Are you prepared for a flood?

There has been a lot of talk this week about the 1997 flood. Twenty years ago, on New Year’s Eve (1996) my Dad and I went goose hunting. We had set out our decoys and had a good early morning hunt, however, it started raining so we packed everything up, leaving the bags of decoys in a dry irrigation ditch. The next day we went back to get the decoys, as it was still raining. Three days later the rain finally stopped, but left massive destruction in its wake. I will never forget that flood and all of the unfortunate circumstances of those in its’ path. Now, as talk is recirculating about another flood, it may be time to familiarize ourselves with some good tips during floods. Information below has come from the Red Cross, FEMA, and the National Weather Service.

How do I know if my home/business is in a flood plain? The best local resource for information on flooding is Nevada Floods (you may have something similar in your states) Under “know your risk,” and then “will you flood?” you can put your address in, and the map will indicate your risk of flooding.

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Flood watch means that flooding is possible in your area. You should be prepared to move to higher ground upon short notice. A flood warning means a flood is occurring or is about to occur. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

But do I really have to leave my home? If the danger is significant, local authorities may issue an evacuation notice to alert residents in an area that flooding will be or is occurring and it is important to leave the area. Evacuation orders vary by community and by state, and may range from voluntary to mandatory. When authorities issue a mandatory evacuation notice, leave the area immediately. If you have pets take them with you. If you cannot take them with you make arrangements to board them at a facility well away from flood danger. Keep in mind the Five Ps of Evacuation: people, prescriptions, paper, personal needs, and priceless items (these are more clearly defined below).

Before a flood:

  • Water: At least a 3-day supply (one gallon per person per day and extra if you have pets)
  • Food: At least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy to prepare foods
  • Medications: At least a 7-day supply
  • Medical items: Hearing aids and batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, canes or other walking assistance tools, items for people with disabilities
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Rubber boots and rubber gloves
  • Copies of personal documents (medication lists, important medical information, deed/lease to home, birth and/or marriage certificates, insurance policies, etc.)
  • Cell phones and chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Extra blankets, clothing, and shoes
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, water, carrier, bowl, blankets, toys)
  • Extra sets of vehicle and house keys
  • Priceless items or valuables
  • Rain gear
  • Camera for photos of damage
  • A NOAA weather radio which receives broadcast alerts directly from the National Weather Service

During a flood:

  • Listen to the TV and/or radio for flood warnings and reports of flooding
  • Check web sites (for example, National Weather Service)
  • Be prepared in case there is a power outage, have electronic devices charged
  • Take advantage of sandbags if your home/business is in a flood prone area – be prepared, as these take longer to fill than you might think. See Sandbagging Techniques for information about how to fill and place sandbags
  • If you have a basement, make sure your sump pump is working, consider a backup battery operated one if necessary
  • Clear debris from gutters or downspouts
  • Cautiously clear small items out of waterways, anything bigger than a tumbleweed should be removed by an emergency service person
  • Anchor any fuel tanks and outdoor furniture
  • Move important documents and valuables to a safe place
  • Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice
  • When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there
  • Do not try to walk in flood waters, just six inches is enough to knock you down
  • Do not try to cross a flooded road, turn around and find an alternative route. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of water
  • Keep children out of the water
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize potential dangers
  • Know your evacuation routes (several may need to be identified) and have a place to stay
  • Ensure your vehicle has a full tank of gas and is ready to go if you need to leave an area quickly
  • If you do not have a place to go, contact the city to determine where evacuation shelters are located
  • Establish a communication plan with family – determine ahead of time where you will meet or go if you should get separated
  • Use text messaging or social media to let friends and family know you are safe

If you should happen to get trapped in a building, vehicle, or outdoors during a flood, get to the highest spot you can and try to signal or call for help.

