Tag Archives: Nebraska

A visitor to the farm…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of John as Jesus addresses the first disciples: John 1: 35-50

In these 15 verses, Jesus invites the first disciples multiple times to

“Come and see” and “Come, follow me”.


We had a fun visitor last week on the farm. Ashley Grace’s boyfriend bravely ventured to Central Nebraska for a few days before heading back to Notre Dame for the fall semester 🙂 It was great fun to introduce him to life on the farm. We visited our fall calves on the grass pasture, our yearlings on feed at a local feedyard, and toured the crop farm and alfalfa dehydration plant. In addition to “farm stuff”, we had a wonderful time hiking and messing around at the lake. Luke learned to water ski and knee board, and Matt was super excited to have another man in the house for a few days! We are so thankful that he wanted to come and see where Ashley Grace grew up.

We’ve had a lot of visitors to the farm in the 25 years since Matt and I moved back to the prairie. My social media work regarding cattle and welfare tended to bring us quite a few extras in addition to the regular flow of friends and family that wanted to come and see the farm where the city girl from Florida landed after college. If I had to choose five words to describe our lives, they would be: rewarding, purposeful, busy, all encompassing, and challenging. I don’t know if we effectively communicate that to all our visitors, but I hope that we offer a friendly glimpse into the care, team work and intentionality that goes into working the land and caring for God’s creation.


I love the Gospel of John. The imagery, depth, and foundational truth found in the first chapter is both beautiful and amazing. I pulled short quotes above to highlight, but I would truly encourage reading the entire chapter. In verses 35-50, I think it is really interesting how Jesus called visitors to become disciples. His invitations strike me as both genuine and humble in nature. Jesus waits until they curiously seek. Then, the Messiah, the Son of Man, the stairway between heaven and earth, casually asks them to “come and experience”.

Every time that I read those verses, I am awed at the naturalness of the words. They are issued without the weight of guilt, without the distrust of an outsider, and without the component of impatience that I often find in myself. Jesus was so neighborly. One of them, Andrew, not only decides to come and see but to go and get his brother Simon (Peter) so that he can also share in the experience. Two others additionally accept the invitation when Jesus asks them to not just come and see, but also to follow.

In the midst of these interactions, Jesus gives them purpose, builds them up with praise, and promises both truth and hope as they prepare to journey together. The psychology major and “coach” in me just marvels at how easily Jesus turns visitors into family.

Sometimes I can be a stubborn and slow learner, but I hope that I continue to evolve into a more gracious and natural host. I pray that I allow Jesus to soften my heart and the Holy Spirit to guide my actions so that visitors can feel accepted and valued when God brings them into my life. Ultimately, I strive to be a disciple – to not just come and see, but also to follow in order to lead others. Together, we can persevere in faith on our journey into the arms of Christ 🙂

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Grass!

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Romans 8: 28:

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”



Six weeks ago, fire raged across half of our pasture ground and I was left wondering what taking cattle to grass would look like this year. I thought about all of the things that needed to line up correctly in order to make it work in the aftermath of the fire. The list of logistical hurdles was fairly long, and included “others” outside of our farm since part of the fire-destroyed fence was owned and maintained by the state of Nebraska due to the Interstate 80 right-of-way.

Right as my mind began to worry about the details, my heart clung to the knowledge that God would make everything work together for good. God knows me. He understands how much it means to me to have cattle on our farm when the promise of spring turns the grass green. Although my role as a “cattle farmer” continues to evolve, I still believe that God means for my life to involve time spent with my favorite bovines 😊

Over the past 25 years, my favorite farmer and I have faced many challenges and met them with a varied degree of success. This time, I think that we got it right. As I intentionally remembered – “my part, God’s part, other’s part” – the logistics came together. Through prayer, work, and a whole lot of Grace, this morning we went to grass with 117 steers. We’ve cross-fenced off the burned sections of the pasture, and look to have enough grass to thrive through the spring.

And, my heart is filled with gratitude and hope! Thank you to everyone for praying through this time with us!


