Continuous Improvement…

I met Dr. Tom Noffsinger more than a decade ago.  A veterinarian in Southwestern, Nebraska, Dr. Tom teaches the concept of low stress cattle handling and holistic bovine care.  He is a master at understanding the bovine mind, and is truly a devoted advocate for our animals.

Tom Noffsinger

Dr. Tom Noffsinger…

I love to watch Dr. Tom engage and handle cattle.  His gift of patience and dedication to caring mentors me as I travel my own personal journey of continuously improving cattle care.  I laugh to my girls that “when I grow up, I want to be like Dr. Tom”, and it is a lifelong goal of mine to be as savvy a cattle caregiver as he is.

I am very excited to report that Dr Tom has teamed up with a Brazilian veterinarian (Dr. Paulo Loureiro) to star in a variety of cattle handling videos that are available online for the public to view.

On this Thoughtful Thursday, I encourage each of you to visit the website and spend some time watching and learning from Dr. Tom.  Whether you are a cattle farmer or simply an interested animal lover, these videos show a fascinating side to creating high quality animal care in a feed yard setting.

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Why continuous improvement? Because it matters to him…

 Many thanks to Dr. Tom and Dr. Paulo for bringing good cattle care and handling to the spotlight; as well as to Merck Animal Health for funding the effort. 

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Filed under Animal Welfare, General, Thoughtful Thursday

A Tribute To Our Veterans…

Last week we celebrated Veteran’s Day.  My oldest two daughters each wrote winning essays honoring those who have served our country.  I share them both with you all today as I believe that the writings show clearly the personalities of my girls…

My favorite 7th grade cowgirl...

My favorite 7th grade cowgirl’s Patriot’s Pen Essay: Why I appreciate America’s Veterans…

I appreciate America’s veterans because without them we would not be the country we are today. All of the men and women that serve our country must have a tremendous amount of faith, courage, determination, and love for their country. To leave your family behind and go out on the battle field, whether it is on the seas, in the air, or on the ground, is amazingly brave.

Our veterans do so much to help make our lives better. Without them, we might still be under the control of Great Britain; or still be enslaving blacks in the southern United States; or be controlled by the Nazi Party! Most of the luxuries that we take for granted are because of those who are or were fighting to defend our rights.

The men and women who wear our colors are special to me because my great-grandma had to share my great-grandpa with our country and have faith that he would come home. My great- grandpa served as a Navy officer on the submarine Peter Greenling during World War II. It was hit twice by underwater missiles from Japanese Bombers. Both times when the ship was hit they had to return to harbor for repairs.

While serving, my great-grandfather faced challenges that he turned into opportunities. Bird- watching, astrology, and walking were three later in life hobbies that came from these challenges. He first developed a love for bird watching as the night watch on the Peter Greenling, when he had to be able to tell wether the objects above were seagulls or Japanese Bombers. He also used the stars to guide the submarine, because he was THE navigational officer on board, and number two in command. My great-grandpa developed a love for walking and running, because he was in such cramped quarters on the submarine.

Changing challenges into opportunities is something that makes veterans special. Seeing the troubles of the world can change the way you look at things. Instead of looking at things as bad experiences, looking at them with a positive attitude can make you a better person. I wish I had more time to get to know my great-grandpa because he was a wonderful, joyous, and exciting person. Having a positive outlook on the world and people living here; even though we have our flaws; makes our country stronger as a whole.

My favorite 9th grade brunette intellectual's Voice of Democracy winning essay...

My favorite 9th grade intellectual’s Voice of Democracy: Why veterans are important to our past and future…

 

Close your eyes. Imagine a world where a group of people live in fear of persecution. Picture a land that doesn’t believe in freedom of mind. Think of a place that exercises oppression, and complete control by government. Now open them. We are lucky enough not to live like this because of the bravery of the veterans who have defended our country throughout the years. Veterans are important to our nation because of the lessons and values they taught and defended in the past, the role they play in our present, and the insight they can provide for our future.

History is often dismissed by students as “unimportant” because it has already happened.   But what if it hadn’t happened? What if the past did not play out the way it did? What if we all still had afternoon tea and used the loo? If visiting California entailed leaving the country? These examples are from a time early in our history, but if we fast forward through the ages, we come to a more important question: What if our WWII soldiers did not persevere? Let’s take a look at a critical point in our history, where the role of veterans cannot be discounted.

