Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Work Calls from the Farm

The world of virtual learning and meetings have exploded in the time our children have grown from infants to early school aged children. I cannot count the threats made, bribery conducted, or clinched jaw instruction given during that time. It’s been a joy. Our children don’t remember a world where Mom couldn’t visit face-to-face with someone in California at the click of a button.

The children were recently home on spring break and I was spending my days in a delicate balance between providing them with a fun spring break and keeping up with work deadlines.

“OK kiddos! Day Two of Spring Break at Sankey Angus! Yesterday you got all the stalls cleaned out. What would you like to do today?”

“Go to grandma’s.” 

Having them home meant I took a lot of video calls uncertain of what might bust through the door at any moment. That is an unnerving feeling. I appreciate it when they agree to be quiet little soldiers for me, but then worry what they’re getting into that has them so fascinated. Play dough in the carpet? Glue sticks on the new white walls? Teaching the dog to drink out of the toilet - with demonstrations?

Recently I was on a Teams video call with folks from our corporate office in Indianapolis. I had my door shut but could hear excited conversation on the other side of the house. Then I heard the door to the mudroom open, then screaming, then running across the house in my direction, then the footsteps getting closer.

Like the professional I am, I instantly shut off my camera and muted my microphone. Whatever was about to bust through the door did not need to be seen or heard by anyone but Mommy.


“Cyrus! Quiet, buddy! I’m on a call.”

“PUPPIES, MOMMY!” he continued oblivious to my instruction.

“Cyrus, Sadie is not having puppies. She IS a puppy. She’s not even bred,” I tried to explain to him. Sadie, our Australian Shepherd puppy, had just turned one days prior.

“YES! She’s having puppies and I need to pull them out with a show stick!” and with that, he turned around and rushed out of the room.

“Would that work for you, Lindsay?” a coworker on the computer asked me. I had no idea what she was referencing, I could only think about Cyrus, unsupervised, using a show stick (long, metal stick with a hook on the end to place cattle’s feet in a show ring) to extract Lord knows what out of our dog.

“Repeat the question, please. I got off track,” I requested. They kindly did.

We made a few quick decisions and set a date and time to visit again about the upcoming event. I was in the mudroom with the kids in a matter of seconds once the call concluded.

Caroline appeared mortified, while Cyrus couldn’t contain his enthusiasm for the mess on the concreate floor.

Sadie was not having puppies. She had, however, gotten into a pile of afterbirth from the pasture and was now sick.

I explained the situation and began clean up, we all gagged, Caroline patiently put the dog outside while Cyrus took photos on my phone to show Dad, smacking his knee at the fun.

On this family farm, we all have a job. Some just do theirs better than others.




Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Calf Hut Conversations

Every so often I find an Amish man at our door in the wee morning hours.

While his early morning knocks are startling, I’m always more concerned about his intentions. When a craftsman such as Ben arrives, it always costs money.

“Cody!” I yell across the house. “Ben is here!” I continue packing lunches, thinking for a second. Why is Ben here?

A construction project was about to begin.

“Remind me why Ben is here?” I asked Cody as he entered the kitchen and threw on a jacket.

“The calf shed. The one me and you and the kids built. He’s going to take it apart and rebuild it….better. The thing is falling apart, and we really need that space.”

He was right. We are outgrowing the huts we have along the windbreak in the far west pasture. More calves, less room. During these cold, winter months vulnerable calves need a place to safely rest. 

I drove to work that morning thinking about that shed. That simple scrap tin shed. I became a bit emotional driving across the interstate.

The kids were so small while we built it. Cody and I had to crouch down to drill in the screws, while toddlers ran wild inside. I remember being thankful for a new playpen, if only for an afternoon.

Then the shed was moved to the pasture to take care of 70-pound, Angus and Shorthorn babies.

It became a sanctuary. 

Place of prayer. 

My breakroom.

I remember the shorthorn bull calf. I found him 8 hours later than I probably should have; I worked in the city that day. He was tucked away in a corner, cold, hungry but without the gumption to find his momma. I worked to warm his sides, checked his eyes and nose. Checked his mother’s udders to see if he’d nursed. After no positive signs, I called the vet. I prayed over that calf until she arrived.

