Inspirational Women

As I’m dealing with some extremely difficult emotional times right now, I want to talk a little about the women that have inspired me along my journey in life. In honor of International Women’s Day, I give to you 4 of the most influential public women in my life. Women that I see as heroes of their prospective times, who have overcome and persevered within their own lives and have gone on to  make a huge impact on the world as we know it…

In no particular order:

  1. Helen Keller who over came attitude and learned how to be both blind and deaf. She went on to get a degree with a bachelor in arts of all things. She went on to become the co-founder of the ACLU, fought for women’s suffrage and brought attention to the treatment of people with disabilities.
    During her lifetime, she received many honors in recognition of her accomplishments, including the Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal in 1936, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964, and election to the Women’s Hall of Fame in 1965. She also received honorary doctoral degrees from Temple University and Harvard University and from the universities of Glasgow, Scotland; Berlin, Germany; Delhi, India; and Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Additionally, she was named an Honorary Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland.
  2. Susan B. Anthony was a single women that never married, raised in a Quaker home. Ignoring opposition and abuse, Anthony traveled, lectured, and canvassed across the nation for the vote. She also campaigned for the abolition of slavery, the right for women to own their own property and retain their earnings, and she advocated for women’s labor organizations.
    In recognition of her dedication and hard work, the U.S. Treasury Department put Anthony’s portrait on one dollar coins in 1979, making her the first woman to be so honored.
  3. Temple Grandin  is widely celebrated as one of the first individuals on the autism spectrum to publicly share insights from her personal experience of autism. She is also the inventor of the “hug box”, a device to calm those on the autism spectrum.
    Later in her life, she discovered and developed humane cattle handling systems which have become part of the industry norm.
    Grandin has written many articles on autism and cattle management, is well respected in both arenas and has received recognition on many levels from books, publications, tv interviews and even a movie made about her life.
    In 2010, Grandin was named in the Time 100 list of the one hundred most influential people in the world in the “Heroes” category. In 2011, she received a Double Helix Medal. She has received honorary degrees from many universities including Carnegie Mellon University in the United States (2012), McGill University in Canada (1999), and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (2009), Emory University (2016). In 2015, she was named an Honorary Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication. Meritorious Achievement Award OIE, World Organization, Paris France, 2015. In 2016, Grandin was inducted into American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
    In a TED talk given in 2010, Grandin stated, “The world needs all types of minds.”
  4. Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born the niece of Theodore Roosevelt, also know as the First Lady and wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Her life wasn’t one of ease and simplicity. Her father was a depressed alcoholic. Her mother depressed over his alcoholism, raising her children alone. By the age of six, Eleanor felt responsible for her mother’s happiness as her mother put her down about her looks, calling her nicknames like “Granny”, “Old Fashioned”, and “Plain”. She even wrote in her book This is My Story that she was a solemn child without beauty, feeling like an old woman entirely lacking in spontaneous joy and mirth of youth. Her parents died 19 months apart, leaving her orphaned by the age of 10.
    After marrying, having children and her then husband becoming a state senator, FDR was appointed Assistant Secretary to the Navy in 1913. During World War I, Eleanor realized her valuable service to projects of interest with her dedication to the Navy Relief and the Red Cross. She visited wounded warriors at St. Elizabeth’s hospital and was appalled by the quality of treatment. She pushed then Secretary of Interior Franklin Lane to intervene and when he didn’t, she pushed harder to get him to appoint a commission to investigate the institution.
    Eleanor was so much more than these few simplified words, she was known at the time of the election as plain, ordinary Eleanor that wore $10 dresses, drove her own car and worked within the press. She held many positions before she became first lady as well. She held positions with the Democratic National Committee, the Todhunter School, the League of Women Voters, the Non-partisan Legislative Committee and the Women’s Trade Union League. Once her husband was in office, she held weekly meetings with the ladies of the press, hoping to express the mechanics of national politics to the American women. She went on to write a monthly column for Woman’s Home Companion, donating the $1,000 per month payment to charity. As part of her format, it was requested that submissions of conversational topics were made and by January 1934 an impressive 300,000 letters were received.
    She was never content being the lady of the house. Instead she showed the world that the first lady was an important part of American politics. She spoke out for human rights, children’s causes and women’s issues, working on behalf of the League of Women Voters. She also focused on helping the country’s poor, stood against racial discrimination and, during World War II, traveled abroad to visit U.S. troops. After her time in the White House, she was named a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly (serving from 1945 to 1953) by President Harry Truman. She was a chair to the UN’s Human Right Commission and helped write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which she considered her greatest accomplishment. She was reappointed to the position again by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, and also to the National Advisory Committee of the Peace Corps and to a chair on the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.
    This context is just the tip of the iceberg to all the things that Eleanor accomplished in her life. She overcame a horrific childhood, became passionate about many topics such as racial justice, world peace and women’s rights to just name a few. She dedicated her entire adult life to these causes, until her death in 1962. She was a legendary women, not because of fashion trends or even because she was a first lady. She was legendary because she used her life to dedicate her works to do good. In a quote from her book  Tomorrow is Now, she wrote, “Staying aloof is not a solution but a cowardly evasion.” She may not have ever won awards or been historically taught in public schools about her contributions to the world, but to me she is a model example of pushing to pursue what you think is right against all odds. To learn more about her and her life, please look up the Eleanor Roosevelt Project.

