Category Archives: Feed Yard Foodie “In The News”

One Story at a Time…

How do we build trust with our urban customers?

I often receive this question when visiting with farmers or groups of students that plan to make agriculture their choice of career. I think that deep down everyone realizes the true answer, and yet there is always that same look of hope in their eyes as they wait for my response.

The look of hope soon becomes a look of resignation as I reply,

One story at a time.”

Reality dictates that there are no short cuts to building relationships. A basic understanding of psychology reminds us that trust requires a relationship. Just as there is no such thing as a free lunch, there is also no such thing as a quick fix to the quagmire that agriculture faces in 2017.

Farmers spend their days growing food, while their urban customers ask for transparency to fill the great void of trust that exists in our country. While at times it seems that we come to the issue with very different perspectives, I am fairly certain that we will all make a strong team if we can bridge the trust gap.

Many years ago, in the early days of Feed Yard Foodie, I wrote a blog post entitled, It’s not about the trailerAlthough it was written in 2012 and I laugh at how small my girls were in the picture, I believe that the heart of the message stands the test of time.

We build trust by sharing of ourselves.

Over the past six weeks, I presented to students at three universities/colleges in Nebraska and Kansas. The title of my presentation was “Sustainability, Responsibility, and the Art of Balance”.

My hour long presentation held ten main messages:

  1. Success is a journey, not a moment in time. It should be driven by your core values and your passion to be better tomorrow than you are today.
  2. Live a story worth telling, and then tell it with a passion. Over time, others may begin to also tell your story — sharing is a good thing.
  3. Remember that as farmers we do not just grow food — we grow our communities and we grow the future. Be inspired to volunteer and share your gifts to help make the world a better place.
  4. Pack your FAITH — make goals and stay true to your core values.  Hold yourself accountable!
  5. Balance your commitment to people, animals, and planet by using science to judiciously use your farm’s resources, and your heart to help you build relationships.
  6. Engage in the food production conversation because the stability of our country is intrinsically tied to the availability of a safe, plentiful food supply.
  7. Realize that you can learn something from everyone. They key to building relationships is learning to deal with awkward moments with both grace and class.
  8. Understand that it is the courage to continue that counts. The journey is long and it is hard — learn how to refill your cup.
  9. Be KIND. It does not always matter that you are right, but it does matter that you are kind.
  10. Believers make good team members. Recognize that together we are stronger, and we must all be inspired to believe in order to be successful.

This week I discovered that my alma mater, Dartmouth College, picked up and shared a news article that resulted from my presentation at Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska. It made me want to laugh with the joy of victory, and cry with the huge bubble of emotion that comes from a long, long journey of hard work trying to connect the people of my past with the people of my present.

It only took one story to bring two vastly different college cultures together for a moment of time.

A relationship begins with a moment of time.

Can you imagine the impact of hundreds of thousands of those moments?

Are you ready to tell your story?

The team needs you.

After all, that’s how we build trust.

 

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F.E.A.R.

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I found this quote on Instagram a few weeks ago. My girls tease me that I am a quote nerd.  I proudly reply that my grandfather taught me long ago to appreciate the potent message delivered by a cleverly strung cluster of words 😉

While I did not personally coin this particular acronym, it well describes my experiences in 2016.

No one can claim immunity from fear, but fear only defines us if we chose to allow it.   

Fear of the unknown provides one of my greatest personal challenges.  I am a stalwart creature of habit, and I like to be in control.  As a result, my decision last summer to close the feed yard left me terrified. Over the course of 2016, I discovered that a decision takes on an entirely new level of enormity when it involves altering a 45 year old business.

The mental process of defining the cause of fear provides a critical survival practice for me.  While I may occasionally wish that I could forget everything and run; the act of facing the challenge ultimately provides the courage to rise above it. As I reflect on 2016, I acknowledge the personal struggle that marked most of the year.

I end this time period proud of my decisions and the actions that resulted from them.  2017 will bring change; however, I stayed true to my core values and consequently can look with both excitement as well as confidence on into the future.

