Barney the Barrel Horse

A year ago today, I killed my best friend. I couldn’t handle doing it myself so I asked my dad to do it. 

No, I’m not writing this from jail. My best friend was my horse. 

I’ve always been that horse crazy girl. I didn’t play with Barbies, I had horses. I pretended my bike was a horse. I’m pretty sure I drove my parents nuts. And finally at age ten, the perfect situation came along and I got my wish. 

With dad being in the National Guard, he and his coworkers travel a lot. One of his coworkers was going away for six months, and needed a place to keep his horse and mule. My dad jumped at the chance, hoping six months would break me of the love of horses.  

Barney and Ruby, horse and mule, came down the driveway in a big black trailer filled with saddles, blankets, and halters. I had everything I needed and I was absolutely in love. As a horse crazy girl, I refused to ride the mule but Barney was a dream. He was fast, he was solid but most of all, he was mine. At least for awhile. 

  
Six month later, that trailer went back up the driveway and I sobbed like a baby. 

Another six months went by, and the trailer was back. Barney officially became mine. I now realize how generous that guy was and I couldn’t thank him enough. 

Barney was that once in a lifetime horse.

At 26 years old, Barney carried me in my first rodeo. I was a freshman in high school, riding in a roping saddle with stirrups that were too long and bridle that would make most barrel racers laugh in my face. It was a small indoor arena and we were the only stock trailer in the parking lot besides what they hauled the bulls in. Barney ran with his whole heart and we won. 

  
Barney carried me in rodeo after rodeo and never faltered. At the end of the season, we ended with a belt buckle and a breast collar. 

But that wasn’t the reason I loved him. When he came out of the arena, he would prance like a young colt. When I swung off him, he would drop his head and calmly follow me where ever I wanted to go. When I opened the trailer at home, I would slip his halter off inside and he would follow me to the field. 

  
Barney was my solid rock in high school. He got me through tough days and carried me when I needed him. I rode him the day my dad left for Iraq and sat in his field the day of my grandpa’s funeral. 

Eventually the years caught up to Barney and my younger horse started to beat him up. The field next to our house became is permanent home. Each morning and night, he would be waiting by the gate for his grain. He loved feeding time. Some days, he would run through the field and roll, just like his younger years. Other days, he would stand in the sunshine and not move all day. 

Those days became more and more frequent. His joints got worse and watching him walk almost brought tears to my eyes. I knew his time was coming and I begged him to make the decision on his own. I prayed the one day, I would find him laying the pasture, finally at peace. But that day never came. 

Finally, I told dad that this was the weekend. It was Barney’s time. I had to go to work on Friday, knowing that this was Barney’s last day and act like nothing was happening. I went out with friends that night and none of them understood. 

That night when I got home, Barney was standing by the gate. I walked over to him and petting him nose, begged him to not leave the decision to me. His big brown eyes stared into mine and I eventually went inside. 

The next morning, I struggled to get out of bed, knowing what the day would hold. As I sat down for breakfast alone, I asked mom where dad was. Avoiding eye contact, she told me he was outside. I couldn’t finish breakfast. I found dad covering Barneys body with cedar logs on a wooden structure that was fit for a king. We drag our dead cows deep into the woods, but that wasn’t good enough for Barney. As dad lit the fire, tears streamed down my face. Gone were his days of stiff legs and swayed back. After a life full of love and teaching, Barney was finally where he belonged. 

~Nicole
  

 

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Dear Subway: We’re done. 

Dear Subway, 

Our relationship has been pretty rough lately. Ever since you announced that you are moving away from meats with antibiotics, we’ve been on the rocks. 

   

Now, every time I watch The Voice, I have to endure commercial after commercial of how your chicken is healthier because it was raised without antibiotics. I even heard your commercial on my favorite radio station, right between a commercial about supporting National Ag Week and the market reports. 

Honestly, your marketing is doing a great job. Every time, I see or hear your commercial, it makes me want to eat Subway less and less. And I’m not going to lie, I used to eat your sandwiches a lot! I went to your store at least twice a week in college and I’ve always been a sucker for your macadamia nut cookies. 

But not anymore. I understand the want to be healthier. But this isn’t healthier than chickens raised with antibiotics! The way I see it is that you are just using fear marketing and the current trends to sell more sandwiches. 

I can safely say you have lost a customer. Do you know why? Because I raise beef cattle that are treated with antibiotics when they are hurt. Not because they will grow faster or produce more. We treat our animals with antibiotics because they are sick, because they are hurt, but most of all, because we want to give them the best life they can have. 

  
Believe it or not, farmers are not mad scientists injecting our animals to produce more money. We are people. People with feelings, people with hopes, people with a passion for what they do every day. 

And you are attacking my passion all to earn more money. If you were a true advocate for what you sell, you would be promoting all agriculture. Not just what makes you the most money.

But I would give you one more chance, if you could just answer this one question. Why, Subway? Why are you marketing about something that is healthy both ways? Why are you using fear marketing? Why did you fall to current trend pressures? 

