As I’m driving to meet my family at our annual camping trip, I’m recalling this past summer’s highlights.
We’ve been working ground, worrying what’s going to be planted next and whether it is going to make it.
Are we going to have disease again? Is the milo going to make it? Are we going to get some rain?
We swam, played with friends and enjoyed the county fair, where I had the opportunity to show a steer in the old-timers’ showmanship division. I’m not officially an old-timer since I’ve never done this before, but they let me in, so I guess there’s a new novice category for the former city chick to get in the arena and give the judges a few laughs.
They gave me a market steer named Teddy. I was supposed to get a bucket calf, but there was a slight miscommunication or someone had made a bet how long I would last. Turns out showmanship is harder than it looks. I survived because the actual former 4-H’ers stood outside the ring shouting tips.
And while I did not kill myself, I came very close. I petted him on his face, which would seem relaxing to me. Teddy, however, did not agree. They gave me a long pokey stick to rub on him, but Teddy smelled my fear. A friend showed me how to hold the harness because apparently I was leading him like a goat and that was not going over well.
Since the only showmanship I’ve ever really seen is the peewee division, I prepared my answers like my daughter. What’s your name? Do you like pigs or sheep? How old are you? My name is Michele. I like cows, and I hope to do this again next year.
Instead, they ask me questions like, “How old is the cow?”
“Three?” I guessed.
The judge tried to contain the laughter. I learned later that apparently market steers can only be one and a half.
How much does it weigh?
My answer: A lot!
The fair highlights besides not killing myself were Mia taking third in the turtle races, and she even entered a photograph. We tried the tractor pull and rode a mechanical bull.
The demo derby was a huge success with 28 cars entered. A local guy won, and people lined up to railroad tracks to get in.
After lots of swimming and lots of tractor driving and lots of fun at the fair, we settled in to wait for rain.
Hopefully there would be enough rain – and hopefully no hail and not too strong of winds – so our milo crop might be successful.
And as we went about our days and weeks, the rains came with flash flood warnings, which are unheard of in northwest Hamilton County. It gave us 5 inches in two days. The Arkansas River, which has been bone-dry to low for years until this summer, is now overflowing. That hasn’t happened since 1966.
The long-awaited return of the Syracuse River Run from the 1980s had to be postponed because the water was too high. And while the rain came too hard and too fast and washed out roads and some fields, we were blessed to not have hail or wind take out our milo. The weeds are high, but thankfully the milo is higher.
So as I think about the very fast, fun summer and enjoying all the parts of our community, I drive to meet my family at the national park for a quick getaway. And I laugh as I look around my husband’s pickup that I’m driving and realize everything in the truck has the makings of a serial killer – a gas can, a rope, duct tape, an ax. I wonder if other people think the same thing. So now I ask you: Was the person a serial killer or just a farmer? Not sure other people think this way.
Tune in next time for wheat planting and milo harvesting.
Writer and photographer Michele Boy is a transplanted New Yorker living with her husband and young daughter on their Hamilton County farm. For more from Boy, visit www.kansasagland.com.