My choice of footwear

Yesterday when I got dressed for work I knew they were forecasting triple digit heat and 40 mph winds. Capris and my bling flip-flops seemed rather appropriate since I would be spending my day in the office. Or so I thought.

Later in the day my office phone rang. It was my mother and from the sound of her voice I knew something was wrong. There was a grass fire by their house, and she was headed home to check it out. I packed my computer up and headed her way since she had my son. On my way, I called my sister who lived just north (between 1/4 and 1/2 mile) of the fire. She was frantically loading horses and trying to get things lined out at her place. I checked on Shaun and went to my sister’s. We loaded her mare and her 4 month old filly (she’d already had 6 other horses loaded) and pulled the pickup and trailer into the drive so a quick escape could be made if needed. After setting out some sprinklers around the house we got a game plan “just in case” we needed to get the other three horses off the place.

For a couple of hours we switched from cooling off in the house to standing on her front porch watching the firemen work. There was one particular spot they couldn’t get to and douse the flames, and had to just let it burn. That was pretty unsettling sitting in her dining room and looking out the window to the south and seeing smoke and blackened earth.

I’m nearly positive everyone who lived around this grass fire is truly grateful for the Ford County Fire Department and several rural fire departments that responded. I about took them some water, but would have had to run to town to get some to do so. The Red Cross beat me too it, and from some of the looks of the firemen out there, they needed some shade, water and rest. The 100 degree temps and 40 mph winds sucked the life out of them.

After a couple of hours the firemen slowly started to head back to town and all the excitement was gone. My sister was still on alert, afraid the flames might come back since the wind was still howling. She unloaded the mare and filly and tied the rest to the trailer just in case she would have to load them again in a couple of hours. I texted her at nearly 10 p.m., and she couldn’t see any flames.

The wind today has been much better, but yesterday’s excitement will not soon be forgotten. I am contemplating putting an old pair of shoes and a pair of jeans in my pickup just in case I choose poorly when I get dressed in the mornings. It couldn’t hurt. How much help can one be in flip-flops in case of an emergency like this?

Standing next to my sisters house looking south at the grass fire. My dang iPhone just couldn't do it justice.

Standing next to my sister’s house looking south at the grass fire. My dang iPhone just couldn’t do it justice.

061113fires

This was the view from my parent’s front door.

Best April Fool’s day of all

Fifteen years ago today I was a freshman at Hutchinson Community College. I had money burning a hole in my pocket earmarked for a new horse. I wanted something young and fast, and that fit in my limited price range. When my sister told me about a consignment sale at the local sale barn, I just knew we’d find something there. At least it was easier than calling on classified ads in the paper.

We walked through the pens out back before the sale and I was beginning to get disappointed because nothing really caught my eye. Looking back on it, I’m not even sure I laid eyes on the 6-year-old brown mare that eventually would be mine, but I do remember when she went through the ring. She was long, lean and seemed pretty nice. Brown, with a black mane and tail and not a speck of white on her. The trader who had her had his kid crawling under her and weaving in between her front legs. Then they started talking pedigree. All I remember hearing was Seattle Slew, and I was hooked. He was the 1977 Triple Crown winner and is still the only undefeated winner.

I’d conned my sister into bidding for me, and we got my mare bought, $125 more than what I had so I had to sweet talk her and mom into loaning me the extra money. Mom still claims she owns the tail.. Probably the best $1,125 investment I’ve ever made.

It’s been a long 15 years with a lot of highs and some lows. From the first ride on her when she about run off with me, and to realizing how fast she really was. The first jackpot we won in Holly, Colo., and our first rodeo check at Ashland, Kan., to the knocked down barrels that “would have” won, we’ve been through a lot. I about lost her twice (July 2005 and April 2006) to colic and have been sidelined with our fair share of injuries. I’d always wanted to get her bred, but never could find the right stud to pair her with, and when I had settled on one I didn’t have the money. Now she’s 21, and I’m perfectly content with just having her healthy and happy. I wish we could have another 15 years together, but with horses you just never know how long they will be in your lives. I hope she’s around for a lot more. There’s a little boy who adores her, and someday he wants to ride her all by himself.

IMG_0602 IMG_0717

So God made a farmer

Facebook and Twitter blew up last night after the Ram Trucks commercial aired during the Super Bowl. I would have done the same to my own news feeds, but my battery was dead on my iPhone. This morning I watched the 2 minute clip again and again, and again. See it here. Every view/share it gets Ram will donate up to $1 million to  FFA.

I was at my sister’s house watching the game and socializing. There was about a half-dozen kids around and the house was loud. When the commercial started her and I both stopped and she turned the TV up pretty loud. We hushed kids and watched intently. I was impressed. Paul Harvey’s voice and the impressive photography sucked me in.

