Monday was 15 degrees higher than average. HOT HOT HOT. Ben had to be to work early, so Kaine had to get up early to help Anna with morning chores. Then Dad, Anna and Kaine took the 3 heifers going to Missouri into Sheena for their travel papers. They took Riggs in with them for a checkup, she has the broken leg. Riggs had a good checkup, she is just healing slowly. The kids washed their steers and heifers and are preparing for our long trip. I called around and found a place to stay overnight with the heifers in Gillette, and got a room. Toni bred Lucy again on Monday and tried breeding Abs, Abs does not feel like she is in heat. Kaine and Kade have really gotten into fishing lately too after they get done with chores.
Tuesday was still hot, but not quite as hot, and it was breezy. Dad was going to spray weeds but there was too much wind. So the spray tractor went back up to my house and the circle stayed on. Another outside mare went home, KC, she was in with Dude. Anna dyed and clipped her heifer to go to Jr Nationals. Toni tried hand breeding Abs and Lucy again, both did not feel like they were in heat. Toni moved the water in King’s pen, and I moved the water out front. Everyone wants their water on. Ben and the kids started loading the trailer to go to Jr Nationals. On my way home I saw a cow in heat in the bull calf pen, so the boys and I got her in and locked her in the corral.
We are getting down to crunch time. Kids continued to dye and clip heifers on Wednesday. McCall stopped by on her way home and helped them. While Anna and McCall clipped the boys and Ben took the fans and stands down in the barn and washed them. I had a work meeting after work, so did not get home until late. Toni hand bred Abs, she was actually in heat on Wednesday. Toni and Jaxsen moved the waters around the house. Jaxsen needs work on moving water. Hopefully he will get it while we are gone. I ran to Winco on my way home and got some last min supplies.
On my way to work I noticed that Abs had gotten out with the yearling colts. Luckily everything was ok other than the mare we are trying to breed to Stetson was out with 2 young studs. That will lead a DNA kit if she took. Toni took Kade and went down and got her in. Sonny and Jeannie came by and brought Anna her new pigs. They are cuter than last years pigs. The kids continued to pack and get ready for the show. When I got home almost everything was packed. Toni and I tried to simplify all of the horses chores, turning everything out that we could. We did our best and hopefully all goes well.
Friday we headed out early and made it to Gillette, Wyoming. The roads were good except in Idaho, those roads were crap. We hit some road construction and there was an accident in Billings, so we were detoured through town, but we made it. We got to keep the heifers at the fairgrounds in Gillette, they had a nice big pen and were able to stretch their legs. We arrived in Gillette in the dark and left again in the dark, but what we saw was nice. We saw lots of wildlife, ranches, cattle, and good ag country.
We got up at 4 again on Saturday and continued to Kansas City, Missouri. Again, lots of good roads and we saw lots of country. Kaine called the pronghorns “jumps” so we started calling them that. Really other than some wind in Wyoming and more road construction with a detour through Council Bluffs, we had a pretty uneventful trip. We have started calling our stay in Kansas City the Hunger Games. Day 1 we found out the American Royal Grounds are in down town Kansas City along the tracks, it was a little bit of a culture shock for us. The grounds are old, the ac was barely working, and lots and lots of fireworks. It was 9:30 when we got everyone settled in to tie outs and the trailer unpacked. July 1st in Missouri is when they do fireworks, right by our hotel. So we then circled our hotel for an hour and a half trying to get in. It was 11 by then, we could not get any food in so we ate smoked almonds, pretzels and granola barns. When we tried to get good directions from the hotel about how to get in with the crowds of people, we were told to pull up google maps. It was not helpful. We were all exhausted when we finally got to our room and could decompress.
Sunday we got up, luckily Ben had made us breakfast burritos so we took them with us to the barn. We had an extra so a guy from Nebraska took it. He said it was great. We got all set up, fans up, heifers in the barn. We were in a great location to meet people- right where the 2 barns connected so everyone had to walk their cattle by our area to get to the show ring. It gave Toni lots of opportunity to talk. She talked to lots and lots of people. Day 2 of Hunger Games the heat was turned on. We spent the day getting set up, sweating and trying to keep the heifers cool. Yes, we realize that Missouri in July is hot, but there were actually excessive heat warnings because it was way hot. We had expected it to be hot but it far exceeded our expectations. The boys’ 2 heifers came from Seldom Rest in Michigan so Andrew and Scott came over to talk to the kids and see the heifers. We went out to the Porch, which is by the American Royal Center, for dinner and then went back and put the heifers out at tie outs when the sun went down, so approximately 9 pm. It was still really hot, but without the sun it was bare-able.
Happy 4th of July. Day 3 of Hunger Games was additional heat and humidity. Record high heat warming. In the morning Kacey V and Anna went to a delegate meeting, they were the WA state voting delegates. The kids had an AMP it up and livestock judging with Jr Angus. There were over 1800 head entered at the show, with approximately 1100 head that showed up with over 700 exhibitors. It is the biggest junior show in America. We had opening ceremonies and a pop-up event that night, WA brought iced coffee and applies. Both were a big hit. All of the states bring what they are known for to the pop up. Ohio was next to us with buckeyes, and buckeyes and coffee really pair nicely. CA was on the other side of us with fruit cups, almonds and black grocery bags. Louisiana had gumbo. Texas had Dr Pepper and millionaire bars. There was live music, corn hole games and more. We had a lot of fun. The kids got to reconnect with friends that made the year before and began meeting new people.
