Thursday, December 27, 2012

I'll be home for Christmas...

Last Friday, I clicked the heels of my red slippers together, closed my eyes tight, and when I opened them, I was in Kansas! If only it were that simple! If that were the case...every airline company would go broke. Last Friday morning, I hopped on a plane before the rooster had a chance to crow and a few hours later I was in Kansas...not as simple as the red slippers but it's the next best thing!
I hadn't been home since the beginning of May so to say I was a little excited would be an understatement! When I landed, Mom was waiting at the edge of the security checkpoint, as she always is, waving esthetically and grinning ear to ear! For most people this might be a little embarrassing but the airport is the one place for exceptions! I have to confess, I was equally silly and was waving as well! We ran a few errands and were homebound by late afternoon. There really is no place like home!
My family spent Christmas at home and it was really nice to spend some quality time together for the holiday. It was refreshing to not be running from place to place. Christmas eve we had a big dinner which consisted of fried turkey, dressing, green bean bundles, sweet potatoes, and rolls. It was delicious...some might say it was more like a thanksgiving meal but it's what all of us requested! This was the first year in a long time that we didn't eat beef for our christmas eve dinner...I guess we thought we'd support the turkey farmers this year?? Regardless, it was pretty darn good!
I am so thankful for my family and that I am able to come spend time at home in a place where I can truly unwind and recharge! I've probably taken this for granted in years past, but home becomes a little sweeter living a plane ride away! Mom and I have gotten a lot of bonding time in which is always a blast. She's been teaching me some of her cooking secrets, I've been teaching her how to knit, and we've gone shopping (which is something both of us love, especially when we find bargains!). I've gone and checked cows with my Dad and Sadie (the newest edition to our family, a miniature australian shepherd puppy), and hung out with my brother! We should have some baby calves born in the next few days...the first ones for the year! I'm hoping a few of them come before I leave so I can post some pictures.
I hope all of you had a Merry Christmas and had the opportunity to spend some time with your families!

Me and Sadie Mae having some bonding time...

Checking cows with Sadie and Dad...Sadie doesn't like the windshield wipers, she was trying to attack them! 

Mom teaching me how to make her potato soup...I absolutely love it and can never seem to make it as good as she does!

Our amazing Christmas eve dinner...Yum!

The book my brother got me for Christmas...signed by Temple Grandin! This book is perfect and fits right into my graduate school work...

Our family had a piñata on Christmas morning, brother and I thought it was about the coolest thing ever. We had never had a piñata before!

Friday, December 14, 2012

It's already December?

Where does the time go? This semester has FLOWN's hard to believe finals week is over and the town is beginning to slow down. My semester has been filled to the max with submitting research abstracts in October, judging youth livestock shows, helping with a variety of extension events, working on my theses project, and writing! I have still managed to find a little "me" time in all of that and have taken up a new hobby - knitting. The Boy's and all the guys in the office response was, "Isn't that what old people do?" and "Can't you just go buy that stuff instead of making it?". They clearly don't appreciate the therapeutic aspect of my hobby! I'll be posting pics of my latest projects over the holidays. I'm hoping to get all the knitting out of my system by the time I get back to school in January...I will need to set it on the shelf for awhile!
Last weekend, I got to meet my parents in Nashville and it was an absolute blast! My dad had meetings to attend so while he was busy learning about electricity we were shopping and doing "girl" things. They stayed at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel which was gorgeous during the holiday season with all the Christmas decorations. We also ate a pretty amazing steak at the Nashville Stockyard Steakhouse... Here are some pics from the trip!

I don't understand why people say we resemble each other.... haha

Aren't they cute? Walking downtown when they first arrived...

Dad and I after eating that amazing steak!


The perfect shopping snack! Mom and I love some good coffee and sweets.

I'm so thankful for these two people!

Mom and I found some livestock in the hotel....

Mom was really impressed with his guitar skills....

This is my favorite...have you ever seen a tree that big? It was absolutely gorgeous!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Artificial Insemination School

I've mentioned before that one my favorite parts of graduate school is getting to network with area producers and industry members at various events. This past weekend, we hosted an A.I. School. A.I. stands for Artificial Insemination. It's a reproductive technology that cattle producers implement on their farms to improve the genetics of their cow herds. It gives you the opportunity to utilize the genetics of superior animals that you could never afford to purchase or may not have access to. For instance, A.I. is utilized even outside of the United States. Cattle producers from other countries have the opportunity to purchase U.S. genetics by purchasing bull semen to be used on their cows. That is a much more feasible way of introducing new genetics to your herd than exporting and importing the live animals.

