Hello November: the month of Thanks!
Because sometimes you need some cattle in your day…
Hello November: the month of Thanks!
Because sometimes you need some cattle in your day…
I was in the milking parlor at 4 this morning, taking care of all the cows, cleaning udders, and attaching the milkers when the boss said I caught on to the milking routine quickly. My response? “Ok, I’ll slow down.” I have no problem starting my day at 3 a.m. but those early starts make for some long days.
It is Thanksgiving Day where we look back at the gathering of the Pilgrims and Indians we all read about in elementary school. These folks were giving thanks for a bountiful harvest in the new land. This holiday has its roots in being grateful for the land and those things we receive from it. I want to take a moment and reflect on why I am Thankful for Agriculture.
Diversity – During the past year, I have gained a stronger appreciation for the diversity of Agriculture. I moved from Texas, back to Arkansas, and most recently to Tennessee. I have traveled to New Mexico, Colorado, and Tennessee sharing my experiences in cattle production, and visiting with many other farmers and ranchers. No matter where I go, members of the Agriculture community have been welcoming and generous with answers to my questions. We all have the same job (producing food) yet we all go about the process differently. Some have more diversified operations, while others like to stick to their routine that has been established for many years. In the scheme of things, we all have the same passion for our land and livestock.
Community – This year I made many new connections via social media and in real life. I have such an awesome online network of farmers and ranchers from across the globe. I learn daily about different production methods and approaches. In August, many of these relationships became more concrete at the AgChat Conference in Nashville. It is pretty cool to walk into a room with 100+ farmers from across the U.S. and Canada, meet them in person for the first time, and strike up a conversation as if we had known each other for ages. That same month I attended the Arkansas Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference. It was inspiring and motivating to be in the same room with so many peers, knowing that we shared the same passion and motivation as the next generation of Agriculture.
Education – If there is one thing I experienced this year, which I am thankful for learning earlier in life, it is that there is no one way of doing things. (Although, some people like to think otherwise and like to stick to their routines) Even though I have spent all 23 years of my life raising cattle, handling and working with them in 7 different states, there is something new to learn around every corner. That is exciting for me. Even though I am starting graduate school and will be working in the lab and the classroom, I will always value hands-on (sometimes hands-in) learning experiences. There is nothing like getting your hands dirty and learning something new about a subject I am so passionate about.
These are just a few of the many, many things learned over the past year, and I am so thankful to have these experiences. I look forward to the years and new opportunities ahead of me.
Remember to give thanks for your food as you sit at the table surrounded by family and friends today. Give thanks for the farmers and ranchers who produced it and all those who helped harvest, transport, and prepare it for your homes. Why are you Thankful for Agriculture?
Last November I hosted numerous guest posts from others sharing why they are thankful for agriculture. There were so many great responses, you really should go back and take a look at the Ag-Thankful feed. Here’s a repost of my thoughts from last year. Tomorrow I will post my reflections from 2011.
Lifestyle – A life in Agriculture has provided so many great things for my family and I. As a kid, ranching provided an opportunity for my family to work together on a daily basis. I grew to love what my parents had a passion for doing and it is now a passion of my own. My family has always had a freezer full of beef, the boots on our feet, and a roof over our heads thanks to our work in the cattle business. Not to mention the work ethic, values, and connection with my environment that I have gained through my work in Agriculture.
Community – There is no other community as connected as those in Agriculture. No matter where I travel, how long I stay, or what I am doing there has always been a connection to others through my work in Agriculture. In college, that community offered me steady job opportunities, friendship, encouragement and support, and as always an open door to a much needed good meal. From the mountains of Wyoming to the Metro of OKC, I have made connections and know that there will be someone there to help when/if I need it. Some of the best people I know, I met through Agriculture.
Contribution – I am so thankful to know I can make a contribution to the world through my work in Agriculture. I know the beef I produce will provide people around the world with a nutritious, filling, and affordable source of food. My work in Agriculture gives me a daily challenge. I am always looking for ways to improve my working environment. How can I improve the performance and quality of life for the cattle I am raising? How can my cattle production contribute to the natural environment I am working in and how can I improve that? I am always challenged with ways to be a better contribution to my community, environment, and world.
I am so thankful that I can be involved in something that affects every person on the planet who eats food, wears clothing, enjoys a weekend drive through rural areas, or sits down to a Thanksgiving meal.
Why are you Thankful for Agriculture? Leave your comments below or use the idea as a blog prompt. Also, check out the #foodthanks Twitter feed during the holidays.
A Facebook friend recently forwarded this article from The Economist.
THIS year Texas had the hottest summer ever recorded in any state. In September wildfires swept through the town of Bastrop, outside Austin, destroying more than 1,000 homes. Thousands of cattle have been sold. The town of Big Spring, up the road from the oil hub of Midland, is planning to recycle wastewater for drinking; two of the reservoirs that supply the city are almost empty. The severe drought that has parched most of the state this year shows no signs of abating. The state climatologist reckons that it could last for the rest of the decade.
But the most sobering fact may be that Texas’s water woes are structural. A growing population needs more water. As it stands, the state needs about 18m acre-feet of water a year, according to the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB). By 2060 demand is projected to rise to 22m acre-feet a year. The available supply is expected to decline from 17m acre-feet to about 15.3m, as some aquifers are being depleted and areas of the state will come under new regulations. The TWDB forecasts a total statewide shortfall of 8.3m acre-feet by 2060, because the regions that have enough water cannot simply pipe it to the driest places. If nothing is done, it warns, the economic losses could reach $115.7 billion a year by 2060.
As I sit here on a rainy November day in Middle Tennessee, complaints about the mud and chilly breezes comes easily. This is supposed to be the month of Thanks, and we shouldn’t forget to be thankful for all of our blessings (no matter how muddy or cold). Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock in Antartica this year, I am sure you have heard the numerous stories coming out of Texas about wild fires, blazing summer heat, the endless drought and resulting water shortages and agriculture crop losses. Just imagining the 8.3m acre-feet of water shortfall mentioned above is hardly fathomable. That’s a lot of water.
Water is a pretty precious source around the globe these days. It may be hard to imagine if you’re in the middle of rising flood waters or in the path or a California mud slide, but no matter how rough times seem, there’s always someone more hard-up. As land owners, farmers and ranchers across the nation have made leaps and bounds in soil and water conservation over the last century. The simple fact that the High Plains are absent of massive dust storms in a drought reminiscent of that in the Dust Bowl Era is proof of these efforts. Farmers and Ranchers pay close attention to reduce soil erosion by providing ground cover crops and crop residues, and improve soil conservation by more efficient field nutrient application and observing buffer zones near creeks and steams. Many of their efforts go unseen by everyday consumers, despite the claims of critics.
So if you’re fortunate enough to receive some Fall moisture this month, be sure to give thanks and do your part to respect the quality of our water supply. And as always, pray for rain for those in drought stricken areas of the world.
Can you give examples of improvements in soil and/or water conservation over the last century?