Saturday, September 23, 2017

My Future is Our Future

If you all don't follow my FaceBook page here is a quick recap.  I am competing in the College Aggies Online contest for the next (now) 8 weeks. The point of the contest is to learn more about other aspects of agriculture and to talk about it, publicly.  College Aggies even gives us mentors each week to mentor and at the end of the week rank our activities (social media and assignments.)  The top one gets scholarship money.
       I am so very passionate about everything this contest values and strives for.  This week, week 8 is all about turkeys which I know nothing about but through the contest I have learned a lot.  Our assignment, are not always related to the topic of the week, is writing a blog post.

Grumpy Grandfather, still won't smile!

For my long- time followers this will be repetitive but to my new ones listen up!
    I live on my families farm in East Tennessee where we raise registered Simmental for show and sale; we have also incorporated other breeds such as ChiAngus and Maintainers.  I love cows, cows are my passion.  As a child, I never understood why we did the things we did, why we dehorn, vaccinate, artificial inseminate the cows and many other practices we have.  I always would ask “why” but farming with my grandfather (a grumpy old man) I got the usual answer “because that is how it is done.”  That lead me to 1: learn on my own and 2: understand the frustrations of the consumer.  I feel my place in the farming community is to tell my story, it sounds very basic but consumers, much like me for a long time, don't know why we do the things we do.   I finally am learning about why we do the things we do and I want to tell everyone.  Farming with my grandfather and being surrounded by grumpy old men has shown me they aren't going to do it.

   Agricultrue in my opinion is the backbone of the US because in order to survive we need food, food is farming/ranching.  But a uninformed public can be bad for the agriculture community which leads me to my career goals: Agriculture Lawyer.  When the ag community, my grumpy grandfather, is not transparent and forthcoming with our way of life things go downhill which turns into lawsuits.  I love the AG community and one way I can finally give back is by defending our way of life and ultimately "telling my story.”  Until law school I am telling my story using my blog, twitter, and Facebook.  If you, like me, want to know why, follow along on my journey and for the duration of this competition learn something new about different aspects of agriculture with me. I am excited, I hope you are too.    If there is something you want to know more about comment below. 
Grumpy Granfather--Mean Gene--Pop--Your average farmer

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Organic Donuts

                 A man eats an organic doughnut, does organic mean healthy?

 Organic by definition just means certified by the USDA that it meets their standards.  Their standards are: no fertilizers with added synthesized ingredients, conventional pesticides, GMOs,
    So this begs the question does it really differ in nutritional content, no.  The reason farmers and ranchers offer different methods of production because we too are different.  We are consumers of our own products and we each want something different.  We don't do it because one is better than the other, we do it because we are human.  Conventional, certified organic, or natural it is all safe wholesome, and nutritious.

I have attached a link to the USDA guidelines to certified organic because it has a big misconception around it--I will talk about the others in following posts.

National Organic Program

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Dehorning--Please Do It

This topic is controversial among some.
Athens Stockyard is the local stockyard in our town.  We usually have around 1100 head and with that comes a delicate balance of keeping the sale going, keeping the cattle cool and calm, and not getting hurt.  When a mean animal comes through we take certain measures like climbing gates, closing cross gates, or putting more stock with the one that is mean to try and calm them down.

I work where I can see what goes in the chute so I know what is coming.  The boys in the back looked at this cow, a dairy cow, and looked at me and told me to watch her.  My first thought was she isn't mean, she is a dairy cow.  Dairy cows are normally calm and nothing gets them going!  This dairy cow had horns and was huge, probably weighing in around 2000lbs.  I still thought she couldn't be that bad...until she went in the ring, the lady who calls out pens told us to get up and get out of her way. Oh crap!!  She might actually be a bad cat.  Then she calls out a pen I   She came my way, I threw open the gate and ran away!!  I was ran over at that exact gate a month ago and I am still very skittish.  We took all the precautions and she still managed to turn around and come at one of the boys but luckily for him he had a cross gate he could close before she got him.  The combination of her horns and her size, the only way to get away from her was from a closed gate.  We got her penned but every time I would walk by the gate she would charge me.  She wouldn't have been as scary if she didn't have horns. Get gauged scares me more than getting ran over and stomped on!  If this cow would have been de-horned, we as stockyard workers could have worked her more effectively but instead she tried to kill us all.  Even more so, she may not have been at the sale due to her lovely attitude.
This is the best photo I could get of her because when if I walked by she would charge the gate

