My Little Brothers

To complete our series on siblings in honor of National Sibling Day, this week I am going to highlight my younger brothers, Ben and Will. My brother Ben is fifteen years old and a sophomore at Etna High School. Similar to Justana and her brother Kater, Ben stands at about 6’1 and towers over me, but he will always be my little brother. Ben is a pretty easy-going guy, but he’s one of the hardest workers I know. While most high school boys are busy chasing girls and playing video games, Ben spends most of his time either working on the ranch or perfecting his jump shot for basketball (he spends hours at the hoop in our driveway). In addition to ranching and basketball, Ben plays football, is an active FFA member and avid bow hunter, and shows cattle along with myself. I’m sure he chases a few girls as well, but I try not to ask. Will just turned eleven years old, and is one of the funniest little kids I know. He always has something to say even if he has no idea what he’s talking about, which naturally makes for some good laughs. Will is everything that is “eleven-year-old boy,” from being fascinated with bugs to not owning a pair of jeans without holes in the knees. Everyone who knows Will knows that he is “Mr. Chicken Farmer,” and always has eggs for sale. Since he was about 4 years old, he’s been responsible for taking care of the chickens (feeding, watering, collecting eggs, etc.), so my parents decided that he should get any profit that they generated. His flock has grown to about 20 laying hens and 2 roosters, and, as you can imagine, that’s a lot of eggs. Though I spend a lot of time wanting to strangle my brothers, they are some of my absolute favorite people. I can’t wait to see who they grow up to be and I know they both have very bright futures ahead of them.

Will's Chickens

Will 4-H

 

 

Thanks for following the beef ambassadors, and make sure to keep up with the team’s travel to Massachusetts for the Boston Marathon this week!

Emma

Learning to Ride Bikes and Advocate For Beef

20140418-122738.jpg

If you were to look up Passion in the dictionary, you would most likely see a picture of my sister, Keili (Kay-lee) Summey. There is no one I know that possess more character, integrity, and dedication for what they do. Ever since I could remember I have always looked up to my sister, and being the typical younger sibling that meant trying to be just like her. The inspiration I received from having Keili as a constant role model is what motivated me to learn how to ride a bike and advocate for beef.

We were at the park. She had just gotten her training wheels off and was about to try riding for the first time. From the second she got on her bike I wanted to do it too and begged my father to take my training wheels off. He tried to explain to me that since Keili was a year older than me, she could do things that I couldn’t and that my bike wasn’t built to have the training wheels taken off. But there’s no use reasoning with a four year old. The next time I saw Keili’s bike alone I grabbed it and began to take off. Before I knew it I had taught myself to ride. Ever since then my desire to be more like my sister has continued to push me past my own limitations.

My sister use to be VERY shy, I mean afraid to ask a waiter for Ketchup shy. Somehow when she started high school this new, more outgoing, confident side came out of her and she was doing things I never would have expected like raising animals, public speaking, running for office, and taking agriculture classes (and more importantly, she was good at it!). I couldn’t help but become fascinated with the change in her and wanted to know the cause. I joined FFA, started taking Ag classes, and before I knew it I was hooked!! It wasn’t too long after that we both found our love for the beef community and became Ambassadors (she was the Arizona Beef Ambassador before me).

Now Keili and I are both living together, working together, serving as OCCW (Oklahoma Collegiate CattleWomen) officers together, and attending Oklahoma State University to obtain degrees in Agriculture (her in Agriculture Education and me in Agriculture Communication). Our fridge is always stocked with beef and whenever I need advice on anything beef related (like how to talk to consumers, or how to teach a class on beef), or even general life advice, she is always my go-to person. Some may think that it would be annoying having a sister that is in to all of the same things as you, and follows the same career path would be very annoying, but to us it’s all we’ve ever known and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Peace, Love, Beef (and National Sibling Day),

Tori

An American Cowboy

Along with my fellow beef ambassadors, this week we are blogging about our siblings in honor of National Sibling day last Thursday. So here we go! I have one little brother, although he’s out grown me by a good 4-5 inches, he will always remain my “little” brother. Kater Buck Tate, if his name alone doesn’t tell you, he is quite the character. “Buck” was our great grandfather’s name.

Like most siblings we can't "just smile" in any picture!

Like most siblings we can’t “just smile” in any picture!

