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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Filed under A Farmer's View on Foodie Thoughts..., General

What Fuels You On the Journey?

25 years ago…

Sunday morning, just as the sun popped over the horizon, I logged in my 500th mile running since deciding to compete in the Good Life Halfsy October 29th in Lincoln, NE.

500 miles is a long way…
Farther than the width of the state of Nebraska – Similar to traveling from NYC to Cleveland…

I decided to keep a journal of my training as a bit of a whim. I figured that looking back on my swimming and running cross training for the race would be meaningful. More than four months into the journey, I am very glad that I did. Not because I plan to do it exactly the same way the next time, but because it gives me insight into the journey of peace that I embarked upon last June.

For the first time in my life, I trained not for time but as a means to regain my mental and spiritual health.

I’ve logged in more than 500 miles never wearing a watch. I never missed it because my pace was superfluous — I set out not to regain the athletic status of my youth, rather, to regain balance in my life. In less than two weeks, I will cross the starting line packing my faith to compete with grace. I know that what I accomplish on that day pales in comparison to what I have found running the gravel roads — watching the sun rise — and finding a deep sense of rightness in my life.

Somewhere along the way, I learned that my faith could be stronger than my fear. I found joy, peace, and inspiration as I opened my heart and refocused on what is most important in my life. I will cross the finish line with the knowledge that life is a journey.

That I am stronger than I ever imagined and that hope is the muscle that fuels faith.

I remember when I moved to the farm in June of 1997, I laughed to Matt that I traded flip flops for cowboy boots. Over the last four months, I have learned that my perspective on life is healthier if I also add in a pair of running shoes in order to fuel myself with some quiet time in the presence of God.

The blessings are numerous — we only have to look to see them.

Where did you see God today?

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

Hope is a Muscle…

I graduated with a degree in psychology from Dartmouth College in 1997. I remember clearly the phone conversation with my parents a couple of years prior when I told them of my chosen major. My dad struggled to find enthusiasm as he finally managed to say “Psychology’s not a very practical major. Don’t you think you should study something else?”

Two days after graduation, I moved to rural Nebraska where I used my psychology degree to learn to care for farm animals and coach young athletes. Over the almost 25 years that have passed since that phone conversation, I have routinely pondered why the science of the brain and the emotions that play critical roles in our lives fall into the “not practical” category of focus.

Mental health touches all of us. The mass shootings that all too often ravage our country were not even on my radar screen in the mid-90’s when I formally studied psychology; but the denial and feeling of shame that go along with smaller daily emotional  and mental challenges did permeate our mainstream American culture. Still today, we harbor embarrassment toward and quietly shun people who suffer from mental turmoil instead of reaching out in love and support. We chose to judge others, blame inanimate objects, and participate in rabid political debates after tragedy strikes rather than acknowledge the real problem and preemptively come together to focus on a cure.

Hope is a muscle.

When it is strengthened daily by love and faith, hope wards off the self-doubt, loneliness and fear that challenge and erode our mental health. The battle is real. No one holds immunity from it. Hope provides the inspiration that allows each of us to find value in life. It motivates us to reach out to others in love and support, instead of focusing inward with judgement and disdain.

A grass-roots effort is needed to create the cure. It starts with you and me – how we view ourselves — how we relate to others, as well as what we teach our children.

  • Do we focus on love of others and honoring the gift of life?
  • Do we respect individual differences while also working to find common ground so that we can move forward together as a team?
  • Do we accept that mental and emotional struggles are part of life and focus on creating the tools needed to find happiness amidst the challenge?
  • Do we have honest discussions with our children about faith that inspire them to love themselves while also recognizing that “we” is stronger than “I”?

Everyone matters.

We all have worth.

We are all children of God.

I believe that we begin to effectively improve the mental health of our country one person at a time – one relationship at a time – one loving action at a time. We waste precious lives when we judge instead of love. Repetitious acts of kindness build the muscle of hope. They not only help others, but they help us. We feel self-worth rather than self-doubt, focus on community instead of loneliness, and replace fear with faith as we look toward the future.

