Wednesday, June 24, 2009


For those of you who are keeping track, it's been a day or two since I posted on my blog. And for that, I apologize, but let me explain.
I wrapped up my time at Byers High School in May and headed east for Coach's farm. As things would happen, I got put to work and learned a number of farm lessons that are keepers (but more on that later...) and generally stayed pretty busy. For example, last Friday we went to town, replaced a trailer tire, picked up sudan grass seed and fertilizer, ran some errands, went to Hugo and got know, nothing out of the ordinary. Then we returned to our new home south of Limon and I vacuumed the drill and Coach sprayed a field.
We got married! On June 19! And our reception will be in late August in beautiful and scenic Hugo, Colorado. More updates to follow and many stories about my new set of adventures as a new farm wife. I promise to be good and update more frequently...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Aw, shucks!

Amanda Nolz sends me a message on my email each and every morning. Ok...maybe she sends it to all of the readers of the Beef Daily blog. But she likes me best...

Nolz, who is a stellar young lady and a fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, and a recent South Dakota State University graduate. She is the editor of the Beef Daily blog and covers a variety of industry issues. You've just go to love this girl. She, as my mother would say, has a lot on the ball.

Nolz recently sponsored a livestock photography contest and you know I had to enter! Coach teased me mercilessly about submitting a photo of Caden with baby pig, Jenny, to the Beef Daily blog contest. Mercilessly, I tell you.

I was hauling water to the cattle tank that is below the stupid windmill that we can't seem to fix (bitter? me? no...) when I had a chance to read Nolz's blog and saw that I won reserve champion honors. We'll see who is laughing when I hang the gorgeous cattle-themed print in our home. Take that, Coach.

Nolz's blog can be found at and you really should take a peek at the winner from Minnesota. The photo is fantastic!

As for me, Coach's livestock judging contest is Saturday in Hugo and I'm off to set up panels and other exciting tasks. Thanks, Amanda!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

AI in the spring

This is one of the most exciting times of the year for us as cattle producers. Coach and I have been thumbing through sire catalogs to find the best genetics for the heifers and cows we will AI this weekend.
Coach is better at this than I am because he doesn't get swayed by cool names like Womanizer, BuckCherry, Friday Night Lites and Red Headed Stepchild. He is a genetics guy and he understands what it is going to take to build a club calf operation.
The really exciting part of all of this is that we're building a club calf operation. Us. We. I have accepted a position at Genoa-Hugo High School for next year and you can join us at our reception August 29 in Hugo.
The even more exciting than that part? We will have our first big batch of club calves for sale next year. Life is good out here on the plains.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rachel the Showpig

One of our livestock judging kids is the 8-year old daughter of one of the best livestock judges to hail from Lincoln County. She is cute and can give a set of reasons that will make you sit up and take notice.
Mikayla shows a number of species but I am, of course, the most interested in her pigs. It sounds like she has a pair of nearly every breed around. She's serious about this showpig thing.
She found me in Sterling after the judging contest to tell me that she has a pair of Durocs to show this year.
She went on to tell me that they are the same color as my hair. I asked what she named them and she replied with a shy grin that she named one Rachel.
I asked if she had named one of her show pigs after me and she grinned and nodded a yes. I've never been so flattered!
I hope Rachel the Showpig does well this year!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I do love pigs

It's true. And I was pretty distraught when I received an email from Jon Fisher, a head honcho in the pork business, detailing the sad state of affairs in the pork industry.

Here's the deal, folks. This chart illustrates how the flu hysteria has impacted the Pork industry. Hard working pork producers' livelihoods are in grave danger since the H1N1 virus was labeled "Swine Flu".

Pork is safe to eat. Period.

Misinformation could bear irreparable damages to the family and large farms all across America. These are the same farms that are such a vital part of our worldwide food supplies. Allowing this trend to continue will put farmers, like us, in a terrible situation and will cause the price of groceries to leap. There is no need to buy into the hysteria based on misinformation.