I remember the Angus heifer calf. We really looked forward to the arrival of this one because of her genetics. It was quite cold when she was born but it warmed up shortly thereafter. She developed a respiratory issue. I remember a presentation I’d help develop during my time at Elanco about the cost of one dead calf. It was real money. Money that isn’t thrown around on a farm. I prayed over that heifer.

As a farm wife, I prayed so many prayers inside that tiny metal hut. 

There was weight on my shoulders not even realized then. I remember many times resting along the solid tin, warming up a calf, and wondering if it was the first time I’d sat down that day. I remember bedding it with fresh straw and wondering about the last time I changed our own bed sheets. I remember returning to the Kubota to find a crying toddler and a sleeping baby and feeling like the worst mother, ever.

Then Cyrus got sick.

And we spent six days at the children’s hospital, three days at home, then five more days at the children's hospital, and finally 18 days at home with a PICC line in his tiny arm. Talk about perspective.

Calf hut conversations changed.

It certainly isn’t that I didn’t care about the cattle we were left to tend to on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) – that would never be the case. It was that human health became so much more relevant. We could go on if we lost a calf over a respiratory issue. It no longer compared to a sick child.

Calf hut sessions focused on God’s will, not mine. Calf hut sessions focused on everything outside the tin hut, not within. What a simple, quiet place to reflect. Calf hut sessions focused on taking a break, if even just to gather myself.

Mom once told me about a lady that lived on mom and dad’s farm many years before they bought it. This woman would walk out to the pasture and sit on the same large rock daily to read her devotionals.That rock still sits on the farm today, more than 60 years later. What a place to connect.

Our calf hut came down and has now been reconstructed into a sturdier building that houses more and is more functional. We had a sick heifer two weeks ago and we found her in the calf hut. Cody held her while I gave her three boluses then we turned her loose. I was encouraged by her effort to run from us. I thanked God for her energy. I thanked God for healthy kids watching us from the Ranger.

I guess we all find God in different places.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Reunion in Washington, DC

The summer between my junior and senior year of college was spent interning in Washington, DC through Purdue’s College of Agriculture. My role served as the liaison between ConAgra Foods (at the time) and the USDA, though not limited to food science. At one particular event I was tasked with visiting with a congressman regarding the fuel tax on corporate air travel.

That summer I got to know the three other Purdue College of Ag interns so well. The four of us, three coming from Indiana farms, one raised closely to Indiana agriculture, defined “when country comes to town”.

We lived on the Georgetown Law Campus in the heart of DC.  

We tried everything and went everywhere. 

Asked all the questions. 

Got ourselves in really odd situations and engaging conversations.  

We drove the wrong way down one way streets, ended up on the wrong side of the city when the metro shut down for the night, and learned how to prepare meals on a dime. 

We navigated without GPS, sent postcards home to our parents (because we were trying to conserve our cell phone minutes) and attended every political fundraiser to which we were invited to ensure we’d have supper that night.

We took photos with a camera because we were still operating off flip phones. 

On Saturday night we’d visit bars where we couldn’t speak the language and on Sunday morning we attended churches that none of us were affiliated with. 

We grew tremendously. 

All four of us went broke that summer, but the good news is that August came back around (much too quickly) and we had jobs waiting for us back home – all including livestock and farm machinery. By September we were back on Purdue’s campus studying agriculture.

It was one of the best experiences of my life.

Sixteen years later, I was texting with one of the four who spent that summer together. Today, she spends her time travelling the world as a manager of digital aftermarket deployment for John Deere. My life of babies, blogging and beef is about as opposite of hers as one can get.  It was high time we reconnected to visit the city again.

You can probably imagine what it was like telling our children that Mommy was leaving for a couple days – 48 hours to be precise.

“Why are taking a dress?” Caroline asked while I packed.

“Because Chrissie and I are eating at a restaurant where sports coats are required.”

“So….why aren’t you packing a ports coat? ….What even is a ports coat?”

Cyrus was less curious about my suitcase and more concerned about my intentions.

“When will you be home?”

“In two days. When you get home from church on Sunday, I’ll be here,” I assured him.

“Is that before Christmas? Will you be home for Christmas?” he asked.

Give me a break! I was leaving for 48 hours!

