Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Brucellosis, you aren't a friend of mine

Montana has been struggling with Brucellosis for quite sometime. Trying to figure out how to control it, handle, take care of it, and deal with it. Montana just got done holding public meetings across the state on OCV. I wrote about it here and here. One thing producers, the state and officials can agree on is that something needs to be done. It is just that noone can agree on what that 'something' should be.

Now, I found an article titled Survey shows elk brucellosis on rise in Yellowstone region. This article states that the elk in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem appear to be carrying this brucellosis at an increasing rate. The lead author on the study stated that high elk densities are a big factor in the alarming increase in brucellosis.

This is not good news for the cattle producers in that area, or for the state of montana. Something needs to be done, some regulations put in place, some help for vaccinating in that area. For the sake of many cattle operations and future operations and operators. we need to figure that 'something' out and soon.

Take a moment to read the article here

Arizona Rancher Killed

58 year old Robert Krenz was shot to death last Saturday while out checking water line and fences on his Arizona ranch. Investigators are saying Mr. Krenz came up one person when he was shot and his dog wounded. This incident has put the pressure on Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to beef up border patrol. It also has Senator and Representatives alike calling for more security steps and for dispatching the National Guard to watch over our southern border.

Robert Krenz, who was described a pillar of his community by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was recently inducted into the Arizona Farming and Ranching Hall of Fame.

"The cold-blooded killing of an Arizona rancher is a sad and sobering reminder of the threats to public safety that exist in our border communities," Giffords said. "It has not yet been determined who committed this atrocity or why, but I know that federal and local authorities are mobilizing every possible resource to locate and apprehend the assailant."

Sheriff's deputies, U.S. Border Patrol trackers and Department of Corrections dog chase teams followed footsteps approximately 20 miles south to the Mexican border. No suspects have been apprehended.

Read More Here

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tally & Fred

I am almost positive there's not anything much greater than A Girl and Her Love For Her Horse.

Tally loves Fred. She tells him everyday. She wants him to go to Sunday School with her. She gives him loves everyday.

I also was a little girl that loved her horses. Heck, I still love my horses. I have had some great ones. Some that were ok. And some bad ones.

How bad is bad? When I sold him, he got put in a bucking string and bucked at the Dodge Circuit Finals. My bad was someone elses good, I guess.

I have horses that are long gone that hold a special spot in my heart.

Horses have always been a part of my life.

It makes me happy to see Tally with Fred.

I am so glad Tally loves her Fred.

It makes my heart very happy!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Impatiently Waiting

I am impatiently waiting for days like this. Days when we know there is no chance of snow. Which, given where I live, is at least 6 weeks off. Days of being outside enjoying the day. Days of impromtu wagon rides after days of branding. Team roping after a long day of swathing. Cold beer after day of baling hay. Going down to the river and throwing the fishing pole in. BBQing and sitting outside with a bunch of friends. Picking fresh tomatoes from the garden. I. Can't. Wait.

Good Times. Good Friends.

Bringing the steers up.

Barrel Crawl. Tally's Favorite.

Watching the Team Roping and Playing in the Dirt.

A trip to the Zoo.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring is in the air

Spring is in the air!

We had our first BBQ Saturday night. Yes. We had some friends out, new and old. Shooted the breeze. Played some cards. And enjoyed the fact we could be cooking outside with out our Carharts on!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Future Farming Generations

I stumbled upon this story this afternoon.

Please take a moment to read it.

It's a little scary how close it is to the possible truth.


It will make you stop and think.

To Date or Not To Date....

.....that is the question on alot of peoples minds at the moment. Since 1980 Montana has required that all milk containers be stamped with a 12 day sell-by date. Recently the Montana Board of Livestock has been asked to drop this rule. The proposal calls for the 12 day sell-by date to be replaced by a date chosen individually by the milk processors. There would no longer be a standardized sell-by date in Montana.

As you can imagine this has sparked quite the conversation/debate. Some see the 12 day sel-by date as a way to keep out of state milk from entering the state and being sold. Some say it's a way to control the competition. Some say the sell-by date protects the costumer. The dairy industry states the sell-by date is a way for them to ensure they are delivering a good product to the customer.

The Board of Livestock took up the proposal (submitted by Core-Mark International Inc.) at a hearing earlier this month and it was continued until April 26. Both sides will file legal briefs and then the hearing officer will makes recommendations to the board.

The push to change the sell-by date seems to be the latest battle between Core-Mark and the Department of Livestock. In 2008 the department ordered several convience stores to quit selling lower-priced milk that was bought from Washington state.

To read the whole story go here.

Save the Farm!

The following article was release by the AP and I found it in the Billings Gazette.

