Monday, September 19, 2011

Insane in my own weird way

I am going to try a little something tonight I have never tried here. Going into a blog post with really nothing of a story, an issue or an idea of where this is going. I have done this before but I have never finished the post and certainly never hit the "publish" button. Just for the sake of doing something different I will post whatever I end up with here but will take no responsibility for lameness. It is now 8:51 p.m. and as I cruise the internet, email etc I will try and add to this post over time.

Ok, so I did not get very far. I went to Youtube to watch some footage of the plane crash in Reno. Invariably it does not take me long on Youtube before I check out some music. One of my favorite songs of all time Jamey Johnson sings about the realities of life as he sings "In Color" anytime I think life gets a bit rough this is a good reminder of just how lucky we are to live where we do, and do what we do for a living in a country that despite its problems still is the place many aspire to get to.

We made it through the Adams County fair with "Lebron" getting blue ribbons in both market and fitting a showing. Lebron was the third son to become a show steer of cow #02G a nondescript Hereford/ Red Angus cow that when crossed with an Angus bull produces some really good and easy to tame blue ribbon steers. Dakota had a pretty successful show season with all blue ribbons and one Reserve Champion in fitting and showing. We decided after her first year that we were going to show our own raised calves. This in some ways limits her chances to win against high priced purchased "club calves" but her carcass data and live animal placing has shown as a commercial beef operation we are on the correct trajectory. I tell her the bottom line comes down to dollars and sense (cents). If you pay a high price for a fancy steer and then in the end win a championship ribbon but lose money because your inputs are too high you wont last long in the world of the cattle business. The show ring can be a great learning tool, it can also be a way for people to chase fads and lose their ass. Just like many things in life moderation, learning and having some fun is key. When you do that the profitability thing will slide into place for the most part.

Now, as I posted that last bit of wisdom I listened to many songs including this gem by Everclear with excellent lyrics and drum and guitar twangs. "Insane and rising in my own weird way", you cant ignore the beauty of words like that!

Fall calving is pretty well wrapped up with just a handful of cows left to drop kids. So far it has been excellent with nothing in the way of calving problems or health issues. Knock on wood. Today I rounded up some cattle so I can move a few yearling heifers to a friends lush pasture and take the pressure off the grass a bit. Tomorrow I have a WCA meeting in Ellensburg so the hauling will have to wait until Wednesday. I look forward to tomorrows meeting as I have been a bit out of the loop lately because of the fairs. There really is nothing better than spending a day discussing industry issues with fellow cattlemen.

I was going to post one last thing tonight but in the interest of time and because the subject matter really deserves a full post I will save it. Christine, I love you so much and although I sometimes forget you come from a totally different world, your love of me, our kids and your embracing of what I do means so much to me. Check back for a post tomorrow about this unique love of someone that is not often easy to even like yet alone love.

Today's picture is "LeBron" as a young calf back in March 2010 who had been tagged incorrectly and was giving me heartburn at the time. He is in the lower left of the picture, and remember all pictures ab be viewed in full size by clicking on them.

Today's real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Beavertail cactus aka Opuntia basilaris.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nothing to lose

It is way too late to be posting to this blog but I have been wanting to get something posted and now seemed as good as time as any. Tonight I am going to tell the story of "Kobe" a steer that had a bit of a rough go of it in the beginning but in the end turned out just perfectly.

I flash back to April 2, 2011 which is one of two "weigh in" days for two of the fairs Dakota attends and shows at. The day was a nice spring day in the Columbia Basin and Dakota and I loaded her 3 steers named Shaq, Kobe and LeBron in the stock trailer to head to Connell for weigh in day. The loading went fine and when we got there we helped other entrants get their steers weighed and tagged and waited until there was a break in the action to weigh her steers. Shaq went first and all went well, Kobe was second in line and as he was ran up the alleyway I worked on loading Shaq. In the blink of an eye and one open gate and next thing we knew Kobe was weighed but also freed of the confines of the corral. Personally, I think he would have come back to his friends but being in an unfamiliar environment and with the help of some zealous pursuers he bolted and headed for downtown Connell. I jumped in a friends pickup hoping to coax Kobe back to the corral but as the minutes passed I felt more and more like a cheap hooker on a Saturday night, it really looked like we were f*cked bad.

