A Quick Trip He Says…

Nothing says family bonding than taking a trip in a vehicle for an unimaginable amount of hours. It’s even more so when you are three deep in the back seat of a dually truck and you have just spent numerous days at a cattle show with little sleep and tempers are high. 

But I digress… I knew when I got the text from dad on Thursday what my weekend was going to consist of… Would you want to go to Kansas with me on Saturday to look at a bull?…

I just stared at the text for a bit and then I decided I would call him. I was trapped, I didn’t want him to go alone, but I also had other plans for the weekend but I also wanted to make sure if he was buying something as important as a herd sire for our cattle operation that he made the right decision. 

So fast forward to right now, Big Ron, mom and I are in the truck and trailer cruising down the interstate on this “quick trip” as Big Ron keeps phrasing it. Family bonding to the extreme. 

 

Just recently I was reading some blog posts on Confessions of a Farm Wife. While reading I starting pondering on How Emily and her family are adjusting now that her husband has taken a job as a teacher and is no longer an active member on the farm. She is now struggling with finding her place. This struck me because Big Ron and I have had several conversations this past winter of what our lives would be like without livestock. He told me he could be on the beach right now instead of unthawing water hydrants in negative weather. I reminded him how easily he burned and that it wouldn’t be enjoyable to be on the beach as a fried lobster. 

But many times I have wondered what would we do if we didn’t have livestock and farm. What is a vacation without a cattl show, or stopping to look at cattle, deliver cattle, or worrying about cattle and checking the barn cameras. What do “normal” people do on the weekends when there aren’t chores to be done twice a day and a to do list a mile long.

And I imagine “normal” people wouldn’t call this a “quick trip” to Kansas but more or less a vacation. I know some days life on th farm has more downs than ups and Mother Nature can really get you down but it’s those times that are positive, those ups that remind us why we bust our butts. And you know what family bonding isn’t always so bad if it includes a stop at Kleinschmidts (large western store on interstate 70 just outside of Kansas City!!) 

What A Weirdo?

10527295_10152845571273628_3033307792034216986_nWell I am literally blowing dust of my blog as I write this today. I know it’s almost been a year since I posted last but life has just been full of wonderful events that have prevented me from taking a moment to sit down and write..I promise to do better in the future! I have had a thought rolling around in my head all week and I finally said hey, that would be a great thing to write about. So here it goes…For me living on a farm, raising livestock and all the crazy things that go along with it have been a way of life. I talk about it so matter of factually, always have, always will because I love to agvocate agriculture, but as I have gotten older and held jobs with those not from an agriculture background I realize how different my “normal” is to everyone else. And sometimes I just wonder if people leave a conversation with me and automatically think, WOW, THAT GIRL IS A WEIRDO!

For example, at the age of 5 I matter of factually explained to my entire class how a c-section on a cow works because the night before I had sat on the showbox at 10 pm and watched the whole thing from start to finish and the only time I spoke was to ask if the calf was alive. Because at age 5, the blood and everything that was going on didn’t bother me and it was normal to see babies born. Luckily, my kindergarten teacher’s family had cattle so she didn’t completely freak out but I remember a talk from my parents afterwards about how I don’t need to share everything I see at the farm. WEIRDO!

Flash forward to middle school and high school when I quit playing sports because I wanted to show cattle. Or when I broke up with all of my boyfriends over the summer because I didn’t have time for them in the summer. I didn’t have time to go on vacations with their family, or just layout by the pool, or be lazy and sleep till 10 all day. Several of them didn’t believe me when I said I will be lucky to sleep in my own bed 20 days the whole summer break. No, I couldn’t hang out with and no I didn’t get a day off when I was home. I had responsibilities and they all revolved around my show cattle. “You have to give your cows a bath every day twice a day?!?!?!?  YES….WEIRDO!425649_10150713831983628_422521790_n

In college I was fortunate to endure dorm life and sorority life with a fellow Shorthorn girl who at the time was serving as the National Lassie Queen. I can remember several “agriculture learning moments” taking place in our room and in the Delta Zeta kitchen. “You guys are going where, to do WHAT?” I am sure when she was rocking her Lassie Plaid and I was covered in glue, paint and cow shit when we returned in the wee hours of the night several muttered under their breath…WEIRDOs.

