Tag Archives: balance

I Saw God Today…

One of my favorite songs is George Strait’s classic I Saw God Today It speaks to me — warms my heart — and balances my perspective.

I’ve been to church
I’ve read the book
I know he’s here
But I don’t look
Near as often as I should
Yeah, I know I should
His fingerprints are everywhere
I just slowed down to stop and stare
Opened my eyes and man I swear
I saw God today

Late this fall, I struggled terribly to find balance in my life. There were so many requests — so many demands — so many responsibilities — that I became lost in a sea of chaos. I felt stripped of energy, tired of giving, and emptied out inside. When I looked about me, the world had lost it color just as I had lost my spark.

My equilibrium failed and I lost my natural tendency to:

  • Look for God
  • See the good
  • Count my blessings

karyncalfdawn.jpg

To recognize that just as I give, I must also receive — for if we fail to refuel our minds and our hearts, they run dry.

After my Turkey-Less Tetrazzini post in December, many of you reached out to me and shared similar struggles. It became quickly apparent that I was not alone in my battle to maintain balance.

I found comfort in that offer of comradery – thank you for that.

I spent the weeks following that post searching for an answer, a secret, to maintaining fitness amidst the endless tsunami of responsibilities.  I think best while exercising, so as I traversed up and down the swimming pool, and pounded the pavement walking and running; I slowly realized where I had gone amiss.

I remembered the words of George Strait’s song, and made a new resolution:

No matter how hectic the day, I will pause to look for God.

fallbeauty.jpg

  • I will see him on my farm which will refuel my desire to CARE: for my animals, for my crew, and for those lives that I touch with the gift of food.
  • I will see him in my home, in the eyes of my children, which will refuel my desire to SUSTAIN for the future that we will build together as a family.
  • I will see him in my community, in my neighbor, which will refuel my desire to SHARE for I know that together we are stronger.
  • I will see him in the natural beauty that creates the plains of Nebraska, which will refuel my desire to PERSEVERE – never faltering in my desire to pursue excellence amidst the awesomeness of Mother Nature.

At the end of each day, I will reflect on the times that I felt God’s presence – refueling for the next day – finding peace amongst the chaos of life.

fallrainbowbeauty.jpg

Did you pause to see God today?

22 Comments

Filed under Family, Foodie Work!

Learning To Understand The Balance of Life…

One of the things that I love most about my husband is his natural tendency to think and problem solve.  Whether it is figuring out how a piece of equipment works as he uses it, thinking of ways to improve our farm, or struggling through social and political issues; he is a natural intellectual and inspires me daily. He never takes anything at face value, and digs deep when researching a topic.  My children roll their eyes and groan when they ask a simple question and get a detailed chemistry lesson from their daddy in return…

Matt and his captive lecture audience...

When I think of two words to describe a farmer, realistic and pragmatic come to mind.  Farming is an inherently “hands on” profession and is beholden to both science and the local natural resources of an area.  It is also intrinsically tied to the cycle of life.  Our goal, as farmers, is simply to ensure life and grow things.  When we fail to accomplish our goal, we are faced with a sobering glimpse of death. Whether it is the death of an animal or the death of a crop, it is an experience that is long remembered and provides great motivation for continual improvement.

On our farm, we have many things that are alive…

*Our family and our employees…

*Our cattle…

*Our crops (at least during the growing season)…

*Our soil…

The cycle of life on our farm can only continue as each one of these things works together to nurture each of the other things.  If any of the above four components are lost, then the cycle is broken.  Maintaining balance is like putting the pieces of a jig saw puzzle together.

Our family and our employees provide labor to convert our resources into food for human and animal consumption. Both plants and animals need a number of macro nutrients in large quantities to operate their metabolisms and build their bodies.  The important ones are carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. A farmer takes molecules that are organized in a low energy state and reorganizes them into forms that have energy that are ultimately available and usable to humans.

A little intelligence and labor combined with a seed and healthy soil is the first step...

Add water and solar energy and the corn plant grows...

The same is true for alfalfa...

A balanced meal for cattle is made from the corn and the alfalfa...

The cattle eat the feed and grow...

The cattle are harvested to produce a digestible human nutrient packed protein source...

Soil samples are taken after crop harvest to determine how many additional nutrients are necessary to maintain a healthy soil for the growth of the next crop...Fertilizer samples are also taken to provide the rest of the information so that Matt can determine how much fertilizer to apply on each field by tying the needs of the soil to the nutrient levels of the fertilizer...

