Saturday, March 17, 2018

Sale Day at V Bar X Ranch, Et. Al.

To say that yesterday was filled with sensory, emotional and nostalgic overload would be an understatement.  

The ingredients to this most memorable day included a neighbor's bull sale, a whole lot of folks who have meant a lot to me over the years, a wonderful visit with a former student, dinner with family, old friend sightings, talk of the ZAGS with my ZAG buddy Connie and then the ultimate of "Seabiscuit" moments as the grand finale. 

Let's start with the bull sale.  Years ago, when we raised horned Herefords, my dad would usually consign them to the local bull sale at the Sandpoint Livestock Auction Yards on Kootenai Cutoff Road. 

We'd clean 'em up and then haul them over to the sale yard in February.  Mac McClean of Washington Water Power sometimes cried the auction, and the Cow Belles would always be on hand to serve up a great lunch. 

Folks would gather in the stands, and bulls would go on sale.  Buyers would load them up and take them home.  Prices were not that great but usually adequate. 

In one case, our bull-sale experience went awry.  

That was when my cow Millie's son Billy went on a rampage and escaped from the sale yard.  That had happened after Billy had already put me up against the boards in one of our box stalls when we were trying to groom and tame him for the sale. 

Well, let's just say Billy didn't sell that day cuz he was probably somewhere over in Kootenai on the run. I think they rounded him up a few days later and he ended up selling by the pound.  

I'd hate to have had a Billy steak!

Long story short, those are some of my basic memories of local bull sales. 

So, yesterday when I made the trip two whole miles to our west to the Leonard and Naomi Wood's and family's V BAR X ranch aka Cap Davis's old dairy, I was amazed and downright blown away about how the beef cattle industry has changed since our "good ol' days" with Herefords. 

It's scientific, it's analytical, it's high tech with an auction that's addressing folks in the stands and folks on the Internet. 

Bulls don't have to go on the rampage, like Billy.  They can just stay in a pen, someone can film them and then they show up on two big screen TV's with all their personal data. 

A few things at bull sales have not changed. The main and most important ingredient beside the high quality bulls can be found on tables set up in the barn with coffee, baked goods and a hearty lunch, all orchestrated and prepared by Naomi Wood and her crew. 

When I went in the morning to scope out what was gonna happen, I met a very nice gentleman from Kansas.  Gary Fike had come as field representative of the American Red Angus Assoc. 

We became instant friends, talking colleges and basketball and kids.  Gary's KSU basketball team, victorious in its first round of the Big Dance will be taking on an epic opponent today in the NCAA tournament.  You'll see their photo below----the epic team, that is. 

As I walked out, the concession crew talked me in to taking a couple of mini maple bars with me and reminded me to come back. 

So, in payment for those mouth watering (10 seconds in the microwave), I did return just as lunch was winding down and the sale was about to start. 

I'll let the pictures do most of the talking, and I'm betting that anyone with an ounce of rural blood in their body would have loved being there. 

In fact, that rural bond dominated many conversations during my visit.  One in particular touched me beyond as a teacher.  

Amy Sawyer Peterson enrolled in my graphic arts when she was a student at Sandpoint High.

As an aside, her Grandma Val Sawyer taught my son Willie in fourth grade---Willie now teaches graphic arts at Sandpoint High). 

Well, since high school, Amy has raised a lovely family and has embarked on her passion:  rural and ranch photography.  Amy and I both strolled through the crowd capturing our respective shots for our respective purposes. 

Can't really express how proud I am to have seen the sale catalog, which Amy designed and how thrilled I am to have visited with this kindred soul who appreciates her roots and has found a way to showcase them in magnificent photos. 

Yay, Amy.  I am proud of you!

Both Leonard and Naomi are also former students and close family friends.  To see what they have accomplished as parents of four talented and creative children and especially to see the quality program they have built as a local cattle operation----nothing less than priceless. 

I saw other former students and visited with a host of longtime friends.  Even met a lady who went to school with my sister Laurie and remembered drawing horses for Laurie in grade school.  

Laurie, do ya recognize her in any of the photos. 

Eventually, I had to leave.  Prior to my departure, Amy and I had talked about how photographers have to become noninvasive fixtures within any crowd to get the really classic photos. 

Well, I'm gonna tell you a story about this photographer who kept her camera bundled up as she witnessed what would have been the BEST CANDID PHOTO EVER.

As I walked toward the door of that sale barn with all its historical flavor, I saw a little boy (maybe 3 years old) in front of a metal silo. 

As I stepped closer, the little guy, unaware of anyone's presence pulled down his pants to his knees and let the fountain flow. 

My mouth was literally hanging open as I watched his "natural" style.  Then, I saw his dad, who was standing a few feet away, catch sight of what the little man was doing. 

