My Agriculture (Throwback to Ag Day 2013)

This is a post from my old blog I wrote 2 years ago. I hope you celebrate agriculture today and everyday.

Today is National Agriculture Day. It is a time to celebrate agriculture all over the nation and bring attention to its many great qualities. Agriculture benefits all of us and is such an important entity in our country and world. Here are a few quick facts that show how beneficial it is and how astounding the industry is:

  • On average, every hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, around $6 million in U.S. agricultural products–grains, oilseeds, cotton, meats, vegetables, snack foods, etc., will be consigned for shipment for export to foreign markets.
  • It all means more jobs and higher wages across the nation. U.S. agricultural exports generate more than $100 billion annually in business activity throughout the U.S. economy and provide jobs for nearly 1 million workers.
  • Twenty two million American workers produce, process, sell and trade the nation’s food and fiber. But only 4.6 million of those people live on the farms– slightly less than 2 percent of the total U.S. Population.
  • Consumers spend $547 billion for food originating on U.S. farms and ranches. Of each dollar spent on food, the farmer’s share is approximately 23 cents. The rest are for costs beyond the farm gate: wages and materials for production, processing, marketing, transportation and distribution.

These are astounding facts. Most of us have seen the Super Bowl commercial “And God Made a Farmer”, which gives insight into the world of those who work in the industry. For me, though, agriculture is much more personal than having food on my table. It has been a part of my entire life and has instilled in me so many qualities. You see, for me, it is not just about the product and the benefits for the country, but about how agriculture has shaped my life.

I can say that agriculture has been in the family for generations. My grandpa and great grandpa were crop farmers, and we now live on the same land they farmed. Mom helped with tobacco and had livestock growing up, and Daddy worked on a turkey farm. When I was little, I can remember Daddy bringing home an orphan calf for a day just so I could see it. I would go to work with him and bottle feed a calf or slide down the piles of cotton. Poor him didn’t know what to do with a 3 year old little girl who needed to use the bathroom on the dirt roads of the middle of no where, though. Anyways, this was images of my early years; however, we lived in city limits and couldn’t have any livestock and only had a vegetable garden and dogs. In my 4th grade year, though, my life would change for the amazing.

We moved out to the family land that was across the road from my grandparents. Within the first year, we had gotten 4 goats and started showing them. That was a start of a passion and journey. Those 4 goats grew into a herd of 30 that I learned to manage myself, eventually. I learned how to trim hooves, give shots, birth babies, feed, recognize disease, and so much more. At 9 years old, I learned what it was to get my hands dirty and developed a passion for agriculture. I was always trying to increase my knowledge and animal count (let’s be honest).  Goats were not the only thing I got into. I was soon showing pigs, turkeys, and horses from local to state. It was always a family affair going to fairs and shows. Agriculture has created a closer bond with my family. There have been countless dinner conversations about when to wean goats, how much weight the pigs can gain, and if we need more feed (we are always needing feed). My little brothers have started an egg business, now, and I have gotten into sheep and using their fiber. Make It With Wool allowed me to travel nationally and share my love of part of the agriculture world– sheep and wool.

It wasn’t just good things on the farm. Having livestock is hard. Goats getting out, fixing fences, mucking stalls, and feeding in the rain and mud were the less glamorous part of it all. It was also, though, seeing animals get sick, babies not make it till morning, and the disappointment in all your efforts, still not being enough. It isn’t all glitz and glam. It can be hard, but it so worth it. Walking into the show ring, seeing babies being born, or watching the animals get frisky in good weather makes you smile.

Agriculture has gone beyond the farm for me, though; it is also been in contests such as livestock judging, skillathon, and quiz bowl. Doing these contests through 4-H has increased my knowledge, allowed me to meet people, travel, become a good sport, and public speak.

That all being said, and there is so much more that could be said, agriculture has been a huge part of my life. It has taught me hard work, responsibility, public speaking skills, good sportsmanship, and so very much more. I have become closer to my family and met some wonderful friends. Agriculture puts food on the table, helps the economy, and provides jobs, but it has also benefited me in more ways than I can count. It is a part of me and will be in the future. Hopefully I will be able to find a career in agriculture, promoting it and being a communication person for it. So, here is to agriculture. Let’s celebrate this unique and amazing industry.

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Facts retrieved from NCSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

It was n”ICE” to have a good day!

