Monday, September 27, 2010

September, a time to enjoy

Today was just a day of perfection, great weather, good times and I spent some time "stopping and smelling the sagebrush". I have decided that tonight I am going to share something from a few years ago that still affects me to this day. I will certainly admit that as the years go by the depth of the emotions related to this event wanes but I am mostly certain that the memory will always be clear and profound. I am also very lucky to have the life I am able to live to help me through the memories of this event.

In September of the year 2000 I was flying higher and faster than a hyper active child with a Curious George lunchbox filled with empty Hershey bar wrappers. I had a job I mostly enjoyed managing a 270 acre apple orchard as well as around 250 momma cows in partnership with a friend. I had a great wife, three wonderful daughters, and a decent bank account and was 33 years old. A 16 hour day of work between the orchard and cows was an “easy” day and a 20 hour day was not something that I shied away from. As long as I was able to get enough sleep to tackle the next day I had no worries. If that meant missing kids sports or other school related events or skipping some quality time with my wife that was just part of life. In my mind life was good and in many ways it was, the quality of that life was suffering though and I was the last to notice. It took a tragic event to set me straight and although I still sometimes suffer mentally from the event, it made me see life in a much different way.

The morning of September 16th, 2000 was going to be a welcome break from an apple harvest that had been anything but easy. The company I was working for had been dealing with labor unrest since early August. The “strike” was mostly over but there were still fringe elements trying to revive the stresses of the previous 4 weeks. I had requested and been granted a rare harvest time day off to attend a wedding of a cousin in Vancouver Washington. Early that morning I told Chris to be ready to hit the road at 8 a.m. and I would be back soon but had to check on one cattle issue. I had a fall calving cow that had delivered twins the evening before and I wanted to make sure she was caring for both of her calves. I had put her in a corral the night before and felt it would be fine but just wanted to make sure.

I left the house early in the black Dodge which at that time still had a regular bed and not the aftermarket front bumper it has today. It was much like today as it was a beautiful early fall morning as the sun rose in the eastern sky. I was traveling east on highway 12 and sipping on coffee and hoping the cow and her calves would be fine and not take up much of my time. As I approached “A” street which intersects with the highway I let off the throttle as a car shot across in front of me. My thought was “wow that is a pretty daring soul.”

The next events will take longer to type and read than they happened in real time. It only took a matter of seconds but it seemed like it was almost in slow motion. I had just started to push on the throttle again when another car ran the stop sign and started to cross. The first car was stopped in the median and the second car had no where to go. It was too late to swerve so I slammed on my brakes and remember thinking “oh man, this is going to hurt” and braced my legs and my arms for the unavoidable impact. The other vehicle was a Geo metro and even though I had the brakes locked there was a collision that sent me hurtling backwards as the seatbelt and (unexpected) air bag deployed. After the initial collision my pickup lurched into the median and stopped running. I opened and stumbled out the door to my knees in shock. In a matter of minutes two young men that were on their way to work were at my side. They were asking me if I was ok and that they had seen the whole thing and it was not my fault. I had probably the scariest moment of my life right then. I was trying to stand up but because of the shock and impact my legs were not working. Not only that but they were having a burning sensation that I had not experienced before. OMG, I am going to be paralyzed was my thought. I could never relate the fear and sickness that I felt that day, or the rapid thoughts of how I wished I had lived life differently. Just when I was sure I had blown my chance at living life correctly the two young men dragged me backwards. I was kneeling right in the middle of a fire ant hill and that was the cause of the stinging sensation in my legs.

I eventually was able to stand and as the scream of sirens filled the air I started to shake off the effects of the collision. I saw a state trooper drape a blanket over the drivers’ side door of the Geo Metro. The moment of the impact I knew inside what the fate of the driver would likely be but as the fear of being paralyzed subsided, the feeling of guilt overtook me. The accident was in no way my fault but to this day I still think about it from time to time. The driver of the Geo was a 27 year old woman and mother of two children but was traveling alone in the car that day. She was following the first car and had not even looked as she ran through the stop sign. Physically I had suffered nothing more than a dislocated finger and some bumps and bruises, but inside I was a total wreck.