Hidden Gems

Sometimes in farming, there are these little hidden gems. These gems are those moments we sometimes take for granted. I’ve got a bunch of gems stored up after sharing nearly 7 years of memories with one Old Tom turkey.

Tom came to the farm in early May of 2010. He was part of a group, 32 in total, that was raised as day old poults. He came in a box with a mess of others, chirping at the post office and driving the post master crazy as they awaited my early morning arrival. I still remember the day like it was yesterday. I was so excited to finally be getting some heritage turkeys. They came all the way from Missouri.


Once I got them out of the box and into the newly constructed specialty room built JUST for these birds, I couldn’t stand being in the room for a very long time. The noises they made was hard on the ears. After sometime, they settled in and got used to me. I had a couple that I took notice of right from the very beginning because of the stripped feathers. Tom was one of those. There ended up being a male and a female, both we kept as a breeding pair and became Tom and Momma.


As they grew, they began to fly. They would fly out of their enclosed area (anyone with heritage turkeys will tell you that it’s pointless to try to fence them in). They would go wandering around to the neighbors and keep disappearing. From settling on the house roof next door, to visit the front porch of the next house and even travelling almost a mile away from home to visit another friends house. We would get call constantly about “the turkeys visiting”. Some of those visits we didn’t find out about until years later over a shared laugh one summer night.


They were moved back to the barn so many times that the blood hound actually became a turkey herder. She would sweep around them and work like a sheep dog does to move sheep. The photo below shows her on “point” while moving them one late afternoon, to get them away from trying to attack a group of canadian geese.


That first year, Tom did what he should have but Momma became known as “The trash can” turkey. She sat all summer long in this horrid blue trash can and became a farm sensation because she would hiss at anyone that came near. She actually stayed so long that her tail curled side ways until molting.

The next year, it was a different story. Momma decided to build her nest in the corner near where a jersey cow (Belle) was being milked daily. She sat on that nest and it was just assumed that because of where it was, against a cold wall, that the eggs wouldn’t hatch. There wasn’t any point in moving her because she would still proceed with her hissing noises. Tom, the duty mate, stood near her all day long and would talk to her until it was time for chores and he would leave his post to grab a bite to eat.

One fateful day, Tom turkey stood at the end of the driveway. To those that don’t know, the driveway is across a rather busy road that people drive way too fast on. I threw on my slippers and promptly marched him back inside the barn. After coming back inside, 5 minutes later, there’s gobbling coming from half way up the drive way. Again, he got herded back into the barn. This continued until he was right on my front porch, gobbling his little lunges out! I realized that something was up, so instead of just immediately shutting the door behind him when he got into the barn, I watched him…

Low and behold, he scooted around the corner to where Momma had her nest and he fluffed his feathers way up and started strutting. He wasn’t gobbling anymore, just quiet. Suddenly, you could hear the peeps of newly hatched poults. He had been trying to share his excitement over becoming a dad. Thinking back on it now actually yanks tears from my eyes, it’s one memory that will stick with me for a very long time.

Tom was such a good poppa too. He was never very far away from those littles and he would let them crawl up to roost on his back or sit on his tail when the ground was wet. I’ve never seen a tom turkey do that before and haven’t another one since.


