As National Ag Week continues (also posted here and here), I wanted to share an oldie but goodie. My sister and I are the 4th generation on our family ranch which has been in our family for about 100 years. Below is a picture of my Grandpa (aka Pop) on the right and his brother, my great uncle (aka Bob) on the left (both have since passed). This was taken after working cattle, and they were washing down the dust with a Budweiser and a Pepsi, respectively. I have so many great memories of ranch work with my family, including moments with both of these guys.
Sometimes for one reason or another a baby animal cannot be raised by its mother. When this happens the livestock farmer or rancher will try to put that lamb on another mother, but if that is not possible, that baby then becomes a “bummer”. A bummer is fed several times a day by the livestock farmer or rancher; it will drink milk replacement via a bottle until it becomes big enough to eat solid foods. Naturally, you hope these bummers will grow and flourish. Usually, they don’t grow as well as their counterparts, they can get pot bellies, and they are generally not retained in the herd/flock as a replacement (if they are female).
Last winter (2013) I posted about my Mom feeding a bummer lamb here. When I was home for Christmas (2014) my Mom pointed out one of her replacement ewes to me. She said that this ewe was the bummer lamb that I wrote about last year. That little lamb had grown up and had become a nice little replacement ewe. Good quality feed and genetics can sure make a difference on a bummer joining the flock!
I was fortunate enough to raise two Nevada State Fair Champion steers (“Red” and “Sisco”) as a 4-H member. The Nevada State Fair always made mugs with the name of the youth that raised the Champion animals and the buyer of the animal. My parents still have and use their mugs!
California has spent the last several years in one of the worst droughts in the state’s history. And as if it couldn’t get worse, they are preparing to face one of the worst storms they have had since 1997 – the Pineapple Express. Today I have talked to both of my parents (Northern California area), and have seen several friends that also live in the area posting about the weather conditions on social media. Needless to say the wind is blowing 75 to 100 mph! The dust in the air is terrible and is limiting visibility, and they are preparing for power loss to occur by this evening. Additionally, rain and up to 4 inches of snow an hour may come!
While these conditions are going to be miserable for everyone in the path of this storm, they become more challenging and difficult for livestock ranchers. Ranchers and farmers know that this type of weather can be hard on all animals big and small, but they are preparing as best they can. I want to share with you some of the things my favorite California ranchers are doing to prepare:
– Extra bedding and pens. During a storm like this animals will instinctively huddle together and try to find a place out of the weather. Also, the baby animals will be coming! A change in barometric pressure usually means more baby animals will be born. Shed space can become limited if this storm lasts for several days. But those having offspring will at least be warm and dry.
– Grass hay only! Animals can bloat (excessive gas in the rumen) if fed a high quality hay like alfalfa in windy conditions. Bloat, if not caught in time could potentially kill the animal. So to help eliminate this problem, ranchers are stock piling the grass hay as the primary feed, which almost eliminates bloat altogether.
– Water. Luckily our ranch has an artesian well and several creeks/ditches running through it, so most of the livestock will have water despite weather conditions. However, it is very common for the rural areas to loose power with winds like this, and that means no water can be pumped out of the wells. Water may have to be hauled or the animals moved to ensure everyone has access to fresh water during the entire storm.
– Flooding. Since California has been so dry for so long, a large amount of water may runoff the soil instead of be absorbed. One winter during a severe flooding event, we regularly checked ditches and water blockage systems (aka headgates) to ensure they were not blocked with wood, limbs, and other debris. By allowing the water to keep flowing, and not pooling, it helped to eliminate damage to ditches and headgates.
– Structures. This type of wind can be hard on structures, especially old ones and the roofs. Some of our old sheds have tin roofs. In the past, tin has been flopping around and eventually blew off as it is way too dangerous to try and fix it in a high wind event, as someone could easily be decapitated or severely injured. When part of a roof starts to flap around we try to throw tires or other heavy objects on the roof, and hope it makes it through the worst.
