Monday, January 27, 2014

What Kind of Love?

Today I am going to be discussing a sometimes "touchy" topic, recommended to me for my blog.

So, often we hear people ask the question "how can you eat the same animal you raised?" and "why is it our right to consume red meat?" These are great questions and today I hope to answer them to the best of my farming, cow-loving, steak-eating knowledge.

First off, I'll throw out a few verses from the bible that my family and I believe are great guiders of our passion:

"Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you green plants, I now give you everything." -Genesis 9:3

"The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 'say to the Israelites: of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat. You may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud.'" -Leviticus 11:1-3

"So, whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." -1 Corinthians 10:31

Now, these verses of course do not include the context, but it does exhibit God's confidence in our ability to rule over animals and consume them. I included the last verse because it is so true, we should be thankful to the Lord for creating an animal(s) capable of providing for our dietary needs.

Here's a couple more verses mentioning Jesus' consumption of meat:

"And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, He [Jesus] asked them "Do you have anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence." -Luke 24: 41-43

"Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, 'Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover." -Luke 22:7-8

Notice in the last verse Jesus said "for us to eat", thus including himself in the Passover lamb.

Now, like I said, these are taken out of context, and of course there are verses in the bible that mention not eating meat at certain times, or because the animal could have been tainted. It is all in the perspective. I've said before, if a person chooses not to consume meat, that is their personal opinion which I will respect. All I ask is that my opinion is equally respected.

Now that I've talked religion, let's talk facts. 
-By the year 2050, the world population will increase to 9 billion people, causing a 70% food increase demand.
 -Half of the grazing land in America can't be used for growing crops, it can only be used for grazing livestock. That land would be of no use as a food resource if it were not for grazing livestock. The U.S. has more than enough cropland to grow both feed grains and food crops: 334,996,000 acres according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
-One stalk of celery weighs 4.1 ounces, whereas the average beef animal will produce 750 pounds of meat. Thus, one animal produces roughly 3,000 times as much product as one vegetable.
-A piece of steak isn't just the only food item raised by farmers: all food from bread to broccoli to orange juice comes from a farm.
-Both the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association say that a 'diet containing meat, milk and eggs is appropriate to both groups’ dietary guidelines.
(other source: Real Farmers Real Food)

My family and I believe it is our duty to feed the world. We believe meat products help fulfill our daily dietary needs of protein, iron, zinc, and other important vitamins and minerals. We do not take pleasure in harvesting an animal that we have cared for. We take pleasure in the fact we are feeding the world.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sweet Sunday: Ezekiel 37:13

"I'll breathe my life into you, and you'll live." -Ezekiel 37:13

There are three things in this life that I'm passionate about: Jesus, cows, and people.

Think about the things you love and you know what I'm talking about. It's the chills you get when you see a "good one" (I'm talking cows here), it's a hug from a child, a smile from a stranger, a newborn baby calf. I also have a weakness for chocolate cupcakes, Criminal Minds, scentsy, looking at the stars, and laying in the sunshine. These are a few of my favorite things.....yes I sang that tune when I typed it :)

I love these things. Yet, all the love in my heart doesn't hold a candle to the love Christ has for me. I can love cows and love people for a lifetime, and God can still love me more in one day. That is a love that's "deeper than the holler, stronger than the river, and taller than the pine trees on the hill."

These are a couple of babies who made friends from across the fence. They're adorable.

Ezekiel states "I'll breathe my life into you, and you'll live." Living in Jesus Christ is truly living in love all the days of your life.

My new friend Klaire (her mother and I grew up together) and I "testing out" the tractors in Fort Worth :)

The Forth Worth heifer show. I could sit and watch these things all day, every day!

Have a blessed week. May it be filled with all the things you love!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Meat FULL Monday: Freezer Style

So, it's been a while since I've posted a meat full Monday blog post. Hopefully this one will hold me over until the next time, considering it's got THREE recipes packed into one and is all about freezer foods.

Freezer foods are one of my favorite things! There are days when you feel so productive and feel like cooking all day long; then there are days where you just know absolutely nothing is going to get done. So by cooking on the days you feel productive, and freezing everything, it's a win-win situation.

Over Christmas break, I went all out on the "cooking/productive" vengeance and made fully cooked meals for my baby brother to take back with him to college. Let's face it: boys are always in the "nothing is going to get cooked today" phase. Sister of the day award goes to me!

The first freezer meal I made was spaghetti. Oh so simple to make and easy to freeze.

I defrosted and cooked two pounds of hamburger - we're preparing for lots of "no-cooking" nights here....

I made the whole entire box of spaghetti noodles.

Then, when both of those were done cooking, I would put a little bit of both in a ziploc bag and pour some spaghetti sauce in with both, and maybe a dash of pepper or salt or basil if you're feeling frisky.

