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“A Little Traveling Music, Please,” is the
signature expression uttered by The Great One, Jackie Gleason on his television
show from 1952-1966.
I have taken the liberty of borrowing this phrase
to start my column this week. You see, Isaura and I, along with nine-year-old
granddaughter Alyssa are currently in Delta, Utah, visiting her brother Tony
and numerous other relatives.
What prompted this trip was my involvement in my
hobby of singing barbershop. The Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS), the parent
organization for all things barbershop, officiates an annual International
Competition for barbershop quartets and choruses which is held in a major city
somewhere around the country. This year we are gathering in Las Vegas.
Since I am a member of Voices of California
(VoCal) out of Sacramento, I will be joining 71 other members of the chorus on
stage competing against 29 other choruses. This is my first time to sing on the
International stage. What an exciting opportunity!
Isaura’s brother, Tony, has developed a very
prosperous dairy farm here in Delta over the last eighteen years, and Isaura
loves visiting whenever possible. So, we decided to head for Delta last Friday
making this part of the overall trip to Vegas. We were thrilled when Alyssa
asked to come with us. This would give her an opportunity to meet and get to
know better some of her extended family. Plus, she was really excited to see
(Great) Uncle Tony’s cows!
The nearly 700-mile drive to Delta would likely
be a challenge since we had not taken any of our grandkids on such a long trip
before. But we planned it well, leaving Ripon at ten o’clock in the morning.
About 12:30 we stopped at a Subway shop in Truckee for lunch. Then it was back
on the road following Highway 80 east. Somewhere around Fallon, Nevada we cut
over to pick up Highway 50 east. We basically stayed on this road for the
remainder of the trip. We stopped a few more times. We grabbed a smoothie in
Austin at an old bar and grill after traveling over small mountain ranges, and
dipping into more valleys than I could count. When we arrived in Ely we stopped
for dinner at a Denny’s restaurant on the downtown drag. Casinos are
everywhere! I’ve never been a big fan of this restaurant chain, mostly because
the service has been terrible most everywhere I’ve stopped, but we were hungry
and we didn’t know any of the local eateries. Much to my delight, the service
at this Denny’s was superb, and the food was excellent.
We finally rolled into Tony and Edna’s about
11:30 that night. I did all the driving so I was pretty much done in. I was up
early, made some strong coffee and did some reading. Isaura and Alyssa didn’t
show themselves till about mid-morning. We relaxed most of the day which we
sorely needed. But Alyssa was anxious to have a tour of the dairy, so off we
went. Crossroads Dairy runs more than two thousand cows which requires three
eight-hour shifts for milking. It is quite a process with cows shuffling in and
out of the milking barn. In one hour, a four-person crew is expected to milk 260
cows. If they move more than that through then they get a bonus. Tony has forty
employees working somewhere on their spread every day.
Seeing the enormous undertaking required to bring
milk and other dairy products to a store near you always leaves me deeply
impressed by the efficiency of the entire system. However, I really enjoyed
watching Alyssa marvel at the production required so she could have milk on her
cereal. Computers control everything, including the amount of milk each cow
produces in a day, along with the quantity of grain they eat and what kind, and
very soon each cow will have a necklace of sorts that is computerized and will
be able to record everything going on in the cow. If the cow starts to get
sick, the device will signal the computer, and then that cow is pulled out of
production and sent to their animal hospital for treatment. And the hospital is
right here on the dairy.
Alyssa’s favorite part is feeding the calves. At
any one time, they have 500 or more calves (heifers) in individual shelters
where they receive personalized attention until they’re old enough to be
released into the herd. I’ve been around these dairy farms and all that goes on
since I was first introduced to Isaura’s family in 1975. But as I mentioned
earlier, I am always in awe of the strenuous and diligent work that is
necessary in the care and feeding of the cows. Alyssa was thrilled to hold big
milk bottles for the two-day-old calves to drink from.
Usually when Isaura and I are here in Delta, I’m
invited to preach to the small independent evangelical congregation known as
The Way, which meet in a store front. And so it was this weekend. What a
wonderful time of fellowship we had!
Roots in Ripon - Author Chuck Roots
Tomorrow morning I’m meeting Dan, one of the
dairymen, at the Sunset View Golf Course for a round before it gets too warm.
On Tuesday, we leave for Las Vegas where I’ll
meet up with the others from VoCal so we can get a few more rehearsal sessions
in before our Friday competition. Then it’s back home to Ripon.
This evening Alyssa was asked if she’d like to
live here in Delta, Utah. Her immediate answer was, YES! She loves animals and
has expressed an interest for some time in being a veterinarian. I guess we’ll
have to wait and see.