A trip of such brevity required an agenda. So in August we began planning the excursion: what to eat, what to see, where to sleep. You must know my friend Chrissie to understand the necessity of an agenda. She travels internationally quarterly, drives to the Moline, Illinois headquarters on a whim if she thinks she wants to discuss something with a coworker face-to-face. She does not let the grass grow under her feet. She also walks incredibly fast.

By 8:15 AM on our first morning in Washington DC my Apple watch asked if I wanted to begin tracking my workout. I declined the offer as I was not working out; I was simply trying to keep up with Chrissie while on vacation.

We ate breakfast at a hole-in-the-wall diner just off Pennsylvania Avenue. The syrup bottle on our table was labeled “non-fat”. Chrissie called over to the waiter and asked for full-fat maple syrup (this is why we’re friends). The gentleman proceeded dump the contents of the non-fat bottle into a bottle labeled “Original” from the adjacent table. He slammed it on the table and mumbled something about marketing.

The diner, the building where Chrissie once interned, The Georgetown Law campus to see our old apartment, The United States Postal Museum, Union Station, The Capitol Building, The Ronald Reagan International Building food court with approximately 800 field trippers, the National Cattleman’s Beef Association (my first place of employment following graduation), Freedom Plaza, The World War 1 Memorial, The White House, Hotel Washington and CVS: All places we visited before 2:30 PM on day one. We walked over nine miles and spent $7.36 on Band-Aids for our feet at the final stop. We were in bed by 9:30 PM.

The next day we knew our limits, mostly because our body was quickly revealing them. We took it a little slower, enjoying brunch then shopping in Georgetown, a city with magnificent architecture. While there we stopped in a quaint cupcake shop. A man held up the line because he wanted to ensure his carrot cake cupcake had vegan carrots in it. Chrissie and I exchanged “GET ME BACK TO INDIANA” glances.

Our old apartment building on the Georgetown Law campus

Out where the ports coat was required

By 6:00 AM on day three we were on an airplane headed home.

Cody welcomed me home with a nearly spotless house, Caroline welcomed me with open arms, and Cyrus greeted me with, “That wasn’t long. What’s for supper?”

Turns out, mom can leave the farm occasionally, after all and no one freaks out. 

Except for mom. 


Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Phone Storage Space

Every so often my phone alerts me I’m out of storage space. I find this rather annoying because I’ve downloaded apps to aid me in these efforts, where I can upload my photos to the cloud (don’t ask me the details on the cloud, it sounds dark) and then delete them off my device.

In theory, this should work. I should have plenty of space. But I also have a six-year-old.

Receiving the alert that I’m out of space triggers to me to check out my media album to see what kind of gems I may discover:

Exhibit A: Cat breeding video, Total time: 8 min. 12 sec.

At some point, the children got ahold of my phone and discovered some interesting action out the south windows. The shaky video camera finally focused long enough to spot two cats in a predicament.

The scene pans around the backyard, stopping sharply out by the cattle corral system.

“Cyrus! Come look at this!” Caroline yells. You can hear the patter of his feet come to the window.

“What they doing?” Cyrus asks, perplexed.

“Piggyback rides,” she matter-of-factly explained. “Cats play too.”

The scene keeps rolling and the cat racket can be heard on the film. Both kids giggle.


“Gary Gray Tail (probably should have named her Greta) does not like that!” After a few minutes, the children lost interest and left my phone on the dining room floor.

Minutes later you can hear me asking where my phone is. Both children deny knowing. Recorder shuts off.

Exhibit B: Teeth Brushing Tutorial, Total Time: 9 min. 2 sec.

At some point, Caroline got ahold of my phone and decided to put on a tooth brushing tutorial which included a whole lot of spit. She covered basic principles such as getting the tops and the bottoms, counting to one hundred while brushing (she got distracted at 24), and how – if you’ve made too much of a mess – it’s best to use 400 Kleenexes to clean up the counter rather than the washcloth mom has provided for such events. That tutorial was followed by an abbreviated synopsis of her morning routine, which included brief, but not rare, footage of Cyrus eating breakfast without using any silverware. The video was only brought to a screeching halt when you hear me yell “KIDS. FOR THE THIRD TIME. GET YOUR BOOTS ON, NOW!”