These are for my brother, so it's only about two servings per bag, but it made 8 gallon-sized bags! Whoo hoo!

The next two recipes were King Ranch Chicken and Smothered Pork Chops and actually had a lot of the same ingredients so it was easy to save some time doing them at the same time. Void the fact that your stove top may or may not look like this:

Hey Jack, it's all organized in my head.

I reused the pot I cooked the spaghetti noodles in, and cooked a whole bag of egg noodles.

Then, I chopped up three green bell peppers and two onions.

Put two bell peppers and one onion in a bowl

add a can of cream of mushroom, and a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce, and a small can of chicken broth to that bowl.

Lay down four pork chops and pour the bowl mixture (peppers/onion/soup/worcestershire/broth) over the top of the pork chops.

 Once you've done that, pop it in the oven for an hour at 350.

Now, take the other chopped green bell pepper and onion and sautee them in a pan with some butter. My grandma taught me to put butter and sugar on almost everything I cooked, so I'm actually keeping it fairly tame here people!

While you're waiting, take about 3-5 chicken breasts and bake them in the oven, alongside the pork chops. You can use however much chicken you want, I won't tell.

I wasn't really paying attention to how long they were in the oven - oops! But once they are white through and through (I usually pull them apart and make sure they're still juicy on the inside, but not pink) take them out of the oven and shred.

You can add whatever spices you feel like to the chicken. I used salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.

Next, combine one can cream of mushroom soup, one can cream of chicken soup, and one can of mild rotel to a bowl.

Throw in your sauteed bell pepper and onion to that bowl as well.

Once you've mixed everything well, put the egg noodles, soup mixture, and chicken in a pan and top with shredded cheddar cheese.

Cook this in the oven for about 15-20 minutes at 350. It makes a LOT of meals. Which is convenient because this is my all-time favorite recipe EVER!

Well, that outta keep your tummy full for the next 3 weeks!

Have a fantastically delicious week!

1 box spaghetti noodles
2 lbs hamburger
2 cans Prego spaghetti sauce
Black Pepper

Cook the whole box of noodles, brown the hamburger, add the two in small increments to ziploc bags, along with the spaghetti sauce and a dash of oregano, basil, and black pepper.

Smothered Pork Chops
4 boneless pork chops
2 green bell peppers
1 large onion
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Worcestershire sauce
1 small can chicken broth

Chop up the bell peppers and onion, add to a bowl with mushroom soup, a few dashes of worcestershire sauce, and chicken broth. Lay down pork chops and sprinkle salt/pepper on top, then smother in bowl mixture.

I had some extra egg noodles, so I added some noodles to each container of pork chops that I froze, but those aren't necessary.

King Ranch Chicken - the yummiest recipe ever
3-5 chicken breasts
1 green bell pepper
1 large onion
1 tbsp butter
1 can mild rotel
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pkg egg noodles
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Garlic powder
Onion powder

Cook the egg noodles, and bake the chicken at 350 until cooked through. Chop up bell pepper and onion, then sautee in pan with butter until soft. Combine rotel, mushroom soup, and chicken soup in bowl with sauteed bell pepper and onion. Mix thoroughly. Once chicken is done, shred into small bite-sized pieces. Then season chicken lightly with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Drain egg noodles, then combine with chicken and bowl mixture. Top with cheddar cheese and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sweet Sunday: Psalms 17:8

"Keep me as the apple of your eye, O Lord."
-Psalms 17:8

Think for a second about the love your parents/grandparents have for you. Its an unending love to protect, adorn, serve. God has that same kind of love for all of us! 

It's funny to think about God as a "parent". But I love how this verse puts it into perspective! We are the apple of the Lord's eye. Each and every one of us are, whether we are farmers, doctors or PETA supporters, God loves us all the same. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What I Learned From Livestock Judging

I hope by the end of my blog, you will have learned how all of the topics I'm about to cover actually do tie together.

So, here we go. First off, not sure if anyone else does this, but I relate almost everything in my life back to cows or judging. If you think you don't do it, think again, you're probably fooling yourself! (And also, I apologize to my non-judging friends, this blog my be a smidge confusing.)

For instance: I attended the International Livestock Congress this week in Denver, Colorado and listened to some awesome speakers give life advice. One of the speakers was talking about job placement and important traits to consider when applying for a job. I can't believe I'm giving out free advice. If you're applying for a job against me, please ignore the rest of this blog.

Loni Woolley and I after a day full of conferences. We were very thankful to have been selected to attend.

He mentioned how incredibly important it was to remain honest in everything you do and write. If you're applying for a job at Cargill, and get placed with the poultry division but have no experience with poultry, just tell them! I think this relates to being completely honest in reasons. Sometimes we want to cover things up and say it "truthfully with fluff." In a sense - you're not lying....but you're not relating the whole picture. "She could use a bit more body" and "she does not have enough rib to stay productive" are both the same thing, but totally different.

