Alpacas vs Llamas: Telling the Two Apart

During the Nebraska State Fair, Garrett and I walked through the various barns. We found ourselves in the alpaca/llama/goat barn where we admired all the animals, and got a chuckle out of the costume contest going on.
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There was one alpaca (see picture) that was quietly and constantly “talking.” It was a bit of a groan mixed with a hum.
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Garrett, being Garrett, decided to talk back. I think they carried on the conversation for a good 5-7 minutes until a random man came walking by, looked at the alpaca, and said, “llama, llama, llama” very fast and very loudly, and then left. Garrett and the his new alpaca buddy, stared at each other shocked and appalled. You see, alpacas and llamas, while camelid cousins, are not the same.
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If you want to avoid calling an alpaca a llama and vice versa, there are a few signs to look for. Know the differences and avoid offending these guys. You’ll also prevent yourself from looking a bit silly like that llama, llama, llama man did.

Ears: Perhaps the easiest distinguishing factor between llamas and alpacas is their ears. Llamas have banana shaped ears while alpacas have straight, pointed ears.

Size: Alpacas are much smaller than their cousins, weighing around 100-200 pounds. Llamas weigh 250-450 pounds.

Fiber: Alpacas are known for their soft, luxurious fiber. A llama’s fiber is much coarser.

Purpose: Llamas are used as pack or guard animals. Alpacas are used for their fleece. Llamas are actually used to protect alpaca herds.

Temperament: Llamas are rather brave and bold, hence their purpose. Meanwhile, alpacas are shy and more docile.

Now, test yourself–is the costume class pictured above for llamas or alpacas?

I wonder if Garrett would be up for an alpaca now that he’s bonded with one? Good thing we live in an apartment, so it isn’t really an option 😉

 

Gus the Ram & Gideon: Winning on Hope

Seven. That was the final count for how many ram lambs we had born this year. As the saying goes, there’s always the one black sheep. This year, it was very true. Sybil had given us the only natural colored ram of the year. Born on a windy day, he was dubbed Gusty and Gus for short.

I’m not sure why, but Gus was friendlier than any other lamb that year. As such, Gideon formed an attachment.

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The “black sheep” of the bunch of rams, Gus was special to Gideon

“Don’t get attached. We don’t keep rams,” we continually reminded him. No matter, Gid is the king of making excuses. The final one he landed on was if Gus wins at the NC State Fair, we had to keep him. I just shook my head, but let him hope.

Gideon spent extra time on Gus the days before the show. He trimmed his “dreadlocks” from his face, and gave him a buzz cut. He washed him, and he put show sheen in his fleece. He even had a special halter picked out just for Gus, although I’m not sure why pink and blue was the choice (the halters would later get mixed up in the chaos of the show).DSC_6013

 

I had to admit, Gus looked good. He had one of my favorite fleeces of the group, and I couldn’t help but wish he had been a ewe.

When we arrived at the show, we walked the pens of sheep to scope out the competition and view the various breeds. I secretly told mom that night that it was tough competition this year. Don’t get your hopes up. So, we didn’t, but Gid did.

Because Gus is a ram, he couldn’t show in the junior show. So Gid showed his mom, and waited patiently to be able to bring him in the ring during open show. When it came time for Gus’s class, Gideon did a little jump and clapped his hands in excitement.

He won first, and Gid was grinning.

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Hugs in the middle of the ring for winning his class.

He then went in for champion Medium/fine Natural Colored Ram.

He won grand champion in that division.

Gideon came out of the ring with the biggest smile and said, “now we have to keep him…”

I told him not to let his head get too big, but he did a good job.DSC_6243Gus didn’t win overall champion ram, but he did win his fleece class.

Gideon thought he was done for the day, but there was still Overall Grand Champion Fleece yet to be decided. Back in he went with his prize ram—Gus, and out he came with the champion banner, a plaque, and the biggest grin you ever did see. Gus had won it all.