And since graduating college my weirdo status has followed me around. I can vividly remember the reaction of my former employer when I was watching a calf being born on the barn cams on the app on my phone and telling her that cows eat their afterbirth…HAHA..I still laugh at her reaction today! People are blown away when I tell them about what my weekend job is and how much harder my weekend job is than my real job! The hubby and I load up every Friday night and head to Adcock Land and Livestock or Moore Shorthorns, where the weekend list are long and the hours in the day seem short. It’s not a social gathering, its a there is too much to do and not enough people to do it. Since both of our families have livestock and grain farm vacations are slim to none and something always needs to be done. I am sure I get weird stares when I take random one or two day vacations and still have glue or paint on my fingers when I return the next day, or when I am checking the barn camera all day watching for babies, or when I show off new babies from the barn cam, or when I watch a show online during the work day. The list goes on and on….but you know what, call me Weirdo all you want, because I love my weirdo life. I love not being normal!

Yes, it is hard work and yes my family doesn’t get to go on week long vacations out of the country on the beach, but what we are doing we are doing as a family. The long hours we put in we do together and when we have success we all get to share in that success because we all had some part to play in it. The last few winters have been long and dad has said to me several times “sometimes I wonder what it would be like if we didn’t have livestock…I could be on a beach right now you know.” My reply is always the same ” Dad you love the livestock you wouldn’t be happy without them…and you sunburn way to easy to lay on the beach!”

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Till We Meet Again

As I jumped up in the truck on Saturday morning to help my dad do chores, I was a little taken a back when he suddenly said, “Well you can tell your getting older and getting some age on you.” Kinda puzzled by this comment I replied, ” What do you mean dad?”. He said, “Well your show heifers are starting to show some age around here.” As we pulled into the farm that we keep cows that need extra feed before going to market I realized the reasons for his comments. In the pen were two of my show heifers from when I was about 13 years old. It was pretty obvious that their best days were behind them.

One of the heifers in the "pen" is Luella who was featured on the cover of Prairie Farmer when I was 13 and wrote about my experience at the IL State Fair.

One of the heifers in the “pen” is Luella who was featured on the cover of Prairie Farmer when I was 13 and wrote about my experience at the IL State Fair.

No matter how old I get, losing a show heifer or a favorite animal will never get any easier for me. It is just something about that special bond between a person and their livestock that grips my heart strings in a special way. The countless hours in the barn getting ready, standing in the chute and make-up ring, and then the time in ring just makes the bond grow and grow. The heifer develops a trust in you to care for her, and lead her into the right direction. In turn she listen and obeys what you want her to do while in the ring. Now, I am not going to lie there a few heifers I have shown who have tried my patience and their extra personality was by no means appreciated and may have gotten a few come to Jesus meetings, but in the end we had an unbreakable bond between us. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the circle of life and how things work, but it still leaves a little mark on my heart.

Another one of these show heifers was Pearl, who was in all of my senior pictures and is the only cow/calf pair my dad ever allowed me to exhibit as a junior.

Another one of these show heifers was Pearl, who was in all of my senior pictures and is the only cow/calf pair my dad ever allowed me to exhibit as a junior.

Some may say it is just because I am a sissy girl, but it has nothing to do with it. Rather, it is how much we care for our animals. They are a part of our family like a dog or cat might be in yours. We care for them 365 days a year, 24/7 and because of that they become pets. Each one has a different personality. I was just a lucky girl to have over 200 pets at any given time. You will notice my dad didn’t want to out right tell me the unfortunate news about my show heifers because he too hates to see them go. Especially when it is a herd bull that was a past show bull. That’s my daddy’s favorite thing to show is yearling and two year old bulls and the hardest for him to let go.

But enough of my sob story. My girls have lived a long life, and I get by hoping there is show heifer/cow heaven. So here is to my show heifers past and those soon to pass a tribute to each of you. 

 

Accepting Imperfections

image

image

This post comes as a result of a certain heifer in our shoestring this summer, known by my family as “red rose”, but for an outsider there is one thing they can’t get past when they look at her. It is her imperfection. See red rose got a stick stuck in her ear as a baby and as a result has a crinkled ear on her show side. Every single person livestock person that looks at my heifer instantly ask what happened to her ear. After having this question asked to me about 200 times I realized how much our society really cannot accept anything below perfect. I just want to point out that nothing but the man who walked on water and healed the blind to see is perfect. We all have a flaw(s) whether big and small. We need to look beyond the one flaw and find everything that is good in an individual. We need to reminded of the saying don’t judge a book by its cover.
As far as my heifer is concerned her ear is a long way from her heart and she will be a wonderful donor cow for my herd.

Why Agvocacy?

Well my summer journey is coming to a close, but before that happens I need to recap my latest journey to the L.E.A.D. conference with the Angus juniors in St. Louis, MO. During the conference the youth got to engage in some exciting opportunities from speakers to tours. My favorite tour was when we got to have an insider look at Busch Stadium!! However, during the conference many speakers talked about the importance of being an advocate for Ag. Since I have been wanting to do a post about this I think now is a perfect time. We as farmers, ranchers and those related to the livestock industry have not fully grasped how IMPORTANT it is to share our story. So many times we feel its not our job and rely on others to do this for us. FOLKS, THAT IS NOT GOING TO CUT IT!