Not my finest work.

Exhibit C: Walk Through Home Demolition, Total Time: 6 min. 48 sec.

This Academy-worthy piece took place last summer, when we were in the trenches of the home renovation. I, again, set my phone down somewhere and tiny hands with the swift ability to get to the video function found it before I did. Caroline recorded a walk-through of the current progress of the home. It was a disaster zone, full of insulation, tarps, plastic wraps, lumber, sawhorses and wiring. Every so often Cyrus would move across the screen, hauling plaster and lath on a trailer across the wooden floors. He’d dump it down the in cracks within walls, which had been exposed by the demolition. Caroline talked of what used to be where.

“So…this is a bedroom. Or, it was. Grampie and Grammie used to sleep in this room when they come stay. But now it’s just this bad area….so……...,” she’d find herself questioning just what kind of dusty, disorderly mess we’d found ourselves in.

Weren’t we all?

Today, I sit on the couch and delete photos and videos off my phone, in awe of how our home turned out, keeping us warm on this February day with a wind advisory. Not too long ago we’d feel a draft move through the living room on days like this!

I’m also in awe of the number of cats running around this farm. 

But now we know the rest of the story.


Monday, January 23, 2023

Home Renovation: Time Capsule

I always wanted a black front door. 
And wouldn't you know? I came home one day 
and Uncle Rex had finally made that dream come true. 

My parents did a complete remodel of the house I grew up in during the late 80s, early 90s. Some of my best childhood memories smell like saw dust and stain. Within the walls torn down, they found a lace-up buckskin child’s boot, a calendar from 1919 and a bottle of homemade wine. They still have these three artifacts today.

You can imagine my delight when our contractor began finding things in the walls during our total home renovation in 2021-2022. Weekly he’d set aside treasures that had fallen between the cracks of a floor or along walls: Ornate glass bottles, hair barrettes, playing cards, and handwritten recipes for Washington Pie and Orange Cake. 

He even found a multipage booklet from the Eighth Annual Wayne, Henry and Randolph Counties Agriculture Association event, held in Dalton Township, Wayne County, Indiana on September 6 – 9, 1887. And we were told our house was built in 1920!

I value history, stories, and junk, so naturally, when it was our turn to replace walls I was ready to create our own time capsule of sorts. The way this house was reconstructed, I expect it to stand at least another 150 years, but when someone finally decides this space isn’t suitable for their family, there are a few things we strategically placed for the next occupants to find.

When the internal walls were not yet drywalled we wrote many scriptures along the studs. Just think: if someone does tear down these walls in 150 years, the message within the scriptures we left will not have changed; they’re everlasting. In the dining room I wrote out the words to Surely Goodness And Mercy, a hymn sung before every meal when our large Bowman family gathers.

The contractor's notes at the top of this photo reveal 
where this reminder in scripture was written. 

In a small Rubbermaid tote we collected small pieces that tell the story of our family and the renovation: A current family picture where Caroline was pretty as a doll and Cyrus was scowling at the camera. A 2022 Bell Contracting wall calendar to identify our builder and the current year. I placed copies of Western Wayne News in the box, and these particular issues had my writing in them. We included a sale catalog that provided insight into the breed and type of cattle we raise. I wrote a 3-page letter describing the modifications made to the home, our family, our farm, the current state of the world and the price of gas, groceries and oddities.

I asked each child to put a tiny toy in the box and you would have thought I asked them to donate an arm. It took 6 days for each to decide on what they could part with, which is disturbing considering the number of toys they have. Cyrus committed a tiny tractor with no rear tire and Caroline gave up a tiny foal that was the victim of the lawn mower in 2021. I’m sure the kids who find such “gifts” will be startled by such generosity.

We sealed the tote and the contractor placed it under the landing of the stairway before enclosing it.

Of course, my hope is that this house never comes down and it remains well-loved forever, as it is today. I hope the walls remain strong and white (Who am I kidding? There are already handprints on the door frames as the kids use them to stabilize themselves during high-speed chases), displaying family photos and children’s artwork.

But if they do come down and another family with big dreams decides to renovate this home, at least they’ll have a broken tractor and a three-legged foal to get them through the chaos.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Counting Down the Days

Our children are six and four this Christmas. They’ve been waiting for December to come back around since December 26, 2021.

