Roast Beef is My Idol

“7 For in that day every one of you will reject the idols of silver and gold your sinful hands have made.” –Isaiah 31:7 NIV

“21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” -1 John 5:21NIV

I love roast beef. Growing up, roast beef was reserved for Sunday afternoons or special occasions. I was taught to respect the roast beef. It was not something that we ate every day. I look at roast beef like a special treat, only to be indulged on those rare occasions. It’s like candy. A few days ago, I told my husband that I was craving a pot roast. I could smell the cooked carrots, peeled and halved potatos, with a roast that falls apart and melts in your mouth. I have my own specific system for achieving such wonderful greatness. There are tricks of the trade that have been passed down from generations in my family to achieve such deliciousness.

cowslinedup

I asked my husband to remind me to take the roast out of the freezer on Friday so I could slow cook it all day on Saturday. My plan was going to be glorious! So imagine my surprise when I came down the stairs on the next morning to find my husband smiling and stuffing a frozen roast into the crock pot. I stood still in my tracks as I watched him salt and pepper the roast and throw in DICED carrots and potatoes with the peels still on! (Gasp!) This is NOT my process!!!! Where is the onion soup mix? Why aren’t the potatoes peeled? Why are the carrots chopped into tiny pieces? HOW. DARE. HE. TOUCH. MY. ROAST!!!

My husband knows my love of roast beef, or well any beef at all. He, however, underestimated the fact that roast beef is my idol. He was understandably shocked that his act of love was not met with love in return. Fire burned in the pit of my stomach as I watched him smile with excited anticipation at a reaction he thought he would get from his loving wife. I could hear my dad’s voice in my head, “It’s no big deal, there’s more where that came from.” But there were only two roasts in my freezer! I like it done the way I like it done and NO OTHER WAY! GAH! But I remained silent and still. My internal battle was slowly burning. He looked at me with a big smile, so excited to surprise me with this act of service he thought I would appreciate. And I should have. I could feel my red hair slowly turning to flames. I wanted to push him out of the way so I could do it the right way, but he was already finished. I can’t un-chop carrots and it was 7:42, time to go to work. I was silent and my poor husband was left in the dark as to why I was angry with him. He gently asked what he had done wrong and I told him, “In the future, I will make the roast beef.”

As those words left my lips I could finally hear how ridiculous I was acting. Throughout the course of the next few hours I prayed and asked God to show me my wrongs. When He held the mirror up I could see that roast beef is my idol. I had put roast beef before my husband and before God.

A time of repentance followed and I apologized to my honey. We ate the roast that evening. This may all sound really silly, but it got me thinking about all the “things” I put before God and the wonderful gifts He has laid before me (i.e. my husband). My self-awareness has been heightened all because of a cut of beef. The Lord works in mysterious ways…

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The Old Brown Recliner- Happy Birthday Dad!

Christmas 1985. The last year that I got to put the angel on the tree because then Bek was born. :)

Christmas 1985. The last year that I got to put the angel on the tree because then Bek was born. 🙂

When I’m feeling sad, I find myself snuggled up to my “Daddy” in the old brown recliner. This is where I feel safe. I know my mother is cringing right now because I don’t think there was ever a piece of furniture she hated more than the old brown recliner. When I was young, I remember sitting on my dad’s lap in the old brown recliner. I was safe there and there was nothing that could touch me. No brothers would pull my hair or try to wrestle me to the ground. In the old brown recliner in my dad’s lap, I was safe from any chaos in my life. This is where I go when I don’t feel safe in my adult life. I go right back to sitting on my “Daddy’s” lap in the old brown recliner. I say “Daddy” in quotes because I don’t want my readers to think that I go and snuggle up on Gordy’s lap in a recliner at 30 years of age. No, I sit on God’s lap in the old brown recliner. It is my safe place to fall when chaos shows it’s ugly face.

There are so many things that I am eternally grateful for in my life: one of them is my Dad. I don’t think I’ve ever given him the true props that he deserves so I’ll do my best here. I’ve always considered myself to have a really good grasp on who God truly is: His Grace, His Hope, His Love, etc. He has always been someone I can count on and who will never abandon me. I know I can trust Him. Through my interactions I’ve learned that not every young woman has the same outlook on God as I do, and I know why.

5 months old and surrounded by my favorite things: my dad and a kitty.

5 months old and surrounded by my favorite things: my dad and a kitty.