With anti- production agriculture organizations recruiting funds and membership by the thousands daily we too must do the same to save our livelihood and our industries. I feel many people here this speech over and over, but don’t understand HOW to be an advocate. Here are a few simple things one can do.

  • Post ag-related facebook status
  • Link your facebook to great articles, videos and pictures showing what agriculture is about
  • Post videos of yourself or others caring for your animals in a humane way and show how much you love your animals. 
  • Post pictures of your interacting with your animals and cring for them
  • BECOME A MEMBER OF THE MASTERS of BEEF ADVOCACY PROGRAM- There is no reason that every single person who shows or raises cattle is not a member of this. Take the time to take the program so you can stay in touch with what is going on and get helpful talking points and fact sheets to make a difference.
  • Invite people out for tours of your farm and let them live a day in the life.
  • Tweet and retweet things related to agriculture
  • Start a blog and take about what is going on at your farm
  • Talk to kids at school, the bus, airplanes, lunch tables.
  • Help a consumer make a beef product selection in the grocery store. 
  • Hand out proper beef product handling and recipesI
It is really not that hard… we spend many of hours on social media everyday, just take a few seconds of that to dedicate a little time to an industry that has provided each and everyone of us with opportunities and a positive experience. It is only fair to the animals and the people that we love and care for.
Also Check Out Masters of Beef Advocacy Homepage: http://www.beef.org/mastersofbeefadvocacy.aspx
Check out the Drive Magazine for more tips about Advocacy! August 2011 Issue: http://www.drivebyev.com/magazine/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=61&Itemid=59

Heat Advisory…I SAID IT’s TOO HOT!

For many of you it may be nothing, but a sign that you won’t be mowing your yard tonight and the kids will be playing inside as you head to your office job where you can soak in the a/c all day. This summer I haved joined that crew as I finish my summer internship, but to livestock producers across the country the words HEAT ADVISORY, RECORD HIGHs and anything else involving hot weather means one thing….LOTS OF SWEATING! For my grandpa, dad and uncle it means that our cattle need to be checked on more than once and a sure bet that some calves are probably going to need doctored.

My family raises purebred Shorthorn cattle, its our livelihood, and to make it such our number one priority has to be the health and well-being of our animals. In reality our animals get better treatment than our own bodies do at times. When battling the heat, my family works twice as hard at keeping everything cool by being sure the have shade, water, and the proper diets to keep them healthy. Extreme heat most likely will result in doctoring several calves that develop breathing problems and treating for external parasites that will most likely flock all of the herd. trust me its not fun.

On top of that during this EXTREME HEAT, we are smack dab in the middle of show season, so my sister is getting up early to put our show calves under fans and rinse them to help cool them off and keep the hair she has worked so hard to grow. Along with that she is getting up early to drive the truck and trailer to the next show so they are done traveling before it gets too hot! She will unload the cattle and quickly set up the stalls so she can get the cattle under fans, provide them with water and get them a bath before they bake from the heat. All the while she will sit with them all day long to clean up after them and be sure the don’t become overheated.

So for any of you sitting in your office job in the A/C who think that farmers and livestock producers don’t properly care for their animals, go sit outside for awhile and for every drop of sweat you feel triple that for the sweat coming from my dad and sister while caring for our animals in conditions where everyone is warned to “stay inside”!

Going to sweat my @$$ off at state fair!!

Emily

Check out this link to a great article about heat and showing livestock: http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2011/jul/23/livestock-relies-on-humans-during-heat/

My Life Be Like…One Big Roadtrip

NJAS 2011

Hey everyone,

I am writing to you to assure you that I am still alive, I have been trapped in a tornado of traveling recently and just now have firmly planted my feet on the groud for more than 3 days. I have traveled to seven different states starting from the last week in June until yesterday.

We arrived safely to Pennsylvania where I attended my first National Junior Angus Show. It was a stressful week, but lots of memories were created and new friends were made. I was able to keep it all together and didn’t get shot in the ghetto when my stubborn male counterpart decided to run out of disel. It was a sigh of relief when I was sitting at the banquet (because at this point all the awards were being passed out which meant all of the contest were over and went smoothly) as that was my homestretch. It was wonderful to watch as a close friend and wonderful family won the owned heifer show and two of my closest friends made the top 4 for showmanship. After wearning my Shorthorn jacket through the barn I was quickly furnished with an Angus one..haha I appreciate that Pennsylvania Angus Association for all their help!

http://youtu.be/qnj-0k3kupY  Watch Kyle get picked on this video!!!