Imagine 2015. Germany, who now in conjunction with Italy, rules the continent of Europe, has spread across the Atlantic Ocean, and claimed the eastern half of what once was America. Gone are the pre-war values of the United States. A Nazi flag flies over a school in the American Republic of Germany. Students recite the oath of allegiance in German, which is the primary language. The percentage of German Americans, which in 1940 was about 32%, is now 80%. The students now sit, and listen to the latest propaganda being broadcasted by the Leader and Chancellor. In the capital, New Berlin, lines of green clad soldiers with swastikas on their lapels practice military drills under the watchful eye of the Commander in Chief of the Nazi army, a man hand picked by Adolph Hitler.  

About a thousand miles away, in what used to be the west coast of the Unites States of America, the Greater Japanese Empire now exists. Japanese is now spoken throughout the country and the primary religions are Shinto and Buddhism. Temples dot the country side, which is mainly used to provide resources for the ever-growing empire. Schools teach triumphantly of the defeat of the US forces in that fall of 1945.

In between the coasts sits the land that so often is forgotten about. The states that once occupied the middle of America, the Bread Basket of the World, are desolate, bare plains. In the aftermath of the war, the various leaders of the Axis force quickly claimed land in the Central United States, for the abundant natural resources that were located there. When it came time to divvy up the conquered territories, an agreement could not be found. Air raids and stealth attacks followed. Finally, a compromise was found, but not before the land was basically useless. The wasteland now sits as a divider between the two nations. The loss of WWII cost this region its dignity.

Fortunately, this whole scenario didn’t happen. The WWII veterans that we honor still today came through for us, saving the world from a future no one wants to imagine. Because of their bravery and sacrifice, we now enjoy many freedoms as Americans. We have made it our mission to share these freedoms with the world.

Freedom of speech, freedom of press, and the right to bear arms. All of these rights that we have as Americans are insured by our military might. Here in the US, we are able to express our feelings, defend ourselves, and vote to change the way our country is run. The checks and balances system we have ensures that we will never have power hungry officials take over. We have freedom of religion and relative equality of the sexes, attributes that make America attractive to immigrants all over the world. Our veterans have made it possible for us to live lives not tarnished by worry over war in our own home. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for all countries.

The USA has military interests in many countries, especially in the Middle East. As a country, America has taken it upon itself to defend the rights of people who are unable to defend themselves. Recent veterans, ones who have served tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran, have helped establish basic rights for minorities and oppressed people. Our veterans have truly made a difference in the lives of people all over the world.

The effect that our soldiers have on the world is substantial. Even though peace is the goal, our presence right now is considered necessary by leaders. As we withdraw from foreign conflicts, our veterans have a lot they can teach us, such as teamwork skills and unshakeable integrity.

It is said that we must study history in order to learn from our mistakes in the past. In the future, our veterans can advise world leaders on whether to engage in combat or not. Veterans can also pass down lessons learned during their time in the military to make the US a better place. According America’s Job Exchange, former military personnel have great integrity as well as a better understanding of teamwork and communication skills, which are both vital to success. If the older generations can provide a good example for their descendants, the world will slowly change for the better.

Our country has been shaped over the years by countless acts of selflessness and bravery performed by our veterans. In the past, they fought to keep our borders safe, now they fight in foreign countries to defend our freedoms- and to try to establish them for others-, and in the future, they will continue to provide us with defense and wisdom which we can use to keep America the Home of the Free.

Think back to that future I had you imagine. Pretty awful, right? Now think of the world we live in now. Which one would do you prefer?

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Filed under Ashley Grace's Corner and The Chick Project..., Family, General

1200 Calves, a Dozen Eggs, and the Start of Winter…

The last six weeks have been truly a blur. This time of year I loose sense of the day of the week as the days all seem to run together amidst a common theme —

Take care of the calves.

Unquestionably, October and the first half of November are the busiest times of the year at our feed yard.  Mother Nature stops giving the gift of grass, so cattle must be moved and fed in order to remain healthy for the winter. Breeding cattle (cows and bulls) are trailed or trucked to winter pastures where they receive supplemental feed or moved to graze the remnants of corn fields after harvest.

