Tag Archives: Cowgirl

Packing her FAITH to fly…

My favorite blonde cowgirl trades her horse for a pole vault pole tomorrow afternoon to compete in the Nebraska State Track and Field Championships. I’m pretty proud of Megan as she has had an awesome freshman year track season! It’s been a lot of fun to watch her work hard and pack her FAITH to fly 🙂

My Feed Yard Foodie video for the week highlights her pole vaulting prowess. Please help me to wish her the best as she tackles one of her favorite off farm challenges @ Burke Stadium in Omaha.  Go Meg!

 

 

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Filed under Video Fun on the Farm

Dawn Through Megan’s Camera Lens…

MegPie.jpg

My cowboy is on vacation this week, so my favorite blonde cowgirl and I started the week by checking cattle at the feed yard Sunday morning.  The following set of pictures is:

Dawn through Megan’s Camera Lens…

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Dawn is my favorite time at the feed yard.  As Megan took pictures of the morning glory, I could feel my dad smiling down on us. 

His “four wheel drive” girl and his camera — a good combination…

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Filed under CAFO, Family, General

Cowgirl Up…

Less than 24 hours after being bedridden with a virulent stomach flu, Megan rallied back to tie for 3rd place in the state 10 year old gymnastics competition in Lincoln, Nebraska on Saturday.

She drew her toughest event first, and her performance set the stage for a great competition.

She drew her toughest event first, and her performance set the stage for a great competition.

As I studied her with questions in my eyes the morning of the competition, she looked at me and said “I’m going to do this, Mom.” I realized that physically she was not 100%, but I believed her because I knew that Megan would Cowgirl UpCowgirl Up is an expression that is regularly spoken at the Feed Yard Foodie house.

It is what happens when adversity is embraced as opportunity.

A tough little cowgirl...

A tough little cowgirl…

Four strong gymnastics routines later, she was standing on the awards stand with a big smile on her face.  While I am certainly proud of the hard work that she has put in to be competitive in gymnastics, I am more proud of the mental toughness and tenacity that drove her to personal victory.

Megan was able to sustain despite a challenge, and that is the essence of the expression Cowgirl Up.

The promise and optimism of spring...

The promise and optimism of spring…

Each year as winter turns into spring, I am amazed at the ability of our land to sustain growth and start to awaken from hibernation.

The geese have arrived by the millions on their trek back north...

Arriving by the millions on their trek back north, the geese feed on the corn that is spilled on the fields during harvest.

  • My crocuses bloom only to get covered with snow.
  • The grass starts to green despite nightly temperatures in the teens.
  • The geese and the sandhill cranes determinedly fly north as the stubborn Nebraska wind attempts to push them back to where they originated.
  • My horses and cattle begin to shed their winter coats as the days get longer and their bodies tell them that warmer temperatures are coming.
  • Neighboring ranches celebrate the birth of baby calves as the bovine life cycle perpetuates.

    New life...

    New life…

Mother Nature does a beautiful rendition of Cowgirl Up each spring and it is something that I watch for with great excitement.  This spring, as the Nebraska earth awakens on our farm, I am beginning a new theme entitled Sustainable Spring

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Breakfast on a spring day…

Throughout this series of posts, I would like to share our experiences as the farm sustains life, and our natural resources steadfastly provide despite challenges.

We can Cowgirl Up together and hopefully have a great discussion of the increasingly popular term sustainability.  Drop me a note with any specific topics or questions that you might have!

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Filed under General, Sustainable Spring

Megan’s Champion Chili!

My favorite cowgirl/chef is also a volleyball champion!

