WONDERING AND THOUGHTS

1 June, it is a holiday here in Denmark so I am sitting outside, on a beautiful Monday morning with a fresh cup of coffee, just enjoying life as it slowly passes by, but before hand I took a quick peek at my schedule for Tuesday, got my knives and file sharpened, shoes loaded in the van and already to hit the road tomorrow. I have always believed in the “6 Ps” ; Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Have lived by these all my life and so far things have worked out fairly well – considering “Murphy” is always with us,

Life on the golf course this year has been very trying to say the least. It has proved to me I should have been a cook because I could slice bread real well! Those of you looking as this, raising an eyebrow wondering – I can’t hit a tee shot worth a plugged nickel, my slice is so bad sometimes I think it will come back around a hit me in the back of my head. Yesterday, after the first hole I knew I wasn’t going to need a score card to keep track of my game. I scored a whole 4 points on the first nine, 7 points on the last. I have never played so bad. Last year I was hitting great, I worked my handicap down real well last year, now this year is is going the other way and I can’t figure out why. I was playing last Friday with a usual partner, Kurt. At hole 10 he asked if I minded if he gave me some advice and proceeded to give it. I told him I have no idea what is going on so any advice he can give will be welcome. I absorbed what he told me. The next tee shot was a 300 meter shot – 100 meters out, 100 meter up, 100 meter down, but at least it was straight. I get to the next hole, wham, it was straight with good length. Then came the slice, but it wasn’t so bad. Sunday before our round I hit the driving range giving Kurt’s advice a try, once again slicing my way through the balls. As I said the round yesterday was bad, tee shots were bad, thus my attitude got bad, which lead to lack of focus, which lead to bad shots. Finally at hole 12 I am ready to tee off and I just told myself, “I don’t care” (which I really didn’t). I just came up, lined up, not taking any time to focus on the shot and wham, I hit a perfect shot. The next hole was a par 3, next was a par 4, so again I just went up, taking no time, no focus and whacked that white ball – it was a fantastic shot. The rest of the course, using my driver I did fairly good. I have come to conclude maybe I am over thinking it, over doing it to do good. I need to just relax and hit the ball. I was going to play today, but decided not to, just to stay home and relax. Tuesday. I have a regional golf match, so hopefully I can just relax and enjoy the game again.

Well the powers to be decided the China virus was a fail in getting President Trump out of office, so now another tactic is in play, organized civil violence. Reading reports, many of those arrested are not residents of the areas effected, and this makes sense. Why would normal, rational people burn and destroy their own areas? I bet many of the smaller shop owners will never come back to business after this, and it is really sad to see. Yes. there is problems with some police officers who abuse their power, but this is only human, look how many of our elected officials abuse their power. It is not confined to anyone group. When the video came out, most people were horrified, shocked at what happened. If people had come out with peaceful protest, they would find most civil Americans would fully support them, but burning, looting, beating up people – this was no reason for these type of actions, unless there is a subversive motive- and like Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s White House CoS said, “Never let a crises go to waste”. According to Emanuel, it’s not about managing a crisis—it’s about using that crisis to advance your agenda. I can guess there are those out there who have their “own agendas” and it doesn’t include the best welfare for America. Money and Power are the two things which drive many, and this is not the first time we have seen the masses stirred up to riot and destroy. Remember the last Presidential election. The biggest word and idea has been forgotten – RESPECT. Once people come back to the values our Nation was founded on and begin to once again respect each other, remembering diversity is what has made our nation great. Slowly over the years I have see our values eroded. I remember a time when prayer was part of our society, that has been taken away. One of the bases of our laws was the ten commandments, ten basic laws to live by, but this has been dictated as taboo. Soon we found the family unit was beginning to be eroded. In a speech by Ronald Reagan delivered before the Orange County Press Club in 1961, and entitled “Encroaching Control”, he alleged that, “Three months before his last visit to this country, Nikita Khrushchev said, ‘We can’t expect the American people to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find they have Communism.’” Is this what we are seeing now, the slow and planned take down of our society? If you want take the time, look out what freedoms we had a hundred years ago and what we got now. Slowly our freedoms and society are being torn down and replaced with what? No matter if I am right or wrong, that is not my purpose. My purpose is to make you stop and think for yourself. Do your own research, decided for yourself what is right or wrong. Have you ever read our Constitution? If not do so. If you really want to do some good research, start at the website of Hillsdale College (https://online.hillsdale.edu/#home). They have some very good FREE online courses, even one about the Constitution. Make up your own mind, and in the end, remember RESPECT for other’s opinions is a must, but this doesn’t mean you should let them run over you.

HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED

How times have changed. This past week I had someone ask me when did I move to Denmark. I thought for a bit and replied, “December 1992”. After answering I then calculated how long this has been – 28yrs this coming December! Then I got to wondering where all the time had gone and how things have changed.
My brother and I are very close, so when I moved to Denmark it was very hard for me not to have the access of communication with him. Phone calls were very expensive, so I limited myself to one call a month, sometimes calling him, sometimes others I needed to contact. Next was the pony express (mail). From the time I wrote a letter to Larry (brother), send it, him to receive, sit down and write, it was somewhere around 3-4 weeks for a turn-around, sometimes longer. It was better than nothing at all and so I began to write more than I ever had.
After moving to Denmark, I transferred to the 7th Army Reserve Command in Germany, my job entailed me learning how to operate a computer, so I convinced the wife we needed to buy one. We bought the latest, greatest available. It had about a 540 megabit hard drive – big for the day. I remember Windows 3.1 came on 6 discs. A couple years later we got e-mail. When sending mail, I would first prepare the message and address. Then disconnect the phone, hook up the computer, dial up the connection and send. It was superfast for the day. I evolved right along with technology. Today I just click an icon on my computer screen, connect through a wireless connection to the internet, if Larry is home, he will hear his computer ring and we can talk just like over the phone, except there is no phone cost. Better yet, if we want, I can click on a button while talking to him and it will activate a camera in my computer, transmitting a live video so we can see each other while talking. Reminds me of a cartoon I use to watch as a kid, “The Jetsons”. They were a futuristic family who when talking on their phone could watch a video screen seeing who they were talking with. At the time, this was so “out of this world”, but fact today! If we take a look, many things in our lives have changed many for the better, but sometimes I wonder if some are not so good.
When I first started to ride the train to Germany for Army Reserve, mobile phones were not so present, especially those which could connect to the net. Then, I would read a book most of the trip or just watch the country side go by. If someone sat down beside or across from me, it was not hard to strike up a conversation (if they could speak English). Today, I notice hardly no one talks with others. First thing after sitting down the smart phone or laptop computer comes out, they are instantly connected with the world and who cares about those around them. We as a whole have become disconnected with those around us while we are connected with the bigger world around us. I notice many time when the wife and I go out to eat, so many people around us, the mobile phone is sitting on the table and most can not let it go, they must pick it up every once in a while and see who has sent a message, who has posted something on one of the social sites so many watch. It is amazing to watch people sit at the same table, next to each other and yet they are so distant from each other they hardly talk to each other. I do have to state an exception: the wife and I went to a farrier friend of mine for dinner. We sat at the table and enjoyed a good meal. About half way through the meal, his girlfriend went to the kitchen to get something and also came back with her smart phone, sitting it on the table. The first time she started to look at it, my friend reached over took it stating: ”We have guests, there is no place for a phone on the table”. Inside I smiled, thinking at least someone has good sense. There is also the flip side.
Today so many people are able to work from home because they can connect with the world from their computers. This is allowing parents to spend more time at home if they have this type of job. For me, I am able to send my bills out the same day over the net instead of writing it out, spending money to send through the mail. Then if someone is late paying, I no longer have to repeat the process costing me more money, I just hit “send” and out it goes again. Churches have benefitted from the internet as well. With this Chinese virus thing going on and members are not able to attend, many have turned to “Video” church. Amazingly enough I get to attend church in Boise, Idaho. Yea, the time difference is such that I don’t get to see the live feed, but they have the sermons posted so I can watch when ever I want. We are able to make appointments, do shopping, go places on the internet. So many things have been made easier, more accessible, easier to communicate worldwide. Those who were kids in the late ‘90s will never know a world without instant communication, unless the net goes down.
Some things which will never change internet or not. Going outside on a nice warm morning, listening to the birds sing, feeling the morning warmth on your body as you enjoy the smell of a nice cup of coffee. Standing on a mountain top on a clear summer day as you slowly turn around seeing the full scope of the world presented around you – oh yea, you can see it on the internet, but you are also limited to the size of the screen, you cannot feel the sun on your body and let all your senses sample the time and place. And just the small thing of communication. Yes, you can see someone on the video, but there is still the ability of one’s senses to sample every facet of the environment around as you converse. The internet, hi-tech is great, but unless you step outside this “virtual” world and really live life, one will never really experience life.

WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE

I was taking a break this morning and got to thinking, (dangerous sometimes). Anyway got to looking back in time, thinking about what Denmark was like when I first arrived and what it is like today. A few thoughts of when I was a kid got thrown in as well.
The first obvious thing was the road in front my house. I went from living in the back country of Idaho to having a road (Nyvej) right in front of my house. When I arrived in December 1992, there wasn’t much traffic. The every once in a while car, the tractor and an occasional delivery truck, with the garbage thrown in the mix. Most country roads here in Denmark are not very wide. In order for two cars to safely pass, both must pullover to the extreme right, driving on the shoulder of the road. With that in mind, now think about the large trucks. Today Nyvej is like a freeway. Certain times of the day you don’t want to be walking or riding a bike, the traffic is unbelievable, sometime into all hours of the night.
It was very different when I first moved here, most stores were completely closed on Sundays, and only open half days on Saturday. Then about once a month was “Long Saturday” where the stores were open a few hours longer, it was something, not today. I thought this was a really great thing, giving people Sundays free, and not working long on Saturdays – gone today. Now it is all about the money. Most all stores are open seven days a week, and many are even open on holidays, just like in the States. I was disappointed to see this happen, Denmark falling to the ways of the west, and I really don’t think it is so great.
When I first moved here, the little village of Lintrup had a small grocery store, a mechanic/handyman shop. You could also mail letters and such at the store. Just outside of town was a blacksmith shop – all of this is gone today. Like many places in the States, the stores and shops in the bigger towns have taken over. There has been effects in the towns as well. In the town of Rødding there used to be a baker – it has opened and closed a number of times and now is currently closed. There was a full time butcher shop, no longer as it was. Post office long since gone, you now go to the local “OK” tank station to mail a letter or pick up a package. The local camera store is gone along with the local electric appliance shop. One of the two grocery stores is gone. As I drive around my shoeing area many of the small “Mom & Pop” stores are gone. Bakers are gone. I used to have my “usual” places I would stop to get something to drink, a snack to eat, gone. Many of the local bakers where I would stop to get fresh make morning bread, pick up a sandwich, or an afternoon snack are gone – they have been replaced with many of the gas stations which now have an oven to bake frozen, ready to cook rolls, pastries and such, and they taste like it. Many places over cook stuff, they really don’t care about the quality. Thank goodness for a local tank station near me. They get all their rolls, bread and such from a “real” baker and it tastes like it. There was a time when they got it from another place, but they went back to the baker – Thank God. I feel sorry the people have settled for second best and not supporting their local bakers and butchers, so much quality has been lost.
On the bright side, I can now find a cup of coffee first thing in the morning if I want. When I first moved here you couldn’t find a cup of coffee at 0600 if your life depended on it. Now I really don’t care. I got a thermo cup and fill it before leaving the house and many of my customers have coffee for me during the day.
I can understand many of the changes. Postal services have been cut to almost nothing because of the internet, e-mail and over-night express services. Train stations in many towns are just empty building now because most purchase tickets online, or “swipe” their card at the local machine to purchase a ticket. There was a time when you could purchase a ticket on the train, no more, you get a fine today if you get on the train without a ticket.
When I first moved here I relied on our home phone for my business, now I almost never get a call on it. Only during the weekends when I have my mobile phone set to switch to the house because I don’t answer my business phone on the weekends. The mobile phone is great, lets me instantly contact a customer letting them know of any schedule changes or them letting me know of a problem and sometimes getting a same day fix. Worst part is so many people can’t set their phone down for any time. Many times I have a customer holding a horse and still trying to message someone or talk to them. I will stop, look at them. I tell them when I am working on their horse, their phone is in the pocket. I am not talking on a phone, they are not using their phones. Mobile phones today are a necessary evil. Yet too many people, kids today are forgetting how to look someone in the eye and talk to them. They are lost if they can’t check their “status” every minute or so.
One thing I am glad for, glad I am old enough to remember how easy life was before mobile phones, knowing how to ride a bike without “fancy riding clothes”, knowing if I fell over I might get a skinned knee. Remember when a “soda pop” was something special, not many a day. Three channels on the TV and it went off at midnight, with the last thing showing was the American flag and National Anthem. The list can go on and I know many of you out there will remember as well, but like the old saying goes, “That’s water under the Bridge”.

