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Posts Tagged ‘4-H’

Where did your footsteps take you today and what kind of footprints did you leave behind?

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This past Sunday Matt and I got to attend a special church service. The little church (very near where we farm and ranch in Kansas) celebrated 125 years! His grandparents were pastors there at the time they were killed in a car accident in the 1960’s. The message of the sermon was about footprints. My mind immediately began racing about the steps we take and footprints we leave in our farming and ranching choices. The bulletin for the service was titled “Celebrating Northbranch Heritage”; every farmer’s heritage is determined by his choice of footsteps.

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(I didn’t have a picture from when the kids were little of boots – but this one is darn cute!)

I can’t help but think of how BIG some guys feet are and how ADORABLE toddlers are when they try to stand in the boots of those big men! Those young people are shaping their hopes and dreams based on the footprints we leave. Are we constantly stumbling? Are we walking proudly? Are we taking scary paths? Are we taking time to let them follow closely?

Just to lighten this up a bit…I guarantee, several times a week, we step in a pile of poop. When you have cattle in pens, there is bound to be a footprint in a cow pie. There are various ways to then clean those boots or shoes – just make sure you do before heading in the house! And I know I have attempted to step over an electric fence, only to lose my balance and get a zap on my inner thigh – yep, go ahead, laugh along with me! It’s all one can do when that happens! I hope our kids see when, in life, we figuratively “step in the poop” and learn from our mistakes! I also hope they notice that younger kids are already looking to them as an example and they REALLY need to carefully select their path!

Matt and I have been blessed with some pretty amazing footsteps to follow & we have blazed our own path a few times & all we can hope is that our “heritage” is meaningful in some way decades from now. Regardless, those who know us, are not a bit surprised by the spot in our path where there are tons of prints all in one area…those are the times we are dancing!

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As you can easily see, it has been far too long since I last blogged! When I first started, I had all kinds of excited things to write about – mostly because I hadn’t already used them as topics. I see and hear things throughout the day and think, “Hmm, wonder if I can make that interesting for any of my readers?” Well – I should have, but summer has consumed me!

So, since Mother’s Day when I last wrote…We have done normal family summer things (or at least normal for OUR family). We enjoyed the Nebraska Junior Beef Expo where seven different breeds of cattle are represented & everyone has a great time competing in contests and showing their cattle!

Kaydee did VERY well in every speaking-related event & on sire-summary quiz. Lots of first place garden hoses and gift certificates!

We also got to celebrate turning the big 4-0 with some cousins who did the same this year, visited lots of family at a family reunion the next day & saw my mom with a cast on her arm. My mom had never broken any part of her body before….it has been made certain – as amazing as she is, she is not invincible!

One of my favorite people to visit with at that family reunion is Uncle Pip. He has made his way into his 90’s and is as sharp and witty as ever! Pip is my Grandma Emma’s brother & I hope I am as fun as him when I get up in years! He was super excited to tell me all about his Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. He was in total amazement of everything he got to see. He showed me this picture of him at the WWII Memorial.

Our big trip for the summer was all the way to Hutchinson, KS where Kaydee and Emmet got to participate in the North American Junior Red Angus Event. I am SO proud of ALL of the kids who were there from all across the U.S. Families showed up from as far away as Pennsylvania and Oregon! All of the kids have a really great time working together, competing against one another, showing, and just hanging out. Lifelong friendships are definitely made at events like the NAJRAE!

 

Friends….Iowa, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, Kansas.

 

Finally, we have done all of our standards. Matt and his crew of young people have built miles of barbed wire fence. I have been super busy at my job. We have enjoyed a few strawberries from the patch we started. We have done a LOT of praying for rain. We have been breaking feeder calves to lead. The lawn has needed mowed a few times. We regularly check the cattle in the pastures. We put embryos in cows. We continue to try to control musk thistles in the pastures. I have kept some really pretty flowers watered and alive. And, we absolutely love summer & everything that goes with it!

County fair starts later this week…can’t wait!

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I know it’s only mid-July, but our county fair is already done…and was it a HOT one!  We checked in cattle and projects last Thursday morning.  As soon as we had the cattle there, Emmet had to go to a football camp.  He came back to the fair and helped keep stalls clean and cattle watered.  At 4:30 we had to have him to a baseball game.  Needless to say, he was more than a little tired the next day:

Recently, I’ve heard that 4-H could desensitize our kids; that we are harming them in some way by allowing them to participate in livestock projects & county fair premium auctions.  I could not disagree more & I would like to address each of the H’s with observations from this year’s fair.

