Category Archives: Uncategorized

Long time no see…. or write

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It’s been a while since Ive had the time to write. This summer was insanely busy; between work, family, friends, and my summer class I don’t quite know how I survived.

Anyhow enough about that, on to more important things. Like how my best friend and I managed to almost get ourselves killed riding horses on labor day weekend, how much I hate fixing electric fences (who decided mesh was a good idea), and how ridiculously hard it is to keep goats fenced in. So stay tuned for more interesting posts 🙂

 

Farm Girl Problem/Perk # 4 My nails pretty much always look like crap.

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so.. umm... this is my life.

so.. umm… this is my life.

My hands are strong, callused, and rough to say the least. I’m not ashamed of them. Their strength allows me to do many things that many women can’t or won’t do. My hands have pulled unborn lambs/goats/calves from the womb into the world. They have moved countless hay bales. Carried thousands of joints of hand line. Pounded posts into the hard earth and completed countless other tasks. Hands are amazing to say the least. Think about all the things you can’t do without your hands… yeah the list is practically endless.

Here is the catch 22 for women in agriculture…

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This is no joke. At least half of the things that I do while working on the farm or ranch involve getting dirty. I don’t shy away from getting dirty. Though there are times that I really want to have pretty nails like those awesome ones on Pinterest. Yes there is yet another unattainable standard for women. Its unfortunate. You can’t have beautiful perfectly polished nails if your hands are constantly dirty.  In all seriousness perk/problem it really just depends on the day, where I’m going, and what I’m doing.

 

Farmgirl Problem #2 “Let me help you with that”

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There are six words that every strong, independent, fierce young woman never wants to hear, especially from a man… “Let me help you with that”. These words are usually prefaced with a dumb fraise like hon, darling, or dear. I hate them. I am a woman not an Invalid. I’m certainly no ones “hon”. My grandpa is the only one that gets away with nicknames. If I want help I will ask for it! If I don’t ask for your help don’t assume that I NEED it! Seriously I can lift heavy things, pull a trailer, and work livestock. Most women in agriculture are capable of taking care of themselves. Amazing… I know… but wait there is more! If you so much as grab, take, or try and push me out of the way… I will punch you… in the face. Not even close to joking 🙂

I’m not a über feminist or a complete jerk. I just like to do things myself. In fact the way my parents raised me there is a good possibility that I have been doing the task on my own for pretty much my whole life. I am in no way, shape, or form trying to attack your manhood. No one is saying that your help isn’t good enough. All I’m trying to say is we are completely capable of doing what ever it is that we are working on all by ourselves. So stick with other chivalrous acts like opening doors, getting kittens out of trees, and picking up the tab for dinner.

FFA Week!!! :)

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In case no one has mentioned it yet it’s National FFA Week!!!! Which is in-fact my favorite week of the year.  Being a member of the FFA Organization was by far one of the greatest experiences of my short life (I’m only 21). For those of you that may not know that much about the National FFA Organization let me give you a quick crash course.

The FFA was established in 1928 in Virginia. Its purpose was to educate young men about agriculture and leadership, while giving them the tools that they need to become successful in their future careers. The FFA now allows girls to join, obviously I’m not a boy! Each Agriculture program at most schools in the U.S. has an FFA chapter, which is part of a state association, which in turn is a part of the national organization. Agricultural education in the classroom is an important component of FFA but there are also two other components that cannot be overlooked. The SAE is a members Supervised Agricultural Experience, which is essentially like a science fair project, show lamb, or agriculture work experience. My SAE while I was in FFA was raising and showing club lambs as well as raising Red Angus cattle. In addition to learning in the classroom and having an SAE FFA members can compete in CDE’s. CDE’s are Career Development Events that are designed to let students learn about an aspect of agriculture then compete in a contest to test their knowledge. There are twenty-five CDE’s that students can participate in on the chapter, state, and national level. As a student I competed in Parliamentary Procedure, Livestock, Poultry, Dairy Foods, and a couple of other events. I also ran for chapter and state officer positions which is where many students get leadership experience. I also traveled to leadership conferences where I learned a lot about myself and how to work with other people. This is a super brief overview of the FFA if you have more questions please contact me (questions page) or visit the National FFA web page http://ffa.org

We were supposed to be holding an officer meeting…. whoops…

Anyways I love FFA, like really love it. This is me,well the brunette is me, the other foxy lady is my friend Joslyn (she’s pretty great).  I spent much of my time in high school doing things just like this. What is this you ask? Well its swing dancing in the hallway of the school of course! Actually I did a whole ton of other really important things. Like traveling to National Convention to go to workshops and watch sessions. ( I went as an alternate on a team once but it doesn’t really count) For any of you that may one day have the opportunity to travel to and participate in Convention, go, like drop everything and run. Its beyond amazing, I can’t even put into words how it feels to see 55000+ members all in one place wearing those blue corduroy jackets!

