Thursday, January 31, 2013

Time flys when your having fun Part 2

A couple of weeks had gone by, and not only was I catching a bunch of crap from the judgers for quitting, but I really wasn't making any head way with sharpening my fitting skills or raising that next national champion.  Then, out of the blue, Hoge saw me in the lunch room and told me he needed to see me after class.  Following animal science, I went to his office, and he asked me, "You know who Todd Caldwell is"?  Of course I knew who he was, he was starting to become one of the hottest steer traders going.  Dan proceeded to tell me that Todd was looking for someone to come down after school to work breaking, blowing and washing calves. It was perfect,  I was going to be clipping for one of the best, at least that was my hope.  Turns out, my primary job was in fact washing and blowing steers all afternoon.  At first, I was bummed, but the more people that came through that barn to look at steers, the more people I met. I learned not only how to be one of the biggest smart asses in the world in Elmwood, but more importantly, the day in and day out things that were needed to efficiently get 200 head of steers ready to sell. The following spring, I had to do an internship for school, I was planning on just staying in Kewanee and working for Todd, however he told me that I should get some experience at other places as well, that way when I did come back, I would be more well rounded.  When Hoge asked where I wanted to go, there was only one place I wanted to go....Leedey, OK. Yep, I wanted to go to Kirk Stierwalts.  Dan got everything lined up and that spring, I left for Oklahoma.  What was suppose to just be an 8 week internship, turned out to me staying all summer and helping Kirk conduct clipping and fitting clinics at his house. The clipping and fitting experience I gained at Kirks was great.  To be able to have one of the best in the business, teach you one on one on a daily basis was invaluable.  I did not realize this at the time, but it was.  The following fall, I was to do another internship, and I was planning to go back to Kirks, then when I returned to Illinois, I would be a much more valuable for Caldwell.  Denzer and Hoge had suggested that since one of my goals was to raise a national champion, that I should get some cow herd experience. After talking with Tyler Cates, he suggested that I go to Armstrong Farms in PA.  They are no longer in the cattle business, but it was a good choice at the time.  They were running approx. 200 cows and had 15-20 in the showbarn getting ready for NAILE.  I got plenty of hands on experience with the cows, and was able to see how effectively to manage a large string in the showbarn. 

When I returned to Kewanee, I began work back at Caldwells.  By this time, I was started going to quite a few of the jackpot shows in the midwest with them.  Through working for Todd, I started to meet a whole lot more people and was beginning to get noticed as being able to clip and fit. That fall, I was asked to make my first trip to NAILE, Kansas City, and Denver working for larger show strings.  Although I had been to KC and Louisville in the past, it was much more rewarding to go work for a notable outfit and get paid for it.  Ever since then, it has been one show after another.

As I sit here typing this today, I am very proud of what I have accomplished and how far I have come in this industry. I am equally greatful for folks like Dan Hoge, Lee Denzer, who saw a young man witth a passion maybe for not judging, but livestock in general and helped guide me down the path I chose. Todd Caldwell(sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a little when I typed that I was thankful for him. LOL, just kidding), for taking the time to teach me the business and how to coordinate things, not just tell me do it. And for always being that smartass mentor that I can call and ask questions, now I just have to get him to answer his phone sometimes.  Kirk Stierwalt, one of my all time best friends, for giving me the knowledge that I needed to chase a dream.  Ron Martin and Kevin Newman, for being local mentors to me and really showing me how to "run" cows. There are a whole slew of others that I could list, but I would inevitably forget someone.  These are the folks that took a chance on me and helped mold into the type of person within this industry that I am, and for that I am eternally grateful.  I hope they are proud of a kid from Fortville, In. Proud of a kid  that the best he ever did was have Res. Grand at his county fair once, and now, is employed by Sullivan Supply as the Eastern Representative for Stock Show University and one of the lead professors for this program. Proud of a kid that  is running a cattle operation of his own, raising and selling cattle that compete at the local, state, and national level.  Proud of a kid, who is now a husband and a father raising the next generation of youth in livestock.  I hope they are proud.

