Dust In My Coffee

Dust In My Coffee

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Fencing in the Dark

"You and me going fencing in the dark,
Stretching wire out and tamping in posts
Where the cool winds blow
Finishing the fence with the pickup lights
We'll be eating our supper late into the night
There's no movin' slow!"

My parody on "Fishin' in the Dark" by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band could be compared to some of the parodies the Peterson Farm Brothers have created.  The fencing parody came out of a recent experience I had with Steve in getting some projects done before winter set in.  I was reminded of that experience as I started thinking about all the hard working cattlemen and women I will see this week in Nashville for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association Convention.

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This post, no pun intended, is a salute to those hard working men and women that come from a variety of farms and ranches across America with the common goal of putting beef on your table.  I have enjoyed hearing numerous stories from friends I have made from Florida to Idaho and many places in between.  At one event a few of us spent about 15 minutes going up and down an elevator at Embassy Suites as we listened to stories from a friend in Oklahoma.  Even though our farms and ranches are a diverse as our personalities are we share a common love for our families, the land and for our cattle.

During the convention we will hear the winner of a contest sing the "Star Spangled Banner" with such gusto that the hair will stand up on our arms.  There is no lack of love for the United States of America among this group as we make sure to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of our board meeting and show our appreciation to all who work to defend our constitutional rights.

This is a recent photo of the flag on our farm taken
early in the morning that has become one of my favorites.

 I will spend most of my time in meetings for the CBB or the Cattlemen's Beef Board.  I join approximately one hundred other men and women from across the United States to work specifically on Beef Checkoff work.  The Beef Checkoff is a program that collects $1.00/head of every beef animal that is sold and pools that money for research, education, information and promotion about beef.   I won't give you all the nitty gritty details so if you want to learn more about the checkoff you can go here.  What I can tell you is that I get to work side by side with some very dedicated people this week that will be focusing on you, the consumer, and how we can give you the best eating experience every time you eat beef.

I met up with long time friend, Becky Kreiekemeier,
for supper right after arriving in Nashville.  We
joked about having to travel so far to see each other 
when we only live about 50 miles apart!

The dedication of farmers and ranchers at the volunteer level flows naturally from the dedication they have at home to their farms and ranches.    The saying "hard work builds character" is not one to mock.  There are numerous sources that site the value of working and how it builds virtues.  I, myself, have learned many virtues by working on the farm (I will save those for another blog).   

My dad and mom were the first models of the value of hard work.  They passed down virtues like responsibility, dedication and commitment to my five siblings and I.  Their work ethic and the virtues we were taught can be seen in my siblings, in their children and in my children.  When I met Steve I could see the same hard work ethic and similar virtues that were evident in his family.

We, as farmers and ranchers, join each one of you in the day to day struggle of working hard at jobs that feed our families and allow us to grow in virtue.  Together, we bring the virtues we gain by working into our family and communities to make the world a better place!

You and me going fencing in the dark,
Working each day at an important job
Where the virtues grow
Cattlemen and women join you in the fight
Putting supper on the table for the children each night
There's no movin' slow!"

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The VFD and YOU

There’s a new sheriff in town and his name is VFD.  Do you know anything about the VFD?  I should first clarify that the VFD is not the Volunteer Fire Department.    If you google “what is the VFD” you will find the top ten responses having to do with variable frequency drive-that is not the VFD I am talking about.  How about a little quiz to familiarize yourself with what the VFD is and what it has to do with YOU?

Here is a clue.  I have something to do with the VFD and YOU!

True or False    1. The VFD stands for Veterinary Feed Directive and falls under Guidance Document

True or False    2. The VFD was created to make more money for veterinarians.

True or False    3. The VFD falls under the regulations of the FDA according to the ADAA requiring
                              veterinarians to issue all VFD’s in the context of a valid VCPR. 

True or False     4. The VFD was developed to make it illegal to use medically important antibiotics 
                                for production purposes, and animal producers will need to obtain authorization
                               from a licensed veterinarian to use them for prevention, control or treatment of a
                               specifically identified disease.

True or False      5. The VFD reassures consumers that veterinarians and farmers are working together
                                to make sure antibiotics are used correctly in the feed.

True or False      6. Meetings were held throughout 2016 to prepare farmers and ranchers for the 
                               January 1, 2017 implementation.

True or False      7. The VFD is just another government acronym designed to give farmers a

Well, let’s see how you did and then we will discuss the answers: 
1.           1. True  2. False  3. True  4. True  5. True  6. True  7. False

1. The VFD, Veterinary Feed Directive, aims to accomplish three goals with these changes: promote judicious use of antibiotics, protect public health and help limit the development of antimicrobial resistance.  Can you see where you fit into this conversation?  

2. Veterinarians are very busy people.  They now carry a paperwork burden of making sure we have the document needed for shared class antibiotics used in the feed for control, treatment and prevention of disease.  Our veterinarians had to increase personnel to make sure all of the paperwork is completed for each one of their clients.  We pay a small fee to help cover the cost of the paperwork and computerized documentation.

Dr. Dan Woodbury, one of our veterinarians, visits with my husband, Steve, about
 the VFD.  Dr. Woodbury says "The Veterinary Feed Directive has opened dialogue
among producers and their veterinarian. That is not a bad thing. In some cases, we have
been able to help producers maximize the return on investment from a health and, ultimately,
financial standpoint through timely feed grade antibiotic uses. We strive to help our clients
maintain long term financial stability. The Veterinary Feed Directive, in some cases, has helped
strengthen the producer and veterinarian relationship; which helps to secure our agricultural community.”

