Kansas

Beef Chat

Jan272016

What Keeps You Going?

Published by Kassie Curran at 9:40 AM under Agriculture | General

I’m sure we can all agree that the start of 2016 has flown by – it’s hard to believe we are already in the last week of January! As February quickly approaches I was thinking about some of my goals for the New Year and realized I needed to refocus on those goals. Whether you like setting New Year’s Resolutions or just want tomorrow to be better than today, it takes focus and dedication to stick to those goals you set for the New Year.

We are sure to be discouraged at times and may consider giving up on those goals, but I believe it’s more important to continue making an effort towards your goals even if you slip up every once in a while. I’m going to keep this great quote by Voltaire in mind when thinking about my goals this year, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” This reminds me that progress is better than perfection and although we may not always reach our goals, doing something is better than doing nothing.

While 2015 brought interesting challenges to the beef industry, beef producers can expect 2016 to have its own set of ups and down. Whether it’s the cattle markets, grain prices, or weather, cattle producers must be diligent in making good production decisions and not be too discouraged when things don’t go as planned. It’s also important to identify what keeps  you going - what motivates you to push through the difficult times and continue to work towards your goals and dreams.

One of those things that keeps me going are new calves – it’s encouraging to see new life and they bring promise for a good year. I hope you identify what keeps you going towards your goals this year and remember not to let perfection be the enemy of good.

 

Eat Beef!
Kassie

 

 



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Jan152016

Energy for Busy Families

Published by Katie Sawyer at 9:12 AM under Agriculture | General | Nutrition | Recipe

It’s 2016 and our farm suddenly became a little more crowded. We welcomed our second son, Owen, on Jan. 5. That means I have more than a few baby pounds to drop and hope to get back into a running regimen by the spring.  That goal should be made easier by our two-year-old son, Evan, who always seems to be running on all cylinders and keeps us on our toes.

 

Meanwhile, my farmer hubby is working around the clock to help our 300-some mother cows safely and successfully deliver their new calves. That means 12-15 hour workdays and the occasional all-nighters.

 

One my new year’s goals is to prepare more meals, not only to save a few bucks, but to provide healthy and hearty meals that my family can enjoy together. Eating healthy is essential to maintaining energy levels and right now, the hubs and I need all of the energy we can get!

 

Thankfully we always have a great supply of beef cuts on hand that I can turn to for an excellent source of protein. Beef can be part of quick, healthy, family-friendly meals – from pizza to stews to casseroles to pot roasts. This winter, I hope to put my cooking skills to the test and find lots of new recipes to satisfy my family’s nutritional and energy needs.

 

Here is an example of a great recipe for a family meal that will satisfy appetites of all ages and keep everyone running on all cylinders. For more recipes and meal ideas check out www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com.

 

 

CHUCKWAGON BEEF & PASTA SKILLET

(Found on www.BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com)

INGREDIENTS

  1. 1 pound Ground Beef
  2. 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  3. 1/2 cup chopped onion
  4. 1 can (13-3/4 to 14-1/2 ounces) ready-to-serve beef broth
  5. 1-1/2 cups uncooked wagon wheel pasta
  6. 1 cup prepared hickory-flavored barbecue sauce
  7. 1/2 cup finely shredded Cheddar or Colby cheese

 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR CHUCKWAGON BEEF & PASTA SKILLET

  1. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add Ground Beef, bell pepper and onion; cook 8 to 10 minutes, breaking into 3/4-inch crumbles and stirring occasionally. Pour off drippings.
  2. Stir in broth, pasta, barbecue sauce and 1/4 cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until pasta is almost tender. Uncover; cook 5 to 7 minutes or until pasta is tender and sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with cheese.

 

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION FOR CHUCKWAGON BEEF & PASTA SKILLET

Nutrition information per serving: 445 calories; 10 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 4 g monounsaturated fat); 79 mg cholesterol; 1307 mg sodium; 54 g carbohydrate; 1.6 g fiber; 36 g protein; 9.3 mg niacin; 0.5 mg vitamin B6; 2.4 mcg vitamin B12; 6.1 mg iron; 20.9 mcg selenium; 6.6 mg zinc; 86.24 mg choline.

This recipe is an excellent source of protein, iron, zinc, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and selenium; and a good source of choline.



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Jan062016

Feed Time

Published by Kiley De Donder at 3:19 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | Nutrition | Recipe

Over the weekend our family wrapped up the final Christmas gathering for the season. It was truly a joyous occasion! Along with the out of town siblings and cousins, came a solid storm of rain and sleet. Precipitation is welcomed 9 times out of 10 on the farm, but lately it’s turning into a nuisance. With the abundance of moisture we’ve received it makes for tougher conditions for the cattle and with shorter days, cold temps and hardly any sun it takes forever for the ground to dry up. We spend extra time feeding and providing shelter to minimize the stress of the conditions. Here’s an inside look at chore time from this weekend.

