Why I am Crazy About Cattle

When you are overwhelmingly passionate about something it can sometimes be difficult to translate that passion into words. Here is my attempt to articulate my passion.
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My passion for the beef community started when I took my first breath. Growing up on a multi-generation ranch, work was not an option. Even before I could walk, I was riding in the feed truck with my dad. Jobs started at a young age, because we needed the help. Regardless of the size of the job, each was critical to the success of our family business.
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God gave me something very special when He gave me my passion. I am who I am today because of my involvement in the beef community. From caring for sick cattle, I learned compassion. From working alongside my relatives, I gained unbreakable bonds with my family. From watching my father work, I learned how to learn. From watching cattle die, I learned what death is. From taking instruction, I learned how to listen. From making mistakes on the ranch, I learned the importance of constructive criticism. From watching my father in business deals, I learned integrity. From old ranchers, I learned the importance of a firm handshake and confident eye contact. From persevering through the rough times, I gained character. From pulling baby calves in the middle of the night, I learned dedication.  From being surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of creation, I learned how big God is. All the good and bad times – they have helped cultivate me into who I am today.
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It breaks my heart to walk the halls with seniors in college who have absolutely no idea what they want to do in life. They wake up in the morning feeling complacent with no direction and no motivation, and go to sleep feeling hopeless and lost. I wish I knew how to gift or teach these people passion. I wish I could give them something that would spark in them a flame, something that would get them out of bed in the mornings, something that the very thought of not taking action would make them unbearably uncomfortable, but I can’t instill that. Each person must find that individually.
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I had every intention of giving you three simple bullet points about why I love beef, but my passion goes much deeper than a few bleak sentences; rather it is tied to every fiber of my being. So for me to put it into words is for me to truly reflect my innermost motivations.
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Moral of the Story: Yes, I consider myself very blessed to have an overwhelming passion for the beef community that motivates me to work very hard to make a positive difference every day. But whether you are passionate about helping people, organizing files, working with technology, or anything, find what gets you out of bed in the morning.

God bless, folks!

 

Kalyn McKibben

Blonde Beef Babe

 

Fighting for Freedom: Beef Edition

I hope everyone has recovered from a fun weekend of colorful fireworks, yummy hamburgers and family get-togethers. Independence Day is a wonderful reminder of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, such as the right to bear arms, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. To maintain these freedoms, we are challenged to defend them.  In the same way, beef producers are faced with the challenge of defending their way of life every day.

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When it comes to our food supply, our desire for information is insatiable. As consumers, we want to know that our steak was happy and healthy when it was alive. No one understands the importance of that better than the beef producers themselves.

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Now more than ever, we are demanding transparency from agriculture producers. If those who produce the safe, wholesome and nutritious beef our families enjoy do not speak up, people who have no understanding of the business or animal welfare aspects of their operations will speak up for them. Producers cannot afford for their words or production practices to be misconstrued in anyway.

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There are many voices in the conversation about meat and food production. Our challenge as consumers is to tune out the “white noise “, or uneducated chatter, created by people who do not understand the logistics and fundamentals of beef production and animal welfare. To accomplish this requires us to research. Our fast-paced, constantly-connected society is guilty of being gullible. Our easily-convinced, drama-seeking nature is aligned to follow the societal norm, even when the information is false.

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Moral of the story: The beef producer’s number one concern is their cattle. Ranchers have a responsibility to do what reflects the best for the well-being of their animals. And in order to achieve that, they must maintain their freedom to produce healthy cattle.

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In order to meet the demand for transparency and protect their freedom to produce safe, wholesome and nutritious beef, producers must also do everything possible to tell their story. With the same token, consumers have the responsibility to research beyond the tabloid headlines and discover the truth about their food. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! 🙂

#MeetYourMeat

 

God bless, folks!

Kalyn McKibben

Blonde Beef Babe

 

Lessons From the Passenger Seat of the Feedtruck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am blessed with the very best father and role model anyone could ask for. He is compassionate, dedicated, and doesn’t even know what a “day off” means. Dad and I share a very special bond. Growing up as Little Lyndon, I have always wanted to be just like my daddy.

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Because of the millions of hours (okay, maybe not that many, but a whole lot) spent alongside my dad on a horse and in a feed truck, I have learned countless vital life lessons!

