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.