Category Archives: General


Day 1: On mainland Ecuador, the Churute Mangrove Reserve (120,000 acres) serves as the largest mangrove reserve in the country.



The "fan" tail of a crocodile...






The natural salt flats of the Manglares-Churute serve as popular feeding spots for roseate spoonbills, ospreys, egrets, and even crocodiles with beautiful fan shaped tails.

The mangroves work in partnership with the crabs.  Leaves that are sacrificed to soak up the salt in the plant fall to the ground to serve as the food source for the crabs.




A dense forest surrounds the salt flats making homes for Howler Monkeys, sloths, termites and a host of other creatures, including mosquitoes who found us quite tasty!

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Filed under Family, General

Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands…

Every once in a while my favorite father in law decides that we should take a family trip.  Four years ago, we went to Kenya to view the gorgeous animals and diverse types of agriculture.  This Christmas we visited Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.

I am a bit of a homebody in addition to being a work-a-holic so it takes a herculean effort to get me to leave the farm.  My father in law is a very smart man. He recognizes that leaving the farm is an important part of personal growth as it allows for a more mature and diverse perspective.


Both times, I came home to the farm smarter than when I left so I guess that proves him right :)

I am going to spend the next few weeks sharing pictures and experiences from the trip.  I took 1000 photos, and have them whittled down to a short 100 that I plan to share.  For clarity, I broke the trip down into two major components:  Mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.

There will be a regular blog post each Monday talking about a component of the trip followed by additional posts that share the “story” of our trip through visual images.  I appreciate your patience as I take a side-trip off the farm and into a different world!


The dichotomy of ecosystems that make up much of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands left me in awed fascination. While the animal life completely captivated me, the plant life offered a continuous surprise.

Our first day began at Churute Mangrove Reserve not far from Guayaquil.  There we took a boat ride to view the vast array of birds and a hike to see Howler Monkeys. While there, we gave our own personal blood donation to the hoards of mosquitoes that waited excitedly for us!

The bus ride from sea level up into the Andes Mountains amazed me.  The tropic jungles at 8000 feet defied rational explanation to a farm girl who lives far from the equator.  The mountains peak at about 13,000 feet with an interesting change of plant life and no sign of snow.


While in the Andes, we visited a middle school in the village of Cojitambo (near the city of Cuenca).  My girls loved the lively soccer game against the local students.  From there, we spent an afternoon rock climbing and visiting Canari (pre-Inca) ruins.  We rounded out our time in the mountains horse back riding and learning to cook authentic Ecuadorian dishes.  My favorite 16 year old was even “cleansed” by an older native woman at the public market in Cuenca.  This local ritual brought the rich culture to life for my American “Gringa girl”.

Leaving the mainland of Ecuador for the Galapagos Islands brought more natural dichotomies in the midst of an incredibly diverse wildlife population.  Cactus plants growing amongst mangrove bushes — both of them nestled together in volcanic rock along the edge of the Pacific Ocean.  Penguins living side by side sea lions and pelicans.  Land tortoises, flamingos, blue-footed boobies, iguanas, mating sea turtles, crabs and a host of sea life captivated my fledgling photographer’s eye.


In Kenya, I took a diary full of notes and a few pictures.  In Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, I took a diary of photos with only a small amount of notes.  The images captivated me and seemed to tell a story independent of the written word.



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Merry Christmas From Our Family To Yours!

The 19th annual Burkholder Christmas card and letter goes electronic…


Tales from the home of four females and one very brave male…

2015 saw many great milestones for the Burkholder clan. Matt and I continue to get *younger* every year, but the girls refuse to fall in line with this philosophy.

Ashley Grace attained the great age of 16 this December, a couple of months after leading her Lady Haymaker Cross Country team to a Nebraska State Runner Up Title. Her love of running and dedication to training provide a powerful combination. In her *spare* time, she sings in the Haymaker Chamber Choir, competes in speech, is an officer in FBLA, serves on the Student Council, and regales us all with her sarcastic awesomeness. She will attend her 2nd Duke TIP study course next summer likely on the campus of Duke University, and has high aspirations for her future college career.

