Tag Archives: transparency

It’s Time

The only power the powerless have is being a pain-in-the-ass. In the end, you may still lose, but you’ll make the S.O.B.s say, “It would have been easier, cheaper, and smarter to give her what she wanted in the first place.” –  Claude Seymour

It is easy to tell someone to “get over something”. But until you have lived and felt what they have, that is an insult. I am still struggling with an event that happened to me several years ago, because I am still experiencing repercussions.
Emotions are very strong, and as much as we wish logic could take over, sometimes it can’t. Sometimes you simply need closure. You need the people that hurt you, to take responsibility for their actions, or you need to be able to say your peace. Granted those limp dicked people probably will never take responsibility for their behavior, and that is their flaw. That doesn’t mean I can’t talk, share and demand closure for as long as I need to. Until I feel better.
My mental health is important to me. Thankfully, I have social media, I have a blog, I have a column, I have wonderful, creative outlets where I am able to share the Megan experience wide and far. I am SO lucky to have that.
Thank you friends, for putting up with the Megan experience, thank you for your support. I’m thinking it’s time for me to re-enter the local agriculture community. I think it’s time for some of these people to deal with the new and improved, stronger Megan.
I do not like being ignored.

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, Beef, family, History, Know a California Farmer, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

13 Thursday – My Answers

Sometimes I don’t understand when people are asking me questions about the Ranch. Because this is all I have known, I assume (I know assuming only makes an ass out of you and me) everyone knows what I know. One of the best things I ever did for myself was disconnect from the Ranch for a few years in my mid-20’s. It gave me perspective, and made me realize that sometimes farmers and ranchers live in our own little bubble and speak our own little language of sorts. I am constantly working at bettering my communication with non-aggie people because I feel like that is the only way our industry will be able to continue. Because I am so passionate, and this way of life is such a huge part of who I am, and how I identify myself, I can become defensive very quickly when people question our Ranch’s practices or my motives. It took me a very long time to realize that often these people are not trying to insult me, they just don’t know! Because of the disconnect between farm to fork and the certain people/movements taking advantage of that fact.
I made it my business to openly share what I do, the good, the bad and the ugly. Surprisingly, this has cause a lot of drama and hurt feelings in my life. But the longer I do it, the better I handle the positives and negatives this blog has created for me. However if not for a certain core group of people I probably would have abandoned this blog long ago. Instead with their kind words, encouragement and support, I continued and will continue. One of those people is Ian from the An Irish Male In America. People like Ian are starting to make a huge impact on farmers and ranchers, they reach out to us when they have a question, they want to know! Ian continues to amaze me, but now he’s made it super easy for me to share about what I do! I mean, he gave me a list of questions! I totally stole these questions from his blog, thanks again Ian for everything you do! Please keep it up.

Ian sent me this t-shirt for St. Patrick's Day (so I could properly celebrate my heritage).

Ian sent me this t-shirt for St. Patrick’s Day (so I could properly celebrate my heritage). Also this is me with no make-up (full transparency here people!).

13 Questions I want farmers/ranchers/AG people to answer (or even blog about!)

1: What is the worst time of year for you?
The worst time of year is the middle of the summer, because it is obnoxiously hot and there are bugs and stickers here and fire danger. Fire scares me. It seems like once a year, we have a fire scare, and it just really sucks because there is nothing you can do. I hate the feeling of being helpless while the ranch burns.
2: What is your favorite farm job?
My favorite farm job is anything outside. I like feeding hay, actually because the cows are really happy to see you and they buck and dance. It’s fun to watch. I also like feeding the pigs, pretty much for the same reason. I like happy animals and just like me, they are happiest when someone puts food in front of them. I love working on the Ranch because everyday is different and challenging.

3: What is your least favorite farm job?

