Forms of Identification

Identification within the cattle industry is a very important part of management and record keeping. It is important that as beef producers we use a form of identification to differentiate our cattle from one another, as well as keep our records complete and understandable through documentation. There are four main types of identification that beef producers can choose to use within their cattle herds. No one identification method is better or worse than the other. Depending on geographic location is a big determining factor of identification and how producers will choose to identify their cattle. Below are the four identification methods that beef producers use to identify their cattle within the herds.

ear tag

Ear tags are comparable to an earring in a human. Displayed on the outside of the ear with numbers or letters, this method of identification is used more so within smaller herd sizes because the ear tags are not super big. Reading them may require being a closer distance to the animal, but ear tags can come in multiple colors which can differentiate owners within a family or breeds within a herd.

tatoo

A tattoo is a form of identification within the ear. Little needles pinch through the ear flesh and leave permanent holes within the ear. Both numbers and letters are used in this form of identification which is used specifically for show cattle. Tattoo identification is used to match identity on record papers, which is comparable to a humans birth certificate. The letters signify the year which is universal for all herds and the numbers indicate the order of birth between calves on the certain farm.

hot branding

Hot branding is a prevalent form of identification within large herds, specifically out west due to the large number of cattle within all ranchers herds. This form of identification uses hot coals to burn the hair off of the animal and can be seen at far away distances. Only hurting for minimum time, both letters and numbers are burned into the animal to signify a specific farm. Because pasture land is plentiful and herds are larger, it is important that ranches brand their cattle at a young age to identify their calves versus a neighbors which also prevents stealing.

freeze branding

Freeze branding is comparable to hot branding where the brand is permanent to the animal with both letters and numbers. Freeze branding uses extreme cold to kill the cells in the animal’s skin that produce pigmentation, or color, and is a prevalent method out west where herd sizes are large. A freeze branded animal will have white hair where the freeze branding iron touched the skin.

We all have a form of identification to differentiate us from other people, and the same is with cattle and cattle herds. Methods are helpful and necessary within beef herds to increase healthy management and effective record keeping.

Happy Tuesday!

Demi

 

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

 

Life in the Feedyard

As the beef lifecycle continues, beef farmers and producers have the choice of how to continue raising their product after the backgrounding stage. From this stage, producers make the choice whether they want to finish their cattle as grain-fed or grass-fed. When looking at the sustainability, nutritional benefits, and overall product health, both grain-fed and grass-fed are comparable and offer the consumer a safe, wholesome, and nutritional beef eating experience.

Mature cattle, at approximately 700 pounds are transferred into what we call feed-yards, or feedlots. In this sector of the bovine timeline cattle spend four to six months, during which time they have constant access to water and room to move. In the feedlot, cattle live in pens that house between 100 to 125 animals and allow at least 125 to 250 square feet per animal. The cattle are free to graze at feed bunks containing a balanced diet of roughages, such as hay, grass, and fiber, grains, such as corn or wheat, and local renewable sources, such as beet pulp, dried distiller grains, or potato peelings. Each animal also has about one foot of bunk space to eat during the two times they are fed during the day. Cattle are raised to a market weight in a feedlot of 1,200-1,400 pounds in approximately 12-18 months of age.

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Cattle finished out in feedlots have ample room to move, lay down, and eat grain. Producers follow the rule of one-thirds where one third of the cattle will be either laying, eating, or walking around.

feedbunk eating

Producers make sure that throughout the day their cattle can graze at the feed bunk with ample space for each head.

Feedlot cattle have a high percentage of grains, such as corn in their diet. The abundance of corn in the United States contributes to the economic viability of producing grain-fed cattle which is the contributing factor to why beef producers choose to feed corn. The availability of this product helps to raise a nutritious beef product for consumers at a lower cost. Raising cattle strictly on pasture grass takes longer for the animal to reach market weight and therefore, grass-finished beef can be more expensive than a grain-finished product.

feed

Feedlot cattle receive a balanced diet of grains, forages, vitamins, and nutrients to help sustain a healthy lifestyle.

Raising healthy cattle is the main priority of all beef producers. At the feedlot, veterinarians, nutritionists, and cattlemen work together to look after each and every animal. All cattle producers take the appropriate measures to produce a safe and healthy product and recognize the importance of animal health and well-being from both a moral and economic standpoint. Cattle producers accept the responsibility of being stewards of the land and protectors of their animals and their care.

