Friday, January 27, 2012

When the Sun Sets in the Yards

When the lights of the JSF pens light up the Yards. 
When you pay no mind to your cold hands because you care more about 
what a favorite bull goes for.  
When there is still a crowd around when the 53rd bull sells.
That is when you know you're in the right place...

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These boots were out past their bedtime

 The next generation

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Come One, Come All

More images from the Jungels Shorthorn Farm bull sale 
at the 2012 National Western Stock Show

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Intensity in a yellow Polo cap

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mile High Moments

More images from the Jungels Shorthorn Farm bull sale 
at the 2012 National Western Stock Show.

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Expert evaluation

Keeping record

Father and Son

Intense and On Track

I again had the opportunity this January to work along side the Jungels Shorthorn Farm team at the National Western Stock Show in Denver. One of my favorite annual trips, I always come home with a terrible cough, four sweaters embedded with salted peanut shells  and an even greater appreciation for the Jungels family.  

Growing up in the industry, I've seen many dedicated stock show crews and even more people who are incredibly passionate about the business we're in. But never before have I met someone like Derek, who has the ability to stream his competitive spirit and enthusiasm for the breed directly into every single member of his team. In addition, Derek is likely the most intense person I have ever met in my life. Come show and sale time, I make it a point to either place myself on the end of the halter or behind the lens of a camera; in his way is the last place I intend to be. 

The effort and passion he invests into the operation can't be illustrated in words or stories, but rather photos. For the remainder of this week enjoy moments from the stalls of Jungels Shorthorn Farms - complete with the people who invest in these breed-changing cattle and also the able bodies who work to make the operation such a notable success. 

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Not nervous about the sale at all, the youngest JSF crew member decided to practice his cheese-puff-catching skills.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Man In The Arena

I hope you'll keep up with Jean's Boots this week, as I document parts of my trip to Denver for the National Western Stock Show.

Proudly, I worked for Jungels Shorthorn Farm - a program that proves year after year, they're not afraid to be the man standing in the arena....

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt  23 April, 1910 

Durhams for Denver 2012 
In The yards
Denver, Colorado

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Peril of Prosperity

I'm guilty of shredding magazines. 

If I see something in Country Living, Drovers or Real Simple that I like, I simply tear the page or article out. I have a file at home of future home ideas, recipes, agriculture stories or even motivational quotes. I'll admit I haven't looked at the what I've stored in the file for at least a year; I simply rip, then place the paper in the folder. Who has time to look through that kind of stuff? I'm too busy on Pinterest. 

But there is one thing that I read some time ago that I look at daily. 

It came out of one of those monthly devotional books that you find at the back of the church as you're exiting. My friend Kathy was always kind enough to buy one for me each month and I'd take it back to college. On Thursday, November 24, 2005 the devotion struck me more so than usual. It hit me hard enough that I ripped the page out and taped it to the screen of my forty-pound college laptop. Sadly, I needed to see that message daily. 

When I moved to Washington, DC this devotion was taped to my desktop screen that sat high above the bustling sounds of Pennsylvania Avenue. 

When I went to work at an animal health company this page was once again removed and placed directly on the frame of my desktop screen. 

Just last week I officially moved into my new office and it was a sigh of relief and familiarity to pull this dear old reminder out and display it next to my computer screen. Although now I've taped it to an old glass jar that holds my pens; it wouldn't last a single day taped to my ever-so-mobile laptop. Just having that tattered old page in my office made the new place complete. 

It's a devotion that has no doubt followed me around - from college to real world, elated hours and ones full of disappointment, trying days and great ones. 

- The Peril of Prosperity - 

Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that I need, or I shall be full, and deny you and say, "Who is this Lord?" or I shall be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. - Proverbs 30:8-9

During a recent conversation, a Christian friend told me that his uncle had died and left him a substantial amount of money. Rather than acting elated over this, my friend exhibited a restrained, sober attitude. I'll never forget what he said next: 

"This inheritance is the greatest test of faith I've ever experienced."

