All posts by Agri-Aggie

My Favorite Time of Year

This is my favorite time of year. Calving season. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Nothing makes me happier than getting to look at all the new babies in their fuzzy, shiny state. Over the weekend, I got the chance to make it home to see my husband. Since the heifers had been calving, I made it a priority to gaze upon my favorite little creatures. My father-in-law knows that I LOVE calves, so he drove me around in his Mule and stopped to let me take probably a million pictures, squeal, and repetitively talk about how cute they were. Most calf pictures end up on my Instagram, but I figured I would post a couple here. Hope you enjoy!

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Why the Heck Do I Care so Much About Oatmeal?

Photo Credit: Andrew Buckley for the Star Telegram
Photo Credit: Andrew Buckley for the Star Telegram

Last week, the Fort Worth Stock Show held its Sale of Champions. A 13-year-old exhibitor, Kendyll Williams, made the sale with her steer, Oatmeal. Williams not only saw her hard work pay off by making the sale, but Oatmeal was also born blind. After Williams’’ story surfaced in an article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the article immediately received comments from activists. These activists were outraged that the family allowed the steer to be sold to slaughter in the first place. Not too long after Oatmeal was sold, a Go Fund Me page was started so that a sanctuary, the Rowdy Girl Sanctuary, could attempt to rescue Oatmeal from slaughter. The Go Fund Me page raised over $12,000. The owner of the Rowdy Girl Sanctuary, Renee King-Sonnen stated that through the Go Fund Me page, they are trying to make Oatmeal’s life matter.

Ok, I get it. He’s blind. Yeah, that does make Oatmeal a little more special, but Oatmeal was raised to be a show steer. That means that a 4-H or FFA member feeds, waters, grooms, washes, trains, etc. the animal for show with the intent that the steer will be slaughtered afterwards. He was raised to enter the food supply. Therefore, his life still matters.

I’m a 4-H alum and raised over 9 steers and countless sheep and goats for show. You know what happened if my livestock didn’t make sale? They ended up on our dinner plate. I was raised knowing what these animals are being raised for and why that was important. I’m not saying that it wasn’t hard. Trust me, I bawled my eyes out when I sold my first couple of steers, lambs, and goats. It was especially hard when they did not make sale and entered my personal food supply. As I grew older, I gained a better understanding of the purpose of livestock. Programs like 4-H and FFA instill values and a strong work ethic into young people and give them the foundational education of what goes into supplying the world with food. Raising livestock for stock shows is a large task to begin with, but compounding that with an animal that is also blind makes it monumental. A large part of raising show stock is gaining the animal’s trust. Kendyll Williams should be praised for her dedication and hard work rather than be chastised for following through with her steer’s life purpose.

Since the story went viral, Kane Beef, a beef processor, in Corpus Christi, TX, stated that they would not being processing Oatmeal. Oatmeal was then donated to Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, where students could study Oatmeal’s corneas. It is unknown how long the university will utilize Oatmeal. Now, there’s still the $12,000 raised through the Go Fund Me page. Activists are arguing over where these funds should go and whether the Rowdy Girl Sanctuary should be required to return the donations.

The family is still receiving negative comments and this story is just an example of the importance of ag-vocating. As one of my favorite professors, Dr. Chris Reinhardt has stated, “Never take advice from someone who is yelling.” Those of us involved in the agriculture industries must work to educate others without stooping to the level of name-calling.

Plenty to Be Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! This is one of my favorite holidays and I think the more people you have around, the better! Others have been posting all day about what they’re thankful for and I believe it’s finally time for mine.

I’m thankful for my hard working husband. He works each and every day to build us a life and I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he does. He goes out and provides for all the cattle regardless of the weather and regardless of how he feels that day. He is also my rock and the relentless listener of my many, many rants. Also, he made the choice to put up with me forever. FOR-EV-ER. And let me  be the first to admit how big of a handful I can be. I mean, I can be a major pain in the ass (especially if I’m tired and hangry at the same time).