Her team won 7 of 8 games to win the tournament!  Her awesome serve earned 17 points in a row during one of the games :)

Her team won 7 of 8 games to win the tournament! Her awesome serve earned 17 points in a row during one of the games 🙂

Champion Chili needs:

1 and 1/2 pounds of ground beef, 40 shakes of minced onion (or one chopped medium onion), 64 ounces of tomato juice, 15 ounces of chili beans (canned), 15 ounces of black beans (drain the juice out of the can before adding), 1 can of whole tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes if you have them), 1/2 tablespoon of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, dutch oven pot to cook it in, marbled cheese, crackersIMG_2644

Champion Chili directions:

Brown hamburger on the stove top.

Shake in the minced onion (or add the minced fresh onion) while cooking the beef.

Add the two cans of beans (remove liquid from the black beans before adding).

Add the garlic and the chili powder.

Add the whole tomatoes (28 ounce can or you can slice fresh ones if you have them).

Add the tomato juice.

Cook on medium low for 2-3 hours before serving stirring occasionally.

Serve with cubes of marbled cheese and your choice of crackers!

The victorious girls!

The Champions!

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Filed under General, Recipes and Beef Cooking Tips...

Doin’ Gates…

Every self-respecting feed yard cowboy can “do gates” while on horseback.  A good horse understands how to set himself up so that the rider can reach both the chain and the gate which simplifies the process.

Doin’ a gate while checkin’ cattle…

I do not know what other newer feed yards look like, but my feed yard has a very diverse set of gates and chains.  There are no two gates on my farm that chain and latch the same way…My cowboy is a patient guy and has figured out ways to do most of our gates without having to get off of his horse.  He is also 6 feet tall with fairly long arms which is very useful when doin’ gates.

Two weeks out of the year, my cowboy goes on vacation.  When he is gone, I fill in for him checking cattle health (otherwise known as checkin’ cattle).  This involves looking at each animal in each pen to make sure that they look healthy.  I have 23 pens at the feed yard which equates to 23 unique gates.

Getting ready to start checkin’ cattle…

During these two weeks, I have been known to mutter creative words under my breath at many of those 23 gates.  This is what happens when you take a short lady and add a tall horse and a diverse system of gates.

Studly (the horse) and I approaching one of the 23 unique gates…

Over the years, I have learned to let go of my desire to be a self-respecting cowboy and accept the fact that I am going to have to get off of my horse at some of our gates to open and close them.  I make myself feel better by remembering that the goal is checkin’ cattle, not doin’ gates.  An added bonus of getting on and off of my tall horse many times during a 3 hour period is great strength and flexibility training…

Tall horse + short lady = Good flexibility and strength!

Good balance is nice to have also…

Headed for the next pen where, luckily, I can actually “do the gate” on horseback…

I have to admit that as I watched Michael Phelps in the Olympics this summer I looked enviously at his long arms…They are just the tool that I need when leaning down over my horse to reach the chain and latch!

While doin’ gates may seem a mundane task, it is actually very important.  Guess what happens when you do not re-latch the gate correctly?  The cattle in the pen get an unplanned exercising session frolicking all over the feed yard.  While the cattle enjoy this immensely, it results in acute embarrassment for the cowboy.  You see, it is an unwritten rule at every cattle feed yard to properly SHUT THE GATE!

Doin’ the gate to leave a pen–Step 1…Take the chain off of the latch.

Doin’ the gate—Step 2…Ride through the open gate and out of the pen.

Doin’ the gate—Step 3…Re-latch the gate once you are out of the pen.

Doin’ Gates—Step 4…Double check to make sure that the gate is properly latched!

I am pleased to report that although I am only marginally successful at doin’ gates, that there were no surprise exercise sessions due to improperly latched gates while my cowboy was on vacation.  I am also pleased to report that I actually enjoy checkin’ cattle very much and have (over the years) developed a knack for making sure that my animals are healthy and thriving.

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Cowboying At The Feed Yard…

My cowboy is in the Black Hills on vacation this week.  When he is gone I take over his chore of riding pens and checking the health of all of our cattle.  Although this adds to my fairly long list of things that Anne must get done today, I really enjoy riding pens.  I get started early (about 6:00 am) so that I am finished by the middle of the morning.  It is easiest to check cattle health during the cool hours of the morning.

