Managing a feed yard for 20 years inspired me to learn to identify and fill meaningful gaps. With thousands of animals relying on me each and every day, recognizing if an important gap existed between the care that I offered and what the animal needed was absolutely critical for good welfare. As an adult, I find myself continuously looking for gaps in all aspects of my life. I have found that when you look for them with the intent to fill them in a positive way, that it gives your life purpose.
Over the past several months, many people have asked about my new job and what I do for the Beef Marketing Group. The short answer is that I work to fill the gaps. An extra set of eyes can be a critical tool for evaluating if and where a meaningful gap exists; and I work with my teams to figure out the best way to fill them. While I enjoy the time that I spend outside at the cattle feed yards the best, helping to create the plans/protocols that ensure good care as well as the communication tools to share our story also refills my cup.
Our swim team mantra for this summer is “A goal without a plan is just a wish”, and I think that is true for any facet of life. Making goals is critical for improvement; but perhaps even more important than creating the goal is building a plan which holds you accountable to see it to fruition. I tell my athletes that no matter how good you are, you can always get better and I carry that same philosophy everyday with me as I go to work for the Beef Marketing Group. It makes for a good fit.
Started by a small group of cattlemen in the late 1980’s, the Beef Marketing Group fulfilled a longstanding dream to create a team and develop cooperation with the end goal of improving beef quality in the meat case. This multi-decade effort eventually led BMG team member Heather Donley to create the Progressive Beef program. Progressive Beef’s three tiered focus concentrates on beef safety, animal welfare and sustainability. It provides the necessary plan to accomplish the goal.
In the more than two decades that I have worked in the beef industry, I have never known a program better suited to finding and filling the gap in cattle care and resulting beef quality. Daily chore protocols come together with onsite visits from animal welfare consultants like me to ensure that we are doing our best every day; and that good cattle care is always the #1 priority. Yearly 3rd party audits ensure integrity of execution and provide verification of our efforts.
It’s pretty awesome to develop the ability to find the gap, but it is even more rewarding when you work within a system that allows for you to help fill the gap in a meaningful way. It gives my life purpose and inspires me to greet every sunrise with the natural enthusiasm that results from knowing that what I do every day makes a difference – not just in the lives of the hundreds of thousands of animals that are cared for by my team, but also for the millions of people that benefit from the high quality beef that we all help to ensure is grown with integrity.
How do you fill the gap to provide a sense of purpose to your life?
Last week the Feed Yard Foodie family (actually Matt, our foreman Doug, and I) took care of the yearly accumulating of our prairie hay bales. We bale extra prairie hay during the summer in order to have for horse and cattle feed in the winter months.
Matt and I prefer to engage our *free labor* in the form of our daughters to help with the manual labor associated with throwing small square hay bales, but this year all three girls were gone. It’s a good thing that Matt and I remain fit and strong…
The weekly video up on YouTube from Feed Yard Foodie comes in the form of “How do farmers feed their animals?” and recaps our afternoon building muscle to ensure that our animals have winter feed 🙂
Happy Summer from our farm to your family!
The Feed Yard Foodie family is one short this week as my favorite brunette is competing in an Extemporaneous Speaking competition at the National Forensics League finals in Alabama; but my favorite farmer and I headed down to the pasture with our blondes yesterday morning to do a few chores.
My favorite 12 year old did an awesome job taking video and pictures that I was able to use to make the below video 🙂
Happy Father’s Day!
Today my favorite farmer and I celebrate 21 years of marriage. I’d like to deny that I am old enough to celebrate such a milestone, but when I look at my daughters it’s pretty difficult to dispute the facts 😉
Matt and I met at Dartmouth College the fall of 1993 and said “I do” in June of 1996. We spent a year on the East Coast before making the decision to move back to the family farm in Nebraska the summer of 1997. I often claim that the three girls in the above picture are my greatest blessing, but likely a better statement is that the family that we all make together is our greatest blessing.
At age 21, I had no idea what the future would bring the day that Matt slipped the ring on my finger; but I recognized that honoring the gift of our love would provide the basis of the life that we would build together. I tell my girls that the road to excellence isn’t meant to be comfortable. Rather, excellence is about reaching above and beyond your capabilities in order to accomplish far more than your dreams. That statement provides a perfect description of our marriage.
- The road is often bumpy.
- The bumps can make it uncomfortable at times; but there is joy to be found in the journey of togetherness.
Matt has taught me that no matter what you can accomplish alone, accomplishing things together is what makes life meaningful. Being a team creates the needed strength to turn uncomfortable into joyful success. We are devoted to each other — finding strength in the togetherness that transforms the wedding day into a life-long partnership. We work hard for each other, always striving to honor the gift of our love.