 

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Our Daily Bread…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Lord’s Prayer which can be found in the KJV of Matthew 6: 9-13

“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”


Winter has blasted the central plains states since Phil the groundhog came to visit. It’s cold in Nebraska. Sunday night (after a week of having lows below zero), we topped out at -29 degrees. Many of our ranchers are calving, and our feed yard crews continue to care for cattle outside in the cold weather. I remember those days well.

Despite having a heater, my horse water tank froze early Monday morning and that’s not unique with these types of temperatures. I think it’s hard whenever it gets this cold. But, this time is particularly difficult because we have already had a couple of months of winter and almost a year of the pandemic to wear us down. It is also unusual for us to have roughly 10 days in a row where our low temperatures are below zero.

Karyn laughed as she showed me this meme last weekend…

The weather is a heavy influencer on my attitude. I don’t know if it stems from growing up without winter on the sunny Florida beaches, or if I struggle with a mild form of seasonal depression; but I have to be very intentional about looking for the rainbow as the cold, snowy days prevail. There are a variety of things that help me to find joy amidst the arctic 😉 It struck me the other day that these things are all provided to me by my heavenly Father as my daily bread. 


Sometime this summer I began ending my daily morning prayers by reciting the Our Father. I grew up in both the Episcopal and Catholic churches, so reciting the prayer has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. But, studying it as I study the Bible is relatively new to me. When I recently thought of the phrase “give us this day our daily bread”, it occurred to me that asking for the gift does not ensure the receipt of it. God may give it, but I still have the intentional choice of whether or not to open my heart to receive it.

Getting *stuck* in a downward spiral, whether it is fueled by sadness, self-pity, anger, frustration or some other usurping emotion is very real. When I find myself in this place, it often is easier to cling to that negative emotion rather than to work to change it. In those moments, God provides me with daily bread but I don’t accept the gift. I’m not sure that it is even always a conscience decision to refuse the gift. It is more like a poor habit that I move through without thinking. Over the past several years, I’ve committed to intentionally work to ground myself in the One that allows me to rise up and accept the bread. I’m slowly developing a new habit.

I still have days that I struggle. But, I can feel Jesus filling me with light and it makes a difference in my heart. It doesn’t make the cold go away, but it does help me to better rejoice and be glad in the day 🙂

 

 

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Burkholder Family Christmas Letter – Long version 2020…

While I sent out a few paper Christmas cards this year, the “letter” included with them is fairly abridged.

So, in honor of the 24th annual Burkholder Christmas letter tradition, I am including here a longer version for those inclined to read it 😊


As I reflect on 2020, what God places firmly on my heart is the rekindling of a deep gratitude for our farm, our community and the place that we get to call “home”. I think that both Matt and I would report that our ability to “work the land” and live in the midst of “God’s country” frees our hearts and brings peace to our minds even in the midst of chaos and upheaval. We are closing in on 25 years of marriage and 24 years of farming! Matt’s hair is a little bit grayer and I seem to develop more wrinkles with each year that passes, but we are so blessed to have each other – our family – and all those whom God brings into our daily lives.

Matt continues to manage the farm and “play in the dirt” as the girls and I like to tease him. He loves studying the soil and figuring out ways to better care for our land. He uses his “engineering problem solving skills” to help his crew harvest alfalfa and create alfalfa dehy pellets that feed animals all across the United States. In addition, he works with partners to grow a blend of rotational corn, soy beans, wheat, oats and cover crops to ensure good long-term soil health. In his spare time, he serves on several community boards, water skis like he is still 18, and chases determinedly after his girls 🙂

I “retired” from my animal (cattle) welfare job with the Beef Marketing Group on May 1st. I’m keeping busy helping Matt on the farm and taking care of our grass cattle during the spring and summer months. I also continue to coach swim team and cross country, serve as a small group leader for local middle school girls through our church, and added on substitute teaching at our local public middle school this fall. I’m finding that 6th-8th graders are just as ornery as cattle caregivers, but they bring a new sense of hope to my heart as I shake my head at their antics. I am truly enjoying this new door that God has opened in my life.

