Listening…

Listening

To hear — really hear — amid the noise

to risk being open to another perspective

amid the impacted certainties

to be able to listen to impassioned pleas

while owning the cries that come from our own hearts.

To hear an argument that does not resonate

disagree, if that be our call,

without demeaning the bearer of the words.

Amid the colliding words

injured by the words

injuring with our words:

help us to hear

your

Words.

Amen.

Women’s Uncommon Prayers: Our Lives Revealed, Nurtured, Celebrated

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It is by listening that we broaden our perspective—

It is through empathy that we are able to share —

Respect enables us to build a bridge…

The Feed Yard Foodie

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Filed under General, Thoughtful Thursday

Replacement Heifers: Meet Tippy…

Every once in a while someone will jokingly tease my husband that we should have another child. I immediately reply that he will need a replacement heifer in order to accomplish this as my days of pregnancy are far behind me. While my three girls are unquestioningly the best thing that I have done with my life, I did not do pregnancy well and my third triggered an autoimmune disease that brought a difficult and unforeseen challenge to my life journey.

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With only three successful pregnancies, I would have made a lousy breeding cow…

In all seriousness, the decision of which heifers (female calves) to keep on the home ranch to use in the breeding herd is one of the most important decisions that a rancher makes. Most ranchers keep a portion of their female calves on the ranch to become replacement heifers. These animals will go on to become breeding cows and replace the cows in the herd that are no longer reproductively sound. The majority of these replacement heifers will spend 10 years or more successfully making baby calves.

Her first year of calving she was called a "replacement heifer" as she took the place of an older cow who could no longer have babies...

Her first year of calving she is called a “replacement heifer” or a “first calf heifer”. Her job is the stay on the ranch — have baby calves — and care for them for the first 6-9 months of their lives.  After her first year in the breeding herd, she is called a cow…

There are a number of criteria that ranchers use when determining which replacement heifers to keep. A few of those might be:

  • Confirmation of the animal — good feet/legs, smooth walking gait, good overall physical frame and muscling.
  • Phenotypic Uniformity — many times solid colored with a generally appealing appearance.
  • Heifers from mothers who have historically good fertility and maternal traits as well as calving ease and nice personalities.

    Al and his daughter, Tessa, have a ranch near Halsey, NE.  I have worked with Al for more than 10 years -- feeding his steers and the heifers that are not chosen to be kept for replacement heifers...

    Al and his daughter, Tessa, have a ranch near Halsey, NE. I have worked with Al for almost 15 years — feeding his steers and the heifers that are not chosen to be kept for replacements in the breeding herd…

Those heifers that are not chosen to serve as replacements are sold and often end up at feed yards like mine. Sometimes they are animals that ranchers have a soft spot for, but do not keep for the breeding herd because they do not meet their set criteria. This is the case with Yellow #042…

We will learn more about Tippy in the next couple of months as she lives and grows at the feed yard...

We will learn more about Tippy in the next couple of months as she lives and grows at the feed yard…

My favorite blondes have named her “Tippy”. Can you guess why she didn’t make the replacement heifer cut?

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Filed under Beef Life Cycle-Calf #718, General

Different Types of Animals…

Thoughtful Thursday

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While a farmer cares for all of her animals, she must offer appropriate care relative to animal type.  Care for food animals is made up of a complex blend of cattle welfare, responsible land and resource use, and a focus on human food safety.

It varies from the type of care that my youngest daughter offers to her favorite cat because the animal’s purpose is different!

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Looking To the Future…

It is impossible to move forward without looking to the future. One thing that I shared in common with Robin Coulter Lapaseotes was a dedication to young people. I love to mentor and I know that guiding youth also held a special place in Robin’s heart.  We both recognized what an important role the next generation plays in the sustainability of agriculture in Nebraska.

Robin, at her feed yard just outside of Bridgeport Nebraska...

Robin, at her feed yard just outside of Bridgeport Nebraska…

I spent a day last week in Robin’s home community of Bridgeport speaking to high school students and talking with a couple of local cattlewomen. While I truly wish that Robin could have been there in person to share the day with me, I know that her spirit carries on with strength in the beautiful sandhills of Western Nebraska.

A beautiful sunrise off of sandhills ranch land near Bridgeport.  Thanks to Terryn Drieling for the picture...

A beautiful sunrise holds the promise of a new day…

Much like my town of Cozad, Bridgeport’s economy is tied to agriculture with farmers and ranchers making up the backbone of the community. There is an air of friendliness that permeates the region, with residents quick to offer a smile or a few minutes to visit. It is the quintessential Nebraska small town and personifies what I love most about my adopted state.

While I initially envisioned this trip west as a tribute to Robin, I think that I likely brought home more blessings than I could have left behind. This is often the case when I find myself speaking to students. I was able to catch the classes on the day before they left for the Nebraska State FFA convention and there was much excitement and enthusiasm about the impending trip to Lincoln.

Bridgeport FFA Students...

Bridgeport FFA Students…

I rounded off the day with a great visit with Terryn Drieling and Naomi Loomis. Terryn and Naomi are new up and coming bloggers as well as ranch hands, feed store managers,  moms, and a myriad of other things. I encourage each of you to check out their blogs and support them in their efforts to share their lives with fellow beef lovers!

Terryn and her family...

Terryn and her family…

Terryn blogs at Faith, Family and Beef

Naomi and her family...

Naomi and her family…

Naomi blogs at From the Corner of the Circle L

As I drove the 180 miles south and east headed for home, it occurred to me that looking to the future required not only personal intr0spection, but also reaching out to others to help you carry the torch.  It is finding the balance between remembering those that have influenced your life in the past and looking forward to new acquaintances to accomplish the work that still lies ahead.

