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

Friday, October 7, 2011

Animal Agriculture Alliance

Sorry for the long lost posts - I know it's no excuse, but grad school has caught up with me big time this semester.  I hope to get back on the horse soon!

I was looking at some pictures on the Animal Agriculture Alliance's facebook page this morning and some of them are so cute and full of ag facts, I can't help but share. 

Animal Agriculture Alliance "provides science-based facts to help consumers and the media better understand animal agriculture's importance to our quality of life.  Dating back to 1987, the Animal Agriculture Alliance includes individuals, companies and organizations who are interested in helping consumers better understand the role that animal agriculture plays in providing a safe, abundant food supply to a hungry world. The Alliance speaks with a united voice for the entire animal agriculture industry in order to educate the public about today's farms using sound science."

All images on this post were borrowed from Animal Ag Alliance's Facebook page - Be sure to 'Like' them and support their cause!

Have a wonderful weekend and don't forget to stop by Animal Agriculture Alliance's YouTube channel! Thank a farmer today!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Day in Agriculture - Sept. 29

What do 6.5 billion people have in common?


Tune into on September 29th as Farm Journal Media editors span the United States to delivery agriculture's story.  Ag Web, powered by Farm Journal, proclaims '...join in watching us capture a snapshot of one day in agriculture by providing cross-country coverage and focusing on how one day of agriculture impacts billions of people.'  

Follow this link to find out how you can participate and to watch a short video about the United States' ag industry!

From Ag Web:

Be a Part of AgWeb’s "A Day in Agriculture"

Farmers, ranchers and others who love agriculture are what make it such a great industry. Be proud of your agricultural contributions and be part of AgWeb’s coverage on Sept. 29.
Here’s how you can participate:
  • Send a video showing what you’re doing on the farm that day
  • Submit several photos with captions of your farm
  • Tweet live updates of what you are doing that day (#dayinag)
  • Call in to the AgWeb editors and provide an audio update
  • Post a status on Facebook as to how you are involved in agriculture
  • Provide a blog-like submission of your life on the farm

Thursday, September 15, 2011

So Long, Summer!

It has been chilly here in northwest Arkansas the past few days, which can only mean one thing - fall is knocking at the door!  And while fall is my favorite time of year (except for Christmastime, of course), I am a little sad that all the good things of summer are leaving us.

So, in bidding farewell to the hot months of the year, I thought I'd share some of my favorite things about those scorching summer days.

Pictures used from Google Images
Hope you've all had a wonderful summer and enjoyed every possible moment of it! Now, on to apples cider, fall festivals, pumpkins, beautiful leaves, fall-born calves, and cattle sales!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bridging the Gap from Urban to Rural

I wrote about a neat booth at a county fair in my last post that's mission was to take a step towards "bridging the gap" from urban to rural and help show kids in a hands-on way some things that farmers do in their everyday life. 

Last weekend I went to Memphis, TN for the Delta Fair and stumbled across an educational booth there as well!  This one had some live animals and also a few facts about different segments of the agriculture industry.  Take a look!

 While nothing can replace learning about agriculture like a good ol' day on the farm, I find it wonderful that folks are taking small steps to help educate others on agricultural products and the benefits that ag brings to our lifestyle. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bridging the Gap

I worked the Ozark Cattlemen's booth at the Washington County fair in Arkansas a few nights ago.  After my shift at the booth was done, I enjoyed walking around to the other exhibits and seeing what was going on with them.  I was so excited to see the Washington County Farm Bureau's booth - it was an interactive, educational activity for children (and for their parents to watch and learn) to have the opportunity to do and learn what goes on on any given farm.

The Farm Bureau members sitting at the booth interacted and helped to explain farm life to the children who may or may not have ever been exposed to the rural lifestyle, as well as explained where our food comes from.  I love the concept of 'bridging the gap' from the urban to the rural lifestyle - no matter where in the United States.  I am very passionate about sharing our farming way of life with others who live in urban areas and giving them a hands-on experience so they can see the daily life of a farmer in a very real way.

Although the exhibit was indoors and the "realism" of the activities were limited, children got to partake in:
Digging potatoes
Feeding pigs
Gathering eggs
Feeding sheep and learning about wool production
Picking apples
Picking corn
 And after all the fun, they got a sticker that proclaims, "I met a Farmer today!"
 Too often children, and even adults, do not know where their food comes from.  Small steps like this helps to educate consumers about the work of farmers and ranchers.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sharing our Story - Hormones (cont.)

