Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone. I think my new year's resolution will be to post more. I am going to try at least. I have a smart phone blackberry thingy. I will have to get smart enough to use it though! I also am going to try and be more active advocating for agriculture. It is just not enough preaching to the choir- which seems to be the rut I keep falling into.

Hope you have a wonderful 2011!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

'Tis the season

Went and visited the in-laws over the weekend. Checked cows, fed cows, and checked out the horses. Sure is nice to think we only have one two year old to start this spring. It was so long ago that we had tweleve. Plus, the ex-stud makes an awesome gelding.

Here is Snip doing his work.

We are about 75% of the way through this calving season. My FIL has changed to 3 seasons for more branding opportunities, to try and hit different markets, and stabilize his cash flow. It works for them. It is also pretty innovative and helps the sustainability of the place.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Big Ag Business

I have been thinking... Scary huh? OK, so "big" ag business is bad. Little farmers are good. Tractors are bad, garden plots in cities are good. Grass-finishing is good, grain-finishing is bad. So basically, the loudest consumers want us to go backwards about 100 years? Am I understanding this right? We are supposed to go back to the days of each farmer producing enough food for 10-15 people. What are we going to do about the other 130-135 that today's American farmer feeds?

It would be fun to start tearing out fences, season long grazing seasons, and feeding with teams. But what would it do for the environment? Especially if we took out fences around riparian areas, the ones which prevent cattle from loafing in sensitive areas? Hasn't science research the value of rotational and deferred grazing systems? But who cares, we will have quintessential, small, farms, for local consumption.

Sorry, Montana you will no longer be getting citrus fruits, grapes, bananas, etc. The good news is people on the East Coast are going to have a reduction in the amount of beef they eat. Should make all the "red meat is bad" people happy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I see many on facebook posting their Ag-WOW moment. I feel a bit left out. I have never had one of those- Oh My moments or ah ha moments when I truly understood the meaning of agriculture. It has always been a part of my life and the way I lived.

I did have an experience that I am going to call an my AG-WOW for advocacy. I was on a field tour, discussing a grazing system when one of those domestic terrorists from WWP told me how horrible cows were on public lands and that they had no place there. I then listened to a federal agency botantist talk about how historically buffalo were on this range!? WOW! I couldn't believe how misinformed people were about history, ecology, and economics of agriculture. I was truley amazed by the rhetoric and ignorance being spewed from the mouths of college educated scientists, for lack of a better word.

Think about it. These people are considered experts in the field but... We know who the true experts are. Tell others.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vegan Columnist in South Dakota

I shouldn't be spreading these lies (see link below) but... I thought it would be worth a read to many of you to see why it is important to get out of your comfort zone and defend agriculture. This opinion piece was written by a senior nutrition major at South Dakota State University. If you have the time go through the comments and look at how the ag community at SDSU responded. I am proud of the next generation of college educated farmers, ranchers, and scientists. For the most part, the took a stand based on science not emotion, then included their own personal story about how they cared for animals.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Good Job Nebraska Governor

The Governor of Nebraska has taken a stand for Nebraska's number one industry- Agriculture. He told Wayne Pacelle and the Humane Society of the United States that they are not welcome in his state. He will not compromise with those against the #1 economy in Nebraska.

I think this is great. Too bad California's Terminator didn't stand up against HSUS instead of caving. Instead he is terminating commercial egg production, veal calf, and pork industry in the Golden State.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


A quote seen on facebook "Liberals are like women~ They make most decisions based on emotion." I started to get fuzzed up about the comparison but then started thinking. My decision was going to based on emotion. DOH! Dang it. Then, I thought about it. It is pretty true. So, how do you deal with women or liberals? It takes a change in strategy.

Instead of discussing the benefits of conventional raised beef; talk about the emotions associated with raising livestock in traditional way. The amount of time, care, and love contributed to the raising of something you know will eventually be harvested. THe feedings of bummer lambs and leppy calves and the care given to an orphan animal.

When you discuss the use of public lands- talk about the wildlife seen on the permit, the family time spent salting and gathering, the beauty and the reduction of fire danger associated with grazing.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Domestic Terrorists

I am starting to think most groups with environmental in their name or mission statement are terrorists or should be treated as such. They threaten the nation's food supply through emotional pleas and misinformed media.

I just finished looking over a stay filed by Western Watersheds Project. The stay is against the record of decision on an allotment-public land. This specific record of decision was based in science for the most part, the RANGE portion WAS the wildlife portion was based on anedoctal and antiquated evidence along with some very conservative grazing to protect a bird that only uses the range for a few weeks.

The allotment holder actual told us "I want to reduce my numbers so this land is sustainable, I need to use it year after year." The WWP representative was worried about pedalstaling by naturally occuring frost heaves. He wouldn't listen to a soil scientist's perspective- it is natural. He wouldn't believe that PROPER grazing promotes biodiversity. He only wanted one thing- to get cattle off of public lands.

THe public lands in question probably triple the amount of land in the arid environment available to raise high quality, nutritious, wholesome food. These lands if properly taken care of flourish under moderate grazing. They also home to threatened species that have moved away from lands which have been retired from grazing.

I stand by my thoughts that many of these groups are domestic terrorists- using non-violent but effective just the same techniques to hurt America and the people which feed the people.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Is there such a thing as veganism?

Check out this illustration of what all in our daily lives we can contribute to cattle and by-products. From cosmetics to charcoal cows are a part of our daily life.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

HSUS taking money away from others.

The country’s largest anti-agriculture group and the country’s largest anti-hunting group the Humane Society of the U.S., appears to be on the verge of getting a $250,000 grant from Pepsi Cola. The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) and others are working to inform Pepsi about HSUS’ true, animal rights agenda. Register at the Pepsi Refresh Program website, and vote for a more worthy proposal.

There are proposals for doing farm demonstrations, helping kids with autism, and many more worthy projects.

Go Vote now and keep HSUS out of it!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hoping Nebraska Agriculture is Awake

After a slim margin of victory in Missouri, HSUS has decided to take on a large Agriculture State~ Nebraska. Hopefully, Nebraska Agriculutral Organizations are awake and are starting to educate the urban public early in the game. The Cornhusker who have relatively few urban centers may have a chance compared to California.

However, it would be scary is HSUS was able to get a stronghold in Nebraska one of the largest feedlot states and also a state with a large amount of pork production. The State Farm Bureau chairmen pointed out some interesting facts- Removing farrowing crates would actually be less humane and reduce the quality of life for many sows.

Additionally, many veterinary students were irritated with HSUS suggesting practices that were in opposition of what is backed by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Suggesting that HSUS is overlooking the authority and trying to gain credibility through sensationalism.

Time to unite Nebraska or watch another state get your taxes and businesses.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

SB 510 passes house

Senate Bill 510 has slipped quietly through the house with 14 Republicans voting for it! This bill will restict farming down to a homeowners garden and allow the FDA to regulate from Farm to Fork. It is scary the amount of regulation that is currently creeping up on farmers and ranchers without them being aware.

This bill has language that would allow FDA to regulate home gardens and backyard ranches if they may impact the environment or have the potential to be hazardous to human or animal health. Not to be crass but isn't raising livestock hazardous to animal health. You can't carve a steak off and let the animal live.

These types of bills are going to be seriously detrimental to small scale farmers and ranchers along with larger types. Plus, I know where the money is going to come from to run such large scale regulatory operations. Tax Payers pockets.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The new generation

I was reading a back issue of Feedstuffs because I only read back issues and don't have time to read them as they come out. I had to laugh because there was an article focused on how to woo the number one consumer, as in the person who buys, of beef- Women. In fact in the U.S. 93% of the shopping is done by women.

This is the best part, they could have saved the money spent on the survey and I would have told them the answer to the question- What do female shoppers want from beef? Safe and wholesome, followed by convienence and cheap. Wouldn't that be great a cheap meal, that is safe and wholesome that I don't have to spend a lot of time in preparation or clean-up.

The other "big" outcome of the survey- women are also driven by emotion. Another no brainer. I think we are hard-wired that way. There is an emotional connection to beef- family dinners and grandma's pot roast.

I wish grandma was cooking dinner tonight- even if it was chicken.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans' Day

Silence to remind all- Land of the free because of the brave.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Research

I try to keep up with some of the new research that is out there but UGH. It can be so irritating? disheartening? conflicting? exciting?

So when I found this article that links red meat to cancer I was disappointed.
I was thinking here we go again. They have linked dihydrogen oxide to cancer also. You know that thing called water! And there is also evidence that meat high in conjugated linoleic acids will help prevent certain cancers.

Then Harvard came out with a study about eating unprocessed red meat and how it is not linked to heart disease or diabetes.

But they said the heart health benefits were not covered by processed red meats.

Then, this study

Says the nitrites in processed meats are good for heart health and may help overcome heart attacks.