At the school, cattle producers from throughout the U.S. had the opportunity to not only learn the technique of A.I., but also about cattle nutrition, economics, health, semen handling, the reproductive cycle, and other technologies they can utilize back at their farm. You can learn more about A.I. technique from one of my previous posts, "You want me to put my hand where??".

I had a lot of fun working with this group of producers and can't wait to hear about their success as they implement A.I. programs on their farms.

Learning about the impact of nutrition on reproductive success...

Learning about the equipment need for A.I. and how to properly handle semen...

Friday, October 5, 2012

Internship Opportunity at the 2013 National Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show

This is an AWESOME internship opportunity that I would encourage all undergraduate and graduate students that are passionate about the beef industry to apply for! I had the opportunity to intern with NCBA during the 2012 conference and it was one of the coolest things I've ever done. The NCBA staff is wonderful to work with and you have the opportunity to learn about all different sectors of the cattle industry and what it takes to plan and put on a conference of that capacity! I met some really good friends while interning in Nashville and we have kept in touch ever is truly a once in a lifetime experience!

WHEN AND WHERE?? February 4-9, 2013 in Tampa, Florida


As an NCBA intern, you get the opportunity to network with NCBA staff, visit with industry leaders, assist with events during the conference, meet new friends from across the country, and the list goes on!

NCBA will provide the student’s convention registration, lodging and certain meals while
in Tampa. Students are responsible for their own travel to and from Tampa, along with all incidental expenses.

Comment or send me an e-mail with any questions...I would be happy to answer them!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Undergraduate internship opportunities...

It may seem early to start looking for summer internship opportunities, but now is the time that you should be on the look out. Many applications for summer internships are due as early as December so you don't want to wait! I received this information in a newsletter this week from the American Society of Animal Science. The University of Connecticut has compiled a list of companies that offer internships for undergraduate animal science students. You can visit their page at Many universities also offer internships. The University of Nebraska has a Feedlot Management internship program where interns have the opportunity to take classes while working at a feedlot.
It's always a good idea to visit with your undergraduate advisor. They might have ideas or industry connections that can be useful to you. It seems like university job fairs also surface this time of year. There are many useful outlets out there for information...never be afraid to take advantage of them!
Good Luck!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

For the love of pictures...

I love taking pictures. This statement isn't a surprise to most of you! Here are a few pictures I took in south Georgia a couple of weeks ago that I wanted to share...

It was a hot, humid day and all the cows were cooling off in the pond.

This one reminds me of a painting...

And, I saved the best for last - 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Graduate's about more than research (for me)

Graduate school is a very interesting thing. People began their graduate program with many preconceived notions, goals of what they hope they will get out of their program, and it's one of those things no matter how much you plan or prepare, the end result is never what you imagine. As I begin year 2 of this adventure, to say I have learned a lot is an understatement. Sure, I have expanded my knowledge through course work, reading journal articles, and conducting research but the greatest knowledge I have gain is about life. Yes, you heard me right. Life. Not about cattle reproduction, which is what I thought it would be if you had asked me a year ago.  Much of this learning has come about by trials and obstacles that stand in your path along the way. I have made so many connections with industry people while overcoming those obstacles and have learned many lessons that will no doubt be useful as I finish up my masters degree and venture out into the cattle industry or workplace.

If you asked all the fellow graduate students in my office what their favorite or most valuable part of graduate school was, you would get many different responses. Probably a different response for every person depending on what their end goals were and where their interest lies. The most valuable things I have learned thus far and the part of graduate school I have enjoyed the most has happened outside of the classroom and outside of the walls of our Animal Science building. My favorite part of graduate school is meeting and visiting with the producers in industry. It is through these experiences that I have learned the most about agriculture, where our industry is headed, and what we must proactively do (as producers) to ensure a bright future for our generation and generations to follow.

This past week I had the opportunity to visit with cattleman from Tippah Co. in Ripley, Mississippi. We visited about heifer selection and the type of traits we could select for to create functional females that would do "work" in our herds to provide a strong foundation that would ultimately lead to longevity and a profit. I had a great time meeting them, hearing their perspective, and learning about their cattle operations. I also really enjoyed the rib sandwiches and peach cobbler, Yum!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Being Transparent

