My Story of Inspiration

My stomach was churning as sweat dripped off my forehead. I was in Grand Island, Nebraska at the National 4-H Shooting Sports Competition and my team and I were nervously waiting for the announcers to announce the winning teams for muzzle loading. The announcers are working their way to first place and still we were waiting for our names to be called. Texas had won second place. There is a pause and we wonder if we have placed in the top ten. Then we hear, “And 1st place in muzzle loading goes to Missouri!”

Surprisingly my 4-H career began several years earlier with an Easter bunny. I wanted one so bad that when I was eight years old I was able to make a deal with my mom that if I could get a rabbit I would join 4-H. I started attending meetings and learning how to care for my rabbit. I was having a great time and making new friends as I started laying down a foundation for my future. I was thrilled to learn that I could show my rabbit in the county fair; however, before I could show I had to give a demonstration. I was shy and the idea of getting up in front of people was terrifying. I was able to do it and had a blast showing my rabbit and proudly displayed the blue ribbon we had won on my rabbit’s cage.

My experiences at the fair and seeing all the diverse projects people were doing inspired me to broaden my horizons. In my second year I added woodworking and bee keeping to my list of projects. In that fair I showed a jar of honey and a pair of gum ball machines I had made. In my third year, Dad had me sign up for shooting sports so that I could learn to shoot so I could hunt with him. I was now a big part of our club and was quickly learning to shed my shyness and have fun. It wasn’t until my fourth year however that I gained public notice in the fair. That year I began to work with leather and, along with showing a belt in the small exhibit building, began hand crafting and selling custom leather bracelets from my bench in the rabbit barn.

I would not be near the same person I am now if not for 4-H. Nowhere else could I have accomplished so much. This year I earned the title of Treasurer of our club and I have won Grand Champion Rabbit Meat Pen twice, helped Missouri win a national muzzle loading championship and state livestock judging contest, and have turned my leather working hobby into a small business. I have benefited from every aspect of 4-H; demonstrations and judging interviews have taught me how to control my shyness, working on projects have shown me the importance of detail and character, I learned professionalism and responsibility working with others in meetings, and participating in fairs and competitions have built up my self-esteem, self-image, and self-respect. It is my experiences through 4-H that has inspired me to be an agricultural teacher and spread ag-awareness and help oncoming generations broaden their horizons like 4-H has broadened mine.

Tumbl’n T Leather

Like many kids growing up in rural areas I was fascinated with John Wayne and western movies. I would sling my toy cap shooter along with the town marshal and round up the bad guys. My problem though was no matter how good my toy gun was I could never find a good holster. So several years later when I was starting to shoot real guns and had grown up quite a bit I decided to make my own. I had made a few other things out of leather, nothing much to brag about but I was determined to make this holster look nice.

holster

Three months later I had a finished holster dyed a nice saddle tan and beautifully engraved with a small basket weave pattern. It was a true holster ready for business and fit the gun it was sized for like a glove. I showed it off to anyone that would see and soon my art teacher was telling me I should enter it in a 3-D art contest. Well I won 1st place and the prize of $500, I was ecstatic. I used the money to buy more tools and supplies and started making more leather stuff like wallets and belts. It wasn’t long before I was selling belts to friends and starting to gather up a reputation.

Mini Saddle

That was how Tumbl’n T Leather started. I still do about the same thing as I was just making small things like wallets, belts, and purses. But now I’ve gathered the tools and experience to make all my products look as good as that first holster. I keep a small stock of premade wallets and phone cases on hand but most of my profit comes from custom making things for people. At fairs and art walks I am extremely popular for my custom bracelets. I can put names or phrases on a bracelet and add a barbwire or some other design around it to complete the look.

First Art Walk Booth

My childhood games have really paid off in turning into a lifelong passion. Even now that I am at college and barely have time I still try to fit some leatherworking in now and again and I’m still taking orders for custom work. I’ve also helped fire the same passion into one of my younger friends Blake Adams who is also joining the leather crafting world as Hanging A Leather. Together we are able to cross reference new patterns we draw up and manage big fair booths while both gaining knowledge and a small profit. However we both know that we are here doing leather work because deep down that is what we were meant to do.

A link to my Tumbl’n T Leather Facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tumbln-T-Leather/150744521676106

Tumbl'n T Brand

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Katie Hanson of Country Credence

Katie Hanson of Country Credence

Hey ya’ll I just wanted to throw this out there but I’ve posted below a link to another blog that’s starting out and I think is pretty awesome! This goes to her recent post about the sequester so she’s AGvocating and getting our story out there please give her page a look over!

