Saturday, November 16, 2013

That Time of Year

Yes, it's almost Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It also a time for a huge livestock event the North American International Livestock Expo.  According to their website it is the, "world's largest all-breed, purebred livestock exposition".    Each year we try to start packing early, but this year and,  well every year, I end up waiting to pack the trailer until the last minute.  It has been warm in Tennessee up until TODAY.   The forecasters say we may even get a snow flurry this evening.  So, instead of packing last week or the week before while it was warm I donned my coveralls, vest, scarves, gloves, hat, warm socks and begrudgingly went to the barn to pack the trailer. Sometimes we are huge procrastinators.  I haven't blogged much the last few weeks because I have been getting the heifers ready to go.  We want them to look their absolute best on show day.   This year my Dad made us two aluminum half chutes to take with us, because they are light weight and easy to transport.  I have been up at the shop helping him get them all cut and welded up the past few nights and  the "tired" is getting ready to set in.  But... The show must go on.  I am looking forward to an exciting, exhausting, fun, hard working show next week.  My cattle leave tomorrow for Louisville and I leave on Friday.   We are taking seven heifers and one aggravating bull. The cattle will be gone for ten days.

(I actually wrote this post on Tuesday of this week, but have been insanely busy!  It is actually Saturday now, and I am AT NAILE!!!!!   I am so excited!!!    My heifers will be showing today and tonight!  It is so hard to convey my excitement through writing, but just know I AM JUMPING UP AND DOWN RIGHT NOW!!!  WOOHOOOO!!!!)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Veteran's Day

  Yesterday was Veteran's Day.  On our way to school my mom brought up a very good point; Why do we close schools to celebrate a single person but not close schools on Veterans day?   I know that post offices and other government offices are closed, but why not schools?  She had a point!  My grandfather's are veterans so this hit close to home.  I won an essay contest  a few years ago about homeless Veterans and their plight and ever since doing the research for that project I have always been curious about the lives of all Veterans.  Today, I was doing a search on Veterans and Farming (since this is a farming blog) and I found a blog post titled "From War Veteran to Farmer".  I really love this post.   I have known all my life that growing up on a farm is the best way to grow up.  I feel the peace and calm when I walk outside each day.  I am in awe of nature so it was really no surprise to find out that many Veterans also find solace in farming and working the earth.  It seems fitting that Brave Men and Women would enjoy farming.   Farming is freedom! Producing food for yourself and others is liberating!   I think I will go farther and say that the peace and solace is not directly related to the act of farming but rather to the enjoyment of being out of doors.   I volunteer at a nursing home and one man who had lost his legs in the war longed to hunt and fish.  He was going out of his mind on a daily basis because he had no access to dirt, to fresh air, to memories of hunting as a child.   Another man, also a veteran, who wore his farm overalls every day (he sleeps in them too!) only wanted to go outside and collect some "cackleberries" (eggs)!   My sisters and I organize projects for the home.  Some of those have included planting them a garden, having a harvest party on the 4th of July, and asking them regularly about their farming, hunting, and fishing memories.  They all have the same thing in common.. They want to be out in nature.  The want to use their idle hands.  I, too find peace in taking care of animals and cultivating the land,  I am glad that many veterans are able to connect to the land and take away some of the pain that comes from fighting in war.  The land is always there for the brave and battered.  It will take the punches and listen to our frustrations.  Happy Veteran's Day! 

4-H Banquet

Recently we had our County 4-H Banquet.   It is a time to recognize all the county 4-H'ers for their years accomplishments.   4-H means a lot to me.  Most of the time when kids go into High School they seem to split their time between 4-H and FFA .  Unfortunately and Fortunately I am homeschooled.   This is fortunate because I get to travel around the Country networking with BEEF folks, I get to work on the farm almost full time, I get to spend lots of time with my family, and I have time to extensively study and pursue areas of interest to me.  Unfortunate, because I don't get to enjoy programs like FFA.  Since FFA is federally funded they do not allow homeschoolers or private schoolers to participate.  My mom called their office one day and they explained the whole thing.   She talked to the FFA folks for thirty minutes and gave them statistics on how many homeschoolers there are in the US.  They were sympathetic, but unable to do anything about it.
  Every year, I watch my friends from around the Country don their blue jackets and congregate together to compete and socialize at the National FFA Convention.  It kind of hurts me to watch it, but then I wonder to myself if I am really missing out on as much as it feels like I am.   I usually come back to earth and realize that this world is big and there are plenty of opportunities in and out of organizations like FFA.   I know plenty of extraordinary homeschooler and private schoolers who never got to participate and have been totally successful in life and I know I am one of those kids.  
   I am so thankful that 4-H allows homeschoolers to participate.  I have been involved with 4-H since the 4th grade.  My mom and dad were both 4-H'ers and so are my sisters.   I am currently our Honor club secretary.  I look forward to every service project, meeting and event!   I have life long friends in this program and it has truly taught me life and business skills that I will use forever.
    The long lost point of this rambling story (lol)  is that life is good and it is what we make of it!   It is not healthy to long for something we don't have.  We need to look at what we Do.  When we see the plethra of things that God has given us we will know that we are surely blessed!!!   I know I am!
Me with the rest of the Outstanding Award winners at this years 4-H banquet
I won Outstanding Senior 4-H'er

