Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Last Saturday I had the privilege of speaking to the Leavenworth County Beef Improvement Association. I love speaking to ag groups, for two reasons. Usually the meal is really, really good, especially with beef groups. However, most importantly, I really enjoy meeting with fellow farmers and ranchers and sharing ideas and stories. This speaking engagement had been on my calendar for months and I was really excited to be a part of their county meeting.

Tom, the president, was tremendously organized and checked with me a couple of times before the meeting. He told me it would be held at Rocky Top Farms and gave me the address. Most importantly he gave me his cell phone number and said if I had any problems I could give him a call at any time. I plugged the address in the navigation system in my phone knowing that I could call him as a safety net.

That morning Tatum was supposed to help with an event for her softball team. It was rainy and the windshield wipers on our good car worked better than her car so she took it instead. About mid-morning she asked if she could go to the high school volleyball tournament with some friends. About mid-afternoon it occurred to me that she was not going to make it home by the time I needed to leave. That meant I would be driving the pickup to the meeting. Not a big problem but not the most economical way to go either. I kicked myself for my lack of planning.

I left home right on time or maybe even a touch early, quite an accomplishment for me. I felt confident, my “smart” phone had the address plugged in and the nice soothing voice was telling me where to go. I ambled my way down the road in the pickup practicing my talk as I drove (I am sure everyone who met me wondered what the crazy guy in the pickup was talking to himself about). The trip was progressing just like I had planned and I would arrive right on time.

I enjoyed the scenery as I drew nearer and nearer. The buttery soft voice of my smart phone interrupting my observation of the countryside. I turned right, then another right with my destination just a couple of miles away. That is when I noticed the gravel road turning into a two track gravel road with grass growing in between the tracks. Suddenly the road turned into a dirt road with an ominous sign reading “Road may be Flooded”. Maybe driving the pickup was the right idea. I never had to put it in four-wheel drive, but it was close. That was when the annoying voice on my phone squawked to me that I had arrived.

It was an open pasture with no houses, barns or people in sight. I phoned Tom and got his voice mail. I very calmly explained my situation and asked that he call me back. Either my “smart” phone was wrong or this was a prank. I calmly told the navigator it was wrong and plugged the address back in. What do you know, this time it gave me a new set of directions that had me backtracking? This time the roads were all respectable blacktop and gravel and the road name was even right but once again I was led to open pasture. I once again called Tom and once again got his voicemail. I was now fifteen minutes late.

I continued to wonder around and call Tom. Soon I was forty-five minutes late, running low on cell phone battery and had almost no signal. Out of desperation I Googled Rocky Top Farms, limousine and got nothing but car services. Then in a flash of brilliance I looked up the Kansas Limousine breeders web page and found Rocky Top Farms listed. On my phone the print was really small and I really wished I had brought my glasses so I jabbed at the screen with my finger and a 913 number suddenly popped up.

The phone rang several times and I had just about given up when the most soothing, calming voice I had ever heard answered the phone. I am sure I sounded like I had been lost in the wilderness for several months. I tried to give landmarks or road names to help. Karen guided me onto the right road and soon I had arrived at the meeting just on time to catch my breath and give my talk. I also found out that the meeting was in a metal building and the cell phone signal was not the strongest, therefore Tom did not get my many, many calls. In the end, all ended up good and once again I learned the lesson that phones are not smart and maybe I ought to carry a map.

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