Feb 25, 2010

What if I didn't know?

I read a great editorialin the High Plains Journal yesterday. It's a topic we all need to be reminded of over and over again as we work as advocates of agriculture. Here's a couple excerpts from Holly Martin's writing:

"What if I didn't know what it is like to be a farmer or rancher? What if I honestly didn't understand?

What if I didn't know what it is like to bring in the harvest? What if I didn't know what it is like to see a herd of white-tailed deer grazing green wheat in the frosty morning air? What if I didn't know what it is like to see a hillside of newborn calves romping in the springtime sun?

"What if I didn't know those things--the good and the bad, the positive and the negative, the realities of what it takes to raise food? If I didn't know, I might think it is easy. I might not know how much financial risk and stress a farmer endures. I might not know the pride and satisfaction of feeding our country and the world through the labors of my hands.

"And chances are, consumers don't know these things. It doesn't make them wrong or ignorant. It just makes them uniformed."

It's easy to get frustrated with the mounds of misinformation that surrounds agriculture. It's easy to watch our industry take punch after punch and say, "Those people are stupid. They just don't get it, and they are wrong," then go about our ways. The point is -- they DON'T get it, and if we want them to, we have to help.

Don't let the extremist animal rights groups trick you in to thinking they are the majority. Most Americans are just misiformed and want to learn more about the food they eat. They might have heard mixed messages from different media sources and just don't know what or who to believe.

Don't scoff at their questions or act like they are "stupid" for listening to people like Katie Couric, Oprah or Jonathan Safran's opinions and taking them as truth. Put yourself in the shoes of people who don't know what it's like to grow up on a farm or ranch and have that personal relationship with animals and the land we care for.

The agriculture community has gotten better and better at speaking its mind recently, as exemplified by the recent [yellow tail] / Yellow FAIL ordeal. Check out http://humanewatch.org/ to find more ways you can speak out against HSUS and stand up for agriculture.

Feb 19, 2010

Who's the expert here?

When I was little, going to the doctor's office meant going to Dr. Plate's office. It didn't matter what ailed me, whether it was an ear infection or a tummy ache or a broken bone -- Dr. Plate fixed it all.

Do those kinds of family physicians exist anymore? It seems like there is an expert and a specialist for everything. You go to an Otolaryngologist for ear, nose and throat problems, a Gastroenterologist for your tummy and an orthopedic surgeon for broken lower limbs. Same holds true for everything else in life – if you have a problem, you go to the specialist or expert in that field.

So why is it that the Humane Society of the United States seems to think they deserve to be the experts in agriculture and animal husbandry? When I think of experts in animal husbandry, I think of people like veterinarians, ranchers and animal scientists. Last November, Ohio passed a ballot initiative that would create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to oversee livestock care in the Buckeye State. Ohians spoke – let the experts on animal husbandry make the laws that govern animal husbandry.

But the HSUS can’t leave well enough alone. This extremist animal rights group still thinks they are somehow qualified to be the experts. They’re gathering signatures to put on a referendum that would require the Board to adopt standards they’ve dreamed up, implying they know more about the matter than veterinarians, animal scientists, food safety experts and ranchers. This is just another example of the HSUS showing its true colors and once again pushing for its private agenda.

I still think Dr. Plate is the best doctor to ever grace the Nebraska panhandle where I grew up, and he cured a lot of different things that ailed me as a youngster. But when it comes to something more serious than a tummy ache, I’m sure even he would have looked to a more specialized expert on the matter.

Tell the HSUS to leave animal husbandry decisions up to the experts.Learn more here.

Catch up on how Ohio’s Issue 2 has evolved here:
Ohio’s Issue 2 passes; HSUS vows a rematch
HSUS back at it in Ohio: pushing animal handling ballot initiative
HSUS cleared to circulate petitions for Ohio animal handling initiative

Feb 17, 2010

I'm getting my MBA

One evening at Bob Evans at a time.

