Friday, April 24, 2009

Mud Wars



Today the weather was absolutely gorgeous! A few of my friends and I decided to take a advantage of this and do a little swimming. We weren't exactly sure where we were going to swim, but we knew we wanted to. One idea was to do a Fountain Run. I know this isn't exactly swimming, but we would still be able to get wet and soak up some sun. Although this was a great idea, we decided to go another route.

Luckily we knew some people who had a swimming pool and slip and slide set up. We were all very excited about this. Unfortunately we didn't end up getting there until about 7:30 p.m., and by that time, the temperature had cooled off quite a bit. The water used on the slip and slide was cold; however, the water in the pool was fairly warm. It at least felt warm compared to the slip and slide water anyway.

Without much hesitation, we jumped into the pool. It was a lot of fun at first, but then the sun started going down and we started to get cold. We knew we would be much colder once we got out so we kept putting it off. Suddenly an idea came to mind. I saw the mud down at the end of the slip and slide and I thought it would be really fun to have a small mud fight.

There were a few guys there, and I'm sure you know that guys are usually all for mud fights. Before we knew it, we were all headed to the mud. Once my friends and I got to the mud, we realized it was a little colder than we expected. We didn't really get a chance to change our minds because we were being picked up and thrown into the mud. Since we were already dirty, we decided we might as well get the guys that threw us in dirty too.

After about 10 minutes of playing in the mud we decided we had about enough. Even though it didn't turn out the way we expected, we still had an awesome time

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cattle Showing: 101




A while back I blogged about 4-H. I gave a pretty basic explanation about 4-H and what it means to me, but I feel there is much more that I want to share. In my other blog about 4-H I didn't really go into much detail about the projects I took, and now looking back I realized it is something worth blogging about.

As I mentioned before, I showed dairy cattle in 4-H. All cattle aren’t shown the same way. Beef cattle are actually shown quite different than dairy cattle. I can't tell you the real reason for this, but I can tell you how these two show practices are different. When showing dairy cattle, the showman leads the animal while walking backwards; however, the showman walks forward while showing beef cattle. Beef showmen also use a long stick when they show. I've never shown beef cattle so I'm not really sure why the stick is used, but I think it may be used to try to keep the animals calm. The showman stroke the animal’s stomach with the stick, and the stick can also be used to correct the animals feet if they aren't lined up just right. I always thought it would be hard to try to show a cow while holding a large stick, but beef people think it would be hard to show a cow while walking backwards. I guess it all depends on what you're used to.

Dairy cattle are also groomed different than beef cattle. Beef showman spend hours washing, blow drying, painting, and sprayin g their cows hair. On the other hand, all that needs to be done with dairy steers is a good wash and let them air dry. Sometimes showman apply a little show sheen to a cloth and wipe their animals down. This makes the animal look sleek and shiny and it helps cover some flaws the animal might have. Showing dairy heifers or milk cows is a little more complicated than showing dairy steers, but it's still less work than grooming beef cattle. Judges for dairy heifers and cows are very strict on the way the animals hair is "styled". The basic guidelines of clipping diary heifers and cows can be found here.

One of the best parts of showing cattle was getting money from selling them. I know this probably seems like it would be a little sad, but it got easier over time. The first time I had to sell my cow I wasn't really sure how I was going to handle the whole situation. I've grown up knowing that animals don't live forever, and I knew where my dad was taking cows once they got old. I even went with my dad to stalk yard to sell cows sometime. This time it was different because I had grown attached to my cow.

When the time came to finally take my cow through the sale, I was extremely nervous. I surprised myself because I wasn't too sad. The only time I actually got upset was when I had to hand my cow off too the guys loading the stock trailer. When I saw my cow being led up the ramp I had to fight back the tears. My dad must have read my mind because he gave me a big hug and said lets go get your check.

Once I got my check, I felt a little better. I don't want you to think I'm heartless or anything, but getting that money seemed to be my reward for all the work I had put in to the project.
People always told me that selling the first cow was always the hardest, but I found that every year I was always a little sad. I still loved showing dairy cattle, and I loved 4-H. I learned a lot about hard work and letting go, and I will always cherish the memories I made.


Friday, April 17, 2009

The Fountains Are On!


It finally feels like we may actually be getting closer to spring! It's sunny outside, the weather is warm, and most importantly the fountains have been turned on. It may just be me, but it made me so happy when I walked out of class yesterday to see the fountains on!

Every time there has been a warm day the last few weeks, my friends and I would discuss when we thought the fountains would be turned on again. I felt even though I know spring is coming soon, it never really seemed like it was ever going to get here because the fountains weren't on.

Now when I walk by a fountain I see people sitting all around it studying and talking. Some people seem to just enjoy laying by the fountain and soaking up some sun. I've even seen a few kids playing tag around the fountain. Just seeing everyone else enjoy being outside puts me in a better mood.

I never noticed how much I actually enjoyed the fountains until they were shut off for the winter. Having them on again reminds me there are only 3 weeks left until summer break. This means I only have a few weeks to get another fountain run in before I leave campus!

Monday, April 13, 2009

CAUTION!


During the summer, there is one major task that must be accomplished on our farm. We have to bale hay and straw. This may not sound like too big of a deal, but it is actually a lot of hard work. First of all, baling is usually done in the middle of the summer, which means it is extremely hot. Lifting heavy bales while being outside in 90 degree weather is no small task.

In order to get all of our baling done in about a day and a half, we have to have a lot of people to help us out. There has to be at least two people on the wagon loading while one person drives the tractor and baler. We also have to have one person to transport full wagons to the barns and empty wagons back to the field. It usually takes about 6 more people to unload the wagons.

I'm sure you can imagine that it can be rather difficult to round up ten people willing to suffer in the hot weather for a day and half. My dad would pay the workers, but let's face it, most people would rather be swimming doing something else to keep cool. I found out rather quickly that when my dad couldn't find enough people to help out, I would always "volunteer" to help.