In a country where fewer than 2% of people farm for a living and only 17% of people live in rural areas there seems to be a large disconnect between the farm where food is raised and the table where it's eaten. Because of this, it's not becoming more important than ever for my generation to serve as that link between the farm and table and let people know where their food comes from.
This morning I stumbled upon this video on Facebook that does a great job of modeling the transparency that is needed in Agriculture to share our story. There are many discrepancies around the web including videos and stories about everything from how livestock are handled to welfare during transport and at the harvest facilities. Which is why it's even more important that we share the "true" story on what happens on a farm on a day-to-day basis. Who better to tell the story of agriculture than the people producing food?
U.S. cattle producers do their best to provide the best care possible to their cattle in order to ensure a safe and wholesome product for the consumer.  The Beef Quality Assurance program educates people on how to provide optimal care for cattle at every stage in the production process. In addition to guidelines that ensure proper care for cattle on the farm, there are also guidelines and checkpoints in place at harvest facilities to make sure each animal is handled properly so that stress is reduced and the well-fare of animals are not compromised.
Take a look at the video below that was directed by the American Meat Institute and narrated by Temple Grandin. Temple is well-known for her work with animals and her ability to connect and relate with them to keep them calm and minimize stress. She has spent a lot of career developing guidelines for humane livestock handling and standards for humane harvest of animals in harvest facilities.
There are a few graphic scenes in this video, but it is an honest look at how things are done RIGHT in a harvest facility. For more information on this video and the American Meat Institute visit

Sunday, August 19, 2012

2012 Beefin' up the Bulldogs

Beefin' up the Bulldogs is an annual event hosted by the Mississippi Cattleman's Association and the MSU Animal and Dairy Sciences Department. The MSU football team comes to a location on campus where they are fed a steak dinner and have the opportunity to learn a little about agriculture. Following the dinner, which by the way consisted of 230 steaks (that's a lot of beef!), the players enjoyed some MSU ice cream and went outdoors for a hay bale toss competition and an opportunity to meet a cow from the MSU dairy. I think the dairy cow was by far the biggest hit! Here are some pictures from tonight...
President and Vice President of the MSU Collegiate Cattleman

Players enjoying their steak dinner with Coach Mullens.

Volunteers from MSU ADS department...

Hay bale toss!

The milk cow from MSU dairy...

The two cutest little girls talking to the milk cow!

I think it's safe to say everyone enjoyed meeting the cow!

Thanks to Finley White for taking pictures tonight!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Disclaimer: I'm not a photography expert...but here are some tips!

I am going to start out by saying that I am by no means a professional! With that, I am always trying to learn new things to improve my photography skills and several of the things I am about to share with you has helped me do that! We will start at the very beginning...

In the past 6 months or so I have had several people ask me what kind of camera I have and what kind they should purchase. I have the Canon Rebel XS EOS with 3 lenses: 50 mm, 18-55mm, and 75-300mm. I purchased my camera in kit. Since purchasing my camera this way, I have heard from some experts say this is not recommended.  However, at the time of purchase I knew I wanted a nice camera but had not the slightest clue about anything photography! So for me at the time, purchasing my camera in a kit was SO much simpler than purchasing lenses, etc. seperately. I have loved my camera and I glad I went about purchasing it in the way I did. Here is a GREAT resource I have found since then on purchasing a camera. Jennifer Warthan, from Warthan Farms Photography, offers some great tips on purchasing a camera and what lenses you should purchase to have a good start-up kit.

Warthan Farms Photography - What kind of camera should I get?
Jennifer offers some photography workshops that I would LOVE to go to's on my bucket list!

I learned this past week from one of my professional photography friends, Wrenn Bird Photography, that there is such thing as "renting" cameras and camera accessories. Cool huh? So you might be wondering why on earth you would want to do this. This would be a good way to try out lenses and flashes before you buy. You can rent for 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, etc. An example would be, I am going to shoot a wedding in October and will need an external flash. I don't currently own an external flash but I could rent one for the week. Neat-o.


Here is a YouTube video for learning the basic functions of your camera. This one is specifically for the Canon Rebel. However, there are many more out there and I am sure there are videos for Nikon, etc.


When you buy your camera it will come with a handy dandy little manual. I have heard it said by several professionals that you should read that handy dandy little thing over and over until it's clearer than mud. If you are anything like me, I would rather read a blog or watch a youtube video. Here are some resources I have used over and over and would highly recommend.
The Pioneer Woman has a photography tab on her blog that is excellent. She did a little series called, "What the heck is Aperture?" EXCELLENT. This is a great resource for learning how to shoot photos without using the automatic mode! (It's not as scary as it sounds!)

What the heck is Aperture? Part 1.
What the heck is Aperture? Part 2.
What the heck is Aperture? Part 3.
What the heck is Aperture? Part 4.

Hope this has helped...GOOD LUCK! LJ

Friday, June 29, 2012

My deodorant comes from where???

