Tag Archives: Thoughtful Thursday


Thoughtful Thursday


Sustainability = Working with Mother Nature to harvest her gifts while using technology and science to help maintain the delicate balance that ensures both the prosperity of Americans and the long term vitality of the land of the free.

The Feed Yard Foodie

 What does this picture make you think of?



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Building Trust By Farming With Transparency…

Thoughtful Thursday

Later today (after I exercise calves and ship cattle to Tyson), I will drive to Kansas State University to address the Masters of Agribusiness students at their annual banquet.  My talk will center on how we can build trust by farming with transparency.  As a companion blog post on this Thoughtful Thursday, I would like to share the five rules that I have developed and personally follow in my journey to:

  Build Trust By Farming With Transparency…

  1. To be effective, transparency must be coupled with validation of daily care on the farm.  Practice what you preach!  Audit what you do!
  2. Be prepared to explain what you do and why you do it.  Don’t do anything that you can’t explain!
  3. The who is just as important as the what and the why.  Farmers are people — People are the key to building trust — To be authentic, we must share of ourselves in addition to our farming practices.
  4. Understand that there is more than one “right” way to grow food.  Just as you explain the what, the why, and the who of your farm, embrace the what, the why, and the who of other farms that use different production practices to grow food with integrity.
  5. While you may not always believe that your customers are correct, you must always respect them.  A conversation is a two sided process and understanding and trust are built by sharing.  Gathering feedback from your customers leads to a broader perspective and positive change on your farm.


I tell my daughters that the right thing is often not the easy thing, and I believe that statement applies to building trust by farming with transparency. 

However, choosing to journey down this path will lend both integrity and sustainability to your farm.


Filed under General, Thoughtful Thursday

Continuous Improvement…

I met Dr. Tom Noffsinger more than a decade ago.  A veterinarian in Southwestern, Nebraska, Dr. Tom teaches the concept of low stress cattle handling and holistic bovine care.  He is a master at understanding the bovine mind, and is truly a devoted advocate for our animals.

Tom Noffsinger

Dr. Tom Noffsinger…

I love to watch Dr. Tom engage and handle cattle.  His gift of patience and dedication to caring mentors me as I travel my own personal journey of continuously improving cattle care.  I laugh to my girls that “when I grow up, I want to be like Dr. Tom”, and it is a lifelong goal of mine to be as savvy a cattle caregiver as he is.

I am very excited to report that Dr Tom has teamed up with a Brazilian veterinarian (Dr. Paulo Loureiro) to star in a variety of cattle handling videos that are available online for the public to view.

On this Thoughtful Thursday, I encourage each of you to visit the website and spend some time watching and learning from Dr. Tom.  Whether you are a cattle farmer or simply an interested animal lover, these videos show a fascinating side to creating high quality animal care in a feed yard setting.


Why continuous improvement? Because it matters to him…

 Many thanks to Dr. Tom and Dr. Paulo for bringing good cattle care and handling to the spotlight; as well as to Merck Animal Health for funding the effort. 


Filed under Animal Welfare, General, Thoughtful Thursday

A Poignant Moment…

Thoughtful Thursday

I had a poignant moment yesterday morning when I opened up my email and saw a note from an older friend.  He wanted to share some thoughts with me after reading Tuesday’s post.  As I read his words, I was taken back almost 30 years ago when my Dad shared those identical ideas with me.  I had tucked Dad’s lecture somewhere in the back of my mind, but it somehow had become lost in the chaos of my life.

My dad was a history buff and critical thinker.  He frequently analyzed the workings of the government as he strove to fulfill his personal responsibility as a United States citizen.  As a child, I remember rolling my eyes when he would start a lecture — half paying attention and half wishing that I could remove myself from the pontification session.  I now laugh as an adult because my own girls do much the same thing.

As I read my friend’s words yesterday, I could feel my dad smiling down.  It was a great reminder to me that I should have paid closer attention to those childhood lectures —That I should have internalized them and taken them with me on my life journey.   Today I share the words of the email with each of you. I hope that you will read them and take some time to critically think about the path of our government.

Perhaps we all need to analyze the first documents of our country so that we can properly reflect on how far we have strayed from our forefather’s plan. I can think of no greater thought to ponder on this

Thoughtful Thursday.


The very thoughtful personal comment from a Feed Yard Foodie reader:

I believe part of the reason we are in the pickle we’re in today is because we consider our nation a democracy, and don’t know how a republic differs from a democracy.  By definition a democracy is “majority rule.”  In a democracy individuals are represented (yes, it’s a “representative form of government”), but the purpose of that representation is to determine the will of the majority and force it on the minority.  But we are not a democracy by design or Constitution.  We were intended to be a republic.   We are supposed to be a Constitutional Republic, not a constitutional democracy.

