Tuesday, December 31, 2013

University of Tennessee Block & Bridle: Rock Top Classic

   A few weeks ago was the yearly Rocky Top Classic Cattle Show.  This year it was back at the Brehm Animal Science Building at UT.  The last time they had it there I was in the fourth grade.  They have been remodeling it for, I don't know, SIX years!  Everyone was hyped up about the heated show barn and the warm water.   The barn where we were tied out was cold and the show ring was hot.   So it was a day of extreme temperatures for the cattle and the people!  My mind didn't stay on the temperature situation for long because on this day, my youngest sister, Elli-Ruth would walk into the show ring leading a heifer by herself for the first time.

Elli and Claire in the new arena.

 She has shown since she was a little one, but always with me and always with a rather large heifer.   This year we have a heifer that's just her size.  I got up around three am to feed and iron her show clothes, BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD.  I woke her up around five. No little kid wants to get up that early but stock show kids aren't normal.  I just mentioned Claire, her heifer's name, and Elli jumped out of bed with excitement!  Once we were ready, we went out into the frigid black morning.  I can't explain how good it felt to have Elli by my side going to a show.  She has normally just showed up in time to walk in the ring.  We stopped and got some Hardees for breakfast on the way to the show.  To stop there on a show morning is kind of like a tradition.   She told the order taker lady where we were going and what she was going to do. It made me giddy with joy to hear the excitement in her voice.   After Hardees we headed to David's (he helps fit my cattle)   to pick up Claire (Elli's show heifer) and my other heifers!  After that,  we got on the road and were headed to Knoxville. When we got there we had to get to work.  Elli is only eight so I let her go run around in the ring.  One of the wonderful  things about a shows is that we are all family!   Kids and Adults work and play side by side and everyone watches out for everyone else. We got everything rinsed and fed and then Elli comes running in telling us she is late and we must get down there!   I let her lead Claire down to the show ring and I swear I could have cried!!  I went in the ring with her but let her handle the halter and stick on her own.  Claire has a temper sometimes so I wanted to be close by if she needed me.   I took a camera to take pictures!  Elli-Ruth did fantastic!   She is still in the Pee Wee division but this summer she will be able to officially compete in showmanship!   After the Pee Wee division came the Junior, Intermediate and Senior categories.    There were three heats of Senior showman, I was in the second.  I ended up showing Claire just because I already had her ready!  I had the smallest heifer in the ring so I kind of stuck out! I got called out into the final heat but ultimately my friend,  Taylor Green,  won showmanship on this day. She has always looked so good in the ring.  Next up was the breed show.  The show moved fast so I didn't have to wait a long time on the Simmentals to show.  Jess, a march calf, won her class. Oppy, a January calf, otherwise known as my Holstein, won her class of like six or seven and then won the show.  Claire, also a March calf, got second in her Commercial show class.  I ended the day with a nice cup of coffee and seeing my heifers buck and play when we got home!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Women Were Made to Farm

Recently, Dairy Carrie wrote a post about why we women (married women, which I am not) say "I am the farmer's wife"  instead of considering themselves farmers.  I thought a lot about her post and wondered why it is so hard for some women to identify themselves as farmers.  I personally consider myself a farmer and hope that I will continue to do so when I get married.  I also started thinking about the different make ups of man and woman and made  a list of why women might make even better farmers than men!  Please men, don't take my list to heart.  You still need to keep farming, because I will be looking for one of you "farmers" to marry in the future, but this post is about empowering the women!
Hips- they don't lie
   I don't know how many times I have carried hay, feed, or a calf propped on my hip.  I hold gates open, move things when my hands are full, keep a cow off of me. and many more things with them.  When I use my hips I feel empowered!!!
Arms and Hands
   I am now artificially inseminating and when it comes to a heifer I can get my skinny arms in her and use my little hands to move inside to breed her. Once, my Pop and I were at a sale and these people locked their keys in their truck! Guess who could get her arm in the cracked window the best, ME!  I got that truck unlocked with the help of a show stick but the other guys could barely get their hand in, I got shoulder deep!
Small statue
   I may not be the skinniest gal on the block but I can get in tiny places most men can't.  I am always the one to pack the nose of the cattle trailers because I am small.  I used to be the one to get in the feed bin.  I am always the one to crawl in the hay loft: one because I can scale the wall to get up and two I'm not scared of the floor collapsing or the creatures that roam!!
    My momma always told me to just bat my eyelashes at my dad and I could get whatever I want!  It seems to work on all the men! My Pop bought me two heifers he DID NOT want because I put on the charm and batted my eyes.  Women are also very detailed.  We see things men don't.  We may see the disposition of calf change before men.   As natural caregivers, we notice when they get sick earlier and are able to identify problems men may not recognize.
It's not all about the physicality of a woman-   The above aspects are all physical in nature but I think their is more to meets the eye when it comes to why women make good farmers.  God has blessed women with traits that go hand in hand with nurturing animals and crops.  Women are very detailed.  We see things men don't.  We may see the disposition of calf change before men.   As natural caregivers, we notice when they get sick earlier and are able to identify problems men may not recognize.  We are multi taskers!   Yes, sometimes that gets us into trouble as we tend to take on too much, but most of the time that allows to think at a rapid pace, analyzing multiple problems and once and solving them all in a short amount of time!
  Farming has always been a  "mans world" but the reality is that women are and have always been a vital part of running an operation.   I call myself Farmer Madison because I have every right to work alongside men any day of the week.  I can't wait to work along WITH  my husband on the farm.  Together we will make a strong team each offering different skills and abilities. And... We can both call ourselves FARMERS!!

Off to see the Stock Barn

The wonderful stock barn of Athens!
A couple weeks ago we sold some heifers to a neighbor.  When my Pop was loading them, one got way from him.  I think I was at school on that day, so I was no help!   This Tuesday we were going to take her to the guy who bought her.  We also needed to take two old show heifers and CRAZY calf off too.
  It was a rather simple process.  The cows went to the barn quite easily and separated out nicely, so I have no exhilarating story! Except when we got to the stock barn!!!
  Poppa has started letting me pull his truck up while he gives them his name and address.  The last time I did fine.  Poppa has a Ford straight shift and the reverse is up beside first gear.   While trying to not get in reverse I hit third.  I killed it.  I finally got it into first and drove it half way home, according to Pop! 
Just another day in the life with Farmer Madison! Don't kill it!!!

Side Note- Sorry, I have not been posting!  All my fault.  I say I am too busy, but in reality I just hate having to sit down and work on it!  I will do better; however, you might have to read ten blogs in one day!