Chickens, Cattle & State Fair Fun!

And just like that, as quick as the snap of your fingers, summer is on it’s way out.  While it went by way too fast (as always!) and was so much fun and packed full, I have to say I am starting to get the itch for fall.  Cooler weather is on the horizon and Jace’s favorite…. Beaver Football!  A clear sign summer is almost over is when it is Oregon State Fair time, and that’s where we spent much of our weekend.

We kicked off the weekend at the Oregon Ag Link Barn Dance fundraiser.  What a fun filled evening with friends!  There was good music, courtesy of Ben Rue (Silverton’s very own celebrity!), good dancing (although I didn’t really partake this year!) and just overall good people. It was a hot night, but spending time with friends getting to raise funds for great educational causes like the Adopt A Farmer program make bearing the heat all worth it.

As many of you know, I work in the ag industry.  Part of my “work” tasks this weekend included helping at the poultry stage at the Oregon State Fair.  We put on a presentation all about raising backyard chickens.  It makes me still want to get some every time we even talk about chickens (It’s the same every time we talk about pigs too!).  When it comes to backyard chickens, I’ve already done my pre-work like making sure I know how many we are allowed to have in our little town (which by the way, there is no limit! Weird, right?!). Maybe this fall, or next spring…. We shall see!

And, of course, the main reason Jace loves to go to the State Fair– the Hereford show!  After my work was done I jetted over to the show ring just in time to catch the end of the heifer show and then the bull show.  It’s a good reminder to be at these shows to see where we need to head in terms of show stock.

After that, we of course indulged in our favorite fair food (that makes 4x’s this summer already– ahhhh!), walked the vendor buildings (to cool off! haha!) and then back to the barns we went.  Jace reviewed with me what qualities are good, what to look for and things that are not desirable in show cattle.  We practiced as we walked the aisles of the barn. It was so fun! So addicting! I wanted to keep giving reasons for every single one we walked past.  Feeling pretty confident, I decided to take my skills to the Limousin show that was going on.  Whispering over to Jace, he confirmed or shook his head “no” when he agreed or disagreed with my comments as we went down the lineup.  It was so fun and while I felt pretty good about myself in that moment (haha!) there’s no way I could be a judge! It’s so hard and I’d need yeaaarrrsss of practice!

As always, it was another jam packed, super fun, hot summer weekend that went by way too fast.  As we move into fall I’m excited about football season (well, tailgating really… If you know me, you know I have never paid attention to an entire football game!),pumpkin spice drinks, the holidays, the cool weather, and everything else that comes with the season. Even through all the stressors of life, summer has been a welcomed distraction and so good to us this year!  Until next time, summer!

For The Love Of Showin’

It’s been a busy summer for sure, one that has included a few concerts, bbq’s, quick trips to here and there, county fairs and livestock auctions.  While they are all so much fun, I have to say one of my favorites are always the county fairs and the junior livestock auctions with those fairs.  Why you ask? Well first– the FOOD! Fair food every once in a while is much needed, obviously.  I mean, when else in the year is it ok to scarf down fried apple slices slathered in caramel, sugar and whipped cream? Yuummm!!

Walking the barns, checking all the animals out.

More than the delicious fair food, I always enjoy walking the barns with my guy. Yes, I know, I’m very much a city girl and whether it’s in my bow tie flats or boots, I really love walking through the barns! Every year I probably ask him the same questions or have him point out to me what makes an animal look more finished than another.  All stuff that you’d think I should know already. But, he doesn’t mind or get embarrassed that I have to ask again. He’s always happy to answer my sometimes silly questions!  We always run into about 20 people that Jace knows and we get to catch up. It really can be like a reunion at the barns and I love it!  Besides that, the biggest reason why we love walking the barns is because we like to see what all the hardworking students have spent the past several months working on.  Each year I learn a little bit more as I watch the steer show or the hog show, whether its a market show or showmanship.  One of these days (hopefully by the time we have kids!) I’ll get it all and it will all click!  I also like walking with my nephews through the barns. This past weekend at Benton Co. Fair Toby told me about wanting to show a steer when he’s old enough.  Thattaaa guuyyyy! Uncle J will be so proud! Haha!

