Tag Archives: goals

Filling the Gap…

Managing a feed yard for 20 years inspired me to learn to identify and fill meaningful gaps. With thousands of animals relying on me each and every day, recognizing if an important gap existed between the care that I offered and what the animal needed was absolutely critical for good welfare. As an adult, I find myself continuously looking for gaps in all aspects of my life. I have found that when you look for them with the intent to fill them in a positive way, that it gives your life purpose.

Over the past several months, many people have asked about my new job and what I do for the Beef Marketing Group. The short answer is that I work to fill the gaps. An extra set of eyes can be a critical tool for evaluating if and where a meaningful gap exists; and I work with my teams to figure out the best way to fill them. While I enjoy the time that I spend outside at the cattle feed yards the best, helping to create the plans/protocols that ensure good care as well as the communication tools to share our story also refills my cup.

Our swim team mantra for this summer is “A goal without a plan is just a wish”, and I think that is true for any facet of life. Making goals is critical for improvement; but perhaps even more important than creating the goal is building a plan which holds you accountable to see it to fruition. I tell my athletes that no matter how good you are, you can always get better and I carry that same philosophy everyday with me as I go to work for the Beef Marketing Group. It makes for a good fit.

Started by a small group of cattlemen in the late 1980’s, the Beef Marketing Group fulfilled a longstanding dream to create a team and develop cooperation with the end goal of improving beef quality in the meat case. This multi-decade effort eventually led BMG team member Heather Donley to create the Progressive Beef program. Progressive Beef’s three tiered focus concentrates on beef safety, animal welfare and sustainability. It provides the necessary plan to accomplish the goal.

In the more than two decades that I have worked in the beef industry, I have never known a program better suited to finding and filling the gap in cattle care and resulting beef quality. Daily chore protocols come together with onsite visits from animal welfare consultants like me to ensure that we are doing our best every day; and that good cattle care is always the #1 priority. Yearly 3rd party audits ensure integrity of execution and provide verification of our efforts.

It’s pretty awesome to develop the ability to find the gap, but it is even more rewarding when you work within a system that allows for you to help fill the gap in a meaningful way. It gives my life purpose and inspires me to greet every sunrise with the natural enthusiasm that results from knowing that what I do every day makes a difference – not just in the lives of the hundreds of thousands of animals that are cared for by my team, but also for the millions of people that benefit from the high quality beef that we all help to ensure is grown with integrity.

How do you fill the gap to provide a sense of purpose to your life?

Leave a comment

Filed under General, ILS Beef / Beef Marketing Group

Goals, Accountability, and Teenagers…

  • I believe that setting goals and working to achieve them gives life purpose.
  • I believe that accountability empowers integrity and results in making good decisions.
  • I believe that in all of my life journeys, the one that I take as a parent is the most important.

I live in a house full of teenagers.  My girls bring me intermittent bouts of joy and exasperation as we make our way together as a family.  They are both my greatest pride and my best challenge.  What we build together provides life’s greatest blessing.

I am a habitual goal maker.  Setting and working toward goals keeps me passionately excited to be better tomorrow than I am today.  I set goals in every facet of my life and hold myself accountable while working toward achieving them.  I try each and every day to pass this habit on to my daughters. This often results in interesting feedback from them 😉

agstatexc3I remember a couple years ago when my favorite brunette was struggling during track.  I asked her at the dinner table one night what her goals were for the season.  Her reply caused me to grit my teeth as she stated: “I don’t have a goal for the season.  I am afraid to set a goal because I might not reach it, and I don’t want to fail.”

Fear is real.  It is part of being human and affects the decisions that each of us makes every day.  Acknowledging it empowers you to deal with it and ultimately move past it.  Setting goals that are challenging, yet achievable is one of the best ways to keep fear under control and gain confidence on the journey.

Although that night at the dinner table I wondered if my mentoring was flawed, the maturity and fortitude that my daughter went on to show in the next two Cross Country seasons demonstrated that we were both on the right path.  She ended both seasons as the lead runner on the respective XC squads helping to bring home the runner up team medal in 2015, and garnering an individual medal in 2016.

While she would likely tell you that the hardware was her greatest achievement, I would argue that learning to set goals and finding the personal strength to hold herself accountable for them creates her greatest accolade.  Over the last 18 months, I have watched her dig deep, over come adversity, and persevere with greatness.

This weekend, I will watch proudly as she competes in her first 1/2 marathon.  Completing the race accomplishes a long term goal and checks off a bucket list item.  She loves to run, and I love to watch her love to run.

Finding the appropriate balance as both her parent and her coach provides my greatest accomplishment.  While I want her to find success more than anything in the world, I realize that success only holds meaning when she learns to do it for herself.  From finding the personal discipline to get through the daily grind to daring to dream and packing her faith to go after it — that’s what makes her a winner.