       

Cattle lined up at the bunks                         Big round bales of hay are rolled out for      pastured cattle to eat.

 

 It’s a fun change of pace to have everyone home on the farm during the holidays. There are always tons of fun and never a shortage of food. Another perk of big family gatherings, there tends to be a few leftovers. Not all families love leftovers, but ours seems to eat them just fine. So, I thought I’d share an extremely quick beef and sweet potato hash recipe that uses several common ingredients you’re likely to have on hand following a traditional family gathering on a Kansas farm… Hashes are a great way to use leftovers. The combination of ingredients is limitless and work great morning, noon or night. And at less than 350 calories per serving, you can enjoy it without the guilt of a big dish and all the “fixings”

 

For additional leftover recipe ideas visit beefitswhatsfordinner.com

 

Have a happy and prosperous New Year!

Kiley

 

INGREDIENTS

12 ounces cooked beef (such as steak, roast or pot roast), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2-1/2 cups)

1 large sweet potato, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons reduced-fat or regular dairy sour cream

1 teaspoon hot sauce

Chopped fresh cilantro


INSTRUCTIONS FOR BEEFY SWEET POTATO HASH

Combine sweet potatoes, onion and taco seasoning in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add water. Cover and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp-tender and water has almost evaporated, stirring once. Stir in oil; continue cooking, uncovered, 4 to 6 minutes or until potatoes are tender and begin to brown, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, combine sour cream and hot sauce in small bowl. Set aside.

Add beef to potato mixture. Continue to cook 5 minutes or until beef is heated through, stirring occasionally, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons water, if needed to avoid sticking.

Garnish with cilantro, as desired. Serve with sour cream mixture.

Nutrition information per serving: 329 calories; 10 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 4 g monounsaturated fat); 63 mg cholesterol; 387 mg sodium; 33 g carbohydrate; 5.4 g fiber; 26 g protein; 3.0 mg niacin; 0.3 mg vitamin B6; 2.6 mcg vitamin B12; 3.7 mg iron; 26.1 mcg selenium; 5.6 mg zinc; 4.7 mg choline.

This recipe is an excellent source of fiber, protein, vitamin B12, iron, selenium and zinc; and a good source of niacin and vitamin B6.



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Dec042015

Giving The Gift of Beef

Published by Katie Sawyer at 1:31 PM under Agriculture | General

The old adage goes: “Farmers are asset-rich but cash poor.” Sadly, it still rings true for most in the agriculture industry today. We own land, cattle and equipment but only get paid at harvest so devote our paychecks to planting the next crop and purchasing the next group of calves. Sadly, my family is often no different.

 

So when it comes to helping charitable organizations and supporting our local community, we look to our assets to help us make a difference.

 

Like many communities, the city of McPherson, Kan., distributes hundreds of food baskets each year to needy families during the Christmas season. We could send a check or donate canned food items but we choose to make our own, unique contribution – fresh, locally raised beef.

 

We sell our beef locally to friends and family and each year, set aside hamburger to donate to various organizations, including those responsible for the Christmas food baskets. I love that we can donate a product we raised ourselves and provide families with a few pounds of nutritious and hearty ground beef. For some of these families, this may be one of the few times each year they can enjoy a meal with fresh, ground hamburger.

 

Donating beef is one of the many ways farmers and ranchers give back to their communities each year. Many grain cooperatives allow farmers to donate grain to non-profit organizations, which can then sell the grain and use the profits. Some families opt to allow the community to utilize acres of their farm for gardens or community planting projects. And yet others choose to give their time and talents, helping with local events, building projects or other community-wide efforts.

 

It always feels good to give back and help a family – especially during the holiday season. And doing so with fresh, locally raised beef is a tradition my family cherishes and will continue for years to come.



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Nov302015

Preparing for the Storm: 5 Ways

Published by Robin Kleine at 4:44 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

You may have noticed the slick, icy weather outside. Even if all of your activities were cancelled or postponed, we couldn’t delay feeding and watering our cows or checking over the herd.

 

Even if we don’t want to get out of our pajamas and leave our mugs of hot chocolate, the animals must be fed.

 

Taking care of our stock takes lots of planning, careful timing and a little bit of luck – no matter what the season. But in the next few months, lots of extra care will be given to our cattle to make sure they are fed, watered and as comfortable as possible in the harsh Kansas winter conditions … here’s how –

 

  1. MAKE HAY WHILE THE SUN IS SHINING. Back in the summer, we worked around the clock to make sure we enough hay to feed throughout the winter months. This stock pile will be fed through the winter when the grass is dormant and doesn’t grow.

