Tag Archives: media

The Atlantic.com

BCItshirt.jpgI received a request for a phone Q and A interview from a business reporter at The Atlantic.com early last week.  With the busy fall days and our “farm transition”, I was tempted to turn it down.  But, the request intrigued me as the Q and A was part of a series entitled “Working” which explores the range of things that Americans do for work and how they feel about their profession.  After completing the phone interview last Friday, I was glad that I chose to engage.  The reporter, Bourree Lam, held genuine interest in our farm and the planned 15 minute interview spanned closer to 45 minutes.

Finding the courage to engage with the media provides a steady challenge for me.  Over the past 15 years, I have performed hundreds of media interviews — some of them friendly and rewarding, and some of them uncomfortable and disturbing.  The positive experiences teach me that there are those that are truly interested in learning about “where their food comes from”, and the negative ones open my eyes to the passionate judgements and resulting hatred that sadly has found a solid place in our current culture.  While I feel as though my family and my education prepared me to be a contributing adult, I am not sure that anything provides the necessary skill set for dealing with the zealous hatred sometimes spewed from strangers.  I breathed a sigh of relief at the end of the interview as Bourree’s respectful interest put a smile on my face and hope in my heart.

One of my favorite phrases is “pack your faith”.  Nothing meaningful in life comes with a guarantee, and the road to excellence is rarely comfortable.  Instead of thinking of taking a chance when faced with a decision, I prefer to pack my faith and believe that it will ultimately lead me to a successful place.  Life isn’t a game of Roulette, it is a journey made up of decisions and action.  Inside each one of us exists a well of strength, and sometimes the difference between victory and defeat is determined by whether or not we chose to engage.

The Q and A article can be accessed here: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/10/cattle-farmer/502991/. 

You will notice that the comment section is not completely friendly, but I enjoyed a tremendously positive engagement with the reporter and I am packing my faith that the article will at least put a face on farming for someone that reads the article with an intention of learning.

 

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Taking a Leap…

There is an innately practical reason why I was a competitive swimmer instead of a diver—I am afraid of heights and do not like to jump…I vastly prefer to be in control rather than free falling.

Although I am on the pool deck coaching swimming almost every day, I’ve never been off of the high board at our pool…

I love to blog because I love to share my life, my passion, and my farm with others.  Perhaps I am naïve, but I would like to think that my writings bring all of you as much joy and entertainment as writing them brings to me.  Blogging allows me to share without jumping and free falling because I am in control of the pictures, the words, the story…

Love rules our life—love for each other, love for the family that we have, and love for our farm…

I believe that personal growth and continuous improvement are what enables me to best use the talents with which I was blessed.  Sometimes that involves going outside of my comfort zone and taking a leap.  This was the primary reason that I agreed to do the interview with Alan and the rest of the crew from Business Week.

I needed to see if I was a talented enough communicator to teach someone about my life and my farm, and effectively give him the tools that he needed to accurately portray that in a meaningful way to others…

The practice that I get communicating with them is not the same…

I have to admit that I am glad that the process is finished and I can now go back to my comfort zone, but I also must acknowledge that it was a fantastic learning experience for me.  I took the leap and I survived.  There were some anxious moments, but I am pleased with the result.  It was a shorter article than I had envisioned given the “man-hours” spent working on the project, but I believe that the article depicts life on my farm and the goals that drive Matt and I each day.

I am not a business woman at heart, so it was an interesting experience to be interviewed by a business oriented publication.  I lost count of the number of times I was asked for revenue and profit margins and I subsequently tried to steer the conversation back toward animal psychology and care (my first love).   Matt fared better than I on the numbers’ questions as his background at Thayer Engineering and Tuck Business School developed in him an innately more business oriented perspective compared to me (the animal loving psychologist)…

I love my sign and this picture that Bradley took—what a beautiful image!

I am absolutely fascinated by the visual images that the author and editor chose to use to augment the written story.  The photographer (Bradley Peters)  spent two days with us and took hundreds of pictures.  As I looked through each of the 8 pictures in the slide show, I had to ask myself “Why did they choose this one?”.

I love this image too. Matt and Megan are getting a drink out of our irrigation water on a hot evening (we’ve had highs above 100 degrees for 10 days now)…

While it does not take very much thinking to figure out why the above two images were used, a few of the other ones left me puzzled…There is the one of me in my office with a very weird look on my face and also this one of the family that has my favorite 7th grader very perturbed…

Can you figure out why she does not care for this picture?

The first time that I watched the slide show I could not for the life of me figure out why the editor chose to use the above picture.  It actually was taken when Bradley was checking the lights at 10:15 at night after many hours of photography.  As you can tell, my kids were exhausted.  I actually had to get my oldest out of bed for “one more round of pictures”.  While I can easily empathize with her and understand her embarressment, I have decided that this picture really does a pretty good job of depicting what my family looks like at 10:15 at night after a long day…

This picture brings her less embarressment, but isn’t as truthful an image given the circumstances under which it was taken…

There is a part of me that wishes that a few of the other images that Bradley took had been included in the story—one of Matt’s alfalfa harvesting equipment or one of the kids picking vegetables in our home garden, but for the most part I can understand the editor’s choices.

All in all, I am very proud of what Matt and I have accomplished over the past 15 years.  It has taken incredible team work and dedication, and is most especially a labor of love…I am also very thankful to Alan and Bradley for sharing their time with us to learn what life is like on our farm!

