Tag Archives: blogging

Advocate of the Year…

I have a half written blog post sitting on my computer and a half made video on my iPhone that I was supposed to get up on Feed Yard Foodie this week.

While a goal without a plan is just a wish, sometimes the plan has to be readjusted to fit life.

It is Championship week for the Cozad Swim Team, and I have more than 50 swimmers who qualified and will represent us as competitors tomorrow. The past eight weeks have been filled with the joys of coaching and all of the responsibilities that go along with it.

I thank each of you for being patient with the blog as I know that I have allowed things to slip a bit. My coaching holds a very special place in my heart and I appreciate you all being willing to grant me the ability to fulfill this calling to the best of my abilities.

In lieu of a regular post, I will share an article up today announcing that I received the inaugural Advocate of the Year award for the beef industry. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association mid-year convention is currently going on in Denver, CO. While I am in Nebraska (on the pool deck), instead of out in Denver — I very much appreciate this honor.

Most of all, I appreciate each and every one of you. You bless me each week with your time and bring smiles to my face with your comments. There is a piece of each one of you in this journey that we take together. Please know how much you bless my life — Together we are stronger!

Click here to read the article.

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Filed under Feed Yard Foodie "In The News", General

“Anne Gates”…

Annegate3I think that it is impossible to pour your heart and soul into a business for 2 decades and not leave some sort of a *mark*.  The running joke at the feed yard revolves around what my favorite farmer affectionately calls Anne Gates.

I’ve always been a small person with a higher than normal energy level.  In short, I fit in small places and move pretty fast.  Over the years, I have created a variety of small passageways that allow me to move seamlessly around our corral systems at the feed yard.  Since I care for animals that are 6-13 times bigger than I am, I have the advantage of being able to fit through spaces that cattle would not even consider going through…Quite frankly, I can fit through spaces that my favorite farmer wouldn’t consider squeezing through 🙂

My crew thoroughly enjoyed my three pregnancies laughing that, at least for short periods of time, I had to be normal and use the real gates.  While I did not mind spending a few months walking in their shoes, I was always glad when my babies arrived and I could go back to using my own unique paths around the feed yard…

annegate1.jpgWhen I look back on the last 20 years as a beef farmer, my mind recalls many Anne gates — some of which are not physical passageways, but rather metaphorical bridges from my farm to the outside world.  This blog is one of them.  In 2016, agriculture in the United States faces many challenges.  Quite likely the greatest comes from a lack of effective gates from the farm to the dinner plate.  Less than 2% of Americans work as farmers, and most of our urban counterparts are more than two generations removed from the farm.  Understanding where your food comes from is no easy task, and finding good information on it resembles the old adage of finding a needle in a hay stack.

Raising cattle takes a unique set of resources as well as a relatively long period of time.  Beef farming epitomizes the newly popular slow food movement as breeding cattle live more than a decade, and cattle raised solely for the production of beef thrive for close to 2 years — grazing grass pastures and then spending a few months in a feed yard at the end of their lifetime.  Doing it right takes dedication, patience, and a whole lot of hard work.

One of the things that I have attempted to convey with Feed Yard Foodie is the complexity of caring for cattle and growing beef.  The gate of transparency challenges farmers, and figuring out how to explain daily animal care and business decisions to those that live outside of the farm is hard.  I struggle with this, and I know that I am not alone.

After six years of sharing, I can report that I have likely learned more than I have imparted.  I realized in the early days of Feed Yard Foodie that my social media experience needed to be bidirectional as relationships and trust (even virtual ones) are built not just through sharing but also by receiving.  The good thing about a gate is that it doesn’t cost any more to travel two directions and you can build it as big as you need it to be 😉

While I am closing the gate to my feed yard in about six months, I do not plan to “close the gate” to this blog.  It is an Anne gate that I am keeping until I both run out of things to say and run out of things to learn…Many thanks all of you for taking the journey with me.

