ALOT Class XVI Unites

12 Mar

ALOTLogoSmall-editedAgricultural Leaders of Tomorrow (ALOT) is a two year adult leadership training program that targets rural leaders and agricultural producers who have a passion to promote Missouri agriculture and strengthen their rural communities. The program enhances communication and leadership skills, expands knowledge of ag issues and encourages leadership initiative in local communities.

The ALOT Class XVI has so far visited Columbia and Jefferson City, Missouri and I am proud to say I was one of them. After the initial anxiety wore off I was blown away with the instant comradery the group formed. Over the first two weekends together we hadn’t simply met, we had united.

Columbia, MO was our first stop in the ALOT program that includes ten in-state three day sessions, a week long seminar in Washington D.C., and a two week international experience to a country that impacts Missouri agriculture.

Kristin Perry, executive director for ALOT, took a few minutes to share the rich history of ALOT and what she thought the take home message was from our first event.

“The program started in 1983 with a Kellogg grant that was sought by Dr. Bruce Bullock, Dr. Daryl Hobbs and Dr. Ron Plain. They wanted to teach people involved in agriculture how to be more involved in policy and leadership positions that would create a positive affect on Missouri agriculture.”

Kristin said her real goal in this program is to help everyone discover their passion and find how they can take an active role in the advancement of Missouri agriculture.

“Read more, listen more, learn more so you can become more involved, better informed and better connected for the future.”

Listen to my complete interview with Kristin and stay tuned as I chronicle our journey of leadership development in the ever-changing world of agriculture.

More Than A Competition

14 Oct

wde-14-181-editedI am no stranger to livestock shows, but I recently had the opportunity to attend my first World Dairy Expo. I have to admit, some things are VERY different. Fitting is one of those on the long list. We are always in the mode of growing hair in beef cattle. In fact, I don’t think you can have too much. So, how do you fit a dairy cow who has such little hair?

That question and more were answered when I strolled through the dairy barns and got the chance to talk with Steven Nelson who won the youth fitting contest at World Dairy Expo. Steven lives in Grovespring, MO and that just happens to be my home too. There in the small southern Missouri town, Steven milks 45 head of cows with his dad. He is in charge of all the milking year-round, tackles hay in the summer months and works for his neighbor who milks 100 head. Steven plans to take over the family operation when he finishes college.

Steven further explains the competition saying he had one hour to get one dairy cow ready for the ring. “You have to blow up the hair on their top line because you want their back to be perfectly straight. You also blow up their belly hair and blend it in with their body to make her look deeper and fuller, but also making her look sharper and more angular.” A professional fitter serves as the judge and watches each contestant throughout the entire competition.

Steven didn’t bring any of his own head to show during the Expo, but was working for another Missouri string. He said it didn’t really matter how well they all did and that it was more about the opportunity because all the cattle at the World Dairy Expo were good.

Listen to my complete interview with Steven here.

State Fairs – A Family Affair

21 Aug

IMG_0332 editedI literally grew up at the Missouri State Fair. I was just a little one when I first attended the fair with my dad and I haven’t missed a year since. My dad worked for the Missouri FFA and ran the FFA Building during the two-week event. I remember hanging out with the State FFA Officers while running through displays of corn and soybean seeds, flowers of all shapes and sizes and thinking all the ag mechanics projects were my own personal playground.

The Missouri State Fair brings back so many great memories for me. We ate meals in the youth building, slept in the administration building and when my sister and I were lucky, we even got to ride some rides. But the best memories come from exhibiting Hereford cattle year after year. Whether we walked away with a blue ribbon or not, we did it as a family. I actually met my, now husband, at the fair. The 2014 Missouri State Fair marked our 10 year anniversary of dating. How many of you can say you met the love of your life at the fair?

IMG_0346 edited Now we stay in a camper and eat our meals around a grill with our friends and family, but we still show cattle at the fair. However, my family has grown. This past year we had the privilege of welcoming a new member to our family. Miss Harper James Johansen attended her first state fair this year. When we pushed her stroller up and down the aisles of the barn or carried her as we tailed one to the ring, I have never seen my husband so excited and proud.

State fairs across the country are a family affair. My daughter’s state fair moments have already begun, even though she won’t quite remember them herself. I look forward to watching her grow up exhibiting livestock, eating corn dogs and creating friendships that will last a lifetime. Thanks dad for instilling a love of fairs in me and all the hard work and good times that go along with them.

Family Blessings Leading Up To Sale Day

24 Apr

Sale Catalog CoverAs we have prepared for our annual production sale, we can’t miss the opportunity to update folks on issues our family has faced over the last couple of months. In mid November, a supposedly minor outpatient surgery on dad’s foot exposed clear-cell sarcoma, which had spread throughout his entire right foot. Our family learned that the only way to treat this form of cancer was to remove the foot halfway between the ankle and knee. During the first week of December we traveled yet again to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis for the surgery.

Our family has been so blessed with everyone’s thoughts and prayers. We all have felt the hand of God through this trial in our lives. So many have shared their pledge of prayers. It is certainly humbling to watch the prayer support through dad’s students and friends at Missouri State, the Aurora/Mt. Vernon communities and, of course, the cattle industry across the Midwest. Our prayers were answered when doctors shared that CT scans found dad was cancer free once the amputation was completed.

