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?

2016 IN REVIEW

It’s December 2016 – where did this year go? It seems only yesterday the year began. The older I get the faster time goes, or is it because I am busy and not paying too much attention to time that is quickly slips away.
January rolled in, I worked the first week and a half then I took an extended trip to visit relatives. Began in Missouri with Jene Benton and family. Was a great time. Got to see her new place and eat some of her fantastic cooking. Met Craig and family, was fun! So then I headed to San Francisco to visit Darin. Never been there before so he took me to all the places, Fisherman’s Warf, highest point in SF, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, and he took me on a boat ride across the bay. So then I rented a car and headed north. Never really been in northern California, so good chance to see it. Stopped and did the redwood thing – visited these giants and got a picture of me in the “drive through” tree. Headed on north and spent the night in southern Oregon. Next morning drove to my best friend Dan’s place where his wife Chris was home. The three of us always have a great time. They took me hiking to a waterfall, went to the coast and around. Then Dan took me to a shooting gallery where I learned I hadn’t really lost my eye as I did pretty good I thought, for someone who hadn’t shot a rifle in years!
Visited my brother’s two daughters Tabitha and Traci and their lovely families. Tabitha arranged for Traci and Gabe to come to her place and we all had fun. Tom, Tabitha’s husband , their two boys , Traci and her son went to smack a few golf balls around – what a great time. These two gals have really grown up and have such great families to be around. Visited my cousin Donna Clair, her husband Bill and two kids, Robb and deShauna. After that I hooked it on across Oregon, over the Blues and to my brother’s place in Fruitland Idaho. Was great to spend time with Larry and Sue. Visited friends around Greenleaf, Caldwell and ended my trip in Boise at Gary and Barbara’s place. Was a great trip, lots of stops, trying to get as many visits in as possible. So then it was home and back to work.
Now back to the grindstone. Work as been good. Got lots of great customers and horses to work on. So now it was to business for the summer and fall. I don’t plan time off until around the first of November because people want to use their horses. Also it is Jette’s time to go to horse shows. She ended up going to shows most of the weekends in June, July with some shows in August and September. When she is gone I take care of her horses and our two dogs. We have tried a few times to get someone to take care of our place, but it doesn’t work. Very hard to find someone who understands the word RESPONSIBILITY! We had one person who held a party in our house, the last one we thought we could trust couldn’t get out of bed to feed the horses on time, so no more. We know when one of us is home things will get taken care of right and that is very important to us.
First of September I turned in my reservation for the International Hoof Care Summit in Ohio in January 2017. After doing that a friend and fellow farrier, Tom Williams was at my house using my coal forge. We’d stopped for a bit to eat and he said he was headed to Vegas in December for the WCB finals. I said I might just take the time off to go watch. Tom then said why not go compete in the novice class, I said I was too old and such for that. He said no, it was for guys who had never competed, plus I could deduct it from my business! So Jette pips up and said why not, it would be fun! I sat there for a bit, yea, why not! So I turned in my papers and fees, booked a flight and boom, here I am sitting in the Silverton Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada!
It was a learning experience for me. I felt out of place in the novice class at 60yrs old, but everyone told me no. I felt good with some of my work, I ended up 8th place over all. My work could have been better, but this was the first time I have never worked with a striker and it was very different for me. Also I was working against the clock which I have never done before. I learned many things and now I am going home and do some work. I hope to come back next year.
With this closing I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and may your New Year be a fantastic 2017. God Bless you all and enjoy your journey down the road He has planned for you. I thank God every day for my family, friends and the life I have. I have been blessed to do the things I have done and the places I have gone. TAKE CARE.