 

 

 

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Filed under Chronicles of a Retiring Feed Yard Boss Lady, General

Fifty Nifty Questions about Me…

Naomi @ fromthecornerofthecirclel.blogspot.com  tagged me to complete the blog challenge of answering fifty personal questions.  I met Naomi and her friend Terryn @ faithfamilyandbeef.com through a mutual friend and mentor, Robin Coulter Lapaseotes.  Robin and I were Kindred Spirits and I am very thankful to have gotten to know Naomi and Terryn as we work together to carry on Robin’s legacy.BCItshirt.jpg

The psychologist in me enjoyed thinking about and working to answer the questions.  I send many thanks to Naomi for including me in the blogging thread 🙂

1. Are you a morning or a night person? Morning — reading bunks every morning at 6:00am makes you a morning person!

2. Do you prefer sweet or salty foods? As a child I preferred sweet foods, but as an adult I have decided to like them both…

3. Ninjas or Pirates? Ninjas

4. Ninjas or Pirates, discuss….I was a green belt in Kung Fu during my high school years.

5. Autobots or Decepticons? I have no idea what they are so am unable to answer the question…

6. What was your favorite childhood television program? My mom had a habit of kicking my brother and I outside to play so we watched very little television. The weather in Florida is conducive to being outside year round 🙂

7. Are you a collector of anything? Animals — we live just north of town and tend to accumulate abandoned animals and are too soft-hearted to turn them away.

8. If you could be any animal, what would you be? One that was able to take up residence at the Feed Yard Foodie house — they tend to have a good life!

9. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?  If I had a superpower it would be the ability to make kids believe — in themselves and their ability to pursue greatness — imagine how awesome our country would be if all of our young people aspired to achieve excellence!

10. What is usually your first thought when you wake up? The first thing I do in the morning when I wake up is remind myself what day it is — since every day begins by reading bunks at the feed yard, I tend to forget which day of the week it is 🙂

11. What do you usually think about right before falling asleep? I take a moment to count my blessings and be thankful for the wonderful life that my favorite farmer and I work together to build.

12. What’s your favorite color? Green

13. What’s your favorite animal? I love all animals, but I prefer cattle, horses, dogs, and cats.

14. Do you believe in extraterrestrials or life on other planets?  No

15. Do you believe in ghosts? As a “cradle Episcopalian”, I believe in the Trinity — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit — I try to take God with me every day and believe in the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit.

16. Ever been addicted to a video/computer game? No, I do not play either.  When I have a little bit of spare time, I either write blog posts or I read books.

17. If you were given 1 million dollars, what would you spend it on? College tuition for my girls — anything left over I would likely donate to local youth sports programs as my passion is developing the next generation of athletes.

18. Have any bad habits? I drink a Pepsi every afternoon.

19. Which bad habits, if any, drive you crazy? People who are so attached to their electronic devices that they do not put them away during conversations, meals, or meetings.

20. List 3 of your best personality traits.  Tenacity, work ethic, altruism

21. List 3 of your worst personality traits. I set high standards and get frustrated with people who don’t share them, I hold grudges, and while I have a vast amount of patience with animals, I do not have enough with people.

22. Have any celebrity crushes? No, I never have.  I must be too much of a realist.

23. List 1 thing that you wish you could change about yourself. I would forgive more easily and not hold grudges against the people that hurt me.

24. Any tattoos or piercings? I used to have my ears pierced but let the holes close.  My girls think that I should have them re-pierced, but I never take the time to do it.

25. What’s the first thing you notice in the opposite sex? How quickly they smile — my favorite farmer had me from the first grin 🙂

26. What’s your dream date? A sunset walk on the beach, but I tend to settle for checking fields with Matt or cheering on our girls at their various sporting events.

27. What personality traits do you look for in a partner? Loyalty.  My favorite farmer has been my source of strength for more than half my life.  From my own difficult health challenges a decade ago to the pressure of running a farm, Matt has always been my greatest champion.  His love never waivers, and he devotes his life to “his girls”.