When I was growing up, I was never told that I was ugly or worthless by my dad. At least once a day I was hugged and told that I was beautiful and could do anything I set my mind too. Even when my math homework wasn’t sinking into my brain, my dad met me with patience rather than anger. When I couldn’t remember my memory verse late Saturday night that I needed to remember for Sunday morning church, my dad sat in the old brown recliner into the night and helped me break it down to learn it. Of course, I had to do the dishes for a week because I SHOULD have memorized my verse months ago, but the punishment fit the crime and I learned self discipline. The only time my dad ever yelled at me (to my knowledge) was the day I spooked the cows and they went running the opposite direction from where he was trying to put them and then through the fence. Again, the punishment fit the crime and I had to run the furthest to get them rounded back up and help fix the fence. That day, I learned to respect others. My point being, I didn’t grow up with a push over dad that let me walk all over him. When I did something naughty or disobeyed, the punishment fit the crime. I wasn’t torn down and told that I was worthless or stupid. At the end of the day, I could always feel safe in my dad’s arms. And for this, I am eternally grateful. I was blessed to have such an amazing dad. He’s not perfect because he’s not God, he’s a man. A man who’s not afraid to admit when he’s wrong and whom I respect more and more each day because of his imperfections. I learned from him to be self disciplined and have a high sense of self worth, I also have an amazing vision of who my Savior really is. I know God is always there for me. I can lean on Him and He will never abandon me. He loves me in spite of my flaws and inability to keep cows in a pen or calculate simple math problems in my head. He loves me for me. I have strengths and I have weaknesses, but nothing will ever change that I am loved beyond my comprehension. Should I ever need a safe place to fall I can always find comfort in knowing that the old brown recliner lives on in my imagination. (Since I’m pretty sure mom burned the actual one.)

Happy Birthday to the best Dad in the whole WORLD!!! I am VERY fortunate to be your daughter!

P.S. I could have told Dad’s favorite story for his birthday but I already posted that here.

My wedding day...

My wedding day…

Your Favorite Story: The Case of the Heavy Boots

As stated previously, chasing cows is not only a big deal but a way of life at the Kopperud Farm. Like a doctor who is on call, you have to be completely ready for any situation at any time even from a dead sleep. Ya know, one of us really should have been a doctor… Oh wait! I crack myself up… Anyway, my point is,  many times you can be awakened in the early morning hours and you have to chase cows. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Get up and GO! You have 2 seconds to get dressed in the proper attire before you are expected to be miles away from the house and round up those thousand pound animals and make them go where you want them to go.

I really shouldn’t call it chasing cows when really it’s rounding up the cows and directing them where you want them to go. In the Kopperud family, we have a system that we follow. If you married into the family be prepared to get yelled at for being in the way at least for the first few times you join us. After that, you can do it in your sleep.

When I was around 10 years old, I had the wonderful privilege of being the only person home when the cows broke down the fence. This was before cell phones so without warning my Dad came bursting into the house and said “Let’s go! Cows are out and they’re headed to the tar road!” Sensing my father’s intensity I got up and threw on some old blue and white coveralls. Then I headed for the front porch to put my boots on. “Come on! What’s taking you so long?!” my father called out. “I can’t find my boots!” I yelled back. “Just put something on and let’s go!” The only boots that were available were a spare pair of my dad’s boots. He had several pairs so I slipped my feet into his boots and ran out the door. On my way up the hill through the tree’s and on my way down the gravel drive way I realized my choice in footwear was going to be a problem. Not only were his boots ginormous but I really couldn’t move very fast with their weight holding me down. “Hurry up!” my dad called out again. I could see him out in the field in waist high grass. My eyes went crossed. Not only was I doing my best to run in his giant boots, but I would have to run fast in waist high grass. I stood there wondering if I dare tell my dad, whose temper was already high, that I needed to run back to the house to change my shoes. “What are you doing just standing there? Let’s GO!” And then I knew what I had to do, I ran fast and hard through the waist high grass. I jumped and lifted my knees as high as I could so I wouldn’t trip on the grass. My boots were weighing me down. I did my best to keep up with my dad. I tried to stay right behind him so I could run in the grass he already knocked down. Then, the tall grass disappeared to reveal a small ravine. Dad leaped over the ravine like a graceful gazelle.  The ravine was only around 2 feet wide so under normal circumstances, this jump wouldn’t have fazed me, but since my legs were already feeling like lead weights from running in the boots, this small jump looked like the Grand Canyon. I looked up at my dad who was standing on the other bank, “Come on jump! I need you over here. What’s the matter with you? Jump!”

