Vacation or Business Trip?

Cattle in a pasture in Tennessee

We make an effort every year to go on vacation with the kids, like most families.  This year we decided to go to western Tennessee and Kentucky and visit the people we do business with.  Most of the cattle we have fed out come from that region, and we hadn’t ever been there.

We have been planning on this trip since last winter, but the farm always comes first.  The hay had to be harvested, cattle worked, and spraying finished all before we could nail down a time to go.  Turns out that time was the last four days.  I spent all day Thursday loading up the car while Justin fed and worked cattle, and by 3:00 we hit the road.

After many miles of screaming kids and a few pit stops, we arrived in Dyersburg, Tennessee at 2am.  The next morning we took a short drive out to the country side to visit with Johnny and Norma.  They have lots of pasture ground, and it is their job to care for our calves and get them started on feed for about 30 days before the cattle come to Iowa .

They are such a wonderful couple.  Norma took me and the girls in the house and made us feel like family.  She made a blueberry cobbler for us and the girls had fun playing with her dog and cats.  Russell and Justin went for a ride with Johnny to look at the group of cattle he was starting for us.  When they got back we all went for a ride to look at more cattle and a visit to a local restaurant near Reelfoot Lake.  Southern hospitality is an amazing experience!

Everyone we met made us feel like family.

The next morning we took our time packing up and heading out for Mayfield, Kentucky to meet up with the people who buy our cattle.  Jeff, Joe, and Randy make a living going to sale barns throughout western Kentucky and buying cattle, then grouping them according to size and sex and selling them to feedlots across the country.  They also went out of their way to make us feel at home.  It seems that everyone we met that worked for them was family… brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews.  We toured some of their cattle facilities and farms, and Jeff welcomed us into his home for supper on Saturday night.  It felt just like a family get-together, our kids playing with theirs and everyone just excited to be together talking about how things are done in their part of the world.

On Sunday we experienced Cowboy Church at the Kentucky Opry and visited the Kentucky Lake area, and Land Between the Lakes National Park.  It was soooooo HOT, and we really couldn’t do much with little kids.  We did manage to find a living history farm and the kids enjoyed that.  It was based on what a farm would look like in the 1850’s.  My, how far we have come!! I’m so glad I don’t have to farm that way, and it makes me wonder where agriculture will be 150 years from today.

Russell and Lucy built a fairy house at the living history farm.

There were tons and tons of horseback riding trails and a huge camping area complete with a farrier and cabins.   I am way excited about visiting some time in the future when all my kiddos are old enough to ride.  We were amazed by the population density there compared to Iowa.  We never really seemed to get into a truly rural area, even in the country, there were at least 4-5 houses per mile, and a lot of 4 lane roads.

Lucy loved the view from the top of the Arch

On Monday we began our journey home.  As we came through St. Louis we hit a pretty big storm that cleared off just in time for us to go up the Arch.  Lucy didn’t appreciate the ride up, but really loved the view from the top.  So did Russell and Hazel.  The rest of the ride home was fairly dreadful…poor little Hazel was really sick of being buckled in and she let us know what she thought of it.

All things considered, it was a great get-away.  I can’t wait to go back and visit again!  I always feel so refreshed after taking time away from home.  It gives me a whole new perspective.  I just love meeting new people and learning about how they are making their way through life.  Now the question is, where to next year?

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Wayne Nieman on July 24, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    I feel as though I just took a vacation trip myself after reading about your trip! Very nice.

  2. Got it! I subscribed!!!

  3. What special memories for your children. Love it! I would love to visit those parts of the world someday.

    I’m loving looking through your blog. 🙂

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