Megan is my right hand cowgirl at the feed yard. Possessing an impressive understanding of cattle, she is well on her way to being a cow whisperer. She made her Pole Vaulting debut last spring clearing 8’0” and bringing home a 9th place finish at the Nebraska Junior High State track meet. She spent the summer garnering gold medals in the swimming pool and set a record in the 200 freestyle. The fall brought volleyball and basketball as well as the completion of her first barn quilt. Her sunny nature and perpetual smile lights up our house and brings joy to all that know her.

Karyn continues to rock any and all athletic venues. Her long legs make her a natural runner and her nick name in the swimming pool is barracuda. She added volleyball and basketball to her schedule last year while also continuing her love of soccer in the fall and the spring. She is incredibly proud to report that she now stands at 5’5” clearly leaving her Mama behind. Kar-Bear’s stubborn nature enables her to continually yank her older sisters’ chains.   It provides for many entertaining (and a few exasperating) events on the home front.

Matt and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary this coming June. I guess with children aged 16, 14, and 11 that should not be surprising but we both feel entirely too young to hit the big 20! We continue to farm in the Platte River Valley in addition to chasing after our three greatest blessings.

We wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas!

Regular ramblings from the Feed Yard Foodie will continue after the first of the year :)


Filed under Family, General

Never a Dull Moment…

I arrived home from the feed yard Saturday morning about 11:00am, hoping to take the dog for a walk before the predicted rain and snow began. I gathered my favorite farmer and our crazy mutt and headed down the gravel road. Shellie loves to go for walks and Matt and I enjoy the peace of the open fields.


Shellie, the mildly crazy mutt :)

A large group of horse trailers and a couple of riders met us on the way home. This time of year there are many mama cows grazing the residue left after harvest on the corn fields. It isn’t unusual to meet up with the riders that periodically move the animals from field to field when the feed runs out.


A mama cow grazing in a neighboring corn field…

My own horses graze the field adjacent to our house during the winter months. I use a one wire temporary electric fence along the perimeter of the field to keep the horses contained while grazing.  I let them out to eat in the day time and then bring them back into the corral at the house each afternoon before sunset.

"The boys", Dandy and Magnum...

“The boys”, Dandy and Magnum…

The weather Saturday was cold and cloudy, obviously inspiring a spunky attitude in my horses. As Matt, Shellie and I were about a ½ mile from home I noticed that Dandy and Magnum had decided to excitedly run around our corn field — feeding off of the energy of the other horses and riders headed out to move cattle. The next thing I knew, they both tore through the temporary electric fence and headed west at a brisk gallop.

I took off at a run for home trying to get back to gather halters, my favorite blonde cowgirls, and my vehicle in order to intercept the boys before they traveled too far from home. My girls are awesome farm kids — having already figured out the problem by the time that I made it to the driveway — so we headed out picking up my favorite farmer and the dog along the way.

Looking back, it must have been comical – at the time, I wasn’t laughing. We caught up with the horses about a mile and a half west of our house. The boys weren’t really sure that they wanted to give up their freedom, but Dandy decided that the alfalfa in my hand was more interesting than running around. Megan and I got them both haltered and headed back to the house.

christmas pictures 2012 035

My favorite farmer is a great guy and had the fence fixed shortly after Meg and I arrived home with the horses. It was obvious that the boys had enjoyed their extra “recess”. It was not the way that I had intended to spend my Saturday afternoon, but on a farm there is never a dull moment.


Filed under Family, General

The Great Barn Quilt…

Business took me to Pender, Nebraska late this summer for a meeting.  I drove in the night before and arrived before sunset, so I put on my sneakers and went for a run around town.  Pender greeted me with a gorgeous display of “Barn Quilts”, and I left town the next afternoon enamored with the idea of a community wide Barn Quilt project.

