Friday, January 29, 2010

A new day.

Normally during this time of year, Clint and I both drive to and from work in the dark.

But this morning, due to some scheduling, I came to work an hour later than normal and I was able to drive in the light!

Stopping just short of the gate at the top of our driveway, I snapped this picture.

Maybe it's elevated seratonin levels or some other chemical reaction in my brain....

or the extra hour of sleep I got last night (most likely)...

but driving to work in the light gave me extra energy today.

Here's to a light-filled day and a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pancakes.

When I graduated from high school, each of the valedictorians (there were 10 of us - I graduated with a class of over 360) got to have 30 seconds during the graduation ceremonies to give a speech.

My 30 seconds were spent talking about pancakes.

When we were freshmen, it was if a huge stack of pancakes was staring us in face. The next four years seemed daunting - something that would take forever to get through. But before we knew it, here we were graduating. We'd finished off the stack and were headed off into the world to achieve bigger and better things.

But the problem was - we had another stack of pancakes in front of us.

The difference this time was that we got to choose the next stack.

High school was a forced stack of pancakes - everyone had to go, take the required classes and get through.

But the future was ours to decide what "flavor" we wanted to order.

.......................

Last night I got to sit in on some interviews up at the high school here in town.

Seven FFA members had applied for their state degree, but had to give a presentation about their SAE (ag project) and FFA experiences first.

It was amazing -

These kids had taken the "stack of pancakes" given to them their freshmen year...

and added to it.

They'd poured on the syrup, the blueberries and whipped cream.

Part time jobs, home improvement, working on the family farm, marketing livestock, creating breeding programs, competing in FFA events - balanced alongside good grades, sports, church and community activities.

I was impressed. And excited.

I know it sounds hokey, but these kids have achieved a lot - and worked their tails off. And their future will be better because of what they've done.

Congratulations to those Heppner FFA members - you know who you are.

You reminded me:

"The greatest achievement of the human spirit is to live up to one's opportunities and make the most of one's resources."

- Marquis de Vauvenarques




Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Opportunties.

Saturday we braved the weather...




And headed over to La Grande for the annual Cattleman's Workshop aptly titled...

"Opportunities in a Changing Beef Industry"

This was the sixth year that this workshop has been presented, but the first time Clint and I had been able to go.

It was an awesome day. The agenda was packed with presentations that were current and really thought provoking.

With over 400 people in attendance, we had to stand the first half because the facility ran out of chairs.

.......

RFD-TV filmed the sessions, so if you missed it, you'll be able to catch parts of the presentations on TV!

Oh, and we got to see Sweet Blessing's Mr. (aka Pat) there too!

The day was also kind of a CSU (Colorado State University) reunion. (Like over half the panel and many of the flown-in industry reps were CSU grads.)

Which, Clint graduated from CSU so it was great to catch up with (him) and meet (me) old friends, professors and classmates.

.......

But back to my original point...

This workshop was titled "Opportunities in a Changing Beef Industry".

This workshop made me think - about myself, how I represent the beef industry, how I help the beef industry, and what I can do better personally to contribute to how ag is viewed by the public and how I can contribute to it's success in the future.

A lot of information was presented and discussed during the workshop. Too much to ever cover in a blog post - and I've probably already crammed too much into THIS post - but oh well.

Did you know:

- On NCBA's website, you can click on the "Call to Action" link and after entering your zipcode, NCBA will send a pre-written letter to your congressman from you thanking them, or encouraging them to take action on a bill/item that is important to you? How sweet is that - they do all of the work for you!

- If you've been following Prop 2 in California (and it's impact in other states) you know that it's been a significant concern for many in agriculture. But did you also know that HSUS didn't touch the beef industry with their legislation? And do you know why? I didn't - but I should have. The opinion Saturday was because even though HSUS's goal is to eliminate animal agriculture in America....they view the beef industry better than other animal industries. When compared to all of animal agriculture - we're the good guys in their eyes. Right or wrong (I'm hesitant to throw other animal ag industries under the bus) - that stopped HSUS from adding constraints to Prop 2.

