Different Types of Animals…

Thoughtful Thursday

animaltypecollage2.jpg

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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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

cornfield2

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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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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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!

coffmancalf1a

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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The Joy of Chaos…

While I tend to run my cattle feed yard with an incredible degree of particularity, my house can only be described as a place of joyful chaos. I gave up the need for carefully construed order sometime around the birth of my third daughter. It likely was a survival mechanism as I began to recognize the importance of retaining my sanity.

I traded order for laughter — the need to control for faith…

Although ten years ago I might have claimed that letting go was against my very nature, I actually think that it has improved my parenting prowess by inspiring my older daughters to achieve a greater degree of responsibility. I believe that the duo secretly enjoys attempting to keep the household running and, between the five of us, the daily chores always seem to get completed.

Every once in a while, we are thrown off kilter and the tenuous balance temporarily disappears. When this occurs, I do my best to laugh as I improvise and call on faith to carry us through. Friday was one of those days…

They seem to be cut from the same cloth...

They seem to be cut from the same cloth…

Early afternoon, my favorite farmer loaded up the vehicle with suitcases and our family set off for a trip to Florida. This past week has been more chaotic than normal, so each family member was charged with packing their own luggage for the trip and placing their suitcases in a predetermined location by the door.

As we pulled off of Interstate 80 (approaching the airport and about 100 miles from home), we realized that my youngest daughter’s suitcase was still buried on the end of her bed. (Anyone that has seen Karyn’s bed will understand that it is possible to lose a small mountain in the menagerie of stuffed animals that sleep there…) While she had followed directions and packed a suitcase, she failed to place it with the other luggage as she left for school that morning. It never occurred to my favorite farmer that the pile of luggage in the hallway was one bag short!

karyn

The car got really quiet as it dawned on all of us that Karyn had no clothes for the long weekend trip. I quickly burst into laughter because it seemed to be the best available option of cutting the tension that permeated the car. It didn’t take long for Megan to join in my hilarity, and Ashley Grace to begin her typical litany of humorous sarcastic remarks—soon everyone but Karyn was smiling.

Exercising my savvy problem solving skills I pulled quickly into the Grand Island mall and bought Karyn some emergency clothes. We were back in the car within 10 minutes, and headed once again for the airport. We arrived just as the check-in desk was closing, and boarded the flight a few minutes later.

Laughter is good for the soul. Learning to let go and give it to God is a tremendous survival mechanism. What could have been a tensioned filled crisis became a source of humor that set the tone for a great family adventure.

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I cannot recall exactly what day I made the choice as a mother to embrace the joy of chaos, but it has enabled me to trade tension for laughter — shifting my focus to the blessings that come from the gift of a family.

What is your survival mechanism?

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Through the Eyes of Others…

Seeing yourself through the eyes of others always leads to an insightful introspection.  I have taken part in many media interviews over the past decade, and each one has been a tremendous learning experience.  Whether the image that I get when I read the article is the same as the image that I see in the mirror each day or if it is a different one — I develop a wider perspective with each interview.annecorn

The following article appeared in the Kearney Hub yesterday as the newspaper “Saluted Agriculture” this week.  It was a fun interview for me to do as the reporter was genuinely interested in my farm and how I grow beef.

From Florida to Cozad Feed Yard: Burkholder’s Journey is just about everything cattle and she loves it.

A second article that focuses more on Feed Yard Foodie appeared in another section of the same paper.  I am humbled to be highlighted in such a big way, and thankful for all of the opportunities that a life in agriculture has offered to me.

Voice of Agriculture

As we celebrate National Agriculture Week, please take a minute to get to know a farmer.  We all get smarter as we get to know each other and see the world through the eyes of others…

 

 

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