 

When I first started thinking about how I could write a blog about my brother and beef, I soon came to the conclusions of “An American Cowboy.” Growing up on a ranch we have learned spending more time with cattle than people is completely normal, although I don’t mind a little socializing. Kater on the other hand had always rather spend his time with his horses and cattle than people. Being a “cowboy” isn’t a gold buckle at the NFR or wearing your hat around town. Being a cowboy is exactly what is sounds like… a cow boy. According to the dictionary a cowboy is “a man, typically one on horseback, who herds and tends cattle.” When you break it down it might not sound quiet as glamorous, but it also takes a special kind of person to be one, someone who has a true passion for livestock. He doesn’t need fame or fortune; he just needs a good horse and a place to call home. I can honestly say my little brother is one. He had rather wake up at 5 a.m. to take care of cattle, than get to sleep in until 7a.m. and go to school; he loves his horses and cattle more than just about anything; he doesn’t mind a hard days’ work; most of all he thanks the Lord each day for having the freedom to be a “cowboy.” As a 5th generation cowboy, you could say it is in his blood.

69816_311835968939319_1898388015_n

IMG_2051

Beef & Blessings,

Justana

A Family Affair

Staying true to our theme of recognizing our siblings this week, I want to tell y’all how my siblings and I fell in love with agriculture, and have come together as a family to manage our family farm.

My parents were not exactly farmers. Actually, having grown up in southern California they couldn’t have been further removed from agriculture. But when we moved to the panhandle of Idaho we found ourselves in the middle of thousands of acres of wheat.

We had a fair amount of pasture, and knowing nothing about what we were about to get ourselves into we bought some Suffolk sheep and never looked back. Four years later, my siblings and I were tending to 40+ head of sheep.

Bethany leading a tour of the Disney Greenhouse

Bethany leading a tour of the Disney Greenhouse

When we moved to Tennessee we sold all of our sheep, and started to start a new flock on our new farm. When in Idaho we lived in what was called the Palouse. We adopted the name Palouse Farm.

What amazes me about my siblings is how we have all developed a deep passion for agriculture. But we have each found our niche in the industry. I would like to introduce you to each of my siblings, and tell you why they continue to inspire me each and every day.

The eldest of my two sisters is Bethany. She is currently a graduate student at Washington State University, pursuing her Masters in Plant and Soil Science. I always told her that I didn’t understand how she enjoyed dirt (or soil as she calls it) so much. But she always reminds me that without proper nutrients in the soil, the grass won’t grow, and my cows wouldn’t be able to eat. It makes me thankful that there are individuals in the agriculture industry, like Bethany, who are concerned and passionate about the forages that are necessary for cattle to graze.

Hannah and I

Hannah and I

My next sister, Hannah, is the far more awesome, red haired version of me. We are partners in crime and have been plotting mischief since 1995. She is an Animal Science student here at UT with me. We are teammates on the UTM Cross Country Team. She continues to inspire me to be a better person. When she graduates this year she will begin an adventure sharing Christ’s love through agriculture. She will be going overseas for two years to work in agriculture missions.

Finally, my little brother Aaron is a junior in high school. Since my sisters and I left for college he has taken full responsibility for the farm. He was the baby of the family, and the only boy. But he managed to make it out without too many battle scars. He plans to also attend UTM and pursue a degree in agriculture.

It amazes me how one industry has so greatly impacted each of us that we chose to pursue a degree and career in it. It is equally fascinating to me that we have found our own unique niche in agriculture.

Aaron and I

Aaron and I

 

 

Without my siblings I wouldn’t be who I am today. I am so incredibly thankful for the impact they have had on my life.  For the Wolters family, farming has always been a family affair.

Beef & Blessings,

Rachael

My Sister, Cheyenne

I can’t imagine growing up as an only child. Interestingly enough, none of the members on our 2014 National Beef Ambassador team did! In honor of National Siblings Day, which occurred last Thursday, our team would like to dedicate our blogs this week to our siblings as a reflection of how they have made us better people and better agriculturalists.

Meet my older sister, Cheyenne! Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 11.05.50 PM

My sister receiving her American FFA Degree.

My sister receiving her American FFA Degree.

Cheyenne has always been a great role model to me and has taken a lot of time throughout the years to help me be my best. Being the little sister that I am, I always watched Cheyenne and involved myself in the same activities. Although she doesn’t know it, I credit my sister for being the reason that I became so involved in the FFA. After seeing her compete in various CDE contests, start her own herd of beef cattle for her SAE project, and especially, serve as an assistant officer for our chapter so she could earn her State and American FFA degree, I knew that I wanted to become more involved in the FFA and agriculture, as a whole. If it hadn’t been for my sister, I may never have fallen as deeply in love with the beef community as I am today.

