Tuesday, March 30, 2010

On Camera Interview with Real Agriculture

Putting your money where your mouth is. 

The beginning of March I had the opportunity to speak at the Tiffin conference in Alberta, Canada. While at the conference a had an opportunity to do an interview with Real Agriculture.

I'll admit it was a little different being in front of the video camera instead of behind it!

Hopefully, you can use some of these suggestions in telling your agriculture story. 

What Barbie taught me about being a farm girl

It was destiny.

Growing up my sister and I loved Barbie. We had tons of dolls, the house, a couple cars, a Barbie horse, the clothes, a popcorn machine, a swimming pool, etc. And yes our Barbie's had bank accounts, money was usually exchanged in the form of Light Bright pegs (LiteBrites were used for many things, keep reading). Our Barbie's also were very involved in agriculture. The occupation of vet was quite often played.

That was the great thing about Barbie she could be whoever we wanted her to be. So while our friends were playing Rockstar Barbie, ours were discussing treatment options or reproduction strategies for our cattle. Which leads me to my next story.

My parents didn't hid much from my sister and I as we were growing up. We knew the circle of life was apart of the farm. We also were pretty familiar with how it began. I remember we used to have this slide that looked  kind of like a chute. And we had these stuffed animal dogs and horses that their bellies would velcro open and shut, revealing bean bag babies inside. It was always a surprise how many you would get the first time.

And this brings me back to the LiteBrites. Yup, those were the straws of semen for A.I. (artificial insemination). See where I am going - chute, stuffed animals that reproduce, semen. Yeah, that's right at the ages of six and eight my sister and I were A.I.ing our stuff animals, just like we had seen dad do it.

Guess we were destined to be farm girls.

On my trip to Minneapolis we got to go to the Mall of America. Inside they had a Barbie store! Every girls dream.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Southwest vs. Farmers and Ranchers

Don't get us riled up!

Social media is the best way to spread a message. This morning through a friend's facebook post I heard that Southwest had a little incident. On March 25, on a flight headed to Columbus, Ohio, a Southwest flight attendant used the intercom to show her SUPPORT towards HSUS and the ballot initiative that they have been trying to pass in Ohio.

This is not OK. The flight crew has one good, to get me from point A to point B as safely as possible. It is not their job to push their political views on me, and it is definitely not their job to misinform people about animal rights groups like HSUS.

However, as the agriculture community and Master of Beef Advocacy graduates have done in the past we have mobilized. You can see the posts that have been placed on Southwest's facebook fan page. Southwest has responded and are looking into the situation. However, this goes to show how important it is to be sharing your personal story and facts with consumers. If you were on that flight, what would have done? How would you answer the questions from your the person sitting next to you. Be sure to have that elevator speech prepared, and know the issues so you can respond.

No we wait and see what else Southwest has to say.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Agriculture advocacy - jumping on the bandwagon

It's the cool thing to do. 

This week I have been at the Youth Industry Beef Conference (YBIC) in Minneapolis. Combining youth, top speakers and the Mall of American is a pretty good conference in my mind. One of the themes this years conference is "telling your story." If you haven't figured it out yet being an "agvocate" for the industry is really important to me. Yeah, sometime I think my friends get tired of me bringing up the issues we are facing or why facebook is so important in spreading our message, but I think it's really important. And because I think it is important I have done things like start this blog, complete the Master's of Beef Advocacy course, and I am constantly reading and studying what the industry is saying about us.

The first night we were here we had a chance to listen to Kevin Ochsner, host of Cattlemen to Cattlemen speak, he had a great message that I want to touch on later. However, Kevin did ask the audience how many people watched the Katie Couric program on antibiotics in agriculture. Three people raised their hand, other than me. Three. So maybe there were lets say ten others that didn't raise their hands high enough for me to see. That still only means only 10% of the audience were paying attention to what the media was saying about us. Kevin also asked how many people wrote letters to the editor or commented on the Times magazine article that greatly misrepresented agriculture. Kevin, myself and one other person did, out of a 115+ people.

I keep on hearing the participants and organizers talk about how important telling our agriculture story is. It's the cool thing to do and everyone wants to be apart of it. Well then folks it is time to step up and talk the talk. You can't educate others about our industry if you don't know the hard facts. Telling the media or consumers that you know you treat your animals alright is not enough. And, secondly, if you don't know what the media is saying about you, how will you respond to consumer questions.