All manner of things went through my head. What if I had left home 30 seconds sooner or later that morning? What if she had left her home at a different time? What if she or I had been driving a bit faster or slower that morning? Even though the accident was not my fault I really struggled and sometimes even to this day I have difficulty with it. I think the fact that 2 kids were left motherless is the thing that I will never quite get over. Still today but with less frequency now I still bolt upright in the middle of the night with my legs stiff, soaked in sweat as I see that young lady and her car at the end of the hood of my pickup.

As tragic and painful as all that was even in a difficult time there was a life lesson and a positive outcome for me. That winter I sold a large part of my cowherd. I quit fretting so much about the almighty dollar and started to appreciate my wife, kids, family and life in a way that has been so much more fulfilling. I am someone that really does not like when someone gets too “preachy” about anything. Because of that I really try to not be too “preachy” myself. I will however tell you that today and everyday is a gift. It will not always be easy to embrace and appreciate that gift. I can promise you with certainty though, when you narrow your focus to the things that really are important in life, your life will be so much more enjoyable to live. These days I really try and take a second to think about what really matters in life when I have to choose between work and play. Having the desire to work hard is not a bad thing; just make sure that if you work really hard, you play even harder!

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is diffuse knapweed aka Centaurea diffusa.

Today’s picture is of two calves that are untagged at this point. These calves are the son and daughter of two spring yearling heifers that calved early. Even though I had a million other things to do today I just watched these calves play and be curious for quite some time. The reason I did was because I could.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Breakfast of champion cowmen

I will get back to writing about the last couple of weeks and a few things I observed over the fairs and in life tomorrow. Today I went on a tour of 5 ranches in eastern Washington State. The tour was sponsored by the Oregon Washington Northern Idaho Hereford Association (OWNI). I left home early to meet our WCA Executive Vice President Jack to carpool. It was a gorgeous fall morning with a spectacular sunrise. I met up with Jack and we continued on to Ritzville and the Perkins restaurant where the tour was to begin. We arrived early and had time for breakfast. I think Jack, MT and his son Cinch (what a great cowboy name) had an idea of what they wanted for breakfast when the waitress arrived at our table. I happened to be the first one to order and let my heart lead the way. “Peach pie ala mode” I said much to the surprise of my table mates. They got over the initial thought quickly and as Jack joined me in having peach pie alamode for breakfast, MT and Cinch decided on chocolate peanut butter pie.

There were several other participants from all over the Northwest and after finishing our cowman’s breakfast of champions we were on the way for our driving tour. I will not go into great detail but I will talk about a few highlights of the tour. We traveled from Ritzville, south through the channeled scab lands from the ranch of “Ritzville Bill Harder” and ended in Kahlotus at the ranch of “Kahlotus Bill Harder” who explained his proper name was “William George Harder”. These ranches were homesteaded as early as 1883 and as recently as 1906. The Harder families are icons in the commercial cattle business in the northwest and are mostly Hereford based operations. The ranches we toured today comprise about 8,000 mother cows total.

Each of these Harder family ranches really make it tough to keep the commandment of “thou shall not covet” if you are a commercial cow calf operator. Each operation has acres of dry range with wonderful sub irrigated meadow bottoms. They each also have the one item hard to come by in much of the eastern part of the state, water. Every single one of these operations is meticulously maintained and has an excellent balance of “old school” buildings coupled with modern corrals and working facilities. At the Jake and Joan Harder family ranch we were treated to a great cowboy poem by Jake and also a story about cougars lurking around their calving facilities. The family has erected several steel appendages above their corrals that look like miniature football goal posts. Jake explained the purpose of these towers of steel in saving calves. Everyone from eastern Washington who is a Washington State University football fan knows you will rarely see a “cougar” near a goalpost!