- Dr. Rollin (who often works with HSUS and ag groups to reach concensus) had some really tough and provoking challenges for us last Saturday - if you've heard him speak, you'll know he's funny, not politically correct, cuts to the chase, tells you how it is....but is fair. Everything he said Saturday was fair - even his comments about how ranchers need to find an alternative for branding and castration was logical - maybe not widely accepted by everyone - but fair.

- The US cowherd is at an all time low. Beef exports are low - but opportunities for growth are there. NCBA is facing a major restructuring. Ranching is a tough business to break into - but the opportunity is ahead of us. Frankly, it's staring us right in the face.

So thanks (left to right):

Dr. Bernie Rollin - Distinguished Professor, University of Bioethics, CSU
Dr. Tom Field - Executive Director of Producer Education, NCBA
Dr. Dave Daley - Professor at CS Chico
Mr. Forrest Roberts - CEO, NCBA
Mr. Phil Seng - CEO, US Meat Export Federation
Mr. Collin Woodall - Executive Director of Legistlative Affairs, NCBA

You made Saturday great - not only for me, but for the many others that were there.

Hopefully, as each of us headed our way home (through more snow!) we took away your thoughts and challenges for the future.

Because there IS opportunity in this changing beef industry....the question is, will we seize it?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It's Bull Sale Season.

Phone calls.

Emails.

Visits to look at cattle.

A P.O. Box stuffed with catalogs.

Websites visited.

Late nights spent in the recliner, analyzing EPD's, and marking up catalogs.

More phone calls.

Cow numbers analyzed. A list of bulls needed made.

Heifer bulls. Growth bulls.

Even more phone calls.

And then, the sales arrive.

Buzzing with people, bulls being sorted and sold, the auctioneers humming along.

And the meals....oh the meals! Don't laugh - sales are like weddings. One with a good meal is well remembered.

Visiting friends only seen once a year. Usually on the same weekend, at the same location.

.............

The 2010 Sale season has officially arrived.

And we're ready.

It's our last season selling Red Angus bulls as a cooperator in the Lorenzen Red Angus Bull Sale.

We went to check on our bulls this weekend at the feedlot with my sister and her friend Kirby.

We're pleased with how they're doing. Clint had already been there once this year, but it was my first time. He was going to go Saturday, but waited until Sunday so I could go too.

...............

I didn't find him in the first pen....but I did find him.

The bull I call "Teddy".

My favorite bull of the 2009 calves.

I've thought this bull looked like a teddy bear since he was born. He's grown now, but he's still pretty moderate and I still think he looks like a teddy bear!

He's gentle too. Actually, all of our bulls were still gentle and came up to us in the pens.



However, the bull in the picture below was Clint's favorite bull going into the feedlot, and still is.

And to be quite honest, he probably is the best bull.

But Teddy's still my favorite.


Clint's favorite is so thick and long.

And I apologize for this picture. It's the only one I could get of him profiled.


The Lorenzen Sale isn't until February 25th, so we'll probably be back to the feedlot later this month.

By then the bulls will be scanned and sorted, and we'll have a catalog to sort through.

...........

A special note of thanks to Ian. Each year we tag our bulls with a colored tag in the right ear, and we chose a color we hope no one else will use.

Because sorting 5-10 bulls out of 300 can be a bit hard.

So we try to help ourselves.

This year, we delivered our bulls and Ian and Lindsay's bulls together to Lorenzen's. But before we went to the feedlot, we tagged and tattoed all of the bulls at the Murdock's. We'd forgotten our own tags, but Ian helpfully had an extra supply.

A supply of large, white, octaganol tags that we put in the right ear.

Would you guess that our bulls were the only bulls tagged in the right ear this year! A small victory, but it was awesome!

All we had to do was scan the pens....you'd see a sea of bulls with tags in their LEFT ears...and then one of ours!

And while we've always tagged in the right ear, we'd never used octagonal tags.

So thanks Ian - we were able to find all of our bulls and yours with ease!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Rising above.

Oh, has this week been a week.

And I guess I'm not really complaining, because it's not like this week has been super hard, or frustrating or filled with bad news.