I believe I was about 14 the first time I "volunteered" for this task. Since I'm a girl, my strength wasn't really valued among the guys. Basically what I'm saying is I was going to get stuck doing some type of driving. Hauling the wagons back and forth would not be a bad job at all because I would have air-conditioning and radio; however, since I didn't have my drivers license, this small bit of hope was quickly taken away. I knew I was going to get stuck driving the tractor.

I was really nervous about this task because I had never driven a tractor before. My sister went out with me the first day to try to give me a few pointers. As she was telling me all sorts of things, I started to panic. There was no way I would ever be able to remember all these things. A few of the most important rules are: always make right turns when pulling a baler and a wagon, let off the clutch slowly or else you will knock everyone off the wagon, don't get distracted and miss some straw, and watch out for holes.

This is a lot of information to take in. I learned fairly quickly that actually driving the tractor is the easy part, but remembering all the little details is the hard part. Controlling the clutch is a hard skill to master because it usually sticks. This means it's almost impossible for someone that has small feel and that only weighs 115 pounds to be able to transition smoothly. The people on the wagon really don't like it when they almost get knocked off every time you start to go or come to a stop.

My first day driving the baler alone was quite an experience. It was going pretty well. I hadn’t knocked anyone off the wagon or gotten the baler plugged up. Unfortunately my luck eventually ran out.

Through the middle of our field there is a waterway. In the summer it’s dried out and it isn’t very steep, so we just have to drive across it while we’re baling. There is one part of the waterway that can be a little tricky to get to. It just so happened that when it came time to go through that part, I was pulling a wagon that was almost completely full of straw. I was so worried about making sure the wagon made it through the waterway ok that I wasn’t paying much attention to what was up ahead of me. What I didn’t see was a giant hole!

I didn’t see it until the front of the tractor was about five inches from it. By that point there was nothing else I could do. I just had to go through it. I was absolutely terrified. My cousin and brother on the wagon started telling me to stop and I did. I felt so bad I almost started crying. My cousin came up to the tractor very calm and said he was going to try to get us out. Luckily he was able to get us out of the hole and none of the equipment was damaged.

I feel very fortunate that my cousin was on the wagon that day. If it had just been my brother, I would have gotten majorly yelled at. My cousin had very good humor about it, and now looking back, even I can laugh about it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Canoeing in the Summer


In the summer, it can be difficult to find fun, cool activities to do outside. Swimming is probably the most obvious activity, but after a while that can get a little old. Many people enjoy boating and skiing. I love to go whitewater rafting, but in Indiana it’s hard to find somewhere to raft that isn’t too far away. Another activity that is relatively easy to do in Indiana is canoeing.

My first experience canoeing was quite interesting. One of my friends decided she wanted to take a few of us canoeing for her birthday. A few people turned into a rather large group. There ended up being enough people that we had to take 3 canoes.

I was a little apprehensive about canoeing at first. I had never been before so I didn’t really know what to expect. I was really worried about tipping the canoe over, but once we got on the water, I felt much more comfortable. Canoeing actually turned out to be very relaxing.

Since people usually canoe in calm water, there isn’t a lot of work to do while canoeing. The two major responsibilities are to paddle occasionally and steer clear of the shore. For the most part our group did a fairly good job of this; however, with three canoes full of teenage kids, there is bound to be some excitement.

Two guys in one canoe decided they wanted to get out and swim. They were able to get out just fine, but getting back in the canoe was the problem. As they were trying to hoist themselves back into the boat, they accidently tipped it. Unfortunately, the place the boat tipped was very deep. They were half-heartedly trying to turn the boat right side up, but they couldn’t touch in the deep water. The boys thought it was funny, and the rest of us were sure the boat was going to sink. Once someone threatened the possibility of snakes in the water, the boys flipped the canoe right over and jumped in. I doubt there were any poisonous snakes, but it was a good enough threat to get them back in the boat.

A little while later we came up on a long rope tied to a tree. We saw many people taking a break and swinging off the rope into the water. By that time the boys had forgotten all about the snake scare, and they were the first from our group to volunteer to swing into the water. Once the rest of us saw them use the swing and successfully make it into the water, we all decided we wanted to do it. We probably spent a half-hour at this particular spot just taking turns swinging into the water.

I think everyone that went canoeing that day had a really great time. The great thing about canoeing is you can take your time and just relax. There isn’t a lot of danger or many things to worry about. It’s a great way to be outside even in the hottest weather and still stay cool.

Two Cows and a Goat?


I’ve seen some crazy things growing up on a farm. One of the oddest things I’ve seen happened one night this past summer. I woke up around 2 o’clock in the morning because I heard a man’s voice talking. I realized right away it wasn’t my dad or my brother. I was quite alarmed at first, but then I heard my talking to this man.

Once I realized that everything was ok, I tried to figure out who would show up at our house at 2 o’clock in the morning. The only person I’d every known to come to house in the middle of the night was the sheriff. I know this sounds alarming, but if we have cows that get out or something during the night, the sheriff will come by and tell my dad. He usually even sticks around and helps my dad get the cows back to where they belong.

After I thought of this, I figured we just had some cows out and there was nothing to worry about. So, I fell right back to sleep without giving the issue any more thought. When I woke up in the morning, I asked my mom about the situation. She told me that we actually didn’t have any cows out. Apparently there were two beef cows and a goat out roaming around. A neighbor and the sheriff were taking them around to people they thought they might own these animals. My dad told them we didn’t have that type of cows and we most definitely didn’t have any goats.

I found the whole situation a little humorous. Not every day does the sheriff come to your door asking if you lost two cows and a goat. My parents and I joked about it a little, but by the afternoon we had sort of forgotten about it. That evening we went out to eat, and when we got back from eating, we noticed there were two cows in our pasture that didn’t match the rest. Yes. The two homeless cows had somehow gotten into our pasture. Needless to say we were all a little surprised. The next thought that crossed our mind was if the goat was also wondering around somewhere.

