Archive for June, 2011
Gosh – I feel terrible! It’s been well over a week since I have posted anything! I have to say – right now, our days are FULL. There is rarely a minute that isnt’ spoken for. It is so good to be healthy and be able to do so many things!
This week we are enjoying our summer vacation at the North American Junior Red Angus Show (NAJRA) in Stillwater, OK. I think it’s about 90 degrees here and I know it wasn’t supposed to be over 75 at home this week. Who needs to visit a spa to sit in a sauna? While we are here, I can just step outside the cattle barn and experience that lovely, sultry, sauna feeling. Regardless of the weather, we always love coming to this show to see all of our Red Angus friends from all around the country. There are Junior Red Angus folks here from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Iowa, Indiana, Oklahoma, and of course, Nebraska.
Here is what the cattle are doing right now – staying cool and comfortable under the fans.
Here’s what the people are doing right now – taking a break by the stalls.
Emmet decided to litterally hang out in the stalls for a little while.
I had to make him move back across the aisle because the heifers were being polite to him and they wouldn’t lay down with him in their space.
Events like the NAJRA Show are so good for kids. Of course they get to make new friends and see old friends from far away. But, they also participate in constests like public speaking, sales talk, judging, fitting, herdsman quiz, photography, and a few fun things like a scavenger hunt, quiz bowl, and swimming party. All of the kids here have their other stuff they do back home – church, sports, music, jobs, college, dancing, you name it. But at something like this – regardless of where they are from or differences in talents, they all have one major thing in common. They love cattle!
As much as I try to stay current and at least know the names of the newest gadgets and gizmos available and don’t mind texting and tweeting and facebooking – I am still a country kid that likes to visit face-to-face. Today, I did what thousands of others have already discovered and started enjoying – I joined Skype. For many of you, that is probably not exciting at all. For me…WooHoo!!!! – I can see who I’m talking to. The bad part – they can see me, too; whether I have to itch my nose or scratch my head or make a frustrated facial expression or have really bad hair….it’s all there – no hiding anything!
I can see all kinds of great purposes for this new adventure I am delving into. Meetings with slides to be shared can be more quick and efficient than e-mailing back and forth. Gosh – listen to me! My grandparents had to use the USPS to mail anything and they only had rotary dial phones….and that was just 50 years ago (or so??)! We have definitely come a long way in making our world faster paced!
I can guess one of my favorite ways to use Skype will be in visiting with family who might also have it. I’m sure that now we are going to have to add it to our home computer. When I’m gone for meetings, I can see Matt and the kids – how great is that!
I have tried to get a little of my parents’ and grandparents’ influence into a few of my most recent posts & my cousin suggested I share a special piece of advice from our Grandma Ruby. So – here it is…..
When all of us kids were teenagers and especially in college, she told us that we should go on dates with lots of different people; try out all kinds of different guys (or gals for the boys). Can you imagine your grandma telling you that? “You know,” she would say, “whoever you choose to marry, you have to be able to look at across the breakfast table every day.” What an outstanding tidbit to use during those years! And, we all did a pretty good job of choosing our mates!
So now, even if I’m gone, I can still see Matt across the breakfast table in the morning! I can guarantee, Grandma would never have dreamed that would have been possible – technology is a great thing, but it can’t replace a hug or holding hands. As busy as we let our lives be, take time to truly enjoy those around you. You’ll be glad you did.
Though my kids and their friends like to remind me that I’m not as young and agile as I once was, my summers as a kid is still quite vivid in my memory! I was raised on a farm in South Central Nebraska, some 15 miles from the nearest public swimming pool. I don’t recall any of my friends having really nice backyard pools like many folks have now. So, if a kid doesn’t hang out at the pool all day and your parents won’t buy you an Atari (for you youngsters, that was the newest and greatest of gaming systems of the day) what do you do all day?
First of all, my parents have a huge yard, so once we were all strong enough (maybe 8 years old) dad had a push style bagger mower for each of us to operate. Thank goodness for 4-H market steer projects! One year while wandering around the State Fair, we (me and my siblings) pointed a really nice riding mower out to our parents. We gave them a GREAT talk on how well we had done with our steers at fair and how much they brought in the auction. We would LOVE to purchase a mover for everyone to share! And they said, “yes.” They said yes!!!! Woo Hoo!!!! Mowing became fun!
One of my jobs was to keep all laundry folded and put in everyone’s rooms. With a family of 6, that is no small task! However, the deal was that if I wanted to play softball (on 2 or 3 teams) I had to have that chore done every day. I LOVED LOVED LOVED softball, so I was johnny on the spot getting the laundry done. Back then, softball was super fun – we didn’t have to spend all weekend every weekend at tournaments. We got to play 2 nights a week and have a practice in between; no one got tired of it. Plus, we won pretty often – that’s probably the biggest reason it was fun. The best thing – the nights I didn’t play, my brothers did. We got to go to town nearly every night for ball!
