Our Role in Social Media

(Article I wrote for an Oklahoma Dairy Producers Newsletter)

Everyone knows the video… The cute one of the cows opening gates and frolicking about posted by Animals Australia on May 22nd, 2015. I am sure most of you paid no mind to whom originally posted the video but if you are like me, someone tagged you in the post and shared it to your timeline or maybe you even shared it yourself. This video has gone viral, in the truest sense of the word, and as Dairy Producers we HAVE to quit sharing videos and posts from organizations like Animals Australia.

In the United States we have Mercy for Animals (MFA), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) breathing fire down our necks, Animals Australia falls into a category with them. If you have not heard of these organizations, it is time to do your research because their mission is to put you out of business. They instill fear in consumer by “exposing” the cruel nature in which we treat our animals, spread lies about our products by preaching that milk contains puss and put massive amounts of pressure on legislators to pass laws detrimental to agriculture.

Agriculture has gotten too comfortable playing defense. We always respond when an undercover video is released or a food borne illness breaks out but we don’t play offense and it’s about time we got to it!

When you, as a producer, share videos or posts from organizations like the ones named above you are helping speed along the demise of our industry. Let’s think about it like this, you have a friend on Facebook or Twitter that isn’t involved in agriculture and you share a post from MFA. They watch the video and are intrigued to learn more about the organization. This could go two ways, either that persons say to themselves “Wow, MFA is crazy.” Or “Wow, people in agriculture are cruel to their animals, I don’t think I can trust agriculture anymore.” These groups show Ag at its worst, it is their job to make our industry look bad and you just gave someone an open invitation to check out their page!

If you were one of the people who shared this post, don’t beat yourself up about it. For 2016 let’s all be more cognizant of the information we share on social media regarding agriculture. Now, more than ever, it is important for us to share OUR stories and OUR farms with consumers. Our consumers have the capabilities to find out whatever they want in a matter of seconds, which means if they are googling where milk comes from we want an accurate representation of our industry rather than a PETA video being the first thing that pops up.

Together we can show the greatness of our industry and the compassion we, as producers, have for our land and cattle.

Stay Golden,

Abbi

Another One Bites the Dust

I am a master boycotter…  Now I have another to add to my list, Subway! Subway recently announced they were going to begin serving meats that had never been given antibiotics. Poultry beginning in 2016 with beef and pork to follow within the next 6 years.

As an agriculturalist I believe we should listen to our consumers and give them the products they are requesting but this decision, made by Subway, was not consumer driven… It was driven by activist groups!

Has the American People come to the point where they sit back and let a bunch of people in LA or NYC make their dietary decisions? I am a born and raised Texan residing in Oklahoma where we like our steaks BIG and our vegetables minimal! I was raised to be logical and react to things sensibly. So, if that is the way you really want things than be prepared to pay a premium for your sub! It will cost producers more to produce ‘Antibiotic Free Chicken” the death loss will increase making each individual bird more expensive, the same with cattle and hog producers.

It is my belief that the morally correct and in the best interest of the animal to be treated when sick. To say “never been given antibiotics” leads me to believe you are requesting that farmers and ranchers sit back and let livestock die when they could be saved by a simple little shot!

This card means I have been trained on the importance on handling antibiotics in cattle. I have learned the proper techniques in administering them and have been made aware of withdraw times. You can rest assured that when you are eating beef it is antibiotic free! The fact of the matter is that there are HUGE penalties for any traces of antibiotics in an animal once it has been processed. Farmers and ranchers keep records of vaccinations to ensure no animal will enter the food chain before the withdraw time has passed. 

I want to encourage producers to speak up and speak loudly. Invite people out to the farm/ranch.

Like I have always said: You are your own best advocate!

Stay Golden,

Abbi

STOP IT!