No, sitting at Bob Evens eating chicken and noodles by myself while using their free wi-fi will not earn me my Major BadAss certification any time soon. The good news is, I already got that. In case you didn't know, I was a dual major during my time as an undergrad at UW. COJO and MBA. But mostly MBA.

Yes. I seriously just wrote that.

You know it's true.

But today, I am working to earn a different type of MBA. It's one that might actually improve my lot in life. I started working on my Masters of Beef Advocacy program yesterday, and it's long overdue. It's a program put together by the Beef Checkoff that is working to empower agriculturalists to have a voice on the issues that affect them most -- consumer's perceptions of the beef industry. 

From Katie Couric's recent barrage against animal agriculture's use of antibiotics (twice) to [yellow tail]'s fall to [yellow fail] to the fact that well, everything the HSUS touches turns to muck, it is clear that agriculturalist need to have an educated, united voice to share our story.  

The program consists of six, 1-hour core courses on topics like beef safety, beef nutrition, animal care, environmental stewardship, modern beef production and the beef checkoff. They are interesting, easy to complete and forces folks in beef production to think like a typical beef consumer. It's all about equipping beef producers across the country to tell their story in presentations to schools and church/civic groups, through local media and in the “virtual” world of the Internet.

Some of the smartest, most incredible people I know are cattlemen and women. But it doesn't matter how smart you are or how great of a rancher you are or how right we know our way of life is if our story is told by groups like the HSUS and PeTA. So educate yourself on how to tell our story. Learn more about the MBA program here: http://www.beefboard.org/news/08_1010News_MBApressRelease.asp or by e-mailing Daren Williams at dwilliams@beef.org.

If you're reading this blog, I can only assume you are already a Major BA. Now go prove it with your MBA.

Feb 13, 2010

"There's nothing wrong with Ohio...

"... except the snow and the rain.
I really like Drew Carey and I'd like the see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."

Ok, this song is more about loving Texas than disliking Ohio, but they pretty much hit the nail on the head with that opening line. Cleveland was recently voted the city with the worst weather in the country. Eaks.

Luckily, winter is my favorite season of the year. I love snow. And by all means, the snow here in Ohio is pretty -- it falls quietly and peacefully. No wind, no white-out blizzards. Just peaceful, sparkling snow everywhere.

Yes, this is at a cemetary. It's right across the road from me, and Stones is tired of being the only subject of my photography. It's suprising idyllic and pretty.

Then we got more than a foot of snow in one day.

Then there were six more inches two days later.

Ugghhhhhh... Then the trees went from really pretty and snow-crystal-ey to sad and hunched over.

And now I park in a little tunnel between two enourmous snow banks.

But hey -- we do have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Feb 12, 2010

America's Future

This is something I worry about. A lot. Seriously, it keeps me up at night.

Has the society we live in completely lost touch with the ideals of past generations? Will the generation after mine even know about World War II and the Depression, or the significance those events had on the world? How will they, when the generation of my grandparents is gone? Who will tell those stories? Will our society as a whole ever grasp the concept of personal responsibility and stop blaming schools, the government, food and the media for all their problems? In another generation, will anyone understand the importance of physical labor and blue-collared workers? 

Aren't I an odd little 22-year-old? These are the things Stones and I think about in our free time.

These worries have only been intensified by reading the book The Greatest Generation. Sometimes Tom Brokaw gets a little liberal for my taste in the political ideals he draws in the book, but the story-telling is extraordinary. It confirms that there is no doubt in my mind that the generation of my grandparents is, in fact, the greatest generation this society has ever produced. And it makes me wonder – if that generation is now nearly in extinction, what does the future of America hold?

Turns out, Mike Rowe seems to worry about the same thing.

Ok, maybe not the exact same things, but it seems he worries about the general direction our society is heading in – that being a direction where people are scared of working hard and expect a lot of hand outs.

