Christmas on the Farm: A Different Kind of Normal

It’s Christmas time. Family, food, gifts parties are all elements of the holiday season that millions of people enjoy. The anticipation of waking up on Christmas morning and seeing what “Santa” brought you is something you look forward to. We wake up out of our warm beds and run to the tree to see what gifts await and then start opening them. Paper flies, cameras flash and shrieks of excitement fill the room. It’s a pretty picture right? DSC07922

You are probably wondering where I am going with this. Why am I writing about a pretty normal Christmas morning? Well the reason is because I never had a “normal” Christmas morning. Wait, what? You read this right. I never had a normal Christmas morning. I had what I consider a different kind of normal morning.

Courtesy of Farming Memes located on Facebook

Courtesy of Farming Memes located on Facebook

Now you are probably really wondering what I am insinuating by making a statement of this nature. The truth is, on Christmas morning, my family and I worked before we opened presents. Yes, we worked and I never, ever complained.

You see, I was raised by a farming family. (Yes, I was one of the lucky ones who can say this!) We had a dairy farm and just because it was Christmas morning, never meant we could put the farm on the back burner. We often hear farmers say, “On Christmas morning, we did not open gifts until the animals were cared for.” To fully grasp the concept of what this statement means, I wanted to emphasize it to show just how important this is.

No matter the day, our animals have to be cared for. They are our upmost priority, even on Christmas

No matter the day, our animals have to be cared for. They are our upmost priority, even on Christmas

Here is how a typical Christmas morning was for me, and for many of you who are reading this. Alarm goes off before the sun comes up and the alifamily gets up and heads out the door. Cows are ready to be milked and fed and the calves are bawling for their morning meals. Dad heads to the barn while mom tends to the calves. Three little blonde haired girls tag along helping as much as they can and hurry to the house to wait for their parents to arrive so they can open their treasures. If they are lucky, they can open gifts before 10 A.M…

This may sound cruel to some or it may not even make sense. How dare these parents make their kids wait to open their gifts on one of the most exciting mornings of the year?!?!

Whether you are/were a farming kid, farming teen or a farming adult, Christmas morning began as just another day on the farm. cherry bomb

In all honesty, I am so glad I learned to wait to open my gifts on Christmas morning and I am sure glad my parents made me wait. There are so many lessons this taught me and so many other farmers out there, such as-

Responsibility: Just because it was a holiday, did not mean that we could shut the farm down like it was a typical business. 10479189_10203831985182098_3634652475703811621_nHolidays are just another day on the farm. We could just not tell our livestock that they had to fend for themselves because it was our vacation or an important date on the calendar. Christmas was no different. Even though there were gifts under the tree and family dinners to go to, we had to take care of our animals. We had to be responsible. We had to be the caregivers we were designed to be.

Patience- One of the most difficult things in life to learn is patience. As a kid waiting to open presents on Christmas morning was a difficult task; however the overall lesson learned is irreplaceable. My sisters and I learned that we just had to wait patiently and not complain. My parents had to exercise patience in knowing they had three anxious girls in the house waiting to open their gifts, but having to get their chores done outside first. Overall, patience was learned which is a truly valuable life skill.

Sometimes, learning patience was hard...

Sometimes, learning patience was hard…But looking back, is was worth the lesson!

Priorities- As farmers know, your farm is one of your top priorities. It was your livelihood and your passion; therefore it came SAE Project---Dairy Placement Photo Courtesy of- Dakoda Baxter, son of Jason and Becky Baxter, Billings FFA Chapter- Missouri first. My family’s farm was no different. It was a priority to care for our animals in the best manner possible. Like I have mentioned before in this post, Christmas morning was no different. We fed and cared for the animals before our gifts were opened. If that is not dedication, I do not know what is!

Family- It was a general rule that gifts were not opened until our entire family was back in the house. Granted this is the case for a lot of families, but we stuck true to this rule no matter what. If one of my parents had to stay outside longer to tend to a sick animal or fix fence, we waited. It was a full family effort to run the farm; therefore it was going to be a full family affair when we opened our gifts. Family is so important and embracing the entire family moment on Christmas morning truly nailed this point home.

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Dedication- You know, farming takes a lot of dedication and passion. You truly have to love what you do in order to deal with events such as a delay in opening gifts on Christmas morning. I think it says so much about farmers who can stand and say they tend to their farm first before gifts are opened. What this taught me growing up, that in order to be successful you have to be dedicated to your purpose. In my family’s case, our purpose was ensuring our animals were well taken care of in order to have a successful and prosperous farming operation. Farm 078

As you can see, Christmas morning in a farming family is not like a lot of families’ Christmases. However, I consider it a different kind of normal. More like a farming kind of normal. I knew no different growing up and looking back, I cannot complain one bit. I am honored to say that my Christmas mornings consisted of farming and caring for my animals first and opening my presents second. I am honored to have had parents to show me how the farm takes priority and how important being dedicated is. Learning these lessons is just further proof of how much of a blessing being raised on a farm was for me. 168298_1795752055615_1580732_n

With Christmas being just hours away, I just wanted to write this post as a way to show the world just how much farmers care for their livestock and just how unique the farming lifestyle is. In addition, I wanted to provide all you farmers out there a chance to take a trip down memory lane to your own farm Christmases. Plus, I wanted to remind all of you just how great you are for caring for your animals each and every day, no matter what holiday it is.

What are some of your fondest Christmas morning memories? What were your experiences? How were your Christmas mornings on the farm?

I want to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas. Farmers, thank you for your dedication. For you farm kids, as tough as it may be to wait to open your gifts, remember you are some of the few who can proudly say you waited to open your gifts because your parents farmed. Trust me, you will be so thankful for this. I know I am. 10815773_10205044243247792_1855737899_n

Until next time…

God Bless You All and Merry Christmas!

~Ali

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Living the Farm Life: 20 Life Lessons the Farm Instills

Having the opportunity to have been born and raised on a farm is truly a blessing. Growing up on a farm has taught me so many values and life lessons which have molded me into the person I am today. The truth is, those who have had the opportunity to have been raised on a farm or currently reside on one, understand this concept fully. There is absolutely no doubt, we are lucky. Why? What makes growing up and/or living on a farm so great?

Well, the answer is not as complex as one may think. In fact, the answer is quite simple. The honest truth is there is no other lifestyle like it. There is no other lifestyle where one can learn and be responsible for so much, while fulfilling the role of feeding the world. Pretty remarkable, huh?  2014100495174705

Previously, I have created a post about the truths of growing up a farm kid and how the entire experience is so unique. Now, I want to take it to the next level. Now I am striving to show the world just how amazing living the farming experience is.

So what does farming teach a person? Read these twenty life lessons to find out…

1) Nothing compares to the value of hard work and a strong work ethic. This is something that will never leave you. Hard work is required on a farm. If you are not willing to work, your farm will not survive; therefore you learn at a very young age just how important hard work is and how far it will take you.  DSC00364
2) Nothing comes easy. For all who have stepped foot on a farm can attest to the fact that farming is a tough lifestyle. There is really nothing easy about it. It is a 24/7 job, which a concept not a lot of people can wrap their heads around. You then learn that in order to accomplish something great, you must be willing to take a path that is far from easy. You cannot ever take the easy way out. 168298_1795752055615_1580732_n
3) You will do whatever it takes to keep your family’s tradition alive. Think about it. 98 percent of farms today are family owned. Many farms have been passed down from generation to generation. You learn the importance of your family’s tradition and then will find the desire to uphold that tradition. Your family is one of the most important things in your life, so you will do whatever it takes to protect the heritage. 2011 024
4) Responsibility. Farming teaches you this imporant quality. As a farmer, you are responsible for so many entities; therefore, you must develop responsibility to ensure the needs of your farm are met. You then learn that responsibility is important in everything you do.