SUMMER TIME THINKING

Spring has sprung, fall has fell, summer is here, and it’s hotter than – not really just nice.
This year, like last I am enjoying my summer playing golf. This year is a little different, I have cut back on my work a bit, so gots lots of extra time to play. Today is the first time the wife really said something about my playing. I just let her complain, no replay. I remember what my Dad said years ago after Mom got on him about something. He just finished supper then went outside. I finished and followed, going out sitting on his pickup’s tailgate. He then invoked some words of wisdom: It is no use arguing with your mother because she is always right and your always wrong. Just let it go in one ear and out the other. So I remembered this and found life is so much better when you just let it go.
Getting my knee replaced this past winter has been great. Yea, I still got some small issues, like it aches a lot, but it is so much better than the pain I had last year. I remember sometimes coming back from work or a game of golf my knee hurt so much I couldn’t sleep without some painkillers. Now I haven’t had my knee brace on for a long time. In fact a while back my whole knee itched so bad for almost a day. Always had people tell me this was part of the healing process. Have had a couple people I know tell me it will take a year or so for it to completely settle in and I won’t notice it. That’s ok, at least it doesn’t hurt like it did before.
I almost never listen to the news anymore. I get so tired of all the B.S. and crap going on. Many times I have thought to myself, Sure am glad I am over 60yrs old and not 20 and just starting out. It seems like you can’t say anything or do anything without offending someone. I guess people have forgotten or never be taught to respect others for what they think or how they want to live. I bet it really makes for some very interesting family conversations around the Thanksgiving or Christmas table if you got a big family.
One thing I am glad for, so many years ago I had the insight to plan for my twilight years. No matter what the plan is, you got to have one. I am so glad I joined the Army Reserve and stuck it out to get a pension. With the Reserve I had two goals – 1. Stay long enough to get a pension, 2. Make the highest rank I could get so I would get a good pension. I was lucky enough to achieve both goals. I made the rank of Sergeants Major, which for pay is an E9. I have had some ask why I never got to Command Sergeant Major, well I suppose I could have, but the retirement pay for a CSM is still E9, just a lot more responsibility for the same pay, plus I would have had to stay in longer. When I got out it was time. My civilian job couldn’t stand another deployment, plus I ended up with some physical problems which would have required me to get what the army calls a “Profile”, meaning I physically couldn’t do some things. I always told myself I would never stay in with a profile. Being in a leadership position I felt I needed to lead from the front, which I tried to do all the time. The other part of my retirement plan started when I was working as a professional guide. During that time I lived where I worked so my living expenses were very small, thus I was able to save money, so I invested in land. I looked at the stock market, but I was in a position I couldn’t keep track of it, so land seemed a better deal. It would be a long term investment which has turned out great. If I could pass on one piece of advice is: it is never too early to plan for the future because no one else will plan for you.
When I got out of high school I knew I didn’t want to go for a college degree. At that time there were a lot of degree holders flipping burgers and went into debt to do that. So I went to a Vo-Tec school, learned to be a mechanic, got out and immediately went to work. I also worked with my Dad who was a carpenter. Another piece of advice my Dad gave me: “No matter how hard times get there is always a job if you want to work. You may be doing a job you don’t like, but sooner or later the good one will come. In the mean time you can eat”. I just shake my head in amazement sometimes reading about how a college degree is needed to succeed. Now don’t get me wrong, education is good and we do need people who have degrees, but it is not needed to be successful. I read so many times about all the “trades” needing apprentices to train for a job. Many of these jobs pay good money, but the problem is you got to work, get your hands dirty. If it isn’t the job many people don’t like, they won’t take it. My Dad also said, “You have to learn to work”. As a kid I thought to myself, sure one had to learn the job, but that wasn’t what he was talking about. Learning to work is: getting yourself up and ready to get to work on time, having the desire to do a good job, learning to work with others, developing a good work ethic, doing a good job even when it is the worst job you can think of.
Anyway, life is good. My cup is always half full, never half empty. Life is too short to argue and worry too much about things, just let it go. Work is good. Good for the soul and good for your health (especially if you want to eat and pay bills). Enjoy your summer!!

