One of those days

You know how people say there should be some separation between your work and personal life? Yeah, well. I’m not very good at that.

So here I sit at my computer at work and I’m supposed to be writing a column about work stuff – about agriculture and the stupid Congress that hasn’t passed the stupid farm bill. Or about the stupid drought. Or whatever.

And as hard as I try, I cannot make my brain head in that direction. All it wants to do is dread tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day that we will lay my friend to rest. And I worry about her husband and her boys. I wonder: Do they need dress socks? Are their boots polished? Do the boys even have a handkerchief? They are going to need one of those tomorrow.

You know, all the things that a mom should be thinking. And I’m a mom and they don’t have theirs anymore. And that’s just not right.

I know. I know. God has a plan. I get it. But crimeny, it’s hard to accept sometimes, isn’t it?

I was scrolling through the texts on my phone and there it was. Just a couple of days ago she was going to stop by my office to bring me some stuff for 4-H. And I told her not to worry about it. I’d see her soon. I’d get it then.

Only I won’t see her soon.

And so what I’m saying is this: Sometimes life sucks and today is one of those days.

Love me some state fair

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Note: I started this blog post oh, about 10 days ago, and then life happened. You know, the work project that has been in the works for approximately 10 months but all of the sudden goes into Fast Forward mode, the realization that 4-H record books are due soon, and 627 loads of laundry. So, instead of wasting a good blog post, I’m going to post it anyway. And then I’ll get caught up over the next few days.

Last weekend the boys (big and little) and I headed to the state fair. It was pig showin’ time again. We had fun, brought home a little hardware and saw friends. Here’s a list of highlights.

TV stars

So one of the dangers of knowing a writer is that your words sometimes end up being a part of a column or a blog post. Sometimes, if you are the kid of a writer, who has friends who are television reporters, your mom signs you up for a television interview that you really don’t want to do. But then your friends say they will be on TV with you, so it really isn’t that scary. That happened. At the fair. I was lucky enough to know it was coming, so I could set my DVR. OK, not really. I knew it was scheduled and had every intention of setting my DVR, but forgot. So my mother-in-law got a frantic phone call to ask beg her to set it for me. This was shortly after the frantic phone call to ask her to bring my son’s shirts. And shortly before the frantic phone call to ask her to bring my boots. Yep. I’m organized like that. Good thing she’s nice and was coming anyway.

Back to the point. The interview. My boys were interviewed about their pig projects at the fair and because I’m no technology whiz. I couldn’t figure out how to get a video off my DVR other than to play the recording and video it. I’m such a redneck.

Grand Drive

The show went well and Campbell made it to the Grand Drive. The Grand Drive is a standing-room only event where all breed champions and reserve champions have are announced in front of the crowd and show off their animals in the ring. The shows were held earlier in the day, but the Grand and Reserve Grand Champions are not announced until that night. It’s an exciting event, complete with an announcer and cool music. He didn’t win it all, and that’s OK. He met his goal of making it to that night.

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Fun

But as with so much of this pig showing stuff? It’s not about the ribbons and buckles. It’s about this:

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It’s about fun times with friends and family. Our kids work hard, but they have fun doing it. And they learn that all that work at home leads to being able to meet your goals.

The Ferris Wheel

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Fair Food

A state fair blog post without comments about fair food is just wrong. I love fair food. Not the price of the food, but the food. So the best thing I ate? A cucumber stuffed with crab salad. Yum. It was fantastic. And the good news? It was not fried and sort of healthy, right? Or maybe it just seemed healthy compared to the chocolate covered bacon or the Krispy Kreme burger.

Here’s the point where I should show you a photo, but alas, it was not to be. I was more focused on eating than I was on photography. Sorry about that. You are just going to have to trust me. It was good.

Gun fights, boots and bling

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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.

My (un)organized work life

Last week I spent the entire week in the office. The. Entire. Week.

No work trips. No day meetings across the state. AND no hours-on-end meetings.

It was blissful.

But the problem with weeks like that? You realize all of the things you have neglected as you ran around and did the things that must be done.

One task that has been sorely neglected is backing up my computer. I have good intentions. (See note hanging above my desk.)