The memories don’t stop there either. Good Old Tom was my best marketing manager. I don’t know why he would do it, but he did. During breeding season, he would always make sure to do some breeding about 10′ off the edge of the road. Every season, without fail, visitors would stop just because of this turkey getting a “piggy back ride”. I can’t tell you how many visitors have died laughing over his actions, usually next to their vehicles, like he was proudly displaying what a stud he was. There are 1,000’s of photos of Tom riding on Momma. He was good at his job and obviously proud of it too.

It wasn’t always easy with Tom around. He had his dumb moments too. Like the day he tried flying over a van hood and got winged. As feathers flew every where, I figured he was a goner. The following day, when I could finally get near him, I check him all out and not one broken bone anywhere. He stayed back away from the road for a long time but needless to say, turkeys are very forgetful…

Three years ago, Tom got hit by a truck. I knew it was bad because there was skin and feathers attacked to the pavement. He just laid there in the grass about 15′ off the edge of the road. I scoped him up in my arms, carried him into the barn and started to check him from head to tip of his tail. He was missing a bunch of feathers and his one foot looked really bad, bleeding all over. I bandaged him up, treated him to stop the bleeding and kept checking him all over. I couldn’t find much else wrong other than his foot, so I decided to keep him locked up in a small room so he wouldn’t get beat up by any of the others. For weeks, I kept dishes filled with feed and water. I changed his bedding and his bandages. He ended up losing his middle toe and his ankle portion of his foot looked more like a club.


He survived. How I will never know but he did. He also went on breeding too. Not anticipating much and still wondering if he would be able to hold on, he somehow did. Him and Momma gave us about 30 poults all together. Some we lost to fox, others to a cat. Some we sold and others just disappeared. Momma was with us until two years ago. She raised a pretty little girl that acted just like her and taught her how to be a great nesting bird within the first couple of months of her life. Little momma was with us until last fall when we lost her and 9 of her poults to another fox.

Tom has been around for nearly 7 years. He’s been at the feed dish every feeding, expecting his little treat of feed to be fed in a special spot. He shares gobbles for whistles. He’s seen the farm grow and change. He’s been here through all the hard times, sat on picnic tables with me as I cried over the loss of a calf. He’s watched over poults and chicks alike. He’s hung out with the cows and slept at night with the alpacas recently.

He’s been a real treasure. A gem in reality. I’ll never be able to replace good Old Tom. My personal farm mascot and business/marketing partner. He’s been here since close to the very beginning. He’s been a staple around here. To others, he might have been just a bird… to me, he’s been a companion, a pain in the ass and dependable.

He came up missing yesterday. I fear the worst has fallen upon my Old Tom. With his age, it’s actually long over due. The livestock heritage conservancy says the life expectancy is 3-5 years for breeding toms and he’s well past that. I’m thankful for the time I have had with him… blessed actually. I wish every person out there could share the experiences I’ve had with him, the good and the bad.

I know I shouldn’t be upset. He had a long life, much longer than most. It’s just hard when you lose anything that has been around that long… Dog, cow, cat, turkey, chicken, etc. They become part of what you do and become more than that. They stay so long that one day you look at them and think, “I will spoil that one a little and he can live out the remainder of his days here.” Good Old Tom was that, he’s been around so long he’s part of the fabric of the landscape.

If he doesn’t show up, I know he came to a swift end. Tom never did anything half way. I have a feeling his old heart probably gave it’s final beat and I’ll find him long gone somewhere. And don’t think I haven’t looked in every nook and cranny I could find, even my son helped me try to find him.

All of this said, I know I gave Old Tom a good life and he shared some amazing memories with me… like the day he became a poppa that first time. His determination to get my attention won’t be forgotten. If he is found deceased, he will be buried in the special location for all those that have gone before him as the beloved ones. At the quiet spot, my favorite on the farm, overlooking the pond. A spot in the shade, under the pines where my Whiskey girl (a Shepard rottie mix dog that was 14 when she died from cancer) and my Belle girl (a rescued Jersey cow that I loved with my whole heart) are buried.  They were and always will be a sacred part of this farm.

Always. Always hidden gems below the surface of this farm.

UPDATE: 3/6 at 10 am he’s been located! Found in a back storage room with strings around his feet, red ones that aren’t found any where on the farm. Not exactly sure where he’s been but he’s here, safe and sound!!

Cold Days

As I woke up this morning, it became very apparent that it was cold outside. As I watched the wind blow the falling snow sideways out the bedroom window, I realized that I needed to bundle up really well to do my morning chores.

