Monthly Archives: October 2014

Wordless* Wednesday: A Little Help From Your Friends

 

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*This calf was born with front legs that were weak and bent inward. Our neighbors made casts for it and stimulated it and helped it nurse until he was healthy, happy and able to go live out in a field like an average calf. These are stories our industry needs to share more of because they are normal and they do happen everyday.

 

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, Beef, Field Trip, Know a California Farmer, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized, Wordless Wednesday

The Future of the Farm: The Aftermath

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to take “The Megan Show” to my alma mater, CSU, Chico and participate in a discussion. The discussion was about “The Future of the Farm”. I was lucky to have David Robinson Simon the Author of Meatonomics as a discussion partner. I felt that Mr. Simon and I contrasted nicely and it made for an interesting conversation.

It always makes for a fun and lively conversation when two polar opposites sit down to discuss an issue both are passionate about. Being a cattle rancher, obviously I feel very strongly about what I do. Mr. Simon is a vegan and based on my own experiences and others I know, one must feel very strongly to maintain that lifestyle (it was really hard for me and I failed).

Mr. Simon spoke first. He had a powerpoint that basically outlined his book. Some of the slides had pictures that painted animal agriculture in a poor light. They say pictures are worth a thousand words, but unfortunately they often only tell part of a story. Because agriculture has typically kept our barn doors shut, we have left ourselves open to misunderstandings like this.

While I did disagree with Mr. Simon about several issues, Ag Gag, factory farming, and ag terrorism being a few. I was surprised about how many issues we held similar views on. For example eating “local” might not always be the most efficient and grass-finished beef is not always the most sustainable method in beef production.

It's always a win when I get to share this!

It’s always a win when I get to share this!

I felt like this discussion was time well spent. Being able to sit down and have a conversation with people that don’t always agree with me helps me become a better communicator and helps agriculture open our barn doors. Getting to interact with an audience enhances the experience for everyone; personal connections are made, passions shared. If agriculture wants to engage with our public we simply must take every opportunity, that is why I was disappointed in the College of Agriculture.

It's rare that I remember to take pictures before I speak. I kinda did it this time! Thanks to my friends that came!

It’s rare that I remember to take pictures before I speak. I kinda did it this time! Thanks to my friends that came!

There were only two agriculture students (thanks guys!) in attendance and no staff or faculty. Our industry leaders need to make sure our students and future ag leaders are being exposed to and urged to have conversations with our public. Our leaders are the ones that need to set that example. A huge part of why I am able to speak and engage the public is because I saw my professors do that.

Although I was excited to have the opportunity to participate in this discussion and give back to the University that helped shape who I am (and I’d do it again in a hot second), it worried me that there was a low ag turn-out and Dr. Jones had no success finding someone from the College of Ag to participate. If agriculture is serious about transparency and engaging our public our local leaders must do a better job of setting that example or they run the risk of “The Megan Show” doing for them – scary thought, huh?

 

At least The Megan Show has pretty boots! Thanks Jenny over at http://prairiecalifornian.com/ for coming!

At least The Megan Show has pretty boots! Thanks Jenny over at http://prairiecalifornian.com/ for coming!

 

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Wordless Wednesday: New Pigs!

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Welcome: Indian Valley

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The Future of the Farm

Last month I got a rather interesting email from a Professor at Chico State. Dave Simon, who is the author of “Meatonomics” is going to be at Chico State and Dr. Jones (the Prof), is interested in putting together a discussion like The Commonwealth Club did here. Dr. Jones wanted to know if I’d like to be apart of this discussion.

I’ll admit, I was hesitant. My experience with some vegans and vegetarians have been less than stellar. Putting myself in the line of fire, away from my computer, is scary and outside of my comfort zone. But, part of the reason this blog exists is because of a vegan that went out of her way to attack my way of life, despite having never met me or seen my ranch. That experience did have a profound affect on me – I flung my barn doors wide open and never looked back.

When I flung my barn doors open, several leaders in my industry made it clear to me that they did not approve. While I certainly understand the repercussions of being so honest (I’m still feeling them), I think our industry needs to be as transparent as we can. We have nothing to hide.

