Monday, September 24, 2012

The Last Few Exciting Fair Stories!

1. On Saturday, we were delighted to find out that our girl had first place ribbons on all three of her first- year sewing projects! She loves to sew and will use these skills her whole life. We're so proud of her.

This is a plastic grocery bag holder.

This is a pillowcase made entirely of hidden french seams.

This is a lined tote bag made from a pair of her dad's old jeans.

2. One afternoon, my husband and our youngest daughter were walking hand-in-hand at the fair when suddenly our girl pointed over to the show-ring and said, "Look Dad! That dog looks a little bit like Chigger!"

"It sure does," my husband replied.

Then he saw a dog that looked an awful lot like Boone with him.

He went to take a closer look and realized that it WAS, in fact, Boone and Chigger... in the show ring.  Mortified, he called to them and Chigger came to him right away, but Boone is completely deaf in his old age and had no idea that he'd been caught red-handed.  My husband had to grab him by the collar and escort the two back to the stock trailer. Thankfully, no one was around and nothing was going on in the show-ring during the time of the incident, but we couldn't believe that they got all that way without something happening to them. Who knows how long they were wandering about in the fair.

We put them in our big old stock trailer while we were doing things at the fair grounds, and someone must have forgotten to shut the door all of the way. In order to get to the show ring, they had to go through the stock trailer parking lot, across the regular parking lot, into the fair through the ticket booth lane, under the silver turn styles,  past the security guards, and across the midway booths. Talk about embarrassing! Some day I should write a book about their travels and title it, "Boone and Chigger's Big Fair Adventure".

 3. Early one morning, we walked out of our camper and saw this blazing across the eastern sky. We didn't know what it was, but grabbed the camera to document its beauty. Later on we found out that it was from some sort of launch at the base in White Sands, NM.

4. We showed our yard birds at the fair on Saturday, and as one might have expected, it didn't go that great. I practically had to grab my kids by the collar to make them go through with the whole thing, and I had to drag my son away from the roping arena kicking and screaming so he could show his chicken. My kids thought I was the meanest woman in the whole world, but I made them finish what they started. And since I signed them up for a poultry project last December, by golly we were going to see it through to the bitter end!! 

After it was all said and done, for an inkling of a second, I considered actually seeking out and buying some high quality birds for next year's fair. Then my husband informed me that under no circumstances were we to ever set foot in a chicken show again. 


 Never. Ever. Ever.

So for the sake of the marriage, I will honor his request to just enjoy our hens and their lovely brown eggs at home, and not try to make them into beauty queens. Who would have thought that this little 4-H project would elicit such strong reactions from the family?!?  I may never live it down. Ever.

 5. There were bats hanging from the walls in the women's bathroom at the fairgrounds. I thought that was pretty awesome. You don't see bats every day around here. I don't know why I just blogged about that, but I did. Moving on...

6. Our kids said goodbye to Hank and Beulah for the last time on Saturday.  Our girl took it the hardest. She wanted to keep Beulah forever and ever. She handled it well though, and I was proud of both of the kids.  We have raised meat animals since before they were born, so they certainly understand the circle of life around here. But I must confess that those two pigs found a soft spot in our hearts with their big personalities. The good news: the kids are already talking about next year's pigs so I know that they had a great experience.

And that, my friends, concludes this year's fair coverage! It was, indeed, a memorable week!

Trying not to dream of funnel cakes again until next year,


Friday, September 21, 2012

The Great Hog Blessing!

Thursday morning, we were up before dawn to get ready for the swine show. The kids cleaned the pen, gave Hank and Beulah a good bath, and shined them up with a misting of baby oil. We clipped their bristly hair the week before the show so they were in tip-top shape for the fair. They didn't mind the sound of the electric clippers at all. They'll stand perfectly still for a little bit of food in their bowl.

The show went well. Our hogs weighed 292 and 301 pounds, so they were in the heavier weight classes. Beulah got 5th place, and Hank was 6th. That earned the kids a red ribbon for the overall show.  Our girl was doing great in her showmanship class until Beulah stuck her head into the corner and wouldn't budge out of it despite all of my girl's desperate urging.  It tanked her chances of moving to the next level, but she looked pretty darn cute out there anyway! Beulah has always been a total diva, and when she decides she doesn't want to do something, she plants herself in one spot like a Sherman tank. Ha Ha!