Ashley Grace is a Junior at Notre Dame University. She is a dual major in Political Science and Theology with a minor in Public Service. In her “free time” she works as a writing tutor for the university, and spent the fall tutoring football players. She is very proud that “her boys” are in the running for the National Championship title. She also is learning the sport of boxing and continues to run a bit on the side. She heads to Milwaukee, Wisconsin next summer to work as a summer school teacher before completing her final year as an undergraduate at ND.

Megan began her tenure at Davidson College this fall. She plans to be a STEM major of some sort – likely either chemistry or physics – with a long term goal of being a teacher and coach. She is a member of the track team where she pole vaults and is looking forward to the winter and spring season! Covid made for a difficult transition to college, but we are very proud of her tenacity. We are also incredibly thankful for God’s blessing of helping her to find a supportive group of awesome young Christians to “do life with” during her time in North Carolina.

Karyn is surviving living as “an only child” with Matt and I. She adopted an “emotional support kitten” this summer right before her sisters both left for college, and persevered with greatness through both the Nebraska State Cross Country Championships and the Nebraska State One Act Championships this fall. She is currently keeping busy with basketball and claims chemistry and math as her favorite subjects. We are extremely thankful that “in-person” school and activities persevered across Nebraska this fall. Our local school board, administrators, teachers, coaches, custodians, and bus drivers are a beautiful set of humans who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the children of our community are loved each day.

We wish each of you the peace and love of Jesus this Christmas Season. As always, our door is open for those who travel past the farm.

Matt, Anne, Ashley Grace, Megan, Karyn and all the 4-legged members of the Burkholder family 🙂

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Doors and Boxes…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Proverbs 20: 5

“Though good advice lies deep within the heart, a person with understanding will draw it out.”


I have this plaque up on the windowsill in my girls’ bathroom. I bought it years ago when it caught my eye at our local drug store. My girls say that I have a goofy love for “one liners” and I maintain that they have served me well over the past 45 years 🙂 I believe that mantra statements help to serve as “quick guides”, perhaps that is why I love the book of Proverbs.

To me, life is full of both doors and boxes, both of which require our attention as we go through each day. Doors open and close as life takes us through its maze, and boxes can either inspire or consume us when the pressure is on to check them off with accurate efficiency.

I used to laugh to my favorite farmer that running a cattle feedyard was a great fit for me. I was as much a creature of habit as my animals. It’s been more than 3 years since I closed down Will Feed and we tore out the old feedyard. I still miss some of those daily animal care chores, but I’ve come to appreciate the door (gate) that closed that cold day in January of 2017.

Over time, I’ve realized that God continues to open and close doors in my life as my heart changes and evolves. As Proverbs reminds me, good advice does indeed lie deep within my heart. I find it when I search for truth with an intentional focus on faith. This spring I will walk through a new door again as I retire from Progressive Beef. I am thankful for the opportunity to improve animal welfare in service to God’s creatures and I hope that my efforts were meaningful.

Looking ahead, we will continue with our farm’s spring/summer grass cattle operation. I am excited to once again immerse myself in the peaceful chores that go along with daily cattle care. I think there is a part of my soul that is drawn to the land and the cattle that symbiotically thrive on the Nebraska prairie. God willing, my leg will continue to heal so that I can play a role in that partnership.

Some of you may wonder, “What else is Anne going to do?” That is precisely the question that my girls asked me when Matt and I told them in December that I planned to end my tenure with Progressive Beef. The answer is simple, yet complicated – known, yet unknown. I am going to follow the advice given in the above Proverb.

To look deeply within my heart to draw out God’s guiding discernment as I begin each day.


My life is incredibly full and God steadfastly blesses me. Matt, our girls, our farm, and various opportunities to coach and volunteer in my community pull at my heart daily. I am going to embrace the freedom of being able to faithfully answer those calls. A few weeks ago, our youth pastor asked a question that continues to be on my mind:

What single thing can I plan to do this year that will matter most in eternity?

I haven’t yet figured out all of the details, but I believe that they are tied up in my ability to trust as I walk through the doors that God opens. To focus, not on the boxes to simply check off on the list, but instead on the people that He brings into my life. I hope that you all will continue on with me here at Feedyard Foodie as I begin the next chapter in May of 2020 🙂

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Wish Upon a Prayerful Prairie Star…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Psalms 19: 1-4

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.”


