Category Archives: Extension

Time Flies

Well, now. It appears I haven’t written a blog post since mid-January. Turns out the work load increases when the roster of beef cattle specialists decreases from two to one…and the one is me.

Here’s a brief pictorial update on some things that have happened since that long-ago post last winter.

I organized our local Academic Quadrathlon in February. It’s a 4-part animal science contest where teams of 4 students compete in a written exam, oral presentation, hands-on lab practicum, and a double-elimination quiz bowl tournament. Here is the farm cat “helping” these young ladies with a lab practicum station.

I am a member of the Western Extension Leadership Development program committee. This year’s WELD seminar was held in San Diego. An alright place to be when it’s late February in Montana.

After the San Diego trip, I had a few days before I needed to be in Reno, NV for the Western Beef Resource Committee meeting, so I visited some dear friends in California. And I met their zebra.

And then I went to Santa Anita. It. Was. Awesome. Best track I’ve ever been to.

Then it was calving time again. It’s a rough life to be a calf at our place.

Went back to my old stomping grounds of Miles City for the World Famous Bucking Horse Sale the third weekend in May. Here’s a shot of the start to the craziest wild horse race I’ve ever witnessed.

In late June, MSU hosted the Western Section, American Society of Animal Science meetings, a part of which is the Western Section Academic Quadrathlon contest. Our MSU team (Russell, Lane, Katy, and Drew) won the regional contest, competing against 8 other teams from all over the western United States. I was – and still am – soooooo proud!!! They got to compete at the national contest in conjunction with the American Society of Animal Science/American Dairy Science Association meetings in Indianapolis. They got 3rd place, and took 2nd place in the lab practicum.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…Callie had her first batch of kittens. She had them under a potentilla bush, then moved them into a hole in a tree 8 feet off the ground. We finally got her talked into bringing them back down to earth, and the kittens have been a major source of entertainment this summer. Here the family is eating their “milk and cookies”. The kittens are named Coley (the calico), Ringo, Rango, and Geronimo.

Living 3 hours closer to the ranch means I get to do this way more often.

Somehow, it’s now late July…no idea how that happened. It’s fair season in Montana, and I graded 97 hogs yesterday. Did you know pork fat is less saturated than beef fat? I was reminded 97 times yesterday…pork fat is gross, just sayin’. And I tried to cut off two fingers, but no worries, they’re on my left hand. I hope this finds you all well, readers. If I still have readers!

Yours in travel,
The Asphalt Cowgirl

“Now our windshield’s a painting that hangs in our room, It changes each mile like the radio tune” —Rodeo Moon, Chris Ledoux

Homecomings, Foreign Countries, and Flashing Road Signs

The past week has been quite a whirlwind. I headed out last Sunday for my old stomping grounds of Miles City, where I based (braced?) myself for the wild week of the Southeastern Montana Winter Ag Series. I’ve participated as a speaker in this annual event several times, and as usual, it didn’t disappoint. Ten towns in five days, two presentations a day. It’s a bit wearing, but a pretty dang efficient use of time. And since we didn’t start until late morning or early afternoon most days, I was able to meet friends for breakfast and visit others around town. And “old home week” continued as I caught up with many friends who attended the series.

I had several new experiences and learned a few things during the week. For example, I had never been stopped to wait for a snowplow to plow hay off the highway where a semi had dumped 5 or 6 round bales. Later in the day, I was following an empty hay truck driven by a man who apparently thought he was still loaded since he drove well into the opposite lane. On Tuesday, when I got to Broadus, I restarted my cell phone in hopes I could get some network service to check on email. The phone then asked me if I was okay with paying more for roaming while in a foreign country…who knew I’d crossed an international border on MT-59?

We were blessed with good roads and weather until the last day, which made for interesting travel back home to Belgrade. Roads were better than advertised, though, and I made pretty good time. Then on Saturday morning I took off for Stevensville to speak at the Bitterroot Stockgrowers educational session that preceded their annual meeting. A special treat was staying with my best friend from high school and catching up on about three years worth of gossip.