I didn’t want to argue with him because he was already frustrated that the cows broke down the fence that he would no doubt spend the rest of the day mending. AND to rub salt into the wound, his sons weren’t home to help him. All that was left was his little pip-squeak redhead.

I looked at him, and then back at the rustling water in front of me. “Okay Jesus, please help me make it to the other side.” I had full faith that I was going to make it. I took a few steps back so I could get a running start… “I can do this, I can do this”… step, step, JUMP! I jumped with all of my might. I threw my arms out to my sides like superman, spread eagle, as hard as my little body could handle and closed my eyes. I felt my feet lift off the ground. A small smile crossed my face and I knew I could make it. Just as soon as I thought “I’m going to make it” I felt my small feet hit the inside top of Dad’s boots. My lift off came to an abrupt halt. My face changed from the sweet bliss of a freeing smile to a look of terror. My body could make it to the other side, but not as long as those boots were attached to my feet. I had just enough momentum to make the toe’s of the boots slowly roll forward and shift. So there I was, the small bubbling water beneath me, mid air, and my face fast approaching the west bank of the ravine. “This isn’t going to be good” I thought to myself. Then, WHAM! I did a face plant straight into the other bank. From the waist down I was soaked in water. “Get up, Joanna, Get up! You have to chase cows. Dad’s already frustrated. Get up!” I thought to myself. It took all of my strength to stand up. When I got to the point where I had shaken the sense back into myself after the shock, I looked around for my dad. I thought for sure he would be angry at me for getting all wet. After all, this meant I would move slower with the water weight added to my already heavy load. I looked around but I couldn’t find my dad. I could see the cows grazing in the neighbors bean field, but my dad was nowhere in sight. Then, I heard him. He was breathing strangely and gasping for air. I saw some flattened grass on the edge of the field and then I heard his hysterical laughter. He was laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe. I walked over and stood next to him as tears rand down his face, he said, “THAT is the funniest thing I have ever seen!”

To this day, whenever we talk about chasing cows, this is the story my dad tells. If you ask him about it, he will start laughing and crying all at the same time. So, there you have it dad. I wrote my side of “Your Favorite Story.”

The Truth About Showing Cows Part 3

I waited patiently as the judge walked away “It’s ok…. it’s almost over” I whispered to Chargette again. The judge took the microphone and began his speech, “Thank you all for coming out to the show ring today. I especially want to thank all these kids in front of me for all their hard work they’ve done. I’m gonna go ahead and give 1st place to the little lady on the end…” my whole body went numb. Not only was he referring to me, but I had no idea what I was supposed to do about it. “She has a nice little red Angus and I like the look of this little calf because she has some nice muscle tone through her mid-section…” I looked at my brother who was clearly infuriated by the judge’s decision and shocked beyond belief that I beat him. I was clearly shocked as well. Just then one of the guys in the ring that helped the judge direct the cattle told me to lead Chargette around and take her out the gate, but this time my brother and Charger we not in front of us. I still wasn’t exactly sure where I was supposed to go. The judge continued, “I also think it’s adorable that her hair matches her calf…” And then I knew my secret weapon. Something that gave me an edge above everyone else, I matched the calf! “I’m going to go ahead and give the second place to the young man standing next to her…” “Oh thank you Jesus” I thought “Matt was coming behind me.” I looked up at my brother hoping he would guide me out of the ring. Still not registering in my head that I just beat him, I looked at him like a tiny lost puppy and asked “Matt, what am I supposed to do?” After all, he didn’t tell me what to do if I won. I looked at him and his face was red with anger “Walk your stupid calf out the gate and give her to dad.” He hissed as he passed me and left me standing in the ring. Just then a young woman in a crown and leather sash that said “Beef Princess” walked up to me with a big smile and handed me a huge purple ribbon. “Congratulations” she said with a smile and then walked back to the podium where the judge was standing still calling out the order of calves and explaining his decision.

I spotted my dad right outside the gate. My brother led charger past him and my dad smiled at Matt’s frustration. Then he focused his eyes on me and a broad smile crossed his face. I led Chargette to him and he grabbed her leather lead and gave me a big hug. “Good job” he said. Mom came down from the grand stands and hung the Champion ribbon on Chargette’s leather halter. She took pictures of us to take home and show the family. She then did the same with Matt and forced him to smile.