Dairy Pure is currently running an ad that has thoroughly irritated me! They are saying their milk is of the highest quality because of their 5 point purity promise. 1. No artificial growth hormones- You can’t test milk for rBST because it is a naturally occurring hormone. 2. All milk is tested for antibiotics- Yep, that is right! ALL milk is tested before it even leaves the farm… Not just Dairy Pure. 3. Continually quality tested to ensure purity- ALL milk is continually tested! 4. Only comes from cows that are fed a health diet- Nutrition is a key part of all dairies. Cow will not produce milk if they are not fed correctly. 5. Cold shipped fresh from your local dairy- ALL milk comes from local dairies! Define your definition of ‘local’? Some consider in state ‘local’. Some consider 100 miles ‘local’. Some consider a 5 state radius ‘local’. As an industry we are antagonizing consumer fears! STOP IT! There are plenty of ways to market a product without driving unreasonable fears in our consumers. If you can’t figure it out hire me! We as an industry have a big enough battle to fight with anti-production agriculture advocates. We should be working inside each of our commodity groups to figure out ways to come together and spread the TRUTH about what we do and what we represent. Food is all inclusive. We all need it to survive and we are lucky that we live in a country where we have the privilege to choose what we put in our bodies. But food is not a privilege, it is a right! We all have the right to be able to feed our families a safe, health and affordable source of nutrition. This isn’t an ‘Us’ against ‘Them’ battle, it is a battle for the truth. We are our own consumers. We feed each other. We know we are respectable people with the same common goal to produce a safe and healthy product for EVERYONE! It isn’t dairy against dairy or beef against pork. We stand up together for an industry that has paved our future. We are all tired of playing defense, so lets start building a better offense. As always… Stay Golden, Abbi 

Shape Up, Dairy Queen!

We all know I am a self proclaimed Dairy Queen and without a childhood fully immersed in the dairy industry I would not be the person I am today.

Who is that person?

Well I’d say a stubborn, slightly overweight, 25 year old extension agent who is creative beyond words and is the happiest she has ever been in her life living in NE Oklahoma with her ever so handsome cowboy, Brandon.

Now that I am finally settling into the ‘real world’ once again it is time for me to shape up.  For the longest time I have used the excuse that I have too much going on to worry about getting in shape and losing weight…  I don’t seem to be getting any less busy nor do I think life will ever slow down so I guess it is time that I make my health a priority.

Sitting at a desk at OSU and Cargill for the past 3 years was conducive for nothing other than giving me a jelly belly.  When I moved up to the Osage I lost a little weight just being Brandon’s gate opener and a make shift mother to an orphan calf.  Then I started cooking…  Gained a little back…

I like butter and noodles and carbs!!!

Recently I began the Xyngular journey.  Basically, I take a whole bunch of supplements that make me feel really really good and follow a low carb diet!  At first this was SO difficult, plus I was skeptical because nothing I have tried in the past has worked for me, then I finished the first eight days and was down five whole pounds!

The past two weeks I have been bad and not watched my diet as closely as I should have but I had no weight gain.  I kept the five pounds off!

This has really helped my motivation!  Not only for losing weight but to shape up in all aspects of my life.  Over the last few weeks I have realized that when you are happy and doing good in one aspect of life you get a snowball effect into the rest of your life.  You work better, your relationships become stronger, you are a better person all around.

EVERYTHING GETS SO GOOD!

I don’t know if it is the XR2 that has me feeling so happy or what but I don’t really give a damn because whatever it is, it’s working!

It is all a mind set, you just have to decided you are going to make a change for you and no one else.

It is always good to have a strong support system and between Brandon and my friends, I know there won’t be any room for failure.  I know if I were left to my own devices then I would surly fail.  I am the kind of person who gets real gungho and then the new wears off and I quit…  Yea, Brandon doesn’t go for such nonsense.

So my challenge to all of y’all is to take June 1 (TODAY) as the start date to whatever needs to improve in your life and #SHAPEUP! Use the hashtag #SHAPEUP to share your stories with me and others as we shape up together.  It is all about support, remember?

Stay Golden,

Abbi

Running Circles

I don’t consider myself a feminist, because I do like Brandon to open my pickle jars for me, but I do consider myself a proponent of women, especially in agriculture.

How many of you work or have worked in an environment where you clearly felt like the men around you put themselves on a pedestal above you?  How many of you are more educated than those men?

It is so frustrating to me that a you can have a masters degree but since you don’t have the right plumbing you will automatically be over looked.  Now I know this doesn’t happen all of the time but it does happen!  Our industry has made great strides when it comes to the inclusion of women, but it’s 2015 for Pete’s sake! It is about time!

Being a woman in agriculture means that I have to be on top of my game 100% of the time.  I find that where it may be okay for a male peer not be sure about something it is not okay for me to be unaware.  I get my competency challenged if I say “I don’t know but I will get back to you” where a male would be applauded for his ‘hunting’ efforts.  Better than that is when someone uses me being a woman as an excuse for me not knowing. “Oh, she’s a woman, it’s okay that she doesn’t know.