If you are fortunate enough to read what our founders wrote personally about the formulation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, you’ll find that they didn’t think of our country as a democracy.  A democracy, by its very nature, has no need for “checks and balances” or a Bill of Rights – it’s only responsibility is to determine majority will and enforce it.  Our constitution, however, was written by men who knew democracies had this weakness, and gave us something better.  They chose instead to create a republic.

In a republic the sole function of government is to protect the God-given rights of every individual from majority rule.  Our founders were all students of history and knew the kinds of government they did NOT want.  They had seen them at work for centuries – kings, tsars, military conquerors, despots and tyrants, and the excesses of the French Revolution in the name of “equality” (the leaders of the French Revolution eventually were beheading people to force them to be free…).  This was happening at very nearly the same time our Constitution was being written.  ALL of our framing documents have the character of fencing in the potential for human abuse of power.  They were written to be preventative, placing limits and accountability between the branches of government (and even between the two houses of Congress).  What a huge difference from a democracy!

I’m convinced that this idea of a republic is “lost knowledge” today.  It hasn’t been taught in our schools for generations.  The media never refer to our form of government as anything other than a democracy.  Democracies are a form of organized mob rule.  Mobs are usually fired up by power-hungry bullies, and this is a flaw in democracy that can be exploited.  Democracies always gravitate to enforcing the will of bullies instead of the will of the majority.  Bullies who understand this (and they do) deliberately convince their followers that they are headed for the utopia of democracy, but their secret agenda and end game is a dictatorship.  Lenin, Stalin, Castro and Chairman Mao all understood this.  Their takeovers were always peddled to the masses as a “people’s movement” resulting in a “People’s Republic”, when in fact they all were just plain old power-hungry dictators and despots operating behind the thinnest of pretenses.  Surely their governments were republics in name only.

Once a populace buys into thinking of their form of government as a democracy (and has forgotten what a republic is or that they were one once), all sorts of crises arise.  For instance, there’s gridlock in Congress – a war between groups who each claim to represent the majority.  Rejection of any being higher in authority than the government, who bestows rights on individuals that are supposed to be impervious to majority rule and government tinkering.  There’s frustration among those who ascribe to long-held standards of family, marriage, stewardship – because democracy, which is all they know, seems to be unable to deal with it.  (Of course, it IS unable to deal with it – democracy is inherently a denial of any authority higher than majority rule.)  All the intrusive regulations and the agencies that promulgate them are products of a government that thinks its role is to enforce someone’s rules on everyone, rather than to protect individuals from the very same thing.  Each crisis presents a new opportunity for assumption of more power, and makes the majority more and more ready to accept a political savior at any cost. This is how Hitler (the ultimate power-hungry bully) came to power in Germany.

I believe the loss of this understanding lies at the root of all of our current problems.  It has been erased from our national conscience over at least three generations.  We are simply experiencing the unavoidable consequences of tossing out the Republic to gain a democracy.  Our leadership (yes, both Republicans and Democrats) should have been leading us back to a republic for decades, but instead have relentlessly been leading us to democracy.  Many wonder, “Why is my government so broken?  After all, it’s a democracy!”  It certainly is, and that’s why it’s so broken.

A very thought provoking comment as well as a reminder to me to always step back and look at the historical big picture when evaluating a challenging circumstance.




Filed under General, Thoughtful Thursday

The Greatest Gift…

Thoughtful Thursday


When we brought her home from the hospital almost 15 years ago, she fit in the palm of her daddy’s hand.  Today, she and her teammates compete at the Class C District Cross Country Championships. 

I am reminded that one of my greatest joys is sharing in the lives of my children:  mentoring them, supporting them, and loving them on their journey.  There is no greater gift.

Go Haymakers!

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I am From…

Thoughtful Thursday

This week’s Thoughtful Thursday post is a free verse poem written by my favorite twelve year old…


I am From…

I’m from hard work,
sports, and the Bible.
I’m from Ann and Dave, Herbert and Sally,
and Anne and Matt.
I’m from Sundays with
I’m a proud
Fishing with grandpa,
hiking, and swimming.
I’m from horses and
Sarcasm rules
my life.
I’m a swimmer, a runner,
 an animal lover,
and a basketball post.
I’m a farmer’s daughter,
who can hold her own.
Frogs, mud pies, and butterflies
spells out my childhood.
Cancer has darkened so many happy memories,
my grandpa is with GOD.
Pets have a special place in my
Cheeseburgers at the lake with friends,
Ketchup all over us.
Cracking open clams,
Finding a crawdad inside.
I’m from love and laughs,
Tears and regrets.
I’m from “Grace,” “Damn it,” and
 “Heaven Preserve Us”.
I’m from gardening with mom,
no allowance.
 I’m from shot guns, school work,
And books.
I’m from bruises, scars,
And sisters.
Trips… visiting
I’m from picking sweetcorn, climbing trees,
And falling off donkeys.
But most of all
I’m proud to live in small town U.S.A