 

Have a great Tuesday!

Demi

 

Weaning: A Part of Life

The beef industry is more than just the tender and juicy steak that sits on your plate hot off the grill. It is more than just the baby calves running in the pasture or feeding hay to the mama cows; the beef industry is a connection of many different sectors and family farms all working hard to raise a healthy and wholesome product, so that at the end of the day we as producers, as well as consumers can enjoy a hardy cut of steak with both family and friends.

cow and baby

Calves spend the first five to seven months with their mothers receiving nutrients from their milk and learning to eat forages and grains

An essential sector of the beef industry is the cow/calf operation where producers’ birth mother cows and offspring are cared for. Caring for their babies is the top priority of the cow for the first five to seven months as the baby calves receive most of their nutrients such as protein from their mother’s milk. However, at the end of approximately 205 days, or seven months, calves are weaned from their mothers and begin living strictly on their own.

Weaning is known as the process of managing without something or someone on which a species has become dependent on, such as young dependent on its mother’s milk. The mothers need time to put weight back on and have a rest period before birthing another calf. The ruminate of the calf takes four months to develop and after this time frame, the older a calf gets the more mature it becomes and can eat other foods, such as grass, hay, and grain that will sustain its body. The weaning process can be completed in a handful of ways such as fence line weaning or gradual weaning. Both weaning processes allow the calves and cows to be in familiar surroundings, as well as see and smell their mothers during the process of learning to live fully on their own, without their mother’s milk.

calves at gate

Gradual weaning allows calves to be separated by gates from their mothers during the evenings and return with their mothers during the days for approximately 3-4 days

fenceline

Fence line weaning happens in one day with a fence separating the mothers and babies

During the weaning process, both the mama cows and their calves bawl because of being separated. The bawling is more of a psychological factor because the mother and baby are use to being together and bonding and being separated is a life change. As one looks at the process of weaning, mama cows seem to bawl more during the separation than the calves because as the calves get older and bigger, they spend more time away from their mothers playing with the other calves. Weaning is comparable to a mother sending her child to school for the first time, watching him/her get a driver licenses, or dropping them off at college. It is separation from what has been the norm, however it needs to happen and both the mother and child or calf has to learn to be on their own.

It is important that the weaning process takes place around the calf being five to seven months of age for the safety of the mama cows. The calves are old enough to function on their own, so if they are left with their mothers, they would continue to take the nutritional milk that needs to be reproduced for the next offspring. The bull calves would also begin to harass their mothers, which could result in stressful and unhealthy circumstances.

drinking milk

The older a calf gets the better it is able to care for itself. Weaning a calf at 5-7 months of age ensures the mother cow can rest and reproduce milk for her next offspring

Beef producers have the goal to produce a healthy product, on four feet or on the table. To produce a healthy product during the stage of weaning, the cows and calves need to have minimum stress and be closely monitored for injury and sicknesses. The stress level is also minimized when producers wean during adequate temperatures, meaning that the day of weaning is not too hot or cold and rainy which results in the least amount of stress and sickness which overall results in a better product.

calves eating grain

As calves learn to be away from their mothers full time, they eat grain, hay, and other forages to maintain a healthy lifestyle

Weaning calves from their mothers is a natural process that all (animals and humans) go through. For the overall health, safety, and low levels of stress on both the cow and calf, weaning is beneficial and is the beginning of another sector of the beef industry bovine timeline.

~Demi~

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

Beef Connection in the World of Ag

Beef producers work countless hours to ensure they are up-to-date on current beef products and practices. Raising their herd of cattle is their livelihood and depends on the current education and seeking out of answers. Beef producers however do not focus just specifically on successful beef production; they are also continuously gaining knowledge about other agricultural realms.

This past week I had the opportunity to travel with the Collegiate Young Farmers Club from The Ohio State University to take a 5-day road trip to Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina to tour equipment production headquarters, southern plantations, and crop facility headquarters. At the end of the trip, I was very grateful that I, along with six other OSU students had the opportunity to gain more knowledge about different sectors of agriculture. Being a part of the beef industry and seeking out continuous education is important, but the world of agriculture is combined through many different pieces and parts.

