Saturday, September 26, 2009

No Cows Needed

The NJAA National Show was undoubtedly one of the highlights of our summer for all of us. Next year’s show is in Denver, needless to say, we are already inquiring about plane tickets and hotel accommodations. I tried desperately to get Steven to go instead of me because I am not as knowledgeable as Steven is about the cattle industry. I thought I would be a fish out of water. Little did I realize that this was more my cup of tea. If you are short on time, scroll on down to Wednesday for the most adventurous day of the week.

I had to beg my mom to go with me. We left Sunday after church and headed to Perry Georgia, a 4 hour trip that took closer to 7 due to all the extra stops. I just can’t help but stop at the outlet at Lake Park. The next morning we had to be at the Georgia Fair Grounds to meet with the other Junior Angus Queens from across the country to attend a Queens Luncheon. I left my mother, Charlee, Dillon and Presley in good hands. Steven’s college friend Doug and his wife accepted us as family that week.

The luncheon was definitely a southern affair.

We had a Chicken Strip salad with roasted pecans and for dessert, none other than pecan pie. After all, we were in Georgia, the world’s pecan capital. The keynote speaker did a phenomenal job. She gave suggestion on how to be a true Southern Belle.
Dress appropriate the less revealing the better
Wear the essential makeup items mascara and lipstick
Remove makeup at night and faithfully use moisturizer
ALWAYS write thank you cards

I excused myself to go to the bathroom---upon entering the bathroom, I thought of my friend, Carrie. I had to go back to the dining room get my camera and take a picture of this… antique silverware for the handles on the bathroom stalls…..priceless.

We returned to the cow barns to find my family totally excited and ready for the next adventure. Ms. Tammy had shown them the hospitality room. The Georgia Auxiliary had a kiddy corral with tons of activities, movies, treats and older kids to entertain them. For the adults, they offered tables to mingle with others. If I must say, the folks from Georgia know how to entertain. They served homemade cookies and pound cake, seven layers cookies, fresh Georgia peaches, blueberries, fresh watermelon, peanuts, chips, sweet tea, lemonade and ice cold water. Swings and rocking chairs were set up for the guest as well. The tables covered with white and green tablecloths were decorated with magnolias, peaches and lilies. Truly beautiful and to think it was a COW SHOW.

We hurried to eat supper so they kids could have their picture taken with the other members. Oh did I forget to mention, that most of our meals were provided free of cost. I love that Georgia hospitality. We ate Monday night with the Johnsons.
That night was the open ceremonies. It reminds me of the Olympics. Each team assembles together and walks in with their states flag. The MC announced the officers, royalties and significant contribution the club has been involved in. Katie is also the Vice President.
For the entertainment, John Berry put on a concert. All the kids danced and hopped around the showing, while the adults reminisced about the songs he was singing. After the concert he signed autographs and talked with everybody.

The final event for the first night was ice cream sundaes provided by the Nebraska Cattlemen. I loved their aprons…

Tuesday wasn’t as adventurous but definitely as busy. We started the morning off with a pancake breakfast. This machine squirts out 4 pancakes in a row and moves along dropping more down the griddle. The chef immediately begins flipping pancakes. As hungry breakfast goers come up to the table, they are handed a plate. That’s when the fun begins. The Chief pancake flipper starts flinging pancakes at them. If it lands on the floor he quickly comments “I’ll give that one to your mother-in-law.” For the kids, he would make pancake artistry. It was a highlight of the week we’ll never forget.

After breakfast the young cattlemen attended a seminar on grooming and caring for your animals. I wrote out flash cards for Dillon and Katie to study for the quiz bowl. Mom read a book and the girls ran around. Nothing special, that was until after lunch. This was my most favorite part of the week—the Certified Angus Beef (CAB) Cook off. I know what could possibly fun about a cook off. It wasn’t the cook off that was fun but the skits that followed. Each group of cattlemen cooked their CAB meal. Then they perform a skit promoting CAB, after the skit the judges are asked to sample the product of the cook off. Each state’s group “sets” a table. The judges’ politely chews and savors the meat while asking questions and holding conversation with the youth. Notice the moss used to decorate the table. A new idea for Cindy Jo....The best performance was by a brother and sister that sang “Anything you can grill, I can grill better….no you can’t ….yes, I can.” We sang the song all week long. Unsurprisingly, they won first place. That evening supper was not provide so we went to Cracker Barrel. After wards on our way back to the motel, I noticed a dude painting the parking lot. Being dedicated to my blogging and the need to seek adventure, I had to stop the car and assist the dude with his job. It wasn’t long before Katie barreled out of the car to take her turn. Although the rest of the car wanted to, they remained in the car dying laughing.

