Who will be the Scott Frost of the beef industry?

I got to know Dr. Richard Raymond serving on Tyson Fresh Meat’s Farm Check animal wellbeing committee. A native of the Nebraska Sandhills, Doc served as Undersecretary for Food Safety at the US Department of Agriculture from 2005-2008. A blended background in medical practice, food production, and regulatory savvy makes for an interesting perspective and Doc has a natural ability to always leave me thinking…

Last weekend, I popped open my facebook account to find a Feedstuffs article that he authored. The title “Frost Returns to Nebraska” caught my attention as any true Nebraskan is aware that the Cornhuskers recently hired Coach Scott Frost to lead our football team back to greatness.  A former Husker quarterback, Frost led Nebraska to its last national championship game twenty years ago. I remember it vividly as it was my first football season on the farm in Nebraska.

The Big Red Nation has gathered around Coach Frost in support, and the hope of a return to greatness permeates the hearts of the 1,896,190 residents that call the Cornhusker state home. I never understood the united pull of loyalty toward a football team until I moved to Husker country. It seems that all 77,220 square miles of prairie bleeds red on game day as fans from all across the state unite to cheer on their boys of fall.

Doc raised an interesting challenge in his article:

Who will lead the beef industry to united greatness so that we can effectively communicate with our customers and build trust in our product?

It is no secret that the beef industry struggles for unity on a vast array of issues with over 900,000 independent farmers and ranchers that care for over 93 million animals. It takes an average of 2 years to bring beef from farm to fork, and many animals have multiple owners across their lifetime. The complex lifecycle of beef results from a unique blend of resources needed to bring the animals from a birth weight of approximately 75# to a final weight in the neighborhood of 1300#.

It takes a team of people to care for a calf across his lifetime; and politics divide the beef industry in much the same way that they currently antagonize the unity of our great Nation.

  • A divided nation struggles to tell its story.
  • A divided nation creates internal chaos which drowns out the voices of its customers.
  • A divided nation fails to achieve as high a level of efficiency when striving to work for continuous improvement.

In the twenty years since Scott Frost led the Huskers to the National Championships, I’ve often wondered what it would take to create a unified effort of cattlemen across the United States. The majority of us agree on so many important things:

  • Quality animal welfare
  • A strong focus on food safety
  • A need to care for the environment
  • The importance of transitioning our farms/ranches across generations so that our children can carry on the tradition of raising food.

The list is long and the importance of success cannot be understated. Within each of those above topics lies a long list of subtopics as we strive to responsibly raise a quality beef product.

Does any one person exist that can unite us in our search for greatness?

I don’t know, but I can tell you that it will take a team of dedicated individuals to deal with the challenge of building trust with our customers.

Together we are stronger.

Learning to listen, pool our ideas, and create viable production changes to meet customer asks will determine the success of the industry over the next twenty years. I don’t want to lose my ability to create a memorable family dinner centered around a delicious steak any more than the die-hard Husker Nation plans to let the tradition of victory fall by the wayside.

Scott Frost provides the beginning to a great Husker game plan –

Who will be the Scott Frost of the beef industry?

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How do you build “intentionality” and “perspective” in your life?

The FYF family traveled to the Grand Canyon over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was the first time in twenty years that Matt and I did not spend Thanksgiving on the farm, and the trip taught me a lesson in intentionality and perspective. The dictionary defines the word “intentionality” as the fact of being deliberate or purposeful; and “perspective” as a particular attitude toward or a point of view.

The Grand Canyon left me awestruck. Hiking in and around the canyon provided a truly unique perspective as the landscape view adjusts with each step and change in light. After several days of “looking”, I decided that I never would see all of the intricacies of the Canyon. Honestly, perhaps that is its true beauty. Each different view or perspective inspired me to keep looking — to keep searching — so that I might better understand it.

I came home thinking, “Is that really any different from my faith journey?”

It is easy to fall into a routine in our daily lives, as routines bring comfort. But, challenging our own perspective allows us to grow and mature. While looking at the world simply through our own eyes is easy, seeking to understand it at a deeper level requires intentional study.

I wrote a blog post on the 5th year anniversary of this blog (almost two years ago) called, “Refilling The Cup”In it, I talked about 5 things that I do in order to sustain as an advocate for agriculture. While this is a bit of recurring challenge, I find that staying true to these five practices helps me to keep going. Just as I struggle at times to refill my cup of agricultural advocacy, I also wrestle with refilling my cup in life.

