Tag Archives: Florida

Reflections…

My family traveled back to my home town for a few days at Christmas this year.  Every time that I go back to West Palm Beach, I am reminded of my childhood days.  I find myself trying to connect the dots that led me from the swimming pool and the beach to the prairies of Nebraska.

Christmas morning at the beach...

God’s paintbrush creates breath-taking Florida landscapes…

Approximately 1800 miles to the north and west takes you to Cozad, Nebraska…

While very different, God's artwork is also prominently displayed in my back yard in Nebraska...

While undeniably different, God’s artwork is also prominently displayed in my back yard…

Some may argue that Matt dragged me those 1800 miles from civilization to the great unknown but I view my move to rural America as a journey led by a search for my own special place.

16 and a half years later, Matt "encouraging" our oldest daughter (a Nebraska prairie girl) to try a taste of ocean life...

16 and a half years later, Matt “encouraging” our oldest daughter (a Nebraska prairie girl) to try a taste of ocean life…

As you can see, she was not initially a believer---adventuring into uncharted waters of her own accord...

As you can see, she was not initially a believer—lacking a desire to adventure into uncharted waters of her own accord…

It did not take long, however, for her to embrace the beauty of the ocean and all of its secrets...

It did not take long, however, for her to embrace the beauty of the ocean and all of its secrets…

Maybe she's just a little bit like her Mama---searching for her path in life---looking to discover how she can best use her talents...

Maybe she’s just a little bit like her Mama—looking for her own life’s path—searching for a way to make a difference…

When I arrived in Nebraska, I realized the start to a beautiful journey.  I found:

  • A place where I would discover a passion for the land and all of its marvelous creatures.
  • A place where I would find my own true self and the vocation that I believe that I was born to fulfill.
  • A place where I would learn to raise animals and grow food–cementing my belief that personal pride grows alongside hard work.
  • A place where I would raise a family—the next generation of thoughtful and motivated Americans.
Her life may one day take her back to the ocean---her life may instead keep her on the prairie, but it is my hope that she will make the most of all of the gifts with which she was blessed by continually sharing them with others...

Her life may one day take her back to the ocean—Her life may instead keep her on the prairie…

It is my sincere hope that wherever her destination, she will strive for greatness and stay true to her beautiful self.  I pray that she will always share of her gifts and talents as she ventures through those uncharted waters of life.  Today as I reflect back on the last 20 years, I remember this mantra from Winston Churchill:

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.DSC03744


May we all have the courage to delve heartily into 2013, always remembering that gifts are only as powerful as the number of people with whom we share them…

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Anne Dive Bombs A Cow: Part 2…

By: Bill Wiebking

The ride was a birthday gift to me. Prior to asking Anne, I remember asking about 13-14 other friends if they wanted to go. There were a lot of concerns, but the two biggest included the following. First, many thought I was going to be the pilot. Second, they were terrified of flying without an engine.
What made this flight even more unappealing was the associated ‘stunt’ package, where the pilot would perform loops and other aerobatics.

Anne, who shares a birthday very close to mine, actually thought it was a splendid idea. And with that, we were airborne.

Anne’s acceptance speaks very highly of her daring and adventurous character, which she has in spades. I know this because I’m a rather large person, and the pilot crammed me in the back of the sailplane for weight and balance reasons. (I actually wanted more window being the aviation buff.)  Anne doesn’t know this, but at least one point in the flight I thought I was going to hurl, and the back of her head was the likely discharge point. So like I say, she is very adventurous.

Our sailplane was pulled aloft by another plane. It was a red bi-wing. We probably flew for a good 30-40 minutes sightseeing before the sailplane pilot released the tow cable. The sailplane banked and dove to the left while the bi-plane dove to the right. The sailplane, I believe, immediately did its first loop.

In geography that only matters to Anne, the sailplane slowly made its way to the intersection of Jog Road and Hypoluxo Road in Palm Beach County Florida. At the time, we were flying over serious cattle country. Now, it is a massive housing development.

Our pilot proceeded to execute more stunts. It was very exhilarating, but as the hour was almost up the pilot decided to put the plane in a downward spin to lose altitude. We were over a grazing field with a herd of cattle when he nosed down. For fun, the pilot selected a cow out of the herd and dove on it.

So here is the picture from my perspective. The entire planet is spinning wildly with the exception of that one cow, the windscreen, the back of the pilot’s head and the back of Anne’s head. With the exception of those four things, everything else was a huge blur.

In my mind’s eye, I swear that cow was looking up at us, too. I also thought that I heard it say “Moo?” in quiet confusion, which is impossible being in a sailplane at around 2,000 to 1,500 feet. But, that is the memory.

That memory also includes Anne. She was very excited about the spin and the cow. Before it occurred, she was also in some sort of discussion with the pilot. To this day, I think she hijacked my flight. While it was hard for me to hear, I also think she was giggling or at least very amused in the spin toward the cow, which in a very literary sense would be a huge foreboding to her future with Matt, Nebraska and all her favorite Cornhuskers.