Take care of yourselves and be smart. As for us...we'll be in the hog sheds.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hot Peppers

Holy, hot mama!

I opened my Beef Daily blog this morning and saw that Trent Loos, cattleman and activist, has been thinking specifically of me. I always knew I was nearly famous but this confirms it. Or not.

Loos is spearheading a call for photos called "Hot Peppers in Agriculture" hoping to drum up photos that expose the cool side of production agriculture.

I have posted a link to Loos' blog and am sorting through photos left and right and readying my camera to capture the cool side of young producers. Let the games begin! Hot-cha-cha!

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Boy and his Pig

There's not too much in the world cuter than kids and baby pigs. This is my kid and his baby pig. The last time I checked, her name was Jenny but she has had a number of other names including Triangle Back, Spot Snout and Snortie. I hope Jenny sticks.
Caden is planning to show Jenny in the Cloverbud division at the Lincoln County Fair and then plans to breed her next year to get more baby pigs. Eventually, he would like to sell one of the baby pigs to buy more pigs...and a Pokemon game. Whatever.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Princess of Pigs

Coach and I have been waiting on a gilt to farrow for, I don't know, maybe twenty years or so. Maybe it's just been a week but we've been antsy. We have cool farrowing huts with crates on the inside and Coach made the comment, "When she tears the front of the shed off, she's ready to pig." ("Pig" being a verb in this case meaning to farrow or, for the farm impaired among you, to have babies.)
We went outside to check her yesterday morning before six a.m., threw the door open to the top of the shed pig. The gilt had apparently had her fill of not being with her girlfriends and had made an escape. She was in the alleyway, she was happy and we were late for work so off we went. "Hmrph, she's not going to go today, anyway," I told Coach and took off.
At three that afternoon, I rolled back into the farm. The cows were out, the water tank in the truck needed to be filled, I had more grocery bags than I could carry and there were three piglets in the alley with the gilt who was in obvious obstetrical distress.
It is not a good deal when one reaches inside a gilt and feels the ribcage of a piglet. A little snout? Super. Front feet? You bet. Back feet? Not great but do-able. A rib cage? Ah, $%*($&#!
I got the piglet pulled and it was too late for his little piggie soul but his removal opened the proverbial piggie floodgates.
Coach didn't see me when he pulled in an hour later but as he drew nearer to the alley, he saw my hair behind the gilt and me, the Princess of Pigs, shoulder deep in his gilt. Right as he reached the gate, I pulled a little Hamp pig into the air, covered with yucky, yellow mucus.
"Here you go, Coach,"
"Love you," and he grinned.
"Love you. Take the pig,"
Later that evening in the house, after we fed the cows, processed the piglets, put the cows in, moved the gilt back to the repaired shed and ate the carrot cake I baked that day, (I know, right!) Coach told me he darn near proposed to me while we were in the alley and I was arm deep in the gilt. It was the most romantic thing I had ever heard and it sounds like, one of these days, it will be a really good story.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stalking Awareness

You can't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands. Sometimes you have to throw things back.
A recent newspaper article in the local paper about my photography mentioned the school where I teach and garnered some unwanted attention from an old acquaintance. At the risk of being too long winded, this person finagled my cell phone number from one of my students through a friend of a friend and seemed harmless old high school (a very shortlived and quite frankly, unremarkable) boyfriend just trying to catch up.
To make a long story short, hundreds of texts were sent to my phone, most of them unanswered for two weeks until I reiterated that I was seeing Coach, was not going to end that relationship and to please give me space and not text me. The texts intensified, stuffed animals and photographs of this person and his son were left on my front porch. A side gate to my yard was left open allowing my dog to go missing briefly.
I won't sugar coat anything. The texts were downright creepy. After three or four weeks of this with the texts becoming increasingly odd and threatening, I texted back and asked for no further contact. This caused a flurry of angry texts and I had to contact the Sheriff's Department in this neck of the woods.
Here is what I've learned:
1. Men like Coach who are protectors, lovers and best friends don't come along every day and we should thank our lucky stars when they are in our worlds.
2. Stalking is very real. I didn't want to contact the Sheriff's Department about this person's behavior because I didn't want to adversely affect his life. Bottom line: he made the decisions and he was in control of the situation. I should have contacted the department earlier.
3. Famous in a small town is more than a song title. Sometimes through occupation, we are more in the public eye than we realize and we need to be smart.
4. If you or someone in your life goes through a similar experience, support them, encourage them to be aware of their surroundings and contact law enforcement if they feel unsafe or threatened. Many women, especially, suffer from "too nice" and we have to realize that occasionally, we have to take off the catcher's mitts and throw things back.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