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Types of BEEF Identification

The way I do things down in Tennessee is way different that my friend in WY or CA or even FL.         When talking with other producers about the way they ID I realized how little I actually knew about the different methods.  I have found FIVE different types of ID for cattle. Branding (hot/freeze), brisket tags, ear tags, EID, and ear notches.

  •      Branding: Branding is used more commonly on larger farms and ranches where the cattle are out on their own on wide open ranges.  There are two types of brands: freeze and hot.  Freeze branding is basically an iron formed into a specific combination of letters, symbols, and numbers to ID cattle easily.  A hot brand is a brand that is gotten hot over a fire but it is the same type of iron used in freeze branding.  This type of ID is regulated by the government by having a person at sale barns to inspect brands to decrease the rustling of cattle.
    freeze brand (courtesy of GOOGLE)

    Hot Iron brand (courtesy of GOOGLE)
  •     Brisket tags:  I just heard about these from a friend who ranches in Wyoming.  I do not know about them other than what she said. My take away is they aren't as common but the ranchers that do use them, use them because they want a form of tag ID but ear tags get lost and ear notches aren't a viable option when running a large herd.
    Brisket tag (courtesy of GOOGLE)
  •        Ear Tags:  a simple tag that is personalized with the animals specific information where it be a number or letter with maybe their mom/dad information.  These are more common in small herds because you have to get close to the animal to read them.
    Look at the heifers right ear
  •    EID:  Electronic Identification: These are most common in feedlots or the show cattle industry because they have to be scanned which also entails getting very close to the animal.  An EID tag is a small white/yellow tag commonly issued by the USDA (united states department of agriculture) placed in the ear.  It says on the tag "unlawful to remove."  This tag is also very regulated by the government.
    A farmer using the EID reader to read the tag (courtesy of GOOGLE)
  •     Ear Notches: Ear notches are used more commonly to determine age for example if you keep replacement heifers and want to be able to distinguish the 2016 group from the 2015 group you ear notch them different.  It is limited because the ear is only so big and there are only so many combinations of ear notches.
    Eat notches (courtesy of GOOGLE)

There are so many ways to ID calves and each farmer/rancher uses a different method because of where the cattle reside and how many cattle they have.  We use ear tags on our farm in South East Tennessee because our cows are close to home.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The moment I hated showing cattle


    My first show after Mean Gene died was very hard.  I entered the ring and exited only to not have my biggest supporter waiting with the halter.  But, one thing that got me through was the people that surrounded me.  I felt hands all along my way to the ring.  I felt Pop there but I still didn't see him.  That was the part that sucked.  I have mourned long enough but now I don't want to show.  I could care less if I ever saw another show or walked in the ring....that is till I met VS DIVA!  She has a stacked pedigree.  She is out of the heifer we won Grand Champion % Simmental Heifer at the Dixie Nationals.  Her sire is a bull I feel in love with when Pop and I would check the cows.  No, I never met this bull, we didn't raise him, but we have a lot of his daughter grazing our pastures and I loved them.  (Black Joker is an old purebred Simmental bull)  I begged and pleaded to get semen on him for as long as I can remember.  I finally got my wish with this cross and then Diva was born.  She has been a looker since she hit the ground.  I didn't think I could get to mess with her because I am away at school all week and then playing catch-up with the farm work on the weekend.  I didn't think this heifer would change so many things with me.  She did.
   I walked into her pen two/three weeks ago with a show stick and brush.  She loved it and I loved doing it.  The next weekend I did the same. This weekend I put a halter on her!! I got her out of the stall with a lot of patience, got her blown off and began the trek to the wash rack.  She did fine.  I was very skeptical on getting close to her because she could have kicked you before you knew her foot left the ground.  Once I got her scrubbed and dried.  I got her all shiny and became brushing her.  I was smiling ear to ear doing this simple task that way back when I loved.  This was the exact moment I found my passion again.  This little heifer gave me so much as I stood in the barn brushing her.  I want to show again, I want to spend my days in the barn again.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Future is ME & YOU

