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Archive for February, 2012

I saw and shared this picture yesterday on Facebook.

I had no idea, nor had I even ever thought about those statistics before I saw the picture. Not to brag, but we cattle owners are a busy bunch! This made me think about the many, many people I know and how they choose to use their time. I have to say, I think rural people, in general, are very generous with their time, whether they have livestock or not. Guess what – we have to be. There aren’t that many of us in our neighborhoods to do stuff! Maybe that is why, for the most part, we are rather happy people. Oh, yes, there is the fresh air, wide open spaces, and on and on. But mostly, I think we live truly fulfilled lives. There is something about helping others out that just makes you feel good and have more energy to keep doing more.

Two adult volunteer judges are talking to a team of young men during a contest at the North American Junior Red Angus Event

The first part of the statement in that top picture, stating that nearly 1/2 of us volunteer with youth organizations is completely true to who we are. There is a broad, general knowledge that our youth hold the future of agriculture in their hands, hearts, and minds (all of you 4-H alums should catch a hint of the pledge in there).  If we don’t stimulate the creativity, athletic ability and “cow-sense” in our young folks, we will be guilty of contributing to the ends of our means. And I don’t know about all of you, but I certainly want to be able to eat and have clothes to wear beyond my productive years, when someone else, hopefully our kids, have taken over the farming and ranching.

I want to clarify the last sentence in the paragraph above. I wouldn’t be naked and hungry because of a lack of money from not working. I would be naked and hungry because there would not be anyone growing food and fiber. Then, there is the issue of meat, milk, eggs, grains, and produce that someone has to grow…we would have no energy to do anything if we didn’t have enough healthy food.

Matt talking with a young cattle breeder about how his day is going.

So, as farmers and ranchers, when it comes to kids in our communities; we keep on keepin’ on. It is most certainly worth it!

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We live in Nebraska where if you don’t like the weather, just wait a few hours; it is certain to change! We received all of that welcome moisture a while back, in the form of snow, which has now melted. It is a muddy mess! What, you ask, to I mean by “it”? “It” includes every place that has soaked up all of that melting snow and is not drying out – driveways, roads, and most certainly, cattle pens.

These are my fun flowery (I get them with flowers so my kids won't borrow them so much!) chore boots before feeding time.

I will say this – traveling through those pens, doing my very best to keep my balance as I haul buckets, check waterers, and pitch hay is an outstanding workout for the thighs, hips, calves, and stomach; not to mention the arm strength built by holding the buckets and catching myself before going completely down. The resulting toned muscles are most certainly appreciated! The impending laundry challenge, not so much. Luckily, there are four of us in the family that can take care of chores and Matt is SO good to usually take the morning rounds!

These are my boots post feeding. The pens didn't have deep mud, just slippery for my less than graceful self!

So, if I don’t like being in those muddy pens, what about the cattle that live in them? Actually, they get some spots that are not so muddy to lie down. It just happens the paths I have to take are quite slippery! We have nice slope to our pens, so the mounds or tops of the pens dry quicker than the bottoms. We also bladed out some of the snow so it wouldn’t melt directly in the pens. We do provide some straw, so they have a “bed.”

God was very smart when he created animals that are meant to be able to handle conditions other than the comfort of a house, street, sidewalk, and so on, like us humans. He gave the critters (cows) four legs & lots of hair! They have a WAY better sense of balance in slippery conditions than I do! Snow, rain, mud, wind, it is all part of nature; and animals were created to be able to handle much of what Mother Nature throws their way. However, when we can make them more comfortable, we do. We (we, here, is a generalization of livestock farmers) build windbreaks and scrape pens for cattle and sheep, we keep pigs and poultry in climate controlled buildings so they can be comfortable all of the time, and we make sure all of them have proper nutrition for the conditions and plenty of fresh water.

Comfortable animals, typically, are healthy animals. Healthy animals create healthy and safe food. I appreciate being able to give my family safe food from the grocery store & I hope you do, too.

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Again last night a friend informed all of her Facebook friends that her young child had been given a piece of information at school indicating that red meat should be kept to a very minimum in the diet in order to stay healthy. I am SO happy that I know otherwise, and I would encourage you to check out one of the most recent studies giving me confidence to continue eating red meat regularly. The BOLD diet allows one to include beef in their menu every single day and achieve a more healthy cholesterol level! What? Really? Yes, my friends, you can confidently include beef in your diet every day and know you are doing your body good!

I recently fixed a recipe for my family from The Healthy Beef Cookbook & it was SO delicious that I want to share it with you. I think it only took 30 minutes or less to have supper on the table and ready to eat!