The time that the students spent with their project animals accumulates to countless hours. The blood, sweat, tears and love they put into them is considerable.  Showing an animal, learning all about it, training it and learning to feed properly is not easy.  So, to see them get in a show ring, many of them for the first time, lead their animal around while answering showmanship questions and place accordingly, it brings a feeling of accomplishment for them.  As with anything or like any sport, some are disappointed and know what they need to do to improve for the next year while others are relishing in their big win.  It’s such a great, fulfilling experience for kids to show an animal. The things they learn and the responsibility they have at such a young age is admirable.  I can see why for some it is not easy to sell their animal at the culminating junior livestock auction.  The bond they’ve created comes to an end, but the memories made over the past several months hold strong.  Then, onto the next project animal that will steal their heart once more.

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While we don’t have our own kids that are participating in showing an animal at county fair or a jackpot show, we did have a few students showing some of the animals we bred this year.  As much as it can be nerve wracking for the students, it can also be nerve wracking for us!   As someone who has bred an animal, you want the student who’s showing them to learn, do the best they can and to do well.

With us being so new to working with 4H and FFA Students on project animals it was a good learning year for us.  While we had three students show animals we (Jace) bred, there is so much to learn, tweak and change for the coming years. I just had a nice talk with a brilliant gal who is well versed in show cattle today who reminded me that doing well in anything, even raising cattle takes practice. It takes figuring your program out, trying new things and deciding what’s best for your herd.  Such a great thing to take away from this county fair season as we look to the future on how to make improvements.  Just like the students who know what they need to do to prepare for next year, so do we.  Jace and I hope to build what we have going into something bigger than what we have now. And with that will come frustration, excitement, lots of work and taking some risks.  The students work so hard for that end goal and so will we.  But most importantly, we want to be there to help the students. Jace has always been passionate about spreading his love of livestock and this is one avenue where we will be able to help them and give back to ag youth.

Like those students who do this for the love of showin’, we will do this for the love of livestock, giving back and helping to guide those kids.  We hope to see you at fair next year!

Sunday Scorcher

Oh man! The past week and a half has been a whirlwind of a time! So much to do and so little time.  Tonight I decided I need a break and I have found a few minutes to tell you all about this past Sunday…

TuckerLast weekend was a scorcher here in the valley.  It was going to be so hot that Jace and I both decided we needed to beat the heat on Sunday morning.  So we got up really early to get some things done at the farm before I headed out of town for work later in the day.

Being apart of the livestock world and a family farm means there is ALWAYS work to be done– whether its breeding, working cattle or facility maintenance.  Jace had the herd bred back in May and early June.  Unfortunately, we found that one of our girls, Miss Jana, was still open after her initial breeding.  If you’re wondering, yes, they’re all named– Miss Jana is named after a dear friend! And, for you newbies out there, being “open” means the female was not successfully impregnated.  

We were positive she was not pregnant because Jace had her blood tested to be sure.  He had been waiting for her to come back into heat, but was not able to catch it in action.  So, our first job on Sunday was to help jumpstart Miss Jana’s cycle by giving her a shot that would help that happen.  To do this, we had to get her into the chute. Did I tell you that I don’t run the chute? Well, not yet anyway. If you’re not good at it you could injure yourself or the animal, which I definitely don’t want to do and haven’t found the confidence to want to give it a try just yet. Second, if you let them get through and miss them, the joke is that you have to buy a 6-pack for every one missed.  With my luck, I’d be buying a 6-pack for every single one. Soooo, I just leave that to the pros and take on the assistant role by helping with the supplies- haha!

With my father in law working the head catch, Jace was able to get right in there and give the shot of Lutalyse. I helped with the Estrotect patches. These are patches he applied to Jana’s tail head that are basically heat detectors.  By applying the patches, he would easily be able to tell if Jana was in heat over the next couple of days. I will spare you the details, but I think you can guess what happens when in heat…

And just like that, our first task of the day was finished. Onto the next…

It seems like there is always a gazillion sections of fence that needs fixin’ at any one point in time.  It’s one of those ongoing things at the farm that with age needs repair and with just Jace working on it, it seems like its never ending.