I know it takes time but we have to make being an advocate part of our daily lives, or else we won't have an industry to be involved in. HSUS is going try its hardest to pass enough laws that it will be too difficult or require too much capital to farm, or the products that we produce are going to skyrocket in price cause the consumers to make alternative choices, and either of these situations will put us out of business.

Tell your story, but make sure you are prepared and educated.

Just food for thought.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Getting closer to cowboy boot Heaven

Just look, please no touching. 

I love cowboy boots. The funny thing is I actually don't own that many pairs. But one day when Dave Rasmey and I get my bank accounts all straightened out my closet will be full. So in the meantime Rachel Williams taunts me with her ability to get to visit all the best boot places.

Last weekend I was in Fort Worth for the Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Convention. I always love getting to talk to and meet new people at events like this. People can all be apart of one industry and live in the same country but have such different insights and opinions.

Of course while in Fort Worth we got to head down to the Stockyards one night. For a little two stepping, socializing and texas country music. But, I am getting away from the point of this post.

On Saturday, as I headed to the airport, a big neon sign caught my eye. Could it be? Yes, it was - Leddy's Ranch. Home of these famous boots. Unfortunately, I wasn't going to have time to make to their flagship store in the Stockyards, so this was going to have to satisfy my cravings.

And what beautiful things I did find. At this point I was really tempted to buy myself an early birthday present, but I resisted. (Dave says, get that emergency fund of three to six months worth of expenses in order!) So the boots said behind. But don't worry Fort Worth, I will be back, and next time the Stockyards and I will have a shopping date. 

The birthday girl is MIA

Welcome to a quarter of a century. 

Bad blogger, bad blogger. So I realize that I have been MIA on the blog for almost a week now. Not good, and I didn't even have any back up posts. But don't worry I have lots to tell you.

I turned the big 25 on Monday. Yup, I am officially allowed to have a quarter life crisis. Actually, I figure 25 can't be that bad. Still five more years until 30, and I think you start to lose some of that recent college grad stigma. Plus, so many great things have happened in the last week, I don't think there could have been a better way to end age 24.

When I went home my sister helped me plan a Canadian birthday get together. Although, I don't get to see these friends often enough it is great that we can all pick up were we left off.

On the day of my birthday I didn't have too much planned being a Monday and all, so I decided to drive to Manhattan to surprise my friend Lindsay. Lindsay birthday is only a couple days before mine, and in the past we have always celebrated together. I think she was pretty shocked to see me walk into the restaurant. We ate at a place called La Feista. The birthday tradition is for them to put a big hat on you, and then one of the waiter feeds you whipping cream from behind, making sure we get a little on your nose. 

Well, I felt the need to make sure that Lindsay had a little more than a little bit on her face!

This would be Lindsay after me putting a handful of whipping cream on her face. You have to watch us Youngs. We are notorious for our food fights. 

What are friends for. Here's to another 25 years, and I can't wait until this girls turn 25 either. 

p.s. Grandma and Grandpa I know you read this. That black jacket is what I bought with my birthday money! 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Pioneer Woman - agriculture's biggest agvocate

Telling her story. 

The Pioneer Woman - if you haven't heard of her I am not sure where you've been hiding. She is one of the most successful bloggers in the world, and her subject matter is life on the ranch, with a little home cooking, home schooling, and some amazing photography thrown in.

The great thing is Ree Drummond is telling the story of agriculture without her audience really even knowing it. She shows branding, and prolapsed cows, and great meals cooked with beef. She is giving the consumer a little bit of insight into farmers and ranchers daily lives. And people are infatuated with her.

Now the Pioneer Woman knows what she is doing. She knows she has an amazing story line, that has developed in blog sponsorship, a cook book and a potential movie. Behind all the great story line and the ranch life are publicists, marketing reps and a real understand of selling a brand.

I do however think there is an interest in the way we live. The consumers want to know where their food is being raised. And if there is some advice on cooking and photography lens along the way, they don't seem to mind that either.

Ree Drummond is telling her story, I'm trying to tell mine, how are you going to tell yours?

This is one of my favorite Ree Drummond photos. She has a section on her blog where she has free high-res for download. And this is just one of those images. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When Duty Calls You Know a Farmer Will Be There

The snow is melting, and you know what that means...

