Spring Time on a Western Nebraska Cattle Ranch

It is finally spring time in Nebraska!  After a crazy winter, farmers and ranchers are ready to begin their spring work.  Our cattle have all been at our house since early February as we calved.  For ranchers around the state, it is time to get the cattle out to summer pasture.  Before cattle are ready to go to grass, there are a few things that must happen.  One major thing that happens on most ranches in the spring is branding.

 

Allie cattle

These cows made it just a few steps outside the gate and found a mouthful of green grass!

 

Growing up, branding has always been my favorite time of year.  It usually meant that I got to skip school for a day or two to come home and help out! Brandings are often great social events!  Many neighboring ranchers come together to help each other get the job done.  At a branding there are many things happening.  Calves are getting branded as a way for ranchers to identify their cattle should they accidentally get into a neighboring pasture.  Calves are also getting a shots.  These shots are given to prevent the calves from getting sick on summer pasture.  At the same time, the cows are often given shots too.  The cows are given shots to help them breed over the summer with a calf for next year.  Branding day is a fun yet tiring day.  Getting to work with the neighbors and joke around all day is great but by the end of the day everyone is ready for some supper and a place to sit down for a while.

Once all of the calves have been branded and given their shots and the cows have had their shots, it is time to take everyone to grass.  On our family ranch, we have to haul the cattle 20 miles from home to summer pasture.  The day we haul is another crazy day.  Many of our neighbors bring their pickups and trailers and we load up all the cattle that we can fit on and hit the road.  At times we have as many as 11 pickups and trailers going in our convoy.  It is a really cool thing to go down the road with all of us in a line, or maybe it is just us that think it is cool!

 

Allie cattle trailers

The whole crew hauling cows!

Once we get to the pasture, we unload all of the cattle into a pen and let all the mammas find their babies and then we open the gates up and they have free range to the pasture.  In the fall, the cows will go back to corn stalks for the fall and part of the winter and then it’s back home to start the cycle all over again.

 

 

Allie PortenierAllie Portenier is a senior at Eustis-Farnam High School in western Nebraska. She plans on attending college to major in Ag Business with the intent of becoming a livestock auctioneer and raising cattle. She is involved in many activities including 4-H and FFA.

City Girl to a Show Girl

Brittani hogs

Growing up I was never the person who wanted anything to do with livestock. I was more of the type who didn’t know anything about agriculture. In fact the only tie that I had to the agriculture community was my uncle’s farrowing farm. While growing up I spent a lot of time with my uncle in his pig barns. Being around the pigs, and livestock in general spiked an interest in the livestock. As time went on, I came to the conclusion that this community had many opportunities for me to succeed.

Brittani sheepWhen presented with the opportunity to show at the Knox County Fair, I was a little hesitant. After numerous hours training my animals, I was finally in the ring and knew that I was developing a passion for the agriculture industry. Showing at the Knox County Fair has taught me more than winning trophies. I have gained responsibility along with integrity. It takes someone with a huge amount of responsibility to get up every morning to go feed his or her livestock. Additionally, it takes someone with a huge amount of dedication to be the one working with his or her livestock year round. But, the most important concept that I have taken away from the Knox County Fair, that means the most to me, is integrity.

Brittani cattleI believe that everyone loves winning, but it takes grit to be the person that shakes everyone else’s hand and congratulates him or her when you are not the person winning. As hard as it is, winning is not everything. The lifelong friendships that have been made along with the character that has been built makes me truly thankful for the opportunity I received to show at the Knox County Fair.

 

Brittani Pospisil is a senior at Creighton High School in northeast Nebraska. After graduation she plans on attending Kansas State University to become a veterinarian. Brittani has a deep passion for agriculture and loves connecting with people who share the same love for agriculture.  

 

 

Why Do I Show Cattle?

emily g1

I have been a part of the show industry for about ten years now and I still get asked the simple question “Why do you show cattle?”. As I grew older and became more knowledgeable about the show industry, this was one of the best questions anyone could ask me. Being able to talk about something I love and learned so much from is beyond the best. I have grown up on our family farm and cow/calf operation all my life and there is nothing I am more proud to be a part of. Showing allowed me to fall in love with the cattle industry and gave me the chance to be successful in something that isn’t easy and takes a lot of hard work, but why do I show?

