Archive for February 2013

Hangin’ Tree: The Old West or a Cattle Dog?

February 25, 2013

As time tells, we no longer have many trees around for this use even though they are a major part of our history. During the slave days, they were a common sight to see. Now days however, the term “Hangin’ Tree” has a whole new meaning (thank goodness!)

Many ranches today use Heelers, Collies, Shepards, etc to move cattle from one location to the next. While all these dogs have their strengths, they also have their weaknesses which made it difficult to see them as the “perfect” dog. A guy by the name of Gary Ericsson (with a little help from his son Choc) one day decided to develop the PERFECT cattle dog. You might be wondering… “what is the recipe for this dog?” Brace yourself!

Gary and Choc’s recipe:

– 3/8 Border Collie

  • for their intense herding instinct and intelligence


(This is Maggie, my best friends Collie who just happens to love cows!)

– 1/8 Catahoula

  • for the ability to trail and find cattle, also for their toughness and slick hair coat


(Catahoula dogs can come in various patterns!)

– 1/4 Kelpie

  • for endurance and also herding instinct and short hair


(Kelpie’s can be a range of colors)

– 1/4 Australian Shepherd

  • (only a dog named Hangin’ Tree Black Bear went into this breed. Bear was a super dog with courage and ability to handle any kind of cattle)


(This is the actual Hangin’ Tree Black Bear who was used in the breed development)

*These dogs are registered with the Hangin’ Tree Cowdog Association Inc.

With a recipe like that, it seems the end product could turn out many different ways, right? And it does! The puppies born can be solid black all the way to spotted blue and EVERYTHING in between! The great thing about this breed? They have the desire to work cattle. (There are many slang terms used in production agriculture that I will try and explain the best I can when I use them in my blogs! Work cattle– move from one location to the next, a broad term used when you will be doing something with them that requires effort (tagging, vaccination, many other things)) These dogs are “fearless” and have the endurance to work all day long rain, snow, or shine.

I know, now you are probably thinking, “How does she know all this?” “She just looked up the breed on the internet, did a little research, and now is trying to pretend she knows everything and is an expert on the breed.” (Or something along those lines!) I actually did have to look up the breed and do a little research on the history of it but back home in Elk City, KS we currently have two of these dogs! My inspiration for the blog? This past weekend, I spent Friday afternoon with Jim and all day Saturday with Top!

Jim and Top are our second and third Hangin’ Tree dogs. They are even half brothers to make it better! Our first was Rooster. (A dog named Rooster? He came to us named, don’t worry, we aren’t that crazy!)


(This is Rooster. He was a great dog even though he had a short life. He was hit by a truck near our house 😦  )

Jim is my brother Flinton’s dog. He is much calmer than Top as well as stouter.


Aren’t they cute? He absolutely LOVES Flinton.

On Friday, we used him to gather bulls so we could work them. There are several commands that these dogs learn when they are being trained. Here are the ones that we commonly use:

Come By– send the dog clockwise from you to bring cattle

Away To Me– sends the dog counterclockwise from you

Down– lie down (the dogs can get a little excited and it is used a lot around our place to stop and “reset” the dog to listen again)

Get Back and Bring ‘Em– sends the dog to the back of the group and brings the cattle to you or the rest of the group

There– used to tell the dog that is where he needs to be (can be used along with Come By and Away To Me), also to turn cattle

Get Ahead– exactly what you would think it means, go ahead of the group to turn them which ever way is needed

Look Back– means to literally look back behind at one that was missed or one that is starting to go the wrong direction

That Will Do– we are finished with that, good job

Go To Water– find water and get a drink

When we gather big groups, we use both the dogs together and it is amazing how they can work together, feed off each other, and get the job done much more efficient than with just people working. They can actually replace people and one person can go out and gather the group with a dog and not have trouble. We have learned that if it can’t be done with a person and a dog, more people won’t be able to do it either.

Here is a couple of pictures of Jim working on Friday.

IMG_5351 IMG_5347

Top… Top is a whole different story. He is very energetic and needs lots of reminding to slow down and just be calm. He is my other brother, Ethan’s dog.


They love each other. While Top doesn’t really like to listen to Flinton, he thinks Ethan walks on water and will do almost anything Ethan wants (with reminding every now and then!). They came most of the way trained to us for working in a pasture setting. Ethan has other ideas though… He wants to be able to have a dog help around the chute and move cattle through the system.

Quick Vocab!