I guess it just depends on what you like to eat what you want to believe. For me- I think I will stick with bacon and hot dogs in moderation- you know like only one meal per day. I will also continue doing what I think is the best form of exercise- feeding the livestock that feeds America.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


As I watched my daughter feed the kittens one handful at a time I was reminded of why I live 120 miles from the nearest Wal-Mart. She is able to grow up roaming, doing chores, and enjoying the great outdoors. We don't have satelite, dish, or cable just a dvd player and some great old westerns. It is sad but I think we have more in black and white than in color. Who knew when all else failed to go back to the standards of Roy Rogers for a one year old? It is great. She doesn't like Dora the Explorer but Trigger comes on and captures her attention.

Hopefully, I can pass on the same values of work ethic and connection to the land to her as my parents did to me. The same values I would love to pass on to those people who have Wal-Mart in their backyard.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Grazing on a Refuge

I am in the midst of a research project on a wildlife refuge. It involves grazing cattle both late spring and late summer. The late spring grazing is not something practiced on most wildlife refuges because of antedoctal concern for nesting habitat.

We went out and took our first measurements last week. Wow! It was amazing. The cattle created mosaics in areas of that are typically monocultures of grass. These mosaics in turn, create both nesting and brood rearing habitats. Though the data is preliminary-- I have high hopes that this project will help convince other refuge managers to use grazing as a tool. I also hope it will help ranchers be able to graze their cattle on these areas when the grass is at higher quality. Creating a win-win situation with producers and public lands.

I know it is an anomaly. In addition to the grazing component. I believe this project is going to create some PR work for myself and the refuge. We are going to have to convince the public that the earth is no longer flat. It may be round and you don't sail off the edge.

Friday, November 5, 2010


There is weeds everywhere. It is especially true if you look from different perspectives. Yesterday I spent time with a USFS botanist who informed me that Orchardgrass is a weed. You know that stuff that sells for $100-$150 a ton when put into bales. A weed? Wow! Once again everything comes down to perspectives. She was one of those native only types who you wouldn't change her mind.

She also blamed cows for all the problems on the forest. An unfortunate opinion but one that has to be dealt with continually. She is one of those that I chalk up to hopeless but still try and mitigate the effects of. She spreads her thoughts readily, and I try to discount what is being said.

There has been a similar situation happen on the South Dakota State University campus. Where a animal rights/vegan activist was spreading propaganda and the students from the college of Agriculture banned together to discredit the sensationalism from his literature and eventually the University police removed the activist. Good for those young adults putting their education to work.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Torn about what to write.

I am torn about what to write about today. Do I type out my disgust with California politics, Californians in general, or Prop 19 which would have at least given food farmers a break. Or I could go on a more positive note. So, we are stuck with it what do we do know. I think I will combine the whole deal.

Eight percent of Californians are happy with the current government. California is on the verge of bankruptcy and is traveling precariously closer to it every year. So, what do the voters do? Vote back in Barbara Boxer for a fourth term! Vote in Jerry Brown as the governor for a third term. I guess they weren't that anguished over the whole situation.

THEN, to top it all off. The voted down proposition 19 which would legalize marijuana. I know, it is scary that I am for the legalization of pot but... but... why not. They could tax the sales, require the farmers to follow the same Air Pollution Control, EPA, and pesticide standards are food farmers and would help out a whole lot of livestock producers. The same producers who fear for their cattle and sheep out on public lands along with the employees and family members that have to gather them. Nothing is more eerie than following a cow trail and hearing the tinkling of cans. It means you have just crossed somebody's homemade alarm system for a pot field. Not a good feeling.

The same voters, voted no on a proposition that would hold off environmental regulations until the unemployment rate reached 5.5% and stayed there for a year. Those environmental regs that are pushing business out of California into Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, and Mexico. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense does it.

Now what do we do? It is time for food producers to unite and get to educating the general public and our lawmakers. This is true anywhere but Cali really needs more educating than some.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


We might have a chance to get some real change during the midterm election. It will be interesting to see what comes about after today. Hopefully, there will be some differences and the newly elected people will not just sit on their laurels but do something.

I am not against saving the environment but I am against doing it at the cost of common sense. EPA regulations against farming and dust? Come on! Where do you want our food to come from? I would much rather grow it and deal with the dust than import it and deal with the lack of regulations in many countries.

There are several states where Animal Rights Initiatives are on the ballot. Proposition 2 in California was just the beginning for H$U$. Watch out Missouri, Illinois and other states. Hope the voters use science.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I'm Back!

Sorry all. I had to take the month of October off. I was swamped and this was the easiest task to give up. Good news is- Cows are off the permit, weaning is almost done, meeting in Davis should slow down and the Greater Sage Grouse hasn't been listed yet. So on with the blogging.

I was at a meeting last week for the Agricultural Sustainability Institute. That is a mouthful. They were doing wonderful things for urban areas- setting up victory gardens, school gardens, and establishing fresh fruits and vegetable programs for welfare recipients. However, the most important aspect in my opinion is missing. Where is the protein? There was nothing mentioned about teaching these people the value of lean, red protein in the diet.

I was asked where they could help beef producers. The director was thinking water quality, waste management, and other environmental issues. I think producers have these aspects covered. Between those of us in the University and the others from the government that are here to help, they have been inundated with information about environmental sustainability. What beef producers need help with is reaching an urban audience about perception!

The perception of turning lands that are not suitable for crop production into a wholesome, nutritious product. Which in turn increases the amount of land we can use for food production. The director started kvetching about the lack of organic vs. traditionally raised food and how he doesn't have the resources about organics' benefits. I candidly asked is there any?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Something I don't do much is talk about my personal life. I am a professional in some sense of the word, working for a land grant University. Recently, I rewrote my job description. It is one of the perks of being a UC employee is you get to determine what your job description is. As part of that I added a clause "to work as a facilitator in bringing diverse groups of people to work together to discuss issues, and possible solutions. Basically, I help producers that are having problems with state and federal agencies. Somedays it raises my blood pressure WAY WAY up. I shouldn't let that happen, I really have nothing to gain or lose by the outcome of most of these meetings besides maybe - RESPECT.

So, today I spent 3+ hours discussing monitoring protocols and trying to convince federales that we do not have to reinvent the wheel. The information is out there. We just need to use our collective resources to do it. The funny part of the whole situation was you could see the look on many of there faces change the closer we got to quitting time. The also became more compliant. Note to self- schedule meetings with BLM and USFS close to three. The are much more congenial. :)

I was upset though, besides the wasting of time, the guy in charge of the meeting blamed livestock for juniper encroachment. Not quite sure how that all works but I am going to do a little research on it. I will keep you informed and if HE IS WRONG rest assured he will definitely be informed at 2:59.

Monday, September 27, 2010

What happened to common sense?

What has happened to common sense in the United States? Something that seems so simple becomes convuluted and complicated. I was reading a news article about Devil's Lake in North Dakota. The lake has grown exponentially over the past couple of decades. It has flooded out a couple of towns, taken in thousands of acres of farmland, and caused many to be concerned about towns further down stream if the overflow should ever become overpowered.

There were comments from people after the end of the article.

One said "Serves the Bush voting __________ right. They deserve to lose their homes for being bigots."

Um... Wow that was pretty ironic and without much backing.

Another " They shouldn't have polluted the earth in the first place. If we didn't have global warming they wouldn't have so much rain."

Ok. I have several issues with this statement. The whole entire state has less people than several cities in the U.S. I am sure they have contributed to global warming way more than New York or even Rhode Island (insert sarcasm). I mean especially if you look at the carbon credits that can be attributed to the northern portion of the Great Plains. My second issue is have you ever been to North Dakota? That is the least likely spot for a global warming issue. They are happy it is coming as rain because if it didn't it would likely come as snow which requires much colder temperatures. Which would still be moisture?! Right?

The list goes on until they start personally attacking one gentlemen who says he lives in the area. He spoke about the possibilities and what the true problem is in his eyes. Canada. Yep, sorry my Canadian friends but Canada has some environmental concerns in the dog fight and is worried about water quality so they cannot retrench the old overflow channel. Even though the border is still several hundred miles away.

Hope No Dak gets some relief, soon.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Another Goofy Group of AR People

Another goofy group of AR people are making their prescense know throughout the United States. THey are known Farm Animal Rights Movement and want to have a world farm animal day.

I am worried. I know they have backers. I know there is people that believe their mission is true but... They have on their web page to protest when mainstream media is at an outbreak of swine flu. DOH!

I don't want someone who isn't smart enough to differentiate the hazards of swine flu and farm animals to be telling others what to do. I don't think people should listen to them but there has been worse "prophets". Jon Marvel for one.

I don't know how to combat against these people. They are spreading malacious lies about my livelihood. You really can't sue them for slander/libel or maybe you could. Are you better off educating the general public so they don't fall into the trap. Maybe a bunch of Animal Science PhD's could get together and start a group- call themselves Dr.s but not explain that it isn't an M.D. and spread the truth. Hmmm.. Anyone want to chip in for travel expenses? How about some beer money? I am sure after a couple days in the city of educating the general public it will take some medicinal extras to ease the pain. :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ruby Pipeline Update

Looks like El Paso Corp is finding out what happens when you make deals with the devil. The spawn come out of the woodwork to get their due also.

