Archive for the ‘Agricultural Issues’ category

Instagram AGvocate

April 23, 2013

Like many people I use various types of social media including Facebook and Instagram.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Instagram, it is a way to connect with people all around the world who also have Instagram accounts by the use of posting pictures and art that people can comment on.   Yesterday, I had an interesting conversation with a girl from back home in Virginia who is a member of my 4-H club. She too has an Instagram account with over 1600 followers and she posts multiple pictures a day. She shows her own sheep and dairy goats and owns a variety of other animals. She uses her Instagram account to be an advocate for agriculture and I think that it is great; however we have different views on many hot topics in agriculture such as GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and the use of implants in beef.

Yesterday, I decided that after days of seeing pictures about her personal opinions and what I saw to be misconceptions about agriculture, I would stand up for what I believe in and try to be an AGvocate.  She posted a picture of a steer that was standing between two trees and left a comment with the picture talking about how her family had gotten a few steers and said “Apparently they are of show quality. Oh if only my county 4-H didn’t allow steroids & hormones in the cattle, I would show them.” One of her followers commented afterwards, asking why farmers use steroids and hormones in cattle so she replied by saying “It’s to make them grow larger, faster and at times have more marbling (the white bits in a steak) it’s really not good and I think that if people get disqualified in the Olympics for them then people at 4-H shows should as well. We don’t use any hormones or steroids on our animals and that’s why I won’t show them.”

Here is the picture:

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After her comment I decided I needed to try to set the situation straight so I left a comment stating “Cattle that have been implanted that are used for meat consumption offer far less hormones when compared to many other types of food such as cabbage where estrogen is thousands of times more ppm than a regular serving of beef. I challenge you to do more research about this subject. Eating beef that hasn’t been implanted is a choice and I respect that but in order to meet the growing needs of the world’s population while doing it in the most efficient way, we will have to involve the use of implants, as well as many other technologies.”

There were over 25 comments to follow my comment all continuing to get deeper into the subject and by the end of the day, while I knew I had probably not changed the mind of the girl from back home, I was proud of myself. Not only did I, by the end of the conversation, have three other people from accross the country who agreed with my comments, back up my argument; but I had been able to exchange information in a polite manner and felt I was able to get my point across. This was an advocating experience like no other for me as it was with someone on a one on one basis. It was not in a classroom, it was not on an airplane, but it was on Instagram: a social networking site for mobile phone users that over 1600 of her followers could read. I was glad that I finally stepped up to the plate and gave the true facts about the situation and I deeply encourage everyone else out there who might be self-conscious or nervous to do the same thing because at the end of the day it is an extremely rewarding feeling!

Share the Love, Even If Only For a Day!

April 11, 2013

April 10, aka yesterday. Anyone know what makes this day so stinking special?…. If you don’t, shame on you (especially if you have siblings!!) but no worries, that is why I am here. April 10 is known nationally as National Siblings Day. That’s right. For all of you that had no idea you had a day where you were nationally recognized, guess what?!? You have to wait a whole 364 more days to have it again. Those of us who are lucky enough (some days are questionable!) to have siblings would not be the same person we are today without ’em. Think about it…wether you want to admit it or not, there is SOMETHING that you can tell your sibling(s) thank you for.

As I was avoiding studying for a test by scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed yesterday, I began to notice how many people were recognizing their siblings and posting pictures of them together! Of course I joined in on the fun as well. Here is the picture I posted…

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The caption: “Happy National Siblings Day! Y’all are the best… Well most of the time anyway!”

While it may seem silly that it takes a “special day” to show siblings love, it really got me to thinking… “Hmmmm… I wonder where I would be today if Flinton, Ethan, and Hannah weren’t there with me..?” While there is no possible way to answer this question, I think back to the time, especially the summers that we have spent together and how even on the days when we didn’t always see eye to eye, we still were able to accomplish tasks around the farm. Want to see a little “day in the life of…?” Of course you do. The American Angus Association, I am Angus did a story on our family! That’s right, we were on TV! Check it out for yourself: McCabe I am Angus

With there being four of us with about a 10 year age range, we each have different areas where we succeed and areas where as much as I don’t want to say this, Hannah might be better than the rest of us. (Just kidding, we love Hannah. But seriously…) Growing up on a family farm makes everyone pull together just a little more especially through the hard times and cold winters. While my dad taught us almost everything we learned growing up (from castrating and feeding pigs to assisting heifers calving and everything in-between) each one of us found the areas that we liked the most. It just so happens to be that it was a little different for each of us.

