I was a 4H leader for many years and it does my heart good to support our youth and such a great cause at every opportunity. So when my friend Anne from high school and her husband Danny, asked if we would like to visit them for the weekend in Sanger, California, join them at a livestock auction, and do some black powder target practice, I couldn’t answer, yes, fast enough. I got my Ariats dusted off and we were on our way.
While we’ve certainly grown our own natural, grass fed beef on our Texas farm in years past, we just thoroughly enjoyed a fun weekend with friends while supporting local 4H and FFA kids. Acquiring high quality beef at a bargain price was just frosting on the cake as every penny went to a great cause.
Sanger, California is a beautiful little rural community just outside Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park, that boasts the first historic dude ranch in California and used to be the hideaway for Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, so these people know how to shoot, ranch, and otherwise have a good time. That, we did!
We got to the junior livestock auction early on Saturday morning and being bidders/buyers they had quite a spread of coffee and breakfast ready for all of us auction participants. We strolled around for about an hour before the bidding commenced. There were lots of critters including beef, swine and sheep to size up before we made it over to our seats in the arena. Lots of fellow ranchers were present, mostly friends and neighbors of my friends Anne and Danny, so it made for some fun socializing and became quite the locals event. It reminded me of the times I’ve spent at the Amarillo, Texas stockyards, where the auction is just as much a social event as one to acquire some livestock. It’s much the same at the weekly livestock auction in Blossom, Texas near our little Texas ranch.
A portion of the proceeds went to other great causes and non-profits serving the community, food banks, and veterans. So anyone bidding in this auction was supporting more than one great endeavor. I was in full support. Many of the 4H , FFA, and independent kids who were auctioning off their livestock received toolboxes donated by local businesses which was even more heart warming. These livestock projects are truly a labor of love and dedication.
People who are used to just showing up at the grocery store for their packaged meat, often don’t appreciate the time, money, sacrifices, and dedication that goes into raising healthy, safe, quality meat.
These young entrepreneurs spend about 300 hours preparing their animals for the judging and show while learning about free market enterprise and how it operates in an open and competitive market.
Auction bidding was hard work so we took breaks a few times to wander around and look at more critters and the auction folks even put out a tremendous lunch spread for all of us to enjoy. Tri tip sandwiches, cold cuts, cheeses and lots of drinks hit the spot. We had worked up quite an appetite speculating on so many future hamburgers, briskets, and T Bones. Finally, my friends Anne and Danny scored a fantastic steer at a bargain price, which meant I would be going home with a freezer full of meat too. Someone had to help them make room for all that fresh meat they would be getting once it was slaughtered, hung, packaged, and delivered over the next few weeks. Mission accomplished, we even wandered around the adjacent Big Fresno Fair for a few hours while we waited for the end of the auction to ensue.
When you consider the cost savings along with the quality of the meat and the wonderful causes you support, it truly is a no-brainer and win/ win for everyone involved. If I buy a quarter of an organic, grass fed beef, I typically pay between $8-9 per pound in my neck of the woods. That may vary a bit from location to location but that’s about average. Anne and Danny’s cost after slaughter and processing was about $4.00 per pound. That’s about a 50% savings while supporting great local charities and youth.
Anne said it perfectly. “This is the fourth steer we have purchased at the county fair livestock auction. After the first one, we were hooked! The meat is so much better than any we can find in any market. After the price of the steer and the cost of the butcher, the price per pound of meat is far less than what we would pay in the store. We also love the idea of supporting these 4H and FFA kids who dedicate a full year of hard work raising the steer to show and for market. I am always impressed by these young guys and gals who are very appreciative of their bidders and buyers. We had one girl who drove out to our home, an hour away, and who brought us a giant cookie basket for Christmas, as her way of thanking us for buying her steer. In a way, we feel like we are giving back to the community by supporting these kids. Not to mention, it is a tax write off for us!”
Danny and Anne have lots of neighbors who like to shoot also, so we packed up some firearms and black powder and headed out for some fun in the sun, old-fashioned target practice the next day. My middle daughter, Faith, hadn’t shot black powder before and she immediately was reminded of two of her favorite old war movies Glory and Patriot. Loading it all the slow and tedious way it was done in days-gone-by surely reminded us all of the bravery, fortitude, and stamina required by our forefathers.
My great uncle, eight generations back, was Daniel Boone and I’ve taken my kids to all our family civil war and other historic war graves when we have done our many homeshooling genealogy trips across the United States. So black powder shooting is a great way to rekindle the appreciation of what our ancestors endured for centuries as they shaped our nation’s history.
My husband also clearly enjoyed the rush of seeing a billowing cloud of powder after every discharge. It’s not for the feint of heart.
Anne even has some of the same firearms I have had for my concealed weapons permits, so we were even gun compatible, as if we don’t see eye to eye on just about everything else as well. Heck, our RVs are almost matching and so are our boats. Great minds think alike, they say. Our dogs even got along famously. Of course our new golden retriever puppy did pester one of her chickens. Most of the dogs we have had over the years, needed to learn chicken manners. Anne was a sweetheart when we had to remove chicken feathers from Asher’s mouth. This is what true country friendships are built on.
The weekend must have made quite an impression on Faith, because I noticed Sunday night on the four hour drive home, she couldn’t wait to join the NRA, from the backseat, on her cell phone. She has shot guns her whole life but somehow this whole black powder experience, it spoke to her in a special way. I think it rekindled for her, a little of her family history as she comes from a line of Naval war heroes and frontiersmen.
All in all, it was a lovely weekend. I caught up with my friend Anne who went to Carmel High School with me in the 80’s, they bought a steer, we shot guns, barbecued, played dominoes, played with our dogs, had deep philosophical discussions about bible history and flying (Danny is a bible scholar and commercial airline pilot) (Anne is a flight attendant) (I used to own my own airplane in the 90’s) and all in all we had just an absolutely fantastic and relaxing time.
Faith can’t wait for her NRA hat to arrive, and keeps asking when we can go camping with Anne and Danny. I guess I did something right.
God bless the USA!