I took a variety of pictures while on horseback and thought that I would share my favorites…

Dawn at the feed yard—it is so beautiful that it makes it worth getting up at 5:00am…

The feed truck getting started for the day…

Checking cattle…Studly is a good partner.

Being high up on Studly’s back gives me a good view of each one of my animals which helps me to assess their health…

Sometimes I find an animal that is sick and so I guide him out of his “home pen” and down to our main corral so that I can take his temperature and administer an antibiotic after I have diagnosed him…A good cowboy is a “cow doctor”.

I love this “shadow” picture…

Cattle do not often sit “like a dog”, but this steer posed for me while I took his picture sitting in the cool morning air…

Studly helped me to move a pen of cattle one morning. Here we are trailing down the main alleyway to a new home pen…

We also shipped some cattle to harvest on Tuesday afternoon. These two big boys are about ready to be put on the bus

As I care for my cattle, I always remember the end goal—safe and healthy beef that I feed to my family and to yours. Here, my favorite 12 year old eats a beef stir fry that is made from home grown vegetables and beef from our farm.

In many ways, being a mom helps me to be a good cowboy.  Developing a sense for my animals’ health is similar to the sense that I have developed with my own children.  I know what normal looks like, and so as I check the health of my animals I look for anything that is abnormal.  Being a mom also reminds me how important my job is because I know that the cattle that I raise will be used to nourish my own family in addition to nourishing yours…

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Filed under Animal Welfare, Foodie Work!, General

Realizing a Dream…

My mother is a school teacher with a love of traveling.  I remember in elementary school being loaded up in her suburban to drive across the country.  Normally we headed to Wyoming and Montana (a good long drive from Florida!) because my dad is a devoted fly fisherman and has always had a true love for the area’s trout streams…

My brother and I taking turns fly fishing…

When we arrived after many days of driving, my dad would fly out and meet us.  What followed were days of riding horses to high mountain streams in search of trout.

During those long days of driving, I spent a lot of time daydreaming as I looked out of the car window.  As we approached the mountains of Wyoming, I would sometimes see cowboys moving cattle on horseback.  I would pretend that it was me and dream of the day when I could play cowgirl.

A great teacher who instilled a love of the outdoors and horses deep into my soul…Al, a horse and fly fishing enthusiast, getting ready to take me and my dad deep into the wilds of the Montana mountains.

As I grew older and became a competitive swimmer, the family driving trips ceased due to my swimming meet schedule but we still would fly out to the trout streams of Montana every summer before school started.  By high school, I had moved on from my childhood world of pretend, but the dream of riding horses and learning about cattle lay tucked somewhere deep in my heart.

When I met my farm boy from Nebraska at Dartmouth, little did I know that love would bring me to a farm in rural America where my childhood dreams would literally come true.  I have to admit that there is a lot more hard work involved than I had ever imagined, but the life that I lead in Nebraska is not far from what I dreamed of as a child.

Learning to be a cowgirl is a reality for her—she is lucky enough to live the dream…

Last Sunday, my middle daughter and I moved cattle on horseback down at our grass pasture.  That morning something triggered a sense of deja’ vu and memories of long ago dreams flooded my mind as the two of us moved the cattle.  I remembered that little girl looking out the car window and watching the cowboys, and realized that I had become the heroine of my childhood daydreams…

Trailing the cattle—Megan and Magnum lead the way while Dandy and I encouraged the cattle to follow…

My view of a cowboy has changed over the years.  I will never be exactly like those men moving cattle thirty years ago in the mountains of Montana, but I do spend my days caring for cattle and I have a love of horses that runs deep to my core.  I realized Sunday morning how much I loved what I do, and what a beautiful blessing it is to be able to teach it to my daughter.

Dandy’s ears show that he is alert and doing his job well. In turn, I take a moment to document “the dream” with my IPhone while on his back…

I do not know exactly what my parents had in mind when they took me to those mountains year after year, but those trips planted the idea of doing something different with my life—Something tied to nature in rural America.