States look to join Montana in agricultural antitrust fight

HELENA - Montana is leading a 16-state effort to save small farmers and ranchers by urging the federal government to use antitrust weapons and enlist the states' help to fight increasing consolidation in agriculture.

The feds are listening. Attorney General Eric Holder and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack say a series of workshops on competition in the industry an unprecedented act of cooperation between their agencies. But they also say it's not clear what actions will come from the hearings, which are examining competition in U.S. dairy, seed, meatpacking and crop production.

Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock, who is spearheading the agricultural states' effort, said too much consolidation has resulted in unfair trade practices that tip the balance against farmers and ranchers. With Justice Department and USDA cooperation, he said, "This will be a watershed moment to have actual enforcement capabilities."

Bullock and the other attorneys general are calling for a halt of any further consolidation or integration in the agricultural sector without a critical review coordinated with the states.

They submitted recommendations to federal officials on what needs to be done. Among them:

- Study the seed industry's concentration and property rights claimed to see whether there is any way to change existing laws. Five companies own the most commercially successful trait technologies for crops, and those transgenic seeds account for 80 percent of corn planted in the United States, 92 percent of soybeans and 86 percent of cotton.

- Repeal antitrust exemptions for railroads that have been in place since the 1980s and make transportation more accessible to small producers.

- Explore how states can help enforce antitrust laws under the Packers and Stockyard Act, passed in 1921 to ensure fair competition and fair trade practices in the marketing of livestock, meat and poultry. States have not historically brought cases under that federal law, and the attorneys general say cooperation could better regulate an increasingly concentrated buyers market in the livestock industry.

- Review the antitrust immunities given to certain dairy cooperatives and the laws governing how milk is marketed to make sure they still protect farmers and don't become a vehicle for large entities to exclude smaller farmers from the market.

Smaller farmers and ranchers generally agree that fewer suppliers, shippers and buyers resulting from consolidation can lead to antitrust practices. In Montana, agricultural consolidation has reduced the number of grain elevators in the state from nearly 200 in 1984 to fewer than 50 today, Bullock said. The four largest packers process 85 percent of the nation's beef, while the four largest pork packers process about 65 percent of the nation's pork, he said.

Jan French, a cattle rancher from Hobson, Mont., and head of the state's Livestock Board, welcomed the state's involvement.

"It's always good for agricultural producers to be listened to on a federal level," she said. "All expenses are passed down to us, and we can't pass it down to anybody."

Some farmers have taken matters into their own hands.

The Montana Grain Growers Association and the Montana Farm Bureau spent four years negotiating an agreement with the state's predominant railroad shipper, BNSF Railway Co., that establishes an abitration process between the railroad and the farmers.

Lola Raska, executive vice president of the grain growers, said the agreement gives producers a way to appeal high shipping rates. Before, challenging the rates was too expensive and wheat and barley farmers simply had to accept whatever BNSF charged, she said.

"We are in a captive situation - we have only one railroad that serves the state," Raska said. "We've tried to develop a working relationship with the railroad."

BNSF referred questions to the Assocation of American Railroads. Obie O'Bannon, the association's senior vice president of governmental affairs, said Thursday the group supports what BNSF has done with the Montana growers.

However, the association is not seeking any changes along the lines of what Bullock and the other attorneys general are recommending. Any change in law or repeal of the railroads' antitrust immunities would have to be done in a way that ensures the railroads make enough money so they can reinvest and expand their infrastructure, O'Bannon said.

"We are not opposed to the idea," O'Bannon said. "So long as it's done in a coordinated fashion."

Besides Montana, the attorneys general who signed the recommendations are from Delaware, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont and West Virginia.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Reasons to Celebrate Ag Day

Here are a couple or reasons to recognize - and celebrate - Ag Day each year:

*Everyone has to eat!
Increased knowledge of agriculture and nutrition allows individuals to make informed personal choices about diet and health.

*Informed citizens make informed policies. Informed policy-making will support a competitive agricultural industry in this country and abroad.

*A strong ag economy generates jobs! Employment opportunities exist across the board in agriculture. Career choices include:
- farm production
- agribusiness management and marketing
- agricultural research and engineering
- food science and technology
- food processing and retailing
- banking and finance
- education
- landscape architecture and forestry
- biofuels and biotechnology
Because agriculture touches everyone, a general understanding for its practices is necessary and beneficial for everyone to know -- not just for the people who produce the world's food supply.

Friday, March 19, 2010

March 19th, 2010

This is a picture of my friend Glo, and her son Wyatt. This picture was taken a couple of years ago. Today, March 19th, 2010 will be a day that Glo, her family and her friends will never forget. Today Glo had her last radiation treatment!

