Monday, February 13, 2012

...and I'm back!

I had good intentions for The Frolicking Farmgirl blog, really I did. But then a whirlwind of events (life) happened and my poor blog was neglected, but not forgotten. I hope to breathe new life into the ol' gal. But until then feel free to check out my website 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Farm Machinery Rules of the Road

Farm safety is a topic very near and dear to my heart. Being a farm girl I've seen firsthand the consequences suffered by family, friends and neighbors who were too caught up in their task to think about safety. While every situation may not be preventable, a little knowledge and good ol' common sense can go a long way in keeping farmers healthy and safe.

Farmers and ranchers face an array of on-the-job hazards including being crushed or entangled by heavy machinery such as combines and balers, kicked or trampled by livestock, trapped inside silos or grain elevators, and exposed to toxic levels of pesticides and other chemicals. All this while working extremely long hours during planting and harvest seasons. All of these hazards make farming and ranching the 4th most dangerous occupation in the country (the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says so).

Because I feel so strongly about ag safety awareness, my blog will occasionally feature information and tidbits like this. I'm not an expert and I'm certainly not preaching from a soapbox. It's just some things to think about.
Roadway safety is especially important for farmers who share the road with a general public increasingly unaware of farm machinery maneuverability/speed limitations. It’s increasingly necessary to be seen and be recognized by motorists. Because tractors, and the implements being pulled behind them, usually travel less than 25 MPH, making sure that they are clearly marked will help motorists see them in time to slow down.

  • Make sure that lights are in working order and that all reflectors, including the Slow Moving Vehicle emblem, are in place before traveling. Sometimes it may be necessary to wipe the dust off of these safety devices following field work.
  • If traveling at night, equipment must have two red taillights mounted to the right and left extremities, two good headlights and at least one flashing amber light. An amber flashing light mounted on the far right and left of tractors/ implements, visible to the front and rear, can also increase visibility.
  • Making a left-hand turn across the opposite lane of traffic can be a dangerous task when pulling an implement. Motorists following behind may not understand that a left turn requires a move to the right in preparation for the turn. Use turn signals accordingly and check mirrors that allow you to see behind the tractor or implement before executing the turn. Pulling onto the shoulder and waiting until the roadway is clear of traffic can aid in making this turn as well. A variety of "Ag Cams" are available which can be mounted on the back of large equipment. A video display in the cab then makes it easy for the operator to see in blind spots.
  • As farm equipment grows in size, so does the difficulty of transporting it between fields. If a piece of equipment being pulled extends into the opposite lane of traffic and the driver can’t reasonably move onto the shoulder, escort vehicles should be used. These vehicles, should be at least 500 feet in front and behind the tractor and implement and should operate flashing lights to warn oncoming vehicles.
  • Before entering the roadway, stop and look both directions. Make sure you have enough time to cross the road or enter the road if traffic is coming or is close. It takes a tractor about 10 seconds to cross a road. A car going 55 mph will travel about 800 feet in that time span.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Relocating the Ranch

You won’t find many bears around Palisade, Nebraska. You probably won’t find many mountains either. You will however find the Stoller family and Bear Mountain Angus.

While many ranchers could never imagine packing up and relocating their entire operation, that’s exactly what registered Angus cattlemen, Brian and Tiffany Stoller did.

The foothills near Angels Camp, California is where Stoller first began his herd. “It all started from a 4-H project,” Stoller said. “Dad bought my brother and I each an Angus heifer and it took off from there.” Stoller grew his herd to 100 mother cows and took on the name Bear Mountain Angus Ranch from the nearby landmark. He downsized his herd to attend college, and in 2001 an opportunity arose and Bear Mountain Angus relocated to Melba, Idaho with the purchase of Foote Acres Angus ranch. There the herd grew to approximately 500 mother cows. While business at the ranch was good, the location wasn’t the best. Boise and other surrounding towns were growing and the 45 minutes that once separated Bear Mountain from the city was being snatched up for development. “We didn’t plan on selling that place when we bought it, at least not until many years down the road,” Stoller said. “We thought we had years before we’d have to worry about the development, but then suddenly we had only a matter of months.”