Sure enough the goat had found its way into one of our barns. My dad really didn’t know what to do. At first he thought maybe the sheriff and our neighbor had just left them at our house because they couldn’t find the correct owners, but that turned out to not be the case. These animals had just found their way back to our hose.

The next day we were debating on what we should do with them. Honestly my dad had no idea what to do with them. A strange truck came up our drive with a trailer attached. They came up and talked to my dad for a while. They mentioned they had lost two cows and wondered if my dad had seen them. Then my dad asked if they by any chance lost something else too. This really made them happy. They said they also lost their daughter’s pet goat, but they figured it wouldn’t still be with the cows.

Luckily everything worked out and the animals were returned to their rightful owner. I’ve seen a lot of different things, but this definitely topped my list. Even to this day, it still makes me laugh a little.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Scout


Dogs are my favorite animals. My family has had a number of dogs over the years, and I've loved all of them. Growing up I always wanted a dog that could be in the house. Since we lived on a farm and our dogs were always getting dirty, my parents never let us have any pets in the house.

My junior year in high school we got a new puppy. She was a Jack Russell Terrier. I had never really been a big fan of little dogs because we always had rather big dogs; however, something about this litter of Jack Russells caught my eye. I also knew that if I got a smaller dog, there was a good chance my parents would let me keep it in the house. There was one particular pup that I really liked. She had more spots than the rest of the puppies and she was very fiesty. She was always growling and wrestling around. I chose her because she seemed like she would be the most fun. What I didn't know was that I was in for quite an adventure.

The first thing I do when I get a new animal is try to pick a name. Sometimes it's hard to choose a name before you actually get to know the animal's personality. I was having a really hard time trying to pick a name for my new puppy. She was very active and she was mean most of the time. The only time I could really get close to her was while she was sleeping. After a couple weeks a name finally came to me. I decided to name her after a character in one of my favorite books. My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird. The character I chose to name my puppy after was Scout. I chose this character because she is a tough little girl that likes to fight.

This name turned out to fit my puppy perfectly. Scout would attack my feet every time I sat in a chair. When I walked through a room she would bite my pant legs and I would have to drag her several feet before she let go. She also would destroy anything in sight. We had to keep everything away from her. After the first few weeks I was worried she would never out grow this awful puppy stage.

Scout did eventually grew out of her puppy stage, and she has turned out to be a really great dog. Scout plays fetch like it's her job. Even if she is completely asleep but she hears her ball bouncing across the floor, she will jump up and bring it back. She doesn't really chew things she isn't supposed to anymore, but if you give her a toy, she usually has it destroyed in about five minutes. One of the funniest things about her is that she notices the T.V. If a dog or any other animal appears on the screen, she runs up to the T.V. and barks at it until the animal is not longer on the screen. I assumed she would also outgrow this too, but it seems she only notices more and more all the time.

Scout has turned out to be one of the best dogs anyone could ask for. It's hard to thing that during her terribe puppy stage we considered getting rid of her. Luckily we decided to keep her and it all paid off. Now she is a lot calmer and lovable, but she is always willing to play. In my opinion, that is the perfect combination.

Monday, March 30, 2009

FORE!!!!


Sports have always been a very important part of my life. Even back when I was 2 years old, I was in tap dance. Over the years my interests in sports have changed a little, but from fifth grade through high school I was very active in basketball and volleyball. In order to be competitive in sports, I had to play these sports in the off season as well. As you can imagine, I didn't have much time left to try other sports.

One sport I always wanted to try was golf. I know watching golf on T.V. can be pretty boring at times, but I always thought it would be fun to be able to play a sport that didn't require you to be in a gym. If my high school had a girl's golf team, I probably would have made time for it; however, I decided it wasn't worth embarrassing myself in front of the guys team. I could have hired someone to teach my how to play, but since I'm a pretty shy person, I didn't feel comfortable taking lessons from a complete stranger.

After my senior year, I had a lot more free time. It was the first time I was going to have the entire summer without camps, open gyms, games, and practices. I was really looking forward to having this time to myself. I decided it would be a good time to try something new. Of course the first thing that came to mind was golfing. Fortunately, my boyfriend is a dedicated golfer, and he jumped at the opportunity to share one of his hobbies with me. He was really excited to get me golfing because he knew it was something we could do together.

I always imagined that golf was a hard sport, but I had no idea how hard it was until I was actually getting my first lesson. We were just out in the yard, and my boyfriend was trying to tell me the most important tips before I took my first swing. I started off just trying to perfect my swing because I wasn't comfortable enough to actually try to hit a golf ball yet.

After quite a few swings, my boyfriend finally convinced me to try to hit a ball. My worst fear was that I would swing and completely miss the ball because it would have embarrassed me. Unfortunately, I missed the ball a lot in the beginning. I think by the end of that first lesson I had only hit about 5 balls, and none of my hits were very good. I felt really discouraged at first because I'm not good at stepping out of my comfort zone when it comes to sports.

It took a couple weeks before I was able to connect with the ball regularly. Once I got comfortable with my swing, I decided to try to tackle an actual course. When I was out on the course, I realized golf was harder and more frustrating than what I thought it would be.
By the end of the summer I had improved tremendously, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. My boyfriend and I went golfing many times, and sometimes it went good while other times my temper got the best of me. Despite all the frustration, I really enjoy golfing, and I intend to keep playing.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ranger Danger!


In my previous entry I shared my experience of getting my first horse. I had high hopes of having a special relationship with my horse. I had seen how much my sister enjoyed her horse, and I wanted to have a special horse just like she did. I guess I set myself up for a let down because I set my standards pretty high.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the kind of relationship with Ranger that I expected to have. At first Ranger was really sweet and lovable, but after about a year, things seemed to change. We shared a lot of different experiences that only made it harder for me to like him.

One night my sister and I decided to go riding. We were at the stage where I wanted to do everything like her and it drove her crazy. Since she didn’t enjoy me riding with her and I didn’t like to go as fast as she did, she rode ahead of me. Ranger decided he was going to be scared of the round bales in the field. So there I was, in the middle of the field by myself, and I couldn’t get Ranger to go anywhere. I rode around in circles for quite some time before my sister came back. As soon as she showed up, Ranger walked right past the round bales like nothing had ever happened.