I smiled and shook my head at this (not so) little boy and his little ram, my heart filled with pride. I looked back over to see Gid on his knee talking to Gus, telling him what an awesome job he did.DSC_6290Believing in someone or something can go a long way, especially when hope is involved. Gideon and Gus won on that, and now, I think Gus is staying on Countryview Farm.

A Different Kind of Fair: 2018 NC State Fair Recap

Another year has come and gone at the NC State Fair, but this year was different in many ways. I had to travel by air this time to get there thanks to living in a new zip code, but I was willing to do whatever it took to be there. I’m pretty sure hell would have to freeze over before I gave up State Fair.Image-8It was different in more than the airplane ride this year, though. This is the first year in 16 years of showing at the fair that the Lintons have not shown a goat at the fair. What?! There was a time that I never thought I’d say that. Granted, there was a time when I swore I’d never own a sheep. Here we are, bringing 18 of them to the fair. Never say never. This was also the first year that Alec didn’t show. Adulting, man…it’ll get you. He was able to join us after the sheep show to help us load sheep and eat fair food.DSC_6328Yet another aspect that was different this year was that the fair closed the first day due to Hurricane Michael. Guess who had a flight scheduled to land that day? This girl. Thankfully, the storm had blown over by the time I arrived. Somehow, I managed to miss the five inches of snow Lincoln, NE got and the hurricane rains. I did bring fall temperatures with me (your welcome NC).

Anyway, there was a lot going on. Everything worked out, though. On Friday morning we headed to show Isaac and Gideon’s infamous pigs. The boys had a lot of difficulty with these pigs throughout the circuit shows, and it was killing me not to be there for them. Facetime and text updates were what I had to resort to. Aldo and Mack were stubborn and loved the rail (not a good combo for shows). The boys were nervous heading into showmanship drive, and to be frank, I was too. I felt like throwing up. Granted, this is normal for me when they are in the ring. I gave them a pep talk with a few pointers and in they went.

I could have screamed when Gideon got pulled for the final drive and was doing mental praise hands when Isaac did too. Our goal was final drive. Anything else was sprinkles. My nerves were still bad, though. Bad enough to give my friend and bridesmaid, Joanna, the finger. Not THE finger, but the “hang on/cannot deal right now” finger. Thankfully she totally understood and watched from the rail. Isaac ended up in the final 5 and did so good. Good enough that I was in tears (just think what it will be like with my own kids). While neither G nor I got a banner, they both ended up in top 6. They stuck with it, kept cool heads, and drove those pigs. I was dern proud.DSC_3879DSC_4613The rest of the day was spent catching up with friends and running around taking people’s photos. Thank you to all who entrusted me with taking pics of your kids. You helped pay for my plane ticket to be there!DSC_4590DSC_3873DSC_4585DSC_4634DSC_4226The day at the fair concluded with me showing in the performance hog show. Ya’ll,  I’ve been coaching the boys on showing pigs, but showing them yourself…man, I felt rusty. Nonetheless, I had a ball showing the barrow and ended up with a Reserve Champion Market Performance Hog for See Farms. My day was made complete with a trip to CookOut. They don’t have those in NE.DSC_4666The second day at the fair was a bit different than the first, but it was still busy. My Fit Bit let me know that I achieved 8,000 steps that day. Instead of showing, I was on the job for the Sale of Champions. I helped check buyers in, took photographs, and videod the sale with my partner in crime, Emily. It was a record-breaking sale, bringing in $190,000, some of which goes to scholarships. It is always a ton of fun to work the Sale, and I often pinch myself that this is my job! Once the sale was complete and the truck loaded, Emily and I headed to the Golden Arches for dinner at 10 at night followed by a tour of her new apartment. I got home around midnight to get up the next morning for a sunrise engagement shoot for some friends. It was early, but amazing lighting and so much fun!Image-6Image-10The next few days were spent washing and clipping 18 sheep. Let me tell you, this is no easy or speedy task. It took us a solid 2 ½ days to complete. The sheep, of course, despised us, but didn’t look like a hot mess for the show. One sheep, Cain, even did a flip in the air and landed in the mud—he got washed twice. Mom, grandma, Isaac, Gid, and I clipped until dark while Dad and Alec built a divider for the trailer. The guys also built a new sheep stand, that made much easier. Those nights, we didn’t eat until 8.DSC_5984DSC_5948DSC_5971DSC_5965DSC_5981DSC_6017Image-7Image-9On Wednesday, Mom, the boys, and I loaded up the truck with all our feed and supplies and put all the sheep in the trailer. By the way, that is simple to write, but not simple to do. Catching sheep isn’t always a walk in the park. Thankfully, I have brothers who are excellent sheep wranglers.Image-11We were off to the races…errr… show. The fair had decided to rearrange things a bit which meant no backing trailers for this girl. I approved of the new set-up. The vets were super helpful, and we got the 18 sheep checked-in in no time. After some last-minute touch-ups, we headed back home for some Brightleaf hot dogs (because you can’t get those in NE either), grabbed our bags, and headed back to Raleigh to stay in a hotel. The show was early, and we didn’t want to deal with morning traffic.

