Tag Archives: 4-H

My Hog Scholarship: The First One

It’s true what they say, ‘it takes a village to raise a child”. Growing up, I was surrounded by people who helped me build my knowledge and skill set. However, I did not realize it at the time. When my Grandpa Brown gave me my first bucket calf, I had no idea that would be the start of my ranching legacy. When my Grandpa Halsey would take me out to his garden and spend time with me, I had no idea it would foster a lifelong passion for growing plants. When my Mom chauffeured me to endless 4-H community and project meetings, I had no idea I would end up as the AgHag.

Papa and me spending time in his garden. One of my fondest memories.

Papa and me spending time in his garden. One of my fondest memories.

While I was busy as a child learning from my elders and putting that knowledge to use in 4-H and on the ranch, my Mom was busy investing my 4-H and bucket calf checks in a savings account. By the time I was 18, due to family and friends supporting me, I not only had a good foundation to the education I was going to receive in college, I could pay for it without struggling.
The ability to not worry about finances while attending university was a massive gift. I was able to focus on learning, I was able to join clubs that furthered my education and network, I was able to make friends and have the blissful experience of being a college kid. This molded me into who and what I am now. My world and my point of view was altered for the better and greater good.

This hog helped me pay for college.

This hog helped me pay for college.

When I think about my youth and young adulthood, I realize how lucky and privileged I was to grow up in this world surrounded by the people I did. Sadly, most of the “old timers” have died. But they left a legacy. In me. It’s now my turn to offer that same support to the children in my world. It’s what they showed me to do.
That’s why I am excited to have a couple little “programs” here on the ranch that help me corrupt the next generation, just like I was. I’ve worked hard to expand and improve my hog operation since Adult 4-H days, and I am now at the point where I can afford to give a few piglets away to kids to raise, donate finished pork to local non-profits and generally do Good Things. This makes me about 100 kinds of happy and makes me feel like my hard work is paying off.

Very new Ian meeting his piglet!

Very new Ian meeting his piglet! He was totally helping me out this day!

I have just completed my first round of the “scholarship program” with my hogs and Baby Ian. Ian and this litter of pigs were born on the same day, his Parents have also supported my meat business for years, so it was totally meant to be that Ian was the first of my friend’s kids to do this.
When Ian was born I gave him a piglet to “raise”. The deal was, he’d pay for his pig’s feed and when it was time for the hog to be slaughtered his Parents would “buy” the pig from him to eat. That money is to be put into an account for college or trade school. I figure I’m killing two birds with one stone, I expose kids to agriculture very young and they get a little seed money for their future. It’s a win/win.

Ian enjoying a first taste of his pork. Kid, I'm pretty sure I make that same face.

Ian enjoying a first taste of his pork. Kid, I’m pretty sure I make that same face.

This situation worked out perfectly. Ian got his meat back just as he started solid foods! So he is able to eat his own pork he helped raise. This program was so fun to do I cannot wait for my next litter! As of right now I have scholarship recipients for the next couple of litters. If I have anything to do with it, in about 18 years we are going to have several new ag majors joining our ranks!

This brings me so much joy right here.

This brings me so much joy right here.

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, food, Know a California Farmer, meat, photos, Pigs, Ranch life, Scholarship, Uncategorized

I’ve Gone Hog Wild

My dream of being a real pig farmer is slowly coming true. Tomorrow I get to pick up my second load of hogs to finish, for a grand total of 18. As many of my longtime readers know, raising hogs has been quite the journey.

My new pig pen is two pens like this.

My new pig pen is two pens like this.

I had to ease my Parents into the idea of raising hogs again. I did it as a child in 4-H for many, many years. I was too petite to raise steer, I wouldn’t be caught dead with a lamb or goat, so hogs it was! I have many fond memories of raising and showing my hogs and the sense of pride I had providing meat for my family, still makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

I built these pens by throwing brunch! I invited my friends to come build fence as I plied them with booze. If you look on the right you'll notice our measuring is just a WHISPER off after brunch. LOL

I built these pens by throwing brunch! I invited my friends to come build fence as I plied them with booze. If you look on the right you’ll notice our measuring is just a WHISPER off after brunch. LOL

As a child, my Dad raised hogs. Back then, the ranch was more of a farm, complete with dairy cows and grain crops. The leftover milk from the dairy would be combined with the grain from the fields for the hog feed. My Dad swears the pork was different back then, and I believed him. I knew the key to raising hogs again would be producing a pork product that was like Dad remembered.

