Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What Will Matter?

This Wednesday I wanted to share with you my favorite motivational reading of all time. I found this when I was a freshman in college and instantly it changed something inside me; I printed it off and have hung it up in every dorm, sorority room, apartment and house I've lived in since then. When I feel my priorities are skewed, this helps me re-evaluate. 

In my home, it serves as a constant reminder of what is important in this life. 

What Will Matter?
by Michael Josephson

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten
will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations
and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won't matter where you came from
or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter?
How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought
but what you built, not what you got but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success
but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned
but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity,
compassion, courage, or sacrifice
that enriched, empowered or encouraged others
to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence
but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.
What will matter is not your memories
but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered,
by whom and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident.
It's not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Story of Us

Last night was an awfully stormy night in Indiana. I haven’t slept well, but woke very early, feeling compelled to tell a story...
I love to travel. My love for travel is fed by, not only the amazing places I’ve found outside Greens Fork, but also the incredible people I’ve met along the way. I’ve heard countless, intriguing stories by simply asking, “What brought you here?” 
With that, over time, I’ve come to learn that there are certain events in one’s life that can  live forever and shape their destiny. It’s how those moments of fear or disappointment, elation or prosper are handled, that can define a person. Often, I’ve reminisced about the things that have happened in my own life that have gotten me to where I am. Did they inhibit me? Did they leave a scar? Did they they change a thought process? Or even encourage a dream?
I know, very well, a man who has never been known as a dreamer, but rather a doer. At an adolescent age he learned a lesson, and made a promise to himself, that would forever change his life. 

And mine, too. 
Dad and I overlooking the Denver Stockyards

Dad didn’t grow up on a farm; he was the seventh of twelve Bowman kids. My Grandpa Bowman was a boiler fireman at a local factory; my Grandma Bowman never worked outside the home. They always had a steer for butcher and a dairy cow for milk; that was the extent of their cattle operation. 
It was because of FFA that Dad was able to carpool out of tiny Hagerstown, Indiana and go with his FFA advisor and agriculture teacher, Mr. Carl Hylton, to the Chicago Stockyards and learn about the cattle industry; and it was in those famous stockyards that a passion was relayed and ignited in that young kid. Dad filled his bedroom with posters of popular production cattle: Hereford, Angus, Shorthorn, Charolais. He read all the animal husbandry books he could get his hands on at school and, on occasion, even paid attention in class. 
When Dad was in his early years of high school, the Hagerstown FFA had a program where a local producer donated a heifer to a student who didn’t have the means to buy one. Once the heifer was raised and bred, the first female calf out of that donation heifer was to be returned to the local producer as repayment. Finally, Dad’s year came that he was able to participate, and Mr. Hylton advised him to take part. Through research and passion, he decided he wanted a Shorthorn to bring home and start his own herd. Dad and Grandpa traveled across Wayne County to rural Williamsburg where they picked up the heifer. 
I’ve heard Dad describe this heifer many times over, and each time he seems to call her something different, but each adjective is a variation of “crazy”, “wild” or “berserk”. She was about 700 pounds and had never left her momma. She’d never been restrained. Perhaps worst of all, she’d never seen a fence. 
Dad spent the next three months repairing already poor facilities, including fences. He got his physical exercise by chasing a heifer back into her lot, and got his mental exercise by trying to justify this FFA project to his parents. It didn’t go well; it wasn’t that Grandpa didn’t have faith in Dad, it was that they didn’t have the time or money needed to keep up with the destruction from an unruly heifer. And, she really, really liked Grandma Bowman’s garden. 

