Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Daunting Future

Normally an afternoon in the tractor is spent drivin' around in circles with country music blaring through the speakers while I sing along. Today was different... I kept the radio turned off while my mind drifted off onto a rather daunting topic, the future.

When I was 18 years old I had figured that all of my dreams and ambitions would magically fall into place without much effort. I honestly thought that I would start school and quickly get a degree, find a girl, get married, get a job, and have kids. I assumed that because I wanted it that I would wake up at 25 years old with a great job, a beautiful family and that I would be a happy man.

But obviously, beings as I was sitting in the tractor with the music off and daydreaming about my future, I have come to the conclusion that my life has not panned out as easily as I had dreamed of. So beings as I know now that life doesn't go 'as planned', today I took a look at the future with less of a 'rose colored glasses' approach. I decided today to really look at my life and decide what I wanted for my future and what I needed to do to get it. But first, I had to look at where I was today.

Today -

As of today, I am a college graduate with a degree in Agricultural Technology Management. I have a full time job working for a feedyard in Iowa. I rent a house in a small town of 432 people. I have no wife (or real prospects) and/or kids. I have a pickup and a truck payment to go along with it. Not exactly something to be a hundred percent thrilled about at the age of 27.

Now that I know of my current position, the next step is figuring out what I want and where I want to be... The trick to this next step is to be reasonable.... obviously I can't start wanting to wake up tomorrow with a million dollars in my bank account, a beautiful bride laying next to me and a big house in the middle of the rockies... Like I established before, life ain't easy! So....

What I want for my future as of June 3rd, 2009:

a) Firstly and most importantly, I want to find that one girl that I will fall in love with. A girl that I find beautiful not only on the outside, but on the inside as well. A girl that will be my best friend, and someone that I can grow old with.

b) I want to have some kids... (kids that the wife can wake up to comfort in the middle of the night while I continue to dream about how great of a life I have!) hehe

c) I want a career, not a job. Now this is where I am hung up, cause it's time that I find something that I am passionate about. I do know that I love the country, I love cattle and horses, I love business. Now with those guidelines it would be obvious to an outsider that I should start my own cattle operation. I would agree; the hang up on that thought is that I don't have the money to follow through on that dream. But that would be my immediate dream. Another avenue would be to get a job working for someone who already has those things, but making more money than I do.

d) A house out in the country... now it would be fantastic to have a place out in the mountains with a stream full of fish, a couple thousand acres of beautiful pasture ground to graze cattle and horses, and no neighbors in site. But, conventional wisdom would show that it would be more likely to find a place in the midwest. On that note, my dream is to have a big white house, with a few hundred acres of pasture ground, a farm pond (still with plenty of fish), and neighbors a few miles down the gravel road.

e) Out of debt... this is self explanatory!

Now the next step is figuring on how to accomplish these rather hefty goals... Work ethic is the primary way and determination ain't far behind. But I will itemize each -

Achieving the goals-

a) The wife - Now this has proven to be a touch more tricky than I would have thought. I honestly thought that one day some beautiful girl would walk up to me and say 'Hey, my name is (fill in the blank), wanna get hitched?' (Okay maybe not that simple... but close) Since that hasn't happened I have been forced to look at the situation from a different light. Obviously a girl doesn't just walk in to your life with the sole purpose of falling in love with you. Obviously not all girls are the perfect girls. Obviously, some girls are a just plum crazy... (Honestly... it's true) With this observation, I have to figure out how to get her. This is what I have decided. I have to get off my duff and make myself a bit social. When I mean social, that doesn't mean stopping in at a local bar and expect to find the girl of my dreams. It means coffee shops, libraries, restaurants, livestock auctions, feedstores, etc. I can't go to work, (where I am the only employee, and thus that choice of gals ain't exactly high in quantity), and go home where i sit in front of a television or computer. I have to get up and move. Find a girl that looks suitable and talk to her... DON'T WAIT FOR HER TO TALK TO ME! Show wont! Then see where it goes!

b) Kids - Find wife and then say... lets make some kids! This I look forward to!

c) Career - Talk to my boss about the fact that I don't make enough to support my future goals.
If he doesn't decide to give me a pretty good sized raise then it's time to start updating my resume and looking for jobs. I have and continued to think about going back to school. This certainly ain't out of the question, but what ever I do I need to start moving towards that goal. A job and money just won't fall in my lap if I wish for it hard enough. It also won't be gift wrapped under a Christmas tree if I ask Santa Clause really nice (Ive tried... he didn't deliver... and I was on the good list!)

d) The House - Now my ultimate wish is to find the wife who just happens to be the only daughter of some big time rancher. He is gonna leave it all to her and the best part is..... he has a bad cough! We'll see if that works out!

e) The debt - Make the money and give it back to them! :) Just gotta get the money first!