And Lauren and Ty on this link http://youtu.be/n9is1clY8k0

After 14 days of fun, Robin and I returned home just long enough for me to do laundry and pack again before heading out. On Thursday I headed to Ames, Iowa for Knowledge Empowers Youth (KEY) with the AJSA. It was a wonderful time and full of fun. We luckily had are largest number of kids yet and I even got to see my little sister; who by the way has been kicking butt on the show road this summer with both cattle and sheep. I am very proud of her. I finally have my feet on the ground for about a week and a half before I head to LEAD, which will be my last Angus event of the summer. I can’t believe that my time with the NJAA is almost complete as well as the summer. What a great time I have had!! When I get myself caught back up I will write some post on some insights I had while on the road.

Need to catch up on sleep….

Emily

Cultural Agriculture Experience

Two Reese's peanut butter cups in orange packaging

Image via Wikipedia

Our judging team has been blessed with an Australian exchange student, Steve Pocock, to travel around with us for a few months. I enjoy chatting with Steve as visiting Australia is on my list of places of places to visit. While visiting with Steve today I realized that Australia does not have Reese’s peanut butter cups and that Steve is planning on talking a whole truck load back to Australia with him. Can you imagine a world without Reese’s? Beyond that however I was very excited to learn that Steve had interacted with Sprys Shorthorns through his work. When I was about 10 or 11 years old we shipped our first semen to Australia on our new Canadian herdsire, Eionmor Port-O-Call, to Sprys Shorthorns. My father and I always wanted to go visit the operation and see what the bull had brought to his herd. However, we have never  made it there, but someday we will have a wonderful father/daughter bonding experience in the “down under”.

The real point of the post however is the interesting things we can learn from each other through a simple conversation. Everyone holds some locked up piece of information that by taking the time to carrying on a conversation you can continue to expand your knowledge. That is why I love meeting new people! As the saying goes, “you learn something new everyday”, but how many of us take the time out of our busy lives to do just that. As I sat there conversing with Steve tonight I decided that I needed to make more of an effort to get to know the people around me and learn as much as I can. Someday, that small piece of information may become my ticket to success or failure.

Therefore, I challenge you to take the time to pick up that small piece of information locked up inside and ” LEARN something NEW, each and everyday.”

 

P.S. Steve also informed me that bloomin’ onions are not an Australian thing no matter what Outback Steakhouse says…FAIL

bloomin' onion

Outback's bloomin' onion

It’s That Time of the Year

"Clifford", bull, calf

Clifford the Little Red Bull 2

What time is that you may ask? IT’s calving season!!! One of my favorite times of the year, partially because I am the one at school and not losing hours and hours of sleep, but seriously, I love see all the new show prospects and herd builders born every year. So far, we have had around 20 calves with 5 of them being white calves (which is the most we have had in a long time). This calving season is also particularly exciting because we are having the first calves out of our new bull from Canada…Muridale Bonanza. It will be exciting to watch his progeny grow and to see what they will offer to our herd.  We are also having the first calves out of some A.I. sires we used including: Ace of Diamonds and Captain Obvious. I was lucky enough to get to go home for 24 hours last weekend to see the babies we had and get to take some photos so I will attach those below. However, we have just began our calving season and still have a long ways to go… I hope it continues to go well for my family..

I should also include the story of Clifford the Little Red Bull 2. Last summer, we had this little red bull calf that my younger cousin, Cole, began to love. He was very gentle and as a result became named Clifford the Little Red Bull. However, my uncle did not name the bull calf that when he registered him which made his grandson very angry. Cole helped with Clifford all summer at the shows and Clifford became the “family pet”. His easy going mannerism made him an automatic favorite of the bulls in our show string. At the end of the fall Clifford was sold to a couple in Illinois to become their new herdsire. Upon hearing about this Cole became very upset and as a result he made Uncle Big Ron and Grandpa Tom to promise him the next little red bull calf could be named Clifford. Well it just so turned out that the next little red bull calf was Clifford half brother. Cole is very excited about Clifford the Little Red Bull so it was only appropriate to get some pictures of him. He is already fairly lovable and I imagine he will follow his brothers footsteps nicely. Prepare to hear more about Clifford the Little Red Bull.

Cole

Cole, owner of Clifford

"Muridale Bonanza", bull, calf

First calf out of new herdsire, Muridale Bonanza

The Beginning of An Entertaining Journey

Well, here goes something, I have been thinking about starting a blog for sometime now and today I had to make one in my AgCom class so why not get with it. In this blog, I plan to enlighten the world about my journey as a Shorthorn enthusiast and your everyday Illinois Farm girl. I hope to share my passion for agriculture, cattle, my family and the Lord with those who would like to listen. Hope that you enjoy!

God Bless,
Emily