Chute– a device used to cradle, hold, and keep the cattle as well as us safe while working them

The System– at our place, we refer the the lane and the chute as the system

Lane– ours goes from outside to inside the barn and the cattle walk through it to reach the final destination of the chute

Here is a couple of videos so you can see exactly how helpful Top is around the system! (Click on the link to view, please excuse poor quality, I took it on my phone!)


Even when he is not able to help, Top watches and keeps an eye on Ethan to make sure nothing happens to him!

Since we have pasture gathering and working the system down, Top has a new idea of what he wants to learn…Any guesses…?


He thinks it is time to learn how to drive… I will let you know how that one turns out!

Best Friends

February 22, 2013

The past couple of days have been rough. I could write this post about all my life drama, but instead my idea for posting was because of the friendships I have made while at Butler. At the beginning of the year I was scared of my roommate to be, Allison. We are both from Indiana so I knew of her, but didn’t ‘know’ her. The only thing I did know was the fact that she scared me. In fact I tried to ignore her at cattle shows…even at the State Fair when I knew we were going to be roomies. Another friend I have made is Miss Riley. Although she tends to spend many hours at my house (When her own living space is two doors down) I really do appreciate all she does. Whenever a dull moment I can always count on something interesting to come out of her mouth. While in the van today, on our way to Kearney, Nebraska, I had a special moment with one of the other girls. For her sake I will keep her name unmentioned. After some talking with the boys I could tell she was upset. And after texting her a while about what was said, I knew I wasn’t the only one going through some troubles. If she reads this I hope she knows how much that helped me and my feelings. Logan is another one I am so thankful for. He has made my transition to college so easy, by understanding some of the things I go through. It is even better knowing he lives only an hour and a half away, so I know we will always be best friends.Through the past few months I have made 26 new friends. I can count on all of them whenever I need anything. Some of them I will call for homework help, others for a good laugh, but I consider them all special. Being apart of the Butler Livestock Team has changed my life forever. I can’t wait to spend more time with these fine people, and hopefully enhance our relationships 🙂

A Little Water, Lime, and Straw…anddd Wah-lah!

February 20, 2013

This last weekend when I went home, I got the pleasure of getting to help make “Hydrated Lime Straw!” I know your first thought, “what in the world is that?!?” Don’t worry, that was my first question when my dad told me about it! Seems simple enough… just a little water, some lime (I mean who doesn’t love a good limeade), and a straw! Dad informed me that it wasn’t quite that simple or tasty (to me anyway!) …shucks.


Let’s get down to the basics of what this “not so simple summer drink is.” Hydrated Lime, maybe more commonly known as Calcium hydroxide, is a white powder that is similar to “quick lime” but much less dangerous and less likely to start a fire! (Amen to that! I don’t think dad would be impressed if it all went up in flames.)


Now what about this “straw?” I am talking about the kind that you get after wheat is harvested! It is the leftover part of the plant that doesn’t have the seed on it. This is sometimes known as wheat stubble. Straw has many different uses. It can be used to bed livestock (give them a warm place to lay), be mixed in with other feeds to be consumed, and even used to make brooms! While straw is not the only roughage that you can use to do this (cornstalks and many other low quality roughages can be used) it is what we used when I went home.

What is the recipe to make this tasty meal? I’ll tell you!

Ground roughage of some kind! (straw, cornstalks, etc)


You will need to have your roughage tested for the moisture content. Our straw had 5% moisture so our combination is 7% lime, 50% water, and 50% straw.

You maybe do they get more than 100%? Keep reading!

For the feed truck we were using this day, we added two (2) fifty pound bags of lime to the truck with enough straw to fill it to the 50% point.


The next stop is the “watering hole.” Here we use the yellow hose you can see on the side of the truck to add water.


(I know, the water looks gross! Don’t worry, our drinking water is NOT that color. This is pond water that comes from a pond just over the hill!)

Now the truck does the mixing while you drive.

There are several different ways to store this but we choose to pile it on the ground uncovered because it gets used as quickly as we can make it!

Now that we have arrived at the spot to unload it, we will add it to the other piles that we have mixed today.


Once we finish for the day, we will push it all into one big pile where it will remain untouched for at least seven days. Why? The chemical reaction that happens between the water and Calcium hydroxide will begin to break down the cellulose, lignin, and hemi-celluose (all found in the straw) so it will be more digestible for the cattle to eat.(The pH level is also very important but we won’t get into that 🙂 ) They will be able to gain more nutrients from this compared to just mixing straw into their feed and this is a great way to replace corn silage, sorghum silage, etc.


