Sunday, May 20, 2012

Catching Up...

Apologies once again.  I refuse to say that I'll do better at posting because I will not.  My blessed life revolves around my family which today includes 10 grand kids, my husband, my folks, my children and their spouses and a host of in-laws, friends and acquaintances.  I love this life and I wish it were all I had to do- cook, play and visit.

 But fortunately it's not, because if it were I might not ever leave the house.  just revel in this splendid chaos, a scene that resembles Cheaper By The Dozen on most days. I do have the responsibility of helping manage our ranching operations. The blessings of my big family include the fact that now the physical labor is left up to my husband, dad (yes, he's 85 but still climbs aboard his 850 John Deere bulldozer everyday and levels things),brother, sons, son-in-laws, nephew...and now two grandsons that are always ready and willing to jump in the cab of a tractor or combine to pull their share of the load. I've even relinquished my swathing, raking and baling duties which I do miss at times.

My focus over the past eight months has been on the numerous attacks on our industry.  It has been so much of a concern that I've designed (with the help of other concerned animal ag producers) two other blogs: animalagarmed.blogspot.com. and agvoicesunited.blogspot.com  So this explains why I've left my "first love"...my personal blog and website...for a time.

Animal ag producers are under attack like no other time in history.  We are not only having to tell our story to consumers who know little about where their food comes from, but are now having to  stand up against covert attacks within our own industry.   After an incident on our ranch in October it became apparent that some individuals in our own industry have caved to greed. It has left  me confused and now skeptical, groups and individuals who had my complete trust have now lost that trust.

But that's for the other sites.  I will try to keep Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde separate and keep this site carefree and cheerful...but I'm not promising anything.
Catching Up... 
On Ranching
All of the heifers finished calving around the last of March.  Those calves were gathered and worked  (castrated, ear-notched and vaccinated)  this month and turned out on grass.
The grandsons have been to numerous stock shows; won some lost some, always having a great time meeting new friends.
We're cutting canola, getting ready to cut wheat and putting up alfalfa.

 Hmm I'm sounding like those Christmas cards with letters in them that I have trouble reading... (sorry I know some of you send them but if they're longer than two pages...you've lost me)

Anyway

On Other Things
In April I attended the Animal Ag Alliance Summit in D.C. a summit that I will not miss as it  covers issues that will determine whether our family will be able to continue to provide safe, affordable animal protein for the world.
 I hate to fly so I took the train like I have the past two times I've attended.  I love doing this.  I drive three hours from our home, catch Amtrak to Chicago, transfer, go to sleep and wind up in Union Station around noon. I have this down pat as I did it often when our youngest daughter and family lived in D.C. 
Everyone worries about me when I take this trip but I assure them I NEVER let myself get into compromising situations.  That was until this time.  My 2:30 a.m. train was three hours late.  Generally there are several others boarding the train at this time, so I'm never alone.  However this time I was alone...or so I thought.  The quaint little station is tidy; renovated, houses a cute coffee/shop which isn't open at 2:30 a.m. It's relatively safe. I was unaware that my train was going to be three hours late (that's how train travel is) I called to check on arrival times and each time I called it became later and later.   I stayed in my car as long as I could, but after two cups of coffee I had to make my way inside.  As I opened the door to the station a man was lying on the floor under the trendy coffee shop counter.  I immediately did an about face and hurried back to my car.  After sitting/floating I had to try once more.  I thought maybe he'd left.  No, he was still there, but he hadn't moved, so I thought he's either dead or asleep.  So I tippy-toed in and hurried past him.  I just prayed to God that he would protect me ( I shared this story with my husband and told him not to tell my folks because they would worry and he said,  "The Lord always watches out for you; he knows you can't take care of yourself."  So anyway I hurry into the bathroom; hurry out and as I pass a long clothes closet down the hall I hear snoring.  It's another person.  I hurry out and get in my car.  My heart is pounding. There were two of them.  I lock the doors and wait.  But now I must think about getting my cargo into the station (when the train arrives there is no waiting, you either get on or you get left) I had to have everything out and ready to board.  So I just pray again. I get out drag my luggage to the entrance, slip pass the (dead/sleeping?) man, and with snoring coming opposite of him  I hurry and push all my belongings into a corner.  Then I hurry back out to the car/ lock the doors and wait.
I'm then pulled between watching my belongings and getting killed.  "What if they take my stuff?", "No, it's too heavy". "But what if they take the little bag, the one with my laptop?".  So I go back; peek in the door and the man under the trendy coffee shop counter is still laying in the same position.  I'm really thinking he might be dead at this point.  So I open the door and slowly step inside.  It's 5:30 a.m. by now and as I start to walk in I hear rustling coming from the closet.  A disheveled man in khaki shorts, hiking boots and a jean jacket about my age appears.  He said, "We're harmless"  "That's my brother down there and I'm Joe".  I could do nothing more than smile and introduce myself.  By now I could see other cars in the parking lot with folks getting ready to board the train, so I was somewhat more at ease. 
Joe offered me a seat at his table and I accepted. As he was pouring out his life to me another man stepped in with a cup of coffee and a newspaper for Joe.  I'd seen this guy before as he had been in the station when I'd boarded the train on previous trips.  I always thought he worked there.  He didn't.  He was homeless also and Joe's friend. And he had connections with the night shift at Burger King, which explained the coffee.
In the end this homeless man who'd lost his job was a true gentlemen.  He shared his paper (wanted to share his coffee-had to refuse that), and helped me get my bags on the train.
I said a prayer for those three men.  It was such a sad eye-opening experience, but one I feel truly blessed to have encountered.

Season's Greetings-Past, Present and Future
  Andy

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