I hope this was not to long winded.  I hope no one thinks that I am typing this just to name drop others or to put myself on a pedistal.  That is not the intention at all.  I think sometimes you have to sit back and think about the saying "You can't get where your going, unless you know where you've been".  These people along with my family are the ones that have helped mold me into the person I am today. 

And now, at this stage of my  life, my wife Beth, and step-son Kendall are helping to shape me again.  They are helping to shape me and challenge me daily to be the best husband and father I can be. They challenge me to provide the best life possible for us as a family and to give back to an industry that has done so much for me.   They are not the only ones who challenge me.  For the first time ever, Vansickle Cattle Co. has an employee besides mom, dad, Beth and myself.  Nathan "Shortear" Apple works for us daily after school mostly taking care of the show/sale cattle, but also helping me with general work.  Shortear is an awesome hand, but there are days that he challenges me to not want to grab him by his 17 year old neck and strangle him. But, I sit back and remember what I was like at that age.

The idea behind this came after reading my good friend K.C. Kinder 's blog the other day.  K.C. and I both showed cattle at about the same time in 4-H, however never really became friends until we were at BHE together. She was another one of those people that I knew, but really didn't know.  It just started making me think of all the people I have become acquanited with by making the choice to go to that little school in Northwest Illinois. 

 So in closing, whereever you are, whether you are in middle school, high school, or college, get out and network.  Make those connections with people, they put there pants on just like you.  Become friends with them, you never know, you may be doing business with them 10 years down the road just like me.  Look at K.C., she is now my contact for all my Ranch House Design marketing.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

From Andy Lowry- Indiana ABS Rep

ABS AI School. Feb. 28, March 1, & March 2. 9am - 2:30pm each day. At the Little York, United Producers, Sale Barn. (Near Scottsburg IN). If interested, please contact Morris Loyd @ 812-620-0928 for price & availability. Please feel free to pass this message along to anyone else that might be interested. Thanks

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Time Flys when your having fun Part 1

After reading a good friend of mines blog the other day, I sat down and started writing this 2 part post.  I am not sure if I wrote it for anyones enjoyment or if I simply wrote it to see where life has taken me over the past 10-15 years.  Anyways, hope you enjoy it, it definitely got me thinking about alot of things as I typed it.  It made me realize to not be afraid to chase a dream.  It also made me realize how important the connections you make with people are to the success of that dream you are chasing.

Where has the last year went? Wait, where has the last 10-15 years went?  It seems like just a couple of years ago, I was heading to BlackHawk East(BHE) to embark on what would definitely be 2 of the most influential years of my life.  I can still remember the day my folks and I moved myself into my apartment.  I remember my mom crying as she was leaving "her baby" in Illinois while she and dad headed back home to Indiana. Yeah, I got homesick for awhile, what kid doesn't when they go to college, but what transpired over the course of the next 2 years would change my life and goals forever.

 The old saying goes, "it's not what you know, it's who you know", BHE was the first place that I started meeting people and networking with individuals that to this day, I do business with, call for advice, look up to, buy cattle from, etc. 

Being that my family was never really competative in the show ring, I went to BlackHawk not really knowing very many people.  There were a few kids from Indiana that I judged against that were going there, but there were also alot of kids coming there that I did not know, but knew who they were.  I knew who they were because I had seen there pictures in various magazines for winning shows and what not.  I knew who they were because their families were successful in the livestock industry, and that is what my goal always was.  So yes, maybe I thought they were better than me, because at the time, they were better than me at what I wanted to be good at, but what I found out as the saying goes is "They put their pants on just like me". I never will forget sitting in Animal Science class the first day, and Dan Hoge saying, " I have been around awhile, I know alot of you, I don't know alot of you very well. Alot of you don't know each other, but we are a family here and I know this is the first time that alot of you kids have been away from home.  Just so you know, Deanna and I keep a small amount of money around in case we need to come get some of you out of trouble, if you know what I mean". That right there sealed the deal for me.  At that point and time, I felt that I belonged with all these other kids who I either admired or looked up to their family.  All I can say is I heard there was a couple of times that  Dan and his wife had to use that money