Three environmental groups have asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to halt construction of a natural gas pipeline that’s being built in Oregon, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

The latest challenge to the 680-mile Ruby Pipeline project comes from three environmental groups: the Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club Toiyabe Chapter and the Great Basin Resource Watch.

The lawsuit, filed late last week, alleges federal agencies conducted incomplete and inadequate environmental reviews during the permitting phase of the project.

David Von Segern is with the Sierra Club Toiyabe Chapter.

David Von Segern: “They’ve chosen a route that should pretty much shoot it though pristine northern Nevada, a high desert steppe that is supporting wildlife especially the sage grouse and we’re very concerned about fragmentation of habitat.”

As spokesman for the El Paso Corporation, the company behind the project defended the permitting process, arguing it adequately protects wildlife along the route.

The 9th Circuit is still reviewing a separate request by the Center For Biological Diversity to halt the project.

The way I understand it the Center for Biological Diversity is being a front man for Western Watersheds Project. Boy I bet El Paso Corp is having a big DOH! moment.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lady Gaga

Wow Lady Gaga is sure making waves with her controversial costumes. On the cover of Japan's Vogue she was dressed in a beef bikini. Then to the VMA (I think) Awards she dressed in what looked like a red meat formal complete with a steak for a hair piece. PETA is screaming about how Lady Gaga is pushing away vegetarian and vegan fans.

I am not a huge Lady Gaga fan but I kinda like this stunt. Let PETA complain.

Another celebrity that is pushing red meat is Angelina Jolie. WOO HOO! She talked about her stint as a veagan and discussed how she was sickly, unhealthy, and lacked energy. Let's see-- Here is a women who can hire a dietician, a chef, and a personal trainer. When asked what her beauty sercret is she states- RED MEAT! Angelina, I was a fan before but I am an even bigger fan now!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Public Lands

I was out on BLM ground yesterday looking at a medusahead die off. Yeah... But the medusahead (a invasive grass species that is similar to cheatgrass except it is palatable for only about 6 hours compared to cheatgrass' 8 hours), is being replaced by Russian Thistle. I didn't think it was possible to go from bad to worse but it did.

I suggest a fairly routine procedure for rehabilitating the site that I use on private lands. I have had good luck using this protocol on most sites and soil types and it is simple. Remove noxious weed using herbicide or in this case a natural phenomeona. Plant cereal rye. Harvest rye (mechanical or with cows). Seed perennials into stubble.

The federales took my suggestion and then proceeded to tell why it wouldn't work. They also shrugged their shoulders and gave me this blank stare when I discussed a planting procedure that wasn't in the norm. Then, they wonder why the agency is being attacked. They are scared to stick their necks out, they are scared to do anything different.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Arizona Proposition

WOW! For a state that brought us McCain Arizona is sure making up for the defeat of Palin :) First, the Immigration Law which is still heavily being debated and now a proposition to protect the rights of carnivores, specifically those who like to harvest their own meat. Proposition 109 is to be put to a vote in November. The law would protect the rights of hunters from "people who have watched too many Disney movies". I am not making this up. That is exactly what the senator said- hence the quotes.

I guess I am not the only anti-Disney person out there. The senator who sponsored the bill went on to say- " There is no current threat to hunting in Arizona, but if there is ever a threat I want the decision to be based on science not emotion."

A big echo of what many have been saying. Good on you Arizona, keep up the fight.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


I might be the worst blogger ever. Oh Well. I will try to keep up and it should be easier with winter coming on. I won't be as apt to go outside and annoy some horses.

Yesterday, after getting in a lengthy conversation with a vegan, wannabe hippie headed to burning man. In case you don't know what burners are- EEEK! I decided you can't win them all and it is much easier to convince someone who isn't so entrenched in their beliefs. It was one of those conversations that just left you shaking your head. It also made me want to scream-- WHAT IN THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IN RURAL AMERICA IF YOU WANT IT TO BE JUST LIKE THE SMOG INFESTED STINK HOLE YOU CAME FROM. -- Then add a couple !@$# and !@*() for effect.

I was told my science is biased and cows don't belong on the public range. I was also informed that by eating meat I am eating anothers soul. I couldn't help myself. I told the person I stayed away from the soul it was too chewy and high in calories.

WOW... There was so many comments that I didn't even have an answer for that wasn't biased or smart ass or offensive. I will have to work on my advocacy. :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tainted Eggs

I wrote on perception last and here is a perfect example where public perception may end up outweighing common sense. The 550 million eggs from the recall due to salmonella may end up in your grocery cart yet. The eggs from the recall will be used as pasteurized egg product in many processed foods and commercial bakeries. The eggs will be broken, homogenized, and pasteurized.

One New York mother is having a fit on a philosophical level!? If it is dangerous to eat raw then why would be safe to eat cooked? Let me think about this... Because that is the reason we cook them in the first place is to get rid of the slimy texture and bacteria. She says science may back this but... Science backed nicotine use once also. WOW. Can we get anymore liberal and without common sense?

Use your brain. IF you may have recalled eggs cook them thoroughly. No over-easy, just hard or scarmbled. Do not eat raw dough or batter that may contain the eggs. Think about it. :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


“These people are rednecks,” Bryan Monell, an animal rights activist who specializes in undercover efforts, told a group of fellow activists in describing folks who work with animals. “We are superior,” he added.

I get hammered time and time again because when colleagues ask me what I think is the single largest threat is to the beef industry I say "perception". I don't think it is disease, genetics, or anything else. It is how consumers percieve what we are doing.

Take the current antibiotic debate- Science proves there is little to no connection between antibiotics used currently in the livestock industry and the antibiotic resistant bugs that are out there now. However, because of the percieved threat, the USDA is looking at limiting the use of sub-therapuetic antibiotics.

The same is true with dietary concerns of eating red meat. We go back and forth every decade about what is good and what isn't. Currently there are 29 cuts of beef that have less fat than a skinless chicken thigh. BUT... you look in any health magazine and chicken is the diet food of choice.

Change someone's perception today. :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Horses AGAIN.

"Wild" horses are back at it making our lives miserable. There is currently a gather going on South of here. They are scheduled to remove 2000 head from the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area. The area is only supposed to have ~500 head of "wild" horses and burros in it. People are throwing a fit!

Lets not let out smart our common sense here. As I have said before- I love horses. BUT! There are three times as many out there that are supposed to be. If I as a rancher turned out 3x as many cattle as what was supposed to be in my allotment- there would be court battles, fines, and prosecution. The agency is able to do it because the "public" that small majority that is loud enough to be heard wants them there. The "public" doesn't know anything about range and tend to live in a metropolis where they can go to Wal-Mart without driving 2 hours.

I don't understand how the agencies can let "public" dictate there decisions, until I talked with the Natural Resources consultant from this area. He spoke with our senator. She said she has meeting at least twice a week with wild horse advocates. Since last year she has only had two meetings with people that are in favor of removing "wild" horses to maintain Herd Management Levels. Those numbers which were scientifically researched to determine the carrying capacity of the range.

Science vs. Emotion rears it's ugly head again. Thanks Walt Disney. You just made it harder to feed this country.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mundane Monday

I have to be honest... I got nothing today. Really, my brain is shot. Our weekend was filled with building fence and having family. I did get to think though as we were sitting there discussing life how odd some of our conversations must sound...

Did we have any babies?
Another set of twins?
Well we are definitely going to have to find a surrogate for the weak one.

Could you imagine someone who didn't have a clue what you were talking about hearing that?

One of my favorites was a friend and I were doing a research project in college. Somehow we ended up with the 2 AM fecal collection... Hmmm... 2AM on a Thursday morning, Wednesday was usally a good night to visit with friends and enjoy the drink specials. BUT...

So we started out being our normal, quiet selves. Discussing what normal college students, who are single, and drinking do. Then, I asked my friend- How do you take a fecal collection from a lamb? She proceeded to get another drink and explain how to correctly perform the 2-fingered tickle.

All in the name of science!

Another good one... I have a nephew who is three now. He loves bucking horses. He was with my mother at the mall and started bucking like he was a horse. He then threw himself on the floor and exclaimed that his horse had fallen down. He told my mother to get the horse up. She tried to help him by the arm. No, NANA, you hurt him. She tried by the head. No, NANA. Kick him in the butt. So here is my mother, acting like she is kicking my nephew in the middle of a mall. She was lucky the area is still slightly rural even if there is a mall. But she had gathered a crowd.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

El Paso Corps. trying to make amends with Ranchers.

New endowment aims to protect public-lands grazing

By Drovers news source
Wednesday, August 11, 2010

After many long conversations between representatives of the Public Lands Council (PLC), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and Ruby Pipeline, an agreement has been reached, in principle, which seeks to ensure that the nearly 100-year relationship between the livestock industry and El Paso Corp. continues far into the future. While details of the agreement are still being finalized, it establishes a significant endowment with the mission to “protect, enhance and preserve the public lands grazing industry.” The concept was formally adopted earlier today after a unanimous vote by the board of directors of the Public Lands Council, whose board members represent 13 western states, NCBA, the American Sheep Industry Association, and the Association of National Grasslands.

