Posts tagged ‘life’


Bill the hairdresser called to tell us the dream was shattered. His wife had left him. She said it was the hogs.

Because Jason is too nice, we went to Bill’s Sunday morning to retrieve the hogs he said he would purchase from Bill. A last ditch effort to tempt his wife to return, perhaps? At any rate, at least we had the good sense to take a few panels with us. Bill made an attempt at calling the pigs…by name…to hop in the trailer like some kind of trained circus pigs. It may have worked had the bluebutt not been in the bunch.

The bluebutt (referred to only as such because I can neither remember, nor do I care to remember her name) jumped in the trailer only long enough for me to look away for a nanosecond. That was apparently plenty of time for her to make a dash for the exit. Gentle readers, Sunday was not the first time I have been but a speed bump on the road to glory and freedom for a renegade sow, nor will it be the last. However, it was Mother’s Day and I had no intention of losing any teeth Read more…


Dry Pastures and TV Cameras

Kevin Torres from 9 News came to Kutch, Colorado, to visit with me yesterday about the drought and the importance of keeping young producers on the land. While I appreciate Torres’ piece and believe it hit the nail on the head with its intended point for Denver viewers- it’s dry and it matters to you because your food prices will go up and we all need to heed the health of Colorado’s $20 billion ag industry- there are perhaps a few points of clarification yet to be made.

My phone rang yesterday and Torres asked whether we had received any snow from the last storm and if it was enough to end the drought. I would be one of many farmers and ranchers who would be tickled pink with a week of rain but the bottom line is that, while it may bring us closer to our average precipitation levels, the grass isn’t going to be lush a few days after a good rain. Many pastures are grazed and blown into the dirt and the grasses will take years to recover and be the beneficial short grass prairie we typically see in this area. It will take continued responsible grazing and stocking rates and good management decisions from the producers already kept up at night by the gravity of the decisions before them. 9news<

The Drop Dead Date that Torres referred to

Read more…

Minivan Cowgirl

I was fueling my non-mini van SUV before I left the Springs the other day. I was wearing jeans and boots- not pig poo encrusted boots, though I have those, too- but my favorite square toed boots. A Chevy diesel pickup complete with a thumping bass and doo dads dangling from the rear view mirror rolled in. It was a shortbed flatbed with chrome stacks, one leaning heavily to the inside of the bed. He revved his engine, which I assume with the price of highway diesel, likely cost him $2.50, and pulled into the pump beside me as I washed the gravel road off my back glass.
This is how the conversation went:
Him: “Look at the soccer mom trying to play cowgirl driving a minivan. Heh heh heh.”
Me: Glares. Gets into vehicle. “It’s not a minivan.”

In my head, this is how the conversation went:
Him: “Look at the soccer mom trying to play cowgirl driving a minivan. Heh heh heh.”
Me: Hands him my business card from Colorado Farm Bureau State Board of Directors. “I don’t think we’ve met,” I say. “I’m Rachel and I chair the YF&R Committee as part of Colorado Farm Bureau. We’re the largest ag lobbying organization in the state and the nation. Our policy is truly grassroots. I’ve personally written policy at a kitchen table on a farm and seen it approved as part of national policy. I’m fighting for the rights of rural, Conservative Colorado in my legislative work, my writing and speaking, and on our farm everyday. When you want your voice to join in for the greater good, give me a call and I’ll send you a membership application.”

Hrmph. A minivan. As if.

Farm Fun Barbie

Kids notice everything. I teach in a small school and wearing different boots one day garners a certain amount of attention so you can only imagine what happened when I showed up with blonde and mahogany red highlights.
Sometimes the phone rings and things get weird and that was the case with the highlights. A gentleman called Jason over a year ago hoping to rent a boar, not something we typically do. Bill insisted on the quality of his facilities and we finally agreed that we were, in fact, boar poor, and he could come inspect said boars. He wanted to meet “the boys” and see their offspring and so he arrived.
He and his wife were visiting with Jason in the farrowing barn when I walked in wearing a hoodie, rubber boots, organic material-covered jeans and a ponytail. Bill was explaining to Jason that he was a hairdresser in town and wanted to rent the boar and trade it for cut and color services for me.
“Rachel,” he said with a grandiose sweep of his arm. “You could come off the prairie and be pampered and we could give you Barbie Gone Bad highlights…”

I swear I saw Jason snicker but I can’t prove it.

Long story short, I went to town Friday and came back with blonde and mahogany highlights. No part of me screams “Barbie” or “Gone Bad” on a normal day and I can’t say that’s what’s being screamed after a day at the salon but it was big news in Karval.

District X FFA: All the Cool Kids

I had the honor of addressing the District X FFA Banquet last night and this is part of what I told them:

In addition to my work with CFB, I also write on a blog and teach other farmers and ranchers to do the same through the FarmWife Project. This usually results in great tales of the happenings throughout the year on Colorado and New Mexico’s farms and ranches and there is rarely a lack of great photos. Last week, I stopped and took a few iPhone photos of dirt drifts I passed south of Karval. I don’t have to tell you how dry it is but I went ahead and wrote a blog post about the drought and posted the photos.

The blog post and the photos hit home and hundreds of people read the post. They shared it on Facebook and emailed it to different news outlets. Tim Andersen sent it to 9 News and they rolled into Karval Sunday Read more…

Through the Lens

The news cameras rolled into Karval yesterday. The filmed the new sign reading, “100 Years of Community”. They filmed vacant buildings and then they got down to business.
They met with Marc Hollenbaugh who told them the truth. It’s bad. There are fields and pastures buried in someone else’s topsoil. The dirt, the actual definition of displaced soil, sits in drifts over fences, behind windbreaks, over piles of tumbleweeds, behind every piece of sage, and around houses. Fields of green wheat are blown smooth, the wheat invisible.
They ran into Nelson Taylor who didn’t sugarcoat anything. This will cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars. His numbers are conservative. He’s tired of the wind. He is an institution in Karval and he is worried.
The cameras missed a few things that are harder to see. They missed the frustration each time a piece of legislation is passed at the “inconvenience” of rural Colorado. These are not people who can bear any more burden nor can they vote with any more passion. Read more…

Hogs, McDonald’s and HSUS

McDonald’s has moved to support HSUS in their quest to do away with gestation crates.

As a hog producer, I could tell you all of the scientific evidence. In gestation crates, sows’ feed and health can be more closely monitored. In gestation crates, “bully sows” don’t beat up on other sows. In gestation crates, “bully sows” don’t overeat, resulting in piglets too large to pass the sow’s pelvis. The question posed to the pork industry has not been “can you use gestation crates?” the question has been, “Should you?”

Science and measures of production efficiency aside, I’ll tell you this. As hog producers we don’t use gestation crates. I’ll also tell you this. We have a gilt who was a victim of bully sows so we had to move her to another pen away from other sows until her due date neared and we moved her to the farrowing barn. In our pens, we’re unable to control individual feed intake. She overate, as pigs will do. I’ll also tell you this. I spent 16 hours in our farrowing barn to try to deliver her piglets. I saved one. One. The others died and we had to administer antibiotics and hope that she would recuperate and continue milking for her one piglet. She’s since recovered but as soon as we wean her, the cycle will continue.

I won’t tell you that I’m an unfailing fan of gestation crates. I can’t because we’ve not used them. But I can tell you that if you want the scoop on hog production, ask a hog producer first.