We enjoyed an incredible Certified Hereford Beef tri tip lunch at the ranch courtesy of OWNI and the Harder family. It was during lunch that I did one of those things that make me……well me. As we ate our lunch one gentleman explained that he was from the Starbuck, Washington area. Being the inquiring mind I am I asked him a question after issuing a statement. I told the gentleman that I had purchased at a bred cow auction some older cows a few years ago from his area. I asked the gentleman if he was familiar with a man named Van Seny? “Yes” the gentleman replied, “I know him really well.” Little did I know that I was talking to the man I was asking about! Luckily these cows had been excellent cows for me and I had not said something to put my Tony Lama in my mouth. On the plus side I now know a fellow cattleman that I did not know personally before the tour today.

I cannot fail to mention that we also toured the Clinesmith family ranch today. They treated us to freshly made, hot, homemade donuts today that were absolutely incredible! Let me tell you something, Krispy Crème, you got nothing on these guys. I sure wish Dad could have been on this tour today especially to see the Clinesmith “redneck” cows with the red brockle and black crossbred calves standing next to them. They were clones of what he felt were the perfect kind of cattle for this country.

Thank you to the Harder and Clinesmith families as well as OWNI and everyone else who made today’s tour an extreme success. I also need to personally thank JC for bringing the cooler and contents. I take everything I said about you in the past back. Well, almost everything ; )!

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is a Cassins finch aka Carpodacus cassinii which is very rare for my area in September from some research.

The Cassins finch is also today’s picture as I captured a picture of this colorful bird resting on a gate last week.Remember all pictures can be seen in larger size by clicking on them.

Is that your final answer?

Is it September 8th yet? Is it time to post? I apologize for the long absence and lack of posting. I had the fairs for a bit of an excuse but the 3rd and final fair in four weeks ended a week ago tomorrow. I have really acquired many little bits of material over the fair season and I will take some time to reflect on some really beautiful, inspiring and fun times over the next few blog posts. For today I will kind of work on a general overview of the last 18 days and what has happened in those rapidly lived days.

Besides the fairs, parades, rodeos and community events fall is coming on hard in the Columbia Basin. Summer just seems to pass more rapidly every year and I do not like that very much. The fall solstice took place this week and it naturally depresses me somewhat to know that for the next 3 months the daylight hours will not only get progressively shorter but the dark will be more than the light. There are advantages to fall as well if you focus. It will not be long before the irrigation ditches are dry. We had wonderful fall rain last weekend and a bit more Thursday of this week. It was not great for the people trying to get up their last cutting of hay but it was enough rain to sprout new grass in the dry ground. This only happens about 1 out of 8 autumns here and from a cattleman’s perspective it is a great thing. A nice new green carpet of grass growing under the dried grasses left over, for momma cows and growing calves it is like the food of the Gods. The daytime temperatures are still in the upper 70’s and although it has not yet frosted at night there have been a few nights right at the 40 degree level.

The last of the fall first calf heifers calved last week without any problems. The heifer that lost her calf to scours (blog post September 4th and 7th) took to the orphan calf like Rosie O’Donnell to a box of Twinkies so that worked out fine. There are just a few fall cows left to calve and I am pretty confident we will be done in the next couple of weeks. The hill grass is holding out well and the home place and Dixon place are much better than last year at this time. The corn water is DONE and it is denting and drying nicely. The spring calves are really looking nice and carrying a lot of “calf fat” this year because of the good grass season. Sometime in the next two weeks we need to pre vaccinate the calves for weaning. I am not set on a marketing plan yet this year but am open to many options. The market is much better than the last two years but there is certainly some volatility that can be unnerving.

I gathered, sorted and sold a few older cows the second week of September. It is always a fall chore in which I really miss Dad for both guidance and someone to argue with over which cows have spent their last days here on the ranch. As I evaluate each cow I try to imagine just what conversation he and I would have had. There are times that I think Dad wins more arguments with me now than he did when he was physically here. Almost every one of these great grandma cows has some memory connected to him. What is amazing is as much as Dad and I would sometimes argue over a particular cow and her fate is that it has not ended just because he is not physically in the sorting alley.

