Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pepperoni, fair wives and 3rd rock from the sun

Hey, good news readers, two posts in the same month! Once you get out of the hospital from your strokes please let me know! Tonight's blog post is going to be a bit all over the board because that is just the kind of day it has been. My thoughts and actions today really fit well with the term "scattered".

I started the day early as I had a full schedule of tasks to complete, each with their own special emotional components. At daylight I loaded 2 older cull cows and 1 cull bull into the stock trailer. The cows were fairly nondescript, just older cows that were past their production prime that needed to be sent down the road. The bull was a bit of a different story. "Pepperoni" was purchased 3 years ago with a specific task in mind. The idea was to take a crossbred bull that was a bit smaller framed and had good fleshing ability, breed him to cows that were a bit too big and inefficient, to produce daughters that are the kind of females I like and want to keep. Sadly for Pepperoni his success at his task was the reason he needed to leave. You cannot have bulls around that will be breeding their own daughters for obvious reasons. For the most part I use only "purebred" bulls and Pepperoni was not a purebred. He was 5/8 Black Angus and 3/8 Shorthorn, a breed I wanted a bit of back in my herd without going too far. "Pepp" you will always be remembered as a favorite by all that knew you, and your daughters will long be a part of the future of this ranch. Here is Pepperoni earlier this month. He also did what he was expected to do, produce some productive, easy fleshing and efficient mothers like this young lady #9207Y nursing her second calf. He not only did he do this, he added blue roan color which has now been a favorite for 3 generations spanning my Dad, myself and Dakota. I know one cowhand up in heaven that will be glad to see you arrive and will put you to work breeding cows.

As I rambled up the highway this morning to deliver cattle I ruminated about last weeks fair and a few thoughts. I share my beef barn Superintendent duties with my "fair wife" Debby. We really work well together because I don't do well with paperwork and Debby doesn't do well with mornings so we cover each others weaknesses quite well. I call Debby my fair wife because we end up spending more time together than I do with my spouse that week. Debby shares in this view but prefers to call me "Debbys bitch" and several red solo cups sported this moniker as the fair week progressed.

Another reason I call Debby my "fair wife" is because of a story from years ago when we first shared duties as beef barn Superintendents. Each night during fair week as the rodeo ends, the VIP area closes and festivities generally end for the night Debby and I make a final check on the steers in our barn. We check to make sure halters and neckropes are tied, nobody has legs over ropes and in general that the steers are content and comfortable. This nightly exercise happens between midnight and 2 A.M. depending on the night. We usually have a few laughs like this year as we witnessed a steer consuming a red ribbon from his exhibitors display faster than we could stop the action. The last thing we do is turn out the lights in the barn. So the story now from our first year of sharing these duties.

One young lady exhibitor (the daughter of some good mutual friends) had assumed all week that Debby and I were married based on our work in the barn. When Friday night (the final night before steers leave) came around I had my "year round" bride Christine with me after the rodeo. I told Debby that I would handle the steer check and light shutdown that night in the barn. As Chris and I finished up the check and as I turned down the lights for the night I got a bit amorous, grabbed a fairly deep kiss, and a bit of a shallower "ass grab" on my wife. Unknown to me this young lady witnessed this exchange and promptly told her parents that Larry had been kissing some shorter lady with darker hair than his wife in the steer barn! Luckily her parents knew Debby and I were not married and saved this poor young lady years of therapy! LOL, The main focus of the week is kids having fun and learning and educating the public. I am very proud of "Larry's kids" in the steer barn as is Debby. I failed to take many pictures last week but here is one with a clean full barn of steers! 68 steers this year up from the low 20's just a few years ago! I always tell the kids in the steer barn that if they feel a bit better than their counterparts in the other bars it is because they ARE better than their counterparts in the other barns!

 So I delivered my auction items, unhooked my trailer and headed 40 miles north to the Washington State Beef commission meeting. What a great meeting and great people we have serving the beef industry in our state. Then it was back to Toppenish, picking up a trailer and a check and then 80 miles home. The day ended checking cows, irrigation water and working with Dakota and her two remaining steers Jerome and Roaneo. Roaneo, the pretty blue roan son of Pepperoni! Remember, all pics can be viewed in full size by clicking on them.

Today's Youtube music selection that encompasses today's scattered thoughts is Joe Diffie singing "Third Rock from the Sun".