So thanks, Anne, for saying ‘Yes’ to the flight. Your heart in both adventure and compassion relieved my growing desperation. It also created a stronger bond of friendship between us, to which I’ve always been grateful. The flight also seems to have pointed toward your future, which makes that memory all the more wonderful as I continue to enjoy Feedyard Foodie.

Little did we both know at the time that I would spend my adult life caring for cattle!

Many thanks to Bill for bringing back good memories…For those of you that are wondering—we did not land the plane on top of any bovines.  We landed safely back at the airport. My favorite memory of the ride was making Bill nervous as we looped and drove through the sky (The pilot and I did do a little bit of plotting… ) I tease my girls that they are ornery—I wonder where they got that from??

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Ninety Years and Counting…

The Blondes and I were able to take a quick trip to visit my family in Florida last weekend.  Although we (as a family) rarely employ the divide and conquer philosophy, this time a busy schedule necessitated it so Ashley Grace and Matt stayed in Nebraska to hold down the fort.  It had been more than a year since I had been back to visit, and at age 90 and 91 my grandparents no longer travel out to see us. So, we traded the Beef State for the Sunshine State for a few days.

My favorite blondes taking in some sunshine with my beloved Grannie and Dedaw...

I was blessed as a child to grow up within walking distance of my grandparents, and my Grannie and I have always been especially close.  When Matt and I made the decision to get married, one of the biggest reasons why we chose to move back to the farm in Nebraska was so that our children could grow up rural America and be near a set of grandparents. I know that my girls will cherish the relationships that they have (and will continue to develop) with all four of the grandparents that they are blessed with!

It is no easy task to attain the age of 90 and 91—so what is the secret to living such a long and full life?

Here are a few tips from two of the pros!

  1. Love—After more than 60 years of marriage, the strong partnership that they have attained has kept them moving forward and emotionally energetic. They, quite literally, live for each other and provide an example of dedication to one another that both fascinates and inspires me.
  2. Activity—As avid walkers and bird watchers, Grannie and Dedaw give new meaning to staying healthy and in shape.  They walked 109 miles around Lake Okeechobee to celebrate their 70th birthdays more than twenty years ago.  Quite befitting to their devotion, they ended the eight day trek with a celebration kiss… Up until the last two years, they have continued to stay incredibly physically active walking upwards of several miles a day.  As young children, my girls always looked forward to visiting with Grannie and Dedaw so that we could go for long walks looking for birds and alligators.
  3. A Balanced and Healthy Diet—I have no memories of my grandparents ever being on a diet, but I do remember always being served well balanced, healthy, and home cooked meals at their house…Simple, good food was always what Grannie put on the table.  As children of The Great Depression, Grannie and Dedaw were always thankful to be able to put meat on the table at dinner time and would tell us tales of eating macaroni and cheese for several days a week when no meat was available during their childhood.  As a beef farmer, it is hard for me to imagine not having access to meat, but I live in a very different world than they did upward of 80 years ago.

    My mom with my girls in front of the house that Grannie and Dedaw lived in for 60 years...

Being around Grannie and Dedaw always reminds me to be thankful that I have never been hungry and have many choices available to me as I cook dinner for my family.  I chose to cook beef most nights because I like the way that it tastes, and I know that it is a great basis for a healthy meal.  I love the fact that it is as nutrient rich as it is delicious…

While in Florida, my dad cooked us some great tasting steaks on the grill with the help of his girls and his dogs!

Did you know that one three ounce serving of beef provides the following…?

 48% of your daily Protein needs

 41% of your daily Selenium needs

 37% of your daily Vitamin B12 needs

 33% of your daily Zinc needs

 25% of your daily Niacin needs

 20% of your daily Vitamin B6 needs

 19% of your daily Phosphorus needs

 17% of your daily Choline needs

 12% of your daily Iron needs

 10% of your daily Riboflavin needs…

All of these great nutrients packed in one piece of great tasting and satisfying beef!  Beef provides a meal that I feel good about serving to my family…Hopefully, 50+ years from now, my girls will be reminiscing about my long life that was filled with love, good health, and great food!

Until then, I will continue to fuel the next generation of athletes with beef knowing that I am giving them the nutrients that they need to grow strong and be healthy!

 

 

 

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The Complexities of Nature…

I have fond memories of riding on the top of my Dad’s hunting rig keeping a watch out for his bird dogs as they looked for quail.  I was always content to just be outside looking for animals and enjoying the landscape.  It was peaceful, quiet, and soothing to my soul—a sharp contrast to the city where we spent most of our time.

My brother and I next to the hunting rig with one of my dad's dogs and the quail she found...

It has been decades since I did that with any frequency… By the time that I was in Junior High School, swimming workouts and competitions dominated my life and kept me from weekends out at the hunting camp; but those early years with my family hunting on cattle ranches in South Florida gave me a glimpse of what I wanted my life to be like.  The quiet solitude that I found in the rural Lake Okeechobee area opened my eyes to the complexities of nature and gently steered me to the life that I live today.