Back in August Glo got some news that noone ever wants to hear. She had Breat Cancer. Everyone was shocked. I was stunned, didn't think it was possible. I mean, Glo is just a couple of years older than I am. The doctors wanted to start treatment right away. Glo put it off for another week, as the day they wanted to start was the day that her daughter Missy would be showing her first 4-H lamb at the fair. She didn't want to miss that.

Glo soon started her chemotherapy treatments. She juggled her family, keeping up with lesson plans for her substitue teachers, cancer and her kids. She kept her humor all through it. When she started losing her hair, she posted on facebook that JR, her husband, would be shaving her head that night. All of her supporting friends, me included, chimed in with comments and courage. Heartfelt comments like "shall I bring the sheep clippers overs?" or "cool, now you can go as Mr. Clean for Halloween." and "wow, just think of all the money you are going to save on shampoo.". Yes, a classy bunch of friends she has!

The school she teaches at surprised her with a 'Tough Enough to Wear Pink' day in honor of her. There are a bunch of us sporting pink bracelets with Glo's name on them. I am amazed at her strength. Her sense of humor. Her overall attitude. I admire her for all of that.

Another good thing about March 19th, 2010 and the last radiation treatment.....We Get To Celebrate!! Cold Beers at Bucking Horse Sale, here we come!

Robbing Peter to pay Paul

This was sent to me this morning. It was found on the Northern Ag Network website.

Child Nutrition Bill Would Mean Big Cuts to EQIP
(Washington, DC—March 18, 2010) Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) yesterday introduced a child nutrition bill that would cut more than $2 billion dollars from the largest of USDA's working lands conservation programs, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), according to a leading conservation group. As a result of EQIP's nationwide popularity, Congress increased funding for EQIP in the 2008 Farm Bill by $3.4 billion over 10 years. Senator Lincoln's proposed EQIP cuts would wipe out more than two-thirds of that increase.

"We support better child nutrition, but there are better ways to pay for this worthy bill than by cutting USDA's conservation programs," said Sara Hopper, director of agricultural policy for Environmental Defense Fund and a former staff member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "The Environmental Quality Incentives Program is a great deal for taxpayers because it spurs private investment in public benefits, including cleaner water, cleaner air and improved wildlife habitat. It's one of several conservation programs that assists farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners in Arkansas and other states who offer to spend their own time and money to improve the management of their land to benefit the environment."

EQIP allows farmers to share with USDA the cost of implementing practices on working agricultural and forest lands that deliver a broad array of environmental benefits, including improved water quality, soil quality, air quality, forest health, and wildlife habitat. Farmer demand for the program routinely outstrips available funding; in the most recent year that USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) published EQIP enrollment numbers—Fiscal Year 2008—farmer demand for the program was so great that NRCS was forced to reject nearly half a billion dollars ($487 million) worth of applications by almost 24,000 farmers nationwide, about one third of all farmers who applied.

"Congress passed the 2008 Farm Bill with broad bipartisan support, and the investment it made in conservation was one reason for that broad support," Hopper concluded. "We are disappointed to see Senator Lincoln propose cutting conservation funding so soon after taking over the chairmanship of the Agriculture Committee. We hope she and other members of the committee will consider alternative ways to pay for child nutrition legislation as this bill moves forward."

Source: Environmental Defense Fund

I found another story about this at Agri-Pulse.

While everyone should agree that we should all be behind Child Nutrition, I am not conviced that cutting funding to the EQIP program is the route to take. Taking money from a program that does so much for farmers, ranchers, water supplies, wildlife, enviroment, and range health is not the route to go, in my opinion. Alot of good is done with the EQIP program that some producers would not be able to accomplish on their own.

Michigan Governor Proclaims Michigan Meatout Day

Michigan Gorvernor proclaimed March 20, 2010 to be Michigan Meatout Day. The same day as National Ag Day.

Isn't that something.

You can read her proclimation here and also responses from Michigan Farm Bureau President Wayne H. Wood and past NCBA President Gary Voogt.

Isn't that something.

Michigan Governor proclaiming to her state that they should quit eating meat. Even if it is only for a day. How do you suppose that is supporting her state. Her citizens. Her economy.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Natioinal Ag Week

It's National Ag Week. A week for celebrating Agriculture. A time to recognize what Agriculture provides for all of us. A time to educate those who want to learn more. A time to share your stories about beling involved with farming and ranching.

Since I started this crazy blog, I feel like I have done a little of each. Through all my searching and reading I have come across a few blogs that are doing all that way better than I am. Here are a couple that I have found that do just that:

* CDYCattle

* Advocates for Agriculture

* Young Producers Council

* Truth Be Told

* MT Stockgrowers

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sugar Beets

The only day I talked a bit about Big D's new farming venture, Sugar Beets. My knowledge level is still quite low, but I have learned a couple of things.