What are the hormones we use in the cattle industry?
The hormones that are used are estrogen and testosterone, or are the synthetic versions of the hormone.  They are the same hormones as those naturally synthesized by the beef animal.  The deposition of estrogen to the animal only increase the amount of the hormone found in each pound of beef by .2 nanograms as compared with cattle that have not ever been implanted.  That's right - even the all-natural beef, organic beef, or non-implanted grass-fed cattle contains only .2 nanograms of estrogen less than implanted cattle.

A pound of soybean oil contains nearly 900,000 nanograms of estrogen compared to only 1.7-1.9 nanograms found in beef - either non-implanted or implanted!

What is a 'nanogram'?
A nanogram is one billionth of a gram.
Why do we use hormones in the cattle industry?
The use of hormones in the cattle industry has been scientifically proven to increase average daily gain, appetite, carcass weight, and the overall amount of red meat produced by the animal.  The 'days on feed' at the finishing stage could be reduced, significantly declining the amount of resource inputs needed for finishing the animal for harvest.  Bottom line - they save time, money, and put more food on the table, faster.

The use of hormones helps improve the sustainability of cattle production and will more efficiently feed the rapidly growing population.

Another thing to consider is farmers and ranchers care about the products they produce and the consumers they reach -  from tomatoes to poultry, wheat to milk - and cattle producers are no exception.  If we were troubled about our product being harmful to either the animal or the consumer, it wouldn't be on the market.  It is the goal of a producer - no matter the sort - to deliver the optimal product possible.  Hormones, in the cattle industry, help cattle farmers and ranchers to better deliver more meat to the consumer while optimizing efficiency on their operation.

For more information, I strongly encourage you to visit the American Meat Institute's Meat MythBusters for some quick facts on FAQ's in the meat industry.  It will be well worth your time and it has some useful information that can be easily shared with others!

Also, a big thank you to Amanda Radke of BEEF Magazine's BEEF Daily blog for sharing a link to this site in her Tuesday's post. Thank you for reading and especially sharing, Amanda! And thank you to all my new readers and followers - I appreciate your support! Feel free to stop by the 'Because the West Wasn't Won on Salad' Facebook page to see pictures, discussions, surveys, and upcoming topics.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sharing our Story - Hormones

One of the most fulfilling things for me to do is to share the story of growing up on a cattle farm with others who are not familiar with the lifestyle.  I love answering questions, showing pictures, and offering contact information in case they want to get in touch with me again.

Lately, one of the most frequently asked questions is "Are hormones used in livestick causing girls to become sexually mature earlier than in the years past?"  I actually got asked this a few months ago at church and it continues to be resurfaced everywhere I turn.
I wrote a little on this in a past post, and because my research for graduate school is on implant strategies, it is a topic I am very passionate about. 

Even though this is a common question among the American consumers, often times when we, as farmers and ranchers, are "on the spot," we are uncertain of the correct answer to this question.  Some facts about hormones in cattle:

  • The hormones found in implants, like estrogen, are found in all plants and animals.
  • A 3-ounce serving of beef from a steer that was implanted contains 1.9 nanograms of estrogen, while beef from a non-implanted steer contains 1.3 nanograms.  Only a difference of .6 nanograms is found from one another.
  • Now, consider this (all 3-ounce servings):  Soybean oil contains 168,000,000 nanograms of estrogen.  Wheat germ contains 3,400 nanograms and ice cream has 520 nanograms of estrogen.  Potatoes and peas both contain over 220 nanograms and even milk has 11 nanograms of estrogen per 3-ounce serving.
While it is difficult to be able to regurgitate all those numbers and exact quantities, in summary we can plainly see that hormones fed to cattle or any other livestock are not prevalent enough to harm humans or negatively affect their development or lifestyle in any way.  In fact, with the growing population of the world, implants are not only key factors but imperative in order for enough red meat to be produced to feed the people of the world.

Friday, August 26, 2011

10 things.

1. It was gorgeous outside this morning! The temperature on my phone said 68! When does fall get here?

2. I am thoroughly enjoying seeing the fall babies pop up one by one in the herds I pass on my way to and from town.

3. The Pistol Annies CD came out this week. Any reviews? I am anxiously awaiting listening to it.

4. I watched the trailer to The Pioneer Woman's new show coming out this fall on Food Network! Get excited!

5. Thank you to all who have posted pictures on the Facebook page If you have any pictures you think helps tell the story of farm and ranch life, add them to the fb page and I will include them in a later post!

6. I saw this morning that Hay & Forage Grower is having a photo contest - I can't decide which picture of mine to enter!

7. I've recently came across some new, interesting, fun, and educational blogs. Check 'em out!
8. One thing you probably didn't know about me: I'm obsessed with lists.

