Leaving for college doesn't mean leaving the farm.

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Full Barn, Happy Farmers

Two weeks after starting, hay is finally done! This hay season was extremely hectic for my family because Bethany got selected for an international agriculture trip through I-CAL. (More information on that later!) Which just happened to fall right after her college graduation and in the middle of hay. Since we were missing a family member in our hay process, this year was a learning experience for me. My current experience in the hayfield consisted of a raking disaster and bringing water to whoever was working. I joined in the actual hay process only to put square bales on the elevator to the barn. But not this year! This year, with it being so warm earlier in the spring our hay went early and Dad had our smaller hay field cut and baled by the time, I got home from Missouri State University. Sunday, we broke the ‘day of rest’ rule and hooked up the tractors early to get all of the round bales hauled out. When the day began, I had no idea how to work the hand clutch on our 630 John Deere and I was scared of The Hill.

Working the hand clutch on the 630 was a challenge!

The Hill is the worst part of hauling hay with loose gravel covering a long steep hill on the only road to the hay barn. But by the end of the day, I was working the hand clutch like a pro and The Hill was just a measly bump in the road (not really, it still stresses me out a little).With the smaller field done, we moved right into the next field. Or should I say UP to the next field.

Dad and I heading down the first hill with our loads

Our farm is full of steep rocky hillsides so not only did we have to conquer The Hill but we also had to go down another one before that. Before we could start hauling bales out, I got a lesson in raking the hay. After my fiasco of raking a couple years ago, I was not excited. Rounds later, I dropped Dad off and raking by myself ensued. I must say once I had the hang of it, I was the best hay raker around.

The hay raking rig

Not only was I raking by myself, but I had learned how to drive my Grandpa’s 444 International tractor; marking my hay education up to three different tractors. With hay season just now over, there are still more adventures to come!

Hay Time

Ever heard the song Harvest Time by Luke Bryan? Even though we don’t have crops, we are in the middle of hay season and this song pretty much sums it up! With cutting in the morning, raking and baling in the afternoon, and putting the dry hay away in the evening, there is barely enough time to eat and sleep much less blog. But there are a ton of picture opportunities!

20 Things I Learned my First Year of College

  1. Clean your dorm bathroom more than once your whole first year. (That’s a whole new level to nasty!)
  2. Calling your parents involves actually talking, not just asking for one thing and then hanging up.
  3. When you only get to ride your horses on the weekends, they tend to get fat very quickly.
  4. Pay attention in class. You will actually be able to use it later in life. (Especially those agriculture classes)
  5. Take classes that you want to take, not just the classes that are in your major (that’s how I changed my major all together!)
  6. When the teacher says to study, make sure you actually study.

    Me actually studying!

  7. Driving in the ‘big city’ of Springfield, Missouri takes on a whole new meaning of paying attention to the road.
  8. It also takes on a whole new meaning to getting lost.
  9. Talk to people in your classes. Without someone to laugh with and talk to, that semester is going to drag on.
  10. Join clubs. Not only does this help you meet people, but it gets you contacts in your industry.
  11. Coming home to work on the farm really shows how out of shape college makes you.
  12. If you want to do something, whether it be go out to eat, join a club, or change majors, DO IT. Holding back will get you nowhere, while giving it a shot is going to push you ahead of the crowd.
  13. Get to know your teachers. This may seem like something that everyone says, but I must say it’s actually true.
  14. Enjoy the view, literally. Living on the eighth floor gave me a great view of most of the MSU parking lots.

    The parking lot… through my screen of course!

  15. Make new friends, but don’t ignore the old ones.
  16. You can talk with your dad about weaning weights, and pasture rotations and actually contribute intelligent information to the conversation.
  17. Your bed doesn’t actually make itself.
  18. People outside of the agriculture department have never seen mud boots like yours and will stare at you.
  19. Don’t wish your days away. Today is here so live it like there is no tomorrow.
  20. And finally, don’t look back. It’s in the past and not coming back. You have to keep looking forward, forward to what you want to be. Because that is when you will find out who you truly are.

