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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



It seems somewhat inevitable that come county fair time the dog days of summer would begin to show its head, although none of us really expected it to get this warm so soon. Last week I had the opportunity to spend a few hours at the National Jr. Angus show in Des Moines judging a speaking contest which turned out to be much easier and quite a bit more enjoyable than I had anticipated from the start. I will be the first to admit that cattle shows like this tend to make me a bit fudgy because I carry with me this notion that the ones that win big tend to pay to play. I can’t really say that I either proved or disproved that theory but I do know that there were a few young people that stuck with me at the end of the day.

The youngest of the extemporaneous speakers were around nine or ten years old and they stood there and talked about why being a part of the Angus world was important. They talked about jobs they did on their own farm, the things they were learning and showed us a little bit of the world that we tend not to understand as well as our own back yard. From Florida to Texas to the Dakotas, each of these young people are just starting to learn about what it takes to be a beef producer but they stood tall and proud.

In the senior division, we heard about where their experiences has taken them. I listened to a young lady from Virginia who is a third generation Angus breeder, who is facing the reality of life off of the farm in order to earn enough money to come back and keep the operation successful. From Nebraska, a young woman tested my own knowledge of the Veterinary Feed Directive which is changing how cattle producers are treating their livestock. We also heard from a future Angus breeder from Miami, Florida who made her first trip to Iowa and took back a passion for genetics and her own ability to increase the quality of her operation.

After the contest, I took some time to wander down and visit with a few friends in the barns, which were as miserably hot as though it was in the middle of the State Fair. We all laughed a bit when the subject of vacations came up and I noted that as a youngster on the farm we rarely took a vacation. County Fair, maybe a weekend of camping at Springbrook and the occasional quick trip to see the cousins sufficed for our vacation time. It never seemed to fail that we would just get the van loaded up and the cows would get out and that would put an end into any thought of leaving for a few days. I’m sure the cattle didn’t really take into account any of the planning or time that had been spent preparing to leave, but for some unknown reason their internal clocks must have known that it was the perfect time for them to widen that hole in the fence, or to take it down all together.

Oh sure, there are times I look back at those days and wish that we had been able to travel as a family and spend a week away, but if I’m really honest with myself, the farm really was the only place I wanted to be. There was always work to be done, but there was enough fresh air to keep us alive and enough room for us to grow and learn. Even those old cows who would pretend to be calmly grazing until the sound of car doors closing made them decide to head into the nearest cornfield, were something that brought not only lessons, but also a little peace. Although I miss the sounds and smells of the livestock on the farm, there is just something about taking a little time to be away and see a little more of the world than just what I know. I’m sure that even in the next few weeks as I load the car up for a little time away I’ll pause just before I pull out of the driveway and look back just to make sure the cows haven’t gotten out again. See you next week…remember, we’re all in this together.