See the deer in the pipe? Know what else these old, junked pipes would be good for? Yep! A pig house!

See the deer in the pipe? Know what else these old, junked pipes would be good for? Yep! A pig house!

I knew that if I raised heritage hogs, and tweaked their diet just a whisper, I could create some pork like my Dad remembered. I managed to convince my Parents into letting me get a couple heritage hogs, just to see. Well, that turned into five hogs and Adult 4-H. And that turned into me quitting my full-time job in town and ten hogs. Now we are here.

Heritage red wattle hogs eating cookies out of the new feeder my family built.

Heritage red wattle hogs eating cookies out of the new feeder my family built.

When I started pestering my Parents about getting hogs again, I never thought I would get to where I am now and where I am thinking of going. I didn’t plan on enjoying hogs so much. I didn’t plan on the meat being so very different and very good. I have quickly accepted the fact that there is no going back now, I like pigs too much!

Yes, I stole the rats with horn's house to make an upcycled pig house! Ingenious and 'sustainable'.

Yes, I stole the rats with horn’s house to make an upcycled pig house! Ingenious and ‘sustainable’.

Since I have doubled in size every year (and don’t plan on stopping!), I needed a new pig pen. The old pen I was using was older than I am by several decades and was not doing a good job of keeping the pigs where they needed to be. This caused several problems when the pigs ate my Dad’s cable to his TV, and my Mom’s flower bed. However, moving my pen meant drilling a well since I did not have a dependable water source and that was just not something I could afford. But then something magical happened. 

In an effort to be 'sustainable' this pig feeder is made out of old boards from out barn that blew down!

In an effort to be ‘sustainable’ we made this pig feeder out of old boards from our barn that blew down!

The most important thing to me, as I grow, is to be “sustainable”. Yes, I know that is an ag buzz word, but for, me it means doing this project in a way that meets my needs the best way it can. It means, not getting a loan from the bank (I learned from my student loan!), it means recycling materials when I can (but not super old materials that break all the time, so I waste all my time fixing them), it means doing things just a whisper different (outside the box is good!).

Part of thinking outside the box is getting free labor from my friend's kids.

Part of thinking outside the box is getting free labor from my friend’s kids (Just kidding, kinda!).

I am so excited to have this opportunity to do my own thing. I love working and being with the cattle, but I love having some independence on the ranch. My Mom made sure to instill in me growing up two “rules”: 1) always have financial independence and 2) develop as many marketable skills as you can. I feel like my pig operation is fulfilling both those “rules” and providing food for my family and friends – it feels so good!

If you get a moment please check out these awesome “real pig farmers”. Remember every farmer does what they think is best for their land and pigs. I urge you to ask them questions – the why’s and how’s are so important!

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

CropLife America 2014 – I Went, I Saw, I Spoke

Now that I am back on the ranch and have calmed down sufficiently to form coherent thoughts, I want to share my experience at CropLife America’s 2014 Policy Conference. This was the first time I’ve done anything of this caliber, it was quite an eye-opening experience for this ranch kid.

Speaking in public or even performing in public (ask me about the burlesque show I was in!) is not an issue for me. Years and years of 4-H, FFA, and college clubs have honed me into an old pro when it comes to crowds, plus once you’ve sang and danced in your underwear in front of your hometown, there is nothing left to fear!

Or so I thought.

Speaking in front of a roomful of people that I respect and lurk often? Whose books, articles and blogs I go to for information and opinions? With cameras and people live-tweeting what I was saying!? In our nation’s capital?! With no cow poo on me?!? Nope. That was not my natural habitat and more than just a whisper outside of my comfort zone.