  1.  Respect your elders. If we have visitors on the ranch, you always offer them the front seat and you still get the gate. It is just one of the unwritten rules of respect.

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  2. Details matter. If there is supposed to be 101 cows in a pasture and you only count 100 cows, you better believe that we will not give up our search until the stray is found. Attention to detail is vital when animals depend on you to provide for them.   

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  3.  Lessons in listening. Whether it is a pause in conversation to listen to the 860AM market report at 12:00PM or to be briefed on the days plans, listening is imperative to ensure things run smoothly.

    This picture was taken around 1AM after we had finished processing a set of mama cows. Dad sure is a hard worker!

  4. Lessons in learning. Sometimes I just wonder if my generation was absent on the day in school when they taught us how to learn. Sometimes you just have to learn by example. I cannot tell of the many times I have depended on what I’ve learned by watching my dad. From roping cows, to tagging baby calves, I am a product of learning from seeing Dad do.

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  5.  Be flexible. Goodness knows plans have a way of changing instantaneously in production agriculture! Cows are out, a neighbor needs help gathering cattle, the weather acts up- any number of reasons- you have to learn to adjust and make things all work. 

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  6. Invest in people. There is just something about ranchers that makes them love talking to other farmers and ranchers. Friends, family members, neighbors, complete strangers- whomever it may be- my dad has taught me the value in investing in people. The dividends are much greater than the alternative!

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  7.  Focus. Whether you are checking for sickness in the herd or traveling about from pasture to pasture, focus is vital to ensure you do your job well and are effective.

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Moral of the story: I believe I am blessed with the World’s Greatest Dad! He has taught me more life lessons than I could ever say. He has encouraged and helped mold my strong passion for the beef community. I am who I am today, largely because of his influence in my life.Don’t forget to show your dad how much you care.  I love you, Dad!

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God bless, folks!

 

Kalyn McKibben

Blonde Beef Babe

Baby Calves: A Picture Blog

 

 

In my mind, few things are cuter than baby calves! Calving season is by far one of my favorite times on the ranch, despite the often increased work load. Here are a few of my captured favorites!

 

“Peek-a-boo”

“What’re you lookin’ at?

“Bashful Baby”

“Dinner Time!”

“I know I am small, but I am mighty, I’ll have you know.”

“Are You My Mother?”

 

“That’s the spot!”

“The Staring Game”

 

I hope you enjoyed these!

God bless, folks!

 

Kalyn McKibben

Blonde Beef Babe

Beef YOUR Way!

One of the coolest things about beef is the abundance of options! Another amazing thing is that we as consumers get to take advantage of those options. We all have our preferences. It is just a matter of making sure we are aware of recommend tips so that we can enjoy our preferences in the comfort of your own homes.

 

Here are a few of the many options we have when eating beef:

 

  • Cut – Whether you prefer tenderloin, brisket, round roast, tri-tip, flat- iron, or a burger, you have endless opportunities to find your favorite flavor and personal  preference when eating beef!
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  • Degree of Doneness – The degree to which a steak is prepared greatly affects the flavor. Some may prefer rare and others may prefer well done. To ensure you achieve your personal preference, meat thermometers are life savers when it comes to getting the most out of your beef eating experience at home.

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  • Raising Method – Grass-fed and grain-finished beef both have very distinct flavors. Even though there is very little nutritional difference between the two options, consumers have yet another level of variety to determine their favorite. Whether the beef is natural, organic or conventional, it is important to remember that all beef is nutritious and delicious.

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  • Seasoning – There are endless opportunities when it comes to enhancing beefy flavors. If you are looking to liven up your beef, you can get creative with your own mixture of spices! You can put Asian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Italian, and countless other spins on traditional rubs and marinades.

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  • Cooking Method – Some cuts of beef reap more desirable results when prepared in specific ways. For instance, more tender cuts like those from the loin are better suited for dry-heat cooking methods such as grilling and searing. Similarly, tougher cuts such as roasts are better suited for moist-heat cooking methods such as braising and stewing. Making sure that the cut is prepared properly can ensure a better beef eating experience!

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  • Marbling – Marbling is the fat flecks within the meat that influence the degree of tenderness, juiciness and flavor of the meat. If you enjoy more juicy beef, you may prefer a higher quality grade (Prime or high Choice), but if you prefer more lean beef, a lower quality grade (lower Choice or Select) may be your preference.