5) Priorities. Your farm comes first. If you have a sick animal, you stay with them so that you will save their life. You have hay down and a storm comes. You drop everything to get that hay in. Sometimes, this means you must miss out on normal life events – parties, family get-togethers, etc. You do whatever it takes in order to keep your farm successful. You learn to prioritize. 2008 is Great 032
6) Importance of faith in farming. Farming is hard, there is no question about it. In order to continue, you have to have faith. You learn that faith is the basis of every endeavor you face. 4
7) Fully appreciating God’s works. Living on a farm provides you the opportunities to witness several of God’s works. Sunrises, sunsets, births of newborn animals, watching a mother caring for her young, watching your kids grow and prosper on the land you have worked so hard on, watching your crops grow… God works every day and you are lucky enough to witness it. new baby
8) Essence of listening. Farming requires listening. You listen to your heart to know what steps to take. You listen to your gut when making decisions. You listen to your animals to know what it is they need. The truth is, you become a person who can listen which is very hard to come by. Farm 078
9) Working for future generations. You are the one not only responsible for feeding the world for years to come. You are also the one responsible for doing what it takes to get your children to follow in your footsteps. You are working for them. 20140829_165445
10) Concept of achieving a goal. You set goals – when you want your hay cut, when you want to get your planting done, how many calves you want to send to the sale barn, and the list goes on. In order to meet your goals, you must have a plan in place and the willpower to follow that plan. You have determination to achieve the goal and the rest is history. 7
11) Problem solving and critical thinking. Each day, you are faced with a challenge. You have to learn how incorporate critical thinking in order to solve problems in the most efficient way possible. ice 07 025
12) Care and compassion. You have to have this in order to be a successful farmer. Farming takes someone who is caring and compassionate. There is just no other way of putting it.  6
13) Being a caretaker – family, land and livestock. You are the one responsible for caring for your family, your land and your livestock. You play a huge role in so many different ways, which makes the farming lifestyle that much more exceptional. 975738_10201201608424323_1289800375_n
14) Understanding the value of a dollar. You become conscious of what it takes to have strong monetary skills. In addition, you quickly learn that life is not all about money. You learn that there is no monetary value on happiness; therefore proving you are not farming to just make money. You farm because you love it, which teaches a valuable lesson regarding everyday life. Not everything is about money… 1016244_10201392292111296_1643819930_n
15) Never giving up. Persistence is key in the life of a farmer. No matter how high feed prices get, how much fuel costs or how low the market prices get, you have to push through. This persistence shows through in every task you face. doc
16) Being humble in good times and strong during the bad. As with anything else, there are going to be good times and bad. With farming, it is so important to stay humble when things are good because in a blink of an eye, things can turn south. More importantly, you learn that you must stay strong during the bad times. The way you handle bad times encompasses how you will get through. It will make you stronger to endure more challenges for years to come. starbright
17) Knowledge and wisdom. The amount you learn – from basic remedies to solve everyday problems on the farm, to medicines for your animals, etc., each day provides more learning experiences that makes you that much better. Cranberry 045
18) Respect – elders, land, animals, etc. You respect those who have farmed before you. You respect the livestock and land that allows you to provide for your family. This is something that will never leave you. photo 2
19) Importance of agriculture. You quickly learn your importance. YOU are the one responsible for putting food on tables all over the world. Without agriculture, we would not survive and you completely understand this. 12973_10201593605023993_1495218490_n
20) Knowing the character being a farmer instills into you is something you will never be able to replace. With fewer and fewer people being directly involved in production agriculture, you understand your worth. You understand you are a rarity. The pride you have for your lifestyle inspires you to work hard to be the best person you can possibly be.  5342_201789796644687_27104960_n

 

As you can see, growing up on a farm reaps benefits that follows you throughout your life. It is something you learn to be proud of and you are sure to thank God every day for the opportunity you had or have to be a farmer. Unfortunately, not a lot of people get to experience this. Not many people “get it.” However, for the few of us that are left, it is up to us to protect the farming lifestyle. It is up to us to protect our heritage and ensure families have food on their tables for years to come.

We truly are special people. We truly are a gift. As farmers, we have a purpose. As farmers, we have values in which cannot be replaced. 11

Are you proud to have grown up on a farm? Are you proud to still live on one? I hope this has served as a reminder just how incredible, yet tough, the farm life is. If you are proud to be a farmer, I encourage you to share this post. Show everyone you know just how amazing farming is.

Remember just how special the farming life is and as always, be sure to thank a farmer.

Until next time…

~Ali

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P.S. – Have a safe and Happy Halloween!!!!

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A Tribute to Farm Moms

A blog post dedicated to farm moms everywhere in honor of Mother’s Day.

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In case you forgot, today marks a very special day that honors all of our wonderful mothers. Yes, it’s Mother’s Day. When I think of this today, I cannot help but think of my own mother. Even my grandmothers, my aunts and other women who have all been major influences in my life. What do all these women have in common? They are all farm moms.

By growing up on a dairy farm, I quickly learned how much hard work and dedication it takes to be successful farmers. My parents worked their tails off day in and day out just to be sure enough money was rolling in to keep the farm afloat and provide for me and my two sisters. I cannot help but think and admire all the work my mom put in. (Yes, my dad did too; however it is MOTHER’S Day so moms gets the glory today. All of you dads out there, you will get your turn next month!)

Often times, the role of a farm mom gets overlooked. We tend to forget how much work our moms have to do as 1) a farmer’s wife and 2) a farm mom. They work hard. They put their heart and soul into everything they do. They seriously are the backbones of any farming operation. Farm moms are usually the ones who always hold the pieces together and the first ones to say “Everything is going to be all right.”20131122-121808.jpg

Let’s face it, our farm moms out there need some time in the spotlight. Well, here is their opportunity. As you read this post, I encourage you to think about the farm mom and/or moms in your life. Think about everything she has done for you while you were growing up and/or everything she continues to do for you. Farm moms are truly unique and one-of-a-kind because they truly wear so many hats. From raising the kids, to filling in for dad when needed, to some days spending time doing farm chores and other duties one the farm, our farm moms truly are rock stars. So, here is a tribute to all of you farm moms out there. It’s a poem that attempts to display just how special farm moms are and how many responsibilities they have. I hope you enjoy this, and I really hope you will share to show the world just how awesome our farm moms are.

A Tribute to Our Farm Moms

by Alison Bos, MyAGventures

A farm mom is not your ordinary mom;

She is one who works hard from dawn to dusk and dusk to dawn.

 

She is loving, caring and tough as nails;

And is even  dad’s number one helper  hauling hay bales.

 

If daddy gets sick and cannot do chores;

A farm mom is the first one out the door.

 

She keeps track of records and make sure everything is right;

To always ensure the future of our farm is bright.

 

A farm mom also cooks the most delicious meals;

Sometimes so good, we have to wonder if it is real.

 

She works in the garden, cleans the house and helps out with farm chores;

And of course always makes sure her kids are never bored.

 

She worries a lot and always makes daddy make her a deal,

That he will watch us carefully while he takes us working in the field.

 

A farm mom also tends to the sick animals we face;

She takes care of them with such compassion and grace.

 

If her children or husband are sick, hurt or not feeling swell,

Our farm mom will do whatever she can to make us well.

 

She hauls us to fairs, shows and maybe even rodeos;

And always make sure we are in presentable clothes.

 

She does the laundry and makes sure we always have everything we need;

And teaches us to never be disrespectful or show greed.

 

As we get older, we soon understand;

That to have a farm mom as a mom makes us the luckiest kids in the land.

 

A farm mom is the most unselfish woman we know;

Always putting her family and farm first before herself, don’t you know?

 

She can ease our worries and dry our tears.

And chase away our deepest fears.

 

As the days pass by and the years drag on,

A farm mom still continues to remain strong.

 

Through good times and bad,

She always stands firmly right beside dad.

 

Truth is, we need more moms like her;

Because a farm mom is a real treasure.

 

Farm moms, we can never say thanks enough;

As we know your lifestyle is extremely tough.

 

As a farm kid, there I one thing I can boldly say.

My farm mom will always brighten my day.

 

Next time you (farm mom) are feeling a little overwhelmed and distressed;

Please remember that as a farm mom, you truly are blessed.

 

Thank you farm moms for everything you do.

For being a great example and supporter, just to name a few.

 

Thank you to my farm mom for everything you have done;

As you have shown me how the game of life is won.

 

So to all you farm moms everywhere,

Please realize that there are truly none others that compare.

 

As I look to the future, I can clearly see,

A farm mom is exactly who I want to be.

 

Now if you are a farm boy, don’t shy away,

Because you know you want a farm mom as a wife someday.

 

Truth is, we truly cannot deny;

Farm moms are the best, and now you have an explanation why.

 

As you can see, our farm moms do A LOT. It is my true hope that this poem can serve as a reminder to our farm moms out there that they are so amazing. I encourage you to share this poem with that special farm mom in your life. I cannot fully describe the roles farm moms play in farms and farm families all over the world. They really are some of the strongest women out there.

When I reflect on my childhood, I really cannot see how my mom was able to do so much for my family and our farm. A typical day for her would be to wake up early, do chores, fix breakfast, get us to school, come home, clean house, do laundry, help my dad with any other tasks around the farm, pay bills, get us to any activities/events we needed to get to, do evening chores, fix supper, help us with our homework, and the list goes on and on. (Whew!!!!!) What is amazing about this? My mom never complained about her role. From what I understand, this is a common trait among farm moms everywhere.

Thank YOU Farm Moms!!!

Thank YOU Farm Moms!!!

Farm moms, I truly cannot say thank you enough. Your hard work and efforts truly are appreciated. Even though you may feel a little underappreciated at times, let it be known that we really do not know what we would do without you. Your role is respected. You deserve much more credit than you receive. Always remember that!

I also want to give a personal shout-out to my mother. She is my rock and the woman who has inspired me to be the woman I am today. I am so blessed to have her as a mother, and I thank God every day for her. In addition, thank you for my grandmothers and my aunts for also being a positive role model, as well as excellent examples of how a farm mom should be.