Kobe traveled down the Esquatzel canal and I was a bit late to cut him off at Columbia Avenue so off through the sand dunes he headed. I know Dakota will tell you I had Marks pickup at a 89 degree angle going up a hill but in all reality it was only 87.5%. Kobe traveled, and traveled and went through 3 barb wire fences and was getting more on the "fight" by the second. He went through a few different yards and also took a tour of the partially built new grade school. By this point I had taken an inventory of what the cab of Marks pickup contained and luckily there was a lasso in our possession. The problem was that even though the Olberding family has been in the beef business for generations we have some type of roping disability and my confidence of what the future held for us was not good.

As Kobe ran I could see a place ahead that looked like maybe we could corner him with the F150. Cornering him was possible but the only way to do that was on Dakotas side of the pickup. I made a loop of the lariat, handed it to her, gave a short presentation on how to properly toss a loop, told her the family was full of great ropers, and then prayed to Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Confucius, Moses, Waylon Jennings, Motley Crue, Larry Olberding Sr. and anyone else that was listening and not laughing at that point. As we approached the point of no return I gently let Kobe bend down the passenger fender like a good Nascar racer at Bristol and told Dakota, "Just throw the damn loop darlin, we ain't got nothin to lose at this point sweetheart!".

The next few seconds seemed like a week and I will remember them the rest of my life. Dakota threw the loop, the loop sailed wide, high and true and gently laid down around the neck of Kobe. The next few seconds seemed like a year as Dakota and I looked at each other in disbelief and realized we would never win the lottery but holy hell we got this calf!!!!!! Now I am not a big Ford man but with a double dally around the steering column and 678 pounds of pissed off Angus steer on the other end the Ford proved to be "built tough". The cavalry soon arrived with more humans and my pickup and stock trailer. We were able to get Kobe into the trailer, shut the gate and travel back to pick up Lebron who wondered just what the hell all the ruckus was about.

We got Kobe home and treated his cut up legs and gave him some antibiotic. Dakota was justly concerned about his future as a show steer. I told her it really was not his fault and we would give him a try. As the spring and summer went on Kobe calmed down, learned to trust humans and he came to really love Dakota and Chelsey our intern. Still, because of his past we always wondered if something would set him off and especially if he would give problems if he returned to Connell for the fair.

Last week Kobe got a blue ribbon in market class and stood as the Reserve Champion intermediate 4H fitting and showing steer. I was so proud of this animal and also of Dakota with what life had presented and the final outcome. Kobe also did great as a bovine gaining over 4 pounds per day and finishing at 1369 pounds. When life looks like it is so imperfect, a bit of perseverance, trust and faith can really pay off! Congrats Gus, and Kobe you will always be a special memory for all of us.

Today's real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the cow, calf, bull, bovine aka Bos taurus which is the most important for us in how we make a living.

Today's picture is Kobe as a newborn last January. I also am adding a YouTube video of a song that captures the essence of this story. Tom Petty sings, "Even the losers, get lucky sometimes."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

County Fair

It is hard to believe that it is already September. We got through our first of three fairs over four weeks last week and things went pretty well with blue ribbons. Dakota and her steer named "Shaq" did well but no champion ribbons. She did get into the championship round in fitting and showing and I really thought she has a reserve championship won but the two girls that did win grand and reserve champion did an excellent job and were very deserving.The intermediate 4H division is full of excellent showmen (actually mostly young women) and just to compete in the championship round is a real accomplishment. Even though Dakota has placed higher at different fairs in the past I felt this was her most "successful". She really took things upon herself this year and not once did I feel frustrated at her focus, work ethic or self discipline. Not only did she have her steer responsibilities, she also had volleyball practice every afternoon last week. She did well and as a freshman made the junior varsity team. This is something I have longed for and yet seeing her grow up and become so responsible is a double edged sword. This does not even take into consideration noticing the teenage boys and their staring eyes coupled by their spittle laden chins of drool. Arghhhhhhhh!!!!! Good job Gus (Dakota), we are all very proud of you, love you and you can slow down the growing up whenever you like.

The fall calving continues to smoke along with a calf or two a day. So far it has been really excellent with very little in the way of issues. I am wayyyyyyyyyyy behind on tagging calves and hope to spend tomorrow getting a few more marked. Last weeks hot weather, the first real heat we have had all summer, has been tough on the grass. The fact that the spring calves are now getting big enough to put a fair dent in grass growth is not helping either. I need to move a few cows around to other pastures and I am going to take a few yearling heifers to a friends just to keep the grass from getting overrun. This week it has cooled down and has been very pleasant but the days are certainly getting shorter and although I hope we are at least a month away, in this part of the country it can frost anytime now that we are into September.