Stoller got the word out that they were looking for a new place and considered several options, but as of May, 2008 Bear Mountain Angus has called Palisade home. “We knew a few registered Angus breeders in the area, but really we came in blind—it was a little nerve racking but everyone has been welcoming. We’re lucky to be in such a good area now, the people are really receptive of us and our cattle and we don’t have to worry about development at all.” Stoller said with a chuckle.

Relocating the ranch has however brought about some challenges. “The biggest issue, being a registered breeder, was finding new customers. We’ve done a lot of advertising to let people know that we’re here, and we work hard making sure that everything we sell is of the best quality.” Bear Mountain hosts two annual sales at their sale facility; the bull sale held the last Thursday in February and the Female Sale held the first Saturday in October. Stoller said networking with other cattlemen throughout the year at different events around the country has helped the ranch connect to buyers. “It’s all about getting out there and letting people know what you have,” he said.

Meeting the needs of buyers is important to Bear Mountain Angus, as they aim to breed sound, functional cattle, and Stollers’ wife, Tiffany, plays an important part in managing the herd. The research she’s done while pursuing a Ph. D. in meat science has contributed a wealth of insight to their program and philosophy.

“Overall we believe in focusing on quality with performance,” Stoller said. “We like cattle that are phenotypically pleasing, but still perform because performance is still key. There’s a ton of good Angus bulls that have solid EPDs. When we breed cows, we look to breed them with a bull that will help her out in areas she might be slightly weak. It’s our goal to make sure the bull and female complement each other, both phenotypically and on paper.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Prime Rib Love

Happy National Prime Rib Day!

The Haag women made this glorious meat masterpiece for Easter dinner. It's not burnt, the dark outer layer is just our delectable secret seasoning rub. Oh so good.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

No Excuse for Animal Abuse

Feeding in a blizzard
Disgusted. Frustrated. Saddened. Disturbed. That's how I felt after watching the latest animal abuse video released by Mercy For Animals (MFA) that displayed horrible, violent acts of animal cruelty on a Texas Dairy Farm. I've never understood abuse of any kind, it's flat out ugly, unacceptable and wrong. Living creatures deserve to be treated with respect and dignity-- whether it's a person or animal.

The animal treatment in the video is no depiction of acceptable animal management, and this isn't the norm in the livestock industry. The majority of producers, including my family, spend long hours caring for our animals the proper way. Come rain, snow or shine farmers are committed to the health, safety and well-being of their livestock. It's not an easy job-- but it's a job most approach with hardwork, dedication and a genuine love for animals.

As an industry we must make it known that the actions depicted in the video will not be tolerated. Animal abuse is wrong. And it must be stopped. Animal abusers must be held accountable for their actions and we in the industry must lead the way in setting that example. If we don't set the bar ourselves groups like MFA, PETA and HSUS will do it for us. It's time to step up and speak up. 

Want to learn more-- check out these links:

What Farmers are saying about this recent video

National Dairy FARM

AFAN Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska

Dairy Faming today

RayLin Dairy Is going Vegan the Answer to Animal Abuse?

Agriculture Proud Quality Food Begins With Quality Animal Care

Cause Matters The Tears I've Shed…. Animal Abuse

Crystal Cattle Animal Abuse in Agriculture

Dairy Innovation Animal abuse: Still a Big No No!

Zweber Farms Video:Calf Care on Zweber Farms December 2010

Zweber Family Farm News Calf and Animal Care is our Number One!

Orange Patch Dairy Too mad to go to bed!

killrocfarms Animal abuse: Never acceptable

Pinke Post Link Up Wordless/Wordful Wednesday: Despite Animal Abuse Headlines

Life as an Iowa Farmwife Animal Abuse, Undercover Videos, and Doing the Right Thing

From the Tractor Seat Animal Abuse

The Ole Cowmilkers Random Thoughts Animal Care

Buzzard's Beat No Excuse

ag – a colorful adventure Hold People to A Higher Standard

Reflections from a Country Boy We Care For Our Livestock!

Loos Tales Interview with the owner of E6 Ranch

Dairy Devotion Why I am doing this.

Jersey Cowgirl So it Goes

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Beginnings & Green Pastures

Peaceful spring morning on my drive to work
There's something rejuvenating about spring time on the prairie. The quickly greening pastures are dotted with romping calves, tree rows are starting to bud and farmers are shuffling to get planters to the field. The once lifeless and gloomy winter landscape is coming to life and it's exciting. 