I spend a lot of time coaching and working with youth on the athletic field. While it may appear that my primary job is to build physical muscle and athletic prowess; I know that what I truly need to do is teach my athletes to believe in themselves – to truly believe that each one of them matters. Not just on the day of competition, but in the journey of life.

You see, hope is a muscle. When it is strong, it refills our cup and provides a beacon of light as we travel the journey. It keeps us honed in on the joy of giving. It tells us that we have something worth sharing and inspires us to reach out in empathy toward others. When we all work to build the muscle of hope, we rediscover the value of life. We are at peace and whole within ourselves through our faith in God which allows us to show love and compassion to others.

It isn’t complicated; but it requires dedication and tenacity both at the individual and community level.

Are you ready to build the habit of love and fuel it with faith in order to find hope for the future?

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Filed under Family, General

What Makes a Good Animal Trainer?

Learning about cattle…

I remember the first time that I stepped into a pen filled with cattle at our feed yard. I was 21 years old and had never been within a quarter of a mile of a bovine before. The first thought that ran through my mind was “They’re huge”, followed simultaneously with an almost automatic feeling of fear.

I’ve always believed in the saying Mind over Matter and, in that instant, I made the decision to figure out how these very large creatures viewed the world (and me). My gut pushed me to learn their story so that I could become a part of it. It’s been an awesome journey. Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with those big, hairy creatures. Their minds fascinate me, and I overcame my fear as I traded inexperience for knowledge.

Learning to work with cattle taught me more about myself than I would have ever imagined. Cattle’s ability to sense emotions and see the world in pictures challenged my natural linear thought process. I figured out relatively quickly that they were not able to think like me – that, in fact, it was not their job to think like me. Rather, it was my job as their caregiver to learn to think like them.

Empathy creates a powerful tool…

Today, I don’t handle cattle as often as I used to. I get my fill during the spring and summer months when we run cattle on grass pasture. But, once our grass is eaten up and I move them into the feed yard, I pass off the job of “primary caregiver” to the knowledgeable crew at Roberts Cattle Co.

Honestly, there are days when I miss that daily bovine-human interaction tremendously.

I’ve learned during my adult life that happiness is a self-fulfilling prophesy. I determine my own fate and my attitude defines my level of joy. When I sense a personal gap, I look to fill it in a meaningful way as that helps me to find daily fulfillment.

Enter Theodore…

Six months after closing down my own feed yard, I brought a 7 week old yellow lab puppy into my life. Labrador Retrievers have a special place in my heart. I shared a love for them with my Dad, and I have fond childhood memories of watching him train his hunting dogs. Theodore has helped me to fill the gap and I am broadening my animal training prowess. Just like cattle, learning to understand Theodore is a journey. We have a partnership with each of us having responsibilities to fill in order to find harmony together.

The following is a short list of qualities that I believe make a good animal trainer. While cattle are incredibly different creatures than dogs, I am finding that the qualities that make me effective in training them are remarkably similar.

  1. Patience: Animals have a way of trying to “outlast” their handlers. Being patient tips the scale in your favor as it allows you to control your own emotions and wait for the right moment as you teach.
  2. Consistency: Just as patience allows for success, consistent boundaries are critical for effective training. Animals learn what happens before what happens happens which means that good caregivers must be consistent with their feedback.
  3. Communication: Clear communication sets everyone up for success. Expectations and asks can only be effectively answered by the animal if he understands what you want. Be clear.
  4. Empathy: Animals are not smart enough to think like you, so to be an effective trainer you have to learn how to think like them. When you are able to put yourself in their shoes, then you can ask in a way that is meaningful to them which leads to your idea becoming their idea.
  5. Love: Someone once told me animals don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. A good leader always cares.

I am so very thankful for the lessons that my animals teach me. They enrich my life in countless ways as we make the journey together. Theodore’s a pretty awesome little partner 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Animal Welfare, Family, General