28. What personality traits do you dislike in other people? Selfishness.

29. Do you see yourself getting married in the next 5 years? My favorite farmer and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage this June, and we are looking forward to 50 more.  My grandparents shared over 70 years of love and devotion — Matt and I have always tried to emulate them in our relationship.

30. Are you mostly a clean or a messy person? I do not like clutter, but I prefer being outside so my house is rarely truly clean.

31. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? Nebraska — It’s home to “The Good Life” 🙂

32. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Scotland and Ireland

33. List 5 goals on your life’s to-do list:

  • Continuous improvement – getting better each and every day
  • Be a loving and supportive wife and mother
  • Inspire kids to look for greatness in their lives
  • Make a meaningful and positive difference in cattle welfare throughout the beef production chain
  • Figure out a way to make my feed yard be financially solvent on a consistent basis to ensure sustainability of the farm.

34. Name 1 regret you have: I regret that I got sick when my youngest daughter was born — it was so hard on Matt and I have very limited memories of Karyn’s first years which saddens me.

35. Name 1 thing that you miss about being a kid: Digging my toes in the sand on a warm beach.

36. Name 1 thing that you love about being an adult: I love being a mom and watching my girls find their way on the journey of life.

37. What’s your favorite song of the moment? “It all started with a beer”, by Frankie Ballard.

38. What’s your favorite song of all time? Any Sawyer Brown song…

39.  What’s your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night? In the fall, we watch college football games as a family.  The rest of the year, I enjoy just hanging out with Matt and the girls decomposing after the week.

40. What’s your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon? I coach weekly swim team practices on Sunday afternoons during the “off season” from September to Mid-May.  I love coaching and the kids ensure that I start the new week off with a smile 🙂

41. Have any hidden talents? I used to be a sailing instructor during my former life as a Florida teenager.

42. You’re about to walk the green mile, what do you have as your last meal? Beef brisket with cheesy potatoes and broccoli.

43. What would be your dream job? Running a cattle feed yard without having to worry about financial solvency.

44. Which would you rather have, 100 million dollars or true love? True love — my favorite farmer is just that AWESOME!

45. If you could have three wishes granted, what would they be?

  • I wish that our country could have a President and a governing Congress that believed that serving America and being true to the historical pillars of our country was more important than achieving personal power and gain.
  • I wish that people would trust the farmer that grows their food.
  • I wish that all young Americas would grow up valuing integrity, hard work, and empathy.

46. Ever wish that you were born the opposite sex?  No.

47. Name 1 thing that not many people know about you: I was mugged at gun-point at the age of 18, and 23 years later I still cannot walk around a city at night without being afraid.

48. If you HAD to change your name, what would you change it to? I’ve never thought about it — I guess that I would choose one of my girls’ names.

49. Do you believe in the afterlife? Yes.

50. How do you feel about cookies? I love to bake cookies — I find it relaxing.  I am a bit of a “cookie snob” though, and only eat homemade ones.

In keeping with tradition, I now nominate:

Jake and Carolyn at The Cow Docs

Debbie at Kids Cows and Grass

Kim at Seasons Girl

I am calling you all out — think about the questions and answer them on your blog if the spirit moves you.  No pressure, just have fun!

Once again, many thanks to Naomi @ From the Corner of the Circle L 🙂

 

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Filed under Family, General

Refilling the Cup…

Katie Pinke of the Pinke Post made a comment on Facebook last week stating the difficulty of finding ways to “refill the cup” as an advocate for agriculture. Katie has many years of experience in social media and her intuitive thoughts often leave me pondering. As advocates for agriculture, our cups of energy are often depleted. Learning how to refill them is a journey of survival.

annecattlemiranda.jpgThis April will mark the 5th year anniversary of the Feed Yard Foodie blog. Four hundred and eighty nine blog posts and almost a million views (from a half a million visitors) separate the naïve cattle feeder of 2011 with the seasoned (and somewhat hardened) blogger of 2016. So much has changed since the birth of this blog, and yet, so much remains the same.