Today I count my blessings as I look back with pride on the last 21 years, while also looking forward to next 21 🙂
Filed under Family, General
I remember twenty years ago when a mentor told me, “Anne — your animals don’t care how much you know until they understand how much you care.” While cattle are unable to think like humans, they do have the capacity to learn and I believe that they also have an innate sense which helps them to figure out when a caregiver can be trusted.
The capacity to care is what sets an excellent caregiver apart from everyone else. This person not only provides feed, water and basic daily care to his/her animals; but also brings a sense of security to the animal. While survival provides the innate goal for the animal, the ability to thrive is what creates a higher quality of life that results in an increased ability to convert resources into food.
The secret to thriving finds its root in a caregiver’s capacity to care.
We moved the Lazy YN yearling steers off of grass this week. Having gained 135# and weighing in at 785#, the cattle were ready to move into the feed yard for the final phase of the growth cycle. As we gathered them and then waited in the corral for the trucks to arrive to load, I watched my favorite blonde cowgirl interact with the cattle and I just had to smile. Not only does she get it, calf #963 gets it too. How else can you explain this video demonstrating the bovine boogie?
While I am certainly not proclaiming that everyone needs to teach their cattle to dance, I do think that Megan does a nice job demonstrating that bovine curiosity and the capacity to learn finds its root in the ability of the leader to create trust through a high level of understanding and care.
The main video for Feed Yard Foodie this week appears on the Innovative Livestock Services, Inc. facebook page and twitter feed; so you all will have to head on over there to check it out as it gives a comprehensive look at the Lazy YN cattle — where they came from, how we cared for them on our farm, and where they head to next 🙂
In the meantime, take a few minutes this week to think about how you can increase your capacity to care. Whether it is in your relationships with animals or with humans, the more you care — the better the quality of life.
It’s hay season and my favorite farmer and his crew are one third of the way through the first cutting of alfalfa. Matt and his guys will harvest 4 cuttings from May to the end of October. Weather permitting, they run 24 hours a day for 7 days a week during the summer months as 3300 acres of alfalfa keeps them plenty busy. We are blessed to have an awesome set of guys to help us out!
In honor of my favorite farmer, this week’s video is entitled “Makin’ Hay” and describes the alfalfa portion of our farm 🙂 Enjoy!
Last week, I signed up to run The Good Life Halfsy. My favorite farmer thinks that I am crazy and my favorite blonde cowgirls are claiming that my mental status has been in question for years; but there are a variety of things compelling me to complete my first half marathon.
The first, and most important, is that Ashley Grace asked me to do it with her. My favorite brunette begins her senior year in high school this fall, and I am incredibly excited to be able to share this experience with her. While we will not really run it together (she will cross the finish line well ahead of me), it is a mother/daughter bucket list item.
Apart from a few 5k races completed recently as a fitness building tool with my family or the Haymaker Cross Country team, I have not competed in a running event since high school. The six minute miles that I used to kick out on the XC course provide an interesting history, but little relevance to the race in late October. Much has changed over the last twenty-four years 😉
The second reason that I hit the “go button” on the registration form is simply that I can. For the first time in 13 years, I am physically strong enough to finish the race. To be completely honest, this race is a mental (as well as physical) stretch for me. However, I believe that it is a symbolic event as I celebrate a level of health and fitness that, during my years with active Graves Disease, I worried I would never again attain.
I recently wrote a blog entitled Life’s About Never Giving Up. In a number of ways, this race will be living proof of my words.
- It is a difficult challenge to lose your health.
- It is often a long journey to regain strength and fitness.
But, there is an awesome sweet spot to find as you pack your FAITH along the healing process. I’m hopeful that sweet spot will make a strong appearance the morning of the race as my main goal is to complete the half marathon with a smile on my face and peace in my heart.
I hope to have many great moments over the next five months as I train and prepare for the race; but what I most look forward to is seeing the pride in my daughter’s eyes as she hugs me on the finish line.
One of the reasons that Life’s About Never Giving Up is because there are so many awesome things to do as we live it 🙂
We took our second set of cattle to pasture last week before heading to the Nebraska State Track Championships. We’ve received plentiful rain this spring so the grass is lush and ready for cattle! I took the opportunity to create a new video and continue to develop my skills.
With school out and two different sets of cattle down at the grass pasture, my favorite blonde cowgirl has plenty of ranch chores. She is currently doing some fence work in addition to checking cattle. Between work, swim team, basketball practice and pole vault camp she should stay plenty busy during the month of June 🙂
I am looking for ideas to continue to building my video making skills, so if you have topics that you would like to see covered please leave them in the comment section. Thank you!