Another problem I found in Ranger was that he liked to bite. My horse and my sister’s horse would sometimes bite each other. Unfortunately the biting didn’t stop there. One afternoon I was in Ranger’s pin petting him. I thought he was enjoying it. I was feeling fairly generous so I gave Ranger a slice of hay and continued to pet him. He had his head down eating his hay, and before I knew it, he looked at my leg and bit me. He bit my right on my shin, and unfortunately I was wearing shorts so there was nothing to protect me leg.

I wasn’t the only person Ranger bit. The other incident where Ranger bit someone was also completely unexpected. My dad and brother were inside the horses’ pin putting up some installation. It was cold outside and both my dad and brother were wearing quite a few layers. My brother was bent over working, and I guess Ranger saw a perfect opportunity because he walked right up and bit my brother on the butt.

Luckily with all the layers my brother was wearing it didn’t hurt him at all. This also gave us reason to laugh and not feel bad about it. My brother wasn’t a huge fan of horses before this incident, and needless to say, Ranger didn’t exactly help my brother like horses any more.

The older Ranger got he only seemed to like me less. I decided it was time to sell him, and try to find a better horse. I thought I wouldn’t miss him at all once I sold him, but as it turns out, when the time came to sell him I was a little sad. Even though he was hard to handle at times, I guess he’ll always be special to me because he was my first horse.

Even COW girls Like Horses


I’ve always loved animals. Some I like more than others, but I’m sure that’s true for most people. Horses rank near the top of my list of favorites. I’ve loved horses for as long as I can remember. When I was young we had a little pony we called Smokey Joe. My parents got this pony even before I was born. Unfortunately I’m unable to remember much about her because she died when I was very young, but I believe she’s one of the reasons I’ve always liked horses.

A while after Smokey Joe passed, my sister got a new horse. She named her new horse Prince. He was a big beautiful Bay. He was gentle by nature, loved kids, and he always wanted to be loved on. When my sister first got Prince, he wasn’t exactly perfect, but after a year or two of tough love and bonding, they formed a comfortable relationship.

Seeing this close bond and how much my sister enjoyed her horse made me want a horse of my own. My parents were skeptical of course because horses aren’t cheap. I knew the deal would be that I would have to buy my own horse, but I insisted that they let me. I was positive I wouldn’t regret spending my money on one. I was finally able to convince them that a horse was what I really wanted. So the search began for my horse.

I’m not sure how many different horses we looked at, but to me it felt like a ton. I liked every horse we went and saw, but my mom wasn’t so easily persuaded. We finally found a horse that we both agreed on. I was so excited about it. This horse was a little bigger and a little more expensive then we had planned on, but my mom and I both really liked it. He was a red brown color and he had a patch of white on his forehead. We got the deal worked out and the people we bought him off of were going to deliver him to my house in a week.

I’m pretty sure I couldn’t sleep at all that week because I was so excited. When the day finally came that my horse was going to be delivered, I was so anxious. It was pointless for me to even go to school that day because I couldn’t focus on anything. I spent the first few days that I had my horse trying to decide on a name for him. The name I finally chose was Ranger. I’m not at all sure why I chose this name, but for some reason I thought it was perfect for him.

Having a horse is a big responsibility, and Ranger had no intentions of making it easy on me. We had a lot of adventures together, most of which weren’t exactly fun for me. In my next entry this week I’ll share some of my most memorable experiences with Ranger.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Great Outdoors


Even though I lived out in the country and there was always something to do, I always enjoyed watching movies. One of my all time favorite movies is called The Great Outdoors. A little ironic isn’t it? If you’ve never seen this movie, I highly recommend it. This movie is incorporates the great outdoors with a very strange, but hilarious, vacation.

This movie is about Chet Ripley, a Chicago father played by John Candy, who decides to take his family to a secluded cabin for a nice quiet vacation. What he doesn’t plan on is crazy brother-in-law Roman Craig, played by Dan Aykroyd, dropping in with his strange family. The family vacation takes a wild turn, and nothing turns out the way Chet planned.

Chet envisioned taking his sons fishing, feeding the bears, having relaxing meals with the family, and playing card games. Unfortunately Roman had other plans. Roman wanted to out do Chet by doing more exciting and expensive things. The whole family, except Chet, enjoyed all of Roman’s crazy activities, and Chet always ended up getting hurt in some way.

One of the reason’s I enjoy this movie so much is because it reminds me of a lot of my family vacations. I’m not saying I have a crazy uncle that crashes our vacations but it always seems our family vacations never went as planned. For some reason there was always at least one person that would get sick while we were on vacation, or the day we planned to go to the beach, it would storm.

I’m sure if you’ve ever been on a family vacation, then you know what I’m talking about. In my own experiences though, the vacations that didn’t go as planned were the most memorable, and they ended up being the best. One vacation we went on we stayed in an awful resort on a lake. We thought the resort would be really nice and it was in a very good location. However, when we arrived we were all shocked. It wasn’t like anything we’d ever seen before. It was an ugly green color with white stripes and a maroon door. This inside looked like nothing had been changed since the 70’s. The trash in the dumpster was over flowing. It seemed like the resort was almost abandoned.

Unfortunately we had already made a deposit, so there was really no way of getting out of it. We just had to tough it out. When we woke up the first morning we saw a few different animals going through the trash making a mess. Then at night there were bats outside. This resort wasn’t the most welcoming place I’ve ever stayed, but because we didn’t have a great place to stay we spent as much time on the water as we could. That vacation is one of my favorites because it brought us all closer together, and now when we look back, we can all laugh and joke about it.

If you’ve had an experience similar to this, I encourage you to watch The Great Outdoors. I’m sure you’ll find yourself cracking up. I mean after all, who doesn’t find Dan Aykroyd and John Candy hilarious.