During the 2 years that I attended BHE, I was fortuanate to become close friends with alot of those folks that I thought were better than me.  Today, those "kids" are industry leading professionals.  They are sales reps for Ranch House Designs, division manager reps for Mix 30 liquid feed, sales managers for Showmaster feeds, sales reps for Show-rite feeds,  on- farm livestock photographers and videographers.  They work for the Indiana Board of Animal Health, the Ohio Cattlemans Assoc. the American Angus Assoc. and  the American Shorthorn Assoc. Many of them returned to the farm or ranch and are now managing places like Goretzska Cattle Co., Ellerbrock Club Lambs, Bremer Show Cattle, Siek Farms, Chad Day Showpigs, Boss Cattle, Rodgers Cattle Co., Cutting Edge Showpig sires, just to name a few. Some are now working at four year universities such as University of Illinois and Iowa State teaching Animal Science and coaching the Livestock judging team. It is amazing to me how a tiny little school northwest of Peroria, IL in the little town of Kewanee, can turn out so many industry professionals.  And to think, these are just a few of the people that were there during my tenure of 2 years,  this does not count the ones I have lost track of.

I also made a decision my freshman year that I believe changed my future and my goals.  I went to BHE on a partial ride judging scholorship since at that time, I was not planning to transfer to a 4 year university. Only people that were transffering were offered full ride scholorships.  I enjoyed judging, but it was never truly in my heart what I wanted to do.  At that point in my life, I was so ate up with show cattle, I really did not care about any thing else.  As we were preparing for the National Barrow show, I called my dad one night and told him that I did not want to judge anymore, I was over the practices and endless sets of reasons. Frankly, it was getting in the way of what I wanted to on show cattle and party.  Dad told me that was fine, but that once my scholorship was ended, I would be responsible for 1/2 of the incured expenses.  I thought about it for a few days, and decided that I was going to quit.  Two weeks before the National Barrow show, I remember walking down the stairs at campus that led to Hoges office.  I knocked on the door and asked if he had a minute.  He said yes, I walked in and he shut the door.  The words that came out of his mouth next shocked me. "You're ready to quit aren't ya"? How did he know? I said yes, we sat and talked for almost an hour.  "You could be an asset to this team and I hate to lose you, but I can tell this is not what you want to do", he said. "What is it you want to do and maybe I can help you"?  "I want to raise a national champion heifer, a state fair grand champion steer.  I want to be able to fit cattle with the best around", I told him.  "Let me see what I can do" he said.

To be continued........

Monday, January 28, 2013

Hard Whiskey semen sells tonight

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Sponsor links on the right side of the blog

You will notice over the next couple weeks, that we will be adding sponsor icons to the right hand side of the blog.  Over the past couple of months, we have been asked to add a link to websites by some folks.  We will add them as long as we have space, however they are on a first come, first served basis.  If you are interested in having a link to your website listed here, email for details.

Friday, January 25, 2013

From Shane Blue is now live.  Go check it out.

Res. Grand Open Angus Heifer- Denver

Congratulations to the Jack Ward family and PVF Angus on having the Res. Grand Angus female in the Denver ROV show.  Special thanks to Alan Miller and Brandon Jones for having me come to Denver to not only work on a phenominal female, but an absolutely awesome set of Angus females.

Megan Ackerman Facebook

Cool little calf.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Denver Post Trip

Sorry I am just now getting to this post, it has been quite a whirlwind since we got home from a great weekend in Denver, and let me tell you what a welcome home it was.  When we left on Sunday, it was 55 degrees and when we got to Indianapolis, it was 23 degrees with expected lows this week to get down to right above zero. 