We have several ways of tracking the countdown to Christmas in our farmhouse.

The Scenes from Kansas wall calendar is the most obvious. Now that both children know numbers (for the most part, as Cyrus consistently skips seventeen) and months, we’re crossing off the days before even getting into our footie pajamas of an evening. I personally think it’s bad luck to cross off a day before it is over, but I’ll lead the charge on any routine that gets them in bed by 8:00 PM.

The advent calendar is my favorite. We always had a simple paper advent calendar growing up and I loved the anticipation of The Greatest Story. Today we have the same in our home. But today you can buy advent calendars with chocolate, wine, toys and even dog treats in them. Every day is a new offering. My friend Chrissie (remember, the world traveler with no children) bought our kids an advent calendar two years ago that was full of farm toys. Every day, for 24 days, a new toy was in the hands of children who rarely picked up the toys they already had. It was nearly the end of Chrissie and I’s friendship.

Who can forget the paper chain from church that hangs on our tree? Each morning, the children shove one another down the hardwood steps, swing around the banister nearly ripping off the garland, and push their way across the vinyl flooring to see who can get to the paper chain first to break the daily link. They rip with such force that two or three come off at a time. It’s a true lesson in practicing the fruits of the spirit, including love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. None of which either child displays between 6:30 AM – 8:00 AM, daily.

The amount of pine needles found in inappropriate places tells me we’re getting closer to the 25th.  I washed my face Sunday and plucked a needle out of my washcloth. Caroline was howling two nights ago because there was a pine needle wedged between her toe and sock. Cyrus, on the other hand, has been quite resourceful with the needles. He loads them into his dump truck, and when he gets a full load, he dumps it down the register.

A friend recently visited and asked what pine air freshener I used. Imagine her surprise when I revealed that the scent was a mixture of propane heat flowing through a register vent, heating the Christmas tree needles organically in the comfort of our own home.

She didn’t ask for a refill on her coffee.

How many days until Christmas?

 We made the voyage to Kansas last weekend. 

Check out these grandkids with Grammie Sankey


Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Irvin King

We’ve had some interesting characters show up at our doorstep over the years:

The man who showed up in the middle of the night begging for diesel for his mustang, offering me Monopoly money.

The girl, not in her right mind, who rolled her car and was more worried about the suspended license she was driving on than the baby in the back seat.

And how could we forget about Spanky, the trucker passing through from Kansas, who as fate would have it, worked on Cody’s grandparent’s ranch 30 years ago.

Most recently there was Irvin King.

It was about the best Friday night we’d had this summer. The humidity was low, the sun was setting, the weekend agenda wasn’t full. The kids and I had just gotten done choring while Cody was at a south pasture checking cattle and fences along the river.

The kids played in the backyard while I put clothes away upstairs. As I carried the laundry basket up the stairwell, I stopped at the window to enjoy the view. How long have I waited to be able to look out a window and see our kids enjoy the property?

Except, there weren’t only kids. A man had made his way up the sidewalk and was talking to the children. At first glance I thought it was my dad, in work pants and worn belt, t-shirt tucked in. But after a few seconds I realized the person visiting with the kids was a stranger. I dropped the clothes basket and raced downstairs.

Instantly, he reminded me of my grandpa Bowman, who died in 1989 when I was just 4 years old. Gentle nature and soft spoken.

The man told me his Cummins motorcoach had broken down on the side of US-35 and he asked if he could simply pull it off the highway into the access drive into our hayfield. This sounded fine, except we don’t own the land across the road. I called the neighbor to the north and he didn’t hesitate; he permitted that they park there overnight, no problem.

Of course, I couldn’t just let this stranger that had walked onto our property leave without some questions. Nothing out of ordinary Lindsay protocol: Name? Home state? Reason why you’d drive through Economy, Indiana?

The man I was visiting with was Irvin King. He is in his eighties, still farming row crops and cattle in West Virginia. He was passing through our area because of a more important detail: He used to race. In fact, Irvin is also known as the Flying Farmer.

He revealed to me that he and his wife were on their way to a race when they broke down. Irvin is a name in sprint car racing, though you wouldn’t know it by visiting with him. He was more interested in our cattle and kids than he was talking about his history. But there is nothing a little light internet stalking can’t uncover.