There's an great Alanis Morissette song about irony that I have always liked, especially when feeling particularly jaded. I really like the line that said, "It's meeting the man of my dreams, and then meeting his beautiful wife,"

When I began teaching English, irony became a literary element to be taught alongside rising action, plot and setting.

I was diagnosed with Celiac disease several years ago months after my son was born. Celiac disease is a digestive disorder triggered by consuming gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains. I was diagnosed in Pratt, Kansas, the Wheat Belt, if you will. Ironic, isn't it?

As the years went on, life happened and I returned to Colorado. This is where the laundry list of ironic comes into play. My sister married into a big, beautiful Italian family and they own a restaurant famous for its pasta dishes and bread. My step father works for Bake Mark, a bakery supply company and supplies the flour to hundreds of the bakeries and eateries in Colorado. Then, I began dating Coach. Coach is a Lincoln County wheat farmer. So...Coach raises the wheat, my step dad sells it to the eateries, my sister's family serves it up and I avoid it at all costs. Ah, irony.

For the gluten free among you, I'll be spending some time sharing some of the gluten free tips and recipes I've discovered over the years. If you have any to share, email me at and if there's a gluten free gal or guy in your life, send them my way.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I love calving. I do. I love watching the baby calves run around, I love the genetics in action and I love the occasional obstetric challenge.
Caden was in the corral with me and Coach when we brought this little darling in to pull her calf. This picture is courtesy of Caden. It may appear that I am of little use to Coach during this process, but that is actually untrue. That bucket would have blown over had I not been there. Later into our little obstetrical challenge, I was on the chain right next to Coach and later holding a variety of tissues away from the calf's little nose so she could breathe while Coach readied the calf jack. Whee. It was a grand time had by all.

Caden took this photo from the truck after the little darling escaped through the palpation gate that was left open by the previous chute-users. Note: it was neither me nor Coach and it was not a pretty scene, I assure you. I believe Caden's words were, "That's disgusting. I can't take it any more. I'm outta here." That's me in the photo pushing the increasingly agitated, still not pushing, little darling up the alley. I was calling her names at this point.

After over an hour, this is the little heifer calf that landed in Coach's lap. If we thought we were tired and sore, I can only imagine how she was feeling! It's tough work being born!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Travis Griffin

I attended the memorial service for a friend of mine from high school last Friday. Travis Griffin died the Sunday previous in an ATV accident and left behind his family, including his wife, Krista.

I went to high school with Travis and showed sheep in 4-H with Krista and Travis' younger sisters. I felt guilty attending the memorial service after being gone so long and not having really seen him literally in years.

The memorial service was held at the site of his crash east of Kiowa. We stood in the pasture while the wind whipped around us, looking for closure.

The official of the memorial service was Dave Hoffman, another childhood friend, and he was able to give a great speech to his friends about one of our own.

The moment that really got me was when we were standing listening to Alan Jackson's song "Remember When". Travis was five days older than me and the vast majority of those standing at the memorial are about the same age, early 30s. The song lyrics say,

"Remember when the sound of little feet was the music we danced to week to week. Brought back the love, we found trust. Vowed we'd never give it up. Remember when. Remember when thirty seemed so old. Now looking back it's just a stepping stone to where we are, where we've been, said we'd do it all again. Remember when."

