Lessons Learned

Today is a rare day during county fair season….it’s an off morning. A morning I can spend some time reading and reflecting. Today a good friend shared this article. I read it thinking back to our boys show careers and also reflecting on the changes I’ve seen in other youth over the years in the cattle show rings.

Jennifer Shike reminds us that stock show kids are just a little different and explains how showing livestock develops confidence in kids. I have to agree. If you’ll indulge me for just a minute, I’ll share some experiences and observations with you.

  1. You develop courage when you enter the ring.
    Chris was 8 when he was finally allowed to show “big” animals. Jesse was 7 when he took a bigger heifer to the State Fair. The courage they developed when they walked those calves into the ring for the first time had nothing to do with how broke the calf was. It had more to do with showing off their work to the crowd around the ring, allowing someone (the judge) to critique their animals, and to allow others to evaluate their skills. Chris broke his glasses the morning of the steer show that first year at our county fair. He couldn’t see much without the glasses and that may have been a blessing in disguise, but he went out there and showed the steer into the Champion spot, winning the fitting contest and the showmanship contest along the way. Jesse had a heifer that was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in her mouth between the county fair and the State Fair. While he was heartbroken thinking she would die, he showed courage in figuring out a course of treatment that meant she’d miscarry the calf but possibly save her life. (Turned out she went on to have several more calves for him.) Courage….to face the opinions of others, to do what’s necessary even in the face of adversity, to just do it.
  2. You learn believing in yourself matters.
    To do well in showmanship and in the show ring, you have to believe in not only your animal but also yourself. We have watched countless young people over the years go through this metamorphosis. Showing livestock requires faith and conviction in what you bring to the ring. While the guys often don’t get to see the kids showing our calves because they’re busy fitting, I enjoy watching and helping ringside. To set yourself apart from the crowd you learn to be laser-focused on your animal, the judge and everything around you at all times. This year we’ve been watching a couple of young men and a young girl go through this change. All 3 started the year a little timid, a little unsure of themselves and their animals. But with time, this translates into a belief in yourself and an awareness in the role you play in getting that animal shown well. When you have confidence in your animal and yourself, it pays off in the show ring but more importantly it pays off in life.
  3. You gain knowledge and skills that empower.
    So here’s the deal. If you don’t gain knowledge and skills while you’re showing livestock, you are missing the point. I’m not just talking about the ability to feed, fit, clip, or show. I’m not just talking about the parts of an animal or the skill of judging. I’m talking about being able to take what you’re learning and translate it to the rest of your life. Judging contests give you the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills along with speech and debate skills. Clipping and fitting are skills that can earn you a little money, but it is also an art. Feeding an animal teaches you about nutrition and involves a lot of math skills. You’ve got a whole curriculum in one animal to learn from that year. Use it, not just to win a show, but to learn the life skills.
  4. You realize the work is more satisfying than the win.
    Can I get an amen?!? Sure, we all want to get that champion slap and banner. BUT, do we quit showing as soon as we don’t win a show? Likely no. Hopefully, no. The lessons learned in the barn are often more of a win than any banner. Our sons learned they can always rely on each other. The phrase, “It takes teamwork to make the dream work” is a perfect motto for how our boys raised and showed cattle and even how they work the farm and ranch today as adults. We know folks who believe if they don’t win this show or that show they should just give up. It’s hard for us to work with that mindset. Now don’t get me wrong, goals are good. Striving to do your very best is always important. But winning a prize is a whole lot less important than realizing how important the work you did through the entire year is a lot more important.
  5. You learn you’re not alone.
    This one is the best in my opinion. Life is going to throw a lot of curves your way. You need to know you’ve got folks in your corner. We know that even today, if something big comes up, our show family is there for us. We’ve seen our community come together to support families through cancer diagnosis, losses of children, births, deaths, wins, losses, marriages, divorces, good times and bad. Stock show kids aren’t normal and they need a support system that’s not normal. We were blessed that our boys grew up with a group of kids that were very competitive in the show ring and yet they were extremely supportive of each other in and out of the ring. We need more of that than ever in the world today.

We’ve just come off two weeks filled with shows. This lessons are playing out over and over at each show we go to. Thank God for Stock Show Kids and Families.

It’s been a minute…..

Or maybe a day, week, month – oh wait, it’s been a year since I’ve blogged. Wow.