Whew! Ive got it planned, now I just gotta start moving! No more wasting away my life hoping to wake up to my dreams. Nothing comes easy, but if you work hard enough it can happen!

Well I suppose I can start workin' on all of this... but I'll probably start tomorrow, time for sleep first! In any case - dream big! (Just not to big) Then start putting the work in to get them!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cowboy Running... The Beginning

So thanks to a reminder from 'Rambo' (one of my new-found faithful followers), I have the subject for my newest post, which happens to be related to my latest post 'Cowboy Running'; in fact, this is where the real idea of running began, it was also a night I learned that there we're times when I should keep my mouth closed...

It started like many of the conversation's had, over coffee at my friends' home. We had just finished a delicious batch of pancakes and were digesting the food when I picked up a running magazine from the counter and began thumbing through the pages. It didn't take long for the discussion of running to take shape.

Normally in these instances, they would tell me of some running event they had recently finished or an event soon to be embarked upon, in which I would scoff at their notion of me participating in these 'distance running rituals'. But in this instance the conversation took what would turn out to be a fatal turn... we began discussing mile times. I asked what I thought would be a fairly innocent question 'How long does it take you to run a mile?'

(I had no clue that this would prove to be a question that I would soon regret)

Now Erica, (Nick aka Rambo's) wife stated that it took about ten minutes or so for the average runner, in which I immediately disagreed with, stating that I could easily run a mile in less than ten minutes. She wasn't deterred from my opposition, again telling me that a non-runner like myself would struggle just to make it to ten minutes. I laughed at the thought that she could doubt my athletic prowess and again pointed out that I could not only make it under ten minutes, but I could make it under nine. I admit now that had not fully thought through my argument, for it didn't take long for my laughter to stop at her next statement.

"Prove it!"

They had a treadmill in the basement of their home... and it worked. This would prove to me my demise.

Now before I take you through the grueling run, it is important to note of my attire for the evening. Like most social gatherings I find myself in, I was wearing a t-shirt and a pair of tight wrangler jeans. (I point out the the tightness of the jeans not for dramatic effect, although it would surely be dramatic, but more to emphasize how difficult proving it was going to be). It is also important to note that I am very challenge oriented, and once challenged I find it difficult to back down, no matter how daunting the task would surely be.

We walked downstairs toward the treadmill, it sat on the ground facing me, as if it were snickering at the situation I had found myself in... I wasn't amused. Erica quickly showed me how to run the contraption, then to assure the ease at which one could operate it, she stepped on it and began jogging eloquently. I began to think that this was going to be easy and the more she jogged along while continuing to explain the machines many nuances, I was convinced that this was going to be a walk in the park.

Sidebar: I do want to explain my train of thinking... because it's not like I am sit in a cubicle all day long without the slightest sliver of exercise. I work in agriculture, I spend many of my days on my feet walking and in some instances running. I honestly believed I was up to the task.

Once she had fully explained the treadmill, she got off, looked me in the eye, and said 'Your turn.' I remember a mischievous smile on her face as she said it, but I would not be discouraged as I stepped on the the machine and hit the start button. When I did the machine started moving and my feet didn't... well not by my own free will anyway. I nearly fell to my face as my feet got jolted backwards with the running surface's sudden movement. Quickly I jumped back to my feet and began trotting along. Nick and Erica both chuckled aloud at my 'humbling' beginning.