Wednesday, the cow shows began. Unfortunately, we left our animals at home. For once we had time to enjoy the show from the other side of the fence. Katie and Dillon along with the Johnson crew had to get up early to serve breakfast to their fellow cattlemen. Mom, Presley, Charlee, Maddelyn and myself sleep in and later explored Hobby Lobby. We watched some of the team sales events to cheer on the Turnpike Creek kids. Lunch was the most delicious ribs…yes I gnawed the mess out of those things. I usually do not eat messy food in public nor do I chew on bones. We headed back to our favorite spot—the hospitality room. We gathered around the table and did some last minute cramming for the quiz bowl that Dillon and Katie were to participate in. Dillon was on a mixed team with kids from Kansas, South Dakota, and Virginia.

His team made it to the Elite Eight.

One of Katie’s fellow team mates decided at the last minute she didn’t want to do it so, Katie completed the quiz for experience.

We had supper on our own at Cheddar’s. We were totally impressed and filled to capacity after the appetizer. After dinner, we took the kids back to the hotel to swim while Katie and I went looking for an outfit. Katie realized after she observed the other queen’s that she need to dress more formal than boots, jeans and sparkly shirt. In other words, we needed to buy some fancy clothes for her to work in the arena passing out ribbons and awards. We ransacked the racks at Kohl’s (I never find anything at that store) with only 15 minutes before the mall closed we hurried through Belk’s. I found a few things but nothing that overly impressed Katie. We decided we should try Target as our last result. Due to all of our hurry, we had not stopped all evening to go to the bathroom. With a little extra time to spare, I thought we could stop. This was my first mistake of the evening. I walked in the bathroom to find some women sprawled over the toilet hanging on for dear life. Let me set the stage-- This lady’s hair is draped over the sides of the toilet, her face can’t be seen, beside her is her purse, shoes flung around the stall, her backside is hanging out, several cups encircled her and she is almost non responsive. Now that I think about it, it may have been the echo of the commode that made her hard to understand.

Being a Good Samaritan, I asked if she was okay. To no avail, she gurgled sometime that only demons can translate. Let me give you a little insight – I do not take care of my own children when they are sick, bleeding or throwing up. I realized I need additional help because Katie had abandoned me. I step outside to see if I could alert management of the lady’s condition. I did not want my fingerprints on nothing if this was a crime scene. The young inexperienced boy in the red shirt was no help. He sent the manager in, not really, he called me outside because he couldn’t come in the bathroom with me. He said they had called her husband to come get her 30 -40 minutes earlier. I wonder how long the woman had laid there with her head bobbing up and down in the toilet. I returned to the bathroom to check on my new friend. Once again, I noticed Katie had left me alone with the woman. I went outside, snapped my finger and motioned to her to come here, when this gentleman starts heading my way. I already had enough trouble without some man thinking I was making moves on him in the Target foyer.
Quickly I said “I am trying to get my daughter’s attention” and he replied “I thought you worked here”.
Note…. I was wearing a blue Hines Cattle Co Shirt and khaki shorts….that would be a negative.
He then added “someone called me, my wife is sick.”
“Oh” I responded, “I know right where she is”.
He followed me in the bathroom. Soon the stall was over following with spectators. The husband was straddling his wife and the toilet, when he realized he could get back out. The manager tries to disassemble the doors to the stall, which requires special tools. He’s fumbling around stepping over the woman. I am offering advice and suggestions as to why she was sick. The husband, well, he is clueless. He commented he had never seen his wife throw up and he didn’t know what to do. When he up and decides that the toilet needs to be flushed. Remember if you will that the woman is non responsive. I have yet to see her face nor has she moved from the tight embrace she has held on the toilet. When the husband says in the sweetest voice “Honey, we…we… need to flush this…then bam with giving her time to move or pick her head up from the deep valley….he flushes. If you know what I know about toilets---- stuff splashes…that is all I am going to say. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, this woman must have been near heaven’s gates to have not jump up and kill her husband right there. Then the manger finally loosens the stall door providing ample room for all. After about 30 minutes, the unmerciful daughter walks in and demands that mom GET UP. Mom still does move only moans and gurgles. Once again I offer the suggestion of call the EMTs to come a least give her an IV. Then the non news watching man says “we don’t have insurance”. OH…..that explains it all. I quickly made my exit to allow the family time to plan what to do. I commented Obama was trying to help and left. Through all the commotion Katie had once again left my side for the hunt to find queenly attire. She finds a black dress on sale for 15 dollars S-O-L-D. WE scrounge around for some bling. I return to the bathroom to find the manger re-hanging the stall door. The woman, her loving husband and over compassionate daughter had left the building. The manager granted them 10 minutes or he was calling 911. They gathered up the woman and left. After I thought about it I wondered if the woman had a heartache or stroke. I’ll never know. But one thing I do know is I can’t believe I didn’t take pictures for the purpose of the blog.