I wanted to type out some thoughts here as we get rolling pretty fast and furious in the summer show season with our calf customers. I was out mowing the lawn a little earlier and, as has become my habit, I was listening to the Beyond the Ring Podcast. I enjoy a lot about this podcast but if you do not want to listen to the political part of the episode, you’ll need to fast forward about 20 to 30 minutes into the podcast. Ryan Rash and Dale Hummel discuss many aspects of livestock showing. I’ll give you a heads up if you’re the parent of a younger showman, you might want to pre-listen to the episodes. What one family feels acceptable, another won’t so I’m just throwing that out there.

Episode 57 discusses Barn Basics and covers everything from feed and supplements to daily care.

Episode 58 discusses Showbox Essentials. Everything you need to think about packing into your box before heading out to the show.

Episode 59 is Practice What You Preach. Doing what you say and saying what you mean.

Episode 60 is Show Management. We’ve been on both sides of this topic and let me tell you – we REALLY appreciate those who put the effort into organizing a great show.

Episode 61 is Beat the Heat. Funny that I listened to this one today – the first time in a couple of weeks that we’re not near 100 degrees outside. But there are some amazing tips in here for hauling and showing in the heat.

I listened to all of episode 61 today along with parts of 59 and 60 while I was mowing. There were a lot of great points in those episodes and I honestly can’t keep them straight, but here are some of the take-aways I had.

  1. Some of y’all don’t clap for others and that’s why it’ll never be your turn. Wow. Let that one sink in just a minute. Mike and I had a discussion while in the car sometime recently about how blessed we were that the group of kids our boys showed with were always genuinely happy for each other’s successes and yet they were also extremely competitive. I feel like we need to thank those families we showed both with and against. The heifer families were the Hollenbergs, Hickam/Fountains, Crow/Curtis, the McCulloughs and the Curtis family. The steer families were the Montgomerys, the Nelsons, the Neills, the Wuellings, the Thomas family. We spent MANY hours together with these families for several years going from show to show. The kids were all extremely competitive and yet the celebrated each ones victories. And you know what, many of these relationships are continuing on into adulthood.
  2. Take a minute before you criticize the show management. Take a look around. Do they have enough help? Is there some way you can help them out? Do you think they would’ve put all the time and effort into putting on this show if they really didn’t want to do something great for all the kids? Thank them, encourage them, and if you’re going to criticize them, how about you offer constructive criticism with some actual help along with it. Didn’t like their choice in judges? Give them a few names of quality judges that would fit in their budget? Don’t like the prizes (or lack of prizes) how about you offer to help fundraise for the show, find sponsors and give suggestions as to what the kids would like to win?
  3. Care of your animal……oh, Lordy. This one could be a whole post in and of itself. Feed. I know it’s exceptionally expensive this year. But, I think we all know that the purchase price of the calf is just a portion of what you’re going to have in them by the time you figure in the cost of feed, show supplies, vet expenses (even if it’s just hoof trimming), etc. Feed is the top of the list of things you can control. High quality corn based feed is what our animals thrive on. Be cautious about adding too many supplements or changing up the feed constantly. Push hard earlier as when it’s 100 degrees out, that calf isn’t going to feel like eating. Next up, hair care. Not all of our calves are going to have hair in the summer. And I think we’re honest with you in telling you which ones will and won’t. But, if you buy a calf with hair, it’s going to take more work than one that doesn’t. Weather permitting wash weekly & rinse at least a couple of times a week. When it’s warming up, bring the calves in, blow out the dirt then rinse or wash. Blow the hard water out, put them under fans and feed them. When they’re done eating tie them with their heads up for a few hours. Rinse them again at noon when it’s hot (for at least 15 minutes), blow out the hard water again and then let them lay down under the fans. At night, blow them out, rinse them then feed them, either when you kick them out of back in their pen under fans. We recommend feeing every 12 hours for best consumption and gain. I highly recommend you listen to Beat the Heat on Beyond the Ring for tips for dealing with the heat.
  4. Have fun with your family at the shows. Remember those families I mentioned in point 1? All of those kids are involved in some way with the livestock industry to this day. Why? Because their families made it fun & worked together. If you have the champion calf, but your family is destroyed because of it, what’s it worth? We have witnessed borderline child abuse over the showing of an animal and that does NOT develop a love of the industry. We have also witnessed unprecedented love and compassion. We’ve also witnessed families praying together, drawing close to their show families in times of trouble and just being there or one another. That is what builds a love of this industry. Take a breath. Cheer on your fellow competitors. Realize that this county fair IS NOT a world championship. Don’t gossip about fellow showmen. Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Remember that how you handle life in the ring is a pretty good indicator of how you’ll handle life in general.

