The first week of February I had the opportunity to travel to Texas and attend the 2015 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show as a member of the 2015 National Beef Ambassador Team. This was my first time attending this event, and I cannot wait to go back! It is so exciting to interact with over 8,100 attendees that share the same passion for the beef community.

ag providesOne of the big highlights for me was the Cattlemen’s College. I was able to attend sessions that interested me and were along the lines of what I want to do. I am fascinated with international agriculture trade, so I attended workshops on beef exports. The biggest take away from this was that we truly are feeding a global consumer. Several items, such as the liver, tongue, and variety meats will most likely end up on the other side of the world thanks to international trade.
In one of the meetings we attended for the American National Cattlewomen, we had the opportunity to hear from Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise. I was really surprised to learn more about how the dietary guidelines for our country actually are created. The process is filled with biases. I thought it was very ironic that the rate of obesity increased so drastically after the first dietary guidelines were released for Americans. Fat plays a crucial role in a healthy diet, as many vitamins are fat soluble, meaning you need fat in your system to absorb them effectively.

Obesity_USAdultsWe also had the opportunity to hear from Chef Erickson, the mind behind the upcoming documentary True Beef. Most consumers do not know where their food comes from, so this documentary will help close the gap from gate to plate. When Chef Erickson started this project at the high school he teaches at, ten of the eleven students had never even visited a farm before. To me that number is just staggering. There is a huge disconnect between producers and consumers that it is crucial to keep in mind that what is normal to you might be fascinating to a consumer. People want to know why we do the things we do to keep our animals healthy.

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My favorite part of this event was the opportunity to interact with cattle producers from all over the United States and the world. The hard-working men and women that produce such a safe and wholesome product are what motivate me to promote beef.

Rachel Purdy, University of Wyoming Student and National Beef Ambassador team member, has been involved in agriculture since she was a child on her family’s operation in eastern Wyoming. Please follow the links below to follow the national team!
To keep up with what our team is doing, please visit: http://beefambassador.com/
Or like us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/beefambassador

Cattle don’t usually give birth to twins, and we’ve found that it is best to leave just one calf with its momma, and take the other one away. This one will be bottle fed until a new mother can be found for him. He’s always very insistent and you have to be careful! He will butt you and the bottle, a natural action which would stimulate milk in his mother’s udder… but, it can bruise you if you don’t watch out! Check out http://www.reddirtinmysoul.com for more action on the ranch!

From REAL RANCHER: Carol Greet

We are excited that March will bring the first day of spring along with National Ag Week. Starting March 23rd – 29th National Ag week will be in full swing, but we decided why just start on the 23rd? So our contest is starting March 17th and will end March 28th. We want to gain as much participation as possible from you, your neighbors and friends. Let your friends know!

If you would like to learn more about National Ag Week please follow this link for more information: http://www.agday.org/

Contest Date: March 17th – March 28th (National Ag Week: March 23rd-29th, special recognition to March 25th as National Ag Day!)

Contest Options:

Cutest Kids in Ag

Young cowboy riding miniature bull at the Wyoming State Fair during Star Spangled Banner

Photo by Liz Lauck of Wheatland, Wyo.

  • Do you want to share how cute your kids are? Take photos of your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or friends out on the ranch or farm
  • Send them into Haley Lockwood (haley@wysga.org) and she will post them to the RealRanchers Facebook page
  • The photo with the most ‘Likes’ at the end of the contest will win an agricultural related children’s book

WYO Calf Watch 2014

Whose got the cutest calf crop this year? We'll let you be the judge!

Whose got the cutest calf crop this year? We’ll let you be the judge!

  • Calving season is in swing and we want to see your calf crop for 2014! Take photos of the new babies while you are out calving, checking, doctoring or just admiring their cute faces.
  • Send photos to Haley Lockwood (haley@wysga.org) and she will post them to the RealRanchers Facebook Page
  • The photo with the most ‘Likes’ at the end of the contest will get a chance to pick from a selection of Wyoming Stock Growers Merchandise

The Rancher and Farmer: How I work in Ag

Rancher Nikki Marincic watches the Price-Sommers cattle during fall gather near Pinedale, Wyo.

