Buzzard's Beat

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

To My Fellow Women in Agriculture: Be Better, Ladies

running photo

It's time to have a serious talk about girl power. Don't worry, I won't be discussing abortion, birth control, gay marriage or any similar topics. This is about being a woman in a male-dominated industry: agriculture. I am not the only woman talking about this topic and I better not be the last. Every woman in agriculture should be talking about this. I read a post by Kate at Uptown Farms yesterday which led me to attempt to organize my thoughts on the topic of being a woman in agriculture. To be honest, I'm mad that I even have to address this because it's 2015 for cripes sake!


I have been involved in agriculture my entire life. As a child, I was raised to be seen and not heard, which is something I have struggled to break since entering the professional world. As I headed off to college and later, the real world, I realized that if you are seen and not heard, you are not part of the discussion and you are often not seen as valuable. This is especially true for women. Ladies, how many times have you had a great idea you were afraid to share because it might be deemed "stupid" only to hear another colleague suggest the same thing and have it be met with adoring cheers and applause? There goes another missed opportunity. Or, how many times have you been snarked on by other women in your office/class/community because you are successful, outgoing, doing a "man's" job, a stay-at-home mom or any other ridiculous reason for resentment and animosity? While one of the aforementioned actions can be blamed on ourselves (Speak up! Lean in!), the other is what I am ticked off about today. Stop with the snark, ladies.

Buzzard ladies - all strong women

It's time to stop talking about how men hold women back in the workplace and start focusing on how women tear each other down. This conversation stems from a thread I was reading in a private Facebook group where a farmer's wife/farmer/farm wife was upset and had taken to her peers to vent. She was frustrated because a young female seed representative with a "bouncy ponytail" rode in the combine with the farmer husband for 45 minutes or so talking about seed, yields, harvest etc. This woman was upset that the seed rep didn't check with her before having a meeting with her husband and generally, the passenger seat of the combine is reserved for the wife.

beef industry women
Had I not known better, I would have thought I was living in the 50s due to the blatant criticism thrown on the seed rep who was just doing her job. Would this wife be criticizing a male seed rep for getting in the combine for a few trips around the field? No. Not at all. Would the wife be frustrated that a male seed rep hadn't first checked with her before meeting her husband. Absolutely not. One person even commented that she hadn't had a date night with her husband in forever yet a female seed rep gets 45 minutes with the farmer. Did I miss something? Did the seed rep break your date session? Were you riding in the combine and your husband kicked you out in favor of the seed rep? No. That is not the case. What happened is a pure and simple case of jealousy that turned into a stream of scornful statements towards a woman doing her job in a man's industry. I certainly hope the ponytail bedecked seed rep isn't a member of that group on Facebook so that she can't see all the nasty things women were saying about her. I was absolutely sickened by some of the comments.

Would those women want that harsh criticism thrown on their daughters, nieces, sisters, mothers or granddaughters for doing her job? Doubtful. Social media makes it easy to sit behind a screen, from the safety of our home and criticize the crap out of each other and say things we wouldn't say to anyone's face. Well, come to my house and I'll tell you the same things I'm writing:
Grow the hell up, folks.
strong women! Women in agriculture have a right to be involved in conversations that affect our ranches, farms and livelihood. It's been a decades-long struggle for women to climb out of the kitchen and into the workplace, to get those top leadership spots and to become seen as industry leaders, while also juggling family roles and responsibilities. We had to earn our power and fight for equality with men in feed companies, trade organizations, the sale barn, the pasture - I mean, we weren't even allowed to be members of FFA until 1969. How many ag leaders were overlooked in that 41 year span because they were women?! Are we really going to turn on each other while doing the jobs and filling the roles we have fought so hard to earn?

I am a woman in the male-dominated beef industry. I wear boots and a blazer when I speak at conventions and to groups, I have one-on-one meetings with men all the time and I can carry on a conversation about corn harvest, fat cattle prices and policy regulations affecting the beef business. Then I turn right around and am the traditional wife that cooks, cleans and plays an equal role on our own ranch. It is possible to do both and be respected by women and men for the variety of roles that we play. My husband doesn't question the business trips I take, and I don't question his. Because we trust each other. Plain and simple. My recommendation to the original jealous farmer's wife would be to talk to your husband, not the internet. My recommendation to the seed rep is to keep rocking that ponytail, get in the combine and earn that promotion.
Beef industry friends!

It stops now. Stop putting down other women because of your own insecurities. If you're feeling jealous, insecure, uncomfortable etc. ask for help. Talk to a friend. Talk to your partner. Don't blame your feelings on another woman. You don't know what path she walked to get to where she is and you don't know her story. Like my friend Janice says, be a builder and not a destroyer.
strong women running together!

An interesting thing about women: we have the ability to say some really empowering things but also say some very hurtful things. Both the kindest and nastiest things that have ever been said to me came from a woman. Have I criticized women? Yes. I recognize and own this. Clearly I am criticizing several right now in this post for their antiquated viewpoints and sexist comments. However, I can work at being better every day. I can choose to continue complimenting, encouraging, inspiring and invigorating my fellow women in ag. I can choose to engage in positive conversations rather than tear each other down. I can CHOOSE to be a better person. So can you.