These days there is a 13 year old young lady (Dakota) that is about like a trail lawyer working on a percentage defending some of these cows. The inflection of her voice is different but the words flow from her the same as they did from her grandfather. Sometimes she can be so smart, sometimes so smartass, sometimes so confident yet sometimes a bit yielding it is much of the same dance as it was with Dad. There are days that if she was wearing cutoff jean shorts with cowboy boots, a dirty straw hat and smoking a menthol cigarette and was 8 inches taller I would swear she was him. Saying things like, “Oh, so you think she wont raise a good calf next year like she has for the last 20 years” as she rolls her eyes and I put the cow in the cull pen. Then the discussion begins and like I previously said, I think Dad wins more arguments now channeling through her than he did in his own right.

I will be posting another blog post either later tonight or tomorrow sometime about a tour I went on today. I also want to thank all of you that have continued to support and even tell me you miss it when I don’t post regularly. I really do appreciate that. The last thing I need to update is Festus has healed fine and is right back to bringing sticks or other items to anyone willing to throw them for him.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is Tansy mustard aka Descurainia pinnata.

Today’s picture is 9194w a long yearling that calved early standing next to her fall bull calf. Her mother 5194w was probably one of the hardest cows for me to ever cull. Knowing that the line lives on does make me smile though. Knowing what her mother was like attitude wise around a new calf makes me know this calf will not be tagged before branding.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor day, and the labor that goes with it

I am really going nuts here; 4 posts already in September when that was the total for the whole month of August! It just sometimes flows and is easy to post here and at other times it seems to be the last thing I want to tackle.

Sunday did not start off much better than Saturday. The calf with scours belonging to the first calf heifer died during the night. I really thought I had caught it soon enough and that it would make it. When the consolation is, “well luckily I had a cow die yesterday and leave an orphan calf” you are really looking for the silver lining. I brought the heifer in and let the orphan calf suck her out yesterday and today and will continue this hoping for a successful graft.

Losing the cow Saturday is something that given time I will get over. I know that it was just mainly the law of averages and we had been on a stunning streak of calving success and it was just due time for a difficulty. Losing the calf to scours is something that I feel rests squarely on my shoulders. I made a decision to keep the fall calving heifers in the corrals to calve this year. The decision was based on many factors. I decided that since we would be so busy with fairs, irrigation and life in general that at least the heifers would be confined to somewhere that if assistance was needed it would be easy to provide. The downside was that it went against my better instincts as a stockman.

Much of the industry will disagree with me but I think that if first calf heifers are bred correctly 99.9% of them should calve on their own without assistance absent of abnormal birth presentations (breech, leg turned back etc). I also think that the best thing for a first calf heifer prior to calving is a steady dose of exercise, which does not happen when living in a corral and fed daily. I damn sure know that a calf born out on the range is exposed to fewer pathogens than one born in a corral. Armed with this knowledge I made the choice to calve them in the corral (what a dumbass). My concern for the “potentials” deluded my judgment for the “reality”. That pisses me off as I look at it in retrospect.

I would have been fine if I had not failed in my follow through procedures. I should have moved these pairs to range (pasture) within 24 hours of calving. When something presents itself for the first time or when it is beyond your control I can get past it fairly quickly. When it is something that falls apart because I am too big of a F**kup to do what I know the correct process is I dwell on it and rage inside. I feel directly responsible because damn it I am not a 14 year old kid just dealing with my first calving season. Learning from mistakes is part of life, making the same mistake twice is a FAILED life lesson, my father taught me that! The saving grace for my sanity is I know that a few times he made the same mistake twice and beat himself the same way I do. I miss you being here to slam shit around and cuss with me Dad.

I need to thank Christine and Dakota for working their tails off this Labor Day weekend with me. I know some of the things you had to see and face this weekend were not something that a lady should have to face. I love you both so damn much and you are truly what keep me smiling when it seems there is no reason to smile. If the public had seen these two women work this weekend especially today they would have their own top rated reality show. Moving pipes, making French toast, sorting cows, clipping steers, or feeding bulls these two ladies have what it takes!

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Pacific Treefrog aka Hyla regilla.

