Friday, July 8, 2011

Photos!

We have reached 2,167 views of the blog from this year's trip alone! Thank you all so much for checking in on our adventures.

The complete set of photos from Luxembourg is available here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/marylanddairy2008/sets/72157626972917469/


As well, here are the photos from Germany: http://www.flickr.com/photos/marylanddairy2008/sets/72157627147307008/

Jeff has created a group for the trip photos and either he or I would be happy to upload pictures from the team, just send them our way. The group photos are available here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/1682921@N25/

We hope you enjoy the photos from all of our various activities!

~Kiera

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Home again, home again!

I am happy to report that the seven of us have all safely landed in Charlotte, NC and have retrieved all of our luggage. Our flight back to Dulles International Airport leaves at 5:55pm. Thank you all so much for following along with us on our adventures. We have had about 2,000 hits to this site for this year's journey and truly appreciate your interest and support. The remaining photos from Kiera's camera will be uploaded in the next day or so.

Thanks again!

Deutschland

Today we had a nice hotel breakfast with American flags on our tables. The German hotel was nice and patriotic. We boarded the coach and had a stop at a small village where we did some shopping and a lot of people got chocolate at the supermarket. It was still early so not many people were out and it was a nice picture opportunity with some traditional German buildings and a church. We re-boarded the coach to head to Boppard.
To get to the town, we had to go down some windy roads and hills. Once we finally made it down, we spent a lot of time in two shops where we saw beer steins, coo-coo clocks, music boxes and much more. We all picked out a beer stein as our team souvenir. Jess bought a coo-coo clock to ship home. We also had lunch in the village. Jess tried the schnitzel and Hannah ordered that for lunch. It was actually really good. For those of you who don’t know, schnitzel is pork. Also, for those of you who are followers of Jeff and his photos, Hannah got some amazing shots of him in several strange get-ups (tee-hee). After our shopping ventures, we boarded a boat to have a cruise down the Rhine River. The cruise was an hour and a half and we saw some beautiful scenery with mountains and castles. We learned about the different castles and ended our cruise in the only part of the river where you can see three castles at once. We all enjoyed the cruise; it was very relaxing and the weather was beautiful, although Jess left her sunglasses on the bus and Hannah had sun burnt legs. You should have seen the dude try to dock the boat. It was like watching a professional NASCAR driver parallel park. We boarded the coach again after our boat ride to go to Hein Hauck’s vineyard.
The vineyard was really nice. Hein Hauck talked about how to make the wine and about his vineyard. He also taught us the proper way to taste and drink wine. First, you lift your glass and look at the wine to see how clear it is. A good wine is bright. Then you swirl your wine gently in a counterclockwise motion (unless you’re in South America) while smelling at the same time. Then you take a sip and swish it around your mouth to get the general taste and if you like it, you drink it. We all tried three different types of wine and had a barbeque dinner after. After we ate, we were able to explore the vineyard some. There were walkways along the grape vines where we could see the growing process of the grapes. We boarded the coach and before we could even get the coach started, we were engulfed in a Star Spangled Banner sing off. Four participants came up to sing for us and we voted for our winner. This started our community singing on our way to the hotel. We’re in the hotel now and need to pack and get some sleep for our early departure tomorrow morning. See you all soon! Happy reading and happy 4th of July!!! Thank you so much f or following along on our adventures and we really appreciate the support!
P.S. Hannah’s creeper photos of Jeff will be posted soon. :-)

Last day in Luxembourg

Moiyan….haha that means hello. So these past few days we have been with our host families. We had an amazing time and we were contemplating whether or not if we would be returning home. Right now I am on the bus, but, I will try to explain what all went on with our host families. My (Hannah’s) host’s name was Natalie Drauden. She was actually the only host that didn’t live in Luxembourg and she was about a half an hour outside of the fairgrounds. She lived on a small beef farm where she raised about 15 Limousin beef cattle, a (Holstein print) cat and a dog . She was quite the live wire! She spoke English very well, although, she was better at listening to us speak and understanding us than she was at forming sentences. My host family room mate was Lauren Bush, or as we like to call her; Bob . She was a lot of fun and we got along great. We are convinced that we were separated from birth, but hey, that’s just us.