I was so scared the morning of the conference that I took almost no pictures, which is rare for me! They had TV's where live tweets where streaming, I could see my friend Jenny's tweeting and it made me feel so much better!

They had TVs where live tweets where streaming, I could see my friend Jenny’s tweets and it made me feel so much better!

I was terrified the morning of the conference. It was so ridiculous because I met many of the other participants and CropLife members the night before, and everyone was fantastically nice. We were going to be talking about a subject that is my greatest passion and deepest love. Regardless, the few hours before my panel I was a hot mess. I was convinced I had made a HUGE mistake by agreeing to do this. I wondered if anyone would notice if I just hid in the bathroom?

I met my fellow panelist, Dee Dee Darden, the night before. She was warm, engaging and knew her ham (seriously I want to buy a country ham from her)! Jesse Hirsch, I was familiar with because of his work with Modern Farmer (subscribe, it’s great stuff). And our moderator was Ali Velshi (OMG). And then there was me – needless to say, I felt out-gunned, intimidated and a long, long, way from home.

I was so scared the morning of the conference that I took few pictures, which is rare for me. I stole this picture from CropLife America. Look how terrified I look.

I was so scared the morning of the conference that I took few pictures, which is rare for me. I stole this picture from CropLife America. I look terrified.

When it was time to start, I nervously stumbled on the stage and tried to smile. I kept reminding myself that I castrate things for a living. That no one in that room was 1200 pounds, mooing and trying to kill me. Thankfully, Jesse and Dee Dee spoke before me, so I had a few minute to acclimatize to being on stage. When it was was my turn to speak, Mr. Velshi brought up Silly pig, and my hogs, which is my happy place. Much to my surprise, I opened my mouth and words actually came out! Once our panel started, I lost my nerves and decided I had made the right choice by not hiding in the bathroom.

As promised, the video of our panel:

Let’s talk about Ali Velshi for a second. A large part of the reason I was willing to leave the ranch and participate in this panel was because I was familiar with his work both on TV and when he moderated the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Dialogues in New York. Mr. Velshi gets it; he realizes how important agriculture is and he talks about that fact. We have a primetime, well respected journalist taking time to moderate conferences and interact with farmers and ranchers –  are we paying attention Agriculture?

What I like most about Mr. Velshi’s moderating style is how he approached this sometimes contentious topic with humor and knowledge, it made me want to send him some Brown Ranch Beef. He quipped that his “perception of food is just fantastic” but at the same time was able to weave serious issues that face agriculture into the conversation. He mentioned that Al Jazeera realizes their main markets tend to be in the northeast but our natural resource-related problems tend to be elsewhere and they are trying to bring attention to that fact. Hey Agriculture, again does that sound like another industry we know?

Since I’ve been home, I have made more of an effort to watch Al Jazeera because I want to be informed about their reporting on those issues that are relevant to me. I urge you to do the same, I believe it is important for agriculture to engage and be aware of journalists and media that are willing to listen to us. Plus, Al Jazeera is right next to RFD TV (at least on my TV) so it makes watching both convenient! I have to say, Al Jazeera does do a stupendous job of reporting the news (no Justin Bieber or celebrity weddings!).

To wrap up, attending this conference was sensational for me for so many reasons. Getting out of my comfort zone, no matter how terrifying it was at the time, forced me to learn and accept new points of view, which makes me a more effective communicator. Mingling and having conversations with national leaders of my industry was enlightening and inspiring. But something I did not plan on getting from this conference was the confidence to do it again. I now know, that if someone asked, I could get on a plane tomorrow, and hold my own anywhere in the world. What a feeling.

I promised myself that if I kept my foul language in check and did a good job, that I could buy myself a new pair of boots....

I promised myself that if I kept my foul language in check and did a good job, that I could buy myself a new pair of boots….


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Filed under Ag, agriculture, Field Trip, Humor, Know a California Farmer, Media, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized

Taylor MacKay: 8th Grade Project

A couple weeks ago, I got an e-mail from a college friend of mine. Her daughter was doing her 8th grade project on Dr. Temple Grandin, and my friend had noticed I talk a lot about Dr. Grandin. My friend, Stacie, asked if it would be ok for her daughter to contact me about doing an interview about my experience with Dr. Grandin.