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Moral of the story: Just like every single person is unique, every person’s beef preference is unique. It is just a matter of figuring out your favorite way to enjoy beef’s incredible flavor. No matter what your preference is, all beef options offer essential nutrients that our bodies need in order to operate perfectly. For more tips on how you can enjoy beef, visit www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com!

 

God bless, folks!

 

Kalyn McKibben

Blonde Beef Babe

8 Things I’ve Learned From Being “Little Missy”

I have had the awesome privilege to learn the ropes from some of the most talented cowboys and cattlemen throughout my life. From riding around in the feed truck with my dad as a toddler to processing cattle as an adult, I have learned from and worked with some pretty amazing men.

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Here are a few things I have learned from working alongside those of the male gender:

  • 11193276_10206535698890671_2534012049498191643_nEven small jobs are important. From opening gates, to simply standing in a pressure point, even though they might not be the most glamorous or exciting jobs, they must be done regardless.
  • 1891480_757927177636468_9106847382057324215_oIf you don’t stand up for yourself, no one else will. You have to have self-confidence. How can you expect people to believe in you if you do not believe in yourself?

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  • Sometimes being “Little Lady” isn’t so bad. At first, I would get a little disappointed after being referred to as “missy”, “tiny” and “little lady” all day, but now I have realized that there are many other nicknames that are much worse.
  • 10363094_10205980931861842_2272981806318305766_nEarrings and lipstick are always appropriate for working cattle. Just because you work with men, doesn’t mean you have to look like them.
  • 10427288_10205572936182205_8972511427448086822_nBe a sponge! Always maintain a desire to learn something new. There are always things you can learn from those around you.
  • 10633620_757927094303143_4526640089974822371_oBe classy. Even if you work around rough and tough cowboys, doesn’t mean you have to be the same way. You have to give them a reason to treat you like a lady, but still remain true to your passion.
  • 1941394_10205585826984467_7115879892127218968_oJust because you could possibly do it better than a man, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should do it. 
  • 11151009_10206524961022231_1800785543583917875_nActions speak louder than words. Generally, most things just have to be demonstrated in order to gain one’s respect. Be patient and do your best!

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Moral of the story: Yes, production agriculture has traditionally been dominated by men. But we can all learn from each other. Each has their right to their dreams. We must be mindful of those around us. Encourage when encouragement is needed. Teach those who need taught. And always be willing to learn. 

God bless, folks!

 

Kalyn McKibben

Blonde Beef Babe 

The Lady Who Taught Me How To Be A Lady

It is hard to imagine my life without my mama. She wears many hats on the ranch. On top of the lessons she has taught us in grace, encouragement and humility, she has miraculously managed to keep clothes on our backs, food in our bellies and band-aids on our ‘boo boos’.
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My mama is the most incredible lady in the entire universe! Growing up, she managed the dairy farm while Dad was on the road, selling feed supplements. Today, she is a Speech Language Pathology Assistant at the local public school.

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Here are just a few of the things that make her incredible:

* She has bullet-proof faith. It can be the middle of the worst drought in decades or the worst ice storm on record and she still remains faithful because she truly trusts that God will always meet our needs.

image* She is the best cow-checking side kick. She will never turn down an opportunity to spend time with her kids, even if it is just to ride in the passenger seat of the feed truck or on the back of the fourwheeler.

image* She only sees the very best in people. She always encourages people to focus on their strengths and be the unique person God has made them to be.

image* She can save any baby calf. Even if the babies that are given a very low chance of survival, somehow Mama turns their chances around. She just has the motherly touch!

image* She smiles. From encouraging an autistic student to open up, to meeting new people in the grocery store check-out line, my mama exudes a welcoming joy that reflects her trustworthiness and kindness.

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Moral of the story: I am beyond blessed to have such a kind, loving, and exceptional role model to call Mama. Without her valuable encouragement, our operation would not be successful. Please don’t forget to show your mama how much you appreciate her!

 

God bless, folks!

 

Kalyn McKibben

Blonde Beef Babe

 

 

 

 

Community Service and Cattle{wo)men

 

 

Not only are cattlewomen and cattlemen very active within the agriculture community, they are also known for their roles in local communities.

