Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 7-9-12 | TheFencePost.com

Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 7-9-12

Shelli Mader
Hays, Kan.

We’ve lived in Scott City for over a month now and are getting used to the small town life.

I’m grateful that our duplex is on a corner lot. We have farm fields on two sides of the house. So far my 3-year-old boy has gotten to see combines cutting wheat and tractors swathing and baling hay. Whenever he hears some kind of farm equipment outside he has to get one of his own tractors and “farm” in the front yard while he watches. Hopefully we don’t annoy the nearby farmers too much. We’ve been known to have our lawn chairs on the front yard and, at my son’s insistence, watch for an hour or more.

Like most places around the country, wheat harvest was nearly two weeks early here – it started around the 11th of June. The long-time farmers in the area have never seen it start before the 15th. Generally harvest here begins about June 20th. I was surprised to see what a big part of life harvest is in Scott City. Almost everyone I’ve met in town has some kind tie to farming – whether they do it themselves, work in the industry or have family that farms. My kids and I had the great opportunity one afternoon to ride combine with Rich Randall, chairman of the Kansas Wheat Commission. I’ve never ridden on a new-style combine and was impressed at how much information they provided. The monitor in the combine offered live feedback on yield, field elevation and temperature. My son though, wasn’t impressed by the technology at all. When we went to my parents’ place to help harvest a week later he fell in love with my dad’s old N6 Gleaner combine. From then on, his toy John Deere combines haven’t been “good” enough. Too bad Gleaner doesn’t make cheap combine toys for little boys who destroy things!

It seems like 4-H is a big part of life in this area too. Scott City is the county seat, so the fair is right here in town. My 6-year-old daughter has already been drawing pictures and making crafts to put in the open class competition next week. She rented the old (and quite cheesy) 2003 movie “Grand Champion” from the library a few weeks ago (and every week since) and now she’s decided that she doesn’t like black cattle anymore, just Herefords like the boy in the movie. She started saving her money to not only buy the brown horse that she has wanted for years, but also a Hereford show calf.

But my daughter has gotten more realistic in the past year though, and realizes that she can’t have livestock yet, so she has turned her attention to the dog. Our family dog Callie is an 8-year-old border collie/Australian shepherd cross and she is definitely my dog. My husband and I got her before we had kids and she has resented those kids – especially my oldest – ever since they ousted her from her important place in the family almost seven years ago. Callie tolerates the kids, but she doesn’t listen to them very well. But my little girl is determined and has been “training” her for the upcoming 4-H open class dog show. She read about it in the fair book and thought that showing dogs would be the next best thing to showing cattle and horses. Unfortunately my daughter’s dog training hasn’t gotten much past “come Callie,” so I think we will just watch the dog show this year.

One thing I haven’t liked about living in a small town is the grocery price and selection. I grew up outside an even smaller town than this, but we were close enough to Aurora and Denver that it didn’t seem like it was that big of a deal. Even in Hays it was just a 12 mile drive to Wal-Mart or the local Kroger chain store in Dillons. Here, we are about 40 miles from the larger selection and better prices in Garden City, but we usually don’t have any reason to go there other than groceries, so I try to just shop here. The prices have forced me to get better at budgeting this past month. And, even though I want to live in the country, I have to admit it is nice to take a 5 minute walk to the store to pick up things I need!

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You can follow Shelli on her blog RoadtoRanching.com.