Monday, October 10, 2011

A Prayer Answered... by Mr. Murphy

Well, it had to happen. Some day, they said, it will rain again in Texas. Personally, I counted on it being sometime after Dec 21, 2012.

But I was wrong. Sunday morning, it finally turned loose in Medina County. By noon, we had received about three inches of much needed rain. Only one problem... I still had to move a bunch of cattle to market with Dad and my sister. Oh well, just like the Post Office... neither rain, nor sleet... blah blah blah... Cowboys moving cattle.

So, Sunday morning, we waited for the lightning to stop and my Uncle Ron came over from Devine to help us. Dad and I had penned all the cattle on Saturday night, so we just needed to sort and ship on Sunday. Easier said than done in the rain. But, it needed to happen. So I slapped on the mud boots, put a couple of towel and dry shirt in the truck, and down we went to the pens.

Slipping and sliding, thanking God for rain and Four Wheel Drive. After spending about an hour separating cows from calves, and keeper from shippers, we got the first load on the truck and headed to Hondo. Dropped off the load, had one cow that went "down" in the trailer (but fortunately got back up because you can't sell a "down" cow) and back to Yancey we head. So far, so good.

Get back in the pasture to the pens, and load up the second run... and then our good friend Mr. Murphy (and his Law) show up. Three inches of rain on parched ground means one thing... MUD. And what happens when you put a fully loaded cattle trailer and truck in the mud?

Approximately 18,000 pounds of going nowhere fast, that's what happens! STUCK.

Damn. Well, that's why we have the McCormick.

I walked the 3/4 mile back to the house, grabbed the tractor and the tow chain, and headed back south. 2 years ago there was ZERO chance I made the walk. I'd send Dad. Well, now its easy. Head back to the pens in the tractor, and pull out the truck.

Off to Hondo for round two.

Easy drop off, and back to Yancey to collect the last half load of cows and then we need to go to Blackcreek to sort those cattle and collect another half a trailer for the load. Of course, you can see this coming... and its the reason I left the tractor at the pens. STUCK again. Almost twice. But with a little help from my uncle, we get the truck back to the chute, load up the cows. BANG MY HEAD ON THE DOOR TO THE TRAILER! ***DIRTY WORDS HERE*** Still got a bump on the head today.

Loaded up, hit the gas. Nothing. Check the 4WD. Engaged. Low gear. Check. Mud? Yeah, more mud. Stuck again. Well, pull out with the tractor and off to Blackcreek. Easy in to Blackcreek, there haven't been 3 trips on the ground yet.

Get our cows separated, and load the mammas. Head to Hondo for round three. And Mr. Murphy shows up again. Turn onto 30th St in Hondo, and blow a tire on the trailer. Now, I don't know if you have ever tried to change a tire on a fully loaded cattle trailer, but I have, AND IT AIN'T ANY FUN. Well, we catch a break. Butter Crane, owner of the Union Livestock Auction happened to be driving by with a half full trailer (longer than ours.) He offers to haul the cows for us the last couple of miles. Middle of the road trailer swap? Sure... why not?

After almost breaking a cow's leg by getting caught between trailers (a little good luck here) we send Butter on his way and I get the trailer up on blocks and change the tire. ***Best practice here: If hauling a double axle trailer, have a collection of 4x4 and 2x6 boards in your trailer and you can drive up on the blocks alleviating the need for a jack.***

Hey, since we are at it, and its going to be a tight load for 14 calves and a mamma cow in our trailer, why don't we get Butter to haul our last load. Well, and it saves me an hour of driving and I can get home earlier. Sure... I am sure he will charge us something, but it was worth it. Get the last load on his trailer, send him to town, and head back to Yancey to collect the pup and head back to Austin.

Final count? 24 cows, 2 bulls, and 15 calves. Should be a nice check, but I would have liked to keep the calves a little longer. Unfortunately, the rain was about 2 months late and I am out of grass and down to 19 hay bales with no line of sight to getting any more hay. Gotta ship em.

Finally got home at 10PM last night, exhausted, and headed straight to bed. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

We'll see what the week holds... I know I have a dinner Tuesday night, a happy hour on Wednesday, and optometrist appointment on Thursday.

Friday night, Brandon Jenkins , the Red Dirt legend, will be at Hanover's in Pflugerville. Saturday is Temi's birthday party, and Sunday will be two years of dating Jina so we are going to go have a nice dinner at Parkside in downtown Austin. You will have to wait until then for food porn!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Weeknd of Activism...

