THE BEST YOU CAN DO

you always do the best you can?  It took an experience in high school to really teach me this lesson, and one I will never forget.

The first couple years of high school I did what I needed to do.  I really didn’t apply myself and excel in the subjects I took.  Sure there were a few I really liked and some that came easy for me, but those which were more difficult I had a tendency to just slide over and do just enough to pass.  I never failed a course, but there were some grades I wasn’t exactly proud of.  Around the end of my sophomore year there was an awakening.  I don’t really recall what it was or if it was just looking at my report card that started me thinking and the need to really dig in came.  The last two years I had my nose to the grind stone.  I got the best grades I could and I was proud of what I had done.  It was the end of my senior year and the school officials were tallying up the accumulative grade point average for each student’s high school career.  I’d heard rumors of some kind of recognition for those who’d maintained a 3.0 average during the four years of school.  I really thought I’d be in the group as the last two years I’d done real good.  Well the scores got posted and like others I had to find out where I was on the list.  Scanning the list for my name, I didn’t find it.  I then looked down the page and there I was – 2.9!  Talk about a letdown.  I walked away looking at myself and wondering what went so wrong, then I began to reexamine my first two years.  Now I understood where I’d went so wrong.  I also realized if I had raised one class grade one point, I’d have made it.  I thought about this for a long time.  There was no joy in my life, only regret I’d wasted part of my life, not applying my abilities to the best and just settling for what could be done. 

I guess it was for the best.  After seeing how I’d squandered my life, I made myself a promise – Always do the best I could do in everything I did.  Not that I’d always be right or perfect, but I would give my all to what I was doing.  So from that day on I never looked back.

One time at my Army Reserve unit we were taking a diagnostic physical fitness test.  I was standing in line to do push-up, first to be exact.  While waiting for the testers to get ready I heard some of the guys behind me talking.  This was just a diagnostic test, so they were only going to do what they needed to pass.  I asked why not do your best every time?  They replied this one didn’t really count.  When the testers were ready, I assumed the position and began.  For two minutes I did the best I could do.  I didn’t do enough to get the full 100 points, but I got over 95 points.  Now I’d set the example and I watched as the others took their turn.  Not one stopped at the minimum, they all went above and beyond.

Throughout my civilian jobs and military career I always gave my best.  Many times I was short of the goal, but it wasn’t for my lack of wanting to do it right.  In my job as a farrier I try to treat every horse like it was mine.  I know how I would like my horses shod, so this is the goal for my customers.  This extends to service afterwards as well.  If a customer’s horse has a problem, I try to get to it as soon as possible.  I understand today horses are a hobby, a free time thing for many.  When they got free time, they don’t want to stand around waiting for a lost shoe to be replaced.  In working this way I also find a personal satisfaction knowing I have done my best.  Yes I’m not perfect, but when my customers can see I am trying to do the best I can they can better accept my short comings.  If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it the best you can the first time. 

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

I’ve heard about this stuff since I was about knee high to a grasshopper.  Money, it’s the stuff making the world go around – or so we think.   I got my first real lesson about money while growing up. 

One summer we were headed to Disneyland.  I was seven years old.  That spring we were sitting around the dinner table talking about it and both my brother and I stated we wanted our own money to take and spend, so what could we do to make some spending money?  And this was a very valid question.  Around our house Larry and I had our chores and responsibilities and for these there was no payment.  These included making our beds and cleaning up our room every morning; when it was our turn, washing the dishes and stacking in the dish washer; cleaning the house; mowing the lawns and clipping all the grass out of the flowers and around the trees(hand clippers); weeding the garden; our responsibilities to the animals we had and outside chores.  As a family unit, these things Larry and I did because it was our jobs.

Discussing the money, Dad said the local irrigation district was giving twenty five cents a tale bounty on gophers, so we could trap them for that price.  We could also cut the thistles out of the fields.  With these two jobs we should be able to make enough money.  So Dad divided up the fields between Larry and I for gopher trapping and the fields we needed to cut thistles out of.    Dad spotted us the money to get traps, to be paid back, after all nothing in life was for free.  Anyway that summer we made enough money by the time we went to Disneyland we used our own money.  And we got to buy what we wanted, but when the money was gone so no more things!  This was money – you can buy when you got it, but when it runs out – tough!

I was as Washington school, fourth grade.  One day at noon recess I was talking with some of the guys I hung with.  One of the guys asked me how much allowance I got.  I looked at him with a puzzled look on my face and had to ask what an allowance was.  He stated it was the money he got for doing stuff around the house – cleaning his room, washing dishes and staying out of trouble.  Nothing I had to reply because all that stuff was my responsibility and I didn’t get paid for stuff like that.  Now he had the puzzled look on his face and asked where I got my money.  I told him I what I did to make my spending money.  He and most the other boys kind of snubbed their noses at me and made remarks of how lucky they were they got paid for almost nothing.  Well I didn’t know how to reply to it.  That evening I asked Dad about an allowance.  He sat me down and explained to me he was teaching me about money and the real meaning of it.  He said in life if one doesn’t have the money to buy things then they should just wait and save it until the time comes.  He also stated there were things one can loan money from a bank on, like a house, land, car, big things that cost a lot of money, but not for the everyday things of life.  A person needed to “live within their means”.  Trying to keep up with everyone else was so important as long as one had a place to live and something to eat.  Take care of the necessary things of life first.  I took this talk to heart and so began my life long career with money.

