Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sweet Sunday: 2 Corinthians 5:7

I can't believe I have had my blog for 10 months and failed to post this verse. When I was thinking about an appropriate verse this morning, I came across this and knew it was perfect.

It is the season. The season of change. It's the time of year when everyone gets ready to go back to school, mainly to college. Or maybe you're one of those people, like my brother, who can't make up their mind and wait until the last minute to decide on where to attend college. Potentially, you're like me and are beginning life post-college. Either way, a lot of big changes are coming about.

Looking back on my life, I can honestly say my college experience was ALL about walking by faith and not by sight. I thought I would go to A&M, the Lord lead me to Butler. I thought I would still go to A&M after Butler, I went to Texas Tech. I thought I would attend law school, the Lord sent me to Kansas State graduate school. But first with a quick internship at the State Fair of Texas. Pretty much every plan I have ever had, the Lord smiled and sent me in a totally different direction.

Hint: it was terrifying. I had NO idea I would end up attending two schools in Kansas! Or West Texas, which is basically it's own state. At first, I didn't think I would have the talent or ability or confidence to complete judging on a collegiate level. But the Lord had other plans.

After mulling over my last four years where I trekked along the Lord's path, I can honestly say they were the most rewarding four years. I can't imagine attending school or loving life any more than I did at Butler or Texas Tech. I have left these schools with more than just a degree, but instead with resounding Christ-based friendships and life long memories.

Did I think I would ever end up where I did? Not in a million years. No really. I NEVER wanted to attend Texas Tech. But, I did. And, I loved it.

My point is: following the Lord's plan IS best. He knows the plan for our lives and He knows what is best. So to all those who are starting a new chapter or trying to find your way, lean on the Lord. Then, trust Him.

I need this so much as well! Tomorrow I begin my internship with the State Fair of Texas!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Farm Fact Friday ~ Boy or Girl ~ Cattle

Today's Farm Fact Friday edition is all about the naming system! Of course cattle can be boys or girls and it's important to call them the correct title. So, off we go!

First off, just like a dog would be a "canine", farm animals have scientific names as well.
Cattle are termed: bovine.

Let's start with cattle. A baby is called a "calf".

A baby is either a female: heifer....meaning she has not had her first calf....

....or the baby is a male: bull.

As they grow, their 'titles' will change. A female will no longer be a heifer after she has her first calf, she will then become: a cow.

A male, however, will stay a bull all of his life. Unless he is castrated, meaning he is unable to be used for breeding purposes. If castrated, he will become: a steer.

And, that's pretty much it for cattle! Stay tuned for next week's Farm Fact Friday edition: naming sheep!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Farms: The Abuse of Children

Recently, I was reading some blogs and websites of organizations and individuals that oppose farmers. These websites have "facts" that are outrageous. Luckily, these facts have "sources" attached....that link back to their own website. Anyway, it's humerus to me, and gives me ideas for my blogs. And let me tell you what. I am fired up.

There was a sentence on one of the websites (which no I will not link to their website) that stated:

"Farmers are awful people that often take advantage of underage children, often their own, forcing them into a life of work and learning of inhumane ways."

Let me tell you something. With the exception of the "inhumane ways" addition, that statement is damn true and I am darn proud of it.

Yes, growing up on a farm my parents made me work. The second I could walk I was carrying bottles to baby calves, mending fence before grade school, and could deliver a baby calf before middle school. I was driving a tractor long before I was legal to drive, and no, I've never once been paid money for all my work.

I've stood embarrassed at the edge of the elementary school as my dad pulled up in a farm truck with a trailer load of cattle leaving poop in our school parking lot. I've begged to have a family vacation that was always denied with the reason "we can't leave the farm that long". I've worked cows in the sun so long I've been sunburned an uncountable amount, and have an almost permanent 'farmers tan'.

Yes, my parents made my brother and I work. No questions asked. And know what happened? Character. 

The daunting task of feeding calves EVERY SINGLE night taught me responsibility. 
The unforgiving smell of manure on my tennis shoes in math class taught me humility.
The field full of hay bales that had to be loaded on a trailer then unloaded in a barn taught me work ethic.
The stubbornness of cattle not wanting to move pens taught me the value of team work.
Newborn calves born in the snow who just didn't want to eat taught me gentle patience.
Sorting 2,000 pound bulls before I got into kindergarten taught me courage.
And, at the end of the day, the sunset beaming streams of warmth down on a green field full of cows taught me happiness.

Growing up on a farm, children are able to learn valuable character traits that are becoming a rarity in today's society. Out here not everyone is a winner, not every harsh truth is shielded from our innocent minds, and to earn something you have to first work for it.