I spent the winter and spring reading the Old Testament, and I have really enjoyed pondering the story and journey of King David. I’ve drawn introspection and wisdom from reading about David’s life journey. I see parallels in David that I find in my own life. The most obvious to me is that I make mistakes along the way, but I try to have a devoted and faithful heart that turns to God for guidance.

I think that the book of Psalms (partially written by David) shows the range of human response to God and His world. The verses help to bring the emotion out of my heart, and tell me that its okay to have an up and down relationship with God as long as I am deepening my faith in an intentional journey to know Him better.

I find God best in the quiet. He comes alive to me as I spend peaceful time on the Nebraska prairie.

My favorite blonde cowgirl went flying out the back door the other night to snap the above picture. It’s a little bit hard to see, but the alfalfa field behind my horse paddock is dotted with dandelions. As the sun prepared to set, the dandelions lit up with its rays and seem to beckon “Wish upon a prayerful prairie star”. I remember when my girls were little, they used to pick the dandelions and make a wish before they blew on them. I don’t know exactly what they wished for, but I think of those times as God moments. 

Today, when I search for God’s guidance, it comes to me as a soft and quiet voice. I hear it best amongst the quiet when my mind is uncluttered and my heart is at peace. The more I open my mind to listen, the more I that I hear.

I’ve been asked a couple of times over the last several months what I feel is the best tool that my girls can have in order to live an honorable life. To me that means: What is the best inspiration for having good character as they travel through all of the moments of each day?

My answer is simple and can be summed up in three words.

OWN THEIR FAITH.

When my girls reach out in faithful love to Jesus and open their hearts to him, then they develop a personal relationship with God that drives the way that they live their lives. Their decision making process changes as they intentionally seek guidance from the ultimate source of holy character. They learn to listen for that soft and quiet voice.

It’s a life changer.

You can see it in the story of King David as well as in the lives of anyone who chooses to live in faith. And, I am truly blessed to have watched it happen in all three of my girls.

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day. As I think about the celebration of motherhood, I am eternally grateful for this blessing. As my girls own their faith, they make a daily choice to walk with Jesus and let him guide their hearts. It changes their perspective and it enables them to live with a new level of peace and confidence that is not tied to earthly culture.

If I were to think of what I would most wish upon a prayerful star for, it is just this. And today I am grateful for all of the dandelions (that are not supposed to be in my favorite farmer’s alfalfa field) for reminding me of God’s graceful influence in our family 🙂

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Greener Pastures…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week comes from Psalm 23: 1-3

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.”


It is impossible to live in Central Nebraska in late spring without thinking of green pastures. Either we are blessed with an abundance of rain that brings strong and healthy grass to our native plains, or else we pray for the moisture that we need to turn our brown pastures into a verdant green. In either instance, the thought of green pastures dominates a rancher’s mind.

Nebraska is home to 24 million acres of rangeland and pastures (more than 1/2 of the state) where cattle turn grass into a human edible protein source (beef) and other needed products. Cattle are the great “up-cyclers” as they up-cycle grass into human nourishment. Leading cattle to greener pastures is relatively easy, especially after a little bit of classical conditioning where they learn that when we move them that they get to go to a place with better food!


The New Testament is filled with instances where Jesus is described as the good shepherd, but we also find references to our Father God as a shepherd in the Old Testament. The above verse in Psalms reminds me of two very important components of faith.

  1. God’s love never waivers and his care for us is unconditional
  2. Because of his gift of free will, we must submit and lean on Him in order to understand the vast breath of his love and guidance

There is a necessary leap of faith for us to fully abide in God — we must actively accept Jesus’ gift and love in our hearts as well as embracing the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our minds. Questions often outnumber answers but, when we listen with care and intention, God always gives us enough guidance that we can follow his desired life path. It is there that we find the greenest pastures as our hearts fill with peace, strength and purpose.