Anything that involves illness or premature loss of an animal. I feel like I failed them. I really hate it when you pull a calf and it is dead or dies, and the cow dies too. That is just the worst feeling ever. Even if you KNOW you did everything you possibly could for them, I still feel tremendous guilt. But honestly, any job can become my least favorite, it depends on who I am working with. There are certainly some people that rush jobs, or are mean to me or the animals. At this point in my life, for my mental health and physical safety I will refuse to work with those people.
4: What type of truck do you drive (on the job) and why did you choose it?
I drive a Toyota Corolla because I drive so much it made more sense than buying a truck. I commute to my town job and in between the two Ranches (we summer in the mountains and winter in the valley). Whenever I need a truck I can use my Dad’s full-sized Dodge or my Mom’s Tacoma. My Dad has a Dodge because I guess Ford changed something and he thought the Dodge was better. I miss his Fords though, I liked them. The Dodge is all fancy and stuff, and I’m afraid I’m going to break something. My Mom has a Tacoma because we need a little truck around the Ranch and we needed it for our kayaks because both of them won’t fit on top of my car!
5: What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned in your line of work?
Life isn’t fair. Not even a little bit. And like Dr. Grandin says, Mother-nature is cruel, but we don’t have to be.
6: What do you think is the most valuable tool you have, the one you probably couldn’t live without?
The internet. It has given me access to so much knowledge. If I have a question about anything I can find an answer, if I need a random part for a tractor, I can find it! It also shortens the distance from farm to fork, I am able to directly speak to thousands of my consumers. They can ask me questions and I can ask them questions, it’s a win/win! I’m trying to develop new markets, so I can hopefully work on the Ranch full-time within the next few years.
I remember pre-internet, while it was certainly nice to not be connected 24/7, access to information and knowledge was severely limited, especially in rural areas. I like knowing and learning!
7: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your business?
That we are just a bunch of dumb hicks that get all kinds of government money. Actually that is tied with we all all corporate slaves, or huge corporations. Both of those I get a lot. Some of us are very tech savvy, something like 98% of farms are family owned, and despite what you have heard, it’s still a free market and farmers and ranchers can choose what we raise.
8: If you could invest in a new piece of farm equipment tomorrow, what would it be?
A pig set up! I would love to raise hogs on a larger scale. I would love to have a barn, fencing and a water system. These are the things that are holding me back. Mainly the water situation. I could build fence and a shelter fairly easily compared with drilling a well or fixing our spring. I want to raise heritage hogs because I am in love with the pork I raised this year. It’s sooooo good and I want more people to have access to it. Plus if I had a hog set up I could probably retire from my office job, which the older I get, the better that sounds. I’m meant to be on the Ranch.
9: What was the most serious injury you ever suffered in the line of work?
I fell off my pony when I was 4 and broke my wrist but didn’t know it until a couple weeks later, it was a glorious temper tantrum in the hospital (ask my Mom). Other than that just your average bumps, bruises, cuts, broken toes, and sprained things. Oh, actually I got walking pneumonia when I was on a cattle drive when I was like 10. That sucked big time, mainly because I got sent home, and ended up being allergic to the antibiotics they gave me. And I was certain someone else rode my horse (grumble, grumble).
10: Least favorite animal to deal with?
F**king, damned dirty, goats. And mean roosters.
11: (excluding all of the above) What’s the dumbest question you’ve ever been asked?
Leather comes from cows?
12: Favorite beer? (come on, out with it!)
I’m having a love affair with Sierra Nevada right now. I really like the Snow Cap.
13: Thing you’d most like the public to know about what you do!
That I have nothing to hide, I want to share what I do. I love my way of life. And just like everything in life agriculture is not as simple as black versus white, big versus little, good versus bad. Talk to us! Ask us questions! (Seriously!)

Go check out J.D.L. Photograph’s answers here! I’ll try and add more links as more farmers and ranchers (ahem!) do this!

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, Beef, Humor, Media, Pigs, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

Wordless Wednesday: The Boss

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, Beef, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized, Wordless Wednesday

The “Appointment”

I’ve made the “appointment”. The pigs are going to be slaughtered March 8. I’ll admit I’m already a whisper sad about it.
I grew up raising my own food animals. I did 4-H and FFA. Every year I watch as our commercial calves are loaded into trucks to become food. I watch the custom exempt slaughter of our personal freezer beef. Heck I even worked in a slaughterhouse. I’m not new to this lifestyle, but for some reason I am already bummed out about the pigs.
Maybe because this was my project, my idea, my money, and my time. It was the first time a bright idea of mine worked out successfully (ask me about goats sometime). Since October, I have spent every day with these pigs making sure they were the happiest pigs they could be. In December I started making their food. I’ve cooked for these pigs more than I’ve cooked for myself.