Not long after my trip, I learned that my home county planned to participate in a Barn Quilt tour.  I quickly signed my favorite blonde cowgirl and her grandma up for a “how to” class.  Megan has loved to draw and paint patterns of shapes since she was old enough to hold a pen.

I believe in empowering my kids — coming up with projects that I know will fit their personalities — and then letting them fly.  No matter what the project, their work often leaves me in awe.


We hung Megan’s first barn quilt at the feed yard on Saturday.  It is an 8′ X 8′ sign easily seen from HWY 30.  Anyone that knows Meg will see her personality in the sign, and I am confident that it will bring smiles to the faces of many travelers.

Apart from consulting with her engineer Daddy on the quilt layout (geometry) and spacing, Megan completed the project on her own.  I know that I am a biased mom, but the sign is just AWESOME!  I am looking forward to Barn Quilt #2 which is currently in the making and will hang on the shop/barn behind my house, and Barn Quilt #3 which will adorn our farm office building in downtown Cozad.


I hope that Megan’s signs will be an inspiration to others in my community to participate.

  • How wonderful would it be to have each business in downtown Cozad hang a barn quilt in their window?
  • How beautiful would it be for homeowners all around town to place them in their front yards?
  • How magical would it be for groups of young people in Cozad to make signs for their neighbors and those that are unable to make their own?
  • How awesome would it be for area farmers to hang large barn quilts on their barns and shop buildings all through the countryside to showcase pride in our heritage!

For more information on making a Barn Quilt, please contact the Cozad Chamber of Commerce or visit with Julie Geiger at the Prairie Point Junction quilt store in downtown Cozad.

What an inspirational way to showcase rural America!




Filed under General, Rural Communities

The Cutting Of the Tree…


 The Cutting of the Tree

Leave it to me,

We go out to Heins Pines

And we follow the signs

To the big pasture out behind,

There is laughing and screaming

A bit of scheming,

We follow the row

Down the path we go

To find a tree we can top with a bow,

As we run

All the while having fun,

The perfect tree comes into sight

We think it just might

Be just right,

So pictures are taken

But we are mistaken,

The right tree is yet to be found

We bound

Over the ground,

And find anew

A different tree that isn’t as askew,

We all decided

We were quite confided

So we take more pictures beside,

I ask to jump on my dad’s shoulders,

Although he is getting older,


I climb aboard

But we get the award

For being awkward,

Because I fall on my face

With much grace,

I get off the floor

And try once more

It works better and this time we score,

When dad finally stands

I can see the woodlands,

And we get a picture

You can see the treasure

In my daddy’s eyes it is captured,

Then he starts dancing

And flouncing,

I hold tight to his head

I close my eyes instead

Of looking upon the scene ahead,

More pictures are snapped

To record this mishap,

I must be crushing his eyes

Because he starts to improvise

Pulling my hands away, to my surprise,

It is time to get off

I am castoff,

He crawls under the branches

With the handsaw in his clenches

And he launches,

The great cutting of the tree

In front of you and me!Christmastreecollage3.jpg

Poem by Megan

Pictures by Anne

Smiles from all the Burkholder clan…



Filed under Family, General

The Privilege of Diversity…

DSC03744Six weeks before matriculating at Dartmouth College I was mugged at gunpoint. A seemingly normal weekend night turned into a nightmare as a friend and I were assaulted a mere two miles from my house in Florida. My life changed that night as a stranger threw me on the concrete and placed a gun to my head. My guardian angel sat firmly on my shoulder that evening as the assailant and his accomplice stole my purse, but not my life.

I tell my girls to “always take God with you”. While the lesson wrapped up in those words holds many meanings, one of them dates back to that August evening in 1993.

My years at Dartmouth were a time of both healing and personal growth. Rural New Hampshire slowly brought back a sense of physical safety and ultimately l conquered the fear of walking across campus in the dark. I remained cautious, but the culture on campus helped me to find a healthy perspective and renewed my confidence.