Rancher Nikki Marincic watches the Price-Sommers cattle during fall gather near Pinedale, Wyo.

  • For ALL Ranchers and Farmers
  • Submit your agricultural story and tell us how you work in agriculture and why it is important to you!
  • Story may have up to 5 photographs included
  • We ask that stories be no longer than a page in length
  • Story due: March 21st 
  • Submit story, and photos, to Haley Lockwood at haley@wysga.org
  • Story will then be judged by the WSGA staff  and the selected  Rancher and Farmer will win a one year Membership to the Wyoming Stock Growers Association
  • We will then post the winner’s story to the RealRanchers blog during National Ag Week!

Wyoming History Quiz Bowl

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How much do you think you know about Wyoming? 

  • Every other day starting March 18th we will post history questions related to anything Wyoming on the RealRanchers Facebook page! ( March 18, 20, 24, 26, and 28th)
  • First correct answer will win a special prize related to Wyoming

We look forward to your participation in the National Ag Week contests and if you have any questions please contact Haley Lockwood at haley@wysga.org!

I left Cheyenne early last Saturday morning to drive to Buffalo, Wyo. for the Johnson County Cattlewomen’s Rancher Relief Benefit. I first heard of the event over social media, specifically Facebook, and knew that I wanted to help. Little did I know that it would also not only help the CattleWomen, but also create lasting ties to a great group of ladies and the community of Buffalo.

Several weeks before the event was to be held, I called up my closest girlfriends, who are also closely tied to the agricultural industry, to help me. They, of course, were more than happy to help for the cause. We met that Saturday afternoon to start setting up in one of the coolest buildings I’ve seen in a long time. An old feed mill was our stage for the night and we had a great time decorating and creating an inviting atmosphere to the locals of Buffalo.

A wide array of silent and live auction items were donated and proudly displayed for all to see. Anything from home décor, stallion services, and hunting trips were available to a willing bidder, and there were many willing bidders. Many of the live auction items went for over one thousand dollars adding to the funds accumulated over the course of the night.

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The Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Resources Center Basket – Donated by: Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Wyoming Beef Council and Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Land Trust

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Community members look over silent auction items donated by individuals near and far.

After Blizzard Atlas hit, many producers and those with ties to the agricultural industry were in shock. The aftermath left around 20,000 cattle dead, fences down, and hearts broken. It’s a loss that no one can fathom, but some had to face this reality. Pictures on local news stations and newspapers depicted the sight of strange black dots strewn along faraway fences, draws, and the landscape. It was hard to imagine all of these far-off “dots” were dead cattle and the reminisce of one producers livelihood. Any business who suffers a 50 percent loss is going to have a hard time coming back, and what happens to those who had a loss of 70 percent or more? Absolutely devastating.

Rapid City Journal Photo

Photo by: Rapid City Journal

Funds were immediately put into place to counter act the destruction that was left behind. It was amazing to see the outpour of help over the course of several weeks, but there was more to combat here than just the destruction. There were misconceptions and scrutiny from the American public, who are several generations removed from agriculture. I remember reading a post online asking, “Why do you care about these people. You don’t even know them?” My first reaction was shock. After any other natural disaster, a flood of help and ways to donate nationally are plastered at gas stations, online, at the grocery store and on the news. What’s the difference?

As far as I’m concerned, it’s synonymous. We take care of our own and understand loss on a deeper level. It’s not just a monetary loss, but one that digs to your core. These are animals you care for on a daily basis and you rely on them as much as they do you. Seen from generation to generation, we help our neighbors in any way possible. Whether it be the ranch wives coming together to plan supper for the branding crew or saddling up to move yearlings that escaped; we are always there for each other. Working toward a common goal and livelihood that we hold dear. This camaraderie left many of us wanting to do more for these producers and we did just that.