I had finally gotten used to running along with the treadmill so Erica hit the timer button... I was on my way! The first couple of minutes went by without much of a problem, we continued conversing about this and that... I was doing fine and was sure of success on proving myself true, in fact I decided to beat the 9 minute mark by more than just a few seconds! To do that, I took note of a button that I hadn't noticed before... the speed button. (Yet another point in the evening that I hadn't quiet thought through fully.) I began hitting the button over and over again until I was literally sprinting along with the machine, which brought about out loud laughter from my two spectators!
I was nearing the halfway mark and I was right on schedule and beings as I found myself in good shape I had decided that it might be time to slow down a touch as my side was nearly ready to explode. My fingers neared the button to reduce the speed when I heard the words 'You could make eight minutes!' I roll my eyes even now at my reaction... though my side was hurting, my tight jeans were causing some serious chaffing, and sweat was rolling down my back... I refused to fall short of the new challenge - Eight minutes!

Instead of reducing speed, I INCREASED IT!!! This was a foolish thing for two reasons. 1) Because with the increased speed my side, head, back, legs, arms, neck, and even hair follicles began to shoot with pain. 2) Nick pointed out how I was a person that didn't give in to a challenge. His statement meant that I couldn't allow myself to slow down. So I kept running, my feet moved swiftly along with the machine. I kept my eye to the timer, impatiently watching the seconds tick away ever so slowly. Beads of sweat formed on my forehead... I hit the seven minute mark and I was still aways away from the mile. 'I will NOT fail!' I had thought to myself... and increased the speed even more.

I don't know if I could hear Nick and Erica laughing at the skeptical, but I knew they were... But regardless if I could hear or not, I kept running.... 7:15 ... 7:30 ... 7:45 ... Fifteen seconds left and I was almost home, I hit the speed button and ran even faster. I wasn't sure what was going to break first, the machine or my body; it didn't matter, I was going full bore until I hit my mark. With five seconds left I was at full speed as I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, I might just make it! Nick and Erica were both gathered around the timer cheering me on while I breathlessly fought for the finish line.

Now, I can't be sure as to which I hit first, the mile or the time of 8:01... I like to think that I hit the mile right before 8:01 struck the timer... it gives me a little more to brag about, but in either case I had answered the challenge and had won! ... However ... looking back at the event in it's entirety.... My jeans and t-shirt drenched in sweat, my whole body in disarray, the following two days of stiff muscles, and the forty minute drive home in wet clothes, I have to ask myself... Did I REALLY win?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Cowboy Running... This Outta Be Interesting

I am not a runner.... I ain't that guy! When I played football in high school, I dreaded the sprints that we would be asked to do at the beginning and the conclusion of practice. HATED IT! It was the same thing in basketball, run, run, run! The coaches insisted that we had to be in shape, but personally I figured we would lose anyway, we might as well just have fun during practice in preparation for the game.

This feeling never changed after high school and into college. I would see people running before, between, and after classes in their running shorts and running shoes. I would scoff at their over-achieving lifestyle. I wore wrangler jeans and boots, if my stomach grew, I'd just have to fight harder to get into the tight blue jeans. I could deal with it.

But a friend of mine began getting into running fairly religiously, and then decided he was going to go and get a PhD in exercise science. He got his wife to buy in, and over coffee I would continuously get into the same conversation with them, they would go on and on about how great it was and how much better they felt after running. "It releases endorphins... It's great for your heart... It keeps you in shape." I would keep to my argument, which I admit wasn't a convincing one, "I don't get the decision of running, I work at a feed yard, I am on my feet all day long, and have a tendency of getting chased down a few times a week from some angry steer or heifer, so I stay in shape!" That was fine until I woke up one morning to find my stomach poking over my jeans waistline a little more than I would have liked, so I gave in to the continual nagging. I was gonna run... on purpose.

Now there is a lot that goes into running than just deciding to step outside and beginning moving your feet at an accelerated pace. There is a lot of prep work... for starters, you have to get running shoes. The only thing I had were about 8 pair of boots and an old pair of heavy worn out basketball shoes from high school, which didn't look too comfortable to run in. Therefore, one afternoon after getting out of church, I walked into a sporting goods store and found a pair of reasonably priced running shoes. I felt like an idiot handing them to the cashier as she gave me an odd look, then to the purchase, and then back to me, as I was all decked out looking like I was running late for the nearest rodeo. A pair of wranglers, belt/belt buckle, a pair of Ariat boots, a fancy button (the snap on kind) shirt and topped off with a ten gallon cowboy hat. I doubt she thought I looked like the running type. (She was right)

Now once you have the shoes, the shorts, the shirt, the music, and the bottle of water; you would think you were ready. But the next step is one of the hardest parts of the run... talking yourself into going out into public and running. I bet I sat in my recliner for a half an hour fighting excuse after excuse as to why I shouldn't go... but in the end I went. I stepped out of my house, looked to make sure no one was looking and began to run. IT FELT GREAT!!!