Have a great show season everyone.

Happy birthday, Casey

One year old!  How in the world does time fly by so quickly?  Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was running by the hospital to meet you before I headed to the office for a few hours?  We were so excited to add another little girl to this mess of a family and apparently you decided you wanted in on all the action we had lined up for the next month.

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Your momma and daddy had just moved into your home at Roger’s place on Tuesday night.  Wednesday, Momma had a doctor’s appointment where she was sent to the hospital for induction and Daddy joined her there.  And later, in the middle of the night, you made your glorious appearance.  You must’ve been one special little girl, because it sure seemed as if the hospital didn’t want to let you come home.  Finally on Sunday, you escaped.

B1EF943C-CF68-4AFF-8F41-6AABA1D6FA5B_1_201_aYou have such a happy personality.  You light up when you see your momma and daddy.  You’ve recently started warming up more to Pop and I.  Just last night you even laid your head on his shoulder and I could see his heart melting.  You and your cousins have a deep love for one another.  I can only imagine the mischief you and Avery will get into.  Your favorite toys at our house are the old Playskool barn that your daddy’s great grandma got him and Uncle Jesse for Christmas one year when they were little guy, the tractor with the bale grabber on the front and the popper toy.  You love to help water and feed the calves, move the cows, ride the four wheeler and play in go the water.

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You’re a little hesitant to try new things, but once you do, you progress so very quickly.  You LOVE hamburger, bananas and yogurt – oh, and strawberries that Pop picks for you. And you LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Abby.  Just this last week you’ve gotten really good at saying her name. You have lots to say and as soon as you figure out how to make your words more understandable, your daddy will never have a quiet moment.  But that’s ok, it’ll be good for him.

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Happy 1st birthday, Casey.  I pray that you continue to be blessed as much of you have blessed our entire family over the last year.  Love always, Nannie B.

New Year, New Decade, New Blessings

Can you believe it?  Not only do we get a new year this year, we also get a new decade!  The twenty-teens have been a decade of change for our family.  Our kids have graduated high school, tech school, gotten married and had kiddos of their own.  Interesting and abundant are a couple of words that come to mind when describing the last decade.

2019 is a year many of us seem to be glad to see going.  It’s been a year marked with CRAZY weather, CRAZY markets (both crop and cattle) and plenty of crises.  Three of our parents faced significant health problems with the last one still awaiting some test results.  Our daughter-in-law battled pre-eclampsia before delivering a beautiful little girl.  We had two dear family friends doing spiritual battle on behalf of their kids and some mental health issues.  We’ve lost friends and family this year.  Every time it seemed like things were turning around and would be on an upswing, something else would happen.

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2019 blessings were abundant just as the challenges were.  We added a new granddaughter, Casey in June.  We celebrated the amazing success of our market heifer and our Maine heifer being shown by local youths.  We celebrated a few other youth in their successes with our calves.  Mike got his evening shift back at work.  The women’s life group studied (and are changed by) the book Fervent.  I sold a house for a good friend.  The girls and I launched a new meat company that has been greeted with much enthusiasm.

I’m very much looking forward to 2020 and the new blessings it has in store.  None of us knows what tomorrow holds, much less what next year holds, but I do know that God holds our future in His hands.  And I’m good with that.  He has been with us trough the blessings and the trials and always will be.  I pray that you have this assurance for 2020 and that you can find the blessings of a new year and a new decade.

Happy New Year, 

Melinda

Christmas and Snow

I know many were cussing the snow this morning.  I was hoping it might shut off a little sooner than it has but honestly, there’s no controlling the weather.  I’ve always been that person who enjoys snow at Christmas.  Memories of childhood days spent playing in the snow, memories of peaceful, quiet nights on the farm, memories of fun times sledding with family members on an old car hood being pulled by the pickup.  So many memories in a little white stuff.

Today, we also celebrated Christmas with the Moore side of our family.  Over the last 6 months, a couple of our family members have experienced some very serious health issues.  Today, we were thankful to still have them seated at the table.  We’ve also added 4 new babies to the family mix this year.  Two years ago there were 5.  The great grands have more than doubled in number in the last 6 years!  To say we all see Christmas a little differently now than we did then is an understatement.