Tuesday morning Toni and Anna stayed at the hotel in the morning for an Angus Queen brunch. The boys and I went to the barn and washed the heifers. Kat and Kady took our pickup to the hotel, since Kady is the Western States Queen, and the 4 of them went to the brunch which was held at Union Station. The location was historic and inspiring. On Hunger Games the biting flies came, and more heat. They needed to turn up the volume to keep it interesting. Toni took Anna back to the hotel that afternoon to get ready for the delegate social meeting. The voting delegates had a social to get to know one another and ask the candidates questions. Anna and Kacey V. were the WA delegates. Toni, Kaine, Kade and I went to pizza for dinner and then went back and took the heifers out when the sun was down. It was still excessively hot.
Wednesday on Hunger games it was hot, but cooler then it has been, we had biting flies, rain, thunder and lighting. The boys and I went back to the hotel and napped for a few hrs while Toni and Anna watched the heifers. Anna napped in the chair. In the afternoon the kids did the skill a thon and did well. Also on Wednesday the kids went to a Sullivans clinic. Wednesday night was the Team Fitting. The WA Team Fitting team was Kade, Dalton Chambers, Matt Rosman and Sydney Dodge. They did really well. We have not seen the official results yet, and although we know they didn’t make the top 3, we are very proud of our kids. Kelsey V brought us Kaines (really Cane’s chicken) Chicken on Wednesday for dinner. We have had Ben’s breakfast burritos and sandwiches every day. They really saved us.
Thursday Anna showed in the PGS show. Her and Victoria did really well. They were 7th in their class and in the 9th class. Anna also helped Sydney Rylaarsdam show her cow and calf, Anna got to show the calf. In the evening we watched Dalton show in the showmanship. In between Dalton’s heat and the announcement of the top 15 we had Ben’s smoked beef and chips. Ben had a really nice smoke on it. Dalton made it back to the top 15, we were all very proud of him. Dalton and his brother Coulson are great kids and helped our kids out a lot.
Friday Kaine showed Mia, he was the second to last class of the day, class 37, so it was pretty late in the day. Him and Mia showed really and she looked really good. Seldom Rest fitted her so that was nice for us to not have to take any chutes. We had Ben’s lunch burritos for dinner on Friday. Anna also did her queen duties. And the loose heifer IS NOT ours, but she was living her best life.
Saturday first thing was the showmanship show off, so we went and watched Dalton show. He did a great job. Then Anna was in the first heifer class. Her and Victoria showed well again. Victoria looked really good. About 7 classes later Kade and Laramie showed. They also looked really good. Then we packed up our stuff and headed out of town. We made it to Oacoma, South Dakota for the night. We walked and fed the heifers and they slept in the trailer. Some girls from the hotel came and gave them a pet. We also got to eat in a restaurant Saturday night which was nice. Saturday we had whatever anyone could find in the snack box for breakfast with gas station sandwiches for lunch. Dinner sitting in a non-moving vehicle was good. It also ended up being the only real meal we got for the entire trip home.
Sunday we woke up early and headed out. We tried to stop at the big western store in Wall, South Dakota but it was closed, it did not open until 8. So we headed out of town. Toni put the pedal to the metal and we flew home. I typed and worked on pictures as she drove. I told her she was like a barn sour horse running for home, she didn’t deny it. She stopped for fuel and bathroom breaks. If we were lucky there was food at whichever gas station she stopped at. We drove 19 ½ hours on Sunday to get home. We went through some beautiful country. We saw Custer’s last stand. We saw the turn-off to Mt. Rushmore, Toni said we didn’t have time to stop at either. We saw lots of other places and lots of wild and domestic animals through the pick-up windows.
Some trip highlights. All of the WA (and Oregon and Idaho groups for that matter) were driven by their mothers, or aunts, no show dads from those states made the trip. We had 6 kids from WA and 1 from OR that all stalled together. We made lots of new friends. Our area was on the main aisle going to the show ring, so Toni and I talked to a lot of people and made a lot of new friends. We also forged stronger relationships with our WA friends. As both WA Jr. Angus Queen and a delegate Anna had the opportunity to really be part of the proceedings and see some of the political side. Kaine and Kade made friends early and were often wandering around with their buddies. Mom sent us with lots of muffins and cookies and we ate well on the food we brought. We took our swim clothes, but were so busy we never had time to swim at the hotel swimming pool.
Even with the Hunger Games theme, we had a good time. The heifers were all good, for the most part the kids were good. Really the best part is that the kids said thanks. They understand it is a sacrifice to take the time off, the cost, the commitment, those that were at home that had to pick up the slack. Junior Nationals is about the experience, the relationships, being part of the Angus organization, and having kids that understand and are appreciative make it all worth it.