Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sweet Sunday: (1) John 3:16

"For God so loved the world that He sent His one and only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." -John 3:16

Of course, most everyone has seen or heard about the "most famous" verse in the bible, John 3:16. It's the very first verse I memorized as a child, it's one that is retold and retold. John 3:16 tells us that through his son, Jesus, we will have eternal life. 

But, today our pastor pointed out an interesting thought, has anyone ever associated John 3:16 with 1 John 3:16?

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." -1 John 3:16

Not only did Jesus come to the world to save our souls, He came to show us how to love. He showed us stories like loving the outcast, standing up for the sinful (because aren't we all?), feeding the hungry, and quenching the thirst of those needing spiritual water.

I'm not saying I do a good job all the time, but praise the Lord we have an example to follow.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thank A Farmer

 These babies were stoked to hear that it is "National Ag Day"!!

Today, as the day winds down they are thanking a farmer for the nutritious feed they receive every day, and the continual care they get year round.

Little guys like this guy don't know the difference between Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Sundays, or any other "normal" day. All they know is that they need attention each day, every day.

So today, as you rinse your dishes and fold your laundry, thank a farmer. Thank a farmer for the milk in your glass, the wheat in your bread, and the cotton in your clothes. Thank a farmer for the early mornings spent providing health care to young calves. Thank a farmer for the Thanksgiving meal missed, spent in the pasture instead. Thank a farmer for staying home every holiday, because cows are family that require a lot more attention. And finally, thank a farmer for providing the safest, most affordable, most abundant food supply in the world.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What Do Cows Eat?

This morning while mom and I were out feeding cubes to our commercial cattle, it dawned on me that some people might be interested in seeing just exactly what cows eat!

Disclaimer: this is just on our dairy, of course, not all dairies feed the exact same thing (it's very similar in some aspects). A dairy in New York and a dairy in Texas feed two different rations to best benefit their cows in their specific environment.

So, here's how it all started. Mom and I feed "range cubes" or basically protein packed, nutritious cubes to cows that are out on pasture - primarily our beef cows. These cows live on spacious pastures and are supplemented with hay. They are not calving, nor are they in "stressful" months (too hot or too cold), therefore, they do not need full-time feed; range cubes are just an additive because we love our cows!

These girls are pigs! Most of these registered Brangus are old show heifers and are used to a life of luxury, they're pretty gentle and find the need to RUN and bump into you if you don't get the cubes out of the bag quick enough. Refer to these cows as the "upper class snobs" they think they're better than all the other cows. Yes, yes, I know, cows have personalities.

Run Mom run! Even the babies think they need some too...

This is our trusty hound dog, Sally. She opted to stay in the gator on this pasture!

Sally eats Purina dog chow for large case you were wondering.

Here's a couple more pictures of our commercial cows chowing down on some grubbage. You can refer to these cows as "old faithfuls". They produce calves year after year and are just happy living life in a big pasture.

Now, for what the dairy cows eat! We have over 1,200 head of dairy cows, and they get fed every day, twice a day, so we mix our own feed for them.

It all starts with home-grown silage....also known as corn and corn stalks chopped up into teeny tiny bits. Our silage pit is the size of a football field, and well, you can see how tall it is.

So, we scoop out a couple truck loads of silage into a mixing wagon, which is basically like a giant mixing bowl attached to a tractor, then add in extra vitamins and ingredients depending on what group of cows it is going to - reference prior blog, first calf heifers vs milk cows.

This is our commodity barn. It's nice and dry to keep the ingredients from getting wet. Here's a couple additives we will mix into the rations to help with health and wellness in our cows.

And last but not least, hay. Growing up on a farm, climbing on top of hay bales was probably one of the first sports learned - is it in the olympics yet?. I'm pretty sure my parents kept my brother and I occupied for hours by putting us on top of the hay bales and telling us "count these bales". Now that I'm older and know we have a computer in tractors that actually counts the bales, I'm certain it was an evil plot to keep my parents entertained when Connor or I would mess up around bale 200 and have to start over.

First you get a running start, jump, and then crawl like a cheetah to the top of the bale.

This "old timer" had to try a few times before finally succeeding, ignore my "winning" face.

Hay, hay, hay for days!

This is how you count bales:

And that's a wrap! In conclusion: remember, dairy farmers have special nutritionist that formulate special diets for each cow. Dairy farmers are honored to uphold the commitment of a healthy product.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sweet Sunday: Ephesians 4:32

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave you."
-Ephesians 4:32

Forgiveness. One of the easiest, yet hardest concepts to accept - at least it is for me. Jesus commands us to forgive "seventy times seven times" to someone who has sinned against you. 