When winds whip like it was this morning, there isn’t much that you can do when the wind will find any gap there is in your clothing. You get odd spots of cold that enter up the back of your jacket or find that thin spot in your pants.

It always amazes me the resilience of animals on days like today. The cattle, with their leather coats and thick fur will still be standing at bales and eating with their faces away from the wind. The pigs will dig up bedding and bury themselves deep down in the pack. The alpaca will just find a spot out of the wind and chew away on the stack of hay.

The dog goes out and buries her nose in the snow and creates a snow beard all over her muzzle and nose.

The temperature was 3 degrees. The winds sustaining at 15-20 mph. It was brutal cold on me. Doesn’t mean I can sit back and not do chores. They still must be done. Frozen body parts, cold fingers that stick to gate chains and all. It must be done. They still need hay and the pigs still need grain. Everyone still needs water, more just because of the wind.

This is the busy time of year for me. The days when animals require more food stuff and more water, nearly twice the regular amount. It’s hard work, carrying and moving 50 lb bags at a time about 100′ to put into feeder three bags morning and two bags at night.

It’s carrying bucket after bucket of water to another pig to keep her in water as she’s nursing piglets. It’s carrying buckets of feed and arms full of hay and bedding. It’s freezing on the tractor to feed bales with no cab.

Days like today test your fortitude as a farmer. Frozen hoses WILL test your patience to the limits. Days like today make me feel blessed for the technology that has created super warm carhardtt thermal long johns, super warm socks and fleece lined coats. It also makes me thankful that I know how to craft crochet and knit hats, scarves and gloves. It makes me thankful for a warm house, warm blankets and a warm stove… even more thankful for a waiting hot pot of coffee.

It’s so hard to believe that just a few short days ago, it was in the seventies and a few short days from now it’s calling for 50’s and rain…. two cold days, just need to make it through these couple of days.

I wish you could all understand the drain on the energy it takes to not just stay warm but to do all this extra work too. It’s not just physical but emotional too. It weighs heavy in your heart and your head, it tests you mentally and physically. It really makes me want to crawl back in bed and take a midday nap… unfortunately, there is too much work to be done.

For now, I’m enjoying my solitude and the time spent making sure that everyone stays warm… there still is no feeling in the world like sitting with the piglets and having them share some love as they nibble on your boots and pants. Cold or not, that’s still a miracle moment that feels like a slice of heaven on earth.

If you wonder where I’ve disappeared to for the next couple of days… Might want to send someone to make sure I’m not frozen in the pasture LOL

Butcher Shop

I have to brag my butcher shop up a little. I absolutely love working with them and let me explain why.

I have gone to several other butcher shops. One didn’t know his porterhouse from the the roast (no kidding) and another mixed meats from other people and did batches of hamburger all mixed together. One, I don’t think it’s legal to mix meats from different animals from different farms and two, I raise grass fed, pastured animals and I don’t want my stuff mixed with someone else’s products that feed grains. It’s my meats, I want to market MY stuff. I take pride in what I do and want to justifiably take credit for that.

I was referred to my current butcher. The first thing I ever had from him was breakfast sausage and it’s to die for!!!

Over the years, since that day in 2011 when they worked one of my steers, I’ve steadily taken him more and more business. We’ve developed a pattern and work together very well. I know what he needs, he understands my newbie customers and we know when to book, when to bring in, and when to pick up.

As the years have gone by, our relationship has become extremely smooth and seamless but not without a few glitches here and there. It’s been no different that a relationship between friends.

Here’s how we work things….

I have a running list of animals that will be heading for butcher. I’m usually prepared months in advance (example: booking pork for April in January) with what dates I need in what months. This means I need to refer to my handy and trusty planner.

I track weight gains, dates of births, genetics, and a random assortment of data. This data assists me with making the best determination about the dates I use. For example, I know that my target goal for beef is tenderness, some of that is altered as an animal ages. To keep the focus on the quality of tenderness, one of my focus items is age. My target goal is 16-20 months of age. This is where the genetics and previous experience, along with input from the butcher comes in…. certain lines with be more efficient and develop faster, so they go into the 16-18 month range. The slower lines that take that extra couple of months go into the 18-20 month range.

I’ve never butchered based on size. Contrary to what the industry likes to tell us, different genetic pools within any breed create a unique and different animal, in all kinds of aspects like height, feed efficiency, etc. Working with my butcher has taught me key things to look for: thickness of the tail head, development of the brisket, flatness of the back and hip region and so on.