Happy pig

Happy pig


I realize that is their “job” to be pigs and if they didn’t have a “job” they probably wouldn’t exist. I know I have provided them with the best pig life I could. I know they are happy and healthy. But I am still going to miss them; I think I would have no soul if I didn’t.
Treats!

Treats!


When I would have a bad day at work, or someone poked me with a stick, I would simply go out and hang with the pigs. They are always super excited to see me, even more excited when I bring treats and the most excited when I brush them and give belly rubs. They run and grunt at me when they see me, just like I sing them silly pig songs and talk to them when I am in their pen.
This project has been a success and we haven’t even tried the pork yet. It was wonderful doing adult 4-H and having so many visitors to the Ranch. It was great having something my Dad and I could talk about everyday, where I could ask for his advice. And best of all it was wonderful to bring awareness to this pork. I have a waiting list for next year.
This project reminded me that my place is on the Ranch, not in an office. Over the past three years I have worked in town from 8 to 5. I worked on the Ranch during my weekends and free-time; so I have not noticed how “soft” I have become until recently.
When we first got the pigs I noticed it was hard for me to pick up the 50 pound sacks of grower feed. My arms were sore after I started cooking their food all weekend (it takes my whole weekend to cook enough food for them). I had blisters on my delicate little office hands. I have to make two trips to feed them because two full five gallon buckets were just too much for me.
But after 6 months of taking care of the pigs every day, twice a day (except for like a month at night, when my Parents fed for me because it was too dark by the time I got home) I have upper arm strength again. I can pick up their 75 pound sacks of feed like it is nothing. I now fill their slop buckets as full as I can get them and “pump buckets” on the way to their trough. I have calluses. It feels good and I’m thinking of becoming a bouncer with these guns, lol.
My "man" hands. I've very proud. I missed them.

My “man” hands. I’ve very proud. I missed them.


Since this was a success my Parents have agreed to let me start raising pastured poultry this spring. When I take my vacation next month I am going to build a portable coop and get chicks. I have fond memories of being a small child and slaughtering chickens and turkeys with my Dad (he would always give me the sea glass from the turkey’s gullet). Very exciting stuff is happening for me!
Work. Lots of work. All weekend worth of work. I need a weekend from my weekend.

Work. Lots of work. All weekend worth of work. I need a weekend from my weekend.


Be prepared Dear Readers, even though I will probably be sobbing, I am going to video and take pictures of the whole slaughter process just like I did with my beef all those years ago (Industry groups, if you are concerned about this, please contact me NOW, I don’t want another Beef Council incident).
Thank you to all of you that have kept up with our pig adventures. I’ve really enjoyed all of your comments and feedback! I’ve even met new “friends” through this project, it’s just been such a wonderful experience. However I am a little excited that I can start to sleep in and have weekends again after these pigs are gone. It has been a lot of work balancing my town job and my pigs.

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, family, food, Humor, photos, Pigs, Ranch life, Recipe, Uncategorized

Adult 4-H

As you recall my Parents gave me their blessing to get pigs. This has been a dream of mine for several years. The deal is, I promised my Parents that I would pay for and care for my pigs and they would not have to pay for or do anything for the pigs. I also promised I would get a heritage breed hog.
What is a heritage breed you ask? Generally they are breeds of animals that are not raised commercially. For that reason, the breeds can be rare. For example, the type of pig I want, Red Wattles, are considered critical. I kinda look at heritage breed animals, like heirloom vegetables, for some reason that analogy makes sense in my head.
I started thinking about this, a lot. I really enjoy raising my own food, it makes me happy and I know others enjoy it too. I’m also 30 kinds of stoked to be raising a heritage pig! I feel like I will be getting a superior pork product and bringing attention to neat breed. And in typical Megan fashion, I have a plan.

