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Posts Tagged ‘farm’

   The older I get, the more I realize how different perspective on something can be based on where one is at the time, be it physically, emotionally, spiritually, and so on. This weekend I saw some amazing examples of differences in perspective and thought I would share them with you. Mostly because I had such a fun time and I want to tell about it! 🙂

Here is an all-but empty stadium from the staff and security perspective – 

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And a full stadium from the players’ perspective (or that of us flag holders, who are most essential for opening ceremonies to go as planned!)- 

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A little perspective from the seats, appreciating how well these guys wear their uniforms! – 

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And now, the absolutely amazing women being honored for surviving their fight – from the seats:

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And from up above:

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What an amazingly fun weekend to celebrate Emmet’s 16th birthday!

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And as always, to tie it back to food (you knew this was coming!)…

My perspective as a rancher is that beef producers are wonderful people and the product we raise is absolutely nutritious and delicious. Twice, very recently, I have heard people imply that hormones from today’s meat are causing young ladies to mature more quickly. I know that is simply not true – for at least a couple of reasons. First of all, we are just feeding our children much better these days and young peoples bodies are no longer lacking in nutrition that may have delayed puberty. Secondly, the amount of hormones in meat are minuscule in comparison to other foods that are, hopefully, consumed on a regular basis. A friend of mine did a wonderful blog post using M&M’s to show the comparisons of hormone levels in different foods. You can see it here

So, I say, GO, EAT BEEF WITH CONFIDENCE! YOU WILL NOT CAUSE EARLY BREAST DEVELOPMENT IN YOUR DAUGHTERS! 

Finally, a quick, weeknight recipe for ya…
Stuffed (with whatever you like best) hamburgers!
You will need: 
enough ground beef to make nice size patties for your family
bacon
cheese
Peppers (pickled banana is what I used)
Salt and Pepper
Anything else you think sounds amazingly delicious

Just take the portion of meat for each person and divide equally in half. Make a large, thin patty out of each half. Place the desired stuffing ingredients on top of one side (as shown)
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Cover with the other half and pinch the sides together so the cheese doesn’t leak out into the grill.
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Grill to perfection.
And – enjoy the juicy, flavorful, nutritious, deliciousness…
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I don’t feel old – at all! I really don’t! Help me out here – I am using that theory that if you tell yourself something enough, you will believe it! Yet, I look in the mirror and my stomach is not as hard and shapely as it used to be. And my husband, bless his heart, was watching some kind of he-woman competition last week and pointed out that my legs USED to look JUST LIKE one of the gals who was in the lead – I guess I was in pretty decent shape back in the day… At least he still “checks me out so he can compare. 🙂

And now, I am old enough to have one bird gone from the nest. Those of you who have already passed this stage know already, but I have found that it is just an odd feeling to describe. Oh, there are times she is missed at the supper table and I know Emmet misses trading off chore duties with her. But she has blessed us several weekends already with LOADS of love – I mean laundry! LOADS, I tell you! In fact – we are on our way to get a new washing machine this week. 20 years I got out of the old Maytag. Can’t complain there!

Emmet is always really excited to have Kaydee there for his games on Friday nights!

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Kaydee is always glad to eat some good, home cookin’! And yes – Emmet LOVES that I cook more when she is home, too!

This weekend we made taco soup since it was cool and blustery outside. I know there are dozens of delicious ways to make taco soup, but here is what we concocted with what we had in the freezer and pantry:

Brown 2# of ground beef (Kaydee wanted a LOT of meat – she doesn’t think she gets nearly enough in the dining hall!)
Diced onion – as much as you like. We used about 2/3 of a sweet onion; add it to the beef just as the beef is getting done
Chili pepper – lots of it
Taco seasoning – about a pack (I keep a big can of it and just dump)
A can of baked beans (I didn’t have any chili beans or great northerns or black…we were really making do & it tasted great!)
A can of pork & beans
A can of stewed tomatoes chopped to small pieces and undrained
A can of Ro-Tel
1 1/2 pound Velveeta
What was left of a tub of sour cream (probably a cup or so)

Get this all heated through and the cheese all melted and enjoy with some Frito’s on top. YUM!!!! Our family really likes chili, but this is a nice change-up. We made a batch of sopapillas for dessert and it was a perfect meal on a Sunday night.

Kaydee is back at college this week and Emmet is back to having me help him fix a lunch every morning because the school lunches just don’t cut it for farm boys playing football.  And me, I just keep working and buying LOTS of groceries!

