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Monday, April 30, 2012

Avoid Eye Contact

This past weekend I got to check and feed cattle with my dad. In the rain. and mud. with no raincoat. on a horse that has two speeds: fast and flying.

and it was downright glorious.

prior to blazing across the pasture

The silent man and his introverted daughter; talking only when necessary and communicating mostly with the wave of an arm to signal "move up", "get around 'em" and "whoa." I enjoyed the entire experience, even when we had to fix a five-strand barbed wire fence that broke because of my poor judgement. oops

Growing up, I made a lot of mistakes. I'm relatively clumsy and I like to ride fast horses - not the best combo when moving heifers. So I learned quickly that if I made a mistake, making eye contact would only bring about the lecture I was going to get much more quickly. Avoid eye contact, prolong the lecture; if only a few minutes.

Head down and shoulders slouched, I got the wire stretchers, pliers and extra roll of wire from the back of the truck.

"Sorry - I didn't mean to."

"It's alright darlin' - I should have told you better."

Not the response I was expecting. No lecture, just understanding.


Make no mistakes, tough love and quick lessons were my childhood. Lessons I wouldn't have learned had I not been able to work on the farm with our 4-H livestock, horses and roping cattle. Lessons that are learned quickly and after only one mistake. You only let the steers get out once before you remember to ALWAYS shut the gate, even though you're only going to be in the lot for a few minutes. Responsibility - check. Additionally, you only get frapped once by a mean-spirited steer before you learn not to stand beside them. Cow-kicking is not a laughing matter, especially when you're seven. Attentiveness - check.

On a highly related note - I'm thankful that the Department of Labor withdrew their proposed regulations regarding children working on the farm. I know that my husband and I can raise our kids on the farm while instilling in them the values that we gleaned from our upbringings. We can throw them on a gentle giant and turn them loose in the arena or pasture to bring up the calves. Send them out the door with a bottle of milk replacer to nurse a new baby. Trust them to drive the feed truck when they're only 12. Memories and lessons, hand-in-hand.

"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man" - I reckon that's just about right Mr. Churchill. Sometimes what the heart needs is some time in the saddle.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

p.s. Thanks to EVERYONE for the birthday cards, texts, messages, phone calls and tweets. You are all too kind!

also - I'm not a photographer and don't claim to be, but I'm hopelessly addicted to the wonderful things that Instagram can do and that's what I used to take the pictures in this post. I take a lot of pointless pictures that you can see by following me (@brandibuzzard)!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Another One Bites the Gestation Crate Dust

While the rest of the U.S. is abuzz about a case of BSE being found in California - something I am not scared about at all, since I know the safety of our food supply (more on that here) - I am more concerned about this recent piece of news.

That's right, another chain has jumped on the bandwagon.

I recently wrote an article about the quickly disappearing use of gestation crates in the U.S. and worldwide on http://swineweb.com.  I won't paste that article here because I want you to visit the site so please do so by clicking on this link.

The state of our animal agriculture industry concerns me - I hope that I never live to see the day that a real live Hunger Games era exists.

Until next time (probably two weeks),
~ Buzzard ~

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pigs Raised Outdoors Have Lots of Room to Grow

BUT they also have tons of enemies that would love a tasty pork rind to munch on....

Yesterday, we brought home Ferdinand. That won't really be his name, most likely it will change when we give the pig to the Ninja's sisters but I like 'F' names; they're cute. Anyway, Ferdinand is very friendly. He likes to root around in the dirt and run in the straw. I'm sure he'd enjoy being out in the woods by our house.


Guess what else lives in the woods by our house? and surrounds us on all sides because we live in the middle of the glorious, rolling Flint Hills.

That's a canis latrans, more affectionately known as a coyote. And they are everywhere. Last night, they were howling, barking and yipping up a storm. The dogs were barking back - it was chaos.

And you can bet that lil ole 25 lb. Ferdinand wouldn't stand a chance against Wile E. Coyote if he was out roaming around.

Which is why we raise hogs indoors.

 Ferdinand has plenty of room to move around in his stall, can root in the dirt and play in the straw all the while being safe from the dangers of hungry predators. We take care of our animals because it's the right thing to do - leaving him outside to find for himself would be cruel.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~