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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Agriculture… “It has led me here to this”

These past few weeks, I have had several moments where I have thought about how I have gotten to the point I am at today. How has my decisions affected the person I am, the person I want to be and the person I will be in the future? How exactly have I ended up where I am? Besides the fact that God has blessed me beyond measure and the support I have received from my family, I can only think of one other answer to this question. The answer is agriculture.

To back this story up some, I should begin by discussing my upbringing and background. I grew up on a dairy farm. I was put on a horse (and even Brown Swiss cows) before I could walk, I started helping in the milk barn before I even started kindergarten and can remember getting into some trouble doing things that typical farm kids do. So yes, agriculture has been with me from day one. I was always active in 4-H and FFA by showing cows and horses and participating in contests. However, looking back to my senior year in high school, pursuing a career in agriculture did not even cross my mind.

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Many people can’t believe this because they’ve always known me to be the ag kid of my class and even of all my sisters. I actually thought I wanted to become a physical therapist (all I saw were dollar signs) and eventually work at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis. In my head this sounded like the perfect plan, but when it came right down to it, my heart was leading me in a completely opposite direction. When I attended freshman orientation at Missouri State University, the realization hit that physical therapy was not my fit. I had a small meltdown when I got home from the first day of orientation because I felt like my future was blurred. What was I going to do with my life? How would I figure out what I wanted to do? Luckily, my dad agreed to go to the second day of orientation with me so I would not have a complete anxiety attack. I am so glad he did!!! He was the one who took me to see the head of the William H. Darr School of Agriculture which ended up being one of the most influential days of my life.

Within 30 seconds of being in the school of agriculture, I knew I had found my “home.” There was no doubt that agriculture was my future and that it was where I belonged. The four years I spent working on my undergraduate degree were some of the most memorable times of my life. I surpassed the expectations I had of myself—I went from a shy, unconfident girl to a woman who has utmost belief in herself to make a difference in this crazy world we live in and to keep agriculture a strong industry. Everything I learned from growing up on a farm- including hard work ethic, determination, teamwork and leadership- pushed me to be a strong student and leader. I also overcame the fear of stepping up out of my comfort zone and experiencing as much as possible. Internships, joining the Missouri State Equestrian Team, becoming an officer in student organizations on campus and becoming more involved in my community were just a few that happened because of this. I quickly learned that hard work and taking risks really does pay off, and also that I should always have faith. When I reflect on my entire undergraduate experience, it does not seem real. (I also do not know how I was able to do so many things in four short years!) These years developed me into the person I am today and have made me fully understand how important it is to stand up, protect and fight for our agriculture industry.

As many know, I am now in graduate school at Missouri State working on my master’s degree in agricultural communications. Has it been stressful? Most definitely, but I know it is going to be well worth it. I feel like I am just being primed to be an influential “agvocate” and promoter of the agricultural industry. Whether it be public relaitons, promotion, marketing, writing, broadcasting or whatever else, I believe that I will be well prepared for whatever my future career has in store. I do know that I want to do whatever I can to help our farmers because it is them who keeps us all alive. I want to do my part in educating the public about where their foods comes from so that they will not be influenced by extreme animal/environmental activists and so that they will learn to have a greater respect for farmers/ranchers. I also want to do my part in ensuring that future generations will not go hungry. And above all, I want to do all I can to keep agriculture thriving in the United States.

So when asked how or what has been a major impact of my life, I can safely say this. God, my family and agriculture has! My journey has been a pretty crazy one; however I feel so humbled and blessed. I am so fortunate to have be part of a great agriculture school and also to have a strong agriculture background.

Next time you find yourself pondering about how you have gotten where you are in your life, tell us about it. Share your story!

As I wrap up this extremely long post, I want to say this-

The world of agriculture has led me here to this!

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“So God Made a Farmer…”

481501_10200455320567593_712146636_nThis is a post dedicated to everyone out there who is a farmer. You do not get the credit you deserve. Before I begin this post, I want to say thank you!

I know I have not posted a blog in a very long time. Why the sudden urge to begin blogging again? As crazy as it sounds, a commercial inspired me to do so. For those of you who follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook, you probably already know what commercial I am referring to.

Last night, a large portion of my mom’s side of the family decided to get together to watch the Super Bowl. I personally am not a huge fan of football; however I am always wanting to see good commercials, as well as spend time with my family. We were watching the game, talking about what commercials we were looking forward to seeing (the Clydesdale one was at the top of most of our lists), talking, eating unhealthy snack foods and just having a good time. Then the house went silent…

A commercial began to play and the name Paul Harvey appeared on the screen. An agriculturelike scene began to unfold which quickly grabbed all of our attention. The talking stopped, the kids stopped playing and all eyes were glued to the screen. These were the words that were shared on the commercial:

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk… cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the township board.” So God made a farmer.

“I need somebody with arms strong enough to wrestle a calf and yet gentle enough to cradle his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait for lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies, then tell the ladies to be sure to come back real soon and mean it.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year,’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from an ash tree, shoe a horse, who can fix a harness with hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. Who, during planting time and harvest season will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, up in another 72 hours.” So God made a farmer.

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to help a newborn calf begin to suckle and tend the pink-comb pullets, who will stop his mower in an instant to avoid the nest of meadowlarks.”