Showing cattle has taught me how to accept failure and move on from it. There is no worse feeling than receiving no achievement for all the hard work I put into these cattle but losing has taught me to push myself to be better. Trust me, any show kid knows how much work we put into our livestock. Waking up right when the summer sun is coming up to beat the heat to rinse, exercise, blow out, and feed these spoiled animals is not easy. Every single day we are pushing ourselves for the hope to have our cattle to their best potential at the end of the year.

emily g2

Showing has brought my family closer together. I would not be where I am today without the help of my family. The miles on the road, fast food suppers, and all the laughs is something I will always cherish. My little brother, Nicholas, just started showing a couple years ago and he is already doing better than me. I am so excited to teach him and watch where he goes with the industry I fell in love with so long ago. My Dad has pushed me to be where I am today and was the one who started this incredible journey for me. He has taught me so much and I will never be able to thank him enough.  My mom has never missed a show once and the endless support I receive from her and the rest of my family is something I will always be grateful for.

I have met so many great friends and families from the showing industry that I know I will always have lasting relationships with. I know I can always count on them for a helping hand to fit a leg, carry tack, move cattle to the wash rack, or even just a nice conversation. I have to thank the show industry for all the amazing people I have met and continue to meet.

Not only has showing helped me develop better personal qualities to be a more well-rounded, successful person, but it also introduced me to something I will continue to hold on to. Through all the hard work each and every day I put into my show cattle, I know I will always continue to do my best.

So, why do I show? It is my life, my passion, and my happiness.

 

Emily GroetekeEmily Groeteke is a junior at Boone Central High School. After graduation, she plans on attending the University of Nebraska Lincoln and plans on majoring in Agribusiness and a minor in Animal Science. She is very active in many activities, especially 4-H and FFA. Agriculture is the main focus in her life, and will continue a future in this industry.

 

 

10 Things You Can Probably Relate to If You’re A Farm Kid

As farm kids, I think there are some things that we can all relate to that not everyone else can. We’re a pretty cool group of people, so can you relate to these ten things? Continue reading

The American Family Farm

Family farms are the perfect example of roots. Many of us may have memories of riding in the tractor with grandpa or going out to feed the cows with dad. Those memories create roots, and we grow from our roots. Establishing a positive beginning is key to a positive experience. Without family farming, we essentially wouldn’t have anything. People who work in most ag fields today got their taste of agriculture through family farms. Continue reading

The Many Uses of Corn

It’s fall in Nebraska, and that means a lot of fun for Nebraskans! Between Halloween, Vala’s Pumpkin Patch, leaves changing, and cool nights by a campfire, Nebraska is a pretty great place to be! But even more exciting is, you guessed it, Husker football games! It is quite a site to see Memorial Stadium packed to the brim with Nebraskans decked out in red shouting “Go Cornhuskers!”. Wait a second, what is a cornhusker? A cornhusker is a person or device that removes the husks from corn. Why are we called the Cornhuskers? Nebraska is one of the top corn producing states ranking third under Illinois and Iowa. Continue reading

Meet the 2018-2019 Class of The Crew!

IMG_4183

Nebraska Farm Bureau has identified sixteen social media savvy student members to join our Crew. The Crew is a group of Nebraska Farm Bureau student members who share their love of agriculture through social media. Each member is selected in the spring and participates for one year. A Crew member:

  • Supports and amplifies Nebraska Farm Bureau and Foundation messages.
  • Creates original content to portray accurate agriculture messages.
  • Participates in facilitated learning sessions from industry professionals.
  • Leads social media advocacy for their generation.

Follow along this year as these students bring to life rural America through their work on social media!

Continue reading

The Truth Behind Fear Based Marketing and Modern Agricultural Practices

The other day I decided to treat myself to a large bowl of ice cream. I was feeling like it needed a little extra something, so I decided to add some chocolate syrup and whipped cream. When I looked at the can of whipped cream, I had somewhat of an epiphany when I saw a bold label that said, “No Artificial Growth Hormones.”  I stared at the label as an agriculturalist and an advocate for the industry and began to understand why there is such a distrust between consumers and producers.

