About Me

Kentucky, United States
Fourth generation beef producer, wife, mother, 4-H & FFA supporter, agriculture advocate, Christian, WKU alum, love livestock shows, basketball, college football, Dallas Cowboys. All things agriculture.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Congratulations at NAILE!

     Even though it's been over a week since the end of the North American International Livestock Exposition I want to extend congratulations to all the winners in all shows and species!! It's a great accomplishment to be named champion at any show in Louisville! For all first time youth exhibitors at NAILE, I hope your experience was great and that you are making plans to attend next year.
     I want to congratulate all Kentucky youth exhibitors for representing our state so well in the junior shows and especially those with champion animals.
     Congratulations to Jessica McCall, Crestwood, Kentucky, exhibitor of the Grand Champion Junior Red Poll Heifer, DRM Suesie Q, bred by her brother David McCall.

DRM Suesie Q, Grand Champion Junior Red Poll, exhibited by Jessica McCall, Crestwood, Kentucky.

       Congratulations to Catherine Riley, of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, exhibitor of the Grand Champion Junior Wether Goat. She has ended her career as a youth showman with an outstanding year as she also exhibited the Grand Champion Market Goat at the 2011 Kentucky State Fair.

Grand Champion Junior Wether Goat, exhibited by Catherine Riley, Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

       Moving out of Kentucky, I must recognize and give a shout out and congratulations to my family's good friends, the Higgins Family of Watertown, Tennessee. Allison Higgins exhibited the Reserve Champion Junior Chiangus Heifer, Higg Wild Heart 93W.  The heifer was also named Grand Champion Bred and Owned. This is truly a family operation and I must say that big brother Andy is doing a fine job back in the barn!

Higg Wild Heart 93W, Reserve Grand Champion Junior Chiangus Heifer, exhibited by Allison Higgins, Watertown, Tennessee. Also named Grand Champion Bred and Owned Junior Chiangus Heifer.

          I must also recognize friends of ours from the great state of Texas, Foster Brothers Farms. Syann Foster of Lockney, Texas exhibited the Grand Champion Junior Chiangus Heifer and the Grand Champion Junior Simmental Heifer. This young lady and her sisters have led many champions to the backdrop at NAILE and other shows. This may be a first for them to have two junior show breed champions in Louisville Congratulations to Syann and the entire family!

BMS Xcellence, Grand Champion Junior Chiangus Heifer, exhibited by Syann Foster, Lockney, Texas.

FBFS Xclamation 76X, Grand Champion Junior Simmental Heifer, exhibited by Syann Foster, Lockney, Texas.

       If I have neglected to include any Kentucky youth champions it is purely by mistake. All photographs are from the NAILE official website 'Show Photos' page, and taken by the official photographers for the show.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

     This week we celebrate one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving! It is a very meaningful holiday with less pressure and expectation than Christmas, unless of course you are the cook, and anyone that's ever cooked for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter knows the pressure you can put on oneself!! That pressure is so overstated though because as a family member or guest, all anyone really cares about is being with family and friends, sharing a meal, and making memories. I've always felt as farmers, it's a time to be thankful for the harvest and year's successes, and mindful of God's blessings of a warm home filled with food and family for the coming winter months.
     As a child, our Thanksgivings always began with Daddy leaving very early morning for Franklin, Kentucky or Westmoreland, Tennessee to meet with his brothers for their annual hunting trip. As my brother and male first-cousins grew older they were invited to join. I remember the stories of the long walks for the short, younger legs, missed shots, and of course the ones that got away. We would have dinner with Mama's family that evening, always cooked by my grandmother with Mama's help.Those were perfect for any kid growing up in rural Kentucky.
     It was tradition that we sold our tobacco crop on the Friday after Thanksgiving, so even though I had friends who spent the holiday in the tobacco barn, we were sure to be done with the crop by then because Daddy and Pappaw would take it to the warehouse either the week before or the beginning of Thanksgiving week (if my memory is correct). Being at the tobacco warehouse on sale day was a big deal for me because Pappaw would sit me on the first basket of our crop during the auction and it was so much fun as the buyers and auctioneer stopped at each basket, bidding while they looked through the hand-tied leaves.
     If there were "Black Friday" sales in the late 1960's and through the 1970's I certainly never knew about it. It was a much simpler time with farm kids and families working on the farm stripping tobacco, or cleaning the barn getting ready for next year's crop. There would also be the daily chores of feeding which at that time of the year meant feeding the weaned calves and maybe taking hay to the beef cattle in the pasture if needed. I remember watching the Macy's Parade, but spending the entire day inside just wasn't normal for kids then. My brother, Mike, and I played endless basketball games at the house with him being Kareem Abdul Jabbar and I was Wilt Chamberlain, both very prominent NBA players. We had two hoops, one about 5 feet tall on the inside of the garage door and a regular basketball goal behind the house, with grass and dirt, no concrete or asphalt for us....or anyone else in those days. I would yell "Wilt" when I shot and Mike would say "Jabb-a-r" really stretching it out as he would shoot a hook shot, over my head and of course scoring. He's only 5 years older than me but that's a great difference in height when I was 10 and he was 15!
     Now, I look upon Thanksgiving with as much anticipation as I did as a kid. We are very talkative Southern women so the kitchen is full of fun and laughter. I think of a warm house with the most delicious, comforting aromas, including that wood stove in Mama and Daddy's den.  I'm sure no matter how much I try I'll never be able to cook a turkey or country ham as well as my Nanny or Mama. Mama still holds the reins over the holiday meals and I love her for it. She has followed the apron strings of many great Ross family cooks from decades past. My Nanny and Pappaw have been gone for 18 and 27 years respectively, but their memories are as vivid as if it were yesterday.
      My husband and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and my brother and his wife will celebrate their 32, both on the same date next June. We have been blessed with wonderful, healthy children and families and even though we have other family gatherings to attend we always end up at Mama and Daddy's with a wonderful meal, kids playing, a little football game or movie watching, but mainly just being together, enjoying our many blessings from God, and making memories. Of course our weekend will also include time spent at the barn halter-breaking calves.