For 3 minutes...

Then reality set in... All of a sudden, my ankle began to hurt, followed by the ankle on my other foot. Now I probably would have stopped, but at that point I saw 'the public', and I couldn't stop while people were watching, so I continued on. Hiding the pain from anyone watching. The ankles weren't the only problem, about minute 4 my side began to hurt. At that point I couldn't tell what hurt more. I felt like my body was about to fall apart, but people were still around and I was to competitive to give in to a deteriorating body so soon. I was going to continue on regardless of the pain. About minute 6 I found a hill to run down, which felt great going down the hill, it was a heck of a lot easier. So I ran down the hill like I was a pro.

I continued to run until I got to the river, where I stopped for a drink of water and a rest before I was going to run back. I was a beginner after all... I didn't need to over work myself on my first run. After a few minutes I convinced myself it was time to head home.

I started running, and again it felt great, the breeze blew across my face and I was gliding down the gravel road. But it wasn't long until came to a harsh realization... the hill. See what was such a welcome site when I ran down it, was now an eye sore to look upon, I had to run up it. Now it's important to point out my competitive nature here, because I was not going to allow myself to stop, I was going to run all the way home no matter the pain I would encounter. I hit the hill full force with the determination that wouldn't quit. I was a quarter of the way up the hill when I got the thought... running doesn't necessarily mean fast; I could run slower and still be running. So I slowed down! This wasn't so hard... for a few slow running steps anyway. Half way I was determined again... I WOULD NOT BE STOPPED! But at the three quarter mark I was beginning to see a great light... My life was passing before my eyes, I was nearing death in my mind. I began to rationalize stopping, after all is this really how I wanted to die? Running? I wanted to die in a pair of boots, not a pair of running shoes and shorts... and certainly not in public! But I wouldn't give in, I would make it home.

Soon enough, I saw my house, a light at the end of the tunnel. I was going to make it. I told myself to finish strong, to run hard home, but 3 steps of that was enough. I felt what had to be my spleen begin to burst, so I figured it might be better just to finish, rather than finishing strong. Live to see another day.

When I got to the house, I stepped in slipped out of my new shoes, walked to the couch. I was drenched in sweat, my feet hurt, my side hurt... EVERYTHING hurt. So I fell forward onto the couch and soon asleep. Running was for the birds.

Tonight I sit here and I see my running shoes by the door, laughing at me. I ain't giving in that easy. So I'm putting them on and giving this running thing one more chance... well, after a quick thirty minute pep talk.

A Day In The Life Of A Feedyard Cowboy

When someone asks me if I'm a morning person or a night person, my answer is always sure and true. I am a morning person. That being said, I do have a tendency to staying up too late and hitting the snooze a few more times than I would like. But on the ideal morning, my alarm goes off at 6 am, and my feet are hitting the floor moments later. I love the early morning, the sun just itching to sneak up from the east, a cup of fresh hot coffee, and some bacon and eggs while watching the morning news. I enjoy to step outside while most people are in their beds asleep, it's quiet.

Now regardless of whether it's a morning person day or a hitting the snooze button day, I have work at 8:30 which means I am out of the house at 8:15. In time to stop in at the town's coffee shop/gas station/hardware store/grocery store/gift shoppe, for a cup of coffee. I usually end up talking to someone for five minutes while we both try to get motivated enough to head out for a full day's work. Once we're motivated, I get back in my truck and head to work while listening to some AM radio, which varies between local farm talk, to political talk, to sports talk. In the morning I am usually not tuned in for music, but something interesting to get my mind going.

When I get to work, I will find my boss in the tractor beginning the morning chores, which include feeding the cows and then checking pens for sick animals. When I pull in, he gives me the tractor to finish feeding while he begins checking pens. Now it is important to note one of my morning routines; when I get to work, I take note to my bosses tone and body language to gauge what type of mood I will be working with that particular day. If he gets out of the tractor and says 'Mornin' with a smile, it's going to be a good day, if he gets out and says 'Mornin' and then begins to list what needs to be done for the day, it's going to be a normal day, however, if he gets out and just starts listing off what has to be done, or worse yet, just leaves... it's going to be a long day.