My sister and I have always bonded over our love for the cattle that we raise on our farm, whether it was walking the pastures together on calf checks, working with our 4-H steers in the barn, or helping dad with vet visits in the summer. However, my sister wanted to take her passion one step further and, naturally, her little sister followed suit. Cheyenne and I both served as our county’s Queen of Beef, Cheyenne first in 2010, and then myself in 2012. If it hadn’t been for that experience, I would have never become an Ohio Beef Ambassador or a National Beef Ambassador.

My sister has always been there for me, even if it was just helping me drink from the water hose!

My sister has always been there for me, even if it was just helping me drink from the water hose!

I honestly can’t say where I would be in life without agriculture, beef, and especially, my sister. Starting from a very young age, my sister and I quickly realized how much fun two girls can have on a farm, from wrangling kitties, riding ponies, bottle-feeding calves, and chasing our grandpa’s sheep. Who would have known that years later, we would still be having just as much fun together working in agriculture, whether it is singing together in the hay mows, laughing at how poorly I shift gears on the 4-wheeler, or having late night talks about internships and career goals. I am always reminded of why having a sister is so great, especially when looking back on how I became so connected to agriculture. Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 10.59.21 PM

As a lesson to everyone with younger siblings, know that they are learning from you every step of the way. Thank you, Cheyenne, for working hard every day and setting such an excellent example for me to lead by.

All for the Love of Beef,

Sierra Jepsen

Being a Californian

As I mentioned in my first blog, whenever I introduce myself as being from California, I always get responses like, “You must surf to school then,” or, “Oh, so what celebrities do you know?” Needless to say, my response: “Oh, no, Northern California…no beaches (slight frown) or celebrities,” gets old real quick. I’ve thought about it more, and I realized that California is a very unique state in that it really is so diversified. I may be biased, but I think it’s cool that California is such a big state that most of the stereotypes don’t even fit half of the state. So, I thought I’d share some fun facts about the lesser-known part of California and the huge agricultural industry that it contains:image

  1. The top five agricultural commodities in CA are dairy, grapes, almonds, nursery, and cattle.
  2. There are a total of 81,700 farms in CA covering a total of 25.4 million acres.
  3. The average farm size is 313 acres.
  4. California is the top agricultural-producing state in the United States, and if it were a country it would be the fifth largest agricultural-producing country in the world.
  5. There are over 400 different commodities in California that generate nearly $10 billion each year.

I guess this was a bit of a #farmfactfriday #californiastyle #exceptonsunday, but I hope you enjoyed!

Boots and Cherry Blossoms

West lawn in front of the Capitol

West lawn in front of the Capitol

This past week four of the beef ambassadors had the opportunity to visit Washington D.C. for the National Cattleman’s Beef Association Spring Legislative conference.

IMG_0063It was beautiful in D.C. with all of the cherry blossoms coming out, and the grass growing lush and green. But we were not in D.C. to look at cherry blossoms. The three days we spent in our nations capitol were packed with opportunities to learn about beef production across the United States. Farmers everywhere are facing issues, but those issues are are very diverse in different areas of the country. One of the most rewarding aspects of coming to this even was spending time with the cattlemen from my state. It reminded me of how genuine the cattle industry really is. While some who attended this conference were specialists in ag policy, many of the individuals where just beef producers who care about american agriculture. Beyond just caring about it, they are passionate about how they can improve agriculture and better the communication between consumers and producers.

I think that is a common misconception that people can have is that farmers don’t care about those who are eating

The team enjoying the Legislative Outback reception

The team enjoying the Legislative Outback reception

their product at the end of the day. I know from personal experience, and from interacting with cattleman from all across the US that they do care. They care enough to walk you through their farm and show you where your food comes from. They care enough to spend a week of their very precious time in Washington D.C. talking about current issues. And they care enough to wake up each and every day, go out into the field and work to make sure that you and I have a safe, and abundant food supply.

As Beef Ambassadors we are here to tell their story. We enjoyed our time in D.C. and we can’t wait for more opportunities to share our passion for this great industry.

Rachael

The 100th Little International

The 100th Little International was held this past Saturday at Ohio State, which happens to be my favorite collegiate event!  The Little International is a university-wide showmanship competition where participants have the choice of showing a beef animal, a hog, a lamb or a horse. Naturally, I chose showing cattle.

This picture was taken on "Drawing Day" when our team selected our heifer, Lady.

This picture was taken on “Drawing Day” when our team selected our heifer, Lady.

