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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.

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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My Ozark’s & Harvest Time

24 Oct

Fall TreeIt is finally cooling off here in my Ozark hills. And I am actually thankful. I am ready to curl up under blankets, bundle up in warm sweaters and even see a little snow on the ground. But soon we will all be wishing for green grass, blooming flowers and a warm breeze. It is harvest time throughout the country and I recently came across this writing from my Great Grandma Helen. Her favorite time of the year was Spring, but she always honored the farmers who worked tireless hours bringing in the crops before winter hit.

As far as I know these are her original words, but she often quoted her favorite authors. Remember these are unedited. But as you read you can see her passion for the land, farmers, nature and her relentless faith.

Yes deep in the heart of the Ozarks, life is real and beautiful, we worship God in our little country churches by the side of the roads our voices mingle together in song and in prayer. “Farmers,” “Ozarks Farmers,” God bless them. We come to the close of another harvest with Thanksgiving in our hearts.

If last year we toiled long and hard in our fields, drought and insects overwhelmed our efforts with failure of a good crop. Does not the kindly springtime seem to say to each of us “forget the heartaches of yesterday, and with joy and hope in your heart, roll up your sleeves and try again.”

To me there is something holy about the springtime, and the return of the birds with their songs, and the eternal grass and the wild flowers that grow up on the hillside and in our fields and meadows. How dreary life would be without them.

In all nature there is nothing more mysterious remarkly then the coming and going of our birds, and how these lovely little creatures know that winter and blizzards are in the offering and it is time to seek a warmer climate, and later when spring is on the way, these things are secrets, known only to God and themselves.

Out in California, there is an old mission that was built by the Spandard’s of long ago. At a given day on a given hour back fall time the 100 of swallows that make their home in that centuries old structure suddenly depart and on a certain day and hour, in the springtime they as suddenly reappear, and who shall say that life ends at the grave when we are surrounded by forces that are thus beautiful, and as mysterious as they are beautiful when the frost of Oct. comes the leaves of the trees turn sear and yellow.

The autumn winds blow them hither and you and the trees upon which they grow stand stark and bare, and yet comes the spring. The leaves return in all their glory, dull lifeless bark opens to let pink-white blossoms push their way to the sun. This is how we know life does not end suddenly with the words – dust to dust.

The roots bid their time in the frozen earth and quicken into life with the April shoulder. But root or seed they unite in proclaiming to all the world that God intended that they shall live forever. And if this is true of the wild rose and the little brown seed why should it not be a thousand times more so of a human soul.

This is the message of our harvest and springtime, when God strives to give us new courage and also it is life, for just as drought’s insects or flood would soon bring us face to face with starvation, so would not our muscles grow soft if all our harvest were golden. Always we must take the bitter with the sweet it is God’s way, it is life.

It is no trouble for us who life in the country to believe in the resurrection, we know full well that nothing in nature is ever completely destroyed. At this harvest season we give out thanks and know it is sleeping for awhile our nature, then in a few weeks the whole countryside will echo. I am the resurrection and the life.

Drum Roll Please…

24 Sep

It’s a….

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So God Made An FFA Member

18 Feb

164408_10151453625740660_34121918_nThe National FFA Organization has been a part of my life since the day I was born. My dad was an ag teacher, so I was raised in the organization. Once I was old enough to zip up my very own FFA jacket I couldn’t wait to take in everything the FFA had to offer. The blue corduroy let a shy girl, who lacked confidence, blossom into a public speaker, leader and advocate for agriculture.

Later in life the National FFA Organization gave me the opportunity to share my passion with my students as a ag teacher. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your students hard work pay off as they walk across the stage to receive their State FFA Degree or an award for a Career Development Event.

National FFA Creed Speaking

I can still recite the FFA Creed by heart and learned so much during my time preparing for the national competition. Thank you to my ag teacher, Laura Gaddy and my dad for all the long hours you put in to create that memory for me.

Today, the FFA is more to me than just memories. National blue and corn gold bleed through me each day. The FFA Motto of:

Learning to Do
Doing to Learn
Earning to Live
Living to Serve

Is a motto we should all bring into our everyday lives. Everyday is a learning opportunity. Our hard work gives us the opportunity to provide for our families. Everyday we should live to serve our friends, family and community.

Missouri State FFA Convention

This was taken during the Missouri State FFA Convention in 2003. I was a senior and my sister was a freshman. Both sets of my grandparents made the trip and of course my parents were always there.

It has been years since the FFA stood for Future Farmers of America, but the future of agriculture does rely on the FFA members from across the country. Today agriculture is not only about farming, but also about technology, marketing, science and AGvocating.

What does FFA mean to you?

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