It takes an enormous amount of optimism and energy to brave the social media world that revolves around agriculture. On a good day, you pick up a follower who shares some common ground and wishes to further understand “where food comes from”. On a bad day, you are threatened and disparaged with an appalling lack of basic respect.

As I close in on five years, I find myself reflecting and attempting to rationalize the volunteer time and energy that I pour into Feed Yard Foodie. I try to look past the heartache that sometimes permeates my outreach to find the shining light that leads me to continue down the ag-vocacy trail. It takes a constant effort to figure out how to tap that unlimited source of energy which serves to fuel the blog amidst the regular list of chores that go along with being a mom and a feed yard boss lady.

I tell my girls that the most important life skill they will learn is perseverance. Perseverance is all about refilling the cup. My words take on a new depth of meaning as they watch me “cowgirl” up and continue the journey. They live with the stubbornly independent mom and boss lady, just as they watch the vulnerable woman struggle to find the courage to continue to share her story.

My girls work every day to refill my cup because they watch first hand as others deplete it. I do not shield them from my struggles, and it teaches them to not only persevere but also to empathize and offer compassion to those in need.

Life is hard. It is filled with demands that work to deplete the cup. I believe that the difference between those who persevere and those who do not lies in the ability to gather the love and optimism that is required to refill the cup. That is a very personal journey as everyone’s cup is unique.

Below are five things that I have learned to rely on for the past five years in order to persevere:

  1. Accept that everyone (including you) is human. Learn to forgive.
  2. Notice your blessings – learn to look for the good as it is what refills your cup.
  3. Draw a line between your real life and your cyber life – understand that the majority of what refills your cup comes from personal interactions outside of the internet.
  4. Take the time to be pensive – quiet thinking breeds both respect and learning.
  5. Understand that temporarily walking away is not failure – rather it is a necessary component to finding the courage to continue.

I do not know how to measure the success of my agricultural outreach, but I can recognize the personal growth that has occurred as a result of it. The road to excellence is rarely comfortable and I can attest to the fact that being an advocate for agriculture is not a comfortable journey. I am thankful to all of you loyal Feed Yard Foodie readers as you play a vital role pushing me to search for continuous improvement on my farm. You all help to refill my cup by reading, commenting, and sharing of yourselves.

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

Busy Times…

Over the past two weeks, I have failed at blogging.  The days passed in a hurry and my tired voice found little strength to share.  Thus, I put Feed Yard Foodie aside, pausing to put my thoughts together and hopefully find inspiration.

I plan to spend the rest of the summer figuring out the future of Feed Yard Foodie — whether to continue as it has been, modify it going into the future, or retire from social media for a indefinite period of time.  After 4 and a half years, I think that it is time to reassess and figure out a vision for the future.  I am open to all of your thoughts, so please feel free to share your opinions regarding the blog site in the comment section below.

In the meantime, I figured that I would update you all on the happenings of the farm.  About ten days ago, the feed yard had its annual third party audit.  June and July are also filled with maintenance work, and my guys taking turns being on vacation.  When you have a “4 man crew”, it is always a bit hectic when you run short on help.  My blonde cowgirl has stepped up to help fill in the gaps, and I have been glad to have her smiling face around.

Here are a few family tidbits from the last few weeks:

Our family adopted a student from Spain for the summer.  Carlos arrived just over a week ago.  My mom lived with his grandmother’s family in Spain more than 50 years ago, and our families have gone back and forth across the ocean visiting periodically for more than half a century.  My favorite farmer is very excited to have a boy living in the house and we look forward to the next month that he will share with us!

In addition to working on improving his English, Carlos has already learned to water ski and also been introduced to various farm chores 🙂

CarlosGirls1.jpg

The end of June brings the harvesting of prairie hay to the Feed Yard Foodie farm.  Some of this hay is baled in large round bales to be fed to our cattle, and some is put up in small (60#) square bales to be fed to both our cattle and horses. The small square bales require some good old fashioned labor to transport them to the barn where they are stored.  I always view this as a great project for the kids to help with — They likely disagree, but I see it as a character building experience.  My favorite farmer still slings small squares like a teenager.  He commented after we finished the project that even though the girls are bigger than me, that I still unload and stack bales faster and better than they do.  I guess that means that I am not finished parenting them yet 🙂

Good life lessons are often taught amidst a robust session of manual labor...

