Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jean Goes to the Grocery

I went to the big grocery this week, for the first time in a long, long time. I avoid the big grocery more than I have ever avoided any ex-boyfriend. Ex-boyfriends don’t entail screaming children, sticky floors or stretched-out tattoos. 

Let me be more specific: I went to small-town America Wal-Mart. 
Now, you understand where I'm coming from. 
I gave myself the “You can do this. It is twenty-three minutes out of your life” pep talk and made a list that would suffice for three months. Including staples like bottled water, pepper jack cheese, green beans and batteries should 1) tornado season escalate or 2) Charlie Sheen sober up. 
The last time I gave myself that exact pep talk I didn’t fair well either; It was when I was home one weekend from Purdue and Dad sent me to Greens Fork Alignment to get new tires put on Old Blackie. Turned out to be an all-day deal. Great for them - They had a day’s worth of business. 

I got my cart, pulled out my list and put on my game face. Firstly I found the avocados I was so anxious to buy. Turns out they were mangos, but who is judging - Other than all of you?  I loaded ten of those little guys into my cart and moved on. I salvaged through the vegetables, plumbs and had to arm wrestle some 4 year old for the last package of all-beef brats. Obviously, he’d been raised on the turkey. 
I didn’t even make it to the cereal aisle before I ran across the typical pediatric-melt down. You know, the one where the kid grabs the Fruit Loops off the shelf and Mom goes for the GrapeNuts; and just like that the child thinks Christmas is canceled and the Tooth Fairy lost her wings. Have seen it a thousand times. 

It was just before I picked up the broken eggs, but after I had a semi-nervous break-down trying to find rice cakes, that I realized I wasn’t cut out for Wal-Mart. I’m cut out for small-town Cutshaw's with two kinds of microwave popcorn, a full deli selection and cashiers that still take a personal check - while asking how the calving season is going. 
I had sixteen items on my grocery list and left with twenty-three tacky, white plastic bags that, can I just say, I carried into the house in one trip from the car. Yes, I am proud. I mean, I can’t feel my forearms, but whatever - I made it in one trip.  I’m also wondering how I ended up with an entire bag full of jelly beans and peeps - both of which I hate. 
Truth be told, give me  a calf that needs tagged, or white dress pants, or even three-inch heels and I’m confident I could hold my own. Give me disorganized produce, a shopping-cart collision or a  self check-out that won’t scan the Kleenex box properly, and I’m a mess. But, I made it through another big grocery trip - without faking a handicap to get out of the store sooner - and I know I’m better for it. 
I just unloaded all twenty-three bags; turns out I remembered the whole almonds but forgot the toilet paper. No big surprise there. See ya tomorrow, Cutshaw's.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Alta Cedar: An Alberta Adventure

Have you ever left a vacation destination and instantly thought, “Wow, I can’t wait to again visit the snow-covered, unplowed range roads while chowing down on donuts with iced-tops that have more thumb prints in them (from a crazy, blue-eyed 3-year-old) than a finger painting project at the local preschool."??


Well I have.  

Guilty As Charged. 
I spent the last few days in snowy Westerose, Alberta, Canada. And while it wouldn’t be most folks’ spring break destination, I loved every minute of the trip. I wish I could complain about the never-ending snow, or the jet lag, or the trouble in Customs (No, I’m not smuggling any tobacco. Yes, I have been on a farm in the last month. No, I don’t plan on bringing back any Canadian whiskey. I don’t believe my liver could handle any more at this point, Sir).
The truth is, I had a wonderful time at Alta Cedar and I can’t wait to go back. Not only is the hospitality worth writing home about, the people that I meet on each trip to the ranch make the whole plane ticket expense worth while. 
But the cattle - they are the reason I know, and deeply respect, the Boake family. They may be a young crew, but their Shorthorn roots run deep. And while the young-blood is running active, the cornerstone of the operation, William, still supports a dream that started in 1953. Over the last two years, I’ve gained a certain appreciation for the Alta Cedar crew and the way they operate. In the hours before their sale, they take time to laugh, to appreciate their help and to hug their kids.  Come sale time, the bulls speak for themselves. And in 2011, they certainly did just that. From top to bottom, the 2011 Showcase offering was the strongest set of bulls I’ve seen. There was no definite bottom, there was no definite high-seller; they each brought extreme quality to the table, and will play fundamental roles in every operation they ship to. I can’t wait to watch the Alta Cedar bulls perform all over North America. 
Enough about the cattle. I’m not a salesman. I’m a socialite. And I love taking pictures when passion, emotion and dedication are involved. 


Snow continues to cover the cows' backs...even into "Spring"


Bringing the stock up for the main event. 

Well-Respected auctioneer Dale Stith - from warm Alabama - endures the elements.

Jarrett Davis, of Arda Angus, plays a key role in the preparation of the cattle.

 Mr. William and Edith Boake - the founders of Alta Cedar, 1953.

Christine Boake and Luke Bowman compete against one another in a phone bid-off.

The moment.

Phil and Luke Bowman decide on the next investment for Bowman Superior Genetics.

Auctioneer Dale Stith asked for "three" (thousand) - Samantha, the youngest Boake, had a bid that went unnoticed from the stairs. 

There comes a certain peace in knowing that the future of the industry is in good hands. When I captured this photograph, I knew that the family operation has many successful years ahead of them...
This is where the future, six-year-old Graeson William, and the founders (his great-grandparents), William and Edith, find a common ground: 
the success of Alta Cedar Shorthorns

All photographs property of Lindsay J. Bowman.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Beyond-Words Wednesday: Harrison

As time passes, I learn there are some moments that pass through the lens of a camera that are worth more words. 

Consider this the first installment of Jean's Beyond-Words Wednesdays.

This first Beyond-Words Wednesday is one that I hold quite dear to my heart - moments captured just after my first nephew, Harrison, was born. 


Friday, March 11, 2011

The Original Jean

This weekend trucks will file down the gravel lane of the Shafer Homestead 
and we’ll celebrate 81 incredible years with our dear Jean. 

Jean was a beautiful blonde in 1948 when she graduated from Hagerstown High School. 

And she’s still a beautiful blonde in 2011 with 17 grandkids and 9 great grandkids.

Jean is the kind of lady who gave birth, then was out in the barn milking the Holsteins the very next day. 

Jean is the kind of lady who got kicked by a cow, then went to the house and tied a cutting board to her arm with a dish towel - so she could finish the evening chores with a broken arm. 

Jean is the kind of mother who made her children put all of their trophies in the trunk of the car, so people at the county fair didn't think they were bragging. 

Jean is the kind of lady who grabs your thigh during church to keep you quiet when you realize the Kleenex she gave you is not only 3 years used, but also has a peppermint stuck in the middle of it. 

Jean is the kind of Grandma who gives you pizza and Mt. Dew for breakfast then makes you pinkie swear you won’t tell your mother. 

Jean is the kind of Grandma who made us lay in the back seat of the Cadillac covered in a blanket in the middle of July just so she could get $2 off her general admission at the 
Preble County Fair. 

Jean is the kind of Grandma who never misses a graduation, t-ball season finale, bridal shower and perhaps most importantly, a steer show. It’s genetic. 

Jean is the kind of lady who may have a hard time telling you she is proud of you, but the glow around her pretty well gives it away. 

Happy 81st Birthday, Martha Jean (Moyer) Shafer, The Original Jean. 
And the only woman I know who can make 15 quarter-pounders from 1lb of beef.