1. The sugar beet planter they searched and searched for and finally purchased looks a whole lot like a corn planter to me! I plan to get to the bottom of this and find out what is different, because to my untrained eye there is nothing different. So therefore I am wondering why we had to buy when? I am sure there is a reason, right?

2. Planting sugar beets is freakin' expensive! I saw the seed bill. The bill is more than what I make in a year! No joke. I felt faint when Big D showed me the bill. Real faint.

3. Sugarbeeters will be able to plant roundup ready beets this year. Yep, that was new to me. Of course, I have never even gave any of it a thought before. I recieved the following email about the good news:

“U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White has denied the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction that would have prohibited planting of the biotech sugar beets that growers planted on 95 percent of their acreage last year.”

“We are pleased that the court denied the request and recognized the significant negative impact that an immediate ban on planting would have caused to growers, processors, rural communities and the U.S. sugar supply. This decision allows sugar beet growers to proceed with planting this year’s crop. The court will decide at the July 9th hearing what will happen in 2011 and beyond.”

“We look forward to the next phase of the court proceedings where we can present evidence about potential choices for our growers and processors.”

Kaylee Jane & her Chickens

This is Kaylee Jane.

These are Kaylee Jane's Chickens.
I love Kaylee Jane.

I really don't Love Kaylee Jane's Chickens.

But I Love Kaylee Jane's Chickens Eggs!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Canadain Cow Tests Positive for BSE

I came across the following article in the Rapid City Journal

A Canadian agency has reported that another case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy has been found, this time in a 72-month-old cow. It is the 18th such case in Canada, according to the United Stockgrowers of America’s Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund,

An official with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency told Shae Dodson, R-CALF USA communications coordinator, that another case of the disease, commonly known as mad cow disease, was confirmed Feb. 25.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture later verified the Canadian report, according to a news release from R-CALF USA. The group said Canadian officials had not notified the World Organization for Animal Health about the case as of last Wednesday.

“The CFIA said the BSE-positive case was confirmed Feb. 25, 2010, which means the CFIA and all other governments who knew about this latest BSE case kept it a secret from the public for almost two weeks,” said Bill Bullard, R-CALF USA chief executive officer. “If we had not discovered this information, the public may never have known.”

The 6-year-old infected animal would have been born in 2003 or 2004, making it the 18th Canadian-born case and the 11th animal diagnosed with the disease eligible to be exported to the United States.

Also, the discovery of an animal born several years after Canada imposed a ban on high-risk animal parts from cattle feed indicates that the ban is not working or is not being enforced, said Kenny Fox of Belvidere, president of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association. Canada banned such high-risk cattle parts from feed in 1997, the same year the U.S. feed ban went into effect.

In November 2007, USDA implemented a rule that allows Canadian cattle over 30 months to be imported into the U.S. as long as they were born after March 1, 1999.

Animal scientists have said cattle older than 30 months are more likely to have the disease. They also believe that it is transmitted to animals that eat feed containing infected tissue, typically spinal cord or other nerve tissue.

R-CALF USA and the Stockgrowers have called on USDA to again close the border to Canadian cattle older than 30 months.

R-CALF USA, the Stockgrowers Association, five national consumer groups and several individual ranchers have a pending lawsuit against USDA’s rule in a South Dakota federal court. As a result of this litigation, the court ordered USDA to reopen the rule and to revise any provisions of the rule it deems necessary, according to the R-CALF news release.

National Ag Week

National Ag Day FAQ's

What Is Ag Day?
It's a day to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture. Every year, producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless other across America join together to recognize the contributions of agriculture.

When Is Ag Day?
Ag Day is celebrated on March 20, 2010 - the first day of spring. National Ag Day falls during National Ag Week, March 14-20, 2010.

What Is Ag Day All About?
Ag Day is about recognizing - and celebrating - the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives. The National Ag Day program encourages every American to:
*Understand how food and fiber products are produced.
*Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
*Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.

Why Celebrate Agriculture?
Agriculture provides almost everything we eat, use and wear on a daily basis. But too few people truly understand this contribution. This is particularly the case in our schools, where students may only be exposed to agriculture if they enroll in related vocational training.
By building awareness, the Agriculture Council of America is encouraging young people to consider career opportunities in agriculture.
Each American farmer feeds more than 144 people ... a dramatic increase from 25 people in the 1960s. Quite simply, American agriculture is doing more - and doing it better. As the world population soars, there is an even greater demand for the food and fiber produced in the United States.

Facts take from Ag Day

Another Sign of Spring

Another sign of spring......