Dad's mouth came open too.  At that moment, I said to the dad, "You have no idea how much I'd love to take that picture, but-----." 

All in all, the two hours spent interacting with friends, students and sometimes perfect strangers was, in my mind, a blessed event. 

Thanks, Leonard and Naomi and all who coordinated such an event, which, no doubt, was financially successful but more important one that reminds us that hard work, vision, passion and the love for what you're doing makes all the difference. 

I was an extremely proud neighbor, teacher and friend yesterday. 

And, of course, on this Saturday, March 17, 2018 . . . . .

I cannot take credit for the "Seabiscuit" analogy in reference to the photo above. 

My sister texted that comparison to me as we and folks all across this nation watched an epic underdog story for the ages unfold in the NCAA tournament.

We had just returned from dinner.  While still at the restaurant, Barbara noted that after several minutes, the score to the Virginia-UBMC game was 3-2. 

We talked briefly about Virginia's famous defensive strategy. 

Well, it appears that strategy met its match last night when the Retrievers of UMBC (where the heck is that?  It's in Baltimore) had sniffed out a successful offensive strategy for turning the Cavaliers's defensive approach upside down. 

"The little team that could" turned on their energizer bunny engines and went into overdrive to work on Virginia.  

Here a shot, there a shot, every single time a shot!

And, Virginia was shell-shocked for the rest of the game. 

We saw history last night.  We saw another version of Seabiscuit, the little horse that supposedly could not win the big races BUT did. 

And as the classic book by Laura Hillenbrand noted, Seabiscuit came along at a time when a rather downtrodden America needed a hero. 

I definitely see a parallel.  

America needed University of Maryland Baltimore County!  

They answered the call last night. 

Hooray for the underdogs who occasionally remind us that it's about heart and about reaching for the stars. 

The retrievers sniffed and reached, and now they ARE the stars!


Not to be forgotten.  We NEVER forget the ZAGS and on this St. Paddy's Day, may they have the luck of the Irish as they take on Ohio State this afternoon at 4:45 PDT on CBS. 

Just in case they don't get enough of the luck of the Irish, you can bet I'll have my Vatican rosary. 

Happy Saturday.  Happy St. Patrick's Day, and GO, ZAGS!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Meltdowns, Birds, St. Paddy's Rules

Gonzaga March Madness Essential Beads

I had a doctor come to the house yesterday before March Madness began.  Twas about two hours before Gonzaga played its first game in the NCAA Tournament.

We did talk aches and pains, but she left with Lefty's saddle, blanket and bridle. 

Her daughter is Terra who took Lefty in 4-H last year, and she'll be doing so again this year. 

So, there were NO doctors in the house when we sat down to watch the ZAGS take on a tough, tough team from North Carolina.  

The game was actually looking pretty good for the ZAGS in the later first half and as the second half began.  

Then, the tide turned.

Though dressed in my usual ZAGS uniform, I realized I had forgotten to clutch my game/prayer beads.  Sensing we were in for a ride, I went to the wall, pulled them down and just held on for the rest of the half.

It suddenly seemed as if the ZAGS had gone on lockdown and that all cylinders were on high speed for the opposing team.  

Their star Francis Alonzo had come alive, hitting pretty much every lay in or 3-pointer he threw.  In the meantime, the ZAGS couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, not even free throws. 

Then, the ZAGS trailed with just a couple of minutes left. I commented to Bill that I just was not ready for spring.  We had too much snow yet to melt. 

Then, I started thinking about how much I was gonna hate the rest of March Madness if the ZAGS lost.  

I also thought about my friend (in impishness) Kim who's headed to Boise today and who was SO excited that she and her boys would get to watch the ZAGS tomorrow. 

"Poor Kim," I said to Bill.  She's not gonna even want to go if the ZAGS aren't in the tournament anymore.

I could feel my outlook sinking into a deep, deep emotional hole, so deep I wouldn't want to come back out for days. I kinda figured I wasn't alone. 

As I thought about all those depressing scenarios, I made myself say silent "Hail Mary's."  

Then, some unknown voice instructed my brain, "DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS!"

So, I did.  

I walked over to the wall and took down the rosary from the Vatican, which hangs on a crucifix.  Annie had given me that rosary a few years ago when she visited the Vatican and actually saw Pope Francis. 

It seemed like the only magic pill left, so I came back to my seat, sat down and clutched all three sets of beads.

Almost instantly, the tide turned.  Good stuff happened for the ZAGS, including a phenomenal and essential basket made by freshman Zach Norvell. 

In short, the ZAGS lived to play another day, Kim will truly enjoy her trip to the Boise tournament games, I lived to look forward to that other day, and snow kept on melting. 

