My First Jack Bauer Moment

Since my sister’s birthday is coming up this weekend AND Jack Bauer will soon be returning to television what better post to kick off my relaunch than this one? I’ve taken a little time off but I hope to be back up and running in no time. Enjoy!!!BekandIsleeping

As children we were always finding ways to get into mischief. It’s really all my parents fault. They were the ones who encouraged my siblings and I to be overly creative farm kids. Summer vacation is when my creative genius was at its finest.

Long summer days with 4 children home all day left my mother in a state of exhaustion. As we got older “nap time” slowly morphed into “be quiet for one hour while mom regains her sanity”. During this time the kids had two options: one, we could play outside for one hour. Or two, play upstairs quietly and don’t bother mom who was napping on the couch. Basically, you could either go outside and stay there or be upstairs and stay there but you couldn’t have it both ways.

The boys would retreat to do whatever boys do outside. While my sister Bekah and I opted to stay upstairs and play quietly. This arrangement worked well for a couple of days. But by that third day I grew bored. About 20 minutes into the quiet time I decided that I wanted to go and get the baby kitties from the barn and bring them into the house. However, there was an obstacle. Mom was napping downstairs right next to the front door. There was no entering or exiting the house through the only door. However, this would not stop me and my mission. My creative juices started flowering. There had to be a way, right? In all honesty, my sister probably tried to talk me out of my devious plans, but my plan required team work. I successfully convinced her that she wanted to play with the baby kittens too. And so my accomplice was born and I could execute my fool proof plan.

For whatever reason, my dad had taken the screen off of one of the upstairs windows on the 2nd floor of our 3 story home. I went into the linen closet and found an old mismatched sheet that my mom wouldn’t notice was missing. I slowly and quietly opened the window and hung the sheet out of it. Then I tied one end of the sheet to the couch leg; I asked my sister to hold on to the sheet for extra support and I lowered myself down. It worked! Bek threw one of our school backpacks down to me and I made my way down to the barn. I loaded the baby kittens into the back pack and climbed back up the sheet. This was our daily occurrence for several days. Mom and Dad would never find out. We were like secret operatives on a top secret mission and no one would ever know our secret.

That is, until the day Bek asked if she could be the one that was being lowered down. I opened the window and threw the sheet out just like every other day. However, my sister was small and my pride was as big as the state of Minnesota. I decided that I could just hold the sheet and not tie off the end to the couch.

Carefully, my sister made her way out the window. She began to climb lower and lower on the sheet. Then all of the sudden she looked up at me and her facial expression turned to panic…and then her hands let go. The shock of her letting go caused my hands released the sheet and both my sister and the sheet went falling to their doom.

BekandI80swall

All I could do was watch as my sister fell flat onto her back. To my relief her head was inches from the cement opening of the cistern and she landed on the grass. To my detriment, my dad was working in the yard that day and saw everything. Well, he didn’t see everything. He saw my sister climbing out of a window, and me dropping a sheet. Let’s just say my dad was none too pleased with me that day, and yes Mom did wake up from her nap. And yes, I was punished for dropping my sister out of a second story window, but really, she let go… It doesn’t matter no one will ever believe me.

Happy Birthday!!! It’s a miracle you survived this long….

Sometimes I Need a Boost

MattandIdressup

My favorite past time… DRESS UP!

I’m a firm believer that every little girl needs a big brother. Either by blood or by friendship we need them. That may just be because I have two awesome brothers, but it doesn’t change my opinion. We all need brothers who will come along side us, support us, and give us a boost when life’s challenges become too hard to bear alone. My constant encourager is my brother Matt. When I prayed about my birthday tribute to him I asked for guidance on what story God wanted me to share and he placed Shannon the horse on my heart.

Summers on the farm proved to get longer as we got older. As preteens we weren’t old enough to drive or have employment. When we weren’t picking rock for the neighbors our days were spent making our own fun. As kids of a cattle farmer we always wanted more. You know, the grass is always greener. We wanted a horse. Thankfully about a mile up the road our next door neighbor had an old horse that didn’t get much attention, so when the neighbor kids wanted to play with his horse he was more than happy to let us give her some much needed attention. Shannon was really old and extremely mild mannered but enjoyed when we would come to brush her or ride her around the property.

One day my sister and I walked up the road to find Matt playing “cowboy” with Shannon. Well, I guess it wasn’t cowboy so much as he has decided we should ride her bareback, no doubt like the Indians did in the movie Dances with Wolves. Matt convinced me this would be a good idea and proceeded to “teach” me how to grab Shannon’s mane and jump up on her. Well, I have always lacked in the muscle department so there was no possible way that I could jump onto that horse by myself. Matt then devised a plan. I would hold onto Shannon’s mane and put my foot into his intertwined fingers. He would give me a small boost while I swung my leg over the other side. I was determined to ride her bare back and he was a supportive big brother that didn’t want to see my dreams crushed.

And so it went, I stood on Shannon’s left side and grabbed her mane with my left hand. I used my right hand to balance myself on her body. Matt squatted down and intertwined his fingers into a low stirrup for me to stand in. I set my left foot in his hands. “Ready?” He asked. “1, 2, 3…” And I went flying over the horse!

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Matt and I with our “baby” Bekah.

“You were supposed to hold on!” He yelled. “How am I supposed to hold on when you launched me over the horse?” I yelled back.

I don’t know if I actually rode the horse that day. No doubt Matt laughed and I stormed off in a fit of rage. But one thing I know for sure, whenever I need a little encouragement, I always know who to call for a “boost”.

Dr. Andy’s First Patient… or So I Claim

My first day of school in my teddy bear dress Mom made with my hero’s!

