Thought of the Week

Consumers are more and more interested in the story of their food.  This is good news for farmers and ranchers.  We’re proud of the work we do and are eager to share how food gets from the farm to the table.

-Bob Stallman, President, National Farm Bureau

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Sweet Hills Farm – Spring Production Report


2015 Spring Production Report

Special Announcement


                                     Farm Population Increased By:     1

                                     Type:    Baby Boy!!!

                                     Name:     LittleLaddie

                                     Weighing in at:    7 lb. 7 oz.

                                     Length:    21″

                                     Born on:    June 8th, 2015

                                     Sire, Dam:   by CitySlicker out of FarmGirl


LittleLaddie – 5 days


LittleLaddie – 7 days


FarmGirl, big brother, WeeLaddie (4 years) and LittleLaddie (2-1/2 weeks)

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Thought of the Week

There is no substitute for hard work.

-Thomas Edison

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Thought of the Week

Lovely photo found here

Photo found here

I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favor of the kings of the world.  

Thomas Edison

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Some Notes About Farmers and Ranchers

Recently, I went to an agricultural conference, and listened to a panel discussion about farmers and farming, ranchers and ranching – and this is what I gleaned:

Farmers and ranchers turn the fertile soil into nutritious food for all of us to eat.

Farming is very high-tech, farmers use very sophisticated methods, like GPS which can measure a field to the square inch.

Many of the methods used in farming and ranching are cutting edge technology; they are constantly changing, for example, farmers use newer cultivation methods to reduce chemicals and improve yields.  Ranchers use embryo transplants to improve genetics and quality of beef.

Many farmers and ranchers are highly educated.  Many have bachelors degrees in all fields of study, especially agriculture oriented, such as: ag. engineering, ag. economics and ag. management, animal, soil and crop science.  Farmers and ranchers also earn degrees in business, finance, economics, biology, chemistry.

Farmers and ranchers are hard working – literally dawn to dusk.  They are frequently out of the house by 5 am, not returning home till 9 pm.

Many farmers and ranchers get to work with their spouses and children.  Fewer get divorced, because they spend a lot of time together, and depend fully on each other.

Most farmers and ranchers have home offices.

Most farmers and ranchers get to come home for lunch, or their spouse brings their lunch out to them in the field.

They take huge risks, and are considered the greatest gamblers in the world, borrowing huge sums of money each year against their crop or herd.

Today’s farmers and ranchers are personnel managers, property managers, engineers, soil scientists, conservationists, herd laborers, computer experts, financial planners, macro-economists in a global market, geologists, hydrologists, commodities brokers, government program analysts.

The food grown in the USA is the safest in the world.

Farming and ranching is extremely competitive.  In the USA, we demand that our farmers pay a fair wage and use safe chemicals – which other countries don’t demand of their farmers.  Yet, our farmers who grow crops on the world market receive the same price for their crop as those grown in other countries. Note to self:  Buy American grown food whenever possible, for safety reasons if none other!

Farmers and ranchers are self-sufficient – they take care of themselves.  They fix their own problems and make their own repairs.  Their shops are fully equipped, and are set up with welders and hydraulic tools, making such repairs possible.

Farmers and ranchers aren’t in their profession for the money – the risks are constant and are terrific.  They are not only dealing with constantly changing global markets, but are also at the mercy of the weather.  Sometimes the weather is on their side, sometimes the weather – even a simple storm – can cripple their operation.

Farmers and ranchers are slammed by the media and the public on a regular basis, yet they have an undaunted spirit, and carry on with the job at hand.

We must look to the farmer and rancher with the utmost respect and admiration.  They are the risk-takers.  We are wholly dependent upon them for our food supply.   What would we do without them?  They provide us with our most basic of needs – food and nutrition.



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Our Earth As An Apple

This is a presentation that we’ve given to demonstrate the extreme scarcity of good farmland in the world, and in our country.

Before you begin listening to this video or reading this post, go to your fridge, and get an apple, a paring knife and a small cutting board.  Then you can fully participate in this.

Here is the video:

Here is the narrative:

Pretend that an apple is our planet earth – round, beautiful, and full of very good things.  Notice its skin, hugging and protecting the surface.

Cut the apple into quarters.  Set three quarters aside.
Water covers about 75% of the earth’s surface.  The three quarters we removed represent the portions of the earth that are covered with water: oceans, lakes, rivers and streams.

What we now have left represents dry land.  Now, slice this quarter in half, giving you two one-eighth world pieces.  Set aside one of these pieces because: this land is desert, polar or mountainous regions, where it is too hot, too cold, or too high to be productive farmland.

