Looking Back

October 29, 2019

Someone from High School, and yes I am young enough to remember High School, asked the other day when we were catching up, if I’d ever thought my life would end up the way it had.  I looked at them and laughed.  Not because it was a bad question but because I thought it was hilarious that she even thought to ask.


Growing up, I was raised in what I would have called a small Montana town, population pushing 2,000 and proud we were almost there.  My class numbers went up and down from in the 50’s at the lowest and around 75 at the highest.  We were the largest class to have been in the school, the one that the teachers told the next grade level, have fun with that one.  However, biased, we did have fun. I am smiling as I write this but I’m veering off from where I was going.


Back to the topic at hand.  Why did I laugh? Because besides my best friend, I was probably the second one that you would never find living in rural Montana.  I had big ideas, big college goals and a future mapped out.  Best laid plans … which I have heard and now realize truly appreciate as not usually the way it happens.  At the time I would have been upset if anyone had told me I couldn’t or wouldn’t do my plans.  Its amazing though what life and God has planned for you.


I went to college, 2 states away, ready to be a doctor, still hearing from everyone that I should be a lawyer or a teacher, (7 of my family members were teachers and I didn’t want to be a lawyer so both were out.) But, 3 months into school, I realized that I really didn’t enjoy my premed classes but I loved my core classes.  This threw me because for once I didn’t know what, where or why.  It took me two more semesters of school of dabbling here and there, while still taking History and English classes, to finally give in: I was going to be a teacher, History and English.  Yes, most of my family wanted to say I told you so, but thankfully they refrained until I had my degree in hand.  Having finally really figured out what I wanted to do, I realized that I needed to go home. I missed Montana, the rural aspects and life.


Once I graduated from Montana State (Go Bobcats!) I added my English minor at Western and looked for my chance to be a teacher.  That chance took me to a school in Southeastern MT.  I taught Seniors English and Juniors History.  I loved each and every second of it.  I realized that I was living in a place smaller than my hometown, but still big enough that I still classified myself as being from a small town.  


Then I, like many young ladies, found this guy, who lived on a ranch, near a town I had never heard of (yes, even in MT we do not know every single town but probably know someone from every one) doing a job I didn’t know anything about. This guy had a ranch and a feedlot near the town of Melstone.  Quite honestly, I had to look it up to see where it was and why I hadn’t heard much about it. It was small.  I actually had to consider the fact that I was no longer from a small Montana town, compared to Melstone I lived in a city.  (Thankfully, after living here I realize that small means nothing, its the people who matter).


So I had to decide, if I wanted to marry this guy, yes he’d asked, I would have to leave the school I loved teaching in, the friends I had, the kids I loved, and move to somewhere I hadn’t known existed prior to him.  Talk about a leap of faith.


So back to her question, no, I never thought my life would lead to this path, my plans did not even closely resemble them, but they were the plans that I needed and never even knew.

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If not I, then why?

As I sit in my seat, 20,000 feet above the plains of South Dakota, towards Montana, I have to breathe and process the last week. I have just been blessed to spend a week with over 1,000 people, all excited about agriculture, from more than 30 states, and all with the excitement to make their difference in agriculture. A majority of these people were part of our collegiate and Young Farmer & Rancher programs. These young farmers are our up and coming agriculture stars, the place where young agriculturalists can find a home, a network and a place to hone their leadership and advocacy. Then they hit the line, the drop off point: 36. Not too long ago, I was stepping over that line, looking for my place. It took me time, but now I found it, a home after YF&R. Promotion and Education.

Now, I’m sure it seems suspect to say, after advocacy, leadership and networking, I found a place in … promotion and education. I got it, I understand the skepticism. I was too at first. But then I looked at it, saw what it’s purpose was and what it was striving to do. And, in actuality I realize that my time before was leading up to this movement, it was the finish line not just a different road.

Promoting and educating about agriculture. Educating others involved in agriculture, those who use our agricultural products, individuals who set our laws, individuals who enforce our laws, business, in the US and abroad, how much more could you ask for!

I’m not a cheerleader (while I do strive to encourage others) I am a realist and an optimist wrapped up in one. I am optimistic that everyone sees the good individuals in agriculture, the advances we’ve made, the improvements we’ve done, the demands we’ve met and the fact that we work, eat and live right beside you. I’m a realist enough to realize that that isn’t the case. Yes, the vast majority are right in the line of that view, unfortunately it’s the vocal minority that makes promotion and education essential.

If I do not speak up for agriculture, who will? Again, if not I, then why? Why can I expect someone else to do it for me. The answer is, I can’t and I won’t. Am I always going to do it right? Heck no. Am I always going to be politically correct? Nope. Am I always going to care? Yes. Am I always going to do the best I can for my family and the future of agriculture and our place so one day it can pass onto the next generation? Absolutely.