Flinton has started to become the brains behind McCabe Genetics (feel free to check our website out!). Of course dad is still the man in charge and tells Flinton when his ideas could be better. While Flinton is gone for a couple weeks at a time visiting customers someone has to be at home to help my dad! This is where the cool brother comes in… But first a couple of pictures of Flinton “in action.”

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Looks like a pretty tough job, don’t ya think??? Don’t worry. I have a couple pictures to save the lad. He really does occasionally work believe it or not.

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Now back to the cool brother, Ethan. Ethan is more behind the scenes when it comes to daily work. He can do anything if you ask him nice enough. This includes changing brake pads when he pretends he sometimes can’t even air a tire at home. Bless his heart. He loves to travel with a couple families and go to cattle shows to help them “fit” their cattle. Don’t know what that means, check this out!: Fitting Show Cattle. Want to see him in action? (I couldn’t find any pictures of him sitting around by the way!)

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Except for one time, but I have to give him credit. He did some creative thinking to be able to operate the hydraulic chute without ever having to move.

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Like I said, bless his heart.

My sister Hannah is the shortest sibling we have. Even though she pretends to be helpless from time to time (but come on, who doesn’t right?) but she is the hardest working girl I know. She does things that no one ever thinks about doing around the farm but need to be done to make everything run properly. On sale day at our farm, she operates the computer system that tells who bought which lot. She is the best sister anyone could ask for!

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It takes every person in a family to make what they do a success and ours is not any different. Even though sometimes the road gets a little rocky and you may not always like your siblings, I bet your parents have the same thoughts as my dad. He has said time and time again, “I am the happiest when all my kids are getting along.” Dad doesn’t always have the same image of his kids getting along as we do. Not sure what I mean? Check out these two links. Don’t have time? Seriously, take a peak at them! They will make your day so much better with a laugh!!

Flinton and Hannah (Do keep in mind, she was willing to let him do this and laughing!!)

Ethan and Flinton

Here is a couple of pictures to show my families National Siblings Day love!

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Even Ethan gets scared sometimes! Good thing Hannah is there to keep him safe.

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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

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(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

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(Catahoula dogs can come in various patterns!)

– 1/4 Kelpie

  • for endurance and also herding instinct and short hair

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(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)

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(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!)

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(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.

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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.

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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.

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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!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pgn2ft4eRR8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhTptkthjOM

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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…?

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

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.

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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.)

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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)

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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 wondering..how 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.

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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.

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(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.

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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.

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And the best part… they love it! 🙂

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?

Fact: Humane Society of the United States

April 30, 2012

For all the agriculturalists out there, this video is worth a good laugh.

For everyone else, this video is slightly sarcastic, but more the truth!

The Humane Society of the United States capitalizes on using unwanted dogs and cats in their advertising to generate a budget of over 86 million dollars. The truth is only 1/2 of 1% of that 86 million dollar budget actually helps animal shelters! The majority of the money goes towards salaries, advertising and fundraising.

HSUS is in no way affiliated with local humane shelters!

Myth: Farmer’s Revenue

April 13, 2012

As agriculturalists I’m sure we have all heard accusations from anti-meat activist groups about how farmers thrive on income!

Examples: PETA believes “The farming industry strives to maximize output while minimizing costs” and so many more….! But, as farmers we know that income is perhaps the LAST reason we raise animals. To prove it, check out these statistics about Texas agriculture ALONE, just released in the Texas Agriculture Magazine.

 

Drought LOSSES for 2011:

$3.23 billion in cattle industry

$2.2 billion in cotton

$750 million in hay

$736 million in corn

$314 million in wheat

$385 million in sorghum

Still think farmers and ranchers thrive on income?? I think not! Go hug a farmer today….they need it!