“While we are concerned about the potential impacts of Ruby’s recent settlement agreement with the Western Watersheds Project and the Oregon Natural Desert Association, we are satisfied that this endowment provides us a tool with which to mitigate many of our concerns,” said Skye Krebs, president of the Public Lands Council. “As the organization which has represented public lands ranchers in the West for over four decades, we are confident that our industry will benefit from this endowment for many years to come.”

The $15 million endowment, $7.5 million to be contributed later this year and $750,000 to be added into the endowment annually for the following 10 years, will be governed by one representative from the PLC and one representative from El Paso Corp. While the principal amount will not be used, the endowment’s earnings will go toward meeting PLC’s mission to serve the public lands livestock industry. Specific projects may include scientific research, education, range monitoring, fire restoration, media, and community outreach for the benefit of the public lands grazing industry. It is important to note that funds from the endowment will not be used for litigation.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

WIld Horse and Burro Plan

We encourage you to comment on this issue entered online. More information available at:

. Please find below talking points that you can add to your letter. Please do not just copy and paste these into a letter and mail. The BLM and congress is looking for unique letters with specific responses. Our goal is to send a message that there are citizens that support gathers and proper wild horse management. Supporting the BLM on this issue is important along with the message that we need to keep horses at AML. Please also find attached a draft letter that is more personal and may be used if you so desire.

We ask that you do not postpone horse roundups or force a moratorium on gathers. It is important to gather horses that are dehydrated and starving because they are over Appropriate Management Levels. This is negligence for the wild horses and causing potentially permanent damage to vegetation resource base upon which we all rely.

· We know that wild horses and burros are not self-limiting. They double in population every 4 to 5 years. They have expanded well above the high end of Appropriate Management levels and outside of Herd Management Areas to range that they historically have never been before. We also know that even if cattle were removed and wildlife foregone, Wild Horses and Burros would over-populate to the point where they would suffer massive die-offs from starvation. We find that lacking compassion and unacceptable.

· The health of our rangelands is very important not only to the livestock industry, but for wildlife and the overall biodiversity and multiple uses of the landscape.

· Elevating one species over another, particularly a species which demands more forage than can be replaced, jeopardizes other users of public lands, and threatens native plants and wildlife species. Finding and keeping Appropriate Management Levels is the key to the balance of management and impacts on public lands. Tipping the scale towards the domination of wild horses does not correlate with the directive of the Bureau of Land Management.

We fear that by limiting management tools of the agencies, even more wild horse deaths will occur from starvation or lack of water. Leaving starving horses on public lands is not a humane solution to this ever growing situation.

· We manage our rangelands so that future generations can enjoy the beauty and the resources they possess. Management plays a key role in health of the multiple uses, and if wild horses are not managed the result affects all users of federal lands.

· Ranchers today develop water sources and forage that wild horses and burros enjoy. While cattle numbers in Nevada are at all time low levels, horse and burro populations are exploding.

· As ranchers and managers we use grazing systems to manage our livestock. We take care and pride in the health of the land and our cattle. With systems such as rest rotation, deferred grazing, dormant season use, and herding we achieve land health goals. With utilization records and proper management the health of the land is positively impacted.

· Degradation to our public lands is not acceptable by any user group. Management of wildlife and domestic animals is crucial to the health of the resource. If wild horses are kept unchecked their population can grow to unhealthy levels; causing not only resource damage but damage to the health of the herd.

· We support BLM’s plans to gather excess horses and manage numbers of those remaining with stacked sex ratios and non-breeding herds.

· We support keeping horses at Appropriate Management Levels and using gathers and fertility control as a way to keep the populations from exploding.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why I love Ag people!

Within hours of bridlehorseman Bruce Sandifer being hurt during the Stock Horse competition at the Alturas Vaquero Fiesta there was already auctions being organized, crisis funds and donations being sent in and people readily taking care of his stock and finding a ride home for it. It is an amazing group of people that will readily donate any extra money, gear, etc for someone else without a second thought. Many people only know Bruce through the internet but are trying desparately to help a man who makes his living a horseback. That is good people.

The same people who are being chastised for not being humane or caring. THe same people who are continually defending a way of life that feeds this nation. Shame on those at the Humane Society of the United States. Bruce was laying there in pain with a split pelvis and the first words out of his mouth after the initial OOOOUUUUCCCHHH!!! Were someone take care of my horse, make sure he is unsaddled, fed, and watered. He didn't want to go to the hospital because he was worried he couldn't take care of his animal. Now that is a person who truly cares about Animal Care, Welfare, and Rights.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

2010 Vaquero Fiesta

This past weekend was a return to tradition. IT was the 2010 Vaquero Fiesta- a slow paced showcasing of skill, ability, horsemanship, and traditional technique. The best part about this event was nothing was based on time. It was all on a points system. So there was no ram and jam- Just good herdsmanship. Oh and many of the ropes used were from sustainable, resouces... AKA rawhide. That is right, most ropers used reatas. A traditional tool of the vaquero for canabilistic roping.

The weekend emphasized, low stress livestock handling and points were deducted for rough handling of stock and even loping of horses.

FOr more information visit:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

El Paso Corp gives to Environmental Groups

El Paso Corporation a large company that is putting in a natural gas pipeline from Wyoming to Malin, OR has given into environmental groups- Western Watersheds Project (WWP)and Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA). Given in may not be the correct words more like bought off. These two environmental terrorists were given a combined $20 million to revoke their protest letters so the pipeline may proceed through Idaho and Oregon's Public Lands. The money is to be put into a trust.

Great just what they need more money to fuel their anti-grazing, anti-multiple use on public lands initiatives. Maybe they should also give the ranchers' some money to fight the litigation that will come forth. Oh wait, the ranchers' didn't protest the pipeline because they saw the good it would do for the rest of the United States. Jon Marvel leader of WWP has already stated this money will be used to "buy out" federal land permits from willing ranchers. Most ranchers wouldn't sell their permit except for the fact that WWP has made it very troublesome to run cattle and sheep on public lands. They put in complaint letters for almost all renewals, NEPAs, etc. The funny part is they protect "wild", no FERAL horses, the most detrimental animal out there.

ONDA is putting their cool $5 million towards a conservation trust for Hart and Sheldon refuges. The two wildlife refuges that have seen tremendous ecological degradation since the removal of cattle and the influx of FERAL horses. The reduction in the number of antelope has been exponential on the two, mitigating the reason they removed cattle in the first place.

Thanks for supporting our domestic terrorists El Paso Corp. It was kind of you to slap the face of the people who produce food for America.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Prop 2 Strikes Again, and Again, and...

First I must apologize. I have been awful about keeping up with my postings. It has been a very busy summer filled with meetings, remodeling, and visiting family.

Now, back on track. Another story by the Sacramento Bee points out the devastating effects of Prop 2 in California and how it is snowballing out of control. Proposition 2 in California was the Humane Society of the United State's baby. The spent millions on advertising to show how "unhumane" the current egg-laying systems, farrowing facilities, and veal calf housing is. The played on the heartstrings of the largely urban populations and recieved the vote to pass a vague bill on animal rights. The bill stated that animals must be able to fully extend limbs, turn around, and lay down without touching the sides of their cages.

Here's the rub. The legislation did not specify anything else. So, now that chicken farmers have spent millions to upgrade facilities with enriched cages.... The American Humane Society and Temple Grandin (a professor at Colorado State University specializing in animal welfare) have applauded the efforts of these farmers to increase the welfare of the animals. BUT The H$U$ is coming in with their inspectors and saying not good enough. They want cage free laying systems. They have also pushed through wording to ensure all eggs coming into California from other states are raised by the same standards. I didn't know California could dictate interstate commerce.

I still do not understand why people couldn't vote at the grocery store. Even after all of the advertisements to get this bill passed on how "awful" the current production practices are- there has been no increase in the purchasing of organic, cage free, or range raised eggs. Emotions versus Science and Heartstrings vs Pocketbook strike again.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Intercultural Communications

We were at a horse show this weekend. Not the typical pleasure, equitation horse show but one with a ranch horse class, ranch rodeo, branding etc. There were several kids running around having fun with their ropes and playing. My three year old nephew,went and tried to play with them. Nope, they told him to take his crazy shirt and shorts and go somewhere else. I felt horrible. If they start at that age where are they going to be when they are 20 or 30. He was dressed for the weather, he wasn't riding,and he attempts to rope; why didn't they accept him?

How many times have I walked past or brushed off someone because they haven't followed my dress code? Or didn't look the part? In Intercultural Communications, they call this a non-verbal expectancy violation. A mouthful isn't it. In short, we expect certain people to look, smell, and act a certain way. When, they do not meet these expectations we become defensive and do not want to interact with them. So when, my young nephew was not dressed appropriately to interact with the young cowboys they labeled him weird and wouldn't play with him.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"F as in Fat"

A new report called "F as in Fat" stated, over 38 states have more than 25% of its population considered overweight or having a BMI that is above 25.

