Daniel with Squirt at Fair

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Daniel in showmanship. Easy to find Squirt in a sea of black steer!

It was hard to not be disappointed this year.  Squirt looked really good in the few weeks leading to fair.

Even though it was Dans first year with a steer we had high hopes.  We knew Amanda’s steer wouldn’t place very high, despite all of our efforts we couldn’t get the weight on him.  

We had people approaching us in the barn complementing Squirt.  We knew he had a chance of placing very high.

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Daniel walking Squirt in the show ring

Daniel ended up 8th in showmanship.  I would have loved him to get a higher ribbon.  But he was in a tough class with a lot of good showman.  It was the best I had ever seen him  work Squirt, so I was thrilled with him.

After showmanship we had a 5 hr break and then market class.  They judge the animal, not the kids in this class.  This was where my husband had very high hopes.  We thought there were only a few others in the barn that could beat him.

But, fair, like dog shows, all boil down to one man’s opinion.  It all rests with the judge. 

And Squirt ended up 5th.   Still a great showing, but a bit of a let down. 

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Dan stroking Squirts belly with a show stick to keep him calm in the ring.

The week after fair the meat is judged.  Not every one attends this show.  To some it very hard to see their show animal as meat.  But in reality that is what these rural kids are doing.  Raising meat for consumption.

Dan was very pleased with the carcass show, he got second place.  (second place is often referred to reserve champion)

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Reserve champion trophy

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Rosette

So, while Daniel did better with a dead steer then a living one,  it was
Still a very successful fair.

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Fifth place in market class, eighth plass in showmanship, reserve champion in carcass.

And, like every year that we leave fair, we all were saying there is always next year!

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Chevy gets a make over

Chevy got his first wash and dry today.

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He was very mellow.  I had NO idea how much prep time went into showing beef.  

It is very much like a dog show and grooming the high maintenance breeds like poodles.

He is very hairy!  

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Rob and Mike shampoo Chevy

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Brushing and blow drying

And the final product, with a pleased Mike.

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He may not  place high, he certainly doesn’t have a high dollar pedigree (remember he was a surprise calf out of a skinny cow bought at auction)  But Mike is having fun.

Brown Swiss

This breed of  cattle simply melts my heart.   The calves are heartbreakingly cute.

Rusty, this year’s swiss calf is so sweet.  He will follow you without a halter.  He runs to the pasture fence to get pet when he sees you  coming. 

And his ears.  Those huge ears.  They bounce when he runs. I love them so!

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Rusty 2 days old.

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Running to the fence to get pet.

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Squirt is now 17 months old.  Not quite as sweet anymore, but still very mellow for a steer.

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Hanging out with baby Squirt, April 2011.

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Baby Squirt hating his bath.

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I would have 100 Swiss calves if we had the space!

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quirt all grown up.  Approximately 1500 lbs.

Time to walk the pigs

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Mike with Bertha

I love this time of year.   We have 33 days until fair and life is busy.

The pigs are finally big enough to walk.   We wait until they are about 200 lbs.  If you walk them much lighter they run too fast to control.

They all have different personalities.  Yesterday only Mike and  Amanda were to walk.

We could very quickly see that Amandas pig, weighing only 175# is a runner.   We opened the pen and  she took off running, to the back hay field.  You don’t chase or they run faster.  Very nerve wrecking to watch the kids projects run away!

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Amanda and Snow White

Eventually, Snow White calmed down to walk.  Amanda uses a whip to walk, but with only very light touches.   Pigs are sensitive, a soft touch is enough to send then in the right direction.

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Mike with both Spot and Bertha

Mike uses a cane.  But again, with very little pressure.   Once the pigs have been walking for a week or so it becomes much easier.

Summer evenings

Picture perfect summer evenings this week

Lots of time just spent in the pasture.

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Mike with Buddy

Weather has been warm, humidity low. 

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Rob giving squirt a back scratch

Animals are in great moods with the pleasant weather.

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Amanda hanging out with Mickey, he us almost taller then Mike

And the wild one, Mikes beef feeder calf was weaned today and came to live in our barn.

He is hesitant.  But Mike has managed to pat him several times today.  He is turning black as I was told he would.

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Chevy home.

I am hoping he mellows soon.

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Mike laughing as Buddy wants pet and Rusty is eating his shirt

I love summer.