Surrounded by intelligent and motivated students who held a great diversity of opinions, I was able to determine just “who Anne was”.   This concurrently sharpened my intellect as well as broadened my perspective. I started my time at Dartmouth a “jock with emotional baggage”, but I ended it as a confident intellectual who held a strong sense of purpose.

This is the beauty of a liberal arts education on a well-structured college campus.

  • A place where diversity is embraced allowing for the creation of mature thinkers with compassionate natures.
  • A place where a blanket of respect protects each student’s Freedom of Speech and personal rights in the midst of intellectually stimulating debates.
  • A place where students learn to recognize that life’s challenges do not define the individual, rather they are stepping stones for personal growth. This growth will, at times, bring discomfort but it also teaches perseverance.

Sometime during my tenure in Hanover, NH I figured out that I did not want to live my life as a victim — focusing on the past and allowing my heart to fill with discontent. Rather, I wanted to live my life as a humanitarian – seeking out the good in others and looking to the future with the desire to play a positive role on the ever important journey that we call life.

My alma mater found itself in the midst of controversy last week as a passionate student protest escalated to threaten the boundaries of respectful debate. My heart was saddened for a variety of reasons but perhaps the greatest was the apparent lack of inter-student respect on campus. Basic decency becomes lost when hatred toward a single ideology overtakes the value of compassion among individual classmates. Sadly, the second is sacrificed in the name of the first.

  • I dream of a world where people are valued for what they hold in their hearts rather than the image that they see in the mirror.
  • I dream of a world where people are lauded for the humanitarian work that their hearts empower their bodies to accomplish.
  • I dream of a world where diversity of thought is celebrated — Where our young people relish eclectic virtues and use them to make the world a better place.

Life is both a privilege and a responsibility. We must always move forward mixing our passions with compassion so that what I dream of today will be a reality tomorrow. Unfortunately, there will always be unexplained acts of violence like that which occurred to me so many years ago. However, we can lessen the impact of those acts by recognizing one act of hatred does not rationalize another.


Filed under Family, General

The Cozad Haymakers Embark On a Journey With FFA…

As a city raised “east coaster”, my first experience with FFA (Future Farmers of America) occurred as an adult several years after I went to work at the feed yard. As I became involved as a volunteer in agricultural advocacy work and the promotion of the Beef Quality Assurance program, my path began to cross with FFA instructors. Some of my favorite public speaking gigs have been with FFA students – sharing my story and answering questions from the best and the brightest that will soon be the future of agriculture.

I am excited to report that my home town of Cozad recently committed to building an FFA program in our school system. It is an honor for me to be involved in the process as a member of the community advisory group. While I truly believe that “it takes a community to raise a child”, I also believe that it takes a diverse blend of educators and community members to create situations where our young adults can increase their knowledge and skills in order to provide for the future.



Where does my food come from? — appears to be the million dollar question in 2015. Food unites us: from the Nebraska farmer to the urban executive to the small town electrician. It unites us because, quite frankly, we all need to eat. The ability to create a program where students in my home town can both learn where their food comes from as well as how to grow it – today, and on into the future – is an incredible privilege.

Agriculture provides the heart of our town. The majority of our community members are involved in farming in a variety of venues. What excites the team builder in me the most is the ability to pair these savvy folks with the awesome set of teenagers that make up the Haymaker school community.  The journey involves a passionate FFA educator bridging together these experienced and skilled entrepreneurial tradesmen with the next generation of farmers.


We believe in our designated journey. We have a calm and supportive ocean. We have a seaworthy ship. We just need a captain. The Cozad High School began taking applications for the FFA educator position last week. Please help to spread the word as we search for a passionate leader to navigate the journey. Contact Dustin Favinger at Cozad High School for more information.

308-784-2744 or

Go Haymakers!


Filed under General, Rural Communities