I am officialy fighting Day 2 of the Denver crud.  I swear, no matter how many vitamins, medicine, or anything else you take to combat it, you just have to face the facts that at some point following your trip to Denver, the "crud" will eventually attack your body and dominate your immune system.

 Denver was great this year, the weather was awesome and in my opinion, it seemed that there was a greater number of people and interest in the cattle, both in the yards and on the hill.  I believe the display bulls were deeper in quality and numbers than they have been in the years past.  It seemed as though each breeder and promoter stepped up their game and brought something that could be utilized within many different programs.  It will be exciting to see which of these bulls stands out in the breeding seasons to come.

View of the Yards from the catwalk
Looking West from the Yards at the Rocky Mountains

The sales at the National Western this year were off the charts.  Christy Collins and staff should really be commended on both of the sales they manged this year.The Embryo's on Snow sale grossed almost $700,000 and avg. $1600/egg. Eggs out of the Thomas Ranch donor Ms. Impressive and sired by Firewater commanded $6000/egg as the top selling lot. Duello Cattle and partners brought a strong to the Western Elite sale this year as well.  The sale grossed just over $588,000 to avg. over $5000/lot on a strong set of donor quality cows, bred heifers and herd sire prospects.  I am not sure what the gross was, or the avg. but the stands were packed for both the Bright Lights Maine Anjou sale as well as the Chi Hybrid Advantage sale.  The Hereford Assoc. Mile High Night sale was equally as impressive.  The event was so large, that the actual sale took place in Stadium Arena rather than the Beef Palace Auction Ring.  It was really neat to see.

Denver is always a great place to meet up with old friends, network with potential new clients and see the best livestock that progressive ranches have to offer.

Lacey Caffee from LC Promotions
There is every kind of cowman imaginable in Denver, from the person that is strictly looking for number driven bulls to decrease birthweight and increase growth in a calving operation targeted for feedlot production, to the person who is strictly selling show steers and needs a bull to make them stout and Denver, there is every kind.

So, my final thoughts on Denver.....the cattle industry is still thriving.  The warm cookies you receive when checking in at the Double Tree is still the best welcome to Denver. The Yards bar still has the best burrito in Denver, I still love red beers from the Hill bar(and have aquired a tast for their orange beer).  Toby Keiths Bar and Grill is a cool, casual place to get a really good steak, eating at Texas de Brazil is still one of the highlights of a trip to Denver.  Josh Abbott Band at the Grizzly Rose was really good....and packed. Make sure your auto insurance covers any damages to your rental car, and if not,  get the insurance offered from the rental company.  We may or may not have had an incident with our car that a certain rental car company did not notice upon return.  The Denver International airport is not one that you want to be rushing through to catch a flight on time, however I don't suggest getting there so early that you accrue a $128.00 bar bill like some folks from Iowa did.

Hope everyone that made it out there had a great time and returned safe, and that if you did not make it or have never been, I suggest putting this trip on your bucket list.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Awesome sunset tonight

Denver Pre-trip

I decided I would break this post down by a pre and post Denver title.  As I sit here and type this, I am yawning uncontrollably because Beth and I were up last night till after 1 AM packing for our trip to Denver tomorrow.  I absolutely love Denver and the National Western.  The history, the nastalgia, the complex(more specifically the yards), I can honestly say that it is my favorite place to go.  I have not been in a couple years because we have always been calving first calf heifers, however from the time I was 18 until two years ago, I did not miss it.  When Beth and I got engaged last winter, we decided that we would not breed anything to calve around Denver time as that would be a small honeymoon for us.  Well, I still ended up with 2 first calf heifers bred close to this time, one of which has already calved 9 days early and I am hoping the other goes within the next 24 hours so that I don't catch a bunch of flack for leaving with cows calving.