In any given day, numerous people ask us to give time and energy to work on projects. Whether it is jobs, volunteer projects, or our families: the list of requests can get long and leave us feeling stressed and drained. While all of the things that we do hold meaning, they can quickly drain the cup if you have not developed a healthy culture that refills it and keeps you moving forward with a peaceful heart.

While a full cup leads to a true sense of joy as we reach out to help others and live with honor, a drained cup brings feelings of resentment and fatigue that create an unhealthy perspective. The healthy, peaceful heart slowly transforms to a sad one full of judgement. The body quickly follows with a bone deep tiredness that leaves us without inspiration.

For me, refilling the life cup stems from intentionally focusing on my faith. It involves valuing myself enough that I prioritize time to develop my soul. This not only allows for the cup to refill, but it actually allows it to grow so that ultimately I have more to give. I forgot this for a few years, but I have worked hard over the past 11 months to get it back.

Here is a short list of things that help me to create a healthy culture that refills my cup:

  • Take time to recharge — everyday. For me that is a combination of prayer and exercise.
  • Take time to commit to a perspective of hope — every hour. For me that is a periodic “gut check” to make sure that I value myself and believe that I bring meaning to the world.
  • Take time to commit to a smile — every minute. For me that is remembering to count my blessings and express gratitude for the gifts in my life.
  • Take time to commit to God — every second. His love and support inspires me to greatness.

Discipline and commitment to the above things allows me to retain my optimism and open my perspective. It is an intentional journey and one that never ends; but the road is lined with joy, hope, peace, and honor.

 

 

 

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Filed under Family, General

Tips for Facebook Live Broadcasts…

The weekend before Thanksgiving I attended the Nebraska Youth Beef Leadership Symposium at the University of Nebraska. I was asked to share my thoughts on “Building Trust” with the students, and (as often is the case) I came home smarter than I left. While at UNL, I had the privilege of hearing Haley Steinkuhler give insight into using Facebook Live broadcasts as effective social media tools.

Over the past 12 months, I’ve gone to work to build the skills needed for video social media outreach. I am a long way from “accomplished” in this department, but I’m getting smarter every day! It was an awesome opportunity for me to get to hear Haley and I wanted to share with all of you a list of tips for using Facebook Live that come from a blend of advice from both Haley and myself.

  1. The average attention span for humans is 8 seconds, so it is important to have a good start to your broadcast! That being said, as a live/interactive social media tool, a good Facebook Live allows time for interested viewers to get connected to the real time event before getting into the heart of the broadcast. It’s a delicate balance! Don’t be afraid to promote the event ahead of time to increase your “live audience” interactions.
  2. A good rule of thumb for informal Facebook Live broadcasts about agricultural topics is 3-7 minutes in length. While 3 minutes is short and hard to effectively communicate a topic within, you have to remember that asking your audience to give you 10 minutes of their day is a BIG ASK in today’s culture. I’m still working on this as I always seem to have too much to say!
  3. Many of the views will occur after the event ends so be sure to save and share the video after the fact.
  4. Facebook Live fits well when sharing: Special Events, Exciting Announcements, Interviews (Q&A’s), How To’s, Virtual Tours, and Behind the Scenes topics.
  5. Make sure you have a strong WiFi connection as well as plentiful battery power on your phone.
  6. Make an outline for the broadcast to keep you focused but let your personality show through by not using notes during the actual broadcast. No one expects you to be perfect — Be yourself!
  7. Depending on video length and location, using a “stand” allows the video picture to be less shaky.
  8. If outdoors, be cognizant of the weather as wind and cold can cause less than ideal experiences. Wind wreaks havoc with the audio and severe cold weather can cause your phone to stop working during the broadcast.
  9. Reiterate your core message multiple times during the broadcast as most of your viewers will not actually watch the video from start to finish.
  10. Give your viewers a “shout out” if they interact and ask questions during the broadcast. It is easier to accomplish this if you have a broadcast partner that can help you out — multitasking while running a live broadcast is hard!

Below is my most recent Facebook Live Announcing the Nebraska Beef In Schools program recently implemented by Holdrege Public Schools — As you will be able to see when watching, I am still building my skills! It is a fun journey 🙂

For more information on the Nebraska Beef in Schools program click here

A special “Thank You” to the University of Nebraska as well as Haley Steinkuhler for helping to make us all smarter! If you have any other thoughts or tips to share regarding Facebook Live broadcasts please share them in the comments 🙂

 

 

 

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Filed under General, ILS Beef / Beef Marketing Group, Video Fun on the Farm

What Role Does a Veterinarian Play Taking Care Of Cattle?

Sometime in the later part of the 90’s, not too long after I moved to Nebraska and went to work at the feed yard, I asked my consulting veterinarian to come out to the farm and help me diagnose a calf.  I knew that something was wrong with it, but I was struggling to pin point the specific illness.