Ummm… NO!

I might not have your answer currently, because I didn’t major in agronomy (or whatever), but you can bet I will have an answer for you as soon as possible.

I believe an individual should be judged based upon their skills rather than their sex.

I haven’t lived on my family’s farm in quite a while but I assure you my dad had no problem putting me to work when I did.

I think that daddies that caudal their daughters and don’t make them work are doing them a HUGE disservice.  You are showing them that there are gender specific roles in life and there sure as hell SHOULD NOT BE!  I have always worked along side men and will always work along side them.

Typically women get paid $0.75 to the $1.00 that men do.  Is it fair? No.  Is it going to change?  I am sure it will someday.  Until then, I will continue to run circles around the guys earning my pay.  🙂

Bless their hearts.

Stay Golden,

Abbi

  

I Just Want A Decent Argument

Everyday I come across more and more anti-agriculture pages on Facebook and I can’t help but read what all these people say.  9 times out of 10 I add my two cents in and get bombarded with negative comments in return.  I can’t even begin to recall all of the horrible names I have been called for being a farmer or better yet the daughter of a farmer (aka cow lover).  I actually really like engaging in conversation with these people.  It is very stimulating to me.  I get to argue with someone other than Brandon for a change! 😉

Last night the page I stumbled over was ‘Compassion Over Killing’.  Apparently, there is a movie coming out called ‘Cowspiracy’.  It is supposed to be the ‘Blackfish’ of agriculture, just so y’all know.  Anyway…  upon my searching I found a post where this person had claimed that cattle drink all this water that could be used for people and they consume grains that could be used for human consumption and that we should quit eating meat… yada yada yada…  So ya know me, I simply asked what was going to happen to all the cattle when we quit eating them.  I also told them that cattle will need to continue to drink and be fed even if we are not eating them but that is just my simple minded way of thinking, ya know.

The response I got back from her was pretty typical…  “If you do some research you will find all of the facts”.  If you know me well then you know there are two things that I hate more than anything…  Ticks and things that are TYPICAL or COMMON!  UCHHHHHH!

Please lady!  You make it way to easy for me to come back at you when you say common things like that.  I need some drama and excitement in my life!  I live in the middle of nowhere with no one to yell at!  All I am asking for is for you to make it more difficult for me to prove you wrong!  Is that too much to ask?  You are BORING me people!

In all seriousness, it really saddens me to  know that there are people out there who really don’t realize how much producers really care for their animals.

Who couldn’t love a face like this!?!


Just because we own cattle to be milked or to be raised for beef doesn’t mean that we don’t love them.  Happy cows make more milk and make tastier beef.  It is science…  It has been proven!

If you don’t believe how much we love them then you have not read my blog enough and you need to read it more often or you just need to message me and bring your happy little hinny to Oklahoma and come see for yourself!

As always…

Stay Golden,

Abbi

Not ‘Us’ Against “You”

This morning the very first thing I saw on Facebook was a post someone had shared by PETA…


This pissed me off for numerous reasons.

1. It is just flat STUPID to think that this is what shearing does to a lamb…  Is this what happens to men when they go get a hair cut?  No, ya darn wingnut!  Shearing is literally like getting a hair cut!  Find a wool producer and I am sure they would let you come out and watch them shear.

2.  Why would this dude just be standing there holding this poor lamb for a photo op if it was actually this mangled?  It looks like it has been mauled by a big cat of some sort!  It is amazing what photoshop can do…

3.  I am tired of these activists making it an “us” against “them” game.

The truth is that agricultural producers of any kind aren’t going to produce a product for you that they wouldn’t want to use or feed to their own families.  Yes, there has been advancements in biotechnology in agriculture.  Yes, we are able to grow more food on fewer acres.  Yes, we give our cattle antibiotics when they are sick (just like you would your dog or cat).  Whether we are producing your produce or we are beef, pork or poultry producers we want the same safe, nutritious , affordable and tasty products as you for our own family!

It is your right to chose what kind of lifestyle you want to live.  If you want to be a vegan, then by all means be a vegan.  If you want to be a farmer or rancher then you have all the right in the world to do so!  But what no one has the right to do is destroy someones livelihood.  What PETA tries to do is ruin peoples lives.  They do not share factual information, they share their agenda.

