One Story of Many

I am supposed to write once a week… I may be a week or two behind – simply because things have been just a little crazy in my neck of the woods.  As you may have seen in Cindy’s post a couple of weeks ago – I have accepted a position at Brownfield Ag News in Indiana.  I will start there June 13th.  But the past few weeks I have been house hunting in Indianapolis and Lafayette… and I have yet to find anything.  I won’t lie – I’ve been whining about it all week.  But – we’re making strides and we’ll get there eventually.  I am however incredibly excited about writing the next chapter in my life.

As riveting as my lamenting about house hunting is – I want to share a story that really touched my heart.  In fact – it reminded me how blessed I am to have a roof over my head.  Meet Ted Glaser.  He’s a farmer from Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana.  I spoke with him on Monday about some of the issues going on in the south along the Mississippi River.  Glaser is in a tough spot – he farms a 4,000 acre diversified operation.  One quarter of that is inside the Morganza Floodway.  Ted told me they gave them just a few weeks to get what they needed from inside that now flooded ground.

But the challenges don’t stop there.  They may be flooded in certain areas… But Glaser said just across the dam they are in dire need of a rain. He noted off the air he’d hate to be answering prayers from farmers this year…. His quick wit brought a smile to my face.  I have to admit – I’m always amazed at the resiliency of the farmer and the ability to roll with the punches.  No matter how big… or small.

I think that was the lesson learned.

Happy Thanksgiving From South Dakota!

sunset Wishing a warm, safe and happy Thanksgiving from my family in South Dakota to yours. Where will you be spending the holidays? What are you thankful for this year?

In echoing the sentiments of Cindy’s Thanksgiving post, today is a day to be thankful and count our many blessings. While most of us have a family to share the day with, in a welcoming home with plenty of food to go around, it’s been said that one in eight Americans goes hungry each night. In his Thanksgiving Address, Obama has promised to work to shape of the state of the economy in order to help struggling American families.

According to the AFP, President Barack Obama vowed to put the US economy back on track in his Thanksgiving address to the nation Thursday, but admitted there were still too few jobs being created. Acknowledging that millions of Americans were unemployed and “facing very difficult economic times,” Obama said he would not rest until the economy is rebuilt stronger than before. He listed tax cuts, extending unemployment benefits and help for homeowners facing foreclosure, among the measures taken to help Americans weather the crisis as well as his aim of overhauling the nation’s health care system.

In the meantime, let’s do all we can do to help those struggling to put food on the dinner table. Statistics show that one farmer/rancher can feed up to 144 people each year, but it’s time we start spreading that food around. Donate food to a local food pantry or volunteer at a shelter this year. Give your time, talents and treasures to help others this year. Happy Thanksgiving!

Give Up Meat To Save the Planet?

Fall-Reggie A group called the Vegetarian Society is standing up once again attribute global warming and the end to the universe to meat eaters. The article, Climate chief Lord Stern: give up meat to save the planet, published in Times Online, urged folks to turn vegetarian in order for the world to conquer climate change.

In an interview with The Times, Lord Stern of Brentford said: “Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better.”

He predicted that people’s attitudes would evolve until meat eating became unacceptable. “I think it’s important that people think about what they are doing and that includes what they are eating,” he said. “I am 61 now and attitudes towards drinking and driving have changed radically since I was a student. People change their notion of what is responsible. They will increasingly ask about the carbon content of their food.”

This is absolute bogus and total hypocrisy. I recently compiled a top ten list of ways that meat production is beneficial to the environment, and I firmly believe that agriculturalists are the original environmentalists, serving as stewards of the land and care givers to the livestock. And, more importantly consumers should feel confident in serving a well-balanced, wholesome meal (that includes animal protein) to their families. It’s amazing how a few animal rights activists and trendy green advocates can create a buzz so big with their banter that they can actually change mainstream public perceptions on the good, wholesome food we eat. Thanks for the soap box. Now, here is a few statistics from my list

1. American agriculture is sustainable for the future. In the United States, 98 percent of farms are family farms. Today’s American farmer feeds about 144 people worldwide. 2009 versus 1960: 1.8 million less farms are feeding a U.S. population that has increased 61 percent. (Explore Beef)

2. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the entire U.S. agriculture sector accounts for only 6 percent of annual U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Of this, livestock production is estimated to account for 2.8 percent of total U.S. emissions. (EPA Climate Change Report)

3. If livestock production disappeared tomorrow, wouldn’t we just be transporting more tofu around? And wouldn’t we just be plowing and fertilizing the land to supply PETA’s vegetarian utopia? (Center for Consumer Freedom)

4. Grazing animals on land not suitable for producing crops more than doubles the land area that can be used to produce food. If 1955 technology were used to produce the amount of beef raised today, 165 million more acres of land would be needed – that’s about the size of Texas! (Explore Beef)

Catch Me On The Road!

amanda1 It’s looking like things are going to continue to stay busy for me in my first year as an agriculture writer and speaker. In addition to my work on the ranch, I have been traveling across the country speaking to various agriculture groups on hot topics such as the next generation of food producers, online social networking, agriculture advocacy and more. Here is a list of my upcoming events; I would love to catch up with you on the road, if our schedules allow. Let me know if you’re in the area! And, if you’re in need of a speaker for your next meeting or event, just give me a holler! Hope to meet some of you soon!