Her hair is blonder than mine ever was, but she gets that same spark in her eyes when she gets to be a cowgirl

Today I live in a state where cattle outnumber people 4 to 1.  I spend my days caring for animals and raising my children in God’s Country.

What more could any little girl with big dreams wish for?

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Searching For Grass…

Megan and I loaded up the horses on Sunday after church and headed down to the pasture to ride.  I needed to look at our grass to see if it was ready to graze cattle on yet, and my little cowgirl is always game to take the boys for a ride.  While most of the cattle that we have are finished in our feed yard, we do graze grass with some of our animals during the growing season.

Megan and her boy, Magnum...

As you can tell, the grass is starting to green up.  We typically turn cattle out to graze on our grass pasture the 10th of April.  I am a little bit concerned this year that the grass is not growing very fast because we have not had much rain.  As we rode the pastures, I hoped for rain!

Searching for grass...

We did a lot of work down at the pasture this spring putting up new fences and additional water tanks that will allow us to more efficiently graze our acres of pasture.  Megan and I checked out the new water tank system and cross fences as we looked at the grass.

It was hot on Sunday, and as we looked at one of the new water tanks, Dandy (my horse) wished that we had already turned the water on so that he could get a drink!

Cattle tend to graze the grass near the water tanks pretty heavily but not utilize the acres of grass that are far away from the water source.  By placing more water tanks at our pasture and making the paddocks (sections) of grass pastures smaller through the use of cross fences, we will be able to ensure that none of the grass is wasted.

This is our original water source at the pasture. The well that supplies the water is inside the little building. This spring, we buried pipe under the ground out to two other water tanks and divided up the big paddocks into smaller grazing sections.

We placed a cross fence down the middle line of the water tanks so that we could utilize the water source on two different grazing sections of grass.

You can see the fence going along the middle of this new water tank. We can utilize this water source while grazing two different paddocks...

We use a three strand electric fence for cross fences to divide up our different grazing paddocks.  We use this type of fence because it is easy to maintain and very effective for keeping the cattle in the appropriate paddock.

If you look closely, you will see a Western Meadowlark sitting on the cross fence. Hats off to Ms. Cosner, Megan's 4th grade teacher, because Megan not only immediately recognized the bird but could also tell me all about this wonderful creature that is Nebraska's State Bird. This little guy sang us quite a tune as we rode past...

We now have six different grazing paddocks on our pasture land that we will rotationally graze from the middle of April to the middle of June; and then again from the middle of August to the middle of October.  Our grass is predominantly cool season grass so it grows well in the spring and fall, but needs a rest from grazing in the heat of the summer when it does not grow well.

This particular paddock has some old growth of dead grass left over from last fall. I was disappointed in the amount of new growth of green grass underneath the old grass. We need some rain to get the grass growing!

While it is certainly true that I needed to search for grass down at the pasture to ensure that I had enough for my cattle to eat before I moved them down to the pasture— it is also true that I love to use experiences like this to teach Megan about both Mother Nature and her horse.  She is an inherent problem solver and when it is “crunch time”, she always delivers.  I can count on her to remain calm and follow directions when I need her to, and that is a wonderful life tool.  While some of this has to do with her genetics, much of it comes from learning how to care for animals and growing up on a farm.

Megan takes care of her own tack--and saddles, unsaddles, and loads Magnum on and off the trailer by herself. This teaches her responsibility and leadership...

She also does fun chores like cleaning out the horse trailer which teaches her how to roll up her sleeves and go to work!

I had a wonderful few hours with my favorite little cowgirl.  Teaching her and spending time with her brings into perspective why I work so hard to take care of my farm and raise healthy beef.  She is the next generation and it brings me great joy to watch her learn how to care for our land and our animals.

Did I mention that my favorite little cowgirl turned 10 last week?

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