The crowd uncomfortably shifted when the song said, "Remember when 30 seemed so old,". Thinking back, when I last saw Travis was when 30 did seem so old. We buried him at 31. With his passing, we're reminded that we're now mothers and fathers and wives and husbands and we are left with plenty to remember.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tornado Wrestling

Youth Wrestling is full of intensity, concentration and dedication. It's also filled with cute little kids in teeny, tiny, wrestling shoes.

That's my favorite part.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


As it turns out, you never know just how many people read the "I-70 Scout" newspaper until a small blurb about your photography runs on the same week (Yes, week. We don't do daily newspapers out here.) as the frontpage story about a 33 year old farrier marrying a teenager. It's true. I've seen it happen. Not the farrier marries the child bride part, but the other. Who knew the marriage laws in Alabama were so lax?

Thanks to Mary Zorn at Morgan Community College for allowing the photos to hang and to Steven Vetter and company for running the article. Photos of the photos (I know, right?) will appear on this blog later this week for those who can't make it to Ft. Morgan or don't begin to assume to know where Ft. Morgan is located. In the mean time, here is an excerpt from "New Hometown" and a link to the "Scout" article.

First Installment: New Hometown

His daddy died in March. Spring in Eastern Colorado isn’t the dainty season featured on picture postcards. It is a season of wet snow and mud that threatens to suck the overshoes off of tired feet and the tires off trucks. The water and wind suck the life out of calves and it becomes obvious to folks why there are abandoned homesteads out here. I heard the truck in front of the house and saw the awkward silhouette of a round bale perched on the flat bed. I was still in my clothes from the funeral, barefoot on the kitchen floor. I walked to the window again and still he was parked. He looked at me and motioned for me to come to him. The insides of my coveys were cold on my bare legs, but I jerked the straps over my shoulders, shoved my bare feet into boots and walked to the truck. Neither of us said anything and the heater in the truck burned my eyes. He put the truck in gear, and we rolled out toward the winter pastures above Bijou Creek. We drove to where the heavies lay in wait of their calves and where a few pairs were hunkered down against the wind. I opened gates and he drove. He parked the truck on a gulch overlooking the home place and the engine purred and the wind rocked the cab. “I never thought he would get old,” he said finally. “I know,” I murmured. “I’m sorry.” We sat in silence watching the snow and mud-caked fields dotted with black cattle and water tanks. He sighed and put the truck in gear again and we rolled back toward the house and took up life where we had left off. Grady MacNamara had been taking care of business long before I met him. He has carried feed sacks, hay bales, his mother during his father’s decline and my sleeping son at one time or another. He carried me out of my pit to a place of mutual protection. In a country where the wind blows with nothing to stop it, he shelters me from the wind so I don’t blow away. In the years before Grady loved me, I had, as my grandmother who was steeped in the sweet Louisiana traditions would have said, dropped my basket and nearly let the voodoo queens take me away. A teacher new to a small town school cannot glide into town unnoticed, especially with license plates from two states away. I sat on the bleachers that first winter watching good, solid, down home men coach my son on the finer points of defensive stance, dribbling, rebounding and being a man. My son was enamored, I was thankful and sinking into feeling comfortable even on ancient, creaking bleachers. Mothers made conversation with me and told me about their children. They asked enough questions to satisfy their curiosity regarding whether or not I was married. When they were satisfied that I am indeed unmarried, they would nonchalantly ask, “So, have you met Coach Robinson?” or say, “So you would have been in 4-H with Grady MacLennan, right? He bought a place in Agate…he’s not married either you know.” Facing Giants When the basketball court cleared and the sounds of kids and the round ball died down, I sat, alone, in the bleachers for a few minutes. This is not what my life was supposed to look like at 30. I’m supposed to be on solid ground not scrambling to gain ground while facing down giants. For months after I finally found the strength to leave my husband, I would hear the growl of a diesel engine, and my heart would plummet, thinking it was him and he was here to strip our child away from me. I thought the hard part would be the actual leaving, the rubber hitting the road. But it wasn’t. Hard was sitting on my porch waiting to see his headlights bringing my son home and the light never coming. He’s left the state and he has a six hour head start. I’ll never see my son again, I would think. That was hard. Hard was getting a glimpse of my new life in the same zip code as my parents. It was feeling safe and hopeful and a part of a community. It was getting my hopes up and then hearing the Sheriff pound on my door to serve me with papers. Seeing first hand that a father who fails to meet his obligations can still file objections and other scary court documents to try to dash my plans. That was hard. Being the mom of the only boy on the football field who doesn’t have his dad there, rubbing shoulders with the other dads and dreaming big gridiron dreams; watching my son look out at the bleachers, at all the moms and him knowing full well that I was on the fifty yard line with snacks at the ready, trying my hardest to be both mom and dad and not getting it done; playing catch with my son and knowing he’s embarrassed that his dad isn’t around to teach him to throw a spiral. That was hard. Wearing heels and trying to teach my son how to be a man, that was hard. Sitting by myself and feeling so tired and so used up that no man would ever want me again is hard. Feeling that there is no possible way that I have one more ounce of strength left before I curl up and refuse to face my hand is hard. So, no, walking out the door was easy and I’ve not regretted that decision for even a moment, but life afterwards isn’t what I thought. I went home to lay low, to be in the same time zone as my family and at almost 31, it might have been just what I needed. I was out here trying to fix my dreams. The dreams I had at 22 had blown away somewhere along the trip. I saw it coming but I couldn’t get out of the way.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Congratulations to one of my youngest Adams County Livestock Judging Team members who placed second in his market lamb class and qualified for the NWSS Sale!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Texting in Vegas