And the best part… they love it! 🙂

Connections in the Cajun Islands

February 12, 2013

I got a call today from my Grandpa while I was sitting on the couch doing some chemistry homework. He informed me that him and my Grandma were on their way back from the airport. I asked where they had been this time and he said the Cajun Islands…I bet that was nice! Laying in the 84 degree weather while it is 41 here in Kansas today!!!

He said that on the way down in a little airplane there was a girl he talked too. Once they got to the resort, she also happened to be staying in the room next door. By now I was drawn away from my studies and was wondering where exactly this story was going. Turns out the girl knew me! I told him that wasn’t possible and then he said the name and I pondered how that name sounded somewhat familiar. Turns out the girl lives in Indiana and is a senior this year, and she knew me from judging. Once Grandpa said that she was at my graduation party I knew EXACTLY who it was. She had come with a couple of guys that I was really close to at the time.

Thoughts are still crossing my mind about how small of a world it is. Even more thoughts are rushing through my head about how this amazing judging program has changed my life. I have made connections outside of my high school, community, and even state. Now being apart of the Butler team, I can’t help but think of all the contests that got me this far. More importantly the people that have shared knowledge with me and made me a better livestock evaluator and a better person.

I guess the lesson I learned today is to try and be a confident person and treat others nicely because you never know who they will talk to that connects to you in some way. If I was a bad sport about some bad cards I have marked or didn’t smile leaving the contest, that girl may have thought I was a terrible person and she could of easily pushed me aside; like I do to some people that walk through my life.

Hey everyone, I’m Esther McCabe

February 11, 2013

Hi everyone! I’m Esther McCabe and am a new blogger for the Butler Ag Ambassadors! Just to give you a little history about myself, lets go back to the beginning! On a cold January evening, my parents (Randy and Varee) totted me to Elk City, Kansas where I have called home for the last 19 years. My siblings (Flinton now 27, Ethan 23, and Hannah 21) were all very excited to have me as the baby of the family!


My family! (My daddy, Hannah, Ethan, myself, Flinton, and my momma!)

I am a third generation Angus enthusiast and I love it! We have about 2,400 head of cattle between momma cows, bulls and commercial females. We also do a little farming of corn, sorghum silage, soybeans, wheat, as well as haying!


Here is a picture of my familys annual bull sale! For more information go to

I am currently a Froshmore (yes you read that right!) at Butler Community College in El Dorado, KS! This is my first year here but I came to college with enough credits from high school that they consider me a sophomore but that sounds a little too old so we will go with froshmore. My major is Food Science with a minor in Animal Science. This fall I will transfer to K-State to continue my education on into pharmacy school down the road.

On a side note, I am not a livestock judger like a lot of the other bloggers this year! However, I do live with two of them. This past November though I was crowned the 2013 Miss American Angus!! So look forward to blogs about my experiences with that portion of my life in the near future.


My sister and I after I was Crowned Miss American Angus 🙂

I hope y’all enjoy my blogs and learn a little about the day in the life of a 19-year-old agriculturist!

My Name is…

February 6, 2013

Hello my name is Jacquelyn StGeorge. I made the long trip to El Dorado from a little town called Larwill, Indiana. Although this is where my address says I live, I like to say I am from the neighboring town called Columbia City. It is a much nicer establishment that accounts more than just a gas station and a set of railroad tracks. I can’t forget to mention though, that Larwill does have a post office, which if you have ever been driving down US 30 and blink, chances are you will miss the entire town. I am one of the newest bloggers for the Butler Ag Ambassadors and I hope to share some of my life stories with you. First though I would like to share a few things about myself.

1.) My sister Kennedy is my best friend. (Yes you may be seeing double because we are twins!) She is by quite some margin the main influence on why I am the way I am.

2.) Livestock judging is the second most important thing to me in my life. It has taught me how to believe in myself. Even thru the hardest days, I know that I have a support group that will guide me back to a better mind set 🙂 Along with evaluating good livestock I have learned valuable life lessons that I use everyday. This picture is from the 2012 Indiana State Contest where me and my teammates pulled thru our hardest season. We went in with little doubt placing in the top 10 but with God’s help we accomplished our biggest goal.

3.) I love showing livestock, especially beef cattle! This is the Shorthorn Heifer I showed last year. My adopted Dad and I made the transition from dairy cattle the beef cattle about 5 years ago, and now we run 19 cows. Slowly we increase our herd, and only hope for good functional cow prospects that will do alright in the show ring (Although winning is fun…it’s not everything to me).