New life is also coming back to my old (and somewhat forgotten) blog. Yes, I was blogger before blogging was cool. I first started with in 2008 when I was just a whippersnapper at my beloved K-State. I used my blog as a way to showcase my freelance writing and share my passion and experience in agriculture.

Life happened and I became busy with real world big kid type stuff and my blog postings trailed off and eventually it was completely neglected. It wasn't you dear blog-- it was me.

So in the spirit of spring and new beginnings-- my blog is once again greening up. I've made the switch over to blogger to try something new, but all of my old posts came with me.

I can't really say for sure what I'll be posting about and I can't guarantee that it'll be tremendously educational, entertaining, grammatically correct or even worth reading. It'll just be me. 

"The adventure of life is to learn. The goal of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change. The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The secret of life is to dare. The beauty of life is to give. The joy of life is to love." -William Arthur Ward

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Not your father's cab

New tractors feature tantalizing creature comforts

The future of farming was displayed in full grandeur at the 45th National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, KY this month. As in the years before, producers dispersed among rows of glistening machinery to catch of glimpse of what’s new. But it’s not just about being bigger or more powerful these days—it’s also about the operator experience.

Helping operators work more comfortably and productively has become an industry wide trend, and the results are visible especially in today’s tractors. Changes in cab design are much more than an extra cup holder or wider seat; every detail is designed to provide superior comfort, convenience and control throughout the workday and best suit the needs of modern producers.

“It’s always exciting to see what new features they come up with for tractors,” says Iowa farmer, Ray Hinkley. “When I first started driving tractor 30 some years ago you never thought about things like comfy seats or controls—it was all about the work, about horse power and pulling equipment.”

For those who have endured the past generations of tractor cabs like Hinkley, the improved designs are a welcome feature. “I remember what is was like to bounce around in a loud tractor cab all day, it would just wear your body down,” Hinkley says. “But with these new tractors and better cabs it’s quiet and comfortable-- some days it hardly feels like work at all.”

Climb into a John Deere 8RT Series tractor and try out the CommandView II Cab. It offers a roomy work environment, easy-to-use monitors and controls and better visibility. The seat is built using cut-and-sew cushion construction, adjustable backrest angle, and lumbar support controls for increased operator comfort. Many of the features and controls that were on the right-hand console have been integrated into the CommandARM. The controls and CommandCenter now follow the operator as the seat swivels for added comfort. The 7-in color display is divided into three regions and can be partially configured by the operator to monitor three tractor functions of their choice. Overall, the series offers 10% more cab volume, 7% more glass area and four times more storage area over the previous CommandView cab.

Relaxing into something red from the Case IH Magnum series is easy with the Surveyor cab. Take in the view with panoramic curved glass; comfortable, positive response seat; and ergonomic armrest controls. The right-hand controls in all Magnum models include: Speed, direction, hydraulics, hitch, PTO and end-of-row switch all within reach, integrated gear/throttle control handle, and an optional electronic joystick. With six power outlets, ample storage, and a large workstation to the left of the seat to holds papers, a laptop computer or other items it could be a functional mobile office.

For those who prefer the blue hue, New Holland’s T7000 tractor offers plenty of creature comforts. The ultra-quiet, high-visibility cab boasts 63 square feet of glass providing an unobstructed view in every direction. A high-visibility roof panel also provides an upward view for loader work. The new Sidewinder II armrest electronically slides forward or back to suit each operator and includes a standard multi-function controller, throttle and electronic draft controls that travel with the seat. Additional features for the cab include a new cool-box option for keeping beverages and snacks chilled and a standard enhanced keypad for tracking engine hours, distance traveled and more.

The AGCO DT Series tractors also stepped up to the plate with a totally new cab design. The 4-post cab has a 28% increase in cab space, giving it the largest cab in its size class. It features more room for the person in the instructor’s seat, a redesigned armrest-mounted console that puts all key functions where they are most convenient and one of the quietest interior sound ratings in the industry at just 71 decibels. With a larger field cooler and a field office that includes a cell phone holder and outlet this cab is ready for hours of work.

Regardless of the size, shape or color it’s obvious that tractor cabs have come a long way over the years. “If it wasn’t for the better equipment and new cabs, I couldn’t keep going like I am,” Hinkley says. “Farming is hard work but the new improvements make it much easier.”