I want to encourage you all to take some time this Christmas to count your blessings.  We have friends who thought they had lost a child for good, but by God’s grace, have been reunited.  We have friends whose child has hit a rough emotional spot and yet they’re starting to see some light in that dark tunnel.  We have friends who have battled for their very lives and are still standing.  We have a friend who lost her momma last year and yet gained a grand baby this year.  Blessings.  They’re everywhere if you’re willing to look.  Count them as gifts to you from our Heavenly Father.

I overheard a conversation one of my sisters was having with one of the littles today.  She was explaining to the toddler you can’t be fussing because Santa’s watching.  I quickly looked around to find Avery.  You see, her line is “Santa doesn’t do anything, other than say Ho, Ho, Ho.”  She and I suddenly engaged in a conversation to avoid her bursting anyones bubbles.  Instead of stories of Santa, her parents are filling her and her brother, Wyatt, with stories leading up to the birth of Christ.  My heart melts when we play find baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the Wise Men, etc. with the nativity scenes.

The other special part of Christmas was getting pictures of our families for Mom and Dad.  Next month (actually one month from today) they will be celebrating their 60th anniversary!  Mike and I will be half way there in June.  Below are some pictures that show 60 years of love in action.

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Merry Christmas, everyone!

Melinda

Thankful – Always

It’s November (actually mid-November) and I’m doing a daily post on social media about one thing I’m thankful for.  It’s not hard, not even challenging, to come up with one thing to post daily.  I try to be a thankful and grateful person year round, but feel it’s important for the month of Thanksgiving to show the rest of the world how easy it can be to develop that attitude.

A thankful heart is a happy heart.

This year has been challenging on many fronts.  From the weather being chaotic much of the year to failing beef markets.  From family members facing health challenges to shifts in job responsibilities and schedules.  From friends fighting tooth and nail to keep their families intact to those picking up the remaining pieces and regrouping.  I may have said more than once this fall that I’m ready for 2020 already.  2019 has been tough – but not as tough as it could have been.  We’re exiting the year with more blessings than we can count.  When we stop and look at the rough spots of the year, I pause and asked what the worst case outcome could have been.  And you know what?  As of today, not a single one of those worst cases have come to pass.  And that, my friends, is well worth giving thanks.

A thankful heart is a happy heart.-2

 

So, can I issue a challenge to you?  We’re just a tick less than 2 weeks from Thanksgiving. How about we all flood all of our social media feeds with thankfulness.  Let’s see what kind of change in attitude that can bring about.

Thanks.

Melinda

Fathers

Father – A father is the male parent of a child. Besides the paternal bonds of a father to his children, the father may have a parental, legal, and social relationship with the child that carries with it certain rights and obligations.  Really?  That’s the definition I found online of a father.  That’s like saying a father is no different than a bull being a sire.

 

Thankfully, I’ve always been surrounded by men who are dads instead of fathers.  Dads, the guys who are there for the early morning feedings, the middle of the night diaper blow outs, the temper tantrums of a toddler, the holding and snuggling of the little one who’s sick in the night.  The men who lead by example, teaching their children to live, love and laugh.  The men who work hard day after day to provide financially for their families.  The men who take their families to church and worship their Savior throughout the week.  These are the Dads.

       

And today, I’m thankful for the one who raised me, the one who accepted me into his family when his son brought me home, the one I’ve parented with, and the two that we raised.  Happy Dad’s Day…..because each of you are so much more than a Father.

Pizza Party on the Ranch

I know I haven’t given you any recipes in the last few days.  We have finally caught a break weather wise and the guys are getting weeks worth of work done in days.  That means that the girls and I are picking up some of the slack around here and cooking anything other than the basics really hasn’t been a priority.

BUT, I’m off from the town job today and my calendar tells me it’s Pizza Party Day.  So, I’m giving you a few different pizza dough recipes.  Then we’ll get down to how we sometimes do pizza a little different.

Regular Pizza Dough

2 packets dry active yeast ( I actually buy mine in bulk in a jar, but it tells you how much to use on the side of the jar)

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup warm water

1/2 cup hot water

2 Tablespoons oil or melted butter

2 teaspoons salt

2 to 3 cups flour (enough to make a good dough)

Combine yeast, sugar and water.  Allow it to rest about 5 minutes.  Add in remaining ingredients and combine well.  I like to use the KitchenAid Mixer to knead the dough a bit.  Roll out and place on pizza pan.  Add toppings and bake at 375 until crust is done.