 Our ag ambassador officer team. Stacie is the blonde with short hair. Also if you ever see John, buy him a beer and give him a hug. He was on the executive committee with me, and I poked him with a stick unmercifully.

Our ag ambassador officer team. Stacie is the blonde with short hair. Also if you ever see John, buy him a beer and give him a hug. He was on the executive committee with me, and I poked him with a stick unmercifully.

Now a little back-story here. Stacie’s daughter, Taylor, is attending the same middle school as I did and doing the same project I had to do. Of course Taylor is brilliant and is doing her project on Dr. Grandin instead of massage therapy, like I did mine on (ok, to be fair they wouldn’t let me do it on cows or horses (they wanted us to be exposed to something new, the nerve!) and my Mom was attending massage therapy school at the time).
Go 4-H!

Go 4-H!

Taylor has some of the same teachers I had at her age (I feel old). She is also a member of one of the 4-H groups I was a member of! And in addition to knowing her Mom since 2000, I know her Dad from when we were little kids! Needless to say I was really excited to help her any way I could! We e-mailed back and forth for a few days, I shared some links with her, and we decided on a time and place to meet for the interview.
Because I am anti-social and cook at home, I had never been to Applebee’s happy hour. It’s my new jam, that pretzel cheese thing was fabulous and the beer was cheap!

Because I am anti-social and cook at home, I had never been to Applebee’s happy hour. It’s my new jam, that pretzel cheese thing was fabulous and the beer was cheap!

We met at Applebee’s in Oroville, during happy hour (a very happy coincidence). I arrived a little early to stake out a good table and buy myself a beer. I get a little nervous when I do adult things like this. It means a lot to me when people seek my opinion out, especially peers.
The future, right here.

The future, right here.

Now I hadn’t actually seen or spoken face to face with Taylor since circa 2004. It was a surprise when she walked over and sat down, she’s all grown up! Before we started the interview I got to chat with Taylor and Stacie. Most of my friends I interact with on a day to day basis are not directly involved with agriculture. It’s always refreshing for me to have a conversation with people that share my lifestyle. Taylor hunts, shoots guns and gets dirty, she is glorious.
Taylor then proceeded to tell me that Dr. Grandin called her! I love everything about that. I love that Dr. Grandin is so supportive and I love that Taylor got to speak to her. When I met Dr. Grandin, she inspired me to keep doing what I am doing. I think Taylor felt that too.
Taylor had a great set of questions to ask me. I found her engaging, funny and very confident. I don’t want to talk too much about what we spoke about because I’m hoping that maybe Taylor would be willing to share some of her project here or on the Tumblr she started after we met (yeah, she started a Tumblr, I’m so proud).
She's a hard working, smart, young lady. And she is going to go far!

She’s a hard working, smart, young lady. And she is going to go far!

Taylor impressed me so much. She is the future of our local agriculture industry and let me tell you folks, the future is bright. She sent me a thank you e-mail before I even had gotten home from our interview.
My new plan is to make myself as available as I can to this next generation of agriculturalist. Then in about 10 years we are going to run Butte County agriculture and it will be transparent, educational and awesome. Who is with me?!


Filed under Ag, agriculture, food, Humor, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized

The Silver Dollar Fair Jr. Livestock Auction v Meg

About two years ago, I had a Boss that sent me to our local fair’s junior livestock auction to buy a hog. Not just any hog, a special hog. The young lady, Lilly, whose hog my Boss wanted to purchase, had done a superb job at raising this hog, writing buyers letters, and even gave a presentation to my Boss about pigs (of course I provided my Boss with supplemental hog questions to throw at her, but she was not thrown, she knew her stuff).
Being trusted to buy this important hog for the office was a huge deal to me! I was determined to do the best job I could! Nothing was going to prevent me from my responsibility. Nothing.
The night before I had gone to one of Daniel’s shows at a local venue, I was excited about going to the auction the next day and told a couple of my NEW friends about it. I had met these friends through Daniel, and since he was close friends (and band mates) with their husbands I was eager to have them like me and get to know me. I thought inviting them to see part of my world would be a lot of fun and a great opportunity to get to know each other better.
The next morning my two girlfriends met me at Daniel’s house and us girls carpooled to the fair, it was going to be a great day filled with free food (buyers get snacks!), cotton candy and farm babies! We arrived early, staked our claim to good seats in the auctioneer’s eye-line. I had practiced my steely auctioneer gaze and head nod. We had our buy’s guide; we knew our lot number, and I had coached the girls about giving dirty looks to people bidding against us (come on, 3 pretty girls giving dirty looks? Scary!), we were ready.
We watched the auction and chatted, as our lot number came closer and closer. I spent years working and showing at that fair, so it felt like being back in the saddle again. It was like a reunion of sorts – former 4-H and FFA leaders, members and buyers were everywhere, I had spent the majority of my youth with these people. It was glorious. Until.
Our lot number came up. I was expecting a petite 11 year old girl with a pig, in the ring was a large, male, teenager, with a goat. Not the right 4-H member, not the right species, but the Auctioneer said it was our lot number. I was shocked. One of my friends asked what happened. I didn’t know! I was confused and scared. I was convinced I was going to be fired for failing to do the ONE thing my Boss told me to do. I wanted to cry and puke at the same time.
We sat in the bleachers for a few more minutes as I frantically texted my Boss that SOMETHING BAD HAPPENED. My Boss gave me the phone number for Lilly’s Dad, so I was able to call him and meet up with him to decide what we were going to do.
By this time we had realized what happened. The ring hands got ahead of the auctioneer and had pushed poor Lilly through the ring before her time – basically they skipped her. It wasn’t her fault at all, she was where she needed to be, at the right time. Being the polite 4-H member that she is, she just did what the adults told her to do.
I went to the livestock office and calmly explained what had happened (reminder, I had shown at that fair for a good 9 years and worked at that fair for 5, I was no stranger there). The livestock office manager (who trained me) tried to blame Lilly. I assured her that it was not Lilly’s fault, and again tried to calmly explain what had just happened in the sale ring not 10 minutes before. I even had a picture of Lilly in the sale ring, proving that, indeed, Lilly was where she needed to be. Again, Lilly was blamed. I was told that Lilly would have to wait all day and re-sell at the end of the auction (when there are no buyers left and the prices suck). Nope, I wasn’t going to let that happen. It wasn’t her fault. What kind of example are we setting if the adults won’t even accept responsibility for their errors?
Let’s be frank for a moment. We all know that life is not fair. We all know that whether it is 4-H, high school football, after-school soccer, or room-mothers, there are favorites. There are last names that ‘mean’ more than others. There are people willing to do shady things to make sure their kid wins, or is “the best”. This is a fact of life, and it is no different in the land of agriculture. I have always hated this, I was never that kid with the last name, and my Parents weren’t shady, I hated the unnecessary injustice that tainted positive things for kids. As an adult I do my best not to be a part of this cycle and try and “fix it” if I can.
When Lilly was blamed and punished for something that wasn’t her fault, after I had evidence that proved she had done nothing wrong, and had vouched for her, I absolutely lost my shit (it needs to be noted that Lilly was calm and polite during this whole thing, I think that made it worse for me, she is just so sweet!). Sometimes adults forget that 4-H is about the kids, not about our power trip.
My two girlfriends had never seen a Megan-meltdown before. They had only seen happy, bouncy, giggly Megan (and sometimes the sad, quiet, panic attacky Megan). I scared them. With huge eyes, they politely as possible basically said, ‘omg you are nuts and we are scared, we’ll be at the farm babies exhibit’. By this time I was in phase III, bring it on, I will win, white hot fury. I was so mad I had stopped cussing. That is serious.
I had spoken to every buyer, 4-H leader, auctioneer, runner, member that would listen to my story. I had Lilly’s Parents and Grandma trying to reason with the livestock manager. I left a voicemail with the auctioneer that had skipped Lilly’s hog (he is like a brother to me). Finally I called the fair manager (we were pretty close friends in college and I had worked for him at other fairs), and told him to get over to the livestock office now, he tried to explain that he was busy running the fair, but I wasn’t having that. I was one step away from launching an all out personal war complete with signage and revolting FFA members. I have never had to work so hard to buy a 4-H animal in my life!
Before I made it Office Depot for poster board, I saw the man I knew could fix everything. My former teacher, boss and mentor, Mr. Doug Flesher.
Mr. Flesher is that person that has been involved with 4-H longer than anyone can remember. He’s lead generations of 4-H kids, watched generations of us grow up and go into production agriculture, he’s taught more of us to drive heavy equipment than I can count. In short, he is the most amazing, supportive, positive force in our local ag community and I can only hope to make him proud. I knew if Mr. Flesher got involved he would fix ‘this situation’.
Once Mr. Flesher heard what had happened, he sent me to the corner to calm down, while he spoke with the Powers That Be. The Powers That Be, at that point, realized they had a problem. They said someone else had already bought the hog (I knew that was bullsh*t because we watched the auction, no one even BID on her hog) and I was just told it was Lilly’s fault (PROTIP: get your story straight before you start explaining to me). When the auction runner spoke to the supposed buyer he said no, he bought a goat, not a pig. It was all I could do to not say, “I F’ING TOLD YOU SO”, but I did have a very sassy look on my face.

