Our custom-made Farm and Ranch Tour 2018 shirts – #mcnarycousins

It is almost unbelievable, but true, that 16 million Americans think chocolate milk comes from brown cows. The more time passes, the more removed our children and grandchildren are from the land, and people, that feeds them. I want to do my part to ensure my grandkids know where there food comes from and meet the people who grow them. Therefore, we started our first Farm and Ranch Tour (FART) 2018 for the McNary Cousins. And it was a smash hit!

In addition to the kids learning about their food, I want them to meet real people who I consider true heroes – farmers and ranchers who feed us three times a day. I want my grands to look up to real life heroes rather than the fake ones Hollywood and ESPN rolls out for us.

Our first stop was a ranch family, Troy, Colette and Rio Flaharty. They come from a long line of true-to-life cowboys and cowgirls from the Flint Hills of Kansas whose office chair is a saddle and would rather be around cattle than people. I chose this family for a variety of reasons: 1. Their family has a long history of raising cattle; 2. They are experts with horses; 3. Troy is an artist; 4. Colette is a world class barrel racer; 5. Rio, at age 15, is rising star in the barrel racing having won numerous state and national competitions. 

Troy, Colette, Rio and The Wonder Bug

Kids are drawn to horses like I’m drawn to chocolate – they’re both irresistible. Colette and Rio introduced them to their horse, gave them each a ride and Rio even showed them how she runs the barrels. All along the way, they both explained what they were doing, why the type of soil is important, how different kinds of horses are trained to do different kinds of things (these horses are highly trained, Olympic-style of athletes) and why ranchers take such good care of all their animals.

Rio introduces the kids to her horses

A very happy little girl falls in love with a horse!

Colette and Rio help the kids saddle up!

Even the cats got some lovin’!

Rio walks Isaiah across the field created especially for training barrel racing horses

Troy gets in on the action with Quinn whose smile never left her face

Aedric saddled up for the ride – ready to be a cowboy!

Isaiah, Evan, Rio, Cailyn, Quinn, Aedric

Rio shows the kids how she trains herself and her horses. It’s easy to see why she’s a National Champion!

I captured this image a year ago of Rio with just a few of her trophies, but while we were at their ranch, Colette and Rio took the kids on a tour of all the trophies both of them have won in their amazing feats on horseback!


Then we went to Troy’s shop. Troy recently won a fellowship with the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association  which is dedicated to preserving and promoting the skills of saddlemaking, bit and spur making, silversmithing and rawhide braiding and the role of these traditional crafts in the cowboy culture of the North American West. He create, from raw steel, unbelievable artist creations.

Troy makes these from the same kind of steel they build race cars with. All of this is handmade.

Check out Flaharty Bits and Spurs on Facebook – it is amazing what this guy can do!

One of his exquisite pieces of art. I’m not a cowboy and never intend to own a horse, but I’d like one of these on display simply as a piece of art.

Troy shows the kids how he starts with just a gray, unassuming piece of metal.

I think we might have some artists-in-the making!

Isaiah holding one of the bit pieces that Troy was starting. Look at that smile!

The kids watch Troy as he begins to carve the ornate pieces of art

Troy explains various kinds of metal. Naturally, they want to touch each piece!

The kids were fascinated with the intricacies of Troy’s carving and how he did it.

We didn’t have time that day to go out the the pastures to see the cattle their family raises – we’ll do that another day. What I wanted most was the kids to get to know the family at their own home. To read more about this wonderful family, check out this article in the Kansas Living Magazine.

I’d encourage you to take your children or grandchildren on your own Farm and Ranch Tour. It’s really pretty simple to make the connections. Find your state’s Farm Bureau webpage and search for the county that you live in; there is someone from the Farm Bureau that serves as your County Coordinator. They are a wealth of information and can connect you with farmers and ranchers who grow your food. You might be surprise to find that, in addition to them being experts in cattle and horses, they are world class athletes and artists.