About the Blog (& Me)

I  grew up in cities from North Carolina all the way to Asia, and although I believe I’ve become very well-rounded and culturally sound, I had never really interacted with farm animals or farmers until I began college at Virginia Tech as an Animal & Poultry Sciences Major.

I thought I would become a vet for small animals. Little did I know what I would learn,  or the love I’d find for the lifestyle, practices, people and animals involved in food production.

I have always been an animal lover. When I was 2, I asked my mom for my first pet. I wanted a “baby cow”.  My mother was baffled. “Why not a kitten or a puppy, Valerie?” “Because Mama, they are all alone in the rain and no one takes care of them to bring them inside”.  Since we moved a lot when I was little, I was never allowed to have real pets.  So instead, I collected snails after it rained and named them all. I saved turtles from the middle of the road. I would send half of my 50¢/month allowance to the Save the Tiger Foundation. I have always been dead set on taking care of every animal I’ve ever come across, even the worms.

So you can imagine my family’s surprise when I came home one semester and announced that not only did I no longer wish to be a veterinarian, but I wanted to work with the animals that were raised to be killed; to be put on my plate. (At this point in time, I didn’t even eat pork products, because after seeing the movie Babe, I didn’t want to eat a piglet. EVER).

But I had come to realize something. Well, a lot of somethings. There was nothing ill-willed about raising animals for food. In fact, everyone I’ve met who is involved in raising livestock is completely dedicated to their animals. The “blood and guts” part of animal science- sickness, disease, slaughter: all of that was no surprise. I had been dissecting roadkill with long sticks for years trying to figure out how everything worked. While it was a big change to think of Bessie the Cow as my hamburger, that part was far less of an adjustment for my mind to wrap around. It is the people that really strike me. Even more than that, it’s the lifestyle. It is the realization that bringing up animals you know will become a meal for someone does not mean you are heartless, or even indifferent to the animal’s well-being. It is the knowledge that animal practices are done for scientific reason instead of cutting financial corners.

People seem to think that the more you find out about your food source, the more disgusted you will become. It seems that recently everything I hear on the news or from people in coffee shops is how horrible farmers are to their animals, or how unhappy and unhealthy farm animals are in their living conditions. That farmers and large cooperations are just pumping animals, milk products, and meat full of drugs and hormones to make a quick buck. Well, let me tell you something: There is no quick buck to be made in farming. These people are not outside every day to make money, or to poison your food. It is so much more than that.

In this blog, I will attempt to share an “outsider-going-insider” insight to the many fascinating aspects of raising our food in America today. It will be a compilation of  known facts as well as my thoughts, pictures, observations, and questions. Agriculture and animal husbandry are not perfect practices. But there are so many things about it that even I was completely oblivious to until 3 years ago. I am not an expert. I come from good ol’ rich Suburbia, with our nice cars and manicured lawns. I have no financial incentive for changing people’s minds about how they view Agriculture. I just simply have fallen in love with it all.  So if you don’t believe what you hear from someone who does make a living off this stuff, maybe you’ll take it from me. Because I’m leaving my cushy lifestyle and big-money-making career goals to fight my way into this industry. I’m looking for jobs on those dreaded feedlots. My animal-loving, fluffy-hearted self could not dream of a better life than raising cattle and being outside in some of the most beautiful landscapes on this Earth, providing a great food option for people worldwide.

So let’s look at food production in a different way.  Not through a cowboy’s eyes, who couldn’t think of it any other way, but instead… “farm” the start.

  1. Valerie, I applaud your values and what you hope to make people understand about raising food in America today. You certainly make your parents proud. I wish you all the best in your endeavors.

  2. Hey! So I have to admit that I’m not huge on knowing how my food is produced – I mean I read Fast Food Nation. I know, I know – that’s not the same thing and I realize that. But ever since then I just kinda don’t wanna know. That being said, I read your posts and was entranced. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading!!! Miss you!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Keep goin’ Ali as I reckon it’s valuable for the next blood to fit as the fiddle them. It’s the great lead time to start and strong believe you totally accomplish in your passion. Turn your potentials to be success, I’ll be around!!

  4. Your blog caught my eye while I was looking through the ‘blog roll’ on the MBA page. I find you very interesting. I am glad that someone from the non-ag world is taking the chance to learn the truth about everyday agriculture. I love your comments about the people, it is so true.
    I look fwd to following your adventures.

  5. Valerie, I think your blog is most informative and certainly a start for we “City Slickers” to learn more about the Agricultural world through your eyes and experiences as you begin this journey. Thinking “out side of the box” has always been your method of logic. I am proud of you, your insight and your desire to educate those who are unable to have a first hand experience in the cattle world. Keep writing as I find it fascinating and look forward to learning along with you.

  6. Your bio made me rather emotional; it’s so rare for someone who wasn’t raised in agriculture to really understand it, let alone share their experience with others. Thank you, so much, for taking time for this endeavor. Best wishes for you as you pursue a life in ag!

    • Laura,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. They were really touching. It has been such a great journey to realize just how much passion I have for Agriculture & the work that goes into feeding millions.
      I hope you keep reading and continue to provide me feedback!

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