Destiny is no matter of chance.  It is a matter of choice.  It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.

William Jennings Bryan

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Filed under General, Rural Communities

Moving Forward To Honor Those That Are Lost…

The finality of death becomes a harsh reality when faced with the loss of a loved one. A myriad of feelings bubble to the surface as the roller coaster ride of bereavement dominates one’s emotional state.  Each person is unique and grieves in his/her own way, but all of us share the same struggle to create a new normal when we lose someone special in our lives.

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As I look back over the last eight months, I initially see sadness – anger – despair – helplessness – but as I dig deeper, I notice other things as well. My own grieving journey demonstrates to me that there is so very much more to be found in the development of this new normal.

  • A sense of purpose develops amidst the loss…
  • A wealth of energy blooms amidst the fury…
  • A realization that life is truly a gift births a sense of thankfulness amidst the despair…
  • A burning need to share and contribute slowly overrides the sea of helplessness that comes from being forced to let go…
  • An epiphany dawns with the knowledge that with every day that you embrace moving forward, that you give honor and tribute to the one that is lost — forever carrying a piece of them with you.

There exists a great need for forgiveness amongst this journey: Forgiveness for the imperfections in the life that was lost as well as forgiveness of self to help alleviate the guilt felt by those left behind. yellowflower.jpp

Making the conscience choice to continue to live – to continue to share – to continue to love — begins this creation of the new normal.

This week we all take part in a preparation of Easter. Regardless of your religious affiliation, you will experience the new life that springs forth with the warming of temperatures and change of seasons. As the grass greens, the trees bud, and the flowers bravely make their way above ground, remember that life is a gift and, most importantly, that moving forward to share in that gift honors those that you have lost as well as helping to heal those who remain.

The joy of a new beginning exists around every corner — resilience, patience, and love ensure that we can all endure with grace.

How do you honor those that are lost?

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Filed under Family, General

Gold and Blue…

Thoughtful Thursday

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Cattle are great recyclers:  turning the remnants of last year’s corn crop into beef to nourish each one of us…

The striking contrast between the gold of the corn stalk stubble and the blue of the winter sky is my favorite combination of colors

— it was also one of my dad’s favorite —

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Filed under General, Thoughtful Thursday

Gettin’ Our Poop in a Group…

The manure that my cattle make is a very important component of our farm.  My favorite farmer tends to 4300 acres of crop ground, and the health of that soil is critical to our farm’s sustainability.

The alfalfa field behind my house...

The alfalfa field behind my house in its’ full summer glory…

Both plants and animals need a number of macro nutrients in large quantities to operate their metabolisms and build their bodies.  The important ones are carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. A farmer takes molecules which are organized in a low energy state and reorganizes them into forms that have energy and are ultimately available and usable to humans (food!).

Each year when a crop is harvested off of a field, it takes with it the important macro nutrients that nourished it during the growing season.  In order to maintain continuous soil health, these nutrients must be periodically reapplied to the soil.  The specific needs of the soil are determined by laboratory testing of the dirt through sampling.

Tractor and box scraper in a home pen getting the poop in a group...

Tractor and box scraper in a home pen getting the poop in a group

While the primary resource that my feed yard provides is beef and products made from cattle, my animals produce another resource during their tenure on our farm: manure.  This fertilizer is sampled and analyzed for nutrient values, transported to a nearby farm, and applied agronomically to refuel the soil.

A pile of manure waiting to be taken out of the pen.  The cattle enjoy playing "king of the mountain" until the pile is removed...

A pile of manure waiting to be taken out of the pen. The cattle enjoy playing “king of the mountain” until the pile is removed…

It is important that we get our poop in a group several times a year in order to maintain optimal animal comfort and the most judicious use of the manure that they produce. This process requires that Matt’s farming crew works with my feed yard crew —  teamwork is always best!

Loading the manure onto the truck to take it to the field that needs it...

Loading the manure onto the truck to take it to the field that needs it…

Spreading the manure on an old alfalfa field...

Spreading the manure on an old alfalfa field…

The field pictured above has grown the perennial plant alfalfa for seven years.  It is now time to fertilize the soil, and plant a rotational crop to help preserve soil health and protect future crops by breaking insect cycles and preventing weeds.  After growing corn for a year, it will be replanted to alfalfa.

I figure that it makes me pretty unique when one of the many reasons that my husband “needs” me is my cattle manure…

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Filed under Environmental Stewardship, Farming, General

Thoughtful Thursday…

Dad and Karyn searching for the elusive trout while a loyal four legged friend stands guard...

Dad and Karyn searching for the elusive trout while a loyal four legged friend stands guard…

My dad loved to take pictures.  He viewed it as a challenge and enjoyed playing with his camera as he explored hunting, fishing, and spending time with his family.  After he passed away last fall, my mom gave me his camera.  I have spent the winter trying to work on my photography skills.

In order to inspire me to continue to strive for excellence with my camera savvy as well as giving all of you a chance to experience some “less verbose” Feed Yard Foodie Posts, I am going to try a series of Thoughtful Thursday’s this spring.  The goal of these posts is to provide each of you with an inspiring thought while also capturing a snapshot of the natural beauty that exists on my farm.

Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday!

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A farmer defines success by the health of her animals, the care of her land, and their beautiful marriage which results in her gift of food to those in need.

The Feed Yard Foodie

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Filed under General, Thoughtful Thursday