A month of so a go I was joking with my friend Corineah, that after Corineah and Ben survived their first Fargo Winter, they would be working at surviving the floods. Well Corineah informed me today that the floods are here. Much of North Dakota and Minnesota went through the same thing last year, but that doesn't mean that the water won't cause any less damage than last year.

Many farmers have to be evacuated because of overland flooding. And that means if at all possible their livestock have to be moved too. Corineah works in Extension, and Ben for the University. Part of their job has been assisting these farmers. It really frustrates me when PETA and HSUS keep on singing their song about how they are there for the animals, but in times of great need they are nowhere to be found. Instead farmers and ranchers are helping other farmers and ranchers, students both high school and college, and community members are all pitching in. Corineah tells me they already have a million sandbags and clay dikes are popping up everywhere.

Corineah and Ben are in a really good housing situation, so the flooding shouldn't effect them too much. However, they have lots of coworkers and friends feeling the effects of all this water right now. Keep them in your thoughts, and don't be afraid to lend a hand. 

Mountains and Prairie

A little time behind the steering wheel.

Last week I had that opportunity to head back home to Alberta to speak at the Tiffin Conference. I had been asked to talk about some of the attacks anti-agriculture activists, like HSUS and PETA, are making against our way or life. The presentation went really well, but I also think I really shocked some people. Canada hasn’t been subjected to the daily criticism and attacks that U.S. farmers and ranchers have, and therefore aren’t as aware. Hopefully Canadians, along with Americans, will reach out to consumers and tell our story, so we can show the truth about agriculture.

But before, I got to the conference I had to make the drive from Calgary to Lethbridge. Calgary is considered southern Alberta and Lethbridge is only an hour from the Canada/U.S. border. 

It was a beautiful and clear afternoon, so I got an amazing view of the mountains

Notice, there is actually very little snow on the ground. This was taken just south of Calgary. 

I love these signs. This was taken in Claresholm, where they have a great western store. More on that later. 

Coming into Lethbridge. It seems to be a really cool town, but the wind ALWAYS blow there. 

Oh look it's some trees. These must of been planted, hehe. No trees in southern Alberta.

This is the University of Lethbridge. I actually spoke at the College, but I think it's neat how the this school is built into the side of a valley. 

And when I pulled up to my hotel, this is what was in front of every parking space - an electrical outlet. Yes, it can get so cold that we have to plug are cars in during the winter. 

And finally. I think this location would be prefect for a house and some cows one day. No reason why I couldn't have places on either side of the border.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Some people have children, we have A.I. tanks.

Precious cargo.

This past week I had the opportunity to go home. I love being able to get back on the farm and see my family's cattle. This time of year is particularly fun because of all the new calves on the ground. A lot of planning goes into every year’s calf crop. My family utilizes herd bulls for natural breeding, but there is also something called Artificial Insemination (A.I.) that we also use. A.I. is a great technology that allows farms access to a wider array of genetics, therefore allowing them to improve the quality of their cowherd more rapidly.

Semen is drawn from bulls, and then frozen into little straws. It is then stored in tanks like these, which are full of liquid nitrogen. On Friday, my mom and I ran up and down the highway picking up semen and delivering it to our customers. I found it kind of humorous that we had two of our large tanks strapped in, and a small dry shipper, which was being sent to Ontario, Canada, later in the week. It wouldn’t be the first time that mom’s car had been used for agriculture purposes. (Notice the seat belt for safety!)

Some people wonder why we can’t farm the way our grandparent or great grandparents did. The fact is farms, both large and small, now have access to all kinds of new technologies. This allows the farmer to more effectively and efficient raise the food products that end up on your plate, all while increasing quality. I am glad that my family and I get to continue to help feed the world.  

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cowboy Boots and Toothepaste

A little trick.

I am pretty hard on my cowboy boots. I where them everyday - pasture to office, meetings, out dancing, airports and everywhere else in between. And sometimes they look like it. Usually, when I come through the Denver Airport I stop at the shoeshine place to clean them up, but this time a friend gave me a trick. You know how the stitching on your boots never seems to get white enough, well try whitening toothpaste!

Last night I sat down and went to town on these suckers, liberally apply toothpaste, and then scrubbing with a toothbrush and a little soapy water. And you know what, it worked! Almost as good as brand new.

And since we are on the subject of cowboy boots...