Around two inches of ice covered the landscape today. While it was pretty gross to do chores in, it made for some pretty pictures. Enjoy!


scen heart chain

Apparently, Rocket is adverse to going in his shelter.
Apparently, Rocket is adverse to going in his shelter.

twig pig ice arrow chicken coop shep pasture goat and gid monkey graass isicles golf cart sheep issac and all sheep eating


Our little fighter, made it through the night. We have been tending to her throughout the day, giving her bits of milk. While we were amazed that she made it this far, we are not out of the woods yet. The next few days will be crucial. She does not like to suckle on the bottle, but we are working with her. Time will tell, but until then, she is a little miracle that I like to snuggle with on the couch. 20150217_173910[1]

Farmers Take Field Trips Too

Sometimes I think I have a fairly good grasp of agriculture…sometimes. Most of the time, though, I am keenly aware that there is A LOT I don’t know. I may have competed in national competitions that look at how much you know about livestock, and won, but I will still tell you there is a lot I don’t know. Even the things I feel I have a good grasp on, there is always more to be learned from others. That is why farmers take field trips, and I got to go on two this past weekend.

The first one was to the Southern Farm Show in Raleigh, NC. farm shwThe whole family went to tour the many buildings filled with farming equipment. There were tractors of every color and size, cattle chutes, irrigation systems, trailers, trucks–you name it, they probably had it.

farm showDespite being around farms all my life and living on one, there was some stuff, I had no clue what it was. My poor dad was bombarded with questions from my brothers and I. If you knew how much stuff was there, you’d feel for the amount of questions he had to field.

After the boys had climbed on almost every tractor, combine, and Bobcat, and questions had subsided, we made our way to the horse pull and coon jump. We watched draft mules and horses pull max weights of 6,500 pounds and 10,000+ pounds respectively. It was amazing to see their grit and gumption to move the sled with weights. We also got to see the coon jump which is where mules jump from a stand still over a pole. The winner of that contest, jumped 54 inches flat-footed. The coon jump contest originated with raccoon hunting. Mule owners would brag about how high their mules jumped chasing the coons. To prove themselves, they started coon jumping. Neat, huh?

horse pull


The second field trip was to Rocky Mount, NC to attend a 4-H show pig clinic. Mom, the boys and I went. pig clinicWe had a great instructor who talked about everything from picking out your pig, to feeding it, to showmanship. While a lot of it was review for me, there was some things that were brand new too. wasThe boys learned a lot too. They created a skit with the other youth about the right and wrong way to show a pig. Both Isaac and Gideon got on all fours to pretend to be the pigs. They were also able to reverse roles and practice showing with actual pigs too. It is a great warm up for the up coming show in April. issac and

gid

They asked great questions too.

questions

This morning they started to put their new knowledge to use  when they worked their own pigs. I quizzed them a bit too. “What did Mrs. Cally say you should do after walking the pigs?” They remembered after a little searching in their memories.


Even though we live on a farm everyday, we don’t know everything. There will always be someone who has a piece of knowledge that we don’t and it is important to seek out the opportunities that teach us new things. Not only is it fun, but we better ourselves in the process. Field trip for the win!

Teeth Tell the Tale

BEa teethWhat does this picture say? Would you believe those teeth tell a tale? Well, they do.

Goats have eight incisors on their bottom jaw. With those eight teeth, we can generally determine how old the goat is. Just like humans lose teeth as they get older, so do goats, except they don’t have a goat tooth fairy. The picture above is of a goat that is over four years old. She has lost all her teeth and grown large ones. If a goat gets past eight years old, the teeth will look worn. The photo below is of Lulu, who is getting close to nine years old. You can see the start of wear on her teeth compared to the four year old goat in the first picture. There is more gaps and her teeth are narrower.

lulu tetth

They will lose their first pair of teeth after turning one year old, and a pair each year after that. The first two teeth to go are the middle pair. This next goat lost her first set of teeth in October. She is already working on her second pair. They aren’t quite all the way in.

lady teeth

And this little guy hasn’t lost any yet:

bulelt teeth

His teeth are smaller and all the same size.

Why is this important?

Although we keep records of when our goats were born and know how old they are, sometimes we buy goats from sales that do not give us records. We can look at their teeth to see how old they are and whether or not they are too old to breed. We also have to know how old a goat is for showing purposes. We are not allowed to show goats over a year old except at the state fair. At many shows, officials will check the teeth of the goat to see if they are eligible or, when at the state fair, if they are in the right class. We have had to change classes at the state fair a few times when the goat was late losing their teeth or lost them early. Silly goats.