Most people equate a "test of faith" with a  problem: a severe illness, a financial setback, a nagging temptation, an interpersonal conflict. But my friend understands a profound principle of scripture: prosperity poses a stiff test of faith. When we're healthy, earning promotions at work, enjoying our children, or even flourishing in our service for Christ we are prone to forget God or pay less attention to God. When we're successful, pride tends to work its way into our hearts. 

Success isn't wrong. It may even be a direct answer to prayer, a gracious gift from God. Yet if we aren't vigilant about giving God the credit and using our blessings for the good of others, prosperity can become a snare. 

Thought for the day: Prosperity is an opportunity to serve God and others. 

- Terry Powell, South Carolina

I'm fortunate that good things, people and days come my way far more often than negative ones. And while "prosperous" isn't the word I'd use to describe my simple life, it's certainly been a great one. I suppose that is why I need this worn and faded piece of paper! I look at this devotion daily, whether I read a single word of it or not. Silently, it serves as a constant reminder, one that I know I shouldn't require, to talk to God daily - whether I'm crying for help or giving great thanks. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Humbling Soles

I wear the heck out of boots. I know you're shocked. When I worked in Greenfield I found the best boot repair/revitalization shop. I say revitalization because when we lost Granddad this shop preserved his boots perfectly; when Grandma found hers from when she was 16, they brought them back to life so that I can now wear them - more than 60 years after they were created.

Now that I don't work in the Greenfield area I had a bit of anxiety just thinking of finding someone who will take great care of the soles that mean much to me. This week I took two pairs of boots to get re-soled at a different repair business. I loved walking in the tiny shop; the locals were visiting like it was a diner and the store smelled liked leather with a story to tell - many, I'm sure.

The man who waited on me was probably 75 and had an accent. And luckily, patience....

"Can I help you?" he asked as I stepped up to the wooden counter.

"Yeah, I've got two pairs of boots I've just worn the bottoms off of. I'd like to get these resoled - both pairs. They're just not comfortable anymore," I told him, as I pointed out the wear on the old boots.

He turned both pairs over, running his old, dark hands across every bit of the surface, studying every mark. "These don't need new soles. This pair is fine," he said, pushing them back across the counter to me. "Give them time."

Wow, I thought, I did not expect that accent in this little boot shop. Authentic...I love it. Then he began to really study my favorite boots.

"You write a lot?" he asked, still looking at the boots.

I hesitated....ummm how does he know that simply by looking at my boots? "I'm sorry?" I asked, hoping he'd repeat. I was thoroughly confused.

"You write a lot?"

Wow - he really did ask! "Yes, I actually do..." I was so puzzled.

"What do you write?" - this guy didn't skip a beat.

"Well...mostly just short stories on my blog I guess?" I responded with hesitation. I was wondering if this older man even knew what a blog was. Or...what if he did know what a blog was and he recognized both of these pairs of boots from Jean's Boots Are Made For Talking?! I suddenly got really excited about the conversation we were battling our way through, language barrier and all. Had I found another Jean's Boots reader in a most random place?

For the first time since I walked into the shop the man looked at me. The look on his face was one of complete confusion - like I was speaking a foreign language. Guess he didn't read my blog after all? He was not impressed with my writing habits and I was flat-out confused. I just stood there as he looked back down on his work, still evaluating the boots.

"Yes, I can tell you ride....stirrup has worn boots, especially this area."

Oh. My. Gosh. This whole time he had been asking if I ride horses, not write; he was diagnosing the problems in my boots due the the constant wear from a stirrup. So, when I told him I ride short stories and blogs, I deserved every bit of the confused look and awkwardness coming my way. I didn't have the heart/nerve to tell him I hadn't been on a horse in years.

I don't really know what happened next - I blacked out from the embarrassment and confusion. But I did find a ticket in my purse this morning that said, "Pick up Tues"; guess I get to see him again very soon.