Recovery has gone very well. Dad was back at the university fulltime by January 2nd. He mastered the art of driving with his left foot. And as you can guess hasn’t missed a beat when it comes to the cattle. Dad only missed one Sunday at the piano bench and his left foot has taken over the foot pedals. This life-changing event has been challenging, but recovery has progressed rapidly because of his amazing attitude towards it. His positivity has allowed so many to grow stronger in their faith and remember that God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle.

Dad can continue the cattle operation, teaching and working with students. He can spoil his first granddaughter, Harper James Johansen, born to Kevin and I on February 5th, walk Joanna down the aisle as she marries Neal Wilkinson in August and continue to climb the many steps to watch Jonathan march in the Pride band.

Dad began walking again with a prosthetic leg in mid February, but brags of catching a calf with only one leg on his hands and knees earlier this winter. Just the other day I watched my dad help his mom, who has two bad knees, down a step while leaving a restaurant. Then, she turned around and helped him balance the same step down. If you didn’t know the pair, you could have easily felt sorry for them, but not my dad and grandma. As I watched them help each other, all I could see was their smiles stretching from ear to ear.

2014 has started out with a bang for our family. God’s grace continues to bless our lives and as we have prepared for this sale we are once again reminded that none of this would be possible without you. Few things make my dad happier then creating mating’s that will help others grow their herds of “No Excuse Herefords.” We know we have a great offering to share with you in our 14th Production Sale. Thank you for being a part of our family for so many years.

View our online sale catalog here.

Cha-Ching

7 Jan

Price of Food PictureWe are just a week into 2014 and I have seen multiple news outlets and television shows talk about what food prices will look like in the coming year. We in the agricultural community talk food prices all the time. We are constantly following the market and clearly understand what drives the price of the food we eat. How much rain did corn crops get? How are herd numbers? What’s the weather been like in South America? And their are many other factors.

But, today I realized that the general public has no clue what truly drives the prices of their milk, bread, eggs and steak. They can make guesses, but it seems little thought is put into why they pay what they pay. I had the Rachael Ray Show on today and a segment called Financial Food Planning caught my attention. They surveyed the audience comparing two items and asked them which they thought would go up in price in the coming year. Many audience members were right and others way off. The question that keeps nagging me is do they know why they were right or wrong.

LearnVest.com CEO and Financially Fearless author Alexa Von Tobel explains to Rachael and co-host Bill Bellamy which foods will cost you more money in the new year.

Rachael Ray – Financial Food Planning with Alexa Von Tobel

In the segment Alexa does a good job explaining in a second or less why one item might be more in 2014 than another. I only wish she could have spent at least 5 minutes explaining to the studio audience as well as, viewers at home.

My mother-in-law gives calendar for Christmas each year. This year mine had a Garfield theme and after the cute comic strip you can flip it over for a Daily Extra. Today I flipped it over and it just happened to be titled: 100 Years Ago…Food Prices in 1914 Chicago.

  • Milk: 9 cents per quart
  • Eggs: 35 cents per dozen
  • Bacon: 28 cents per pound
  • Potatoes: 18 cents per pound
  • Sirloin Steak: 26 cents per pound

For the most part, 100 years ago the price of food was determined the same way it is now. Did people know then? I guess that is why I am rambling on about food prices today. Do you think about why you pay what you pay at the grocery store or at the pump? If you do, do you think your neighbor does? Does it even matter if anyone knows why the price of milk, eggs, bacon, potatoes or steak is what it is?

Baby|Calf Watch 2014

5 Jan
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The hubs has already spent half the night in the pasture watching for new babies, but is at it again just as the sun is coming up.

Just about 3 weeks away from D-Day, but our cows are in the heat of calving and today many decided to pop out during the first snow storm of 2014. Not only are we expected to get about 8 inches of snow, but the wind chill is suppose to be in the -20’s. Those of us living in Southern Missouri sure aren’t used to these sub-zero temps.

Calving season is my favorite time of the year. All the hard work throughout the year makes it worth it when you see the calves nursing and chasing their mamas across the field.

At this stage in my pregnancy, I can’t really do a whole lot on the farm. However, I do make a pretty good side-kick, secretary, tag-maker and gate-getter. Since I can’t get out of the truck, I snapped some pics with my phone to keep myself entertained.

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Extended cab trucks come in handy during these winter calving months. Thawing out this baby, she was one of four who chilled out in the truck with me this morning.

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Happy New Year

1 Jan

2013 has been one of the most memorable in history. My brother graduated high school and started his journey in college, Kevin and I received the biggest blessings we could imagine, my sister got engaged to such a wonderful young man, my dad overcame cancer like a champ and my mom continued to serve as the rock of the family; holding us all together with a constant reminder that God doesn’t give us anything that we can’t handle and with His guiding hand all is possible.

But 2014 can only trump it. My brother is already planning for the future and applying for internships. Baby Johansen will be here in just a couple of weeks. Wedding planning is already in full swing. Dad gets fitted for his prosthetic very soon and is truly my hero. And none of this would be possible without my mom.

2013 Christmas Card

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