Tag Archives: work ethic

Tis the Season: For a Beard and a Basketball…

Each fall, when the temperatures hoover around O degrees for the first time, I mutter to myself that I need to figure out how to grow a beard. Last week our temperatures hit the zero degree level on the morning that we shipped cattle to Tyson.

annedougcattle-ship1ment

My foreman and I put on a bunch of layers of clothes, and I got out my fake beard for the first time since February.

Winter in Nebraska takes some getting used to.  While figuring out the role of a hood on a sweatshirt came instantaneously to me, learning how to layer correctly to work safely outside in the cold took a little bit longer. I have a few toes with frostbite damage to remind me of the learning curve…

To this day, I vastly prefer the summer and fall months to December and January, but farm chores continue in the winter-time despite the drop in temperature.  This time of year, Mother Nature offers challenges instead of resources so we have to provide care when the cattle need us — every single day.

9mccook9

 My favorite blonde cowgirl wisely trades her boots for basketball shoes for the winter.  She made the transition this year to high school basketball and brings the same winning attitude to her team as she brings to the feed yard crew.

Her hard work and focus earn her success and she proudly represents the Lady Haymakers this season on three levels:  9th and 10th grade, Junior Varsity, and the Varsity.  She’s playing in games four nights a week and packing her FAITH along the journey.

  • F ortitude
  • A ttitude
  • I ntegrity
  • T rust
  • H umility

megbb9th1

I love to watch her love basketball almost as much as I love to see her awesome work ethic make a positive difference.

When I think of all of the great things that being a farmer has brought to my life, raising my kids on the farm tops the list.  Megan runs a scoop shovel with the best of them.  She became a member of the farm crew at an early age, and learned the art of teamwork working cattle and dealing with weather challenges at the feed yard.

She understands that no necessary action is unimportant — no matter how physically demanding or mentally menial.

The girl has grit.

Last summer, I watched Megan practice basketball in our farm shop — Shooting more than 10,000 baskets during the hours outside of working at the feed yard and training for swim team. Inspired by the awesome set of Lady Haymaker basketball coaches, she combined her farm work ethic with a fledgling love for the game and began building the necessary set of ball handling skills.

ibb5

megbbalblizzard

I look at my favorite blonde cowgirl and I see my work-a-hol-ic nature combined with a unique zest for life. This combination packs a powerful punch that we fondly refer to as the art of Meganizing.

I recognize that personal need to make a difference that she wears on her face.  It gleams in her eyes both on the basketball court and on the farm — even when the rest of her face is covered with a matching cold weather mask while she scoops snow out of feed bunks in a blizzard 😉

2 Comments

Filed under Animal Welfare, Family, Farming, General

The Rainbow Ends At the Pot Of Gold…

megfeedyardcollageAfter 14 years living, working, and growing up under the magnificent Nebraska sky I learned a lot from the people who were kind enough to share it with me. Now I want to share it with you. My experiences in our little town are not ones that many people get to have. There are lessons hidden in each memory and each story — lessons that most people in our country may miss or look over. These are my 15 favorite lessons that I have learned growing up on a farm — Megan 🙂