Head:  I saw kids all over the fairgrounds using their heads in any number of creative ways.  It was really hot during our fair & 4-H’ers found all kinds of ways to try to stay cool – from water fights to fans to cold lemonade-they were thingking!  I also saw 4-H’ers who know exactly how to feed their animals (and most 4-H beef rations are not totally simple), clip and groom the animals, and explain their projects to fair-goers walking through the barn.  There were kids who know exactly how to show their horses, sheep, goats, and pigs.  Of course, many kids are bright enough to talk their parents into giving them a few dollars to spend as they wish, too.  4-H members are very bright young people!

Heart:  This is probably my favorite “H”.  I saw kids helping each other in all kinds of ways from chores to fitting and clipping.  I watched young people serve customers at the 4-H food stand with the utmost politeness and respect.  I also saw many kids who were completely dedicated to the care and presentation of their animals and knew that their animal was a food animal – even though they loved it, they were willing to let it go for it’s intended purpose.  During the auction there are almost as many parents with lumps in their throats and a tear in their eye as there are sad kids.  Even more importantly – I saw displays of great sportsmanship.  There is only one winner in each class.  Nothing makes me more proud than when those who got anything other than first congratulate and shake the hand of the champion.  4-H kids are top-notch!  4-H is the heart of the fair – if it weren’t for the kids’ projects and livestock shows, it just wouldn’t feel like a fair!

Hands:  Many hands make lighter work for all.  Showing livestock at a county fair is hard work.  Everyone has more responsibilities than just taking care of their own animals in order to make the whole event happen; there are grandstand shows to put on, trash to be hauled, bathrooms to clean, and the list goes on.  “Hands for larger service..” can be seen in every corner of the fairgrounds.  People were serving food, putting up displays, cleaning pens and stalls, judging projects, and attaching ribbons to exhibits.  And everyone has a great time working together!

Health:  We all know that fair food is the best…for a few days!  Our fair is doesn’t have all of the traditional items – in fact, nothing on a stick.  So – it really is healthy, darn it!  But, we do have homemade pie donated by the 4-H families served at the 4-H foodstand every day!  Other than lack of sleep, fair can be really healthy.  I’m pretty sure that I sweated off at least 5 pounds last week…now to keep it off!

Now that our fair is over, we will take in several area fairs evening events & look at other counties’ 4-H project exhibits & just enjoy being there without all of the work to do.  I wish everyone could know the enjoyment of a county fair like 4-H livestock exhibitors know the fair.  The best memories, friendships, and learning lessons can come from one quick week each summer growing up.

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There are so many choices of things for kids to do after school!  I think school sports are great and if we weren’t a farm family, I would probably push my kids harder to participate in more school sports.  Then you can throw in drama, groups like FFA or FBLA, and the list can go on.  I will say, I am a believer that as long as the kids are busy and responsible to be somewhere, they aren’t making trouble (at least I hope!).

Kaydee and Emmet don’t go out for track and I am totally o.k. with that – we have plenty of things they can be doing that certainly could be qualified as somewhat of a workout!  The last day of school is getting ever closer, which means (at least on most days….when there aren’t sports camps or driver’s ed.) a full crew for building fence!  Yay!!!  I have to say, I wish I could spend time with them putting posts in the ground; I know my arms would be MUCH more toned.  Tamping posts is very good for the upper body!

I had to do a presentation tonight at a meeting, so I didn’t get home until about 8:30, but here’s what I found Kaydee doing when I pulled in the drive:

What a responsible young lady!  We have a cattle show coming up exactly one month from now.  Emmet already had his heifers rinsed, blown and tied to the fence.  Kaydee was getting hers done.  Neither of them had eaten supper yet; they were taking care of the cattle first.  This routine will take place almost everyday  through September, which is when the Nebraska State Fair is held.  That will be our last show with this group of heifers.

Only the few cattle that are 4-H or FFA projects for the year get baths and get their hair blow-dried.  In the showring, presentation is almost as important as the structural correctness of the critter.  Folks who “fit” cattle for the showring are kind of like hairdressers.  You want each hair to be the right length and going the right direction.  Really good cattle fitters are almost like artists!

Just across the grass from where Kaydee was working, Ringo was chewing on a bone from a roast we ate last weekend.  He was in doggie heaven!

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