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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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Felfies in D.C.

As you all know, I went to Washington D.C. to speak on the CropLife America 2014 Policy Conference. Of course I am going to write a ton about it, but for now, because I’m still stumbling around in a daze, asking myself if that really just happened, I’m posting some Felfies I took.

They had little wines on the plane! After I finished it, I realized I was going to miss my connection flight. It's cool though....

They had little wines on the plane! After I finished it, I realized I was going to miss my connection flight. It’s cool though….

Because I got to meet Keedi and Dana! They never spoke to a 6th generation cattle rancher before, so we had a wonderful conversation that made our flight time zoom by!

Because I got to meet Keedi and Dana! They never spoke to a 6th generation cattle rancher before, so we had a wonderful conversation that made our flight time zoom by!

My hotel was super nice. I may have enjoyed it a whisper more than I should have (but come on, I live in a barn!).

My hotel was super nice. I may have enjoyed it a whisper more than I should have (but come on, I live in a barn!).

I had one free day to roam around D.C. and let me tell you, I put some miles on my poor little feet!

I had one free day to roam around D.C. and let me tell you, I put some miles on my poor little feet!

Felfie with the Washington Monument.

Felfie with the Washington Monument.

I love the Jefferson Memorial. He was such a powerful thinker.

I love the Jefferson Memorial. He was such a powerful thinker.

I finally got to meet my friends Tim and Alex and spend some time with them. They took me on a walking tour of parts of the City I never would have seen, it was beautiful!!

I finally got to meet my friends Tim and Alex and spend some time with them. They took me on a walking tour of parts of the City I never would have seen, it was beautiful!!

We had dinner the night before the conference with the other panelist. I didn't have any cow poo on me AND I wore make-up!

We had dinner the night before the conference with the other panelist. I didn’t have any cow poo on me AND I wore make-up!

Folks, my felfie with Ali Velshi, the crowing glory of my felfie collection. I was a tad star struck.

Folks, my felfie with Ali Velshi, the crowing glory of my felfie collection. I was a tad star struck.

Ali Velshi has some badass socks, but I think my boots can hold their own.

Ali Velshi has some badass socks, but I think my boots can hold their own.

 

And finally, this cowgirl went home.

And finally, this cowgirl went home.

This conference was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever had the honor to be involved with, and I was so grateful for the experience. Next week they will be posting videos of the conference, so I can share more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Field Trip to Washington D.C. and #NPC14

I leave tomorrow morning for Washington D.C. to be a panelist for this conference. Ecstatic does not begin to describe how I feel. This is such an amazing opportunity for me. I am especially excited that I was invited as a rancher – I feel like our voices are slowly starting to be heard and valued.

 

NPC14

This is be live streaming, so if you’d like to watch me, please go here for more information. If you have a twitter account, please use hash-tag #NPC14 to following along!

Fair warning Dear Readers, I know this conference will inspire and teach me. Be prepared for lots of posts and pictures about it!

 

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How I Lost My Voice…..

Life is never dull on a ranch.

One moment you are making deviled ranch eggs and raiding your Parent’s freezer for a BBQ and the next moment you are screaming bloody murder because one of the biggest rattlesnakes you have seen lately is right where you park your truck.

I noticed the black birds making a fuss, I didn't think too much about it until I spied this guy (see the snake?)

I noticed the black birds making a fuss, I didn’t think too much about it until I spied this guy (see the snake?) by the bird.

I just had a very upsetting nightmare where I stepped on a rattlesnake but I didn’t kill it, I was screaming for help, but no one could hear me. I was stuck on a mad, live snake! I knew I was going to die!!!!

When I saw this snake, I put everything I had into screaming for help, just in case my dream actually came true!

Snake in the circle of trust (near the houses and pets).

Snake in the circle of trust (near the houses and pets).

Thankfully, my Mom did hear me and helped kill this bad boy snake. But not before I managed to hurt my vocal chords by screaming like a Banshee. After we killed it, I went back to get the rattles and it moved and peed on me, so I screamed again. That probably didn’t help my voice either.

When rattlesnakes are this close to our homes and pets, we don't think twice about killing them. They do not need to be in the circle of trust.

When rattlesnakes are this close to our homes and pets, we don’t think twice about killing them. They do not need to be in the circle of trust.

We always are careful to remove the snake’s head to prevent any accidents. We’ve heard enough horror stories about people getting bitten after the snake was killed or meat bees eating the poison and stinging people or animals. The head is placed into a bag and thrown away, safe from meat bees and animals.

See this cow's upper back leg? This is what a snake bite looks like.