Continue reading

Meet the 2017-2018 Class of The Crew!

Nebraska Farm Bureau has identified eight social media savvy student members to join our Crew. The Crew is a group of Nebraska Farm Bureau student members who enjoy agriculture communication and social media. Together, The Crew will work on reaching a larger audience with pro-ag messages and will help put a face to agriculture through social media in conjunction with Nebraska Farm Bureau. Members of The Crew have access to unique training sessions, such as exploring social media strategies on Capitol Hill.

NFBF is excited to introduce our Crew members to you! For the next year these students will help promote agriculture and rural America through their work on social media!

 

Mekenzie Beattie

Mekenzie Beattie

Hi! I’m Mekenzie Beattie! I am the sixth generation on my diversified family farm where our main focus is swine! I am an active member in 4-H and FFA and am excited to serve as the SEM FFA’s chapter president this upcoming year! I enjoy showing livestock, especially cattle! I also play volleyball and basketball and relieve my stress by playing the piano. I love to work on the farm and be involved daily in the Agriculture Industry. I have developed a thrilling passion for agriculture throughout my childhood and will continue that in my future! I am planning on attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln after my high school career! I hope to double major in Ag Business and Ag communications! I thrilled to be a part of The Crew and to share my love of agriculture with the world!

 

 

 

Halie Andreasen

Halie Andreasen

Hello everyone! My name is Halie Andreasen. I will be a senior this year at Boone Central High School in Albion, Nebraska.  I live on a family farm where we have a small feedlot, cows, and raise corn and soybeans. I love spending time with my spunky corgi, Charlie, and drinking all the sweet tea I can get my hands on. My passion for agriculture started at a young age and was inspired by my love of showing cattle. From then on, I have been extremely involved in 4-H, FFA, and other extracurricular activities within my school. I have found that the best way to positively influence the future of agriculture is by developing young leaders and encouraging them to find their voice and advocate for our future. Because of this, I plan on attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln while majoring in agricultural education in hopes of inspiring youth to take a stand in their love of agriculture.

 

 

Rebel Sjeklocha (2)

Rebel Sjeklocha

Hello all! My name is Rebel Sjeklocha and I will be a senior this fall at Maywood High School. I live on a farm and cattle operation with my family east of Hayes Center. I have one little brother, Jett, who will be entering the eighth grade and keeps me on my toes. Agriculture has played an integral role in my upbringing, and I would not change this for the world. My mom is a veterinarian and my dad owns a commercial hay grinding business. My parents are my biggest role models, and have shown me what it means to truly be passionate about what you do.

I am active in the Maywood FFA Chapter where I compete in a variety of contests, ranging from livestock judging to ag communications and ag sales. In addition, I am also a proud member of Hayes County 4-H. In 4-H, I show cattle and horses, and do a variety of other projects as well. I have served as an advocate for rodeo and agriculture as the 2016 Elwood Rodeo Queen. I also competed in the Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska pageant in June held in conjunction with NEBRASKAland Days in North Platte.

I am looking forward to gaining new perspectives and serving as a spokesperson for ag by being part of The Crew. I cannot wait to see what this year has in store!

 

Kelsey Phillips

Kelsey Phillips

My name is Kelsey Phillips and I am the sixth generation in my family to ranch north of Mullen, Nebraska – a small town in the heart of the Sandhills. I am a 2016 Mullen High School graduate and am currently a sophomore studying animal science with an emphasis in beef reproduction. My family has a commercial cow-calf operation and we retain ownership of our feedlot steers. I have my own small beef herd and hope to one day return to my family operation. We raise our own corn and hay on our 240-acre pivot. I am a certified Artificial Insemination Technician and help my parents breed our own cows and with our custom A.I. business. My family has a small two-acre vineyard and as a hobby my dad makes a variety of fruit wines.