  2. WATCH THE WEATHER. Any farmer or rancher will tell you that they read, watch or listen to the long term forecast multiple times per day. If bad weather is predicted we make any and all efforts to bed down the cattle, put out extra hay as well as check that every single water source not frozen and working properly.

  3. CREATE WIND BREAKS & CLEAR ROADS. Here in Kansas, the wind always blows. Especially on the open prairie, so ranchers will build wind breaks or plant rows of trees. The cattle can stand behind these structures and group together to get out of the wind. We often clear the roads and driveways on our farms and ranches, but first we tend to those that lead to our pastures and feed bunks.

  4. DO A HEAD COUNT. When feeding and watering, we do our best to go through and count each pasture and make sure all the cattle are where they belong. If not, we will walk, ride or drive through the pastures until we find them all.

  5. NO MATTER WHAT .. MAKE SURE THE STOCK HAS PLENTY TO EAT, ACCESS TO WATER & A PLACE TO BED DOWN. Even in white out conditions or ice slicked roads, the cattle have to eat, and then we can warm up and come inside and maybe have some breakfast ourselves.

 

If you don’t have cattle or other animals outside to take care of, you probably curl up on the couch with a good book and some coffee. Farmers and ranchers come inside and worry about how their herd is faring in the elements and how soon they can head back out to check on them.

 

May your herd be warm & safe this winter,

Robin



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Nov132015

Thankful

Published by Heath Larson at 8:15 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

I clearly remember feeling completely out of my element when working my first non-farm job.  Each day began and ended at the time clock, punching my card so my hours could be tracked. 

Conversely, in a farm family, "work" is woven into every single fiber of family life.  Vacations happen when rain forces you out of the field.  Summers revolve around wheat harvest, while winters revolve around twice-daily cattle feeding, periodic cattle drives, and late-winter calving.  Fortunately, during the limited amount of down time, the rewards of farm life can't be topped.  Were it not for family farm ground, I probably never would have had the opportunity to bond with my close friends over duck and pheasant hunts.  I grew up picking and eating sweet corn all summer long, the perfect complement to a fresh grilled, home-raised T-bone steak shared in the company of family after a day of hard work.
 

Today, I still carry these lessons with me.  I don't have to punch a time clock anymore, but, consistent with what I grew up with, I know I will be at work until the job is done, however long it takes.  Meal time is truly a sacred time for our growing family to relax, re-connect, and enjoy a cut of lean beef that supports the farm culture for which we are so thankful.  Perhaps the greatest rewards come when we take the time to return with our children to the farm to help with day-to-day tasks.

Last week, I took my son Andrew with me to help my father out with hauling heifers out of their summer pastures and cutting milo.  While waiting for "Grandpa Craig" to dump another load of milo on the grain cart, I asked Andrew why he liked coming to the farm so much.  His response?  "I just like being with you, Dad."  Now that is a family work culture worthy of much thanksgiving.
 



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Oct212015

Preparing for Winter

Published by Katie Sawyer at 9:48 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

It’s still doesn’t completely feel like fall on the farm. Temperatures continue to hoover in the 70s and there is no sign of the hard freeze we come to expect as the sure sign of autumn. But the calendar says mid-October and that means it’s time for the cows to come home.

 

For the past six months, our mother cows and their calves have been grazing and growing in the Kansas Flint Hills. Because we don’t have enough suitable pasture ground near our farm to graze our cattle, we lease pasture ground throughout the Flint Hills to provide grazing resources to our animals.

 

But when the calendar reads October, we know it’s time to bring the animals home.

For my husband, that means lots of long days in the tractor-trailer loading and driving cattle from the pastures to our farm. The process isn’t over when the truck reaches the farm. The animals must be unloaded, reviewed and ensured all arrived safely.  Additionally food must be ready in the bunks and water flowing in the waterers.

 

 

One of the most important aspects of bringing our cattle back to the farm is the transition from grass to a diet that includes grain. The change is made slowly and for the calves, which have never experienced grain in their diet, it’s a process we take time to review and perfect to ensure the new meal plan is meeting their nutritional needs and working with their still-developing digestive systems.

 

My husband and his father walk among the cows a few times each day to look for signs of sickness, discomfort or other health-related issues. When an animal does appear to be ill, we administer a dose of antibiotics to help them return to full health. The shot is documented and kept on record.

 

Finally, we update the cattle on all of their vaccines. Just like in humans, different vaccines are necessary for combatting illnesses that seem to strike at different times of the year. We work with our local veterinarian to provide a comprehensive vaccination program that ensures we are doing our part to keep our animals healthy and keep unwanted diseases and illnesses at bay.

 

Over the next few weeks, all of our animals will be back home on the farm and will have settled into their new environment and meal plan. When the weather finally turns cold and winter hits the Plains, our cattle will be ready to battle the elements and endure another winter season. Until then, we are all ready for some crisp fall weather and happy to have our livestock back home.