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Happy Mother’s Day to every mother out there, especially to you farm moms. Enjoy your day, try not not work too hard, and take a moment to understand just how special you are.

Until next time, and God Bless You All!

~Ali

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Farming Frustrations

Here’s some things that drive farmers crazy

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Sometimes things happen…and our first reaction is simply, “Ohhhhh snap!”

We all have those “things” that just drive us plum crazy. Some of those things cause us to be late, cause us to spill a drink or just cause our day to go from bad to worse. Getting hung up at every stop light, getting behind that person driving slow in the fast lane, putting on a piece of clothing and realizing there is a huge stain or even realizing you are completely out of coffee. Bottom line is there are just “things” that frustrate each one of us to no end.
So, since this is a blog dedicated to agriculture, I decided to come up with a completely randomized list of different “things” that specifically drive farmers crazy. Or better known as “Farmer Frustrations,” as I like to call them.
For all of you farmers, you probably will be able to completely relate to this list. You will probably even think of several more. However, I just wanted to come up with a list to give everyone an insight as to what we have to deal with on a daily basis. FF_15
Here is MyAGventures’ list of Farmer Frustrations…
• Let’s talk about those lovely garden hoses that we use each and every day to get water to our livestock or to our crops. FF_10
– There is hardly anything more frustrating than a hose that constantly gets a kink in it. That means you have to put down the hose, walk to the kink, walk back to the hose which is spraying water everywhere at this point which in turn gets you soaked. It happens all the time.
– While we are on the subject of hoses, during the winter months, they are pretty much useless. And let me be the first to tell you that once a hose is frozen, it is going to be frozen for a while. FF_blog
– I know most of us have been guilty of leaving water running somewhere and forgetting about it. Example: You are filling up a water tank and think, “Let me run and do this real quick while the tank is filling.” And, of course, we forget about it, tank overflows and creates somewhat of a mess. (Don’t even try to deny the fact that you have probably done this!)
• Now let us discuss the inevitable problem of forgetting to close a gate. Admit it. If you are a farmer, you have been victim of this mistake.
– It seems as if you always forget to chain a gate when 1) you have places you absolutely have to be; 2) when the weather is not in very desirable condition ; and 3) it is to the pen where you have livestock that is the ones who don’t like being caught. FF_7FF_3

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Yes, it is all fine and well…until the tractor won’t start

• We’ve covered the topics of garden hoses and forgetting to close that gate. Now let’s move on to the subject of that complete feeling of despair when that trusty piece of equipment – whether it be tractor, farm truck or whatever else – won’t start.
– Scenario: You are fixing to start something major. Planting, mowing hay, etc. You get in the tractor seat, get ready to fire the engine and… nothing. Talk about a major bummer! So that puts you even farther behind. Story of our lives right? But all you can do is smile, get ‘er fixed, and try again. (After a few choice words of course)
• Most farms require the feeding of hay. Many times, farmers have to feed bales of hay by hand. Nine times out of 10, when a farmer proceeds to throw that flake of hay to their livestock, the wind is always blowing from the opposite direction. What does this entail? This means the farmer gets completely covered in pieces of hay – in their eyes, hair, clothes, you name it. It is definitely not pleasant.
– Also, have you ever been hauling hay and have a bale bust? Bottom line is hay is a major part of livestock farms; however it does bring some headaches along with it. 635_10201149542602710_513969476_n
• We have already mentioned the frustration of leaving a gate open somewhere. Now we can move into the frustration of fixing fence. It is part of the farming life; however, there is hardly anything more frustrating than having to take time out of your busy schedule to fix fence.
– I don’t know about you all, but any time I think of fixing fence, barb wire immediately comes to mind. If you are a farmer, chances are you have been cut by a barb wire fence. It is pretty tricky stuff to work with! FF_6
• Now let’s talk about those little annoyances provided by good ole’ Mother Nature. I’m talking varmints, weeds, and those kinds of things. FF_8Critters getting into grain, mice tearing up feed sacks, thistles taking over hay fields, weeds popping up in crop fields, the list goes on and on. These nuisances are once again, just a part of the life.
– I will also include rocks in this farmer frustration. Ever try to dig a post hole and have rocks get in your way? Pretty frustrating. Has a huge rock ever tore up a piece of equipment? Definitely frustrating! FF_9

 

  • I will put this in here for everyone who has had the opportunity to raise a calf on a bottle. It seems as if there is nothing more frustrating than a calf who will not nurse from a bottle. Your back hurts from bending down to attempt to feed it. You want to give up, yet you know the calf needs the milk to survive. You feel oh so helpless, and oh so frustrated. Andddd when you do get it to nurse, then we have a whole new frustration to deal with… hunching. 224218_2043435207539_3010869_n

 

  • And I will put this in the list for all you who have horses on your farm. All I can say is there is nothing more annoying than having a horse you cannot catch. That is all I am going to say… FF_2

 
• Okay, now to move on to the next farmer frustration. This one is more of a serious matter; however I could not leave it out. This frustration is thievery. Farmers are the victims of so many cases of theft. From livestock to equipment, thieves target farms on a regular basis. It is completely sick if you ask me!
– I think I can speak on the behalf of many that if you are attempting to steal from a farmer and you get caught, I would hate to be in your shoes. (You would wish the police would have got to you first.) The fact is, farmers do not mess around.

I hope this list has brought a smile to your face of has made some realize just a few challenges farmers face on a daily basis. There is no doubt that we all encounter frustrations on a daily basis that impact our daily schedule; however I just wanted to point out some specific issues farmers do face. Yes, these issues can make a person get mad, say some not so nice words and maybe even throw some things. However, at the end of the day we realize that things could always be much worse. At least that is what I was taught. Kaci 072
So the next time that frustration presents itself, remember to take a breath and just smile. I know it is much easier said than done; however these frustrations are going to face us whether we like it or not.
I hope you got some entertainment out of this! It was definitely an entertaining piece to write. If you can relate, feel free to share it! Also, leave a comment of a farmer frustration you have experienced on your farm or ranch. I’m sure you can list many more! FF_18
In closing, I just want to point out that no matter how many “farmer frustrations” a farmer/rancher is faced with, they still have the dedication and commitment to keep pushing forward. Farmers are truly the most resilient people you will ever meet and endure so much in order to provide you (consumers) with an affordable, safe and wholesome food product. These frustrations may get in the way sometimes; however I know farmers would not trade their lifestyle for anything. FF_12
As always, thank a farmer and God Bless You All!
~Ali

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Farm Animal Truths: Ten Misconceptions Revealed

Let’s face it. There are thousands, maybe even millions, of people who have never actually been around farm animals. There’s people who have never touched one, and in several cases, have never even seen one in person. The only contact or knowledge of farm animals have come from a television screen or a computer. It is hard to believe, right? 931329_10200924874946159_300658159_n

It took me a while to understand this concept, but after witnessing this personally, it comes as no surprise. You see, a few summers ago during an internship, I had opportunities to participate in public dairy education activities. The first one, I had actually brought one of my cows with me to allow people to pet her, touch her, take pictures, etc. There was an older woman (probably in her late sixties), who told me, “Hun, this is the first time I have ever seen or touched a cow.” I could not believe it! I had similar experiences while at the20140131-210402.jpg Missouri State Fair. People of all ages would tell make comments such as “I had no idea that is where milk comes from,” or “Look, mom it’s a real cow!” As I would pick my jaw up off the ground, the reality would hit me. There are so many people who just do not know.

There is no question as to why people have false perceptions of what modern-day farming is all about. It is a lack of education – which we have to change – and getting the false idea of what farming is from movies and internet videos. Movies like Babe, Charlotte’s Web, Home on the Range, The Barnyard, etc. give viewers the idea that farms should have a big red barn, white fence, rolling green pastures and animals roaming around as they please. Yes, there are a few farms like this; however as agriculturists, we know that we could not provide enough food if all farms were like that. It is reality. It is fact. There is no other way around it.

Then you have what people can find on the internet. There is so much material containing false information or portraying false images of agriculture. Videos of animal abuse, commercials and mini TV series are a few of what goes viral and is seen by millions. Obviously, not all goatfarmers are abusers. Large farms are not what the “Scarecrow” commercial shows. Last, but certainly not least cows will not explode like the new Hulu TV series called Farmed and Dangerous implies. You see, there is so much false representation out there. It is up to people like you and me to tell agriculture’s story and educate the public about farming methods/practices.

