Friday, August 31, 2012

Actions speak louder than words

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” - John Quincy Adams

This post is going to be about one of the few people in the world who don't want to be on the world wide web, my dad (TK)! Anytime I mention to dad that he's on Facebook or I tweeted about him, he mutters/curses and rolls his eyeballs at me (I totally understand why adults think that is annoying!). So he's gonna be REAL mad when he hears about this, even more mad than the whole tattoo incident.

TK and his team won the men's hay hauling competition this year!
Someone forgets that he's not 19 any more..

Today is TK's birthday.

Ohh he'll be real mad when he sees I put this one on here

When I called to tell him happy birthday this morning he told me he doesn't celebrate those because he says he can't/refuses to count over 50, (there's that dairy farmer optimism). And that all he wanted for his birthday was to go to the local small town bar.

Typical family vacation, dad sick of the 'fighting'
So after our scintillating conversation I started thinking about this man I call dad and how much I've learned from him in my short 20 years. There are the real obvious things like my night-owl tendencies and my sense of sarcasm, some days I think we are wayyy too alike. But then there are the things that take some serious thought and require expressing feelings (gross, I got my lack of that from him too!).

The one thing I've always been grateful for my entire life is my upbringing and my parents. My dad has always been super busy with the farm, he has been the owner/operator/manager/hired hand/book keeper most of these years by himself but it never stopped him from being there if us kids needed something. He wasn't there for everything, but he was for the important stuff. We knew that if we wanted to hang out with him we had to go to the farm, simple as that. It was there that we learned a lot from him about growing up, hard work, compassion, patience, and care.

I don't even think I could count the number of times I've seen my dad bust his butt to take care of his cows and his neighbors and friends. I've worked along side him numerous nights until close to midnight taking care of a cow with a bad leg, hauling water and feed, or fixing something. I can't count the number of times he was late or missed a game or recital because of a cow, we don't get upset about it because that was his job and our livlihood, it wasn't anything personal. Dad still believed in being a good neighbor and friend though too.  My dad is always one of the first to offer to help or donate something for a good cause or will be over pushing snow off of the neighbors driveways before he's even had breakfast.

TK loading silage for his cows

The greatest thing I've learned from my dad is don't ever be afraid to try! This was never something dad said out loud but something he showed us by example. Growing up my dad would always let us kids learn for ourselves, give us a little advice and leave us to it. If we screwed up, he would give some pointers, make fun of us for about a week and then move on to the next stupid thing one of us did! When we used to go to big shows there would be lots of parents and adults leading around calves and then there were my siblings and I working and fitting our own calves. He was never hesitant to let us learn for ourselves; he taught me that you may not be the best but if you put in the effort and at least tried there is nothing to be ashamed of!

Best dad an #agnerd could wish for!

He taught us to forgive and forget, work hard, stay out of trouble, use our brains to figure out a problem, don't take life too seriously, that actions can speak louder than words, it's ok to be an #Agnerd, and take the time to talk to people and care (even if it being stuck in a car with your 21 year old daughter for 2 hours answering questions about corn).

So this was supposed to be a short and sweet post but haha guess not! So the only thing left to say is HAPPY BIRTHDAY TK!!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Once an #Agnerd....

Holy Cow, there hasn't been a new post on this blog for almost two weeks.

These last couple weeks have been super busy and pretty exciting if I may say so. Not to make excuses or anything but last Thursday, the 23rd, was my 21st birthday so needless to say there was no blogging  (or really anything) done this weekend.

Last Monday was the first day of my senior year of college, I can't believe how fast time has flown. Seems like yesterday I was starting my freshman year, all dazed and confused about college life with my bag all packed 3 days before class even started. Us seniors laugh now because most of us don't even hardly know our schedules a day before class let alone have our schools supplies (maybe that's just me).

One of the biggest changes I've noticed is that I've become a complete and total #Agnerd!

Super cute agnerd me getting ready to go help dad with chores
Looking back to freshman year there is no way I would've thought that I would be where I am. I was sitting in a Cultural Diversity and Leadership class today and we had to pinpoint some important events and moments in our lives and share them with the class. Not even kidding, probably 7 out of the 8 had something to do with growing up on a farm and being part of the great industry that is agriculture. This is a class full of Hospitality, tourism, and restaurant management majors, basically they're all from city campus. Some may not know what that means, here at the University of Nebraska Lincoln there are two campus's; East and City. East is the Ag campus while city is pretty much everything else. So some of the kids looked at me really funny but after class a couple kids stopped me and thanked me for talking about it. They said that they didn't really know anything bout Ag let alone a real life farmer.

 I knew hardly anything about pigs before college but I got involved
with the Nebraska Pork Producers Mentoring program and learned so much

Thanks to that program I was able to talk to City campus kids about modern pork
production at our 'Husker Food Connection' Ag event

So I'm making it my goal this semester to bring up and discuss Ag any time I can in this class. I'm pretty excited.