I think that I never really understood the importance of a “good shepherd” until I became an animal caregiver in the late 1990’s. I’d read about it, but the full magnitude of what it meant did not become clear in my mind until I learned to be a cattle caregiver. My animals depend on me for their basic needs — they look to me for leadership — and they submit to my guidance in order to thrive.

How do they know that I will lead them to greener pastures? Because I consistently provide for their needs.

As humans, we ask a lot more questions than cattle do. We’re a lot smarter and it takes more than physical satisfaction for us to live a meaningful life. It is important for us to ask God questions, but it is equally important for us to trust that he will lead us to an honorable life. We don’t need to have all of the answers — that is why we have faith. We can look to many things to provide meaning in our lives, but there is only one source of living water that fills our hearts with joy and brings honor and purpose to our existence.

Faith is a verb. It requires patience as well as perseverance. It comes from a beautiful blend of submission and guidance, and comes wrapped up in a package of love. God is a good shepherd — and we bring honor to Him as we choose to live our lives embracing his purpose.

 

 

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Who will be the Scott Frost of the beef industry?

I got to know Dr. Richard Raymond serving on Tyson Fresh Meat’s Farm Check animal wellbeing committee. A native of the Nebraska Sandhills, Doc served as Undersecretary for Food Safety at the US Department of Agriculture from 2005-2008. A blended background in medical practice, food production, and regulatory savvy makes for an interesting perspective and Doc has a natural ability to always leave me thinking…

Last weekend, I popped open my facebook account to find a Feedstuffs article that he authored. The title “Frost Returns to Nebraska” caught my attention as any true Nebraskan is aware that the Cornhuskers recently hired Coach Scott Frost to lead our football team back to greatness.  A former Husker quarterback, Frost led Nebraska to its last national championship game twenty years ago. I remember it vividly as it was my first football season on the farm in Nebraska.

The Big Red Nation has gathered around Coach Frost in support, and the hope of a return to greatness permeates the hearts of the 1,896,190 residents that call the Cornhusker state home. I never understood the united pull of loyalty toward a football team until I moved to Husker country. It seems that all 77,220 square miles of prairie bleeds red on game day as fans from all across the state unite to cheer on their boys of fall.

Doc raised an interesting challenge in his article:

Who will lead the beef industry to united greatness so that we can effectively communicate with our customers and build trust in our product?

It is no secret that the beef industry struggles for unity on a vast array of issues with over 900,000 independent farmers and ranchers that care for over 93 million animals. It takes an average of 2 years to bring beef from farm to fork, and many animals have multiple owners across their lifetime. The complex lifecycle of beef results from a unique blend of resources needed to bring the animals from a birth weight of approximately 75# to a final weight in the neighborhood of 1300#.

It takes a team of people to care for a calf across his lifetime; and politics divide the beef industry in much the same way that they currently antagonize the unity of our great Nation.

  • A divided nation struggles to tell its story.
  • A divided nation creates internal chaos which drowns out the voices of its customers.
  • A divided nation fails to achieve as high a level of efficiency when striving to work for continuous improvement.

In the twenty years since Scott Frost led the Huskers to the National Championships, I’ve often wondered what it would take to create a unified effort of cattlemen across the United States. The majority of us agree on so many important things:

  • Quality animal welfare
  • A strong focus on food safety
  • A need to care for the environment
  • The importance of transitioning our farms/ranches across generations so that our children can carry on the tradition of raising food.

The list is long and the importance of success cannot be understated. Within each of those above topics lies a long list of subtopics as we strive to responsibly raise a quality beef product.

Does any one person exist that can unite us in our search for greatness?

I don’t know, but I can tell you that it will take a team of dedicated individuals to deal with the challenge of building trust with our customers.

Together we are stronger.

Learning to listen, pool our ideas, and create viable production changes to meet customer asks will determine the success of the industry over the next twenty years. I don’t want to lose my ability to create a memorable family dinner centered around a delicious steak any more than the die-hard Husker Nation plans to let the tradition of victory fall by the wayside.

Scott Frost provides the beginning to a great Husker game plan –

Who will be the Scott Frost of the beef industry?

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