The next day was the livestock Auction for all of the market animals.  My husband and I had been in serious prayer about whether or not to keep one of our hogs so that we could have meat in our freezer this winter. If we sold both of them, then we would continue to have to purchase pork until it was warm enough to raise another hog next summer.  We really wrestled with whether or not we should allow both hogs to go through the ring. In the end, we reluctantly decided to sell them both.

Our son was a bit nervous to go in the sale ring with huge bleachers full of bidders, but as the sale price on his hog started to rise, the fear was replaced by relief.  His hog was purchased by his orthodontist, and was one of the higher priced hogs of the day.  Our boy just got his braces taken off two days before, and he was grinning from ear to ear. His pearly white smile was the perfect advertisement for the orthodontist's office! Ha Ha! We gave our orthodontist three little mouths to fix, and he supported us by buying our hog.  What a kind and generous man!

Our daughter's sale story was a complete blessing as well!  Unbeknownst to us, the person who committed to buying her hog was detained in another town and unable to make it to the show in time.  Instead, her hog was purchased by our local pig farm that produces thousands of pigs for a well known national pork brand. I would love to shout their name from the roof tops but I don't know if I'm allowed to. This company supports our community on many different levels with jobs and economic growth, and they have been champion supporters of 4-H kids in our local county as well.

Not only did they purchase our daughter's hog, but they donated it back to her as well.  YES, you read that right! They bought the hog and we got to keep the meat!!!!!

Praise God for his rich blessings in our lives, and praise God for local businesses who passionately and generously support 4-H and this country's next generation of agricultural leaders.

We'll be eating lots of bacon and biscuits with sausage gravy this winter! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A History Lesson from the Horse Judge

When we left for the fair last week, we closely resembled the Beverly Hillbillies. We had one truck pulling the camper, and the other truck pulling a stock trailer. We brought down a horse, two hogs, chickens, two dogs, and a couple of goats for a friend.  That day was utter chaos with fair weigh-ins, check-ins, and horse events going on simultaneously. 

To say we ran around like chickens with our heads cut off is a major understatement!

The first competition of the day was the ranch horse event.  The kids had to rope a dummy, drag a log 20 feet with a rope, walk over logs, across a bridge, trot, then lope a circle, open a gate and sort out 3 steers from a pen.

 Our boy roped the dummy on his first try, and moved through the course fairly well until he got to the log pulling obstacle.  Every time our son dallied the rope, Jake would back up aggressively instead of pulling forward. I could tell they were both having trouble communicating to one another. 

This is where things got interesting!

During the event, the judge (the gentlemen in the white shirt in the photo above) kept intently staring at our horse.  He walked around him and asked my son some questions in the arena.  After the event, he walked out of the arena and approached my husband about the horse.  He told us that he used to own the horse over ten years ago! He recognized his brand, and told us  he used to shoe him by himself and remembered that there was a scar above his left front hoof . Sure enough, there was!

Then he told us that our "Jake" used to be named "Tripper" and that he won several rodeos with him, using him as a heeling horse.  In fact, he told us that he once won $5,000 in one night with him!!! The horse was getting older, so he eventually sold him to a man who came into money trouble and that man didn't keep him very long. He must have changed hands, and changed names many times over the last decade.

We told him that we got Jake as a skin and bones rescue horse and it took several months of TLC and feed to put weight back on him.  The judge was deeply moved to not only see that the horse was still alive and well after all of these years, but also to see that he was being loved and taken care of by a family who adores him.

We always knew that Jake was a special horse.  We also knew that he was once used for some type of roping because he's great around swinging loops. What we didn't know was that he was a real money maker!!! Jake once had a glitzy rodeo life. Who knew?!?

He may not be making the big money anymore, but even in retirement, he's still winning ribbons in the 4-H arena. That includes this 5th place ribbon with my son in one of the timed events that night. It was so dark that my pics didn't turn out so we had to snap one the next morning.

And one more thing.....

 The fact that Jake kept backing up when the rope was dallied to him......

