Category Archives: Uncategorized

A day of Reckoning…And Rambling


Since joining twitter, I’ve been brought to an ENTIRELY different level of agriculture conversation. I think I may actually be so overloaded with information that I can’t form a clear thought. There is…a lot…to think about. And of course, just like anything, you could drown your whole life on just this one topic. But that’s not really my style. So for now…I will just think. And think and think. Much like Pooh Bear, I suspect. Maybe I’ll find some beekeepers to provide me some thinking hunny…

In the meantime, I’ll share this scene from 2 weekends back in my front yard at sunrise (because yes, I still wake up at sunrise without an alarm clock)

Something about the snow and the blanket of quiet really helps me think, so mentally I’m going to revisit this scene (even as its 70 and raining out now). The weather here in VA has been pretty remarkable. I find it funny to talk about the weather as a city slicker. I mean really, it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference now that I’m back to working an inside job. Besides needing an umbrella, or complaining about the fact that I straightened my hair this morning and now it’s poofing past my shoulders, or how if I forget my contact lenses it’s a royal pain to see through glasses with raindrops on them, rain is really only an inconvenience to me for about 15 total minutes a day. It’s become sorta common to use the phrase ‘to talk about the weather’ as some sort of gap-filler…when there is no other common ground. I find this funny because while working in Ag, and specifically on the feedlot, I began to realize talking about the weather really isn’t unimportant. It dictates your WHOLE day. Everything from how exhausted you will be, how you will dress (I mean, more than sporting a little raincoat or packing along an umbrella), how many cattle will be sick, how easily (or not) they will move from their huddle. And among Agriculturalists, I think talking about the weather is really quite a bonding experience. And, I’d also like to somewhat randomly add that I believe farmers to be the most accurate weather forecasters of all. Perhaps the meteorology schools could intern on a farm?

2011 in review-thank you readers!!


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,100 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 35 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

My blog needs a makeover. Maybe even facial reconstruction surgery.


I’ve been doing some research about successful blogging. And what I’ve discovered is, I think I started really strong. I have a great starting point…a passion…and a decent hand at colorful writing. And now looking back, with a few posts omitted, my blogging has become incredibly lazy. And it shows.

Somewhere along the line, I got really wrapped up in sharing facts. statistics. and lots of other things that I hated in school, now find somewhat interesting to read about agriculture cuz I breathe this stuff, but certainly can’t imagine why anyone else would find it interesting. My own family members turn glazey-eyed at the latest facts. But I began writing this blog to share experience, not facts. Stories. Fun little items. A little agriculture-shock humor. The struggles in trying to enter a working world and living culture that you were not born into. Learned practices and the strange truths about them. And maybe those struggles overwhelmed the creativity out of me for a while. Maybe its just my mix of agricultural life and my “old” life that makes things difficult. I have LOTS of hobbies and interests. And some weeks I just simply don’t do much in the world of Ag. But I’ve learned plenty over the past 4 years to have more stories than I’ve shared.

So, I’ll keep researching how to improve. One way is this thing wordpress calls “Post A Week 2011” challenge. Essentially, you challenge yourself to post at least once a week. Doesn’t sound hard, but so far I haven’t succeeded very well. But I have hope, and I hope you have it for me as well.

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way. Comments happen all the time on facebook, but not so much on blogs. Follow me. The more “stalkers” I see that I have, the more my confidence grows and the more I feel like I better do a good job. Ask questions. Not all this stuff makes sense. But even if you think I’m full of poop and you vehemently disagree with everything I have to say, let me know! It could get interesting.

Maybe you could help me get started on next week’s blog. What Agricultural topic would you want to read about next? Pigs? Sheep? Tractors? Cows? Babies? Artificial insemination? Semen collection? Cow pies?


This about sums up my Colorado life...

Farm Vacations!


A different twist to staycations. Haycations or Farmcations: staying at someone else’s home for an interesting way to take time off. Agritourism is really taking off as people are getting more interested in being an active part of their food supply. Sometimes they just want education on where it comes from, but others may want a more hands on approach. An Active, eco-friendly, feel-good vacation option. For those people, here’s a really cool website:

http://www.farmstayus.com

It has information on staying at a farm or ranch in any of all 50 states! The idea is to be a part of a working farm and see how your food is raised (and how much work is involved!) Prices range, as do the work requirements and type of food raised there. Enjoy.

New Page!


Nothing spectacular, but I added a page at the top of my site called Photos with a slideshow of various agricultural shots taken by yours truly. Also, I have a new format. 🙂 Let me know what you think.

“I am Angus” series


This is a rancher helping to get the word out about the value of beef production as a nutrition source and lifestyle! Enjoy

Welcome to Animal Sciences


Spring of my sophomore year at VT I began one of the first courses for my major: the Introduction to Animal and Poultry Sciences course & lab. This course is designed to discuss basic principles and terms involved with animal husbandry of beef cattle, swine, sheep, poultry, and horses.

The terminology was the area I felt most disadvantaged. Who knew there were 4 genders, and none of the 4 includes “male” and “female”? Of course I had heard of pigs. They were pink with curly tails and adorable smushed up snouts. They said “oink”. You could have boy and girl pigs. It was simple, right? Wrong. Pigs are the young ones, and there are no “piglets”, except in Winnie the Pooh. Hogs are adults. “Swine” encompasses the entire species.  Sows are the sexually mature females, usually mothers. Boars were the sexually mature males. Gilts were young females, and barrows were castrated males (G for girl, B for boy is how I remembered it). Each species of animal has their own set of 4 gender descriptions. I might have heard the word boar before, and been able to tell you it was the male, but I certainly wasn’t going to tell you if it had testicles or not…it wasn’t my business to look! Compared to the farm kids, my head was spinning just trying to keep them all straight, let alone how the feed rations and weight goals were different for each group.

I also had no clue about what the animals are fed. Straw right? Anything in a big round bale or a small square bale was the interchangable: Straw = hay. “Hay is for horses”, so then was straw. It all was the stuff you could put in your scarecrows, long pieces of dried up grass…or something like that. Man, did I get laughed at for that idea. Straw wasn’t really edible, it was a source of bedding. Feeding straw would be like feeding a hamster wood shavings.

And I thought the Southern accents were the language barrier.

Introduction


This is my first blog. All the information below will also be on the “About” page for easy reference for those who may join this blog later, but to get things rolling, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to also use it as my first post. I welcome any comments, feedback, or questions from anyone (beef/ag side or average grocery store Joe). This is a learning process, and there’s no reason you can’t learn with me.

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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.