I know that this is a topic of several blog posts out there and this is information that most of my readers are aware of. I am a person who enjoys humor and loves to laugh. With this being said, I decided to put my own twist on this post and provide you all with something you can smile about. If you are a reader out there who does not know a lot about farm animals, maybe this will give you something to smile about, as well as something you can learn from. I came up with a list of ten common misconceptions of farm animals that people have. Some of these are things you may have heard before, but I decided it was time to write something credible about farm animals. Brown_Swiss_photo

So sit back, feel free to smile and enjoy this list of ten misconceptions of farm animals!
1. Brown cows do not produce chocolate milk. Sorry to burst your bubble, but they do not. Chocolate syrup (or something similar) is what makes chocolate milk. That is fact.
2. Pigs do not talk to spiders, do not herd sheep and do not magically keep themselves clean. I know Babe and Charlotte’s Web tells something completely different, but that is Hollywood folks. If you have been around pigs at all, you know that is okay for them to be dirty. Sometimes they like to lay in the mud in order to cool off. So if you see a pig that is very dirty, do not panic. That is how they adapt to their surroundings and regulate body temperature.
3. Let’s talk about horses for a minute. As cool as Silver looks while rearing as The Lone Ranger says “Hi, Ho Silver!” that is not a desired response while one is riding a horse. While we are on the subject, horses are not ridden like you see in some western movies. The picture below shows how horses are generally ridden. No arms going everywhere, no guns, no being chased by Indians, etc. Sorry! 1470108_10202289806108585_860852273_n
4. Most farms are not barnyards full of a few cows, a couple horses, a small flock of chickens, a goat, some pigs and a sheep or two that live together in a red barn surrounded by white fences. It is just not the case. Today, farms have to be bigger and more specialized to be able to meet the food demands of our rapidly growing population. Trust me, this is true!
5. Bulls do not just attack men in leotards carrying a red cape or when they see red in general. Yes, this is the case in Looney Tunes; however it is197436_1002207137488_4811_n not the case in real life. Truth is, bulls are very dangerous animals that can attack a person at any time. (They are very important obviously because without them, no calves would be born. By the way, even though the movie Barnyard shows differently, bulls do not have udders!) This is why artificial insemination is a safer option. This also shows just how much danger some farmers put themselves in on a daily basis. Bottom line, bulls are not to be trusted.
6. Goats and sheep are more dangerous than what you see in movies like Babe or Home on the Range. You see, these critters can actually really hurt someone, especially those with horns. Even though goats are super cute and are seen in petting zoos all over, it must be noted that you must have a secure area to pen them in. If not, they will be out before you can say “boo.”
7. Most dairy cows do not wear bells. (Yes, I know there are some in some countries that do; however that is not a common occurrence in Northbrown_swiss America.) Dairy cows do not sing, do not actually advertise to “Eat More Chik-N” and do not literally help raise your kids. And in case you wondering, California is not the only state where “happy” cows come from.
8. Gathering eggs is not always a pleasant experience. There are some hens that will flog you causing you to run around the coop like a crazy person. Plus, you always have to watch out for the rooster. Those dudes are plain unpredictable. Oh, and geese? They are not your typical “Mother Goose” figure. They are completely opposite actually. Just ask someone (cough, cough this girl) about how it feels to be chased by one. NOT FUN!
9. Farm dogs are more than the old dog that just lies on the porch all day or than a dog that just chills in the bed of a pickup truck all the time. (Most cases they are not old bloodhounds like you see in a lot of shows and movies.) These dogs are a vital part of many farms. They can work livestock, protect livestock and are usually very good watch dogs. Instead of “man’s best friend,” they are simply a farmers best friend. The cool thing about this? These dogs love what they do!
10. Farm animals require constant care and attention. Movies tend to not show the hard work, time and effort it takes to care for these animals. Reality check—you ready for this? Farm animals are challenging and expensive to raise and care for.  They do not feed themselves, they do not build their own shelters, they do not magically heal themselves from injury/disease, they do not just suddenly walk out the gate to go on an adventure to save the farm, they do not “party” during the night when the farmer is asleep, etc. Truth is, they are animals. They are animals who supply us with food, fiber and so many other products. What makes a farm animal able to do this? Farmers who are good managers and caretakers.

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This list could easily go on and on. These are just some things that I have heard personally or just find funny. Now can you see how easily it is forwinter_storm people to have false impressions of farming and agriculture? There is so much influencing factors out there that cause people to have an idea of farming that is simply not true.

It is time for a reality check. Farming is not what you see in the movies. It is not what you see in those cruel videos. Farming is what puts food on our tables, clothes on our backs and so much more. Farm animals play a major role in this. Think of what you eat on a daily basis. Pizza, hamburger, egg, ice cream, steak, wool, milk, etc. are all examples of what farm animals provide. Think of life today if we did not have farm animals? Not a pretty picture is it. See the image below. All of these products come from cattle. They provide us with a lot don’t they?

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I hope you got a smile or two out of this. I know I did! Ultimately, I do hope this serves as an eye-opener of what farm animals are and what they are not, as well as what they do or what they do not do. They are extremely important to our food supply, which is something we have to realize. In addition, we must remember to thank those who dedicate their lives to raising and caring for these animals.

I will close by saying this. In honor of Thank a Farmer week, which was last week, I want to extend a special thank you to all of our farmers and ranchers. Your hard work, difficult lifestyle, commitment and dedication is extremely appreciated. Keep up the good work as you continue feeding the world.

Remember, to be sure to thank a farmer and appreciate farm animals.

Until next time…

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God Bless You All!

~Ali

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GO TEAM USA IN SOCHI AT THE WINTER OLYMPICS! PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN

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I Stand for Ag

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We all stand for something whether we are aware of it or not. We stand for something we are passionate about, something that is important to us. We take a stand and encourage others to stand with us.

I stand for agriculture. Why? It is my passion. It is something that I understand we could not live without. It defines my family and upbringing. Most importantly, agriculture defines our future and it is time people understand that.

It is time that farmers, ranchers, agvocates and others within the agriculture industry come together and take a stand. We have to show the general public and lawmakers just how important agriculture is. I do not know about you, but I am tired of seeing agriculture not being respected and appreciated like it should.  I am starting a movement – it may work, it may not – for everyone to take a stand and proudly say, “I Stand for Ag.” istandforag

Let’s get this trending on Facebook and Twitter using this: #istandforAG. Let’s make some noise!!!!!

I took a different approach to writing this. I provided reasons to stand for ag from a farmer, agvocate and consumer standpoint. The farmer and agvocate standpoint was easy; however writing from the consumers standpoint was a bit of a challenge. So what I did, I wrote from the standpoint of a consumer who has learned about agriculture and its importance. I provided something we can all strive towards. One day, if consumers would have these responses, I sure would be happy, happy, happy.

So, let’s get to it. Let’s find out why #istandforAG.

From the Farmers’ perspective:

  1. I stand for Ag every time I wake up at the crack of dawn knowing I have a full day’s of hard work ahead. Caring for livestock, fixing 20140131-210345.jpgfence, repairing the tractor, keeping track of farm records…you name it. I may complain, but deep down I would not trade my life for anything. Then at the end of the day, I lay my head on my pillow and thank God for seeing me through another day.
  2. I stand for Ag every time I spend countless hours in the tractor seat – whether it be baling hay, planting, feeding round bales, etc. Some may see this as boring, but to me, I see this as a way of life.
  3. I stand for Ag every time I spend countless dollars and time working hard to save the life of one of my livestock. Whether it be delivering a backwards calf, saving a horse that has coliced or giving my vet a call in the middle of the night to come help with a sick animal, I do everything I can to make sure my animals are healthy.
  4. I stand for Ag every time I see farm kids – either my own or someone else’s – helping out and/or playing on a farm. I know that is the future of our food supply, and I will do all that I can to show them what hard work, commitment and a true love of the farm life is like.20140131-210505.jpg
  5. I stand for Ag every time I see my family. When I see my parents, my siblings, my grandparents, my aunts/uncles, my cousins, etc., I have a sense of pride that I am continuing the family tradition. I realize that I am blessed to be part of a farming family!
  6. I stand for Ag every time there is a year of hardship and heartache. Natural disasters, disease, increased input prices (feed, fuel, labor, etc.), decreased commodity prices…I remain optimistic that next year will be better. I love the lifestyle too much and have learned that it is not for quitters. Farming requires faith and grit, which are two things that I rely on.
  7. I stand for Ag 365 days a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. I endure harsh working conditions. I face hardships. I work long hours. I have the responsibility to provide for my family, my land and my livestock. I am responsible for feeding the world. I am a farmer, and I am important.