If you don’t know who Mike Rowe is, please crawl out from whatever rock you are living under and become familiar. He is the host of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs.” He’s a champion for hard workers, blue-collared values and patriotism.

Read his recent blog post, What is in America’s Future? Oh ya, and then watch this video:

Then put my name under it with a big “ditto.” If you didn't love Mike Rowe before today, you will.

PS – Please note: I am not an eternal pessimist and think our country is really headed to ruin. I think we live in the greatest country in the world. And I'm a pretty happy-go-lucky gal. I just worry. A lot. Again, this is why I think I need more hobbies.

Feb 10, 2010

Ze purfect vinta sport

A couple years ago, I went to Eastern Europe with an international journalism class. It was amazing. Don't think traveling Hungary or Ukraine can hold a candle to Western Europe? You're wrong. Give me a trip in Budapest or Kiev over London and Paris any day. Someday, maybe I'll finally finish that scrapbook and share it with you. Until then, here's one of the more humorous highlights of the trip:

A group of Wyoming students were out in Bratislava with a group of Slovakian students. Some Slovakian men were talking about how much they love winter sports. One of the girls from our group joined in, bragging about how much she LOVES winter sports. She liked to show off a lot, and at this point in the trip we were all quite tired of hearing about all her amazing life feats. She continued on and on and on about what an avid and extreme winter sportswoman she was, surely impressing these Slovakian men (in her mind).

Then one Slovakian man asked exactly what winter sport she enjoyed most. Her answer:


Yes, snowshoeing. Now, in the realm of extreme winter sports, snowshoeing doesn't exactly come to the top of my mind. Apparently, our fun-loving Russian exchange student thought the same. Before said snowshoe queen could defend her sport and her feeble attempt to show off, Dennis the Russian says,

"Ereen (Erin), sno-shoing iz not a sport. Eat iz not even an acteeevety.
It iz seemply walking.
Un sno."

Bahahahaha. I love Dennis Yulin's honestly.

The point of this story, you ask? I’ve finally found the only “winter sport” that is easier and less brag-worthy than snowshoeing. It’s called snow tubing, and it’s very fun for the lazy sportswoman in me. It’s basically sledding on a groomed ski hill.
While Rhinestone Cowgirl was here to visit this weekend, we joined a group of co-workers for a very special youngster’s birthday party at the snow hill. We were pretty much the only adults there not directly accompanying children, but I swear – we are still just as cool as we were in college.

Seriously, look how fun this is:
In a moment of pure genious, we decided to take the camera down the mountain with us to document the ride down. Shockingly, it didn't work out as well as we might have planned.

Here we are, at the top of the mountain. We're not scared at all. This is going to be fun!
Yes, this is still fun. We're being shoved down the mountain by some poor high school student with a crummy weekend job.
OK, this is a little scary. We both sqealed like little sissys.
No, it's fun. We're giggling like five year olds.
We survived! Yay!
In most sledding situations, this is where you have to turn around and lug your tube back up the hill, completely detracting from all the fun you just had going down the hill. That's where normal sledding may qualify as a "winter sport."

But not here, my friends. In snow tubing, there is this:

This is a conveyer belt. It pulls you back up the mountain. Effortlessly.

This is where Dennis the Russian would step in.

"Sno-tubing iz not a sport. Eat iz not even an acteeevety
It iz seemply seeting.
Un sno."

Enjoy the Winter Olympics, my friends! In the meanwhile, I'll be confining my winter sports to sitting. In a tube. On snow.

Feb 4, 2010

San Antonio-ina-minute

Have you ever seen the video "Bible in a Minute?" If you haven't, you should. It's funny. And pretty factual. Ok, it leaves a lot out, but hits the high points.