An early November sunrise over a soybean field on our farm.

     I'm thankful for being blessed with a loving, healthy, fun, family. A husband with a love of agriculture, beef cattle, FFA, and pigs (had to include that for our close friends), and the desire to teach and encourage our youth to work in the agriculture industry. A beautiful daughter with the softest heart of anyone I know, but full of determination to follow every dream, most of which include agriculture! I'm very thankful she's making the trip home from graduate school in Texas!! A handsome son with a work ethic matched only by his grandfather and great-grandfather, paired with a meets-no-strangers personality. He too has that love of agriculture.
     I want to wish all our family and many friends living in all corners of this great United States of America a very Happy Thanksgiving. Many are facing sickness or dealing with the loss of loved ones this year and know that you are in our prayers.
     To those readers I don't know, especially those in Germany, Russia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, I hope this post gives you a small image of our rural life, and I'm honored to have you as readers.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Busy Weekend at NAILE!

     Wonderful weekend in Louisville at the North American International Livestock Exposition junior heifer and steer shows. It's my favorite place to be in November with a few thousand members of the beef industry promoting not only breeding and market animals of most beef breeds but the industry's future leaders, our kids. The entire West Wing, West Hall, Pavillion, and Broadbent Arena are filled with the nation's best beef animals for both the junior and open shows, and if you walk outside to the trailers you'll find many penned or tied there also. To a beef producer it's the same feeling as a 5 year old being turned loose in the world's largest toy store!
     Walking through the barn visiting with friends and looking at cattle I love the familiar sounds of the turbo fans and the hum of clippers mixed with the smell of pink oil, clean sheen, hay, and yes cows. For those of us in the business, its home.
     I met a producer from Quebec, exhibiting for the first time in Louisville, but definitely not her first show. One of her first comments about Louisville was, "There's a lot of Hollywood here." Attending this show as much as I do I hadn't thought about it like that but she's right.  A large number of the exhibitors now have lights throughout their cattle, not just on the end panels as it began many years ago. I saw several with double halogen lights mounted on every fan bracket, making their cattle and stall area look like opening night for a movie. Marketing strategies to draw customers to the product of breeding stock, and of course just making the cattle and stall look better. The real work is completed by the fitters in the barn. The men and ladies with patience and skill to groom these wonderful animals beautifully for the ring. Is it worth it? If you say no, you haven't seen a fitted heifer or steer on the green shavings in Freedom Hall or had the pleasure of leading an animal into that great show ring.
     I want to share with you some of the sights of the beef show in Louisville.

     The stall area of calves in the feeder steer and penned heifer sale in Broadbent Arena.

This young lady was doing a great job drying the calf!

One of the many crews found in the West Wing fitting steers on show day, Sunday, November 13, 2011.

A championship drive moment of the Junior Steer Show. Baylor Bonham and judge.

Exciting time for Baylor Bonham of Newcastle, Oklahoma, as his steer is chosen Grand Champion.

Reserve grand champion steer, owned by Ashtin Guyer, Robinson, Illinois, and also second in class to the Bonham steer.

     A class in the Junior Hereford Show, held Sunday, November 13, 2011.

A crowd gathers late Sunday evening in Freedom Hall for the selection of the Supreme Champion Heifer. Champion heifers from all junior breed shows on Saturday and Sunday are brought to the ring and all judges from the shows score the heifers. The banner went to Nick Sullivan, Dunlap, Iowa, with his black and white ShorthornPlus heifer. Nick also received $2,500 and the use of an aluminum trailer for a year. 

Photographs in this post, taken by Wanda Quiggins

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

First-Class Livestock Event in Kentucky

     Kentucky welcomes the livestock industry with the 38th Annual North American International Livestock Exposition which began Saturday, November 5 and ends Friday, November 18, in Louisville, Kentucky at the Kentucky Exposition Center. If you have never attended you have missed the greatest opportunity to see the best of the best of America's livestock industry of beef and dairy cattle, quarter horses, sheep, meat and dairy goats, hogs, mules, donkeys, draft horses, llamas, and alpacas. I'm sure I may have missed a species or two. There are over 140 events including livestock shows and sales, youth and collegiate judging contests, breed association meetings, and the rodeo.
     If you are a purebred or commercial livestock producer looking to purchase breeding stock, or just needing inspiration to jump-start your operation, plan your trip to Louisville now. Producers and exhibitors, both young and old, work all year to attend this most prestigious livestock event and step into the ring onto the green sawdust. We are so blessed in Kentucky to have not only the top livestock facility in the nation but also have the largest livestock show.
     The rodeo begins Thursday, November 10, and continues through Saturday, November 12, bringing the regions top cowboys together for the Great Lakes Circuit Rodeo Finals. This is a great family event that is often sold out so purchase your tickets early.
     The Country Store is one of my favorite stops at the show. The entire North Wing of the Kentucky Exposition Center is filled with vendors and craftsman from across the United States selling agricultural products from show supplies to livestock handling units and livestock trailers. There are also retailers with clothing and boots, jewelry, home furnishings, unique artwork and crafts, and leather goods.
     This event showcases not only the successful adults but the many youth involved in livestock production, representing the future of the industry. I am proud to be a Kentuckian and to have such a prestigious livestock event at home and I hope that everyone has an opportunity to visit the show at least one day.
     For more detailed information and schedules be sure to visit the website of the North American International Livestock Exposition at http://www.livestockexpo.org/ .