Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My new FAVORITE kitchen must-have!

I love to cook. It doesn't really matter if it's baking, cooking, or my newest endeavor, grilling. When I moved this spring for my big kid job, the kitchen was the first room in my house that was set up and unpacked. Every other room has taken days (and even months in the case of my office!). Once my kitchen was set up, my house felt like "home". Maybe I'm crazy, but does anyone else feel this way towards their kitchen??

Just before Easter, I was in Walmart looking through the kitchen section and the new Rachel Ray cookware caught my eye. I decided to give her "trash" bowl a try and I LOVE it!! I have used to put cut up veggies in for the grill, baking banana bread, and even to serve salads in. They come in fun, funky color combinations that I really like! A couple of features the bowl offers - it's made of heavy plastic and has a rubber foot on be bowl that keeps it from slipping all over the counter when cooking. Really handy. I liked it so much that I got one for my mom for Mother's Day...I hope she will enjoy it as much as I have! I think one of the best gifts you can get someone is something that you have enjoyed using. I'm curious, had anyone tried any other Rachel Ray pieces??

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Grass is cool!

Since making the transition from grad school to "big kid world", I'm quickly learning (just as everyone told me) that I spend 80% of my working day dealing with grass. For this animal science girl from SW Kansas, this is a big deal and the learning curve is pretty steep! :) I am welcoming this challenge with open arms and am discovering that grass is actually really cool! This week I have been at a pasture and forage crop conference and have had the opportunity to see a lot of different forages and forage systems.

We toured the Overton, TX experiment station.

I found these friendly ladies! The quality of cattle at the station was exceptional!

Some of the F1 tiger striped heifers. (This results from breeding a Brahman cow to a Hereford bull or vise versa)

Looked at a lot of different grasses, clovers, and identified several weeds.

Toured the 7P ranch which was gorgeous!

I had a great time and enjoyed the chance to see agriculture in a different part of the US!

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The CHICKadees have arrived!!

Today is an exciting day at the office...WHY?? The baby chickens for the 4-H Chick-Chain project came in the mail! Thats right, the US Mail! We weren't expecting the chicks until yesterday and we got a call this morning from the postmaster saying, "Can you please come get your chicks, now??". For those of you who have been around baby chicks you can atest to the fact that baby chicks, for such little bodies, they can make quite the racket! This reminds me of when I was little and we would order baby chicks. My brother and I would sit around with a chicken catalog and pick out the ones we wanted to buy. Once the order was placed we would wait in anticipation for the big day when we would get the phone call from the postmaster.
What is Chick-Chain? It's a project that 4-Hers can sign up for. They pay a small fee upfront and have to attend a mandatory meeting before receiving their chicks. At the meeting we cover chick care, management, the equipment they will need to purchase and how to build a "safe place" for their chicks once they get them home. It's sort of like preparing for a new baby - you have to get a room ready, buy food, get waterers, feeders, a heat lamp, wood chips, etc. The kiddos will pick up their chicks on Friday afternoon and feed them for about 20 weeks. The chicks are breeds that will end up being laying hens and roosters. This is neat because it gives the kids an opportunity to start their own flock! The kids will take home aproxamately 10 chicks and then bring they back for the county fair. There they will show their chickens and be rewarded for their efforts by getting to sell a few chickens to people in the community. It's a neat project that teaches responsiblity, record keeping, and many other virtues!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Happy National Ag. Day!

In lieu of Agriculture Day, I spent the morning visiting with grade schoolers and middle schoolers about Agriculture. To say I was impressed would be an understatement! In this county, the school system has realized that Agriculture is the driving force of the economy and provides MANY jobs to residents of the county. As a result, they have made it a priority to educate students about agriculture in the classroom. They have a robotics team where they built a robot to catch genetically modified cool is that?? The kids learned how to market their robot by finding its relevance to the farmer. One of the high school science teachers was present teaching the kids about hatching baby chicks. At our booth, we talked about row crops, horticulture, the 4-H program, and livestock. They also had the USA Rodeo Queen there signing pictures, a couple of the horse club members who had brought a horse and some equipment to share with the kids, and a goat producer who hauled a few goats to town! It was amazing to me how interested and how educated these students were about agriculture. They knew where their food came from and they appreciated it!
I taught them a little joke/conversation to have with people they run into: (student asks) "Where would you be without agriculture?" (the answer) "Naked and hungry!" Then I instructed the kids that they should explain further by going over the articles of clothing the person is wearing and how it is made (from cotton, leather, etc.) as well as the food they eat on a daily basis. The kids seemed to enjoy the joke....probably only because it had the word "naked" in it and they were middle schoolers. I'm sure the teachers will appreciate me for that one!