  1. Home is where the heart is… When I first went to kindergarten I cried every day because I did not understand why I had to sit in a classroom and count whatever was on my piece of paper instead of counting cattle at the feedyard. I did not want to leave my comfort zone where I loved to be.
  2. Two wrongs don’t make a right… I first learned this when perched on the arm of the chair in the inner cubical of the office, staring blankly at the computer screen full of numbers – never leave a mistake without correcting it. Always fix what went wrong even if it means admitting that you are human and you made a mistake. If you do not correct a mistake, the problem just grows.
  3. For the love of Pete… Whenever our cowboy is agitated but not quite angry enough to start cussing, he starts loving Pete. Usually he says this under his breath, but after a while you can understand the mumbling language. We have never figured out who Pete is but wherever he is, he is much loved.
  4. If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life… People come to stay with us every once and a while and right before they leave Doug, our beloved foreman, always tells them that he has never worked a day in his life. They get very confused because they have just watched him working hard. He explains to them that he loves the job that he has; consequently, he has never worked a day in his life.
  5. Work smarter, not harder… My mom always says that you should work smarter so therefore your work is easier. Do not get me wrong, hard work is essential to any job, especially those on a farm, but if you work hard and smart then you will be more efficient and do a better job.
  6. Sarcasm… It is not just the words that come out of your mouth; it is a lifestyle. Sarcasm can lighten any day if put in the correct context. Doug is especially good at adding a little to our day, and I have learned from the best. He always told me when I was little that he never called the bunk a C when the cattle did not clean up all of their feed. The bunk was always a D because he skipped C. He told me that was because he could actually spell the words that started with D – I think perhaps it is because his name starts with a “D” but I humor him 🙂
  7. Count in your head… When the cattle come off the truck and into the feedyard we always count them to make sure we have the correct number. When my sisters and I were little, this was one of our first jobs. We would climb up so that we were tall enough to see into the unloading chute and then “count” the cattle that came off the truck. My mom had to start counting using her hands because we would say the wrong numbers aloud. To this day she still counts cattle with her fingers. Doug used to try to teach us to count ears instead of tails. Or sometimes he tried to have us count feet…
  8. Leave it how you found it… When cooperating with members of a “team” you should always: leave things how you found them, replace tools to their proper “home”, and, when in doubt, shut the gate. When working with farmers, mechanics, or welders always put their tools back where they belong. They get very angry very quickly if they cannot find the tool they are looking for. Always shut the gate behind you. A feedyard manager’s worst nightmare is leaving a gate open. My mom has nightmares about accidentally letting loose a pen of cattle on the county road.
  9. Think like a calf… It is important for any cattle handler to step into the calf’s hooves. Looking through a calf’s eyes can be tricky. In order to do that you have to have empathy and think like a prey animal. I learned this when I was little so it comes like second nature to me but some people struggle changing their perspective.
  10. Give it to God… Some things you cannot control. Mother Nature likes to throw everything she can at us farmers. We cannot hope to control it; we can only try to manage what comes our way. Rain is a good thing for dad but not for mom. When it rains no one in our house sleeps very well. Snow is even worse. Before I was actually put to work, I thought snow was the best part of winter. I was wrong, snow means work.
  11. Gnats are extra protein… In the summers there are a lot of bugs. There are an especially large number of them this year because we had a wet spring. When you walk through the feedyard you cannot help but get a gnat somewhere you really probably did not want a gnat to be. That is not at a total loss because gnats are extra protein (not that a beef farmer needs that)…
  12. Cowgirls don’t cry… When you are working with animals, they depend on you. They need fed on Easter and Christmas and Sundays. This does not give you time to sit down and feel sorry for yourself. If you fall, you get back up again because there is always more work to be done. When your finger gets caught in a gate you do not have time to watch it turn purple and swell, there are still cattle that need tending to.
  13. Help will always come to those who ask for it… No one can give you a helping hand if they do not know you need it. It is not a bad thing to request help. Needing help does not make you weak or incompetent.
  14. Build character… There are many ways on a farm to build character. Scooping bunks is one of the most common ways. Another good one is throwing small square hay bales. I can also tell you that touching the hot electric fence does not build as much character as you would think…
  15. A little dirt never hurt anyone… Sometimes it is okay to get a little dirt on your hands. The work that results in that dirt is worth something to someone.ResizedImage951374766405614

The pot of gold in Nebraska that sits under all the morning rainbows is the hay carefully stacked by loving hands that feeds the animals which give us food.

19 Comments

Filed under CAFO, Family, Foodie Work!, General

The Future…

Thoughtful Thursday

swimteamretreat.jpg

The University of Texas’s school slogan is:

“What starts here changes the world.”

The above is a picture of the 41 young athletes that attended our kickoff season swim team retreat over Memorial Day.

When I look at them, I see the future.

When I coach them, I teach them to work hard and to believe in excellence.

With each swim practice they become stronger: physically and mentally;

and I smile knowing that

what they learn will help them to one day change the world…

 

7 Comments

Filed under General, Thoughtful Thursday

Duck for President…

One of my youngest daughter’s favorite books is Duck for President by Doreen Cronin.  It is an incredibly clever book that takes children through the ups and downs of having responsibilities.  While I am the first to admit that the anthropomorphism of a Duck being President is a bit far-fetched, the silliness of the concept holds the attention of the young readers.

The book begins by talking about the hard work that it takes to run a farm.  Duck is tired of doing chores and organizes an election to oust Farmer Brown from his “management” position on the farm with Duck taking his place.