I am a Cucumber

This weekend with dad at drill and finals coming up for Bethany and I, we didn’t get a lot of farm work done. But on Sunday, we did enough work for the whole weekend.  Instead of having a bull all year round, we share the bull with my uncle allowing us to have fall calving and him to have spring calving. With the temperatures hitting ninety, Bethany and I headed out on the four wheelers to bring all the cows home. Driving straight to the pond, they were pretty easy to find, but getting them out of the pond and moving was a slight challenge.  With Bethany leading the way with the feed bucket on her four wheeler and me pushing from behind the cows moved towards the lot pretty easily. Except for the bull who thought standing in the pond was cooler than following the feed bucket. (Which it was!) After a little convincing, he SLOWLY walked out of the pond and started to follow all his ‘girls’. By the time the bull and I made it to the lot, the rest of the family was getting worried that something had happened. Soon as the cows finished all the grain that lured them into the lot, our family burst into activity. Open gates were closed, closed gates were opened and cows were sorted away from the bull. With the bull alone in the loading lot, Mom disappeared to get the trailer. After the excitement of backing a trailer to the loading chute, we got the bull into the trailer and another flurry of activity erupted. Gates were returned to the previous place and swimsuits and dry clothes were thrown in the truck.

Our ‘rig’

While waiting for Mom and the trailer, Bethany and I figured we needed a way to cool off.  And nothing is better than a sprinkler on a hot day! An hour long drive later, we pulled into the little town of Frankenstein, Missouri and into my aunt and uncle’s driveway. Before my dad and uncle even got the bull off the trailer, we had our swimsuits on and the sprinkler up and running (I mean, spraying). Bethany and I got tired of the water after awhile(and I mean hours!)  and without the ‘big’ cousins playing in the sprinkler, the ‘little’ cousins made the sprinkler into a magic door, allowing for them to go ‘anywhere’ aka the other side of the water.

The sprinkler under the trampoline

With three girls ages 10, 8, and 5 the answers were very interesting. Ranging from Hollywood, to mermaid land, to McDonald’s, they became increasingly funny to me and Bethany. To top it all off, the magic door then allowed you to become a different person. The ten year old jumped through and became a dancer with a little dance move on the other side. The eight year old became a singer with a burst of song going through the sprinkler. And finally the five year, taking a running start and shouted proudly, ‘I’m a CUCUMBER!’ Things like family, laughter, and even sprinklers make me so appreciative that I have the life that I have: family, cows, heat and farming it all.

Sisters at Science Camp

For the first time in a long time, my weekend didn’t start with my sister and I driving home. Instead, I passed my exit following two Missouri State University vans full of my Sigma Alpha sisters headed to Rolla and Cub Creek Science camp for a sisterhood retreat. And let me tell you, I was not excited!

After dealings with a flat tire and a car battery that didn’t want to stay charged, I was ready to go home. After getting in our cabin ( with air conditioning, what a relief!) and having the usual camp food of hot dogs for supper, my night was turning out way better than I expected; especially after we went to the camp zoo. If I can’t see my own horses, the next best thing is exotic animals and miniature horses. After team building with Hulu hoops and noodles ( the colorful water floaty kind), I thought it was time for bed. But with twenty other girls in one cabin and a very intense game of Buzzword, I finally for to climb into my bed at one o clock. The next day we had a whole new load of adventures waiting for us outside our cabin. After another wonderful meal of camp food (this time it was pop tarts) we struggled into rope harnesses and helmets.

Ready for the ropes!

After we got the awkward harnesses tightened in a the right places, each sister got attached to the rope swing while the rest of us pulled them up. It was a pretty cool concept to know that your sisters alone are pulling you that high into the air. After the ripe swing, we all conquered an awesome zip line and ate our final round of camp food, ham and turkey sandwiches.

Ready to pull!

After some more team building after lunch, we found some shade for the closing remarks. As we sat there, I realized that I had a lot of fun. Which I didn’t think was gonna happen so that got me thinking about other things. Maybe I should try new things more and look at old things with a new perspective. On Sunday, as I worked my horses, (to my delight, Chex wasn’t limping!) I realized that not only do you have to give new things a chance but you have to be thankful for what you have.

Two of the things I am thankful for- my horses and my home.