My children take for granted the quiet solitude of rural life, and have learned early to respect the awesomeness of nature.  They watch the challenges that their daddy and I face everyday farming and caring for livestock amidst the irreconcilable force of Mother Nature.  Our life revolves around animals which both fascinates and frustrates them (depending on the day!).

The landscape of "The Mara" in Kenya---really not that different than the grasslands in Nebraska...

When Matt’s parents suggested a family trip abroad, the idea of a safari appealed to us because of our fascination with animals. However, it was not until I stood up for the first time in the safari jeep that I felt the sense of déjà vu taking me back to my childhood memories of riding on the top of the hunting rig.  I remembered trying so hard to spot animals and keep track of the dogs…I remembered the rush of pleasure when my dad would tell me what a great “look out” I was…I remembered the quiet beauty of the grass lands and the marshy swamps…

Megan, on the "look out" for animals...

As we spent our days riding around in the jeeps on safari, I smiled watching my middle daughter, Megan, look for animals with the same tenacity and fascination that I had as a child.  Her expression of awe and pleasure as she took in both the animals and the landscape warmed my heart and reminded me so much of both myself and my dad.  As the saying goes, the apple does not fall very far from the tree.

They come from different worlds...

My oldest daughter, Ashley Grace, brought home memories full of facts on the animals and the culture of Kenya.  She is a twelve year old walking encyclopedia with a keen ability to remember facts and details, and soaked it all up like a sponge.  I am fully expecting for her to periodically surprise us with random facts from Kenya for many years to come!  I am also trying to get her to write some poetry about the trip, and hope that she will accommodate us and put some up on Ashley Grace’s Corner soon.

It looks quite a bit different than our house...No electricity, no running water, a dirt floor, and it houses eight people in a room smaller than my kitchen...

My youngest daughter, Karyn (age 7), had perhaps the biggest epiphanies on the trip.  The afternoon after we visited a tribal “homestead”, she looked at me and said: “Mama, I learned something today.  Not everyone here has everything that they need.”  As a parent, I cannot think of a better lesson.

She got a little bit braver after the initial shock wore off and she was no longer sitting in the seat directly below the cheetah...

About two days after this, a cheetah jumped up on the roll bar on the jeep that she and Megan were riding in.  Karyn and Megan were riding in the back seat (right below where the cheetah jumped up), and Karyn amazed everyone with her ability to move with ROCKET SPEED to the front of the jeep!  Megan had just remarked early that morning that she really wanted to see a cheetah—After the cheetah jumped on their jeep, Karyn told Megan that getting THAT close to a cheetah “really was not necessary”.

Up close and personal...

Although Karyn remembered with clarity, sometimes it was challenging for the rest of us to recollect that the animals were wild and untamed.  The guide told us that the first thing that the animals learn when they are young is who their mom is.  The second thing is what a jeep looks like.  They view the jeep as a “cage”, and as long as we stayed inside the jeep it was just a natural part of their environment.

Am I going to make it?

The same cheetah that jumped up on Karyn and Megan’s jeep also jumped up onto the jeep that Matt and Ashley Grace and I were riding in.  As awesome as it was to see it that close up, it was incredibly disconcerting every time that the big cat looked down into the jeep at us.  I have to admit that it even made me a little bit nervous.  Interestingly, as you can see from this picture, Ashley Grace (my cat lover) was without fear and completely enamored by it.

Aglow with wonder...with an unrestrained wild cheetah close enough to reach out and touch...

Although all three of my daughters created their own independent experiences and memories in Kenya, they all brought home a new perspective.  They gained a new appreciation for both nature and for the blessings of living in a country where food, opportunity, and modern technology are aplenty.

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Welcome to Feedyard Foodie!

Life is full of transitions and changes—how else would a city girl get from South Florida to New Hampshire to a cattle farm in Central Nebraska?  It will *hopefully* be less of a culture shock for this “feedyard foodie” to enter the world of social media than it was to move to Nebraska and learn to care for cattle!  That being said, please be advised that I am much more comfortable handling cattle and riding my horse than I am posting blogs and figuring out what a “widget” is!

When I moved from New Hampshire to Cozad, Nebraska I really had no idea what my life was going to look like on a day to day basis.  I had always loved animals, had always wanted to spend my time outdoors, and had always been enamored by the romantic notion of a cowgirl.  However, I had no “hands on” knowledge of what it took to care for animals.  The last fourteen years have been an incredible journey for me.  An inexperienced, but well educated urban woman metamorphed into a mature and saavy animal caregiver.

I am so proud of what I do.  I believe that humanely raising animals for the production of food is an admirable vocation, and I am committed to both continually improving the welfare of my animals and the safety and quality of the beef that they produce.

I am an American, I am a wife, I am a mother, and I am a cattle farmer.  I wear many hats and I wear them with pride.  I care for animals that will be harvested to feed to my family and to your family.  I take a tremendous personal responsibility for the animals that I raise and I look forward to sharing that journey with you.  Please feel free to ask questions—any question that is asked in a respectful manner will get answered.

This is a journey that we will navigate together, as we strive to close the gap that exists between rural America where food is raised, and urban America where food is consumed.

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