I did my job! I had to raise hell, but I bought her pig!

I did my job! I had to raise hell, but I bought her pig!

Mr. Flesher and I walked over to the bankers table that financed the sale and arranged it so I could buy the hog. Lilly got a great price, a wrong was righted but I was convinced that A) my friends weren’t my friends anymore because they saw the angry Megan and B) I was going to get fired because I threw such a public hissy fit and my Boss was going to hear about it.

I tentatively searched for my friends in the Farm Baby barn, I was embarrassed they had to witness what they witnessed. But at that point they didn’t care, they found puppies! One friend decided she was going to take one home and gave her husband the best choice ever – a puppy, a baby or a goat. She got the puppy.

Scout the puppy, when she was still a puppy.

Scout the puppy, when she was still a puppy.

After all the excitement I had to go home and have a nap. Actually, let’s be honest. I was convinced my Boss was going to call me into his office on Monday morning and fire my butt, so I was sad, quiet, panic attacky Megan for the rest of the weekend.
Monday rolled around and I sheepishly slunk into the office and quietly put Lilly’s thank you card and picture on his desk. Before I could quietly slink out again my Boss caught me. In tears, I had to explain what happened again. Then, to my surprise he said ‘well, my buddy said I did a good job hiring you’ – I wasn’t fired! My flair for the dramatic had actually been beneficial! FINALLY!
Two years later I am still employed at the same office, the two friends I was sure were going to break up with me? Oh you mean adult 4-H member Kristen, and next year’s adult 4-H member Lesley? Yeah, we are still friends.

See we are all still friends! Plus some!

See we are all still friends! Plus some!

The actual 4-H member Lilly? Yeah, she is raising a steer this year and I get to help her! The puppy? Well Scout is getting ready to be a big sister to Megan Jr. So you see, despite my anxiety, things worked out! Yeah I was deeply sadden by some of the adult’s behavior in the situation, but I fixed it, and until these adults move on, I will support 4-H in other ways, like being a guest leader or support person.

Lilly is now a cool beef kid. The beef barn is way better than the pig barn at the fair!

Lilly is now a cool beef kid. The beef barn is way better than the pig barn at the fair!


Filed under Ag, agriculture, Beef, Field Trip, History, Humor, photos, Pigs, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

Adult 4-H: Piglets and Kidlets

Are you ready for some cute? Fair warning, some of these pictures are going to make your ovaries hurt. First off, a little backstory. Pigs love pumpkins, so do cows, and I’ve been told horses will eat them too. So in a quest to feed our piggies a pastured diet and cut down on waste I issued a call to my friends for their leftover pumpkins (since it was just Halloween).

My Dad went next store to the neighbor’s field and picked through their tilled pumpkin patch for the piggies!

Char got his own sized pumpkin.