Natural fertilizer (indigestible nutrients of mainly phosphorus, nitrogen, and other organic matter) is recycled and applied to the farm ground to keep the soil healthy for a new crop...

In this way, water plus carbon dioxide are recombined with other nutrients and used to create starch/sugar/proteins for human use.  While I have simplified the process, the core components necessary for understanding are explained. It takes precise and intelligent human labor to properly combine resources and efficiently grow food.  In 2012, this puzzle has an added challenge.  Less than 2% of the population are actively involved in the reorganization of these nutrients into food.  The resulting limit in labor creates a necessity of efficiency.

To me, the big question is: How do I know that I am caring for the soil and the natural resources that are available to me while I reorganize them to make food?  The answer is simple: look and observe…test and measure…focus on the details and continually improve…

We test the soil.

We test the fertilizer.

We measure our yields (both crops and cattle).

Every single growing cycle…

Here are examples of test sample sheets for fields that we are currently spreading fertilizer on–getting ready for the next growing cycle in 2012. We get these back from the lab when we test the farm ground and the fertilizer produced by my animals…

Soil Sample Fall 2011

Manure Sample fall 2011

Matt takes this information to match up the soil and crop needs with the nutrients of the fertilizer…Below is a sample document from a field that we spread fertilizer on prior to the last growing cycle. This shows how we make sure that we did it correctly…

Brownfield manure application report winter 2011

The goal is healthy soil, abundant crops, healthy animals and nutritious beef for my family and for yours!

Raising food--it's a family affair on our farm...

4 Comments

Filed under CAFO, Environmental Stewardship

The Balancer…

I define success as the ability to maintain balance while moving forward in a positive way.  Complete balance involves physical, mental and emotional components.  Whether you are managing yourself, your family, running a business, or caring for animals; maintaining balance is both an art and a skill.

I mentioned in a previous post that my life is a juggling act, and that I am both a planner and a creature of habit because this helps me to be a more successful juggler (https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/a-two-legged-creature-of-habit%E2%80%A6/).  Despite my quest for balance and my dedicated attempt to plan and run both my life and my feed yard with a regimen based on HAACP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points), being a mother of three (in addition to being a caregiver to thousands of animals) has also taught me to “go with the flow”.

HACCP is a critical part of BQA. At a basic level, it means "Figure out what can challenge you before you are challenged so that you can deal with the situation effectively and efficiently."

Although both Matt and I had to work off and on all weekend (me at the feed yard and Matt at the alfalfa dehydration plant loading railroad cars with alfalfa dehy pellets and corn destined for the west coast), we had plans to spend time as a family cutting down a Christmas tree, riding horses, and watching college football (in addition to the traditional over-eating that generally occurs Thanksgiving weekend).

"Horse time" with my girls is a very special time for me. Here I am "ponying" Karyn as she learns to develop good balance and feel in the saddle...

Instead, we spent the weekend at the hospital with our youngest daughter.  Karyn was diagnosed with pneumonia the day before Thanksgiving and we kept her at home on oral antibiotics until Friday when it became apparent that it was going to take more intensive care for her to get better.

After the blood work and IV were put in, but before the need for extra oxygen...It's hard work to "cowgirl up" when you are sick...

My life is consumed by the desire to keep my kids and my animals healthy…It is sobering when I fail…

I believe in the proactive power of:

  1. A Balanced Diet
  2. Being well rested with adequate sleep.
  3. Maintaining up to date vaccinations.
  4. Having time to play and learn.
  5. Being active and getting sufficient exercise.

 Sometimes, however, even the highest dedication to a good proactive health plan is not successful at keeping illness at bay…

 Sometimes the best laid plans change and challenges occur—that is life…It is how we deal with those challenges that define us as individuals…

So, instead of Christmas trees and relaxing horse rides, we got: IV antibiotics, breathing treatments, additional oxygen, and worries about our sick little girl.  All of this on top of reading bunks (the process of determining how much each bovine will be feed for the day) and making sure that the cattle were fed on schedule (they are creatures of habit just like I am and expect to be fed at the same time every day).  A special thanks to my crew for filling in for me as much as they could so that I could spend most of the weekend at the hospital.

I am looking forward to getting my littlest cowgirl back to good health!

Challenges allow for learning and the development of personal strength.  If we are never thrown off balance then we never learn how to obtain it.  Unfortunately, my seven year old had a hard time believing that being stuck with a needle, an IV, and enduring little plastic pokey things sticking up her nose to increase her oxygen levels would make her a better and stronger person (all of these on top of a fever, cough, nausea, and a rash)…But, I know that learning to deal with crisis and being tough enough to do what it takes to improve is an important  life lesson.   It is my job as a parent to teach her to deal with challenges because no matter how much I would like to be able to solve all of her problems for her, I know that I cannot.

