Downwind

I spent a lot of time watching the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games last month. There were plenty of memorable moments… some shocking, some uplifting, some appalling, and some amazing. Other moments were plenty forgettable. The games provide the World a chance to see many traditional event favorites. It also provides a great, once every four years, opportunity to see more obscure sports as well as a few events that do not seem like sports.

Many people have daydreamed about being an Olympic athlete…I know I did growing up. Nearly all of us “dreamers” didn’t have a prayer. However, as I reflect back, I realize I did a lot of Olympic training when I was growing up on the farm for a number of Olympic events and did not even know it at the time.

Here is a quick list of Olympic events that I trained for on the farm…

·         Fencing… the key was the equipment, especially a good pair of pliers

·         Weightlifting… the 50 pound bags of feed dead lift… No problem…add another bag.

·         Hammer throw… Brothers and sisters “duck” when one flings a claw hammer

·         Rowing… crucial to this sport is to use the sharp point of the hoe to make your garden rows straight and uniform.

·         Boxing… Unfortunately my training was abruptly cut short (as was my basketball season)when I broke my hand with a right cross to a pig…that pig may still be laughing at me.

·         Rugby 7’s… My whole hog team scrum could break through most any line that I saw in the Olympics (if only the hogs would go the right direction towards our goal).

·         Equestrian jumping… Dang horse - we needed to make the fence higher

·         Modern Pentathon… fencing repair, swimming in the creek, horseplay, Shooting slingshots, running errands

·         freestyle wrestling… I found the steers on our farm were better trained than I…it is surprisingly difficult to “pin” a steer which prefers not to be pinned.

·         Steeplechase…hog panel hurdle, run and chase, hog panel hurdle, run and chase, mud bog jump, run and chase…repeat.  The stupid pigs got out of their pen again.

I do not recall any Gold, Silver, Bronze-not even Pewter Medal “carrots”… (It was mentioned to me on occasion that my prize was food (unlimited carrots) to eat and a bed to sleep in).  Training was long and hard most days. The warm glow of victory was a day to day phenomenon…many times fleeting. My Olympic training introduced me to beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the satisfaction of a good day of training, and the bone-weary feeling that leads to deep sleep inside 30 seconds of my head hitting the pillow. 

In the process of training for the fore-mentioned Olympic events, I also trained in some other farm sports that probably should be proposed to the Olympic Committee…

·         competitive sweet corn speed eating … napkins are a banned substance

·         watermelon seed spitting (into a tin cup)... distance, speed, accuracy, creativity and “ping” sound are judged

·         search for that tiny country with a long name in the Worldbook Encyclopedia …the Worldbook Encyclopedia was the authority of knowledge in our house…(see Friends season 4, episode 3 when Joey buys the “V” encyclopedia to “get smart”)

·         lawn dart catching … naturally weeds out some poorer competitors

·         tree climbing…cedar and hedge trees should be left to the world class competitors

·         synchronized napping …scheduled after lunch or during the evening news

·         cowchip toss … the age of the “equipment” in this sport really matters

·         speed hay stacking…This “sport” requires a combination of raw power and artistic creativeness in a heat pressure cooker in the barn’s mow.

Talk about compelling television!

A few more random thoughts as I consider the concept of adding some farm-based Olympic games.  I anticipate that the (East) German and (Soviet) Russian judges will give ridiculously low scores to USA farm competitors.  Instant replay should be included in order to “get it right” (doesn’t every color analyst on TV say that?).  NBC’s Ryan Seacrest should be replaced…I bet he has never been on a farm in his life (How about Orion Samuelson instead?).  Nike should come up with a steel toed, water resistant work boot designed for optimal speed in the barn yard. And the only “juicing” allowed is “veggie, fruit, or cow juice”. 

I have just 4 short years of training to become “World Class”… who wants to join in the training?