Fence 1

Off we went to get a couple more sections of wood fence panels put up in one area of the corral.  Each board painted one by one were finally going up, making that section that much more useable.  We got it done quickly– teamwork makes the dream work, people! And just like that we were finished.

By 10 am it was over 80 degrees already.  We decided to call it a day when finished with the fence and thank goodness because the mercury was only going up from there.  It was a short day, but a productive one. I’m always happy when I can help Jace on a project at the farm. I feel like I’ve contributed just a little bit more each and every time.  And for a someone who this was completely foreign to a few years back, it makes me feel more and more like a farm girl at heart.

This weekend we’ll be putting in hay and the work will continue as to be expected.  Stay tuned to see how that goes and maybe I’ll throw in a funny story that involves me in shorts, Jace’s Muck Boots and whole-lotta hay!  It’s one of my fondest memories of learning the ropes of the farm- haha!

 

Back to The Beginning

Well, I figured I’d give it another go! Thanks to everyone for the texts, comments, shares and follows after my first post last week. It’s so great to know there are people out there who support me on this new endeavor…You guys are the best! Ready for #2? Here goes…

In order to fully understand why we have cows or how we even got to the small herd we have today, I’m reallllyyy going to have to take you back…And not just six years this time!

Everything with the farm and pretty much the two people responsible for Jace having a passion as deep as he does for cattle all stems back to his parents.  His grandpa, Jack, purchased the home place, what we know today as “The Farm” back in the 1960’s which is where Jace grew up.  Jack had a love for the red and white and operated a commercial and registered herd of Herefords, a breed known for it’s docile mannerisms and excellent beef quality.

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Baby Jace feeding baby Hereford ❤

He ran the farm with Jace’s parents until he decided to exit, taking a back seat to the cattle business.  My mother in law grew up with the cattle and my father in law studied livestock nutrition so it was a natural fit for them to continue managing the herd.  Jace loved being apart of this and couldn’t help but be bummed when he went off to college and the herd was then sold off. Understandably so, when he’d been used to waking up and walking outside to these gentle giants for his entire life.

When the herd was sold and he went off to college, Jace knew that he wanted to continue raising cattle. It was something he was born into, something that ran deep in his blood. Heck, he even took his first steps as a kid at a cattle show at the Oregon State Fair- hah! Whatever he did, he just could not shake the idea of not having them in his life.  It was then that he decided to build his own herd starting with the matriarch who we lovingly refer to as Marie, a purebred Hereford.  Marie was Jace’s official first heifer purchase his senior year of high school.

Jace

Jace showing Marie at Marion Co. Fair. Circa 2005.

For the next decade, Jace continued to pour his heart into the farm and Marie.  One by one he has grown the heard each year, reviewing and experimenting with what bulls to breed to next all while making improvements to the farm, taking risks and keeping up with the cattle industry.

Fast forward to 2017 and we’ve been blessed with a current herd of 10 cows– all thanks to Jace’s hard work. It may not sound like much, but it’s about all that we can handle with Jace being the primary person responsible for these “Ladies” while working full time.  I know it sounds crazy, but there has been a time or two when I have raised the idea of selling the herd off due to some other crazy idea I came up with or because I could only imagine what we could do with all the time we’d have if we didn’t have the responsibility.  Each time I’ve been faced with a big, huge, fat “NO” and I quickly get over it.

It’s not that I don’t love the cows– because I do!  I see the joy they bring and the feeling of accomplishment, the satisfaction of hard work.  The only way I can explain it is, it’s the same way when Jace comes home to Hawaii with me. He will never fully understand why we do what we do, why we say what we say, the way we speak, live, operate.  You know what I mean? It’s the same thing here on the farm– there are cultural differences if you will. I “get it,” but I will never truly, truly understand the emotional connection to the cattle the way he does.

