Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: Ag Olympic Glory
February 20, 2018
"Welcome to the 250th anniversary of the U.S. Ag Olympics! I am Don, and my cohost Chris and I are very excited to bring you an unprecedented day of foot events, made all the more interesting by the cold, snow and ice across much of our competition area.
"Absolutely! As we begin, Don, just a quick reminder that many of our events are muted, as our network cannot be held liable for certain words before 10 p.m.
"Even without language, I think the athletic prowess of these men is unmatched, Chris. It is obvious why each one is in medal contention.
"Oh yes. Take Nate, our returning champion in the matched bluffing heifer race. Now, he drew a particularly fast looking Angus/Salers heifer bred to keep her calf alive in western Wyo. She can take on wolves without issue, so Nate better stretch, that calf is only 30 minutes old but he already looks tricky to catch as he stands under his mom…. Oh, look at him go, the tag appears to be staying in the calf's ear, so all is well there. Wow, look at him scale that fence! Note how he perfectly plants his foot on the heifer's forehead and uses her upward momentum to gain extra velocity. It's skills like those you don't see very often, and a key reason why he is our returning gold medalist. And what a landing; that's as close as anyone can come to sticking it when the ground is frozen! He will be there until the spring thaw!"
"Up next is Corey, who is a fan favorite in taking frozen netwrap off six bales while his wife's pet cow repeatedly gets in his personal space. This event has changed in recent years, and now features three sub-categories; buck knife, razor blade knife and custom/other method of cutting. Men may stop to sharpen their knives, and those using razors are allowed two. It's each man's choice if they take the time to stop and sharpen or switch blades, or simply power through. My gosh! Our secondary sources have confirmed his time of one hour, 12 minutes and 18 seconds. That is both a new Olympic and World Record! That will be a hard one to top.
"It should also be mentioned, Don, that these men are all wearing a highly customized and personalized uniform, top to bottom. While necessary for battling the elements they compete it, the often-cumbersome layers with the outermost consisting of Carhartt bib overalls and coat, ear flap hat and muck boots can make some of these events all the more difficult.
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"That's right, Chris. We should also thank Carhartt, Muck Boots, Bogs and Duct Tape for their top tier sponsorship this year.
"Then there is the interpretive bull bidding and buying, which is so subjective anymore. Lots of controversy in that event yet again. Some judges like the obvious hand wave or head nod, while others prefer the eyebrow raise or slight finger tap. For the last three Olympics, Jim out of Idaho was unstoppable with his ability to get a single hair on his mustache to stand up and wave at the auctioneer. Tragic accident last spring at his neighbor's branding. But, while Jim continues to recover, the door is open to a lot of new talent.
"Now we are going to head over to Abby, who has a special report from a rancher who has done the nearly impossible; calved a 100 percent calf crop in his first-calf heifers, 83 head, with zero calf or cow issues. Is this for real, Abby?
"Yes, Don, it sure is. I am here with Will, who has had quite a year. He said he can hardly believe it himself that every heifer calved without issue, claimed her calf, was never confused by another calf and never let a calf that was not hers suck. The calves were all born healthy, and also required zero assistance. He said his family has been raising their own replacement heifers for 45 years, but even with that history, he has never heard of such a thing. He is concerned about them breeding back with the drought conditions, and is considering additional supplementation to better their odds.
"Wow, thanks Abby. Man, Chris, I bet there is a lot of envy among our viewers as they watch that special report.
"No doubt, Don. Well, we are now heading into our after dark events. Always a crowd favorite is the muck boot pack and skate, where the men take everything necessary to sew up a prolapse and head across a yard with only one working yard light. Every trip back to the house for additional supplies forgotten on the first trip is a deduction. Spinal and stitch technique are also a big part of this event. If the cow rips out the stitches within 24 hours, it is an automatic disqualification. There are strategic patches of ice covered by a new dusting of snow. Here comes Charles, wow, look at that spin, what a beautiful spray of water; let's hope he doesn't lose it all as that is a deduction – No! He has somehow managed to set the bucket down, still full, as he finishes what he is calling…oh wait, our mute is still working, right? Okay, Charles just completed a move the figure skaters will no doubt be attempting next year. He is down, searching for his needles, repeatedly patting his own backside. Don't worry man, they aren't there.
"Well Chris, as Charles finds his needles and heads carefully to the calving shed, why don't we take a minute to go over tomorrow's line up?
"Excellent idea, Don. Tomorrow is all about the ladies. We start with the always popular event of reading male hand signals, which is split into quarter and half mile distance rounds. That is also muted. There is also gate guarding, toddler dressing for winter conditions while the cows get out, and the cold calf defrost. We will finish prelims later in the week with the husband and wife events of calf, yearling, and cow roping and doctoring, fixing a well in sub-zero temps, pulling out a stuck tractor and the endurance blizzard boot camp while calving and lambing – hard to beat the always tough North Dakotans in that one.
"Never a dull moment. Back to Charles and that prolapse. Oh my, here comes his wife. Always a calculated risk waking the wife up to help. They appear to be working well together. Opted for three stitches, doubt those come out. As they release the head gate, we are going to call time. That is a wrap on our coverage for today. Be sure to tune in again tomorrow.
"Thanks, Don. We would also like to remind everyone that these people are not just athletes. They have all dedicated their lives to their occupation. Most began as small children with their parents as instructors. It is truly amazing to consider the skillset they possess, the work ethic they pass to each subsequent generation, and the grit they find to work through a variety of unpredictable situations.
"Well put, Chris. That's all for us. Eat beef, wear wool and support America's agriculture athletes!"