Opossum Panic


I’ve noticed that growing up on a farm has made me tougher in a lot of ways. The main way that comes to mind is that I don’t scare easily. I’ve done a lot of walking in old barns alone at night and it doesn’t really bother me. I can sleep out in the middle of a field in a tent and last the whole night. I can see a mouse or rat and not have the urge to scream and get my feet off the ground. If there is a spider in the shower in the morning, I can dispose of it myself.

Although all of these things may make me seem a little brave, there is still one thing that really freaks me out. It wasn’t until a chance encounter one night that I realized I am deathly afraid of opossums. I always knew they were ugly and a little disgusting, but I never really understood just how bad they were until I got a little too close to one.

This whole “event” took place about 4 years ago on my farm. I was finishing up my evening chores like I always did. I would always try to get my chores done before dark so I didn’t have to mess with flashlights and turning the lights on and off, but for some reason I was running a little behind this particular night. I had most of my work done, but I was waiting on my brother to get done with his chores because I needed his help for something.

I decided to sit down in one of our barns while I was waiting. As I was sitting there I noticed some of our cats were acting a little strange. Then I heard my dog growling, but I figured he was just growling at the cats. I didn’t think anything of it; however, I noticed the cats were sort of running away. Once again I just figured they were scared of the dog or something. A few minutes later I felt like one of the cats was near my feet, but when I looked down, I saw a huge opossum almost touching my feet!

I jumped up and ran to the other end of the barn. My heart was pounding so hard I thought it was going to explode. I had never been that scared before in my life. I had also never moved the quickly before. Even though I had gotten away from the opossum I was still worried it might be somewhere near. I started peaking around the corner and it was nowhere to be found.

After I was confident the opossum was definitely not anywhere near, I decided to make a run for it. I got out of the barn safely and without encountering the possum again. When I told my parents what had happened, I told them this opossum was the biggest opossum I had ever seen. Of course they just thought I was exaggerating because it scared me.

It turns out though that a few weeks later my so-called “exaggerated” version of the opossum was proved to be true. My brother caught and disposed of the opossum. Surprisingly enough it was the biggest opossum he or my dad had ever seen. After going through something similar to this, I’m sure most people would be afraid of opossums.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Warmth Again!!!


It’s amazing how much someone’s mood can change just because of the weather. The last few days have been incredibly warm compared to the winter we’ve been having this year. Just looking around campus, I’ve seen so many people out and about having a good time.

I’ve seen people out playing football and Frisbee. People are actually sitting outside doing homework and listening to music. I don’t personally participate in either of these activities, but just watching it puts me in a better mood. It’s not just me though. I’ve noticed most people in general are in a better mood. The good mood could be partially caused by the fact that Spring Break is just around the corner, but the warm weather seems to heighten everyone's excitement.

Another great thing about warm weather is not having to bundle up before going outside. It’s so nice being able to grab a sweatshirt and actually be warm while walking to class. It’s great being able to enjoy walking to class. The weather is not too cold and it’s not too hot. It seems to be almost the perfect weather.

I know it’s just a small taste of spring, but it at least shows that spring is on its way. Better yet, it means the semester will be over before we know it.

Club de Espanol


Throughout high school I was very active in a variety of clubs. My favorite club was Foreign Language Club. It’s a little ironic because my tiny high school only had 1 foreign language so technically our club was just a Spanish Club. Nevertheless, I have a wide variety of great memories from it.

In order to become an active member of Foreign Language Club, everyone had to go through a process we liked to call initiation. I remember my brother and sister’s stories of being initiated, and when my time came to be initiated I was really worried.

My sister told me she had to wash her hair about 5 times in order to get all the vinegar out. My brother was completely covered in mustard and ketchup. As you can imagine I was expecting the worse. Fortunately, the year I was initiated it wasn’t too bad. Eating baby food and bobbing for spam were the worst things I had to do.

One of the biggest incentives of going through initiation was that the next year you got to initiate the next incoming group. I personally thought planning initiation was definitely worth going through initiation. Initiation my senior year was the most fun. Since I lived out in the country and had a lot of open space, I was nominated to host the initiation. Ironically I found that planning initiation was almost as much fun as the actual initiation.

Most of our fun came while we were planning skits. We thought it would be fun to create different scenes ahead of time and make the new members act them out. Some of the scenes we chose were quite ridiculous. We would usually try to pair people for skits that definitely didn’t fit their personalities. If you’ve every played charades, then you know how entertaining it can be to watch people act things out they aren’t comfortable doing.

Since most of the initiates were freshman, we had a big advantage because they didn’t know much Spanish yet. We used this opportunity to really freak them out before they even got to my house. We gave them a pledge in Spanish the day before initiation and told them they had to have it memorized. We knew there was no way they would be able to memorize it all. At initiation they had to recite the pledge individually, and as soon as they made a tiny error we put a whip cream pie in their face.

This may sound a little harsh, but in all honesty, who doesn’t like a little whip cream? However, as the night went on, the activities weren’t quite as enjoyable. Another fun game we liked making the new members play was musical “chairs”. Instead of making them sit on chairs we made them sit on paper plates full of whip cream. The surprise was that when they sat down on the plates, there was an egg underneath the whip cream.

Most people would probably just lose on purpose so they didn’t have to get messy; however, we prevented this by promising to let the winner out of the next activity. This definitely lit a fire under the new members, and it was a battle to the end. The lucky winner was fortunate enough to get out of eating our mystery mix. We combined a few random ingredients most people don’t like. Some of the ingredients we used were mixed greens, Spaghetti O’s, and spam. I know this sounds awful, but we only had the new member’s take a small bite.

This final activity we planned for the initiates was called a gauntlet. Luckily my house had the perfect set up for this activity because we had access to a wooded are. We blindfolded the initiates and had them hold on to the rope. An old member would lead them through the path we planned out. At different points throughout the route, we planned pit stops. During these “pit stops” we would pour a little of this and a little of that on the initiates. We usually used ketchup, mustard, baked beans, and flour. None of these things are too terrible, but it definitely made quite a mess.

