Blending Dreams With Reality Leads To Harmony…

For every little girl that dreams of a life in rural America being a cowgirl, there are many others whose dreams take them to beaches, cities, and a diversity of other places.   What each little girl holds close to her heart is unique and personal—changing over time to meet her maturing perspective.

I now have three girls with big dreams of their own!

When I had grandiose visions of being a cowgirl as a child, I thought of tall grass and beautiful wild flowers with cattle munching as they moved from one mountain meadow to another.   The scene was peaceful and picturesque with a rider on horseback guiding and caring for the cattle.

She’s found the grass and the wild flowers, now she heads off in search of the cattle!

My childhood dreams came back to me last week as Megan and I moved our grazing cattle.  The grass was a lush vibrant green, the cattle moved peacefully from one pasture to another, and I had the company of my daughter as we experienced the beauty together.

Found them!

The cattle ranching component of our farm is the only one that resembles my childhood dreams, however, there are many other parts to our farm that help to make it more viable and sustainable.  For us, a diverse farm is what happens when dreams are blended with reality. 

Our land and our cattle blend together in harmony to make our farm sustainable…

This week marks our 15thanniversary on the farm.  As I look back, I can see how our dreams and ideas have blended with reality to create innovation and harmony.   Our farm evolves and changes daily as Matt and I become better and more experienced caregivers for our land and our cattle.  I am confident that 15 years from now, our farm will be even better than it is today.

What are the biggest changes that we have made on our farm over the past 15 years?

Our cattle…

  1. The purchasing and selling of our cattle has become vertically collaborative as I realize my dream of tracing cattle from birth to harvest in order to improve the health and care of our animals and the quality and safety of the beef that they produce.
  2. With each day that passes, I place an ever increasing importance on animal psychology and holistic care that has a basis in Beef Quality Assurance and low stress cattle handling.
  3. The ethanol industry brings the feed product of wet distillers grains to our cattle farm which has improved the nutritional care that I offer to my animals.  Wet distillers grains is what is left after the ethanol has been extracted from the corn kernel, and it makes a fabulously rumen friendly feed for my cattle.  We blend the wet distillers grains with alfalfa and corn stalks / wheat stubble to create a blended feed of grains and forages.

    Our crops and alfalfa dehydration plant…

  1. The capitol purchase of a saw dust burner allows the alfalfa dehydration plant to be fueled by recycled materials instead of natural gas.  This reduces the environmental footprint of Matt’s alfalfa business.
  2. The capitol purchase of a Claas Jaguer chopper (pictured above) allows Matt to harvest more alfalfa using fewer pieces of equipment, fewer man-hours, and fewer amounts of diesel fuel—this makes his crop farm more efficient.
  3.  The production of a blend of traditional crops and organically certified crops gives our farm diversity in sales and products which helps to keep our farm economically viable despite the current volatile markets.

I am very proud of what Matt and I have built over the last 15 years.  Our hard work and innovative ideas have allowed the farm to prosper.   We have also been blessed to add three new dreamers to the family with the birth of our girls–it’s been a busy 15 years–I wonder what the next 15 will look like?

 

14 Comments

Filed under CAFO, Farming, General

14 responses to “Blending Dreams With Reality Leads To Harmony…

  1. It looks like you guys are really keeping up with the constantly changing ag environment. I’m glad to hear that your 15 year trip has been great. I have a question for you: what is the furthest you have cattle shipped in from?

    • The majority of our cattle are of Nebraska origin (about 85% of the cattle fed in a year). However, during the summer months we do place some cattle from down south (Kansas, Oklahoma, Northern Texas) due to the weather and availability.

      Anne

  2. Congrats on 15 years! Looks like you’ve come quite a long ways!

    • I am certainly a very different person than I was 15 years ago (I have the wrinkles to prove it!). My experiences and learning on the farm have enriched my life and changed my perceptive on many things.

      Anne

  3. Nebraska Farm Wife

    Congrats!! Even at year 3 on our farm I think “where did the past three years go” then I read this and I think “holy cow! 15 years seems like such a LONG time” Bet you will be enjoying some Nebraska Beef in celebration!!

    • It won’t be long before those 3 years become 15! Time seems to fly by faster with every day that passes.

      We enjoyed home grown beef most nights–one of the perks of raising cattle!

      🙂 Anne

  4. Bill

    When is Matt going start his new alfalfa blog, Mow the Lawn? Or does he have a new name?

    • I am laughing, Bill. I do not think that my engineer turned farmer husband is going to start a blog any time soon…He disliked writing papers in college so I do not think that he will voluntarily be writing anything now that it is not required—he is much happier with a math problem!

      Anne

  5. Tom

    Just happened upon your blog while finding which animal gives us beef – city boy! Your writing flows so smoothly & pictures are wonderful, even on my small cell screen! Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to more! Tom from Boston

    • Hi Tom:

      I am so glad that you stopped by to read and comment, and I hope that you will keep reading! I have many memories of Boston from my years in college in the Northeast. I never got the hang of driving in the city, but always enjoyed walking around down by the river. It is a beautiful place.

      Thanks again for reading—I look forward to hearing from you again!
      Anne

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  7. Hey Ann,
    We were curious about your alfalfa process. Do you do this on your land and if so do you eve have to lease land for things? Also do you use all your alfalfa for your cattle? How many acres do you plant with alfalfa?
    Thanks,
    Seasonsgirl

    • https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/striving-for-sustainability/ Hi there! Here is a link to another post that will provide you with a little bit of history and some more info on our farm. It is archived under the topic of “Farming” along the right side of the home page.

      Matt is predominantly an alfalfa farmer and most of the alfalfa that he grows he dehydrates into animal feed pellets called “dehy pellets”. These pellets are high in protein and vitamin A and are easily transportable which makes shipment more realistic. The alfalfa dehydration plant of Matt’s is located in Cozad, Nebraska in close proximity to our farm ground. We both own and lease farm ground, but try to get long term leases on the ground that we do not own for logistical reasons. Matt has a larger farming operation than I have a cattle feed yard, so he produces a lot more alfalfa than I can use. He sells that extra alfalfa to dairies, chicken farms, Purina/Land O Lakes, and other feed distributors. It is also used for Zoo feed and horse feed. Matt provides me with all of the alfalfa that I need, then he markets the rest of it to other people. For the growing year of 2012, he grew 3060 acres of alfalfa and got 4 cuttings off of each acre. Matt is a partner in a company called “alfagreen supreme” http://www.alfagreensupreme.com/ that is based out of Ohio. Matt’s family was originally from Ohio and it is fun for us that he is now partnering with the same people that his grandfather used to work with.

      I hope that you had a Happy New Year!
      Anne

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