The #agnerd in me started just by talking about what I knew, Dairy

I always encourage other farmers kids to talk about what they and their parents do! You don't have to be some great speaker, lord nows I'm not, just talk about what you do during the summer and on the weekends. It really helps if you know some of the great things that are going on in the industry, whether it be that 95% of all farms in the U.S. are family owned, or corn farmers have cut soil erosion by nearly 44% thanks to new inovations and technologies, or even 1 in 3 jobs are related to Agriculture.

But that wasn't what I was gonna talk about in this blog, I'm saving that stuff for another time! I just needed to get back in the blog saddle.

 This is my friend Roco (yes he's real), pretty neat right?!

What's even more exciting... only 2 more days til HUSKER FOOTBALL!!  WOOHOO

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pride and Passion

I am a firm believer that when oppurtunities are presented to you that you take them and run with them! You never know where you could end up, what you'll learn, or who you'll meet along the way! One of the oppurtunies I am talking about that really impacted my life is 4-H. My family has been involved in 4-h for YEARS! For the most part we have been involved in dairy showing but also some other static exhibits such as cooking, sewing, woodworking etc. 4-H is a program that really allows today's youth to find something they love and are good at and really just practice and learn! Now I am a little biased because when I think 4-H I automatically think animal exhibits, which actually is a very small part of 4-H now. But non the less I see the importance it has with today's future farmers and consumers and it gives me hope.

Trent is pretty excited to show a dairy calf next year but
he's learning that it takes some hard work !

Alex loves to help us with our 4-H heifers

(l -r) Nate, Andi, and Vin with their Dairy heifers. They're old pros at this.

This last week and a half was our County fair which of course my siblings exhibited dairy and beef (our first year with this crazy idea). Last summer I worked at our counties extension office helping with fair preparations and really got to see some of the really cool stuff that 4-H can offer kids; classes on almost everything, really fun camps about any and everything (I went to a few in my younger years and had an absolute blast, met some of my good friends I have today). But sitting at the fair I really noticed something; in order for 4-h to really inspire kids you really have to let them be in charge, let them learn! The reason I'm mentioning is that while sitting at the fair I noticed how many parents were out there working with their kids projects; fitting them, watering them, some did pretty much everything! While some of the kids just sat around looking bored. Some parents were so obssessed with perfection and winning that they wouldn't let their kids even touch the animal until they went into the ring, yeah I would be bored too!

Right after we brought the beefies home, they
 were just little guys

Now my parents have always been busy with the dairy and other jobs so they would always try to help out with our projects and fitting and such but were always so willing and encouraging to have us be in charge of our 4-H projects. They always were willing to teach us and then let us take the reigns, even if that meant a few screw ups. I can proudly say that me and my siblings did absolutely everything for the fair ( I did help even though I am technically not in 4-H anymore, I'm 4-h support staff at my house!). We got the calves to the fair, groomed them, and got them into the ring. My parents showed up on show day to watch and that's about it which is perfect (it's not their projects). But dairy isn't really a big deal because we've been doing it for years, numerous times a year. Don't get me wrong we love our dairy cows but there is just so little competition in this state that sometimes gets unchallenging and boring so this year we decided to do a new project; Market beef steers,it was a way to be competitive and a lot of family friends showed beef.

First time we took them out on a walk

But boy were we about as clueless as they come. But I am so proud of my brothers, they did their research, sought some advice from fellow 4-Hers and our extension agent. They did really well at the show with the older one getting a blue in showmanship while the little one finished with a purple and was one minor screw-up away from placing. But it was through this project that I noticed my brothers really did like their beef cows, they loved working with them and watching how fast they grow (how fat they get compared to our lean dairy cows). What is really cool is how many questions we got after the show was over about how we got our cows so tame or how many new people were asking about our projects because they were considering doing it next year! People noticed that my brothers really had fun showing their calves, yeah they worked really hard and although beef wasn't normal for us that it is possible to do something that you've never done before and be successful.

We bought the steers from my uncle, we literally took home
 the first two we could catch. 
Nate and Yancy, they finished second in their class.. not bad!
Vin and Wego (yes he was named after a beer commercial)
Both boys finished in the top 5 in Rate of Gain. Pretty cool!

Point of this post is that if we want our 4-Hers loving what they're doing we've got to give them the freedom to do it themselves and choose! 4-H is not about perfection or winning, it's about learning and exploring. Finding something that you didn't know existed and learning about it. Whether that be rockets, woodworking or livestock, allowing a kid to have a little pride in what their doing will go a long way in helpig them find a passion! I know that without 4-H I wouldn't have my found my passion for dairy and agriculture. It helped me understand the role of what my family does on my community, my country, and my world.