I’m thankful for our two dogs, Riley and Bo, that bring light into my life without even trying.

I’m thankful for the farmers and ranchers who continuously provide the food we put on our tables.

I’m thankful for my entire family. Everyone from my parents to my in-laws to my extended family and even to all the friends I consider family.

I’m holding my family a little tighter this year and vowing to myself to simply enjoy life and worry less. Anyone that knows me understands how big of a change it would be for me to worry less. I’m going to try to do these things not only to help my own sanity but in honor of a friend who lived her life to the fullest and was probably one of the biggest optimists I’ve met. Hannah made her journey to heaven Tuesday after a vehicle accident two nights before. I had the honor to know her for five years. She loved unsweet tea, horses, dogs, dancing to name a few of her favorite things. But most of all, Hannah enjoyed the little things in life and made the most out of every situation. All of us already miss her and may she rest in peace. Thank you, Hannah, for bringing a little sunshine into our lives.

Meet Spanky

On the ranch, there are a few animals that are not very common in northeastern New Mexico. Usually people slow down on the highway to make sure that they actually did see these white/gray creatures with humps and floppy ears. We have Brahman cattle. We also get our share of snow storms (sometimes blizzards) and 95+ degree days. Luckily, our Brahmans have a nice, cozy barn to stay in when the temperatures get low and snow is blowing.

Floppy and Darla
Darla and Floppy

Now, we have a total of five Brahmans at the moment. One cow, two heifers, and two bulls. The cow and the bulls were purchased from NMSU during their annual bull sale a couple years back. I blame Mr. Neil Burcham for my husband’s obsession with these creatures, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Everything has a name. There’s Floppy (the cow), Darla (aka Baby Floppy), Floppy Junior, Spanky, and Alfalfa. Spanky and Alfalfa are bulls.

Spanky
Spanky

Spanky is the one everyone on the highway drives by right now. He big, grumpy looking, and very mischievous. You read that right. He is mischievous. My mother-in-law plants flowers every summer in her flower beds and in flower pots around the house. She is also the one that always catches him in the mid-hijinks. Over the summer, Spanky learned how to walk over the cattle guard that separates a pasture from the house, shop, etc. One summer day, she caught Spanky in her flower bed. Yup, that grumpy mug was standing in her flower bed right in front of her house. She yelled at him and he hightailed it out of there. After some of Spanky’s lady friends were hauled off to sale one day, he now dedicates some of his time to inspecting every inch of every trailer that comes in.

His most recent shenanigan was by far the best. Like I said, I’m usually not around when these things happen since he lives in a pasture next to my in-laws’ house. I received the news in an e-mail from my mother-in-law titled, “Apple Thief.” She went on to explain how she went outside and caught someone (not going name names) eating apples right off of her Golden Delicious apple tree. Again, right outside her house. By the time she caught him, he had cleared the apples off the entire north side of the tree. After being yelled at, Spanky’s course of action was to try to hide behind said apple tree. Obviously, she wasn’t fooled. I wasn’t even mad that he “stole” a good chunk of our apples. Getting that e-mail while I was sitting in my office studying was worth it.

Spanky, this post is dedicated to your creativity.

 

Because winters are cold
Because winters are cold

Things I’ve Learned in My First Three Months of Marriage

IMG_1960My husband and I have been married three whole months today and I’m in Kansas while he is in New Mexico. I like to call this Ranch Wife 101, but really it’s what I’ve learned from dating and being married to a man who has dedicated his life to the agriculture industry. He’s a rancher who happens to farm. God forbid that he is called a farmer. He made a very ballsy decision during his second year of college to buy his half of the ranch. In the beginning, I wasn’t very fond of him, but he grew on me. It took me a while to recognize how amazing this man was. Everyday I am grateful that he didn’t give up on me.

Anyway, back to the things I’ve learned. My husband and I have always been long distance, besides one semester before he graduated college. We dated long distance for over three years, then we married only to continue our long distance streak. He has a job to do but so do I. I would never ask him to drop everything to “follow” me off to grad school and he would never ask the same of me. And besides, Mama didn’t raise no quitter. It’s only for a year and a half, right? Well here goes nothing with my Ranch Wife 101.

