Friday, December 12, 2014

The Truth About Farms: Accidents Happen

If I close my eyes and think, it would take more than two hands to count the number of mothers I know who have had premature babies. I'm sure you know some too.

So I got to thinking. All of these women I know are fantastic people. They love their children. Given the opportunity to carry a baby full-term, it wouldn't have been a question. 

Did they do anything wrong? No!
Is it their fault? No!
What happened? Who knows.

My point is that no matter what these mothers did, they couldn't avoid having a preterm baby. It was an unfortunate event. Period.

Well folks, I'm here to tell you the same thing happens on farms. Gasp! I said it. I told you the truth, the dark side. The not-so-flowery, non public approved, it really happens fact of the matter.

I can't tell you how many seminars I've attended where people say: some things don't need to be shared to the public. If it isn't pretty, don't tell people because people don't want to know.

Well, if you don't want to know, don't read this article.

But, just like life and just like humans, sad things happen on a farm too. And I don't believe that people want things "hidden".

No matter what farmers do, calves are going to be born early. Some will break their legs. Some get sick.

Now, before you point fingers, stop and ask yourself if your child has ever caught a cold or broken their arm??

Yeah, mhmm, not so fair to bash on farmers when you see a calf in a cast. Farmers care and love their animals just the same, but accidents happen. And unlike your two or three children, farmers could have 20 or 200 to take care of.

Let me show you some examples.

This spring, we had a calf born who's front feet were turned up. They weren't broken, they were perfectly normal. The problem was, he was probably turned funky inside the womb and the tendons in his feet didn't form right. All we had to do was put some casts on and force him to stand up.

Did he wanna do it? Nope, it hurt! Was he in pain? Maybe a little. But, here's the deal, if we didn't force him to get up and walk, he was never going to walk.

(I named him Forrest because we had to "give him new legs".)

It broke my heart holding him up and making him walk because I knew he didn't like it. But the day he stood up and walked on his own, he ran! He jumped and played and ran because for the first time in his life he could walk.

It was worth it.

Here's another one. I named this little girl AnnaBelle. She was born about 2 months early.  When she was born, she was tiny! Her hair wasn't completely formed, and she was too weak to stand. We kept her under heaters for weeks.

Even when she was 2 months old, she was smaller than a baby that was a day old. I wish I had pictures of when she was a baby.

But, here she is today, at 4 months old. She's some kind of spunky. I think she knows she got more attention than the other babies.

So, yes, accidents happen on a farm. I'm sorry to tell you but it does. It breaks our hearts the same as yours. 

Here's what I'm asking. Think of a farm the same as people. Because accidents happen and we're not perfect. 

But what I can assure you is that farmers and ranchers have dedicated their lives to improving animal care and minimizing accidents the best they can. It's our job as farmers to provide for animals; you'll be hard pressed to find an occupation where people care more than that of agriculture.

So here's to you farmers: for induring the heartache and pain of running a farm when running away sounds like a far better plan.

I'll tip my hat every day and pray for ya. Thanks for providing for the animals that provide for us.  Thanks mom and dad. Thanks to ya all.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Farm Fact Friday: A Pig Is A Pig

So now that we have finished with covering what each animal is called, let's talk about the different breeds animals can be!

Just like dogs can be a Labrador or a Chihuahua; cattle, sheep, and pigs can be different breeds too! For the most part, they will be the same size vicinity, unlike that Lab vs Chihuahua, but the breeds are totally different.

So today, since I've already covered cattle, we'll dive right into pigs!

The first breed, that has the highest registration numbers, is the Yorkshire, or York. The York breed is well-known for being great mothers! York's are solid white and have ears that stand upright naturally.
Hog tip: if the breed name ends in "shire" you know it has ears that stand upright. If it doesn't, then it's ears are floppy, or down.
The next breed, also very popular, is the Hampshire. Hamps are known for their muscle!
Hamps are solid black with a white belt right behind their shoulders. Again, it ends in "shire", so it's ears stand straight up.
The next breed is totally different. This solid red hog is called a Duroc, and are known for their growth rate, and also muscling ability.
Now, the next pig, which looks strikingly similar to the York, is called a Landrace. Landrace's are also known for being great mothers! They are also solid white, but this time they have very large ears that hang down over their eyes!
Anyway, these are the most easily recognizable breeds in the hog industry. There are LOTS of others, here is a link to the National Swine Registry explaining these same breeds in a little greater detail.
Comment below for any basic ag questions! Have a great weekend.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

State Fair of Texas Entry Deadline

Hello all!

This blog post is just a friendly reminder that if you are a livestock exhibitor in the great state of Texas, the entry deadline for the State Fair of Texas youth show is MONDAY, August 25th!

Remember: entries MUST be submitted online - no mail in youth show entries accepted.

Click here to go to the online portal.

Best of luck to all! Be sure that if you have any questions at all, call the State Fair Livestock Office at 214-421-8723.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Farm Fact Friday ~ Boy or Girl ~ Horses

Okay, we have reached the end of our "name calling session"! The final blog in this group covers horses, also referred to as: equine.

Now, I will admit it. Even though I am a farm girl through and through, I am not a horse person! Yes, I live on a cattle ranch. No, I do not own a horse. I just wanted to confess that. I feel better now.