It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed, brake, disk, plow, plant, strain the milk, replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with an eight mile drive to church. Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when his family says that they are proud of what Dad does. “So God made a farmer.”See More

As these words were spoken, scenes of different agricultural/farming sectors flashed on the screen. Fields being plowed, farmers of all generations, horses, farming equipment, just to name a few. Of course, a really, really nice Dodge truck appeared at the end of the commercial to support the commercials founder Dodge Ram. After the commercial was over, I took a second to look around the room. Everyone sitting there had some sort of farming background. All of us were involved in the dairy industry in some way; most of everyone there is current dairy farmers. They all had the same reaction I did – a feeling of pride, reassurance, thankfulness and awe that the American farmer finally got some recognition on national television during one of the biggest TV events of the year. It was a very emotional moment, and I want to give a HUGE thank you to Dodge for airing such a great commercial.

This commercial got me to thinking….a lot. First of all, it is possible for our (farmers/agriculturists) voices to be heard. We can spread the word to the general public about agriculture’s importance and impact on our lives. We can show how hard farmers work and what they have to endure to provide food for people. It is a possibility and it is up to us to continue pushing forward to spread the word about agriculture.

Even though the commercial has created a lot of positive feedback from many, there are still some out there who view it as something completely different. I was researching reviews this morning and found people who had commented or posted on social media sites what they believe is meant by “so God made a farmer…” There were several references to tobacco chewers, factory farmers, tobacco farmers, hillbillies, etc. (You can find these reviews after searching the commercial on Google. Several sites come up that show them.) If that is what people truly think farmers are, then we need to work harder to change that image. Present these questions to those people:

  • Where does your food come from?
  • What did you eat for breakfast this morning? Do you know where that came from?
  • Who provides food to your grocery store?
  • How are you able to go to the store any time of the week and always have a large variety of food to choose from at a reasonable price?
  • Tell me what you know about agriculture. Do you truly believe that?
  • How would we survive if it wasn’t for our farmers?
  • How long will you survive if there were no farmers?

Once again, it just proves how uneducated the public is about what agriculture is all about. Obviously, we cannot survive without a strong agriculture industry. Our farmers are this nation’s backbone and always will be no matter who is leading this country, the technologies we have, etc.

After this commercial, I asked myself this question. How many people watched the commercial last night and did not understand it? There were probably several. Needless to say, Dodge’s “So God Made a Farmer” commercial has inspired me to make a difference. It has inspired me to keep pushing to educate the general public about American agriculture.

I apologize for the wordiness of this post. It has been so long since I have shared my thoughts, and the commercial from last night just got me thinking. I also want to make a special shout out to Budweiser for airing, in my opinion, one of their best Clydesdale commercials. The Doritos’ goat was good too. What were your favorites?

In conclusion, I hope that “So God Made a Farmer” has inspired you to agvocate even more. I hope it has inspired you to learn more about agriculture and comprehend its importance. Most of all, I hope it has instilled an utmost respect for our American farmers. They do not get the credit they so deserve for their hard work and dedication to providing safe and quality food on all of our tables. They endure every hardship – intense weather, working 24/7, working straight through holidays, sickness, the list goes on and on. Farmers deserve so much more than what most Americans give them credit for. Without them, we would not survive. Without them, we would have nothing. That is why, “God made a farmer.”

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Until next time, be sure to thank a farmer. If you are a farmer, then I want to say a special THANK YOU!!!!

Let’s all strive to make 2013 the year of the farmer!!!!

Alison

Agriculture is Everywhere!

This past week, I have done a lot of traveling in Missouri and Illinois. Some of the car rides were long; however they gave me the opportunity to really pay attention to what I was going by. Of course, I passed cities, buildings, homes and businesses; however the amount of land that I passed that was being used for agriculture purposes was astonishing. From beef cattle operations, to chicken houses, forests filled with wildlife, dairy farms, and fields of crops, I passed it all. It just reminded me that it did not matter where I was going or what state I was in, agriculture was everywhere.

While making the drive from Springfield to central Missouri, there was a lot of rural land. For miles and miles all I could see was pastures and woodlands. There were an abundance of beef cattle that were grazing on the rolling Missouri pastures. I passed acres of woodlands that you know were full of all sorts of wildlife. There were veterinary clinics, stockyards, banks, farm credit services buildings, tractor dealerships, restaurants and everything else in between that all had one thing in common. They were directly influenced by the agriculture industry.

During the weekend, I traveled to Kewanee, Illinois (which is located in the north central part of the state) for a collegiate horse show with the Missouri State Equestrian Team. It was amazing to once again see all the agriculture that was passed on that 8-hour trip. In Illinois, there were acres upon acres of land that were used for crops. Corn stalks covered many of the fields which provided protection from soil loss. Cattle operations were scattered along the way, as well as a few hog farms. Several farmsteads dotted the horizons which was a surreal sight. It really made me think about how agriculture impacts everyone in all areas, whether it be a small town in southwest Missouri or a town in Northern Illinois.

All of this traveling was tiring; however it was a very insightful experience. Everywhere I went, I noticed something that was agriculture related. This led to me thinking about agriculture in general, and where we would all be without it. So, next time you are on the road, I encourage you to take the opportunity and analyze your surroundings. If you are like me, you will be truly amazed by how much agriculture you see. Not only will it give you something to do, it will also make you realize even more just how important and beautiful agriculture is.

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