2017 IN REVIEW

Well we’re just about ready to sweep this year out the door. I don’t know about you, but for me it has gone so fast, maybe because I have kept busy.
January I made a trip to the States for a few days. I arrived right in the middle of a fantastic snow storm, so helped my brother shovel over three feet of snow off his roof, but what are brothers for? I was just glad I had to chance to help and there was no damage to his house. Afterwards I traveled to Ohio, attending the International Hoof Care Summit. This is a yearly event with so much information it is really hard to pass up.
February wasn’t so good. We lost our old dog, Shelia. She had been having health problems for a while, but it was finally her time. It was especially hard on Jette as they had bonded so well. Coco took it in stride. She had a little hard time getting over it, but then all of a sudden she “grew up”, out of the kid stage and took over as “chief of the watch”. We have watched it times before when the older one passes on, then the younger one grows up fast. It is really amazing to watch the change. Coco spent the next while by herself with us. I don’t think she missed Shelia as much as I have seen others before, but it was good for her to have the time by herself to really find her own way. Jette, this time really looked around and found a good pup to replace Shelia, so we got Gabby.
It was a real tough time for Coco to accept Gabby. We had to be on high alert all the time because the few first days Coco wanted to attach her. I had to divide the front yard giving each a side so we didn’t have to keep any one of them on a leash all the time. Finally after about 5 days or so, Coco came around and it was good. When we got Coco, Shelia was older, so Coco really didn’t get the “puppy” play. Now at 4yrs old, Coco was in hog heaven. She loved to play with Gabby and it was amazing to see how she changed a 180 degrees. Many times Coco would be laying on her back with Gabby astraddle in “attack” mode, run and chase around. Coco soon turned into a good “baby sitter” giving both of them good exercise. Evening were pretty quite as Gabby’s off switch was hit.
It was a good thing spring was over and summer came because our heating unit was worn out and needed replaced. This was the first big project of the year. I had to pull our old heater out, plus the water tank as it also had been patch a few time over the past years. Jette found a different heating unit and water tank on the internet. After getting them home it took me about a month to get the old one out, new heater and water tank installed, plumbed and insulated. It burns straw, heating water which is pumped into the house for heat. Lot cheaper than the oil furnace we have in the basement. We do keep it in back up and do use it in the summer time.
So it was end of July when the heater was fixed then Jette’s manure wagon needed rebuilt. I knew it was going to need a new floor and sides, but I soon discovered the side rails were rotten as well. So getting the cutting torch, they were taken off and had to hit the scrap yard to find what I needed. New sides rails welded in place, floor plates welded in place, new sides build and installed. By the end of the project I knew there was another problem – my knees were shot.
It was so painful getting on my knees to weld the floor on, but it had to be done. Even with knee pads and pain killers it was still a struggle. I had been having problems earlier in the year, but I knew the heating system need replaced and the wagon needed rebuilt, they came first. Now time for taking care of myself. Here in Denmark it has been a long drawn out process to get my knees looked at. I just have to laugh every time I see on Facebook how people post, “We need to be like Denmark”. In July I made my first doctor appointment about my knees. I have found out the problem – cartilage is gone, they are worn out. As of this writing the Danish doctors will not replace my knee, even though the surgeon at one hospital who did the arthroscopic surgery on my right knee said nothing would help but a replacement, to which my own doctor agreed. Even when the first surgeon said there was nothing to do, the next surgeon said he wanted to wait another 4-5 months to see if the surgery helped. My own doc was shocked as was I. After starting this I have learned and was also shocked as to how many people here in Denmark have their own private health insurance, or it is provided by their work place! I had a couple customers tell me if I had private insurance I would have had the operation by now and back to work. So much for the quality health care, I guess it is good – when you can get it. Come on over Bernie, give it a shot!
This year it has rained, rained, and rained. Jette said she had never seen so much rain – ever! So our basement flooded because a drain in our yard was plugged, so it needed dug up and cleaned out. Oh, yea, I am on crutched because two days before I had arthroscopic surgery on my right knee. Jette was able to get a mini backhoe and we started digging. I stood and watched. Finally getting deep enough we got to the old concrete pipe which was in 50cm sections. I got down in and pulled out the first section – it was full of roots. Guess what is directly over the line – a big chestnut tree which we had to stop and cut down and get the stump out. So with each section we took out we found roots, about 12 meters worth! So in between rain, with Jette on the backhoe and me in the ditch we got it out, replaced and thankful no more water in the basement.
. During the three weeks I couldn’t work I was graced with fantastic guys who helped cover my customers and keep horses done. I can never say thanks enough to these other farriers who took time to help me out. With my knees shot, I have had to cut back on my work, so I got rid of one of my largest customers with deep regret. I just can’t stand and do so many horses at one time. This getting old is for the birds!!
Thank God real winter has started. Today it was a few degrees below freezing with snow on the ground – great no much. I have no idea how long this will last, but am enjoying it.
I guess the biggest thing for me this year is I started playing pasture pool – yea golf. Never thought I would enjoy it but it is great. Can’t hardly wait for spring to get back on the course. Now during the winter I am really enjoying making some knives.
I hope this find you all closing out your year with grace and looking forward to the New Year. May God be with you and your loved ones and truly bless you all. See you all later, guess we’ll see what 2018 has in store!!

