Green power


It’s National 4-H week. So to celebrate, the boys sported a little green power by wearing their 4-H shirts this week.


And I finally focused and wrote my column about the power of green.

Green power

By Holly Martin

“You know, if every kid in the inner cities in this country belonged to 4-H, we wouldn’t have much of a crime problem.”

If that ain’t the truth. President Bill Clinton couldn’t have been more right.
I know he’s right because I’ve seen firsthand what 4-H teaches young people. As I write this, we are in the middle of celebrating National 4-H Week. The power of that green 4-H clover is great for so many reasons.



Pretty much the same thing

If you don’t know my family, this essentially is their philosophy.

Courtesy of The Gift. (

Except occasionally, you could replace “cows” with “pigs” and you’d be spot on.

Getting the word out

Ever have a moment when you are ridiculously proud of a kid (or group of kids) that aren’t your own? Yeah, me too.

One of those moments happened last week when I saw this video. I wrote about their family here when my son stayed with them for a livestock judging camp. They are good people. The whole family. Those same kids, their friends, teachers, family and community are a part of this video. I’m writing about them in my column this week. It’s become a huge deal.

So big that while I was on the phone with the teachers who spear-headed this project, 20/20 called. Yes, THAT 20/20. And then ABC. And this was just after two segments appeared on the morning programs of NBC and CBS. It’s getting crazy.

The best part? The teachers told me as they finished their video they joked about it becoming as big as the Peterson brothers hit, “Farming and I Grow It.” “We looked at each other, laughed and hit ‘upload,’” one of them said. And now they are at a quarter-million hits.

The thing that makes me so proud? Is this group of rural kids and teachers are a class act. They speak with passion and conviction. They are good communicators. They didn’t just complain about something they thought was wrong. They stood up and did something about it.

Gun fights, boots and bling


Last weekend I attended the Old West Fest, an fundraising event for the Kansas Agricultural Rural Leadership program, or KARL for short. The program trains fledgling Kansas leaders to go on and do great things within the state. I was in Class VI. I’ve yet to do go on and do any “great things” but the experience I had was second to none. Much like my Young Cattlemen’s Conference trip earlier this year, the interaction of class members taught me more than I could have hoped for.

When you believe in a program, you want to do what you can to help keep it alive and growing. A few years back, I co-chaired the Old West Fest. But this year it was my co-worker’s turn. Jennifer Latzke was suckered in asked to be the chair for the event and she did a fabulous job. The event had it all – gun fights at Boot Hill, can-can dancers, barbecue, drinks in a mason jar, cowboy boots and even a little sequins here and there.

Photos courtesy of Kylene Scott.

For those of us who live Dodge City, the whole cheezy cowboy thing can be a little much. And let’s be honest, the gunfight was exactly that. But hey, it’s who we are in Dodge City and there’s something to be said for that. It’s our history and we wear it proudly. Truly, it was a great combination – rural Kansas leaders and Dodge City.

Well, that’s more like it.

Remember yesterday when I was excited for a tenth of an inch of rain? Well, this is more like it.


Here’s hoping that all the rain gauges across the parched High Plains and Midwest have the same beautiful sight in them.

You know you are from the country (#3)

You know you are from the country when this excites you.


Yes, that’s just a little over a tenth of an inch of rain. It’s not that a tenth of an inch will do any good in this part of the world where we sorely need it, but it does remind me that it CAN rain. Living in the country makes you realize that rain really does matter – even if it only happens once every three weeks or so, and only if you must suffer when it does.


Mother Nature flexed her muscle

Unless you are living under a rock, you know that most of farm country is in a drought. I live in western Kansas. I know it doesn’t rain here often, but not even enough rain to make the weeds grow? That’s tough. And this is the second year for us. Some of our friends in the eastern Corn Belt had flooding last year and are now experiencing drought. Sometimes its just makes you think Mother Nature is mean. Or has a weird sense of humor at the very least.

So flash back a couple of weeks. We had not had any rain for weeks. My family and I were headed out of the driveway one evening. As we looked to our west, clouds were gathering. But we know Mother Nature and her weird sense of humor so we assumed she was just toying with us. How convinced were we? We left sacks of feed in the back of the pickup parked in the driveway. (I realize this is only funny to farm-folk who have ever tried to race the rain home from the coop with a half-ton of feed in the back of the pickup.)

A few hours later, we headed home and the closer we got to our little part of the world, the easier it was to see that it had indeed rained. And not just a little. We pulled into the driveway and I remember seeing a Nesquik yellow container stuck in the mud. Funny, I thought. We only use those as scoops for the chicken feed. When we turned the bend our headlights shone on this.


Not good. This, you see, is our chicken shed. Picked up, dropped and smashed into a gazillion pieces. Also slammed up against our old Yukon. Lucky that Yukon was there, we decided later, or the chicken shed might just of slammed up into our house and caused much more damage. And don’t worry, luckily the chickens had been moved out this shed so all it held were a lot of chicken pens, some feed and a lot of garden paraphernalia.

And in the daylight we found this.


And this.


And this.