Good life lessons are often taught amidst a robust session of manual labor…

balesa4.jpg

June also brings on the main season for the Haymaker Swim Team.  I am proud to report that our team finished the regular season with an undefeated record!  Over the next three weeks, we will head to the Qualifying Meet and ultimately the Championship Meet the third weekend in July.  I have a great group of swimmers this year and we are well positioned for some awesome performances in the latter part of the season.  In addition to coaching, this year I am competing in the 19 and Over age group to celebrate my 40th birthday — I suppose that this is my “mid-life crisis”.  Thankfully, my body still remembers how to compete in the pool 🙂

This picture was taken about a month ago -- since then, my favorite 10 year old has passed me by and I am now the shortest two-legged member of the household!

This picture was taken about a month ago — since then, my favorite 10 year old has passed me by and I am now the shortest two-legged member of the household!

I hope that this summer finds you all making great memories.  Happy 4th of July to each and everyone of you!

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Filed under Family, General

Blogging Reflections…

WordPress sends out “blogging highlights” at the end of each calendar year.  Feed Yard Foodie saw 79,000 views in 2014 over the course of 94 new posts.  My longstanding goal is to get two blog posts up a week — I didn’t miss that by too much (average of 1.8 over the course of the year).

Perhaps the most interesting to me is to see which blog posts get the most “reads” and are earmarked as the most popular posts of the year.  Sometimes these align with my own personal favorite posts, and sometimes they do not.

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The below five posts are the most popular of the year determined by statistics…

5 Lessons that I want my children to learn before they go to college.

Why I prefer a cattle feed yard to a shopping mall.

Kindred Spirits

Setting the Stage

Chipotle isn’t any fun to write about.

On a personal note, the following posts are my favorites for 2014…

The Best Part of Me

I Am From

Out Of the Mouths of Babes

Alliances

Roots

I also have a personal affinity toward the most viewed post of the year (5 Lessons that I want my children to learn before going to college). 

This post came from a deep part of me as I struggled with a difficult situation.  Honestly, I wrote it as a way to achieve personal balance. I was pleasantly surprised that so many others identified with it.  This post ended up being as close to a viral post as Feed Yard Foodie achieved in 2014.

Do you have a favorite FYF post for 2014? 

If so, please share — I am always interested in which posts you all enjoy reading.

A special thank you to each and every one of you for taking the time to read my posts and share a part of your lives in 2014.

I am starting off 2015 speaking at Kansas State University this week, so I am headed down to Manhattan, KS to visit all of you Wildcat fans 🙂

 

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Filed under Foodie Work!, General

Why We Write — Pass Along Questions…

My blogging friend at Seasonsgirl sent an intriguing “blogging pass along” my way this week. It delves into the mind of a blogger in an attempt to explain the question “Why We Write”. The intellectual in me loves these types of things, so here are my thoughts on the four questions asked of me…

Thoughtful Thursday!

What are you working on relative to writing?  I like to laugh that my blog is a labor of love. Writing is not something that a cattle feed yard manager does with any frequency, so blogging provides me with an outlet for my creative/writing interests. Because I have a busy family life with three daughters in addition to a farm of thousands of cattle and crop acres, at this time, my blog is my only writing project. The fifteen year plan is to write a book chronicling my journey from South Florida city girl to Nebraska cattle feed yard boss lady.

annemattbeef1

What makes your work different from others’ work in the same genre?  Blogging is a personal journey for me, a sharing of my family and my farm, so it is intrinsically unique because of its personal nature. There are also not very many cattle feed yard owners/managers that participate in the world of social media which further adds to my uniqueness.

blackwhitecalf

Why do you write what you do?  My desire is to mix personal family stories and pictures with practical/real life experiences that I have on the farm.   At its’ very essence, I want to dispel the myth of the “factory farm” and place my CAFO in a truthful light. I am also in love with Rural America and my town of Cozad, and want to share the beauty of a rural lifestyle.