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I Am Only Human…

I tell my own children and the children that I coach that I will never ask them to do anything that I do not fully believe that they can do.  I am notorious for challenging my young athletes, and we always end each swimming practice with 25 yard freestyle sprints where there is no breathing allowed.  It is amazing to watch both the strength and the confidence of my athletes build as they learn to believe in themselves.

My favorite 7 year old takes in some oxygen after a 25 yard freestyle race that she is able to complete without breaking her stroke for a breath!

As both a mom and a coach I have found that as I raise the bar higher, the kids always rise to the challenge and perform better.  I am training not only their bodies, but also their minds.  Self-confidence and the ability to work through physical and mental challenges to reach victory are vitally important life lessons that my athletes will remember long after each season is over.

If you look carefully at the back of our team shirt that I am wearing, you will read the caption “Oxygen is Overrated”. My favorite 12 year old (pictured here) knows that as she builds her lungs in the pool, she also builds her confidence and toughness…

In my own life, I also raise the bar pretty high as I juggle being a mom, a youth athletic coach, a caretaker of close to 3000 cattle, and an advocate for agriculture.  Most days I am at the feed yard just after 6:00am and am still going strong as the sun sinks below the horizon sometime after 9:00pm.  I fall into bed at night exhausted and wondering what the next day will bring.

Watching the sun rise over the feed yard is a beautiful way to start the day…

There is no doubt that entering the world of advocacy has lengthened my days.  I often find myself thinking of my swimmers as the mental challenge of adding one more thing to the list pushes the limits of my abilities.  There are days when I think to myself, I am only human, how will I get everything done?

My plate is pretty full…

My experience with popular media outside of agriculture and my blog site is limited.  I have spent most of my efforts connecting with people outside of my farm on a personal level. I rarely have allowed a reporter the ability to have a glimpse of my life and then given him the right to portray that glimpse to others.

Recently, I took a leap of faith and opened the door to my life, my family and my farm to a Washington DC reporter.  He spent about a day with our family, in addition to several phone interviews.  A consulting photographer visited our farm two different times to take pictures.  When I agreed to the interview, I never dreamed how vulnerable I would feel as the story was being written.

The reporter visiting with Matt about the business side of our crop farm…

It is one thing to sit down at my own computer and write about personal experiences.  It is something entirely different to allow a stranger to write about his perceptions of both my family and our farm.  Throughout the entire process, I have experienced a myriad of emotions.

It appears that this Friday the story will go to press…

  • I wonder if I was successful in conveying my life and my livelihood in a meaningful and understandable fashion?
  • I worry that the story that will go to press might not accurately portray who I am and what I believe in.

Throughout this process, I remind myself that I am only human and the story that gets told is now out of my hands.  It has taken personal strength for each member of my family to go through this experience, and I am very thankful that Matt and my girls were willing to rise to the occasion.

They make sacrifices so that I can do all of the things that I do…

I will post a link to the article once it is published, as well as offer my own thoughts on the contents of the article in a blog post next week…

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Cleaning House…

The Feed Yard Foodie house…

My family hosted a reporter from Washington DC last Friday.  When he called a few days before arriving to confirm the trip, he said “By the way, a photographer is coming along to take pictures for the story so you have a couple of days to clean house before we get there”.  I instantly rattled off my typical response about the state of my home, “I am not the best housekeeper in the world—my house always seems to look lived in”.

The outside of the Feed Yard Foodie house (this is the side view) is well-kept just like my cattle feed yard. I have not yet devised the miracle that would allow the inside of my house to look this good…I suspect that it has something to do with motivating my three children to pick up their STUFF!

When I got off of the phone, it occurred to me that he really was not talking about the cleanliness of my house, he was talking about the visual aspects of my cattle feed yard and our farm.  The concept of cleaning house as it pertains to a cattle feed yard is an interesting one.  Having a well maintained and clean feed yard is a journey—not a destination.  It is one that we work at every single day and that work is intrinsically tied to Mother Nature.

My feed yard is marked by calm and comfortable cattle. They make safe and healthy beef!

I have an employee whose main priority (other than helping to feed the cattle) is to scrape and maintain the cattle pens.  This not only removes manure in a timely manner (which Matt needs to fertilize his crops), but it also ensures that cattle living conditions remain comfortable.  There are times that Mother Nature challenges us with a big snow storm or a heavy spring/summer rain, but we strive to keep our animals as comfortable as possible despite these challenges.

Here is the tractor and box scraper that we use to keep our pens well-maintained…

Is my cattle feed yard perfect?  No, it is run by a human and, as hard as I try, I am still not perfect.  Did I pray that we would not receive a heavy rain the night before the reporter and his photographer arrived at my farm? Absolutely!

Many times learning first hand about where your food comes from allows for more accurate information…Thank you to all of you that follow Feed Yard Foodie for doing just that!

As I took the reporter and his crew through the feed yard Friday morning, I asked him if the cattle looked comfortable and well cared for.  He answered, “Yes, the cattle look comfortable and they are certainly not living knee deep in their own feces.  Your pens are spacious.  It doesn’t look at all like the way that the movie Food, Inc. portrayed feed yards.”

I am one of many cattlemen who realize that the quality of the care and the caregiver determines the success of the animal…

A well maintained farm takes effort, but having a clean house sets my animals up for success. This allows them to make healthy beef using fewer natural resources because they are comfortable in their home pen.  Healthy animals make healthy beef, so cleaning house is an important job on our farm!

My living room on Mother’s Day–it was laundry day at the Feed Yard Foodie house and the clean clothes needed sorted and put away. I am constantly amazed at how many dirty clothes two farmers and three children make…

Now, if I could only convince my children that keeping the inside of our home clean was important perhaps it would not always look so lived in!

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