Jul 21, 2010

The Best of the Best

One of the unanticipated benefits of marriage is the ability to claim bragging rights on a whole new family. Of course, you also get their baggage in this deal,  but if you marry well, this can be net benefit.

My in-laws are a co-mingling of southern Minnesota farmers and North Dakota ranchers. The Minnesota farmer group is fabulous, but the North Dakota ranchers make for good stories ("Uncle Phid rescues the horses from an over-turned trailer" is particularly good).

The best story to come from the ND clan lately is Hillary Gietzen. I have met Hillary once or twice at family reunions, but I doubt he would remember me. Hillary is a sheep-shearer. In fact, he's a damn good sheep shearer. How good is he? He won the sheep shearing competition at the Calgary Stampede this year, that's how good he is!

Go ahead. Expend yourself. Take the time. Click the link, because it's worth the time and effort - this is an epic tale. I'll wait for you to read it...

The upshot is that Hillary beat his rival not just on speed, but on quality. Sheep shearing is judged based on speed and worksmanship. The rival was faster, but Hillary won once the judge's assessment (i.e. nicks on the poor sheep and tufts of wool left over) was factored in. The opponent blamed lanolin build up on his sheep as the reason for his defeat. That excuse is pretty damn limp in my book. Hillary probably had just as much lanolin to deal with, but he assessed the situation, applied his experience and did a workman-like job of it nonetheless, I am certain.

I count this as yet another major accomplishment that will go unnoticed by most of the world. Still, this is something that most people wouldn't even know how to do, and the few that know how to do this would have been smoked like a fish in this competition.

Way to go, Hillary! The next time I see you, I'll re-introduce myself and slap you on the back.

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