My brother learned harsh but valuable lessons that day. First, choose your show cattle more wisely next year. Second, don’t train your sisters cow for her ever again. Finally, he could never be as cute as his little redheaded sister leading her little redheaded calf.

The Truth About Showing Cows Part 2

Me and Freckle. She was the best heifer I ever showed.

Me and Freckle. She was the best heifer I ever showed.

Then show day came. I was so excited to show my first feeder calf. That is, until I realized that I would have to lead Chargette around a huge show ring, BY MYSELF! I. WAS. TERRIFIED. My mom did her best to calm my nerves. I had a new shirt, my best pair of jeans, some brown show shoes, and my mom braided my hair. I looked amazing, but I was still terrified.

The morning of the show we arrived early. Everyone was showing on the same day, so everyone wanted to give their cows a bath, brush them, put a little adhesive spray on them, and maybe give them a little blow dry to get them ready for the big show. This was also a science. You didn’t want to start too soon or your calf would get tired and then lay down in the show ring, but you also didn’t want to start too late and then miss the show.

I led Chargette out to the washing gate, my dad at the end of the lead rope so she wouldn’t escape. I tied her up and gave her a bath. Then I led her into the show arena and tied her to one of the back pens. I combed her and talked to her “Chargette I don’t know what I’m doing. Please be good and don’t trample me.”

Just then my dad came in with the leather show halter we had borrowed from a friend and told me to go change into my show clothes. My mom pinned a number to the back of my shirt and I was ready to go. Before we went into the ring my brother tried to explain what was going to happen and what I would be expected to do. As he talked I couldn’t listen. I was too nervous. The feeder calves were first in the ring so I couldn’t watch all the others show first and then just mirror what they did. The time came. Panic and nerves boiled up inside me, “Just remember, no matter what, have fun” my mom said. “Fun? Here’s hoping I don’t die!” I thought to myself.

I untied Chargette and with my dad at the end of the lead rope we followed my brother and Charger to the gate. “Just follow your brother and do what he does” my dad instructed. The gate opened to let us into the HUGE show ring. Panic ripped through me like lightning as  I realized the ring seemed much larger when you’re standing inside of it than when you were watching from the grand stand. “Oh my… Oh my… I’m gonna die” I silently thought to myself. I found myself talking to Chargette in a soft soothing voice, “Please don’t trample me Chargette. Just follow Charger and do what he does…. that’s it…. ok now lets walk over here…. ok now stand nice…. ” I led her to stand next to Charger and the judge asked us to line up. “Good girl Chargette, good girl, just stay calm, it will all be over soon” I whispered into her floppy ear. “Yes, good girl, just stand still…” I did my best to get her legs positioned the way my brother had shown me.

This is Matt showing Chargette the following year as a breeding heifer. He looks mad because he just got a red ribbon and thought he would win. That’s me with the chicken legs running on the left hand side….

Just then the judged began to walk around. He was a middle aged man, probably in his early 40’s. He had a large white cowboy hat on, a blue polo shirt, and dark jeans. He looked like all the other ranchers in the Minnesota area. He walked around slowly, checking out the front and the back of each calf and then pausing at each 4-Her asking questions. “Good girl Chargette, just stay calm, it’s almost over… stay calm.” At this point in time I realized I was talking more to myself than the calf.

The judge came to Charger and I could feel Chargette tense as he approached. She could sense his movement but with her head facing forward she couldn’t see him. She jumped to get a better look. It was slight and she didn’t wrestle with me. “Thank you Jesus, she didn’t get away” To get her re-positioned I led her out of the line and circled her back around into position again. This time she was standing even better than the first time. I caught the judges eye and gave him my best smile hoping to hide how nervous I felt.

As he approached, Chargette’s whole body tensed. She didn’t move but was uneasy of him looking at her. He walked around to the back of her to check her hind quarters and then ran his hand up her spine. Then he focused his attention on me. “Hi, is this your first time showing at the fair?” “Yes” I nodded “That’s my brother” and I motioned toward Matt who was listening intently to my little interview. “This is a nice little calf you have here. Do you know what breed she is?” “Red Angus Cross” I said confidently. “What are you planning to do with her after the show?” I knew he was testing my knowledge so with confidence I answered “We will keep her and breed her next summer. My family has a small cow/calf operation and she will join the herd.” I smiled at him, impressed by how well that knowledge came out of my mouth. “When was she born” the judge asked. “March 3rd” I replied, thanking God that my dad had quizzed me before I went into the show ring so I would know how to answer the judges questions. I smiled broadly at the judge and he smiled back. He took another walk around the line of calves and then walked to the podium to get the microphone and announce his decisions.