Sheep show day arrived. We were hopeful for many of our sheep, but also knew that it was a bigger show than years before, with new people. The next several hours went in a blur. While we brought 18 sheep, we showed many sheep more than once because they were entered in both the junior show and open show. All in all, we entered the ring around 50 different times! No, I’m not exaggerating. I just did the math. The boys didn’t show them all. I showed in the open show. Let me tell you…it’s weird having your name called Marisa See over the speaker phone…yet another difference this year.DSC_6070DSC_6081DSC_6265DSC_6267DSC_6165DSC_6271DSC_6196DSC_6199DSC_6203DSC_6182DSC_6258DSC_6147DSC_6144DSC_6125DSC_6068Ultimately, we couldn’t be more thrilled with how it all went. We came home with many top 3 in classes and a few champion banners! Our top honors included:

Junior Show:

  • Reserve Champion Junior Ewe–Georgette
  • Grand Champion NC Born and Bred Ewe–Georgette

Open Show:

  • Medium/fine White Grand Champion Ram–Churchill
  • Medium/fine White Reserve Champion Ram–Pierre
  • Medium/fine Natural Grand Champion Ram–Gus
  • Medium/fine Natural Grand Champion Ewe–Stormi
  • Medium/fine Natural Reserve Champion Ewe–Georgette
  • Supreme Grand Champion Fleece–Gus

Gideon also came away with the Grand Champion Junior Showman and both boys placed in costume class.DSC_6398DSC_6320DSC_6317DSC_6303Each of the boys is attached to a certain sheep. It does my heart good to see them cheer on their sheep as much as I cheer on the boys. Isaac’s prize sheep is Astrid. While she didn’t win a banner, she did win top NC Born and Bred in her class. She is, and always will be Isaac’s Astrid. Gideon has bonded with Gus, our only natural born ram this year.  Well, Gid and Gus won not only their division, but took home the top honor of Grand Champion Fleece, beating out purebreds (we always get odd looks at our crosses, but we also get results) and people out of state. DSC_6162DSC_6243Alec was able to get off work early to meet us right as the show was ending. So, the whole family was able to head out on the fair to ride some rides (bumper cars and Ferris wheel being my only rides), and eating all our favorite food.DSC_6414DSC_6410DSC_6422DSC_6463DSC_6465DSC_6457DSC_6407DSC_6435DSC_6492DSC_6440Image-5It was a wonderful day! We packed up by 9, and headed home. I caught a flight the next morning at 10am back to NE. I now sit here in between the classes I teach, reminiscing on the 2018 NC State Fair and time with family and friends. While I wish I were back to be with them, I’m also happy to be back with my husband who had to lead a bachelor life while I was gone and deal with the very needy and moody Callie Cat. This was also our first state fair not together.Image-4Needless to say, this NC state Fair was a tad different than years past, but it still holds all the wonder as before. I still made memories with the people I love, and still enjoyed the fried food and livestock shows as much as ever. NC State Fair, you are worth every mile I traveled to reach you, and while there’ a lot of changes happening in life right now, you stood pretty constant.DSC_6473

 

 

 

Passion of the Percherons: Getting Ready with Young Living Horses & Team

Cyclone, Bode, Huey, Tuff, Ice, Jag, Elk, and Rocket.