Those are the three most important things to me in life right now. I live with no regrets, and try to cherish every moment I live. As you can see livestock takes up a huge chunk of my heart, but so does my family. Thru my postings I am certain you will hear about Kennedy, and some of the funny stories I have to share 🙂 I hope to educate about the agriculture around us…and most importantly I hope to make you smile and enjoy the people in your life!

Hello.. I am Elizabeth!

February 6, 2013

Hello everyone! My name is Elizabeth Nixon and I am one of the newest Butler Ag Ambassador bloggers! I am originally from Virginia and many of you may be asking, why is a girl from Virginia attending college all the way in Kansas? Well here is my story. I have grown up in agriculture my whole entire life. It is something that runs deep in my blood, as generation upon generation has been involved in this amazing industry. My family owns and operates Glenmary Farm LLC in Rapidan, Virginia. The farm consists of 360 acres of owned land and an additional 3300 acres of rented land in the surrounding area. Our farming operation is highly diversified as we have 700 cows, a feedlot in which we finish over 1000 head of cattle a year, and we also run the BCIA Bull test station and we put on a bull sale every December. Along with the cattle, we grow over 2000 acres of corn and soybeans rotated with wheat and barley. We also have three turkey houses in which we grow hens for Cargill Turkey Production and my brother and I own our own flock of sheep from which we produce show lambs that are shown competitively at the local and state level. Growing up on a farm has caused me to develop a passion for not only the agricultural industry as a whole, but more specifically raising, showing and judging livestock. Because of this passion, I decided to attend Butler Community College to be a part of the Butler Livestock Judging Team and that is why I am here! It is my hope that through blogging, I will be able to advocate for agriculture and share all my experiences with this industry! 🙂

P.S. If you would like to learn more about my family’s farming operation, please visit

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PETA vs P.E.T.A.

February 4, 2013

What’s the BEEF with MEAT?

In today’s society meat has become taboo, a “no-no” word in certain circles. Phrases such as “slaughtering feedlot steers”, have been forbidden and replaced with words such as “harvesting protein”. Our reasons behind our fears, misconceptions, and some times ignorance each have their own stories, but as Agvocates I believe we need to try our best to learn ourselves and in turn to teach others.

I know that personally my life has been filled with people who eat a solid diet of meat, potatoes, and a veggie 3 times a day; I mean why mess with perfection, right? Honestly i’m what most would call a “picky” eater and what my aunt refers to as “phasey”, I go through phases where I may eat nothing but bananas and coffee for a week, the next item of the week may be mac n’ cheese, and every now and then I feel like demanding that my aunt make chicken for dinner! Still I’m not sure why I’ve become accostomed to shying away from a daily diet of meat, in fact most of the time I rather enjoy it (:

Now all jokes aside, you may be asking yourself where this “agvocate’s” beef with meat happens to lie and truthfully that’s what I my self have been questioning latley. I for instance, once went a year without meat because of a “challenge” I had signed up for; I also was so convinced that it was practically a sin for my family to eat Jim (my favorite steer) that my younger cousins wouldn’t eat beef for about a month; then there was my fiasco with Moo and Quack my two hogs (don’t ask) and needless to say I’m still a little iffy on the pigs residing out back. Needless to say I’ve had my fair share of adventures regardless with meat and I’m often the black sheep of the family, however  I’m working on that too.

Since I’ve moved to Kansas my roommates have informed me that Mac n’ Cheese is not dinner unless it’s beside a meat, that I am NOT allowed to feed them chicken every night, and that eating meat and more than one variety more than once a day will not harm me in any way (; I’ve also managed to eat my first ever T-Bone steak raised on the Gleason homestead, been fed pork from more places in the country than I have yet to venture, and been offered lamb that I have yet to try (; But hey, I’m getting there, my teammates have gotten through to me more in the few months that I’ve been here, than in the 19 years my family has been trying to. I’m even taking a Meat Science class this semester where I hope to learn more and broaden my horizons just a touch.

I  do know the healthy benefits we recieve from the intake of meat protein and I often recite them to others; the added iron, vitamins, protein, and essential amino acids are just the tip of the ice berg. We often get so caught in what we hear in the news or read on Facebook that we forget to find out for ourselves.  And in my case we let silly habits, illconcerns, and stuborness overtake us. I honestly belive in current production agricultural practices based on what I know, what I’ve seen, and what I myself have done; however I believe it is up to each of us to make that educated decision for ourselves.

So,what’s your BEEF with MEAT?