Why is this important? It’s important because knowing all this data helps me to form a guideline to start developing a list of how an animal develops and growth, which also leads me to the optimal time assumption to finish that animal. All of this data and these assumptions allow me to plan up to six  solid months in advance for upcoming butcher dates… Isn’t it crazy that I can look at genetic pool, growth data and development and decide NOW what animals with head to slaughter between August and December?

Each and every animal that goes off to the butcher is assessed at time of slaughter and the butcher will also provide additional comments at the time of pickup. He’s been absolutely fantastic about assisting me and helping me develop into someone who can take one look at a yearling steer and just know what’s happening down the road and when. His feed back also helps me alter genetics (removal of any Holstein cross due to high bone to meat ratio) as well as find anything else that might be notable, like odd lung tissue or a heart defect.

Now that we know how they have helped me prepare and helps me plan months in ahead, we make appointments 4-6 months in advance. This creates less stress for us both and I never have to worry about being “squeezed” in when I need a butcher done.

I handle getting all the cut sheets filled and we go over each at the time of drop off. If any questions arise, I handle them with my customer and usually get back to him with just a couple days.

I also know exactly how long the processing takes from the date of butcher…. normally, that is around 10 days. I’ll make the arrangements for pick up and he only has to deal with one person. I work with the customers for deliveries and pick ups from me, so he’s not overloaded with 4 people stopping in consistently.

We have a fantastic relationship and he’s been a crucial part of my development to make sure that I was still on the right track and I’m doing everything within my power to produce quality products for my consumers. He’s taught me about a variety of cuts, where they come from and been extremely patient with me at times.

All good butchers should be like my butcher… One that cares about keeping me in business, so he stays in business too. Of course, I’m not sure if he realized just how many he would start getting as the years went by… but nonetheless, he’s stuck with me now.

PS, it’s a total of 7 spring hogs and 11 fall beef. The total number of fall hogs is to be determined after next farrowing. He may change his mind about working with me next year LOL

Therapy

I need to tell you a little story about how I got started in farming….

Back in 2006, due to some wrong decisions based off from my not-so-healthy mental health, I spent 60 days in the county jail for bouncing checks and writing a fraudulent check. It was what I thought was sincerely the lowest point in my life.

I was often placed in a cell, alone with my thoughts. Removed from everything that I had struggled with my whole life, things started to hit me where it hurts. A family that could actually care less about me, me the internal person who was shattered and just wanted people to back off.

People backed off alright. They backed right into family court and while I struggled with the worst time of my life, realizing that I was not healthy mentally, that I felt unwanted and unloved, crucified for making bad decisions in signing my name as people hammered on about money, money, money as they bleed me of every penny I made and then some…

I also kept getting kicked while I was done. My children were taken away and split. My ex husband taking the two boys and my own mother lying to the court saying I was homeless after the 60 days getting my daughter.

It’s probably a good thing I sat in a jail cell at the time as people’s true colors began shining through because I will express that I wanted to DIE! Sitting in jail, no privacy, in quarantine and monitored for even a simple shower, unable to even write a letter or call home and losing my kids and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do.

I died during those days. I broke into nothing but a shell, a shell that belonged no where and was treated like the scum of the earth in a court room not once but twice, not twice but three times. My heart was ripped from my chest and I died.

Until you’ve sat in that cell, alone with just thoughts, you have no idea how that will all break a person. I was no one. I had no interests. No faith. No life. No family. In one fell swoop, everything was gone.

Fast forward a bit. I’m home. Lost dazed and confused. No kids tearing through the house, needing to get ready for school or play dates. I started mental health counseling. I didn’t even know my own likes and dislikes. I worked as a painter, missed a lot of time for family court, and the rib kicks just kept coming.

For two years, I visited the court 87 times and went on trial. I was demonized for giving my kids chores like loading the dishwasher and not taking the McDonald’s because I wanted them to eat healthy and become responsible adults.

In 2008, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. My world tilted all kinds of haywire. No kids. One hour a week visitation and then listening to them scream they wanted momma when the time was up. Losing my job and being told that I needed to avoid the chemicals. 

Just who the hell had I become?!?!? I couldn’t answer that and still have a hard time with it most days. My therapist told me to get a camera. My doctor put me on injections and a new script for depression and anxiety.

Per the therapist, I began taking photos of things that sparked my interest. That is, when I was actually awake. I spent about 18 hours a day or more sleeping thanks to the MS shots. I just kept spiraling low and lower.