 

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It’s no secret that my biggest criticism of the beef industry is we don’t engage with our consumers in serious matters. We should be using every opportunity, every forum, every event as a platform to tell our stories. For too long, our stories have been told by others, and it’s gotten us no where.

When Dr. Jones mentioned he was having trouble finding someone from the cattle industry to participate, I knew, right then I would love to be apart of this discussion. I met with Dr. Jones to get a copy of the book and talk about this event. I was very much surprised to find Dr. Jones agreed with me about telling our story. He assured me that this event would be positive and informative and not your typical “meat bad, cattle rancher bad” event.

I’m excited. This is me, practicing what I preach.

If you are in the area Monday, October 20th, won’t you think about attending? Word on the playground is there is going to be some Q and A, and I know I could use some support. Plus, I think it is just great that our University is hosting events where we all can learn from different points of view, that is the whole point of education, right?

 

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, Beef, Field Trip, food, Know a California Farmer, meat, Media, Pigs, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

Wordless Wednesday: Boo the Cowdog

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Water Help

In California, cattle ranchers are the redheaded stepchildren of the ag industry. What I mean by that is we rarely get help when things go south. We don’t get subsidies, we don’t have many contracts, and we aren’t guaranteed a minimum for our product, etc, etc. This is ok, because in my experience cattle ranchers tend to be the most paranoid self-reliant out of the bunch, and we survive.

Even when programs are offered that want to help us, a good majority of cattle ranchers won’t accept the help. Seems like every family has a horror story of an uncle, grandpa or friend that “lost the family Ranch” when the “government” got involved. Understandably, this has resulted in super, stubborn and skeptical ranchers.

Well enter 2014, we are in the middle of an epic drought. Cattle ranchers are selling cattle, farmers aren’t planting crops, shit is getting real out here folks. Programs are finally being offered to cattle ranchers that are designed to help us. It’s been an immense relief, and I have no doubt, this has saved many, many ranches (remember these ranches are the same ones that provide us with all this beautiful non-developed land, habitat and wildlife, we are surrounded with in Northern California).

This ranch is no different. This drought has affected us deeply. We now have several fields that have no stock water access. When you don’t have water, you have nothing. If my pigs and cattle don’t have water, just like us, they die. It becomes a huge problem when you have the land, the cattle, the pigs, the bills, the taxes, but no way to sustain them.

The new and the old. My new well and our barn that has been here since Ishi's time.

The new and the old. My new well and our barn that has been here since Ishi’s time.

I made the choice to enroll in a program and get financial help. It was not easy, but for me, it’s a perfect storm of being a “beginning” rancher and the drought. The help was to ensure that I have water so I can continue to do, what I do. Fast forward a few months. I have invested my time and money in a well, solar pump and water tank, so my animals have drinking water.

My new water source. SOLAR, you guys! SOLAR!!!

My new water source. SOLAR, you guys! SOLAR!!!

My Parent’s have graciously allowed me to long term lease one of our pastures that had no water access. I had out-grown my pig pen behind our houses, and the pasture I was using for my beefs was not meant for that and no longer had regular water access. This ‘new’ area I am leasing is where I used to raise my cattle, when I was in 4-H and FFA, but the lack of water has essentially made it useless. By getting this help, I am returning this part of the ranch back into production, benefiting both my family and the wildlife that live here.

Long before this was my 4-H/FFA place, this a part of the history of the Ranch. Just look at the barbed wire left over in my pen. The bottom wire is super old!

Long before this was my 4-H/FFA place, this was a part of the history of the Ranch. Just look at the barbed wire left over in my pen. The bottom wires are super old!

This is not a choice I took lightly. My long term followers have watched me and this blog grow. You’ve been with me from working in town, to Adult 4-H, to me quitting my town job to work full-time on our ranch. And now, to me making a huge step of growing my hog and cattle business.

If Silly was a piglet, she said she'd live here.

My new pig pen. If Silly was a pig, she said she’d live here.

Now that I have accessible water for my domestic animals and our wildlife,  this is my year. This is the year I take initiative and grow my future. Because I now have water, I can use the knowledge I have amassed to better my land, grow my animals, improve our environment and habitat.

It’s going to be a great year.

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, History, Know a California Farmer, photos, Pigs, Ranch life