I certainly like country and classic rock the most but I am always on the lookout for some new talent from just about any musical genre. For example as I type this I am listening to George Thorogood singing “I drink alone” but the previous song was Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley singing “Just good ole boys” and the one before that was Billy Squire singing, “Don’t say you love me”.

I think one reason I do this is because it helps you stay young in your mind. If I had not been open to new music I would have really missed some great talent in my opinion over my lifetime. For me I have a hard time explaining what music I enjoy but when I hear it I KNOW it. Seldom will a song “grow” on me or do I change my opinion to the negative about a song after hearing it the first time.

For me the things that make a song great are a combination of things. Does the song have good instrumental music behind it? Everyone is different but I like what my dad used to refer to as “long haired twang twang music.” That noise a steel or slide guitar can make or a fiddle or dobro that is somewhere between a whisper and a shriek is to my ears what peach cobbler alamode is to my taste buds. I also am a sucker for lyrics that somehow take you to a place in your memories or some "twisted logic" or a "double entendre" . The lyrics can be rough, soft, loving, brutally honest or whatever but certain songs of some genres are appealing to me based almost entirely on the words. The last thing is the song has to “grab” me. It has to make me laugh, cry, reminisce, anger me, or take my breath away or appeal to me on some other emotional level.

The song I heard today had all these factors even if it was a new rock/metal type of song. Many of you will not like it because in your opinion it is screaming. Some of you will really not like it because the lyrics speak to an issue that can be tough on some from a morality standpoint. For me however this is why I will try to always give new music a chance.

I love the instrumental music backing this song even though it may not be the taste of others. I also like this song because it is the kind of song that would piss off Tipper Gore. Her ex husband Albert pisses me off so there you go. I think just about every male can laugh and maybe reminisce to this song in one way or another from his single days. This song has lyrics that made me die laughing for many reasons because in its absurdity it also has quite a few elements of truth in my mind.

Here is a link to the song that also has printed lyrics so those who cannot sort through the screaming can follow along with the text. Female readers may want to get a male opinion before listening. If you do not like this song or especially the instrumental solo by Zakk Wylde towards the end maybe you should change more hand lines or replace a few more cervical prolapses in your day. Believe me you WILL find some appreciation for this kind of “long hair twang twang.” In my next blog post I will share a song that is a bit more mellow both in lyrics, music and meaning just to balance this out. If you are using headphones or loud speakers you may want to start at mid level. Welcome to the music world the Canadian band My Darkest Days with their first single…….

*chuckle chuckle ladies”.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Western Yellow Jacket aka Vespula pennsylvanica.

Today’s picture is of a big fat rockchuck (yellow bellied marmot) near his or her den earlier this summer.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Good evening

Ok, so I have not been here for 10 days. I could make all kinds of excuses but the honest answer is I was in Spain as Michelle Obama’s escort. Now that I have that out of the way let me do a blog post. What??? You do not believe me? I am appalled that I have not generated more trust among my readers.

Really it has not been lack of material, being too tired or not having time to post. The real reason I have not been here is basically “crabbiness”. I have actually had some productive, fun and satisfying days since I have last posted. The issue has been my evenings lately. It seems that no matter if my day is great or mediocre my evenings have been about as wonderful as being Whoopi Goldberg’s beauty consultant. It has not been anything in particular but in the last 10 days here are a few gems I have dealt with. An irrigation pump panel that burned to a crisp because of lightning and age I am guessing. A circle that seems to want to get stuck as well as a few blown irrigation risers and a stockwater pump that keeps getting unplugged by cows that cannot find anywhere within 300 acres other than a 10 foot by 3 foot place next to the well to spend their time.

I have been feeling really well and have thought that I am on the cusp of mania but that has allowed me to get many things accomplished. We have experienced a few scorching days lately but overall the summer weather has been good. I have had many days that things went well and I had something I was really looking forward to posting. Then something in the evening has pissed me off and things have fallen apart. Whenever I sit down to this computer in a bad mood I find one thing that makes me feel better and it is not doing a blog post. What I end up doing is going into some political chatroom or message board and saying things that drive other people out of their minds. Somehow being in a bad mood is acceptable if I know I have helped ruin the evening of 3 to 5000 other people.

Finally today things went well and so did my evening. I got up early and changed a bit of water and the pump panel that burned up last week is fixed and ran all night and all day today without incident. After some early morning irrigation I headed to Ellensburg for a monthly Washington Cattlemen’s Association meeting. Today’s meeting was long but productive from my perspective. There were more than a few tense moments of debate on a few issues but I never feel anything less than proud spending time with these industry leaders. I even gave a preview of what it will be like when I take the reins by offering the participants a cold beer at 4 p.m. which seemed to be well received and helped my approval ratings.