After a flood:

  • Only return home when officials have declared the area safe
  • Shut off utilities until it can be determined that they do not pose a risk
  • Use flashlights, not lanterns, torches, or matches to examine buildings, as open flames may cause a fire or explosion if gases have been leaking
  • Before entering your home, look for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks, or other damage
  • If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department
  • If parts of your home are collapsed or damaged, approach carefully
  • During cleanup, wear protective clothing, rubber gloves, and rubber boots
  • Be especially cautious of mold, asbestos, or lead paint contamination
  • If food or water have come into contact with floodwater, discard these items
  • Work with your insurance company if you have flood insurance
  • Let people know you are safe

Unfortunately we cannot prevent floods, but we can prepare for them. Having a plan in place and communicating that with people closest to you will help ensure peace of mind and safety.


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Best of 2016… Agriculture to art

My blogging took a backseat this year after moving from Nebraska to Nevada and getting settled in out west. Resettling took more time than I thought, but that is a post for next year 🙂

I look forward to getting back on track and bringing great stuff to you in 2017. Until then, I wanted to share some of the best posts of 2016, as well as some all-time favorites.

Top 5 posts written in 2016…

  1. Does freezing meat make it more tender?
  2. Meat: To wash or not wash?
  3. Robot butchers? Technology coming to your table
  4. Grain Silo Art
  5. Clay pot cooking: Cornish Game Hens

Reader all-time favorites…

  1. Is the beef industry sustainable: A look at grass-fed, hormones, growth promotants, and more
  2. No added hormones & no antibiotics – meat labeling terms (3)
  3. Chicken ears – the better to hear you with…
  4. Why is there a hole in that steer?… Fistulated Fun Fact Friday
  5. Organic vs. Natural Programs – meat labeling terms (2)
  6. Processed meats and cancer: Fearmongering or true concern?

And because I just like these…

  1. Growing up a rich rancher’s kid
  2. Poop patty… Is there fecal material in your hamburger?
  3. Caring for livestock in cold temperatures
  4. Dark cutting beef… Fun Fact Friday
  5. Butchers, are you talking to yours? 21 conversations you should be having (if you are not already)

I hope you have a happy and healthy New Year!


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Flight 296: The day we lost brakes

Everything we do in life has a certain amount of risk associated with it. Travel is one of those things.

Recently I was flying home after attending BloggyCon. I had had a layover in Denver, so I grabbed a late lunch and boarded the plane just like normal. It was essentially a typical non-eventful air travel day. As we pushed away from the terminal and started heading out to our runway the pilot quickly stopped the plane. I had an isle seat, but I did’t think much about it, as it is not uncommon for pilots to stop quickly. However, we did not move again. A guy sitting on the other side of the isle against the window says, we are in the grass. At first I didn’t think I heard him correctly, “In the grass?” I ask. He confirmed it. The pilot then makes an announcement that says our aircraft had lost brakes and he put the engines into emergency reverse mode, hence the quick stop.

out-the-window
We were in good hands. Photo taken by the lady with the window seat in my row. 

Since that day I have had several people ask me what the atmosphere was like on the plane. It was calm. No one screamed, no one was hurt. It didn’t take us long to figure out that we were very glad we lost brakes while still on the ground as opposed to landing in Reno. As we sat on the plane, a maintenance crew worked on the brakes below us and the pilot gave updates as he knew them. The flight crew did their best to answer questions and provide information. Everyone got to know their neighbors. There was a sense of togetherness and camaraderie with the people near me.

It was finally decided that the plane could not be towed back to the terminal at that time. They were going to evacuate the plane and bus us all back to the terminal. We unloaded the plane from the rear. They had numerous emergency service professionals to assist us as well as the flight crew and the airport representatives waiting for us. We all made our way onto buses that took us back to the terminal.

off-the-plane
First time to leave a plane by the rear exit. 
from-the-bus
Back to the airport we go.

We were greeted in the terminal with water, meal vouchers, and confirmation that we would be boarding another plane that night headed to Reno. Everyone seemed relieved we would be heading home and that we weren’t going to be staying overnight in Denver.

