Tag Archives: HACCP

S.E.F.A — A Cowgirl’s HACCP Plan…

My 13 year old blonde cowgirl grew up at a cattle feed yard. She learned about cattle, Beef Quality Assurance and HACCP practices as she learned how to walk and talk — internalizing them during her formative years.  Megan lives life with an interesting blend of faith, quiet confidence, determination, and a never ending smile.  Her adventurous spirit blended with the practical skills learned on the farm create a unique package.

Although this picture is several years old, the look on her face as she lopes her beloved horse says it all...

Although this picture is several years old, the look on her face as she lopes her beloved horse says it all…

Some might say that Megan is a bit of a “wild woman”, but the truth is that underneath her outwardly exuberant personality is a calm problem solver.  She holds steadfast under pressure and always has a plan.  I attribute a lot of that ability to the hours that we spend together at the feed yard.  During those times, I expect her to focus, be tough, and make good decisions — constantly adjusting to the situation in order to ensure the best possible outcome.  This skill carries over into other facets of her life.

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Sometime in the middle of track season this spring, I heard Megan refer to her S.E.F.A. kit.  I was focused on something else at the time so I did not ask her about it.  A few weeks later, I found a black cosmetic bag with bright pink duck tape on the front.  It was filled with first aid tools: neosporin, band aids, vasoline, q-tips, anti-itch cream, chap stick, and ibuporfen.

Printed on the pink duct tape was the acronym:

S: Super

E: Extreme

F: Freak

A: Accident Kit…

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I have to admit that I laughed when I first saw the S.E.F.A kit.  It was just so Megan: Confident enough to always engage, but smart enough to be prepared for any outcome.  Megan knows that there are no guarantees in life.  She lives on a farm where life is sometimes very harsh and even the best plan can go awry.

I have taught her to accept that behind every adversity is the opportunity for improvement. To face life head on: confident enough to expect the best, but realistic enough to be prepared for the worst.

When I finally asked my favorite blonde cowgirl about her S.E.F.A kit, she smiled and said:

“Mom, it’s my HACCP plan”.

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Filed under Animal Welfare, Family, General

Audits…

Sometime between my 2nd and 3rd visits to Florida to see my parents this fall, the feed yard had its final internal Progressive Beef Audit for 2013.  In total, my cattle farm is audited three times in a calendar year as a result of my participation in the Progressive Beef program.  The first and third audits are “internal” in nature where a BMG quality assurance director conducts the audit; and the second one is external with a third party consultant conducting the audit.ProgressiveBeefLogoGreen

The Progressive Beef program is based on three tiers:  Food Safety, Animal Welfare, and Sustainability.  In order to ensure that my feed yard is working diligently in these areas, we follow a certified HACCP plan for our feed mill as well as 39 SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures).  These 39 SOP’s cover everything from cleaning water tanks and cattle home pens — to cattle handling — to taking care of and cleaning farm equipment — to food safety measures.

Checking feed bunks, water tanks, and cattle home pens during an audit...

Checking feed bunks, water tanks, and cattle home pens during an audit…

The HACCP plan and SOP’s provide the basis for everything that we do on the farm as well as the standards on which we are audited.  While these audits take time and are a bit intrusive, I believe that they help me to accomplish excellence in cattle care.  They are a necessary second step to verify the high quality daily care practices for my animals as well as the safety of the beef that those animals make.2013_09_27_mr_Will Feed for Drovers-67

The HACCP plan and SOP’s provide the road map…

The audit ensures that we don’t get lost on the journey…willfeedsign3

I am proud to report that my feed yard has scored in the “Excellent” category on all three of our 2013 audits.  I believe that this is proof that we are whole-heartedly dedicated to this journey of excellence in cattle care and beef production…

I would like to take a minute to publicly thank the three awesome men who give of themselves each day to help me to care for our animals.  Their dedication, compassion, and loyalty all play an enormous role in the success of my farm.  Together the four of us make a fabulous team — which ensures success on this important journey.IMG_4534

I hope that sometime during this holiday season you will choose to eat a delicious beef meal as your own personal tribute to us!

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Filed under General, Progressive Beef QSA Program

HACCP and Skiing…

The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) program provides the basis for good animal care and beef quality at my feed yard.  It is the core of the Beef Quality Assurance Program, and originates from NASA’s protocol for ensuring food safety for their astronauts while on space missions.

HACCP is the cornerstone of the program...

HACCP provides the cornerstone…

HACCP plans are incredibly thorough and their development instills a mind-frame of critical thinking and challenge prevention.

HACCP sets both my animals and your beef up for success...

HACCP sets both my animals and your beef up for success…

A thorough understanding of HACCP changes the way that you look at the world.  So much so, that when this cattle feed yard “boss lady” leaves the farm she takes it with her…

My two oldest and I pausing for a moment of seriousness on the slopes...

My two oldest and I pausing for a moment of seriousness on the slopes…

As I skied with my family last week, I developed a variety of HACCP plans for skiing safety.  My list of protocols became rather long.  The discussion of them brought my family many laughs and earned me a variety of eye rolls as we rode the ski lifts together.

My favorite part of skiing--the heights of the chair lifts...I have a HACCP plan for getting on, riding, and getting off!

My favorite part of skiing–the heights of the chair lifts…As you might guess, I have a HACCP plan for getting on, riding, and getting off!

For every detailed protocol that I defined, my husband and girls came up with a juxtaposing humorous one.

You can tell the difference in our personalities from our choice of hats...

You can tell the difference in our personalities from our choice of hats…

My personal favorite was my beloved farmer’s plan for skiing down the slopes…

Point your skies straight downhill— Ski really, really fast. 

When someone or something gets in your way, TURN!

I feel the need to mention that my beloved farmer skied outside of the marked terrain, crashed into a SLOW skiing sign, and broke one of his skiing poles during the trip.  Obviously his plan was not particularly effective…

The smile never faltered...

The smile never faltered—although the plan went slightly awry…

I also feel the need to mention that I had NONE of these mishaps as I conquered the blue slopes on Steamboat’s beautiful mountains.  Obviously my way of thinking set me up for success!

I found it more rewarding to stop and enjoy the breathtaking scenery rather than viewing the rather ugly "Slow" sign up close and personal...

I found it more rewarding to stop and enjoy the breathtaking scenery while Matt was altering the position of the orange “Slow” sign…

Perhaps all of you are lucky that I am the “boss lady” at our family’s feed yard, not my beloved farmer.  The conscientious and thorough member of the family might just be the best one to care for our animals and raise your beef.

Although it is probably a good thing that he is around to keep me young at heart 🙂

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Filed under Family, General