From the Agriculturists’ (agriculture students, educators, specialists, etc.) perspective:

  1. I stand for Ag because I understand just how important the industry is. I know that without it, we would not survive. 20140131-210402.jpg
  2. I stand for Ag because I know that it is what will feed our growing population. It is our future, and I know I must work hard to help people understand that.
  3. I stand for Ag because I know we rely on a small portion of our population to feed us. (In the United States, less than two percent of the population is involved in production agriculture.) I know that I must work to keep those who feed us able to do their jobs without scrutiny.
  4. I stand for Ag because I am concerned about my future, my kids’ future and everyone’s future. I am investing in education to learn more so I can be a better “agvocate” for the industry.
  5. I stand for Ag because I cannot tolerate farmers and ranchers being victim of attacks from animal rights and environmental groups or not gaining support from our government. I cannot stand to see farmers being portrayed as something they are not and getting treated20140131-210444.jpg without the respect the deserve. I am not afraid to take a stand.
  6. I stand for Ag because I am completely intrigued by the industry. I am amazed at the advancements that have been made to produce more food with less. I am amazed at the pratices our farmers are taking to preserve land and conserve water. I am inspired by farmers’ resiliency  and hard work ethic. I am also shocked that so many people are uneducated about the importance of the industry; therefore making me want to tell agriculture’s story to anyone willing to listen.
  7. I stand for Ag because it is my passion. It is what my life is based around and how I want to spend my future. It is so underappreciated, and it is my goal to educate the general public about its importance. I want to be a voice for our farmers/ranchers.

From the Consumers’ perspective: (Our ultimate goal and target audience)

  1. I stand for Ag every time I put food in my mouth. A farmer and/or farmers worked hard to produce that food, and I am thankful for that. Knowing I can put food on the table that is safe for me and my family to eat is humbling. 5342_201789796644687_27104960_n
  2. I stand for Ag every time I walk into a grocery store and I know there will be an abundance of food available for purchase. Food that is wholesome, safe and affordable is a priority, and would not be possible without the efforts of farmers and ranchers.
  3. I stand for Ag every time I look at personal spending accounts and see that I do not spend a majority of income on food. Knowing I can afford food is a relief as I understand without food, I would not survive.
  4. I stand for Ag every time I drive through the countryside and appreciate farms. I know the hard work it takes to operate a farm, and have full appreciation for those who dedicate their lives to it. 156554_10150777226640699_1785757480_n
  5. I stand for Ag every time I get behind a tractor or combine on the road and do not get upset about it. I know that it is a very important part to almost every farming operation and is aides in providing me with food. I respect the individual in the driver seat and give them a wave as I pass by.
  6. I stand for Ag every time I go to a fair and walk through the agriculture buildings. I see how much farmers care for their animals, as well as how much value they put into their products. I see they work hard and that they truly have pride for what they do.
  7. I stand for Ag much more than I realize. It is something that we cannot live without. I am thankful for farmers/ranchers and hope they know their value. Agriculture allows me to have the life I do, and I am truly grateful.

Agriculture is pretty important, right? We may have different reasons for standing for agriculture; however we cannot deny that 1) without agriculture, we would not survive; 2) farmers deserve so much more credit than what they receive; and 3) we need to educate as much as possible about agriculture’s importance. 20131020-204715.jpg

Are you willing to take a stand? Share this. Use #istandforAG. Let the world know that you understand just how crucial agriculture is to our daily lives and our future. I’m willing to take the stand…

I hope you are too.

Until next time, and God Bless You All!

~Ali

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2013 The Year of the Farmer: 13 Reasons Why You Should be Thankful for Farmers & Ranchers

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It has been almost a year since Dodge aired the “So God Made a Farmer” commercial during the Super Bowl and declared 2013 as the year of the farmer. As 2013 comes to a close, I thought of no better post other than one about the importance of our farmers. There may be some other blog posts out there like this; however in my opinion, there can never be too many posts about thanking those who put food on our tables.

With an increasing global population, a decreasing amount of land available for food production and with less than 2% of the U.S population directly involved in production agriculture, there is no time like the present to strive to educate the public about agriculture and farming practices. It cannot be stated enough how crucial it is for more people to understand agriculture and not be influenced by common misconceptions (i.e. animal welfare, GMO’s, antibiotic use, etc.). There is no doubt that the general public needs to be more knowledgeable about agriculture, as well as more aware about just how much it impacts all of our lives.

It was rather difficult coming up with only 13 reasons why we should be thankful for our farmers. (Granted, give me enough time and I could probably think of 100 reasons.) It can be assumed that several of you can thank of several other reasons other than the ones I listed as well. However, the main purpose of this post is to educate those who may not be aware of just how much farmers do and provide for us. It also was written to remind farmers that they truly are important.

Let the countdown to the list of 13 reasons to be thankful for our farmers begin now.

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Five

Four

Three

Two

One

AND HERE WE GO!!!!!!!

Thirteen Reasons Why You Should Thank a Farmer

  1. Let’s start off with and state the obvious. FARMERS FEED US!!!!!! Without them, we would not be able to go to the grocery store and have access to an abundance of food products. We would not have food on our tables, in our cabinets, in our refrigerators/freezers, and the list goes on. Could you imagine a world without plentiful food? Yeah, neither could I. So yes, you definitely should thank a farmer. 12973_10201593605023993_1495218490_n
  2. Less than two percent of the U.S. population are farmers. Why is this important? For starters, we rely on a very small number of people to provide us with food we can consume and export to other countries. (Approximately 23% of raw products are exported every year.) Farmers not only provide for us here in the United States, but they also provide enough to export for people of other countries to consume. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  3.  Forget the typical stereotypes a lot of people have about farmers. There is no doubt that farmers are smart. Many do not realize just how much it takes to be a farmer. Farmers have to be able to be their own mechanics-they have to be able to fix a variety of things; veterinarians-they have to be able to provide basic care to their animals; bookkeepers/accountants-they have to be able to crunch numbers to ensure their farms efficiency and profitability; and they have to have a general knowledge and understanding about a wide variety of topics such as grazing practices, vaccination regiments, fertilizer applications, when to mow hay, when to plant crops, etc. You see, farming is much more than what meets the eye. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  4. Farmers work 365 days a year. There are no days off because it is a holiday, snow day or weekend. Farming requires time, hard work, dedication, perseverance and commitment. It is definitely not an easy job. It is definitely not a profession where you are guaranteed to be wealthy. It is not a profession where you can predict how much money you will make. There’s no doubt this lifestyle is tough. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  5. Farmers do CARE about what they do. Yes, there has been videos released of animal abuse occurring on farms; however those people who were in the videos are not what I consider a farmer. Farmers put the needs of their animals above their own. They seek practices that is most conserving of their land. They work to keep animals comfortable and land productive. This level of care simply represents just how genuine most farmers are. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  6. Tradition is very important to farmers. Most of the farmers I know come from several generations of farmers. Not only do they understand the importance of farming in general, but they also farm to keep their family tradition alive. This is5342_201789796644687_27104960_n important because at least one of their kids will want to keep the tradition of the family farm going. This is important because that gives us assurance that the future of farming is in good hands. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  7. Farmers are dedicated. As I somewhat mentioned before, farming relies on so many uncontrollable factors such as weather, disease outbreaks, global issues, etc. A severe flood can ruin an entire corn crop. An outbreak of disease can negatively impact beef production. A tornado can wipe out an entire operation. An early freeze can destroy a crop. This list can go on and on; however the point is that farmers still push on no matter what the risk. They remain optimistic and do not fear what the future may hold. They focus on producing a safe and wholesome product. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  8. I think it is safe to say that farmers are some of the best examples of how neighbors should treat one another. Yes, I know there are probably some of you out there who have neighbors that cause you grief. However, when it comes right down to it, farmers always seem to step in when help is needed or tragedy strikes. Look at the community in Illinois that lost a farmer or at how an abundance of farmers came together to help a family of a fallen farmer in Iowa. People came from miles around to help these families get their harvests done. Why is this important? We live in a society where good is overlooked by so much evil going on. It is so humbling to see just how strong the farming community is. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  9. Stemming from the previous reason, farmers demonstrate what it means to stand united. Obviously with everything going on in our nation’s capitol and other issues occurring all over the world with constant controversy, it is once again so humbling to see a group of people who work together and who help each other. Farmers truly do that. An example of this can be seen in how farmers from all over the United States acted to help those in South Dakota affected by the tragic blizzard that struck there.  “Within the ranching community we are helping each other and doing what needs to be done. Working together to help our neighbors regardless of how financially hurt we are” (Agricultureproud.com).  Farmers also stand united when protecting the agriculture industry from false accusations made by animal rights organizations. Standing united is definitely an important part of the farming community. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer. 20131020-204715.jpg
  10. Let’s face it. Agriculture in the United States is what makes the country what it is today. This is important for U.S. citizens because we live in a land where we have an abundance of safe, wholesome food at a very affordable price. For those in other countries, a strong U.S. agricultural industry means the opportunity for others to import U.S. products, as well as adopt farming methods that could lead to increased productivity. We truly are so fortunate to have a strong agricultural industry. We have no other people to thank other than our farmers and ranchers. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer. 
  11. Farmers are caretakers of the land. Land use for farming is a very precious resource. With that being said, it must be properly cared for in order to remain productive in years to come. Farmers are adopting methods by which will conserve land, water and soil. Erosion control practices, rotational planting, rotational grazing and different tilling practices are just a few examples of steps farmers are taking to ensure land’s productivity. In addition, farmers provide habitat for wildlife – providing for at least 75% of the nation’s wildlife. Despite what some may say about farming destroying our environment, farmers truly do care about the land. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  12. From my own personal experiences, I think it is safe to say that farmers are major contributors in their communities. Whether it be 77aefda9-da0d-4379-9635-b83e1b1fd312donating to their local FFA chapters, 4-H clubs, booster clubs, fair boards, etc., farmers do take part in giving back to their respected communities in some way no matter how financially strapped they may be. In my community of Billings, Missouri, farmers do so much for this town. They provide assistance in weather events (tornadoes in 2003 and 2006, the ice storm of 2007 just to name a few), they support our high school, provide animals/equipment for educational events. I’m sure it is like this in every community, which to me is so amazing. So, yes you should definitely thank a farmer.
  13. Farmers endure so much to produce food that is safe, abundant and affordable for consumers. You may be asking yourself, “Why would someone want to endure so much, not make an abundance of money and not know what each year holds?” The answer is simple. Farmers are passionate about what they do. They love their lifestyle. They understand its importance. They value their livelihood. Farmers remain this way no matter what struggles and hardships they may be facing. Talk about determination, right? There is no doubt that farmers are underappreciated, undervalued and not given the respect they so deserve. With that being said, YES WE SHOULD DEFINITELY THANK A FARMER!

