Last week I was on a video shoot with B.J. We arrived at our destination about 20 minutes early, so rather than surprise our hosts before they were expecting us, I turned the car around and headed to a little roadside rest I remembered passing just a few miles back. It was one of those little areas alongside a state route, just a patch of gravel and a picnic table. I pulled in and parked the car, ready to check email and go over my notes for the shoot once more.
But then I saw a little marker off to the side of the parking area. It looked like a memorial marker and I could see from the car that it had some sort of inscription. My historical curiosity had to know what was on the marker, so I got out of the car to check it out. In well-worn letters, it read:
Well now I was very curious. This sounded like some sort of livestock-related marker, but I didn’t know what would have been in St. Louis in 1904.
Tip Top Notcher was the name of the champion boar at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. A gentleman named George Seckman of Brown County, Illinois, exhibited the boar. (Our video shoot that day was in Brown County, Illinois.) Before winning the World’s Fair in 1904, the boar had won classes at the Illinois State Fair and the American Royal. Tip Top Notcher also sired Helen Blazes III, who went on to become the first Duroc sow to command a price of $1,000.
Later, the United Duroc Swine Association erected the memorial in honor of Tip Top Notcher on a small plot of land, which was eventually given to the State of Illinois, hence the current use of a roadside rest area. (Check out lyndonirwin.com for many more facts!)
What a cool little piece of history we had found! And to think that it was just as likely that we would have stayed in the car, checked emails, returned voicemails, and scrolled Instagram.
So often we get entirely too focused on the task at hand or sucked into mindless Facebook scrolling that we fail to see what’s around us. It’s critical to get our work done, but it’s OK to look up and enjoy the moment.
When you’re walking out to the barn in the early morning, pause a few seconds to take in the sunrise. When you’re working with your sister in the barn, appreciate that time together even if the blowers are too loud for talking. When you’re riding in the truck to the next show, look up from your phone long enough to notice the countryside or have a conversation with your mom. When you’re picking up the next batch of feed, ask your feed dealer how their week has been going and sincerely care about the answer. When you’re walking with your little brother up to the ring, make sure to include an encouraging and sincere pat on the back.
Trust me, you don’t want to miss those things, so look around, keep your eyes open, and take advantage of those little moments. You never know what you might find.
Marlene Eick is a storyteller and coach. As co-owner of Herdmark Media, she helps brands in agriculture tell their story. As a success coach, she helps people discover the stories within themselves.