It’s Electric

Or at least my Saturday morning was. With all the rain moved out of the area from last weekend, the green grass is popping up and the calves we weaned and the horses were itching to eat it. With three different herds of animals at this time of year, it hard to get grass to everyone and still let our hay pastures grow. But electric fence solves that problem really easy.

The beef herd gets the ‘New Land’ (we bought our neighbor’s farm ten years ago), the calves get the pasture by the road, and the horses get the electric fence and the pastures that lead to our hay ground. Building fence is always eventful in my family and of course, Saturday was no different.

Our fence building supplies, ready to go.

After we finally got it up and clicking, it was time for my favorite part- letting the horses out on the fresh grass. I could sit out there for hours and watch them buck and run through the new grass.

They are ready to the new grass!

Knowing that Rowdy would probably live up to his name, I let him out with Ruby to save Barney from getting beat up in his old age and from Chex hurting her leg again. To my surprise, Rowdy went straight to eating after only a few bucks. Ruby was a different story; our normally calm (and lazy) mule was a running, bucking, snorting fool!

 

After she calmed down, I brought the rest of the herd. For the first time in a month, the whole herd was back together. As a farm girl, there is nothing better than knowing that your animals are happy and healthy.

But as a college student, there is nothing better than knowing that summer is right around the corner and in three week, the stress of college will be gone and you can finally stay at home where the blacktop begins.

My Empty Bucket

If you live anywhere near Mid-Missouri, you know that this weekend was a complete monsoon. So, that means nothing exciting happened on the farm. Except for Chex is longer swelled up! With flooding and mud everywhere, I stayed inside pretty much the whole weekend, (except when Bethany and I went outside and got completely and absolutely soaked feeding everyone on Sunday).

Instead of doing exciting things outside, I tried catching up on homework. I ended up looking at Pinterest and catching up on all the blogs I haven’t read (I am the ultimate procrastinator!). Reading other blogs really gets me thinking about my life and where it’s going. So instead of finishing my homework, I decided that I needed a Bucket List! Doesn’t everybody? It may not be long but hey, I can always add new stuff! So here it is, after one day and couple of inches of rain:

My Bucket List

Travel

  1. Washington DC- Its one of those places that I think each person should visit with their family and with Dad in the Army, it has an even bigger meaning
  2. Las Vegas- Another place I think every person should visit, but not with my family. 🙂
  3. Montana- I would love to see and even be a part of a ‘real’ ranch even if it is only for a visit
  4. Amarillo, Texas- Being in almost every country song, it has to be a pretty cool place

Crafts

  1. Twenty Five Pinterest crafts- I am a new Pinterest member and I must say, my craft list is already overloaded!
  2. Finish my Desk- Three of us college girls are renting a house next year, and instead of buying a desk, I decided to build it. Currently, it’s only a stained wooden top though.
  3. Build a bookshelf- What can I say, I like working with my hands (and Markway’s never do anything easy!)

My half-way-done desk

School

  1. Network- Last November, I went to AFA and made lots of friends my own age but didn’t make any industry contacts (which is VERY essential!)
  2. Get an internship- Goes hand in hand with networking
  3. Get a master’s degree… eventually- By eventually, this could mean in three years, five years, or ten years.

Fun

  1. Go to wine tasting- A class is offered at Missouri State University, just have to wait until 21!
  2. Learn to drive the boat faster- And by faster, I mean the fastest I have driven is just over an idle when we snag

  1. Go river rafting- Rocks, rapids and all.
  2. Go to a beach- And not have a plan for the day, just me, the water and what I want to do
  3. Learn to drive the truck and trailer- I want to be able to go to the arena when I want, for as long as I want

Our 'Rig'

  1. Go skiing- Nothing like flying down a mountain to give you an adrenalin rush!
  2. Ride a mechanical bull- Again with the adrenalin (I’m an adrenalin junkie!)
  3. Learn to two-step- Technically, I know how to do it, I just suck at it.

Personal

  1. Journal- I keep saying it will happen, but one day I am going to make it happen
  2. Memorize my M number– Which is basically your Missouri State University social security number
  3. Connect with old friends- College has gotten in the way of my home life 🙂
  4. Show more gratitude- Doesn’t everybody need to?

My hope is to finish it by the end of my college career, but who knows! Any more suggestions?