– Fires. One winter we lost several sheds and a part of our working corral (livestock handling area) due to an electrical fire. If an extension cord is plugged in for whatever reason, and the power goes it can cause a spark. And with high winds it doesn’t take long before you have a roaring fire on your hands with no ability to pump water. So my Dad has been checking to ensure everything nonessential is unplugged. All of neighbors try to watch out for each other for fires that may also start at feedmills, haystacks, and other structures.
– What can blow away? In winds of up to 100 mph anything that can blow away will blow away. Even livestock/horse trailers! Ours are filled with straw, which helps weigh them down, but there have been times the tractors were used to help anchor them down. A reality is those trailers can be blown over fairly easily with wind like they are now having. We have also had portions of haystacks blow down, various trash cans, and basically anything that isn’t weighted down or tied down blow away (eventually recovered at a fenceline). This can be a very dangerous situation for human and/or animal.
– Trees. Cottonwood trees grow well in their area, they offer shade, and can get very large. Several years ago, my parents decided to cut down the ones near the house as it posed a huge concern that they could blow over in a high wind event and destroy the house and anyone in the house. Trees near any structure in a high wind event should be monitored, as they pose a serious concern.
– Transportation. If the amount of snow comes that they are predicting, transportation will become very difficult if nonexistent for a couple of days. Growing up in the mountains you learn how to drive in bad weather at high altitudes and to appreciate a set of chains and an emergency winter kit (i.e. water, blankets, snacks, clothes, etc.) for your vehicle. You also know what it means to stay home if the weather gets too bad (I mean that is where the Donner Party passed through!). You also make the most of your shopping trips, stocking up on plenty of food and water in case you aren’t able to get out for several days.
– Loss of power. As I mentioned, it is not uncommon for my folks to loose power in a severe storm. However, this presents some real challenges. Luckily in our area wood burning stoves are the norm, so heat is provided. Everyone has a generator to rotate between freezers and refrigerators. And it is kind of like camping – salami, cheese, crackers, and a cold beverage is on the menu!
This storm will not be a walk in the park, but by preparing now it will make things easier as the storm continues to pound the area with wind, rain, and snow. While this storm is daunting, the thought of moisture is exciting – as it is desperately needed.
Next week I head to California to spend Christmas with my family and friends. And I am pretty excited! In all of my years in college and living away, I have yet to miss a Christmas at home. Yes I said home, as that is where my heart is… My heart loves the mountains, trees, rivers and lakes, ranches, livestock, and of course family and friends. And I get to see these people…
Where is home for you? Is that where you are spending Christmas?
This a humorous, yet realistic post on the fact that farmers/ranchers have many skills needed to do their daily jobs. It makes me chuckle to think what a business card created by my Dad, a rancher, would look like… would he include things like animal nutritionist, livestock reproduction guru, animal care expert, or fencing, building, and equipment repair specialist?
As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, you may be finalizing travel and/or menu plans, frantically cleaning house in anticipation of guests arriving (maybe that is just me), or counting down the days to Black Friday. In all of the craziness of the holiday season, don’t forget about the meat and food safety of your main dishes. Regardless if you are serving a new cut of beef, frying a turkey, serving savory seafood, glazing a ham, slow roasting lamb, or BBQing it is important to make sure you and your loved ones enjoy your time together!
What are you serving this Thanksgiving? We are serving the traditional turkey, as my sister-in-law is visiting from London, and we thought she would enjoy seeing the American holiday in all of its glory!
I had so much fun digging out old steer showing pictures for last week’s throwback Thursday, that I dug back into the photo archives (as it was before digital existed) to bring you more of my favorites.
One of our family hobbies was riding into the mountains to enjoy fishing, picnicking, camping, and the natural beauty of the good ol outdoors.
Fun fact, the horse I am on, Cayenne, I received through a partnership that U.C. Davis had with 4-H kids who completed an application and provided proof they had facilities and horse knowledge/experience. We picked him up when he was just five months old, and he is an Appaloosa/Standardbred cross. He is now 24 years old and enjoying retirement on the ranch. He LOVED to go to the mountains, he was the only horse we ever owned that would come running to the horse trailer and whinny at it when it pulled up! He was also a ton of fun to ride in the mountains since he was so tall he had a smooth pace and his Standardbred trot could cover some serious ground when needed.