After chores, the day can vary. There is always something that has to be done, but it changes day to day, which is one thing I like about my job. One morning I might be vaccinating a new load of cattle, another we might be loading them out to head down the road (the packing plant) and another day I might be sitting in a tractor cleaning pens. But what ever the task, it usually is the task that I will be doing until it comes time for evening chores, which is the second feeding. 2 hours of talk radio while feeding each pen it's designated ration for the evening. Normally, around 5:30 pm, I am done for the day and am heading home for supper.

Once home, I normally make some dinner and turn on the TV for a little rest and relaxation. My life is rather uneventful with the lack of a significant other. So I eat my supper in my recliner alone, find something interesting on the television for a couple of hours. Then usually a phone call or two before I talk myself into a quick run. This is a new found routine, running has never been something I found all that enjoyable, but it's becoming more and more tolerable the more I do it. I run a mile down the gravel road, and then the mile back. When I get back, I sit for another half an hour before I see it's past my bedtime and then I'm off for another 8 hours of sleep.

I would love to make it sound more exciting, but other than an ornery heifer now and again, it remains rather uneventful. But it's in the country, I work with cattle, I get to drive heavy equipment and I'm outside... how could I complain?
Okay... So I am rather new to this whole 'blogging' craze. I emphasize this to prevent people from getting in the middle of this 'blog' saying to themselves 'this guy is clueless.' So I have made my pre-emptive strike. I am clueless, but that will not stop me from giving this a go.

Let me begin by giving you a little background on who I am, what I want, and what I want to achieve by blogging.

My name is Taygen Vicary. I'm a single 27 year old 'cowboy' with an associates degree in Agricultural Business Technology. I work for a cattle feedlot and love it. I'm a christian and have been since I was old enough to know better. I like to read, write, run, horseback ride, hunt and fish. I like football, baseball, basketball, and rodeo. I love my family, my friends, and my church. I like to wake up early with a hot cup of coffee and go to bed with my window open to the sounds of the country. I believe that learning to work hard is the key to success.

I ain't sure that covers me, but it's a start.

As for what I want, I can't really say I am convinced as to what it is I really do want in life. What I do know is that I do want to find that one girl that is perfect for me, and I for her. A girl that will be my best friend and a girl that I could talk to for hours and still have more to talk about. Someone that I can grow old with and still sit over a cup of coffee talking and laughing. I also want a family, 3 or 4 seems about right, of course I imagine when I do find that 'right' one, she will probably have some to say on that decision.

I also know that someday I want to own a cattle operation of my own, some wide open pastures to graze them on and a few good horses. I want a house in the country, a place where there ain't neighbors all that close, a farm pond full of fish, and a porch swing.

As far as the things I ain't convinced of, that is a broader subject. You see, today I find myself at the University of Nebraska looking through course catalogs and weighing my options of going back to school. I got into a conversation over coffee with a friend and his wife about school and my job. As much as I love my job, and I do, I don't exactly make a ton of money, and to go along with the light paychecks, the benefits of my job include health insurance and a $200 bonus around christmas. I don't get sick days or vacation. Now all of this would be fine to support me for the rest of my life, but I have full intentions of someday finding the right girl someday, so the job probably ain't going to cut it in the long run. Back on point - school. At 27 years old, going back to school for what looks like another 3 years is a rather daunting task.

Another option for better income is something in the agricultural sales field, not that is probably a more fitting avenue to pursue, as I have a degree in the field and excelled in all sales classes, prior to my professor advising me that sales was the field for me. The catch lies to the fact that I don't like sales. Is more money reason enough to pursue a career that quite possibly lead to hating my job? Maybe... I don't know the answer.

Now, the blog... I'm not exactly sure why I decided to blog or what I want to achieve in it. But I have been urged from friends and family to start one, so after a conversation with my mother no more than an hour ago, I decided to try it. I don't know if it's something Ill continue, but you have to start somewhere. What I think I'd like to ultimately like to achieve is to provide something interesting to read, but with a touch of wit and humor, and an insight on a single midwestern cowboy's life. We will see...