One of my personal favorites was touring a tea plantation and learning about the tea making process, different equipment used to harvest, as well as the history. Although making tea does not directly correlate to beef production, production methods and innovation is directly compatible between tea production and beef production. As a tea plantation, it is most important to start the new cuttings, or seeds, off with the upmost care for production, which correlates to starting off a baby calf, making sure that it receives the appropriate nutrients and vitamins to grow healthy.

tea combine

The tea harvester ‘combine’- unique to only the production of tea.

Another educational part of the trip was the Phosphorous Mine. As an important part of growing crops all around the world for people and livestock alike, phosphorus is a needed nutrient. While at the mine we had the opportunity to learn about the mining process, as well as see the process in action while in the mine. Spending the morning at the mine learning about the process of mining and why phosphorus is so important to the world of agriculture proved to me the connection between phosphorus, crop production, and beef cattle. Without phosphorus being mined, crops would not yield a product and beef cattle would lack food and nutrients.

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Phosphorus Mine in North Carolina

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The phosphorus mining machine that scooped up the phosphorus ore

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The part of the mine that loads the phosphorus onto both train and barge.

Learning about the world of beef cattle and beef production as well as promotions and educations is important to me and something that I continue to strive for through learning. However, being a part of agriculture means more than just feeding my cattle, it means understanding the world of agriculture and how different aspects, systems, and other lines of production all correlate and work in conjunction with beef cattle and beef production.

Monsanto

As a final stop of the trip, we toured Monsanto company and had the opportunity to learn and ask our questions about biotechnology corn and soybeans as a grain for livestock, including beef cattle.

 

.Demi

Every Day is Earth Day

Earth Day is this week! Farmers and ranchers were environmentalists before environmentalists started. Caring for the animals and the land is what makes working in agriculture so rewarding. You would be hard pressed to find a producer who is not working to improve the sustainability of their operation. We aren’t only concerned about our operation being able to produce for the next decade, but for several centuries to come. Measures such as planting trees, providing wildlife habitat, and rotating the herd to prevent overgrazing are just a few of the steps agriculturalists take to reduce their impact on the planet. These measures might make sense, but did you know agriculturalists are often avid recyclers? Here are some ways my family reuses and repurposes materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

  • Billboards: billboards are changed fairly frequently. After their life as an advertisement is over, they would typically be sent to a landfill. The material that billboards are made out of is very similar to a tarp. We use old billboard advertisements for several purposes. When we stack hay bales, we put a tarp (usually an old billboard) over it to keep the hay from being damaged by precipitation. If a stock tank is leaky, we line the bottom with an old billboard to save water and prevent the leak.
In action!

Leaky water tanks can even  be salvaged with the billboards!

Hay coverage

Billboards can be used as a tarp to protect hay bales from precipitation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Rubber Tires: Ever wonder what happens when you need to replace a tire on your car? One way rubber tires are given a second life is by compressing them into “tire bales.” The main way we utilize these tires bales is by arranging them into windbreaks for our animals. Wyoming winds can be very harsh, so the tire bales help the cattle have shelter from the harsh winter storms that frequent our area.

 

The tire bales can be arranged to provide a way to store grain.

The tire bales can be arranged to provide a way to store grain.

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The tire bales are made of tires that are no longer usable.

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Tires can be woven into mats that help prevent cattle from slipping when they are handled.

Shelter

These tire bales can be arranged to provide shelter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Mining Tires: Mining is big in Wyoming, and the tires used by mining equipment are not your average tires! These tires range in size from 6 to 13 feet in diameter! By cutting one tire in half, two water tanks can be made.
The cows love them!

The cows love them!

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Repurposing materials doesn’t have to be complicated!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Guardrail: We purchase used guardrail that can no longer be used for the highway system. The main use for this is to build very sturdy corrals that will not need to be replaced for an extended period of time.
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The guardrail and cable creates a very effective corral!

By no means are these the only recycled materials being used on our farm (or in all of agriculture!). Conveyor belting, sweeper brushes, barrels, pallets, and various containers are also materials that are often reused or repurposed in agriculture. The materials also vary from one location to another (just like feed does!). I would encourage you to speak to a local farmer or rancher to see how they reduce, reuse, or recycle on their operation, I bet their resourcefulness will surprise you!

Happy Meaty Monday!

Rachel Purdy
Princess Farmer

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

Grazing Cattle: Helping the Environment

Cattle not only produce a nutrient-dense protein by converting forages humans cannot consume and producing beef products  that they can, but they also help protect and enhance the environment and animals within the environment. Approximately 85 percent of the United States grazing lands are unsuitable for growing and producing crops. Grazing cattle on this land more than doubles the area that can be used to produce food.