My photos began to take shape, themes started developing. I worked with the doc to get off the shots. I changed my diet. I started to exercise, rather unsuccessfully.

A few months down the road, I have 1,000’s of photos all about farms and livestock, cows mostly. I was taken to a small farm that had a couple of Jersey calves and I feel in love! They gave me one of those bull calves to raise.

We brought him home and I would sit for hours visiting with him. I would brush him daily and spoil him with treats. I was a different person when I was with him. I liked myself when I was. I was calm and patient. Relaxed and able to finally think without all the static of lifelong insults and slander.

Buck ,the steer, changed my life forever. That single steer became my driving force to get out of bed, to stay awake and to stay active. Belle came the following year, along with 3 other calves. She came as a rescue in horrible shape. Her and I bonded day one. As I watched her blossom with loving care that I gave her, I blossomed too. She became the reason I wanted to farm.

I built a legacy around what she gave to me. My legacy is to honor these animals for what they have the ability to do. I feel it’s my duty and my obligation to do what is morally right with their lifestyle and their care. This farm is the heart and soul of me… my growth, my so-called rehab, my passions, my heart and soul. 

All of this is important to understanding me… the sympathetic one that never saw an once of sympathy. The one that opens the farm to anyone needing a safe place to collect their thoughts. The one that envisions and hopes she’s preventing suicide because she simply cares and understands.

This farm, from the smallest piglet to the largest cow, from the birds that sing to the dancing butterflies is a place of peace. A retreat of happiness and laughter, of unconditional love ❤️ 

To those struggling that might read this, there is no judgement here. I don’t care what you make, how you dress (just bring boots or junk sneakers), what kind of car you drive or the funds in the bank. I see us all as silent sufferers of too much in today’s society. If you ever need to chat or would just like a word of encouragement, please feel free to email me farmgirldoreen@gmail.com.

If you would like to schedule some retreat time for a pasture walk, nature sit, photography day just hit me up. I’ll be more than happy to assist!

Just please remember, you don’t have to share the issues but you can absorb the service available.

Too Much Activity 

There’s been so much going on that I’m not even really sure where to begin…

These newest piglets are giving me fits. True escape artists, they are often found out to pasture with the cattle or hanging out on the bedding pack for the cows racing between animals 100 times their size!


They look so tiny out there and it’s sincerely something that sets my anxiety off. I’m so worried that they will get stepped on or crushed. I’ve fixed fence, done repair after repair and STILL they get out. They will get zapped every time they go running through but they just don’t seem to care. 

They are little patience testers that’s for sure!

Once I get them back for feeding, they could care less. They spend more time nursing on mom and don’t even care that she’s not laying down!!

They look so sweet and innocent in photos. They are far from it!

My favorite time of day is nap time around here. You can’t beat the bliss and quiet of a pig pile.


I also relocated the boar today… I’m going to get photos tomorrow of him with his new pals. This will be his last breeding here on the farm, then he will find a new home. I hate to see him go because he is so gentle and so sweet but I can’t use him to breed his own daughters.

I’ve decided to keep two of the gilts from Petunia’s batch. They have done extremely well in growth and development, are super docile and friendly as can be. 

I’ve been working on my plans for dehorning, castrations and shots for the cattle. It’s going to be a big undertaking and a lot of work but it needs to be done. I haven’t made any headway on my list at all either, which really sucks.

I’ve been sidetracked with work duties and I’m frustrated beyond imagination at how much time it’s taking to complete this task. I already have plans on Friday so I’m down to tomorrow and Thursday to get a long list of stuff completed.

There are many items needed and some work to get done. I’m currently waiting the arrival of my order I placed last week that was scheduled for delivery today and didn’t come.

I still need to get a few things from the vet and the supply store, get out the tools and equipment I already have and get fencing installed. I figure it’s going to take two days to do all 37 head currently here.

I’ll fill in details about what the items are, why they are used and what the process is within future posts.

Right now… I’m off to bed, overworked and underpaid with a splitting stress headache and an upset stomach for the second night in a row.

Knowledge 

Knowledge is powerful, even in agriculture.

What baffles me is the sheer number of farmers, typically newbies that call me up for mentoring and they are clueless about the animals they raise.

Great example comes from 2 examples of people raising pigs.

1- I have a sick piglet (not really at piglet at the age) and I’m not sure what’s going on. Ask a series of about 5 questions. Determined the pig had pneumonia and needed treatment.