  1. My husband is the best roommate I will ever have. I know this is odd, but I got a roommate after getting married. I don’t like for my husband to pay for school or my rent. I strive to pay for everything KSU related on my own (usually through scholarships). Living with him was so much easier. I did all the cooking, the cleaning, the grocery shopping and it was great. It was easier to get things done because they needed to be done. I did not hold him accountable for chores within the house unless something needed fixing. However, I expect my current roommate to pitch in on EVERYTHING. 50/50, right? Most of all with my husband, everything in the house is organized my way. It’s a completely different standard, but what can I say? He’s an awesome roommate. He takes care of everything outside and I take care of everything inside.
  2. Dates are no longer dinner and a movie. I’ve learned that dates are not about going out somewhere and spending some money. They are about the time I get to spend with my husband, just he and I. Sometimes we go on a date to check cows/calves. For one, he knows I love doing this with him and that way I get to see all the babies in the pastures. Our last date was taking a ride around a field in his new swather while he cut hay. He probably appreciates my appreciation of the dates where he still gets some work done. Also, we’re old souls. At the end of the day we most likely want to go inside to watch a movie and snuggle on the couch.
  3. Plans can never really be made or set in stone. I should just be glad that we set a wedding date somehow managed to plan everything around that! Well, honestly, we got married when we did because it was between hay cuttings, but I digress. I can’t plan trips that include him leaving the ranch until the week of. There really is no “good” time to plan a trip. His plans and his schedule depend solely on whether there are calves to feed in the grow yard, the season, what needs repairing and how soon, and most of all – the weather. You can only plan so much without an actual set date. I’ve struggled with this one quite a bit as I am a planner and tend to be very anal retentive. I don’t just roll with the punches or just wing it. I need time to plan, but I am becoming more understanding of things I have no control over.
  4. Pick your battles. I know, I know. You’ve heard this one a million times from everyone giving marital or relationship advice. Guess what? It’s true! It holds even more true in our life. During the school year we see each other on intervals that range from 3-6 weeks. I’ve learned that the petty or tiny things are not worth fighting over and ruining our weekend together. However, some things are WORTH fighting over. It’s healthy for us to fight once in a while. Fighting over the fact that he leaves the kitchen a mess for me to come home to isn’t worth fighting over. Yes, it drives me crazy, but it’s not worth fighting over.
  5. Leave it at the pens. This is probably the most important one and sometimes the most difficult. I get yelled at while we’re gathering from the pasture or even when we’re just in the pens. It happens to everyone. It doesn’t mean he loves me less or is angry with me. The greatest lesson is to not take it personally. In reality, when I get scolded, I’m not in the right spot or I’m moving slowly. There’s an intent behind it. I’m still learning. He’s done this for his entire life and I haven’t. After he’s yelled, “Are you planning on helping at any point today?” from the other side of the pasture, I need to get my butt into gear and push the cows. I also need to be able to recognize that he was in “work mode” and once the work is done, he’s my happy husband again. I am in no way a submissive individual, but I do understand that when I am in the pens, he’s my boss. He still treats me with respect in the pens and his only intention is to teach me so that I keep myself and the cattle safe. This point is the hardest to explain but is incredibly important.

My husband has taught me so much over the past three years. I may be getting my Master’s in animal science, but that in no way means that I know more than him. Getting good grades in animal science classes only contributes so much compared to his life on the ranch. He practices it each and every day while I read about and study it each and every day. I couldn’t ask for more from the person I get to spend the rest of my life with.

