Posts Tagged ‘farming’

This week I heard a most profound statement:  “You will feel much greater success when you see your circumstance as a choice rather than a sacrifice.”  Bam! Right in the forehead!  Yes!  Now, I typically do keep that attitude, but I know there have been times where I was certainly less than cheerful about the choice I had made and attempted to qualify myself as a hero for sacrificing SSSOOO much.  That statement was made in a room chock full of successful agriculture women, but it is completely suitable for all people – men, women, urban, rural, everybody.

So, here are a few of my choices, not sacrifices:

  1. I chose to marry a man who’s trade training was in welding; not someone who would likely provide me the opportunity to fly in his corporate jet or take luxurious vacations or live in a mansion. I chose a man who treats me like a queen, makes our home feel like the richest place on earth with his wit and charm, and can make any weekend hanging out together as fun as any possible vacation.  And yes – we have treated ourselves to a few really great vacations 🙂dsc_5038
  2. We choose to live an hour drive away from the nearest shopping.  We get to plan when to be in town and we learn to keep essential supplies on hand.  We could live where there is a Target just minutes away and going to the movies could be a spur of the moment thing to do. Instead, we choose to rent a movie on our satellite, see millions of stars at night, watch a lunar eclipse without going anywhere but our front deck, and grill burgers at home rather than driving through somewhere.IMG_1604
  3. I choose to have a career and be a farm wife and a mom. I have chosen to make time for the kids activities, while showing them that a woman can have a rewarding career in what has traditionally been known as a “man’s world.”  I have also chosen to be involved in organizations where I feel I am contributing to the betterment of the things I love (church, the beef community, all of agriculture, 4-H, FFA, and so on).IMG_7873

While some may say I sacrificed convenience, culture, time with family, or lavish lifestyle, I believe I CHOSE true love, happiness, cherished memories, and genuine appreciation of ALL things, great and small. (Though admittedly, I do NOT appreciate the snakes crawling through my flower beds!)  I guess wherever you are and whatever you do, everyday seems much better if you remember you chose to go the direction you did and you can choose to change it!


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Where did your footsteps take you today and what kind of footprints did you leave behind?

This past Sunday Matt and I got to attend a special church service. The little church (very near where we farm and ranch in Kansas) celebrated 125 years! His grandparents were pastors there at the time they were killed in a car accident in the 1960’s. The message of the sermon was about footprints. My mind immediately began racing about the steps we take and footprints we leave in our farming and ranching choices. The bulletin for the service was titled “Celebrating Northbranch Heritage”; every farmer’s heritage is determined by his choice of footsteps.

(I didn’t have a picture from when the kids were little of boots – but this one is darn cute!)

I can’t help but think of how BIG some guys feet are and how ADORABLE toddlers are when they try to stand in the boots of those big men! Those young people are shaping their hopes and dreams based on the footprints we leave. Are we constantly stumbling? Are we walking proudly? Are we taking scary paths? Are we taking time to let them follow closely?

Just to lighten this up a bit…I guarantee, several times a week, we step in a pile of poop. When you have cattle in pens, there is bound to be a footprint in a cow pie. There are various ways to then clean those boots or shoes – just make sure you do before heading in the house! And I know I have attempted to step over an electric fence, only to lose my balance and get a zap on my inner thigh – yep, go ahead, laugh along with me! It’s all one can do when that happens! I hope our kids see when, in life, we figuratively “step in the poop” and learn from our mistakes! I also hope they notice that younger kids are already looking to them as an example and they REALLY need to carefully select their path!

Matt and I have been blessed with some pretty amazing footsteps to follow & we have blazed our own path a few times & all we can hope is that our “heritage” is meaningful in some way decades from now. Regardless, those who know us, are not a bit surprised by the spot in our path where there are tons of prints all in one area…those are the times we are dancing!

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First and foremost, Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mama’s out there! That goes for those of you who are wonderful influences on kids even if they are not your own, too! I love hearing my kids and their friends refer to different moms…Mama Shawna, Mama Caldwell, Mama Linda, and on and on. We all know, it takes a community to raise a child, right? That is especially true in farming and ranching communities. We all know and look out for one another.