The pig pen. It needs a lot of work.

I was already planning on getting at least two pigs (so they wouldn’t be lonely. Happy pigs are healthy pigs!). But since I am so freaking passionate about agriculture and education – I thought this pig project would be a great opportunity not only for myself, but for some of my friends.
I am incredibly lucky to know a large group of people that want to be connected to their food. They buy local, know their farmers and do a fabulous job of educating themselves about current food issues, I am proud to call them my friends. I see a lot of these people looking for ways to get involved with production agriculture, but having little success, unless they want to pay dearly for the experience.
Light bulb! Adult 4-H. Many adults yearn to re-connect with their food and get their hands dirty, but there are still few opportunities for them to do that. Like I said above you can pay to intern on some farms, you can pay to work on a Dude Ranch, you can pay to be in a CSA (community supported ag), you can pay to go to school. Kids and teenagers at least have 4-H and FFA to learn from. But adults, especially ones with no or little ag background/training, can have it tough.

Milkshake stop – it’s hardwork fixing a pig pen!

This is where I can help!!!!! I have the space, I have the knowledge (I raised pigs in 4-H and my Dad knows a lot!) and I have the drive. I want people to have the same opportunities that I had, so they can learn about their food, agriculture and animals. It is in my best interest to share my point of view with as many people as I can. Plus how awesome is it going to be to have two of my friends play on the ranch with me?

Kristen found the pig waterer part.

“Adult 4-H” has started. My friends Kristen and Mahina are joining my “4-H club” as founder members. With the help of The Intern (more about him later), we started fixing up our pig pen last weekend. I’m hunting down Red Wattle piglets to buy. I think this is one of the most exciting endeavors I have started recently. I think the potential to learn and teach is huge. Stay tuned!

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Am I Really the Crazy One?

Edit from October 2013: “if you’re a strong, powerful, smart woman, you tend to end up at some point in a roomful of men trying to prove that your ideas are good.” Elizabeth Moss

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I went to my local county cattlemen’s board meeting tonight. My blog was on the agenda because for the past few months I had been asked to use my social media savvy and create a Facebook page for the group. I’ve posted mainly fun facts and articles about the industry, but I figured since my blog post about California Beef Council dropping the social media ball directly impacted Butte County Cattlemen (since they all pay into the check-off), I’d post a link to my blog on the Butte County Cattlemen’s facebook page.

Ready to talk the Board about my blog, change within the industry and facebook.

Some of the members didn’t like that I did that. I understand that fighting and drama can look bad when done within the industry. But when you read my post about the California Beef Council, I feel like I am not really fighting or attacking. I offered my help, I want to get involved! I did point out that the beef industry has a problem when the group we fund to talk for us, won’t talk to us. So it confused me that these men took issue with my stance. I guess I thought more of them would be upset too.
I found myself being the only woman and the youngest one there trying to explain social media, blogs, my blog, the story behind my blog, and how social media works to a group of men that, I think it is safe to say, don’t fully appreciate this technology, it was like talking to a roomful of my Dads. It got confusing. People interrupted me and told my story for me (although that part was kinda nice – I got to hear more about the drama I caused higher up, but I didn’t know because NO ONE WOULD TALK TO ME ABOUT IT). I got annoyed that I could have been sitting on my couch, with my cat and wine (Wino Wednesday!), instead of being talked at about a thing I know and am pretty good at sometimes.
I went ahead and printed off a couple of my blogs, the ag code that explains the California Beef Council’s job, and Todd Fitchette’s blog about my blog, hoping to give the board members some background into what I have been doing. I don’t think that helped, but I did try and do my due diligence to explain why I thought I was there.

My packet of information about the California Beef Council.