No treatment for fear of actually giving a pig antibiotics and the end result is it dies. 

One thing about me is that I’m blunt. Second is I can’t stand someone who guilt trips me over given advise, tying to flip it back on me that I’m trying to destroy them somehow. 

Weeks go by and an message surfaces. Still no apologies, just expectation over not hurting my feelings and forgiveness. I don’t forgive blanent Animal neglect and suffering… in fact, it pissed me off enough that I’ll call the local large animal investigator.

2- local pig grower has a sow that recently farrows. It goes down and it’s determined by another advisor that she’s lacking calcium. She’s given shots to get her back up.

I get a call. No mineral program in place. Sow being underfed and they are worried about saving a damn penny to spend 2,000 more plus.

End result, they stopped in and have now switched feeds. After sending link after link about those minerals needed, they saw where they had gone wrong at least.
All of this over the past few weeks has pointed out one thing to me… maybe I’m unique when it comes to this farming thing. I won’t make a single step without much research into whatever I’m doing. 

From soils to feed, 

To genetics and illness.

Nothing is left to chance. I learn as much as human possible before I alter anything.

Baffles my mind that others don’t do the same. I think we’ve lost the meaning behind “Knowledge is Power.”

Deep Breaths

Phew, it’s been one heck of an active week since I last posted.


From fast growing piglets to….


Even bigger and faster growing pigs to….


Fat snow flakes, broken gates and whipping winds to…


Happy and playful bloodhounds to….

One tired farmer from feeding hay, moving snow, carrying 5 gallon buckets of feed and water and trudging through 3 different layers of snow. 

It’s also been an active week with my nose buried in paperwork and new management binders.


From livestock records, calendars, calving dates, goal tracking and sales promotions and income/expense tracking… it’s all in this basic binder. Not sure how long it will stay this size but it’s started, going and gives me an awesome way to stay on top of managing the entire farm alone.

It’s also handy in case something ever does happen to me. Imagine how complicated it would be for someone who knows nothing about what I’m doing to take over if I ever got in an accident? Well, now everything is hard copy documented. 

From upcoming vet visits, feeding dates, and even shot records are all in there. One quick hard copy book that includes passwords for social media accounts, emails, websites, personal accounts, business accounts and all important contacts for things like feed and supplies.

I tell people all the time to plan for the worst. This is my way of securing a little of the unknowns in a “what if” scenario.

Now it’s onto my office… with whiteboards filled with important dates, names of customers and what they ordered, and to again list emergency contact numbers.

Feels good to get at least one business this organized! Just two more to go!

No one ever said I was sane or that I ever sleep much. One thing is sure… I’m more productive with my planners and organization!

Anyways, it’s been a fun filled day or browsing and conversing over 12 years of paperwork with the attorney. Now that actually makes me super sleepy. Time for an early night, a little rest and relaxation and recharge to forge ahead again tomorrow!

Another day 

Another day, another dollar… if only I made dollars everyday. If only all days logged paid hours.

I’m not complaining, just contemplating this crazy life farmers lead. The waiting for 18-24 months for a pay day when running a birth to beef operation. The waiting 6 months from farrowing to fork for pork.

The care and compassion into keeping great sows, feeding them as piglets grow inside for 114 days (3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days). The breeding with a boar or a bull, worrying which day they might turn.

Farmers are high risk gamblers. 

We gamble on Mother Nature to make our fields and crops flourish and grow. Sometimes, she swipes down her wrath in rain, floods, tornadoes, hail, high winds and brutal cold late in the year. She ruins our best laid plays and kicks our bank accounts while she laughs in a swirl of dust as droughts dry everything to a crisp. Truly, to the farmer, she is an evil bitch.

We gamble that no animals with get sick or hurt, living until we can sell them as feeders, heifers, bagging cows. We pray our stock stays healthy and sound to feed a family or supply dairy.

We gamble that the time and costs we put it will be covered when we sell. We gamble that wild animals don’t maim or kill.

We even gamble by telling our stories. We pray each night that people see the truth in what we do, sharing video and posts praying there isn’t much ado.

We struggle sometimes to make ends meet. We go without so our animals can have. We fret and worry and swear we will sell but when it comes right down to it… we can see our own reality hidden within the eyes of a beloved cow and we just can’t do it. 

