Wordless Wednesday

I’m a sucker for Instagram. Here’s my favorites that I took this week.

Shaun happy to be awake on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

My corgi Buster.

A beautiful sunset on a Sunday evening.

All about choices

This morning I watched a live webcast of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Food Dialogue meeting in New York City. I listened in on the second section focusing on the use of antibiotics in livestock and intend to write about it for the Journal.

But the section got me thinking. Life is all about choices. From the moment you wake up until the time you shut your eyes at bedtime, choices are made. You choose what to eat for breakfast/lunch/supper. You choose whether or not to cut that car off on the road or roll through that stop sign. You choose what clothes to wear. Whatever the choice, what you do has a ramification.

One of the panelists relied on “studies” to prove her points on how there has been a super bug building up because farmers and ranchers use so many antibiotics to raise livestock. I’m not even sure that she has set foot on a working farm or ranch. With her perceptions and education as it stands I doubt she would get anything out of it. While this woman had a few valid points, my brain wondered how she would survive if she didn’t have any food or clothes on her back. But I reined my thinking in and tried to listen to her objectively. And that was very hard..

A pediatric nutritionist on the panel made some very valid points regarding the use of human antibiotics and their over use. He saw no relationship to the use of antibiotics in livestock to human health issues. He believes that the misuse/overuse of antibiotics by humans are causing many health problems. I completely agree with him. I am the kind of person who will let a cold run its course. Antibiotics won’t help a virus anyway. I won’t go to the doctor or hospital unless there’s a broken bone or bleeding. I am the same way with my son. He plays in the dirt, he gets messy and sure he has been sick, but that is all part of building his immune system. Same with the horses. Prevention is key. Keep them in a clean environment, practice good animal husbandry and a lot of health issues can be avoided.

Not everyone thinks the way I do as far as health issues go. I have a family member who runs to the doctor every single time she has the sniffles or sneezes. I’m not joking. Either she’s that big of a chronic or her doctors see her coming so she can be the one to pay the light bill. We are night and day in our thinking and some of her complaints could probably be fixed by changing her eating habits, lifestyle and thinking.

What you choose to feed your family is your choice. As a consumer you need to make the best choice for you. But, please make an informed choice. Livestock are not fed antibiotics haphazardly. They are fed small amounts of antibiotics in short duration to prevent sickness. Good management practices help the animals grow and thrive. It costs producers much more when they have to treat a sick animal. An animal with a depressed immune system will grow slower, produce less and not thrive.

Let’s face it. Food animals (beef, sheep, swine and poultry) have one purpose. To be someone’s source of protein. Farmers and ranchers work very hard to produce food that is safe for consumers. I am not afraid of farm-raised beef. I never buy organic food in the grocery store (I avoid it). I trust that farmers and ranchers and food vendors have consumers in mind when they provide their products in the stores.

I am slowly stepping down off my soap box, but bear with me. For the last few years my husband and I have been getting beef from his dad. Beef steers that he fed and raised himself.  I never once questioned the safety of the meat I was cooking and eating. Not one single time. This year my husband fed out the steers his dad had saved back. I watched those animals every single day they were at my house and I know how they were handled. I trust other farmers and ranchers have the same values and ethic as my husband and I do when it comes to livestock and their care.

Judging steers in the dark

When I was barely a teenager, I joined 4-H and one of my favorite things that I became involved with was livestock judging. For those that don’t know what judging is, it’s a contest where competitors evaluate classes of four animals (beef, sheep, swine) and then give several sets of reasons (basically a speech on why you placed the animals the way you did). Classes are worth 50 points, and deductions are decided upon by the officials. Reasons are worth 50 points as well, and judges score them accordingly.

When I was in high school we had a very dedicated county Extension agent, and he somehow managed to wrangle a dozen kids or more and take us to compete at local contests. From about January until before the county fair, and then in August and September, we spent time on Saturdays at contests and weeknights at judging practice.

Our team became one of the best in the area. In 1994 we placed well enough to represent Kansas at the American Royal at the 4-H judging contest, where we didn’t disappoint. In 1995, the Ford County 4-H livestock judging team won the state contest. This allowed us to compete at the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky.

Judging not only taught me livestock evaluation skills and speaking skills it helped me get a college scholarship to compete on the judging team at Hutchinson Community College. We worked even harder at placing classes of livestock and giving reasons. I still to this day can “work-up” a set of reasons on several classes of livestock. It is that ingrained into my brain.

Last night my husband needed help loading some steers he has been feeding to butcher. It was dark, and I had to step up and pick one since he had two already picked out to go. With four steers in the pen, and me in my Carhartt coat, I was immediately taken back 15 years. I bravely stepped up to get one to move off so I could see how wide he was from behind, and got a better look at how finished he was. I crawled up on the fence to get a better view of their toplines. I hesitated to pick one, remembering all the times where I screwed a class up and lost a lot of points, but eventually I found the one I wanted and we both agreed on it. I was amazed that after all these years I could still place a class of steers.

The 1995 Kansas State Champion Livestock Judging Team. Pictured from left to right, Rylene (Orebaugh) Hessman, Nathan Martin, Candi (Orebaugh) Bailey, Tanner Dowling, Kylene (Orebaugh) Scott and Coach Jerry Dreher.

Happy place

We should all have a happy place. Even though my 18 month old son doesn’t know it yet, I suspect he has his own happy place already. It is in any vehicle that, as he says, goes “vroom vroom.” My happy place is on the back of my brown mare.

My husband and I have been moving hay around the past couple of days, and it required him bringing a tractor to our place. Ever since the tractor appeared on the homestead, Shaun has been enamored by it. Last night while doing chores he insisted we go see the tractor and when I relented and walked out there with him, he was beyond happy.


Despise this time of year

Despise may be too strong of a word, but I completely dislike this time of year. Mother Nature teases us with warm summer-like days with highs in the 80s and sometimes 90s. Night-time lows are in the 50s. Despite feeling like summer during the day, the cool mornings remind me that I can no longer venture out to feed horses in my shorts. Then she throws us a curve ball with a cold front and we get issued freeze warnings.

One morning last week it was windy and I could hear it blowing before I even got out of bed. First thought was, “I wonder how much hay blew away?” As I pushed the back door open I had to fight with it to get out. Not cool. Plus it required a coat to be worn, and long pants. Both of which I can’t stand. As I got ready for work, I couldn’t go out of the house with wet hair (otherwise I’d be cold all day). Then I had to dig out a sweater. Remembering where I packed them away in the closet was not a task for someone who had barely been awake an hour.

Mother Nature must like being a tease, but I sure don’t care for it. At least it makes for neat photos every once in a while.