annemagnum

How does your writing process work?  I view writing as one of my life’s vocations. I write when I have something to say or share, and I like both the format of writing in series and writing individual posts that come to me spontaneously. Writing also serves as an act of catharsis for me — a way for my brain to process experiences as well as focus on the blessings that occur in my daily life. It helps me to remain positive despite the challenges that I face. In the three years of my blogging journey, a love of photography has also developed, and sharing visual images of my family and farm has become a great passion.

Blogging has truly been a journey for me — what began as a simple desire to dispel myths relative to cattle farming and feed yards has turned into a process of personal growth. I learn so very much by sharing my farm, and truly value to feedback that I receive from my readers.

And now I tag two other writers that I want to learn more about:

 The first is Terryn at FaithFamilyBeef. I first met Terryn when she was a college student, and have watched her mature into a talented cattle woman as well as a dedicated and loving wife and mother. Terryn and her husband ranch in Western Nebraska about three hours from my farm.

The second is Robyn at RanchWifeChronicles. Robyn grew up in Nebraska but has made a life with her husband on a ranch in South Dakota.   She has been very helpful to me as I have learned the art of blogging and picture taking, and has served as a great mentor and resource.  She even came to visit our farm a couple of years ago which was really fun!

A big thanks to Seasonsgirl for inspiring me to think about why I write — Also, a big thanks to all of you for taking the time out of your busy lives to read my posts…

 

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Filed under General, Thoughtful Thursday

Looking To the Future…

It is impossible to move forward without looking to the future. One thing that I shared in common with Robin Coulter Lapaseotes was a dedication to young people. I love to mentor and I know that guiding youth also held a special place in Robin’s heart.  We both recognized what an important role the next generation plays in the sustainability of agriculture in Nebraska.

Robin, at her feed yard just outside of Bridgeport Nebraska...

Robin, at her feed yard just outside of Bridgeport Nebraska…

I spent a day last week in Robin’s home community of Bridgeport speaking to high school students and talking with a couple of local cattlewomen. While I truly wish that Robin could have been there in person to share the day with me, I know that her spirit carries on with strength in the beautiful sandhills of Western Nebraska.

A beautiful sunrise off of sandhills ranch land near Bridgeport.  Thanks to Terryn Drieling for the picture...

A beautiful sunrise holds the promise of a new day…

Much like my town of Cozad, Bridgeport’s economy is tied to agriculture with farmers and ranchers making up the backbone of the community. There is an air of friendliness that permeates the region, with residents quick to offer a smile or a few minutes to visit. It is the quintessential Nebraska small town and personifies what I love most about my adopted state.

While I initially envisioned this trip west as a tribute to Robin, I think that I likely brought home more blessings than I could have left behind. This is often the case when I find myself speaking to students. I was able to catch the classes on the day before they left for the Nebraska State FFA convention and there was much excitement and enthusiasm about the impending trip to Lincoln.

Bridgeport FFA Students...

Bridgeport FFA Students…

I rounded off the day with a great visit with Terryn Drieling and Naomi Loomis. Terryn and Naomi are new up and coming bloggers as well as ranch hands, feed store managers,  moms, and a myriad of other things. I encourage each of you to check out their blogs and support them in their efforts to share their lives with fellow beef lovers!

Terryn and her family...

Terryn and her family…

Terryn blogs at Faith, Family and Beef

Naomi and her family...

Naomi and her family…

Naomi blogs at From the Corner of the Circle L

As I drove the 180 miles south and east headed for home, it occurred to me that looking to the future required not only personal intr0spection, but also reaching out to others to help you carry the torch.  It is finding the balance between remembering those that have influenced your life in the past and looking forward to new acquaintances to accomplish the work that still lies ahead.

Destiny is no matter of chance.  It is a matter of choice.  It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.

William Jennings Bryan

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Filed under General, Rural Communities