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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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.

Bazinga

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

What Do the Neighbors Think?

So, this week has been a very eventful week adding to the never-ending story of my “AG”ventures. While I was driving home last night thinking about this past week’s events, a sudden thought hit me. “I wonder what my neighbors think of some of the things we do on our farm?” All of the events that I am getting ready to tell you about occurred where my neighbors could easily see me. You see, a few years ago when we sold all of our dairy cows, we sold some land to a developer. Now, land that our Brown Swiss and Holstein cattle grazed on and our green tractors mowed is now providing people with homes. (That’s a fancy way of saying it is now a subdivision.) Even though we don’t milk anymore, we still have a few cows left and have horses. Technically we are not an actual full-functioning farm, but our neighbors tend to think otherwise. So, this leads me to my original question. “I wonder what my neighbors think?” As I get ready to write this, I just want to let you know that it is okay to laugh. I really won’t be offended. 😛

I had to do an equine demonstration for a local 4-H club, so my mom (who’s birthday is today…Happy Birthday!)  and I loaded up our horses and headed to the saddle club. We’ve got an old Brown Swiss cow that we could not sell last year because of her bad legs. She was due to calve that day and appeared she could pop at any time, but showed no signs of calving before we left. We were only gone 3 hours and guess what?  As my mom was parking our trailer and unloading horses, I went to check on her and seen her behind the barn (which is in plain sight of every single one of our neighbors) obviously in labor.

"Kokomo" is now doing great!

From a distance, I couldn’t tell if everything was normal. Like luck always runs, the calf was coming backwards which is a major, major uh-oh. My mom went and grabbed two baling strings and tied it to the calf’s legs. (The cow had gotten up at this point so you can only imagine what the scene looked like.) We began to pull, my mom pulling the strings and I had a hold of the calf’s legs. We were able to deliver the calf, and it was barely alive. We sprang into action. I was on my hands and knees by the calf’s face trying to clear the fluids out of her nose and mouth. My mom was doing whatever she could to help the calf breathe. It was apparent that we would need to lift the calf from its back legs to let gravity pull the fluids from her mouth, nose and lungs. Mind you, this calf is pretty good size. I’m 6′ foot and pretty stout (and somewhat injured from getting bucked off a horse earlier that week. Different story for another time) My mom is only about 5’7″ but for those of you who know her, she is a strong lady! We were able to lift the calf from her back legs to allow fluid to drain. She than began breathing normally, and we knew she was going to be all right. My mom and I at this point were completely tuckered out. Not only did we pull the calf by ourselves, we also were able to hold her in the air from her back legs. Yeah, you can call us awesome. (I just viewed it as good mother-daughter bonding time!)

It took me a few days to realize that some of our neighbors may have seen that entire event unfold. Two women pulling a calf, shoving their hands in its mouth, sticking their fingers in its nose, hanging it from its hind legs. Are they crazy?!?! I could only imagine what the scene would look like to those who are unfamiliar with delivering calves. This was definitely an extreme calving case; however that still doesn’t mask the fact that our neighbors still could have saw it. Lucky for us, the sheriff wasn’t called or PETA wasn’t notified. Hopefully our neighbors understood that we were only doing the best for the cow and calf.

On a more serious note, the morale of this story is this. A lot of times, people see us farmers do things that they think are absolutely cruel and inhumane. It is up to us to educate them about why we do the things we do. You never know who is watching. It all boils down to this main fact. It is up to us farmers to educate the public about agriuclture and farming!

In case you were wondering, the calf, now named “Kokomo” and her momma are doing great. They are alive because we helped them. We cared, just like farmers do.

10 Things to Know About Blogging

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Last week, Judi Graff from the Springfield, Illinois area, came to visit the Missouri State Public Relations in Agriculture course to discuss the essence of blogging. I learned so much and am truly grateful that I had the opportunity to hear what she had to say about blogs. She gave us very beneficial information about how we can make our blogs better, and how blogs can be used to tell our stories. I especially appreciated her looking over my blog and giving me advice about what I can do to make it even better. Thank you Judi!

During her presentation, Mrs. Graff discussed several key elements in developing and maintaining a good blog page. Items such as the blog title, the page layout, colors and photos all play a huge part in how successful a blog is. I am going to list ten points that Judi Graf made about blogging that you may have not considered. This list is of things I learned, and I hope it is beneficial to you as well.

Top 10 List About Blogging-

  1. Blog Design: I learned that it is very important to maintain a blog page that is designed effectively. Judy Graff gave the class a simple phrase to remember. Simple, Obvious, Repeat. The page must be kept simple, yet obvious so that it will not distract readers. Posts and other valuable information must be easy to find; therefore it is important to keep it simple and obvious.
  2. You have approximately 7 seconds to catch  readers’ attention. Your page must be attractive and informative to really catch readers attention. This means having a catchy title and tag line, as well as having a page that readers want to investigate. The page must be eye-catching in order to grab readers’ attention.
  3. Have a contact page. It is important to have a page that readers can access your contact information. This page should include your e-mail address and other ways readers can directly contact you.
  4. The importance of a tag line. A tag line is a phrase that is usually located underneath a blog’s title. It gives readers a quick glimpse of what the page is about. It also can give readers a general idea of what kind of blogger you are, which is very important.
  5. Know and understand your target audience. As an effective blogger, you must know exactly who your target audience is. You must ask yourself this question- Who am I wanting to reach? This will determine the type of posts you publish and the type of page you maintain.
  6. Purpose. You must also ask yourself, what is the purpose of this blog website? You must understand why you are creating a blog, and what you want to accomplish with it. Whether it be for business purposes or personal purposes, you must be sure of what you want to achieve with your blog.
  7. The importance of “about” areas. Having a page or other area explaining who you are and why you are blogging is very important. Readers want to know more about you the author and why you are inspired to publish blogs and maintain your website. It also gives readers an opportunity to get to know you better. Judi explained that about pages are the second most viewed pages.
  8. Fast load time. It is very important to make sure your page loads quickly. If you have several large pictures, videos and other graphics, it may take a while for your page to load. If it loads slowly, readers may not want to wait for the information to appear.
  9. Utilize open space. The use of all available space is key, especially above the fold. (Above the fold means the content you see whenever you first visit a page without scrolling.) Saying this, you want as much valuable information to be in sight so that readers will not have to be inclined to visit all aspects of your page. It also makes it easier for them to find what they may be looking for.
  10. Post Titles. Post titles are very important. We learned that titles are what attracts readers to our post. They also give readers an indication of what posts are going to be about. These titles are also what allows our posts to show up in search engines.

These are just the top ten things that I have learned from Judi Graff’s visit to our class. There were several other items that I learned about that I will be more than willing to share with you. I encourage you to use what I have listed and apply it to your blog. Always look for ways to make your blog better. Change your layout, add more pages, provide contact information, and the list goes on. You can make your blog great if you put forth the effort to do so.

Thank you Judi Graff for everything you did for our Public Relations in Agriculture Class at Missouri State University. Your knowledge of blogs is  incredible, and I hope to one day be an exceptional blogger like you!

I encourage you to check out Judi’s blog, as well as follow her on Twitter @farmnwife.

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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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