The meeting went on about if Butte County Cattlemen should even have a Facebook page. A side note, I asked how many of these men even had a form of social media and I think 4 out of the group of 10 or so did, one mentioned that he knew how to turn on a computer! I guess I do understand now, why these guys aren’t as upset at the lack of social media in our industry when they don’t understand what it is or how powerful it can be.
I think by now, most of my serious readers realize I love ag, I love anything to do with it, and I spend an enormous amount of my time talking and sharing about it. I was honest and told them it really wouldn’t hurt my feelings if they removed me from their Facebook administrator because I do have my hands in so many different ag related activities. They said that they wanted me but they wanted policies and procedures, more regulation – no drama, no opinions, you know kinda the stuff that makes me such an amusing person. I told them that for a donation to my scholarship they could tell me what to post, and I wouldn’t piss anyone off.
So about that time I burst into tears. Because when I am put on the defensive and not listened to, that is what I do. It was a highly effective tool to communicate with my Dad and since these men all reminded me of my Dad, I went there. I do hate that about myself, it makes me look very unprofessional, but it is also a huge part of who I am. However, want to know how to make a room full of cattlemen really uncomfortable?
So that was my meeting. I think they decided to have a young cattlemen take over the page. I must question though, how many pages about the beef industry do we need that only talk about puff? How effective has that been?
I went home after I started to cry. I’m on my couch with Jack cat, doing what I do best these days, writing about the odd predicaments I get myself into. I don’t feel like my point was gotten across. I feel like I am missing yet another opportunity to help my industry. I feel like I don’t know how to communicate with others in my industry, am I the only one that feel like this? Am I really the crazy one?

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Filed under Ag, Beef, food, Ranch life, Rants, Scholarship, Uncategorized

Guest Post: Active Environmentalist

Mountain lions were not a subject I planned on writing about. Right now, in California, it’s a rather polarizing topic. However, recent events have made it necessary for me to share something with my Readers. A couple days ago a mountain lion attacked the mountain community where we summer our cattle. In an especially vicious attack 9 of our neighbors goats were heartlessly slaughtered, not eaten, but slaughtered. Not only is this terrifying to me as someone whose very way of life depends on the safety of my animals, but as a child, I grew up running wild in this community. This attack could have very easily been on me, 20 years ago, or now, on one of my friend’s children.

Cattlepeople take our environment very seriously. We understand how delicate our eco-system is, because when something is out of balance our animals and land suffer. I also like to say a Rancher is not an environmental activist s/he is an active environmentalist. Sometimes when our eco-system can’t right itself, it becomes the Rancher’s duty to interfere. This is one of those times. – Megan

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Howling winds couldn’t distract my gaze. The stillness of their bodies was surreal. Scrape marks in the soil. Hay moving in the wind, that last night was carefully placed in the mangers for these goats. Expecting him to breath, I am transfixed on the body of the large Billy goat. I wait, thinking I see movement but it is only the wind blowing his hair. Glimpses of white and brown dot the area. Looking closer I see their little feet, their soft ears and precious mouths. Just a few hours ago they were romping by their mothers as they made their way to the barn for the night. Leaping, kicking out to the side, landing only to take off again as if they had springs on their feet

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“It jumped out over here.” I am startled back to the reality of what needs to be done. The lion must be tracked down and “taken” and it must be done before the rains come. There are new foals in the barn and they may be next on the lions quest. The hounds whine, but there are no bays of chase. It has been too long we will have to wait until the lion comes back.

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The few live goats that are left are locked in the barn where the mare and foals are housed. The bodies of the nine (9) dead are piled in one place, so the lion will come to a distinct area. A trick wire is placed on the top goats’ carcass so when it is moved an alarm that the Tracker has, will go off. The waiting begins. At 10:00 p.. the alarm is sounded. Our hound man gets his dogs and as he approaches the barn he sees the lion emerge from the barn and leap over the 6’ 6” fence without touching, loping across the arena and heading toward the mountain. The hounds give chase and soon the lion is treed. It is huge. The biggest lion our tracker has ever seen in his many years. The lion is shot and falls, the wind is howling and the rain is here, coming down is sheets.

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Document the damage. Document the results. Document the loss. All are documented, all is legal. The depredation was a success; yet there is no celebration at the Walking G Ranch. The dead are counted and the living are being cared for by the young man, Paul, of 13 years of age who they belong to. The nannies that are alive have lost their young, the young that survived have lost their mothers. Each kid must be fed three times a day and the nannies milked, for they won’t accept another’s young at this point. Chores are a welcome distraction. The filling of water buckets, cleaning the stalls. Chickens to be let out. Horses fed.