We now have one eight of the original apple left.  Cut this section crosswise into fourths, and set aside three sections.  These three sections represent: areas that are too rocky, steep, shallow, poor, or wet to produce food.  They also include areas of land that could produce food, but are buried under cities, highways, suburban developments, shopping centers, and other structures that people have built.

We now have one thirty-second of the apple left.  Carefully peel this slice, keeping the peel intact.  This tiny bit of peel represents all of the top-soil we depend on for the world’s food supply.  It averages less than five feet deep, and is quite a small fixed amount of food producing land.

Cut off 1/10th of your peel.  The large piece represents all foreign farmland. This land may produce food which may have been treated with chemicals or use practices not approved in the U.S.

The small piece, 1/320 of the earth’s surface, represents all the farmland in the United States of America.

Food grown in the United States is protected by our government’s standards against unsafe chemicals, which are the highest in the world.  American farms and ranches produce a huge bounty of food and fiber.  This allows all of us to enjoy the safest, healthiest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world.

Currently, we have over 7 billion people on our earth.  The world’s population is increasing by 73,000,000 people per year.  It is estimated that in approximately 15 years, we will have 8 billion people on our planet.

Can you see that protecting our farmland is vitally important?  Advanced agricultural technology has enabled the world to feed many of its people on this fixed amount of farmland.  However technology will only go so far if farmland keeps disappearing at the rapid rate which it has been for years.  Here in the U.S. alone, we lose 1.2 million acres of farmland each year to development!

It is our responsibility to support our farmers and ranchers, and to ask our cities to practice smart, controlled development.  We must protect, preserve and cherish our valuable farmland, in order to insure that we have a dependable and abundant food supply for our future.

The American Farmland Trust works to protect American farmland. Check out their website by clicking HERE!


Posted in Ag Production, Agvocacy and Social Media, Education, Farmland Preservation, Feeding the World | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Thought of the Week

If a man doubts everything
he will attempt nothing.

-Gideon Kumalo

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Is the Tide Turning on GMOs?

Consumers are tiring of the anti-GMO rhetoric.  They want facts.  You don’t have to put those claims under the microscope to see how shaky the anti-GMO platform is   That’s no surprise to those of us who know the benefits of GM products firsthand.  Now, more than ever, is a prime time to share stories about the environmental benefits of biotechnology and the safety of GM foods we serve to our own families without hesitation.

Research and common sense back up what farmers and ranchers have long known about GMOs, and finally, others are taking notice.  Last October, the Journal of Animal Science released the findings of a new trillion-meal study, the most comprehensive GMO study yet.

Animal geneticist,Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam analyzed about three decades of livestock data to compare the health of nearly 1 billion animals.  Her goal:  to see what effect feeding livestock GMOs for over a decade now has had.  The answer?  None.  No difference in the health of the animals, and no effect on the humans who eat those animals.  Although this isn’t news to agriculture, the size of the study makes it a game-changer.

GMO opponents have used mis-information for too long to muddle the conversation.  And the push for mandatory labeling has only confused things more.  The call for GMO labeling sure isn’t coming from the Food and Drug Administration, our nations’ top authority on food safety.  FDA officials have declared GMOs safe and are standing their ground.  In fact, GM crops have long withstood intense scrutiny, with not one documented food-safety case.

Consumers are more and more interested in the story of their food.  This is good news for farmers and ranchers.  We’re proud of the work we do and are eager to share how food gets from the farm to the table.  Feeding a growing population is a popular topic now, and GM crops will play a big role in doing so.  Farmers and ranchers have their work cut out for them, but they are ready for the challenge and to lead the conversation.

The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance brought to the table for this discussion recently at the New York Times “Food for Tomorrow” event.   Farmers and ranchers broadened the conversation to help attendees see what sustainability in action looks like, by explaining the hard work and careful planning that go into providing healthy food for our families, and for the generations to come.

This is just a slice of the conversation that thousands of farmers and ranchers around the country are ready for.  Consumers want to know the truth about what’s in their food – and who better to inform them than the very people who grow it?



by Bob Stallman, President, National Farm Bureau

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Thought of the Week



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Branding at Hyde Ranch Angus


Earlier this month we profiled Bill and Beverly White and their purebred Angus cattle operation, Hyde Ranch Angus.  They invited us to visit them during their annual branding, which was held in April.  Branding takes a lot of hands and a few steady, well trained horses.  The folks that helped this year were the White’s family – their kids and their spouses, their brothers and a good friend.

Riding out to gather the calves.

The White Family, riding out to gather the calves.