Anyway, I've been home a week now and am over the thought of really writing about my week in San Antonio. I mean, my social calendar is just SO FULL there is no time to waste in the past. Right. So here is my trip to San Antonio-ina-minute:

Tuesday - set up booth, run all over, wear cute heels, feet hurt. Blisters - bad - walk, crippled. Meet nice old southern man, stop for chat. Hi, I’m from Ohio. Oh, you’re one of those damn Yankees, huh? Quickly take it back, I'm from Wyoming! We weren't a territory then. That’s OK. Stocker conference, hand out manuals, talk to people, Pfizer dinner, SLEEP.

Wednesday - Cattlemen’s College, set up lunch, run around, set up signs, haul banners, buy comfy shoes, still crippled, take pictures, Opening Session – Mike Rowe – surprise! Back to trade show. See long-lost-friend [R}. Yay! 
Peruse trade show, fall in love (pottery), friends with bartender, trade show closed, Durty Nelly’s, early night, SLEEP.

Thursday – Breakfast meetings, lots-o-coffee, trade show, shop – fall. in. love. again (purse). More meetings, more coffee, meeting – coffee – meeting. SLEEP.

Friday – breakfast meeting, committee meeting, trade show, LPC – lunch. Ice cream hunt, shop, trade show, trade show closes – booth packed – booth shipped. Sleep? NO! See [A] and [D]:
{[d], [a], [me], circa Jan. 2010}

PLANE. EARLY. COFFEE. Home. Move roomie in. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.

Feb 3, 2010

Some thing are better left untouched...

...like this commentary by Mike Barnett of the Texas Farm Bureau. I've got nothing to add or further commentary to make on it. That doesn't happen very often. I always have something to say. Not today.

Here's an excerpt:

"Hope for agriculture, I’m here to tell you, is not lost. The bad news is these activist groups are strong, well funded, very vocal and successful in promoting their agenda. The good news is they're ultimately doomed to fail."

He addresses the strengths and weaknesses of the animal rights movement, "industrial ag" nay-sayers, GMO protestors and climate changers. And here's the bottom line we've all known since before those folks started developing thier anti-ag agruments: the facts are on our side.

Read his blog at "Texas Agriculture Talks" for the full story.

*And that's all I have to say about that*

Feb 1, 2010

I < 3 Beef

No, I don’t think I am less than three, or that there is something greater than beef. I “heart” beef. As in, I love beef. Which is especially convenient this first day of February, since today marks the beginning of Heart Health Month.

I “heart” beef because I love ranchers, I love cattle, I love the beef industry, and I love a heart-healthy diet of lean beef. And I love that the Beef Checkoff thinks of catchy promo campaigns like this:
So tonight, after an hour of flailing around in ZUMBA!, my new roomie and our friend are having a winter-time grill-out. Roomie just brought our Certified Angus Beef® flat iron steak (only the best will do) off the grill. YUM! We made a delicious concoction of diced potatoes, onions, garlic and jalapenos and piled it into some tin foil and threw it on the grill, too.

And now it’s time for me to eat this tasty little feast.
Oh. My. Delicious.

Did I mention beef is a great source of lean protein and an important part of a heart-healthy diet? Well it is. More than 80 percent of registered dietitians surveyed agree that lean beef can fit in a healthy diet (Technomic, 2007). In addition, a 3-ounce serving of lean beef offers the most protein with the fewest calories when compared to plant proteins such as peanut butter, black beans and tofu. AND, a 3-ounce serving of lean beef is about180 calories. You would have to eat 670 calories of peanut butter (more than 7 tablespoons) to get the same amount of protein (beefitswhatsfordinner.com).

Thanks for joining me for a lesson of Beef Nutrition 101. Rest assured, I will share more on that topic in the future.

Back to the task at hand. This is what is still to come in our evening meal:

It's right out of the box from the freezor section. So what. We're grilling with snow on the deck. I dance to Shakira songs at the YMCA. Crazier things have happened. Key Lime pie is amazing, anyway you serve it up.

But again, I digress. You know why else I heart beef? Because I love working for the beef industry. Once we demolish that key-lime pie and properly digest our steak dinner, I’ll start telling you about my week in San Antonio!