One of the most interesting parts of being a journalist is encountering interesting people and wildlife.

Many two-legged, four-legged, winged and furry creatures are real characters, with big personalities, interesting talents and skills, unusual interests, and different ways of looking at things. They can make me laugh and remind me not to pretend that I know much about anything.

I met one of these four-legged characters at horse farm Friday morning.

I had an interview with a 22-year-old man who is a farrier (shoes horses) by trade and also a bull rider in small area rodeos. It’s my turn for a Kearney Hub Monday profile on June 29, just ahead of the annual July 3 and 4 Sumner Rodeo.

I have shots of Zach riding a bull at the 2014 Sumner Rodeo. He plans to ride again in a few weeks and maybe compete in team calf roping. So, the timing was right to profile him.

He’s on the road almost constantly in his business – he goes to the horses, they don’t come to him – but was home on Friday morning and could do the interview. He needed to shoe his own horse for team roping that night at the nearby Overton Rodeo, at which he also rode bulls.

As we walked to the corral and barn, where I could get a photo of him shoeing his horse to go along with the bull riding file art, his girlfriend rode an ATV into the pasture to gather their eight horses. She does barrel racing at rodeos, but had to take Friday night off because her buckskin horse came in from the pasture a little lame, probably from stepping in a hole.

As Zach and I walked past a small shed, I heard “Baaaaaaa.” When I asked if he had a sheep, he replied that they were bottle feeding a young goat they had gotten to graze the farmyard. They started with two goats, but the other one died suddenly during a seizure.

He let the little white goat out and he followed us around until he saw the ATV coming over the pasture hill with the horses following. Once, he got into the corral, he blended in with Ashley, the horses and the couple’s two working boarder collies.


It was like the goat didn’t know he was a goat. He was just part of a big happy family in which didn’t matter that everyone was unique.

I like that kind of thinking in our big, diverse world with so many interesting characters. It would be mighty dull if we all acted, thought and looked alike.

One of the best parts of NFPW conferences is visiting with people from other states. We are all professional communicators, but we do many different things in our work, play and family activities. We have introverts, extroverts, members who are shy and those who have never known a stranger.

And yes, there are some characters.

Because each of us is unique, I don’t expect us to think alike, agree on everything or enjoy the same things. That doesn’t exclude us from being friends and colleagues. It just makes the relationships more rich, full and interesting.

I hope all NFPW members are considering coming to Anchorage, Alaska, in September for our 2015 conference. We will visit incredible places, learn many new things and enjoy each other’s company.

And I guarantee that you’ll meet some characters who will enrich your life!