See this cow’s upper back leg? This is what a snake bite looks like.

Rattlesnakes are a fact of life here on the ranch. Inevitably, we always have at least one cow or calf get bitten every year. Worst case scenario is the animal dies. The best case is we have a hurt cow or a calf that will never fully recover.

A full year later, we are still treating the bite. We had to lance her wound.

A full year later, we are still treating the bite. We had to lance her wound.

It is always upsetting when we kill a snake around the houses. Although we know the snakes are here, we don’t often see them, so we can pretend they don’t exist. But then you have a scare, and it is ALWAYS when you aren’t paying attention, wearing your office flats (not snake boots) and you have a puppy frolicking at your feet. For the next few weeks, we will be on high alert, every stick will be a snake, the wind moving the leaves in the trees will be upset snakes! Eventually we will relax again, but the cycle will continue.

Many of my musician friends ask for the rattles to place in their guitars, they say it improves the sound.

Many of my musician friends ask for the rattles to place in their guitars, they say it improves the sound.

Everyone is safe and healthy, so this was a good reminder that we need to pay attention. Well, maybe not totally healthy….

I really did hurt my vocal chords when I screamed. Ever since we killed the snake, I’ve been a raspy, squeaky mess. I am a whisper nervous about this because on Thursday I am going to be a panelist at the 2014 CropLife America Policy Conference . I’ve been trying not to talk and eating lots of ice cream and drinking lots of honey tea, so I know I’ll be fine!

If you have a few minutes Thursday morning, please consider streaming this event on your computer! I am so excited to be apart of this and want to share it with my readers!

 

 

 

 

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Payday

How often do you get a paycheck from your job? Once a month? Every two weeks? Once a year?

Dogs, helping with the cattle.

Dogs, helping with the cattle.

For many of us in agriculture it is normal to receive one or two paydays a year. That is it. We must budget those few paydays to last, and with all the unknown variables that are apt to happen in agriculture, that can  be a huge challenge. For us, payday is when we sell this year’s crop of animals or harvest. For farmers and ranchers that specialize in one product, like beef cattle, we work all year for this one day.

Where our cattle live in the winter.

Where our cattle live in the winter.

We sold this year’s calf crop today. As I was sitting at the auction, I realized that not many people outside of beef production, get the chance to experience what I experienced today. I want to show you what a cattle sale looks like.

What an average animal sale looks like.

What an average animal sale looks like.

But first I want to talk about what it took for us to get to this point. This calf crop is the result of almost two years of work. From planning the pregnancies of our Mama cows, to the birth and growth of the calves themselves.

Look at this little cowgirl.

Look at this little cowgirl.

The calves we sold today were almost a year old. My family has spent every day since before their conception with this herd. We selected the bulls we felt would best improve our herd,  we watched as the Mama cow’s bellies grew, we helped them give birth, we spent countless hours watching and protecting them. If you want to know more about the process, please look through the Beef archives to the right of this post.

This is when we de-wormed and vaccinated our babies.

This is when we de-wormed and vaccinated our babies.

When we watch the sale of these calves a whole range of emotions course through us. Part of you wants to grieve for the loss of these animals that you have spent so much time with, becoming attached happens regardless. Part of you feels pleasure, watching these beautiful animals walk around ring. Then you feel thankfulness because you have successfully brought them to market. Often feeling incredibly proud is yet another emotion, the knowledge that I am helping to feed my country is amazing.

This is how we ship our cattle, in huge cattle trucks. The bottom is what they look like inside.

This is how we ship our cattle, in huge cattle trucks. The bottom is what they look like inside.

Needless to the blend of emotions causes a lot of stress, anxiety, but eventually relief and in a good year, joy.

My little cousin was giving me a back rub to help with the stress of selling our cattle today. It was a nice treat.

My little cousin was giving me a back rub to help with the stress of selling our cattle today. It was a nice treat.

Ok, now on to the auction part. If the past we’ve sold our cattle multiple different ways. From video sales in years past to a more traditional way of literally taking them to market.

This is how we sold our cattle today, it is the traditional way of trucking your cattle to market:

This is how we’ve sold our cattle in the past, a video sale:

Each method has it’s pro’s and con’s, but we’ve been very happy with both. Hopefully, this summer I can attend a larger video sale and go more in depth about it for this blog.

Our family is grateful for today to be over. Our emotions have been all over the map and we will talk about nothing else amongst ourselves for the next few days. However, we are thankful that we can continue to do what we love and look forward to many more generations of ranching.

 

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Ag Hag

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http://shannonrosan.com/

 

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