These are the names of the 8 wonderful gentlemen I had the pleasure of meeting recently at the Nebraska State Fair. They all had dark hair and were well over 6 feet tall. It isn’t often I feel as if I’m in the presence of giants since I’m fairly tall myself. However, these guys have a way of making you look up and feel small.

Now, you are probably wondering who these guys are. With names like those, you may think I met some sort of band. They aren’t a part of a band, but they are all stars. These 8 gentlemen are the Percheron horses of the Young Living Exhibition Team.

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Young Living is a company (you may have heard of it) that produces essential oils. Their founder, Gary Young, loved horses. It only made sense to combine his passion for essential oils and horses together. At their Whispering Springs Farm in Mona, Utah, they have over 120 horses and focuses on draft and Fresian horses.

A handful of those horses are able to travel to various fairs and shows to compete and represent the Young Living brand and products. The 8 horses I met do not compete in shows, but do show off at fairs as the exhibition team.

Each horse is filled with personality. They may look very similar, but they are each unique. Those who get to handle and care for them can tell you all about each one.

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Here enters my friend Bradley Glover. Bradley and I grew up in the same county and showed livestock together. Bradley loves draft horses. He has interned with the large Clydesdales at Budweiser and helped drive wagons in Yellowstone National Park. Now he is living in Utah with the Young Living Percheron horses.

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I got a text from Bradley asking how close I was to Grand Island, Nebraska. Garrett and I then made plans to drive up to see Bradley (Garrett and Bradley worked together at NCSU) and meet the horses at the Nebraska State Fair.

Bradley not only helps feed and care for each of the horses with four others on the exhibition team, but he also helps prepare each horse for their performance.

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It takes about 2 hours to braid and comb the horses manes and tails. In addition, they add boots, paint their hooves and make sure they are clean. They also tack all the horses up in harnesses and gear that weighs about 100 pounds per horse. This sounds heavy, but each horse weighs around 2,000 pounds. Huey may weigh a tick more…he likes his food.

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After they are decked in their purple splendor, they are practically itching to go. It was so funny to see the horses nodding their heads and straining to get into their harness. They love their job and love to perform. They were ready!

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After they are harnessed up, they are hitched to the wagon. In a 6-horse hitch, there are three positions: lead, swing, and wheel. Typically the largest and most trustworthy horses are placed in the wheel position. These are Tuff and Jag. The swing horses must stay in their spots and help round corners. Elk and Cyclone are swingers. Finally, the lead horses are often the flashiest horses who really like to prance. Bode and Huey are the guys for the job.

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And what about the man behind the reins? That would be Jason Goodman. He has been around draft horses about all of his life. His wife Rose, who is also on the team, has a long history with draft horses as well.

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No matter what your position on the team, everyone pitches in to get the job done. That job is making those 8 gentleman looking spectacular, and that job involves shoveling manure, cleaning equipment, braiding hair, feeding, washing, and so much more.

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Thanks to the hard work of all the team members, the horses do indeed look spectacular in the ring. With Jason Goodman guiding the team, they trot, make figure eights, dock, and full on run. Their time in the ring seems like a blur, and I do believe the horses wouldn’t mind one bit if they could go around the ring once or 3 times more.

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They will soon do it all over again, though, showing crowds that big doesn’t mean they can’t be agile or graceful. They proved to me that, although lovable and goofy in the barns, they are all business and style when it is show time.

Cyclone, Elk, Bode, Huey, Rocket, Jag, Ice, and Tuff, you guys are amazing!

Bradley, Jason, Rose, Cole, and Henry, thank you for letting me capture your normal. I so enjoyed soaking up your knowledge and witnessing the passion you have for draft horses.