The piggies ate their bucket of pumpkins pretty quickly.

The bucket of pumpkins had a few ears of corn in it. Those cobs were like gold! One pig would get one and try and run off and hide, while the others chased him down. I nearly peed my pants laughing so hard.

I had some awesome friends offer to bring me their pumpkins!

Miss Olivia was kind enough to donate her halloween pumpkins and she even helped feed it to the piggies!

The pigs really liked her after that.

After pumpkins it was time to root and play in the mud.

I was helping my future 4-H member Olive feed the pigs pecans.*

Olive and Char got along very well. Even old Nikki dog enjoyed the day and did her best to keep the pigs in a circle for the kids.

Olive was showing us how the pigs drink, I think she wanted one of these at her house.

Olive helped root too! I don’t think she liked it as much as the pigs.

Adult 4-H has been such a wonderful experience so far. In addition to having a lot of fun with the pigs and the other 4-H members, I’m having a ball watching other people meet the pigs. Hopefully I’m influencing a few future 4-H members (I kid, kinda). Stay tuned for more pig fun.

*Photo courtesy of Shannon McCollum


Filed under Ag, agriculture, food, photos, Pigs, Ranch life, Uncategorized

Sally Pig

Her name was Sally Pig. She was my first 4-H project. I was 10 years old and I picked her out, fed her, walked her, watered her, bathed her, and played with her all by myself. I took my responsibilities very seriously, I knew if I didn’t take care of her no one else would, because it was MY job. I also knew I was saving for something called “college” and this would help me do that.

10 year old me, walking Sally around the Ranch.

Sally Pig was my launching pad. She’s the reason I am here right now. My first successful project led to almost a decade of 4-H and FFA memberships and projects. Those led to college educations, collegiate memberships, travel, experience, jobs, friendships, outreach, and advocacy. Sally was turning point in my life – it was the point where I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt agriculture would always be a major part of who I am.

What makes this story so much sweeter is my Grandfather, Fletcher, bought Sally. A little background on my Grandfather, he was not one to go the fair, register to be a buyer, and buy one of his grandkid’s 4-H project. He was not warm, fuzzy or involved with the day to day lives of his many grandchildren, except for me. It was huge he bought my first 4-H project, a fact that was not lost on a ten year old me. Year’s later, after Grandfather had passed away, and we were cleaning out his personal effects, we found the thank you note and buyer’s award. He had saved them. And Sally was the first and only 4-H project he’d ever purchased.

My Mom saved the check stub from my first 4-H pig

I’ve always liked to think he took an interest in me because he knew I would be the one grandchild most likely to continue the family’s cattle ranching legacy. The fact that my Grandfather was so eager to support my agricultural passion, makes me want to support others.



Filed under Ag, History, photos, Ranch life, Rants, Scholarship, Uncategorized

Wordless Wednesday: We’ve Always Liked to Educate

Sam Brown Jr. Giving A Calf Processing Demo to A Local 4-H Group

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Filed under Ag, photos, Wordless Wednesday

No Consumers Were Harmed in the Making of This 4-H Meeting

The pictures posted below are of a 4-H meeting, we are between the ages of 13 and 16. The same processor from my previous blog is custom exempt harvesting a heifer for us. Funny story about this particular heifer – when this same group of kids came out that fall to pick up their 4-H steers, this heifer tried to kill us. It was extra funny because the boys literally ran screaming for the fence leaving me all alone to deal with “Margo”. We tease them to this day about their lack of chivalry. However I did go on to run track…. coincidence?

It’s important to note that these young kids were not adversely affected by seeing a custom exempt slaughter. If I recall, my Mom fed us all hamburgers after we watched this.  We all grew up to work in agriculture. One is a large animal veterinarian, one works in swine reproductive medicine and surgery, another is a deputy ag commissioner. And then there is me and we all know how I turned out.

Point is, if kids can handle watching a slaughter in real life, the beef industry should be able to handle a personal blog about a family run ranch.


Mr. Dewey pointing out liver flukes.


The organs coming out.


More liver shots.

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Filed under Ag, photos, Rants