The second plane finally arrived, we reboarded with a new flight crew. This flight went just as planned, and we had a safe landing in Reno. Although this incident caused about a three hour delay, it is safe to say that I personally was very glad to find out we did not have brakes in Denver before we took off. I cannot even imagine what the possible outcome would have been had we discovered that when we landed in Reno. I think every person on that plane probably spent a few minutes reflecting on what is important in their life and thanked someone or something for giving us a positive outcome.

I boarded another plane this week. The reward outweighed the risk for me.

I wanted to give a shoutout to United airlines (the airline I happened to be flying during this incident), as they did an excellent job handing a volatile situation. They provided continuous updates, were friendly and helpful, sent a survey about our experience immediately, and offered points or a cash credit toward our next flight. It was a good case study in crisis communication.

Disclaimer: United Airlines has in no form or fashion compensated me for writing this post. I am just glad to be here today to share my story about United flight 296.

Have you ever had a close call when traveling?


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Gene-editing: Improved animal welfare and food security?

I recently came across an article from the Progressive Dairyman magazine called Gene-editing tool could improve animal welfare and food security written by Holly Drankhan. I would strongly encourage reading it as it talks about some emerging technology that not only can make great advancements in animal welfare, but also help potentially make cattle more efficient in milk production and rebreeding.

Additionally, CRISPR technology differs from the technology used to created genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and it is important to understand the differences.

As quoted from the article:  “In the same way that spell-check identifies and corrects single-letter errors in a word or grammar errors in a sentence, gene editing can be used to identify and change the letters that make up the genetic code within an individual,” wrote Alison Van Eenennaam, an animal genomics and biotechnology cooperative extension specialist for the University of California – Davis Department of Animal Science, in an eXtension article published in 2015.

One of the major benefits of this CRISPR technology is creating cattle without horns (polled) which greatly increases safety for other animals and people. Check out the video here:

Where else could CRISPR technology be used?

**Note: no compensation was received for this post. I just believe the information was worth sharing.


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Technology: Reflecting on successes and challenges

What if I told you that some of the best scientists in the world have come up with amazing technology? Technology that could potentially save lives? Technology that could decrease water and pesticide use? Technology that would help people make a better living for themselves and their families?

Hopefully you are asking yourself why this technology is not being used? Or maybe you are thinking, get this technology into the hands of the people who can use it most.

Unfortunately, this technology is hung up in the regulatory process. Unrealistic timelines and costs to bring this technology to fruition…

This technology is biotechnology. You may be most familiar with biotechnology when a Vitamin A fortified rice (aka Golden Rice) was created or when biotechnology saved the papaya industry in Hawaii.

To better grasp these opportunities and challenges, check out 20 Years of Innovation: Reflecting on Successes and Challenges of Biotech Crops by Craig Rickard, executive director for plant biotechnology at CropLife International.

**Note: I am not receiving any compensation for this post. I just find the information very relevant and informative.


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Veganism for children?

This morning my husband sent me a link to an article that I thought I would share here with all of you, as it seems to be such a problem that laws in Italy may go into place. Veganism for childrenItaly may outlaw veganism for kids.

As published on The Daily Beast by Barbie Latza Nadeau:

Italians do love their wild boar pasta and thick Florentine steaks. So it is no wonder that not long after Chiara Appendino, the new mayor of Turin, announced that she would like to see her northern Italian town become the country’s first “vegan city,” Elvira Savino, an opposing politician, announced she had a beef with that. Then Savino promptly introduced a law that would make raising children on a vegan diet a crime.

Under the proposed legislation (PDF), which will be debated in parliament this fall, parents who raise a child on a vegan diet could face a year in prison if their child is over three years of age, and two years in prison if the child is younger. The sentence increases to four years if the vegan child develops a serious health condition, and up to seven years if the child dies from anything related to malnourishment.