Your turn!!

We’ve covered what different ages looks like. Now it is your turn to give it a try. How old do you think this goat is? Comment below with your answers.

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Happy Farm Fact Filled Fridays!

Meet the New Additions

After 6 hours on the road, my brother, Alec and I finally made it home with two new show goats.

The little does were born in September and October. They have some growing to do, but I think they have some great potential. Without further adieu welcome this year’s goats for the spring show and sale in April to the farm.

I would like to introduce Hershey, shown by Gideon…

gid and hersehAnd Reeses, shown by Isaac.

reesesThe boys were super excited to see their new goats, weigh them, and introduce them to their new home.

boys in trailerWithin 5 minutes, they were already wanting to practice showing them with collars and leashes. I told them they might want the newbies to get used to everything first. They agreed that rubbing them would suffice for now.

Of course, I had to snap a picture of the new additions for you guys. Can you say #blogger’slife?

take a picEven Sassy, the barn cat, had to come check things out.

sassStay tuned for two more little girls that will be added to the farm within the coming days. These ones will be much more pink and will say oink!

5 Reasons Why I Want to Tell Agriculture’s Story

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

~Maya Angelou

Once again, the new year is upon us. In a little over a week, I will be headed back to school, and 2014 will be a memory. A new year also means those dreaded resolutions. This year, though, I’m excited for my New Year’s resolution. It isn’t to start working out, although I probably should. This year, I’m launching this blog. My resolution is to use this blog to tell my story — not a story about the many papers in graduate school or life with three brothers, but my story about agriculture. It is something I am passionate about, but when I look around, I see the effects of a day and age where less than 2% of the population lives or works on a farm. It is more important than ever for agriculture’s story to be told. So, for five reasons, my New Year’s resolution is to share my passion for agriculture with the world:

1. Because I think it is beautiful:

milo

There is nothing quite like the sunset on a field of cropland, or a wobbly lamb walking for the first time that makes me want to whip my camera out at lightning speed. Agriculture is truly beautiful. Sure, there are ugly parts, but that’s part of life. Agriculture is truly a beautiful thing, and for me,  that is worth showing off.

2. So others don’t tell it for me: So many times pictures and words get twisted, and the damage is hard to undo. Instead of assuming that someone else will tell the public accurately what agriculture is all about, it is important that I tell my perspective. If I allow others to tell it, then the chances of incorrect information being told increases. I don’t want others putting words in my mouth. I’m much too opinionated to let that happen.

3. Consumers are curious and have a right to know: Consumers eat, wear and rely on the products that we produce. They give it to their kids and trust it is not just a quality product, but that it has been grown ethically. They trust us (we certainly hope), and it is my duty to tell them what is going on. Consumers often have never had the opportunity to step foot on a farm in their lives. They are curious about how it works. If our agriculture’s story isn’t told, they just get more curious, and may look in the wrong place. I owe it to them to show them just what lies beyond those barn doors. So, I welcome questions, and would love to give you a farm tour.

4. I’m passionate about ag: Farming is hard work. I’ve had mud and poop slung on me in places I really didn’t like. I’ve had countless blisters on my hands, a goat managed to give me a black eye, and there have been times I thought my fingers would fall off from the cold. Even still, I love it. I am passionate about the little lamb jumping around or the pigs that give me muddy kisses. I care about the impact agriculture has on the community and what it has to offer. If I didn’t find such joy in farm life, I wouldn’t do it.  Why else would I stay up till all hours of the night with an animal,

bottle

or brave all types of weather?

snow pig

What are those smiles about? Because we, not just me, but others are passionate about agriculture. My passion is my drive to tell the world what gives me joy.isaac

5. I live it: Day in and day out, my family and I feed the animals and care for them. With so much interaction, I think it is safe to say, that I know the farm better than an outsider and can tell that story better. Biographies are nice, but autobiographies are better. I can make it come alive in ways that no one else can because my family and I live it. We stare at in the face everyday.

kiss

So, those are my reasons. It is why I’m starting this blog. I truly believe that agriculture is a story worth being told. It is my passion, and therefore, I want it told right. I want the emotions I have for it to bleed through. I want the public to reach a better understanding of what exactly it takes to get from farm to table. I hope to allow people to see what I see. I think the agriculture I know should not be kept to myself and remain untold, which lands me here, on this blog.  It is definitely the most exciting New Year’s resolution I’ve ever had.

Happy New Years!

 

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