National Convention

Josslynn, me, Jadon, Joslyn at the 83d National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Convention is a life changing experience for almost all FFA members. It gives students the chance to join together and share their passion for agriculture. It was where I learned that map quest is a joke, that I really hate eating at Bob Evans, and that Agriculture is as diverse as the FFA members I met along the way.  I watched others live out their dreams of winning National CDE’s and still others receive their SAE awards. It was where I first felt the need to work towards my American FFA Degree, which is the highest honor that can be bestowed on a member. There is also a huge career show, a college recruitment area, and shopping mall for FFA members. I truly wish that more members had the opportunity to go, to see, to learn, to feel what convention is all about.

My main passion with FFA was raising and showing sheep. I had 20 ewes and about 30 lambs at any given time and thoroughly enjoyed working with them on a daily basis. The best thing about agriculture and FFA is that you children will learn more about the value of life and their own morals when they are involved in some form of agriculture. When I step back and look at all the schooling I have had in my short life the most important part of my education was gained while working on the farm. You can’t just walk away from 25 ewes when you are tired, cold, and hungry because chances are they are in the same boat as you but they can’t do anything about it. I knew that I could take the short, quick, easy way of doing things and deal with the problems that arose because of it (sick animals, wild lambs come show time, and broken fencing) or I could do things right the first time and not have to worry so much about the repercussions of bad choices. Your animals depend on you to take care of them, make sure their needs are met, and to look out for their health. Its your responsibility as a producer to make sure that you do right by them. Being in an Ag. class gave me the the knowledge but working with the animals ignited my passion.

I always love having babies!

When I sold my last show lamb I decided to donate the check to my friends family, her father had recently been diagnosed with cancer.

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This was me when I won a state proficiency award for sheep production.

The hardest part of being a member was it ending, knowing that when I took off my blue jacket that I would never put it on again. FFA had been (and continues to be) such a large part of my life but, after I took it off for the last time I knew that it would all change. I had done or tried nearly everything that I could in my blue jacket…

  • I traveled across the country to Washington D.C. where I made new friends and was shoved outside of my comfort zone on a hourly basis. (the metro in D.C. is pretty stressful)
  • I learned so much about myself and the person that I wanted to become
  • I showed countless animals
  • I lost at least a thousand hours of sleep in my jacket (running through the airport, riding a bus, or running contests)
  • I competed against other members
  • I built my identity around my FFA Jacket
  • I learned how to work with people that I didn’t always like to be around
  • I helped others “find themselves”
  • I was a leader
  • I ran for state office (twice)
  • I met one of my best friends
  • I received my American FFA Degree

The last thing on the list, my American Degree, was one of my favorite FFA experiences. I had worked for years to meet the requirements needed to receive the degree. Then spend a day or so figuring out and filling out the application. Finally traveled to Indianapolis with my chapter and mother to walk across the stage and get my degree. Convention which usually seemed like a couple of days seemed to fly by in a blur. (its actually about five days long) I felt bittersweet when the day came, as I sat in my seat at the session it hit me… hard, I would never wear my FFA jacket again after that day. My perspective shifted, I can’t really explain it I was different but not different at the same time. I knew that my role had changed I would no longer be a member in the way I had been in the past I would now become an Alumni. My new role would be to help encourage others to join FFA, to reach for their goals, to teach people how to lead. I thought about that and a hundred other things the whole time the session was going on and when it came time for the ceremony to start I had to snap out of it. We ( I use the term loosely it was me and about 1000 other members) had to get up line up in order and prepare to walk across the stage and shake the national officers hand and receive our degree. In the line I chatted with other members, told the students running the ceremony back stage how to say my name, and took a photo. Finally I walked up the stairs onto the stage and it happened they said my name right!!! Only people with unique names can understand how awesome it is when someone says your name right. I was handed my degree, shook hands, grinned from ear to ear and walked off stage onto cloud nine. The next hour of celebrating with my friends that had also received their degrees completely distracted me from the fact that my last day with my jacket was moving way fast.