Live Auction Items

Several of the live auction items went for over $1,000 easily.

That night of November 16th the Johnson County CattleWomen raised $26,000 for the Rancher Relief Fund. My girlfriends and I were amazed, but not surprised that this community came together so willingly to help those in need. I’ve come to realize that we need more selfless giving in America and in the world. The girls and I didn’t get paid to help, we were paid in new friendships and a delicious beef dinner; much like the brandings every year.

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The old feed mill near downtown Buffalo, Wyo. was filled to capacity during the benefit dinner and auction.

As we welcome in the Thanksgiving Holiday, I can honestly say that I am thankful for a lot more things than before and I already have a lengthy list. I have faith that our close-knit agricultural community will thrive in years to come and that not even Mother Nature can stop us. Disasters like this may hinder us, but if nothing else, make us fight harder for our livelihoods and each other.

 

Highlighting Three Wyoming Bloggers

Over the past two years of blogging on RealRanchers.com, we’ve also discovered some fantastic Wyoming rural blogs we like to follow as well. We want to introduce you to some of these great Wyoming blogs and the people behind them.

O.L. Shepp, Writing of Life's Humor, Northern Wyoming

Ondi Shepperson

O.L. Shepp (Ondi Shepperson) is the ranch wife and mom behind Writing of Life’s Humor. A lover of words and writing, O.L. Shepp entertains with her colorful perspectives. “I write about life, people and sometime a horse or two,” she says. Her posts come from her real life on the ranch, and the stories she dreams up. She has shared a few of her blog posts on RealRanchers.com and we encourage you to get lost in her prose at olshepp.wordpress.com.

RealRanchers.com Blog Posts by O.L. Shepp: The Good Mama Blues & Cowboy Entertainment, Bessey’s Equality

Heather Hamilton, Double H Photography, Eastern Wyoming

Heather Hamilton

Another regular contributor to our blog posts is Heather Hamilton of Double H Photography. At www.doublehphoto.blogspot.com her real-life experiences as a rancher in Eastern Wyoming are brought to life with her beautiful photography. “I love my life, and enjoy sharing the real story of what happens on the production side of Agriculture through my photos and posts. I am very blessed to do what I love, and enjoy the opportunity to share it with you!”

RealRanchers.com Blog Posts by Double H Photography: Cry Babies, Flooding, All Aboard the Hay Train, Fighting Fire, Hard to Be Humane, Winter Water, Pulling A Calf, Cattle Pot, Winding Straps

Pat & Sharon O'Toole, Ladder Ranch, Little Snake River, Wyoming

Pat & Sharon O’Toole

Based in Southern Wyoming, the Ladder Ranch shares the ag and rural experiences of the O’Toole Family at ladderranch.wordpress.com. The stories shared about raising sheep, cattle and family will draw you in and you’ll learn about the heart and soul of this six-generation family ranching operation. Pat and Sharon are involved in many activities and topics and share their broad perspectives “from the mundane to the fabulous”on the blog.

 
From RealPartner Liz Lauck, Wyoming Stock Growers Association

Roaring of motors in August is a common sound in the hay fields of the Green River Valley. Tractors moving in the hay fields around the hay stack are like ants busy at work around their ant hill. Green grass turning different shades of green as the hay is cut, baled and stacked is a typical site on Green River Valley ranches.

Wyoming ranchers put up hay in the Green River Valley to feed cattle in the Winter.

The cutter bars are folded up on a double-nine-foot mowing machine.

August is haying time in the Green River Valley.  Some people start the latter part of July and some end the haying operation in September, but the bulk of the hay is put up in August.

Wyoming ranchers put up hay in the Green River Valley to feed cattle in the Winter.

The cutter bars on the mower are lowered to cut the native-grass-hay pasture.