Rachel Williams tipped me off about these boots, after reading this post. I gasped when I saw them. Aren't they cool! Be sure to check out the M.L. Leddy's collection. And p.s. congrats to the very talented  Miss Rachel Williams, soon to be Mrs.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Before you sharpen your pitchforks, let's see what Mary Kay has to say

HSUS likes to scheme.

Yesterday, HumaneWatch.org made an announcement that the famous Mary Kay brand was supporting an HSUS fundraiser event in Dallas. Obviously, agriculture groups and people are up in arms. And it didn’t take too long before the word started to spread, just like the Yellowtail fiasco.

But, before we clean our medicine cabinets of our Mary Kay products and stop our next orders maybe WE should ask some questions. Does Mary Kay really know how their name is being used, and what HSUS stands for, likely not. I guess I am maybe a bit too much of an optimist, but I would think there are just too many rural and agriculture women that sell and wear this brand to let their name be associated with HSUS.

According, to several posts on HumaneWatch’s facebook page Mary Kay is already working to resolve a problem that they weren’t even aware that they were apart of. It appears that Mary Kay has been involved in a case of fraud to be quite frank. I would hate to see agriculture women suffer because of lies that HSUS has spread. And this afternoon Mary Kay releases this statement:
Some fans of Mary Kay® products and independent beauty consultants have expressed concerns over a recent sponsorship of a Dallas-area event. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention. We have heard you and want to clarify any confusion.

First and foremost, 
Mary Kay is not a sponsor of this event. Mary Kay’s owner’s wife was approached to make a personal contribution towards a local event here in Dallas sponsored by the Dallas chapter of the Humane Society. This event specifically supports efforts to stop puppy mills and the organization’s stop puppy mills campaign. Out of caring and compassion for addressing puppy mills, our owner’s wife agreed to make a personal contribution. Mary Kay has contacted the Humane Society to clarify that we are not sponsors of this event and the company logo is being removed from the website.

As a company, we sincerely apologize for any confusion or causing any offense to members of the Mary Kay community. 
I am asking that agriculture does the same thing that we are asking corporations to do – research. Research what you see in the media, research where you are putting your dollars, and continue to research the moves that HSUS is making so we can fight against them.

As a side note - maybe we can still make sure that Mary Kay ladies, employees and wives of employees understand what HSUS is so they don't receive these private individual donations.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I love Beef K-State style

Purple looks good on everyone.

I'll try to get a weekend recap up soon. So much was going on, but it was great to see so many friends. I think I am starting to feel like a true K-State Alumni. At the Cattlemen's Day trade show, I had all kinds of students come up to me and ask me about internship, or what classes would best prepare them for the "real" world. I love being able to give advice back, because I know I sought a lot of it out during my college years.

I also got to see many of the Collegiate Cattlewomen girls. They do such an awesome job promoting beef and the cattle industry, and hold a special place in my heart because of their Tough Enough to Wear Pink Breast Cancer awareness campaign.

This time, though, the girls were selling a different kind of shirt...

Aren't they cute. You can purchase one here and also be sure to check out their license plates. If you are interested in learning more about this club, or how to start one at your school visit the K-State CCW facebook page. Now time to make some hamburgers for tonight!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Use Facebook to Say Something

Spreading the word.

The last couple of days I have been working like crazy on my presentation that I will be giving at the Tiffin Conference in Alberta next week. I am really excited to talk to Canadian producers about some of the pressures that American producers are facing because of the ground swell of animal activism.

One of my points will be using social media to spread your message, and some of my friends have been doing a really good job of educating their friends about agriculture and some of the issues we are facing through Facbook.com. So this is my challenge to you. Post something about agriculture on your Facebook. Maybe it is a status update about calving cows, or a beef recipe. Maybe you have found an interesting article that you would like to share, or you want to let people know that HSUS only spent half of one-half of a percent of their nearly $100 million budget to directly help sheltered cats and dogs. There are lot of great ag facts out there just start Googling.

And let us know what you decide to post, where you find good information or the interaction that you have with people.

My good friend Chelsea is letting me use one of her interactions in my presentation. Chelsea grew up in agriculture, and is now in law school. She has a whole network of friends that don't understand agriculture, and they use her to gain more knowledge and understanding. (She also is a part of a really neat new blog called Food for Thought, go check it out.)

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Eat more meat or else.

Welcome to New York.

I only have time for a real quick post today. Still working on the craziness from last night, and I have a basketball game to catch - Go State!