Now, I may be partial to the whole Dodge trucks and farmer concept. For as long as I can remember, my folks had Dodge and Chrysler products. It’s very hard for me to even consider driving another brand. I own a Dodge truck now and I am very proud of it. My dad farmed for a number of years when I was growing up, worked at the local John Deere dealership and now has his own cattle herd. My grandparents farmed on both sides. My great-grandparents did too. Some of my relatives even homesteaded in the county I live in. My husband is now trying to carry on the small farm dream with our own little family.

The third time I watched the video of the commercial I noticed of the 577,000 views it had at the time, 900 people gave it a thumbs down and didn’t like it. I was a little disgruntled by that fact. I guess I need to take off my rose-colored glasses and see how the rest of the world thinks, not just my agriculture-industry peers feel. I don’t have many friends or family for that matter that aren’t involved in agriculture in some way or another.

Scrolling down through the comments you see anything from how Monsanto rules the world, or big corporations are killing the small farmers and ranchers to GMOs, to how the government provides farmers welfare and some blatant inaccuracies. I was not impressed. I had to stop reading these idiots’ comments. Where is the respect anymore? Hide behind your computer screen and complain about things. I’m not complaining. My face is out there and I’m not hiding.

Others have blasted that the ad wasn’t selling anything or it was hard to tell what was being advertised. For real? Does a commercial always have to shove “buy this” down our throats? Why can’t a million dollar commercial remind us where our roots lie?

It’s not about the kind of truck you drive or the kind of combine you use or what you think about Paul Harvey. Farming is a way of life and a pretty darn important one. Food, feed, fiber and fuel. I’d like to see how long people can live without farmers, ranchers and agriculture.

Proud Dodge Ram owner and farmer's daughter.

Proud Dodge Ram owner and farmer’s daughter.

Choosing to remember

My brain is pretty weird, and I don’t understand the way it works some times. Remembering is often difficult. I tend to blame it on not listening or being distracted or the fact I gave all my good brain cells to my son.

I remember faces just fine, but often have a tough time paring them with names. I can remember the date of my first rodeo win and most details about the day my son was born (parts are still foggy because of the drugs). However if you were to ask me what I wore a week ago or what I had for supper two days ago, I’d have to consciously think about it. But clothes and food memories are pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, aren’t they?

There is a particular day coming up that I haven’t decided if I want to even remember yet. On Monday it will be the one-year anniversary of my father-in-law’s death. I sure as heck don’t want to relive the events of that day a year ago, as I think about it often as it is. More often than not I have to remind myself that God has a plan and he needed Steve more than we did. That’s still hard to do.

However, I am choosing to remember more often the times we spent fishing or sitting around in his shop solving all the worlds problems over cans of Coors Light. Or how he taught me that red beer is much better with salt and pepper. I’d like to think I was the one who introduced him to red beer, but again my crazy brain won’t let me remember.

I won’t forget the time my husband and him decided to start raising chickens. After a trip to Buffalo, Okla., to a “rather strange” guy selling all kinds of baby chicks (that my husband found via Tradio a radio program on a Woodward, Okla., station). My husband, my in-laws and I piled into the car and away we went. Unfortunately the car broke down and the chicken guy let us borrow his pickup (a single cab) to go back home. What a nice guy!  The weeks after were spent looking at the chickens planning a business selling eggs. And then came the butchering since the “hens” we were sold turned out to be boys.. Oh man, that was a good time! But I will spare you the gory details.

Another time I had gotten a different pickup and didn’t have a gooseneck ball in the new one it yet. Sometime during that particular day while I was at work my horse decided to try to cut her back foot off. She was squirting blood when I found her and needed a trip to the vet. My husband was still working and I was without a vehicle to take her to the vet with. I was bawling and called Steve. Being the softy he was he brought his pickup down and while we waited on Spence, I couldn’t stop crying because of the horse. We stood in the yard and bawled together. The horse survived and Steve bought me a gooseneck ball for my pickup for my birthday.

That wasn’t the first time Steve would come to my rescue. During the summer of 2010 my husband went on wheat harvest. My sister and I decided to go to a barrel race one evening after work. It was 100+ degrees and it took longer than normal to catch her horses because they didn’t want to be caught. By the time we got to Ashland we were running late and she was driving faster than she probably should have on a light (ok, very light) tank of fuel. Who knew a 1/4 of a tank wouldn’t go 50 miles. Right outside of Ashland her pickup died and luckily there was a nice farmer who pulled her pickup and trailer to the fairgrounds. Her husband was gone trucking and mine was in South Dakota. I thought who do I know here that could help us? Steve! I called and told him what had happened and he brought some fuel with him. I called my dad too and he brought my pickup just in case we didn’t have a vehicle to get home with. We went ahead and warmed our horses up and ran. By the time the race was over Steve and some others had managed to get us running. Always gracious to me he wouldn’t take any money and I stuffed some cash in his shirt pocket and gave him a huge hug.