The report’s most important recommendations all involve coordinating policies across government. Agricultural policy is a particular target.

Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University “The Farm Bill leaps to mind as an excellent place to start. How about creating an agricultural policy that supports production of fruits and vegetables instead of one that spends $20 billion of taxpayers’ money on corn and soybeans grown mainly for animal feed?”

This annoys me. Currently, there is over 3,900 calories per day available for every man, woman, and child in the United States. WAY, WAY too many for most people's sedentary lifestyles. Additionally, how many acres in the midwest are suitable for fruit production and when did corn stop being a vegetable? Granted approximately 80% of all corn produced goes into animal feeds but I don't think that is taking away anything from the grocery store for human consumption. You can still go buy corn in almost any form (frozen, canned, and on the cob) in even our rural grocery store.

So how is taking away money from farmers going to change obesity in America? Its NOT! The only thing that is going to effect it in my humble opinion, is if people get off the couch, off the internet, and go outside! Grow your own garden! Believe me weeding will burn off some calories and make you sore.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Myths about the World

I think of myself as pretty well educated- Heck, I have a PhD. And that is not a post hole digger, even though I have one of those too. But when I read an interesting article about today's environmental myths I was shocked and dumbfounded that I may have been duped into believing the world was ending. We have a huge hole in the ozone layer, that matches the size of California's budget deficiet- Now that is BIG.

Dr. John Christy- state climatologist for Alabama suggests a different theory. "The great secret environmental activists do not want Americans to know is that because of increased carbon in the Earth's atmosphere, global food production has increased by 16%. Carbon is plant food, (DUH) and plants thrive even in drought conditions with more available carbon." Hmmmm.... SO going green may hurt the plant life we are trying to save by not cutting down and letting the bugs eat it? Interesting.

Another issue that I find interesting. According to many, natural diasters have been increasing due to global warming or global conspiracy. Science shows they are at a 30-year low?! Something is not jiving here. Maybe it is because of this silly internet and the instantaneous world we live in we are just more aware of the natural diasters.

My favorite of a long lists of myths is the decline of the polar bear due to habitat reduction from the ice caps melting. Christy states "In 2007, the Antartic hit the record maximum sea level and had more ice than ever. AND Polar bear numbers are at an all time high ~24,200." Records from 1960 indicate levels for polar bears were around 6-10,000.

So, the global conspiracy may live on but I don't think I am going to buy it any longer.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Computer and Defend

Borrowed from Amanda Nolz, BEEF Magazine Blogger

I recently ran across an article in the San Jose Mercury News entitled, Farmers Defend Way of Life With Facebook, Twitter”. The article was written by Associated Press writer Julianna Barbassa, and I thought it would be a good one to share with all of you. Below is an excerpt.

“When a video of dairy cows being punched and prodded with pitchforks was recently released by an animal rights group, it made the rounds on YouTube and generated the expected angry responses. But it also raised a flurry of outrage from another corner of the Internet: Farmers fought back, blogging, tweeting, uploading their own videos and chatting on Facebook to defend their industry and explain that the abuse did not represent their practices. Growers aren’t usually thought of as a wired, social-networking bunch. But frustration at being the targets of tech-wise environmental or animal rights groups has inspired them to get involved with social media and answer in kind.”

Have you used social media to share your story? Have you responded to a negative article, video or online conversation about agriculture lately? If we all spend a few minutes at the end of the day correcting the online errors about agriculture, we will finally be able to connect consumers to producers and regain the trust from our customers that we undoubtedly deserve.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy Independence Day America

Wow! What a wonderful weekend. Global warming was definitely not in effect as we didn't reach 80 on Saturday. We had fun going to the park and selling beef sandwiches. We also explained the benefits of beef and what all was used in a cow. Look at vegans you aren't as pure as you think you are.

Almost all of a bovine carcass is utilized in one way or another. From fertilizer to filet mignon, it all has its place. Which reduces the amount of waste products to almost nil. THere is defintely some parts that are not eaten though thanks to BSE or Mad Cow Disease. Slaughter plants are required to remove the brain, spinal column, tonsils, and small intestine from the edible meats. This helps to reduce worries about variant Crutzefedlt Jakobs Disease or vCJD. I only say worries because there has been no evidence to suggest that vCJD is transmitted to humans just theories that it might possibly be one route of transmission.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wolves and Celebrities

Kristen Stewart stopped by the "Late Show with David Letterman" to plug "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" Monday night.

Letterman then shared some photos of Stewart's "wolf-dog hybrid" pet, Jack, whom Stewart gushed over.

"He's really sweet," she said.

The two made an awkward segue into hunting wolves, a practice of which Stewart passionately disapproved. She made particular allusion to shooting wolves from helicopters, possibly making a jab at Sarah Palin. (The media associated Palin with such aerial shootings during the 2008 campaign.)

Letterman replied, "We don't want them killing buffalo or elk. We can manage everything. Ranchers take it seriously when [wolves] are chewing their cattle. That's money out of their pocket."

Stewart brought the exchange to a good-natured close. "They can all come live in my backyard," she said of the wolves.

I pulled this off of a media gossip site. I don't have TV so no Letterman watching for me. Besides who has enough energy to stay up that late. I guess the ranchers from Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and NOW Oregon know where to send these little green pets to. How misinformed celebrities are about the destruction and havoc wolves play on ranching incomes. Not just with the animals they kill but with the pounds of saleable product lost because cattle run through fences, are nervous, and are constantly on the watch instead of eating grass like they should.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Training Opportunity for Ag

Farmers from even the most remote small towns are engaging life-long city dwellers in stories of their farm through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. These conversations are at the core of building understanding of agriculture by the 98 percent of Americans not living on the farm. Improving individual effectiveness is the goal of the AgChat Foundation's first training session to help farmers be more effective in telling their personal story. The conference will be held August 30-31 in Chicago.

"Social media provides an opportunity to connect directly to consumers as well as others in agriculture," says Jeff Fowle, AgChat Foundation president. "I'm like most farmers and ranchers. We build extensive knowledge in the care of our crops and livestock, from decades of experience on the farm, training sessions, workshops and our education. Many farmers and ranchers have not had the opportunity to study communications, let alone social media. This training session will bring together experts in some of those arenas to help food providers better advocate by telling their story."

The conference is being planned by volunteers who serve on the AgChat Foundation's board of directors, advisory board and committee members. The team includes farmers, professional communicators and trainers.

"Thousands of farmers and ranchers have participated in basic training for social media, and have started using these channels to get their stories out. And quite a few have taken it to the next level actively engaging consumers in blogs, etc. We want to provide them a chance to advance their advocacy" says Michele Payn-Knoper, who chairs the committee planning the event. "This session is designed to take a small group through more advanced agvocacy training and provide more individualized growth."

The planned agenda includes:

Bridging Basic Communications with Social Media
Community Building for Twitter and Facebook
Extending your community beyond ag
Creating effective content for YouTube and blogs
"The hands-on sessions will provide attendees an opportunity to begin immediately employing new skills. And given the enthusiasm some farmers have, I'd anticipate the learning continue through break times and as we return to our farms," says Mike Haley, the foundation's vice president.

Mid-level social media users are targeted to participate. To apply, go to the foundation's website The Foundation is working with sponsors to keeps costs manageable, organizations interested in sponsoring sessions or farmer-attendees can contact

Source: AgChat Foundation

Costco giving a leg up to Family Farms

Is your local warehouse grocery store helping the agricultural industry? Yes, I think so. Check out the link to see an article in the Costco rag. It contains a nice description of how Foster Farms a family owned and operated business was started. Practices used in chicken production and how it changed the author's mind on production practices.

I wonder where the author got the information about "factory farmed" chicken? Maybe from the B.S. ads ran by HSUS in 2008 to support Proposition 2. It is nice to see big business supporting one of the 85% of family owned farms in California. Just for facts sake- 10% are single ownership (?) and the remaining 5% are coporate owned.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Just what I need some more school work but I couldn't help but take the challenge when the e-mail came acrossed my computer to obtain a Master's in Beef Advocacy. It is a relatively simple 6 unit online course in Modern Beef Production, Environmental Stewardship, Animal Care, Nutrition, Beef Checkoff,and Beef Safety. Some of the information is not new but definitely worth a refresher course.

I learned today that beef production is the largest single segment of American Agriculture- 35% of the Total. With only 800,000 farms/ranches producing beef cattle in the U.S. I also learned the average operation has only 40 head. Wow! The numbers have changed from when I took Introduction to Animal Science about... 10 years ago. When the average operation was 75 head.

Farmers and Ranchers are not producing less beef though. They are actually increase beef production through genetics, greater carcass utilization, and decreasing the amount of fat in a carcass.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

More Regulation!?

Boy if California doesn't have enough problems they are inviting more. The Department of Water Resources just hired 25 new employees to enforce regulations on state water users (i.e. irrigation from creeks, springs, rivers etc). They are requiring everyone to report the amount of water diverted from state waters. A California Farm Burearu representative suggested it is for three reasons- fees, fines, and flows.

