At the start of this week Loren and I were still in Nebraska with Loren’s cousins. We enjoyed four educational days at the county fair with them this visit. We have always seen their many prized trophies earned over the years from 4H (Head, Heart, Hands and Health), and more recently FFA (Future Farmers of America), and this time we had the opportunity to experience firsthand what the trophy earning process is all about. We found it impressive! Loren’s cousin’s grandson earned not only first prize for showing one of his aunt’s goats, he also earned a coveted first place in a judging content.
You can see this aunt, who is Loren’s cousin’s daughter, being remembered by the local museum which had a booth at the fair. This is a photograph of her earning a prize for showing one of her chickens at the fair some years ago.
Our cousin’s daughter also coached our five year old cousin, who is a potential future 4Her, to show another of her goats. She has already learned well to always look at the judge as she parades the goat around the arena, one of the aspects of showing that the judge looks for, and, she was well prepared to answer the judge’s questions about the animal. He told us he was amused when she told him the goat was “…a pain in the butt,” however, he also said he has heard worse.
Other aspects of the fair included cheering for competing teams in such fun contests as bobbing for apples, searching for a toy chicken in a haystack, nailing nails into a board, and rolling enormous tractor tires end-to-end across a field. The evening concluded with a “Bohemian tractor pull” in which our cousin’s son-in-law took the lead on his team. He and his daughter had returned from Kansas City from a three day softball competition to participate in this brand new contest at the fair. Another first time event at the fair on a different evening was a team contest to catch a greased pig.
Our cousin’s granddaughter did not show animals this year — the first time in her life to not do so since she joined 4H. Her softball team team won the tournament. Then she and her dad stopped by at Loren’s cousin’s farm for a short visit between a private pitching lesson in Omaha and the start of an upcoming softball camp at Wichita State University.
Once the fair was over, it was back to farm work as usual for our cousins. I should clarify, the animal care chores were also accomplished on fair days, now the more time consuming work of checking and harvesting alfalfa could be attended to as well.
I had to snap a photo of the enchanting view from Loren’s cousin’s house of a neighboring farmhouse, a view I never tire of seeing when we visit the farm.
On our last evening in Nebraska, we enjoyed playing the card game, Pitch, with several members of the family. We went to bed with the weather report of “slight chance of thunderstorms” but we woke up to an ominous sky. As Loren’s cousin drove us to the airport, we encountered rain, which they do need for the crops, and which did not cause any delays or disturbance with our connecting flight through Denver to San Francisco.
Once back in the Bay Area, we had a lovely evening and dinner visit with Loren’s sister. As I was checking the battery in our van for integrity after it had sat idle a few weeks in front of her house, Loren received a message from our AirBnB host to not lock our bedroom because the lock was malfunctioning. We were surprised at the late hour of notice as we had been due to check in at 3pm. We were then grateful to Loren’s sister who invited us to stay overnight. The next day the lock was in working order. We enjoyed a dinner out with another AirBnB guest who we had become friends with from our previous long stay. Her sister manages the restaurant where we ate and it was nice to see her again too.
Then Loren and I were on the road again, this time heading for Clear Lake, northeast of Napa. It was nostalgic to see the blooming oleander along the more rural freeway. It struck me that all the freeways in the bay area had had roads similarly decorated when I first moved to California. That lasted until the increases in traffic necessitated removing them in the more densely populated areas, to make additional lanes for the people.
We had invited friends to join us at our AirBnB and they arrived not long after we did. We four spent today driving around parts of the lake where we all have memories. Most notable are the houses and apartment complex that one of our friends’ father built in the 1970’s, which are still in excellent condition.
We took along a picnic lunch and stopped at a roadside park to enjoy it. While there we had a different view of the most prominent feature of the lake – Mount Konocti. A few weeks ago I read something in the New York Times about spending 2 hours a week in nature… actually, I think we should spend 2 hours a day in nature when we can.