Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Why I Do What I Do

I love showing cows. There is nothing else I would rather do. I've made great friends and tons of memories I will cherish for life. The bond with my animals is one of the best feelings in the world and I love learning something new every time I step foot in the barn. All of these things are great, no doubt. However, there is one thing I have learned that is the most important about what I do and that is to teach others.

Before showing cattle, I knew agriculture played a big role in my life but I thought everyone knew that. I had grown up hearing my parents tell me milk comes from cows, farmers grow your corn, and that everything in the grocery store doesn't just show up there. Someone somewhere is putting in hours and hours of hard work and time to get the food on your plate and the clothes on your back. But this is common knowledge, right? Think again.

Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people pass through the dairy barn at the state fair in a day. Some days one person stops to ask a question about the cows, some days it's 10 or more. I believe no question is a stupid question except for the one not asked. I get asked all the time, "How often do you milk these cows?" "Are they boys or girls?" "What kind of cows are they?" and "Why aren't all cows this gentle?" plus a thousand more.

To some, those questions seem ignorant or absurd. But to me it is an opportunity to teach just one more person about why I do what I do. That person may forget about what I said ten minutes before before they leave or they may find it interesting and tell everyone they see. Agriculture will forever be a thriving industry though it may be constantly changing. Social media today will put a twist on words and give consumers the wrong look on our work and that is why we as agvocates need to step up and tell our story to anyone willing to listen.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Man's Best Friend Isn't Always A Dog..

And in this case, it's a little girl's best friend which isn't a dog but a cow.

On May 26, 2014, Reese and her little sister, Brinkley, were staying the night at their grandparents house. Around 2 AM Reese's grandma, Patricia, was woken up by the smell of smoke. Mike, Reese's grandfather, went to Brinkley's room and grabbed her while Patricia went to Reese's room where the fire originated. 
Patricia was airlifted to MedStar Washington Hospital Center and suffered third degree burns on 25-27% of her body and inflamed lungs. She's been known as a hero for going into Reese's burning room and saving her.

Reese was sent to John Hopkins Hospital where she has spent the last 13 months recovering from the fire. She improves day to day and her aunt Laura Jackson says her "good days" continue for longer periods of time now. 

The Burdette family shows Holsteins (Windy-Knoll View) and like me, Reese loves her cows. 13 months is a long time especially in a hospital. This little girl, along with her family, is such an inspiration with her will to get better and the faith they show through this journey. One thing that has really stood out to me happened just this past month. Reese's dad, Justin, and some help surprised her with a special visitor at the hospital!

Some of the staff at John Hopkins joined Reese. 

              Pantene in the big city!

My favorite picture by far is the first one of Reese and Pantene. I wanted to share this story with you all to show you just how much happiness one cow can bring to a person. It may sound silly, but until you've experienced it, having a best friend that doesn't talk is sometimes the best kind to have. I'm fortunate enough to be a part of an industry where I can have bonds like this with my animals. 

Please continue to pray for Reese and her family. If you would like to help them out in anyway, please contact me for information on how to do so. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The "Farm"acy on the Farm

One of the most controversial topics in agriculture is antibiotics. Antibiotics, also known as an antimicrobial, are medicines used to treat infections or diseases in both humans and livestock. They are also used to prevent infections/diseases. Just like the medicine your doctor gives you when you're sick, vets have medicines they prescribe to animals when they get sick.

Many people seem to be concerned or confused as to why farmers use them on animals that end up on your plate. If you don't know much about livestock or the process of how they get from farm to plate, the thought of medicines being put into your meat can trigger some questions like; "Is this procedure safe?" "How do I know my food is safe?"

The procedure is safe, otherwise it wouldn't happen. The FDA has approved antibiotic use for over 40 years while vets work with farmers to enforce correct usage. Some consumers worry about developing a resistance to a certain medicine by consuming it through what they eat so they buy the food labeled "antibiotic-free". Spoiler alert: all food is antibiotic free. You're just paying extra for a label.

How do you know all food is antibiotic free? When we give a cow a vaccination we write down what type of shot it was, how much of it was given and when it was given. That way when an animal is ready to go to market we can go back and look to see if the animal has reached the end of it's withdrawal period (the time it takes an animal to metabolize the antibiotic).

Those who are concerned about developing a "resistance" have nothing to worry about when the medicines we use on animals are hardly used in humans.

Just because a farmer uses antibiotics on their farm doesn't mean that their products are not safe. We want our animals happy and healthy and our consumers to have safe food to eat. I leave you with this video with some very interesting facts!