What are your favorite childhood memories? Do they include horses?
Update (3-14-15): I am sad to report that my horse Cayenne has since passed away. Unfortunately, he was in a pasture and rolled into a small, shallow ditch. Even though my parents found him the next morning, it was too late 😦 We had many great years together and I will cherish those memories forever.
My husband is from London, England – born and raised. We met in 2006, were engaged in 2009, and married in 2010.
I had really never thought much about immigration before marrying a non-American. Growing up in agriculture, migrant workers from all over the world were needed to help with annual ranch work, harvest, tending to livestock, and other duties that occur in day-to-day work.
Do I think the U.S. has an immigration problem? Absolutely! However, I believe immigration is necessary and important. At the same time it is not easy, is time-consuming, and it is expensive.
My first-hand experience with immigration has led me to have some unique and personal experiences and thoughts on immigration. There are several ways to become a U.S. citizen through immigration, I am only familiar with the ins-and-outs of marriage immigration.
Last Friday, the hubs and I finally hit a milestone, he received permanent resident status! It has nearly taken five years to get to this point, but now he can take the U.S. citizenship test!
As we prepared for our final interview, and reflected on the past several years preparing for this day to come we thought we would put together a “top 10 list” of things we wish we would have known when we started this journey. Our list is two-fold, we hope that these tips can help others going through the immigration process. We also hope you have a better understanding of what people going through the immigration process endure. We hope you will ask questions about the process instead of assuming what you hear or see through the media is the truth.
10 Immigration Tips when Marrying a non-American (in no particular order)
1. Get an immigration specific lawyer. Our first lawyer was a general practice lawyer who had little to no experience in immigration law, we wasted time and money…
2. Do not try to complete this process yourself – get a lawyer. When you start down the immigration road it seems fairly straightforward, and you believe you can do it yourselves – you can’t. Just hire a lawyer! Having someone to keep all of the forms, rules, and regulations straight is worth it. Additionally, this person will file all of the forms on your behalf and represent you if/when needed.
3. Not sure where to find a good lawyer? Contact your place of employment (for me, that was the University of Nebraska-Lincoln). While they were not able to directly help us since I was not the immigrant, they did provide recommendations for several lawyers, which was tremendously helpful.
4. Do your research. We read everything we could find online about the immigration process. There are many online forums and people who share information about “their experience” which is helpful in understanding what you may experience.
5. The process is going to be expensive! No way to get around it. I am not just talking about the lawyer, you will pay Homeland Security and other entities as you go. You will also have travel expenses to see your lawyer and to get to your nearest immigration center. At one point we took out a small loan from the bank, and at other points we have asked our lawyer to put us on a payment plan.
6. Be sure you completely understand any travel restrictions, time limits, rules, and regulations. A failure to understand these could result in delays or a deferral of your case. For us, there was a time period that we could not travel out of the U.S. until a form had been processed. Every time we moved to a new residence, a new form had to be submitted with the new addresses. There are lots of little caveats that a good lawyer will clearly outline for you.
7. Save everything! At several intervals during the immigration process we were asked to gather evidence of our relationship. It is important to have both names on any financial documents (bank accounts, retirement funds, life insurance policies, etc.), housing/apartment leases, utility bills, tax forms, etc. – anything that shows you coexist together. Also, if friends or family send cards or other life announcements with both of your names, save these. You will need proof of a life together!
8. Take pictures together and with family and friends at every chance you get – document your life. Photos are also a great supplement to the items mentioned above in documenting your life together.
9. When/if you get called for an interview, don’t sweat the small stuff (easier said than done). If your relationship is legit you have nothing to worry about. When we were notified of our interview we were very nervous. We were told sometimes it is random, they may have a question, or they may need a little bit more proof. Even though we are “perfect citizens” there is the fear of the unknown. Our interview was only about 15 minutes, it was straightforward and easy.
10. Be patient. This is not an easy or quick process. Immigration in real-life is not the romantic comedy Hollywood makes it! While each immigration story is different, I hope our insights will either help someone you know going through the process or help you better understand what the process is like.