I mentioned the doctor who came to visit at the beginning of today's post.  Coulda used her during that time to monitor my heart beat.  

This morning I learned that another doctor had great concerns for my heart during yesterday's game.  He even sent me a note of concern, wondering if my rate had risen above 200. 

I have no doubt he waited until his own heart rate declined before checking on his virtual patient.  

Long story short, the essentials will be in hand tomorrow when the ZAGS take on Ohio State in the second round of the big DANCE.  

I'm sorry that Francis Alonzo received no help from his namesake during that final 90 seconds yesterday, but I'm not one bit sorry that the beautiful rosary obtained in conjunction with seeing Pope Francis helped seal the deal for the ZAGS and all those folks who still want to experience the very real symptoms of March Madness.  

GO, ZAGS!  Keep on dancing!  


Other March Madness and Meltdown and St. Paddy's News

 Along with the robin, other birds have begun to appear en masse to the feeders and the bushes all over the Lovestead, and it's nice to hear them singing again. 

Bill saw an unknown species on the ground below the bird feeder yesterday morning, and I think I saw it flying away from the same spot later in the afternoon.

We're hoping it will return and hang around long enough that we can figure out just what it is.  Who knows, maybe the bird watchers will have another reason to visit the Lovestead. 

Though March meltdown ain't all that purty, it is proceeding, and the thoughts of spring beauty not being too far off makes it worth the temporary inconvenience.

Needless to say, doggies are getting baths every afternoon before being allowed back into the house. 

Finally, in preparation for tomorrow's big day when everyone turns Irish, I'm sending you to Sarah McLarkey's "Geocaching Junkie" blog. 

Sarah lives in Ireland.  We had the good fortune to meet her last year in Dublin, and I have featured her blog before.

Today she talks about what's true and what's not in Irish traditions related to St. Patrick's Day.  

Enjoy . . . .

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Madness in the Air

This morning at 10:30 a.m. PDT, watch the ZAGS take on UNCGreensboro at Taco Bell Arena in Boise, Idaho, on TNT.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Big Day at the Barn Beauty Parlor

Remember that little guy I featured on yesterday's blog, the toddler who got into the mud?

Well, he can't hold a candle to what horses can do when they find some nice squishy mud.  

Spring mud is like a candy store for horses.

They lie down, roll and then roll some more.  Then they get back up and pretend to shake it off.  Heavy on the "pretend." 

Last evening my sister Laurie posted the photo above of Maizy after she had gone out to work the young mare and found her looking downright disgusting.

A good grooming job later, and finally Maizy was ready for her morning schooling.

Maizy pretty much exemplifies the typical scene this time of the year when horses take their mud baths. 

Besides the usual daily grooming, the Tibbs barn served as a setting for Tom's Pedicure Shop yesterday.

Tom is fully known as Tom Selberg.  He actually grew up in Colburn just a mile or so from where Barbara and Laurie live. Tom now works as a farrier and horse owner from his farm near Coeur d'Alene. 

He's been Barbara and Laurie's farrier for more years than I have fingers, toes and nose hairs. 

Well, yesterday he pulled in and parked his truck in the usual spot on the cement slab on the south end of the barn.  

Then, one by one, horses with long toes came in from the mud for their early spring trims.  Dusty, "the champ," also got fitted for some new front shoes.

During the sunny afternoon session, the line-up included a couple of babies, stall mates CB and Arty, having their first real experience with a farrier.

In both cases, Tom, who's dealt with hundreds and hundreds of horses representing all sorts of temperaments and hoof care experience, calmly approached each young'un and with a little help from Laurie and Barbara, convinced them that he was not gonna be the boogie man. 

Working with first timers takes patience, and it can be dangerous, but when you had three lifetimes of dedicated horse experience there working with the novices, it all turned out pretty pain free (for humans and horses), and the little guys decided it wasn't that bad after all. 

Little CB experienced a double dose of beautification yesterday.  Shortly before I drove over to my sisters' the UPS truck came and the driver handed me a box containing CB's very own horse blanket. 

It's an expandable version, so he can wear it off and on through the fall and maybe even during early winter. 

He seemed to like the blanket, but uncharacteristically did not appear too excited to pose for Mom's photo session. 

There's an awfully lot that goes into enhancement of "all the pretty horses."  

It's a daily thing.  It involves considerable expense with feed, supplements, pedicures, grooming, veterinary care and wardrobe.

More than anything, though, it involves a genuine, loving and committed relationship with these special animals/friends. 

We love them. They love us back.  

And, when the mud goes away in the spring, leaning on a fence and watching them frolic or graze out in lush green grass-----nothing beats that.   

Dusty, the National Champ, got some new front shoes.