Misspelled word of the week: A motel marquee advertising in-room “refridgerators”.

Understatements of the week: Flashing road signs on the really icy parts that either read, “WATCH FOR CHANGING ROAD CONDITIONS” or “TAKE IT SLOW, ICE AND SNOW”. Gee, thanks for the update, MDT.

Looking forward to the Winter Grazing Seminar next week in Harlowton! Stay tuned for more from Asphalt Cowgirl January!

Yours in travel,

The Asphalt Cowgirl

“Now our windshield’s a painting that hangs in our room, It changes each mile like the radio tune” —Rodeo Moon, Chris Ledoux

Asphalt Cowgirl January

Happy New Year! I hope you’re making the transition to writing “2013”…I’m still working on it, as I failed miserably when writing out a check yesterday.

The Asphalt Cowgirl travel season is in full swing. Silly me, I went ahead and added up the miles. Looks like around 4375 or so in January alone…so I think the Asphalt Cowgirl moniker is still appropriate!

My first trip took me to the Golden Triangle and Hi-Line region of Montana. We had great turnouts at both meetings and a lot of young producers in attendance, which is so encouraging and exciting.

During my windshield time, I tend to see and experience interesting and fairly random things. Here are some highlights from the first foray of the year.
·         Before I’d even reached greater Belgrade on Friday morning, I saw a small red car which appeared to have some sort of canvas frame tied on the top. It wasn’t tied on very well, however, and the small red car looked as if it might take flight at any time.
·         My state pickup was spoiled when I was in Miles City, as it lived in a garage. Now it has to tough it out in the parking lot on campus. I drove for a large portion of Friday with an ice/snow mohawk on the cab. Oddly, as I drove toward the “great white North” of Havre, America, it just got warmer. Somewhere between Great Falls and Fort Benton, it was warm and windy enough to shave off the mohawk.

·         CW McCall’s “Convoy” was a featured song playing on KMON 560 AM. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s a good thing I travel alone, because no one could stand my singing.

·         Best misspelled word of the trip: “sumptious”. As in “try our sumptious desserts”. Better than sumptious deserts, I guess.

·         I was stopped for a funeral procession. The flag-draped casket was being transported to the cemetery in the back of a pickup, complete with three pallbearers sitting on each side.

Next up, the southeastern Montana winter ag series.: 10 towns, 10 talks, 5 days.

Yours in travel,

The Asphalt Cowgirl

“Now our windshield’s a painting that hangs in our room, It changes each mile like the radio tune” —Rodeo Moon, Chris Ledoux

Let’s Catch Up…

Happy New Year! I absolutely cannot believe it is 2012….shouldn’t it be around Labor Day 2011?!  I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year.  It’s been nearly a month since my last post – I apologize for the lull and shall try to do better as the year goes on.

Here’s a quick update on what’s been happening the last month or so…

I attended the RangeBeef Cow Symposium in Nebraska with a group of county agents from Montana. It was a great meeting with fabulous speakers. Traveling with county agents is somewhat like herding cats – whileI was telling a friend from Nebraska about some of the antics that occurred on the trip down, another friend walked up and hearing only part of the story, asked, “Did you bring some 4-H kids with you?”  Bah-ha-ha.  I earned the nickname “Mother Goose” during the trip, but its use lessened when I started calling them my goslings.

The MontanaStockgrowers Association Convention was in Billings in mid-December.  It was a whirlwind of activities, meetings, and family reunion-ish get togethers.  I was exhausted at the end but it was all worth it!  One of my favorite parts of convention every year is handing out the Top 5 Steer of Merit awards for the very best beef carcasses exhibited in our state during the fair season.  This program is a collaboration between MSGA and MSU Extension that dates back to 1967.  Here’s a picture that Lauren Chase with MSGA took of me with the winners in the contest’s carcass division.  You can see more photos from convention (and other great work from Lauren) on the Montana Stockgrowers Association Facebook page.
I continued to gain nicknames at convention in addition to those I already had…it’s starting to get a little hard to keep track of everything I’m supposed to answer to!  The nicknames include Red, Doc, DrE (pronounced “dray”), Dr. Feelgood (don’t ask), and Little Red Riding Hood.  Good grief.