NEVER TOO LATE

This has been the story of my life – the things I want to do or enjoy have always come later in life. I guess through it all I have learned it is never too late to do something.
I wanted to join the army and fly, but 1 December, 1974 put a stop to that – I took a ricochet from a pistol in my right eye ending my flying and delaying my military career until late in life – age 26. By this time most guys have enlisted and completed eight or nine years. When I went to basic training I was called “old man” as I was the oldest in my platoon. Yet even with the late start and not getting to do what I really wanted to do I managed to have a Reserve career spanning over 22 years and I achieved the rank of Sergeants Major and now enjoy a retirement. In a way I felt a little left out as I already had a civilian career under way, but I was privileged to serve my country and contribute as I feel everyone should.
I’d been married and got divorced in 1984. After living in Pasco, Washington for a year, I moved back to Idaho and somehow got into riding saddle bronc. Here I am in my late twenties starting something which is a young man’s game (much younger than me). At my age most rough stock riders are in the second half of their career. I had a ball. I traveled to central Oregon, Northern Nevada, and many rodeos in Idaho. I didn’t make any money, but one thing I can tell you – there is nothing like coming out of the chute on that eight second ride!
I was around 30yrs old when my brother and I took a hunting trip with our horses in to the Salmon River Wilderness area in Central Idaho. While there I got offered a job as a guide and packer. On our way out my brother asked me, “You’re going to take that job aren’t you?” I replied, “You bet, this job has been offered to me and it is one most guys would give their right arm to do. Lots of guys pay to go to guide schools to get a job”. So began another episode in my life – professional guide/packer. I will have to say it was the best time of my life, so good I wrote a book about it.
Low and behold at age 36 I up and move to Denmark, half way around the world. The clincher to my move was there was an Army Reserve Command in Germany so I didn’t have to give up my long range goal of a military retirement. So here I planted roots and started a business as a farrier. Late in life I am beginning all over again. It was hard work and there were also hard times but I stayed with it and soon was able to enjoy a nice life.
My job in the army was infantry, but my war didn’t come until the end of my career. I was in year 19 when I answered the call to war. In 2003 I deployed and wouldn’t get back home for about 14 months. The worst part was I didn’t get to do what I was trained to do. I would have rather been in an infantry unit up front fighting the enemy, yet I ended up in the rear as the Rear G3 Sergeants Major of V Corps, doing a job we combat arms guys always detest, but I did my job to the best of my ability. After I moved up to Baghdad, I made contacts with an infantry platoon and was able to go out on night patrol with one of their squads. It was great, just being one of the guys, not in charge of anything, just taking care of my sector. I was out with these guys every chance I got, at minimum once a week. At age 47 I was finally getting to do what I was trained to do and enjoyed every minute.
So now I reach another late in life challenge – farrier competition. Last year I got talked into going to Las Vegas to attend the final for the World Championship of Blacksmiths. I entered the novice class, at first did I feel stupid – an old guy in this class with a bunch of young farriers, but no one said anything about it. I had a great time. I told a friend of mine I wanted to go back again this coming December so he said he would help me. I am not the best at forging. I can make shoes I need for the horses I work on, but for competition it takes lots of practice, practice. I got problems with my shoulders and arms, but it is fun and I am going to do it. I have just entered another competition in June, so I am pounding iron. Again I am entered in a lower class and will find myself against lots of younger farriers. I am having a good time and figure if I don’t do it now I may not have another chance.
We only go through life one time. If I’d put off things because I was too old, I would have missed out on so many good times in life. Yea, many times it is late in life, but at least I gave it a shot and had fun. After all, what is life if we don’t have some fun?