We are the future
Passion is what you work hard for.  Its what you put everything into, your blood, sweat, and tears.  I get worked up over farm matters easily.  My dad and grandparents have always included me in the discussions of the farm matters including: money and management.  I used to take it for granted but then it dawned on me that one day it was all going to be mine. I was going to have to run it on my own with knowledge that I gained by being asked for my opinion at such a young age. So I started listening and taking into account how I would run things.  When asked what bulls to cut, or recipient cows to purchase I started putting more thought into it.  I think they started to notice because they are starting to put my thought into decisions, the final decision.
        We, my dad and boyfriend (and me) are getting ready to set on a new adventure that they have always wanted to do, I am just there for manual labor and my connections in the BEEF industry.  My dad is going to let us make some very influential decisions because he has always taught us to learn by doing.  Our choices may cost or make us thousands.  This adventure is going to see how much we have learned by just giving our input to actually making the final decisions.  I think this step in going from a voice to the say-so is such a crucial step to take while the wise ones are still around. For instance, there are many times we have to sit and ponder on how my Pop (grandfather) did things because he didn't include us in on everything.  It is all going to be mine one day and I want to learn how to make it even more successful by learning through my dad and boyfriends mistakes!!!
   My point is this: just because it isn't yours...the reality is that one day it will be.  Volunteer Simmental will be mine and I can't wait to make my Dad and Pop proud of

where I plan to take it (and to where I am taking it now.)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Bad Kind of Family

I have been getting a lot of flack from my non-farming friends about missing out on things, not making it to places on time, always smelling, being on the phone etc etc.  I have gotten used to it but lately I have noticed how my family is the bad kind.  We are all the things my non-farming friends and family label us as.  The bad kind of family:

  •  Rarely shows up on time

  I also have a bad habit of during finals helping a lot on the farm so I am usually late to at least one final because I can't leave in the middle of working.  We as a family are late because cows are unpredictable, oh so very unpredictable.  Graduation? they just wanna be fed. church? they just want fresh clean water. final? they hay needs to be baled. 
  • Work clothes double as church clothes --or church clothes double as work clothes

There is nothing a little stain remover and Momma's special concoction can't get rid of.  On the other hand cows don't care if you are on your way out the driveway to a special function dressed all nice!

  • Are closer to God on a tractor than in the pew

I am guilty of sitting in church thinking of all the things I could be doing if I wasn't in church.
  • Work on Sundays 

Just like this Easter we barely made it to church because we lost a cow.  There aren't enough hours in the day to get a days work done so many time we use our Sundays.  But, I don't think God cares because "God made a Farmer" and His animals need to be tended to everyday of the week 24/7

  • Schedule reflects the amount of chores for the day

Many farming families go till 1 am during harvest or hay season or get up multiple times a night during calving season.  We have missed a lot of family functions because 5 pm is a prime time on our family farm.  We schedule (if we can even go) our vacations around the farm and most times someone can't go. 
  • Believe in hard work (child labor!!)

I learned to get up at 5 am at an early age because the cows don't know I stayed up too late they just know they are hungry.  I was a really strong kid because picking (or whatever it took to get them moved) up feed sacks was an everyday thing.  

I would not change my bad family for anything.  We get bad looks when we haven't been to church in month,