I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s at the ranch for a much-anticipated break.  It was wonderful to just do ranch girl things instead of Extension Specialist things for a few days!  The mild winter is much appreciated, and we are only feeding the young cows hay at this point.  Here are some of the girls enjoying their breakfast on Christmas morning.

We had a wonderful Christmas dinner consisting of things both home-grown (prime rib, peas, mashed potatoes) and homemade (cresent rolls, gravy).

I traveled back to Miles City to ring in the New Year and had a wonderful time with many great friends. Here’s hoping you’ve had a great start to 2012!  I’ll be kicking of some programming and winshield time soon, so stay tuned…

Yours in travel,
The Asphalt Cowgirl

“Now our windshield’s a painting that hangs in our room, It changes each mile like the radio tune” —Rodeo Moon, Chris Ledoux

Location, Location, Location

I’ve told quite a few stories about my travels giving Extension programs…after all, I am the Asphalt Cowgirl, right?  Not only do I get to travel to exotic locations all over the state and region, I’ve also given presentations in some pretty interesting venues.

There was the time I spoke in Fishtail at the community hall on a 25-degrees-below-zero day when the furnace blew the breaker.  It was the first and only time (so far) I’ve given an indoor talk with my coat and neck scarf on!  Another of my favorites is the bomb shelter bunker built into the side of the hill in Fort Benton.  You don’t have to worry about too much light coming through the windows and washing out your slides, that’s for sure.  And you get great cell phone reception and wireless internet, too, which remains a mystery to me!

Just a few weeks ago, I spoke in Sunburst at the Methodist Church.  Having a church as a venue for Extension programs isn’t all that unusual, after all, churches are often an important gathering spot in our rural communities.  Usually though, I’m in a church hall or a church basement.  In this case, I was in the back of the church behind the pews – definitely the most spiritual talk I’ve ever given!  And there wasn’t a screen, so we projected my slides on the wall in between two lovely stained-glass windows.  That’s not the first time we’ve made do with a wall or something else…we forgot a screen once in Lodge Grass, so we tacked a tablecloth up on the wall and made do!

One of my other favorite stories comes from my hometown Ag Day for local 2nd and 3rdgraders that’s held every other year.  Last time, it was held at an indoor arena and we brought one of our horned Hereford herd bulls as part of the beef cattle station that I was in charge of.  Dozer is a good sport, and he lives up to his name as he is very mild-mannered.  But he almost gave me a heart attack – and lived up the “bulldozer” side of his name – when he started rubbing on the panels and used his horn to lift the corner of his pen up about two feet.  I envisioned the scattering of many small children as Dozer ambled out of his pen to check out the other stations.  I stood on the panels for the rest of the day…not that it would have stopped him!

Today, I gave a presentation at the Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility here in Miles City, which was quite an experience.  Pine Hills is a 120-bed facility for juvenile males from age 10-17.  The class I spoke to is going to have a Lincoln-Douglas style debate about genetically-modified food, and I was asked to talk about genetically-engineered animals.  I was very impressed with the preparation the boys had done and the discussion they generated during the hour-long class.  It was a little disconcerting going through the maze of deadlocked doors from the main building to the school and finding my way back by myself, but it was a rewarding experience nonetheless.

Last week, I traveled with a group of county agents to the Range Beef Cow Symposium.  Stay tuned for a blog post about our trip!  I’m looking forward to the Montana Stockgrowers Association annual convention next week in Billings – hope to see some of you there!

Yours in travel,

The Asphalt Cowgirl

“Now our windshield’s a painting that hangs in our room, It changes each mile like the radio tune” —Rodeo Moon, Chris Ledoux