It's just been a constant effort. Long hours. Mentally challenging.

But, today is Friday, Friday, glorious Friday!

And I don't know if there was ever a better time for a 3-day weekend!

......................

And just like the fog has lifted this week...

Because it has been a foggy mess here this week!

The stress of this week will lift too.

I just know that next week will have a better pace to it.

Marathon shoes will be worn all week...and I'm going to try and keep the sprinting shoes still tucked away.


Oh, and this guy and I -

Well, we're getting married.....someday....when we get around to setting a date.

I'm headed to the Portland Bridal Show with my mom and sister tomorrow.

This whole wedding thing is still a bit "foggy" in my head, but hopefully this trip will help kick start the planning.

Have a great (and clear!) weekend!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chaos.

My eye has been twitching like crazy these past three days...

One of the producers who came into my office yesterday said, "That usually happens when you don't get enough sleep."

I said back, "You know, the first thing I thought about this morning when I woke up, was how I could go to bed early tonight."

................

Life is full right now. Full, crazy, and chaotic.

But in a good way...not in a stressful way. Thankful for that!

I've been following the Love Dare. (Thanks Lindsay!)

And in yesterday's post, they had this written...

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. This means you must balance, prioritize, and pace yourself.

................

I'm putting on my "marathon" shoes today. And tucking the "sprinting" shoes away.

Will you join me?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Memory Lane.

I've been transferring some files to my hard drive that were originally stored on my work computer.

But since my work computer encrypts everything, I have to open each file, picture or document individually, and then re-save them to my hard drive.

(And ummm....that's a lot of work, or rather a lot of clicking. Note to self - buy hard drive sooner.)

Anyway, it's been fun to go back and look at my (older) pictures....

Pictures from weddings...



Pictures from Dairy Club tours in college - this is a good friend, Katie...


Pictures from our trip to Reno, in 2007 for the Angus show...

Pictures from Dairy Club sales...


Pictures from past National FFA Conventions...

Sometimes, it's good to look back and remember all of the good times...

And know that they helped shape who I am today...

And that (hopefully) there will be many good times yet to come!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bunko!

Unfortunately, was not a word that was uttered by me last night.

Actually, it was much the opposite. By the end of the night, I'd racked up 11 big losses.

And while I did get 7 wins, none of them were due to my luck of the dice (thanks partners!).

But we all had a great time, laughed a bunch, ate good food, and enjoyed Beer Margaritas!

And really, that's what Bunko's all about.

Although, to be perfectly honest, as the host this month, I did think about keeping the prizes I had purchased back in December at the NFR for myself, and running out and grabbing something different.

But then I thought to myself, "Maybe I'll win one, and then I won't have to go buy new prizes. Yeah! Maybe I'll win one."

Umm...as we know from above, no winning occurred here. Shoot!

But I'm happy to say that Lindsay did win last night...

Even if what she did win was the Boobie prize (biggest loser award).



There's always next month!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Warmth.

I was on the phone today with a banker in the Midwest, and she asked me how the weather was here in Eastern Oregon.

I told her it was pretty nice today, but that we'd had quite a cold spell earlier in December.

I then asked her how the weather was there...but I already had a pretty good idea of her answer.

She replied, "It's 12 degrees here, and it's supposed to get worse."

We've been in close contact with Clint's family this past few weeks, as it has been bitterly cold back in the Sandhills of Nebraska and it's supposed to get even colder this week.

You know it's cold when the highlight of the weather report is that it will "warm up to around zero later this week".

..........

It can be a cold world out there, filled with uncertainty and the unknown.

But there is goodness, and light, and love out there too. Which makes me think of this quote:

..........

We plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land,

But it is fed and watered by God's almighty hand;

He sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain,

The breezes and the sunshine and soft refreshing rain.

.........

With that in mind, we're here holding tight.

Knowing that He has a plan (a great plan!) for us and this next year, and all of those to follow.

.......

Stay warm out there. Warmed by love, and friendship, and laughter and life!



And if all else fails, get a pair of Christmas socks with reindeer on them, and slip those on.

....................

Keep warm friends!