Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The extent of drought conditions in Texas and surrounding states

Hello everyone! I wanted to share some photos that I found on the Beef Magazine website this week. We all hear on the news of the extreme drought occurring in Texas but it's hard to fathom the extent of the devastation. Being from Southwest Kansas, we are most generally dry or very dry. It's a rarity when we receive rain. In fact, we get excited over a sprinkle! Farmers in our area had to divert water this year on their crops. This means that if they had a well that was running irrigation (sprinklers) on three circles of corn, they had to divert the water over to only 25-50% of the crop. This way they could ensure that a portion of the crop would produce a successful product in spite of the drought.
When I came across these pictures (at the conclusion of this post!) it was an eye-opener. It made our conditions seem mild compared to what the people in south Texes around Wichita Falls and Boling are experiencing.  Last night, I attended the Mississippi State University Collegiate Cattleman's meeting. Mrs. LeAnne Peters, Director of Communications from the Mississippi Cattleman's Association, was there to speak to us about the Check Off program and  fill us in on what they are currently working on in the cattle industry across the state and nationally.  She said that her office had talked to cattle producers in Texas that had been buying water to haul to their cattle for the past 3 weeks. They have also talked to farmers and ranchers from Mississippi that want to donate hay to the Texas ranchers and need to know how to get in contact with them. That is why I lover our industry. People are always willing to lend a hand to others in need from across the states. Please remember to keep the farmers and ranchers in these areas in your thoughts and prayers.
If you have ways you would like to help, contact the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Click here to visit their website. You can find links for the hay hotline as well as drought and wildfire resources.
When I came across these pictures it was an eye-opener. It made our conditions seem mild compared to what the people in south Texes around Wichita Falls and Boling are experiencing.

This crack in the soil is nearly 27 inches deep.

And measures nearly 10 inches wide.

Cracks along a fence line. You can see here how dry it is, the pasture is almost bare dirt. 

This photo is of a farmer near Wichita Falls who had to put up a solar panel in order to pump water for his cows. 

Here is the a map of the drought conditions across the US and is current as of September 1, 2011. You can click on the map to go to a larger picture that will be easier to read!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Today's Youth = Tomorrow's Producers

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to a livestock show with a friend in Cullman Co., Alabama! While I was there, I met up with an old buddy of mine that I livestock judged with in junior college. It had been about a year and a half since I had seen Ethan so I it was past due time to catch up! He showed me around the fair and I saw everything from gigantic watermelons to cattle and local kids taking in the exhibits.  I noticed that there were many local kids roaming around looking at the gigantic watermelon and pumpkin display and even petting the cattle. The county fair is a great place for kids who aren't familiar with agriculture to learn about crops and livestock.  I always enjoy seeing this and think that it's critical we keep programs like 4-H and FFA up and going.

 Ethan with the giant pumpkin display...I made him take a picture for the blog!

Growing up I was very involved in 4-H. Starting at the age of 5, I began showing sheep and entering cakes in the open class foods contest.  The first year I brought a cake to the fair, I entered my Granny's chocolate cake recipe.  In open class, all the age groups compete against each other. I won grand champion with Granny's cake and I was SO excited...the older ladies weren't very impressed that they got beat by a five year old! Boy was I proud though.  As I got older, I learned how to sew and started showing calves.  At the time it seemed like I worked and worked and when I would get frustrated I didn't understand what I was gaining. Looking back, all those experiences are priceless.  Through  all those experiences, trials, and successes, I learned valuable skills like responsibility, leadership and developed a good work ethic. I also increased my knowledge about agriculture and became eager to share my story with those who may not be in touch with agriculture.

Once I arrived at KSU, I found the Collegiate CattleWomen club. This opened up a whole new world of opportunity. I was able to network with producers from across the country, broadening my horizons about agriculture and for the first time fully understanding how incredibly critical connecting with consumers is. The future of our industry lies in the consumers hands and I firmly believe as producers, it is our responsibility to help educate others by sharing out stories.

Now that I have rambled for a few paragraphs, what does all this have to do with visiting the Cullman Co. Fair? Those youngsters in the show ring are the next generation that will be responsible for telling their story. It's important that we set a good example and do our part bridging the gap between production agriculture and the consumer.  How do we do this? We can do this through mentoring those young 4-H and FFA members.  Encourage them to give presentations about their experiences to groups, write guest blog posts for producers, share what they are doing with their classrooms at school.
It made me really happy to see the kids walking around the fair that were maybe petting a calf, seeing a giant watermelon, or a soybean plant for the first time. This is a good start!

Some local kiddos taking in the watermelons...




Peppers! My favorite....I love all the bright colors!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Are you tough enough to wear pink?

Each year the Kansas State University Collegiate CattleWomen (CCW) sell shirts to help raise money for breast cancer awareness.  All the proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer awareness. Last year, the CCW girls sent over $13,000 to the foundation! Below is this years shirt design.

If anyone is interested in ordering shirts, contact Klaire Jorgansen, CCW President. She can be reached by e-mail at Shirts are $10 in the KSU Student Union October 10-14 or can be shipped to you for $15/ shirt.
This is a great cause and the shirts are really cute! Good work KSU CCW girls!

The CCW girls sell the shirts in the Student Union all week and on Friday there is a big BBQ.  If the students wear their shirts, they get to eat lunch for free! They also present the check to a representative from the Susan G. Komen foundation at this time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Glass half-empty or half-full? Drought presents tough decisions for some ranchers and opportunities for others.

