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Agproud Q. 6 Charity

Question 6. What cause do you care about and how have you supported your favorite charity?

My wife and I strongly feel it is important to help kids. Roughly one in seven kids in our area does not have enough food to eat. Over the years we have helped with several fund drives to help children in our area.

Currently we support our local Back Pack Program. The way this works is children in need are given a back pack full of food and vouchers to take home over the weekend, when they otherwise may not get anything to eat.

I do the easy part, I just donate money. The money is used to purchase the food, and volunteers then fill the back packs. I know the money I give is important, but I do want to say that I feel it is the volunteers who organize this program every year, and the people that take time out from their schedule to help fill the back packs are who really makes this program come to form.

One evening when my wife and I were grocery shopping a little girl who knows my wife came up to her to say hello. This girl was so excited that night because she was going to have pancakes for supper. She received a back pack with pancake mix, fresh fruits, and vouchers for some milk and eggs. She told us that there was enough that she was also going to have pancakes for breakfast the next morning! She even informed us how the back pack program works “these nice people, I never met give money so I can have food to eat”. That comment got both my wife and I choked up. Even though that happened a couple years ago I got a bit teary eyed just typing it.

I want to mention the Back Pack Program got started here by a leadership class through our local Chamber of Commerce. They started this several years ago and it has had a residual lasting effect.

One of my wife’s high school classmates had a little girl with a brain tumor. Another woman in our community wanted to put together a fundraiser to help with medical expenses. She wanted to do an auction and a free will donation lunch. She was asking for help on Facebook. I told my wife to message her and tell her that we would donate enough ground beef to serve at least 600 people, and also a beef bundle as an auction item.

Going back even further we started a fun program at our church. We donated the beef from a calf to our church, and some of it was sold off in a silent auction. The money and the remaining beef were used to serve needy people in our area. The parish really had fun with this. One thing they did was hold a name the steer raffle, to earn some extra money.

We would not be able to do any of these things if we had not been so blessed to be in the cattle biz, and I had not learned the right things from the right people.

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Posted by on April 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Daddy’s Day of All Stars

When my daughter was four she went through a phase where she was afraid of bugs. It didn’t matter what we said to her about bugs, she was terrified. At the time we also had what we called “Daddy’s Day”. On this day she’d spend most of the day with me, and all of it if the weather would allow. (feeding cattle in the rain or freezing cold is a bit much to ask a little one)

On one of those daddy days I had it with her freaking out about bugs. I came up with a plan on the spot. I asked her if she wanted to go for a four wheeler ride, which I knew she’d be more than eager to. I always have a spade on my wheeler, so I grabbed a fishing pole and we were off. I took her to an outdoor class room, a pasture I rent.

When we got there I got off the wheeler and tried to show her all the different bugs, and tried my best to explain to her how not all of them are bad. I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere with her. If I caught one and tried to show it to her close up she’d freak.

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Then we found an All Star team. Dung beetles. I didn’t know much about the other bugs I found, but I know these guys. I simply explained to her the beneficial role these guys play in supporting a healthy pasture, pasture feeds calvies, calvies feed dung beetles, the beetles feed the soil, and soil feeds the grass. We were trying to teach her to recognize patterns, and explaining that cycle like I did helped make sense for her. There also was the element that whatever is good for the calvies is good as a whole.

The beetles we found were rollers. These guys can easily entertain a little one. She became very excited, because she thought they were playing ball, just like she does.

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I then took out my spade and turned over some soil. Boom! There was the other All Star team. Earth worms. I again gave her a simple over view of the benefits of earth worms. She seemed to really be catching on.

After finding a way to get through to her and help her realize not all bugs are bad, we took a few worms and headed over to a farm pond that is always good for bull heads, which is just perfect for a kid her age, since they usually bite fast.

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I feel it is important to include this last bit. There was a lot going on in the first 400 words, that I’m afraid most may have missed, since the focus was on bugs. First, by setting up a “Daddy’s Day” we have provided a structure where our little girl really has a strong presence of me in her life. She gets exposed to many life lessons that farm life, and commerce provide. As you can tell from this story, I slow down a bit on daddy’s day. I take the time to use our large class room to teach her things, and we also use it for play time. Like four wheeler rides and fishing. The surprising thing is how much I have learned. It is difficult some times to explain things about agriculture to a four year old. But when I hear her explain what she learned to someone else I get to relearn about what I do through her eyes. This has opened my eyes to more things, helping me to learn more, by giving me a fresh perspective. It has also helped me communicate better.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Agproud Q3 Passion

Question 3 of the Goodman 88

What are you passionate about?

That would be so easy for anyone to figure out if they followed me for a day. The words that follow will not do justice to how I feel, but anyone who is passionate about something understands that. My top two, are my girls (wife and daughter), and cattle.

I have done many blogs on the cattle biz, and have mentioned my girls in a few also. So I think my writing reflects the two things I’m passionate about.

I’m going to shift gears here for the time being. This question, gives me an opportunity to respond to another question I’ve been asked lately, and tie them both together. Some people have been wondering why I decided to start writing again.