Irvin King is a Sprint Car legend. People today are still commenting on race websites about watching him race and dominate the sprint car world in the 1960’s and 70’s. You can buy photos of Irvin off eBay, Amazon and collector sites, all of him in the winner’s circle, standing proudly next to racing machines he built and won with.

The kids stayed close while we visited briefly. I asked if he and his wife would stay for dinner; he declined. As the sun sat, Irvin walked back down the side ditch and loaded back into his motorcoach.

I regressed 30 years and began acting like 8-year-old Lindsay. I felt as though a celebrity, maybe Reba McEntire, was camping in our yard and I just wanted her to befriend me. All evening, all night, and for the next 48 hours I looked out the window waiting for him to reappear. He never came out of the coach.

The next morning I asked Cody if we should take him coffee.


That afternoon I asked Cody if we should take him towels.


That evening I asked Cody if we should take him a meat and cheese tray. WHO DOESN’T LOVE A MEAT AND CHEESE TRAY? 


The next day I asked Cody if we should invite him to the kid’s birthday party we were hosting in 36 hours. I bet you can guess Cody’s answer.

Mr. and Mrs. King were parked across from our farm for two days. We never visited again.

But the kids sure ask about him. Because they hang on legs while adults visit, they picked up on his racing story. We’ve Googled “Irvin King race” time and time again to look at his successes and his story. Quite remarkable that such a character ended up broken down (of all things) in front of our farm.

That was July. More than a month later, I went to the mailbox to find two autographed photos of Irvin King himself. He had traveled back through the area and was kind enough to leave these keepsakes for our children. An interesting character we won’t soon forget.

I don’t love living on a highway, but I do love the opportunities if affords our family. Our puppy Sadie likely wouldn’t say the same.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

The Souvenir

After we wed nine years ago, many evenings were spent in our small home on the edge of town trying to stuff all his Kansas/Angus/ranch memorabilia into an Indiana/Shorthorn/farm house I’d lived in alone for five years. Our styles were so similar: rich in history and stories of days and people gone by. What I didn’t consider was what it might be like to marry a fellow collector.

Too late now.  

Nearly a decade later and we’re still passionate about what does and does not belong around our farm. Does it have a story? Does it belong in the family? Was it once living? All questions we ask ourselves as we continue to make this homestead our own.

So you can imagine my surprise when I came home from work to find a five foot headstone erected in our front yard a couple weeks ago. 

While most families return home from vacations with sunburns, t-shirts and keychains, we came home from our trip to Kansas City with a headstone that boldly displays someone else’s initials.

It was an honor for husband Cody to be asked to judge the Bred & Owned (bred and raised on your farm, home grown, not purchased from anyone else) show at the National Junior Angus Show in Kansas City. To add extra sweetness, he was able to ask his father to be his associate judge.

The entry way to the prestigious show ring was flanked with two tall flint rock monuments commemorating the event. Throughout the few days we were at the show while Cody judged, I did notice him study the monuments. He touched them. Tried to rock them. Mentally judged their weight. Studied how they were free-standing. Never in my right mind did I think we’d haul one home.

Finally, it was time to pack the four of us back into the truck and head east to Wayne County. Cody walked over while I was saying goodbye to Missouri friends, “Did you see those stones by the ring?”

“How could I miss them? It’s like the Kansas Stonehenge.” He didn’t appreciate my joke.

“Well, they put them up on the silent auction for folks to bid on throughout the week…” he continued like a kid about to explain how he ended up in the Principal’s office.

“You didn’t. Please. Please tell me you did not bid on those,” I pleaded.

“Well just once or so and turns out no one else wanted them!” by his excitement I knew how this story was going to end. “I only bought one. The other will go the to Angus Hall of Fame.”

“Of course no one wanted them! They look like headstones!” I was not believing my ears.

Cody was so excited about this souvenir to commemorate the opportunity to judge the bred & owned cattle with his dad, that he didn’t even sense my frustration. “Did you bring the joint check book?” he asked with a pep in his step, as though he’d won the grandest prize of all.

“No way, pal, this is coming from your personal savings. Buying your headstone was not in the budget this year with the home renovation. Wait. Doesn’t it have words on it?”