The Truth About Showing Cows Part 1

When I was young, probably around 7 years old, I had finally graduated from being a 4-H cloverbud to an actual 4-H club member. Back then, cloverbuds were not allowed to show livestock. My county fair projects consisted of cardboard that was glued to something that I probably made little drawings on with scented markers. Needless to say, I was so excited to begin showing cows just like my big brother. (At this point, I don’t think my oldest brother was showing cattle yet. This was the first year the Kopperud’s showed beef cattle)

As I recall, Matt had been showing dairy cattle for a couple of years. He loved it. He loved the cow’s, the barns, and the sense of accomplishment. My parents loved the responsibility that we learned halter breaking a calf and all the other preparations that are needed to get the cattle ready for the show ring.

The day had come for us to pick our calves. My dad had rounded up all the calves that had been born on our small farm in Cottonwood County that year and locked them all in a pen. Dad made it clear that Matt would get first pick because he was older, and then I could choose next with help from my big brother.

Then I saw her, a wonderful little white face red Angus calf. I immediately closed my eyes and began to pray, “Oh Jesus, please don’t let him pick that one. I want her. Please, please, please…..” Fingers and toes crossed I anxiously waited for my brothers decision. I waited in agony while I listened to him “judge” all the calves like he was a professional. “Well, that one has nice hind quarters, but that one has a nice muscle tone through her body….” All I could think while he was talking is “Come on! Hurry up and pick already!” Of course, my only criteria for choosing my calf was that she was pretty and I wanted her. Who cares if I win or not?

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of listening to my brother weighing his chances at winning, he chose a little red white faced calf and named him “Charger”. It was finally my turn to choose, I jumped up on the fence and pointed at the little red white faced heifer with red around her eyes and screamed, “Dad, I want that one!”

Excitement flooded my soul as I watched my dad and my brother sort off the two calves from the others and proceeded to put blue rope halters on them. Then dad drug them both over to the side of the barn and tied them to a fence post. “Matt, you’re in charge. Help your sister and show her what to do” my dad said. I spent the next few days talking to, petting, feeding, and brushing my Chargette. (This was around the time the Westbrook Wildcats became the Westbrook-Walnut Grove Chargers. Yep, we were really cool.)

I’d like to think Matt had fun halter training my calf for me. I weighed less than 100 lbs and even that was all skin and bones. He would lead my calf to water, lead her around our drive way circle so she would know how to act in the show ring, he taught her how to stand with her hind legs wide but not too wide, and then he would tie her to the tractor by the water hose so I could wash her.

Washing cows in the hot Minnesota sun was actually enjoyable most days. I loved letting the water drip down the sides of Chargette’s body. I would run the hose slowly up and down her spinal cord and take delight in the way she would shiver. She would always be so relaxed when it came to bath time. Who wouldn’t like someone washing every part of their body and then scrubbing them down with dish soap?

Every day my brother would do the training and then I would do the washing. When Matt finally felt confident enough to let me walk her he stood next to me with the end of the lead rope in his hand. If she spooked he would still have a hold of her. And spook she did! I don’t recall ever leading her by myself. I always had one of my brothers or my dad at the end of that lead rope. They were my safety net.

A few weeks before the show it was time to “fit” the cattle. Basically, we would shave them in certain places to make them look clean and polished. We had a lot of help from other seasoned showman. The fact that my dad can make friends with anyone really benefited us kids. He had found a young man with all the equipment and the excitement to help us show our calves. We loaded Charger into the small grooming shoot first. I watched as Scott, the young man who was helping us, guided my brother in “fitting” Charger. Matt held the large clippers and shaved Charger’s head, belly, tail, and neck. Then it was my turn. Dad loaded Chargette into the grooming shoot and I grabbed the clippers. They were so large and heavy it was hard for me to maneuver them. I remember that Scott would help me hold the clippers and basically do the grooming for me while my hand just set on the clipper. He wanted me to learn, even if I wasn’t strong enough.