Garrett, thanks for carrying my camera bag and reaching up high for a couple of photos. I think we found your size of animal.

Young Living, kudos to you for what you do with these horses and sharing them with the public.

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More Than a Feed Mill: Nahunta Feed Supply Tour

DSC_9476Every week, just about, someone in our family drives to the Nahunta Feed Supply to buy feed for our livestock. It isn’t just a store where we pick up a few bags of feed, though.DSC_9415It is a place where we and everyone else are greeted with a smile, a “Hey!! How are you?!”, and maybe even a token word of friendly advice. The Nahunta Feed Supply is warm and inviting. The office is filled with homey touches and tons of pictures of friends, family, and youth who the feed mill supports. There is always a candle burning, so it smells more like a house than a mill. DSC_9416DSC_9421DSC_9417DSC_9423Most days, Mrs. Gale is at the counter to check you out. Somehow, she seems to make writing a check more enjoyable. Her husband, Roger, runs back and forth between their farm and the mill. DSC_9418My family and I have loved getting to know the Pittmans and those who work at Nahunta Feed Supply over the years. So, before I moved, I wanted to capture the mill, store, and the people behind it. In typical fashion, they were accommodating, gracious, and more than welcoming.

Nahunta Feed Supply used to be known as Pierce Farms Center, which is Mrs. Gale’s side of the family. It started as a cotton gin, and grew to be a lot more.DSC_9429“Daddy continued to grow with land and business and expanded into a feed mill, growing hay, and selling fertilizer. He would buy crops from the farmers too,” said Mrs. Gale. DSC_9501The feed mill is at least 60 years old and is filled with history and heritage. In January of 2007, Gale and her husband Roger took over the store and mill and renamed it Nahunta Feed Supply. DSC_9493Today Nahunta Feed Supply provides feed, hay, and other supplies to the local community. They also serve up smiles and joy. It is evident they love what they do.DSC_9427DSC_9424DSC_9428DSC_9468DSC_9454“I get so attached to my customers. I do really like it because I get to interact with people, and they become like your family. My customers are my family, and I love the country life,” said Mrs. Gale.DSC_9434DSC_9432DSC_9431You can find the Pittmans at local livestock shows, supporting their customers who enter the ring. They love to see how the kids take the feed they purchase from the mill, feed it to their animals, and then show those animals off, and sometimes win! Not only do the Pittmans like to watch, but they have also made it a point to support the shows financially. No one can say that they do not give back.

We (my brothers tagged along, because shouldn’t all good livestock showmen know where their feed comes from?) toured the mill and learned how the feed was made.DSC_9471DSC_9440DSC_9437DSC_9435DSC_9436DSC_9439DSC_9451DSC_9457We learned lots of interesting facts; for example, we discovered corn is ground more coarsely or more fine, depending on the type of feed and animal being fed. DSC_9447DSC_9444DSC_9445DSC_9450DSC_9446In addition to touring the mill, we also saw various types of equipment and the warehouse. A lot of the feed at Nahunta Feed Supply is made from crops grown by the Pittmans on their 687 acres they tend. They also grow and sell a large amount of hay for customers (182 of their 687 acres is hay). DSC_9458DSC_9496DSC_9497If I have come away with anything from my many visits to Nahunta Feed Supply, it is that it is much more than a feed mill. It is the people inside who run it, the passion in which they work, and the care in which they show to all of us who visit!DSC_9502

 

 

 

Do Farmers Deserve Praise or Condemnation?

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 Our farmers deserve praise, not condemnation; and their efficiency should be cause for gratitude, not something for which they are penalized.

— President JFK

How true these words are! However, you will hear a much different story in a Raleigh courtroom. There, lawyers will tell you that farmers deserve condemnation, and what they do on a daily basis should be penalized in the form of a huge lawsuit.

What did they do to deserve such condemnation? They existed.

These farms have been here for decades. The farmers, along with their families, raised and took care of pigs throughout the years.