9. When I walked into my office building this morning it smelled of a feed store - which is one of the best smells. Ever.
10. If you're having trouble following the logical sequence and order of this post, welcome to my life.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Different Kind of Wordless Wednesday

In today's world, we as farmers and ranchers are constantly fighting the battle of the media and pop culture's portrayal of our lifestyle.  Whether it is animal abuse or neglect or consumers going "vegan," it is difficult to share our story of the way things really are when we are outnumbered tenfold.

Yesterday, while working cattle in southern Oklahoma, the temperature began to rise rapidly (as it does there this time of year), and though we began running calves through the chute far before sunrise, we were still working them in the heat of the day.  As we noticed the cattle begin to heat stress and become noticeably affected by the sweltering temperature, we knew we had to do what we could to help them manage their body temperatures.

In an effort to cool them as quickly and efficiently as possible, we rigged the sprinklers from the lawn on the posts of the panels in their pens.  The cool water sprayed the cattle and with the combination of their shade structures and the water from the sprinklers, the once "unhappy" calves were "happy" again.

The California Dairy Association really has their act together when it comes to the marketing campaigns of their products.  They target their audience, the American public, and appeal to their emotions by advertising that their cows are "happy cows" - just as the Humane Society of the United States and ASPCA does, only in a negative way.

I am so proud to be part of the agricultural movement sweeping across the U.S. in an effort of farmers and ranchers to share their stories of our lifestyle to the public.  With everything from blogs to Facebook pages, Twitter accounts to YouTube videos dedicated to sharing the story of the life we love.

If you have a picture or two that you love and that helps to tell the story of your life in agriculture, stop by and share it on the 'Because the west wasn't won on salad' Facebook page! I will later put them on here to help share our story of the lifestyle that feeds a nation!

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Checking Cows with Dad

Although I'm in graduate school and don't have cattle of my own in Arkansas, I am fortunate enough to live far enough out of town to have my house surrounded by them and have pastures lining either side of the roads I travel down.  Last night while on my evening walk I spotted my first calf from the fall calving cow herd across the road.  Although he was the only baby in the pasture, that didn't stop him from kicking up the dust and throwing up his feet as he tore circles around the mama cows.  Watching him made me think about one of my favorite things as a child - and even still to this day.  Our cow herd at my home in Maryland is spring-calving, so we're still quite a ways off from our calving season. 

There is absolutely nothing I enjoy more in this world than riding with my dad through the fields to check cows - I remember when I was young that would be our question and answer time... I would ask about 3579 questions, and dad would be patient and answer every one.  It would be so exciting when we found a cow with a new calf - I would get to hold it while dad castrated and tagged it - and I would love to pet it's little head and soft ears and couldn't wait to watch it grow.  I remember the exact place we were the first time I got to tag my first calf.  I was so excited and so proud - I felt like I was really growing up.

Things really haven't changed much since then... I enjoy checking cows with my dad just as much as I did back then and I still love the feeling of soft, curly hair on a newborn calf's head.  Looking back, I now know that most of my knowledge I gained about cattle was learned from the passenger side of my dad's truck.  I wouldn't trade a single thing in this world for the memories of those moments and the lessons learned while checking cows with dad.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Words of Wednesday

Instead of Wordless Wednesday, I think I am occasionally going to throw in some "Words of Wednesday" posts - some things to think about and uplift --- I got this from a friend's Pinterest that I follow. Think about these words and enjoy.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Organically Grown

This morning, I stumbled across a blog post from FARMnWIFE that gets down to the roots of organic produce.  In this post, when talking about how food officials silenced their protests when an E. Coli outbreak resulted from organic cucumbers and bean sprouts, she states,
"Then the news about the outbreak just faded away. The silence to me was deafening. Where were all the food police, the nutrition gurus, public awareness groups who are supposed to be outraged over harmful food systems. The ones who perpetually deride factory farming accusing big ag of poisoning the food supply with all these chemicals. Their lack of press releases and absence of wrath is truly telling. Because informing the general public about what goes into growing organic food doesn’t bring in donations to their cause. They choose to keep quiet about how most organic vegetables growers use manure for fertilizer. Pointing the finger at chemical companies and industrial agriculture that uses them fills the coffers."
I couldn't agree more with FARMnWIFE when she writes, "So I will continue to purchase food from factory farms and big ag."  Living just outside an extremely liberal town, facing the "organic foodies" is a daily occurrance.  We need to step up and help to educate the public on how "factory farming" is going to be the one thing that saves the food crisis in our growing population. 

FARMnWIFE pointed out an excellent article from the Wall Street Journal by Peter A. Coclanis, titled Food Is Safer Than You Think.  After you read it, pass it on.  We need to hear more from folks like Mr. Coclanis on topics just like this one.  If you have other interesting articles or finds, feel free to share them! I'd love to hear your thoughts.