He also talked about organizing your life priorities. Making sure you meet a deadline versus searching facebook or answering emails are all problems we may face. Organizing the most important to least important items is key. Same thing in reasons. "She's a bit up in her tailhead, out in her chest and a tick tight hocked" versus "she is too tight hocked, it doesn't help she's  out in her chest and up in her tailhead." Yep, organize priorities.

And finally, my most FAVORITE advice: go with your gut. There's going to be times in life when you are faced with a tough decision. Whether it is taking a job, moving towns, or accepting change, there's not always a right answer. Just remember your gut instinct is usually right. When judging in a contest (or shows I'm finding out) decisions aren't easy. It's important to stick with your initial reaction. If you wanna do it, do it.

I think being in Denver around livestock is bringing out my judging side - oops! Good luck to all contestants tomorrow in the Carload Contest, and to all teams Friday evening at the awards banquet.

Have a wonderful weekend!
P.S. Since I have been in Denver all week, I hope I can use that as an excuse for ignoring my blog profusely. Please forgive me!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Don't Cage the King

I hope by the end of my blog post you will all realize just how clever this blog title is. I'm not a very clever person, but I'll take pride on this one :)

So, I'm sure that all of you have heard about the 2013 Farm Bill, and many of you have heard about the oh-so-controversial King Amendment, proposed by Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

I came across some articles today that discussed the King Amendment, in a negative light, and let me tell you what, a light went on inside my head. It was an angry light, in case you were wondering. Sorry, this blog is going to peep into my political interest and fire!

I'm sure there are many things about the King Amendment out there about how it "supports cages, supports abuse, and supports animal cruelty." Where did this come from? Well I hope my blog explains a few things. Not that it matters to any of us that can't actually vote on it, but hey, it's good to know our facts right?

The King Amendment is called the "Protect Interstate Commerce Act." The whole Amendment is geared solely to protect states rights to set their own laws within their own states, without setting laws in other states.

The idea stemmed (I can only imagine) from California's Proposition 2, banning gestation and veal crates, and adjusting the size of chicken crates allowed. Prop 2 was voted on by Californians to affect the agriculture practices within California. The problem: any eggs/pork/veal sold in California must also abide by these rules as well, whether produced in Nevada, Oregon, or Texas! Thus, California setting laws that Nevadans, Oregonians (I had to google that one), and Texan agriculturalists must abide by.

Whew. That's a lot of political mumbo jumbo! So, moral of the story: King's amendment would prohibit California's Prop 2 from controlling agriculturalists outside of California. Thus, allowing farmers and ranchers that had chosen to keep their animals in certain areas, to remain so.

Now, I hope this is somewhat informative on what the King Amendment stands for, and that we shouldn't "cage the King" if we only know a part of the story. I am BY NO MEANS a political expert, nor am I supporting/against the King Amendment. I just wanted to set a few facts straight for anyone that had strong opinions on the matter. Misinformation is my pet peeve, hopefully this has been informative!

Have a great weekend.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Baby it's Cold Outside

Thanks to Mother Nature, most all of America is buckling down and enduring some wicked cold weather. Texas is no exception to the cold. Now, we're not as miserable as most but 10 degrees still isn't pleasant.

Well folks out on the farm, work doesn't stop! So, we bundled up and headed out to make sure the cows were ready and prepared for the cold.

This is me with about five layers of clothes on! I was the last one dressed, unfortunately, so here is where I got stuck: 

I got stuck riding the four-wheeler! Brrr!

Our first item of business was to round up a momma cow that was about to have her baby and bring her to the barn. If her baby is born overnight, with temperatures in the single digits, lets just say his life wouldn't start out strong. 

It looks nice and warm: but the picture is quite deceiving. This is us getting the cows up so that we can sort off the one that is about to have her baby!

Next, we headed over to load up some straw and hay to bed down the soon to be momma.

My mom is cooler than your mom.

So, we loaded Athena (her grandmother, Darla, was my very first show heifer!) into the trailer and headed home to put her in a nice bedded down pen.

Mission accomplished!

But, of course we couldn't forget about our precious piglet, Tilly!

Yeah, I think she'll be warm.

Tilly is part of the family. Mom was scooping some feed for Athena and Tilly figured she'd give mom some help.

Or....maybe she just wanted some more food :)

Next, we went to check our first calf heifers.

Avie says "Whoa, it's cold outside!"

This is one a show heifer that I exhibited last summer. Sephora is so funny!

And finally some beautiful pictures I snapped as the sun went down.

Stay warm out there folks. And don't forget about all the furry friends you love so much. Cows and puppies and piglets all need some form of warmth with weather like this!

Have a great week!