Filed under General, Thoughtful Thursday

Cozad’s Ag Exposure Day…

Thoughtful Thursday

ag exposureday.jpg

On this Thoughtful Thursday, I am thinking back to yesterday when I participated in the Ag Exposure Day for the 4th and 5th graders in our town of Cozad.  Every two years, a group of 30+ volunteers put together a “farm day” at Platte Valley Farms for our upper elementary students.  Sisters Ann Smith and Judy Eggleston organize 150 students who spend four hours going to 9 different stations to learn about different facets of agriculture in Nebraska.

ag exposurekids.jpg

With the help of a Cozad high school student (the daughter of one of the ranchers that I purchase cattle from), I am in charge of the “Cattle Learning” station which consists of giving a 15 minute presentation about cattle and beef to nine different groups of 15 students.

As I take the students through the life of a calf, why it is raised, why we eat beef, and how to offer basic care to a food animal; I field a variety of questions.  While I find each one of the students’ questions interesting, there was one yesterday that gave me pause.


A 5th grade boy asked:

How can you get the meat off of the calf without killing it?

 I answered,

You can’t.  The animal gives it’s life in order to provide us with nutritious food.

My answer was met with a new level of understanding and a quiet nod.  I do not think that this young man will ever look at a hamburger the same way again.

My favorite 4th grader at AG Exposure Day...

My favorite 4th grader at AG Exposure Day…

As the students completed the last station and filed off to the nearby field to enjoy a hamburger lunch, I continued to think about this question — baffled that a 10 year old boy would think that meat would be harvested off of a calf without the calf dying.

How has our society become so far removed from food production? 

and perhaps more importantly…

How are we going to fix this?

Today, I charge each of you with the task of helping to educate others about where their beef comes from — whether it is your own child, or the person next to you in the grocery store line — take the personal responsibility to ensure that beef production is properly understood.

He has dedicated his life to caring for cattle and raising beef --- He cared enough to mentor me.  We proudly grow your food.

Farming is his life — He cared enough to mentor me. We proudly grow your food.

Farmers dedicate their lives to raising safe and nutritious beef

— animals give their lives so that we can nourish our families —

Shouldn’t each one of us take the time to properly appreciate the sacrifices that occur so that we do not go hungry?


Filed under General, Thoughtful Thursday

Responsible Sourcing — It shouldn’t be a marketing ploy…

Thoughtful Thursday

Everyone wants to eat food that has been responsibly raised. Taking care of our Earth and the animals that roam on it is a priority for the vast majority of us.  I believe that our future and the vitality of our families depends on good stewardship.

As a farmer, I spend the majority of my day caring for our animals and our land. I try my best to make responsible decisions which ensure sustainability and judicious use of our resources. Animal welfare, food safety, and environmental stewardship are the core pillars that drive my decision making process.

I believe in wisely developing and using technology to grow food. I think that technology improves the environmental footprint of my farm, the quality of my beef, and also the care that I offer to my animals.


I believe that I grow responsibly raised beef—pasture raised on a ranch, and grain finished in a feed yard.

Because there are a variety of eco-diverse regions where American farmers grow food, I do not believe that there is a “one size fits all” protocol for responsibly sourced food.

I have faith that the vast majority of farmers make responsible decisions while raising food even as I recognize that many different types of farming practices are used to put quality food on the grocery store shelves. There is not one management system that is better than another provided that those systems maintain a commitment to animal welfare, food safety and environmental stewardship.

Their address has changed but the quality of their care has not...

The cattle’s address has changed but the quality of their care has not…

It angers me when corporate food companies give into pressure from special interest groups, make demands regarding farming practices, and then use the term responsible sourcing as a marketing ploy to increase their profit margin.

This type of practice belittles the American Farmer and confuses the American consumer.

Responsibly raised and responsible sourcing covers the vast majority of the food grown in this country — it is not a special niche marketing tool to be manipulated — it is the reality of the United States food production systems.


Is it too much to ask for a little bit of trust so that I can do my job as a farmer responsibly?




Filed under CAFO, Thoughtful Thursday