 

Huge Life Changes

Quite a bit has gone on since my last blog post. Boy, has it been a busy summer! First of all, I married my best friend in the middle of June. He’s a very hard working man who has dedicated his life to agriculture, and I cannot ask for more. The northwest corner of New Mexico has been blessed this summer with rain. We were doused with rain through May and June. We originally had planned to get married in the pasture that he popped the question in, but God had other plans. It rained heavily early in the week and we had to exercise Plan B – getting married under the huge cedar tree in the front yard. Luckily, we were well prepared for something to change our plans as unpredictable as New Mexico weather can be. The day of the wedding was predicted to receive precipitation. However, near the time of the ceremony, the storm clouds passed over and the ceremony went on without the guests getting soaked.

I have learned so much this summer on what it means to be a ranch wife. I realized I only had a taste while I was dating my now husband. Not only did we have our wedding in the middle of hay cuttings, but we also went on a three day honeymoon so he could be back in time to cut hay again. I knew what I signed up for and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I feel that a ranch wife’s life is glamorized by the non-agricultural world. It is not all about riding horses, baking for the family, or living in the middle of nowhere. You have to do it all and not one day is the same. Yes, some of my favorite days are the ones where we gather cattle on horseback, but some days the jobs aren’t fun. They need to be done, but they’re not always fun. I didn’t grow up on a ranch like this so there is always something new to learn. That includes getting yelled at and learning not to take it personally. I still screw up when we’re working cattle. I don’t hold onto what happens in the pens when we leave those pens. If anything, I try to learn from my mistakes and work to improve.

My mother-in-law is a great example of a ranch wife. I have never seen someone drive a pickup in reverse that well in my life. Not only does she help us move or work cattle, she has been very helpful in bestowing her knowledge onto me. I’m talking about her cooking abilities. Thanks to her, I can now make multiple types of jellies, jams, and pies. I mean, who wants a wife that can’t cook? Next up will be peach jam. Mmmmmm! As the school year approaches and the start of the second year of my Master’s program, I’m going to miss the ranch and my husband.

 

It’s A Girl!

Newborn livestock are one of my biggest passions. Nothing makes me swoon more than a newborn calf. I’ve sort of thrown myself into the cattle industry. I was not born into it. My parents raise sheep and goats and my dad’s side of the family run some cattle. Both are relatively small operations and growing up I lived about 3.5 hours from my dad’s side of the family. I loved being in the saddle going out to gather even when I was on my little Shetland/Welsh pony, Loco. And yes, he could be very loco. Now, I’m studying ruminant nutrition. I came to KSU hoping to get away from doing sheep research, since that’s what I helped with at NMSU. Guess what? Sheep research is part of my study. I couldn’t completely get away from it, but hey, steers still make up the other half of my study. So, I did not grow up in the cattle business, but I am marrying into it. I find this a little funny since some people say that the only way to get into ranching is to either inherit it or marry into it. Look at me marrying into it. The love of my life is a rancher in New Mexico and knows that my favorite thing in the whole wide world is to go see the new babies. My favorite calves happen to be of the floppy eared variety. Yes, I said it. Brahmans. Floppy eared Brahmans. They grow on you, I promise. This is where the title of the post comes in. My fiance doesn’t run a herd of Brahmans on the ranch, but he does have a couple. His only mature Brahman cow calved a beautiful heifer Saturday night and I was lucky enough to get sent pictures the next morning. I was told that the pictures don’t do her justice and I cannot wait to see her in person.

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Look at those ears!

 

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She already has a little hump!

 

My First Blog Post….

For months I’ve been throwing around the idea of beginning a blog. I wasn’t sure if I had enough to say or if people would even read it (ever), but if nothing else I want to do this for myself. Let’s start off with my name. Hello, my name is CiCi or Consuelo (we’ll just stick to CiCi). I’m a recent graduate of New Mexico State University. I’m sorry if you came to this blog under the impression that I was an TAMU Aggie. Nope! I am a good ol’ New Mexico girl! AGGIE UP! I am now working towards a Master’s in Ruminant Nutrition at Kansas State University. Agriculture has always been a passion of mine and this blog is to mostly voice my opinion on new topics. I also love taking pictures of livestock or ranch life. Another one of my passions is definitely research. There is so much more to learn in the world about making agriculture more efficient and utilizing fewer resources while producing more product.