It's hard work to break a beef animal to lead,  and sometimes you walk away with a few battle scars.

It’s hard work to break a beef animal to lead, and sometimes you walk away with a few battle scars.

Preparation for the Little International actually began the first week in March when our group went out to Ohio State’s livestock facilities and selected our heifer. From there on, we had exactly one month to prepare for the contest. Our team spent several hours each day at the barn, walking our heifer and getting her used to being worked with. This may sound like a simple task, but all the heifers we had to choose from this year were older than the ideal age to break cattle (which is about 6 months of age) and already weighed 850 lbs, so we definitely had our hands full. Of course, it also didn’t help that we selected the largest heifer in the lot!

My favorite part about the Little International is that there are both experienced and inexperienced divisions; so even if you have never shown a particular species before, you can still learn from an experienced showman and compete against other individuals who are still learning as well. This year was especially fun because I got to work with two of my best friends to teach them how to show cattle. Although it’s great to talk with my friends about beef, there is no better feeling than actually involving my peers in the cattle industry and giving them the opportunity to work with the animals one on one.

This great shot of our team was taken as we gave our heifer a pep talk before going into the final drive of the competition.

This great shot of our team was taken as we gave our heifer a pep talk before going into the final drive of the competition.

On show day, as I watched my inexperienced showmen in the ring, it reminded me of how my dad used to stand along the gate watching my sister and I show. No matter how much fun it is to be in the ring personally, it’s an even greater reward to watch your friends succeed in the ring. I am so proud of both my inexperienced showmen for working so hard this past month and for always smiling, even if they were frustrated. It’s a relief to finally see all of our hard work pay off; I’m already looking forward to next year’s Little International competition!
All for the Love of Beef,
Sierra Jepsen

Farm Fact Friday

Today, I’m going to keep it short and sweet. I think sometimes it’s good to take a step back and look at some of the facts about farming. Thus, I love #farmfactfriday, because it’s an easy and simple way to appreciate and recognize agriculturists. Without further ado, here are some notable farm facts I found:

  • Today’s farmers produce 262 percent more food with 2 percent fewer inputs (labor, seeds, feed, fertilizer, etc.), compared with 1950.
  • Americans enjoy a food supply that abundant, affordable overall and among the world’s safest, thanks in large part to the efficiency and productivity of America’s farm and ranch families.
  • The top five agricultural commodities are cattle and calves, dairy products, broilers, corn and soybeans.
  • By raising cattle and other grazing livestock, farmers and ranchers more than double the land area that can be used to raise food for a growing population.
  •  In the 1960s one farmer supplied food for 25.8 persons in the U.S. and abroad. Today, one farmer supplies food for 144 people in the U.S. and abroad.

If you have a great fact for farm fact Friday, please share them with us; we’d love to hear what stands out to YOU! Tweet us, @beefamassador, and be sure to use the hashtag #farmfactfriday.

The Beef Lifecycle: Weaning and Stocker Calves

Every pasture you visit around the ranch this time of year is filled with rambunctious young calves.  It is fun to watch the newborn calves stumbling around and the older ones running and playing alongside each other.  Week to week you can see how much the calves have grown.  Before long the calves will be old enough they will no longer need their mother’s milk and it will be time to wean the calves.

When we wean calves on my family’s ranch all calves and given booster shots.  This ensures that they are protected against the most harmful diseases.  Even though the calves are old enough to eat on their own and no longer need milk, they are still a little lost without their mother to follow around.  For the first few weeks after weaning calves, they are kept in large pens. Keeping fresh feed, hay, and water out for the calves is essential; the faster they learn to eat, the easier it will be for them.  If the freshly weaned calves were returned to a pasture they would have no idea what to do other than run until they found their mother.  After a few weeks of being penned we gradually turn them out onto high quality grass or wheat pasture.

calves

When calves are weaned they generally weigh around 400 to 500 pounds.  Cattle don’t tend to enter a feed yard until they are close to 750 pounds.  So what happens in the middle? After weaning, if enough grass or wheat is available we will keep the calves until they are big enough to enter a feed yard.  In cases of drought, after the calves have gotten over the stress of weaning, we sell them to a stocker cattle operation, or a preconditioning yard.  Both of these are designed for calves between the weaning  and feedlot weighs.  Cattle are fed optimum diets that will help them make the transition from grass and milk onto a “feedlot diet” made of grains and grinded forage.  This is an extremely valuable piece of how beef is raised that sometimes gets over looked.

a-livestock-beef-pre_conditioning

Beef & Blessings,

Justana