CHOICES AND LIFE

This morning I was watching National Geographic channel. They have a program called “Brain Games”. In this program they talk a lot about how our brain works and how we think it works – very interesting show. It got me to thinking about the choices I’ve made in life.
The other day I stopped to get a cup of coffee. When I went to pay for it, I noticed some rolls, I could buy one for a price, but I could buy 3 for another price. Well I only wanted two, so told the guy I wanted two. He then said I could get 3 for a better price. I looked at him and said I only want 2. After watching a couple episodes of “Brain Games” I’ve begun to wonder how merchants use our brains to influence us in how we buy things.
When we make a decision is it a snap decision or do we put some thought into it? According to the show, our brain tries to made logical decisions for us when we made snap choice. I don’t understand it all, but I do see the reasoning behind it. When we made a snap choice we then go into the mode of justifying the choice – better price, better deal, we need it, so on and so forth. After a period of time from making a snap choice, do you ever look at the choice and wonder was it the right choice? I have. I wonder, many times if we took a little more time to weigh out our options would we make the choices we do?
I see this with advertising as well. I’ve seen adds about borrowing money, you can get a quick loan approved within minutes, but did you get a chance to read all the fine print posted along with the add – of course not. They make the print small enough and it goes fast enough most normal people have no chance to read it and then some poor sucker gets one of these loans and gets stuck!
I am also a believer in God and if we ask He will help guide us in the choices we make. I am not saying He makes the choices for us, but I wonder if He gives us the little more logic to look at a situation and determine how to tackle the problem, buy the object, do the job? We are creatures of free will and choice. If I said I have made all the right choices in life you all would know I am a liar and blow this off. Of course I have made bad choices. But by making the bad choices I have learned the effects and also learned how to look at a situation much better. I wonder if this is the way God had helped guide me, by expanding my brain, giving me a little more reasoning and deduction of a situation. In my life’s experience I don’t ever remember important choices being done fast, it took some pondering and weighing out what I thought would be the results of my choices.
What is amazing is to look back over time and see how a choice has affects one’s life. I made the choice to become a guide for and outfitter in the Salmon River Wilderness Area in Idaho. It wasn’t a quick choice, I had a horseback ride to think it over, that along with some advice I’d received from an old guy. Putting the two together I made my choice and never been sorry about it.
Looking back over my life there’s been many forks in my road of life and thus far I can say the choices have been pretty good. Yea, I had those learning times where I know not to make choices like those again, but over all things have turned out pretty good.
If I can give you a piece of advice it would be: Keep in touch with God and ask His guidance, He won’t solve all your problems, but He will give you the choices to choose from, let you see things more clearly, it is up to you to make the right choice. If you don’t believe, well take that extra time to think about things. Just remember there are a lot of people out there who want to separate you from your money, influence you to do things, make things, or buy things that will advance their cause no matter the effects it has on you!