Here’s the reason. My wife is in Rotary, and every week they have a speaker come address the group. Around the first of the year, one member of Rotary who works at the local hospital had one of the docs come give a speech. This doc is more of an activist, that’s what she most recognized for in the community, and she abuses her title as doc to give herself credibility.

The speech was centered around, how animal proteins are bad for human health. She had many baseless points bashing animal agriculture, which my wife shared with me. I won’t list them all here, but one is worth a mention. She pointed to other countries and how agriculture there is shifting away from livestock production. She had a catchy phrase “Dairies for berries”, which she used as she was telling the group how Finland got rid of its dairy farms and converted them to berry farms. I used Google to look for ag jobs in Finland, and what do you know, dairy was at the top of the list for hiring workers. I did another search on dairy numbers. It turns out they do have fewer dairies, but they have just as many cows. Just like here in the US, the farms have gotten bigger. This activist twisted the facts.

This kind of B.S. is nothing new, and really doesn’t rattle my cage much. Here is what did. One of the people in the group (not my wife) reminded her that there is a lot of animal ag in our county, and asked her what she thinks all the area farmers should do instead of raising livestock. The response was, that we will just have to adapt. Times are changing and we’ll just have to change with them or get out. Leaving the impression that she just doesn’t care, and that it’s not her problem

As bad as I’d like to give my two cents on that response, I won’t do it at this time. That would take this post down another rabbit hole and make it too long.

I’m used to seeing things on the internet from groups that want to put an end to our industry, but this was a first for having it happen right here at home in real life. That did it. That was all it took to get my fingers back on the key board. Raising cattle is all I’ve ever wanted to do since I was a little kid. There are many generations of farmers in my family tree, dating all the way back to the 1400’s! I want my daughter to be able to make the choice to farm or do something else. That activist took a big swipe at two things I’m passionate about.

As part of pursuing my passion I am going to write about it. I am going to do blogs that will shake things up a bit. For example, I think the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program needs an upgrade. I am going to do more posts on how I use agriculture as a, hands on classroom for my daughter. I’m going to do posts that will educate the general public about the cattle biz, like the one I did on “slaughter trucks”. And I’m going to talk to the media, for the last several years I have refused to do any interviews.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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AgProud Q1

Some time ago Ryan Goodman made a list of blog topics. I thought this was one heck of a list, and thought, if I started blogging again that I’d take a swing at it. My finger tips are back on the keyboard, so here goes. (Not all 88 of these are applicable to me, but most are)

Question 1) What is your role in agriculture?

The simple, broad answer is “the growth and promotion of life”. That is what anyone in production agriculture does.

To be more specific, I own and operate a backgrounding/stocker operation, as my main enterprise. What this means is I purchase young calves, most of which are not weaned, and I take them through the growth phase of their life. The calves are then sold to a feedlot.

While the calves are here the main focus is on their health and well being. I will give them two rounds of vaccinations, make sure they are free of parasites, and address any other issues they may need. Other issues may be dehorning, castrating, or just making sure they get the vitamins and minerals they may have been lacking prior to coming here. It may be a surprise to many people just how many calves are lacking in something. For example, the hair around a calf’s ears can tell me if it’s copper deficient or not. It’s my job to identify this and get them what they need. Getting their nutrient requirements in balance gives their immune system what it needs.

Receiving a load of long haul bawling calves.  I immediately begin taking the stress off them

Receiving a load of long haul bawling calves. I immediately begin taking the stress off them

Part of the regular routine is to make sure all the animals are drinking, eating, resting, and exercising like they should. If the cattle do those things the likely hood of a problem is slim, and they will perform better.

Some of the calves I buy will stay in a feedlot pen. Others will go out to grass during the spring to fall months. I use a rotational grazing system, using temporary electric fence and a portable water system. Without getting specific here, this system plays a vital role in the health of the environment. When properly managed grazing is in place it compliments the natural cycles, such as the water cycle and mineral cycle. I have only been using this system for a few years, and have already seen species of plants come back without being reseeded, and I’ve seen an increase in forage and wildlife, such as deer and game birds, in these pastures.

One got on the wrong side of the wire

One got on the wrong side of the wire

An important role I have in agriculture is to get my little girl involved. She just turned 5, and like any other kid her age, she wants to learn. I feel it is essential to pass along knowledge, skills, and life lessons to her, as she is ready for them. Since agriculture deals with life cycles, we have a great hands on classroom for her.

A December pasture walk with my little girl.

A December pasture walk with my little girl.

Another role that I oddly find myself in, is a teacher. It seems like every year more people reach out to me for advice on something, most of whom I’ve never met. I’ve been contacted by custom grazers, feedlot managers, cow/calf producers, college students, and even extension researchers. And if I can’t help them with their questions I know who can. I was even asked to contribute to Chip Hines’ latest book “Cow Country Essays”

A seminar I was asked to speak at

A seminar I was asked to speak at

There are other roles that I play in production agriculture. My dad is a crop farmer so I help him, when he needs it and I am free. I have a haying enterprise, and sometimes do some order buying for other cattle feeders, and stocker operators.

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Due to a recent event that happened here I am going to do some agvocating, so there’s that role.

A tour I hosted for the local Chamber of Commerce leadership program

A tour I hosted for the local Chamber of Commerce leadership program

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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