Today’s picture is 5288w with her new brockle face bull calf born just before sunset on a beautiful Columbia Basin evening.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The emotional roller coaster

Sometimes the toughest thing to deal with in this business is being honest with myself and my family as to why this is the life I have chosen. In any given day you can fly from the greatest highs and crash suddenly into the lowest of lows. Since about noon yesterday until now as I sit here and type this I and everyone close to me has been witness to a bit of both at a seemingly constant rate.

Yesterday started out as a normal day for the most part. Dakota left with Chris for school and work respectively. I had my day pretty well planned out and was looking forward to the evening’s high school football game between my alma mater Connell and rival Othello. As I changed irrigation water things went well for the most part. Now that it is just Festus and I we have a pretty constant routine. As I move pipes he finds a stick or other object that I throw as I walk back for another pipe so he can chase it down and bring it back. We were about done with irrigation for the day when I looked up from a last pipe on a line and saw him gagging. I figured he just had sucked in a weed seed or other debris. He stopped gagging but I noticed some blood on his mouth and his front paw. I checked the paw which seemed fine and checked his mouth as well as you can check a mouth on a heeler without losing a limb. He got into the pickup and just wasn’t quite right so we went to the house and he lay down while I ate lunch. Whatever had happened to him was pretty serious because he was certainly hurting and lethargic. He then vomited a bunch of blood so we loaded up for the vet which is a rarity for any dog I have had. The end story is he had obviously jammed a stick hard down his throat and had a severe laceration and had swallowed the blood. The bleeding stopped and after an x ray to make sure nothing had traveled deeper I brought him home later in the day. He is recovering but is going to be a bit slow for awhile. Fear, hope, faith and eventually relief were the emotions.

Dakota and I then went to check the fall calvers and to catch and treat one calf with a hoof injury of some type. We captured the calf fairly easily and almost caught his mother as well but she just beat me to the gate. I tried to bring her back but she got on the fight so I just decided to leave it be until today. The calf’s leg was a bit worse than I had suspected but nothing too serious. I also found one of the calves belonging to a first calf heifer with a case of scours (diarrhea) that was quite sick. I gave the calf some electrolytes and scour pills and decided he would be fine until morning. Anxiety, happiness, anger, disgust and hope were the emotions for these two issues. We went to the game and Connell smashed Othello 31-14 and made for a nice evening out with family.

I had big plans for today. With Chris and Dakota home I thought it would be a great day for getting things accomplished. I first went and gave more electrolytes to the sick calf that seemed to be a bit better. I found there were two new calves born and saw one other cow was off by herself probably calving. I drove to her (7322W) and she had some afterbirth hanging out but no calf around her. I decide to give her some more time to see what was going on. I was about to leave when I found a sloppy wet calf by itself. It was alive and fine and I then decided that it was the calf to 7322w and she had traveled away to have a twin. I took the calf to her, which she started to lick and I left to give some time for nature to take its course. Hopeful, joyful, nervous but content were the emotions.

I went home and got my girls and after feeding the fair steers we went back to check on the cow. She had traveled a long way and as we got close I got that feeling in my stomach that compares to being kicked in the nuts. The cow had a complete and severe uterine prolapse. If you look at the picture of the cervicle prolapse posted yesterday and multiply it by 100 and that is what it looks like. I really try and not call a veterinarian for help but I know from experience that there are times that it is the best case. We went back home, gathered a few supplies and called the vet that said she would be here in about 40 minutes. We went back to the hill pasture and the cow had moved which is not good because of the pressure of the hanging uterus. The good thing is she had moved to a place under a large tree and she was easy to rope and immobilize until the vet arrived. Apprehension, frantic, empty and yet hopeful were the feelings.

We met the vet about 15 minutes later on the road and she followed us to the far end of the pasture where the cow was. The second the cow was in view my heart sank. She had likely ruptured a major artery inside and had been dead just a few moments most likely from internal bleeding. A nice young second calf cow that had raised a good first calf and had rebred on schedule gone forever. Instead of a nice young cow calf pair I had a dead cow, an orphan calf and a vet bill on the way. Dakota and Chris were very upset and I was a combination of livid, disgusted, questioning, hollow and sad, all in one. You wish you could scream and cry all at the same time.