The most important thing about initiation was that everyone had a good time. Even though the new members were covered head to toe in goop, they still had high spirits. They all said they had a really fun time. I know the old members had a good time as well. It was a fun experience and it was a great bonding experience for our club. I also think having the initiation at my house made it even more special to me.

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Different Perspective


I feel I’ve been very fortunate to be able to grow up on a farm. While I was growing up, I never really understood the advantages of living on a farm, but now that I’m away from it I have a little different perspective.

Moving to a city-like atmosphere has given me the opportunity to live a different lifestyle and meet a wide variety of people. Throughout this experience I’ve been able to see that most people don’t know what it’s like to grow up on a farm.

When I tell people that I’ve grown up on a dairy farm, most people seem really surprised. I’ve found that once I start talking about my experiences, people actually have a lot of questions. The main point of my blog is to share my country experiences with anyone interested, but I’m not always sure what people want to know.

I feel in order to truly fulfill the purpose of my blog, I need to be able to answer questions or shine light on areas that people are interested in. Even though I’m now aware that I’ve seen some crazy things that not everyone gets to see, I’m still not sure which experiences will be interesting to readers.

If you have any questions or anything you’re interested in feel free to post a comment. I’ll try my best to answer it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

4-H


I loved living on a farm when I was growing up, but one of the things I loved the most was being able to participate in 4-H. One of the main reasons I enjoyed 4-H so much was because our county fair was by far the best. It may seem that all the county fairs in Indiana would be quite similar, but that is definitely not the case.


Our county fair seemed to stick to the basics of 4-H. The fair grounds included: the hog barn, the sheep/goat barn, the cattle barn, the horse barn, two show arenas, the camp area, the project barn, a play ground, and of course the famous cafeteria. Across the road there was also the antique tractor display. The only ride that could be found at our fair was the merry-go-round, and for most I’m sure that doesn’t qualify.

I'm sure everyone is partial to their own fair. It may seem silly to get so attached, but for many others and myself it was the highlight of the summer. It always seemed that the people in 4-H had a special bond. In my experience, I found that I had a whole other set of friends that I hung out with during the 4-H fair. It was the one week out of the year that it was ok to be friends with someone on the rival basketball team. It seemed as though school districts and county rivalry was thrown out the window during that week.


While I consider my county’s fair to be "traditional", us 4-Hers had a few traditions of our own. It was a well-known fact that everyone was thrown in the manure spreader at some point during their 10 years. I was fortunate enough to be one of the exceptions. I consider myself very lucky to have never been thrown in the spreader. It was also expected to have at least one water fight at some point during the week. Unfortunately I had more than my fair share of water fights. I usually got soaked about 3 times during the week. I did get smarter though, and I started keeping a change of clothes in my show box.

4-H was definitely a lot of fun, but there is a lot of work that goes in to preparing for that week. I showed cattle and I absolutely loved it. Sometimes people don’t always realize all the work behind the scenes. It takes many hours and a lot of sweat in order to get the animals broke and clean. Not to mention, leading around a 1500 pound animal can be very intimidating. With all the work I put in though, I never felt that it wasn’t worth it.

I will always hold my 4-H memories close to my heart. After all, I did participate in it for 10 years. 4-H was something I was able to look forward to all year long, and I always felt that during the week of the fair, nothing else in the world mattered. This may seem silly, but I’m sure the people that were in 4-H know exactly what I mean.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chewbacca


In my previous blog I talked about getting my first puppy. While I think it is a good story, I wasn’t able to give any of the details of my dog’s unique personality. My first dog was different from any other dog I’d ever seen. He was different in the way he looked and the way he acted.

One of the hardest things for me was naming my puppy. I could come up with plenty of names, but none of them every really seemed to fit him. Once my dog got a little older he sort of “grew into” a different name. I think his original name was Comet, and I think I only named him that because that was the name of the dog on the T.V. show Full House. So I called my dog Comet for maybe a month, but once he got a little older, I started calling him Chewie.

One reason I felt that name fit my dog was because of the way he looked. My dog looked exactly like Chewbacca. Now this may not mean anything to you if you haven’t seen any of the Star Wars movies, but if you have seen them, you know that Chewie is Chewbacca’s nickname. Most people actually thought my dog was really ugly (including my dad, sister, and brother), but I could never understand what they were talking about. I thought he looked awesome.

Another reason Chewie was a good name for my dog was because he had the same loyal personality as Chewbacca. The only two people my dog really liked was me and my mom. He tolerated my dad, sister, and brother, but he never seemed to really like them. I think it was because they made fun of him and he could sense it. My dog was big and he looked mean, so he intimidated a lot of people. He could usually sense if someone was afraid of him, and if they were he would take full advantage of it.

When certain people would come to our house, my dog would sit right outside their car door and growl at them. For some reason once my dog decided he didn’t like someone, he’d never let that person out of his or her car. This was very useful because most of the time he would scare sales people enough that they would just leave. Unfortunately, he didn’t like a few of my dad’s friends and the meter reader.

It was a little odd that my dog could be so mean to other people and yet so gentle towards me. He never once growled at me, and he never failed to be at my side. Unfortunately, Chewie isn’t around today. While I’ve loved all the dogs I’ve had since then, Chewie will always be a little more special to me because he was my first dog.

Love at First Sight


At a very early age I discovered my love for dogs. Luckily I grew up on a farm, so my parents could never use the excuse we don’t have room for one or it will have to be caged up all day. We had plenty of room and no need to own cage or a chain for that matter.

I always loved all our dogs, but once my sister got her own dog for her birthday, I wanted my own dog too. My parents were strict about getting an animal and taking care of it. No matter how many times I told them I would take care of my dog, they were afraid I would quickly lose interest leaving them to feed and water it. I on the other hand, knew that would definitely not happen.

My persistence and pleading didn’t work for quite some time. For my eighth birthday, I decided a puppy was the only thing I would ask for. I repeatedly told my parents that it was really the only thing I wanted. As my birthday approached, I started getting nervous. I had no idea if all my begging had worked or not.