And now… now, they stand to lose it all.

All because certain people made a judgement and condemned them.

Here is where I get confused. I thought we lived in a society that was promoting a judgement-free zone. But, I guess there is an exception to farmers.

It is OK to judge and condemn them.

It is OK to bully them and attack them.

It is OK to assume who they are—greedy, careless villains.

It is OK to blindly believe what other people say about them—polluters and bad neighbors.

No, it is not OK!

It isn’t OK to give false and misleading facts.

It isn’t OK to sue farmers and take their entire livelihood.

It isn’t OK to judge them when you haven’t even tried to get to know them or understand their practices.

It isn’t OK!

I don’t know why farmers have a bullseye on their backs. I don’t know when it will stop. I don’t know how all the lies got started. What I do know is these farmers don’t deserve it. And I know that I, for one, will stand by them, praise them, and thank them for all they do!

 

 

 

My Agriculture

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There on your plate–the corn and porkchop and potatoes…

That’s my agriculture.

There on your back, the shirt made from cotton dyed into a brilliant color…

That’s my agriculture.

That medicine you take and the perfume you wear and the lipstick you put on…

That’s my agriculture.

The brilliant sunset over a field of wheat…

That’s my agriculture.

Calloused hands, dirty clothes, and a gentle touch…

That’s my agriculture.

Cows, sows, and plows with drones and tractors and technology in there too…

That’s my agriculture.

My agriculture is men and women filled with a love for the land and a love for livestock.

It is passion and love mixed with heartache and frustration. It is hard but worth it. My agriculture is the birth of calf and also the loss of a lamb. It is floods and droughts, cold and hot, feast and famine.

It is a 24/7 job filled with dedication, responsibility and lots of hope with no guarantee.

My agriculture is in the barns, the fields, the forests and beyond.

It provides food, clothes, jobs, and more.

My agriculture is your agriculture.

Celebrate it, appreciate it, and get to know it.

My agriculture isn’t perfect and is often misunderstood. But in the midst of manure and dirt and long hours and sleepless nights is something truly special–people with a passion.

Agriculture is everywhere, and you don’t have to be a farmer to be involved or to celebrate it. Look no farther than your fork and your shirt.

There you will find my agriculture. And there, you will find me.

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Best of 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on all the many moments that have happened. It is hard to believe all of it fits into one year. Busy is an understatement, but I am so grateful for every moment…

Along with teaching at two colleges and holding communication contracts for several companies, I’ve been able to  photograph more than ever before this year.

A spur of the moment photo shoot turned into some of my proudest pictures to date. These sheep in fog pictures went on to win three contests and are going to hang in my future office.

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It wasn’t all animal and farm pictures, though. I was able to take pictures of some very dear people. From the engagement of Brooks and Jennifer…dsc_0774

To Jennifer’s bridal portraits a few months later…

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I was so excited to photograph some amazing college seniors like Alec who graduated from UMO with a agri-business degree. He is now in the middle of an MBA at Methodist and will start a new job in the beginning of the year! Where did my little brother go?

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There were also several NCSU graduates like Cary…

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And Bradley…

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Garrett also graduated with his master’s degree after spending countless hours crunching numbers and writing a thesis. He didn’t walk the stage, but that’s alright…18156656_1861747867172347_6783422891837931030_o

I’m still just as proud and was able to go back to campus to take engagement pictures of his roommate Colin and his fiance Mallory.

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I also was able to capture some real cuties…

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And real beauties…

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As well as some amazing people…

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A new favorite subject to photograph has been bling…

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My favorite bling of all, though, is my own…

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One of the biggest moments of 2017 was when Garrett asked me to be his wife at Bear Island after a kayak trip…

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Oh what an adventure that kayaking trip turned out to be (read the full story here). Wedding planning has been in full-force and we can’t wait for our next adventure after May 19, 2018 when we are married! 2017 held more adventures then a sparkly kayaking trip.

