Tag Archives: farm kids

Respecting the Land…

Since closing the feed yard, I have a new habit of exercising during the dawn hour. As part of my training for the half marathon that I will run in the end of October, on a daily basis I trade off swimming and running. I do this for two reasons:

  1. I love dawn and have a 20 year habit of being outside to watch the birth of the new day.
  2. I love to exercise and am using it to “fill the gap” now that I am not reading bunks every morning at the feed yard.

Sunday morning, I ran round trip from my driveway to the old feed yard facility — high 5’ing the stop sign at the half way point — and meeting a training goal of a 9 mile run. As I saddled up my horse early the next morning to go down to the pasture to move cattle, I questioned my intelligence as my stiff legs caused me to look trepidatiously at my favorite black quarter horse who stands over 16 hands tall.

I am glad to report that my legs cooperated as I consciously filled my head with youthful thoughts while gaining the saddle. We had a beautiful morning to move the cattle as the animals began their return journey to the main corral to ultimately ship to Roberts Cattle Co. in a couple of weeks. Maximizing our grass resources while ensuring good animal care provides the steadfast goal for our family.

As we drove home after moving the cattle, Megan, Karyn and I had a good conversation about always respecting the land. I have a Wendall Berry quote hanging in the hallway of my house that reads:

Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children!

As farmers, Matt and I respect the land by using the resources that Mother Nature bestows upon us while also carefully making sure that we tend to it. We recognize that increasing the quality of the land enables it to sustain into the future. There is pride to be found in being a good caretaker and we want to make sure that we pass along that lesson to our girls 🙂

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Filed under Farming, General, Video Fun on the Farm

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Filed under Family, General

Jury Duty…

My feedyard crew consists of three guys and myself. Together we care for close to 3000 animals as well as the business part of the farm. During the busy fall run, the amount of work comes close to overwhelming us. By Thanksgiving, there is a light at the end of the tunnel but our days are still very busy.

This week we have an additional challenge because my cowboy was called to Jury Duty. This is actually the second time this fall he has been called. He still comes to work at 6:00 to help us start the day, but by 8:00 he is on his way to the courthouse.

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His list of responsibilities at the yard consists of: daily checking of cattle health, shipping cattle to the packing plant, being a member of the cattle vaccinating/processing crew, cleaning water tanks and an array of other things. When he is gone, the rest of us fill in the gaps.

My crew is a cross between a family and a well-oiled machine. We make an awesome team. It is hard when one of us is gone – especially on a holiday week in the fall…

Fortunately my favorite blonde cowgirl starts her Thanksgiving vacation from school today. She will be spending her time at the feed yard helping me to check cattle health and working cattle. Her sunny disposition will keep us all smiling, and her cattle savvy will lessen the work load.

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To say that she is a blessing would be an understatement. She may well be quickly approaching angel status 🙂

This week our family wishes each of you a Happy Thanksgiving — Take a moment to appreciate your life’s blessings and say a special word of thanks for all of the farm kids in our country who give of themselves to help bring food to your dinner table.

We are indeed all blessed.

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Filed under CAFO, Family, General

The Best Letter That I Never Had To Mail…

There has been extensive talk in the Feed Yard Foodie house over the past six months regarding the proposed changes to the Department Of Labor regulations concerning individuals under the age of 18 working on farms.  As many of you might guess, these changes would have affected our family tremendously.  In fact, one of the proposed changes would have made it illegal for my daughters to be at my cattle feed yard even if they were under my supervision.

I became a little bit excited early this week when I received word that the Department of Labor was thinking of moving forward on these changes even though thousands of farmers had written letters asking them to discard them.  Actually, I think that my girls would tell you that my hair turned a unique red color that shines through only when I get angry…

As a result of some intense family discussions regarding the proposed labor changes, Megan decided to sit down Wednesday evening and write a letter to Department of Labor Secretary Solis.  Last night, the Department of Labor issued a statement that they were planning to discard the proposed labor changes.  When I received word that Sec. Solis was not moving forward with the changes, Megan’s carefully crafted words became, quite possibly, the best letter that I never had to mail…

A special thank you to Katie Ardnt for taking this wonderful picture of my little cowgirl and her beloved horse...

Dear Department of Labor Secretary Solis:

 My name is Megan Anne Burkholder and I am 10 years old. I live in a little town called Cozad which is in Nebraska.  It is a little bit west of being smack dab in the middle of the United States of America. My family has about 3000 acres of land. My daddy farms and grows alfalfa and makes it into dehydrated animal feed pellets.  

My mom has a cattle feed yard a few miles from our house.  Almost every day I go to my mommy’s feed yard and sometimes I help her exercise cattle (if I do not have school). I have so much fun and she teaches me a lot!  I learn how to understand and care for cattle.  Cattle are prey animals and they think very differently from the way that I do.  Because my mom teaches me how to understand cattle, I stay safe when I help her to handle them.  She shows me how to communicate with the animals so that I learn how to take good care of them.  This is important because well cared for cattle make AWESOME beef!  That’s what I love to eat!

My mom has special safety rules at her feed yard so that I stay safe.  I am her daughter and my safety is important to her.  I have learned how important it is to follow directions and also how to work hard.  I love being at the feed yard! It is like a second home! Everyone at the feed yard is like family–even though they are not blood related to my sisters and I—Mama’s crew of guys is wonderful.  They teach me important things too.

I hope that for the rest of my life I will get to go to her feed yard to help.  But, my mom tells me that you are changing labor regulations so that I will not be allowed to go to the feed yard with her anymore.  Why are you doing that?  It does not make any sense to me.  Our farm is our life, and I want to be a part of it.  The time that I spend with my mom is special and I do not want to give it up.  Please do not make it illegal for me to help my mom care for her cattle.  You can go to our family’s website and see pictures of me helping my mom.  The link is http://feedyardfoodie.com.

 Sincerely,

Megan Anne Burkholder

 

                

              

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Filed under Family, General