But, I do know a little about horses. Enough to write a blog on naming. Horses have a lot of name changing going on!

So when born, a baby horse is called a: foal.

A girl foal is termed: a filly. You know, like the movie :)

A boy foal is termed: a colt.

When a filly has her first baby, she is then called: a mare.

When a colt grows older, and is no longer a baby, he is referred to as a: stallion.

The colt will become a stallion unless he is castrated, at which point he will be termed: a gelding.

Whew! We've finished our name calling adventure! Once again, have a great weekend.

Be sure to comment below if you have any farm questions you would like answered! Remember, no question is "too silly", I love to talk about agriculture and I would love to answer any ag questions you have.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Farm Fact Friday ~ Boy or Girl ~ Pigs

Alright! We are breezing right on through the naming of species! Today's topic: pigs. In case anyone was wondering, pigs are termed: porcine. Easy enough.

So, pigs aren't like other farm animals, in fact, they're the most different of all. Most animals, like cows and horses, will typically have 1 baby. Pigs, however, will have litters, like dogs or cats. Pigs can have anywhere from 2-14 babies at a time!

When they're born, pigs are called: piglets. AKA the cutest animal on the planet.

The piglets that are girls are referred to as: gilts. She will remain a gilt until she "farrows" (or delivers) her first litter.

When the female has her first litter, she will change from being a "gilt" to a "sow".

Now as for the boys. When they are born, all boys are called "boars".

They will remain a "boar" all their life.

Most boar pigs, however, are castrated and used for pork products. When they are castrated, they are then called: barrows.

And that is all for the pig name calling :)

We are almost done with our naming segment. Next week is horses, then we are finished! If you have any questions or want to know more information about an area of agriculture, comment below!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Farm Fact Friday ~ Boy or Girl ~ Sheep

Alright! Time to continue our Farm Fact Friday naming system with the next species: sheep.

As I mentioned before, like cats (feline) and dogs (canine), farm animals have specific/proper names as well: sheep are considered: ovine.

Alright, so when born, babies are called: lambs.

Babies will be divided into two groups, obviously, the females are called ewe lambs.
Note: ewe is pronounced "you", it's confusing, I know.

They will stay ewes all of their life, even when they have a baby, only they will just be called "ewes" instead of "ewe lambs".

The male sheep however are called ram lambs.

They will be rams all of their life, even when they are older. Sometimes rams are also called bucks.

Only if they are castrated will their 'title' change, they will then become: a wether.

Sheep are pretty simple, definitely the easiest to remember! Have a wonderful weekend.

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 humorous 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!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sweet Sunday: 1 John 3:18

"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:18

This morning in church our pastor made a brief comment about how faith must be put into practice to be useful. So I got to thinking and I believe I have come up with a pretty nifty comparison: faith is like football. I like football, so bare with me here!

As I've grown in my faith, I've realized that "faith" isn't just going to church on Sunday. "Faith" isn't just donating time for community service or tossing a couple bucks into the offering plate. "Faith" isn't proclaiming that you are a Christian in the religion category on facebook. 

No, faith is a relationship. It requires attention, practice, repetition, and time. Kind of like football. If you jump on the field and haven't read the rule book, you'll be in trouble. Faith must be practiced to work. Football must be practiced to work.
If you don't communicate with the coach, you don't know the game plan. To know your life direction, you have to know the voice to be followed.

On a side note, I'm already excited for football season to begin. And, in case you wanted to see a cute video, here's a video of my piglet Tilly eating an apple. She's not so little anymore!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Welcome Home

So, first I must apologize for the lengthy amount of time since the prior blogpost! This month I graduated college, turned about her year older, moved houses, and soon will start my first job - yikes! I thought I would spend some time compiling my tips and advice to successfully surviving college. I've tried many times - not sure I've got the golden key, maybe there will be a blog over this in the future....maybe, if I'm feeling confident enough that I actually did survive it successfully!

But in the meantime, I did manage to snap a few pictures of an excitement on our farm - new babies! I know I've mentioned before that we raise all of our own heifer/cow prospects. But this week, a friend of my father's had a dairy herd dispersal, so my dad jumped on the band wagon to purchase some outside genetics.

About 8 pm Wednesday night, my dad called me and said "Emily, you and Connor [my brother] go up to the barn and start preparing pens, I'm bringing 21 new heifers in!"

When Dad calls, we better go! Time is of the essence to make sure the new babies get off the trailer quickly thus minimizing hauling stress!

Here's our newly arrived heifers calves in the trailer about to be unloaded.

We separated them into different pens based on different sizes. This way, when we feed them, competition will be reduced and each calf can grow at an appropriate, healthy growth rate.

The next step was making sure the babies got fed properly for the evening. These calves will grow up to be the cows that produce milk for America, so giving them great nutrition from the start is pertinent! 

On normal days, the calves will get fresh milk from our milk tank. But since these arrived after feeding hours, we had to mix some powdered milk. This milk has the same needed nutrients as fresh milk, it's much like formula for human babies.

Here's Dad mixing milk in one of our sanitized mixing buckets.

Next step, grab some clean, sanitized bottles and fill with milk. this bucket held 9 bottles of milk.

Fill with milk and put on the nipple.

They seemed to be pretty happy!

In the end, as my Dad says, it's not only ensuring a healthy start, it's about caring for the well-being of animals.