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But when I go to back up my files, I don’t have any way of knowing which files I have updated and which ones I haven’t. Consequently, it is just one huge backup folder that keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And it keeps taking longer and longer to back up because every single file has to be re-written.

So I’ve decided to reorganize my entire computer into files divided by year. Always before I had a folder called “columns” with subfolders of “2012,” “2011” and so on. Now, I’ll have a folder called “2012” with a subfolder called “columns.”

Now, I know to some of you who organization comes naturally this seems like the most obvious fix there ever was. To the organization-challenged (that would be me), it took me a while.

I’ve made one last huge dump onto the server of my last system. And from now on, I can simply replace the 2012 folder at the first of every month, house the old stuff on the server and live happily every after.

Right.

I’ve thrown a lot of files into the trash. See below.

And that’s just to “A.” But I have yet to say “Empty trash.”

Why? No idea. I just might need that mailing label from 1998, you know. Geez.

If they ever have a Hoarders episode for computer files, sign me up.

The last about YCC, or not.

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As you might remember, I went on this really, really great trip called Young Cattlemen’s Conference. In case you missed the 5,284 posts about it, you can read about it here. That is, if you have an hour or two. That’s me, up on the rooftop of a building in Washington, D.C., overlooking the White House. Have I mentioned recently that my job is pretty cool? With me are Frank Krentz (on the left), a cattleman from Arizona who literally ranches on the Mexican border and Mike Deering, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association trade media contact. Mike is the one who asked me to go on this trip. I probably owe him a drink. Thanks Mike!

My full story ran in the High Plains Journal this week. Since you followed along, I thought you might like to see it. Here’s an excerpt:

Young Cattlemen’s Conference trains future leaders

By Holly Martin

What do you get when you throw 60 cowboys and cowgirls in to a bus? Throw in some feedlot dust, give them hairnet hair and a briefcase and you’ve got the makings of the Young Cattlemen’s Conference.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s YCC is a program designed for leadership development. Since 1980 when the program began, over 1,000 young cattlemen and women completed the program. Today’s participants are nominated by NCBA affiliates and the program serves as a training ground to expose and educate future leaders to every segment of the beef industry, said Mavin Kokes, vice president of association marketing for NCBA.

In 2012, YCC was a 10-day experience beginning in Denver, stopping in Chicago and finally ending up in Washington, D.C. The success of the program is due to the people who participate, said Kokes. “This industry is full of leaders from all over the United States. Each year, participants experience things that they wouldn’t ever get to experience on their own,” he said. “YCC participants share a special bond that is difficult to replicate. The program creates lifelong friendships and business relationships, all the while preparing them for leading the industry in the future.” <more>

And here’s the photo gallery, that’s also posted over on my Photo Gallery page.

And so now, you might be saying, “Geez, I hope she’s done talking about the YCC thing.” And I am, only an experience like that lasts with you your entire life so I imagine the subject might pop up again a time or two or ten.

It makes my hiney happy

Do you know what makes a girl happy? Ok, yes. Diamonds.

Maybe I should re-phrase that. Do you know what makes a girl, who must sit through endless meetings each day at work, happy?

This:

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We got new chairs for our meeting room. Really nice, comfy chairs with arms and everything. They make the pain pleasure of a meeting even better.

In case you think I’m belly-aching here. This was what my hiney has endured for the last 18+ years now.

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You try sitting on one of those for a 3-hour meeting and see if your hiney isn’t happy with the new ones.

It’s about to begin

I’m sitting at the airport, getting ready to board a flight to Denver. What awaits me is the 2012 Young Cattlemen’s Conference. Over the next 10 days, I’ll be learning everything there is to know about the cattle industry in the United States. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association holds this conference to help train young leaders in the beef industry. Each year, one media representative is allowed to tag along on this experience and this year, I’m it. I couldn’t be more excited.

So while I’ll be hanging out with a bunch of cowboys and cowgirls from all over the country, I’ll be leaving this little cowboy at home.

Lincoln

And his big brother who seems to hang out at the barn a lot taking care of his 4-H animals. (Photo by ShowChampions.com)

Campbell

And this guy. . . I couldn’t be gone this long without him.

Eric

I’ll miss some things while I’m gone – like the local livestock show, T-ball games, and wheat harvest. But I’m excited. It will be a good trip. And I’m glad you’ll be following along.