Growing up I was very active in 4-H where I did various projects, but particularly loved showing large and small animals. I spent many years showing swine at the Nebraska state fair and continue showing in FFA. I especially enjoyed my many years at the Nebraska State 4-H camp near Halsey, as both a camper and a counselor. As a high school senior, I had the privilege of attending National 4-H Congress as a youth delegate. Throughout high school I attended the Nebraska State Youth Range Camp where I learned to evaluate range conditions and identify plant species. From that experience, I was selected to give a presentation at the National Society for Range Management conference in California. During my FFA career I was involved in numerous competitions including public speaking, livestock and rangeland judging, and food sciences. I am currently an officer for my collegiate FFA chapter, a member of Nebraska Cattlemen, an Ag in the Classroom Pen Pal, and volunteer during the school year at the humane society.

Through these many experiences and opportunities, I have developed valuable life skills and found my passion for agriculture. By being a part of the Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Crew I hope to advocate for agriculture and share my love for this industry.  I am looking forward to learning about new communication tools and ways that I can be a positive voice for farmers and ranchers.

 

Kathlyn Hauxwell (2)

Kathlyn Hauxwell

My​ ​name​ ​is​ ​Kathlyn​ ​Hauxwell​ ​and​ ​I​ ​am​ ​very​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a part​ ​of​ ​this​ ​year’s​ ​​Ag​ ​Crew!​ ​

My interest​ ​in​ ​agriculture​ ​quickly​ ​developed​ ​as​ ​a​ ​young​ ​child​ ​growing​ ​up​ ​on​ ​our​ ​5th​ ​generation family​ ​farm​ ​and​ ​ranch​ ​in​ ​southwestern​ ​Nebraska. ​ ​We​ ​primarily​ ​raise​ ​cattle​ ​and​ ​grow​ ​commodity crops​ ​such​ ​as​ ​corn, ​wheat,​ ​and​ ​soybeans.​ ​My​ ​passion​ ​for​ ​agriculture​ ​developed​ ​further​ ​when​ ​I reached​ ​the​ ​age​ ​to​ ​be​ ​involved​ ​in​ ​4-H.​ ​As​ ​I​ ​started​ ​working​ ​with​ ​my​ ​show​ ​steers,​ ​and​ ​attending different​ ​clinics​ ​and​ ​camps,​ ​I​ ​definitely​ ​found​ ​myself​ ​at​ ​home​ ​being​ ​around​ ​the​ ​animals​ ​and​ ​the responsibilities​ ​that​ ​comes​ ​with​ ​them.​ ​I​ ​began​ ​to​ ​also​ ​show​ ​horses​ ​at​ ​a​ ​competitive​ ​level​ ​at​ ​the age​ ​of​ ​13,​ ​traveling​ ​all​ ​over​ ​the​ ​country​ ​to​ ​compete.​ ​In​ ​doing​ ​so​ ​I​ ​discovered​ ​a​ ​completely​ ​new facet​ ​of​ ​agriculture​ ​that​ ​I​ ​now​ ​account​ ​some​ ​of​ ​my​ ​best​ ​qualities​ ​for​ ​today.​ ​In​ ​the​ ​seventh​ ​grade​ ​I joined​ ​my​ ​school’s​ ​FFA​ ​chapter​ ​and​ ​the​ ​rest​ ​is​ ​history.​ ​As​ ​the​ ​years​ ​progressed​ ​I​ ​discovered more​ ​and​ ​more​ ​about​ ​the​ ​agriculture​ ​industry,​ ​way​ ​more​ ​than​ ​I​ ​thought​ ​even​ ​existed.​ ​I​ ​found myself​ ​to​ ​be​ ​in​ ​love​ ​with​ ​speaking​ ​events,​ ​working​ ​with​ ​other​ ​members,​ ​and​ ​also​ ​getting​ ​in​ ​the dirt​ ​by​ ​being​ ​on​ ​the​ ​livestock​ ​judging​ ​and​ ​vet​ ​science​ ​team.​ ​This​ ​year​ ​I​ ​will​ ​continue​ ​my​ ​FFA career​ ​as​ ​a​ ​senior​ ​and​ ​FFA​ ​President​ ​at​ ​McCook​ ​High​ ​School.​ ​After​ ​I​ ​graduate​ ​I​ ​aspire​ ​to​ ​attend the​ ​University​ ​of​ ​Nebraska​-Lincoln​ ​and​ ​start​ ​the​ ​process​ ​of​ ​becoming​ ​a​ ​veterinarian​ ​with​ ​majors in​ ​animal​ ​science​ ​and​ ​biochemistry.​ ​I​ ​can’t​ ​wait​ ​to​ ​see​ ​what​ ​this​ ​year​ ​holds​ ​for​ ​the​ ​​Ag​ ​Crew 2017-2018!