Haying began in the Green River Valley earnestly after the “Equalizer Winter” of 1889-90 when 90 percent of the cattle died because the snow and ice was so deep the cattle could not get to feed and no hay had been put up to supplement them. A few ranchers put up a little hay for the horses and milk cows kept in the corrals, but nothing to save the herds.

Wyoming ranchers put up hay in the Green River Valley to feed cattle in the Winter.

Cutting the native-grass-hay pasture.

Now, every ranch, which winters cattle, puts up hay to feed those cattle in the winter. When the ranchers first started putting up hay it was put up in loose hay stacks like Campbells still do in the Hoback Basin. The early ranchers stacked the hay with nets and dropped the hay on the stack.  The overshot stacker soon became the fashion where the hay was more or less thrown onto the stack with a big wooden fork like a catapult. The beaver slide with the plunger to push the hay up the slide to the stack was the third way hay was put in the stack. Balers came into fashion in the 1950s and 1960s in the Green River Valley.  They really became part of the haying operation in the United States in the 1940s. However, many people still stacked loose hay. Then big square and round balers were developed. The first round baler did not see production until 1947, when Allis-Chalmers introduced the Roto-Baler and it ended in 1960. The next major innovation came in 1972, when the Vermeer Company began selling the first modern round baler. Previously, round hay bales had been little more than lumps of grass tied together, but the Vermeer design used belts to compact hay into a cylindrical shape as is seen today. In 1978, Hesston developed the first 4×4 square baler of its kind.  By the 21st Century, only one family in the area still stacked loosed hay. You mostly see big round bales today.

Wyoming ranchers put up hay in the Green River Valley to feed cattle in the Winter.

Hay is cut by a mower…but, it’s a lot bigger than your riding lawn mower.

The hay has to be mowed down with a sickle or drum mower or a swather. Once the hay is cut it has to “cure,” to reduce the moisture level, so it will not mold or ignite into a fire when it is baled and stacked. “Cured” hay needs to have very little moisture and the stems snap when bent by the hands of a rancher. It usually takes about 1 to 2 days for the hay lying on the ground to be cured enough to be baled in the Green River Valley. The humidity and wind play a large role in how the hay cures.

Wyoming ranchers put up hay in the Green River Valley to feed cattle in the Winter.

Joey Cook rakes the hay into windrows.

The ranchers do not want it to rain on the hay because the rain can cause the hay to lose its protein and reduce the feed value.  The ranchers want to put the hay up so it will have has as much protein value as possible but will not mold because it is too wet.

Wyoming ranchers put up hay in the Green River Valley to feed cattle in the Winter.

The hay rake moves the swathes of hay into “windrows”, which make the hay accessible to the baler.

Once the hay is “cured,” it is raked and a baler goes down the windrow of hay. The balers have computers today telling when the bale is the correct size. Balers tie the bales with plastic twine or sisal twine. Sisal is a natural fiber that decays over time.

Wyoming ranchers put up hay in the Green River Valley to feed cattle in the Winter.

The tractor pulls a baler to pick up the windrow of hay to bale

After the hay is baled, it is stacked in hay corrals or stack yards so the cattle cannot eat it until the rancher is ready to feed them.

Wyoming ranchers put up hay in the Green River Valley to feed cattle in the Winter.

After the baler ties the hay with twine, the bale gets kicked out of the machine.

Watching for the songbirds and swamp birds so they can be chased out of the way is a fun part of haying. The hawks are awesome. The hawks love haying and it is especially important for the young hawks. The hawks follow along behind and rake or baler and watch for mice.

Wyoming ranchers put up hay in the Green River Valley to feed cattle in the Winter.

The round hay bales are picked up with a fork loader and carried to the stack yard for storage.

Once a mouse is spotted the hawk dives for its prey.  When haying starts, you know summer is about over and fall is soon to follow.  Soon the hay will have to be fed to the cows during the winter months.

Wyoming ranchers put up hay in the Green River Valley to feed cattle in the Winter.