Flows, huh? Yep, if farmers do not use their allocated water rights, the state is going to come in and try and take the "excess" water to divert down to the city. So we can't have crops but can have green lawns, smelt, and drinking water in overpopulated areas. They are enforcing these regulations statewide, even in areas where there are closed basins- those that do not flow to the ocean or further down to Sacramento, LA, San Diego etc. There is even some discussion about looking at efficiencies among water users and fineing those who do not have efficient water systems- open ditches that are not lined. Go Ahead California keep pushing people out of the state and then complain about being bankrupt and having no taxes.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Junior Livestock Show

Well it has been a long couple of weeks and I haven't written anything in awhile. We are currently being bombarded by the state government wanting to know the impact of our programs and why they should be funded. I don't know maybe because we help produce food for the nation. Maybe because we are continually fighting for common sense in regulations. Maybe because we are working at making agriculture an evironmentally sound, sustainable industry. Enough complaining.

Last week was our Junior Livestock show. We had 4-H and FFA members from the county and surrounding counties showing off their animals. One young man was outstanding! He raised the champion market rabbit along with the champion market beef. He also took home a couple buckles in horsemanship and the round robin. It makes me happy to see that the future may be brighter than once anticipated. We still have young men and women who are interested in agriculture and raising meat animals.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Junior Livestock Show

I can't believe it is that time already. We will be having our Junior Livestock Show next week, hence the reason I have been horrible about blogging. This is a great opportunity to see the next generation at work. It is also a great opportunity to explain life cycles, raising of meat, and just how much love and work going into getting an animal to the freezer.

Our livestock show is different than most. It is ran entirely by a board of kids ages 12-19 with an advisor. It is a great leadership opportunity. Along with the other things I have mentioned, we have two civil service programs going on. Donate back for packs- where kid can donate money to purchase school supplies for needy or underpriveleged kids and Meat for Seniors. This allows purchasers of animals to donate the meat to the local senior center.

I am starting to get a better outlook on the future looking at how giving this generation is.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wise Words from an even Wiser Man

Cow Camp Chatter

“Enjoy the Process”

Ron Torell, Long-Standing Educator and Advocate of Agriculture

I recently received some very sound advice from a trusted and loyal friend that is worth passing on: “Slow down and enjoy the process." Most agriculture producers are just like me. On any given day they have too many irons in the fire and too much on their minds. Consequently we all try to do too much in a day with too little help and too few resources. The slim profit margin agriculture offers is simply too small to afford the labor force and infrastructure we once enjoyed so we simply do without. We rely heavily on our family, neighbors and friends to fill this labor void. We shoulder the bulk of the added burden and are often unable to enjoy the process and the reason why we are in agriculture production to begin with. We hurry through one job so we can move on to the next. We become crisis managers rather than ranch managers. In this issue of Cow Camp Chatter let’s discuss the subject of slowing down and enjoying the process, and how, by doing so, we may become more efficient ranch managers and more enjoyable people to be around.

It’s important to keep in mind that the boss of any given outfit sets the tone for the day. Take for example working cows. This is generally one of the most pleasant of tasks associated with livestock production. It involves sorting calves from cows, running cows through the chute for vaccination, and processing calves. Normally this is a good day unless the boss starts it out with a sour attitude or tries to work the cows all in one day with marginal facilities and inexperienced labor. As this scene often plays out, what could have been a very pleasant day for both man and beast often goes south. The boss has a meltdown and goes ballistic. This isn’t all due to the marginal facilities, the inexperienced and untrained labor, or the large number of animals to be processed before dark. In large part it may be because of the overload the boss is packing around mentally. The tone has been set. No one wants to be there at this point including the cows and calves. The fun has been bled out of the day for all.

I rather suspect that if you manage or live on a family ranch the above scenario comes close to describing a day or two on your operation. So what can be done to change this situation? For starters, slow down and enjoy the process. Do not try to do it all in one day. Don’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Take an iron or two from the fire. Prioritize responsibilities and eliminate those tasks or jobs that are the most stressful and could possibly be done on another day when time allows. Become an advanced planner. Improve your infrastructure so it is untrained-labor friendly. As inexperienced as your labor force may be, you can change that by taking the time to educate and train those individuals and make the job enjoyable so that your limited labor pool will want to return to help the next time. Select and train mother cows to be more human friendly. And, yes, that can be done! Remember, you set the tone for the day.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A chance to teach indirectly

My sister is taking a couple of online classes to finish up the dreaded general education credits for her degree in animal science. She consistently tells me- I don't like these classes what do they have to do with my degree or what I want to do with my life. She still has romantic notions about cowboying out on the sagebrush seas roping young calves from their death at the jaws of sickness. I have told her several times- use these classes as a platform to further others education about what we do. Raise food for the American Public. I just helped her edit a response to the question of- Explain a microculture that you are annoyed with. She was going to choose skateboarders. Though annoying they seem relatively harmless. I gently steered the response to animal rights activists.

She had to explain what it was she found annoying in their mannerisms, dialoge, and communication skills. Again, with a little prompting the answer addressed the use of words that should be banned from vocabulary like- factory farming and puppy mills. What exactly is a puppy mill? I mean Wayne Pacelle- Mr. H$U$ defines it as a household with more than 7 dogs. OOPS. We are almost there. We have two border collies, one kelpie+border collie+red heeler mix (see above as a puppy), then you add in my sisters two rat terriers and red heeler+ bird dog (don't ask) mix. That makes 6. Some weeks our 3 are not enough for my husband to do his job on a lava plain that has more rocks than grass but the grass is hard enough to raise some great cattle.

Factory Farms? Another misnomer that should be stricken from English. What is it? Animal Rights people state it is a facility where animals are treated like machines. Well if they were machines we would throw some gas instead of grass to them. Oil the parts instead of giving them water. Just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

SJ Resolution 26

On 6/10, the Senate will vote on SJ Res. 26, a Joint-Resolution to disapprove the EPA Rule designating carbon dioxide a pollutant. CO2 occurs naturally in the environment & is what mammals exhale. It is not a pollutant! If the EPA is allowed to define it as one & regulate it, then the EPA has a license to regulate itself. Contact your Senators and urge them to adopt this critical resolution.

Wow now government is going to regulate the air we breath or exhale in this case even more. This is ludicrious and a sign of a dictatorship.

Foot and Mouth Outbreak in Japan

Don Hansen, Oregon State Veterinarian, says the outbreak of the highly contagious Foot and Mouth disease in Japan is something producers need to be aware of.

The disease affects animals like cattle, swine and, sheep, not humans. The virus however, can be easily transmitted through clothing and shoes on Japanese travelers who have recently visited or are from Japanese livestock operations.

Unsuspecting travelers can transport the disease quickly. And since Japanese citizens often visit Oregon, there is a potential for the disease to spread to herds through movement by these visitors to ranches and farms.

The current outbreak in Japan is in the Miyazaki Prefecture, in the Southern island of Kyushu. They have already euthanized some 35 thousand cattle and pigs, and they expect that to go up in the hundreds of thousands as they mobilize people in the field.

Ranchers and farmers should be aware about this potential for infection. If you get a tour group from Japan you should ask if anyone is from Kyushu. If they are, take additional biosecurity precautions about the group walking and being around your livestock and facilities.

The US department of agriculture has also now issued a ban on beef and pork products from Japan in an attempt to prevent FMD spreading to the U.S..

Those traveling to Japan and Korea are being asked not to visit farms or ranches until the outbreak is over. Travelers are also being asked to avoid contact with livestock or wildlife for five days, prior to, and after returning home.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Low-Stress Livestock Handling

To many people "Low-Stress Livestock Handling" is nothing new. It is a way of life. There is a certain finesse and pride in being able to handle cattle quiet and smooth. If a person understands the mentality of a cow aka the fight or flight response, the rest comes easily.

I was working cattle this weekend with a young man about 13 years old. He was trying to push the animals from behind up the snake into a chute. He didn't understand why the animal wouldn't go forward, or why I started at the front and pushed the entire bunch forward. I slowly introduced him to the concepts of flight zone, quarters, and cattle handling. Being a 13 year old about 10% of it stuck but he has potential... Oh there's a pretty butterfly. :)

I also took away his hot shot or electric prod during this time. He paid more attention to body placement and movement without a prop. By the end of the day, cattle were moving smooth through the snake and would only balk at the chute. I explained this wasn't our fault. The chute had open sides and there were several people that would distract the cow from seeing her opening.

It is amazing how cattle can be worked without sparky if you understand evolution and the ingrained mechanisms of a flight response.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I have to admit- I am a virtual farmer. There is just something mind numbing about clicking your mouse repeatedly "harvesting crops, plowing, and seeding". Though, I was struck by a thought the other day. If you don't harvest your crops on time, they wither. However, if you don't collect milk, none of your cows dry up, there is no going to the vet and getting treatment for mastitis. A wandering stallion is a good thing!? The chickens don't lay eggs in places you can't find them and then hatch out to cause you to have more chickens. You don't butcher the laying hens once they quit laying. Every egg is a hen. Wow! How much further from reality do we get? Is this game actually furthering our disconnect from food?