Dad relied greatly on Mr. Hylton, who encouraged him, advised him and tried to mentor him through the learning experience.
Finally, through much discussion and some sleepless nights, the decision was made: The heifer would be returned to the original owner. 
To say Dad was devastated may be putting it lightly. He was embarrassed and he was sad. But you know what Eliza Tabor says about disappointment:
Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it.”
Returning that heifer, because he couldn’t manage her, was a moment that changed Dad’s life. The feeling of not only disappointment, but failure, ran though his veins like a wildfire. He had always been taught to never give up, no matter what. He had always been taught to work harder and find a way. 
Dad laid in bed that night with a heavy heart while looking at the pictures on his wall of those successful, productive cattle. Just before he drifted off to sleep, he silently made a promise to himself: 

If he was ever in the position to spend a little money, he was going to buy a Shorthorn cow, maybe a few cedar posts and some barbed wire, and do it right. 
Fast forward thirty years to when the Original Three unloaded at Bowman Superior Genetics

It was the moment where Dad’s dream finally came true, and my brother Luke’s own passion for beef cattle and agriculture education was ignited. 

Dad finally owned that Shorthorn Cow.  And, a fence.
Now, fast forward fourteen years to where Dad stood in front of a crowd to deliver his first-ever opening speech at the Form to Function Bred Heifer Sale at Bowman Superior Genetics. To say Dad was nervous may be putting it lightly. It was one of those moments I spoke of earlier, that will live forever in someone's soul. 

Dad specially thanked four people at our first production sale. 

Bob and Ula Marie House, who sold us our first Shorthorn cows 
(to see more, refer to blog entitled, “It’s A Wonderful Life”). 

My incredible Momma, who patiently dreamt the dream with Dad, and who works every day on the farm to ensure BSG is around for generations. 

And finally, Dad's agriculture teacher, FFA advisor, and mentor: Mr. Carl Hylton, who smiled gently while sitting silently in the back row of our sale day crowd. The man who organized the carpool to the Chicago Stockyards and ignited the fire in Dad. 

Teach a child. Set an example. Leave an impression. Build character. 
Grow something irreplaceable.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

To New Beginnings

I think it’s safe to say Spring is finally here in Indiana. 

That being said, if it snows this weekend I won’t take any blame for it. Should the white stuff fall, take your frustrations out on the shoddy weather man who can miraculously  keep a job, having only a 30% accuracy rate. 

But the grass is green, birds are chirping well before sunrise and there are healthy Shorthorn calves running around the pastures with their tails flying. Also, the Mule is stuck in the mud, the Greens Fork River is out of it’s banks and Muck Boots are flying off the shelf.
Cheers to Spring and New Beginnings. 

A young family recently came to the farm to pick up their first-ever (mini) 4-H calf. To me, very few things say “new beginnings” like the opportunity to directly relay a passion. Teaching a child, especially based off of your own life lessons, the care that goes into animal husbandry is rejuvenating. It’s when they’re young and eager we can instill the value of hard work, purpose and the importance of caring for an animal that is responsible for providing protein to the world. It's a new start. 
Whether this kindergartner decides to get a calf again next year, or for the next ten years, is up to him. Regardless, between now and June, the crew of BSG will answer his questions, encourage his curiosity and fuel his enthusiasm. And, maybe take a few pictures.

Curious Corbin

This truck has seen countless miles and experiences; many from a Papaw that Corbin never had the opportunity to meet.

Finding his way around BSG

Much anticipation

 Corbin, meet Zoe Monica. Zoe Monica, meet Corbin

 The first head pat

 Tight rope, strong hold

 Soaking up every bit of instruction

Learning about the bulls of BSG, from afar

Zoe Monica's new home

Words of advice from seasoned Wayne County 4-H veterans 

Zoe Monica awaits

Spring sunlight on the Shorthorn

Home, Sweet Home

What is neat about this young kid is the excitement that burns within him even at such a young age. Every visitor to the farm is greeted by Corbin, who firstly wants to introduce you to his new friend, and new responsibility. He has the passion. He has the desire. He knows that eventually Zoe Monica will be going back to BSG, the place of which she serves the greatest purpose. 

Time passes, generations trade places and saplings one day become sturdy old trees that stand the test of time. New beginnings offer a fresh start and an opportunity for new growth. Take advantage of it. Teach a child. Set an example. Leave an impression. Build character. 

Hear me now:
Grow something irreplaceable.