Getting my American FFA Degree

All to soon it was time to go back to the hotel, change, and head to the airport… Im going to warn you I had a seriously childish moment where I cried, mind you I had been crying all day already. I reluctantly took my official dress off and packed everything into my suitcase, well almost, my jacket rode home with me.

My Blue Jacket

It’s strange how an article of clothing can mean so much… how just the sight of one brings on a flood of memories. Some bad, some good, but all are precious. I am eternally grateful for the time that I spent wearing my jacket and being a FFA member. Thank you to my Advisor, for taking a weird/silly/stubborn girl and pushing her to be a better person. Thank you to the countless others that make FFA the great organization that it is today. Happy FFA Week my friends!

Never a Dull day…

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For those of you that don’t know I work for Utah State University, at the Sheep and Goat Research Facility (I don’t always like the goat part). I love it because my daily classes feel like the same subject different day (chemistry, math, english, math) but, the sheep barn is almost always something different. It was actually my inspiration for the blog. Which started as a joke… Shay my friend/co-worker and I spend our time trying to make work as interesting, funny, and overall outrageous as possible. One day this past fall we were joking about all the crazy things that happen at South Farm (like when all of the goats get out) when shay said we could write a book about it and I replied that we could just start a blog… a few months later here I am becoming a blogger.

This week we have had two Merino lambs born, sold two St. Croix rams, and we are preparing the barn for shearing. A few weeks ago we had to clean out a freezer full of 20+ year old blood samples. The variety that agriculture provides is half of the reason why I love it, there is always a problem that has to be solved. The 100 year old freezer for example (that’s an exaggeration itsIMG_1140 not 100 years old). We had to find a way to safely extract the samples. So we turned to the tool cabinet and tried just about everything from a hammer to fencing pliers. In the end the fencing pliers and a syringe of warm water won out. After a couple of hours of digging, squirting water, and picking though the ice shards we had extracted all the samples and moved them to their new home. I don’t recommend letting your sample freezer get to the point of ice block because it takes forever to get them out; on the plus side its a good sign that you need to convince your boss to buy a new freezer! (yay for new freezers)

As to what the samples are used for, well I’m not sure on the specifics but, I know that they are part of a genetic study. Utah State University is a Land-grant University which means it was founded for one- a place for students to come and learn about agriculture and two- to be a place for research on agriculture. The findings of the research are used to improve farming practices making them more profitable, efficient, and sustainable. The College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences is obviously not the only college at Utah State University but, its the only one I care about! (joke the others are kinda cool)

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Back to my Ag. life (I went on a tangent sorry) working for Dave at the sheep barn is great, it keeps me on my toes and defiantly makes for some interesting stories. I enjoy educating people through my stories about where their food comes from and how we as agriculturists provide a safe, healthy, and bountiful food supply.

In addition to having interesting things to tell my friends I get the chance at having some hands on education myself. One of my favorite veterinarians and role models always tells me that I should never let my schooling get in the way of my education. (my mother almost never agrees with this statement) I know that many college students pay thousands of dollars each year for classes that they hardly get anything out of I don’t want to be that student. I have always felt that I have learned more about something through a hands on experience than I have by sitting in a lecture hall or lab. A professor can preach all day about dystocia and ways to remedy a birthing problem but, when it comes to actually putting the sleeve on, scrubbing up, and fixing the problem many students don’t have a clue of what they are doing. I never have to worry about that because I have had plenty of practice with palpating ewes and cows which led to learning how to correct the problem and assist with the birth. Most of my parturition (birthing) experience came before I started working for USU but, while working here I have had much more practice and learned a few new tricks (thanks Dr. Stott).

Essentially what I’m getting at here is that if you are given the chance to go do something awesome, even if your definition of awesome is different than anybody else’s, you should get off the couch or out of the lecture and go do it. (I’m not saying never go to work or class again) Maybe you like being boring and safe (thats a lie your just scared) but it will be good for you. I love not having a dull day, even when I complain in the moment, when I look back or have a chance to sit down and relax I realize just how interesting and fun college experience has been.

Lambing Season

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Lambing Season

Well ladies and gentlemen it has begun, Lambing season, my most loved/hated part of the year. One of the Universities newly purchased Merino ewes gave birth yesterday morning (I know I’m a day late and a dollar short) outside in our balmy 17 degree weather. The lambs weren’t outside long enough to dry off and quickly adjusted to life with a heat lamp.Being born at Utah State University Sheep and Goat Unit has its perks, like the Aggie Blue coats that keep them warm!