The first of my harvest

Look what I found in my garden this weekend.

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Normally, I’m jealous of those fancy gardeners who have green thumbs and red tomatoes during our county fair in mid-July. I’ve never, ever been accused of being a gardener.

My mom is. And my grandma’s garden was a wonder to behold. I remember her garden could probably be measured in acres instead of feet. (Please note this was my perspective as a 5-year-old.) She had rows and rows of green beans. I remember sitting on the carport with my cousins and aunts snapping beans. And the peas? I remember eating a lot of them before they hit the bottom of the bowl. It was like a true-to-life Blueberries for Sal except there were no bears and the blueberries were peas. And I remember my grandma bending over in the garden weeding and weeding and weeding.

Maybe that memory is the greatest, because I still have a hard time planting a very big garden for fear of spending days on end weeding. My garden is not acres big. Really, it’s just a tiny little spot that my son helps me till up and I stick plants in the ground and cross my fingers. But this year? This year, it was warm in April. I mean really warm and I felt like being out side and getting started. So I did. And a few tomato plants? I ain’t no dummy. Every year a few of them die (remember the no-green-thumb thing?) and I’m stuck to nursing a plant or two, just hoping. This year I planted early AND planted 12 plants. And lo and behold, it has paid off with early tomatoes.

Yes, I can see that they aren’t very large. And if truth be known, one of them looks like this:

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But approximately 2.3 seconds after the first photo was taken, we ate the cherry tomatoes. It tastes like summer.

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A different kind of camp

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Some kids go to basketball camp. Mine goes to livestock judging camp.

It’s all relative. Sure, there’s plenty of country kids that are into sports. Mine is not one of them. He likes working on the farm and working with his livestock. He asks for tools for Christmas. When some kids are spending hours on the field practicing baseball, he’s spending hours in the barn working with his pigs. So livestock judging camp was right down his alley.

There’s a great group of people that have put together this camp. We’ve known them for years and they are raising families that they should be proud of. Brian Anderson, another friend and former livestock judging coach at Coffeyville Community College and Fort Scott Community College, works with the kids for an intensive three days of judging and reasons.

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They spent the days in both the classroom learning the technical part of the livestock industry and in the field actually evaluating livestock. One of the things I love about livestock judging is that it teaches young people to make decisions and back them up. There’s no wishy-washiness here. You make your decision and stand behind it. Sure, you may realize that you don’t have the same opinion as the official, but if you can make him see your reasoning, all the better.

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And here’s how we roll in the country – my boy has a cast on his arm and the kids were swimming in the farm pond. Not to be deterred, they put an AI sleeve over his cast, whipped out the duct tape and Viola, he was good to go! And it looks like there was plenty of fun to be had.

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But here’s what it is really about:

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The kids.

Their two dads? Friends for years. They showed cattle against each other when they were these boys’ age. They judged together in college. They are still friends. Our two families used to have a cattle sale together. These boys now show pigs against each other, and inside the ring they are after each other. Outside, however, they shake hands and congratulate each other. They hang out together at the trailers. And not that I’m predicting the future or anything, but I could not ask for a better lifelong friend for my son. Perhaps someday, their kids will be judging against each other at their own livestock judging camp. And that would be just fine with me.

Remembering those who served

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It’s easy to go about our everyday lives and forget. We run kids to T-Ball practice. We go to work. We make dinner. In essence, we’re busy. But on this Memorial Day, I hope everyone takes a moment to pause and thank the veterans of our country. I can only imagine what goes through the head of a soldier during a time of war. Sitting in foxhole, trying to stay warm, did they think, “If only I could be home. I would play ball with my son. I would be grateful for my job. I would hug my wife and kids.” You know, normal things. And because they bravely fought, I can do those normal things today. Thank you, veterans. It’s not enough, I know, but I want you to know that we appreciate your sacrifice. God bless.

Country churches

Where I live, country churches are everywhere. There doesn’t even have to be a town. Their spires rise up out of the fields like the monuments they are. It’s a beautiful sight.
Small town churches epitomize the country in this area. They are everywhere. Even where there are no towns.