Sherry Bunting did a wonderful job “telling my story” in a recent article in the Progressive Cattlemen magazine entitled As Will Feed Closes, Reflecting On Twenty Years In the Feed Yard.  You can read it by clicking here.

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Happy New Year to you and your loved ones! 

May 2017 inspire you to face everything and rise…

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The Atlantic.com

BCItshirt.jpgI received a request for a phone Q and A interview from a business reporter at The Atlantic.com early last week.  With the busy fall days and our “farm transition”, I was tempted to turn it down.  But, the request intrigued me as the Q and A was part of a series entitled “Working” which explores the range of things that Americans do for work and how they feel about their profession.  After completing the phone interview last Friday, I was glad that I chose to engage.  The reporter, Bourree Lam, held genuine interest in our farm and the planned 15 minute interview spanned closer to 45 minutes.

Finding the courage to engage with the media provides a steady challenge for me.  Over the past 15 years, I have performed hundreds of media interviews — some of them friendly and rewarding, and some of them uncomfortable and disturbing.  The positive experiences teach me that there are those that are truly interested in learning about “where their food comes from”, and the negative ones open my eyes to the passionate judgements and resulting hatred that sadly has found a solid place in our current culture.  While I feel as though my family and my education prepared me to be a contributing adult, I am not sure that anything provides the necessary skill set for dealing with the zealous hatred sometimes spewed from strangers.  I breathed a sigh of relief at the end of the interview as Bourree’s respectful interest put a smile on my face and hope in my heart.

One of my favorite phrases is “pack your faith”.  Nothing meaningful in life comes with a guarantee, and the road to excellence is rarely comfortable.  Instead of thinking of taking a chance when faced with a decision, I prefer to pack my faith and believe that it will ultimately lead me to a successful place.  Life isn’t a game of Roulette, it is a journey made up of decisions and action.  Inside each one of us exists a well of strength, and sometimes the difference between victory and defeat is determined by whether or not we chose to engage.

The Q and A article can be accessed here: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/10/cattle-farmer/502991/. 

You will notice that the comment section is not completely friendly, but I enjoyed a tremendously positive engagement with the reporter and I am packing my faith that the article will at least put a face on farming for someone that reads the article with an intention of learning.

 

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18 Years of Life At a Feed Yard — 4 Years of Blogging…

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Matt and I, on stage for the Trailblazer Award, last week in San Antonio at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Convention.

 

As a result of the 2014 Trailblazer Award, Beef Magazine asked that I write an article reflecting on important issues for cattle farmers.  This was a great opportunity for me to share thoughts relative to 18 years of working in a feed yard and 4 years of blogging.  The target audience was cattle farmers, but I wanted to share the piece here as well.

In the article, I share lessons personally learned from both my cattle and my beef customers.  You can view it by clicking here.

**On the home front, we are celebrating being free of the flu as well as the crutches that plagued our house for a couple of weeks.

  • My favorite teenager’s 9th and 10th basketball team finished their season with an 8-1 record, and a final game Friday night will end her Junior Varsity season as well.  She is gearing up for the high school musical performance that is a few weeks away, and looking forward to the start of track.  Last but certainly not least, she brought home the 3rd place award for the Nebraska Voice of Democracy Oral Essay contest last week in Lincoln.
  • My favorite blonde cowgirl will have her first competitive gymnastics performance of the year this weekend in Lincoln.  Having mostly healed from her first career pole vaulting accident, she is also gearing up for the start of track.  I am very glad to have her back as a contributing member of the chore brigade and once again helpful on the farm!
  • My favorite 10 year old is rocking the volleyball court with a second place tournament finish last weekend.  I never thought that I would have a child play middle blocker on the volleyball court, but she stands several inches taller than any other teammate so seems well placed!

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 I hope that your week is full of joy!

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The Traditional Career Mom…

Earlier this week I traveled to San Antonio to attend meetings at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Convention. My favorite farmer and I drove west Tuesday afternoon to watch our favorite basketball playing teenager and her team defeat the Ogallala Indians, before turning around and heading east to Grand Island to get ahead of a storm that moved in late that night.