Additionally, I would also like to point out that the same websites that claim "underage working abuse" also claim farmers and ranchers are cruel to their animals. Somehow I fail to see the connection considering we were all taking care of animals.

It was the way things were done. We were all needed to take care of our animals and ensure that each animal was well taken care of. Our animals were, and still are, given precedence over our own comfort. Farmers and ranchers love their animals, love their profession, and have a passion for cows, and a passion for passing it on to the next generation. In fact, of the 97% of family-owned farms in America, over half have been in the family for more than three generations. As a fifth-generation farmer, I can attest to the fact that farming is in our blood.

In any light, however, my conclusion is this: yes, as a child I was forced to work on my family's farm. Looking back I wouldn't have it any other way.

And one day I hope to raise my children the exact same way.

Farm Fact Friday ~ Beef or Dairy?

So in response to some questions I've had recently, I will try to up my Farm Fact Friday blog editions! Today's topic: the difference between a beef cow and a dairy cow. How are they the same? How are they different?

First, the similarities. Well, obviously they're both "cows". They have the same body type, meaning they have the same type of stomach and digestive system. As silly as it sounds, most animals actually do have different stomach systems, this is geared towards their diets. So, when you hear "cows eat lots of corn" well, it is because they have a stomach system geared towards breaking down a lot of starch.

Cows actually have 4 chambers to their stomach (in order): rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. The rumen compartment is a giant fermentation vat, essentially, that breaks down food and transforms something humans can't eat (grass) into a nutritious, delicious product we can eat: beef! I hope you feel a little smarter - definitely a healthy dose of science today!

So, now the differences. As nicely and simply as I can put it: a beef cow is a cow that produces calves that will go into food consumption. The beef cow herself will produce one baby every year. She will live in a pasture and simply be responsible for taking care of her body condition and feeding a growing calf for 6 months. Those calves, mainly the males, will be fed a special, nutritious diet geared for them to grow and produce beef after they are weaned from their mothers.

Beef cows, naturally, have more "beef". They are a stouter kind of cattle that have more muscling. Some popular beef breeds are:





Dairy cows are totally different. Dairy cows produce calves every year, but they don't have the mothering instinct that beef cows do. Dairy cows will typically have a baby then enter the milk production cycle. Naturally they produce a lot of milk and they like to spend their time lounging around and giving milk - dairy cows like a routine! Dairy cows produce milk that will make "dairy" products like milk, cheese, sour cream, and ice cream.

A few popular dairy breeds include:




Brown Swiss

Here's a couple more pictures...can you tell if it is a dairy cow or beef cow? Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

He Is Here

Today, as I was driving along in rural Oklahoma jamming to some Christian tunes admiring the beautiful blue sky and bright green corn rows, I got to thinking how God really is every where.

I have to tell a few stories to back this up because it is just so special to me.

Exactly a week ago I was sitting outside Texas A&M's Louis Pearce Pavilion waiting with the Hansford Co livestock judging team for the State 4H contest to start. The team was young, none of them had experienced a state contest, and they were nervous. Instead of playing rap songs or hip hop songs to get pumped up, what did they want to listen to? Christian music. So I plugged in my phone and put a little Jesus in our day.

As the song was playing, I looked in the rear view mirror to see these awesome kids dressed in khakis and sports coats, ready for their state contest, clenching onto stenos, singing every word to "10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman.

"For all your goodness I will keep on singing, 10,00 reasons for my heart to find. Bless The Lord, oh my soul, oh my soul, I'll worship your holy name."

Then, I looked next to me, saw my uncle and cousin singing the song and what happened? I cried a little. I had on sunglasses thankfully, because a couple tears slid out.

I knew in that moment. When I closed my eyes and heard the sweet voices of powerful reasons givers softly singing praises of worship - He was there. I could hear it in their voices and see it on their precious faces. God was there, laying comfort on our team.

Another example, I'll never forget was at the beginning of my judging career at Texas Tech. I've mentioned so many times in prior blogs about how Christ-based our team was. Well, it started off on a strong note when we first began.

We were on a winter workout in Odessa, Texas when "I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me came on the radio. We were driving along scribbling on our stenos, not paying mind to the radio, when our coach suddenly turned the song up loud. We all paused and looked up for a moment to find our coach singing every word. No one in the van said a single word. It was pure silence except for the blaring of the radio and our coach's strong voice as he stared at the road ahead. 

I closed my eyes in that moment and said of prayer of thanksgiving because I knew The Lord had led me to where I needed to be. Then, I knew He was there. From the man who often talked livestock, came "surrounded by your glory what will my heart feel? Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still? I can only imagine, oh, I can only imagine."
I could feel His presence among us.

There are so many stories that run through my mind when I think of Jesus being with us. But, it's the special moments that take me by surprise.