Hopefully this post has been an eye-opener to those who may not realize the importance of our farmers and ranchers. Hopefully it has provided farmers and ranchers with a sense of importance, as well as a sense of pride.

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The year 2013 has definitely been a good one when it comes to agvocating and reaching the public about the importance of agriculture. The “So God Made a Farmer Commercial,” numerous agricultural blogs that have went viral, parodies that have received millions of hits on YouTube and several stories about agriculture being shared on social media outlets are just some of the positive efforts that have happened this year. We also cannot complain about this years growing seasons. Of course, there were some hardships too. The South Dakota blizzard, the tornadoes that ravaged Oklahoma and Illinois, major flooding events, areas of drought and the recent ice storms are just some of the disasters that some of our farmers had to face. However, as I mentioned before, farmers are resilient and determined to keep pushing forward.

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Now it is time for you to take action. Thank a farmer. Respect a farmer. Next time you find yourself behind a slow tractor or combine on the road and become irritated, remember it is those people who feed you. Just do what Craig Morgan sings and “smile and wave, and tip your hat to the man (or woman) in the tractor!” If you drive by a farm and see a farmer working, give them a thumbs up and a wave. Just be grateful and thankful for them. Show some appreciation and respect!

Dodge Ram declared 2013 as the Year of the Farmer. I vote we all take a stand, raise our voices, be thankful for our farmers and make every year a year of the farmer. So share this, share the “So God Made a Farmer” video, share another blog you like that talks about the importance of farmers/agriculture. Just take action to help educate the public about the importance of farming!

Farmers, thank you for all you do!

Until next time…

God Bless You All!

~Ali

My farming family!

My farming family!

Farmers DO Care- Dedication and Compassion to Animals

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First winter storm of the season has hit here in southwest Missouri. Winter Storm Cleon (since when did we start naming winter storms?) dumped about eight inches on my family’s farm and brought freezing temperatures along with it.  While many were excited about the snow because that meant no school, no work, being able to stay inside all day and be lazy…I mean who wouldn’t be? As wonderful as these sounds, every farmer knows that snow and cold mean everything but wonderful and lazy.

Busting ice in water tanks – usually resulting in you getting wet in the process; frozen hoses and hydrants – which means carrying water by bucket to your livestock…farm fitness at its best!; excessive straw shaking because you have to make sure livestock will be warm enough; making sure your animals have safe surfaces to walk on – scraping walkways, putting down gravel and other de-icing agents to prevent animals from slipping; having all tools on deck to make sure trucks and tractors run – and always remembering to unplug them before driving off; and having to dress like an Eskimo every time you go outside to get animals cared for and chores done. This list could easily go on and on, but my point is that farmers sure do a lot to make sure their animals are safe, comfortable and well taken care of. calf_snow

One thing that really gets me fired up is hearing and/or reading comments from people saying “farmers really do not care for their animals,” “when will farmers start caring,” and/or “oh, farmers are just in it for the money.” HSUS and PETA also post similar content and I just want to yell, “SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?!?!” We know farmers do care. To be a farmer, you have to be passionate about what you do. You have a deep love for the lifestyle because we know it is definitely not an easy one. To hear people say these things is just so hurtful because of knowing the love farmers really do have for their animals.

With all of this being said, I have come up with a list of things either myself, family friends, neighbors, etc., have done for our animals to ensure their well-being is put first. Feel free to smile and nod as you read these because chances are you have done the same thing or know someone who has. If you are a non-farmer, I hope you find a sense of peace knowing just how much farmers love their animals. The bottom line of this list is proving just how much farmers do care.

Here we go…Farmers DO Care!

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  • If a calf, foal, kid, lamb, piglet or other baby animal is born outside on a frigid day and is fighting to stay warm, chances are it will end up in your pickup truck to help it warm up. Also, chances are that you take your coat off to use as a blanket for it. Does it make a mess sometimes? Well of course. Is it worth it? Most definitely because you just gave an animal a chance at life.
  • You have had a calf, foal, kid, lamb, piglet and/or other baby animal in your house at one point to save it. You bottle fed it every few hours. You made sure it was strong enough to survive outside. Once again, was it worth it? You bet!
  • When a cow is calving, a mare is foaling, etc., and is having trouble; you spring into action to try to help her and the newborn out. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, whether or not you are wearing gloves or how “gross” it is, you do whatever it takes to have a safe delivery. (You would not even believe how many calves I have helped deliver in my pajamas, good clothes and even church clothes in rain, snow, storms, cold, heat, etc.!)Cranberry
  • When a pregnant animal is showing signs of delivering, it does not matter what time of day it is, how busy you are or if it cuts into your sleep time. You are checking on her frequently to make sure everything is okay.
  • When you have an animal that is seriously ill, it does not matter how much money the vet bill costs and how financially strained you are. You call the vet. You buy whatever medicines are needed to save that animal’s life. You devote time to treat that animal. It does not matter what the conditions outside are like, you stay – in some cases, even sleep – with that animal in order to help it live. 20131020-204752.jpg
  • Animals are a top priority on the farm. There is just no other way to put it. Christmas morning, presents are not opened until animals have been cared for. If there was animal sick or in labor and needed attention, someone stayed with it even if they were missing a family-get-together, field trip or other event.
  • Animals are like a part of the family. You brag about them, you post pictures of them, you’re just proud of them because of all they do for you and so many others. This inspires you to give them the best care possible.
  • It does not matter what the conditions are like outside, you go out in them to feed, water and care for you animals. Extreme cold and snow? You bundle up and go outside. Thunderstorm? You hope you don’t get struck by lightning and go outside. Pouring rain? You put your rain coat on and go outside. Your animals get taken care of no matter what.
  • After a major weather event and after you know your family is safe, you fly outside to check on your animals. You’re their caretaker and you must be sure they are safe. DSC03635
  • You have shed countless tears after losing an animal you have worked so hard to care for and keep alive. Is it because you are thinking about the money you just lost? No. You cry because you feel you did not do your job in caring for that animal in a better way, even though that is usually not the case.
  • You’re willing to put your own life in danger in order to save an animal. Whether it’s trying to get animals in a barn during a storm, rescuing a calf that fell through ice on a pond or something like doctoring a sick calf while an upset momma cow circles you, you have no fear. It is the animal’s life that you are focused on.1237011_10201744743082350_959991564_n
  • It did not matter if you were sick or injured and the doctor told you to stay inside. You never listened. You had to see for yourself that your animals were all right. Dedication? Yes. Compassion? You bet.
  • You have been kicked several times, chased by an angry momma cow, bucked off your horse, mauled by a bull, attacked by a rooster or whatever else resulting in serious injury. Did that stop you from loving and caring for your animals? Absolutely not. You understand that this is a part of the farming life.
  • Your trusty farm dog is a major part of your daily endeavors. That dog listens to more stories than anything and stays by your side all day. Nobody hurt your dog and you did whatever it took to make sure that dog lived forever.
  • You prayed for your animals. You prayed for their health, their safety and their well-being. They are just that important to you.

224218_2043435207539_3010869_nAs you can see, farmers sure do a lot for their animals. Sad thing about this is that several people do not realize this. Unfortunately, they are simply unaware or have been influenced by something they have seen on TV or on the internet. No matter what the situation is, there is one thing that is clear. FARMERS DO CARE!

Like I said before, farmers love what they do. They have a passion, a desire and a purpose to be the best farmer and caretaker they can be. Their animals represent their livelihood; therefore farmers know they have a responsibility to care for their animals in the best way possible.