So, for lack of other material a few fun observations from the fair and this past week of running around getting steers delivered, harvested and graded for our "Steer of Merit" program.

Subject; teenage boys and girls at the fair.

One thing I love seeing at the fair is the same kid that is shoveling cow shit or washing a steer at 6a.m. in irrigation boots looks quite different at 10a.m. as he/she heads into the show ring wearing their best jeans, starched shirt or blouse and both the exhibitor and the steer have their hair styled to a level that would make Sally Hershberger jealous. Then, in the afternoon another transformation takes place as that kid heads out to practice in football cleats, volleyball spankies (second skin shorts Arghhhhhhh!!!!), or soccer or cross country gear.

As a casual observer and listener to teen communication I noticed quite an anomaly. When the boy is in his t shirt, football pants and cleats heading to practice the girls think he looks "hot". When the boy returns from practice he is wearing the same clothing but is now "gross", "stinky" and "dirty" in the eyes of the female teen. Contrarily, when the girl heads to practice she is viewed by the teen boy as "stuckup", "slutty" and a "full of herself". However when she returns later in the evening wearing the same clothes soaked in sweat she is now "hot". I often laugh because especially the young men have no idea how life changes over time. There was a time in my life when a cheer leading outfit, painted nails and high heels was the ultimate. Now a woman in insulated Carhartts that knows how to sort cattle is a huge turn on. The high heel thing is tough to get over.

Subject; VIP Tent at the rodeo

Last year I commented that I felt the VIP tent stood for very intoxicated people but I changed that this year as the Washington State Liquor control board may read this blog and have some obscure law and send me to a CIA prison in Nocowistan. I now know VIP stands for very inspired parents. Anyway this year the highlight of the VIP tent was watching my baby sister asked to leave. LMAO, granted she pretty much got caught in the crossfire of some wild friends but still. Standing there as Mr innocent was almost amusing as my sister asking the security guard if there was no height requirement for his job! OMG, Sis, that was awesome, I was ready to leave with you in support and protest but I had a full drink.

Subject;blog grammar

Most of the time I first post this on a Word document, then edit, then transfer and post. Some nights, like this one, in the interest of time i post directly. The blog does have spell check but does not do much for punctuation or grammar. Even when I post first to Word I run into a bit of an issue. I type something out and it says "fragmented, consider revising". Many times I know it if f%cking fragmented, hell I am fragmented. Other times I know it is not perfect in a grammatical sense but it is written exactly how I would SAY it. Then I have to decide if I want it to sound like me or sound like an English Professor. I do however have some rules that I cannot break because of my own issue with the specific issue. Your, You're and They're, their, and there are something I notice if incorrect. The one misspelling I notice every time is the word "quiet" as in STFU or soundless. It is so petty but when I see someone post something like, "I told them to be quite!" I cannot help but ask them quite WHAT????? Do you mean quite quiet?

Subject; hitchhikers

I know this really does not fit the fair and sometime in the future I will tell you a great story about a hitchhiker I gave a short ride a few years ago. This is based on a woman and man hitchhiker I saw waiting on the northbound highway 395 on ramp yesterday. Now, I am not a judge and maybe these people just had time on their hands or wanted a scenic route but still. You do not stand on the NORTHBOUND on ramp of highway 395 in PASCO Washington with a sign saying "Eugene, OR". I mean I guess you could eventually get there and it was a small sign and maybe they needed to stop at a cash machine in Cranbrook, British Columbia to buy deodorant or teeth, er I mean toothpaste but it still seemed like a long route to take. If nothing else they should have at least eliminated the "OR" part. That way the could say they were headed north to their friends in Eugene, Saskatchewan.

Today's real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Western Screech Owl aka Megascops kennicotti.

I STILL have not purchased a new camera so I am posting two pictures that I think have graced these pages before. One is Dakotas show steer "Shaq" as a newborn last February. Then as a weanling last November. I will get a picture added later of Shaq at the fair. He was a good steer and so easy to tame and he really loved Dakota. Cycle of life keeps spinning.

As an added BONUS I am posting Chris Ledoux video of his great song "County Fair"