Sept. 16, 2009 – SDSU Beef Leadership Experience Opening Keynote, Brookings, SD; Address to SDSU animal science freshmen on the importance of getting involved. I will also be speaking to the Block and Bridle group that evening to expand upon the same topic.

Oct. 9-11, 2009 – 2010 National Beef Ambassador Contest, Fort Smith, AR; I will present the inspirational keynote to the ambassador contestants, as well as present a workshop to the CattleWomen on online social networking.

Nov. 21, 2009 – Agriculture Banquet, SD Department of Ag, Pierre, SD; keynote address, “What Happened to the Next Generation of Agriculturalists?”

Jan. 30-31, 2010 – North Dakota Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference, Minot, ND.

Feb. 12-13 – Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference, Frankenmuth, MI.

Catch Me in Pierre Tomorrow!

ANCW_Logo Today, I’m hitting the road to attend an event with the South Dakota CattleWomen’s Association. I will be their keynote speaker at the Ramkota Inn in Pierre, S.D. during their noon luncheon. I will be speaking on my life since being the 2006 National Beef Ambassador and explaining the importance of getting involved in our agriculture industry. I’m excited to hit the road again with speaking gigs, and I will let you know my speaking schedule as it comes up. Hopefully, we can meet down the road somewhere.

For now, here is a little teaser of my speech: I will be diving into the ins and outs of my involvement in the beef cattle industry. I’ll explain the successes and failures, the good ideas and the bad, the internships, the study abroad trips and my final year of college in making the decision to go back to the family cattle ranch and work as a self-employed speaker and writer. Finally, I will challenge the cattlewomen to stand up and get involved in their own agriculture advocacy. I’ll report back next week with how it turns out. Stay tune for updates on my upcoming adventures! Next on the list is a day at SDSU, speaking for the new Beef Leadership Experience Program!

What I’ve Been Up To Lately…

Diego It’s been a few weeks since I have had the chance to sit down and blog on AgWired. I can’t believe how crazy busy the summer got, and how quickly it is fading into fall. In the past two weeks, I was at the Minnesota and South Dakota State Fairs with cattle in tow, and it’s amazing how much time and effort goes into taking a few head of cattle to display at livestock expositions! Anyway, I thought I would share some of the highlights of the last couple of weeks, and now, it’s time to get back in the saddle and get down to the business of blogging!

While at the fairs, I took in cattle shows, Century Farm Awards, Beef Cookoffs, speech contests, town hall meetings, carnival food, concerts and more. In the upcoming weeks, I will share all of it with you. So, get ready for a fun recap of my state fair adventures. And, while we’re at it, why don’t you tell me some of your state fair stories? What have you been up to lately? What fairs did you attend, and what did you do while you were there? Can’t wait to hear all about it!

Birthday Wish Thank You’s

I just wanted to let everyone who sent in a birthday wish last week know how much I appreciate it. I would love to respond personally to all of them but since it’s now over 100 emails and other forms of messaging I just can’t git ‘er done. I truly value and appreciate all of you and your support.

Here’s another of my favorite lines from someone who sent in their top 10 things about turning 50:

You can tell your clients that if an old guy born in 1958 can use the “new” social media, anybody can.

Right on. I’ve used that line a couple of times already.

Milestone Mania

CZ YoungSince Cindy took it upon herself to inform the agrimarketing world that I am no longer young (at least in one sense) I thought it only fair to voice how thankful I am for the incredible response. Well most of it anyway. There are some of you who have a mean streak.

I’ve now got a little over 50 bday wishes and the day is young. Some of my favorite lines so far include:

Beat me by 3 days.
You look so good to be soooooo old!
’58 was a vintage year, wouldn’t you agree?
What? 50? I thought you were around 40! Man, whatever you are doing keep doing it. Maybe the secret is good scotch??
50 is easy…wait ’til you hit 60!
You don’t look a day over 60….
But so you don’t get too big a head, Chuck, remember there are others who’ve paved that half-a-century highway for you.
Chuck: The bow tie. Dude
CZ OldYou’ve got five years on me, which means I’ve got five years before I hit the 5-0 mark…and believe me, 50 is going to be a piece of baclava.
Have a great next 1/2 century.
. . . today’s 50 is the new 30.
Here’s hoping you mark the date appropriately, then punctuate it with a damn good cigar.
Chuck, I don’t know if you understand Dutch, van harte gefeliciteerd. Proficiat. Een mijlpaal. Nog 50 nieuwe jaren
Take comfort in knowing you have to be 55 to get even your “junior” senior citizen credentials.
I’ll buy you one to celebrate the 5-0 at NAMA!
Just wanted to Congratulate someone older than me!!!!!!! (I turn 50 in Dec….)