My birthday was on a weekday, so I had to go to school. Before I left for school I made a deal with my mom. The deal was that if she got me a puppy, she would pick me up from school, and if she didn’t then I would ride the bus home. Looking back I honestly have no idea why I asked her to do that because I still had to wait until the end of the day to find out if she got me a puppy. Anyways, all day at school all I could think about was whether or not she was going to be waiting on me when the bell rang to release us.

Finally the bell rang and the day was over. I walked down the hall and at first there was no sign of my mom. When I turned the corner, I saw her waiting for me. I ran up and asked her if she got it about a thousand times, and all she would say to me is that I’d have to wait. So we walked out to the car. When I opened the door, my new puppy jumped into my arms.

I was so excited. I know a lot of people usually get to pick their first dog, but my mom picked my dog from a litter of puppies from the pound. The funny part is that my puppy had growled at her the entire ride home. She said that she was really worried she had picked the wrong dog for me, but when she saw how excited the puppy was to meet me, she knew everything would work out. I guess you could say it was love at first sight. If you’ve ever had a dog, I’m sure you know the feeling.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Playing in the Hay

Two of the most commonly confused farm materials are hay and straw. If you aren’t familiar with the two it may not seem like there is a big difference; however, to farmers, the two are as different as night and day. Hay is a green/brown color, and it is used mostly to feed animals. On the other hand, straw is used primarily as bedding for animals and it’s gold. The one thing hay and straw do have in common is that they are both extremely sharp and itchy. If skin rubs against hay and straw, the result is painful. There will be tiny cuts and bumps, which burn severely when you get in the shower and try to clean them.

Growing up I wasn’t affected by the numerous cuts and scrapes. All I cared about was getting to play on the bales that were put away in the barn. We had high stacks in the loft of our barns. My friends and I thought it was cool to climb around on the bales. We would create all sorts of crazy games to play up in the loft. For example, it was a great course for hide and seek. We also had a blast moving the bales around and making pretend houses.

When we got a little older, we also became braver. One time my friend and I wondered into the loft and found the straw was stacked very high as usual, but then instead of stair stepping down, it was a straight dropped off. So, we made a large pile of loose straw at the bottom to give us a soft landing. We climbed up to the top of stack of bales, and without thinking about how dangerous it was, we jumped off. Neither of us got hurt, so we went through the maneuver about 20 more times. Looking back I think about all the things that could have gone wrong, and I realize we were both very lucky to make it out alive.

Another fun activity we discovered was making hay tunnels. We would map out where we wanted the tunnels to go and how many we wanted. We would then have to drag the bales and stack them just right. Luckily we were fairly small so the tunnels didn’t have to be very big. Also, since we were pretty young we weren’t very strong. By the time we got all the tunnels made we were usually too worn out to actually use them. So, we’d wait until the next day to examine our work.

Playing in the hay made some of my best childhood memories. It didn’t matter how many times we went up there, we always seemed to find something new to do. Now looking back I’m not sure how I dealt with the itching and burning I suffered after I played in it, but at the time it was well worth it.

FisherWOMAN



One of the recent hobbies I’ve picked up is fishing. Yes….Fishing! It may sound a little odd and boring to most, but it’s actually the exact opposite. I’ve found that fishing is a great escape from the real world and all it’s worries.

As I mentioned before, I’ve only recently started fishing. I think one of the reasons I became “hooked” on it is because of my first experience. You may be wondering why I actually started fishing in the first place. Well, it all started with my boyfriend. He’d been trying to get me to go fishing for a while, but I was reluctant. Honestly I was a little afraid fishing would be boring. However, after he went shopping with me, watched the movies I wanted to watch, and came to so many of my volleyball tournaments I lost count, I decided it was my turn to do something he wanted to do.

We went to a lake not far from his house. Now usually when someone is just beginning to fish, they start out with a spinning reel. This reel is great for beginners because it automatically stops the line when the bait hits the water. This means the line doesn’t keep spinning and get tangled up.

Unfortunately in my case, my boyfriend decided to skip this step and throw me right into using a baitcaster. With this reel the person fishing has to have good enough judgment to know when to start slowing the line down. It’s also important to know to stop the line right as the bait hits the water. If the line is stopped too soon, it will be too short, and the result is a wimpy cast that only goes a few feet. This type of cast usually ends with an embarrassing splash likely to scare most of the fish away. On the other hand, the line will keep going and get in a huge knot inside the reel if it isn’t stopped just at the right time.

As you can see, there are a lot of things to think about with a baitcaster, and that doesn’t even include trying to make a decent cast. Casting is all about timing, and it takes a lot of practice. It took me about an hour or so before I could get a cast off without getting the line in a knot. In the first hour I wasn’t even focused on catching a fish, I was just trying to not create a huge mess of the line.

I’m not trying to give you the wrong idea about fishing. While it is a little tricky to master, it is definitely worth it in the end. On my first trip out I fished for over an hour and didn’t get a single bite, but once I mastered the important skills, I started having some fun. I finally got a bite, but I had no idea what to do next. My boyfriend kept yelling, “Set the hook!”, but I had no idea what that meant. Consequently, that fish got away from me. I was then given a lesson on setting the hook, which means jerking the rod in order to lodge the hook in the mouth of the fish.

When the next fish came along, I knew exactly what to do. From that point on fishing became fun for me. Yes, it is still frustrating at times. Everyone gets their line in a knot and has bad casts, but I think the good outweighs the bad. I’ve found fishing on a quiet pond is very peaceful, and it helps me forget about all the things that stress me out. Even if I don’t always catch many fish, I’m still able to relax and enjoy it.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cold Cold and More Cold


When the weather is dangerously cold, it's hard on people everywhere. This winter has definitely had its fair share of dangerously cold, snowy, and icy days. Walking to class in those types of conditions is definitely not my idea of fun; however, I would prefer walking to class over having to work on the farm in that weather.