 

Amanda Most

Amanda Most

Hey, agriculturalists! That is, hey as in hello, not hay like the stuff you feed cattle.

My name is Amanda Most and I am a senior at Ogallala High School in western Nebraska. After graduation, I hope to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and major in Agricultural Communications. I am involved in a large variety of extracurricular activities, but there is one that easily makes the top of the list: FFA. I am currently serving as the President of my chapter and am excited to be competing in the Vet Science competition at National FFA in October.

One of my favorite songs just happens to be “Farmer’s Daughter” by Rodney Atkins, because that’s exactly what I am: a farmer’s daughter. I live on my 5th generation family farm southeast of Ogallala where we raise corn, soybeans, peas, wheat and a herd of cattle. Growing up on a farm that is rooted so deeply within my family has given me a greater appreciation for food production and all that farmers do. From a young age, I have even played a role in production agriculture. I have raised and shown livestock since I was around 6 years old and I continue to show hogs and cattle. Even though I am mainly involved at a local level, I have found my voice in agriculture by being a livestock producer. I have seen the negative effects that can occur when consumers are uninformed and I personally have been challenged about the intent of the agricultural industry. These instances have only fueled my passion for serving in an industry that is crucial to our state, but more substantially, for feeding the world. It is more important than ever that we as agriculturalists stand up and advocate for ourselves and our livelihoods.

My passion for the agricultural industry and love for public speaking and writing will be put to work as I join “The Crew.” I am excited about being a member of The Crew because it is the perfect place for me to connect with others who share my passion for agriculture. Together, we will grow as agriculturalists and use our skills to serve as voices for agriculture. Let’s agvocate!

 

Miranda Hornung

Miranda Hornung

Hello Everyone! My name is Miranda Hornung and I live in Davey, NE population 157. As my journey as a member of the Crew begins, I am extremely excited to share my passion for agriculture with a wide audience.

I will be a senior for the upcoming school year at Raymond Central High School where I participate in a variety of activities including SkillsUSA, Student Council, Spanish Club, FCA, and of course FFA. I also have a knack for music, as I enjoy singing, play the flute, and have taken classical piano lessons since I was in kindergarten. I work part-time for a local bank, crop insurance agency, and for my family’s grain truck and trailer agribusiness.

While I have always been involved in agriculture and FFA since 7th grade, my interest for ag communications has only recently been sparked. Through public speaking contests, currently serving as a two-year president for the Central FFA Chapter, and entering an ag blog competition, I have developed an undeniable passion for “agvocating.”

I hope to continue to grow this passion through the upcoming year as a member of the Crew and in my future as I plan to attend UNL in the fall of 2018 and major in agricultural education with minors in leadership, communication, and entrepreneurship.

 

Jaclyn Frey

Jaclyn Frey

Hi everyone! My name is Jaclyn Frey and I live on our family farm just outside of Albion, Nebraska. From an early age a passion for agriculture was instilled in me. Hard work and dedication were just a couple of the traits that I learned to value through agriculture. I grew up caring for animals around the farm and riding in the tractor with my dad. That passion quickly grew as I became involved in 4-H and FFA. These organizations offered many opportunities for me to explore the agricultural industry and to see that agriculture reaches people from all lifestyles, not just those who live on a farm. Showing cattle has allowed me to connect with people, from across the state, who share the same passion as me. By retaining show heifers and purchasing cows from local producers, my cow herd has reached around thirty head. I also rent eighteen acres of dryland and raise corn and soybeans. I am a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, majoring in Agricultural Education. Advocating for ag is something that is really important to me so I can’t wait to share my story with you all!

