Last Saturday, I had the privilege of hosting an Alumni Day for our Sigma Alpha chapter, Alpha Xi. As co-chair of the event, I also got to help pick the speakers and Jamie Johanson was at the top of our list. Last spring, I had a class with a great person who definitely has a passion for agriculture and is proud to show it. While I didn’t get to listen to her whole speech, I did get to tune in when she started talking about sharing our passion. She was the reason I started my blog last year, and after listening to her talk, I was ready to show my passion to the world once again.
My family is REALLY into the whole photography thing so I figured I would show my passion on Facebook, through pictures of the farm and what we do. Yesterday, when I got home for fall break it was too dark to start sharing my passion so I vowed I would start today. Within a couple of minutes, I learned that sharing your passion through photography was a lot harder than people let on. Without a smartphone, I set out with my own camera, only to find the batteries dead and of course, no extra batteries anywhere in the house. Luckily, my sister allowed me to use hers as long as I ‘was really careful with it.’ So I set off down the hill to find the horses, armed with a camera and a mission.
I had had that perfect picture running though my head. Everyone has seen one, the beautiful horse loping with their mane in tail flowing in the wind. After catching Chex, I realized problem number one: it had rained recently; therefore the beautiful shiny coat would not be involved in any of my pictures. On to problem number two. Have you ever tried lunging a spirited horse while also taking pictures? Practically impossible!
So once I realized that lunging a horse would not be the product of my photography passion, I moved on to a new ‘perfect picture’. The one with your horses ears in the bottom, showing where you are riding and the path ahead of you. I was almost successful in finding a ‘Facebook worthy photo’ out of these but I still wasn’t satisfied. I was ready to give up. I turned Chex back out and led Rowdy to the house to saddle up for a ride. After a long, satisfying ride, I took one last picture.
I realized that my passion can’t be made, it has to be found. And today I found it in a sweaty horse, tired from a good ride. Tomorrow I might find it in checking the cows, or riding the four-wheelers. Even though my passion changes, I’ll always know that I can find it in the wide open spaces that I call home.
Sounds like a funny combination, don’t you think? It seemed like the whole weekend revolved around these words. Last week, my dad had surgery on his shoulder and knee so instead of coming home to relax and ride horses, I got to do all my normal chores plus most of Dad’s. His To Do list didn’t get much smaller when I realized after a round of Bute, Chex was still limping in her back left leg.
With barrel season right around the corner, it was time to call the vet. We needed more feed too so instead of a farm call; we brought the Chex to the vet. With our vet’s office having a small parking lot, instead of actually parking in the parking lot, we just parked on the road and walked Chex up the hill to the clinic (don’t worry the road had really big shoulders!). Saturdays at a vet office are always crazy and this was no exception. But most Saturdays don’t involve a horse standing on the front lawn. Everyone coming in and out of the vet clinic noticed the horse and I am surprised people didn’t run off the road from all the staring that happened! The vet checked her out, and I wasn’t happy with the diagnosis. A pulled ligament which means two weeks of more Bute and slowly working her back onto shape.
So instead of knocking building electric fence off Dad’s To-Do list, I got to haul hoses, water troughs and feed buckets around so we could separate Chex from the other horses and still feed and water everyone. After getting everyone separated, I got to do one of my favorite farm jobs- feeding hay. At the end of the day there is nothing more relaxing than knowing that all your animals are happy and healthy (well besides Chex and her leg).
And I’m not talking about Spring or Cardinal’s baseball. I’m talking about my favorite two seasons of the year: tractor pulls and rodeos.
To me, there is nothing better than jumping in the truck and heading to a different town and a different competition. Whether it’s a tractor pull or a rodeo, I’m always in that passenger seat (I haven’t conquered the stick shift yet, maybe I’ll throw that on my Leap List!) Last year, my mom and I hit every rodeo we could with the NBHA and Show Me TEC. But this year could be a whole different story for rodeos. With me at college and my horses at home, they are in no shape to run competitively at the moment. With two horses getting no exercise and all the mud at our house, Chex has been a little swollen in her back end. So that leaves me with Rowdy as a barrel horse. At 16 hands and only seven years old, he’s in his prime to be a great barrel horse…if I only had the time to ride him. Maybe I need some more time to ride or someone to do it for me. Any volunteers?
Since rodeos won’t be a big part of my summer, I had to find some time else to do with all my free time (Wait, what’s free time?). My dad eagerly filled that spot when he decided that he was going to get back into the tractor pull business, and by tractor pulls, I don’t mean the ones that throw a bunch of smoke and drive really fast. I mean the farm pulls with no smoke and a speed limit of 8 MPH. But hey it still gets my competitive juices flowing. The Markway’s don’t do anything easy so instead of just buying a tractor to pull, Dad decides that we are going to work from the ground up and completely restore a 1952 John Deere A with M&W Power Block (if you don’t know tractor talk, the Power Block means we are awesome, any more details and I would have to ask Dad).
This weekend was a major step in our future of tractor pulling because we got ole’ Hank (or at least that’s what I call the John Deere A) started for the first time. I must say after all the sanding and painting I did on that thing, it was a very proud moment, but I don’t think anybody could be more proud than Dad! So instead of a horse and trailer, this summer I get to travel with the MATPA and a tractor. If you are ever in the area and in need of some friendly competition, look us up!
Who needs a guard dog when you can use a horse instead? 15 hands and 33 years old, he’s definitely not your average guard animal. He is pretty scary to the UPS man when he comes trotting at him looking for grain.
But we don’t usually have horses wandering around our yard. After we built electric fence last week, our horses were limited to eating off the round bale. Being so old, the other three horses aren’t very good at sharing the hay with Barney, and he isn’t very good at eating it when he gets some. So until the grass gets a little longer, Barney is stuck being our guard dog munching on the front yard (he goes back with the other horses at night though).
Barney has been a part of our family for almost ten years. Back then, I was one of those horse crazy kids that had to have a horse NOW. By chance, a guy at my dad’s work was headed to Alaska for six months and needed a temporary home for his horse and mule. So I got a horse for me and a mule for my riding buddy (or whoever I could con into riding with me). But at the end of the six months my nine year old world ended, and Barney and Ruby (the mule) had to go home. Six months later they came back as their owner headed to back Alaska and they haven’t left since (probably cause they didn’t have the heart to take them away from me again).
Barney wasn’t just my first horse. He basically taught me to ride. Granted, I had been taking horse lessons at B and B Farms for a year or two but that was riding in an arena. Barney taught me the ins and outs of owning your own horse. But most of all, Barney helped me find my passion- barrel racing. As my first barrel horse, he won my first rodeo and put up with me as I learned the ropes.
But just like every good guard animal Barney is getting old, really old. And it’s coming to that time in an animal’s life where the owner has to make a hard decision. For now, Barney is perfectly content munching on the yard, but when winter rolls around again, it may be a different story. How am I supposed to make that tough decision?