After weeks of preparation, it was time to head to the Cottonwood County Fair. Excitement filled our household as well as stress and a rush to get all of our non-livestock projects finished for judging the following day. I don’t know why, but we always waited for that final day to finish the other projects. We would all get up early and dress in our best attire to go through the judging/interview process. I had a photo and a sample of flowers from my flower garden in a vase, Matt would have some kind of wood working project, and Andy no doubt had some sort of super smart guy science project. My sister would come along but I believe she was still too little to enter projects. For some reason, I always remember that it would rain that morning. Not just raining, POURING. We would all run into the non-livestock project barn with our projects in hand doing our best to avoid getting mud all over our nice clothes. We would find the judging table and wait in line for our turn to be judged.

At the end of the day, it was time to go home and get the livestock. Not only did we have cattle but Andy and I would also show rabbits. My dad purchased an old homemade trailer from one of our neighbors. It was made of old plywood and old steel gates on a frame that was welded together. My dad would swing the back gate open and it was time to load. The calves went in first. Their blue lead ropes would be tied as high and tight as possible to avoid them moving around and injuring themselves. They would be packed in tightly against each other to ensure that movement wasn’t possible. Next would come a few straw and hay bales. Then the rabbits would be on top of those. After that, the big show box was loaded. My grandpa Truman made it for us kids. It was a large box probably a 3 feet by 4 feet cube. It was painted bright 4-H green and then Mom stenciled a white 4-H 4 leaf clover on the top. Who needs to buy a professional show box when you could make one? Inside we kept all of our materials we would need to wash the cattle along with spare clothes to wear. Giving a cow a bath is not a clean job. My mom would also pack sandwiches, snacks, and drinks for us so we wouldn’t go hungry in the days to come.

Matt with Charger. I believe Bek is trying to “show” Bingo our dog in the background. LOL!

Dad would drive the old truck to Windom, Minnesota. Under normal circumstances it would take 30 minutes, but with the trailer in tow and the bed of the truck full of bales we couldn’t drive as fast so it would take around 1-1/2 hours back to the fair grounds. Once we got there we would stop at the rabbit barn and drop off all the rabbits and their feed. Then head to the cattle barn. The calves would always be nervous after the long ride and all the other 4-Her’s would be unloading their cattle. It would be a little chaotic. My brothers lifted the bales and show box out of the back of the trailer. Then it was time for me to unload Chargette. She really didn’t like me leading her, or she just knew that if she jumped even a little bit I would give up and let go. When it was time to lead her off the trailer my dad knew she would probably freak out, then I would let go, and then he would spend the rest of the evening driving the streets of Windom looking for a lost calf. Sensing my paralyzing fear, my dad grabbed Chargette’s lead rope and led her to her pen for me and tied her there next to Charger. Matt then tied her with the second tie around her neck (all of the cattle had to be double tied) as I stood watching at the edge of the gate in the back of the pen.

A Cattle Barn Love Story

There were many years when my brothers would be around to help my sister and me with the cows at the fair. However, in the later years, my brothers would go off to start practicing for college football season in early August so we were on our own. Sure, we could get the help of the 4-H boys in the barn if we really wanted. The other boys were always eager to help damsels in distress. Not to mention, they were just good, homegrown, country boys who were raised right and knew when to help a lady out. My sister and I would capitalize on our feminine wiles during fair week.

We were both pretty good at getting beef burgers from the beef stand or milkshakes from the dairy booth, without paying a penny for them. But, if it were a competition, I would have to give first prize to my dear little sister. Nobody could do it up like she did. She could bat her eyes and then a milkshake from the dairy farmer’s booth would just appear. A little wink and a smile from dear little Rebekah and BOOM a beef burger from the cattlemen’s beef stand would be in her hand. A small girlish giggle and seconds later I see one of the boys leading her heifer out to the water trough. A sad puppy dog face complete with a protruding lip and WHAM one of the boys has volunteered to “fit” her heifer for her the night before the show. It was miraculous to watch folks. She’s a talented lady.

Bernie as a calf… Nice fanny pack Bek!

There were other times when the assistance of the boys was a life or death situation. After all, we were dealing with large animals. One year my sister decided to show a cow/calf at the fair. She chose to bring Bernie. Bek had shown Bernie as a feeder calf a few years before and she was the sweetest little calf. It was no wonder that my sister felt a special bond with her. Then she brought her back to the fair again as a breeding heifer, and well why not bring her again with her calf? However, as Bernie got older she got meaner and meaner. Bernie was no longer that dear sweet little calf that followed my sister around like a puppy. She was a red 1,000+ pound mean machine. She was strong as an ox and knew how to throw her weight around.