This summer I had the opportunity to help with the Fun With Foods Camp organized by the Food Science Department at MSU. Kids ranging from 3rd-6th grade had the chance to spend the week on campus learning about food preparation and how food gets from the farm to their table at home. During the camp, the kids visited an array of destinations around campus including the cheese and dairy plant, a grocery store, the dairy, and the beef unit to name a few.

I was able to interact with the campers when they came to the beef unit. We had a variety of activities planned and started out by explaining the difference between beef and dairy cattle and had some beef breeds on display in the barn for them to learn about. From there we talked about the production cycle of the cow by using the illustration developed by Explore Each camper got their own copy of the beef cycle along with the story explaining the illustration to take home. The "story" takes the reader through all the stages of the production cycle beginning with the cow-calf operation and the birth of the calf and ending with the beef on their dinner table at home or cafeteria lunch at school. We also talked about how Zinc, Iron, and Protein can power them through their day and help them them grow big and strong.

After reading through the cycle, we had a large scale that was big enough for multiple kids to get on and measured how big the calf would be a each stage. We started with a newborn calf having only one camper on the scale and ended with a market ready calf at 1200-1400 pounds. At that point we had over half the campers on the scale! This was a good way for them to be able to visualize the size of the calf throughout the cycle.

The kids on the scale for the market ready calf at 1295 pounds!

After talking about where their hamburger came from, we went on a little scavenger hunt to discover all the products that come from a cow other than beef. We hid about 30 items around the barn and let this kids find them. We had everything from chalk and jello to a tennis racket and deodorant! Once they found the items they used a big poster to figure out what part of the cow it came from. This part was very humorous - one camper, after discovering that part of the ingredients in deodorant come from fat, exclaimed, "Deodorant comes from fat??? It's a good thing I don't wear deodorant!" This is when I knew they were actually listening to what I was telling them! 

The last activity we did with them, and probably their favorite, was letting each camper make their own "hamburger cookie". To do this, we used mini vanilla wafers (for the bun), mini oreos (for the patty), died coconut (for the lettuce), and yellow and red frosting (for ketchup and mustard). These were really yummy and the perfect snack to have out at the beef unit. While everyone was taking their turn making their burger, we talked about each component of the hamburger, where it comes from, and that every part of the burger comes from a farm! Who knew?? :) 


Step one: Put ketchup and mustard on the bun.

Step 2: put a "patty" on one bun and dip the other bun in the bowl of "lettuce".

Step 3: Mush the two buns together and wahlah - you have a cookie burger!

I thought the cookie burger was a really cool idea. It would be a cute demonstration for a beginner 4-Her. He/She could talk about each component of the burger, where it comes from, and the nutritional benefits of BEEF! This would be a good way for a youngster to promote agriculture! Would also be good for Ag in the Classroom and even cooler for a youngster to present this to their class and everyone make their own cookie burger. Many kids are unaware of where their food comes from and this is a handy dandy little tool to use to get that message across!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Time to heat up the grill for the 4th of July: Two-Bite Burgers

One of my favorite parts about late spring, summer, and fall is eating tasty dishes that come off the grill! Some of my all time favorites are steaks, jalapeno poppers, grilled fresh veggies, steak and veggie kabobs, and of course, the all-American burger! Some of you may or may not have watched Rachel Ray's segment on the hamburger. I want to start out by saying that in the beef industry we strive to provide a wholesome, safe, and nutritious product through every facet of the production cycle. Beef is very healthy for you and your family and provides essential nutrients such as zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins.

Zinc - helps to create a healthy immune system and heal wounds
Iron - helps carry oxygen in the blood to all cells and muscles to prevent fatigue
Protein - helps to build a strong and healthy body
B-complex vitamins (including vitamin B12, niacin, vitamin B6 and riboflavin) - helps release energy from food.
There are 29 lean cuts of beef that meet government guidelines for lean such as the Tenderloin, T-bone steak, and 95% Lean Ground Beef.
More on the health benefits of BEEF

When cooking beef at home, it's important to handle, cook, and store beef correctly. By using a meat thermometer you can ensure that your ground beef is cooked correctly - the internal temperature of hamburgers should reach 160 degrees F before consumption.

Here is a new burger recipe I received today from BEEF It's What's for Dinner. It looks delicious and I cannot wait to give it a try. This would be a great idea for the 4th of July. I know when celebrating with my family, we always have TONS of food so these bite size burgers would make a great appetizer.