How many text messages does it take to get married?
Monday night, my 30-something friend, Melissa, used the uber communication tool, FaceBook, to shock and thrill her pals. She changed her status from "In a Relationship" to "engaged" and wrote, "Who wants to know when I'm getting married?"
There was, of course, a flurry of responses from her techno-savvy pals but she remained quiet. Then, yesterday, she posted that "today was the day" and "details would follow". Another flurry of responses blew in but Melissa remained mum.
It turns out, her friend from high school, Misty, is an ordained minister (but that's a story for another blog) and is in Las Vegas on Miss America business (yet another story for another blog). Melissa and her honey, Josh, determined they couldn't afford to fly to Vegas to get hitched and saw that Misty was already going, so.....Misty flew to Vegas and married Melissa and Josh via text message!
My first question, and a darned good one, is how many texts does it take to get married? I know it takes a number of daily texts between Coach and I to accomplish mundane tasks much less any tasks matrimonial. Misty, er, Minister Misty, gave me the rundown of the entire, fabulous, original and legally binding event from a taxi in Vegas as she made her way to the Miss America Pageant headquarters.
Melissa's FaceBook is bursting at the seams this morning with congratulations and I added mine as well. Congrats to you, Mr. and Mrs. Josh!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Literary Mouse

As it turns out, it takes exactly seven high school boys to capture a mouse in an English classroom. It takes them approximately 4 minutes to do so and said mouse will run across the top of a size 14 (!) boot three times in the process. They must empty 1 gym bag, 1 purse and a shelf of books to accomplish their mission. They will spill 1 half-consumed Diet Dr. Pepper and send one (unused) tampon rolling across the floor. As a group, the seven boys will only scream once, probably in response to seeing the tampon. It only takes one solid stomp from a size 14 boot to squish a mouse in an English classroom. A squished mouse can twitch three times in the time it takes to walk from an English classroom to an outside door.The seven boys will shake hands with roughly 20 girls on the way back from throwing the warm body out the door. Nineteen of those girls will scream when they find out the hand was just on a mouse. One girl will punch said boy solidly in the gut but she is, afterall, the same girl who had a pigeon placed in her locker by the same boys. Pigeons don't like lockers. The girl was unflapped. I hate mice, as it turns out.