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Sep112015

What is Conventional Beef?

Published by Katie Sawyer at 3:21 AM under Agriculture | General

Over the past few years, the idea of conventionally raised beef has come under scrutiny as new forms of beef product gain popularity. However, the practices employed by cattle owners who claim to have grass-fed or antibiotic-free cattle are all part of the conventional cattle growing process.

 

My husband and his father will care for several hundred cattle during the course of a year. The time of year and age of the cattle will determine their location, feed plan and overall care plan. Our cattle spend a majority of their lives grazing on grass in pastures located both at home and in the Kansas Flint Hills. But during the winter months, when green grass is hard to find and the harsh Kansas cold demands more of new mother cows and small baby calves, we provide a well-rounded meal that meets all of our cows’ and calves’ nutritional needs.

 

We also practice a very as-needed approach to antibiotic use. We don’t dispense antibiotics to our animals unless they show signs of illness. And through diligent record keeping, we ensure that all antibiotics are out of an animal’s system before they are processed for beef. Regardless of whether it’s conventionally or naturally raised, antibiotics are not allowed in any type of beef sold to consumers.

Allowing our cattle to suffer from a curable condition is simply inhumane and runs contrary to our belief of providing proper care for all animals.

 

When our cattle enter the feedlot, they are fed a ration of grains with nutritional supplements. Much of the grain fed in feedlots is grown right here in Kansas. There are no “foreign substances” or animal waste in the feed – just grain and hay to provide energy and protein.

 

Conventional cattle feeding practices allow us, as cattle owners, to use all of our resources, both land and crops, and enables us to raise cattle more efficiently, creating affordable beef products for consumers.

 

There is no better or worse way to raise cattle, there are just different practices to meet different needs of different farms. We care for our animals, provide safe and nutritious feed and provide consumers with safe and affordable beef products.

 



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Jul302015

Summer Heat Makes Winter Feed

Published by Katie Sawyer at 2:34 AM under Agriculture | General

According to the Weather.com app on my phone, it’s 102 degrees F on our farm and feels like 108 degrees F. That’s hot by anyone’s standards and when it comes after almost a week of 90-plus-degree days, the app should just state “oven-like conditions outside.”

 

In addition to our Angus cow herd, we raise crops on our farm outside McPherson, Kan. About half of our acres are irrigated, which means other half are at the whim of Mother Nature. Unfortunately this summer, she hasn’t been too giving with the rain. For our non-irrigated (or dryland) crops, high temperatures and little rain is a recipe for disaster.

 

But as the heat continues on, we are thinking cool thoughts, specifically about our mother and baby cows who will be home this winter and in need of quality, hearty feedstuffs to thrive during the cold winter months.

 

One of our successes in raising quality beef is the ability to use feed from our own farm. Outside of any dry distillers used, we grow all of the feed for our cattle on our farm. We control the quality and the nutritional value of that feed and can trace it from the field to the feed bunk.

 

Our cattle, therefore, have gained a reputation for being not only locally born and raised, but also grown on a diet of local crops, grains and grass. We love watching our cattle grow and thrive and its even better when you know exactly what’s going in the bunk.

 

Later this week, we will start chopping our dryland corn to create silage. The end product is a mixture of every part of the corn plant, from the stalk to the ear. The cattle end up with an energy-rich meal. In the past, we’ve also created silage from our milo and soybeans that have suffered from a lack of moisture.

 

We’re never happy to miss the rains but we’re fortunate to be able to put our failed crops to good use in feeding our growing cows. 



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May202015

How Do You Celebrate Beef Month?

Published by Kassie Curran at 7:54 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

May is full of reasons to celebrate – finishing school, graduations, weddings, and rain. May is also Beef Month so there is even more to celebrate! I’ll share some of the ways I like to celebrate Beef Month and I hope you will celebrate it too.

 

Grill Out – Throw some burgers or steak on the grill, enjoy the beautiful weather and time with family and friends. There are plenty of great recipes here and here.

Enjoy the Scenery – Take a drive out to the country and take in the beautiful scenery. In Kansas, we’ve got lots of green grass at this time of year so I love to go out and enjoy the sights of cattle on grass.

Learn More About Beef – There is always more to learn about everything and many ways to do so. I like to ask questions of people who are more experienced than me in the beef industry. The Beef Council would be happy to get you connected to a rancher who you can talk to about raising beef or even going out to see how and where they raise beef. Another way to learn more about beef is by watching videos on the internet (from trusted sources of course!). This website has a great video on how beef gets from pasture to plate, as well as lots of other educational materials about beef.  

 

These are just a few ways I like to celebrate Beef Month, but there are so many more. I hope you enjoy these and will find your own ways to celebrate Beef Month. Feel free to share them with us in the comments below.

 

Happy Beef Month!

 

Kassie



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