Many times when the weather gets really dangerous cities and towns are able to shut down. Events, school, work, etc. can be canceled or postponed. Unfortunately, farmers don't have this luxury. If the weather gets bad, they don't get a snow day or a two hour delay. The animals still have to be taken care of, and harsh weather can create many obstacles that stand in the way of accomplishing this task.


When the temperature is extremely cold, it creates many additional problems for farmers. One of the major problems they are faced with is water freezing. On our farm we have about 250 head of cattle, and we have enough water tanks to accommodate all of them. Only a few of the water tanks are filled manually with a hose twice a day. Our other water tanks have devices called a float switch. "Maybe Link float switch" These devices allow water to automatically be added when the water reaches a certain level. When temperatures get very low, these devices freeze. This obviously creates a large problem. The only way to fix this problem is to carry numerous buckets of hot water and dump on the water tanks until they thaw out.


Another problem farmer's face is trying to get farm equipment, such as tractors, to run in cold temperatures. I'm sure you've experienced or heard stories of vehicles not starting in extreme temperatures. Tractors are no different, and without tractors, many of the chores on the farm would be impossible. There is one memory in particular that stands out in my mind.


One really cold day my dad was having a hard time starting one of our tractors, and once it did start it would only go a few feet before it died again. This tractor is really old so it wasn't too surprising this happened, but unfortunately this was the tractor hooked up to the mixer. So, in order for my dad to feed the cows, he needed to get this tractor up and running. The only way to get the tractor started was for me to stand at the front of the tractor and spray starter fluid on the engine. Even though I was spraying this starter fluid on the tractor and it was starting, it would only run for about 30-45 seconds. Then, we would have to repeat the process.


As you can see cold weather really slows farmer's down. The task of dumping feed to the cows only takes about 10 minutes regularly, but that night it took closer to 45 minutes. So when I'm walking to class in -30 degree weather, I'm always freezing and wishing I were inside. However, I usually start thinking about my dad working outside for hours, and then I feel very grateful I only have to walk to class.

Summer Swims

Summer is by far my favorite season. There are so many activities that can only truly be enjoyed in the summer. Some of these include fishing, golfing, putt-putt golfing, and swimming. There are many other activities to do in the summer, but these are my personal favorites. For this particular entry I’m going to focus on swimming.


Swimming is definitely my FAVORTIE thing to do in the summer. I believe this "addiction" started in my early childhood. Growing up, my favorite movie was The Little Mermaid, and for the longest time I wanted to be a mermaid more than anything. Fortunately I don’t want to be a mermaid anymore, but the swimming fascination stuck with me.

Until I was about 13, I didn’t have a swimming pool. There was a county swimming pool that I could have gone to, but it was always really crowded and I never had much fun there. However, my friends and I found many other fun ways to keep cool during the summer. One of my favorite things to do was to slip and slide. We had a small hill in our front yard where we placed a very large tarp. When I say small, I mean it wasn’t large enough to get hurt on, but it was still big enough to send us flying. We would drag a hose out to the tarp and keep water constantly running on it. We would take a running start and go flying down it. On the way down we would occasionally hit some bumps and rough spots, but the pain didn’t phase us at all.

Even though swimming wasn’t an option at that time, I was fortunate enough to have a trampoline, which leads me to my next way of staying cool. If you have a trampoline I’m sure you’re well aware that it gets extremely hot in the summer. So, our whole way of keeping cool started with just trying to keep the trampoline cool enough to jump on. We would use the hose to spray water on top of the trampoline to cool it, but after only a couple minutes the trampoline would dry out and be back to its scorching temperature agian. Instead of getting off the trampoline every 5 minutes to turn the hose on and cool it off, we decided to just let it run. As your aware I’m sure, kids can’t just leave a hose with running water alone. Before long we were spraying each other.

This technique was very popular and we used it often, but we were able to perfect it. Once we got a little older, and smarter, we decided to hook the hose up to a sprinkler and place it underneath the trampoline. This technique combined 2 great activities, running through a sprinkler and jumping on a wet trampoline, and made an awesome way to stay cool.

Even though I didn’t have a pool during those years, my friends always enjoyed coming over to my house. We were so desperate to stay cool that we would concoct something crazy to get the job done. Once I got a little older, and with some persuasion I might add, my parents agreed to a swimming pool. Luckily the fun adventures didn’t end when I got a pool, but that’s a whole other blog.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sledding Country Style



With all the snow we've been having, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about sledding. I've been going sledding for as long as I can remember, and I don't think I could ever get tired of it. The best part about sledding is there are so many different ways to go about it.

One of the perks of living in the middle of no where is that when it snows and the roads get bad, there is not a whole lot to do. One way my siblings and I entertained ourselves was by going sledding. The area where we live is mostly flat. So we did not have the luxury of a huge hill to sled down. However, in my opinion, we had something even better. We had four wheelers!

One of the best things about four wheelers is that they can make it through almost anything, and our four wheelers were definitely put to the test. We used the four wheelers to provide a variety of different types of sleds. We used circular sleds, two person sleds, and tubes. Most of the time we would hook up two sleds to one four wheeler making things a little more exciting. The fact that you don't have to walk back up a huge hill after you fall off is also a bonus.

It was not until I tried sledding with an old hood from a vehicle that I was able to get the full experience of sledding. This may sound a little odd if you've never heard of it, but it is actually quite fun. Usually two or three people could fit on it at a time. Another good quality about sledding with a vehicle hood is that it is extremely slick. It makes for some pretty intense sledding. I highly recommend it.

The hoods were put to good use in the summer as well. Instead of sledding in the snow we would sled in the mud. Once the straw was out of the field, we would wait for a big rain and then hit the field. One of the downsides is that it hurts quite a bit more when you fall off, but you definitely don't get cold. Most people end up throwing their clothes away afterwords, but it's worth it.

I've always loved to go sledding and I probably always will. Something that makes it so much fun is that there isn't just one right way to go sledding. It seems the ways that are the oddest or craziest end up being the most fun.