To the consumers reading this: I beg you to do research before you believe advertising. Find credible sources and dig for answers. Many farmers are more then willing to explain every aspect of their farms and lifestyle to you. You just have to ask! 

And if anyone has a good macadamia nut cookies recipes, I sure could use it. 

Sincerely, 

Nicole 
 

Foggy Monday Mornings

Do you ever have those days where you look outside and your mood matches the weather? My morning was exactly like that! The time changed this weekend and boy was it hard to wake up on this Monday morning! I looked out the window and fog covered the landscape. I could not even see the fence around our yard. I was finally able to drag myself out of bed, and to work. I let myself into the school and walked to my room, my mind occupied about what was going on today and what I needed to complete before school started. As I flipped my light switch on, all I saw was a big black mass flapping in front of my face! A bird had made its way into my classroom over night! So naturally, as this was happening, I screamed and shut my door quicker than I have ever moved! Luckily, the bird had stayed next to the window and only left me a couple of presents below the window on the floor.

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I made my way down to the janitors and told my funny story. We all had a good chuckle and they removed the bird. Never did I expect my morning to start out like that! But it was a great reminder that yes it was a Monday, and always be prepared for the unexpected. Maybe I need to invest in a dip net for my classroom.

May your Monday be fabulous!

-Bethany

Happy International Women’s Day!

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What a great time to grow up as a girl! With no brothers to help out on the farm, Nicole, Mom, and I were expected to fill in the gaps. And let me tell you we do a fine job of it! Don’t ever tell us we can’t do something, because growing up with a highly competitive Dad we will prove you extremely wrong. Dad never let us win at anything, whether it was a sport or checkers. That has pushed us both to be the best we can be. Nicole and I can drive a tractor, bale hay, and even pull a calf. We do what needs to be done, to help our family, and make our farm a success; just like every other farmer out there.

Dad recently had knee surgery. For two months we really showcased our ability and ran the farm and it was a great feeling to know that we could do it! Living on a farm as a girl, I have learned that it is OK to not succeed the first time, but you have to try again anyway.

Whether you live on a farm or not, this is a day to celebrate all the jobs, little and big, women do everyday!

-Bethany

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The things they don’t tell you…

They don’t tell you how much you have to practice to learn to tie your shoes when your little… Wear cowboy boots instead.

They don’t tell you to be a good friend sometimes, others will disappoint you…so put your whole self out there.

They don’t tell you to get a good grade you will probably fail an assignment or even two… Stay up late and study anyway.

They don’t tell you pie crust is super hard to make… Call Grandma to find out her secrets.

They don’t tell you how hard it will be to move away to college… Call Mom and cry on her shoulder.

They don’t tell you how hard it is to sign a loan for your first brand new car… but it IS worth the money so you don’t break down like your Dad has been telling you for the post week.

They don’t tell you to grow up and make a life on your own is hard… It’s ok to cry when the going gets rough.

They don’t tell you that all these hard moments make like worth living. They make the little moments sweeter and the hard ones easier to bear. They don’t tell you with the love of your family and the support of your friends life  rolls on and those harder moments make up the fabric of your life and the person you will become.

-Bethany

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We lost a cow

No, it didn’t run away. It died. 

Last night when I was driving home from work, I got a rambling voicemail for dad that I couldn’t understand. When I got to the driveway, I met the vet leaving. 

Never a good sign. 

Last week one of our cows got stuck in the concrete bunks that we feed them in. She was a little scraped up, but we have been watching her and she seemed fine. On Sunday, I even commented how good she looked. 

Yesterday was a completely different story. When dad and Bethany were feeding hay, they noticed she was ‘off’. So they brought her to the lot and called the vet, who checked her up and down, to find nothing wrong at all. But she look terrible, head down, white gums, and blank eyes. The vet gave her a couple of shots and she perked up enough to eat some grain and drink.

When I got home, I joined the crowd watching her eat. She was drinking and eating as if nothing was wrong. Granted, she didn’t look near as good as she did on Sunday. 

This morning, I got up early to feed her grain again and give her more water. I walked outside to a stunning sunrise.

  

Only to walk to the lot and find her dead. She hadn’t even touched the hay we had given her. And that sucks. 

  

Not only do we now have a dead cow and a vet bill with no returns, but we lost a member of our herd. Her great-grandmother’s name was May and she was part of the original herd we bought. Her grandmother was our first white calf, April. I’ll never forget the excitement of seeing her for the first time. Her mother added more white to our herd. This cow, while she didn’t have a name, had a habit of losing ear tags every year. 

When I got back to the house, the sun has set the sky on fire. Just God’s way of showing the beauty of a rough morning. 

  

Farming isn’t always beautiful. Farming is hard. Farming is rough. And sometimes, farming just plain sucks. There are hard times, rough times and times I just want to give up.

But, even through the highs and lows, farming is full of passion. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

~Nicole