When the vet arrived, he looked at the calf and said, “Anne, this calf is ADR”.

I replied, “Doc, what does ADR mean?”

He responded, “Well Anne, ADR means ‘ain’t doin right’.”

Over the years, I came to appreciate Doc’s humor almost as much as his tutelage regarding animal health. He helped me to guide the above-mentioned calf back to good health and his mentoring went a long way to developing my skills as a savvy animal caregiver. Together, we developed:

  • Biosecurity plans to keep our farm as clean as possible
  • Preventative Health Programs (including vaccination schedules) to keep our animals as healthy as possible
  • Individual animal treatment protocols for a variety of illnesses that sometimes challenge our animals on the farm

His routine visits to the farm as well as our conversations by phone in between those visits kept me moving effectively down the road of good animal care. Much to my children’s chagrin, I started bringing home his interesting verbal lingo. I’ll never forget the look on the family practitioner’s face the first time I told him that one of my girls was ADR. His level of surprise mirrored the level of embarrassment on my daughter’s face as she informed both of us that she was not a calf!

Anyone who has children recognizes that their good health will be interrupted with bouts of sickness. The key to being a good caregiver is recognizing the point that the pendulum shifts from healthy to ill. We take our kids to the doctor when they get sick and are their devoted advocate and caregiver until they are well. It’s really not very different from the relationship that I have with my veterinarian caring for my cattle.

We create an effective team that drives both good health and an accountable trail for good animal care. Many animals will never get sick in their tenure on my farm, but I am prepared to work with my veterinarian to help them get better when illness strikes.

Together we are stronger!

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Filed under Antibiotics, hormones, and other growth promotants..., General

What is the Integrity Beef Sustainability Pilot Project?

The month of November always leaves me thinking about the concept of community. I think about it in terms of the athletic teams that I coach — the volunteer efforts that sustain my rural town — and the way that farmers all across the “food chain” must find both continuity and effective communication in order to work for continuous improvement. How do teams of people effectively come together for the benefit of a meaningful cause? And, perhaps more importantly:

Why is it so important?

It is no secret that the beef life cycle is complex and often involves many partners across the production chain. From the rancher who owns and manages the breeding herd — to the feed yard that cares for the cattle for the final few months — to the packing plant and then finally the retail distributor that brings the beef to your dinner table; all of these groups of people must find a way to come together to make a beef product that is marked by integrity.

The US Roundtable For Sustainable Beef (USRSB) provides a foundation on the topic of sustainability to inspire teamwork and community as we travel the journey of continuous improvement in the beef industry. Pulling together the entire vertical supply chain and developing scientific metrics on the important topics of:

  1. Animal Health & Well Being
  2. Efficiency and Yield
  3. Land Resources
  4. Air and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  5. Water Resources
  6. Employee Safety & Well Being

The Integrity Beef Sustainability Pilot Project provides the first collective effort to trace the footprint of beef across the supply chain. It will, in essence, trial the work of the USRSB in a real-time business scenerio so that we can all keep getting smarter relative to beef sustainability. Click on the below video to see the framework for the project.

Sustainability is a tough topic to wrap your arms around; but the work of the USRSB and the Integrity Beef Sustainability Pilot Project brings the beef industry together as a community in order to search for positive improvement.

  • You can’t open your mind if you don’t look for new ideas.
  • You can’t figure out how to get better without always searching for ways to improve.
  • You can’t find an answers to important questions if you don’t volunteer to be a part of projects that seek new knowledge.

It’s a really awesome project to get to play a role in, and I am very excited to see what we learn as we move forward in the next few months!

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Filed under Beef Cattle Life Cycle: Ranch to Retail, Environmental Stewardship, General

Packing my FAITH to race with GRACE…

On May 25th I published The Good Life Halfsy as a promise to myself of great things to come. I wrote it just a few days after signing up to run my first half marathon – an important component to my journey to regain my spiritual health.


Sunday morning, with 550 miles of running training — a smile on my face and peace in my heart — I packed my FAITH to race with GRACE.

Fortitude                                     Gratitude

Attitude                                        Resilience

Integrity                                       Acceptance

Trust                                             Compassion

Hope                                             Eloquence


My favorite farmer filmed the finish of the race so that I could share it with you 🙂

God had my back and I learned in a very tangible way that my faith could be stronger than my fear. 

My high school Cross Country coach would likely tell you that my running form still needs some work 😉 butI overcame that with grit and determination to finish the race in a time of 1:42.49. I negative split the race (ran the second half faster than the first) with an average pace of about 7:50 per mile.