Tenderloin Steaks with Jalapeno Pepper Sauce

Spice Rub
3/4  teaspoon garlic salt
3/4  teaspoon chili powder
1/2  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper
1/4  teaspoon ground cumin
1/4  teaspoon dried oregano leaves

Here are the spices ready to go on the steak:

 

 

Here is the wine that I COMPLETELY enjoyed while cooking supper 🙂

4   beef tenderloin steaks (I used 2 big ones and we shared), cut 1 inch thick (about 4 oz each)
1/2  cup ready to use beef broth
1/4  cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
2  tablespoons jalapeno pepper jelly

1. Combine spice rub ingredients in small bowl; press evenly onto both sides of each beef steak. Spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat until hot. Place steaks in skillet; cook 10 to 13 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness, turning once. Remove steaks; keep warm.


 

2.  Add broth, vinegar, and jelly to skillet; increase heat to medium-high. Cook and stir until browned bits attached to skillet are dissolved and sauce thickens slightly. Serve sauce with steaks.

(Sorry, that one’s a little blurry – I might have had a second glass of wine before taking the picture!)

And in just a few short minutes, our meal was ready!

I hope you can enjoy some healthy beef, grown by farmers and ranchers who absolutely love what they get to do everyday to help put food on your table. 🙂

Interesting fact I learned yesterday:  Nebraska farmers are responsible for putting food in one out of every four mouths in the U.S.   ~I am proud to be a Nebraskan!

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Here are cattle in the snow:

Here is a snow cow:

Regardless of where you live, weather is a fact of life. Our life, especially in the winter, hinges on the weather conditions. We have been VERY blessed with nice weather so far this year & the snow we just received was some welcome moisture! If it’s snowin’ and blowin’ the animals still get fed and bedded. When everything is done – it’s time to play!

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Why would anyone call their self gumbo? Because it fits, that’s why! This is me with Audrey:

I told Audrey her story would make it to my blog sometime early last week after our plane ride together on Monday evening. Well, my schedule was pretty full at the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention and my attention span was not conducive to sitting down and writing. Finally, Audrey, here it is…

So, why, do you ask, is Audrey’s story worth sharing? Well, first of all, I think EVERYONE has something worth telling. Audrey is one of those ladies who absolutely loves life and glows with joy! I don’t even know how to describe my first impression of her – I was on my second very tiny plane of the day and really didn’t care if anyone sat beside me because the seats were so small. Down the aisle comes this beautiful woman, dressed in a gorgeous coat and business suit with a dress hat, and right beside me, she sits. Well, here we go…cordial greetings are exchanged and I can tell right away, I knew the flight from Chicago to Nashville is going to go by quickly. 🙂

Audrey grew up in New Orleans, one of 14 children (I hope I remember that correctly). She was more than familiar with farm  life from when she was a kid. Her dad was a postman and her mother ran a tavern, which they lived behind or above or someplace very nearby. Audrey learned to cook at a young age and loves all kinds of good food! Alright, I know that isn’t all that special – everyone loves some kind of food. Now, Audrey has raised 10 children of her own and it’s one of her sons who has become the favored cook in her family. I heard all about their Thanksgiving dinner of ham, chicken, turkey, grits, salads, desserts, and her favorite, black-eyed peas! Now, you have to read that imagining a beautiful, passionate southern voice to make it resonate. I have to admit, I was a little sad they didn’t have prime rib, me being the beef person…

Audrey has lived in Chicago now for many years and her family completely surrounds her – in the townhouse building that she owns. To hear her describe it, her children and grandchildren have made it a wonderful place and her favorite spot to hang out – at the bar that one of them built-in! 🙂 Just because one is 77 years old does not mean they should stop enjoying a Heineken or nice glass of Crown Royal – That piece of advice from her is one I will certainly take to heart! That family celebrates birthdays to the extreme – plated dinners, decorations, the whole works!

Audrey has worked all of her life, retiring only 5 years ago. She has raised her own children, all of whom have college degrees, many of them, Masters Degrees, and now the grandchildren are well on their way to being highly educated. Besides her own brood, Audrey has helped along all kinds of children from their neighborhood and the school where she worked. In her words, “Everyone remembers me and how I helped them.” She took all of her kids on vacations (usually in two shifts/place because of age & quantity, LOL!) and visited every place in the world where her daughter was stationed while in the military. She is so fortunate!

I discovered that sisters over the age of 62 (that is the minimum age for attendance at an annual gathering, as their children are not allowed to know what they do) can have a very, let’s say, risque, party – ANNUALLY! A number of years ago, the sisters started having a pajama party the last weekend in October – four years ago, the lovely ladies started adding some paid entertainment to their party & they all continue to look forward to that weekend every year! Now how is that for motivation to keep going in your golden years?!

So, to wrap this up, getting back to the whole “gumbo” comment. Audrey told me that she is part Native American, part French, part Jamaican (I think) and part Black. Those are all her words. So I said, “Oh, you’re just like me, a mutt!” She says, “being from Louisiana, I like to call myself gumbo.” Gumbo couldn’t be more fitting, and I couldn’t have been more inspired by her sweet southern voice and passion for everything in her life.

Audrey, I hope you get to read this and I hope you enjoy many more years with your wonderful family! Thank you for your family’s service to our great nation and thank you for being a wonderful, charming example to so many people!

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