When we sell, we have truly given our everything. Through weather, tragedy, poor markets and usually without much gain. We watch our animals sell off one by one. A piece of ourselves, our heart, leave with them.

Our families break apart under the stress of our gambling darts. We struggle with stress when so many things fall apart. We fall into the pits of depression and despair as we watch that last gate close, sealing an unknown fate.

It’s not just one type of farm either. It’s all of us, small and large alike. From beef cow to dairy calf, from poultry to swine, we’ve all stood at a tipping point. A point of make or break, sink or swim.

We are a determined lot and you’ll often hear, “I’ll never give up” because it’s true. Once you’ve lived this life, it becomes part of who you are. Right down to the very marrow in your bones.

So the next time you follow a tractor going to slow, instead of blowing your horn. Be patient and gives us a wave, it might be the only real kindness that we get that day.

A simple wave can make all the difference. I’ll promise you that nearly every farmer WILL wave back. Even if only as gesture of thanks for understanding.

For understanding that we are just logging another day to try to make a dollar, against all those bad betting odds.

That’s my rambling thought for the day. Based off the kindness and support of others and their impacts on me. 

Crossing Lines

In my quest to be a good farmer and do something important, beyond just saying I raise animals for meat, I’ve been involved in several groups to discuss different options with many different perspectives.

One of those groups brought people together that were vegans, vegetarian, paleo and every other diet choice in between to hold open discussions with farmers from all forms of production from organic to holistic to humane to small family dairies to commercial crop farms.

In that group, I was often crucified by the vegans for even raising animals. It didn’t matter what any of us did to ensure a good life or not. I was crucified as a small farm (I’ll explain more on that in another post) by the larger farms. Eventually, I just couldn’t take the emotional beating anymore.

I was already facing so much adversity at home, in my own neighborhood and even with my own bank as a crazy hobby farmer. I decided it would be best if I didn’t get beat up anymore. I made the post about my reasons for leaving, with a special note that if anyone wanted to connect outside the group to please send me a friend’s request.

Low and behold, several people (11 to be exact) sent requests. In private messages I asked them why they decided to be “friends”. To my surprise, several wanted to learn more about my practices. It began a trend with me. A trend of documenting and sharing my experiences and the aspects others didn’t want to share.

I was fully transparent. I hide nothing. I’ve shared experiences with the recovery of a calf that got stepped on, asking for shared prayers. I still have people ask me to this day how she’s doing (3 years later!). I’ve shared my heartbreak over the lose of my first beloved cow (that still brings a tear to my eye when I think of her).

I’ve shared the loss of piglets, the mystery deaths of cattle and other hard details. My old partner would yell and scream to not share those things. That they make me look horrible.

Farming isn’t all beautiful sunsets, cute calves and perfect crops. It’s not all bad either. It’s a combination of both.

Back to my friends I made through the groups…

Needless to say, they are still listed as friends and again, they rarely comment. Tonight, one of them decided to make a comment on a difficult post about an 11 day old piglet that had been stepped on. We shall call her ML.

ML expressed that I should “Take comfort from the knowledge that, because of [you], she knew love, and warmth, and comfort in her 11 days. So many of her species don’t.”

A little thing about ML… well, ML is a vegan. A person who, according to many in Ag, is my archenemy. I’ve never felt that ML and myself are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Through various conversations, I know the reason she is a vegan is because it’s her way of demonstrating her dislike of modern practices when it comes to animals.

It’s something we both agree on in some aspects. The only way I know how to make a difference is to share what I do, good and bad alike. I show how vulnerable I am emotionally with those in my care. 

ML’s comments tonight mean so much more than simple words. It’s complete understanding and her support that made my heart so full that my eyes actually leaked. 

I’m not saying “follow me” or “do as I do”, but what I am saying is this….

You can’t present a valid argument for the way you farm unless you are willing to take a long, hard close look in the mirror. You also can’t expect people to ever fully trust you either if you aren’t telling your full story, the good and the bad, the things that work and the things that don’t.

You want open conversation, you have to first drop the walls you’ve constructed around yourselves. Afraid their mentality might rub off like some bio security breach of an infectious disease? Well, you know they have the same issues.

When farmers start being fully open about EVERYTHING is the day the people we connect with will see the reasoning for everything we do and vice versa.

I’m not stump speaking, I’m expressing what I’ve seen, witnessed and lived. Stop using the buzzwords. Stop reacting to outrageous slanders. Start being YOURSELF!