It’s not always easy growing up in the shadows of greatness. I say “shadows” because I have two older brothers who are grrrreat! For those of you that don’t know, my oldest brother is a doctor. Since tomorrow is Dr. Andy’s birthday I thought maybe all of his current patients would appreciate a little story of his first patient, ME! (Don’t worry Matt and Bek I will have a special story for your birthdays too. Scared? You should be. )

Andy was always a mature child so naturally when my parents would go on dates or had some sort of function they needed to attend Andy was often our baby sitter. Early this particular summer, Dad set up our pop-up camper to air it out and clean it for use. Since mom and dad had a prior engagement that evening, it was up to us kids to clean out the camper while they were gone. We were equipped with hot water in buckets and old rags that mom left out for us. It was Andy’s responsibility to keep us on task and get the camper cleaned out. We proceeded to open all the zipper windows and wash every surface in preparation for that weekend’s first camping trip of the summer.

Once all the cleaning was finished the four of us started to play around the camper. It was fun running in and out and all around in the beautiful summer evening. I remember standing in the doorway of the camper and Matt just outside. Matt reached to swing the door of the camper shut, and for some reason, I reached out to stop it from closing and… SLAM! My thumb was pinched in the door. I screamed and Andy came to my rescue.

Dr. Andy’s #1 fans at his Med-School Graduation. Yes… we were the loudest! And yes, we made our own foam fingers. 🙂

He grabbed my forearm of my injured extremity and tucked it under his elbow so he could examine the damage. I bent and strained to see it around his shoulder but he had me pinned down. “Whelp, there’s skin hanging off of your thumb and it’s bleeding. We need to wash this out or it will get infected.” And just like that, I was dragged out of the camper, across the front lawn, and came to a halt in front of the kitchen sink. Since my arm was pinned under his elbow I couldn’t see what he was planning to do. Then, he turned the water on, “Let me go! It’s fine! Let me go! Please don’t do this, it’s going to hurt!” I pleaded as I fought against his brute strength. “Joanna, hold still we have to wash it out or it will get infected.” “I don’t want to wash it out. I’m happy to have an infection! Ot’s ok, I’m fine, really. Pleeeeaaase let me go!” I fought as hard as I could. I kicked and hit with my free limbs, and I almost got loose. “Matt come help me,” Andy yelled. “Yes, Matt please come and free me!” I yelled after him. To my detriment, brothers stick together. As Matt came into the kitchen I was so happy. However, to my surprise, Matt wrapped his arms around me and held me down as Andy pulled my sore thumb closer to the running water. “WAHHHHHHHHHH!!!” I screamed as the sting of the water hit the open wound on my thumb.

My body went limp, from what can only be an extreme state of shock, and there was no more fight left in me. Matt let go and Andy proceeded to bandage my thumb with a band aid. I fell to the floor as I watched the boys make their way back outside the house. “See, now was that so bad?” Andy asked as he walked away.

Dr. Andy with his beautiful bride at his Med-School Graduation.

After 20+ years and extensive medical training, I can say with great confidence that Dr. Andy has learned more finesse and better bedside manner since that day. After all, it’s a big brothers job to torture his younger siblings. As I lay there on the kitchen floor for several minutes I began to plot my revenge. Then I looked down at my perfectly bandaged finger and realized it really wasn’t that bad. I may be a bit of a drama queen, but I won’t ever tell him that…. 🙂

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.

The Day Before

It was the day before my wedding. Everything was looking bright and sunny. However, there was rain in the forecast which was casting a shadow on my outdoor garden wedding but I tried not to let that bother me. We had a girl’s day planned the day before and it was going to be a glorious day! We were headed to Marshall to get our nails done and have lunch together. We left the boys home to finish setting up the tents and chairs. My mom left them a list of things that needed to get done while we were getting pampered.

I’m not entirely sure how the whole idea morphed into what it became. Our first mistake was leaving the men alone. My sisters in laws were both in my wedding so that left the boys to play without supervision. I assume the idea started with an individual finding a long piece of landscaping plastic that was left over from the preparations of my wedding at my parent’s house. After that, it all went downhill… literally….

The ladies and I had a wonderful day. We got manicures and pedicures and went out for a delicious lunch. We were excited to come home to see all the work the guys had done but we were greeted with something else entirely. As we drove down the driveway I could see my oldest brother (I say oldest because I have 2) standing at the top of a large mound of dirt that was left from digging the pit where my parents burn their garbage. I remember “what the…” coming out of my mouth. He was facing away from us wearing nothing but a pair of shorts. He slowly turned and looked at us sitting in the vehicle. Straight faced, he slowly turned back around… and then FLUNG himself off the mound of dirt hands first!

After that, all the women started talking at the same time, “What was that?” “What have they been doing?” “They better have finished their list!” Upon further inspection and a walk down to where I saw my brother throw himself off the mound of dirt, I saw what they were doing. All the men, including my future beloved, were soaking wet. They had a garden hose hooked up to the barn and were spraying the landscaping plastic with ice cold water. They had made a slip n slide the day before my wedding.

My mom had organized everything down perfectly so there was a little bit of time to kill before the rehearsal started. Time to kill + Family from across the US gathering + 1 Texan+ God given creativity = DANGEROUS! My husband’s friend from Texas that flew up for the wedding suggested that we move the slip n slide to the sledding hill and proceeded to go into town to buy 100 foot landscaping tarp. And so they did… and yes, this is how I spent the day before my wedding. I did not go down the slip n slide for fear of injury but many did and I think it is now a family activity that will be passed on to the generations!

This last summer my nephew who is 4 years old continued the tradition.