Over the past 6 months, exceptionally dry climate conditions have left many ranchers to make decisions that in a "perfect world", no one would have to encounter. My family was no exception to this. Although, I feel that there are MANY, MANY cattle producers in parts of Texas that are much worse off. 
In August, Dad and I decided that we would have to sell the cows. Our ranch is located in the SW part of Kansas. The county we live in predominately consists of cropland and there are a limited number of acres used for grazing. Because of this, we send our cows to grass in the central part of Kansas for the summer and fall until we wean the calves.  This summer, because of the current drought, we decided to wean the calves early and move them home.  We got to work trying to market our cows and a family from Nebraska that I became close to during my internship, decided they were interested and would like to buy part of our herd. This turned out to be a great opportunity for us and them.  Our cows went to a good home with LOTS of green grass and the family is getting to enjoy them! Their little girl already decided which cow was her favorite and it turned out to be my favorite cow too! 
This is one of the calves from the last calf crop!
We are planning to hang on to the calves and bred heifers in hope of rebuilding the herd once it starts raining again.  For many ranchers, I would imagine one of the most frustrating things in selling out and feeling like you will have to start "all over again".  Cattle producers spend many years building up the genetics in their herd and when it comes to selling the cows, it feels as though you are losing all the progress you made and having to start over. Here is where the young ranchers come in. It gives them an opportunity to buy high quality cattle and begin building and expanding a herd of their own. 
I cannot speak for everyone, but I know for my family, even though the given situation was not something that was planned, hoped for, or even desired, it has turned out for the best. We have built a relationship with the family that purchased our cows and we will continue to communicate with them for the years to come.  We haven't totally lost all our hard work. We still have the calves and a few bred heifers to begin rebuilding with. 
So, glass half full or half empty? For us, it's definitely a "glass half full"! It's all about perspective and how you choose to look at things. Like my Dad always says, "Things turn out best for those who make the best out of the way things turn out". 

The cows when the grass was green! 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Southern Tradition

I am discovering that there are things in the south that are distinctly different than Kansas; not better or worse, just different! One of these things is football. The town comes to a halt when there is a game. School is cancelled and tailgating begins at least 24 hours before the game. Southerners are also pretty serious when it comes to food, there's no messing around! Most of them forego the traditional hamburgers and hotdogs and grill ribs and steak! To say the least, I was impressed by their tailgating "skills"; they get the job done!
A Mississippi State tradition is the ringing of the cowbell. I have been told that a long time ago a cow got out at the dairy during a football game and ran onto the field wearing a cowbell. Now people ring cowbells. I don't know if this is the true story or not bit it sounds pretty valid to me and I think it's cool. On Thursday morning the grad students in my office got together to decorate our cowbells for the game. It was quite entertaining and we had a blast! As you can see on my bell below, I had to include the cattle industry and KSU so I put "eat beef" on both sides of my bell. During my time at KSU, the Collegiate Cattlewomens club sold "eat beef" shirts and license plates. It was only appropriate! The "Flying M" brand you see on there is the brand they use at the Beef Unit.
Another great thing about Mississippi State football- student season tickets are only $35 for all the home games. That's right, 6 home games for a total of $35. And the game was sold out Thursday night!
Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

National Champion...Cows? That's Right!

The American Jersey Association ranked Mississippi State University number 7 in milk production for the year of 2010. MSU was the only university to be in the top rankings and they have placed in the Top 10 for the past four years. 
When it comes to the dairy, there is no fooling around! The university's herd also consists of about 107 Holstein cows and together they produce more than 3 million pounds of milk each year. The milk is used to make products such as cheese and ice cream and is sold in the university store where students can also purchase fresh milk. 
The dairy employs student workers and hosts many classes throughout the school year where students can see the dairy in action and get some hands on experience outside of the classroom. Working on a dairy is a full time job and students must work on holidays as well, even on Christmas! Cows are milked in the afternoon and in the wee hours of the morning...around 3 AM! These students have the opportunity to develop a strong work ethic, learn about herd management and health of dairy cattle, as well as connections throughout the dairy industry that will come in handy upon graduation and entering the job force. 
If you follow the link below, you can see a video about the MSU Dairy that was featured on Fox News! During the 2 minute video, you will have the opportunity to see some of the cows, student workers, the dairy in action, as well as meet the dairy herdsman, Mr. Kenneth! 

Follow this Link:National Champion...Cows?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The quick and dirty method for curtain making!

On Saturday, one of the girls from my office and I decided we were going to take a shopping trip to Tupelo, MS because we were both feeling a little Hobby Lobby deprived! Every place we went we saw the word "SALE"...that's my kind of shopping!
The most exciting thing I came home with was fabric for curtains that I found 54% off at Hancock Fabrics. I purchased 2 yards of fabric (the kind that comes on the large bolts) for my living room window. I would consider it to be the size of a standard window...

What you need:
Electric scissors (regular scissors will work too!), mine are made by black & decker, and stitch witchery are the essential tools for quick and dirty curtain making! And of course, you need an iron.

1. I cut my two yards of fabric in half (to create two panels)
2. Then I folded under all my sides and secured it using the stitch witchery (to create a hem on all sides)
3. I did this for both panels and purchased curtain rings with clips. This is the easiest way to do this!
4. Attach the rings to the curtain panels and to the curtain rod and Walahh!...quick and dirty curtains!

I decided to spray paint my curtain rod to add a little color! Valspar spray paint from Lowe's is my favorite brand to use.

If you have any questions or need further instructions, e-mail me at!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Internship Photo Project

While on my internship at Heartland Cattle Co., I had the opportunity to work on a photo project where I took photos of each customer's cattle. Here is me hard at work...I had an absolute blast!