This is not as far-fetched as at first it might seem. The law has a chance of passing.

Support for it gained traction this summer after two children in northern Italian towns were hospitalized due to vitamin deficiencies thought to be tied to their enforced vegan diets. In late June, a two-year-old girl in Genoa was treated in an intensive care unit of a local hospital after she became unresponsive. Doctors said she suffered from severely low hemoglobin and an extreme B12 deficiency. Her parents were investigated by social services and, though not charged with any crimes, advised that if their child falls ill again under similar circumstances, they could be charged with neglect.

A few weeks later, a one-year-old boy was nearly removed from his home in Milan after a local judge there ruled that his parents’ vegan diet was detrimental to his health and “incompatible” with the growing child’s nutritional needs. The child was breastfed by his vegan mother for most of the first year of his life, and the judge ruled that his mother’s milk was not sufficiently nourishing. The child weighed just 11 pounds, more in line with a three-month old baby, and far less than a child that age should weigh. The parents must now prove that they are providing high protein alternatives and supplements that include meat and fish or risk losing their child to foster care.

For all that, veganism is growing in popularity in Italy. According to the health ministry around 2.9 percent of Italians subscribe to the strict dietary lifestyle which avoids all animal foods, not only meat, poultry, fish and shellfish, but also eggs, milk and honey. (More than seven percent of Italians are vegetarian, which is rather less demanding.)

Italian health authorities do not recommend a vegan diet for growing children. In the Italian school system, parents can only ask that their child be given a vegan school lunch if they have a medical certificate that states specifically the child’s medical condition, which must be an allergy or intolerance, that prohibits them from eating foods made from animals, especially milk and cheese products, which are considered staples for Italian children.

When Appendino, who is from the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement party, introduced her vegan program for Turin, she noted the importance of education in adopting the vegan lifestyle and said she would dedicate her mandate to education in this area. “The promotion of vegan and vegetarian diets is a fundamental act in safeguarding our environment, the health of our citizens and the welfare of our animals,” her program states. “Leading medical, nutritional and political experts will help promote a culture of respect in our schools, teaching children how to eat well while protecting the earth and animal rights.”

The law introduced by Savino, who is from Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia center-right party, would not make veganism illegal, but it would make it virtually impossible for parents to impose the dietary lifestyle on children under the age of 16.

“I have nothing against vegans or veganism as long as it is a free choice by adults,” she told Reuters. “I just find it absurd that some parents are allowed to impose their will on children in an almost fanatical, religious way, often without proper scientific knowledge or medical consultation. ‘Do-it-yourself’ on these matters is what terrorizes me.”

The International Vegan Rights Alliance has condemned the proposed law, calling it “unfair, extremely misguided and discriminatory” in an open letter to Savino, and threatening to take the battle for veganism to the European Commission of Human Rights if the law passes.

If the law does pass, it could theoretically also pave the way to other legislation that protects children, including laws that would make a diet of fast food or excessive sweets illegal, or that would prohibit children from sipping wine at their parents’ dinner table. By law, children over the age of 10 in Italy are allowed to consume alcoholic beverages like beer and wine if a parent or guardian is with them.

Andrea Ghiselli, president of the Italian Society of Food Science, argues that any legislation should encompass all bad food choices. “Why just focus on a tiny fraction of society that imposes veganism on children?” he says. “Why not make illegal all the bad food choices parents make for their children?”

 This post is not intended to start an argument. I want to simply shed some light on a potentially serious problem for children. I am not a medical doctor, so I will not issue medical advice. However, if you choose to feed your children a vegetarian or vegan diet, please do careful research to ensure they are getting all of the nutrients needed for their young and growing minds and bodies. What are your thoughts on this lifestyle and the potential laws against it?
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Using Social Media to “Agvocate” for Farmers and Scientists

It is no secret that I am passionate about agriculture. I am a fourth generation agriculturalist, educated in various agricultural sciences, and I love the advancements that science and technology are bringing forward in agriculture and food production daily. I try to share my love of ag on all of my social media platforms.