We have been getting a few fall calves even though they were not supposed to start before Sunday the 15th. The calving has gone well but it seems many evenings I have been missing a calf that has caused me to expend time finding it. The first of the first calf heifers calved Saturday without incident which was great. Tonight I got back to the ranch with about 30 minutes of daylight left. Luckily all the fall calving cows and the calves were accounted for in a short time while I stopped along the road and expelled the beer I drank at the end of today’s meeting. Then I went down to the corrals where Chris and Sam were helping Dakota work with her fair steers. These fair steers have been a bright spot and tonight was no exception. As I walked through the fall calving first calf heifers I noticed that there was another new child that was standing up and suckling her mother that had been born without any problems today. It was at this point that I decided at least for today life could not get any better so we finished up and came home. It may seem like a small victory but as far as evenings have been lately I was just happy to come home and not feel the need to make anyone else feel angry just because I was.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Longspine sandbur aka Cenchrus longispinus.

Today’s picture is of two coming spring calving first calf heifers’ #9904g and #9935g. These two ladies are rarely found more than a few feet apart on any given day at any given time. You would never know these two are half sisters would you?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The outlook is fair

Today was a great day. I was wrangled by my sister and niece into hauling the young un’s lambs to the Connell fairgrounds for shearing as fair season fast approaches. There is something wonderfully wicked and decadent about using a ¾ ton pickup with a 24 foot gooseneck trailer to haul two lambs that weigh a combined 275 pounds. Every time I am asked to do something for a kid involved in 4H or FFA I have a tough time saying “no”.

Some people may argue that there really is very little to nothing good about me. I will not argue with that assessment but I will say whatever good there is in me usually has some very direct link to my days raising animals for fairs in both 4H and FFA. You get exposed to and have to deal with so many things that are going to be part of life as you grow up and get older.

Some of these things are quite obvious like learning to work hard, striving for excellence, setting goals, learning to deal with success as well as disappointments. You notice I did not say success or failure? That is because anyone who has completed a 4H or FFA animal project has succeeded in my book. There are times though things just don’t go your way. There will always be the years that you have a particular steer (if you are minor leaguers you may substitute hog, lamb, chicken, rabbit, goat, llama or chinchilla) at this point as is necessary, but anyway you may have that steer that you really felt good about. Maybe you felt he was really an excellent market animal and maybe at home he acted like he would shine in the show ring and help bring home a trophy from the fitting and showing competition.

Many times these high expectations are not met based on many outside factors, which do not mean that you failed; it means you succeeded at a lower level as far as I am concerned. Think of it this way, maybe you were middle of your class and you are usually near the top. This does not mean you failed, it means that for whatever reason today was just not your day. If you want to feel better take a different tact with your mind. Realize that only about 3% or less of all kids even have the opportunity to show an animal at the fair. If you are dead last in your division you are at least 97% better than the rest of the nation at showing an animal! Embrace the opportunity, appreciate the wins and learn from the disappointments, again notice I did not say losses? I will promise you that for every time you thought you had a win in the bag that did not happen, there will be a day when you felt you had little chance to win that you will be holding a purple ribbon and trophy and/or belt buckle.

When you become an adult you will remember those wins, and you will remember the times you didn’t win as well but not at such a high level. The important thing to focus on is threefold in this old mans opinion. If you did not win, did you do your best with whatever the situation that was presented? Be able to say yes, not a weak “I thought so” but a strong and forceful “yes, I absolutely did my best. If you are the religious type remember something else, “God hates a quitter”.

The second thing is did you learn anything that will make you better and more competitive next time? Again, you should be able to answer in the affirmative and you should put that knowledge to work for you the very next opportunity you have. Maybe you saw something the people above you did that you did not. Maybe it was just how you dealt with a specific situation and that next time you would deal with it a bit differently. My Dad used to say, “Experience and good judgment usually comes from lacking experience and making many poor judgments”.

The last thing has two parts that are equally important. Do not be a whiner; a bit of emotion is fine but do not be a whiner and a blamer. Things like, “the judge was not watching when I did “x” or so and so had a steer that was just as jumpy as mine and they did better etc. etc. Let me tell you something as someone who has been in the show ring as both an exhibitor and as a judge. A class of animals and how they are placed is one person’s opinion on a specific day at a certain time. Believe me; anyone who has judged has some second thoughts over the next few days and they have to deal with those thoughts just as you second guess certain things you did or did not do.

Whenever I have been asked to judge I tell people that I will promise them three things. I will do my best with my knowledge and experience is the first promise. Secondly, when I am finished placing a class there will be some people who think I am a superstar judge (the winners). Lastly, after placing a class there will be some people who will say I am some level of idiotic (the non winners).

