Tag Archives: farm

Merry Christmas!

The annual Burkholder Christmas letter — 21 years in the running 🙂

2017 brought the year of the teenagers to the Burkholder residence. Ashley Grace achieved the big 18 this month, Megan quickly approaches 16, and Karyn celebrated the fall with 13. Despite the fact that he is surrounded by women, Matt continues to thrive on the Nebraska prairie 🙂 The girls are truly our greatest blessings and the farm is alive with the love and joy that comes with family.

While Ashley Grace rocks her senior year in high school, Matt and I are left pondering how in the world we have a child old enough to leave for college! Last week brought the news that she will join the Notre Dame family in August of 2018. Her excitement rivals the pride that we feel toward the beautiful, compassionate young woman she has become. 2017 brought competition in the National Forensics League Extemporaneous Speaking finals as well as the completion of a successful four year state qualifying cross country career.

Megan expanded her repertoire this year to include set building for the Haymaker State Runner Up One Act play, and state appearances in pole vaulting (along with a school record) and cross country. She is in the midst of a great sophomore basketball season and still makes time to help out with cattle on the farm. Her smile is contagious and she packs her faith with a dedication that makes this Mama proud.

Karyn began her Junior High career this fall bringing home hardware on the cross country course and a successful basketball season. She relishes the fact that although she is the youngest of the Burkholder girls, she is the tallest. Karyn’s greatest dream came true this summer when we welcomed a yellow Labrador named Theodore into the family. Theodore brings a whole new level of antics and laughter to our home; and I have to admit that she is not the only one who adores him 🙂

Matt and I celebrated 21 years of marriage last June although he swears that I turn 29 with every birthday that passes…I am thankful each day to be able to share my life with him. He continues to manage the farm with a dedication to sustainability and integrity, although I think that he would tell you that being a good daddy dominates the top of his priority list.

Ashley Grace challenged me to run in my first half marathon this fall. I found a unique element of good health and strength amidst the 550 miles of training. I finished the race with a smile on my face, peace in my heart, and a time of 1:42.49. I continue to coach the local swim team as well as acting as an assistant coach for the Haymaker Junior High and High School Cross Country team. I truly believe that it takes a community to raise a child, and hope that I positively influence the athletes that I coach.

We wish you and your family the very best this holiday season. As always, if your path ever brings you across Nebraska please stop by and say hello!

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Filed under Family, General

How do you work to expand your limits?

I am a creature of habit.

I like routine and I am all about self-discipline.

If you need someone to count on, I’m likely your girl.

However, when it comes to working to expand my limits, I have to admit that it takes an intentional effort to move me into “uncharted waters”. I thrive on habits but the art of establishing new ones can throw me into a bit of a tailspin…

I struggled for several months after closing down my feed yard to establish new habits. When you have done the same thing – everyday – for 20 years, it’s just plain hard to change. It took me a while to find my mojo, and probably more importantly, to accept my new life path with joy and pride. Like many good things in life, sometimes you have to go outside of your comfort zone in order to have meaningful personal growth.

I put a lot of miles (specifically 550) on my new running shoes (actually, I’ve now worn out two pairs) on my journey to find balance. As I look back on the last eight months, I can easily recognize the series of goals and resulting plans that led me down the path.

Signing up to run the Good Life Halfsy (half marathon) –> Rediscovering my love for running –> Finding peace

Taking a new job at the Beef Marketing Group –> Benefiting from a new innovative team –> Finding challenge

Dedicating time to coaching/mentoring –> Acknowledging my deep spiritual need to give back –>Finding love

Learning to take more time to enjoy my family –> Embracing my greatest blessings –> Finding joy

It’s interesting the places that life takes you when you intentionally take the time to look for the best path. If you are like me, just slowing down enough to see the options is a huge step in the right direction!

Good habits are awesome:

  • They inspire us to be dedicated.
  • They enable us to make good daily choices.
  • They allow us to create meaningful patterns in our daily lives.

However, to intentionally find personal growth, we cannot let habits keep us from looking for the next step — the next goal — the next chapter in the journey toward excellence.