The first night with Lauren and Natalie, we went to her house for about a half an hour and she literally said “Ok, we must hurry if we will be attending fun”. She took us to a pub that was a couple minutes away from her house because Germany was playing Nigeria in soccer or football and the pub was broadcasting the game. Before we went, we had to get our faces painted black, yellow and red so we could at least look like we liked the Germany team. Lucky for us, Germany won and everyone was happy. The next day, we toured the countryside where we got the chance to take lots of pictures. Then we headed to the shops to, well, shop  The first day we were at the fairgrounds we started out the day with a one class judging contest, where all we had to do was place the class 1 through 6 and write the number of the cow that had the best udder. Later, we all got matching shirts to wear for the Luxembourg International Holstein Sale. The shirts were interesting because all of the girls shirts were extremely small. Many of the girls on the trip ended up trading shirts with some of the guys. This exchange made for some funny photos :P Our job at the sale was to prep the animals for their parade around the stage. This was the most awesome sale I have ever attended. The auctioneering was done in about three different languages and everything was very up-beat. In between each animal being sold, there was a DJ in the back of the barn that would crank the tunes. Everyone would sing along and sometimes start dancing. We were all exhausted. Some of us didn’t leave the fairgrounds from the sale until 2:30 the next morning. Luckily my host let us sleep in until around 10 am.

Yesterday at 8:00 pm everyone met up at the fairgrounds where we had a barbeque. The fairgrounds food consisted of only several things. There were about three different types of sausages and an interesting sandwich that consisted of a pork chop with the bone still in it and jammed between two pieces of bread. That was really the only source of food, even though there were around 5 different stands. Also, this would have to be the first time that I have ever tried Sheep Ice Cream. It was……different! At the end of the barbeque, everyone stayed and had a good time getting to know people from Germany and Luxembourg. Our last day of host family time was very sad because I had gotten to know everyone and we all became really good friends. We were taken to the fairgrounds by Natalie so we could watch the showmanship contest. One person from each team got the chance to partake in the contest along with people from Luxembourg, Germany and other countries. Our team nominated Jason to partake in the showmanship contest. He did AWESOME! He ended up winning Reserve Champion against a large variety of leadsmen and he won a nifty trophy. After the contest, we said our goodbyes to our host’s and headed out of Luxembourg and into Germany. Soooo, that’s about it. We will see everyone soon. I hope everything is good and well back home. Goodbye.

~Hannah

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Lucky Ehh

I would like to start off by saying I had a great experience with my host family in Luxembourg. I stayed with Raoul, Dominque, and Yahnik Putz. Yahnik was 18 years old and they had a daughter that was working on a farm in Canada. There house was over 250 years old and was one of three houses that was not destroyed during the Battle of the Bulge in the village of Nothum. Raoul had many different cartidges, bullets, military jeeps etc. from the war. He had alot of knowledge about the war and was very interesting to talk to. Raoul was a veterinarian for food inspection and his wife, Dominque was a dance instructor at a college.
Thursday night I got dropped off with my host family and we had a dinner with another family that hosted girls. We had a fantastic dinner and enjoyed the evening getting to know each other. The meal consisted of potatoes with cheese that we melted on a George Foreman grill. We added ham and a cream cheese on the potato and it was delicious.
Friday morning we had crepes for breakfast and then went to the show. We judged a class of cows and watched the show. I met some well known people in the cattle business and talked to them about different subjects. The sale was later that evening and we all helped prepare the cattle. The highest lot went for about 26,000 euros. Genomics played a big part in the sale as they do in the states which was interesting to see.
Saturday we started the morning off with crepes as well. We toured a dairy goat farm that milked about 600 goats on a 48 goat carousel. After that we toured a 100 cow Holstein dairy that was spotless. You would think that they had not used the parlor a day over the four years they used it. After that we went to a Blue Belgian farm. The farmer there was very interested in American farming and had many different videos of large dairies in America. He also milked Norwegian Reds. After that we went back to Raoul's friends house and enjoyed lasagna for lunch. Then we saw a lake where they like to go Kayaking and camping. We continued by going to a village surrounded by a river and mountains. At the top of the village is a castle that we got to walk around in. We then had a Bar B Que back at the fair grounds and had an awards get together for the judging we did. While we were at the fair Raoul gave Yahnik the keys to the car so he could get his jacket. While Yahnik was gettign his jacket he moved the car to another paring spot to pull a prank on his dad. When we left that evening Raoul could not figure out what happened to his car and it was very funny.
Sunday morning we packed all of our things and then had a short breakfast. We went to the fairgrounds where the showmanship contest was. I was give a heifer who did not behave very well in the beginning. She dropped her head and ran into anything she could to try and get away from me before the show started. When I got into the ring she began to change her attitude and I got very lucky. I made the top three of the first round. The top three made it in both rounds to give a total of six. I was pulled out in the top three of those six and named Reserve Grand Champion of the International Showmanship competition in Luxembourg. I was very fortunate to have a heifer that decided to lead well at the right times and got lucky in Luxembourg. I had a great experience and hope you all enjoyed this blog.