We are in full swing for fair

Summer is sadly dwindling down.

Honestly it will feel over on Monday.

Daily football practices start.  Matching band the following week.

Judging for still projects is next Sunday.  This means, although they haven’t procrastinated much this summer,  they are all scrambling to finish project books.

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Amanda is busy baking her last loaves of bread for “Yeast Breads”.

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Kneading dough

Mike has three projects (his choice) so he overwhelmed.  He is done with “Fun with Flight”.  Almost done with Grill Master”.  But he still has activities for “Tractor 3”

Daily haltering of calves and steer is very time consuming.  At least an hour in the barn every evening.

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Walking feeder calves

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Every now and then you just get a great picture. Amanda with Frosty.

Livestock interview judging is in 2 weeks.  Kids need to get busy studying.

While I love fair, this nonstop chaos is exhausting!

All work and no play

My kids certainly enjoy summer. 

Although the animals take up a lot of time, we manage to slip out for lots of fun.

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Rob with the kids on the power tower.

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Millennium Force, a favorite roller coaster

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Kids with their cousins on a water ride.

We have season passes to Cedar Point, an amusement park about 1 hour away.

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Running down to the river to go tubing

We have a camper and try to take a few week long trips a year.  During the summer we camp locally so we can run home to feed the animals.   Thankfully there is a great state park nearby with a river for tubing, mountain bike trails, fishing, and lots of relaxing.

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Mohican state park

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Zoey sleeping with one of the kids in the camper

We tend to camp further from home during spring break. We have camped in the Smokies, Florida, and South Carolina. Next year we are headed back to Florida, this time to St Andrews State Park.

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Riding bikes at Henderson State Park, Destin, FL

Sports also take a big part in the kids lives.

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Amanda playing first base on varsity softball team.

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Mike with his football team

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Dan catching

And, although only Mike enjoys kayaking with me, I do try to get out regularly.

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Kayaking in Charles Mill Lake

I love the animals, but glad the kids stay involved in extras!

Peek into a busy morning of chores

We are camping this week, so everyone has to get up early, stumble, yawning to the car and drive home for chores.

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Asleep and not wanting to get up.

The drive is quick, only 20 minutes.

The calves and steer all need to be haltered for grain and supplements.  We halter them so they are used to being tied at fair.

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All lined up in the barn

They don’t mind being haltered.  They usually just lay down and sleep.   They stay tied for about 45 minutes.

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Amandas steer just isn't filling out like we wanted despite our efforts so he gets extra corn.

The hogs need cleaned and fed.

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These girls can get quite messy overnight, jeter they are getting brushed.

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See the wagon at the gate? The dreaded manure wagon that gets emptied twice a day in the hay field behind the house.

Of course the dog wants fed.

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Zoey at the campground

And the cat wants attention.

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Naughty Fluffy scratching the barn

The garden needs watered and zucchini harvested.

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Mike in the garden in June

Finally, untie the steer and drive back to the park.  But at least there is a  river and a pool awaiting  hard working kids.

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Baling Straw

This is what hot looks like.

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One load down, three to go.

We helped bale straw today.  My husband ran the baler while the boys and I helped my father in law unload the wagon.

It was 95 degrees today. 

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The sweat was pouring off everyone.  

Lots of water breaks and we got most of the wheat straw stacked.

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Mike in the skid steer cleaning up the broken bales

I offered to take mike home after the first 2 loads, but he chose to stay and help hay.   Crazy kid.

Garden in full swing

The straw/newspaper combo is very successful so far.   I am pleased. 

Ground stays moist, and zero weeds.

I won’t even mess with landscape fabric next year.

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Weed free with zucchini plants taking over

The cucumbers are climbing and blooming.

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Leftover cattle panel fencing works well!

The roma tomatoes are the only tomatoes with fruit, but all are loaded with blossoms.

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Romas destined to be canned a salsa and sauce

Peppers are starting, my husband has thoughts of canned peppers and sausage stuffed hot peppers.

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Hungarian hot peppers being guarded by Fluffy

The only flop?  Carrots planted by Mike.  Almost none came up.

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One of the lone carrots

The two things I dont know when to harvest -dill and basil.

How.big are they supposed to get?  I want to make pesto and freeze it.

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One of the basil plants. How big do I let it get?

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Dill starting to get flowers.

I love this time of year!