I’m just wondering how we’ll be communicating 50 years from now since my earliest recollection is of a very large radio and small b&w tv that I could watch Roy Rogers on.

Springtime Migration

Farm BirdsI think it must be getting near spring time if the Sandhill Cranes are flying over Nebraska. Here’s a formation doing a flyover when I gassed up on my way back from Omaha today.

There were countless numbers of birds in the air this morning. According to Wikipedia:

The Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) is a large crane of North America and extreme northeastern Siberia. It has one of the the longest fossil histories of any extant bird[1]. But although a 10-million-year-old crane fossil from Nebraska is often cited as being of this species[2], this is more likely from a prehistoric relative or the direct ancestor of the Sandhill Crane but may not even belong in the genus Grus, while the oldest unequivocal Sandhill Crane fossil is “just” 2.5 million years old[3]. Still, this is nearly half as old again as the earliest remains of most living species of birds, which are not known from remains older than the Pliocene/Pleistocene boundary some 1.8 million years ago. As these ancient Sandhill Cranes varied as much in size as the present-day birds, even those Pliocene fossils were sometimes described as new species[4]. Grus haydeni on the other hand may or may not have been a prehistoric relative of the living species, or it may actually comprise material of the Sandhill Crane and its ancestor[5].

Farm BirdsThe common name of this bird references habitat like that at the Platte River, on the edge of Nebraska’s Sandhills in the American midwest. This is the most important stopover area for the Lesser Sandhill Crane, Grus (canadensis) canadensis, with up to 450,000 of these birds migrating through annually.

I passed a field and stopped for a quick photo to add to my collection.

They all swirled around and around before finally landing in this field off of I-29 right near the Nebraska/Missouri border.

James Dean Memorial

James Dean BillboardI’ve got a number of things to post here on AgWired but I think that too many time zones, time changes and meetings are catching up to me this weekend. So here’s all you get today. Actually a lot got done here on the home front including some office catch up work.

This post is ag related in that I stopped along California Hwy. 46 at Blackwell’s Corner to buy some almonds and pistachios. As I pulled in this is the sign that greeted me. I didn’t realize that I was on the James Dean Memorial Highway. Apparently this is where he gassed up his race car on September 30, 1955 before his fatal crash. This is what it says on Wikipedia:

Dean was driving west on U.S. Route 466 (later State Route 46) near Cholame, California when a black-and-white 1950 Ford Custom Tudor coupe, driven from the opposite direction by 23-year-old Cal Poly student Donald Turnupseed, attempted to take the fork onto State Route 41 and crossed into Dean’s lane without seeing him. The two cars hit almost head on. According to a story in the October 1, 2005 edition of the Los Angeles Times,[10] California Highway Patrol officer Ron Nelson and his partner had been finishing a coffee break in Paso Robles when they were called to the scene of the accident, where they saw a heavily-breathing Dean being placed into an ambulance. Wütherich had been thrown from the car, but survived with a broken jaw and other injuries. Dean was taken to Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival at 5:59PM. His last known words, uttered right before impact, were said to have been “That guy’s gotta stop… He’ll see us.

So there you have it. I learned something new and interesting thanks to California agriculture.

Organic Beef or Green Beef?

Center For Global Food IssuesA new Beef Eco-Report suggests that “green” food isn´t necessarily organic food and conscious consumers might have to start choosing between the two. Analysts at the Hudson Institute‘s Center for Global Food Issues say that beef produced with grains and growth hormones produces 40 percent less greenhouse gas emissions and saves two-thirds more land for nature as compared to organic grass-fed beef.

To reach these startling conclusions, analysts at the Hudson Institutes´s Center for Global Food Issues used beef production models from Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and greenhouse gas emissions estimates from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC).

More than 95% of beef produced in the United States is raised on grain-based diets in feedlots, using supplemental growth hormones, both natural and synthetic. The report details the extensive human and environmental safety requirements for the use of supplemental hormones on feedlots, as well as the growing body of environmental monitoring studies showing no significant negative impacts from their use. Instead, the data show major environmental benefits of this production system: Saving 2/3 more land for nature and producing 40% fewer greenhouse gas emissions per pound of beef produced.
Continue reading

How ‘Bout Them Gators?