Cattle that will become beef are trucked to feed yards.

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The majority of the calves that are moved into feed yards like mine during this time are animals that are 8-9 months of age. Many of them are bawling calves which means that they are weaned from their Mamas at the same time that they leave the home ranch. These cattle are undeniably high maintenance and take a lot of work. Limiting the stress for these animals is critical, and they require a lot of time and care.

I am extremely proud of the care that my crew and I provide — we focus on what is best for each calf and work tirelessly to provide it.

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  • Exercising
  • Acclimating
  • Feeding
  • Maintaining comfortable pen conditions
  • Identifying any sick animals that need special care

All these things fill our days (and likely a few of our nights).

By the middle of November the fatigue sets in, and my crew and I anxiously await the end of the fall run. This week (for the first time in six weeks), we have no new animals set to arrive at the feed yard. This gives us the opportunity to catch up on secondary work that has been set aside as we cared for the new cattle and, hopefully, to take a few deep breathes in order to cast off the weariness.

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On the home front, I am happy to report that Ashley Grace’s chickens have begun to grace us with eggs. The laying process began slowly, but we are up to 2-3 eggs per day from her 5 laying ladies. While I sternly remind the feathered girls that they are food animals, I have to admit that I find myself talking to them while I do home chores…

My favorite farmer was pretty proud to be the one to find the first egg!

My favorite farmer was pretty proud to be the one to find the first egg!

I am sad to report that it appears that winter has arrived in Nebraska. We worked cattle Monday with sub-freezing temperatures and a 50 mph north wind. Today, I exercise calves at dawn with temperatures hovering around zero degrees.

I am reminded that this is the time of year to cowgirl up as working at a feed yard is not for the weak of heart!

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An Adventurous Journey…

I dreamed of many things when I was a young girl, but the thought of appearing as a Cover Girl in Beef Magazine never even registered on my radar screen.  While I have certainly been a life-long beef lover, my journey as a cattleman began at the age of twenty-two.

Eighteen years later, I am the proud recipient of the 2014 Trailblazer Award — an award given by Beef Magazine to a cattle farmer for his/her volunteer efforts to improve the beef industry.

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Receiving this award humbles me almost as much as the kind words and attention to detail that Joe Roybal and Beef Magazine placed on the story.  Please take a few minutes to read it online by clicking here.  Be sure to also click here to view the picture slide show that accompanies the main article.

The last 18 years have been a tremendously adventurous journey.  While the road to excellence is rarely comfortable, being tenacious enough to travel down it is incredibly rewarding.  Many thanks to all who have mentored me — Please know that I do my best each day to return the favor.

I hope that they deliver Beef Magazine to Heaven, as my Dad will likely want to brag a bit about this one…

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Filed under Feed Yard Foodie "In The News", General

The Best Part Of Me…

Anne Sally and Grannie picture

Three generations: June 1996…

I tell my daughters that they come from a long line of strong women. 

There are many types of strength, but I think that a quiet and compassionate strength is likely the most beautiful.  It is this type of strength that allows for universal greatness. A person of quiet and compassionate strength spends her life as a people builder — inspiring others to greatness.

I was blessed to grow up down the street from my grandparents.  I learned so much from each of them individually, as well as from watching them as a couple.  My beloved Grannie was the quiet strength that held the family together.  Her unconditional devotion to both her husband of 70+ years as well as to her children and grandchildren defined her as a truly remarkable woman.

Today, there are very few people willing to sacrifice personal accolades in order to enhance the lives of those that they love —

Irma Winter McCall was that type of person.

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She was driven by a commitment to compassionate empathy — devoted to nurturing those around her.

While I cannot even begin to describe all that my Grannie taught me, the following lessons are those that I hold closest to my heart:

  • Marriage is a sacred commitment. Honor it by cherishing your husband.
  • Family is the epicenter of life’s true joy.  Be a devoted nurturer.
  • True beauty exists when love is given unconditionally.  Love without judgement.
  • Real strength lies in your ability to support and inspire others to greatness.  Success is defined by how many people you quietly mentor.
  • Empathy requires an open mind, and the realization that others have something meaningful to give.  Look outside of yourself so that you can be a student of the world.