A few weeks ago, my friend Andrea Fox asked me if I would like to ride with her in the Mamma Jamma Ride to beat back breast cancer. Andrea's mom passed away several years ago, and she undertook a beast of a task... raise money and awareness, then use those funds to pay the entry into the 2011 Mamma Jamma. She was monumentally successful, raising over $6000 for breast cancer research. In doing so, she also had spots available for her cycling friends to ride with her in memory of her mother and all breast cancer survivors, along with those who couldn't beat the illness.

Along the way, Andrea held several events, including a book sale, an online silent auction, and the Bikes, Brews, and BBQ for Breast Cancer Research. The latter started from her house, and included a hill challenge, a mountain bike hill challenge, some cold beer donated by the great folks at Shiner Beers, and a BBQ lunch from Dickie's BBQ.

For Saturday's ride, she asked her friends Melissa Miller, Hawk Harris and myself to ride with her on the 100 mile "Century Ride." I was honored to be asked to participate... You see, Andrea and Hawk can kick my ass all over a road ride (except on the descends as I still have gravity working on my side...) So, Saturday rolls around. Oct 1, and FINALLY, a day which resembles fall in Austin, TX. I left my house at 6AM to drive to the ride start at Reunion Ranch. It was 64 degrees when I left my house. By the time I got to Reunion Ranch (about 20 miles from my home,) it was 48 degrees. I knew I should have brought arm warmers!

We rolled out at 7:30AM to a brisk opening segment of the ride. The initial plan was to ride all the way to Burnet, skipping the first two pit stops. Unfortunately, Mr. Murphy stepping in and I had a bit of a mechanical issue as a spoke came loose. So, being good teammates, they stopped at the 20 mile pit for repairs. Only one problem... no mechanic at the pit! Seriously? Turns out the are all driving around in the SAG truck. So I have to fix my own issue. Fortunately a volunteer had a Leatherman on him. Repair made, back on the road.

By this time, it had warmed up a bit, a very light breeze blowing. (Quite different from my last Century ride in Shiner!) A wonderful day for a ride. We made our way through most of Burnet County, even having to slow down because cattle are crossing the road as we passed on a County Road that goes right through the middle of several ranches (one family owned since 1852!)

We roll back into Reunion Ranch at a time of 6:02, for a 16.1MPH rolling average speed. We all fell really good about this, and now its time for BBQ and a beer. Thanks again to Andrea for asking me to be a part of this special tribute. I rode for my aunt, Joyce Smith, a nearly 20 year survivor, my friend Carla Cooper who was going through her own cancer scare, and in memory of my granddad, JR Waddell, who passed away in 1986.

Saturday night, after the ride, Jina and I had tickets to see Miranda Lambert along with Randy Rogers Band and Justin Moore at the Cedar Park Center. About 6:30PM, as we were heading over, my friend Heather White of the KASE 101 morning crew called me and asked where I was? About 15 minutes from the Cedar Park Center...why?

She had two "meet and greet" passes to meet the members the Randy Rogers Band, but the meet and greet is at 6:45. Can I make it? I said yes, and dropped the hammer on the ole Dodge, until I saw the Travis County Sheriff's deputy behind me. Thought I was gonna get pulled over, but alas, sometimes its better the be lucky than good! We made it in time, and Jina got to drool over Randy and his fiddle player, Brady Black (don't tell his wife though!) Everyone put on a great show, lots of fun... but Miranda is one pissed off chick... someone did a number on her back in the day. She reminds me of the country version of Alanis Morrissete.

Sunday morning, Jina and I drove down to the Capitol to support our friend Mike LaRocca of Rally for Real Food and the Beanitos . I firmly believe it is important to control the amount of crap you put in your body (a revelation since my WLS.) So we joined the Austin community to speak out against genetically modified foods! Keep you veggies clean and know where your meat comes from!

It was a good crowd, lots of samples and education. Several speakers and then some wrap up from Mike LaRocca, Executive Director of the Rally and proud member of the Beanitos family. After that, we mulled around for an hour talking about life and the great weather (mid 80's and sunny!)

All in all, a good day. Jina and I drove over to AJ's Cyclery to pick up the bike, which had gotten a tune up, and grabbed a little lunch.

I encourage each and every one of you to examine what you are doing from an advocacy standpoint. Reach out today to help someone in need, or support a cause you find worthy! But do something!