Jessica's stay with the host family

Hi everyone! Well, overall I had a good experience with the host family. Thursday night, the families picked us up at the show is Eddlebruck. I stayed with the Versteegh family with a girl named Emily from Michigan. I have to admit, I was slightly disappointed that the family did not live on a farm but the experience was still good. A guy named Aart picked us up. The ride to the house was fun. Aart spoke very broken English and it was hard to understand what he was trying to tell us. We had to help him with some words, which wasn't too bad because we had hand gestures to help us out. He told Emily and I that later we were going to his neighbors to visit a "ghost farm." I was VERY scared. I then realized that he meant goat farm instead of ghost. That's what I was hoping at least. I learned that people here drive REALLY fast. I don't exactly know how to convert kilometers to miles but at one point I looked down at the speedometer and saw 110. That was the last time I looked down. On the ride, Aart pointed to his house, which was all the way on top of a mountain. The view from our bedroom window was absolutely gorgeous. We arrived at the house and met the family. Aart's wife's name is Anja and they have two daughters; Dominique, who is 16, and Anouk, who is 9. Anouk did not speak any English but Dominique spoke some. We had a nice meal with the family, consisting of a pasta dish and cucumber salad. I did not know what was in the dish and didn't ask, I was just hungry and happy to have a home cooked meal. After dinner, we went to a goat farm, not a ghost farm, which had somewhere over 1,300 goats I believe. I have never seen that many goats in my life. They had a 45 carousel milking parlor and the farm was pretty nice. After the farm, we went to pick up dessert at a friends house, which was some kind of pineapple pie that was actually really good.

The next morning we had breakfast before we went to the show. Aart had a tent at the show so we had to leave fairly early. I had milk with my cereal in the morning. I was so incredibly happy to have milk. Aart is a dealer for robotic milkers and some feed. He told us how popular robotic milkers are in Luxembourg. There are 100 here, which is a lot, especially considering the size of this country. Anja works with kids in a nearby village. The girls are still in school; their summer vacation starts in about 2 weeks. School is different here; primary school goes every other Saturday and from 8-1 everyday. They also start school when they're 6 and go until they're 20, if I understand correctly. At the show, there wasn't a whole lot to do but the sale was really fun. Kaitlyn and I really enjoyed helping and leading heifers to and from the ring. We did a lot of work since not a lot of people were there helping. We left the show at midnight and went home to sleep.

The next morning we had breakfast with the family and then went to town with Dominique. We rode the car to the train and the train to the bus and reached the center of the city. We saw the cathedral and the government buildings. The city was really pretty and the walls were amazing to see. The city used to be walled in and the architecture here (and everywhere in Europe) is stunning. We went to some shops and Dominique took us to some stores that she usually shops at. I ended up buying a skirt I liked and a few postcards to send home. We ate at a restaurant called bananas. We walked through the center of the city, where they have a market every Saturday with all kinds of food and trinkets. We went back to the house and I took a nap because I have yet to catch up on sleep. That night we went back to town to the barbecue, which was nice because we got to see our friends again. After we got home, Emily and I gave the family our gifts, which they really seemed to enjoy. Aart also gave us some things from his company which we were not expecting.

This morning, we ate breakfast with the family for the last time. We went to the show and said our goodbye's when we got our suitcases out of the cars. I had a really great time with the family. They were very nice people and fun to be around. We exchanged e-mails to send pictures so hopefully we will stay in touch!

~Jess

Kaitlyn's stay with her host family

Hey everybody!! I have had a great time over the past three days getting to spend time with my host family and learning about life in Luxembourg. On Thursday evening Michelle (my host family's daughter) picked me up at the drop off point along with two other girls, Kelly and Rene. Now first of all, no one in Europe owns a big vehicle so getting all our suitcases into that car took a little bit of work. We also almost died on the way home because they drive about 80-90 mph down the back roads haha. As soon as we got back to the house we had dinner with the family. Neither of the parents spoke any English so Michelle had to act as a translator. It was really difficult especially since she doesn't speak English very well either. The food was great though! We had the first decent meal since we have been in Europe. After we visited for a little while Michelle took us on a tour of the farm. Her family milks a herd of 55 Holsteins along with taking care of a flock of sheep and a few beef cows. We went to sleep early that night because we were all tired from the trip. The next morning we judged a class of Holsteins and then spent the rest of the day walking around the fairgrounds. I found a french fry stand :) That evening we helped with the sale that started at around 7:30 pm and ended at 1 am. We worked hard getting heifers back and forth between the sale barn and the show ring, keeping hay in front of them, and setting tops before they were sold. It was a long night but Jess and I had a lot of fun. After a good nights sleep we were ready to spend another day with Michelle. We toured Luxembourg City seeing all the castles and cathedrals and then caught up with another team and had lunch at an Italian restaurant. I got lasagna and yea it was good! Kelli and I decided to go shopping so we hit a few shops but didn't find anything we liked. We went to a barbeque later that night and got to hang out with our friends from the other teams. It was a lot of fun to see everybody. Today we went to the show to watch showmanship and then said good bye to our families. It was a great experience and I will definately stay in touch with them.