For me, uttering the words "I forgive you" are far easier than forgetting and moving on. I'm going to share a story, and I wish I could remember where or who it came from, but I think it's a powerful one:

One day a woman was lecturing in front of a class and held up a glass of water. She asked the audience how much the water weighed. She got answers like 6 ounces, 11 ounces, etc. She then asked the audience if nothing happened to the glass of water, would it change in weight? The class obviously answered "no" it would not. She held the glass out in front of her and said "if I hold this water for one minute, it will do me no harm. If I hold the glass for one hour, my arm will tingle and ache. If I hold the glass out for one day, my arm will be numb and hurt my whole body." The same is true with anger. Holding on to it for a short period of time will not affect you, but holding on to fear or anger for a long time will only cause harm to yourself.

Today, let's ask the Lord to forgive us of our sins, and let's in return immolate Jesus and forgive other.s

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Risky Business Worth Every Lost Penny

Farming and ranching. It' a family tradition. It's an experience that hands knowledge from generation to generation. It brings hope with every sun rise, and joy with every new calf. It's early mornings in a tractor, and late nights admiring the beautiful sight of sudan sprouts even after a freeze. It's thanking the Lord every day, and praying for the guidance to raise children and corn the right way. It's a passion that can only be seen through the worn eyes of a weary farmer after a long day's work.

It's not easy, though. With land prices, tractor costs, fuel bills, and feed inputs ever increasing - it's a risky business. Farmers take a chance, lay down the capital, and spend endless nights lying awake, praying that the temperatures don't drop, and the plants just grow.

In a nut shell - farmers place their bets, and play poker with mother nature. Sometimes the farmer wins, sometimes the weather wins. Even experienced farmers who have farmed for decades have to roll the dice every year, it's a combination of wisdom and grace.

When the weather wins, farmers depend on government subsidies to provide capital to plant again the next year. No, it's not "free" money, it's money that guarantee's the food market will remain stable, and constant, and produced in America.

No matter how experienced, knowledgeable, or smart a farmer is, sometimes it just doesn't work out. And it's not their fault. To keep food prices low, the government set's regulations in the Farm  Bill to provide for farmers to keep their business going.

For instance check out this video about Florida peanut farmers suffering the pain of a lack of governmental support.

Please take a moment to pray for these farmers that have invested so much to simply provide for Americans.

It is risky? You bet. Nobody ever said farming was easy.
But you better bet your bottom dollar, it's worth every lost penny.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sweet Sunday: 2 Timothy 1:9

"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time."
-2 Timothy 1:9

Ah, the first Sunday of lent. The celebration of the first Sunday of six before Easter arrives. In the traditional Catholic church, Christians are called to give something up for 40 days. This lent I've heard people giving up sodas, cursing, alcohol, chocolate and many others.

Although I am not Catholic - I'm a Methodist - I still like to give up for lent. But this year I have decided to put my own spin on it. (I'm not Catholic, so I guess this is okay :)). This year, I have decided to add to my life instead of taking out. 2 Timothy tells us Jesus has called us to a holy life.

This year for lent, I have decided for every day for the next 40 days, to go out of my way to do something nice for someone else. I'm not really sure how this is going to work, I guess I'll figure it out. But, the point is, I am going to consciously think  about bettering the world around me - one small act at a time. If you've ever seen the movie "Evan Almighty", I guess this is exhibiting an ARK: Act of Random Kindness.

Our pastor this morning encouraged us to do 3 things for lent:
        1. Connect with God every day
        2. Give something up
        3. Connect with people every day

If you're giving something up that you genuinely feel attached to, I suppose connecting with God every day will come much easier!

Happy lent, have a happy week!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Meat FULL Monday's - Beef Frittata

Hey folks! Time for another meat FULL Monday - yum! Now, don't think that I came up with this recipe, in fact, I decided to support the awesome Beef It's What's For Dinner website and use their Beef and Veggie Frittata recipe.

But, luckily, I cooked it and took step-by-step pictures for those of my friends who needs pictures to cook - you know who you are.

Alright, first things first, set your oven to 350 degrees. Then, grab yourself some red potatoes - oh you know 3 or 4 of those buggars - and peel 'em up.

Now that you've got them peeled.....slice 'em!

Oh yeah, you're doing it right. Chop, chop, chop.

Next, put a half of a cup of water in a pan and throw your potatoes in and pop a lid on it.
Note: remember if the vegetable is grown underground, keep in under a lid. If it was grown above ground, keep it free - no lid needed.
I saw that in a church cookbook one time, it was like a divine light that went off in my head! Thanks for the help Jesus!

Alright, once you've got your potatoes in a pot, chop up an onion.  One small yellow onion ought to do the trick.
Keep it together, I know you're excited to tears. I cry every time I chop onions too, it's an emotional experience. Or something like that....