We made it back to the hotel with our bags full of loot. We finished our meal from Cheddars and headed to bed. I had had way to much adventure for one day.

Thursday was yet another day of excitement. Dillon made it to the Elite Eight on the Quiz bowl. Once again we began cramming for the test. I can no longer say that I do not know about the cattle industry. I learned about the reproductive systems and difficulties with ….with …. you know bull problems. Apparently bulls need Viagra too. We know all the prominent members and officers, the background behind the Angus foundation, feeding and watering intakes, you name it, we learned about it. Dillon’s team went up against the team from Kansas which won first place plus on of the members is the son of Gardiner Angus, BIG producers.

Mom insisted that we eat at the Yoder's. It was okay....don't waste your unless your all about "enviroment"

It was a great experience for all of us. Friday we hung out then left to come home after lunch. We are already booking our trip out west for next year's show...get your plane ticket and join us. No cows needed..

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Peas Please.....

IF the week before last wasn’t bad enough, I had to endure yet another week of ….I am not really sure what you would call it. At school, we along with the other 67 plus school districts, kindergarten through 12 grade, started FAIR testing. If you don’t know what that stands for let me explain ….sheer chaos, butt chewings, hate email mixed with electronic progress monitoring that throws you off the Internet each time you log on. This however, happens to be mandated by the state!!! I am beginning to wondering why I choose to leave the class room to assume the position of Reading Coach. Needless to say the last few days at work have been anything less that invigorating.

Last Thursday night, I came home completely exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally, due to “the sister’s” soon arrival. My feet felt as though elephants had trampled on them. I have no one to blame for my feet except me. I like a total idiot wore heels, you know, the uncomfortable kind to run the FAIR Marathon in. The six teachers that tested that day were literally located at the three furthermost points on the campus. I had to run back and forth to assist teachers and combat Internet demons that only Jesus could call out. After school, I had stopped by the store to pick up a few needed items to make tacos.
Any way, by the time I had arrived home I could barely trot as my mother would say. I went to the wash machine to rewash the clothes that had already been rewashed 2 other times, when I noticed a peculiar stench. Not the normal aroma of our cow pen after a heavy rain, more ….well…. a sickening, a foul smell. I took a quick look around my laundry porch, when I noticed the unbelievable. There dripping from my freezer’s door was my Blue Bell’s Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream, mixed with blood from all sorts of meats and stank ice from the freezer. I can’t believe as a kid, I loved to scrap it from the top of my Grandma and Grandpa Q’s freezer and make icy drinks. We were too poor to get them from the Jiffy so we thought that was the BEST. My first thought was “Oh no, surely the rest of my peas aren’t gone!!!!! IF you don’t know what I am talking about, check out my last post. We had close to a 100 bags of peas stolen. I could have laid down in my puddle of yuck and cried. But, I did what any southern girl would do I called mom, not mine she lives too far away. I called my sweet blessed, precious, priceless, irreplaceable, loyal, fantastic, kindhearted, dear sweet mother-in-law. She immediately walked the 50 steps over to my house and began helping me rescue my remaining peas, Steven’s deer meat and a couple of packages of corn from 2006. I called the best brother-in law, I never had and his quick thinking, wonderful wife to come and help us eat the Feast of the Defrosted Freezer. I use the words never had, because my honey is an only child, Kelley P. is the closest thing to a sibling he knows. He loves and treats her like a little sister.