It is at these times that I wonder why I choose to make a living this way. Always it seems a struggle in some way either emotionally or financially. So much time and work spent with such huge disappointments at times. I guess the times like seeing the long yearling heifer last week with her new calf are the joys that offset the problems. The ability to do something I truly love and live a way of life that allows me freedom and time with my family. The sunrises, the sunsets, the growing animals and plants will certainly offset the loss I feel tonight given time. The fact that we have been on a tremendously excellent run of calving seasons is not lost in my thoughts tonight. I do not want to feel ungrateful to have the life I have, it is just sometimes it hurts and it hurts deep.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is Lorquins admiral butterfly aka Limenitis lorquini.

Today’s picture is of cow 41y, an older Brahma cross cow that is a favorite of the family. She had this nice new bull calf with her this evening and two other cows had calved successfully. Things like this are what keep me going when life gets tough to handle.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A d(l)ovely kind of day

So it is early Thursday morning September 2, 2010. I just posted yesterday’s blog post a little over 2 hours ago. I tried to go to bed but I think I accidently double dosed myself this afternoon while on a boring phone call and now probably will be sprinting around the internet for a few hours. Rather than go to a liberal political chat room and point out that Bush and the GOP gained seats in his first midterm (2002) and if Obama and the Democrats are so great they should at least be able to hold seats in 2010, *snicker*, I decided that I would write another blog post. Besides, some envirowhacko with an abnormally large head left the earth yesterday in Maryland so I will give the people I normally anger a chance to mourn. All I know is some police sniper thought he hit the jackpot when he got that massive melon sighted in his scope today.

Easy now politicos, I will tell you about my day as a real lover of nature. I have mentioned that in the days before the fair it seemed my days were great but my evenings were horrid. Today was just the opposite, the day was an exercise in total futility but the evening was spectacular. I tagged 3 new fall calves this morning then began to look for one calf that was born yesterday that I had not tagged. The momma cow was a bit “bagged up” and after 3 hours of looking I decided to take a break and do something fun. I moved 2 hand lines by myself (I hate that Dakota is in school already) and then changed a tire on the atv so I could resume my search. I spent another hour looking to no avail. “F*C% me M00retta” I said as I spit the last two grains of Copenhagen from my mouth.

I then went home for a quick lunch (a pound of fried hamburger with ketchup and a Vlasic pickle) then went to start water for the corn circle. I also worked on some fence that needed mending just for gits and shiggles. I then decided I should do a walking search of the north fence line to see if the missing calf was hiding in the weeds there. I finally found the calf late in the afternoon which improved my mood immensely. I tagged the calf then decided I should do a thorough check of the spring calving cows.

There is one spring yearling heifer that has looked like she was coming quickly with calf last week. In fact, Dakota was worried she would calve while we were at the fair but I felt she was just showing a bit early and may calve in November but certainly not as an 18 month old and surely not while we were away. As I checked the spring calver’s I came across 9178W with a nice calf by her side. I need to learn to trust Dakotas’s instincts a bit more. The live healthy calf really made my day and made me laugh that my spring heifers have started calving before my fall calver’s are done calving.

Then I ran into some dove hunters that were hunting on the season opener. They had some cold beer in a cooler and although I seldom drink beer I wanted to be polite so I accepted one from them. I then went home and was concerned because I had no beer of my own in the refrigerator. Chris and Dakota got home and just as I was sending Chris back to town I realized we had a whole cooler full of beer left from the fair that just needed some ice. We had a nice family evening working with the show steers as the beer cooled. Back to the fair week I suppose I should explain about Debby my (fair wife).

Debby and I are co beef superintendents at the fair and for a week each August seem to spend more time doing work for the kids than spending time with our own spouses. I think we compliment each other well. Debby does the bulk of the paper work and the logistics. I flirt with the exhibitor moms and run the squeeze chute at the scales. I also collect all the compliments and pass the complaints on to Debby. It works out pretty well. I am going to tell one of two stories about my fair wife and last week in today’s post.