In southern Ohio, there are rolling hills and mountains that make it unable to plant and harvest crops, so as a result, farmers graze their cattle on hillsides. To utilize the land that cannot be used to produce crops on, it is beneficial to utilize it in other ways such as grazing cattle. Planting grasses and grazing cattle on rolling lands also help prevent soil erosion.

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Planting grasses and grazing cattle on hills helps to prevent hillside erosion.

 

Maintaining open space for cattle grazing in pastures allows lands to remain natural, free of debris, invasive species and plants.

cow on a hill

Farmers and ranchers are able to utilize hills unsuited for growing crops to graze their cattle.

 

Grazing cattle on grassy pastures benefit plant life. Open grasslands are generally dominated by invasive or non-native grasses and herbs. When left unmanaged, the vegetation of the invasive species tends to overpower the needed nutrients and water in the soil. Grazing livestock controls the growth of these invasive species which allows desirable grasses and herbs to grow and co-generate in pasture lands.

The introduction and maintenance of wild animals and habitats as homes for endangered species and ground nesting birds is protected through cattle grazing. The increase in diversity of species benefits from the vegetation management performed by livestock.

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Cattle herds maintain invasive species by eating as well as walking and laying on the invasive plants.

Grazing cattle on pasture lands also control weeds and prevents residue build-up on pasture land so it does not turn into hot and dangerous fires. Farmers and ranchers properly manage livestock grazing in order to reduce fire hazards by controlling the amount of distribution of grasses and other potential fuels.

Beef cattle can be called ‘dual-purpose’ animals. Not only are they able to take grasses and forages humans are unable to eat and produce a nutrient-rich protein we can consume, they also help maintain a healthy and productive environment. Cattle are utilized on lands unsuited for crop growth to help prevent erosion, wildlife and invasive species, and wildfires. At the end of the day, farmers and ranchers utilize their cattle herds as environmentalists and therefore are stewards of the land.

 

~Demi~

It’s a Small World

I have been feeling reminiscent about the study abroad to France I participated in last summer. I thought I would share some of the biggest things I learned:

  • Cattlemen care about their animals worldwide! As part of the experience, we had the opportunity to tour a variety of agricultural operations in France. When we toured cattle operations, the biggest aspect I noticed was that the cattle are happy! We strive to keep our animals happy and healthy worldwide.

    Maine Anjou

    The Maine Anjou breed is very popular globally. We were able to tour the birthplace of the breed.

  • Production systems are very different: in the United States, we are very land abundant. That is not the case in France.
  • Consumers have questions and concerns about food everywhere (and that’s okay!). Consumer education is critical everywhere. One of the farms we visited was set up so consumers could come and watch the cheese being made. Transparency in agriculture is an issue that producers are working to fix all around the world.

    Camembert cheese making

    This farm was set up so consumers could watch the Camembert cheese being made.

  • Some things are shockingly familiar: I anticipated everything to be vastly different in France. Although there definitely were differences, I was more surprised at the similarities.

    John Deere

    Several of the farms we visited used John Deere equipment (and other familiar brands).

  • Sustainability is a concern. A lot of the land in that part of the world has been used for the production of food much longer than the time the United States has even been a country. A common theme in the conversations we had with farmers is about the sustainability and their future plans for their operations.
  • Opinions about food vary around the world, and that’s okay! I stayed with a host family, and one night we had escargot for dinner. While we were eating, we were discussing some of the obscure foods we have eaten before. I brought up Rocky Mountain oysters and my host family thought that sounded disgusting.

    Escargot

    I’m pretty sure if you cook anything in enough garlic and butter it will taste great!

  • Ag pride is worldwide! Agriculturalists around the world are proud to produce safe, nutritious food. Agriculture is hard work everywhere, and people work hard to produce the food that goes on the table.

No matter the size of the farm, the kind of farm, or even where it is…agriculturalists are working to provide a high quality product for consumers around the world. I think we tend to lose sight of the big picture, we are all working together for a common mission: to provide the world with a Safe, savory, and nutritious product.

Worldwide

One common bond people across the world share: everybody has to eat

As a side note, if you ever have the opportunity to travel to another country, do it! Travel is a fabulous way to expand your view of the world and learn more about yourself in the process.

Happy Meaty Monday!

Rachel Purdy
Princess Farmer