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Mid Term Meltdown

For students everywhere, yes it is already time for our mid term exams. If you are like me you are caught unprepared and are having a mental breakdown. The amount of studying that is required for these tests is very time consuming and for people like me that find it hard to sit still and concentrate it can be a real drag. However my biggest limitation on studying is the amount of involvement I have. I have several friends that are consumed by Call of Duty and other online games and never take time to do their work. However several organizations that I am involved in keep me busy to the point where I am always exhausted and left with no motivation. Right now Greek Jam, a choreographed dance for fraternity and sorority members, which takes up 10 hours of my week. 10 hours really isn’t that bad but it goes until midnight and keeps me from getting a good nights rest to be able to tackle the new day. Now many of you may not know me well enough, but no one has ever called me a dancer or graceful so learning these steps and counts is taxing for me. I constantly feel guilt for my partner who knows exactly what shes doing and I feel like I let her down a lot. But she is very nice and always manages to boost my morale. With all this going on in my life right now it will be interesting to see how I adapt to these challenges.

Working with the Ozark Landtrust

The other weekend I had the pleasure to volunteer with the Ozarks Regional Land-trust to survey a small pond site that is important both as a historical monument and as a safe harbor for endangered species. Knowing that I would enjoy it and that I needed to gather volunteer hours for my FFA American Degree, my uncle Gregg Galbraith invited me to help survey a small lot owned by the Ozarks Land-trust to help understand how they can better the environment for both Ozarks cave fish and Arkansas Darter fish which are both endangered.

Me marking the water level of the pond.

Me marking the water level of the pond.

Our job was to measure and map out the current lake and get elevation readings so that the Land-trust can decide if they need to raise the water level any. I worked with a man named John who was in charge of the project. My job was to stand at points on the pond bank and hold a pole so that we could trace out the current bank. John would look through a small telescope and read the numbers on my pole to measure elevation and distance. Then I put on some waders and walked through the middle of the pond measuring pond depth.

Sarcoxie pond landscape 2

It did rain on us a little but it was interesting to see how John could measure distance and bearing with that little telescope and be able to plot out points on a map. After we had the pond mapped out we were able to tie in our elevations with a designated point in town that is a official elevation marker. I had a blast working with John and I really learned a new side to conservation techniques that I had never been associated with before. I hope I will have the chance to work with the Land-trust again to help preserve some of our world’s diminishing beauty.

Who Needs a Farmer?

In my public relations in agriculture class at Missouri State University we were given the challenge of making a impromtu video showing why America needs a farmer. I paired up with Rusty Corkran and we quickly made this video in Blair Shannon dinning hall. It’s a little rough and could have a little more effort put into it for sure but I think it does a good job about representing farmers. Hope you enjoy!

Beef Cow Playing Milk Cow

Spring time is always busy at Tumbl’n T Ranch where I live. This is when our momma cows have their calves. We have to constantly watch the herd in case one of the cows has a problem and needs our help and to keep track of the calves. Usually we are not needed that often but every year one particular cow always needs a helping hand.

This cow is my own named Eragon for the white circle in her forehead. Like the rest of our cows she is a beef cow and therefore only raises one calf a year and should only produce milk to feed that one calf with little to no extra. However Eragon has a genetic disorder which causes her to produce up to four times the amount of milk needed. This causes problems for both Eragon herself and her calf. See her calf has no hope of ever drinking that much milk in order to relieve his mom of her load but his instincts tell him to try and get all the food he can. So he ends up drinking too much milk and giving himself the scours. As for Eragon, her large amount of milk stretches her udder and becomes painful for her and if the milk is allowed to sit there long enough it will begin to go bad and cause a disease.

Eragon beef cow, over large udder

Eragon beef cow, over large udder

This is where we the farmers come in. Every year we keep an eye on Eragon and when she pops and the baby comes out we get to work. First off we spend about an hour moving Eragon and her new calf up to the corral where we can more easily work with her and make sure that there are no problems other than the milk. Then we drive to a local dairy farm and buy two or three fresh born bottle calves. The term bottle calf means that the calf has been separated from the cow and is being raised off a bottle. I take these calves home and for a short period separate all the calves from Eragon with a panel. She can still see the calves but they cannot nurse her during this time.

My Dad helping a dairy calf to nurse

My Dad helping a dairy calf to nurse

After a while Eragon begins to get confused as to which calf is hers because they have all rubbed up on each other and smell alike. I then let Eragon into the pen with the calves and give her a bucket of grain to make her stand still and eat. The natural born calf usually goes right up and starts nursing because after that separation the calves are ready for dinner. However the dairy calves have never been with a momma cow and wander around looking for food. I gather them up one by one and guide them to Eragon’s udder. I usually have to make them move their heads up and put a teat in their mouth and manually release some milk into their mouths several times before they get the idea.

Happy Jersy calf thats been adopted to Eragon

Happy Jersy calf thats been adopted to Eragon

After several of these sessions and several days the calves all are pro milkers and know their place at the dinner table. We generally keep them all in the coral for about a month to make absolutely sure that all the calves are getting their fair share of the bounty. After we are confident everything is going good they can all be turned out to pasture to join the herd. Eragon and her calf are saved and three bottle calves find a mother. It’s a happy ending for all thanks to a farmer.