Recently, I had a great interview with the wonderful people at CropLife International. CropLife International’s mission speaks to me, as it reads: We champion the role of agricultural innovations in crop protection and plant biotechnology to support and advance sustainable agriculture.

To read the interview check out Using social media to “agvocate” for farmers and scientists. You may also want to check out other blog posts with great information.

Croplife International can also be found on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

**Note: I was note paid or provided compensation in anyway for this interview or to share information about CropLife International. I just happen to believe in their mission, and we share a common passion for agriculture and the farmers and agriculturalists around the world.


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Animals and heat stress

This week in northern Nevada we are expected to reach 100+ degrees (Fahrenheit), luckily our humidity is low at 5-12%. This type of dry heat can be a serious problem for livestock. Also very problematic is high heat and high humidity areas of the country. With the humidity, the animals’ core temperatures takes longer to cool as the night time temperatures occur much later in the evening, if at all.

It is essential to ensure all animals (and humans) have access to plenty of clean, cool water. If possible, they need a place to get out of the sun, whether that be a shed/building or trees. Also, make sure any airflow will get to them, blocking wind or even a breeze can greatly increase their discomfort. Providing a water mist may be helpful and cooling to animals, however, droplet size is key! Large droplet sizes are best. Finally, if you must move or work livestock during these high temperature events try to do it early in the morning or in the evening when the temperatures start to cool down.

I have written about heat stress on several occasions, you can read more at:

Heat stress… How cattle are made more comfortable

Heat stress: Something to sweat about

Heat stress: What you need to know to make livestock shows a success


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GMO bill passed by Congress

Congress has passed a GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) bill. According to MeatingPlace.com, on July 14, 2016 the U.S. House of Representatives voted 306-117 to pass a bill establishing a national mandatory system of disclosure for foods containing genetically modified or engineered ingredients.

The bill says, “To amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a national disclosure standard for bioengineered foods, and for other purposes.”

Since the Senate also approved the bill on July 7, in a 63-30 vote, the bill will now be sent to President Obama who has agreed to sign it. The proposed bill was a compromise between Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), chairman of the Senate Agricultural Committee, and Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), ranking member, that will give food manufacturers three options for affixing a GMO label to their goods:

  1. Text, a symbol, or a written statement on the package,
  2. A link to a website or a phone number to call to ask about the food product,
  3.  A QR (Quick Response) code that shoppers would scan with their smartphones to look up information about the food product.

Reportedly, there will be no penalties of fines imposed for noncompliance. Additionally, the bill’s requirements for labeling will be phased in over the coming years, allowing food companies time to adapt.

In reading through the bill, it outlines when a food would/would not meet the criterion expressed about as containing genetically engineered foods. It also states, “SAFETY.—For the purpose of regulations promulgated and food disclosures made pursuant to paragraph (2), a bioengineered food that has successfully completed the pre-market Federal regulatory review process shall not be treated as safer than, or not as safe as, a non-bioengineered counterpart of the food solely because the food is bioengineered or produced or developed with the use of bioengineering.”

The bill exempts foods in which meat and poultry are the main ingredients. GMOAnswers.com addresses the question of If livestock eat genetically modified grain, will there be GMOs in my meat?  The short answer is no, however to fully understand why, be sure to check out the article. Another interesting read is No sign of health or nutrition problems from GMO livestock feed (peer-reviewed journal article linked in article). The bill also exempts gene-edited food items, or items where genes have been removed. To learn more about gene editing, this article on Questions and answers about CRISPR does a good job explaining. Ultimately determining what exactly a GMO product is will be determined by the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) reports Food Safety Magazine.