That all makes perfect sense after knowing that he was an old heeling horse.  He thought he was just doing his job to back up and keep the rope tight!  Mystery solved!

We've always wondered what that old horse has seen and done in his long life, and now we know a little snippet of his history. If Jake could talk, I'm sure he'd have many a story to tell as he relives his glory days in the spotlight.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Remedy

If you have grown cynical of society, and find yourself in the doldrums over the current headlines and state of the world... FEAR NOT!

A simple trip to the county fair is sure to restore a portion of your faith in humanity. It's certain to refresh your mind and renew your love of this great country we call home.

After a day of fair festivities, you will witness that each event still starts with a beautiful corporate prayer, our national anthem, Old Glory proudly displayed for all to see, and a moment of silence for our soldiers who fight for our freedoms.

You will be reassured to know that volunteerism is alive and well as scores of adults painstakingly donate their time to the development of our youth. They help them with their fair projects, coach them in their events, offer sage wisdom and good advice, and take the time to make children feel like they are unique and special.

If you wake up before the sun each morning, you will find hundreds of young folks making their way through the entry gates sleepy-eyed,  arriving at the fair grounds with muck boots, shovels, and feed in tow. They feed their livestock, clean their stalls, and groom their animals before they've even had breakfast.  They are hard working. They are faithful. They are dependable. They are respectful. They are a bright spot in today's youth.

Most importantly, you will find a merging of small businesses, individuals, families, grandparents, and neighbors who share a common vision for our community. They know that today's youth are tomorrow's leaders.  They are present at every event, donating money, time, and resources to our children.  They purchase livestock, cheer in the grandstands, and are generous with encouragement. Their handshakes, pats on the back, and genuine interest in the kids' projects builds relationships, and bridges a gap between the generations.

Bottom line: If you need a day of lighthearted fun and warm fuzzy feelings, seek out a fair to attend. It's a chance to appreciate the simple things in life; a blue ribbon jar of jam, a hand-sewn quilt, a fitted up show steer, kids eating kettle corn with sticky fingers, and the aroma of tasty treats wafting through the fairgrounds. Everyone needs a break from the mundane, and the fair is just the ticket for refreshment.

After a week at the county fair, my family is bursting with love for our community. We are home now, and all of the chaos and excitement of the week is beginning to fade.  After unloading the camper, cleaning out the stock trailer, and sorting through a mountain of laundry, we are able to reflect back on a great fair experience. I'll be sharing small little snippets of the fair throughout the rest of the week on my blog because there are too many special interest stories to write about in just one post.

Have a fabulous fall day!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Horse Show Results

 This week finds us in the midst of the kids' very first county fair.  Friday night and Saturday the girls rode in several horse events.

When we arrived at the fairgrounds, everyone had their fancy horses all clipped and pretty with Show Sheen and hoof paint.  We unloaded Old Jake and we were definitely feeling like the underdogs in the midst of some gorgeous horses. Our horse leader said that we should trim his whiskers and fetlocks, but Jake wasn't having any of it! He wasn't keen on whisker trimming so we just went ahead and let him keep them.

For goodness sake, he's an old ranch horse and he's earned EVERY ONE of his whiskers!!!

My daughter walked into the show ring with Jake, and showed him like he was worth a hundred grand! LOL!This event is all about how well you handle and show your horse to the judge, and NOT about how pretty your horse is. So in an arena full of well bred horses, she managed to walk out of there with a second place ribbon!

She had competed in several events, and has come so far in her riding this year. She also managed to pick up a 5th place ribbon in western horsemanship with lots of stiff competition.

She was just tickled to walk away with anything her first year.

Our littlest cowgirl did her events at night, so I wasn't able to get very many good pictures.

She doesn't quite fit into her stirrups yet, so we have some cheater stirrups that go over the horn. She hates them, and prefers to just ride with no stirrups at all.  She went into her Western Pleasure class without any stirrups, and rode beautifully. Jake was such a gentleman in the arena, and obeyed every cue she gave him...mostly with kissing noises and gentle taps of her heels.

She walked out of the arena with a first place ribbon! Woo Hoo!

Here she's talking with one of her favorite buddies, and fellow competitors before the evening began.