3 & 4. Yes, the VFD is about increasing veterinarian-client-patient-relationships (VCPR) so that you and I, the consumers, can be reassured about how antibiotics are used in food animals.  For most of us the VCPR has already been an important part of how we take care of our cattle.  We spend time with our veterinarians developing vaccination protocols as well as treatment protocols.   The FDA, Food and Drug Administration, regulates antibiotic use in food animals. The ADAA,  Animal Drug Availability Act, provides flexibility to the way FDA regulates new animal drugs and medicated feeds.

5. The VFD provides the documentation for cattle farmers like my husband and I to makes sure we are using antibiotics responsibly.  I am a veterinary technician responsible for administering antibiotics when our cattle get sick.   I am also a consumer and I have children and grandchildren that purchase beef in the grocery store.  The VFD further strengthens the commitment of people like my husband and I to provide the safest and healthiest beef we can.  

We live in Nebraska where we experience all four seasons.  When we have wet
spells in the form of snow or rain we utilize our cement pads and bedding to provide
the cattle a comfortable place to lay down.  Our dedication to animal welfare and the
guidance from our nutritionist and veterinarians help us to provide optimal care.  That
commitment to care leads to a lower incidence of disease and reduced use of antibiotics.

6.  My husband and I attended two meetings about the VFD in addition to one-on-one conversations with our veterinarians and reading numerous articles in farm magazines about the implementation of the VFD.

7.  Farmers are used to acronyms like the FSA, NRD, NRCS, CRP, LDP, BQA, LRP and everyone’s favorite, the IRS.  What’s one more acronym to remember?  If you’d like to see a list of acronyms from the USDA you can go here

There is a new sheriff in town and he’s making sure things run smoothly from the farm to the fork so consumers, like you, can have confidence in the beef you eat.  The presence of the VFD reassures farmers like us that we are continually monitoring antibiotic usage so that your family and mine will eat well and live well.  Our goal is for our cattle to thrive so you can thrive and we’ll do that through the VCPR from the VFD thanks to the FDA and USDA in the hope to make the CDC and YOU smile!  

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Few of my Favorite Things

If you've ever watched "The Sound of Music" then you know there is a suggested technique of thinking of your favorite things to chase away fear.  The technique was mentioned by Fraulein Maria in the song "My Favorite Things" as she consoled the von Trapp children during a thunderstorm.  I believe Fraulein Maria was onto something by teaching the children to focus on good things so they would replace their fear with joy.

I have learned that focusing on my favorite things can fill me with gratitude.  Looking at a drawing that our daughter, Emily, drew of our family when she was in kindergarten makes me smile as I think back to a time when our five children were all under the age of ten.   The smell of chili powder takes me to a pantry in my aunt's house that I loved to visit when I was a child. Watching the sun come up fills me with awe as I think about God's love and power.

We are blessed with wide open spaces and the ability to see the sunrise and the
sunset.  The colors in this sunrise seem to add warmth to the cold winter day.

When the toil of farm work starts to get me I can be quickly changed as I drive by a pen of cattle and observe one steer licking himself, another steer rubbing his head on the water tank and another steer chewing contently.  Yes, one of my favorite things is seeing our cattle content with their life here.

This is a view of part of our feedlot looking towards the northeast.  You can
see one steer licking his hip and many others laying around.  We strive to
provide pen conditions like this so cattle always have a place to lay down.

Smelling an alfalfa field after it has been cut or the feedtruck as it drives by are more of my favorite things.  There are definitely farm smells that are not my favorite things, too! 

Listening to the birds sing is another one of my favorite things.  We are blessed to have a variety of bird sounds including the migration of geese in the spring and fall.  When I am walking pens in the summer I get to listen to Meadowlarks and Cardinals that seem to move around with me so I can hear them singing all over the farm.

Eating a juicy hamburger, steak or slice of eye of round hot off the grill is definitely one of my favorite things.  The taste of beef has always been a favorite of mine and I am blessed to have a husband that loves to grill.  Sharing beef meals with family and friends continues to be a favorite activity of mine.

Steve has a tray of hamburgers ready to be eaten.  Our
granddaughter is waiting to have one placed on her plate.

Memories of my dad have become another one of my favorite things.  I did not appreciate the value memories can bring to a relationship until Alzheimer's hit my dad.  I have many favorite memories of my dad including a childhood Christmas many years ago. 

It was Christmas Eve and my dad came home carrying several wrapped gifts with no name tags.  My five siblings and I could barely contain our excitement as we discussed who the presents were for.  On Christmas morning my mom was handed each of the gifts one by one. I can only remember two of the gifts.  One gift was a large, fuzzy, orange rug and the other was a ceramic canister set.  I remember sharing in the joy as mom opened them one by one.  Somehow the gifts were even more special because they were all for mom.  That Christmas is a favorite memory of mine.

This is the Merry Mushroom Canister set that dad bought for
mom! She used those in her kitchen counter for many years.

Did you notice that many of my favorite things include all of the senses and are more than just things?  Maybe thinking of our favorite things lifts us up because they tap into our senses of taste, sight, smell, touch and hearing as well as our emotions.   What are some of your favorite things?  Try naming them and see if they lift your spirits, especially in times of trial. Remember what Frauline Maria said, "I simply remember my favorite things and then I don't feel so bad"!