Many of you that follow Feed Yard Foodie are food advocates — either as farmers or as foodies (or a combination of both!). The journey of advocacy never ends and the road is often uncomfortable; but we learn from each other and we expand our knowledge as we interact and create a team. Recently, I decided that I needed to expand my limits in social media in order to continue to be relevant – that statement could well have been a direct quote from one of the beautiful teenagers that calls me “Mom” 😉

I plan to continue to blog weekly on this site, but I am making an effort to be more active in other places as well.

  • Additional pictures and “micro-blogs” are being posted both on the Feed Yard Foodie Facebook page as well as Instagram. If you are active on either of those platforms and enjoy my farm tales, please give me a follow!
  • I am planning a second Facebook Live video this Saturday morning at 8:30am. Grab a cup of coffee and join Megan and I as we visit our yearling steers at Roberts Cattle Company. We will be focusing on the symbiotic relationship that occurs between farmers and their animals — hoping to answer the often asked question, “How can farmers care for animals for months or years and then send them to their death?” This is a difficult topic that many people grapple with, and I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts as a “city girl — turned farmer”.

In the meantime, Happy Fall to each of you!

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Filed under A Farmer's View on Foodie Thoughts..., Coaching / Personal Growth, General

The Story of the Lazy YN Ranch Yearling Steers…

When I made the difficult decision to close down my feed yard, I knew that I did not want to completely leave the beef industry. A couple of things have allowed me to continue to find my way, and it brings me a lot of pride to be able to blend them together to tell a true story of beef production.

Cal, Tim and Jeff Miller live near Maxwell, Nebraska and we have worked together to grow cattle and make beef for about a decade. I was able to continue purchasing some of their animals to graze my grass pastures this spring and summer thus remaining an “active beef farmer”. This not only fuels my love for cattle, but it also provides great family times as my girls and I work together to take care of the animals.

My job at the Beef Marketing Group opened the door to creating a new partnership this year with Roberts Cattle Company in Lexington, Nebraska. The Roberts Crew does a great job as cattle caregivers, and I know that they share my commitment to high quality animal welfare. Recently, the Lazy YN yearling steers moved off of my grass pastures and into the feed yard.

The following two videos tell the story of the cattle and their caretakers.

  • It is a story of integrity and dedication.
  • It is an example of the real beef story.

I have shared both of these videos already on Facebook and Twitter, but I know that some of you rely only on this WordPress site for a connection to our farm. For that reason, I am sharing the videos here as well. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for sticking with me during my life transition. I am learning new things and trying to build meaningful skills; and I very much appreciate all of the support and feedback that I received as I started this new adventure.

Thank you 🙂

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Filed under ILS Beef / Beef Marketing Group, Video Fun on the Farm

Spring Rains Bring Green Grass…

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!

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Filed under General, Video Fun on the Farm

And Then There Were None…

Yesterday morning we shipped the final pens of cattle from the feed yard to Tyson.  A calm wind with temperatures in the mid-20’s provided an easy ship out environment.  Mother Nature also rewarded us with a beautiful sunrise toward the end of the process.

As I watched the last cattle truck pull away from the load-out chute, my emotions threatened to get the best of me.  I took a moment to remember back to the first of the lasts as I experienced the last of the lasts. This particular shipment marked the end of our feed yard era, and the finality of the moment left me drained.

I wasn’t quite sure how to feel with the knowledge that, for the first time in twenty years, I had no cattle directly depending on me for care.  An internal struggle waged as the uplifting element of freedom fought with the deep rooted desire to be needed.

Recognizing the necessity and wisdom in change is sometimes easier than living it out. Watching the cattle truck pull away forced me to face the reality in a way that I had not yet done. I took a brief moment to feel sorry for myself before I packed my FAITH and went back to work.

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In that transition moment from self-pity to resolve, I made the decision to be happy. 

While that decision does not preclude me from experiencing difficult moments tinged with sadness, it focuses my attitude on the positive and grants me the strength to make the most of the future.  LIFE is a verb, and I recognize that my ability to achieve happiness is directly related to how I chose to live it.