It is raining in an area of dust. Welcomed rain, rejuvenating rain. Spring will happen this year. Paul is consoled, he is encouraged and receives many calls of condolence for his loss. He is a tough young man. Practical minded, he plans on getting a loan from his mother and father and buying 100 young goats to eat the star thistle and buy another guard dog, since one was definitely not enough.

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“This is my business.” Paul states “and no lion is going to ruin me. “ A smile of hope is on his young face. Yet as we are loading the body of his prized Billy goat, the goat that was raised on a bottle, that he played tag with, I watch his hand caress the goats’ face and give him a little pat with a trembling hand, as the tail gate is closed. I turn away not so much for his sake, but mine..tears were blurring my vision and I felt so angry, so helpless in the midst of this created madness.

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Heather Kingdon is a commercial cattleperson, photographer, horsewoman, teacher, artist, mentor, Mother and Grandmother in Plumas County. She can be reached at heatherandbrian.kingdon@gmail.com . If you want to know more, please watch http://youtu.be/rYY3lTa9G84

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MeatMe: A Love Story

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I got the most amazing opportunity this past weekend. I got to “open my barn door” and show two people from L.A. our Ranch. It was amazing. Honestly, I was nervous and a little scared about it. But it could not have gone better! Even Jacob the house Bald Eagle made an appearance!

(yeah that is me freaking out – Bald Eagles are freaking cool).

I’ve been offering tours of the Ranch for years now, Sean and Laura were the very first people to take me up on it. I’d never met them in “real life” until they drove all the way up here from Southern California! I ‘met’ Sean (Aka Meat Me) over twitter this past Fall. His passion for all things meat put mine to shame, I loved it and wanted to help in any way possible.

Now I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but Sean is doing a project called MOO to MOUTH: MEAT a True Love Story. This project will take a look at women in the beef and meat industry – basically a way better version of pasture to plate. In addition to myself, Sean took photos and videos of Jenny Dewey of Chico Locker and Sausage and Lindy & Grundy in West Hollywood. Why don’t I just let his poster speak for itself?

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While they were on the Ranch, Sean took some videos. He told me I could share them with you guys as a “preview” if you will. Since I haven’t delved into video production yet, I’m totally stealing these from him to put on this blog! (Thanks Sean!)

(Play this song, it was the one I was talking about in the clip)

(I had the “flu” here. Please forgive me.)

I’d just like to thank Sean and Laura again for driving all the way up here! Putting up with my massive bottle flu, and for having an interest in what I do. This was such a positive experience for me, and literally made me practice what I preach. I hope this project both educates and inspires. This experience along with the shorty nomination and scholarship has really given my passion a boost. Watch out America!

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“Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Me Your Ears”

… and your knowledge, experience and points of view! As part of my “ag-vocating” efforts I like to make agricultural information available to my friends, family and consumers. I feel like providing that information and letting people learn on their own, is far more effective than talking at someone. You know the whole “give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime” thing.

Farmers and Ranchers, I need your help! I need you! What I would like to do here is have a master-list, if you will. A list of Farmers and Ranchers in production ag that our non-aggie friends can have access to so they can ask us questions. Yes, yes, I know agchat and several other bloggers have already done this – but in my humble little opinion we can never have too many good ag sources.

If you have ties to agriculture – whether it be production ag, an ag salesperson, a truck driver, a chef, a butcher – whatever! Please leave a comment below with your name, a little about you and your area of expertise and a way we can contact you – an e-mail address, twitter handle, Skype, facebook, blog or website. When I have a nice list I’m going to organize them and post it as a blog for your average person to use – let’s connect our farmers and ranchers and some consumers!

This is an example of what I am looking for:

Meg Brown – An 6th generation commercial cattle rancher. Ask me about the cattle industry! Lurk me on twitter – MegRaeB, e-mail – MegRBrown@gmail.com or my blog thebeefjar.com.

Thank you in advance everyone!

