Tag Archives: agriculture

Podcast, Mental Health and Agriculture

Recently, I had an incredible opportunity to be a guest on Shark Farmer’s podcast. It was the first podcast I’ve ever been asked to appear on, I really wanted to do a good job! Rob and I have been social media friends for ages, so I knew he would be kind. We scheduled a time for an interview and well, the rest is history!
I am very proud of this podcast because Rob brought up something we don’t talk a lot about in agriculture: mental health. I’ve been very open with my struggles throughout the years with anxiety. Having this new and larger platform to share my message, that everyone has problems and it’s OK to talk about them and seek help, was phenomenal.
Please check out this podcast! It was a lot of fun to do, and it was wonderful getting to know Rob a little better! And please remember, if you need to talk, shoot me an email, I’m here for you.

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Click on this picture and you will be taken to the podcast page!

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The “Farm Wife”

I used to think I wanted to be a farm wife. I always thought I would follow my Mom’s example. Working unpaid for the ranch. Doing the same work as the men, plus the books, the cooking, cleaning and taking care of me, the kid AND having a full-time off the ranch job for health insurance and financial security. I thought I’d marry, and my husband would take over for my Dad and I would continue my Mom’s role.

See the woman in the center. That "farm wife" is the reason there is a farm in the first place.

See the woman in the center? That “farm wife” is the reason there is a farm in the first place.

Then I grew up. I realized just how much work it was to be a farm wife. I realized they did the heavy lifting. They were the unappreciated glue that held everything together. I finally understood I am not tough or smart enough for the “farm wife” label. Nope. I can handle being a rancHER. That’s easy. But farm wife? I simply don’t have the balls for it. Major props to you Farm Wives! Thank you for running this industry we call agriculture! We all know what you do, but we don’t vocally ever recognize and appreciate you in a way where you get to hear or see it. I hope that starts to change, and after what I’ve witnessed over the past few days, I think it will. We need to respect, praise and appreciate the women that keep us going.

 

Probably the most important read out of all of this. 

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Why I Use Antibiotics

Antibiotics are amazing. They can do so much, so quickly! I want to tell you a story about one calf and one shot of antibiotics.

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We found this little calf in the morning. Her mom gave birth to her in water during the night and left her. She was very ill. Very cold, very close to death. In fact, when we first saw her, we thought she was already dead. We loaded her in the back of the polaris and took her to the hospital pen. We dried her off, treated her with antibiotics, electrolytes, fluids, iodine on her naval, and some vitamins. We followed the label on the antibiotics and the advice of our veterinarian to the letter.  A few hours later,  she was able to stand up by herself. She was ready to go back to her mom in about a day.

Before and after, in just a matter of hours.

Before and after, in just a matter of hours.

My point here is, despite what Subway would have you think, antibiotics are not always bad when used in animal agriculture. They actually save a lot of lives and a lot of suffering. By the time this calf hits the market, no residue will be left. So please think about that next time food marketers talk about antibiotic free.

Antibiotics are a hot button issue within agriculture right now. Farmers and ranchers are working very hard to fight antibiotic resistance, because we realize how this can and will impact us. Personally, our ranch uses superior genetics, nutrition and vaccines to prevent illness. But as I showed here, sometimes we still have problems and we need to be able to do the humane thing and treat our animals. It’s the right this to do.

I urge you to talk to other farmers,  ranchers and veterinarians to learn how and why they use antibiotics on their ranches. Coming from agriculture and seeing how we have changed our protocols, I feel like our general public might not know what we have changed and why, in regards to this topic. Fear and half-truths have been used often to promote “antibiotic free” meat marketing agenda.

I even got the opportunity to learn more about antibiotics at the Alltech convention I attended last May. Meat scientist Dr. Yancey wrote a nice recap about it, you can read here.

Is antibiotic resistance a problem? Absolutely. Do we know for certain what is causing it? Kinda. Is agriculture doing something about it? Yes.  It is a complex issue. But,  friends and readers, feel safe about the meat your are eating. Trust that your friendly neighborhood ranchers are aware of this problem and we are working hard to continue to keep our food supply safe and affordable. 

If you have more questions or would like a list of more experts, veterinarians, farmers or ranchers to talk to please leave me a comment below and I will do my best to accommodate you. Thank you.

 

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Vote Here to Name the New Guardian Pup

The sweetest little pup ever!

The sweetest little pup ever!

We’ve always had predators on our ranches. For as long as I can remember, suffering loss of life to our cattle and pets because of bears, coyotes and mountain lions has been something we always tried to mitigate. We used calls, traps, and hunts, all legal lethal methods allowed to us. It more or less works, some years are worse than others.

Because of this, I have become increasingly paranoid about the safety of my piglets. A year ago I moved my pens father away from the house and noticed a sharp increase in the coyote signs I saw around the pens. It hasn’t helped that my Dad has pretty much constantly assured me that it is just a matter of time before my pigs do suffer an attack. I’m still so small that one bad night could totally end my pig raising career. I don’t want that.