Our children mirror us and our behavior.  They look to us for leadership and guidance.  We fail them when we do not deliver it.  It is so hard to stay strong when your child is lying lethargically on a hospital bed and you want to move mountains to make her better, yet really all you can do is help her professional caregivers and pray that God will make her better.  Although Karyn does not really understand why she has to endure all of the medical procedures that go along with fighting a pneumonia infection, my support and quiet strength show her how important it is for her to be tough and to cooperate with the hospital staff.  We had a couple of bouts of tears over the blood work and the IV, but she “cowgirled up” and rose to the occasion.  She is a fighter and gets better each day.  She also is learning to balance herself when faced with adversity, and that is a lesson that she will carry with her long after the pneumonia infection is gone.

Although my little cowgirl is improving, she is still a  sick little girl.  Please pray for her speedy recovery—we are hoping to have her home from the hospital soon.

12 Comments

Filed under Antibiotics, hormones, and other growth promotants..., Family, General

A Two-Legged Creature of Habit…Foodie Work!

Those of you that have followed Feed Yard Foodie from its inception might remember a very early post entitled:

Creatures of Habit: Two legged and four legged. https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/creatures-of-habit%E2%80%A6two-legged-and-four-legged/  In that post, I talked about the fact that I am a creature of habit and so are my cattle.

As a creature of habit, I find comfort in having a plan and doing my best to stick to it.  This becomes vital to my mental balance and the degree of success that I have managing my life, my family, and my cattle feed yard.

It's in the best interest of my family, my animals, and you (the consumer of my beef) for me to be organized...

Let’s face it—I am not a spontaneous person…My life is so busy that spontaneity throws me off balance.  I am at the feed yard shortly after 6:00AM (usually seven days a week) and, during the week, work non- stop until I pick my kids up from school at 3:20.   From 3:20 on, I blend work with providing my children with a taxi service to all of their after school activities.  Throw in some youth athletic coaching, and the ever present challenge of putting dinner on the table, and I’ve filled out a fourteen hour day.  The bottom line is that I am a “juggler” so my success is dependent on the balls falling in a relatively orderly pattern. I am sure that a good number of you are, at this point, empathizing with me (having realized that you are also a “juggler”).

I am blessed to have such a wonderful and talented family...They need me...

Given my natural tendency toward order, it is no big surprise that I also seem to gravitate toward a consistent and organized pattern with my blogging.  The few times that I have deviated from my set pattern have been the most challenging for me…I don’t know how many of you have noticed, but most weeks I have two posts come up—one on Tuesday morning and one on Thursday morning.  I am happy with that.  Every once in a while, I deviate to three posts or change the days that the posts come up in an effort to “mix it up”, but I generally find that unsettling.  It messes up my routine, and causes the (juggling) ball pattern to change.

He needs me too...

In an effort to maintain my mental and emotional fitness, this fall I am sticking with a routine.  I hope that this will provide you with balance and comfort as well.  For those of you that like to live your life “on the wild side”, I can only hope that the vitality and excitement of my posts will keep you hooked and entertained!

With all of this in mind, I would like to announce my next series of posts.  Yes, I am not only sticking to a schedule of posting, but also developing a plan for a new series… I really enjoyed the Calf #718 series, and am now going to embark on a series of posts describing daily activities at the feed yard.

What is it that I do every day and why do I do it?

I wear a lot of different hats, and would like to take the time to share them with you in this “Foodie Work!” series. Blended with these posts will be “Foodie Fun!” recipes and cooking tidbits geared for the busy family who strives to eat a wholesome dinner meal together after a crazy day…

Family + wholesome food = what life is all about!

I promise… It’ll be both a wild ride and a dependable journey!

3 Comments

Filed under Family, Foodie Fun!, Foodie Work!, General

Horses…

Dandy and I have learned a lot from each other over the past six and a half years…

One of the most important things that I have learned from Dandy is that sometimes you just have to:

Stop...

Drop...

and Roll...

Followed by a shake, a lick, a chew, and of course, a short nap...

We all need to find a way to” let it go” and to relax…

Refueling and reinvigorating helps to keep the balance in your life and the spring in your step!

Happy Thursday…



4 Comments

Filed under General, Natural Horsemanship