 To this day I remember my first trip to Denver vividly.  I was a freshman in college and got the opportunity to go out and work on the crew for Roth Angus( now LaGrand Angus).  I believe that year, we had something like 10 head on the hill and a pen of bulls in the yards, which was a little overwhelming to me at times as I had never been to a show with that large of a string before.   I bounced back and forth each day between the yards and the hill, doing all the jobs that the "newbies" always do, but I did not care, I was in Denver.  The view of the Rocky Mountains every morning from the yards was simply breathtaking, that very first walk across the cat walk of the yards, looking down over all the pens, full of tents and great stock was amazing. This was also the first time that I had ever seen all the display bulls in the yards the weekend before MLK day.   That first trip to Denver was everything I imagined and more.  I snuck into the yard bar for the very first time, had my first bowl of peanuts and a red beer in the hill bar(bought for me by someone that will remain unnamed as I was a minor...oops!), my first meal at The Broker and Emilenes. It was awesome and I looked forward to going back every year from there.

This year, we are not going to be out there very long, however hope to get a bunch accomplished.  I will be helping PVF Angus on the hill Friday and Bushy Park Farms in the yards.

Everyone has their list of "to do's" while in Denver, here are a few of the things that I am looking forward to on this trip:

- Go to a concert at the Grizzley Rose.  They usually have some really good live music going on this time of year, this year we are going to see the Josh Abbott Band(one of my favorites)

- Stockyard Saloon(aka The Yard Bar).  This is the place to be after cleaning up stalls and getting cattle to tie outs at night. If you go during the day for lunch, make sure to try the "Burrito as big as your head". Buena Manera!!!

- The Cowboy Bar(aka The Hill Bar)- Home of the the famed "Red Beer".  I am not a huge fan of Coors light and an even less fan of tomato juice, however put them together and it's game on.

- Texas de Brazil- Brazillian steakhouse much like Fogo de Chao.  This place is the bomb!!! A little pricey, but definitely a must eat while in Denver.

- Emillenes Steakhouse- Home of some of the best(if not the best) steaks in Denver

- Embryo's on Snow.  Very cool to watch this sale and scholorship announcement, even if your not in the club calf business.  Some of the most elite matings you won't find anywhere else are sold here.

Bases Loaded.  How many times can you say you have been to a cow sale in the middle of a baseball field.  Coors field is an awesome setting for this magnificent event.

Western Elite. Again, another club calf sale held in the yards with some of the most awesome Sim/Maine influenced females from Duello Cattle and partners.

Herd sire alley. This is the place to be on Friday afternoon and mid day on Saturday.  All of the new up and coming sires will be on display and you have never seen so many people packed into an old stockyards.  It will litterally be elbow to elbow between 10 AM and 2 PM.

These are just a few of the things that I am looking forward to.  Hopefully we can get quite a few pictures to share here and on our Facebook page when we get back next week. Look forward to seeing old and new friends soon.

Also, in case you are not a fan of ours on Facebook, make sure to go like our page.  We are having a display bull trivia contest.  Each day, one winner will receive a copy of the Livestock Merchandising and Marketing book by Rachel Cutrer.  There are still 3 more chances to win this week.  Click the link on the right of this page to be directed to our page.

See everyone this weekend

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A little soggy

To say it has been wet here lately would be an understatement.  After having 10"+ of snow melt off, we had 2 days back to back of 2"+ rain. This picture was taken of a pasture we rent at 1PM today that runs along Sugar Creek in Hancock Co.Eventually, we had to move a group of replacement heifers off of here to higher ground later this afternoon.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Leg Perfection Contest....Voting ends today!!

Very cool idea from the Mittag and Sullivan teams.  Make sure to go vote for your favorite at the link below.

Mittag Show Cattle: DEADLINE TODAY!: Deadline for entires is 6:00pm today.   Due to the large number of entries,  we will post the Top 10 for voting after the deadline. ...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Barn help

Captain Fluffy Pants got up close and personal this morning while doing chores.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013