But you know what? The joke is on Mother Nature. Even though we had to have this kind of damage to get an inch of rain, the things were just things. And in comparison to the kind of damage I know she can do (and here), it was just a little storm. My family and my home are still here and that’s what is important.

Not practicing what you preach


Back to the saga that was the fair. You’ll remember from yesterday’s post that I wrote this nice, warm and fuzzy column for High Plains Journal. How sweet. And every single 4-H mother rolled their eyes and thought, “Yeah, right.”

Yep. And they would be right because you know what? I absolutely forgot every. single. word. of that column. The part about don’t sweat the small stuff? Gone. Remember what’s important? Forgotten. Why, you ask?

The time is 5 minutes before the goat show. My oldest walks up to me and this is how it goes:
“Mom, I can’t open your car. It’s locked.”
“No, it’s not. I left it open so you could get your show clothes.”
“Yeah. But it is locked.”
“It can’t be.”
“It is.”
“Then the keys are locked inside it.”

This set of a mild panic attack. You see, I KNEW the keys were inside. They were NOT in my pocket so there were two choices. Either the car was locked with the keys (and show clothes) inside. Or the keys were lost. Either option was not appealing.

So, out to the parking lot we went. We park near our trailers where our club has a hang-out spot. As we walked to that area, I head directly for my car. My son was following closely behind and soon says, “It’s over here, Mom.”

No, no it wasn’t. The locked car he was trying to open was another 4-H mom’s car. Mine, two cars down was wide open with show clothes hanging on the hook.

Panic over. Crisis avoided. But not before I acted exactly as I had preached NOT to act.

Well, no one ever said I practiced what I preached.

Calgon, take the chickens away


Pre-fair week. I can’t tell you how many things we’ve had on our list this week. Here are just a few:

  1. Order photos.
  2. Mount photos.
  3. Finish painting welding project.
  4. Clip pigs.
  5. Wash chickens.

Here’s probably where you go – Huh? Wash chickens? Yes, that’s what I said. We wash the chickens. No, they don’t like it. You know when you see those YouTube videos of cats and how much they like getting bathed? It’s like that. Only with feathers. And a lot of clucking.

If you’re not from the country – or maybe even if you are – you probably don’t realize there is more to getting chickens ready for the fair than whacking them in cage. But as with any beauty pageant, it’s the details that make a big difference.

Getting their nails done? Check. (Clipping their toenails to keep them from getting too long.)


Making their smile brighter. Check. (We trim their beaks, too.)


Making sure their skin feathers glow? Check. (We dip the chickens in a series of “baths” that wash and then rinse their feathers.)


Topping it off with jewelry? Check. (Leg bands help identify the chickens.)


See – it’s just like backstage at Miss America. Here’s where you imagine how pretty they look when they are clean, dry and fluffy – mainly because I’m an idiot and don’t have a picture of that. I’m sure it has something to do with fair week. Cross your fingers we make it.

Life before air conditioning

This past weekend, we went to a pig show, which is really not all that unusual. In case you haven’t picked up on it by now, we do that a lot.


That’s my oldest son and Big Mama at the show this weekend. But this pig show was different because (I bet you think I’m going to say something really great here like, they gave away a million dollars, or the winner won a new car. You will be sorely disappointed.) we had no air conditioning in the pickup. I don’t mean, the air blowing out of the vents wasn’t ice cold. It was more along the lines of a convection oven. Did I mention it was hot last weekend? It was. Really hot. To compound that problem, for some reason the engine heat was blowing on our feet in the front seat – even with the fan off.

So we sweat. And then we sweat some more. I think it is safe to say, it wasn’t our most pleasant trip out to show pigs, but the boys didn’t complain once. Neither did my husband. I may or may not have complained a time or two. It was hot, I tell you!

And what do you know? Lo, and behold a news item comes across my desk this morning: It’s the 110th anniversary of air conditioning. On July 17, 1902, Willis Carrier drew up blueprints to what would soon revolutionize the way our country beats the heat. The design was built for a printing company that had a difficult time dealing with the increased humidity and heat in the summer. But he didn’t stop there. Just think about what Las Vegas, Pheonix and Houston might look like today with no A/C. I can certainly predict that Wayne Newton wouldn’t be crooning in a suit. He’d be going with the Speedo look.

For some reason, today I have a greater appreciation for that particular invention today than I had last week. We didn’t have the pleasure of partaking in the celebration of the air conditioning anniversary party. In case you didn’t pick up on the subtlety of her name, Big Mama is a big mama. She’s pushin’ 300. And when you weigh 300 pounds and can’t sweat, you get hot. As is always the case, we were more concerned about her welfare than our own. We bed her down on bags of ice, stopped and misted her down and generally treated her like the queen she is. We, on the other hand, climbed back into the pickup and proceeded to sweat.

And then do you know what we did? Drove to another pig show that same day and showed that evening. Yes, we are crazy. I justified the move by saying at least we could stop, cool off and finish the drive when it was a cooler evening. Which is all true. But the “cooling off” part was relevant. It was over a 100 degrees in the cab of the pickup so stopping to where it is 99 degrees makes a big difference. What? You don’t think so?!