Thank you, old boot repair man, for keeping my soles in working order and my soul humble.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year's Resolutions: Let's Be Real

What can I say about New Year's resolutions? 
Other than they keep me grounded. 

My resolutions have taught me much over the course of time. 
Once young and dumb, I had high hopes and expectations. 
Now that I'm older and not nearly as smart as I should be, I tend to resolute on the side of caution. 
Or, reality. 

Resolutions, my yearly-life-check-off-lists, have certainly evolved through out the years. Lucky for me, I write everything down; you know, so I can hold myself accountable. 

Today, we take a look back on my resolutions over the years.....

Age 7: My first New Year's Resolution. This year, I will buy a beautiful horse with the money I collect at the recycling center for turning in pop cans. 
Reality: I likely received $2.64 after my siblings and I divided the winnings. No horse. 

Age 8: I will read 45 books and write 30 short stories. 
Reality: We didn't even own 45 books and we lived too far from town to justify a library membership. And much to my father's dismay, I wasn't about to read the encyclopedia set. As for the writing - I didn't even understand the difference between there/their/they're, let alone know how to make a cursive "S". Didn't happen. 

Age 9: This year I will get discovered after the variety show and be asked to sing back-up singer for Reba McEntire.
Reality: Though I did have the guts to sing, "Is There Life Out There" in front of the entire school, my performance did not result in a phone call from Reba. 

I still cry like a baby when I see her in that cap and gown...

Age 10: I will win grand champion steer at the Wayne County Fair.
Reality: It was my first year of 4-H and I showed a Holstein steer. Have you ever seen a Holstein steer that weighed 1549 lbs. win a steer show? Me either. 

Don't let the trophy fool you - I won Rate-of-Gain....

Age 11: This year I really will get discovered after the variety show and will be asked to sing back-up singer for Trisha Yearwood. Or Garth Brooks. Which ever pays more. And buys me a horse.
Reality: While I do appreciate my young positive spirit, persistence and self-confidence, I still don't have that damn horse. 

Age 12: This year I will get good enough at volleyball that I get noticed by the high school coaches and they ask me to play on the Varsity team. 
Reality: I am not athletic. I'm funny....but only every fifth day. And this happened to be the same year that I was asked by my coach to choose between showing cattle or playing volleyball, due to missing multiple practices. Sorry, knee pads; those Shorthorns came first. And for that I'm thankful. I've made awesome friends from coast to coast in the beef industry. My volleyball team? We're merely "friends" on Facebook.

And now, more than a decade down this road of life and I'm still making resolutions. 

But I've become my true self, figured out who I am and what I need. 
I've grown up. 
My expectations for myself have changed. 
Through much career development, I recognize the importance of setting high, yet quantified goals. 

So, I present to you my 12 2012 New Year's Resolutions.......

1. I will begin my Christmas shopping no later than December 19th. 
2. If the temperature has dropped below 25 degrees, I will remember to let Dixie back in the house in less than 37 minutes. 

3. I will set the garbage out on time 42 of 52 weeks. 
4. I will learn how to quilt by the year 2020.
5. I will delete anyone on Facebook who "pokes" me.
6. I will be on time, every time, 85 % of the time. 
7. I will lose those last 5 lbs. to reach my ideal weight.
8. I will remember to put clothes in the dryer within 3 days of putting them in the washer.
9. I will begin following 5 new blogs.
10. I will not purchase any new cowboy boots. Unless I get a discount. At all. 
11. I will charm all male cowboy boot salesmen in order to get a discount. 
12. I will live my life

Whew!! I get tired just reading it!

I hope each and every one of you have a fantastic 2012 and that you're also true to yourself by keeping your resolutions. 

I sure I hope I can keep mine; I'd hate to resort to the resolution I've had the greatest luck with:

Age 20: Don't make a resolution for 5 years. 
Reality: It's the only one I was ever able to keep.