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Armchair Farmers

Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.” – Dwight D Eisenhower

My Great Grandfather, Great Aunt, Great Uncle and Grandfather – on one of the same ranches we have now.

I just love that quote from President Eisenhower, and I agree! Farming does look pretty easy when you are an “armchair farmer”. We live in a country where less than 2 percent of our population works in production agriculture. This has created a disconnect for most consumers. For most of us, a simple trip to the grocery store provides us with everything we need. Most of us have no reason or need to question our abundant, affordable and safe food supply.

However, this disconnect is having repercussions. For some consumers, agriculture has turned into a negative. They think farmers and ranchers are hiding from the consumers for various reasons. They think we do horrible things to our land and animals just to get rich. And instead of seeking farmers and ranchers out, to learn from us, or ask us questions – they just accuse, attack and harass us.

I do my best to “open my barn door”, that is I attempt to let my friends know, if they have questions about agriculture I am here for them. I offer tours of my Ranch, introductions to other farmers and ranchers, I’ll even find you (what I consider) relevant and good research about an ag topic. I absolutely love it when I have friends that take advantage of my resources.

My Dad keeping an eye on me as I brand bulls.

My outreach becomes a problem for me, at times. Agriculture is more than a passion for me. It’s my life. I eat, breathe, sleep and live ag. The best way I can explain it to people is it is like a very devout religion. My family has been agriculture for as long as I can trace it back (I made it back to the 1500’s). I have always lived on a ranch. I have always worked in production ag. My formal education is in agriculture. My first memories are of agriculture. I will probably die on a ranch. To say ag is personal to me, is a slight understatement.

When I hear someone say “we should have our farmers backs” I usually love it! But more and more this sentiment comes from “armchair farmers” – people whose ag knowledge came from books, movies and youtube videos. And while I appreciate the sentiment, these people often have no clue what they are talking about. To them, ag is simple. Ag is black and white, good guy versus bad. They’ve never farmed, ranched or really ever spoken to a commercial farmer or rancher.

Often these armchair farmers insinuate real farmers and ranchers are dumb. That farmers and ranchers need urban people to “have our backs” simply because they think stereotypes from the media are true – that we are “simple folk” Yes, there are those of us (farmers and ranchers) that are not worldly or tech savvy, but I guarantee if you sit down and ask them about their crops or animals they can teach you more than any TV show or article. My Dad is the perfect example of that. He can’t really operate a computer, he’s been out of the country once, he didn’t go to college, but that man has a beautiful, healthy, productive, happy cow herd and would blow any non-aggie’s mind with his knowledge.

These armchair farmers tend to discredit my opinion (an opinion of a real rancher that produces the food you buy) because I don’t say what they think I should. I don’t believe organic is our savior (all type of ag has its place), I don’t believe Monsanto is the devil out to destroy me, I don’t believe “modern ag” is evil. Having an armchair farmer “educate” me about my industry is like having someone not of my religion educate me about how I should practice my faith.

My Dad keeping an eye on me as I build corrals

I’m all about different opinions. I’ve learned a lot from people who don’t agree with me. It’s actually one of my favorite methods to learn – hell I went to law school (I dropped out – but it was my choice – I didn’t flunk out!)! Everyone is entitled to an opinion, which is what makes this country great. But at some point I have to draw a line, for my sanity. When a city person starts talking at me, “educating” me about agriculture, lecturing me on how I should run my ranch – I shut down and walk away. I’m not going to apologize for that. It’s one thing to have an educated conversation or discussion about my way of life with someone that has knowledge or experience that can contribute information, or has genuine questions. But it’s a totally different animal when someone with no ag education, experience or understanding acts like I am simple, country folk that needs to be protected from myself.

If you really want to “have our backs”, listen to us, talk to us – not at us. Ask us about our ag practices and why we choose those methods over others. Don’t put words in our mouths, or infer we are dumb. Don’t push for more legislation for us, more hoops for us to jump through to produce our food and fiber. Realize that our opinions about agriculture were formed from hands on experience, education, hard work and sometimes generations of family before us, – not the media, youtube and or food writers.

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