Monday, August 5, 2013

Thoughts from the Summer

Maybe it is the heat and humidity, or maybe it is all the last minute fair preparation, but my mind is mush. OK, my mind is even more mush than it is normally, but I am having trouble putting thoughts together and that is a bad thing when you are trying to write a column. I have a lot of random thoughts bouncing around my head so I thought I would share them with you.
A watched tomato will never ripen. If only I could grow vegetables like I grow weeds.  I really like jalapeƱo peppers, but in the end they will burn you. Did you ever wonder why the garden attracts any animal that escapes it’s pen? I am not sure why I plant a second crop of sweet corn; it is doomed before it ever sprouts.
I have given up trying to figure out where it is raining by looking at the radar. Why is it that we all think the rain clouds split right before they reach our house? Every farmer or rancher I know is always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Yes, we have had plenty of rain and everything looks good but if we don’t get more in the next week we might be in trouble. Those darn clouds keep splitting and going around my place.
It is easy to be critical of modern farming and ranching techniques when you have plenty of money to buy the food you want. Organic, natural and local foods are great but they come with added costs and many people can’t afford them. I am fine with people choosing organic, natural or local but don’t force them on others who can’t afford to make the same choices. The Farm Bill is just as important to our national security as defense spending. In the words of one of my friends; “if you like being dependant on foreign oil, you are going to love being dependant on foreign food.”
I also don’t have a problem with choosing meat that is either organic, natural, free range, anti-biotic free, hormone free or any other niche’ production method, however, keep a couple of things in mind. During the heat of the summer and the bitter cold of the winter, I am sure the animals in confinement are more comfortable than those outside. They also don’t have to worry about competition for food or other basic survival needs of those raised out in the open. As for anti-biotic free, I prefer to care for my animals with the best medicine modern veterinary medicine can provide me. My animal’s health and comfort come first and I would have no problem feeding the meat of an animal properly treated to my family.
On a lighter note, a few observations from the county fairs I have judged recently. White calves are hard to keep clean, and white clothes on the kids showing them are even harder to keep clean. I never knew how thankful my mother was that I never showed dairy cattle. Learning to shut the gate is one of the most important lessons you will ever learn.
Every 4-Her says they will start on their projects earlier next year. After many, many years of close personal observation, I am here to tell you, it will be next year’s goal too. It is always best to buy your cattle from Grandpa; he gives you the best deal. In rare cases a heifer named Fred makes sense.
It might be a good idea to tell an embarrassing story to the judge, on the microphone, in front of a large crowd. Sure you will still get in trouble but at least you have witnesses. It is always good to warn the judge that your calf eats clothes. The most obvious answer is always the best, even if the judge asks stupid questions. Judge: “Where did you get your calf?” Bucket Calf Showman, looking at the judge like he just fell off the turnip truck: “From a cow!”
4-H fair preparation is a marathon with a sprint at the end. No matter how many lists you create, plans you make and how well you prepare. You will forget something for the fair. The best part of the weeks leading up to the fair; are practicing the recipes that are being taken to the fair. Finally, the light at the end of the tunnel you see in the weeks leading up to the fair is a freight train called fair.

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