Getting socialized to her new sister. It's important to me that she doesn't mind my cowdogs.

Getting socialized to her new sister. It’s important to me that she doesn’t mind my cowdogs.

The proverbial final straw, when I really knew my Dad was right, it WAS a matter of time before something really bad happened, was two weeks ago when I was hunting in our back canyon and saw massive and plentiful bear poo. I’ve decided to be as proactive as I can regarding this situation. I got a guardian dog, well, puppy.

I’ve been aware of guardian dogs for years. I have several friends that have them, and I’ve read extensively about them, I’ve even been lucky enough to meet a few. They seemed to work really well for many ranchers. I felt like it was finally time to try one. It seemed like fate, when last week, the opportunity to get a Pyrenees/Akbash female pup fell into my lap.

A little about these dogs, the Great Pyrenees and Akbash dogs have been used for hundreds of years for guardian dogs. They are both a calm, aware, intelligent and gentle, yet fearless and dedicated to their jobs. They are a large dog, the females can hit 90 pounds or more. They are happiest when given a job – so these breeds are just what I was looking for. This pup seems to be fitting all of her breed characteristics, she is shy, sweet, aware and quiet. I like her. 

I picked her up yesterday and spent today getting her settled into her new home. These dogs must bond with the animals they are guarding and not people. That being said, it’s been incredibly hard for me not to treat her like I would a cowdog, you know; cuddling, loving, carrying her around and singing her dog songs. I’ve respected the fact that she is not a pet and left her alone for the most part.

She already is showing interest in her pigs. It was exciting to see!

She already is showing interest in her pigs. It was exciting to see!

She has a lovely, safe home next to her pigs. In a few days, when she is totally settled in, I’ll put a couple piglets in her pen, so we can really start the bonding process. In the meantime, I only give her a whisper of affection when she is getting fed, and we are starting basic commands like ehhhh (that means no) and good girl.

She got a deer bone to play with and LOVED it.

She got a deer bone to play with and LOVED it.

BUT….she needs a name! I asked my twitter, facebook and instagram friends for some suggestions and these are my favorite:

  1. Temple (after my idol Dr. Temple Grandin)
  2. Babe
  3. Luna
  4. Fern
  5. Claire (I’m team Claire on House of Cards)
  6. Viva
  7. Mio
  8. Laela

Who do you think she looks like? Leave me a comment and help me name this sweet girl!

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The Montana Cowboy

Social media makes a small world even smaller. This past January my friend Jesse Bussard, recommended I become friends on facebook with this guy named Steel. Steel was coming to Chico State, from Montana, for a semester exchange. We became facebook friends and made plans to meet for a beer and a tour of Chico when he got here.
We met up at the world famous, Sierra Nevada Brewery for a beer and a beer cheese pretzel. I figured I’d have a beer with this guy, introduce him to some Chico people and that would pretty much be it. He would find his niche in Chico and my life would be no different. I was wrong.

A Montana cowboy meets a California cowgirl.

A Montana cowboy meets a California cowgirl.

We met, had our beer, and started talking about what it was like to grown up on a ranch. It was a good time, we had a lot in common. We both had similar childhoods, we had interests in politics and agriculture. He mentioned that he was looking for stuff to do while he was in town, preferably ranch type stuff. That got my attention. We are always looking for part-time help on the ranch – but it’s impossible finding someone with the needed skill sets. Ranch kids have a tendency to either work on their own ranches or not want to be ranch kids anymore.

I had a ball showing Steel around my area of California. Jesse also joined us for a couple days!

I had a ball showing Steel around my area of California. Jesse also joined us for a couple days!

Steel started coming on out to the ranch pretty regularly. He worked hard. I tried my best to keep up with him while we were working, but I’d have to give it up after a few hours. My prideful pride wouldn’t let me admit that I couldn’t keep up, luckily I was able to say I had to take a break so I could start cooking dinner (I’m pretty sure no one knew, so shhhh). Steel would work all day, doing gnarly ranch jobs like building fence, taking down old barns, and teaching me to weld, for only dinner and beers.
I, in turn encouraged him to start a blog. Agriculture needs all the advocates we can get and I knew Steel would have an unique and educated voice that we so desperately need. I also gave him some cooking pointers and seasoned a cast iron pan, so when he went home he could do more than grill. I also tried to educate him on the finer points of Californian Mexican Food, because Taco Bell does not count. At all. Not even a little.

Steel experienced the whole package from pigs to lots and lots of fence building.

Steel experienced the whole package from pigs to lots and lots of fence building.

Then, as they do, something bad happened and I thought the light had left my life forever. All I wanted to do was lay on my couch watching Gilmore Girls, crying and eating burritos (I did for a week too!). Steel, in no uncertain terms, told me to knock that off. He came over and picked me up and took my on a little day trip to the snow, giving me a pep talk and a chance to get out of my head and see the big picture. It was just what I needed.

I almost got him killed a couple times, no big deal.

I almost got him killed a couple times, no big deal.