At this point in time when you brought a cow/calf as a 4-H project you wouldn’t have to halter break either of them. However, if we had to, we could halter break her to show her at the state fair. Bernie had a halter on before so she should be used to it. We learned otherwise quickly. We thought we would just put a halter on her to transport her to the county fair. When we put a halter on Bernie she would buck her head up and down like a rodeo bull until we took it off. Like I said, she was a mean old b—–. So we would just put Bernie and her calf in a pen together and locked the gate behind them. They were free to roam freely in their little pen.

One night, Bek and I stayed at the fair a little longer than my parents. They had gone home after a long shift at the Cottonwood Cattlemen’s beef booth selling hamburgers and left my sister and I at the fair. Before they left Dad said, “Be sure those cattle are watered and fed before you come home.”

My sister and I made our way to the cattle barn. We led our breeding heifers out to water and my sister filled Bernie’s water bucket through the gate, if my tiny sister had stepped foot in that pen Bernie would have swallowed her whole, spit her out and then trampled the pieces. We were all set to go when Bernie decided it would be a great idea to not only step in her water bucket but tip it over and trample it. We knew we couldn’t leave her with no water so like the brave sister I am, I said, “I’ll go in and put the bucket back where it belongs.” My sister replied, “No don’t go in there. Joe (a 4-H boy) is sitting right outside the barn. I’ll go see if he can help us.” Looking back, I know that my sister was wise beyond her years. Yes, her idea would have been the better choice, but because I have too much pride, I replied, “Oh it will be fine. We don’t need boys to do EVERYTHING for us. You stand in that corner outside the fence and feed her some hay. I’ll sneak in the opposite corner by the gate and fix the water bucket. I’ll be in and out fast. She won’t even know I was in there.” The plan seemed to be a good idea. For the first half a second, it actually worked! My sister agreed and did her best to distract the old cow for as long as she could.

I swiftly opened the old yellow gate and slipped inside like the ginja ninja I am and then shut the gate behind me to ensure that the calf wouldn’t escape. Then it happened. As I wrestled with the water bucket trying to stabilize it against the gate, Bernie made her move. My back was turned to her and I was bent over wrestling with the bucket, trying to get it to stand on its own after the brutal trampling. She quietly yet quickly turned her body around, I heard my sister say “Joanna…” But I almost had the bucket back into place so I ignored her. “Joanna…” she said a little louder this time. Finally, I got the bucket untangled and put back into place. Oozing with pride that my plan worked I stood up and SLAM! Bernie had turned around and positioned herself behind me. She hooked her nose low under my bum and whipped her head straight up. She had me pinned up against the fence, my feet dangling off the ground beneath me. My face and body were pressed up against the gate. She knocked the wind straight out of my lungs so I couldn’t make a sound. She held me there, pressing harder and harder into my lower back with her long face. “JOANNA!” My sister screamed as she ran past me and headed towards the front doors of the barn screaming for help. Joe had already heard my sister’s screams and rushed to the pen. He flung the gate open and I could feel Bernie’s body shift slightly from side to side as Joe threw his whole body into her shoulder like a line backer trying to get her to release me from my pinned up prison. Finally, he was able to shift her off balance and I came tumbling down onto my bottom in the middle of the cow pen. Heaving, trying to catch my breath I realized I was sitting in the middle of an angry cow’s pen. I crawled as fast as I could out of the gate and Joe ran out shutting the gate behind us both.

As I lay there on the cold dirt floor of the barn, clinging to my life, coughing still trying to catch the last and final breath of my life, I looked around to find that I was alone. The bright sun light from the evening sunset showed through the large open barn doors, burning my pupils as I squinted and tried to make out the picture… there they were, side by side walking away from me as if nothing happened. I could see two silhouettes walking into the sunset, gazing into each other’s eyes. Of course, she was only 10 and he was 18 so the love story only began that day. (HAHA just kidding Joe I know you aren’t that much older than her) They were married on May 27th, 2006 and now have two beautiful boys.

Ok so, MAYBE the story is a little dramatic. But you know what, it’s MY story told from MY perspective. This story is a true story with only some SLIGHT exaggerations. I guess there’s something irresistible about a guy who comes to… your sister’s rescue? But who am I to judge? Jesus clearly knew what he was doing that day. He let me live and He sprouted an epic cattle barn love story.