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There is a BIG day coming up! Have you heard? It certainly isn’t as well-known as the annual celebration of Halloween or Thanksgiving, or Christmas. But a group of well-meaning folks have declared October 24 as Food Day. Unfortunately, the 6 goals they have laid out for their day portray modern farming and food production as something awful and MUCH, MUCH different from what I know on our own farm, my neighbors’  farms, and any farms or ranches, either large or sm all, that I have visited (which is many). In addition, they have failed to include the voices of families from all across America who work hard every day to provide a safe, affordable and abundant food supply. So, I have invited myself to join in their conversation 🙂 Please read on…

Today I want to touch upon one specific goal of the Food Day organizers. That goal is number 4 on their list & is stated as:   Protect the environment and farm animals by reforming factory farms.

The major point I want to make through all of this is that NOTHING we do feels anything factory-like. Below you will see definitions found at dictionary.com for both factory and farm:

fac·to·ry

ˈfækri, -tri/ [fak-tuh-ree, -tree] noun, plural -ries.

1.a building or group of buildings with facilities for the manufacture of goods.
2.any place producing a uniform product, without concern for individuality: They call it a law school, but it’s just a degree factory.
3.(formerly) an establishment for factors and merchants carrying on business in a foreign country.

farm

fɑrm/[fahrm]

noun

1.a tract of land, usually with a house, barn, silo, etc., on which crops and often livestock are raised for livelihood.
2.land or water devoted to the raising of animals, fish, plants, etc.: a pig farm; an oyster farm; a tree farm.
3.a similar, usually commercial, site where a product is manufactured or cultivated: a cheese farm; a honey farm.
4.the system, method, or act of collecting revenue by leasing a territory in districts.
5.a country or district leased for the collection of revenue.
 
Let’s consider the #1 and #2 definitions of a factory:
1. We do have a building or set of buildings (the house, the shop, and the barns) which help us to store needed equipment and shelter a few animals under special circumstances (i.e. calving in a storm). Our primary “buildings” would be fence, as well as the sky for a roof and the earth as a floor.
2. Much to the dismay of restaurant chefs, we beef producers have not mastered anything close to a 100% uniform end product. Each animal is a creation of its own, yielding slightly different sizes of cuts of beef. We have breeds that help to promote similar product (meat quality, size, etc.) but every animal ends up being slightly different; they are living, breathing, individual creatures & are handled as such. Pork, poultry, and dairy producers face similar challenges.
 
As for the definitions of farm:  Well, we fit #’s 1 and 2. Not much else to say – that’s what we have and what we do in this world.
 
To say that you can combine the two terms, factory and farm….it just doesn’t work. If eggs came from a factory, we wouldn’t have different colors and sizes of them. If milk came from a factory, we wouldn’t have to bring the cows to the milking parlor 2 or 3 times per day. If meat came from a factory, every steak would be exactly the same size, tenderness, and juiciness. It just isn’t so. Besides the products, there are families who depend entirely on their farm for their livelihood. Some years are good and some years aren’t & you adjust and do the best you can. During those times of adjustment there are all kinds of emotions (very much un-factory-like) that come into play. Farm families, regardless of the size of their farm, are a special kind of people.
 
I am a member of the Nebraska Beef Council (NBC) board of directors. Recently, the NBC hosted some significant food influencers from across the U.S. These people reach 10’s of 1000’s of people via their restaurants,  t.v.,  as well as social media. None of them had extensive knowledge of a modern farm before, but all of them got to experience a day on a ranch and a day helping work at a feed yard. Each of those folks left with an entirely different perspective than they arrived with. It was really exciting for me to hear about how thoughts changed for them. Here are comments from a couple of the participants:
 
The experience was incredible and exceeded all my expectations. I had very, very little idea about how cattle are raised or all that goes into keeping them healthy and unstressed. Farmers and ranchers work very hard to make sure everything is safe and clean — not just for their animals and land but at the end of the day, for consumers, too.                                  — Bren Herrera, blogger, Flanboyanteats.com
 
I learned that farming and ranching is much more sustainable than people think. Manure is used to help fertilize corn, which becomes feedstock and the cycle goes on. Nothing is wasted. Our hosts were extremely knowledgeable about the environment.
 —   Jeffrey McClure, chef, Sodexo
 
Take a look at this blog from one of the other visitors: http://www.threedifferentdirections.com/blog/meanwhile-back-on-the-ranch.html
 
I know this post has really focussed on beef because that is what I know best. Many people have questions or concerns about pork, poultry, and dairy. I can tell you, just because a barn or housing area is large, it is NOT a factory. Again, we are dealing with living, breathing animals; we are not dealing with cold, steel machines that can be repaired when broken. Farmers do not want broken animals.  Regardless, if we have 10 or 10,000 animals, if we don’t treat them well, they won’t treat us well. It takes a special kind of person to own or work on a farm – there aren’t many of us left here in the U.S. We are a few proud folks doing our best to continually improve farming methods and products for a rapidly growing population.