4-H projects happened – usually being completed the night before they HAD to be entered. My mom is one of the best 4-H moms in history. We did our livestock projects very excitedly and willingly. She let my brothers get goats and chickens. Mom and Dad even let one of my brothers take pigs one year. But, we had to learn the other stuff, too….cooking, sewing, entomology, woodworking. I think there were a few times it took more than one trip to get everything to the fairgrounds! As painful as it seemed at the time, we had tons of great laughs making mistakes and joking around while we worked.
Two of my FAVORITE summer events back in the day…wheat harvest and 4th of July. To me, wheat is the only crop that is really pretty throughout all growth stages. Riding in the combine was the best. I usually got to help make the lunches to take out to the field. All of us kids – at the age of 15 (learners permit in hand) went through the Grandma Ruby School of Truck Driving. I wish I was as patient and diligent as she! 4th of July always happened at my Grandma Emma’s house. Cousins showed up from all around the country and we lit off fireworks for 3 days straight! Oh, there were a few punk burns and a tender finger or two from not getting the firecracker tossed in time, but what a fun 3 days! Plus, we ALWAYS got homemade ice cream, fresh strawberries, cherry pie, and for me, more cherry pie. Of course, we didn’t have time to eat until after we had gone fishing and made several “firefly lamps.”
Finally, county fair. I did my “girl” thing with my sewing projects and style review. I even won a couple of times and got to compete at the State Fair. It definitely helped to make me be a well rounded person – I think. Kids from all corners of the county competed and were best friends for a few days. We would do our best to beat each other in the showring during the day and spend all night hanging out at the rodeo and going on rides together. Many of life-long friendships are made through 4-H and county fairs.
Well, that was a nice trip back through memory lane. I hope my kids enjoy summer as much as I did. Looking back, I’m sure my parents felt overwhelmed at times and certainly crunched for time. But, they always seemed to be steady and methodical and tireless. I hope I can portray myself as well as they always have.
Yep – summer farm life is definitely long days and short nights and really, really a good life.
I am super proud of my kids for putting together this mating and making a great addition to their cow herd!
The other day I told you about synchronizing the cows for breeding in order to accomplish a close group of new calves next spring. A couple of the cows came into heat after just one day, so my dad helped to artificially inseminate them. We know they are in heat when the sticker on their back looks like this:
The patch started out silver – it is like a scratch ticket. When the cow reaches estrus – or comes into heat, the other cows will start riding her. Their belly hair rubs off the silver. Once the sticker is completly pink, we know she is in “standing heat” and she is ready to be bred. Our friend Doug, the kids, and I mass bred the remainder of the group the following evening.
Here is the opening of the semen tank. The tiny straws of semen are kept in cannisters in liquid nitrogen in this tank.
Before breeding the cow, the semen has to be carefully thawed and placed in the A.I. syringe. A disposable plastic sheath goes over the straw so it is easy to have clean equipment for each cow.
Doug is our “sleeve man”. He uses rectal palpation to feel the cervix, ovaries, and uterus. He slides the syringe into the vagina with the other hand & is able to feel that the tip is in the right place to assure the best possible chance of fertilization of the egg or ovum.
Just like when we worked and branded the calves, everyone has their job to do. One person will bring cows up to the chute, one will be thawing semen and getting the A.I. syringe ready, and one will give an injection to the cow. That injection is to help increase the chance of fertilization of the egg. (You can see that syringe in Kaydee’s hand.)
Kaydee and Emmet each took a turn (on different cows) to feel exactly what Doug was feeling and learn the cow’s reproductive tract by “feel.” They didn’t think it was gross at all – in fact, they were both really excited when they could feel the “Y” from the cervix into each uterine horn. They could also feel the syringe tip. Not bad for a couple of teenagers that tend to display typical teenager attitudes every now and then!
We managed to get all of the cows artificially inseminated and get everyone put where they needed to be just in time to get on the road before a rainstorm.
Farmlife, especially with livestock, is an awesome way to teach kids anatomy and physiology. Before we left to work with the cows, Kaydee and Emmet has gone through a decision making process to pair sires with each cow. We hope their mating plans work to make the next great Red Angus bull or heifer!
Oh – you might be wondering – did Matt help with this at all? Of course, he helps with most everything. On this particular night, he was really trying to finish a fence job and I knew that the kids and I could handle the cow project with Doug’s help. On the farm, just like in any other business, teamwork is what gets the most tasks accomplished in a day!