Our adventure began. We worked and chiseled.
We used the blow dryer.
We banged and busted. We gouged and poked. My mother –in law and I looked like gold miners digging for treasure in the Alaskan snow. As matter of fact, she even called me a “gold digger”. It embarrassed her so, she couldn’t stop apologizing. I just laughed. I knew what she meant.
We called Pete, a man who use to work on the farm to come get the remaining thawed meat. He was thrilled to death to leave our house with 3 coolers of choice beef, buffalo burger meat, venison, smoked turkey and a whole bunch of other stuff. I believe that the Lord will provide you with opportunities to bless others even when you feel as though you do not have an offering.
Before long we had the freezer empty and it was time to cook all the un-selected thawed remnants from the freezer. We grilled Omaha steaks, pork chops, and turkey breast. I made hash brown casserole. I made a big pot of peas and delicious cream corn.
While we labored on the freezer and prepared the meal, Katie, Dillon and the men worked with the show heifers.
I think this year we are hauling the most we have ever carried to shows. Katie has 6 heifers she is breaking, 2 bulls and 1 Braham, not to forget the ones from last year….I do not know how the child does all that she does. But that’s a whole other post.

At supper, our table looked as though it was set for a King. That was until the peasant smelling (and looking) partakers sat down. We enjoyed the feast of the defrosted freezer. Everybody had a plenty. It’s amazing how my meal went from simple tacos to a full blown dinner on the grounds.

After dinner Kelley, so sweetly she immediately started cleaning the kitchen and the younger men head off to tackle the remaining mess on the laundry porch.
They scrubbed and bleached everything.
Notice Steven's mud boots
The girls and I headed to bed. It seemed just as my eyes would close, my honey would give a holler, I would jump out of bed wondering what the commotion was only to find him seeking my approval—I know your husbands never do that. Finally they had conquered the beast. They placed my precious remaining packages of peas, corn and venison back in the freezer. Steven and Tom must have prayed over the freezer, to date my freezer continues to freeze and no one else has snagged anymore of my peas.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Victims of the Hard Economy

This past summer, my husband labored intensely the week we were at youth camp to pack our freezer with peas from the garden. He picked, shelled, cooked and then sealed the delicious peas in Ziplocs. Needless say our freezer was packed to the brim. We had well over 120 bags. I had also put up close to 30 bags myself earlier in the summer.

This past week, we had a beef butchered because of the unfortunate death of a cow in the cow pens. My mother-in-law went to the market to pick the meat up and then headed home. When she arrived home, she immediately went to the chest freezer to put the meat away. When she noticed the unthinkable more like unforgivable…… Most of our peas were GONE ….Yes, I said GONE. Someone had stolen all but about 30 bags of our peas. Thank the Lord, my cream corn is still at mom and dad.:~) Being quite alarmed and puzzled, Steven calls me at school to question the missing peas…as though I had, in 2 months, cooked 100 bags of peas. I know we have a lot of dinner on the grounds at church but definitely not that many.
We have yet to solve our mystery, but I am praying not that the person that stole my peas not choke on them, but that they may survive these hard economic times. If any of you know anything about me (and my dad), you know that we would give the shirt off our back to anybody that has a need. I am not an economist, but I undoubtedly know that money, jobs and security are and going to be a thing of the past. I have told myself over and over, that the day would come when we would be burglarized….only I thought it would be our home not our freezer and they would take something of great value, not steal the efforts of my (our) hard labor and food.

I have already informed my dad to plant a few extra rows of fall peas for me. This is just another “good excuse” to spend time at mom and dad’s. As with any canning season, I am sure an adventure awaits….and hopefully no more PEA Thieves will invade our freezers.