Two-Bite Burgers                                                            


  1. 1 pound ground beef (96% lean)
  2. 9 whole wheat small hamburger or slider buns, split, divided
  3. 1/4 cup minced onion
  4. 1 egg white, slightly beaten
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  7. 1/8 teaspoon pepper
          Topping Variations:
  1. Mango-Pineapple Salsa, Spicy Caramelized Onions or Creamy Yogurt-Feta Sauce

  2. Instructions
  1. Tear one hamburger bun into pieces. Place in food processor or blender container. Cover; pulse on and off, to form fine crumbs.
  2. Combine ground beef, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, onion, egg white, garlic, salt and pepper in medium bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Lightly shape into eight 1/2-inch thick mini patties.
  3. Place patties on grill over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 8 to 9 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, 9 to 10 minutes) until instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center registers 160°F, turning occasionally. About 1-1/2 minutes before burgers are done, place rolls, cut sides down, on grid. Grill until lightly toasted. 
  4. Serve burgers in buns with Topping(s) Variation(s), as desired. Close sandwiches.

    Mango-Pineapple Salsa: Combine 1/2 cup finely diced ripe mango or 1/2 cup finely diced drained jarred ripe mango, 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple or 1/3 cup drained canned crushed pineapple, 1/4 cup finely chopped tomato, 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeño pepper, 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint, 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt in small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 1 cup

    Spicy Caramelized Onions: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add 3 cups thinly sliced yellow onions and 2 to 3 medium thinly sliced red or green jalapeño peppers or 6 thinly sliced baby sweet red bell peppers. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in 1/2 teaspoon cumin. Cook 15 to 18 minutes or until onions are very tender and golden brown, stirring frequently. Season with salt, as desired. Makes 1-1/2 cups

    Creamy Yogurt-Feta Sauce: Combine 1/2 cup reduced-fat or nonfat plain or Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup reduced-fat or regular crumbled feta cheese, 2 tablespoons minced onion and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes about 3/4 cup

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mississippi Junior Cattleman come to campus - Part 2

While the cattleman and women were on campus last week, one of the sessions they participated in was artificial insemination in cattle. This session was one that I had the opportunity to help plan and implement alongside my advisor. We put on an artificial insemination school for producers every fall and spring but this is a 3-day event. We basically took the main concepts from AI school, and transformed them into a short course designed for high schoolers. Since these students hadn't yet had a livestock reproductive class we took a different approach to explaining the estrous cycle. We asked for volunteers and had the students help illustrate the estrous cycle in a skit using props. Each volunteer was a designated "day" of the estrous cycle. We used balls to describe the growth of the corpus luteum and balloons for growing follicles. It was extremely entertaining...I'm sure you can imagine! We also covered the history of AI, different tools needed, female anatomy, semen handling, AI technique, and estrus synchronization.
I had a lot of fun helping organize this session and hopefully we will get to do it again in the future.

Learning about the tools needed.

Estrus Synchronization Skit

Working with the female reproductive tracts. This is a good way for them to practice artificial insemination because they can see what they are doing.

Locating the different parts of the tracts.

Practicing semen handling techniques.

Friday, June 22, 2012

MIssissippi Junior Cattleman come to campus - Part 1

This week, Mississippi Junior Cattleman's members came to campus for a 3-day event called "Making Tracks". "Making Tracks" is an event that is held annually in conjunction with Mississippi State Animal and Dairy Science Department and the Mississippi Cattleman's Foundation. While on campus, the junior cattleman have the opportunity to attend an array of workshops ranging from reproduction to parliamentary procedure and livestock judging. They also participate in a variety of activities including a burger grilling cook-off, cattle sorting competition and farm olympics. Events such as these provide valuable opportunities for youth to get to know other fellow cattleman as well as network and build connections with industry leaders.
I had the opportunity to interact with the junior cattleman in two of the workshops, one of which they learned the technique of blood sampling and about a current heifer development research project being conducted and State; the other was a workshop on Artificial Insemination.
The heifer development research project they learned about was the project I have been working on along with one of the professors at State. You can learn the details about that project in my last post, Summer Research.
Blood sampling is a very useful technique for the junior cattleman to learn because it is a tool they can take home and apply in their own herd. I briefly mentioned in Summer Research that blood sampling can be used for pregnancy detection in cattle. One of the cool things about using a blood sample is that it is a less invasive than other methods such as rectal palpation. In rectal palpation, a veterinarian inserts his hand into the rectum of the cow and uses his finger tips to feel for a fetus. With this method, especially in the first 45 days of pregnancy, there is always a slim possibility that the fetus could be damaged and result in an abortion. Blood sampling can be conducted as early as 28 days post breeding, where as it takes a very experienced technician to diagnose a pregnancy by rectal palpation 35 days post breeding.

Here are some pictures of the junior cattleman learning how to collect blood samples -

Dr. Karisch explaining how the blood collection tubes work.

Blood entering the tube.


It was hot out but they still had a great time!