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An adventure to Vegas and the Grand Canyon with Garrett’s family was, well, grand…

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A less desert adventure came when the Linton clan visited Virginia Beach. Views, lighthouses, and waves made for an amazing vacation…

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Of course, there was also the annual Kerr Lake trip too. It was paradise.

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An adventure to South Carolina to visit Kayla turned into a weekend of sweet surprises from my maid of honor…

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Adventures in Atlanta with friends to celebrate Kena and William’s wedding was ever so much fun…

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I went to a total of 8 weddings this year. It is that season in life, and it is so wonderful to see those I love find forever love.

It wasn’t all warm weather and blissful weddings, though. There were some bitterly cold days this winter. My caption on Instagram of this pic said “I’m not made for the cold” Little did I know, I’d be moving to Nebraska a little over a year later where the temperature is currently -17 at night. Be careful what you say.

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Feeding livestock was an everyday affair–snow, rain, or shine. It was certainly worth it to see my boys rewarded for their hard work, well and fun…

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Isaac won Reserve Champion Market Hog at the Wayne County Show and Sale…

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Another big win came at the NC State Fair when our sheep Georgette won Grand Champion Supreme Ewe, NC Born and Bred Champion, and Champion Fleece. Georgette was born and raised on our farm.

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Each of the boys won grand or reserve champion sheep showman too, and Isaac bought Astrid, his prized sheep…

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Speaking of new animals, Callie Cat was rescued and has become my joy. She may be spoiled–complete with 9 collars.

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Hellos are always much more enjoyable than good-byes. After traveling over half the country, I dropped Garrett off in Nebraska to attend PhD school at UNL. Distance hasn’t been easy, but so worth it…

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I feel as if there are a thousand and one moments I should include here. However, this post is already long, and I can’t justify 365 days worth of reports. I will leave you with two final photos that show the love that I have been surrounded with this year, and the love that will forever surround me in future years.

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The State Fair is More than Fried Food and Rides for Me

For many people, the NC State Fair is about fried food, rides, and giant pumpkins, but for me it is so much more. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting fried cheese, bacon pimento cheese hushpuppies, and blooming onions. I always ride the Ferris wheel and bumper cars, and always take a peak at the giant pumpkins.

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BUT…that’s not why I go to the fair.

I go to the fair to drive and nervously back trailers in the heart of Raleigh. I go to help my brothers wash pigs, watch them compete against hoards of others in the ring, and coach them along the way. I go to fluff and trim goats. I go to the fair to walk sheep in the ring, pick straw from their fleece, and to see if we’ve improved from last year. I go to compete for the blue ribbons and champion titles. I go to take a thousand photos, to see friends, and spend 6 days in a barn. I go to the fair to spend time with my family and make memories. I go for the livestock experience.

I look at the NC State Fair through a different lens than many who walk through the gates. It isn’t just a place to find entertainment or unique food. It is a place where both heartache and joy has taken place. It is a place where I have run around with so much adrenaline and energy, but also been utterly exhausted. It is a place where I have learned lessons. The NC State Fair is a place that holds a special place in my heart. This year was no different.

NC State Fair 2017 Recap

While there was a great deal that took place over the course of the fair, I just want to give you the highlights. The first day, Mom, the boys and I went to check pigs in. All went smoothly. We headed back home to pick Dad up and head once more to Raleigh to stay in a hotel. We had a super early morning and didn’t want to deal with Raleigh traffic the next morning. Although an early morning awaited, I was to have a late night.

You see, Garrett was arriving on a flight at midnight! I hadn’t seen him since I left him in Nebraska back in August. I was so excited! I am ashamed to say, that I dozed off and was 15 minutes late picking him up from the airport. It all worked out, and I was reunited with my fiance!! Fair wouldn’t quite be the same without him.

The next morning did indeed dawn bright and early, but I was too excited to be tired. Today was the pig show!! My boys did an amazing job showing Arnold and Schwarzenegger. Both pigs were in the top 10 and Isaac received a super showman pin. I may have teared up a bit.