It reminds me of my moms favorite old hymn: He Lives.

"He walks with me and talks me along life's merry way. He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today. You ask me how I know He lives...He lives within my heart."

So today, I pray our eyes be opened, our ears be sharp, and heart ready. For Jesus is around us in everything we do. He lives within our hearts <3

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Put Your Trust In Agriculture Part 1: Motivation

"Act in a manner that is ethical and consistent." -Center for Food Integrity

In today's modern, technologically savvy, urban dense society, the average American is over three-generations removed from the family farm. In my grandparents generation, nearly everyone had a chicken or two and a milk cow in the back yard. Today, that's not how society runs. The majority of consumers buy all of their food from the grocery store and most have no idea how it got there.

To no surprise, there seems to be a new trend of consumers wanting to know "where their food comes from". As a producer, it's easy to look out my kitchen window and know exactly where my food comes from. The way my momma raised me, if you have something someone else needs, share it.

As a food producer, I am confident in American agriculture products produced daily. At the end of the day, my family and I are consumers, just like non-agriculture Americans. We eat at the same restaurants, we buy the same groceries, we prepare the same meals that are set at the table and blessed, just like everyone else.

Therefore, over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting a series of seven blog posts all related to trust. Luckily, according to The Center For Food Integrity, there are seven elements to trust-building transparency. I'll reveal these seven elements through my blogs, and why farmers should be the most trust-worthy individual in America.....after all, they are the ones that feed and clothe the world.

Plus! As an additional bonus, I have made contact with some farmers of my generation. They are the future of farming and have graciously offered up their time to lay input on the seven reasons farmers do what we do.

The first element to understanding and trusting farmers is understanding the motivation behind what we do.

My first guest blogger to address the topic of "motivation" is Brett Moriarty. Although a recent graduate of Texas A&M, Brett reigns from Medical Lake, Washington where he grew up on a diversified farming operation primarily working with horses and cattle.

"Farming and ranching are not simply jobs" Brett says, "to some they are just a career, but to many farming/ranching is a lifestyle."

According to the USDA, 98% of all farms are family farms, so for families like mine and Brett's, farming is not just a form of revenue, it's a family tradition. 

Brett goes on to say "Those members of society who are involved in production agriculture are some of the best hearted people you will ever come across. They take pride in getting things done to the best of their abilities.

To any readers who also have the responsibility of being a parent, you can easily relate to one of the integral parts of agriculture: nurturing another living being.

Some people make the claim that farmers and ranchers are in it to 'get rich'. However, there is a good chance that these critics have never been a part of agriculture. The margins in the business are often extremely small. This means that whether a producer farms crops or raises livestock, they must keep the health of their product as the number one priority. Maintaining a healthy, productive, efficient animal is the best solution."

So, what's Brett's conclusion?

"Ultimately, a farmer or rancher is motivated by their ability to supply safe, wholesome food to consumers, (a category that everyone falls into), as well as by a continued effort to build a more sustainable process so future generations can experience an increased quality of life."

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sweet Sunday: 1 Corinthians 16:13

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong."
-1 Corinthians 16:13

So, since I have been awful at blogging I will let you all know what is new in my life! I think this verse is very applicable to my current adventures so I'm sharing it primarily for my personal benefit!

Currently, I am in Mulhall, Oklahoma helping my cousin with his political campaign. We travel and talk to voters and do all kinds of fun stuff! This verse is especially true to remember when getting caught up in politics and the hub-bub of busy life, I have to remember to keep myself grounded, to be courageous, strong, and mainly to stand firm in faith. 

I have started a new tradition, thanks to a new blog I now love - Cup and a Slice! I take time each morning to drink a good cup of coffee and read a couple chapters out of the bible. (Seriously, invest in good coffee, it's one area of life that should never be shorted. I prefer Dunkin' Donuts hazelnut.)

Also, if anyone has any suggestions of favorite books of the bible - I am almost finished with Proverbs and open to taking suggestions on my next book, comment below :)

Additionally, I am helping my uncle coaching a 4-H livestock judging team! The state contest is in 10 days so we are working very hard. This is by far one of my favorite tasks I've taken part in! If it isn't already known, I'm a livestock judging guru, I seriously love it. So far, coaching has proven to be much more fun than actually judging. Except on contest day - then it's not as fun, it's way too stressful being outside the doors!

Anyway, I wanted to write this verse not only for myself, but also my sweet Hansford County livestock judgers. I just love to remember that God is with us in everything we do. At the end of the day, after looking at pigs and cattle, it's important to hit our knees and thank the Lord for giving us the opportunity to have such a wonderful life <3

Well that's it for now! I'm off to get some sleep and get ready for the week!