Friday, February 8, 2013

A trip to land of Disney - Orlando

I have to admit, it's a little hard for me to be sitting in Mississippi writing my thesis when there is an awesome conference going on in Tampa Bay this week...the National Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show! If you'll recall, last year I had the opportunity to serve as an intern for this conference, The experience of a lifetime - #NCBA12. I am pretty excited for some of my fellow cattle industry friends that had the opportunity to serve as interns this year!

I did get to make a little trip to Orlando, Florida earlier this week for the American Society of Animal Science Southern Section meetings. It was really nice to get away for a few days and meet up with some people that I hadn't seen in awhile. You might be wondering what goes on at conferences like this... Attendees have the opportunity to listen to presentations on current research and extension programs as well as have a little fun at the same time. There are several social events planned during the conference like the graduate student mixer (where you get to meet fellow grad students in the southeastern part of the US) and the graduate student lunch and learn (eat lunch with other grad students and listen to a few speakers).  I actually ran into one the girls I interned with at NCBA last year at the grad student mixer and met some pretty cool grad students from Oklahoma State University. At the conference, I presented on three abstracts (research summary) I had submitted. One on my thesis research related to cattle transportation, another on DNA markers for quality grade, and the last one on two extension programs we offer at MSU (the cattle facilities and herd health workshops).

Don't be fooled wasn't all work and no play. One of the other grad students, myself, and one of the professors and his family played a pretty competitive game of putt putt golf! We also ate at some awesome resturants - my favorite was Fogo de Chao. It's a brazillian steak house where they bring around a variety of meats for you to favorite was the Picanya (top sirloin) and Cordeiro (leg of lamb). By far the best meat I have ever had...and it was all you can eat! What a great way to load up on some protein! You can go to Orlando without having some kind of Disney experience so we went to Downtown Disney for dinner the last night we were there. It was a really fun trip and I am glad I was able to go!
A sampling of some of the great meat at Fogo do Chao!

Me and one of the other graduate students, Sam, at the lunch and learn session.

Myself and Brittany from Texas A&M - we both accepted travel scholarships at the awards banquet!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

There's an App for THAT?!?

This morning while waiting for my statistics to run through the computer, I was browsing around on Twitter and came across a tweet about the BEEF Daily post by Amanda Radke, McDonald's Launches Consumer App for Food Source. (follow the link to read the article) As you can well imagine, this quickly caught my attention and my mind wandered off from my statistics. So what is the app about?? McDonalds in Australia has designed a mobile app, TrackMyMacca’s (Macca's is a nickname for McDonalds), that allows the consumer to see where their food is coming from. How cool is that?? You're first reaction might be, "Who cares where your food comes from, just eat it!". This was the exact response from one of my fellow grad students. Here is the significance: Agriculture is getting more and more removed from people's everyday life. Many people are unaware of all Agriculture does for us. I wouldn't have been able to put clothes on, brush my teeth, eat my biscuits that I had for breakfast, or drive to work this morning (just to name a few) without Agriculture. These are the things I can think of off the top of my head from the first 4 hours of my day! I saw a hashtag on Twitter last night that I LOVED - #nakedandhungrywithoutag. That is so very true and often forgotten! I think that this app will serve as a reminder to people that 1) the world needs Ag,  2) food doesn't miraculously appear at the grocery takes a hard working individual, dedicated to putting food on the world's table, to grow that product (aka a farmer!).

See my point?? It's takes a lot of hard work from many farmers, from many different parts of the US to build a hamburger! Cool huh? 

I am curious, what are your thoughts on this topic and the new app? Do you think something like this will be released in the US soon?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My "one word" resolution...

Do you all remember my post about choosing a "word of the year"? I was inspired to do this when I saw on Instagram that a very talented lady, Lisa Leonard, had designed a necklace with this in mind. That every woman would choose one word to focus on throughout the year. I have never kept a New Years resolution so I loved the idea of simply choosing one word! Today I got this lovely package in the mail...