Friday, November 1, 2013

To the Auction We Go

   Tuesday was the big day!  We usually take our calves to the stock barn to sell twice a year.  We take  calves that are  between 7 and 8 months old.  The fun part about all of this is getting the cattle moved from the field to the barn to be loaded into the trailer.   We knew this was going to be a time consuming operation so in true family farm fashion the whole family, except for my mother who was cleaning the kitchen, came out and helped.  I unloaded the trailer and  turned off the fan and the radio that I leave on for the show cattle to enjoy. I didn't want the young calves to be stressed by the noise.  My pop backed the trailer to the barn and we were ready to rock and roll!   Dad, Ashton (my 15 year old sister), Pop and I all walked to the field.  Actually, Pop drove the 4-wheeler.  The calves are used to Pop and his 4 wheeler because he drives it to the field twice a day to check the cows.   If there is one thing I've learned over the years, it is that my Pop has a special bond with his cows.  They've known him and his 4-wheeler all their lives!  Once in the field we got our game plan together!  There were two sets of cattle:  1. the ones on the hill and 2.  the ones on the lower side.   When moving cattle, you have to remember that they have their own minds.  It is important to move slowly because if you get them too excited then they will start moving in all directions.  We got all the cows moving in the right direction and then Pop came along on his 4-wheeler and said, "Get up, go to the barn" and they went!!!  Dad, Ashton, and I watched the fence so no little calves ran underneath it.  Our fence is unusually high because we usually get the hay tetter stuck in the wire!  As Pop drove them to the barn we made sure none got outside the lane we were driving them in.  The final turn to head up to the barn, "THE LANE", was the hardest part.  The fencing is not great in THE LANE.  We should do some work on it, but I have grown accustomed to it so it probably will stay the same. Dad kept them going up to the barn in THE LANE slowly but surely making sure to not force them so none got away.  One little bull calf managed to escape, but luckily we didn't need him today!   Once in the barn, the fun began!  Besides getting the calves for the sale separated,  we had to band three calves and sort five heifers out.  The first thing we did was band the youngest. He had manure on his back, right where I had to hold him.  That was gross.  We then sorted some more cows out of the barn and banded the cutest little bull! It was one of my old show heifer's second calf.  I want to hopefully show this white legged steer when he gets around six months old.   The third calf that we were supposed to band was as fast as lightening.  It became interesting fast as we tried to catch him.    We try to run a low-stress operation so this was going to be difficult! He wasn't the last to test our patience however!  It took us around ten minutes to catch this bad boy, it then took three to band and hold him!  We got him done and let him go slowly so he wouldn't get away too fast and get hurt.
  Cattle are herd animals and feel better in numbers so we try to keep at least one cow with the calves until we no longer can.  It was time to finally start cutting the three cows out of the calves so we could get down to sorting the replacements and sale calves out.  We sorted those five out into the barn and put the sale calves into the pen waiting on the trailer.  I went to get water for the replacements and one heifer decided to run me over.  I was being stupid and not paying attention so it was partly my fault.   She lunged back on her hind legs, ready to run me over.  She was blowing snot and shaking her head.   I ran for the hay manger a little late, because I am over confident sometimes.  I got away...this time. I was shaking and everyone was laughing and saying they've never seen me move so fast and why didn't we have the camera running.   We still had to get water for them but the heifer was still fuming.  We guessed she was probably just scared.  We ignored her and didn't try to provoke her in any way, but we had to get the water and this time it was dads turn.  The afternoon turned into our own version of a rodeo as I watched my dad jump from the barn floor to the fence and hover there just holding himself  up by his hands.   So, what is the moral of this story?  Be careful around cattle!!!!!   Cattle have individual personalities and sometimes they don't behave the way you think they should.  Good management practices and knowing how to move cattle will alleviate much of their stress.  I have attached a helpful link from Colorado State, by Temple Grandin, about handling Cattle.
Here it is!