The sight of wet, muddy pants. How did that happen you wonder? Easy. Take one very independent curious 3 year old, add warm snow-melting day, throw in corrals with cows and horses scattered about, and most importantly some big water/mud/corral crap puddles covered with a very thin sheet of ice on top. Then you must proceed to tell 3 year old to say over by the fence while you sort horses and catch hers, and to walk around the big puddle because she will fall and slip. She never did cry, she just sat there and told me "this is 'isgussing'". That would be her word for disgusting!

After her little episode and we got her cleaned up and changed she then demanded to wear her coveralls outside!

Picture of T riding Fred for the first timet this spring.

Monday, March 15, 2010

North Dakota Feedlot Given the Go-ahead

An eastern North Dakota cattle feeder was given the green light to proceed with pursuing his restricted feedlot plans.

Plans for the Carrington ND feedlot include feeding imported Canadian cull cows and bulls and then slaughtering them in Minnesota.

A set of guidelines is in the making and must be agreed upon by both State Board of Animal and the feedlot personel. Currently there are not other restriced feedlots in the state of North Dakota and having one maybe an advantage. State veterinarinan Dr. Keller states that a restriced feedlot could be used in the future for when a North Dakota herd tests positive for disease. Having a restrited feedlot would give a producer an opportunity to feed exposed or sick animals instead of immediate slaughter.

Go to Farm and Ranch Guide to read the whole article plus the set guidelines that are in place.

Wyoming Passes Bill

Wyoming's Governor has signed HB 122-Disposal of Livestock. This bill provides the Wyoming Department of Livestock with three different options when dealing with abandoned, estrays, abused or feral animals. These options include taking the animal to public sale, slaughtering the animal or destroying the animal.

If the Board of Livestock chooses slaughter, their will be guidelines on how and where the meat can be given to and sold. All meat will be state inspected.

A working group is being formed between stage agencies, veterinarians, Dr. Temple Grandin, meat processors and other experts to design a system for processing horses and the efficient and practical use of the valuable meat and byproducts.

Check the whole story out here.

Organic Beef Sales

I read this morning in the Billings Gazette that organic beef sales in Montana are dropping. The Montana Organic Producers Cooperative reports that 2009 was a rough year which they say is because of a grocery store buyout and economic crunch. You can real the little blip right here.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Congrats to our good friends Beau and Amber. Proud new parents to a little baby girl born tonight. Emmalyn Joyce Anderson, 6 lbs 12.5 oz.

Thinking Spring has Sprung

I am hopeful that Spring has sprung. Snow is melting fast, corrals, yard and driveway are all mud. I have not found any crocus, there is too much snow yet. But the smell of spring is here. No, not the smell of green grass or that sort of thing. I am talking about that distinctive smell of spring melt. That 'wonderful' smell of corrals unthawing. You know that smell. It's close to that feedlot smell, but with this smell it brings hope and excitement. Hope that winter is over and that warmer days are upon us. Excitement at the thought of baby calves soon appearing, crocus' appearing, green appearing and horses shedding. All of it brings smiles to face, happier moods and talk of getting into the field. Garden seed books are arriving in the mail. What a great time of year.

We actually gathered horses this morning and T got to take her first horse ride of the year. Fred seemed to winter pretty well, but we have decided to keep him in for now on hay and grain. He is old and we want to keep him in good shape. T had fun riding and was excited to use her new reins that Santa brought her. She still doesn't have much interest yet in using her stirrups, but that's ok. I am working on getting my sisters' old bareback riggin oiled up and relaced and will start letting her ride with that some. Not only will it help her balance, but it will teach her to hold on. She has no fear and no interest in hanging on whatsoever!

I also am excited to start getting some riding in. Last fall I got to bring my young horse home from dad's house. I haven't gotten to ride him much, as the spring I was going to start him was the spring I was pregnant. Dad has been riding him and the Amish put some rides on him. I can't wait. But I definetly need to put a call into the farrier, the herds hooves need some work.

I am headed out to go enjoy some more sunshine. Think Spring!

Health Insurance

Don't those two words just make you cringe? Health insurance is a nightmare. Health insurance gives me a headache. Health insurance is a beast. Health insurance is the only reason I am still working this job that I hate. But lately the health insurance benefits are not outweighing me staying at this job. My employer has changed insurance on us two or three times in 4 years. The insurance we have now is awful. They are a nightmare to work with. This is the same insurance we had while I was in the hospital delivering T. The same insurance company that wasn't going to pay anything and stuck with with $10,000 worth of hospital bills. It was a mess. I had the state insurance commissioner on it and everything. It was horrible. It still makes me mad and sick to think about it.