This agreement was reached just days before the nation’s first biotechnology food labeling law was set to go into effect in Vermont on July 1. This bill prohibits individual states from mandating labels of food or seed that is genetically engineered, creating a patchwork of varying state standards which would needlessly add cost for food companies that package foods and create unnecessary alarm among consumers, reports Mankato Free Press. Additionally, individual state requirements would make it extremely difficult for food manufacturers to distribute food products in multiple states without running into legislative inconsistencies, not to mentioning costs that would be passed to the consumer.

If you keep up on the labeling of genetically modified foods, then you know there has also strong opposition to it. GMO Answers addresses some of those concerns in Why do GMO companies seem like they are so against labeling GMO foods? 

Want more information about GMOs? Some great resources I recommend include:

What do you think about this new bill? Will it be something you look for when you shop for food?

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Ag lives matter… Slow down

We have all experienced inconsiderate and dangerous drivers, but in the agricultural community that risk can be even greater when large, heavy equipment is involved. Recently, a longtime family friend was telling our local branch of Cattlewomen about an experience that happened to her daughter’s friend.  Please read the editorial that Annalyn Settelmeyer submitted to the local papers.

Our teenage daughter, niece and their friends are helping on the hay crew this summer.  My daughter’s 15 year old friend was driving a tractor and hay tedder through Genoa yesterday.  At the main intersection stop sign, her tractor stalled. The tractor has fail safes and is difficult to restart in a fast manner. People behind her were upset started flipping her off, calling her a moron and questioning her parent’s linage. She had never been yelled at or called these names before and got flustered which in turn, exacerbated the situation.  She finally managed to get the tractor going and headed to Jacks Valley.

I grew up near Genoa and was ashamed of such bully-like behavior.  I would like to invite them to come drive a tractor.  People often talk about moving to the area because of the rural lifestyle, green open spaces, cattle and eagles in the fields. We are an agriculture based community and you will often see farm equipment.  This summer while you’re traveling around the valley, please remember we farmers and ranchers have a narrow window to get hay crops up for our cattle and hay customers.  This means more motorists and farming equipment sharing the roads.

According to the National Safety Council 1/3 of all tractor accidents happen on public roads.  Farm equipment moves slowly. A car traveling 55 mph toward a tractor can close a gap the length of a football field (300 ft.) in FIVE seconds.  Our equipment is only moving 15 mph so please slow down as soon as you see a farm implement and the slow moving equipment sign. Our equipment is heavy and difficult to stop.  We need room, don’t assume we can see you.  We don’t have the opportunity to move off the edge of the roads safely allowing others to get by.

The key to safety with farm equipment: caution and patience.  Please slow down.  Don’t follow too closely.  Never cut between the equipment and the escort vehicle if there is one, the escort is there to protect you and us.  Don’t pass until it is clearly safe.  Often it will be difficult or impossible to see where we are entering a field.  Please pay attention to our blinkers and hand signals.  Yes, when making that turn we do have to swing wide.  Yield to large wide equipment coming the opposite direction as well, our equipment is heaver and bigger than most passenger vehicles.

We understand we are delaying you, but please understand we don’t want to be on the road any more than we have too.  We are being as careful as we can.  The main issue is when others are impatient. We have to move in a diligent way to remain safe. We are doing our jobs in proving food for our families and yours.  Please remember, it is someone’s dad, mom, son or daughter driving that tractor.  We are your neighbors, your kids coach, your politician, your church member, and your pharmacist’s daughter.  We share a community together, please, for a short window each year, share the roads with us as well.   We love our teenage daughter, niece and their friends who are working hay crews this summer and are passing on not only a tradition, but a lifestyle that has been in this valley for generations.  Thank you so much!

If you ever encounter a piece of agricultural equipment, a combine, or livestock in the road please proceed with caution. These pieces of equipment are large and heavy, they cannot stop quickly. Ask yourself if passing the agricultural equipment in a dangerous spot is worth dying for or killing someone else? Is something so important that you can’t wait a couple more minutes to pass?


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