A good mama cow nursing the embryo transfer calf she is raising.

Hopefully all mom’s out there get treated to either going out to eat or having their family cook for them. And hopefully, they appreciate the wonderful food grown by America’s farmers as they enjoy their special day. I know that my kids, my husband, and myself will spend a portion of Mother’s Day in some good, quality, cattle working, family time, which I LOVE! We will also take supper to my Mom’s to enjoy with my brothers and their families. My sis is a new mom for the third time, so she is going to enjoy her Mother’s Day at her own place with her 3 little ones…if she is really lucky, her husband will take the kids out for a few hours and she will get treated to a MUCH needed nap!

Me & my kids.

Kaydee recently worked with a gal at CommonGround to put together a Mother’s Day letter to me. I have nothing funny to say here. In fact, after she did this, she immediately called me and told me the things she said were sure to make me cry…darn her!  She was very kind to me and I am so thankful to have been raised by an amazing Mom who was the best example I could have ever asked for in how to be a strong and gracious woman & how to be a good mama. And, it appears, at least as of now, Kaydee thinks I am an o.k. mama, too…coming from a teenage girl, all I can say is, “WHEW!”


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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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I was born and raised on the farm.  When I was a kid it was a huge deal to go shopping in the city (I am saying city VERY sarcastically here!) of something less than 20,000 population 40 minutes to the north of our house. My parents were incredibly generous to make sure me and all of my siblings had a chance to see some world before we headed off to college & then really did live in a city – Lincoln, NE for three of us and Chadron, NE for one of my brothers. Like most kids, I think we thought of ways we could avoid going back to the rural life we knew so well…I guess all of us had country life in our heart. We are all four back – living and loving farming and/or ranching!

A while back I got the opportunity to spend just a little over 12 hours in New York City – I know, if one is going to travel that far, they really should stay long enough to enjoy the trip! Oh well, maybe next time. I felt so tiny next to the buildings – I wasn’t in just any part of the city, my room was right at Times Square!

The view from my hotel room in New York City.

I was there for CommonGround, along with my friend Dawn (she has such a cool name!) from South Dakota. We were at a food and nutrition editors showcase event. We both just did what we can do so well…talk about life on our family farms. We got to talk to editors from magazines and shows that I hear about all the time…Food Network, Martha Stewart Living, Rachel Raye, and many, many more. I think we were the only booth that wasn’t handing out delicious food samples, but we had no problem attracting visitors! We were so honored – they really wanted to talk with us! I have been back home and back to reality for a while now. I LOVE visiting the city, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the rural life I get to enjoy everyday.

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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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Contribution can be made in so many ways…financial, items, talents, time. Today I am at the Nebraska Farm Bureau Annual State Convention and the room is chock full of farmers and ranchers contributing time, knowledge, and experience and well-thought discussion points to all of Nebraska Agriculture.

Farmers and Ranchers of Nebraska working hard to develop policy.

 There are so many people who contribute in so many different ways to make this country we live in the best in the world – I am ever grateful for those in the medical profession, education, construction, and especially dark chocolate and red wine makers (hee hee). Those of us in agriculture may not be a significant amount of the U.S. population, but we are so very integral to the livelihood of all. We are responsible for the production of food, fiber and fuel, as well as many other essential-to-life items, made from the by-products of our primary goods (grains, livestock, cotton, etc.). How those crops and livestock are handled from farm to farm can be vastly different, but the end goal should always be the same: a safe, wholesome, and abundant food supply.

Imaging putting nearly 200 people of any profession in the same room and asking them to agree fully on some type of policy wording. Wow! How amazing to have witnessed today, farmers and ranchers of Nebraska working through hours of discussion and voting for consensus on policy that could affect their farms and livelihoods directly. What I watched was contribution to farming at it’s best! Yes, the daily work on their farms is essential to end product and every level of sustainability, but providing input as to potential restrictive or opportunistic legislation is every bit as important & this group shined!

As we conclude elections and enjoy the banquet this evening, there are many mentally exhausted people who should feel extremely proud of the work they are doing to help assure a strong future for Nebraska agriculture.

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