Round bales are stacked in the hay yard.

From RealRancher Jonita Sommers – Pinedale, Wyo.

The sun starts to lighten the skyline above the Wind River Mountains while the song birds can be heard singing and the warm and cool air currents can be felt as the cowboys ride across the sagebrush, BLM allotment to gather the cattle and start them marching north to summer pasture.  This is the beginning of summer in the Green River Valley.  This is the scene from the middle of June to the first part of July on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) grazing allotments  in the Green River Valley.  The cattle are methodically gathered and put on the trail to the summer pasture in the mountains on Forest Service land or private.  The cattle are trailed anywhere from 10 miles to 70 miles depending on the summer grazing pastures.

Ranchers move their cattle to public lands allotments to graze in Western Wyoming.

Bobby Gilbank and Eddie Wardell putting cattle into Fish Creek Park.

The first Forest Service grazing permits were issued in 1906. To get a permit at this time, a rancher had to have a ranch in the area and to have used the open range in the last three years. Starting in the 1930s, the cattle were counted by the Forest Service to see how many head each rancher was putting on the Forest Service grazing allotment.

Ranchers move their cattle to public lands allotments to graze in Western Wyoming.

Bringing cattle off of the Mesa into the Hennick Draw while moving cattle to the mountains.

Starting in 1970s, more intensive grazing systems were developed, so the cattle could be grazed to benefit the grass.  Much of the land was at too high an altitude to have rest-rotation pasture systems, so deferred grazing pasture systems were developed. A deferred grazing system describes the process by which cattle enter the foothills of a pasture system in the spring and migrate to the high country and then drift down the other side to a low pasture in the fall. The following year cattle use the opposite low pasture first and out the other pasture in the fall.  This allows the grass a recovery time. A rest rotation grazing system consists of four pastures, which works by resting one pasture every year while the other three are grazed.  The rested pasture is rotated every year.

Tanner Butner and Michael Klaren doctor calves on the way to the mountains.

The 1980s saw riparian areas being part of a concerted effort to improve the stream bank life.  Beginning in the 1990s, range monitoring was done in cooperation with the ranchers, forest service range conservationists and the University of Wyoming’s county extension agent and range specialists.

Ranchers move their cattle to public lands allotments to graze in Western Wyoming.

The ranchers stop their cattle herd at the Blue Reservoir after coming off the Desert.

By the late 1990s and early 2000s, cows and the ranchers began dealing with the grizzly bears and wolves killing livestock.  It is hard to see a calf mauled and suffering or a cow bawling for her dead calf.  Some cows have been killed by the predators when protecting their young.

Ranchers move their cattle to public lands allotments to graze in Western Wyoming.

Keith Murphy moves cows up Pinon Ridge to Fish Creek Park.

The cows are monitored by a cowboy or cowboys in each pasture system.  The cattle are moved to a new pasture as the grass is used and new grass is needed.  Many of the old cows know where their favorite spots in the mountains are located, so they will grab their calf and take off to enjoy the mountain pasture.

Ranchers move their cattle to public lands allotments to graze in Western Wyoming.

Jamie Swain, Keith Murphy and Garlie Swain taking cattle into Fish Creek Park.

It is always fun to move the cows to the new pasture.  The growth of the calves can be seen.  Beautiful mountain scenery, fresh crisp mountain air, beautiful wildflowers, cow and calf elk mingling with the cows, moose along the river bottom in the willows, deer and antelope throughout the pasture are seen during the cow drive.

Ranchers move their cattle to public lands allotments to graze in Western Wyoming.

Albert Sommers brings cattle out of the Hennick Draw.

Some ranchers have private allotments in the foothills and haul or drive their cattle to and from the private pasture.  This is for another story.

Ranchers move their cattle to public lands allotments to graze in Western Wyoming.

Sprout and Eddie Wardell move cows into Fish Creek Park.

From RealRancher Jonita Sommers, Sommers RanchPinedale, Wyo.

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