Before you just jump on board with the Food Day goals, take time to visit a real farm, visit with the family that lives and works there, and form your own set of food priorities.

Happy eating!

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At our house, we LOVE football! I love the Huskers, Matt & Emmet greatly prefer K-State & love whoever is playing against the Huskers (traitors!), and Kaydee is somewhat neutral. We are all new fans of the Lions since our hero, Suh, is playing there & we have been long time fans of the Colts. However, being Nebraskan’s, we have to show a little love to the Patiriots & Danny Woodhead as well.  We don’t always get to watch the games we want to see if we’re busy working, but we try to listen on the radio. Plus, we’ve been getting to watch Emmet in his first year of high school football.  The most serious injury has been a sprained ankle (not bad) & he has made his way to starting defense on JV – I’d say that’s a comfortable spot for a freshman who gets WAY outsized by some, no, make that most of the competition.

We recently weaned calves. We always try to wean by October 1, so as to give the cows a good break before having their next calf in March or April. Weaning isn’t as simple as just putting the cows and calves in separate pens where the calves can no longer nurse their moms.

For the first six or seven months on a calf’s life, they get to nurse their mom plus eat grass, mineral, and supplements. They have had plenty of nutrients to grow and develop. Now, we have to help them with immunity and nutrition since they will no long have their mom’s milk.

Here is how weaning day works:

First, everyone has their respective job, which must be done correctly in order for the day to go well. Teamwork. When we bring the herd in from the pasture, someone (usually Matt) is in charge of leading the pack and the rest follow behind. Sometimes I ride with Matt & sometimes I help follow up (I’m usually the one that will jump off the 4-wheeler and run in the road ditches to boost the stragglers) – depends if he waited at the gate for me to jump in the Mule with him.

Next, we sort. Teamwork! This is where, when I was a kid, I NEVER wanted the gate because I didn’t like getting yelled at. When cows are getting sorted out & you are the gate person, you are somehow supposed to hold several animals, way bigger than you, back because there is a calf in the mix. Trust me, it can’t be done easily! Our team seems to work very well together and make fast work of the sorting. Now, I have broad enough shoulders to take the gate. I just remind everyone, if they are mean to me, I’m not going to have as good of food when we get done. Their choice! 🙂

Then, cows are taken back to their respective pastures to graze and achieve optimum body condition prior to having their next calf, which is due in March/April.

Calves – well, TEAMWORK!!! We catch each calf in the squeeze chute to weigh it, give it vaccinations, and put in an “Age & Source Verification” ear tag. There are a number of individual tasks that have to be done well to make all of this go smoothly for the cattle and for the people doing the work.

The Team

You can see most of the team in that picture. Matt runs the headgate, Kaydee is on the squeeze, and Emmet, with his sprained ankle & avoiding much walking, is on the opposite side reading the scale. In the background are Jason, Frank, and Gavin, who bring the calves up to the chute. Where am I in all this you are asking? Oh, not to worry, I have my tasks as well. I was busy keeping the tagger ready, recording tag #’s and weights, and keeping the syringe full of vaccine. Kaydee gave the shots and Matt or I poured on the dewormer. I usually put the tags in the calves ears.

When everyone in on task and cheerful, working cattle goes really well & it is a lot of fun! There is plenty of joking around,  but everyone is alert to everything at all times, so nothing gets missed and no one gets injured – cattle or people.

After the processing (giving shots, deworming, etc.) we put feed in the bunks and herd all of the calves toward the bunks to learn how to eat dry feed which is full of all of the nutrients they need.

Then, the team likes to get some nutrients for themselves – this year I get pizza for everyone & we hung out in the barn and listened to the Huskers…

Waiting for pizza….

Story Tellers....

 

The full day of hard work is done. Now – it’s feeding every day and checking every animal to make sure they are feeling food and eating well. Football to watch and a pen of calves to feed – I really love fall!

 
 

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