If you want accurate information regarding any aspect of agriculture go ask your county agriculture educator or 4-H educator.  Anyone who works for extension will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have and if they don’t have an answer for you right away then they have the ability to do research to find out for you.  If you are not sure where to find your local educator you can most likely track them down through your states land grant university.

Ask a farmer or rancher…  Ask your local grocers…  Hell, ask your neighbor!  Anyone but PETA!

Myself and advocates like me are here to have open conversations with our neighbors.  Our food and our environment is extremely important to us, as well.  Come talk to us, share your concerns, ask questions.  Our lives are not a secret it is your right as consumers to know how your food gets to you if you want to know.

As always y’all…

Stay Golden,

Abbi

5 Resolutions Every Farm & Ranch Woman Should Make in 2015

I hope 2014 was as good to you as it was to me.  I traveled abroad, had a blast at Ok State, graduated with my masters and got a hot cowboy to boot!

I absolutely can’t  wait to see what 2015 has in store!  As I sit here and think about what my resolution should be, I can’t think of just one.  I think every woman in agriculture should try to resolve to these as well.

1.  Don’t let the “bullshit” get you down.

I know that life on the farm can be rough.  You can lose livestock or get a heavy freeze too early but we should never lose sight of what is truly important…  Our loved ones!  This past year, for many of us, we saw how fragile life can be.  We are only here for a little while, so lets quit the shit and just focus on what makes us happy.  After all, happy wife (girlfriend) happy life, right?

2.  Give yourself permission to take a break.

There is no doubt that you are the back bone of your operation.  Where would men be without you?  Hungry, dirty, and running about two days behind.  But every once in a while take that afternoon off to go to town to get a pedicure or take the entire day off and go to that quaint little town you have been wanting to visit with some of your girlfriends.  You will feel rejuvenated, I promise!

3.  Make your kids do it.

Now granted, I am not a mother but I was the daughter of Nate & Laurel Goldenberg and I was expected to work as long as I was living under their roof.  It taught me so many life lessons that many of my friends have never learned.  I promise you are doing more harm than good if you are doing your child’s 4-H record books for them and not making them feed their own livestock projects.  And no one ever died from shoveling manure (ask me, I know) or picking up rocks (I know about that too) so make them do it!

4.  Don’t get upset at your spouse for things that are out of his control.

You have plans to go to town (which rarely happens for some of us) with your significant other for a date night.  It is the ONLY night for the next few weeks that you two will have alone together.  Then the phone rings, it is him with some bad news.  There is a cow in distress and he will be out longer than expected or the tractor broke down and he has to fix it before morning.  Bad news comes and plans get changed, it is part of the deal.  For the ones of us who grew up in the industry we have never known any different but for the newer agricultural women it can be an adjustment.  Trust me I am a planner and it drives me CRAY CRAY when things don’t go as planned!  It is something I continuously work on but I know it is not their fault.  Sometimes shit just happens, which brings us back to point number 1…

5.  Feel beautiful everyday… Because you are.

Just because a lot of our life is spent in a barn doesn’t mean that we have to look like we live in it too.  Now I’m not talking about putting on a face full of makeup before chores in the morning or fixing your hair, I am simply saying that a quick swipe of the mascara wand never hurt anyone.  I know that one simple step makes me feel a lot better sometimes.  My motto has always been “When you look good you feel good and when you feel good you do good!”  I may be walking around the ranch with a wild mane and mismatching clothes looking like I belong on peopleofwalmart.com but when I have my mascara on I don’t give a damn! And I am not saying it has to be mascara for you…  Just find that one thing that makes you feel beautiful.  Your husband, boyfriend, life partner already thinks you are the most beautiful person in this world so you don’t need to do it for them, just do it for you.

I know…  These are all simple things but I think they are things we sometimes lose sight of sometimes.  Life is full of hustle and bustle, we just have to make a more conscience effort to remember when it all comes to an end what is the most important to us.  Love is something that I know I have put on the back burner for a long time now and I know that I am not alone.  I am referring to more than loving a boyfriend, I am talking about loving in general.  Myself, my family, watching new calves run wild, all the little things that make me happy.  We all have whatever it may be that consumes us and makes us stressed or worried but in 2015 lets try to cut ourselves a little slack and just be freaking happy!  Lets LOVE everything and throw out what we don’t.

Happy New Year to all y’all!

Stay Golden,

Abbi

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