While I may not remember his reaction the first time I met him, I do remember his reaction when I won my first saddle; when Spence and I announced our engagement; his face at our wedding; and when we announced we were expecting our first child. He was one to show his emotion and not be embarrassed about it.

Until we meet again, I will continue to remember all the good times and smile when I think of you.

My father-in-law Steve and his dog Dolly.

My father-in-law Steve and his dog Dolly.

It doesn’t take much to make me happy any more

Since horses are a big part of my life, and their care is a priority to me, I often look for ways to make chores a lot easier. In the mornings, I normally hit the snooze several times and don’t get out of bed the first time the alarm goes off so my day’s often start out in a rush. Not much fun, but I make it work most mornings.

On New Year’s Eve we got a snow storm. This time it was pretty snow that fell from the sky with minimal wind and ended up being about five or six inches in places. Most often in Western Kansas, our snow doesn’t fall, it comes horizontally, blown by cold, gusty North winds. This time too it was bitterly cold, but not quite as bad because of the lax winds. However, single digit temps made feeding horses a bigger chore than it really was, plus with the snow on the ground it just made doing chores cumbersome and take longer.

First you had to bundle up like you were in the Arctic (Ok, not true but I despise the cold). In regular weather a Carhartt coat and heavy sweat pants (shorts in summer) and tennis shoes comprise my feeding attire. During this week of cold and snow, I donned the Carhartt, bib coveralls and snow boots.

Then you had to chop ice. I don’t mind chopping ice in a big tank. One that has some size to it and there’s no fear of puncturing it or breaking it when the axe hits the ice. Plus, when its zero degrees out any liquid freezes where it falls. That could be your face, your eyelashes or coat. By the end of the second day my horse’s tubs were frozen solid and no amount of chopping could clear out enough room for a bucket full of fresh water. I finally resorted to a small plastic tub that wouldn’t be a total loss if I broke it and it could easily be picked up and dumped out. In the last two days it has gotten warm enough during the days where the ice bricks/blocks have melted a little. Last night I was able to dump the big ice cubes out and fill the tubs with clean water. Success! I got my coat and gloves wet and my hands were cold, but NO MORE ICE! I was pretty excited.

However on my walk back to the house my excitement over the victory against the ice was dampened some by the fact that I realized ice-free horse tubs made me happy. Really? In my 34 years on this earth, that’s something that makes me happy? I guess I’ve gotten simple, but it works!

Kate waits for her evening meal, Jan. 1, 2013.

Kate waits for her evening meal, Jan. 1, 2013.

One of those days

Monday was one of those days. One of those days where I didn’t want to get out of bed. One of those days where I didn’t want to go to work. One of those days where I didn’t want to be an adult. But I had no other choice so I got out of my comfy, cozy bed and faced the day showered and clean.

Over the weekend my horse had developed a strange mark/welt/spot on her neck. I don’t know how else to describe it, but it hurt her and hurt me seeing her hurt. So when I got to the office, I waited patiently until 8 and called the vet. Not the local vet, but the one who I take her to when she’s got a lameness issue or something I don’t want to waste time and money on using someone else.

Driving to Buffalo later that morning, I thought, man, I sure would like to be able to not have to work from 8 to 5 in an office. It would be nice to be at home and working outside. Dealing with the livestock and helping out where ever I was needed.

By the time I got back home at 530, I had gotten my wish to be outside. There were heifers out in the yard and my husband called and said there was more out and someone had penned them up across the road without water. Of course it was getting close to being dark, and he was over an hour away. My attempts to get the heifers across the road failed miserably, so I went looking for where they may have got out and hoped the rest that I put back in stayed put.

Wishful thinking. Cattle again greeted me when I got home from work Tuesday evening and again Wednesday morning. I was an hour late to work, and spent some time attempting to fix the holes in the fence where they were getting out.  Guess we will see how good my skills are when I get home from work tonight..

I took a few minutes to take some photos with my phone while I was working of my scenery. Enjoy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wordless Wednesday

I had the opportunity to take some photos of a friend of mine’s stud horse, GUY$POCKETFULLOFCA$H. (I use the term stud horse, because I despise stallion..) Anyway, when we finished taking the formal shots to be used for their ad, I suggested getting some action shots. I was excited to see what they looked like on the computer so I put them on my Mac as soon as I got home. I played around with the action shots some because the focus was a little soft. I sure like the result of this one.

GUY$POCKETFULLOFCA$H

Old school

I’m a sucker for black and white photos. Old or new, they just do something for my brain. Recently I found www.kansasmemory.org. It’s a website hosted by the Kansas Historical Society that has historical collections available to browse. From photos to books and much more, there’s a lot to be found.

I found some old cowboy photos and other subjects in Ford and Clark counties, another one from Comanche County caught my eye. I even found where our home is located in a plat book from the early 1900s. Very neat stuff, and I have gotten sucked in by the website (almost as bad as I have by Pinterest).

Here’s some of the pics I found.