Think about farming or ranching where nothing dies. You wouldn't get paid for a calf crop. No pullets to butcher. You only collect wool from sheep and milk from the goats. AND, the hogs hunt for truffles? There would be no meat. Is this a vegetarian utopia at its worst? Especially considering literally, millions of people virtual farm.

But on the flip side of facebook, there is a mafia wars game where you can steal, murder, and extort. You can kill people but not animals. Makes you think.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Undercover Video of a Dairy Farm in Ohio

I am disturbed by the undercover video that was debuted by Mercy for Animals. It was a disgusting, heart wrenching display of stupidity at its worst. This is not how animals are supposed to be treated. This is not how 99% of dairies treat their animals but this is the video that is going to watched and used to decide on regulations on all forms of the food producing industry.

The abuse is bad enough but the undercover video technician allowed this abuse to go for days without stepping in and doing anything! How could someone who works for a group called Mercy for animals not stop this senseless torture? I think this person should be charged along with the workers and owner of the dairy. They stood by as a silent observer. Does this condone the actions to some point? They sat their and filmed for their own gain and watched the cattle suffer at the hands of these monsters.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Livestock Board- Take Two

I realized after I had posted under the title of Livestock Board, I never got to the point of talking about them. I believe that Livestock Boards such as those trying to be put together in Ohio and Tennesee are needed. They seem to take away the emotions associated with animal rights and welfare and replace it with decision making based on science.

Should be simple to convince legislators of right? WRONG! One doesn't think it is needed. Another believes it would be difficult to form a non-biased board. The politics and the list goes on.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Had Ag in the Classroom yesterday. OVer 75 first graders visited a ranch to learn about agriculture. There were all types of animals and people. It was a very rewarding experience.

It also opened my eyes as to how far away from food source even rural kids are getting. I held a picture of a chicken drumstick and asked where it came from? It was scary when one kid answered Safeway.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Livestock Boards

Animal Welfare has come to the forefront of many ballot measures and news articles lately. Proposition 2 in California was a law passed to regulate cage laying hens, farrowing crates and veal crates. It had the loose restrictions of the animal being able to turn freely and extend limbs without touching the sides of enclosure, among other things. I guess there was very dramatic commercials that went along with the campaigning for this proposition. We don't have TV so I didn't view any of them. Sounds great, right? What voter wouldn't want their food animals to have free movement?

The problem is the commercial were put together by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). A known lobbying group against animal agriculture in any form. They give very little of their multi-million dollar budget to help animals (sources quote from less than 0.05% to 5%). They are not helping your local humane societies and are a close partner to PETA.

The science shows raising animals in the current confinement structure is actually more beneficial for the animal and efficient for food production. Chickens raised in "free range" situations tend to be cannabilistic, have increased disease, and are less healthy than those raised in cage operations. Farrowing crates are used to decrease the incidence of females eating their young or laying on them and smothering the young pigs.

Lastly, why can't people vote at the grocery store? If they want cage free eggs then buy them! Don't push businesses out of a state by over regulation. All that happens is: Businesses move to surrounding states that are less regulated and California then imports eggs or whatever that are raised in the same manner as before the law was passed.

Prop 2 didn't help animal welfare! It helped the economy in Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, and Arizona. It is going to reduce the tax base in California- a state that is currently facing a 20 BILLION dollar deficiet. Doesn't make much sense to me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Great Weekend

I had a long, rewarding, and stressful weekend. We went to the in-laws and worked cattle. We practiced low-stress livestock handling, beef quality assurance, and animal welfare, all in a sustainable manner. The same way they have been doing it for 50 years before we had buzz words. Why haven't they been changing they're ways? Because it works! And in order for the small environmentally friendly place to be passed down to the next generation like it has for two generations we must continue. Over 95% of all farms and ranches are family owned, just like ours. Not factory farms with uncaring faces taking care of livestock. They are taking care of their livliehood and legacy. Not something to take lightly.

So, I guess it would be families feeding families. I don't want my daughter to eat her beef from Brazil. I would prefer it comes from the USA.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


When does feral stop and wild begin?

In the west there are tens of thousands of horses out on the range and even more in long-term holding facilities in the Midwest. These animals are called wild horses or mustangs but are they really?

Feral is an animal that was once domesticated but has returned to its natural surroundings. According to most archealogists, horses were extinct on North America sometime in the last 6,000 to 25,000 years. Horses were reintroduced to the area with Columbus. Stretching common sense a bit, I would think a horse would have to be somewhat domesticated to be placed on a boat, fed and watered for several months as the boat sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, and then taken off a boat to a new country. With this theory, I would say most mustangs or wild horses are actually feral.

So, they have feral cat round-ups, feral dogs can be shot on site, but feral horses are protected by federal law and Disney. Don't get me wrong, there is something romantic about seeing horses running free on the sagebrush sea but they have become overpopulated. Overpopulation leads to reduction in the amount of feed available for everything including wildlife. Because of laws that are in effect, feral horses cannot be permanently altered for population control. You can not spay or neuter these animals until adopted. Instead, millions of taxpayer dollars are spent towards creating PZP vaccine that is only partially effective for 3 years.

Something to think about the next time you watch Spirit.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Welfare Ranching

Welfare Ranching- A term coined by Western Watersheds Project and other anti-grazing on public lands "environmental" groups. I put environmental in quotes because if these groups realized the positive effects of proper grazing on public land they would be for it or wouldn't claim to be environmentalists.

Look at the statistics- 85% of the land in the western United States is unsuitable for crop production. By grazing livestock, the land area used for food production is more than doubled. Cattle convert forage that humans cannot consume into a nutrient dense food.

A California based study states cattle grazing plays an important role in maintaining the wetland habitat necessary for some endangered species.

Grazing reduces the amout of fine fuels on public and private lands helping to decrease the possibility of catastrophic wildfires. Why else would the USFS and BLM not allow cattle on permits the growing season before setting a prescribed burn.

Lastly, even though public land grazing fees are below that for private ground; there are many trade offs between the government and the permittee. On most private leases, the leasee doesn't have to maintain the fences. They don't have to build water sources. There isn't the extra bueracracy involved etc.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sage Grouse- The spotted owl of grazing

Sage Grouse were given a warranted but precluded status by Ken Salazar. What a great victory for producer that use public lands. I saw up close and personal what Western Watersheds Project would try and do if they reached threatened and endangered status. Here is the story.

A small allotment on National Forest was closed down to lambing because it was a historic lekking site. No, I should rephrase that... A small allotment on National Forest was closed down to sheep use AT ALL because Western Watersheds sued the government. Costing tax payer money, reducing the economy of a rural community, and causing range cons to neglect their permittees due to fear of lawsuits from WWP.

This was all based on assumptions, tangential data, and fear not science!!! The science states- There is no direct link between declining sage grouse numbers and livestock use. Sage Grouse perfer meadows grazed in early spring to those that were ungrazed. Salting and watering areas, those lands that are traditionally classified as sacrfice areas, are preferred places for lekking by sage grouse males. The list goes on... In fact, the leading sage grouse expert says there needs to be grazing to improve sage grouse habitat. Not just late summer grazing either. Grazing should be based on a 15 month deferred rotation system. Hmmmm...

So, I guess the areas were "welfare" grazing are taking place are actually helping a threatened and endangered species. I wonder what Jon Marvel has to say about that.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

A day late and several dollars short... but Happy Mother's Day. I hope you had a great time yesterday. I did. We vaccinated and identified some calves for the neighbors. It was a good time but it also reminded me of something. Here we were helping the neighbors immunize their calves against diseases. The same as a parent would get their child immunized. Hmmm...

Also, if the child becomes sick we treat them with antibiotics. Do doctors sometimes prescribe antibiotics to children with viral infections just to make a mother happy? Perhaps. Could this be contributing to antibiotic resistant strains? Probably. More than subtherapuetic use of antibiotics in beef cattle? I don't know. I do know that the beef industry took a huge hit from mass media jumping on the bandwagon. I saw one article that listed antibiotic residues found in meat, one of which was flunixin meglumine.

There is several issues with the article but I just want to take the instance of flunixin meglumine being listed. First, if withdrawal times are followed for any antibiotic there should be no residues in the meat. Second and Last, flunixin meglumine is NOT an antibiotic! Wow, now that was some good reporting. Flunixin meglumine is an nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug or NSAID. Same category as aspirin, acetometophin (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen. Reporters need to be held responsible for making true statements.

Educate don't Alienate.

Friday, May 7, 2010


I end up talking about Agriculture in some of the most interesting places. I was at meetings in Phoenix once. After the meetings, some colleagues and I stopped at a watering hole. We were enjoying ourselves and socializing when one of the locals stopped at our table. He asked where we were from, what we were doing in town, and then asked about all these hormones in beef! Ummm... We could have blown him off but you get a bunch of scientists together and they love to talk about their work.

