Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving on the Range

[You are probably wondering about the date of this post - or not. If you are, I started this post last Sunday on our drive home from Indiana. I finished it minus the pictures. I planned on uploading the pictures when we got home. We came home to our internet and tv not working. Long story short, it took until Thursday to finally get it all working again. SO - pretend you are reading this as if it were last Sunday...]

Ever since my dad has officially set his retirement date, he has continually referred to his farm/"work"after retirement as "Freedom Range LLC". Freedom is the name of the town the farm house is located. I thought it was a joke and assumed that he probably would have his farm running like a well-oiled machine. When Stephen and I were helping my parents move some boxes down to the basement, however, I saw this book that looked like an album. Being the nosy person I am, I opened it to see what was inside. Instead of finding pictures, it was a book of checks labeled "Freedom Range LLC". My dad was surprised I didn't think it was real. He had started the business in 2002 when Perry and his family moved into their farm house. Perry's family had horses that stayed on the property. The business began, so they couldn't sue my dad if a horse got hurt. Seems a little extreme, but he was covering his bases, if you will. Now the business is for his cattle breeding. He wants to be able to sell his cattle or their beef to local eateries. He is breeding his cattle to be the most self-sufficient animals to raise. This is his marketing scheme. He claims that as long as they have grass/hay, water, and some salt - they can survive.

To help his business, he bought a hay mower that attaches to a tractor. Stephen and I had the privilege of picking up the piece of machinery for my dad in Munfordville, KY. Stephen had some time off last week, so he went to Lexington to help his parents get ready for Christmas and all the family coming in town. Tuesday, on his way back to Nashville, he picked up the mower. Then, we headed up to Indiana that night.

The Hay Mower

My dad paid us for gas from the company account. It is pretty official, people.

On Wednesday, and every day thereafter for that matter, we went out to see the pets, I mean... the cattle. To get them to come close, my dad brought out some hay. Jud, the calf, is pretty timid. His momma, Judy, is very protective. When my dad laid the hay on the ground, the cows came to eat. Jud, who is still nursing, wanted to be like his momma and pretended to eat the hay as well.


It rained all day and was very cold. We saw the cows go into the barn when we were about to eat lunch. My dad wanted to make sure they had plenty of hay, so we went out to the barn. My dad gave them hay and sweet feed, which they love. While, the cow and bull were eating the sweet feed, the calf ran out of the barn. Within seconds, the momma ripped her head out of the stall and ran out of the barn after her baby. We were shocked. We didn't even notice the calf leave. At first, we had no idea why the cow had left. Judy's (the momma) head was in a stall eating, so the calf was out of her sight. Animal instincts are incredible.

Yesterday my sister and I went out to see them one more time. The cows were in the barn, so I gave them sweet feed. My dad stopped in a few hours later and gave them sweet feed too. Oops! They aren't spoiled or anything. When we give the cows food, we say "sue cow" , so they know we are feeding them. We are attached - it's bad!

The remaining of Wednesday, I helped my mom make food for Thanksgiving and Stephen helped my dad move a few boxes. My parents have moved all their things to Indiana. They lack a couple of computers and some clothes. Otherwise their house in New Jersey is completely empty. All of their furniture and such is in the garage of the farm house - for the most part.

That evening we ate at the Front Porch, a home-cookin', hole in the wall place in the next town over. We also stopped by my Aunt Rhonda and Uncle Doug's house on the way home to see my cousin Chad's and his wife, Sarah's baby, Olivia. We also went to see everyone else too ;).

Thanksgiving was a wonderful, over-eating day. We first went to my mom's aunt's house for lunch. She makes the best homemade chicken and noodles. Yummy!
The little boy on my lap is Eli, my cousin Lindsey's youngest son.

Then, we headed to my Granddad and Grandma Doris' house (my dad's parents) for dinner. Even though I was stuffed from lunch, I still ate...a lot.

To feel less guilty for the over-indulgence on Thanksgiving, my mom, sister, and I went for a walk Friday morning, while the boys went hunting. The boys came back empty handed - not seeing a single deer. After they got back, my sister, dad, and I took our daily cattle-peak. While we were out there, my dad pointed out a group of 7 deer running together across a field. Go figures.