So it will be I, and those around me who I’ve stepped forward to help and advocate, lead, educate and promote. It’s going to be a fun couple years, but a great start toward my next 20 years.

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When Mom’s away

As I have often done in the past few years, I have had to rely on my rancher to run both sides of the household and the ranch while I travel and advocate for agriculture. I tease and joke about having 3 sons, 1 husband and a total of 5 boys, but in reality, I have a partner who is as dedicated to agriculture advocacy as I am, he is just in the supporting role.

I am not sure if it is realized that behind every one of us that advocate for agriculture, that go to the meetings, the conventions, the workshops, that the rest of the world does not stop because I am gone (I have been reminded of this a few times) but in actuality the world gets harder on some.

When I am gone, my husband takes on my role with our family and our ranch.  And this is in addition to the roles he already plays. I forget that, I know the boys forget that and the world does not see it. I have heard people ask him why he lets me travel for agriculture advocacy, his response has never surprised me. He has always said I don’t let her do something, I encourage her to do it, I hold down the fort at home, do what needs to be done in the ranch.  I add that he is also my sounding board on the phone when he gets to bed at night.

The advocate is not only the individual telling the story, teaching how to tell it or encouraging other and advocates, but is the family back home, holding down the fort and doing multiple roles so that advocates can succeed.

This is my family, and my rock standing beside me supporting me.3FD61345-17A0-4CBB-9E47-6AA74E38A1BF

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A walk a way … advocate?

As I was speaking at a workshop today, I was talking about be passionate advocates for agriculture, telling your story but with honesty of the good and the bad, and quite frankly get up and do it because if not you, then who. Then I started going through my own advocacy information and I realized, I have been just as bad in my story. I talk and walk, I preach and push, but I realized today, I’ve been remiss and writing onto my new blog. 😳

There is never a good or a bad time to not write so, again we begin.

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Everything I needed to know about having a baby, I learned from my rancher.

A long time ago (well, 11 years ago) I was a newly pregnant mother to be.  I was excited, scared, and reading everything I could learn about expecting.  Then there was my rancher. He was happy, carefree and an expert on expecting and birthing  -just ask him.  Then be prepared to learn all about expecting and birthing … A calf, which in his mind transferred to a child.

Needless to say, I didn’t quite see the even exchange of the process.

Our first doctor appointment, I had butterflies, a list of questions, and ready to learn everything I could know. My rancher went in ready to talk to the doctor too, success!

We went through the normal first pregnancy questions, tests, and everything to be ready for the doctor. Then the doctor came in. Almost every thought, question and concern I had prepared vanished from my mind.  Thankfully I had written them down.  The doctor started talking and I listened intently, I looked at my rancher, expecting to see his rapt attention and excitement.  However, I saw his mind turning, questions ready to spill out.  My heart was bursting because he had so many questions. When the doctor asked if we had any questions, I eagerly let my rancher talk. Then my education started.

My rancher – “so Dr R, I’m pretty knowledgable about these things, I have 800 calves every year, about 150 of them are first time mom’s.  

My mouth dropped open and then Doctor R was ready to answer back. Good, he will correct him.

Doctor R – that’s good you feel prepared, it’s amazing how similar the pregnancy will be.  Here I was listening intently for his corrections of my rancher and the corrections came to me.  

The pregnancy will be different time wise and you will have to come once a month to the office but she can keep doing normal activities. (Which I had already known, but this seemed to become an irritation rather than a reassurance.)

Dr. R and my rancher preceded to discuss calving and birthing and I sat there in disbelief.  By the time they were done visiting, Dr R had spent 4 min talking to me and 25 talking to my rancher, my list lay on the seat beside me, forgotten until Dr R shook my ranchers hand, congratulated me and walked out the door.

As we left Dr R’s office, my rancher couldn’t figure out why I was so quiet.  He was happy as could be (did I mention I was 2 months pregnant and hormonal?)  Yep, I did what every good wife would do, the silent treatment.

Just like every other hormonal pregnant woman, I calmed down eventually and soon it was checkup time.

When we went to Dr R’s the next month, I was prepared. This was a baby not a calf, but you guessed it, the appointment followed the previous line.  By the 6th month appointment, I gave up and started to listen.  I learned everything I needed to know from my rancher.

Water and feed were essential for the growth of the calf (follow along and insert baby as applicable). 

Check on her a few times a month to make sure she’s getting bigger and seems healthy.  

When the time comes closer, move her to the calving lot so you can check on her more often.  Then

 I learned so much about the calving, err birthing.  

Always feed the “heifer at night, she shouldn’t calve til morning” 
The ultrasound will allow you to see the calf, and possibly if it’s a heifer or bull calf.

Watch for the calf getting farther down the pelvic area.

Once you see the water sack, keep alittle closer eye on her because if she hasn’t calved in a couple hours, you need to take her to the calving shed.

The heifer isn’t progressing so it’s time to hook up the ob chains (called the same for both instances) and to pull the calf.