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It was one of my greatest joys to share my children with my grandparents.  They routinely visited Nebraska — my grandfather to bird watch, and Grannie to play with her great-grandchildren.  My girls will make their life journey realizing the same lessons that I learned from this very special lady.  They will understand that although I falter at times in my own journey, that Grannie is truly “the best part of me”.

Our family will gather to honor her on Saturday.

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She will be there — her spirit holding us all together — smiling down from heaven while holding my grandfather’s hand.

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A Poignant Moment…

Thoughtful Thursday

I had a poignant moment yesterday morning when I opened up my email and saw a note from an older friend.  He wanted to share some thoughts with me after reading Tuesday’s post.  As I read his words, I was taken back almost 30 years ago when my Dad shared those identical ideas with me.  I had tucked Dad’s lecture somewhere in the back of my mind, but it somehow had become lost in the chaos of my life.

My dad was a history buff and critical thinker.  He frequently analyzed the workings of the government as he strove to fulfill his personal responsibility as a United States citizen.  As a child, I remember rolling my eyes when he would start a lecture — half paying attention and half wishing that I could remove myself from the pontification session.  I now laugh as an adult because my own girls do much the same thing.

As I read my friend’s words yesterday, I could feel my dad smiling down.  It was a great reminder to me that I should have paid closer attention to those childhood lectures —That I should have internalized them and taken them with me on my life journey.   Today I share the words of the email with each of you. I hope that you will read them and take some time to critically think about the path of our government.

Perhaps we all need to analyze the first documents of our country so that we can properly reflect on how far we have strayed from our forefather’s plan. I can think of no greater thought to ponder on this

Thoughtful Thursday.

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The very thoughtful personal comment from a Feed Yard Foodie reader:

I believe part of the reason we are in the pickle we’re in today is because we consider our nation a democracy, and don’t know how a republic differs from a democracy.  By definition a democracy is “majority rule.”  In a democracy individuals are represented (yes, it’s a “representative form of government”), but the purpose of that representation is to determine the will of the majority and force it on the minority.  But we are not a democracy by design or Constitution.  We were intended to be a republic.   We are supposed to be a Constitutional Republic, not a constitutional democracy.

If you are fortunate enough to read what our founders wrote personally about the formulation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, you’ll find that they didn’t think of our country as a democracy.  A democracy, by its very nature, has no need for “checks and balances” or a Bill of Rights – it’s only responsibility is to determine majority will and enforce it.  Our constitution, however, was written by men who knew democracies had this weakness, and gave us something better.  They chose instead to create a republic.

In a republic the sole function of government is to protect the God-given rights of every individual from majority rule.  Our founders were all students of history and knew the kinds of government they did NOT want.  They had seen them at work for centuries – kings, tsars, military conquerors, despots and tyrants, and the excesses of the French Revolution in the name of “equality” (the leaders of the French Revolution eventually were beheading people to force them to be free…).  This was happening at very nearly the same time our Constitution was being written.  ALL of our framing documents have the character of fencing in the potential for human abuse of power.  They were written to be preventative, placing limits and accountability between the branches of government (and even between the two houses of Congress).  What a huge difference from a democracy!

I’m convinced that this idea of a republic is “lost knowledge” today.  It hasn’t been taught in our schools for generations.  The media never refer to our form of government as anything other than a democracy.  Democracies are a form of organized mob rule.  Mobs are usually fired up by power-hungry bullies, and this is a flaw in democracy that can be exploited.  Democracies always gravitate to enforcing the will of bullies instead of the will of the majority.  Bullies who understand this (and they do) deliberately convince their followers that they are headed for the utopia of democracy, but their secret agenda and end game is a dictatorship.  Lenin, Stalin, Castro and Chairman Mao all understood this.  Their takeovers were always peddled to the masses as a “people’s movement” resulting in a “People’s Republic”, when in fact they all were just plain old power-hungry dictators and despots operating behind the thinnest of pretenses.  Surely their governments were republics in name only.