Then he made me a ranch hot-tub out of a watering trough and barrel. It’s really hard to be sad when you have an awesome hot tub in your yard.

Ranch hot tubs are the best hot tubs!

Ranch hot tubs are the best hot tubs!

Despite my best effort to introduce him to a lovely Chico State student here so he’d stay, I had no luck and he went back home to Montana. It was wonderful getting to know Steel and I am a better person for getting to know him. However I am now looking forward to delivering a Boo puppy and some pork to him this fall, when I go visit my Montana friends!
Keep an eye on this guy, friends. He’s a wonderful human that is going to do some great things.

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The Sacramento Bee, Twitter and Red Wattle Hogs

It’s no secret that this ranch girl has embraced social media like my life depended on it. Some might call it a hobby, my Parent’s call it an addiction, I think it’s a necessity in this day in age. Recently, my social media persona and “real” life has collided in some big ways. The result has been some rather amazing and interesting opportunities.

The catalyst for this recent wave of attention was an article by Edward Ortiz in the Sacramento Bee. Randy Pench contributed beautiful photos and awesome video that accompanied the online version.  But first let’s back up just a whisper shall we?

The screen shot!

The screen shot!

Mr. Ortiz started following me on twitter sometime back. Of course, I followed back because I get all kinds of excited when journalists, teachers, and/or people I lurk follow me. These are the people I learn from, these are also the people I want to learn from me. I respect their thoughts and opinions and I know others do too.

Mr. Ortiz emailed me last fall and wanted to talk about my hogs. Since my falls, springs and summers are generally my busiest times, I had to wait until January to have him and Mr. Pench out to see the ranch and hogs. Winter is the time I get to dedicate to my hogs and opening this ranch’s barn doors.

My Dad couldn't stand it and had to be apart of the interview.  So I felfie photo bombed.

My Dad couldn’t stand it and had to be apart of the interview. So I felfie photo bombed.

Opening your farm or ranch “barn doors” can be a terrifying thing to people in production agriculture. Unfortunately, we expect to be attacked for what we do. There is just much mis-information being put out by our opponents, we are forced to play a never-winning game of catch up.

I was just a whisper excited.

I was just a whisper excited.

That is why I take such a transparent stand. I want every reasonable person, who has a thirst for knowledge about their food, to come on out. I want them to know what I do, and why I do it. It really is in my best interest. Having a reputable paper like the Sac Bee come out, makes me accessible to more than a ranch day ever could.

If you get the chance my fellow farmers and ranchers, I urge you to reach out to your local media. Follow their facebook and twitter pages, answer their questions if they ask. I’ve had such wonderful and positive experiences interacting with the media, especially with the Sacramento Bee.

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Wordless Wednesday: December 29, 2014

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Happy Friday

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WE Made a Video

This past spring, thanks to CropLife America, I got the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to talk about what I do. While I was certain I was going to die from anxiety, before and during the event, miraculously, I did not. It turns out, I had a fabulous time, and I felt like I was finally promoting my way of life in a way that I could feel. In short, I wanted to do it again!

The best Washington D.C. Felfie I took. Ali Velshi's socks and my boots. So much fame.

The best Washington D.C. Felfie I took. Ali Velshi’s socks and my boots. So much fame.

When I saw that the U.S. Farmers and Rancher’s Alliance was searching its next class of Faces of Farming and Ranching, I decided to enter. I felt I was ready to finally leave the Ranch and take my advocacy to the next level, and this was the perfect year and forum to do that.

I spent a month making my Parents take video of me doing everyday activities on the Ranch. We started to really get into it, thinking of the prettiest places on the ranches to film, trying to get ‘good’ shots. I, somehow, managed to talk my friend Brendan (who has two small children – one is a newborn, a lovely wife, and a full-time job) to use his amazing talents and craft the short video needed for my application.

My Dad took this picture of me while we were filming, and I just loved it.

My Dad took this picture of me while we were filming, and I just loved it.

I asked my musician friends if I could use one of their song’s for my video soundtrack. This became more of a community effort. It was fun to have so many different people being supportive, helping and offering insight. Pretty much everyone in the immediate “circle of Meg” knew I was doing this and was pretty excited about it.

In typical Meg fashion, I turned my application and video in the day it was due. It was a very exciting day. However waiting the month to hear back was agony. I vacillated between being super excited and having super anxiety. This was a big deal!

When the big day came, I ended up not being a finalist. But I realized I was actually ok with that. I had so much fun making the video! Involving my friends and family was the best part, I made memories! The icing on the cake is I have this super, awesome video that shows a good part of my life! Plus, I’m getting twenty pigs this year and I’m certain my Parents would kill me if I left them that job.

I want to share this video because of all the work others put in, thank you everyone!

I’m really proud of this video. Brendan is so good at what he does! This was a bunch of 5 second, shaking clips from my iphone that got turned into something cool that I can share. Plus I totally know one of the finalists, and she is an amazing advocate that is going to kick more ass than I could! When it’s time, vote for Dairy Carrie!

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Wordless Wednesday: Working Cows

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