Be better, ladies.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

This post has featured a multitude of strong women who I am proud to have as friends and family!

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Food Babe and the Pumpkin Spice Latte

Time for some real talk about a really annoying issue: the Pumpkin Spice Latte, more commonly known as the PSL, from Starbucks.

Last year, the Food Babe and her fan girls caused a big ruckus because there wasn't any pumpkin in the PSL and there were two doses of caramel coloring which contains the chemical 4-Methylimidazole (4-MEI). The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has found that 4-MEI is a level 2B carcinogenic which means that this chemical is possibly carcinogenic to humans. Do you know what else is a level 2B carcinogen? Freaking coffee. So let's not split hairs over which possible carcinogens we may be guzzling. 

Well, instead of deciding to purchase coffee elsewhere and leave the rest of the world alone, the Food Babe decides she has to fix the problem for EVERYONE, regardless of the fact that really no one else gave a flying flip about the ingredients in the PSL. To sum it up, I'm sick of this woman and the effects her fear-based marketing and ignorance have on society. Here are four truth bombs about the sigil of fall, the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Disclaimer: I have never tried a PSL however, I don’t believe that I have to try something to determine that the marketing behind it is ridiculous or that the Food Babe is not a reliable source for food information. Furthermore, the nearest Starbucks is about a half hour away and I don't drink coffee. This post is not about coffee, it's about common sense and how restaurants have started a very bad habit of catering to a vocal, uneducated minority.

1 – There is no pumpkin in pumpkin spice, more commonly known as “pumpkin pie spice” (I will use these interchangeably for the rest of the post). Don't believe me? Look on the back of your pumpkin pie spice canister. Don't have one? Here's a recipe, endorsed by The Pioneer Woman, for pumpkin pie spice. Thinking that pumpkin is actually in pumpkin pie spice is a common misconception and I have called out several trolls on a recently revived Facebook post that the only ingredients in pumpkin spice are cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves etc. Things that taste like fall. No pumpkin whatsoever. Get off that horse.
a jar of pumpkin pie spice
How do they get the pumpkin in there?!

a jar of pumpkin pie spice
Answer: They don't. There is zero pumpkin in pumpkin spice
2 – Building off of the first bullet, Starbucks never claimed to have pumpkin in the PSL. Never. Food Babe just assumed that because the word pumpkin was in the product, it should have that ingredient in it. False. Another example: fly spray for livestock. There are no flies in fly spray. Yet another example: key lime pie yogurt? Is there actually key lime pie in a Yoplait key lime pie yogurt. Nope. Grapes in grape soda? Nein. C'mon folks, common sense.
3 – Lattes and other drinks should not contain solids that are not easily converted into a melty-ish liquid. Example: whipped cream on hot chocolate is acceptable because that melts and contributes to the flavor of the drink. Pumpkin doesn’t melt, to my knowledge, and therefore the PSL now contains a random floater of pumpkin. Mmmmm, appetizing.
4 – Plain pumpkin* is not delicious to eat by itself. Anyone who has ever eaten plain ole pumpkin will tell you that it’s not the most flavorful food and that in order to make it palatable for a pie, cookies, cake, bread etc. you need pumpkin pie spice. Reminder, we have already ascertained that there is precisely zero pumpkin in a pumpkin spice container. Adding straight pumpkin does nothing to the flavor of the drink but only momentarily satisfies ignorant food activists such as the Food Babe. A PSL without the pumpkin spice but with pumpkin would taste quite bland, I imagine.

Real product review from my Starbucks loving (anti-Food Babe) PhD friend: "The difference in flavor is hard to describe. The PSL is still good but not as good."
I am sure there are a lot of folks that are wondering why I care so much about a latte that I have never tried however, the action taken by Starbucks due to fear-based promotion by the Food Babe is a very sad example of the "I don't like it and neither should you" transition our food supply is experiencing. There is a new wave of activists who have the elitist attitude that if a product doesn't fit their picture-perfect ideals, then it should be changed or snuffed out of the market. The simple solution to that problem is to buy something else or make your own. However, food elitists like Food Babe feel as though it's their duty to drag restaurants through the mud and force them to abandon science and FDA-approved ingredients in order to calm a spastic, screaming minority.

Use your heads, my friends!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

* For my non-US readers, I am referring to the big orange squash that is associated with fall, Thanksgiving and Halloween over here in the U.S. I realize that "pumpkin" means any type of squash in many other countries, but over here in the good ole USA it is specifically reserved for this.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Home

We moved into our new ranch property this past weekend - here are  few pictures of our slice of paradise.



In order from top to bottom: us in front of our new house on closing day, the view from our balcony overlooking the turn out pens, a view of the housed and one of the pastures while I was riding, the horse barn with tack room and stalls, a new pasture to explore with Friday, overlooking a pasture, barn and the house, and the sunrise this morning.

We are thrilled to say the least. God is good.

Until next time,

~ Buzzard ~

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