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

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.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Surviving the Drought

Here in northwest Arkansas, we have been blessed with a few days of much-needed rain.  Things were getting very dry, as they are across the entire southwestern part of our country, though the dryness here doesn't hold a candle to areas such as west Texas.

We are in the midst of history-in-the-making.  With a summer of non-stop record-breaking high temperatures across the country and a mind-blowing drought in the southwest section of the United States, cattle producers are faced with making life- and operation-changing decisions.

Countless herd-dispersal sales have been occuring across the region, with producers selling their cows because of lack of water, lack of forage, and the inability to harvest hay to feed their cattle due to both of these.  As a result of the lack of water resources in part of the country and too much water in the midwest, grain prices are sky-rocketing, making it virtually impossible to economically prosper in the cattle business... unless your on to it's game.

I had the priveledge of listening to a few presentations while they were being taped for a webinar a few weeks ago that opened my eyes to just how serious things are getting - and how we can overcome these tough times.

Take a look at this resource guide of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation's, titled Managing During Drought.  By following this link, you will be able to find an answer to many of your questions, hopefully easing the pain of the dry times just a bit. 

Another link on The Noble Foundation's site identifies some tips for managing your cattle, specifically.  These tips include:
  • Wean Calves Early
  • Identify cows to sell
  • Inventory forage resources
  • Acquire hay and feed
  • Scout for toxic plants
  • Monitor water quantity and quality
  • Test hay before purchase
  • Plan ahead!
"The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation is an independent, nonprofit institute headquartered in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Founded in 1945, the Noble Foundation conducts direct operations, including assisting farmers and ranchers, and conducting plant science research and agricultural programs, to enhance agricultural productivity regionally, nationally and internationally." (  Their website is a great production tool, no matter where you are located in the United States or what kind of operation you are running.  When you have a few extra minutes, mosey on over to their website and take a look - you will be pleased with what you find!

Pray for rain

Thursday, August 11, 2011

More Than A Farmer's Wife

To say that I have been intrigued with the life of farmer's wives and farm women these past few months (perhaps even years) would be the understatement of the week.

I grew up in the east - in the beautiful, rolling Appalachian Mountains - where farm life has it's differences, for the most part, from the agriculture I've surrounded myself with out west (where I grew up, Arkansas and Oklahoma is considered "out west").  I am fascinated at the differences in rural lifestyles from one place to the other and endlessly compare them in my mind.

While I understand the persona of the "farm wife" and a "farm woman" is changing daily in our world of iphones, mobile web, digital cameras, and costume jewelry, and everyone has their own opinions of what these terms mean...  And I am quickly learning that my skewed perception of who rural women are is very different than what may actually be.

In the midst of my research for my graduate project on cattle nutrition and implant strategies and right smack dab in the middle of writing my thesis, I am attempting to take on a new project - researching the American Rural Woman... all that she was and all that she will be.  I read a book a few months ago titled "Half Broke Horses" by Jeannette Walls, which really got me digging into the idea of farm women and who we are...  How we differ from one another.  Where we've been.  Where we're going.  How things are changing.  And what things will always remain.

My latest project:

I just started it a few nights ago and am already deeply intrigued.  Don't be surprised if in the next few weeks you get countless quotes and recollections from this book written by Dr. Amy Mattson Lauters - it is brilliant and I don't want to put it down!  Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Value Cuts of Beef

This morning I logged on to - The Beef Industry's Information Center, and I stumbled across the neatest thing...  Check out this diagram of the Value Cuts of a beef carcass, funded by The Beef Checkoff - click on each cut and read a little excerpt about each one, see pictures of the cut, and you can even download a fabrication guide!  Take a few minutes to brush up on your beef knowledge so the next time a consumer comes up to you and asks a question in the market, you'll be sure to have a correct answer!

And while you're visiting, sign up for the Beef So Simple newsletter and download the 29 Leans Cuts wallet card

Have a wonderful week everyone!  

Eat beef and wear leather.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Grandma's Quilts

I have always had a hard time dealing with change, no matter how great or small.  Whether it is saying goodbye to a loved one, moving to another state, tearing down a fence, rearranging a room, or breaking a pair of shoes.  I love being in my "comfort box" and find happiness there.

When I visited home a few weeks ago, I was faced with the reality that my grandparents are moving out of and selling their home.  For the past three years I've turned my back on that conversation, only to wipe tears out of my eyes as I walked away. While I understand that sometimes life changes and we have to let go of some things to let new things in, the selfish side of me wants them to stay in that home forever.

As we went through their things that they would keep and the things that they would part with, I fought back the lump in my throat so I could act like the 23-year-old that I am, and not the 12-year-old that I desperately wanted to act like... However, as we rummaged through boxes and pantrys, I quickly realized that it's not holding on for dear life that makes the life worth living - it's the memories of that life.

They gave me several of my great-grandma's quilts she made forever ago, and though she passed years ago, her memories are still with us.  And though sometimes life is tough and we have to deal with things we'd rather turn our backs on, the memories of what used to be will always be there.

Those quilts, which now decorate my livingroom in my Arkansas home, tell a thousand stories of the past and keep the memories fresh in the present.  And maybe one day I can pass them down to my granddaughter who is having trouble dealing with the fact that sometimes change is tough - because I'm sure that is a highly heritable character trait, as I got it true blue from my dad.  And I'll tell her stories of our family, farm, and home, and how nothing runs deeper than blood, even if sometimes moving boxes out of one ol' home into a new one is one of the hardest things she's ever done.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lucchese Boots FOR SALE!

For Sale

Lucchese Cowgirl Ladies Brown Full Quill Ostrich Round Toe Boots
Gently used, still has tags.
Asking $100, OBO

Monday, August 1, 2011

Little Mountain Church House

At our church in Viney Grove, Arkansas, we have a sing and picnic every Sunday their is a 5th Sunday in that month.

Yesterday, we heard a bluegrass band called New Highway and they sang a song that really "hit home."  'The Little Mountain Church' reminded me so strongly of the Methodist church I grew up in and that "it was there in that little mountain church house I first heard the Words I base my life upon."

Tiny country churches were the cornerstone in so many folks' lives that are in the rural communities across America.  And I know that with listening to that song just once, so many of us can be taken back to what I really good in our lives.

There's a little mountain church in my thoughts of yesterday
Where friends and family gathered for the Lord
Where an ol' fashioned preacher taught the straight and narrow way
For what few coins the congregation could afford

Dressed in all our Sunday best, we sat on pews of solid oak
and I remember how our voices filled the air
How Mama sounded like an angel on those high soprano notes
and "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder I'll Be There"

Looking back now that little mountain church house
Has become my lifes cornerstone
It was there in that little mountain church house
I first heard the words I based my life upon

At the all day Sunday singing, with dinner on the ground
Many were the souls that were revived
While the brothers and the sisters who've gone on to Gloryland
Slept in peace in the maple grove nearby