When baby calf comes, have some straw to tickle the nose just in case.

And make sure to let Mom and calf bond quietly.

So, when you insert mom and baby, yes, it’s true. Everything I needed to know about having a baby, I learned from my rancher.

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First Impressions. 

 The first day of Brazil was an interesting experience. After walking through a downtown market, half rummy from lack of sleep, we headed to our hotel. It became apparent that there were big plans within São Paulo.  Everywhere people were dressed in their country colors, banners and flags. Our interpreter, Walter, explained the significance.  The people of Brazil were holding peaceful demonstrations throughout the major cities in Brazil (2 million expected here alone) demanding for the resignation of their president and the end to the corruption.  She has an 8% approval rating currently, it’s it falling continuously.  Walter was hopeful that Brasil would take the opportunity to form their government in a manner away from communism (which many felt Brasil had unofficially) and toward a more democratic society. 

What was so amazing to see was how people of all ages, families, all walked in peaceful demonstrations of national pride and solidarity.  There were no riots, no fighting, just solidarity.  They had police in place but there was no need for them, they were a pro caution that was standing and watching.  I wish our country would take a que from the manner that Brasil showed in their peaceful protest.  It was truly awe inspiring to see and to have been allowed to witness.


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Brazil, ready or not

A passion for agriculture is a part of my family. Which then requires time, dedication and effort, on and off the ranch.  PAL was a mixture of all three. The dedication and effort were never a concern, I knew that I would have both of these. Time however, would be both my ally and my enemy.  Time spent on coursework, research and mostly away from my family.  

Before PAL, we sat down as a family and talked about the “what ifs”. If Mom was selected for the program, could we handle the time that I would have to dedicate to the Program. It would mean weeks away from the ranch but mostly weeks away from my family.  Weeks away from a hardworking husband and 3 busy boys.  This was the toughest decision that we had to make, and we did it as a family. 

The final answer came from #2 when he said “Mom you have to do it, it’s what will help you fight for our ranch in the future.  And there are crazy people who you have to argue with.” 

How could I argue, I wasn’t crazy! 😋

New York was fun and the boys taught their dad how to FaceTime. Washington DC was busier at home because of the boys being in school and activities, this trip, Brazil, has been the hardest yet.  

I left on a plane with 3 sad boys, upset that Mom was going to another continent, proud but scared. The total time from Billings MT to Sao Polo was 22 hours for me. Not an easy jump on a plane if they needed me ASAP! But it’s so beneficial and that is why I am sitting on a plane, sleep deprived and yet still ready to learn about agriculture. To expand that passion for the future of agriculture.

So today, ready or not, Brazil is waiting and I am here. 

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Farming 365

As we go into another Labor Day, I have to think about the agriculture industry and the concept of #farm365 and #FBProud.  

I feel pride when I think and see those 2 hash tags, they define who I am and who my family is.  We are Farm Bureau proud. I am proud to be a member of an organization where the entire goal and basis is for the support of agriculture, not as a figured head, but as neighbors going forward, to counties, to the state and finally to American. How can you not be proud to be part of such a amazing organization.

Then I look at #farm365.  There are no holidays for agriculture. Labor Day, Christmas Day, Easter. All holidays, all days of the week, and still days where animals need fed, taken care of, milked by some, eggs collected at others, irrigation during some of the holidays and cutting hay on others.  #farm365 is truly what agriculture is. Farmers and ranchers grow the crops and raise the animals that everyone use on their holiday. And we don’t do it for the recognition. Rather we do it for our way of life, our neighbors way of life, the shopper at the store and everyone who enjoys the meal before them.  As you sit down this weekend, weather your lunch, dinner or breakfast, your bbq at the lake or your day off from work, take a second, and think of the farmer who is working just another day in our paradise. #farm365 


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NYC from a Ranch Girl

So I made it to NYC. Alittle earlier than expected, but more time to enjoy and maybe even figure this place out.  First impressions, is there even a sky up there? Then I went up to the top of a building, World Trade Center 1, and yes there is a sky?! And you truly can see forever.  Only forever was not to mountains or even hills, but rather an ocean and a lot of roof tops.  Amazing in its own rights but definitely not a ranchers view.  I did however see a NYC garden,  


Pretty sure they do not use flood, wheel line or pivot irrigation.

Another thing that struck me was how there was such a disconnect from people and the outdoors.  The instructions and hints for the subway even tell you, “Do not make eye contact. Doing so could be construed as a sign of aggression.”  Toto, we’re not in Montana anymore! 

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New adventures!

Well, here I go! Today I begin the first part of my trip for PAL!  While I have a few extra days before it starts, excitement and nerves are playing at each other.  This also starts the journey of 2 years where I leave my family and the ranch behind at different times to learn new ideas as well as enhance my current skills in the promotion of Agriculture.  I am blessed to have a family that believes in me and believes in Agriculture.  

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