I love the way she has branded her work by incorporating the cute muslin bags and even adding a free calendar filled with inspirational themes for every month.

Here's the necklace...dainty enough it can be worn every day while still making a statement!

If this is the first time you have heard about Lisa Leonard Designs, head over to her website -

Hope everyone is having a great week and staying warm - it's bitterly cold in some parts of the country right now!

Friday, January 18, 2013

It's calving time!

Since I was a youngster, my favorite time of year has always been calving time - when all the mama cows have their babies! Unfortunately, as I have gotten older and moved away from home, I miss out on the bulk of calving season. This year some of the first babies were born over Christmas so I got to see them! You might wonder what all the excitement is about. To me, calves being born is similar to opening a present. You breed the cows to a bull (daddy candidate) of your choice and have to wait 285(ish) days to see the baby! It's always a surprise. When choosing a bull to breed your cows to, you try to select one that will improve the genetics of your herd and how your cows look. When the calf is finally born, that's when you know how successful you were.
When calves are being born, you have to pay close attention. In our part of the country, we can have some pretty chilly nights during calving season so a lot of times we will put the cows that are getting ready to calve inside a barn. This is to make sure that if a calf is born, it can stay plenty warm and be able to dry off. Once a calf is born, you must weigh it (just like a human baby) and give it an identification number. We use ear tags to make sure we know what calf belongs to each cow and for record keeping purposes. If for some reason a calf would happen to get sick, this allows us to keep accurate records...just like you would use a child's name for keeping records at a doctors office.
Here are some pics that my Mom snapped this afternoon of my Dad and brother weighing and ear tagging a newborn calf...

My brother stepping on the scale with the baby calf...

Checking to see how much the baby weighs...

These are the baby's ear tags. The ear tags tell us some pretty important information. The large number is it's individual identification number (no other calf will have the same number!). The bottom number tells it the year it was born. The "FM" written on the tag tells us what bull the calf is out of (who its daddy is). You also see our farm name on the tag. This is so if the calf would happen to get out of the fence, people would know who it belonged to.

Here's the sweet baby with its new ear tags!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Nothing like starting out with a bang!

Today is week two of my FINAL semester of graduate school and man did it start out in full swing! I have been busy trying (keyword-those of you who have worked with the program SAS understand!) to run the statistics for my thesis research project, write, prepare presentations for a meeting in Orlando in February, and stay sane in the meantime!
In the midst of all the craziness, I still try to find time for a little fun, if nothing else to de-stress from all the previously mentioned activities! A fellow K-Stater moved to Mississippi to begin her graduate career this semester...I was thrilled to death! :) The more purple in MS the better right? This weekend I had the privilege of judging a county fair livestock show in NW MS and my KSU pal rode was awfully nice to have a travel buddy!
I apologize if this post is a little mumbo jumbo...I'm writing on the campus shuttle coming back from visiting with the Intro to Animal Science class about a new club on campus. It's an agriculture advocacy club aimed at spreading the word about Ag. and teaching university students how to continue to be an advocate after they graduate. I'm pretty excited about it! I will have to write more about this at a later date!
Hope everyone has a great Monday!

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Friday, January 4, 2013

My Word of the Year

Confession: I've never been very good at New Years resolutions...if I do make a resolution, it might last for a week. Anyone else with me on this?? This year I decided to do something different, something I might actually stick to! I decided to pick a word for 2013 - that's right, ONE WORD. Sounds much simpler, right?? I've pondered over this word for a good 3 or 4 days now and have finally committed. (for awhile I thought my word might have to be commit!) I decided on BLESSED. In 2013 I will be making lots of traditions - defending my thesis, moving, starting a new job, etc. When I think about my life, I am really really blessed...sometimes it's easy for me to lose sight of that when things start going south or not according to "my" plan! BLESSED is to remind me to be thankful even on those "not so sunny" days. My Nanni is a very wise woman and says often, "There's always, always something to be thankful for".
Did you make a New Years resolution or pick a word to focus on in 2013? If so, leave it in the comment section below if you feel like sharing!
Cheers to 2013!

Some of the people I was really thankful for in 2012! There are many others but I couldn't find a collage big enough! Diptic problems??

P.S. I'd like to give a shout out to one of my faithful followers, Jackie Gibson! :)