Once a populace buys into thinking of their form of government as a democracy (and has forgotten what a republic is or that they were one once), all sorts of crises arise.  For instance, there’s gridlock in Congress – a war between groups who each claim to represent the majority.  Rejection of any being higher in authority than the government, who bestows rights on individuals that are supposed to be impervious to majority rule and government tinkering.  There’s frustration among those who ascribe to long-held standards of family, marriage, stewardship – because democracy, which is all they know, seems to be unable to deal with it.  (Of course, it IS unable to deal with it – democracy is inherently a denial of any authority higher than majority rule.)  All the intrusive regulations and the agencies that promulgate them are products of a government that thinks its role is to enforce someone’s rules on everyone, rather than to protect individuals from the very same thing.  Each crisis presents a new opportunity for assumption of more power, and makes the majority more and more ready to accept a political savior at any cost. This is how Hitler (the ultimate power-hungry bully) came to power in Germany.

I believe the loss of this understanding lies at the root of all of our current problems.  It has been erased from our national conscience over at least three generations.  We are simply experiencing the unavoidable consequences of tossing out the Republic to gain a democracy.  Our leadership (yes, both Republicans and Democrats) should have been leading us back to a republic for decades, but instead have relentlessly been leading us to democracy.  Many wonder, “Why is my government so broken?  After all, it’s a democracy!”  It certainly is, and that’s why it’s so broken.

A very thought provoking comment as well as a reminder to me to always step back and look at the historical big picture when evaluating a challenging circumstance.

 

 

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Filed under General, Thoughtful Thursday

Americans Need To Engage…

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…

Two hundred and twenty seven years ago, our forefathers created a document designed to guide our country to greatness. I believe that these savvy men realized that our country’s journey would be riddled with challenges. As such, they recognized that a broad diversity of intelligence and talents in addition to a governance system based on a separation of powers would be necessary to create a sustainable future for our young country.americanwindmill.jpg

The heart of a democracy lies in the grassroots involvement of its citizens. These citizens engage their government leaders and consequently have an important impact on the direction of the country. There is a responsibility that goes along with the privilege of living in a democratic nation — this responsibility begins with voting but extends far beyond this influence. It is a two way obligation between elected leaders and those that they represent.

Leadership of the people, By the people, and For the people…

The framework of our government allows for three branches (Executive, Legislative, Judicial) and, provided these branches operate within their given authority, a separation of powers offers protection from individual abuses of power. On paper the system works, and it provided our country with an effective framework for many years.

My parents raised me to value many of the same things that I believe motivated our forefathers: personal responsibility, integrity and hard work. I carry these principles with me each day as I raise my children and my cattle on our farm. I look for those values in the politicians that lead our country, as well as the governmental framework that they operate within.

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While today I strive to be a proud American, I struggle to find pride in the bastardized form of democracy that is currently running our country. The unprecedented growth of our federal government and its arrogant overreach into the lives of grassroots America leaves me saddened and frustrated.

While my crystal ball is not perfectly clear, I worry that my children will live in a land:

  • Where the federal government is the largest employer in our country…
  • Where the eternal flame of entrepreneurship is extinguished by regulations and bureaucratic red tape…
  • Where activist groups and a handful of politicians who cater to them rule with little care for the wishes of the vast majority of citizens…
  • Where the democratic government laid out by the Constitution is nothing more than a façade under which the President of the United States and the Majority Senate Leader rule with total power as they defy the system carefully laid out by our forefathers…

It is time for Americans to engage — the behavior of some elected officials in Washington DC mocks the cornerstones on which our country was built.

Our system is broken and abuses of power are rampant. We all have the opportunity to engage:

  • Contact your Senators and Congressional Representatives.
  • Offer comments to President Obama and the regulatory agencies that he uses to implement his selfish platform.
  • Vote on November 4th.
  • Uphold your responsibility as a citizen of the United States of America.

    Something this beautiful is worth protecting...

    Something this beautiful is worth protecting…

It is time to once again have a government:

Of the People, By the People and For the People…

 

Political engagement letters by Feed Yard Foodie:

http://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/the-best-letter-that-i-never-had-to-mail/

http://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/the-epa-wotus-and-the-myth-of-environmental-protection/

http://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/did-you-know/

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Foodie Work!, General, Rural Communities

The Greatest Gift…

Thoughtful Thursday

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When we brought her home from the hospital almost 15 years ago, she fit in the palm of her daddy’s hand.  Today, she and her teammates compete at the Class C District Cross Country Championships. 

I am reminded that one of my greatest joys is sharing in the lives of my children:  mentoring them, supporting them, and loving them on their journey.  There is no greater gift.

Go Haymakers!

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