So, this is about how the "lecture" went. Do you know what hormone is implanted into beef? Nope Do you know the difference between Testosterone and Progesterone? I can see the difference, I just don't know the difference This was followed by a drawing of the chemical structures of cholesterol, testosterone, and progesterone on a bar napkin. Do you know how much of the hormone is in a half a pound of beef that you eat in a hamburger? Nope ~2 ng. Did you know a salad contains about 1200 ng of hormones? Nope Do you know how much is in a soybean... And it goes on from there.

By the end of the "lecture" the gentleman's thoughts were totally changed. His ending comments were "I get it! I get it! Eat beef not salad!" Not exactly the point but he finally understood that hormones are in a lot of different foodstuffs. Come to find out this man was a trader for the stock exchange. When we saw him the next day he told us he took his napkins and told 6 other people at lunch about the benefits of beef and that hormones weren't bad.

Don't let little opportunities pass you by to spread the message.

Hard Work

This one is for Holly. She raised some interesting points in her comment. Ranching and Farming is hard work. It is tough to raise food. If it was easy and paid well more people would be doing it. So, kids flock to the cities where it is a set work day, you are paid by the hour, and recieve benefits and retirement.

When ranching or farming the animals and the crops do not have a clock. You can't tell a cow that is calving you will come back tomorrow because it is five. You can't let a sick lamb die because there is no overtime. A farmer can't take a vacation during harvest time. AND the markets dictate how much you are paid.

Personally, I know how hard it is to ranch and farm. So do many that are working 9-5 in urban America but they don't tell their story. That was the point of Wednesday's post. Even if you aren't doing it now, you still have a legacy to protect. A sustainable (whatever that word means), nutritous, wholesome food source which your parents, grandparents, or great grandparents help(ed) produce.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Children- our future

Are farmers and ranchers missing the boat? The national 4-H meeting had a Humane Society of the United States speaker present to talk about animal rights. Where was the Farmer or Rancher to speak about animal welfare and animal care? Where was the speaker for water quality measures being produced on the range?

Only 2% of the population is still on the farm. That two percent might want to start talking in schools, youth groups, and other entities to try and convince the next generation- we are doing right!

I had a chance to talk to a bunch of 1st graders from all over the county about beef. It was an amazing experience. One of the questions I asked the group was Cattle only eat plants, what do we call them? One young lady blurted out "Stinking vegetarians!" I didn't want to get into a philosophical discussion with a first grader because I figured I might lose but she hit the nail on the head. They are vegetarians and she knew what it was. She didn't know what ominovores or carnivores were. The rest of the class didn't know that beef came from cattle. These are basic issues that need to be discussed.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Meat Myths

Eating red meat, especially beef, has gotten a bad rap over the last two decades for being high in fat. There are 29 cuts of beef that are deemed lean, less than 10 grams of fat per 3.5 ounce serving (American Heart Association). All of these cuts have less total fat than a skinless chicken thigh which has 6.1 grams of fat per 3.5 ounce serving (Foster Farms). The low fat cuts include those steaks with “loin” in the name- sirloin, tenderloin. There also several roasts such as eye of round, chuck, and arm roasts which are also considered a lean protein source.

E. Coli anxiety has caused many people to rethink purchasing beef products. Remember, the scare earlier this decade because of spinach? Many steps have been taken to ensure very little to no e.coli is in beef products during harvesting. Carcasses are steam cleaned and care is taken during removal of the hide to reduce possible contamination. Ground beef is of the biggest concerns of all beef products due to the available surface area for bacteria to grow. The answer is simple- cook your ground beef until no pink is left in the meat or about 160 degrees Fahrenheit and do not order burgers anything but well done.

Implants in cattle are horrible- if unscientific sensational speculations are to be believed. Actually a half a pound of beef from an implanted animal has *1.9 nanograms of estrogen equivalent or about *30,000 times less estrogen than what is produced by the average man. Half a pound of potatoes has *245 nanograms of estrogen equivalent. Oh no, there rears the ugly head of white starches again but that is another story.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Sacramento Bee- Sierras, Cattle, and Water

The title says it all: Bee Exclusive: Livestock Waste Found to Foul Sierra Waters

Read the entire article here:

Brief version:
Robert Derlet- Director of the emergency room at UC Davis Medical Center is blaming cattle waste in water sources on people being sick and coming to the emergency room. In an article published in a peer reviewed journal- They found 15/15 sites where cattle were watering and 12/15 pack sites (those where pack stock or horses, mules, and burros were tied) to be contaminated with fecal coliforms and/or E. Coli.

"I can recall ... spots in the Sierra where tears almost want to come to your eyes, where you see cow patties right in the stream," Derlet said. "Flushing down from the Sierra, we have raw sewage."

"The overriding problem is the cattle," Derlet said. "Horses are usually along the trails and controlled by a guy who theoretically will make sure they poop away from the water."

Here is the scientific rebuttal from Drs Atwill and Tate also from UC Davis.
Proper livestock management can significantly reduce this risk, but first a few points about that risk. It has often been assumed that many pathogens shed by cattle are infectious to humans. Recent research finds this is not always the case. Several species of the parasite Cryptosporidium shed by cattle are barely infectious for humans, or not at all, and often just a few adult range cattle are carriers. Higher levels are found in young beef calves, sometimes up to 20% are carriers for a few weeks. Many types of Giardia carried by livestock are not infectious for humans. Background levels of indicators and pathogens in streams can be very low, but also quite high. Many wildlife species carry surprisingly high levels of these microbes, and make daily contributions in our watersheds.

There are many science‐based solutions and opportunities to address livestock associated risks. A grazing management tool box, if you will. For example, we can use careful placement of livestock attractants such as drinking water to move as much as 60% of cattle fecal waste away from streams. Even a few days a month spent
herding cattle away from streams will increase stream health. During summer months, almost all the C. parvum found in cattle fecal pats exposed to sunshine dies within one day due to lethal hot temperatures. Over 90% of the E. coli, C. parvum, Giardia, and Salmonella found in cattle fecal pats are not transported more than a foot during
rainfall‐runoff events. A single additional yard of rangeland soil and vegetation can often filter 30 to 90% of these microbes flowing in surface runoff. Wetlands can filter up to 90% of E. coli in runoff from grazed pastures.

My thoughts... Where do I start? This whole study is wrong in so many ways. My biggest concern is a companion paper that was published with Mike Connors California Liason for Western Watersheds Project. So, the agenda for these studies is clear- get cattle off of Federal lands. The article in the Bee went on to reference cost of grazing but only took into consideration the cost per AUM. Not that permittees also pay for fence maintenance, clear trails, help maintain a food source for America. Nope none of that was mentioned.

My second concern- The raw sewage statement. First, who drinks from creeks, lakes, or other water sources in the mountains without boiling or using some type of anti-microbial agent anyways? Secondly, wildlife do not relieve themselves in water sources? I suppose they use the outhouses set up by fish and game?

My thrid concern- Is it possible that the high levels of indicator bacteria at cattle sites are not only due to the cattle but a symbiotic relationship between wildlife and cattle concentrating animals both domestic and wild in an area? The levels of indicator bacteria were not high at backpacker sites 1/15 tested positive. I wonder how much wildlife were at these sites? You see wildlife and cattle together all the time but humans and wildlife? Nope you have to create bear world or a national park to acclimate wildlife to humans.

Fourth, I don't believe this study is unbiased. No randomization. Association with Western Watersheds. AND what does an emergency room administrator know about water quality?

Lastly, One of the comments submitted to the paper was: Cattle are a non-native ungulate species that has been destroying the environment for centuries. Hmmm... Couldn't the same be said for humans?

Thursday, April 29, 2010


There is something about animals that raises emotions in us all. Be it a goldfish swimming around in a bowl or a cow out in a large pasture, there is a connection. Unfortunately, that connection isn't what it used to be. The American public is only two maybe three generations off the farm. Food now comes from a grocery store not a farm or ranch. How did we become so disjointed and urbanized?

I believe mechanization of agriculture started the downhill slide. There was less workers needed on the farm to accomplish the same tasks. Factories in cities offered a haven for workers who were replaced by tractors, combines, and mechanical pickers.

People no longer harvested their own meat. It was bought at the grocery store or from the corner butcher. No emotions needed there. They didn't have to make sure this animal was fed, watered, or consider it's health to ensure a wholesome, nutritious, product was on the table.

What really bothers me about the whole situation is the same people who do not provide the basic comforts of life for animals or make their living from the land want to tell farmers and ranchers how to do their job. I do not go to the Ford plant and tell engineers how to make the next vehicle just because I drive a Ford pickup. I am not qualified nor do I have the experience to make such an assumption.

So why do we have ballot measures dictating how to raise animals?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


The corner post in a fence is the most important part. It must be set deep in the soil to maintain the integrity of the rest of the fence(s). The corner post is also where outlying fields meet. These fields being science, emotion, environment, agriculture, wildlife, and livestock.

This is my maiden voyage into blogging. I created this site to reflect on the agricultural community and negate some of the misconstrued information on the world wide web, mass media, and lobbying organizations. I wanted to become an advocate for the industry that feeds the nation.