Jace Work Cattle

Tagging and weighing cattle at the Marion Co. Fair Beef Weigh Ins.

But, each time, I think back to the two people who planted the seed for Jace and the cows and I can’t help but be thankful. Thankful for the skills, qualities, dedication and passion that have been drilled deep into him. As a wife it is something I am truly proud of.  Like any good husband, Jace has learned to roll with it (more like roll his eyes– haha!) when I’ve suggested such crazy ideas and keeps trudging along.  Thank goodness for that because I can’t imagine Jace without some sort of livestock following behind him, a 6:30 am call to re-breed one of them or coming home extra late during calving season.

One day when we are lucky to be blessed with a little one of our own, I can only hope that he or she will find the joy in these creatures as Jace has.  Until then, I’ll continue as I have for the past seven years joining him on the farm, rolling with the punches and taking it all in– understanding more and more each day about raising cattle and this thing called “Farm Life.”

 

Taking The Plunge

DISCLAIMER: This is a long one! They won’t all be long. In fact they’ll be short. Just bare with me as I set the mood for DOAWFG- Haha! Enjoy!

Hey Friend! It’s me, Nicole.  And this… This my friends is what I’m calling “Diary of A Wannabe Farm Girl.”  You may be wondering what the heck I’m talking about or what I’ve gotten myself into now, so allow me to explain.

Let me take you back oh, let’s say six years….. Way back to the dating days of Jace and I.  As most of us know, Jace and I could not be more different from one another.  In the way that we were raised, our interests and even some of our beliefs– we were (and still are!) different.  He was “country” to me and found enjoyment in scoopin’ poop, working cattle and fixin’ fence.  Growing up, he was the kid who hung out at the barn. I on the other hand could have cared less about that. I was more concerned with shopping and meeting up with friends or going to the beach.  Of course I knew nothing about raising livestock or farm life.  He’d tested me a little bit to see if could truly live up to his rural lifestyle and let me tell you, he must’ve really liked me because I’m pretty sure I failed most of the “tests”– Hah!

I’ll never forget the day when he took me by the farm and I was helping him to clean out the jugs. He gave me one “chore”– clean out the poop and put new bedding down.  So, me being not so familiar with the difference between hay and straw decided to grab the really nice green stuff to put down.  “Honey, do you realize you just put down hay as bedding?” said Jace.  “Ummmm, nope! Was that wrong?” I said, completely oblivious to the silly amateur mistake I had just made.  The next thing I know Jace is busting up laughing.  He was chuckling so hard trying to get his words out to explain to me the difference between hay and straw, how I could tell based on the color and what not. It was then at that moment when this blog came in to my mind.  I knew I was in for the long haul and that I had a lot of learning to do if I was going to make it with this guy of mine. As embarrassing as it was, I had to learn one way or another and I thought how fun would it be to share this silly story with friends and family?

But something held me back…. For six years people! SIX years! Isn’t that crazy? As I thought about bringing this blog to life recently I couldn’t help but think why it took me so long and I instantly knew why. To me, it was weird. I didn’t know if I had the ability or the passion to do it. I mean, what would people think about me? God forbid I make myself look stupid!

It wasn’t until recent events in my life unfolded, reconfirming nothing in life is guaranteed that I started to think about this crazy blog idea again.  Then the question crossed my mind– If nothing in life is guaranteed then why wait? Why continue to feel awkward about putting my silly quirks out there? Why not share what I have to say NOW instead of waiting a minute (or six more years) longer? I have so much to talk about (or so I think- haha!). And, no, not all of it is funny and not all of it is serious. Our life, our sweet (and sometimes naughty!) little Tucker and our herd (aka The Ladies). Not to mention the blood, sweat and tears that Jace pours in to our farm and so much more.

With that, I’m willing to make the scary jump into Diary of A Wannabe Farm Girl. If I can bring a smile to your face, encourage you to do something, educate you about farm life or just keep you up to date on what we’re up to over at Anderson Land & Cattle, then I’ve succeeded.  Join me friends, as I show you how six years later this Flyin’ Hawaiian is continuing to learn, love and live this farm life.

 

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