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On Saturday, I returned once more to the fair, this time alone. I arrived in time to walk Garrett’s little red pig in the sale ring. Goodness do I miss driving a pig in a ring.

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My primary reason for coming back to the fair wasn’t to walk a pig, though.  I was set to photograph and video the Sale of Champions. I love auctions, livestock, and the fair, so being able to capture it all with my camera, is such a joy! Alec was also recognized as a scholarship recipient.

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The next day of the fair was to be on Monday. We loaded 4 little goats on the trailer during such a rainy day. Because all the goats were born within a couple of weeks of each other, they were all the same size and in the same class. Sadly, we only had 2 Linton boys, but 4 goats. They couldn’t very well show 2 at a time. Thankfully, we had friends in the barn who helped us out! Mom, Dad, and the boys went home, while I stayed in town to spend time with Garrett. He would fly out the next day.

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Wednesday arrived. We loaded 12 sheep (all of which had been washed and clipped). Because there were so many, we had to take the big trailer which is always more nerve-wracking to drive. I take that back. It is fine to drive but scary to back. I’m happy to say, though that I was able to back it perfectly! With the sheep penned and the trailer backed, we were ready for the next day.

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Another early morning greeted us. Today the entire family was able to be at the fair together. Showmanship was up first. Isaac and Gideon went head to head in juniors. Gid came out on top, which worked out well. Isaac beat Gideon in pigs. Alec received reserve champion senior plus showman despite an irritable sheep. We were off to a phenomenal start!

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Costume class followed showmanship. Isaac dressed up in a red, white and blue theme to highlight wool in America. Gideon showed off tools of the trade to raise sheep. There were so many cute costumes!

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With 12 sheep, we were in and out of the ring constantly. All of our girls did well, and I was even able to show during the open show.

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Isaac was extra proud of his Astrid sheep. He bought her with his own money earlier in the year, and she ended up winning her class! The face says it all!

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Interestingly, Alec ended up with the best sheep–Georgette. Last year, I did not like Georgette. She placed behind all our other sheep, and just wasn’t my favorite. This year, here fleece was gorgeous, and the judge agreed. She won her class and went on to compete in the champion drive along with two other of our ewes–Astrid and Evelyn.

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I held my breath as the judge looked over all the blue ribbon sheep. And then…she shook Alec’s hand.

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Georgette won Supreme Champion Junior Ewe and Got to Be NC Grand Champion Junior Ewe. I may have screamed a bit.

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We have come so close to Supreme Champion several times, and it finally happened. What made it even more special was we raised Georgette on our farm. She was Countryview Farm genetics. It didn’t stop there, though. In the open show, Georgette also won Supreme Champion Fleece, and our new ram, Church, won champion medium/fine white ram.

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It was such a good show!

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We celebrated by eating our favorite fair foods, walking around, and riding some rides.

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I found my bacon pimento cheese hushpuppies, Dad and Alec snagged them a blooming onion and Isaac and mom grabbed a funnel cake.

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Gid discovered a new favorite –Poutine (fries covered with cheese curds and gravy). This gravy loving boy was in heaven.

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And with that, the 2017 NC State Fair ended for the Lintons. We loaded up and headed home. For us, the fair is about family, livestock, friends, and some food. See you next year!!

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Sheep in the Mist||Photo Shoot

There is really no purpose to this blog post other than to show off my sheep and how awesome they look in the fog. I’m so glad I grabbed my camera, and the sheep made the perfect models. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. Happy Monday!

PS Be sure to read the captions for commentary

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Georgette stops to check me out, but quickly decides the camera isn’t safe. Time to run to her friends.
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It’s a rainbow of sheep…well a neutral colored rainbow.
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I call this her supermodel look.
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Paisley is always such a diva. She’s stomping her foot at me here. So. Much. Sassiness.
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Silver and Georgette really wishing I’d go away
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The white sheep just seem to be one with the misty fog. 

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If the sheep were making a movie, this would be the cover. Evelyn is even bowing.