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fair, and being as tough as Rambo

Here I am, back after a great and very fun week at the Benton Franklin County Fair and Rodeo. I ran into so many people that asked me why I wasn't getting to my blog on a more regular basis last week. I really appreciate the support and hopefully with the encouragement and support I received I can get back to posting a bit more regularly!

I will warn you now that because it has been so long since I have been here this post will be somewhat long. I have been to a lot of fairs in my lifetime. Both as an exhibitor and now as a parent and co beef barn superintendent. I can honestly say that this last week was as great of a fair as I have ever had the pleasure to be part of. Dakota did about how we expected in her market class. A high blue ribbon but not a champion steer. Being in the commercial cow calf business, showing our own calves and competing against some really stellar competition with calves bred to be "club" calves has proven to be a daunting but fun and rewarding experience for both Dakota and I. As I pondered the week I had a few thoughts about the beef business, family, memories of Dad and my own show experiences, and generational similarities.

People outside the beef business often ask me how in the world can you raise animals that you know eventually will sell and be turned into beef. Believe me it is not exactly easy but the fact that we know these calves their whole life helps a bunch. Rambo was born on Valentines day in 2011 to a very small but very efficient and productive 5 year old cow # 6228B. Rambo was a beautiful bull calf with very pretty markings and Dakota hoped he would become "show worthy".

As Rambo grew up I became as convinced as Dakota that he should be given a shot. By the time he was weaned from his mother last November there was no doubt. Rambo was a very curious and naturally tame steer. We have never had a calf that was so easy to halter break and tame. He just seemed to go with the flow on anything we asked him to do. This is a big part of how I explain this to people, Rambo lived a very pampered and special life. He was washed and brushed regularly, wet down on hot days, fed the best feed and as far as the life of most steers go, he lived the high life. Plus he had the companionship of a young lady that is rapidly becoming a young woman and quite a cattlewoman. 

As we approached fair week this year we knew it would be a bit more difficult than years past to balance all the demands . Dakota was competing for a varsity volleyball spot with 3-4 hour practices each day as well as needing to show and care for her steer. I am very proud of the way she handled herself this week. Her personal responsibility level needed to be high and it was. She struggled a bit in fitting and showing because Rambo had gotten so tame, fat and lazy that he did not really want to stand still or do anything that involved something other than eating and sleeping. She gave it her best shot though and never gave up. The only thing she did wrong was shed some tears after the class because she was disappointed in how she placed. I know she is competitive like her father but the importance is in the effort and drive, no matter the final result. This was proven today as she found out she is going to be a varsity volleyball player for the Lady Eagles this fall. She also received a very handsome price for Rambo at the market stock sale on Friday that will go a long way towards her future education and participation in the beef business. Thank you so much to Tyson Fresh Meats and all of the bidders and purchasers in this years sale. Gus, your Mother and I are very proud of the way you handled yourself this week and your work ethic and focus was amazing!

Saturday night at the fair we load out the steers after midnight for their final destinations. I decided that this year Dakota was old enough to help with this task. She took the responsibility of leading Rambo on to the semi truck. Sure there were some tears shed and I gave her a big hug and reminded her what a great life she had provided for Rambo. I also reminded her that these tears were expected and understood and reminded her of a few moments that she has watched me struggle with losing a cow or calf. I also reminded her that two more steers waited at home that needed her attention and focus as they will head to different fairs over the next couple of weeks. Each of these steers have certain special memories in their lifetimes as well and the circle of life continues. Rambo's older sister had her first calf this past February and  like her mother is raising a beautiful first child that will likely be in our herd for as a replacement heifer for many years to come.

One thing that always made me mad and I had a hard time grasping in my own life was why Dad always made get my butt out of bed early the day immediately  following the fair to go work with him. This morning as I sat on a ice chest with a few left over beverages from the fair on the back porch and pulled on my boots to go deliver fair steers I watched the sunrise come up with Dads memory. I looked over at Dakota pulling on her own boots to go help me and I knew why. The circle of life continues; cows, family, passion, work, community, and toughness is what defines people in the cattle business and I am so very proud to be a part of it. More posts related to this years fair will be coming this week.

Today's pictures that can be viewed in full size by clicking on them are Rambo with his mother the day he was born, and Rambo's older sister raising he first calf.

Part of making it in the cattle business and a lesson my Dad taught me well is being tough. I think this Youtube song by Justin McBride is a bit of an obscure song that embodies today's blog post, my feelings and besides that, you have to appreciate a song with "puke green Cadillac" in the lyrics!