I love this video below, it was apart of our I am Angus series. It shows the true love people have for food, and getting it onto the plates of consumers. The grocery store is a really important step between farmers and the family's dinner plate. Next time you go to your meat counter ask for T-bone to be cut that thick! Mmm.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Last five hours...

I am the Energizer Bunny.

My life has been a whirlwind. And that may lead to me disappearing from my blog for the next few days. I just have to get caught up on some things. My friend Robyn always seems like she is conquering the world each step of the way, sometimes I wish I could get it all done like. Today she wrote a post call "My first four hours." I was pretty down today, feeling like I wasn't getting much done, but when I started to write it all out like Robyn did, today was no so bad. Just a little room for improvement. So this is how my last five hours went:

5:30 - at a still a work. Been editing videos all day, but they are looking great. Abby calls, take the chance to catch up while more videos are loading. Bummed I won't get to hang out with her during Fake St. Patty's Day, but I am way excited about our Calf Fry trip! Videos are still loading.

6:00-7:00 - keep on working on video, the client's sale is coming up, and people want to look at these bulls. I know how important it is to get them done.

7:10 - computer is crashing! Try to fix it, but give up. Take computer and equipment home, maybe it just needs a rest, and I can fix it tonight. Drive home, calling the girlfriends - nobody is answering! I need to talk to someone, already had one venting session today.

7:30 - make it home. Throw a pot of tortilla soup on the stove. Pull in computer and cross fingers. Computer is working, but editing software isn't. Ugh. It'll be Ok, I am going to have some time to work on other projects now.

8:00 - phone call from home. Didn't go well. I am stressed out. Just try to think positive thoughts.

8:15 - make a to do list. I have got to get organized.

8:30 - get first load of laundry in washing machine, and other loads started. I haven't done laundry in weeks. It's going to take awhile to go through.

8:45 - address envelopes, for Emilie's shower, while watching some American Idol (they aren't that good this year). The big day is going to be here before we know it. Trying on my bridesmaid dress this weekend!

9:00 - sort through mail, pay bills, find a really nice thank-you card from Brett and Karen's wedding, renew K-State alumni membership and sent donation off to K-State Judging Team through Telefund. Already feeling better.

9:30 - more laundry and cleaning my room. It's a disaster, even worse the usual. I feel like the only time I am in it lately is to sleep.

10:00-10:15 time to find some new itunes, while folding that laundry. I have been listening to my itunes so much lately that I am getting burnt out on Rihanna, Jay-Z and Gary Allan. Buy new Reckless Kelly Cd and a few other songs. I need suggestions though. Any ideas.

10:15 - time to write this blog. Really should have been on the treadmill. Oh well life isn't perfect.

10:45 - I have now gone over my five hours recap. And not headed to bed yet. Six things crossed off the to-do-list and tomorrow is a new day.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Four more sleeps until Randy Rogers Band!

My love for Texas country. 

So I have mentioned before that I love Texas Country music. And I really love Randy Roger. You can read all about my college concert experience here. A couple weeks ago I found out that Randy Rogers is coming to Manhattan on a Friday - which is a rarity - Longhorns' concerts are always on Thursday which creates some problems for me. Driving the two hours and eight minutes back to work either the night after a concert or the next morning is just too hard. My body can't take it anymore!

Anyways back to Randy Rogers, he has this song called Kiss Me in the Dark. It's one on of my absolute favorite songs, and I will be belting it out Friday night, with all the girls! Take a listen.

A great Monday to be a Wildcat!

Still bleeding purple.

1. My beloved Wildcats are ranked No. 5 in NCAA Basketball. Things are getting really excited especially as we gear up for the Kansas vs. K-State game on Wednesday. First a hockey gold on Saturday, and now a basketball win on Wednesday and my life will be temporarily complete.

2. The campus newspaper, the K-State Collegian, doesn't always get it right. This year they seem to have created an uproar amongst ag students and fellow alumni with their reporting. However, today they did good. This is a nice article about HSUS and the ability to raise money using sad kitty cat and puppy dog faces.

3. It is only four days until the K-State Cattlemen's Day and Legacy Bull Sale. That means lots of friends and alumni in town, and a great reason to head back to Manhattan.

4. I got to spend Saturday at a Wildcat wedding in Manhattan. Two friends from college got married this past weekend. Going to alumni weddings always reminds me how big of an extended family I have. People always ask it I miss home (in Canada) or my family, and I do, but I also always have "family" close by, people I can always count on.
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