Fast forward fifty years.  Today it’s nothing to charge it.  And many people have two or three credit cards.  Yes I got mine, but I only use it when I got the money to back it up or if it was a real emergency.  The other day I was in a convenience store going to get myself something to drink.  The guy ahead of me buys a hotdog and a coke and put it on his credit card.  I just stood there and shook my head.  How easy it has become to use the plastic.  I’ve got customers who have problems paying their farrier bills because they don’t plan ahead, and it’s the same ones every time.  I look at our country and the leaders running things and have to wonder:  How many of our leaders today are like the boys I talked to in the play ground – not having the real meaning of money and how to spend and save?

BEING ON TME

What time is it?  Do I have time to finish this?  Time is always on our minds.  I remember as a kid growing up there was so much time; I never bother to keep track of it, especially getting back to the house on time.  My bother and I’d be down in the south forty somewhere playing and completely forget about the time – until we’d hear this loud shrill whistle Mom had.  When we hear it, we knew we’d better get moving as she knew we could hear her call.

My Dad was death on time.  I’ll never forget when I was just a little fart.  He and I were sitting in the car waiting for Mom and my brother to come out so we could leave.  Dad was impatiently waiting and then he spoke, “Your mother does this to me every time we get ready to go someplace.  Always waits ‘til the last minute to leave.  I’d rather be an hour early than a minute late.”  With that said, soon Mom and Larry came out of the house, in the car and away we went.  But I never forget what he said – I’d rather be an hour early than a minute late!  This is something I’ve lived by my whole life.  But amazingly enough so many people don’t think being on time is very important!  Oh it doesn’t matter if I’m a few minutes late!

I was at a customer’s place one day, arriving at my usual time, about 15 minutes before the scheduled time.  I could see the horses out in the field and I waited.  When the appointed time came, I waited 5 minutes more then drove off.  I had been gone about 15 minutes when my mobile phone rang.  “Where are you?  I thought we had an appointment?”  Yes we did I replied, adding – “I waited for you and left five minutes after the appointed time.”  She then replied, “Yea, but I was only ten minutes late, couldn’t you have waited?”  I informed her our appointed time is the time I go to work.  That means she had the horses in and ready.  If I had waited for her to get the horses in, then do the work, my next customer has to pay for her lack of planning and good sense.   And besides I added, “How long should I wait?  How do I know you didn’t forget (which happens)?  And besides, you had my number, why not call and let me know you are going to be late!”  With that she scheduled a new time and had to pay me for showing up for nothing.

Today there is no excuse for being late and not letting the other party know you’re going to be late.  If I think I am going to be late, I call and let the customer know I am on the way.  It’s just good manners and I thought socially acceptable, (but not for the people who think it is socially acceptable to be late)! 

My whole life timing has been the key.  As a professional guide, I had to get up in the mornings to be ready for the hunters who had paid their hard earned money for a hunt!  In the military as a Drill Sergeant and all through my career, timing was important.  Now with my business I hold the same standards – be on time.  And if late, call and let the customer know.  It’s the least I can do.  After all I hear enough talk about other farriers who are late or don’t show up.  I’d rather have people complain I’m a little early than a little late!

MONDAY

For a Monday, today was – FANTASTIC.  For the first time, today really felt like spring.  Sun shining and warm.  I worked all day in my shirt sleeves.  Also the best part is the days are getting longer.  It is now after 1800 and still not dark.  Winter days are very short and nights long, so after 21 December, we are headed the right way.  Speaking of 21 December, I believe this day should be a holiday.  It is the shortest day of the year and after the days start to get longer.  I also feel 21 June, should be a day of mourning – afterwards the days start getting shorter!

It was a busy day.  Lots of horses needing shoes and trimming.  Many people pulled shoes for he winter.  Now they are calling and wanting shoes back on because days are getting longer and weather is getting better. 

While working today, I always get amazed at the lack of smarts by many horse people.  For some reason people insist on walking in through the area I am working in.  Growing up I always learned never to walk up behind a horse, especially one you don’t really know.  Yet at the riding school I was at today, people give it no thought.  I put a broom and one of my hoof stands in the doorway as to detour people from coming in, yet they don’t think and in they try to come.  I have to get a little cross with them as it is my responsibility if something happens. People walk around not thinking about what they are doing, only about themselves.  When I came to Denmark I learned to hate riding school.  They never teach people about common horse sense, only how to climb on the horse.  I’ve soon realized the common sense I things I learned as a kid and my father taught me, and the things I learned later on is no more taught.  Today horses are pets, a status symbol, a hobby.  Most of the common sense things I grew up learning is no longer taught.  The one thing I will never get over is how many people never use a lead rope to lead a horse, they pull it around by the halter!  How stupid can they be?  Anyway, I guess I just  get my work done and get out before someone does something stupid to hurt me!

A Great Adventure

This blog takes on the name of my last book: THOUGHTS OF A CRAZY OLD MAN. Becoming an author was never in my mind until my cousin Jene read some of my writing a few years ago. She suggested I get after it, so I did and GUIDE’S LIFE was born. While in the publishing stage I began to get thoughts for Crazy Old Man, thus the name of the book. The cover picture was taken by Tom Greller, who is my brother’s son-in-law. He’d taken me duck hunting which I hadn’t done in many years (story in the book). Once seeing the picture I knew it was the cover photo.

Self publishing is tough. If I had know how hard it is and how much it costs, I would probably never done it. Getting a “real” publisher to pick up my book is very tough these days as there are so many books being published, so I’m plugging along. I hope a few of you will come along for the ride I am on right now as an author. I hope to keep you informed to what I am up to and doing.

Have a great day!