As for the second part of the final thing exhibitors should achieve and in my opinion the most important. Did you have any fun? Did you maybe get a chuckle when one of your competitors forgot to brush their steer after the judged handled him? Were you able to laugh at yourself because when you switched steers you forgot to lead up and reset the animals feet? Maybe it was the soaking that a new kid gave an older exhibitor at the wash rack. It is very possible that a fun thing would be some urban person saying, “oh, look at the COWS" as they walked through the steer barn. Life is about living and enjoying your time doing it. I will guarantee that as you grow older and look back there will be few times in your life that you will reflect on and have smiles and good memories about than your time at the fair if you follow this advice. Have a great fair season kids and please have some fun. You are part of a very select part of our nation. The kids that had the chance to raise, train and show an animal at a fair. If you do not grow up to work in an endeavor that feeds the world, at least you know how to if needed.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is nutgrass aka Cyperus rotundus.

Today’s picture is a video of Dakota selling her first steer at her first fair. I am constantly telling her that these animals and the fair will always be something wonderful to remember no matter what path she takes in life.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

We'll leave the light on for you (hopefully)

I am really disappointed in myself. I had no idea until tonight that July was my worst month for posting here. My lack of posting has been a case of several issues. First and foremost, I have been busy. July should not be this busy but this year that is the case. I have also been dealing with some computer issues. I think this 5 year old machine is getting so full of crap that it is soon going to need to be replaced


August is now here and that means hot weather and the coming of fair season. Dakota has 4 steers for 3 fairs and they have been working fairly well. I am glad that they are mostly well behaved but somewhat disappointed in how they have all turned out. I feel she has 4 really good steers but not a single great (winning) steer. We shall see how things turn out as we enter the show season.

The spring calves are really growing well and their mothers are still in excellent condition for this time of year. The cattle market is not sky high but it is certainly acceptable given the economic conditions and jobless level of the country. Whatever it was that made a few calves not feel so good awhile back has seemed to run its course and we got through that with no death loss which is excellent. It has been fairly hot (mid 90’s) lately but that is pretty normal for July here in the Eastern Washington desert. The older I get the better I feel that I am able to handle the cold but I handle the heat much more poorly than I could as a kid. This may be just mental or the fact that 30 extra pounds keeps you insulated better in the winter better than it keeps you cool in the summer.

I do really look forward to each day right now. Each day entails Dakota and I changing water in the morning and working with her fair steers at some point in the day. For years I have been on her case to take initiative and stressed that she is not in 3rd grade anymore and can do things herself and should know what needs to be done and what is the appropriate time to do each thing. This year she really has embraced that idea and almost daily she takes some initiative on something that in years past had to be stressed over and over. Good job Gus I appreciate the effort and initiative.

The last week has been spent changing irrigation water, working on cleaning up some of the old equipment for scrap and two items that seem to make their presence at some point EVERYDAY. One of these issues is the corn circle. It is on a hill that is somewhat steep and this time of year the corn is drinking water like a hung over camel in heat in the Sahara. The problem is that because of the hills the circle tends to get “stuck” in certain places. When this happens you have a few choices. You can shovel dirt into the wheel track, add straw bales to the wheel track or reverse the circle and hope it runs a few days in the opposite direction before becoming mired down again. Walking into a 10 plus feet tall stand of corn on a hot day will remind you of a nice day in Houston Texas (humid as a steam sauna in Hell)

The other problem I have been dealing with is one particular cow and one particular calf. I will first focus on the cow. She is a two and a half year old Holstein (dairy breed with black and white spots) that was one of my Dads last purchases. This girl showed up in a group of Holstein steers Dad had bought as stockers (calves purchased to gain weight on grass to hopefully sell at a higher weight and for more money). When you get a heifer in a group of Holstein steers it is usually because she is a known freemartin (lacking a viable reproductive tract). This girl somehow defied the odds and was pregnant as a yearling (teen pregnancy basically). She had her first calf without assistance and it turned out to be a pretty decent calf. I kept her and she is now raising her second child which is a steer calf and is above average as well.

She is pretty easy going and an easy keeper (able to stay in good condition with little resources) but she is a fence breaching bitch from hell. The fence does not need to be particularly bad, nor does the grass have to be short for her to decide that she needs to escape the confines of her 350 acre home. She usually just heads to the hay barn after she escapes but still I am always concerned about her getting on the road. Once she is put back into the pasture she stays in for the night but each evening she just has to test my patience. There is also one calf that has found a weak spot in the fence but he won’t be doing that for very much longer as I am planning on giving him a “shocking” experience with an electrified wire now that I know his escape route.

When dealing with a center pivot (circle) you can always look even from a distance if the “light” is on. If the light is on that means all systems are normal and the circle is moving properly. Today’s picture is of the corn circle and at this point in time the light on meaning it was running properly. What I found amusing is if you look at the picture in large size by clicking on it, you can look just behind the cab of the pickup on the bed rail to see just how you deal with a stuck circle at 8 p.m.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is corn aka Zea mays that has many different varieties.