Between not liking my job and no longer having good health insurance through my employment, I am always looking at health insurance options. The other day I read a headline that caught my eye: Montana Farm Bureau launches health insurance plans for members. MFB has teamed up with New West Health services and has given its members options for individual health care and employee health care.

Now, I know nothing more than what the article states. But it's an option worth looking into. It's up to you to decide if it is a good option for you, your family and your employees. I think I may just check into it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Market Reports

Are you one of those people that does not go anywhere with your cell phone?

Do you use your cell phone for gathering and storing information?

Do you like to keep up with whats going on around you?

I have to admit I can answer yes to all three of those questions. Here awhile back I was surfing the web, dreaming of spring when I came across something that had me intrigued. On the Drovers website you can sign up to have the daily Market Reports sent to your phone through a text message. You get opening and closing updates along with midday report. Just go here and follow the easy instructions.

Married a Farmer

I know I have mentioned it before, but I shall say it again: I Married A Farmer. Now don't go a'hatin' on me or get the wrong idea; there is nothing wrong with farmers. Farmers are great. We need farmers. I heart farmers. But I am a rancher. I grew up pulling calves, not ditches.

As a kid growing up, I really never had to help with the farming side of the operation my father worked for. Yes, I would have to help load square bales, and haul hay, but that was about it. All aspects of raising cattle I was great hand. Pulling calves. Fixing fence. Sorting, calving, feeding, breeding...well you get the picture.

But now I am married to a farmer. A farmer that irrigates! I knew absolutely nothing about irrigating. There wasn't much for irrigating where I grew up. I sometimes wish I still didn't know anything about irrigating. And truth be told, for all that I have learned, I pretend to be dumb about it. It keeps me out of trouble and I get sent fencing instead of irriagating. Yes it's true, I would rather fence than irrigate. Well, as long as I am not fencing with Big D, but that's another post.

Now Big D is starting a new farming venture: Sugar Beets. I definetly know nothing about that! When we first got together most of his farming was alfalfa that he sold for dairy hay, and some wheat. In these last few years, he has had his alfalfa, his wheat, then some durum, and the last two years was corn. And now sugar beets.

They have been busy searching for sugar beet planters, attending sugar beet meetings and talking about planting and all the prep before they get to start seeding. It seems that our river bottom land is already set up pretty well to accomidate sugar beets, so that is good. I don't know if the beets will be under pivot or on the flood irrigation. If it's on the flood ground, will that take more work irrigating than corn and or aflalfa? I have all kinds of questions about this new adventure of Big D's.

But I am carefully considering how and when to ask my questions. I don't want to be loaded with too much information to where I might be of some use and help! I mean, someone has to stay behind and take care of the cows, kid and dogs!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Meet Fred

This is Fred. The Horse.

Fred is Great.

He's a Wonderful Babysitter.
He is a Great Teacher.

In his hayday he could rope calves. Rope steers. Run a straight line while his rider flung herself off his back and ran to a goat and tied him down. He could run the barrels and knew the pole pattern. He gathered pairs out of the hills. He drug calves to the branding fire. Sorted cows. Gathered bulls. Chased yearlings. Been on a wagon train or two. Took part in a parade or two. Safe to say, Fred has Been There, Done That. But I don't think he got the t-shirt.

I inherited Fred from dad's herd four years ago, the spring when I was pregnant. I was not going to quit riding and dad knew that. So he sent me Fred and Dingy. Remember Dingy? It was dad's way of knowing I would be ok to keep riding with these two horses. It's been four years, and I still have both of them.

Fred was the horse that we put the rookies on. The horse that visiting college friends rode. He was the horse Big D had to ride for quite sometime before we were married. We got a kick out of it. We made Big D ride Fred partly because he was being tested and partly because it was so damn funny!! OH - did I mention Fred is one rough ridin' son-of-a-gun! Arena riding he is great. Out in the pasture he has ya begging to turn around.

These days Fred has a pretty easy life. My niece Timber has ridden Fred some since she starting riding. Last summer when T started riding, it was on good ol' Fred. A slow trot is about as fast as he goes, and he doesn't get too excited about anything. Perfect! I hope ol' Fast Fat Freddy is around a few more years to teach a few more kids how to ride.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Can a Country Boy Survive?

I found the article at Cattle Business Weekly website. This article raises the good question "How can farming and ranching survive?" With only about 2% of our population involved with agriculture, we are easily a minority in this country. And as a minority we need to work together in order to survive. Take a moment and read the article. It really will get you to thinking, and hopefully moving.