She may be a teenager today, but tomorrow her contributions will help to shape our country.  That’s plenty of motivation to fuel us both on the journey 🙂




Filed under Coaching / Personal Growth, Family, General

Good Is The Enemy Of Great…

Good is the enemy of great.  I had never heard this expression until my daughter’s Cross Country coach made it the mantra of this year’s season.  We all strive to be good at what we do—do we sometimes settle for good when we can be great?

AG and her coach—after her first Junior High Cross Country win…

How do we protect ourselves from falling into complacency just because we are good?

I am always amazed at the “life lessons” that I learn from parenting and mentoring my girls.  I encourage them to dream big and set goals to help those dreams become reality.  Possibly even more important than establishing and reaching goals is the commitment to create new goals once the old ones have been accomplished.

Moving the bar higher with each successful accomplishment protects us against

 good becoming the enemy of great.

As I reminded my favorite 7thgrader this weekend to set new goals for the remainder of the Cross Country season (she has reached all of the ones that she set at the beginning of the season), I found myself thinking that I might need to take my own advice.

The care I offer to them determines the quality of their life and the quality of the beef that they make…

More than a decade ago, I made the commitment to change the management philosophy at my cattle feed yard.  I promised myself that a renewed focus on quality—quality animals, quality care, and quality beef—would permeate both my business plan and the everyday actions on my farm.

To accomplish this, I made the following goals:

  • To become my own cattle buyer (https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/the-cattle-buyer/)
  • To work with my rancher partners to improve the care that we offer to our animals and the quality of the beef that those animals produce…
  • To follow animal performance all of the way through the packing plant to ensure that I am producing high quality beef…
  • To reconfigure the way that we offer care at the feed yard with the focus on “what is right for the calf”…This required developing a solid understanding of bovine psychology and implementing what I call holistic care.

Today, I am the cattle buyer and work directly with the ranchers who provide more than 85% of my cattle.  I also follow those animals all of the way through the packing plant to understand the quality of the beef that they make.  Finally, our focus at the feed yard is to provide consistent and appropriate care to our animals with our days revolving around their needs.

I believe that I am good at what I do.  We benchmark cattle performance (health, pounds of weight gained each day, the amount of feed required to get that weight gain, and carcass quality at the packing plant) to ensure that I am good at what I do.  The bottom line is that when I offer good care, my cattle thrive and make good beef.

A tasteful, highly nutritious steak that comes from a humanely raised animal is the goal…

What I realized last weekend was that although I am good, I need to work to be better.  A reader recently asked why I wean any calves at the feed yard when I know (and scientific studies show) that the animals would get along better if they were weaned on the farm of origin.

The answer to that question is that sometimes my ranchers ask me to wean their calves at the feed yard when it would be logistically difficult for them to wean them on the ranch (this year we are weaning about 15% of our cattle at the feed yard instead of the home ranch).  While our decisions are mostly based on the availability of natural resources (feed for the cattle), perhaps I need to work harder to encourage all of my ranchers to look for ways to more consistently wean their calves on the home ranch.

Perhaps if I placed more of a priority on this, I could shift my cattle care from good to great…I think that after I get finished weaning calves in a few weeks that I need to take the time to make a new set of goals for myself to ensure that good is not the enemy of great on my farm.


Filed under Animal Welfare, General

Summer Goals…

When I think of words to describe myself the following come to mind:

Creature of Habit

Goal Oriented



Empathetic (at least I try to be!)

My three girls and two of their good friends at a track meet last weekend. I look to my kids for honest feed back—their actions often speak louder than their words!

I asked my girls to think of five words or phrases to describe me and this is what they said:

Animal Lover

Hard worker

A Passionate Believer who tries to cause others to also believe…



Because I am a goal oriented-hard worker, I love my children, and I am annoying and opinionated; I had each one of my three girls make a list of goals to achieve this summer.  Because I believe in leading by example, I made a list of goals for myself as well.  I would like to share my goals and my oldest daughter’s goals with you…

My Goals

  1. Keep my children engaged and learning through the summer months through athletics, reading, and helping with the blog…
  2. Continue to work hard to set my animals up for success so that they can make healthy beef using the fewest natural resources…
  3. Support my husband as he makes his way through the crazy, busy, and tension filled haymaking (alfalfa) farming season…

My favorite 12 year old is learning that success goes hand in hand with hard work. Her first place finish last weekend in the 1500m in a time of 5:48 was fun to watch…

My Favorite 12 Year Old’s Goals

  1. Run 200 miles to earn the right to have her name on the 200 mile Cross Country Runner plaque…
  2. Read 100 books…
  3. Learn what the term optimal trajectory means and figure out how to calculate it for things…

It appears that both AG and I will be busy this summer.  Evidently, I am going to have to add optimal trajectory to my list so that my 12 year old will not be smarter than her mama!

Did you make summer goals this year?  If so, what are they? If you were asked to describe me, what words would you choose?


Filed under Family, General