“Letters. NJAS ’22. National Junior Angus Show 2022. It’s a souvenir. The year I judged with Dad,” he remarked.

Ugh. Now he was tugging at my heartstrings. “I thought they gave you coolers as keepsakes. Couldn’t we have stuck with the coolers?” I asked as he walked in the opposite direction.

One pallet, two skid steers, three state lines and four weeks later the rock (headstone) landed outside beautiful Economy, Indiana. He organized a team to help him place it on our farm before I got home. Not his first rodeo.

For four weeks now I’ve mowed around the headstone and roll my eyes each time. What a souvenir we’ll have to will off to our kids. I just hope Cyrus one day marries someone more patient that his own mother who can appreciate the free standing family headstone.

Last weekend we sat outside admiring the freshly mown yard, an Indiana sunset and American flags blowing in the breeze. Life is good in rural Wayne County.

“I just have one regret,” he said. Of course, my ears perked up.

“I wish I would have bought both of those stones. To balance things out around the milkhouse.”

Friends, if you drive by our farm and see fresh dirt under the NJAS ’22 souvenir, think nothing of it.




Wednesday, August 17, 2022

'22 Junior Nationals: A Log

My husband grew up traveling from coast to coast with his family of four, taking turns napping on the floorboard of the truck as they traveled from one national cattle show to the other. When the child on the floor would get hot, they’d switch with the child sprawled out across the back seat.

He yearns the same experience for our family. I prefer car seats.

Actually, he desires the family-of-four-traveling- to-exhibit-home-raised-cattle experience. I can more get on board with that idea.

I too grew up showing cattle, but the road trips I remember involved never stopping unless we were 15 miles to empty, a cooler in the back seat containing of a gallon of whole milk to keep us full and bing cherries to keep us regular.

Fast forward 25 years and it was my turn as the parent to pack the cooler.  For our cross-country cattle adventure I packed raisins, apples, sunflower seeds, and water. The only items touched during our entire trip were the bottles of water, and those were only used to wash faces after the kids devoured oreos from the gas station.

We traveled to two national junior cattle shows this summer as a family, one in Louisville, the second in Kansas City. Both had their excitement:

Trip 1, Day 1:

Caroline did a fantastic job giving her speech about the tools she uses to take care of her heifer. This resulted in a 4th place win.

Cyrus got drug out of a crowded women’s restroom and told all the reasons why he can’t use such a place to hide during hide-n-seek. This resulted in a humiliated mother.

Cousins Caroline, Bayler, Cyrus & Maddie 

just before the two older girls did their speech contests

Trip 1, Day 2:

Caroline goes on a 20-minute self-guided tour of the facility and mom panics a bit. That afternoon we sit down with the kids to go over why we don’t just wander away from the stalls in a place this big.

“Kids, you can’t just walk off with people you don’t know. Just don’t talk to people you don’t know.”

“Dad,” Cyrus said. “I don’t talk to people I don’t know,” then he paused. “But Dad, I don’t even talk to people I do know,” said Mr. Congeniality, Age 3.

Cyrus telling the Conley brothers from Oklahoma how much corn (wood chips) he's hauled to-date

Trip 2 Day 1:

After listening to John Denver’s, Country Roads Take Me Home on repeat for 40 miles Caroline asked, “Mom. How far from home was this guy if he should have been home yesterday?” We then rolled into Kansas City blaring the National Anthem, which is the kids’ current favorite tune.

Front row seat to see Dad & Grampie judge the bred & owned Angus cattle in Kansas City

Trip 2, Day 2:

I took the kids to the hotel pool and stayed in my street (barn) clothes. I sat pool side and never once jumped in to save someone who didn’t need saving. BIG WIN.

Trip 2, Day 3:

Cyrus had his first, hopefully his last, run in with the police.

In a rush to get to the show ring to watch Dad judge the cattle, Cyrus got locked in the truck. Which wouldn’t be such a bad deal if he wasn’t also strapped into his car seat, unable to reach the lock. And also if it wasn’t a spicy summer in Kansas City. We were very lucky in that this incident took place early morning and it was not yet hot outside. Had it been, a crowbar would have gone through the glass in minutes.