I hope this gives you knowledge about farmers’ love for their animals. Farmers, I hope this gives you pride about what you do.

Next time you come across a person who claims farmers don’t care, I hope you think about this post. Do you think farmers would do these things if they did not care? Do you think they are just doing this for the money? I don’t think so either. I urge you to share this to show that farmers care. Let’s show the world that farmers have a dedication and committment to their animals that is simply amazing.

Thank you farmers for what you do. Thank you for feeding the world while putting up with one of the most challenging, unpredictable and underappreciated lifestyles one could have. Farmers, thank you for caring so much about your animals!

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Until next time folks, stay warm and be sure to thank a farmer. God Bless You All!

~Ali

Growing Up on a Farm: 25 Facts About Being a Farm Kid!

This post is dedicated to all you past, present and future farm kids out there. There may not be very many of us, but we truly are  one-of-a-kind. In all honesty, I don’t know of a better way to grow up. Yes, we worked hard. Yes, we can tell stories all day long about our experiences both good and bad. Most importantly, yes we are proud to be farmers’ sons and farmers’ daughters. We are proud to be born and raised farm kids.  We are proud to be future farmers.

There is no doubt….WE REALLY ARE LUCKY!

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There have been several blog posts containing lists being shared on Facebook and Twitter right now. These lists, which deal with topics from growing up in a small town to reasons why you should date a teacher, inspired me to write about the farm kid life. For all you farm kids out there, you know we had a very special upbringing that many do not understand. With this in mind, I decided to come up with 25 truths that most farm kids could relate to in some way.

To me (and I think many will agree), being raised on a farm is a gift and something we should definitely treasure. We learn things that will be with us the rest of our lives. I could literally go on and on about how lucky farm kids really are. Whether you were raised on a farm or are just simply curious about the farm kid life, I hope you enjoy this list I have come up with. Don’t be afraid to smile, laugh and take a trip down memory lane! I know I did 🙂

20131122-121759.jpg25 Farm Kid Truths….here we go!

1. When you were first asked what you want to be when you grow up, you could not think of anything other than a farmer. Duh! 

2. Yeah, those Hot Wheels, Barbie Dolls, Nintendo’s were all oh so cool. BUT nothing compared to your farm toys and figurines. Those John Deere tractors, plastic hay bales, plastic cows, horses, trucks, etc. They were your favorites that you played with ALL the time.

3. No Christmas list was complete without those farming toys. Ertl farm sets, more toy tractors, more farm animals…you needed to make your “farm” bigger.

4. No matter how hard your mom tried for you to have “good clothes” and “chore clothes,” and/or “good shoes” and “chore shoes,” everything you had turned into clothes you got dirty outside. Your excuse? “Sorry mom, I forgot…”

5. You learned some of the most random things…most of the time, the hard way. Examples?? You learned that if you got stuck in the mud while wearing your muck boots, you better just stay put and wait for help. You learned that your parents weren’t kidding when they said the fence was “hot.” You learned to avoid crawling through or over barbed wire fences. You learned that no matter how “cute” little mice looked or how tempting it was to pick one up to tease your sibling(s) with, those suckers would bite if you messed with them. You learned where not to hold a bottle when bottle feeding a baby calf. This list could go on and on. 20131122-121739.jpg

6. Here are some of the rules you were given when you went and played outside. Don’t go to the road, don’t go near the bull, if you open a gate then you better shut it, do not turn on/operate any piece of equipment, DON”T GO TOO FAR,, don’t hurt your brother/sister, blah blah blah. We all heard it.

7. You learned at a very young age that you needed to pray every day. Granted, yes we need to do that every single day. However, you prayed for things most kids would not even think about. You prayed for rain during a drought. You prayed for a good harvest. You prayed for sunshine when hay needed to be made. You prayed for your animals. You understood just how important faith in farming is.

8. The worse forms of punishments in fact were not getting spanked. The worse forms of punishment included picking rocks out of dirt lots and walking through fields with a feed sack and scissors cutting thistles. Even worse than that? Being told to stay in the house. Ughhhh!!!!!

9. You have been chased by a chicken, bucked off a horse, cut by a barb-wire fence, kicked by a cow, fallen face first in mud, fell out of a tree and/or have fallen off a tractor/truck/trailer (just to name a few) on a few occasions. Funny thing is, it did not slow you down one bit. 1016244_10201392292111296_1643819930_n

10. You did not open your Christmas gifts on Christmas morning or go trick-or-treating on Halloween until all the chores were done. And you did not complain about it.

11.  The best bonding time with your daddy came from sitting on his lap in the tractor. You seriously felt like the luckiest kid alive. What made you feel even luckier? Riding with your daddy in the combine! Also, let’s face it. Whatever your daddy’s favorite kind of tractor was, well it was yours too.

12. Your momma cooked the best home-cooked meals. She was the best at making those daily bumps, scrapes and bruises that we would always get all better. She could get manure and oil stains out of anything. She could then go outside run a tractor, haul cattle to town, tend to a sick calf, haul hay and back a trailer just as good (or sometimes even better) than your daddy and the other farm hands could.

untitled13. Hay season, planting, chopping, etc. were like mini Christmases to you. You could ride in the tractor all day long, your meals were brought out to you, you could even stay up past your bedtime sometimes…

14. Yes, we had our swing sets, trampolines, sand boxes, etc. However, those were not the coolest things to play with. The coolest things were round bales, livestock trailers, piles of seed, skipping rocks at the pond  and stuff like that. Now that was fun!

15. You could operate equipment, drive a tractor, drive the farm truck and run the 4-wheeler at a very young age. (I won’t exactly specify what age this is, but let’s just say it is way before the age of 15.)

16. You could tell if a cow was calving by the age of eight. You got to see more live animal births of any kids in your class. Once again, cool kid status reached! While we are on the subject, you could tell if an animal was sick. You could determine how crops were doing. You could count hay bales during hay season. You knew a great deal about medicines, fertilizers and other farming practices. You were that smart.

17. You have had the opportunity to see more sunrises and more sunsets than most kids your age did. That is pretty cool.sunset

18. You had manners and learned to respect your elders. You learned the importance of listening and following instructions. You quickly learned the value of a dollar. You just learned lesson after lesson day after day.

19. You strongly disliked going to school sometimes because you could not stand to be locked up inside. You’d much rather be outside working on the farm, no matter how it was like outside. It would literally drive you insane. (Sidenote, all of your projects/assignments somehow incorporated farming into them.)

20. You had that one animal: One dog, one cat, one cow, one horse, one something that was your buddy and at the time, your best friend. That special animal is one you will never forget.

21. Your senior pictures, prom pictures, graduation pictures, etc. have a tractor, truck, FFA jacket and/or livestock in them more than once.200592_1002209537548_6788_n

22. You were proud to be a member of 4-H and/or FFA.

23. The older you got, the more responsibilities and chores you were given. No we were not slaves of our parents. No we were not “overworked.” Our parents were teaching us one of the most valuable lessons a person could learn – that is RESPONSIBILITY!

24. You understand the value of hard work, commitment, good character, good business and dedication. Farming is no easy task, and you fully comprehend the fact that these values will benefit you the rest of your life. These values will lead to success and you know it.

25. You realize just how lucky you are to have grown up on a farm. You realize that you want your future kids to grow up on a farm too because there really is not an upbringing that can compare. ❤

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I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. One thing I know for sure is  that I am so proud to be considered one of these kids. If you are, share this! Show the world you’re proud of it too. Better yet, thank your parents for giving you the rare opportunity to grow up as a farm kid.  

Thanks so much for reading this post. As always, God Bless You All!

Until next time…

~Ali~20131122-121833.jpg20131122-121808.jpg20131122-121818.jpg

A Cinderella Story Featuring a Cow Named Bambi

Miss Bambi

Fulp Wonderment Bambi

Its the month of August so all of us “show people” know what that means. Show season is in full swing!!! Showing is what this post is mostly about; however it also demonstrates how a dose of bad luck can be quickly turned around by a simple gesture of love and generosity. So sit back and enjoy as I share with you a Brown Swiss Cow Cinderella Story.

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Timberline Jetway Toni

Angela

Timberline Denmark Angela

Like with most of my blog posts, I will begin with a background. When I was growing up, my parents owned a dairy farm where we milked about 60 registered Brown Swiss cows. The cows my parents had developed and/or purchased were simply good and some of the best in Missouri and even the United States. We had grand champion several consecutive years at Ozark Empire Fair in Springfield, as well as several grand champion titles at the Missouri State Fair. We even won Supreme Champion (which is HUGE) at the state fair and Reserve Grand at World Dairy Expo with a cow back in 1999—Timberline Jetway Toni—who has been named one of the greats.  Among winning state shows, our cows had earned All-American and Reserve All-American titles, stood in the top of their class at the World Dairy Expo, won the first ever 3-year old futurity at WDE and even won at other national shows across the country. Needless to say, we had a very strong reputation in the Brown Swiss industry for having top of the line cows and I’ll admit it, huge targets on our backs. We sadly had to sell out in 2004 which I will say was one of the most difficult days of my life. (However, I am proud to say that even today- approximately 9 years later- our cows are still having a huge influence on the Brown Swiss breed through their offspring and continued success in the show ring.) A few years after selling our cows, my parents decided to buy some heifers for my younger sister and I to use as FFA projects and just to give us the chance to show again. Long story short, this turned out to be not as good as plan as we hoped for.