While you're spending an emotional time with your onions, throw a pound of ground beef in a pan and get it browning. Once you've chopped your onion, toss it in the pan with the ground beef too.

Ground beef is one of my favorite meat products to cook - it is so easy to deal with!

Watch your potatoes, once they start boiling, let them boil for a few minutes, but don't leave them on the heat too long. If you leave them on the burner too long, the water will evaporate and the potatoes will burn to the bottom of the pan. Burned potatoes are a sure-fire way to get complaints. Believe me, I've been there a time or two. (Or more).

In the mean time, grab a zucchini and slice it up! Or as the professional call it: "julienne it". You can call it whatever you want, I'm not fancy.
Note: I only sliced one zucchini, but I think two would compliment the dish too.

Don't forget to keep your zucchini and potato peels to go feed the ducks at the park! They're depending on you.

Okay, once you've got everything cooked and chopped, toss it all in the pan with the ground beef. Beef, onions, potatoes, and zucchini  - they're a happy mating.

Add some salt and pepper to the party.

Once you've got the party in the pan going, leave it on low heat and find yourself some eggs and basil. Crack open 6 eggs and put them in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of basil, and add a little more salt and pepper.

Whisk, whisk, whisk it up!

Sorry I missed a few pictures here. Anyway, take your egg mixture and pour it over the beef mixture. Top with 2 cups of Italian cheese and put the whole pan in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Pull out the pan and top with chopped tomatoes.

Then, be sure to make it a balanced meal! I added caesar salad and fresh cut pineapple. Cutting pineapple is another blog for another day - I think it took me just as long to cut the pineapple as it did to cook the whole beef dish. If there's an expert pineapple cutter upper out there....comment below....I need help.

Well anyway, there's one of my new favorite meals! If you're a simple person, prepare yourself for all the flavors of this dish. For all you adventurists out there: this one is for you!

Happy Monday!

1 pound ground beef
4 small red skinned new potatoes
1/2 cup water
1 small chopped yellow onion
1 (or 2) small zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 teaspoons salt - divided
1 teaspoon pepper - divided
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons basil
2 cups Italian cheese blend
2 cups tomato (be generous here, it really compliments the dish

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine potatoes and water in 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove from skillet; keep warm. Pour off remaining water from skillet, if necessary.
Brown ground beef with onion in same skillet over medium heat 6 minutes, breaking beef up into 3/4-inch crumbles. Add zucchini. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until zucchini is just tender. Pour off drippings. Return potatoes to skillet. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; mix thoroughly.
Whisk eggs, basil and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in large bowl. Pour evenly over beef mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake in 350°F oven about 18 to 20 minutes or until eggs are set. Add tomato to the top.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sweet Sunday: Micah 6:8

"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."
-Micah 6:8

I am so thankful that our pastor at Aldersgate Church spoke on this verse this morning. I feel like it may not be a very popular verse, but I love it!

Sometimes I hear myself praying "Lord what do you want me to do?" or "Lord how can I spread your light?", luckily, the bible has a solution! It says in the verse: "what does the Lord require of you?" Bam! Alright, thanks Lord.

So let's break down the verse (as our pastor did this morning): "To act justly..." First off, what is justice? One definition states that justice is "to treat equally". Sounds simple enough, after all, that is the golden rule right? Treat others as you would want to be treated.
Now, notice how it doesn't say "think justice" or "pray for justice" or "want justice". No, the bible says "ACT justly"; as in: act, move, go, execute, be. Our pastor made a great point, we should not pray for the outcasts, we should pray that God sends us to them.

" love mercy..." other translations say: to love kindness. I'm not a pastor, nor am I a bible studier, I'm just a college student. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say Jesus doesn't just want us to like kind people, He wants us to be kind people.
In Matthew 25:40 Jesus says "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." 
Colssians 3:23 says "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if you were working for the Lord, not for humans."
Jesus commands us to love others with all our heart. Which, is more challenging than it seems. I'm just as guilty, if not even more guilty than some about this. Luckily for us, God's only a prayer away.

Finally, " walk humbly with your God."  Clearly, Jesus isn't on Earth anymore, so we may not be technically 'walking' with Jesus, but praying and reading the bible is allowing the Lord to walk on your heart, and steer the direction of your life.

So, in summary, my new favorite quote of all time:

Don't just go to church, go be the church.

Have a wonderful week!

P.S. If anyone is a parent of a girl scout, or anyone has seen girl scouts out and about around Lubbock, let me know, my thin mint need is at an all time high. I'm serious. I've been thinking about it all week.

P.S.S. If you haven't heard this song, please listen to it. It is my new favorite song, which also doubles as a great workout song because it makes me want to SHAKE! Click here to now be addicted to Mercy Me's new song!