 

Monster Pizza Dough

1 cup water

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

3 cups bread flour

3 Tablespoons powdered milk

1.5 teaspoons yeast

Place ingredients in order in the bread machine.  Set on dough cycle.  Go do dishes, laundry, book work, whatever you want.    WARNING:  This makes a BIG batch of dough – think 15 inch thick crust!  I made this fairly regularly when our boys were younger.  They’re the ones who decided to name it Monster Dough because it kept growing on us!

Keto pizza crust

6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (roughly 1 1/2 cups)

3 ounces almond flour (roughly 3/4 cup)

2 ounces cream cheese (4 tablespoons)

1 large egg

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425 F. Prepare a baking sheet large enough for an 11-inch pizza, and line with parchment paper.

In a heatproof mixing bowl, stir together cheese, almond flour, and salt. Add cream cheese. Microwave until the cheese is melted, about 1 1/2 minutes, pausing halfway to stir. After microwaving, stir until the mixture forms a smooth dough.  Add the egg, stirring it in until absorbed and well-mixed.  Place the dough on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic cling wrap. Use your hands to spread out the dough to form a thin and even circle. Toss the plastic wrap. Poke holes with a fork to prevent air bubbles in the crust.  Bake the crust at 425 F for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.   Add toppings of your choice and finish baking until cheese is melted.

Now, how do we do pizza differently?  Well, of course we use beef.

Supreme pizza – hamburger, sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, peppers, mushrooms, onions, cheeses

Meat pizza – hamburger, sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, regular bacon, cheeses

BBQ Beef Pizza – I use bbq sauce in place of marinara, leftover roast, caramelized onions, banana peppers, and mozzarella cheese

 

So, there you go.  A whole bunch of choices for your next Pizza Party Day!

Melinda

To All the Farm Wives and Mommas

The time we have all been waiting for and anticipating has suddenly arrived this week.  Spring like temps and dry weather – that means field work is going full force as well as hay and silage production has started.  And I see you all….the mommas of littles trying to keep some kind of normalcy in your kiddos lives, the young wives who don’t get to have more than a passing conversation with your husbands for days or weeks at a time, the older, more seasoned wives who watch their husbands carefully – fearful that the stress may be too heavy a burden to bear.  I want to encourage you to keep on.

I know the bags under your eyes get heavier daily.  I know how hard it is to pull yourself out of bed when the time there was much too short.  I know being both mom and dad for any length of time is taxing, mentally and physically.

So, here’s the deal – let someone help you.  Reach out.  Tell SOMEONE – ANYONE that you need some help.  You need some support.  You need some help. And it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for it.  After all, you and your family are feeding a good portion of the world.  And the profits are small.  The investments are great.  Often the debt loads are great.  And the stress is such that many feel they cannot continue on.  Mental health days are not only optional, they’re extremely needed.    If you don’t take care of yourself, you certainly can’t help those around you.

Much love to all of you.  You are important.  You are valued.  We need you to keep on keeping on.  Thank you for all you do.  And remember, planting and haying seasons don’t last forever.

Melinda

Happy birthday, Kailey!

A little over 3 years ago, the young adults life group met at our house.  Brittany was on modified bedrest and wasn’t able to go to their weekly meetings so they brought the meeting to her one week.  There was a young teacher in the group and I wondered how she and Chris got along.  Both love working with kids (though in very different aspects) and both have a love and passion for their families.

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Fast forward a year and we notice Chris is texting some girl all the time.  We harass him and eventually find out it’s Kailey.  A little over two years ago they started dating.  Nearly a year ago they got married.  And in 8 weeks, they’ll welcome their first little girl.

Kailey, I am so thankful God brought you into our family and into Chris’s life.  You bring out the fun side of him.  Your love for the kids you teach was evident over the last couple of weeks as you made sure each child had notes of encouragement for EVERY day of MAP testing.  They will likely remember those notes the rest of their lives.  The kids at GenKids at church love and adore you.  You are going to make an amazing momma just as you’re a great aunt to Avery, Owen, Wyatt and Mae.

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I pray that God blesses you with health and happiness today and in the coming year.  I pray that the love between you and Chris grows right along with your relationship with Christ.  And lastly, I pray that you know what a valuable member of our family you are.  We wouldn’t be complete without you.

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Happy birthday!

Mike & Melinda