Category Archives: General

Touching Base…

It seems that although I have been busy engaging on social media, that I have not done a good job checking in with each of you at Feed Yard Foodie. I am in the process of developing a new weekly theme to carry through the winter; but have not had the opportunity to get it completely lined out in my mind. I hope to have this started next week.

In the meantime, I figured that I would share links to my work on social media for Innovative Livestock Services and the Beef Marketing Group. For those of you that follow me on facebook, you have seen this content. For those of you that don’t, I hope that you will take a look at it. I found it very personally meaningful to create 🙂

2018 started with a video describing the Beef Marketing Group — who we are — and what we value. For those of you who wonder about the agricultural cooperative that I work for, this will give you a glimpse of the people and our focus.

This week premiered another video talking about “What is life like in a cattle feedlot?” This video appeared on Innovative Livestock Services as part of our educational series to provide accurate information to folks interesting in learning about “where their beef comes from”. The video is performing amazingly well on facebook with over 30,500 views in the two days that it has been up 🙂

For those of you that like to read words instead of watching videos, here is a link to a blog post that I recently wrote comparing living space in a feedlot to New York City.

I hope that each one of you experienced a blessed Christmas season and a Happy New Year! Thank you for all that you do to support me on this social media journey. #togetherwearestronger

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

Good Idea! Poor Execution…

My favorite farmer and I played racquetball on Saturday morning. Temperatures were hovering around zero outside, so we headed for the indoor court after I got farm chores finished.  We both enjoy athletics as well as doing things together, so it’s a good fit on a cold day.

I’ve loved Matt since I was eighteen and we’ve been married more than half of my life. One of our strengths as a couple is our dedication to the concept of team. We both place a priority on the realization that together we are stronger, just as we also acknowledge that the key to this is using our blend of strengths and weaknesses to continuously work to make the team better.

Matt is, hands down, a better racquetball player than I am. He’s bigger – He’s stronger –He’s faster. In fact, he’s also ambidextrous so he doesn’t have a “weak side”. Playing the game could be frustrating for me with him acing the serve and never giving me the ability to participate; but that isn’t the case because of our unwritten rule of always working to build the team.

As we play racquetball, I have lots of good ideas with poor execution. I’d never played the sport before I met Matt, and our games are pretty infrequent with the responsibilities of family and farm chores. I know enough that I can envision what I need to do, but my body doesn’t always move with the precision needed to make the play. However, each time that we play, I get better. This happens for two reasons:

  1. I bring a positive and passionate attitude to the games.
  2. Matt holds strong to the goal of helping the team to get stronger.

There is a reason that there is no “I” in TEAM. The lack of “I” keeps the team going with universal hope for the future.

Life is full of times when we work to build different skills. It is also full of moments when a fresh set of eyes allows for the development of good ideas. I believe that the secret to success is in the team mentality.  It creates a culture which nurtures the teammates. New ideas are created and embraced, and a level of support exists to inspire the work needed to improve execution.

  • It takes good ideas to inspire continuous improvement.
  • It takes practice to develop good execution.

Common acceptance of the goal, good communication, an underlying level of respect, and a dedication to finding group success makes each individual teammate stronger just as it builds the team. The score board said that I lost all three racquetball games, but I had moments of success and lots of improvement over the two hour period. Matt broke a sweat and I only lost the last game by two points. We finished with smiles on our faces – looking forward to the next time.

Sometimes, that’s the biggest victory of all 🙂

How do you build the concept of “team” in your life?

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Filed under Coaching / Personal Growth, General

Merry Christmas!

The annual Burkholder Christmas letter — 21 years in the running 🙂

2017 brought the year of the teenagers to the Burkholder residence. Ashley Grace achieved the big 18 this month, Megan quickly approaches 16, and Karyn celebrated the fall with 13. Despite the fact that he is surrounded by women, Matt continues to thrive on the Nebraska prairie 🙂 The girls are truly our greatest blessings and the farm is alive with the love and joy that comes with family.

While Ashley Grace rocks her senior year in high school, Matt and I are left pondering how in the world we have a child old enough to leave for college! Last week brought the news that she will join the Notre Dame family in August of 2018. Her excitement rivals the pride that we feel toward the beautiful, compassionate young woman she has become. 2017 brought competition in the National Forensics League Extemporaneous Speaking finals as well as the completion of a successful four year state qualifying cross country career.

Megan expanded her repertoire this year to include set building for the Haymaker State Runner Up One Act play, and state appearances in pole vaulting (along with a school record) and cross country. She is in the midst of a great sophomore basketball season and still makes time to help out with cattle on the farm. Her smile is contagious and she packs her faith with a dedication that makes this Mama proud.

Karyn began her Junior High career this fall bringing home hardware on the cross country course and a successful basketball season. She relishes the fact that although she is the youngest of the Burkholder girls, she is the tallest. Karyn’s greatest dream came true this summer when we welcomed a yellow Labrador named Theodore into the family. Theodore brings a whole new level of antics and laughter to our home; and I have to admit that she is not the only one who adores him 🙂

Matt and I celebrated 21 years of marriage last June although he swears that I turn 29 with every birthday that passes…I am thankful each day to be able to share my life with him. He continues to manage the farm with a dedication to sustainability and integrity, although I think that he would tell you that being a good daddy dominates the top of his priority list.

Ashley Grace challenged me to run in my first half marathon this fall. I found a unique element of good health and strength amidst the 550 miles of training. I finished the race with a smile on my face, peace in my heart, and a time of 1:42.49. I continue to coach the local swim team as well as acting as an assistant coach for the Haymaker Junior High and High School Cross Country team. I truly believe that it takes a community to raise a child, and hope that I positively influence the athletes that I coach.

We wish you and your family the very best this holiday season. As always, if your path ever brings you across Nebraska please stop by and say hello!

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Filed under Family, General

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?


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

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.





Filed under Coaching / Personal Growth, 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