LEARNING TO LEARN

I just returned from a great learning experience at the International Hoof Care Summit. The long plane ride home has given me time to reflect about what I had learned and how I thought things could have been better.
I have been shoeing horses for many years, so by this time in my career it is not all the big things which I take in, but it is a multitude of small things, how other farriers do things differently, approaching problems in a different way. Many of us spend our working days alone with horses – other people are around, but not other farriers. Once in a while we might run into another farrier but for me this is seldom, so the chance to interact with other farriers has been a blessing.
The International Hoof Care Summit is a well planned event which has been running now for many years. This year was the third time I have attended. I knew I wanted to go as the learning experience is there. Having the schedule of events sent early gave me a chance to scan the subjects to be covered and choose the classes I wanted to attend. The worst part is you can’t attend them all!
First you have to understand this event is for both farriers and veterinarians. One of the speakers was a very well respected British farrier Simon Curtis who is very high and respected the world over for his work. His presentation was over three days and covered a very interesting subject, but it was also invaded with massive amounts of scientific data – for this kid I hate scientific data. Just give me the end result and the things I need to know and I’m out the door – good to go. I have always been more comfortable when farriers like Danvers Child, Mike Wildenstein, Grant Moon or the such are talking because they don’t use all the scientific BS, they talk at the level us “common” farriers really understand. Great, but are we just standing in our still water pond with no moving water?
You know what – vets were there as well and I can imagine most of them were very interested in all the data, how facts were found and the research behind the subjects. I remember looking around a bit and there were also other farriers who were interested (I guessed) as they ask questions about the data and findings. Yes I was able to wade my way through it, and many times it was only later after I was thinking about the subject the light bulb finally went on in my head. When that happened I finally understood – I’ve learned something!
Afterward on the plane ride home I got to thinking. We as farriers work with vets. Yes they understand our “language” and most of the vets I work with we have no problems. But also the other thing I got to thinking about is: Should I as a farrier bend a bit and try to understand some of the language vets use more than we do – OF COURSE! We farriers are part of a team, owner, vet and farrier. If I as a farrier don’t try to understand some of the language vets use then I am failing on my part to understand the whole picture. Applying this to the Hoof Summit I just attended, would I change any of the presentation? At first I thought yes, they need to keep it simple for us farriers, but now my answer is no, I have learned and expanded my mind into more the realm of the vet. No, I do not or will never consider myself as knowledgeable as a vet, but should I block my learning and not try to understand more their side? By attending events such as this one I have really been in the learning process. I attend things that are a “little” above my level and force myself to understand. The best part is while at the Summit and attending one of these more technical seminars, many times I am sitting next to a farrier who might understand so I can lean over and ask a question and not feel stupid if I don’t understand. After the lecture I can either ask the speaker who I’ve found is very patient with us less knowledgeable ones or talk to a farrier who gets it and get a good explanation. This is the learning process. If we fail to enter realm which we don’t fully understand then we will never expand our minds and learning capabilities are not fully use. Right after the Summit I thought there were some changes I would make, but now – nope, I want to expand my mind.

VACATION

“But can I send a SMS (text message) to you”, she asked? “Sure but don’t expect a reply until after I get back because I don’t have a telephone with me”. She looked at me with a shocked puzzling look – “You don’t have a telephone with you?” “No” I replied and continued to comment, “Why do I want to talk to you on my vacation?” This customer was totally shocked I wouldn’t have a mobile phone with me on my vacation.
I guess I don’t understand some people who insist on taking their work with them on vacation. After all isn’t vacation meant to be a time you’re free from work or do I have it all wrong? Every once in a while I’m shoeing a horse I will over hear people talking about how their vacation partner was on the phone with work. Sometimes I can detect a little discuss in their voices as they talk about it. Dedicating time to family or whoever you’re with while on vacation I feel is important. There may come a time when you wish your time would have been spent more wisely.
I guess it’s the speed of the world and the almighty dollar (money) which dictates how people live and spend vacation. I think there are many people out there who really don’t have their priorities straight. Sure getting ahead and being successful is important, but is it really so important you would risk sacrificing the happiness of your family and your own well being?
Yea almost every place one goes today has wifi and is connected. It makes it so easy to take work with you. It reminds me of a couple different hunting camps I had when I was a guide in Idaho.
One camp I had four very successful business men from California. I was informed by my boss not to ask them about where they worked or what they did. They were up there to have fun and get away. I spent ten days in camp with these four guys and I never once heard them talk about work. I had Harry (ramrod of the group), tell me they really didn’t care if they didn’t get an elk, they were there to relax and have a good time. They ended up getting a couple elk, a deer and a bear. But most of all they had a good time.
On the other side of the coin there were four guys who flew in to Cold Meadows and then about 3-4 hours by horse to their camp. Each day they had arranged with an airplane service to fly in the Wall Street Journal – every day! Then someone to ride out and bring it back. Ok, they had the money, but by the end of the camp, some of these guys were stressed from reading the Journal and they really didn’t have a good time. To me it was a waste of money and a good time, but each to their own. I wonder how different these guys would have felt if they’d just told the people at the office – handle it and had a good time.
This was back in the 80’s so there were no mobile phones, but satellite phones were known. I had one guy tell me once we needed to get one. I looked at him and said if we had one, I’d strap a stick of dynamite to it and send it sky ward. He looked at me kind of funny.
Yea, I got my computer with me on vacation, but for me writing is not my day job, it is something I do to have fun and relax. I will probably write more blogs in the two weeks I’m on vacation than I do in two weeks at home. The reason I’m sitting here and writing now is because it’s raining and blowing, so John and I can’t get out and do what we want.
I think in today’s rat race more people need to sit back on vacation and watch the rats race by!