Friday, February 22, 2013

The Unauthorized Endangered Species Act

That's right folks, at my Wyoming Farm Bureau Legislative Meeting earlier this week, Wyoming Representative Cynthia Lummis told us some very interesting news - The Endangered Species Act (ESA) expired, as in lapsed, 17 years ago!
To say she had a captive audience at that point in her talk was an understatement.
So, why are we still dealing with it? Because, the Appropriations Committee and leadership in general in Washington D.C. continue to fund it. As long as a program is funded, it continues to operate just as written, despite being expired.
I am not kidding.
So, for 17 years, the ESA has continued, based solely the fact that it had the money to do so. As Rep. Lummis noted, continuing funding for programs that are expired provides no stakeholder incentive to come forward and help reform the program. As a result, we cannot get the ESA eliminated, or at the very least changed to meet its original focus in modern times, as long as it continues to be mindlessly funded without intent of reform.
What can we do? Spread the word, and talk to our senators and representatives! Call, email, attend a local hearing or meeting and let them know how wrong that is.
If I remember correctly, Rep. Lummis stated that $9 billion annually is funded to programs whose authorizations have expired, under the Appropriations committee alone!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I still take pictures!

 I know the photo posts have been far and few between lately. Here's an update on what I've been snapping pictures of the last several weeks.

Emmie Lou and Miss Weenie are always available to help feed, sit on my camera bag, roll in dead things, and have their photo taken.

It has snowed a couple times. Here are our yearling heifers and coming three's heading in to feed one morning.
And, here is my sister's heifer on the same day after I fed her.

 I've done some cattle photography work for other people (yay!) including taking pictures of these heifers for a sale.

 My fiancee's marker cow.

 Feeding cows, SD style.

 Lots of wildlife out and about on this mild winter.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Agriculture in Arizona

I am in the airport, on the way home from the the AFBF Young Farmer & Rancher Annual Leadership Conference, which was held in Phoenix, AZ over the last three days. If you ever get the chance to attend this event, I cannot recommend it enough. I've been two years in a row, and it has been one of my all-time favorites each time.
We had roughly two and a half days of meetings, speakers, networking meals and the collegiate discussion meet to keep us occupied. There will be more coverage of that in the publications I write for, and hopefully on here as well in upcoming weeks.
On the last day, we toured local agriculture operations. On my tour we went to a dairy that has 28,000 animals, 8,000-9,000 of which are milking cows (the rest are the calves and yearlings that aren't milking age yet). We also went to the place that provides places like Hobby Lobby and Pottery Barn with much of their plant based home decor items, like wheat wreathes. Our last stop was a college ag research center, where we saw a cotton gin built in the 1930's process cotton. Very cool!

Here is a quick rundown of some other things I learned about agriculture production and issues in AZ:

- They get 8-10 cuttings of alfalfa a year! Their major markets are local dairies, like the one I visited.

- One man said if he pulls out of his field and gets mud on the highway, there is a first-time fine of $10,000, and after that it goes to $20,000 per fine.

- Dust regulation is also a big deal, and when the wind blows the sand around (it is a desert...) they call the farmers to let them know they're creating too much dust based on what their daily allotments are.

- It costs $50 per acre foot of water, if you have a water right. People either have water rights or don't, depending on whether they farmed during specific years in the 1970's, or not.

- The area around Phoenix gets 8 inches of moisture a year, in about two storms most of the time. If you raise a crop, you irrigate it.

- Irrigation water comes from captured snow pack runoff and from collecting water during the major storms bringing the land it's annual precipitation.

- The first single row cotton picker could pick 9,000 lbs. of cotton a day. The best human worker could pick between 400 and 450 lbs.

- If you see illegal aliens in southern Arizona, and they're in a row walking along, that's called a mule pack. If they have little backpacks, they're probably alright. But, if they have big backpacks, they're likely each full of 100 pounds of marijuana or cocaine, and there will be people at the front and back with machine guns that will kill you.

- Our local Arizonan on our tour bus said these illegals coming through have completely destroyed the landscape in very southern Arizona, littering it with trash and making ranching dangerous and nearly impossible.

- One major reason for not putting up a more permanent fence (our local said its old, three-wire barbwire with no border markings in most rural areas) between us and Mexico is because a few herds of antelope and elk travel back and forth, and the government doesn't want to eliminate their connectivity. This also results in cattle between the two countries mixing regularly.

- On nights will full moons, cattle pots of illegals will be dropped at the border, and walking across. Don't go hunting or cow gathering when there's a full moon.

- If you get caught in Mexico with a gun, it's so many years in prison for each bullet in your gun. And their prisons are known for their "great hospitality." Hello America....

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

December 30, 2012

 Following my boyfriend and I's experience getting unstuck and dealing with me having the flu, we were just enjoying getting to spend more than a couple days together during the week between Christmas and New Years.
We had talked quite a bit about where our relationship was going, but neither of us are big rushers in the that particular area. So, while constantly suspicious if "today was the day," I was also well aware that we may not get engaged for a while, and was fine with that too. I'm sure it was both great fun and borderline annoying for him to deal with my reporter style questioning in an attempt to figure out his plans combined with my honest admission that I really did want to be surprised.
But, I found out what his plan was in perfect timing, on December 30. It began as most winter days at his house do - with chores and feeding. After caring for all the pigs and heifer calves, we headed out to feed cows. I almost didn't go along, and also had my "is today the the day?!" thought when he came out of his office, which is where the ring was stored (a little reporter questioning had answered whether he had bought the ring or not). But, seeing as how I had been having those thoughts since we first looked at rings back in November (patience is not a strong virtue of mine) I really didn't dwell on it.

We fed the heifers first, and I had my camera along as always to snap photos of them as they trailed in. We both love cattle, and feeding is a fun opportunity to visit about them and everything else we think of, have planned, want to do, and are just thinking about on a particular day.

 After the heifers we drove to another pasture and fed the cows. This pasture is part of the original homestead his family filed on in the late 1800's. Those trees on the right are near where the original buildings of the place stood.

After feeding the cows, we drove up out of the river bottom where they were located, and out to this bluff, which overlooks the original homestead (the cows are just to the left of the photo maybe an 1/8 of a mile). He said he would like a photo of this view, because it's one of his favorites.
I took it, and when I turned around he was on one knee, and asked me to marry him! I said yes, of course, and we enjoyed the view for a couple minutes before continuing on with our day.
He did a great job planning it all out, picking a perfect ring, and choosing a day and scenario we both love. He also said getting engaged would be a great way to start the new year, which was great thinking on his part. I am very, very blessed to get to marry such a wonderful man!
Many changes will be happening in my life in 2013. In addition to the usual topics and photos, I will keep you up to date from time to time on the wedding planning and moving aspects as we go along. The fun part for this blog is there will be a whole new ranch, bunch of cows, pigs and farming related topics to share with all of you as I learn about ranch life in western South Dakota!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

God Made a Farmer

Top Superbowl commercial for 2013 goes to Dodge, hands down, in my book!
In case you missed it, here is the video. What a well done piece on the exceptional individuals that make up our industry, as told by the iconic Paul Harvey during his speech at the 1978 FFA Convention.
So much of this hit home with me, from the things Paul Harvey talks about, to the memories the video and his voice bring to mind. This video perfectly evokes the lifestyle both I, and so many people I know, were brought up in, and continue to love as adults.
Good job Dodge, and FFA for being a part of the video!

I also really enjoyed this Clydesdale commercial for Budweiser, and the Audi, "Courage Lies Within All of Us," commercials. Check them out too if you missed the big game and day of super expensive commercials.