I called one lock smith who hung up on me after politely saying they’d call back within 30 minutes with a price quote. I didn’t care about a price; I needed my child out of the truck. I next called the American Royal facility (where the show took place) who sent out a security guard. I knew when he walked up to the truck with his thumbs tucked in his polyester pants that we might not get very far. Sure enough, he said he had the tools to get into the truck, but he couldn’t (wouldn’t) use them due to liability and possibly getting sued. You can imagine how this went over with ol’ Mom. The security guy then called the grounds maintenance man. This man was great at getting me calmed down. He was a grandfather and recognized the urgency in the situation.

Cyrus did fine during all of this, but he was very confused as to why I wouldn’t just open the door and get him out.

Finally, the Kansas City Police Department was contacted and they came out, also unable to get into the truck due to the type of lock on the truck. KCPD quickly called another locksmith. Within 3 minutes of the locksmith arriving, Cyrus was out of the hot truck. The ordeal lasted 45 minutes and Cyrus’s shirt was soaked by the time I pulled him out of the car seat.

Both trips were fun, exhausting and memorable. Our hope is one day the kids will look back and want the same experiences for their children. 

Except for the women’s restroom ordeal.

 Or the Stranger Danger. 

Or the locksmith situation.

Maybe they’ll take their kids to the beach.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Swim Lessons, Part II

On week two of swim lessons I was more aware and prepared myself for the day ahead. It was still cold then; I wore boots, jeans, and under-eye concealer to hide the fact that I don’t actually sleep, but merely worry with my eyes closed.

We arrived at lessons and both children were excited to be back. I wish I could say the same. I only wanted us to get what we came for: learning.

While Caroline’s class swam, Cyrus and I watched, and vice versa. It was this week that Cyrus noticed the kiddie pool. Just off the main pool was a large, shallow pool painted with sea characters. He asked if he could get in and my heart sunk.

Cyrus doesn’t fear water like I do. Cyrus doesn’t fear anything except being drug to my home extension meetings and sitting still while we discuss current events and volunteerism.

I told him he could get in the water, then I proceeded to pace the edge of the kiddie pool. There was another family enjoying time together. Cyrus started off slowly, cautiously, trying to figure out balance in a body of water alone (remember: no bathtub at home). Then he got confident. He began running laps around the pool, splashing, embracing the freedom.

Suddenly he slipped on the bottom of the pool and couldn’t find his footing. His arms flailed back and forth. His whole body was under water. This lasted for about 6 seconds which was plenty. I yelled for him but of course he didn’t hear me. The mother sitting on the edge of the pool leaned all the way into the water and grabbed his arm. She brought him back to a place where he found his footing. I couldn’t thank her enough, but tried.

Minutes later Cyrus was back in the pool. Having that under his belt, he was ready to move on. That made one of us.

It was not ten minutes later that the scenario repeated itself. This time, he was across the pool from help. He flailed, he sunk, I screamed. My heart was in my feet. Then I did what any mother would do.

Fully dressed, I jumped into the pool and ran (is it still called running when in water?) to him. By the time I reached Cyrus, he’d found his own feet was already above water. Using two hands to wipe his eyes, he was unsure of why Mom was in the pool in jeans and a sweater.

“What you doing?” he asked out of breath.

“Helping you, buddy!” I said, more out of breath.

“I was playing shark.”

Well of course he was.

I waded back to the edge of the pool and had one heck of a time getting my body out of the pool with my jeans, sweater, and everything else completely saturated. I tried to play it cool but the family ushered their kid to the locker room, confused as to what just happened. Weren’t we all? The lifeguard, paid and trained to do what I just attempted, re-focused her attention back on the big pool.

I’d publicly transitioned from Bathing Suit Mom one week to Fully Clothed Baywatch (more like River-look) mom in front of a whole group of people. I just wanted to be the mom on the sidelines watching her children learn to swim.

I found a chair and wrung out my pants then switched kids; Cyrus got in for a lesson, Caroline came to sit poolside with me.

“What happened to your clothes?” she asked, drying off with a mermaid towel.

“I went swimming,” I told her while rolling my jeans like Tom Sawyer.

There was a long, judgmental pause with observation.

“If you wanted to swim you should have worn your bathing suit again.”