Importance of Family in Agriculture

darby-family

We are often told to choose our words carefully. Sometimes we don’t pay any attention to the words that aren’t inappropriate or hurtful but in reality they are just as important. When attending Nebraska Agriculture Youth Institute a speaker gave us a chart of words to use when talking about agriculture to the consumers who are unaware of who we are as an industry. There was one group of words that really stuck out at me, the usage of operation compared to family farm or ranch. I’ve always considered our ranch as our family’s, but professionally speaking I have always referred to it as an operation. When thinking about Keystone Cattle Company and O-C Livestock I realized that it isn’t an operation but really my family’s home.

Grandparents:

The reasoning behind my agriculture influence. Both sides of my grandparents have given me the opportunity to grow up in the most amazing industry and I have learned so much about their lives through doing the same activities that they have enjoyed in their lifetimes. My Grandpa and Grandma O’Connor have blessed me to grow up in God’s Country. It seems as if I can’t go anywhere without hearing crazy stories about Grandpa. Some of my favorite time with family is spent talking about the older generations. One of my most memorable brandings was this year when my grandpa crawled onto my brothers rope horse and heeled two legs on his first loop. I have been beyond blessed to be apart of the Keystone Cattle Company. However my blessings don’t stop there. My love for 4-H might just come from the Merritt’s. I love to hear the story of my grandparents meeting on the steps of the White House as they represented Nebraska as the 4-H Four Square Winners. Still to this day my family will go through my grandfather’s old papers on his registered Maines and his long line of show quarter horses. I love hearing people talk about how successful my Grandpa was in this tough industry, and even to this day my family and I wish we had his good eye to help us pick out our stock for the year. I love learning more about my family and am blessed to learn about the lives of my loved ones.

Mom:

Perhaps the biggest influence of agriculture in my lifetime. If anyone knows my Mom you know that pigs won’t be far behind. Growing up, raised by Nebraska 4-H’s Queen and King,she fell in love with the organization and has passed that down to my brothers and I. Her father, having a variety of operations, presented her with a chance to work on their feedlot growing up, show some awesome show horses, and be involved with showing livestock competitively. Her love for agriculture met her profession when  she traded out special education for a job at the local grain elevator. Though she was just  wanting to help out during the harvest season, her love for ag lead her to being the commodity trader for a feedlot and now a manager for a feed store. I have seen my mother put much time and money into spoiling my brothers and I with some awesome livestock, hotels for shows, and of course a fair amount of carnival food. I wouldn’t be as successful in FFA, 4-H or any other activities if it wasn’t for her support. Her ability to network with everyone in the industry shows me how important relationships are. I love sitting in the show barn doing nothing with her and aspire to be such as great of female agriculturalist as she is.

Dad:

The passing of my father last year has allowed me to learn so much about him in such a short time. Hearing stories about his success in high school and college rodeo inspires me to chase after my dreams. My father served as a regional director for both high school and college rodeo, which gives me a sense of where my strong leadership skills come from. Also the amount of support and friends he had, shows me that the all the relationships  built in the agriculture family are those of gold. 

Merritt:

My oldest brother is completely responsible for my future in agriculture. The year he left me to do my own chores had me worried, but being forced to be in the barn by myself made me realize his love spending time with his livestock. After chasing his dreams of judging livestock in college it has made me work hard to be more like him. From Casper College to South Dakota State, he has grown as an agriculturalist and man as he prepares to be in the workforce in agriculture. I can’t wait to see where this industry takes him.

Rhett:

Lastly my brother Rhett. Yep, you guessed it, Rhett is “that brother.” The one that is so close to home, but  we don’t ever see him because he is busy experiencing new things, but mostly you can’t get him out of the roping arena. Rhett has demonstrated the importance of finding your perfect place while at school where he has excelled in his rodeoing and academics. Rhett’s good work ethic, love for talking, and positive attitude will make him do great things while running the Keystone Cattle Company in the future. 

After thinking long  and hard about how the words “family ranches” are more appealing than operations it made me think about how my operation would differ if it weren’t for my family. Agriculture is one of the fastest advancing industries yet it sits strong on a foundation of tradition and family. The closeness of family operations prove to be than producing goods but instead making a living worth loving. The future of agriculture will continue to grow but the tradition of the family farms and ranches will stand strong for ever.

darby-oconnor-info-bar