Dairy Carrie…

Wisconsin… Its a loooooong way from Missouri.  I honestly never expected to have a guest lecturer in my class from Wisconsin but with modern technology, the awesome and down-to-earth Dairy Carrie had a nice little sit-down with my public relations in agriculture class.  If you haven’t heard of Dairy Carrie, you should DEFINITELY check out her stuff.  

Carrie Mess is a dairy farming, blogging, twittering, and facebooking agvocate who has brought the honest truth of dairy farming to the public eye.  Dairy Carrie was not raised in a farm, in fact she was pretty much a city girl from Madison, Wisconsin.  She married into the dairy farming way of life and now lives and works about 300 head on about 300 acres.  

Via Skype, Carrie was a guest speaker in our class.  When the video call started she was exactly what I expected; a very chipper and enthusiastic lady (who was in a sock hat just in from the barn).  Up until i listened to her presentation (more like Q&A session), I never would have known that farming didn’t run in her blood until later in her life.  This past AgChat foundation board member has had several accomplishments as an agvocate.  Not only have her articles reached national news outlets and businesses (Huffington Post, Panera Bread, and Ryan Gosling just to name a few) but she has also gone international (UK paper called the Guardian) with her article on the recent blizzards.  Having read some of her articles prior to the talk, I was excited to get an insider look on what goes on in that brain of hers.  

Transparency is her big platform when it comes to telling the stories of agriculture. It’s not the numbers that matter, it’s not the science that matters.  its the Stories.  There are good days in farming and bad days.  The bad days are what make it real.  The consumers want transparency.  They want to know that even through the bad days, the farmers are doing everything they can to ensure the safety and health of the animals. Dairy Carrie knows what the city people want to know.  She’s been there.  She also helped me realize that just because they don’t KNOW about where their food comes from and the work done to get that food, doesn’t mean they’re stupid.  It is our job to help consumers LEARN, not to EDUCATE consumers. 



That time of year…

Fall on the farm!

Well folks, its that time of year again.  The time of red, and yellow, and orange leaves, deer and turkey season, hoodies, bonfires, Halloween and the PBR world finals! That’s right! It’s officially fall… my absolute favorite time of year.  Granted this year the weather has been a little chillier than I like BUT thats alright.  No major complaints.   This is the perfect weather for backroading! Grab a jacket, grab a warm drink, grab a camera, fill up the ol’ truck and hit the dirtiest, roughest, most remote gravel road you can find and just let all your troubles fall under the tires and enjoy the beautiful colors of fall.  Don’t forget to snap a few photos while your at it! Sometimes the simplest subjects make the best shots!!

Backroading not your style? Well then don’t forget to turn on your TV’s to CBS Sports Network and check out all the festivities going on in Las Vegas this upcoming weekend! Starting on Wednesday October 23, the men of the professional bull riding go head-to-head with the top bulls in the world to try and capture that elusive World Title.  Who will it be? The 25-year-old  2-time world champion from Brazil? Or will it be the 26 year old North Carolina boy who is back with a vengeance this year? Its a tight race with only a few hundred points between Silvano Alves and JB Mauney.  This week, the bulls take over sin city!

Not a bull riding fan? There’s fall fun for you too! Almost every community has a fall festival  of some sort and it’s a great way to get involved and educated about your local agriculture sector as well as support creatives from your community.  Check out your city calendar or even better, go check out some of the surrounding communities!

Struggles of social media…

Last week I had the pleasure of listening to a presentation on social media given by the editor of a paper I’ve been a fan of since high school.  Lynzee Glass, the editor of Ozarks Farm and Neighbor newspaper (OFN), gave a talk on how social media doesn’t come easy for the publication.

OFN is a well known newspaper in my area.  It is a 3-week livestock publication that covers southwest Missouri, east Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas.  According to Lynzee, the average reader is a male from age 35-64.  This, she said, has been one of the papers biggest struggles when it comes to social media.  OFN has a Facebook page, as well as a Twitter; however, the major demographic of readers is not very technologically dependent.  The paper’s website boasts a large 58,000 readers.  The Facebook page? Only about 1400 likes.

Since the majority of their reader base does not seem to be dependent on the latest Facebook posts and status updates, OFN has made the goal of their social media accounts to drive new potential readers and current readers to the website.  A lot of OFN’s support comes from advertisers on their webpage.  The increase in traffic is an appealing attribute for potential advertisers.  Also, they use the Facebook page to engage the audience into reading some of their stories.  On the OFN Facebook, they will post parts of their latest feature stories as well as current events.  Here’s the kicker, in order to get the FULL story, you have to visit the website OR pick up a print copy.  Seeing as the paper is only published every three weeks, the “breaking news” may not be so “breaking” by the time the paper is published.  The point was made that OFN’s Facebook (or twitter or website) is not a substitute for the paper; merely a supplement.

We live in a world where it is expected for every company to utilize social media.  OFN is a prime candidate to show that social media may not be the best route for every business.  Slowly they are building their social media fan-base but can they justify the time and energy spent in maintaining the social media accounts based on that slow growth? So far it seems to be working for them.  And as one of their fans on Facebook, I sure hope they can!

When it rains, it pours…

…or at least It always seems that way doesn’t it? One bad thing happens and then its like a game of dominoes. Nothing seems to go right. Well, its been one of those weeks for me. My “rainy” week started off with four of our vehicles breaking down within DAYS of each other including my beloved half ton truck.Throw in a couple bad days of work and classes and now we’re talking. The worst blow, however, came when my beloved border collie Roxy became incredibly ill.

2012-12-23_00-02-56_547I’ve raised this dog from a pup and within less than a week, she can no longer use her hind limbs. There has been some improvement with veterinary care, yet there is no definitive cause and i have been less than impressed with the care she has received from two different veterinarians. One simply took and educated guess, prescribed some meds and hoped for the best. The other, talks down to us, all but flat-out refuses to consider anything other than “old age” as a diagnosis and will hardly answer any questions. I’m pre-vet, I’m not completely ignorant. Still, we are praying for the good lord to help us find the needed care and give us the strength to make the decisions necessary for her well-being. No one should EVER feel that their voice is not being heard when it comes to their animal. It is a feeling of helplessness and unimportance. It was during the appointment yesterday where i realized, this is meant to be a wake up call.

There are many times when i have questioned whether veterinary medicine is the right path for me. It is a long and tedious journey through many, many years of school. Veterinary medicine and animal welfare have always been two things i am extremely passionate about. Sometimes though, that passion hides. IT gets buried under all the not-so-perfect test scores, tiring 8 am classes, stressful homework and complicated professors i have had to deal with and buried under the dread of stress yet to come. I will never forget the feeling of helplessness and unimportance i have felt over this past week. So many days, the thought “is it worth it” has crossed my mind. So many days i have needed a reminder, that no matter what, always follow your passion in life. If you are passionate, determined, and hold faith in the Lord, nothing can stand in your way. Sometimes we forget that. And those times we do, we’ll receive that swift kick in the right direction we so desperately need. For me, it was the realization that no person should ever have to fight what I’ve fought in the treatment of Roxy. It has reminded me not only why I decided to become a veterinarian in the first place, but also reinforced my determination to fight for my goal; To fight through the difficult courses, not-so-great professors, and many years of school left to come. It has reignited the passion I felt as a 12-year-old little girl who set her heart on a path so long and winding much like the backroads she came to love.