Our first year back, we had a very good show string winning both junior and grand champion at the state fair with two of our animals. We felt really good about our decision to be back; however our luck quickly headed the other way. My parents purchased a really good cow out of Wisconsin named Starbright for my little sister because she never had the chance to own and lead a milk cow. Well after her successful show season the first few months we had her, her health went downhill. It took us a year to get her pregnant and when she finally calved in, her health took a major turn for the worst. She was battling respiratory problems so severe that the vet at the University of Missouri said she could not survive on an actual dairy farm. So my parents being as awesome as they are, decided to set up a portable milker at our house and milk her here. We milked her for 3 months, twice a day at our place. She was happy, healthy and as you can imagine, very spoiled!!!! We all got very attached to her because of her gentle personality and having to spend so much time with her. When show season came around, we felt like she was healthy and strong enough to get back on the tanbark. She was milking over 70 pounds of milk per day, gained all of her weight back and was not showing any signs of having breathing problems. We hauled her to the state fair with hopes of her doing well, as well as the chance of my little sister being able to show a milk cow for the first time. Starbright settled right in at the fair the first two days she was there. The day before she was to show, I noticed her being off her feed and appearing to not feel well. We immediately called a vet to be sure she was okay. Long story short, late Friday night, Starbright breathed her last there in Sedalia, Mo. It was a traumatic life event for my entire family; however my little sister was hurting the worst. She loved her Starbright and it was obvious that Starbright loved her. I will never, ever forget my mom coming into our hotel room sobbing and having to listen to my little sister sob too when she heard the news. (I’m crying right now as I write this.) I will never forget this as long as I live. No person should have to go through losing a cow at a state fair like we did. The next few days, I remember not being able to walk through the barn without having tears streaming down my face. My little sister was a wreck. In the FFA show, I cried as I led my cow for the grand champion drive knowing that it should have been Starbright and my sister out there instead of me. The really bad thing about all of this is the fact that there were people there who began spreading rumors that we killed our cow by “drowning her” to get her looking good for the show when we were actually following the university vet’s orders of giving her BlueLite to get her rumen working. So not only did we have to deal with losing the cow, we also had to go around telling people that we did not kill our own cow by showing them necropsy reports that her lungs were bad and full of infection. (Mizzou’s necropsy on her showed that only 10% of her lungs were functioning and that is was only a matter of time before she couldn’t survive any longer.) Anyways, as you can imagine, we were completely devastated. My sister would cry every single day for the next several weeks. Not seeing Starbright in her paddock was so, so hard.

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Stephanie with our grandparents, Gary and Sue Fulp

About a few weeks later, my grandma- Sue Fulp- called us. She said that she and my grandpa wanted to give my little sister a calf to help heal the hurt she was feeling from losing Starbright. As much as we told grandma she didn’t have to do that, she insisted. Needless to say, a little Brown Swiss calf ended up over here. The calf’s name was Bambi and let me be the first to tell you, it fit her perfectly! She was about the size of a large dog and didn’t weigh 75 pounds. (Most swiss calves her age would have weighed about 120 pounds or more). Even though she was small, she was cute, cute, cute!!! We raised her up and my sister even showed her the next year. She was just an average heifer and always stood in the middle of her class. We sold the rest of our small herd that year, but kept Bambi because she was a gift. (We even tried giving her back, but she said absolutely not.) So we just turned Bambi out and let her grow. Of course with her being the only cow on the place, she also became extremely spoiled and was just like a big pet. When she was old enough, we bred her to one of the best bulls in the breed and she was confirmed pregnant due to calve in May. Throughout the winter, we noticed Bambi was no longer living up to her name. For whatever reason, she went through a major growth spurt. The heifer got HUGE! She was one of the biggest springer heifers any of us had seen. When May came around, Bambi calved in with a really good heifer calf. We sent Bambi back to my aunts and grandparents’ dairy where she would be milked thinking she probably would not turn out to be a show cow and focused most of our attention on that little heifer calf she had. My sister ended up calling the calf Bazinga. (We’re Big Bang Theory fans, can’t you tell?) Bazinga waBazingas a nice calf there was no question. She also had genomic numbers that were out of this world. She never got sick and always had a good appetite. When she was close to being weaned, she began this really bad habit of chewing her rope in half. We were sick of chasing her and worried she was going to get hit on the road, so we decided to go ahead an put her in the weaning pen. She was in there a good 5 days and did not have any problems. Long story short by day 6, we found her down almost dead. We ended up losing her and to this day do not know what caused it. Bazinga even made the profile picture of New Generation Genetics on Facebook and I even had inquiries about her from Europe. It’s always the good ones! Once again, my little sister was devastated. How much bad luck can one kid have?
Fulp Wonderment Bambi Supreme Champion FFA Show 2013 Ozark Empire FairIn the meantime before we lost Bazinga, we realized just how good of a cow Bambi truly was. Back in June, my cousin had called us and said we should highly consider showing Bambi because she had turned out to be a really nice cow. We entered her in the Ozark Empire Fair not expecting much. Granted there was only two head of Swiss there and she was the only cow. HOWEVER, seeing her all clipped and full of milk gave us a good indication that she really was good. Both judges told us she was one of the best 2-year olds they’d seen and that she needed to be shown at the state fair and other national shows. Bambi ended up winning Supreme Champion of the FFA Show beating all other breeds. There was about 80 head of dairy cattle there and many exhibitors stopped by to tell us we had a good one. Unfortunately, there were those who talked saying it wasn’t a big show and that winning supreme was not a big deal there. Well it definitely was to us knowing the full story and knowing she was a gift from my amazing grandparents. Also, being able to see the excitement on my sister’s face after seeing it completely devastated when she lost Starbright was simply amazing. My grandma and grandpa were soooo excited when they heard how well Bambi did! So, we ended up paying late fees and entered her in the state fair.

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Me and Bambi or as we also call her “Bam-Bam”

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So thankful for this cow allowing my sister to experience this!

Bambi made the trip to Sedalia with my cousins and their cows. She did well in the open show placing 2nd in her class and winning reserve intermediate champion. In the FFA show, she won her class, was intermediate champion and reserve grand champion. Bambi will also be making a journey to Stillwater, Oklahoma for the Southwestern National Show and possibly even to Louisville, Kentucky for the Eastern National Show.

Throughout all of this success, we make it known that people know Bambi’s story and be sure to give all the credit to our grandparents. We want their story to be heard!

This has been a lengthy post, but given the story, I did not want to leave any details out. For some, it is hard to understand how attached we get to our cows. For others who do understand, they will get teary eyed as they read this post. I do look at life differently than a lot of people, but to me this story serves as a life lesson. My grandparents saw my sister hurting and did what nobody else did. They acted and gave my sister a calf to help heal the hurt. My grandma obviously had no idea Bambi would turn out the way she did…nobody did! (Honestly, I almost laughed when I first saw her because she was such a runt.) They acted out of love, kindness and generosity. To me, that is what makes this story so special. Of all the calves she had, for whatever reason she chose Bambi. I truly believe that the reason Bambi turned out so well is because of my grandmas act of nothing but pure kindness and love. Some may be jealous, some may be pessimistic, some may even just shake their heads. I don’t care.

I think it is fate, and I believe it is God’s way of showing us that no matter how bad life gets, there are always better days ahead. He really does reward us for living like Christians should

Look at my sister for example. She lost Starbright and Bazinga. If it was not for Bambi, I do not know how she would be right now. The really cool thing about this is that Bambi was not a result of going out and spending thousands of dollars. She was not a result of greed. I am so thankful for my grandma and grandpa. They set a good example like always and this story just proves that. It also proves that everything really does happen for a reason. Next time you see them, give them a hug. Congratulate them on breeding a phenomenal cow. We are the ones who show her; however they are the ones who created her. They are the ones who gave my sister this opportunity. They are truly an inspiration! I love them so very much. Words truly cannot express how appreciative, honored, blessed, and the list goes on and on, myself as well as the rest of my sisters and cousins are to have them as grandparents.

This truly is your typical Cinderella Story. Granted, there are probably not many of these featuring a cow; however when you’re a girl who has been involved in dairy for so long and who has grown up loving basketball, I couldn’t resist using the term to describe this story. I hope this influences you like it has influenced me. Thank you for reading this all the way through. Until next time, God Bless!

~Ali

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Way to hang in there Steph. This is only the beginning for what is in store for the two of you!

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