With travel and meetings in St. Louis today I haven’t had time to celebrate a Gator victory last night in the BCS Championship game. How sweet is it to be a graduate of the only school to ever have both the basketball and football national championships at the same time? I promise not to bring this up again (soon).

You’ve gotta love YouTube. This was made before the game but for Gator fans, it’s well worth about 7 minutes to enjoy.

We Are The Champions

University of FloridaHow ’bout them Gators?

I just had to say that. They are the champions after last night’s BCS Championship whomping of Ohio State. They also have an excellent ag school in case you didn’t know that. I graduated from the College of Journalism.

This is a celebration day for those of us in the Gator Nation, which is their online social networking site.

It’s off to St. Louis today for meetings. See you later.

Backyard Bambi

Backyard Bambi'sThe phone is ringing off the hook here at ZimmComm New Media headquarters. While I’ve been talking to people around the agribusiness world this was the view out my office window just a few minutes ago.

There’s actually 4 of them wandering around in the trees behind the home office. They didn’t seem to mind my taking their picture either. They just wandered off a few feet and kept on nibbling.

She Has The Seven Year Itch

Chelsea ZimmermanI would like to take this opportunity to tell you how wonderful my oldest daughter is. For those of you who don’t know, her name is Chelsea and she’s working part time for ZimmComm New Media. We’re a community here so I feel comfortable sharing this with you. Many of you know that Chelsea was in an auto accident that left her paralyzed from the chest down.

Well she is a daily inspiration to her family and friends and now she’s got “Dad’s bug” and she’s blogging. So now she’s becoming an inspiration to a growing number of people around the country.

Today marks the 7th anniversary of the day she had the accident and she wrote about it. I hope you will agree with me that she is something special and I’m so proud of her I just had to share this with you.

By the way, I have 2 other daughters and they are just as wonderful. Our family was really brought together in a positive way that is hard to describe by what happened to Chelsea. They’re all wonderful and although they’re all grown up we’re going to take a holiday trip together to see family in Georgia and Florida.

Thanks for letting me share this story with you.

Not Snowed In

Snow at HomeWell we’ll be fully clear once the country truck/plow gets done since he just showed up. At least we’ve got power. I just spoke to Mike Wilson in Illinois and they have no power. That can get old real fast.

My arms are like jelly after working with my youngest daughter for a number of hours today to get our driveway to look like this. Thanks go to my neighbor who got his 4-wheeler going with a front plow and helped with the last several feet. Please tell Cindy I need to have one of those!

This was a wild and wooly winter storm. Around midnight I woke up to major thunder and lightning. If you’ve never seen lighting in the middle of a snow storm you’re missing a wild sight. Earlier this week at the gym a guy was saying how we needed snow because it’s been so dry. It proves that you’ve got to be careful of what you wish for.

If you’d like to see more pictures from the Missouri Snow Storm you can find them in my Flickr Photo Album.

I’m done for the day.

Snowed In

Snow at HomeEverything seems to take longer when you’ve got 16 inches of snow on top of about an inch of ice.

This is a picture from my front yard this morning. We live on the top of a hill so the bottom of the hill neighbors usually park on the street out front in the hopes that it’ll make it easier for them to get out. It didn’t make any difference with this storm.

This is the largest snowfall I’ve been in here in Missouri since January of 1995. This is more snow than the last 3 winters combined I think. Now the question is, “When will they plow the road?”

Fortunately we have power and internet access. What more do you need?

All I Want For Christmas

I hope you’ve had a very relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. It has been an unbelievable warm weekend here in Missouri. So today it was time for a Katy Trail bike ride wearing these, connected to this, and listening to a little bit of this and this.

I know the pace is going to pick back up starting tomorrow so after this post I’m going to go sit down with my book and do nothing for a while until it’s time to heat up leftovers.

So what is on your Christmas list? Have you even thought about it yet? I’ve been asked so I thought of a couple things like one of these. Cindy told me not to even think about wanting one of these. One of the things I’d like is someone to teach me how to use my video editing software. I’d also be interested in upgrading to one of these if things work out.

So there you have it. Now you know what I want. How about you?

Got Deer?

Hunting 2006My nephew came up with the title for this post.

We’re at our hunting camp and will be here for a few more days until it’s time to head to Kansas City.

For those who are wondering I think this picture speaks for itself.

It’s been a great opening day out here and the weather has been beautiful.

I-70 Sunset

I-70 SunsetI am back and had to post this picture. This is out the windshield and what you often see driving west on I-70. I don’t know how many times I’ve looked a an I-70 sunset and thought, “There’s no way any human could create something this beautiful.”

I think this is somewhere in central Illinois. The dust clouds were everywhere as harvesting is cranking along in the heartland. Judging by how many corn and soybean fields still need to be done there’s going to be some long days in the combine over the weekend!

I had some great meetings in Indianapolis and seeing a view like this just kind of tops off a great day and a great week.