Duck soon finds out that Farmer Brown’s job is actually harder than doing chores as an animal on the farm.  So, he decides to leave the farm entirely and become a politician.  After winning the election for Governor, Duck discovers that his new job also requires work and decides to move on and run for President.  The cycle again repeats itself and Duck continues to abandon his responsibilities in search of “another job”…

I always shake my head when Karyn reads the book to me.  Duck is lazy…Duck is searching for a job that does not require any work…Duck is selfish and is neither a team player nor a community builder.

She learns from the example that I set for her. I don’t want her to grow up to be like Duck—I want her to make a positive difference in the world using the talents with which she was blessed…

As a parent, teaching my children to be active contributors and to learn to work hard is at the top of my priority list.  I believe that work ethic is a vital part of both personal and community success.

When you love what you do, it is second nature to give 110% of yourself each and every day…

As a cattle farmer, work ethic is what drives me. It is what gets me out of bed and to the feed yard by 6:00am every single day. It determines the success of my animal care—it determines the quality of the beef that my animals produce—it determines the sustainability of my farm.

I start each day with this—dawn at the feed yard is beautiful…

Work ethic is the core component of greatness.  It is what allows an average person like me to manage a feed yard, raise three children, maintain a blog, and support my community in various volunteer positions.  Of all of the things that I have continually developed as an adult, my work ethic is the one that I am most proud of.

It is what keeps me going when my body and my brain are so tired that I begin to doubt that I can do as many things tomorrow as I did today…

Teaching them how to be good animal caregivers is special–from it, they learn life skills such as empathy and responsibility…

It is in giving of ourselves that we receive.

As we move forward as a country over the next several months, I hope that everyone will give great thought to what their role is as an American.  We are all different—different talents, different dreams, and different opinions.  Combining those differences with a good work ethic and a desire to work together will ensure the prosperity that our country so rightly deserves.

Pride in our country—Pride in ourselves

We are not all meant to be farmers.  We are not all meant to be President.  But, we are all meant to be fellow countrymen—and with that carries both a privilege and a duty.

3 Comments

Filed under Family, General

A Woman Of Many Hats…

To say that my life is busy right now would be an understatement.  My days at the feed yard are long as I bring in many new animals.  My girls are also busy with cross country, soccer, volleyball and swimming.  I coach two of the four sports and am an avid fan of the other two…

The sun seems to go down too early these days…

This week I added an extra “hat” to wear in addition to my cowgirl hat and my sports cap.  I also put on my beef advocate hat.  Yesterday, I left home at 4:00am to drive to Denver.  While most Americans are aware that there was a Presidential Debate last night in Denver, I think that it is also important to point out that there was a fantastic seminar for people that wanted to learn more about “where their beef comes from”.  Colorado State University, in partnership with the Beef Checkoff, put on a day long seminar entitled Beef + Transparency = Trust for chefs, dieticians, and foodies.  

Click here to read about the seminar: Beef + Transparency = Trust promotion

While I do not really enjoy the “travel” part of advocacy, I do very much enjoy sharing the story of how I raise cattle and make beef.  I love what I do, and I love to talk about what I do.  I am honored that I was asked to share in this experience.

My two favorite blondes were nice enough to draw a map so that all of you could see where my travels took me this week…

As soon as my portion of the meeting was completed, I drove back to Cozad because this morning I was expected to be on a ranch near Halsey, NE to serve as a cattle buyer and load new cattle destined for my feed yard.

Mike and Peggy are entrusting me with their calves—above is a picture of them visiting their cattle last spring at the feed yard.  I am sure that they will come down to visit this year’s calf crop as well.

I plan to leave the ranch right after the cattle are loaded and head north to Valentine, NE to watch my favorite 7th grader and her AWESOME Cross Country team compete in the Southwest Conference Championships.

I love to watch these kids run. They have so much heart and it is great fun to watch them compete and be successful…

I am likely to get home very late tonight a bit weary from all of my travels, but will rise early to begin the acclimation process on the new calves and give them vaccination shots that will help them to stay healthy…

I hope to also be able to share with you all the great success of my favorite Cross Country team :).  In the meantime, I will dream of taking a nap!

4 Comments

Filed under Feed Yard Foodie "In The News", General