  • Staying true to my core values
  • Trusting both myself and God on the journey
  • Recognizing that there is so very much more left to do on the journey…

All of these things give my life purpose, and I am looking forward to cowgirling up to make the most of it.

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

How Do You Tear Down a Feed Yard?

Three primary alleyways provide the “blue print” of the feedyard with cattle home pens located on both sides of each alleyway for a total of 24 pens.  Our cattle farm dropped below 1/2 capacity (1500 bovines) last week as we shipped the final pen out of our 1st alley.

Early in the fall, I arranged the logistics so that the first alley pens emptied by early November.  This allows for us to begin the “tear down” phase on part of the farm while still taking care of cattle in the pens that make up the 2nd and 3rd alleyways.

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So, how do you tear down a feed yard?

Returning the cattle pen area to crop farm ground and grass pasture provides the goal for the “tear down” phase.  The logistical process occurs in the following order:

  • Take out the fences to open up the landscape.
  • Scrape the home pen surfaces to remove excess nutrients (manure) which we transport to my favorite farmer’s fields located within a 10 mile radius of the feed yard.  This manure helps to replenish nutrients and maintain good soil health where we grow crops each year.
  • Even up the land by removing “pen mounds” in order to create a flat surface for farming.
  • Disconnect cattle drinking water lines and remove water tanks from the home pens.
  • Remove concrete to be recycled.

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Completing this process for each of our three alleys allows for the transition of 24 cattle pens into approximately 40 acres of farm ground and pasture.  These acres will combine with other adjacent farm ground that already provides us with a nice crop of alfalfa.

November, December, and January will be split months for us as we continue to take care of the remaining cattle on the farm while also working on the transition project.  Once the last pen of cattle ships to slaughter in early February, our efforts will concentrate fully on the conversion of the land. We hope to finish the tear down by summertime in order to plant a transition crop on the irrigated acres and grass for the non-irrigated pasture ground.  The winter and spring weather will play a large role determining if we are successful in meeting that time goal.

While this project provides uncharted waters for us, we are working in consultation with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality in addition to the Natural Resources District.  My favorite farmer is an agronomy nerd and I am a passionate believer in the Native American philosophy that the earth was not a gift from your parents, but rather a loan made to you from your children, so managing for good soil health and the protection of our farm’s natural resources drives the decision making process.

Speaking of my favorite farmer, I need to grant him photo credits for the top two pictures shown above.  I am afraid of heights, so he nobly offered to climb the elevator leg at the feed yard to get the aerial photos 😉

 

 

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

A Bovine Anniversary…

annefeedyard2.jpgMy favorite farmer and I achieved 20 years of marriage yesterday.  It was an interesting day with lots of work and very little time for celebration.  Such is the life of a farmer…

I started the day at 5:45 shipping 9 loads of cattle to Tyson.  We don’t often ship that many animals at a time, but June is our busiest month to ship animals ready for slaughter because of the natural weather cycle in Nebraska.  The last truck left the feed yard about 8:00am.  I am excited to see the beef quality data. We are closely tracking performance this summer after switching to a new all natural feed additive known as Natursafe to both reduce the antibiotic footprint of the feed yard and also to provide a pre-harvest food safety mechanism to further reduce ecoli and salmonella on the farm.

  • After shipping cattle, I had two pens of newly arrived fall calves to exercise and acclimate.
  • I landed at the pool to coach swim team by 11:15 and spent a couple of hours sweating while mentoring about 40 of Cozad’s talented youth.
  • The afternoon brought paperwork at the office in preparation for our annual 3rd party feed yard audit that starts at 7:00 this morning.
  • At 5:30 I headed back out to the feed yard to unload another set of newly arrived fall calves.

We sat down to a meatloaf dinner about 7:15 and greatly enjoyed the delicious chocolate cake that my favorite blonde cowgirl made.  I think that I sweated several buckets over the course of the 90+ degree day, but all ended well.  It was a great day to be reminded that marriage is a journey, not a single event to decorate a calendar.

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Cheers to my favorite farmer for 20 years of awesomeness — We certainly have built something special 🙂

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Filed under Farming, General

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