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Archive for April, 2012

At first glance, what do you think are the occupations of the gentlemen in this picture? Maybe business executives? Accountants? Professional communicators? Health care professionals? Or, maybe owners of multi-faceted businesses??  And, where do you think they might be from?

Actually, these men hold each and every one of those jobs listed above, along with many more depending on the daily task at hand. How can that be you ask?  Because a farmer or rancher has to be able to do any one of those jobs on any given day. And, they happen to be from different states, all across our great nation.

When any of us head into the grocery store or out to the restaurant, or even to the farmer’s market, it is not uncommon to at least have a fleeting thought about some of the production work that went into growing the food that is there.

What many people often don’t think about is all of the work farmers and ranchers have to do off of the farm in order to have the freedom to continue doing what they love to do. Some days they may visit their banker or insurance agent. Other days can be filled with purchasing supplies and inputs. But why on earth would ranchers be standing around at a meeing in suits? Aren’t they more commonly seen in jeans & boots? Of course they are!

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Common workwear often includes camo!

Today I was in Washington, D.C. with other beef producers discussing the beef community’s challenges and opportunities at hand. Think about teachers or health professionals or country music performers. Each profession has an organization for people with similar interests. In today’s world, those of us raising cattle for beef cannot stand idly by and let others determine our fate. We have to step off the ranch or feedyard – in our boots –

My boot is the fun black one with the super comfortable square toe!

and educate others as to what really needs to happen to keep healthy, safe, nutritious beef as an everyday meal option.

It is completely my honor to serve with absolutely “stand-up” men and women from all over the U.S. with as much passion as I have for beef and the entire beef community.

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Oh the anticipation of summer approaching! And in our area, that last day of school seems like it should be ever closer, as our daily temps have been really warm and joyful and oh, how the spring fever has set in! I think every young person, and at least in our house, parents too, LOVE summer vacation from school!

So, here is a picture of what Kaydee and Emmet get to look forward to over the next couple of months:

Yes, that is a whole load of upper body workout, right there! Besides raising cattle and farming, we have a fence building business and Kaydee and Emmet are the summer crew. Each and every one of the nearly 700 posts on this load will get set in a hole and tamped in place. And of course, they love it! (I am saying that because I know they read my blog and I really want to implant that thought into their heads regularly…they love it….they love it! Heehee)

Actually, they have told me in way too many conversations that they really like working with Matt. He is WAY more fun than me when it comes to hard work! And, he pays better! Well, I know this: they do have alot of fun on the job site. But, more importantly, they learn not only how to correctly build a fence, but how to work with a customer to meet their expectations, how to start and complete a job, and how to set a fair price for the work and materials. In the end, they are rewarded financially for the hours they put in and they get a little shopping trip with me. 🙂

Nearly every kid I know in rural America is no different from Kaydee and Emmet when it comes to work. They learn from a young age how to respect equipment and animals and what it means to earn a dollar. And believe it or not, many, many of those kids wish to return to rural life upon completion of college. HHHMMM….I think we might be doing something right out here in rural America!

I am concerned as a Mom. I am VERY concerned as a Mom! Why you ask? Because the United States Department of Labor is considering regulation that will prevent kids like Kaydee and Emmet from working like they do before they are 16. I know I did all kinds of work from the time I was old enough to know what was going on – as do most farm kids. I am terrified of that opportunity being taken away and snuffing out that fire that burns in the gut of any young person who truly yearns to return to production agriculture. Comments have been made and representatives have been working hard to allow kids in the future to do what has brought so many of us to the point we are. Now, we wait…

And the last posts have come off the truck:

The coolest thing happened with this load of posts…we acquired a new cat! There was a pregnant mama cat burrowed in the pile of posts. She had ridden nearly 5 hours on the truck. Of course, we need a few good mousers around the place & just our luck, the driver assured us that this cat is quite well fed & we should not plan on her putting much of a dent in any mouse population. Darn! Oh well, she’s cute. 🙂

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Just ask any one of the nearly 4000 people that attended the Nebraska State FFA Convention in Lincoln last week. They will agree with UNL IANR Vice Chancellor, Dr. Ronnie Green, AGRICULTURE IS SEXY!  I have been working with this group of FFA members for the past three years. They may or may not think I am sexy & honestly, I do NOT want to know if they do! However, they are great kids & most importantly, they help keep me young!

They are pictured here with their Ag Ed instructor and FFA Advisor, Amy Tomlinson. They don’t look happy or excited at all, do they?  We started three years ago having half of an idea of what was expected of us & have progressed to earning the honor of State Champion Ag Sales Team and will represent Nebraska at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis in October.

After really thinking about our situation, I am glad we didn’t qualify for National until this year. We are a mature team and will represent our state well. We are going into the contest with countless hours of practice, laughs, studying, and quite a bit more laughing. I am well aware of my limitations and know that I should never be a high school teacher…some kid would head home missing appendages, or worse… But, to work with them on a special project for a couple months per yer – VERY rewarding! I know there was a time when I was young and had their level of energy (it was more than a few years ago), but I truly admire all of the youth that were in Lincoln last week. They are all involved in a ton of activities & they are extremely talented!

So, what else is sexy about agriculture? You  name it. To me, it usually looks pretty good…for instance, I snapped this great picture of my husband tagging a calf. I don’t get to spend many days or nights with him this time of year, so he looks good to me just going about his daily work! 🙂

The young men at the State FFA Convention thought Miss America was totally sexy! And, they really appreciated her positive and intellectual message regarding agriculture policy and perception in the U.S. My son, pictured below with his fellow FFA member Erika, but much to his dismay, not with Miss America, thought it would be great if Miss America became a CommonGround volunteer and stayed at our house…often! He is so cute! 🙂 I am VERY proud of him for doing so well in Creed Speaking – a gold medal is quite an accomplishment for a young man who used to be absolutely terrified of any public speaking!

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