Here's my dad coming back from hunting...
Stephen and Adam - after coming in from hunting...

One of my favorite parts of the trip was Friday night. My dad has two season tickets to Indiana University men's basketball games. He called Rick, the ticket guy, for four more tickets, so we all could go to the game that night. It sounds a little shady, I know. Before we went to the game, we ate at a place called "Nick's". It is a restaurant very close to the campus. When we walked in, it was filled with other game-going IU fans. It was so fun! I think we have found a new tradition. The food was awesome too!

Here are their "famous" fries!
They have a ton of seasoning on them!
All of Us... The Boys...
The Girls...
The decor was all INDIANA.

After Nick's, we headed to the game. We watched IU play Northwestern State. After a pretty rough first half, they came out a whole new team in the second half. It was a blast. I still get chills when they run out on the court and starters are announced. It takes me back to my sports playing days. IU won 100-64, making them 6-0! They haven't played any big named schools yet, but I am hopeful for a good season.

Assembly Hall

This is right after they announced the starters.
The lights were still off...

Before tip off...
After tip off... Perfect!
Banners... It has been awhile, I realize, but I am hopeful!

To hype the fans before the players come out, they show a video of the history of the program. They video highlighted the years that Bobby Knight was there. It was amazing the fan support for the ole' coach. My mom thinks Tom Creen, the current IU coach, is a class act. She thinks it is because of him, they recognize Bobby Knight. Most coaches would never want to recognize the success of a predecessor. Fun Fact: Tom Creen is the brother-in-law to John Harbaugh, the Baltimore Raven's head coach, and Jim Harbaugh, Stanford Football's head coach.

Yesterday, we took a family walk, trying to shave off a fourth of the calories we were consuming. I know our clothes are thanking us. Then, the boys decided to go for round two of hunting. Before they left my dad says, "After two hours, if we are unsuccessful, I will walk around and try to stir the deer up - don't shoot me. I will have orange on, so that should help." That's what you want to hear! Their final hunting adventure was bitter-sweet. Nothing was shot - not a deer or my dad.

Last night, we celebrated my Granddad and Grandma Doris's 60th anniversary. My grandmother is hardly mobile and doesn't like surprises. To accommodate, we went to a restaurant called "Piper's" in Greenwood just outside of Indianapolis. It was just close family who attended. I was very impressed how nice my grandparents looked. It was a good night.
My Uncle Doug (left) and my Dad (right).
The Lovely Couple - Notice how far apart they are sittng...
Adam and Jocelyn
Stephen was a good sport, helping my grandmother to and from the car, which takes lots of patience.
Olivia playing on her daddy's shoulders.
At the end of the night, we took a picture with our red coats on - my Grandma Doris' favorite color is red.

My parents were in charge of getting my grandparents to the restaurant. Then, my Aunt Rhonda and Uncle Doug took Joce, Adam, Letha (my cousin), Stephen, and me to the restaurant. It took about an hour to get there. On the way home, we started playing the church song game. You only give the first note of a church song and the rest of the people in the car have to figure out the song based on the first note. That game led to Stephen singing the medley he, Blake Jones, and Matt Hardison made up in high school. Basically they strung church songs together to create one large song. It is pretty impressive. If you are a Church of Christer, you would find it pretty hilarious. Needless to say, Stephen can't stop thanking me for making him sing a solo in front of my family. It was a hit though!

My uncle is a farmer and works with my Granddad. The Dyer clan is a very lucky bunch. There are many stories that end with "he's lucky he is alive!". They are a little absent minded, not careful, impatient, not always thinking through things, and, oh did I forget to mention, they play with chain saws, shot guns, and heavy farming equipment. My uncle was telling us stories of my Granddad and a few of his mishaps. It probably shouldn't have been funny - but I was crying laughing so hard. My aunt says "our guardian angels in Heaven are smokers on Prozac." The trip home went by so quickly. It was so fun catching up with my family.

We had a great trip/Thanksgiving! We are so thankful for much - mostly for our amazing families.

With Christmas a short/packed few weeks away, my goal is to enjoy the season and all it brings!

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