Secretary of Ag

The other day I wrote about how Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak would be visiting Montana. Saturday, March 6th, different ag leaders and agency representatives were able to attend a breakfast meeting with Mr. Vilsak. MSGA President got a chance to voice some of his concerns to Mr. Vilsak at the meeting. Two of the things that President Hougen brought up were developing a brucelloisis plan and eminant domain. You can check it our here


The Montana Department of Agriculture has released an updated Montana Noxious Weed List and an updated Weed Brief explaining the priorities and the reason for the changes.

Declaring the Russia Olive a noxious weed has been a hot topic around here lately. The Russian Olive did not make in on the new noxious weed list. However, the Department of Ag is sending out surveys to all County Commissioners in each county. The purpose of the survey is to find out if all counties feel it should be listed.

The MWCA has some more information on noxious weeds.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sage Grouse Will Not Be Listed

It was annouced today that the Sage Grouse will not be listed as endangered or threatened species. The Billings Gazette has a story on it this afternoon. The sage grouse population will still be monitored, and classified as a species for federal protection ranchers and the energy industry will have little more room to breathe when it comes to developing land. Many ranchers include practices in their overall range management to promote sage grouse habitation and growth. Simple things like rotational grazing and placing boards and ramps in the water tank help the sage grouse population.

Read the MSGA response the Sage Grouse decision here.

Today's Horse Industry

Those of us who have horses, raise horses or just have ties to people in the horse industry, know things are not good on the home front.

I urge you to take a few minutes and read what The South Dakota Cowgirl has to say about it. She has written a 4 part (so far) series on The State of the Horse Industry.

Too bad more people couldn't see things this way, or at least be willing to listen.

USDA Plans New CRP Signup

For the first time since 2006, new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sign ups will be held this upcoming spring. There are about 4.4 millions acres of CRP whose contracts are set to expire in September 2010. The states that will have the biggest acres expiring will be Montana, North Dakota, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The sign up being held to help replace those acres that are expiring and the help push the total acres of CRP to 32 million acres. As it stands right now, there is about 31.4 acres of CRP ground.

Is this Good? Bad? Or Otherwise?

You can read the full article here. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ag Secretary to Visit Montana

Actually headline should read 'Ag Secretary to Visit Western Montana'. Ag Secretary Vilsak has plans to visit Deer Lodge, Bozeman and Helena this Saturday.

His plans include meeting up with Senator Tester in Deer Lodge and taking a plane ride to get a view of the beetle infested forests. Mr. Vilsak oversees the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. I did not know that. I also don't know what that is!

His time in Bozeman will spent discussing the Child Nutrition Act and Farm-to-School efforts in Montana.

Ag Secretary Vilsak's time in Helena is going to be spent meeting with Montana Ag Producers.

I appreciate the gesture he is giving. But is it enough?

My Favorite Season

One of my favorite seasons is fast approaching.

Calving Season

*It brings Hope
*It brings New Life
*Supplies us with some new stories to tell
*Cracking the good ol' dependable horse out
*Cracking the 'we got a ways to go' horse out
*Taking bets on which horse is gonna buck with you first
*Slopping around in the mud. snow. rain. dust.
*Pulling a calf to save its life
*The smile on a little kid when they get to love a baby calf
*Getting up in the middle of the night to check one heifer
*Jumping fences and swearing that this is the year she gets sold
*Fresh Air

I just can't wait for Calving Season!

After after Calving Season comes another favorite season.

*Catching up with neighbors
*Enjoying good food
*Shaking the cobwebs off your rope
*Teaching the rookies how to flip a calf

*Observing the result of you sleepless hours during calving
*Cold Beer
*Listening to the Calving Stories being told
*Playing the gambling game of 'which bull calves not to cut'
*Accomplishing a big task with the help of your neighbors and friends

*Watching that cowkid finally get a chance in the roping pen after years of begging
*Seeing the ol' timer make his way in to brand at least one calf
*Listening to that same ol' timer tell his version of 'back in my day' stories
*Watching a parent pass on knowledge to the next generation
*Watching a parent teach a new skill to the next generation

*Laughing the next generation get knocked on their ass, because some things can't be taught.

*Laughing even harder because many times it was yourself getting knocked on their ass

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Netflix & Temple Grandin

If I had my way, we wouldn't have TV in our house. I would not be paying for Dish Network or DirecTV or whatever else there is. But I don't get my way. We have TV. A few weeks ago I was wishing that we had HBO in our TV package. But Big D did start Netflix here recently. Which I am not too thrilled about.

Yep, I went from one end of the stick to the other. From no TV to wanting HBO. To clarify, I just wanted HBO for the weekend. Not all the time.

I was wanting to watch the movie Temple Grandin. Most everyone in Agriculture has heard of Dr. Temple Grandin and the lucky ones have got too sit in on one of her presentations. I am one of the lucky ones. I saw her speak several times in college. My husband is not. He wasn't even sure who she was. Really? I thought he knew everything, or so he tells me!