The Hyde Ranch Angus brand, always located on the right hip.

The Hyde Ranch Angus brand

Did you think that branding was a thing of the past?  Not so! Cattle ranchers across the West brand their calf crop each spring, and for good reason.  Brands are critical in proving ownership of an animal.  It – and tattooing – is the only recognized way the law accepts as proof of ownership.  Kind of like the pink slip on your car: your brand, your calf.

Brands heating in the fire

Brands heating in the fire

Ranchers tend to be old fashioned, they like to keep the old ways alive.  Many modern ranchers use traditional methods on their operations.  Branding at the White’s place is the same as the Old West.  Riders on horseback rope and immobilize each calf, while the people on the ground position the calf properly, someone else grabs the hot iron from the fire and runs it over to the calf, and then Bill presses it into the calf’s hip.

Waiting for the next calf to be roped.  That's Bill in the foreground, and his daughter, Stacy on the paint horse.

Waiting for the next calf to be roped. That’s Bill in the foreground, and his daughter, Stacy on the paint horse.

Bill and helper, laying the calf down after it's been roped.

Laying the calf down after it’s been roped.


Bill & Beverly’s son, Lance, holds the calf’s head for his dad, and carefully positions the calf right before the branding iron is brought over from the fire.

Bill tries to keep the whole mood of the branding as calm as possible.  The horses are good, savvy, and know what to do.  The men and women helping him are, too.  It’s an efficient, respectful process, and the calves are handled carefully.  In order to brand them, they must be immobilized, and Bill believes that the traditional method of roping and laying them on the ground is less stressful for his calves than using the squeeze chutes.  These aren’t little animals – even though they’re babies and are still nursing, they weigh between 200-300 lbs!

Bill places the iron just so, then a quick press, and its done.

Bill places the iron just so, then a quick press, and it’s done.

Everybody watches and holds still.

Everybody watches and holds still.

Sometimes, ranchers do a lot more at their brandings.  They may castrate and vaccinate all at the same time as branding.  Bill doesn’t do this.  He doesn’t castrate, of course, because these little calves are being raised to be bulls!  He vaccinates them earlier in the season, on his own.  Branding in itself is a huge job, and he wishes to keep things as simple as possible.

While the iron is being pressed onto the calf, Bill's daughter, Dana assists by holding the calf still.

While the iron is being pressed onto the calf, Bill’s daughter, Dana assists by holding the calf still.

There are other methods of cattle identification, like eartags, ear notches, and ear and lip markings or tattoos.  Eartags are important to the rancher – they tell him the animal’s number, sometimes the year it was born, and who its parents are.  But, they aren’t permanent ID.  They rip out or can be easily removed.  Tattooing is expensive and an animal has to be caught in order to examine the tattoo.  The hot brand actually tans the hide, and leaves the branded area hairless.  It hurts only for a second, kind of like getting your ears pierced or a tattoo.

Flipping the head and heel ropes off  the calf right after it's been branded so it can run free.

Flipping the head and heel ropes off the calf right after it’s been branded so it can run free.

A brand is the way cattle are linked to the ranch they belong to, especially in the West, where we have big ranges, and animals move freely from pasture to pasture.  A brand is visible from a distance, and will be with the animal for life.  It is important for a rancher to be able to identify his cattle and their brand – especially when cattle are grazing on open rangeland, where they can wander and sometimes mix with herds from another ranch.

Freshly branded calves, lined up, ready to back to the pasture!

Freshly branded calves, lined up, ready to back to the pasture.

Every state has a Brand Inspection Agency.  This agency approves, records, keeps track of, and manages the brands in the state.  Every ranch that uses a brand registers its brand design and location with the state brand inspection agency.  Most brands are placed on the shoulder, hip, or side.

Running back to mama!

All branded, and running back to mama!

Cattle rustling is a still problem in the West, especially when beef prices are high!  Cattle disappear regularly, and the Sheriff or Brand Inspector will be on the lookout for suspicious looking brands on animals.  Although a brand could be branded over, having a unique identifying mark helps discourage cattle thieves from making off with a rancher’s livestock.

Cows and calves, reunited, grazing, like nothing happened.

Cows and calves, reunited, grazing, like nothing ever happened.

Once its all done, the calves scamper back to their mothers, they nurse, and everything is all right with their world.

The White Family Branding Crew.  A good day's work done.

The 2015 White Family Branding Crew.  A good day’s work safely done.

After the tools and equipment are put away, everyone is invited to the house, for a nice, hearty lunch prepared by Beverly.  What do you think is served?  BEEF OF COURSE!  D-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s!

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