45 heavy-duty trash bags, 5 hours and a rain shower later, we accomplished our mission!

 

 

This weekend, a massive community service event was hosted by my university. Fellow cattlewomen students and myself had the opportunity to reach out to needy members of the community.

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Our assigned community member was Mrs. Bobby. Because of a severe stroke years prior, she was unable to keep up with her once beautiful flower gardens.

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We spent the morning raking leaves, cleaning gutters, pulling weeds and conversing with a local community member. The elderly women depended on the help of others to help her clean up every year.

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In the end, Mrs. Bobby said that in all the years she had been involved in the project, she had never been so impressed with the work ethic of the volunteers and the end result of the project.

 

 

Moral of the story: Beef producers are active in helping others and being involved in their local communities. Not only are many producers involved, but they often go above and beyond expectations. Producers know the difference between a job-well-done and a job-half-done. We do all we can to make a positive impact in our communities.

God bless, folks!

Kalyn McKibben

Blonde Beef Babe

Don’t Forget the Forgotten Rock Stars

Everyone likes to be recognized. There is something in us that strives for accomplishment. This week I attended a few awards banquets hosted by my college and department. At these banquets, alumna who had done extraordinary things, or donated copious amounts of money, were recognized and applauded. I found myself becoming a touch irritated.

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Please do not misunderstand me, I absolutely love being apart of my university, college of ag. and animal science department family. And I am very grateful for their support and their awesome contributions. But somewhere within the multiple recognitions, I couldn’t help but think of the many farmers and ranchers who work so hard every day, and yet receive little to no acknowledgement.

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Beef producers have a record of working never-ending hours and sacrificing social engagements to provide for their cattle. I can remember the many church services, family reunions, school receptions, and dinner dates I had to miss to get calves back in, treat a sick animal or feed mama cows.

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They may not have discovered a new strain of unnamed bacteria, or donated millions of dollars to build a new building, but ranchers still devote a whole lot of time, effort, and commitment to providing us with the safe, wholesome, and nutritious beef we love. A simple “thank-you” goes a long way in expressing gratitude.

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Moral of the story: those who make the biggest impact do not always receive the biggest recognition. Be thankful for the small things. Look for the people who are the silent servants. Be grateful for the people who may not have the most “important” title, but who contribute to us being able to enjoy the little things. Remember, do not serve for the recognition. Serve to make a positive difference.

#ThankaRancher

God bless, folks!

 

Kalyn McKibben

Blonde Beef Babe 

The Story Behind Little Joey

 

There is something incredibly fulfilling about taking care of animals. What a humbling opportunity it is to pour out compassion in order to selflessly put another’s comfort above your own.

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Sometimes baby calves require a little help to get off on the right foot. Because of extreme weather conditions, unique maternal circumstances, or birthing difficulties, sometimes babies require additional support from ranchers in order to thrive.

 

So this is how we saved Joey:

 

Joey was born a month early. When we found him, he was about 15 hours old. He hadn’t had anything to drink and he hadn’t had the energy take his first steps. His body was laying flat with the sun beating down on his red and white hair coat.

His mama hadn’t proved to be very motherly as she left him as soon as he was born. Good mama cows are usually very protective of their babies, often making sure they are cleaned off and encouraged to stand up and eat. Joey’s mama didn’t seem to take care of him.

So, first we fed him colostrum, which is milk high in antibodies and rich in immunoglobulins important to the calf’s future health and well-being.

After feeding Joey, we made sure he was comfy in his new home in the barn. The first night, Joey had a tough time. He wanted to nurse and stand on his own, but he just couldn’t muster the strength to do so. To offset his nutrient needs, the little guy was given more medicine, rich in the protein he needed to rev up his system.

The next day, we were a little nervous because we didn’t know if he would make it through the night. To our joy, Joey was alert and active the next morning and ready for breakfast.

Joey turned out to be quite the glutton when feeding time rolled around!

 

 

 

Moral of the story: If it had not been for the love and expertise of a rancher, Little Joey would not have survived. Producers care for their animals. We want to make sure we are doing everything we can to ensure a healthy, comfortable life for them. 

God bless, folks!

 

Kalyn McKibben

Blonde Beef Babe