Tomorrow our son competes in the ranch horse events, and they all compete in the timed events...barrels, poles, and goat tying.  

Then we show our hogs on Thursday, sell them Friday, and show our yard birds chickens.  My daughter will enter her sewing projects in the fair, and we look forward to seeing all of the exhibits this week. There are rodeos, rides, and a demolition derby to attend. Oh the fun we'll have!

And don't forget about the fried food and kettle corn! There is so much to be experienced! We can't wait!

I'll be sure to eat a funnel cake for all of you!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

7 Random Things- Labor Day Weekend Edition

We survived another Labor Day weekend. I use the term "survived" because our mountain gets infested with city people by the droves who come hauling everything they own in trailers and pick-ups to set up camp all over the forest.  They wipe out all of the food supplies at the grocery store, fill up every restaurant and gas station, and clutter up the highway to the point that you couldn't make a left hand turn if you wanted to. I was so glad to see them go home in their caravan of camping trailers yesterday. I normally don't mind the tourism, but Labor Day weekend is almost too much to handle.

1. On Friday, we drove over the mountain to pick up an order of 60# of  hatch green chilies! I was so excited to replenish my yearly supply since I lost all of my stash when my freezer died.  We had them fire-roasted, and then took them home to process.

It took several hours to peel the skins off and bag them, but it is sooo worth the effort to have good green chili all year long.

2. I've got a bumper crop of jalapenos this year in my garden so I've been making lots of poppers before dinner. They get gobbled up really fast. I tried THIS recipe from Hillbilly Goddess over at her blog Wild and Wooly and it's pretty tasty!

 3. On Saturday, our whole family came down sick with some sort of cold. It was not pleasant. Several boxes of tissues later, we're finally on the mend. I was the last to get sick, and the first to get better, I was only down for a day, and I firmly believe it's because I was drinking some crazy smoothies in the blender with strawberries, yogurt, milk, and 4 cups of spinach leaves. Everyone else in my family wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole.  (Note: they taste NOTHING like those nasty Green machine smoothies I blogged about last month. They are waaaay better.)

4. On Sunday, we joined several of our friends out camping in the forest after church. We had a ball taking the horses all over the mountain on trail rides, and playing games in camp. We played frisbee golf, horseshoes, and several hands of Dutch Bliss. It was really relaxing to be out in the woods... in a spot so remote, the tourists couldn't find us.

Look how green the pastures are. It won't be long before we get a good frost and things turn brown.

5. On Monday, we had to water the pasture. I was so excited that during our irrigation I was able to break away and meet up with Monica from the  Blessed Mama blog. We got some time to chat while our kiddos played at the park. We recently discovered that we live near each other and have been trying to get together for a few weeks now. I can't tell you how fun it was to get to meet a blog friend in real life. I wish every one of my blog friends could become real life friends. Wouldn't that be fun?!?

6. The kids have been practicing some of their riding events for the fair this coming weekend. The only thing we lacked was a goat for the goat tying event, so we made a goat dummy.

My husband cut an old tire in half and attached some old pipe legs to it with nuts and bolts.

It can stand up, or be laid down at the end of the arena like a fake goat. It's legs swivel to be gathered for tying. The kids were getting black rubber marks on their clothes from the tire, so I made a sleeve to go over it with the legs from an old pair of jeans. Now when they flank it, they don't get black tummies.

It looks ridiculous, but it has been working really well for the kids to practice with.  I just love redneck solutions!

6. We've delivered our buyer's letters, and we are officially ready to show and sell these hogs next week.

7. I bought the NOAA Hi- Definition weather App for my iPhone, and now I'm obsessed with checking it for storm coverage. It has everything a girl could want in a weather app. You can see drought areas, different  map terrains based on GPS, tornadoes, hurricane paths, cloud coverage, etc. You can even scroll over any part of the whole world, zoom in to a teeny, tiny road, and see how the weather is in...say... Uliastai Mongolia. It's pretty stinkin' cool...if you're a nerd like me. Above is a pic of the current drought conditions for the US. Yikes!

Well, I guess that about wraps up my "chillaxing" Labor Day Weekend re-cap. I'm off to go meet with the farrier.

 Happy Tuesday, friends!