I have decided to not belly ache too much about Netflix. I also have quit walking around in disbelief and repeating the phrase "how could you not know....". Why you ask?

Well, because Big D informed me that he added Temple Grandin to his Netflix list, so when HBO releases it, it will arrive in my mailbox.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rerecord Brands in North Dakota

They're rerecording everywhere! Rerecord in Montana. Rerecord in North Dakota. Below is a press release from the ND Stockmens' about their process and you can read again about rerecording your brand in Montana.


For Immediate Release
Feb. 12, 2010
Julie Ellingson, executive vice president

Keely Spilde, brand recorder

Sheyna Strommen, communications director

North Dakota brand renewal period begins in August 2010
Brandowners asked to provide current address to recording office

North Dakota requires brands to be renewed every five years, and, by law, brands will expire after Dec. 31, 2010.

Now, registered brandowners have a new tool to ensure their renewal paperwork gets mailed to their current address. The re-designed North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) website, www.ndstockmen.org, offers an online brand book that is searchable by letters, symbols or numbers. Its listings include the brand, the brandowner, his or her address on file, and the registered placement of the brand on livestock, similar to the printed version.

The new tool will help brandowners determine if their correct address is on file at the NDSA. "If a brandowner has moved or if his or her address has changed within the last five years, chances are the address on file is no longer valid," said NDSA Brand Recorder Keely Spilde.

It is the brandowner’s responsibility to update address information with the brand recording department.

Brands that are not renewed within the brand renewal period, Aug. 1, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2010, may not be eligible for renewal due to potential conflicts with other recorded brands. "That is why it is so imperative that the renewal paperwork gets mailed to the brandowner’s correct address – to give North Dakota brandowners the opportunity to renew their brands as they wish," she said.

Spilde said if a brandowner’s address has changed since 2005, he or she should call the NDSA at (701) 223-2522 or e-mail brands@ndstockmen.org to update it.

Registered brandowners should watch for their renewal applications to arrive in mid-August 2010.
Currently, more than 22,000 brands are registered in North Dakota.
# # #

MCA Press Release on NAIS

Ag Secretary Vilsak says he is committed to working with the states, tribal officials and the industry to revise the dead NAIS. I maybe skeptic, but we shall see. I found the following press release at MCA website.

Montana Cattlemen's Association
Press Release
Release Date: February 5, 2010
Contact person: Sharon McDonald, Secretary
(406) 537-2333
Email: mca@montanacattlemen.org

Montana Catlemen’s Asociation Pleased With USDA’s New Framework for Animal Disease Tracehback

MCA (February 5, 2010) - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced a new framework for animal disease traceability and Montana Cattlemen’s Association (MCA) says it welcomes the news. MCA has been a vocal opponent of the previously proposed National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

In a public statement and subsequent conference call with industry groups on February 5, the Secretary said the agency intends to be responsive to producer concerns and will work towards a program that allows state and tribal animal health officials to drive a system that will work for them. A cornerstone of the program will be enhanced protections against the introduction and spread of animal diseases.

“I’ve decided to revise the prior policy and offer a new approach to animal disease traceability with changes that respond directly to the feedback we have heard,” said Vilsack. “We are committed to working in partnership with states, tribal nations and the industry in the coming months to address many of the details of this framework,” said Vilsack. The rule-making process is scheduled to begin in mid-March when animal health officials from states and tribes will meet in Kansas City to begin dialogue on the program.

Secretary Vilsack said USDA will work towards a system that will provide the following basic tenets of improved animal disease traceability capabilities:

• The program will be administered by states and tribal nations to provide more flexibility.
• The program will apply only to animals moved in interstate commerce.
• The program will encourage the use of lower-cost technology.
• The program will be implemented transparently and through federal regulations coupled with a full rulemaking process, allowing for public comment.

MCA Vice President and Animal ID Chairman Hugh Broadus, Forsyth, MT said, “This reversal of policy is refreshing. Putting control of animal disease prevention and traceback into the hands of state and tribal animal health officials puts producers closer to the development of the system as well as the end product that will emerge. For a variety of reasons, states have different needs regarding animal health issues. Animal disease traceback cannot be a one-size-fits-all system, and that’s been a fundamental problem with the previous approach. Montana Cattlemen look forward to working with state and national officials to develop a system that will work without unnecessary burdens or risk. We appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s attention and responsiveness on this issue.”

Food For Thought

An article out of Time was emailed to me recently. It discusses how known vegans are now raising cattle to save the planet. Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Because I am not quite sure how to blog my comments on this story, why don't you just check it out and weigh in the article.

How Cows (Grass-Fed Only) Can Save the Planet