Despite the snow, we landed in Texas (just a few hours delayed) on Wednesday and began the marathon of meetings that makes up NCBA’s annual convention. In addition to being the boss lady at the feed yard, I serve in a volunteer capacity as the Region 9 Director to the Nebraska Beef Council; and as a result, I serve on the National Federation of State Beef Councils working to enhance the image of beef to customers both in the United States and abroad.

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In addition to the normal array of meetings, this convention will be a special time for me as I will officially receive Beef Magazine’s 2014 Trailblazer Award Friday morning. That same day, my favorite teenager and her grandmother will travel to the Governor’s mansion in Lincoln to discover whether or not she won the Nebraska Voice of Democracy Essay contest – Leaving my favorite blondes at home with their beloved Defa (grandpa) and a whole multitude of animal chores.

Our house seems to be a revolving door. I left three loads of laundry (clean but yet to be sorted) in my living room, and a full (but clean) dishwasher. While I am assuming that the girls will put away (or at least use) the clean dishes in the dishwasher during my time in Texas, I am pretty confident that the clean clothes will still be in the living room waiting to be sorted. Just a short distance away from those clean clothes sits the ever growing pile of dirty clothes that will be waiting to be washed when I arrive home (hopefully in time to watch another Lady Haymaker basketball game) on Saturday afternoon.

I am one of millions of women who work tirelessly to balance family, chores, and a meaningful career. We put ourselves last on the “priority scale” and unselfishly give to those whom we love, as well as to the causes that we treat as vocations yet casually refer to as jobs. We do the weekly juggling act by focusing on each day and refusing to let the challenges of the future daunt our enthusiasm.

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We are Wives – Moms – Boss Ladies – Philanthropists – Mentors – and Maids.

Our days revolve around others, and our most precious goal is to make a positive difference.

We are traditional career moms.

Did I mention that Saturday is my 40th birthday? Yikes!

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An Adventurous Journey…

I dreamed of many things when I was a young girl, but the thought of appearing as a Cover Girl in Beef Magazine never even registered on my radar screen.  While I have certainly been a life-long beef lover, my journey as a cattleman began at the age of twenty-two.

Eighteen years later, I am the proud recipient of the 2014 Trailblazer Award — an award given by Beef Magazine to a cattle farmer for his/her volunteer efforts to improve the beef industry.

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Receiving this award humbles me almost as much as the kind words and attention to detail that Joe Roybal and Beef Magazine placed on the story.  Please take a few minutes to read it online by clicking here.  Be sure to also click here to view the picture slide show that accompanies the main article.

The last 18 years have been a tremendously adventurous journey.  While the road to excellence is rarely comfortable, being tenacious enough to travel down it is incredibly rewarding.  Many thanks to all who have mentored me — Please know that I do my best each day to return the favor.

I hope that they deliver Beef Magazine to Heaven, as my Dad will likely want to brag a bit about this one…

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Food and Farm Radio…The EPA and WOTUS

Ray Bowman of the Food and Farm Radio Show hosted me today on the mid-day broadcast.  The recently released EPA rules provided the topic of conversation.  EPA Administrator McCarthy held a telephone press conference earlier this week to further explain both the proposed WOTUS rule and the recently implemented interpretive rule.  Ray and I discussed the information shared in the conference call as well as the consequences of the rules themselves.

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The broadcast runs for 13 minutes and you can click here if you would like to listen to it.  Otherwise, I hope that your weekend is filled with peaceful sunsets like this one that I snapped a picture of last weekend!

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1011 News and “Our Town Cozad”

1011 News out of Lincoln and Grand Island, Nebraska featured my favorite blonde cowgirl/chef and I Wednesday night on the evening news.  We participated in a series segment called “Our Town Cozad” where the news station spends a week focusing on interesting things relative to our small town to share with viewers.

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Over the years, our farm has hosted a number of different reporters, and I would like to issue a special thank you to Lance Schwartz of 1011 news for his genuine interest and kind demeanor during the interview.  It was an enjoyable morning as well as a great learning experience.

Click here to watch the 3 minute video of our farm story and my journey from the city to the cattle feed yard.

 

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