It’s amazing what happens when you open your heart and mind and let God’s presence fill your soul. I trained and then completed the race with no stop watch — a decision that I made before beginning the journey in order to help myself to learn to let go of control and just BE.

Somewhere along the journey, I learned to lean on God. To find joy and peace in the times that we spend together each day, as well as strength to overcome the physical and mental barriers that had plagued me since my battle with Graves Disease more than ten years ago.

As I crossed the finish line, I was proud of me.

Proud of the person that I found deep inside of myself during the training journey. 

Life is about much more than any one race or moment in time. The lessons learned along the way carry you forward on the road to excellence. I found that I needed to build the muscle of hope in my heart just as much as I needed to build the muscles in my legs.

When you build the muscle of hope, then faith supports you on the journey!

 

 

 

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Filed under Chronicles of a Retiring Feed Yard Boss Lady, Family, General

Finding Honor While Raising Food Animals…

I learned an important lesson on Saturday morning — When it is 12 degrees outside, your phone might get “cold” and shut down in the middle of a Facebook Live broadcast 🙂 It never crossed my mind that would happen. I’m used to working in the cold — I just assumed that my phone would be too!

I am very proud of my favorite blonde cowgirl who helped me with the broadcast. She did an awesome job! Due to the “phone shutting down complications”, we ended up with two broadcasts: one with no ending, and a second one telling the entire story more efficiently (before the phone shut down again!). Below find the second broadcast. You can find the first one on the Feed Yard Foodie facebook page if you would like to compare 🙂

The moral of the story is that there is always something new to learn! The road to excellence may not always be comfortable, but it’s certainly an interesting journey…

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Filed under General, Video Fun on the Farm

How do you work to expand your limits?

I am a creature of habit.

I like routine and I am all about self-discipline.

If you need someone to count on, I’m likely your girl.

However, when it comes to working to expand my limits, I have to admit that it takes an intentional effort to move me into “uncharted waters”. I thrive on habits but the art of establishing new ones can throw me into a bit of a tailspin…

I struggled for several months after closing down my feed yard to establish new habits. When you have done the same thing – everyday – for 20 years, it’s just plain hard to change. It took me a while to find my mojo, and probably more importantly, to accept my new life path with joy and pride. Like many good things in life, sometimes you have to go outside of your comfort zone in order to have meaningful personal growth.

I put a lot of miles (specifically 550) on my new running shoes (actually, I’ve now worn out two pairs) on my journey to find balance. As I look back on the last eight months, I can easily recognize the series of goals and resulting plans that led me down the path.

Signing up to run the Good Life Halfsy (half marathon) –> Rediscovering my love for running –> Finding peace

Taking a new job at the Beef Marketing Group –> Benefiting from a new innovative team –> Finding challenge

Dedicating time to coaching/mentoring –> Acknowledging my deep spiritual need to give back –>Finding love

Learning to take more time to enjoy my family –> Embracing my greatest blessings –> Finding joy

It’s interesting the places that life takes you when you intentionally take the time to look for the best path. If you are like me, just slowing down enough to see the options is a huge step in the right direction!

Good habits are awesome:

  • They inspire us to be dedicated.
  • They enable us to make good daily choices.
  • They allow us to create meaningful patterns in our daily lives.

However, to intentionally find personal growth, we cannot let habits keep us from looking for the next step — the next goal — the next chapter in the journey toward excellence.

Many of you that follow Feed Yard Foodie are food advocates — either as farmers or as foodies (or a combination of both!). The journey of advocacy never ends and the road is often uncomfortable; but we learn from each other and we expand our knowledge as we interact and create a team. Recently, I decided that I needed to expand my limits in social media in order to continue to be relevant – that statement could well have been a direct quote from one of the beautiful teenagers that calls me “Mom” 😉

I plan to continue to blog weekly on this site, but I am making an effort to be more active in other places as well.

  • Additional pictures and “micro-blogs” are being posted both on the Feed Yard Foodie Facebook page as well as Instagram. If you are active on either of those platforms and enjoy my farm tales, please give me a follow!
  • I am planning a second Facebook Live video this Saturday morning at 8:30am. Grab a cup of coffee and join Megan and I as we visit our yearling steers at Roberts Cattle Company. We will be focusing on the symbiotic relationship that occurs between farmers and their animals — hoping to answer the often asked question, “How can farmers care for animals for months or years and then send them to their death?” This is a difficult topic that many people grapple with, and I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts as a “city girl — turned farmer”.

In the meantime, Happy Fall to each of you!

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