I know you blog readers may be surprised but Debby is more responsible than I am. On Tuesday night after arriving back on the fairgrounds from going home to check things I realized that we had not drawn the fitting and showing classes for Wednesday. I tried to call Debby to no avail, so I called our secretary Erica to see if she had heard from Debby. She had not so I decided to track Debby down. I seemed to be one step behind her as the VIP tent participants said she had just recently been there. I was calling her cell phone and leaving a message pertaining to her shirking of duties and that our secretary was going to quit on us. I had just finished leaving my message when a door to a port o let swung open and my fair wife emerged shaking her head. LOL, she had been inside trying to finish while listening to my loud mouth leaving her a message. Fitting and showing classes were posted a bit late but thanks to Erica’s professionalism nobody seemed to notice. Thank you to both these great gals for putting up with me last week.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is common mallow aka Malva neglecta.

Today’s pictures are last week’s cervical prolapse in a before and after format and my stunning suture job to solve the problem. I tried a new method and I am feeling pretty satisfied with the results. No wonder I can balance two wives and a secretary!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


When I look back at my number of posts per month it kind of reminds me of Obama’s approval ratings. The days are rapidly getting shorter though and maybe it will get better. We had a great week at the fair last week and I have a few things to share from that but I don’t want to do it all at once. I have decided I will share parts of the fair with parts of my actual days to break things up and give me incentive to post more regularly.

I had a blog post awhile back about how I thought exhibitors should view the fair. Basically saying to do your best, have some fun and let things fall where they may. Dakota really experienced this last week. There is really great market steer competition at the fairs around the area and I knew that we had a decent steer but not a show winner. She also ended up in the heavyweight class (Homer weighed 1426) which even the winner of seldom takes overall champion. She did get a blue ribbon though and was about where we expected in her class.

In fitting and showing she again got a blue ribbon but did not make the championship round which was a bit disappointing but there are so many great showmen that it was nothing to be sad over for long. Homer was pretty decent during the week and Dakota did a great job of taking more initiative this year than in years past and that made me very happy and I am very proud of her.

Sometimes just being satisfied with how things are is the best thing for future expectations. Friday was sale day and that was her best day. Her steer sold for as much as any of the steers in the barn and she will be that much closer to affording a post high school education. Thank you to Tyson Fresh Meats for your support of her and also to the many other sale supporters who gave close to $400,000 over and above market prices to the kids in the sale. I truly believe this is a wise investment in good, hardworking kids that will be an asset to our future.

The first night in the beef barn Debby (my fair wife, not to be confused with Christine my regular wife) and I (beef superintendents) gave the kids an overview of what we expected and how the week would go. I always like to test human nature a bit and I told the kids that if they were around their friends from the other livestock barns to be careful. I told them that they may feel like they were better than the other kids but it was perfectly natural because they ARE better than the kids showing other species. It took all of 30 minutes for a mom from the sheep barn to scold me, which was exactly what I was hoping for!

One venue that I will mention quite a bit in the coming days is the VIP tent. Now, I am not sure what VIP stands for but I am pretty sure it is for Very Intoxicated People or possibly Very Inclined to Pay. The tent serves a great dinner each night and then you can watch the rodeo from there if you like. It also tends to be the after rodeo gathering place for many of the people who camp all week at the fair. It has a bar as well I have heard but I have never actually seen it.

I am not really sure how it got started but on Wednesday night we had an adult female arm wrestling tournament going for quite some time. I tried to tell the participants that I was going to Wal Mart to buy a kiddie pool and we could have mud wrestling later in the week but that somehow fell apart. Hey there is always next year!

I got surprisingly little negative email from my last blog post with the YouTube music link. I did promise to share something a bit mellower to offset that and to show that I can appreciate music from a wide range. Radney Foster is a musical genius from my perspective but has gotten little airplay over the years for some reason. The song he sings in this link is in honor of a Texas Air National Guard helicopter crew of 7 that crashed and perished in Iraq and the people who brought them home. You won’t hear this on regular radio much but I think you can listen and understand why I think this is an amazing song; the video with it is pretty well done as well. Here is the link to it

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Black necked stilt aka Himantopus mexicanus.

Today’s picture is a scene from the beef barn at the Benton Franklin County fair last week.