Stories, opinions, facts, convictions, and lessons learned from a small town farm girl.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Vacation Destination: Hay field and cattle.

Isn't it ironic how we spend our whole childhood trying to get away from home and our whole adulthood trying to get back...

I am going home! In exactly 22 days, I will be on a plane heading to my home state. And just to think, most people spend their summer vacations away from their home, farm, and work... I'm headed straight into the hay field for mine... and for the first time in my life, I couldn't be happier about it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Women in Agriculture... Blogs.

My original inspiration for this blog came from several others that I have been reading for quite some time. While theirs are much more elaborate, organized, and eye-appealing, it is my hope that one day my blog will be modeled after theirs. Thanks ladies, for spreading the word about agriculture and farm & ranch living. It's women like you this world needs more of!

I can spend the better part of an afternoon looking at and reading posts, recipes and looking at pictures on these sites, so beware: click at your own risk. Enjoy!

The Pioneer Woman: "Plowing Through Life in the Country... One Calf Nut at a Time"

The Real Life of a Ranch Hand's Wife: Get a glimpse of this Wyoming Ranching family's daily life. This blog will send you into stiches of laughter and reaching for the box of Kleenex.

The Cotton Wife: A glimpse of a Virginia cotton farming family - Warthan Farms.

BEEF Daily: Amanda Nolz of BEEF magazine brings you up-to-date with all the happenings in the beef industry... from everyday producer challenges to organic farming, from stopping the HSUS to calving season... Here, you can find the discussion about it all!

Monday, June 7, 2010

When I was young and dumb (ok, ok, maybe just "uneducated") I did not fully understand other sectors of the beef industry, therefore I was unable to appreciate all the gears it takes to make our wheels go round in the cattle business.

I grew up on a cow/calf operation in western Maryland where small farms are common but were just that - small. And agriculture was limited to cow/calf operations, small farrowing operations, a few chickens for laying and eating, a few lambs that were possibly shown at county shows, a horse here and there, a little corn, a lot of gardens, pasture, and hay. It was not until I left home when I was 18 that I really saw what the agriculture industry had to offer and what it really meant to raise cattle.

While in Kentucky I experienced large scale cow/calf operations and how non-challenging it can be to keep a cow who raises a calf on "tall grass and sweet water" (Thank you, Dr. Wistuba, for forever engraining that phrase into my mind...) with the right management techniques.

I had the opportunity to go on a short trip out to the Panhandale of Texas at the beginning of last summer to see feeding cattle at it's finest. With feedlots of 100,000 head of cattle being finished for slaughter, it kind of brings a new meaning to the word "fattening."

Last summer while interning in western Arkansas for the USDA-Ag Research Service, I saw what "stockering" was all about... Field after field after field of 400-800 lb. stocker calves grazing grasses of all kinds, preparing themselves for the feeder stage.

Here in Oklahoma I am seeing what it's like to manage a cow herd on native prairie grass... something that a farmer from where I came from would think is insanity. Some of these ol' girls require up to 50 acres per cow/calf pair, depending on the area of the rangeland. That's a far cry from the 2 acre per pair stocking rate I came from. Talk about strategic planning and management - the epitome of "risk management."

And today with so many different areas of the cattle industry coming into the spotlight - Grass Fed, All-Natural, Organic, Home-Raised - it's easy to get caught up in the buzz.

However, yesterday I experienced a sector of our industry that I have never experienced - I went to a bucking bull sale. Don't get me wrong, I've been to my fair share of rodeos and bull rides, but never have I witnessed what goes on "behind the scenes." D&H Cattle Co. of Ardmore, Oklahoma had a sale - you wanna talk about an educational experience. Some of these bloodlines are so respected in the bucking bull industry, people will pay out the wazoo for a yearling bull sired by [insert name of famous bull here]. But honestly it was incredible and very intriguing to observe the buyers and the cattle sold at these sales - both cow/calf pairs and bulls alike. Some of the most famous bulls owned by D&H Cattle Co. include: Coppertop, Mossy Oak Mudslinger, Night Moves, Fandango, Copperhead, Crossfire Hurricane, Western Wishes, and Hotel California.

Displayed at the sale on a huge tv were these bulls with "bucking dummies" on their backs to show how well each of the yearlings bucked on their first try. It reminded me of a young teenage athlete - one who will certainly be great in his day, but is still too young and clumsy to know just how to put it all together. These bulls will be enetered in "futurities," which are essentially like prospect shows in the show cattle business. There is a points system and money winnings and the bulls that score the highest in these futurities will be ranked the highest when they are invited to the PBR or other rodeo associations.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

All Gave Some, Some Gave All

"This nation will remain the land of free so long as it is the home of the brave."
-Elmer Davis

Every patriotic holiday I nearly always have at least one sappy moment where I get a little choked up and realize just how proud I am to be an American. Whether it's seeing an old vet in a wheel chair proudly wearing his USMC hat, hearing Billy Ray Cyrus's "Some Gave All" on the radio, or seeing a flag that's bigger than a house flying fiercly - it never fails, every year, every patriotic holiday, at least one teary moment.

And as I lay out bathing in the sun on my day off work, I began to look around and wonder just how many people are on this beach and have no idea why they are here. How many people were taking for granted their long weekend and don't even know what Memorial Day is about. How many people take our armed forces for granted in general!

I know I'm a little late and I realize that this post is a little off-topic from my usual agriculture-related topics, but I figure better late than never. Here is a website to check out that tells a little about the History of Memorial Day.

Thank a veteran - not just on holidays but everyday - and remember those who have given their lives for our nation... and for our freedom.

"It is easy to take liberty for granted when you have never had it taken from you"
-Author Unknown