The Case of the Rolling Bull

I found this little gem from my college years. It was written sometime before May 2005.

Our families cows breaking out of their “fenced in roaming area” is nothing new. I remember such experiences as a child when death felt near. It is those times when your heart beats fast and panic sets in, then your mind and body come together in that short instance that saves your life.

My family had just gotten home from vacation. We notice many footprints on our lawn. These were not any ordinary footprints but they certainly were familiar to my family. They were the kind of footprints that we all dreaded to see. They were cow footprints. My whole family was so tired and did not want to deal with the cows wondering all over our lawn. Dad took it upon himself and said that he would go out and see what’s going on while the rest of us unloaded from the trip. We were all laughing and reminiscing about the trip when we all turned to see my dad running towards us. It turns out that my neighbor’s cows had gotten into the very same pen with our cows and we would have to separate them. This is a HUGE job. My sister, mom, dad and I went and put our clothes on and got ready to go.

When I had finished getting changed I went down the hill to where the cows were. Naturally, the two bulls had found each other. I made my sister round up the herd while I stayed up by the house. My life all of the sudden became slow motion. The two bulls were coming towards me in a not so orderly way. Rolling, rolling towards me. I looked around for somewhere to hide, but unfortunately this was the open plain of the Midwest. There were no trees or anything to hide from two fighting, 2,000 Pd bulls. I screamed and looked at my sister. To my shock she was laughing hysterically at me. I did not think that this near death experience was very humorous at all.

I looked back at the bulls. The neighbor’s bull was running towards me looking for protection because our bull was winning the fight. This only worsened my situation. Finally, I did what I had to do; the only thing there was to do. I ran. I out ran them. After all I was only 140 pounds and they weighed only about 1,860 more.

Well, that’s what I remember. During the rest of the day I had two more near death experiences. If you would like to know “the rest of the story” just ask. It is quite amusing.

Freckles on the Pasture

I found this little gem from my college years. This was written sometime before May 2005.

As I walk

I hear the peaceful sounds

The wind massages my skin

And I keep walking

I wonder far away

Not knowing where I’ll end up

I keep going

Through the woods and paths

My freckles are burning

The suns rays hit

They are stinging

Like they’ve been bit

I think of all the feet that have been before,

Walking my very steps

Wandering away

From everything

I wonder what reasons they had

Scared?

Mad?

Happy?

Their mind becomes important

What did they think?

Why were they here

What did they do?

I’m here

Sitting,

Thinking,

Wondering.

Why I came here

What I’m doing

How I got here

And if they thought of me too.

I love this poem and can’t believe I wrote it way back when… This sums up a lot of why I started writing again. I love knowing the history of our family and knowing who lived in our house before we did. There have been many times when a walk on the pasture is all you need to calm your nerves, share you happiness, feel the peace of the prairie, or just to pray. I’ve walked that pasture for many different reasons over the years but most of the time it’s to escape the chaos that can be normal life. The pasture at my parents house is where I go to breathe…

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Guidance for the first born Granddaughter

  •  Jesus will always love you.
  • It’s ok to look up to your Aunties. They make good role models.
  • God made you different for a reason. Embrace it.
  • It’s ok to be a Diva. Daddy will learn to appreciate it later.
  • There’s always time for dessert with Grandpa.
  • Grandma’s sliced carrots always taste better.
  • If the boys don’t want to play with you, go get Grandpa. His games are more fun anyway.
  • If you ask nicely (and you are careful) Grandma might let you play with Aunties Barbie dolls.
  • You may think grandma is teaching you something you won’t use in the future… but you will use it, so listen.
  • If no one seems to understand you, call grandma.
  • Learn how to take care of your younger cousins or siblings. You will use those skills later and it may land you some babysitting jobs.
  • Help Grandma in the kitchen. Your future husband will appreciate it.
  • If you need something (candy, dollhouse, bookshelves, etc.) ask Grandpa. He will get or make it for you.
  • If you play dress up with old clothes; remember what you are wearing may be ugly now, but it will be back in style by the time the clothes actually fit you.
  • If you need something fixed, ask Grandpa. (Daddy probably wouldn’t do it right anyway)
  • Curlers are fun. Have Grandma show you how to put them in Grandpa’s hair.
  • Style Grandpa’s hair with your pretty bows too. He likes it.
  •