Tag: farm

They have arrived!!! Beautiful, friendly and RED!

This is a day on the farm I will never forget and I hope my 3 year old doesn’t either.

First, let me share with you some history.

As I was growing up on the farm, our cattle operation consisted of a wide variety of cows my grandfather would find at the sale barn. We had tall ones, old ones, black, white, grey, red and sometimes down right mean ones. And some were a little of everything.  Grandpa had a great mind for business and he focused on how to make a quick dollar here and there to sustain the crop production side of farming.  It was admirable and it was so much fun to sit and watch him work the sale barn while bidding.

My father on the other hand was and still is equally wise for business but had a different, much longer term perspective. Dad saw the big picture and instead of a quick dollar he envisioned an operation that would fit the evolving market and sustain the beef production side of farming.  This meant investing in good genetics and creating a herd that was pure, black Angus.  It has been incredible to see this dream become a reality for both Dad and my brother.

Our hodge-podge pasture groups have transformed into healthy, black beauties who both calve well and have a much more efficient weight of gain. Dad and Ryan have built great relationships with breeders and have a good eye for the market demands.  It has changed the entire dynamic of our beef cattle operation.  We now do rotational grazing and are expanding into direct-sales with our freezer beef.  The genetics and feed have come together to fashion tender, flavorful beef that has given us returning customers year after year.  Not every year is a stellar market but with the crop production side of our farm we are able to ride it out and stay in the game.

Now, how does that lead to my big announcement today?  Well, one more fun little story.  As I shared, my dad prefers black cattle. They tend to bring a higher price in the beef industry and he simply likes the velvety look of them. I, on the other hand, prefer red cattle. Specifically Herefords (red with white faces) but any red cow will do.  When I was younger and dad began customizing our herds, he reminded me that he will never purchase a red cow.  He didn’t want me to get my hopes up.  I appreciated his honesty even though I would tease him about it year after year as the time drew near for me to begin my SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) for FFA.  I specifically had requested Hereford calves.  He again reminded me that we do not raise red cattle on our farm.

When I thought all hope was lost for my red herd, I saw my beloved Grandpa drive in pulling a goose neck trailer. He had come straight from the sale barn. I peeked in the holes of the trailer and couldn’t believe my eyes.  He had purchased, just for me, not one but five Hereford heifers. I was beyond excited. They were the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen. Their white heads curled just right and they were so sweet and friendly.  I named them after my favorite childhood book series that Dad used to read to me at bedtime, “Little House on the Prairie”.   Laura, Mary, Cary, Grace and Nellie (she truly was a little ornery) were here to stay on our farm.

Every time I think back to that day and those heifers I wish I could try one more time to convey to my late grandfather how much it meant to me.  The funny thing is, I hand fed those babies into large cows and we bred them to one of our black Angus bulls. My dad again didn’t want me to get my hopes up so cautioned me that their calves would be black and white. The black is almost always the dominant gene. Guess what I did? I prayed. Yep, I prayed about cows. I asked God to please bless me with at least one red and white calf from my sweet heifers.  He answered this farm girl’s prayer in a big way. Four out of the five heifers calved and more than one was red and white!   I love how God cares about the small stuff and gave us all something to chuckle about for years to come.

Now,  15+ years later, my dad and brother informed me that we were purchasing a group of red Angus cows and one of them even looked like a Hereford!  Once again, I couldn’t believe it.  They were almost sheepish in telling me.  It was great. They do have very logical reasons in making this purchase. It wasn’t really about my hair preference.  You see, red cattle do not get as hot as black cattle so they will not be spending every warm day huddled under the trees.  What’s the big deal in that you may ask?  A few main issues arise when they spend a majority of their day under trees. It makes it harder to check them and their calves, fly control is nearly impossible and it doesn’t spread out the manure over the pasture to naturally fertilize the grass. We rely heavily on healthy, well maintained pastures since a majority of our cattles’ lives are spent on grass.  So the red really does have an efficiency value, not just a photogenic aspect.

I’ve waited weeks for these girls to be delivered with their new calves.  As I was rushing around feeding breakfast to my daughters and getting us ready for a trip to town my husband walked in the door, knowing I would be very excited, and informed me that my red herd was finally on the way!!! I quickly dressed the girls, grabbed my camera, thanked God and ran out the door just in time to see the trucks drive in pulling goose-necks full of the most beautiful red headed creatures you have ever seen. Okay, so maybe the most beautiful red headed cows and calves you have ever seen.

They have been well fed, worked with and loved by the Swallow family. We will do our best to carry on that same affection.  I keep looking out the window grinning and wishing my grandpa could see them. Enjoy these first pics of their new home at Britt Farms.

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Beautiful!!! I’ll keep you posted on how they are doing and I’m sure you will see many more pics in the days to come on our Facebook page! Today was one for the books!

Love always,



Pinterest Favorites and a Snowed In New Year! It’s time to rest!

Happy New Year’s Eve! It’s a beautiful day here at the farm and we have decided that being snowed-in is not all bad! Once the men are finished feeding cattle and servicing trucks we are ready to settle in with some hot chocolate and rest.  Our Christmas parties were fun and time with family is priceless, but now we are ready to enjoy the peaceful snow and relax. For this last blog post of 2012 we want to share with you our favorite holiday Pinterest pins and also a glimpse into an average snow day on the farm!

You can pin this entire post as a resource for next year!

“Brown paper packages tied up with string”…and we attached a favorite photo of the gift recipient!

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On Pinterest they refer to this as “Christmas Crack”…but we prefer to call it “Christmas Crunch”…it is ooey-gooey and addictive! Click HERE for the recipe! *We added Christmas M&M’s for color and a little almond flavoring.

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The last Pinterest Pin we tried this year was the Peppermint Hot Chocolate Stirrer idea…did anyone else make these?  They were a lot of fun to make and they really add a lot to your hot chocolate! *You can find stirring sticks in the plastic-ware section of Walmart.  For the instructions click HERE.

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We are thankful for the time with family and for the opportunity to celebrate the birth of our Savior! We are excitedly awaiting the New Year and all that will come with it. We are trusting that whatever joys and whatever sorrows may come we believe in the One who will carry us through and never leave us or forsake us.

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On a snow day like today, our men feed extra hay to the cattle and double check their watering tanks so that they do not go without food or water for a day. The men work extra hard in the windy cold to keep the cattle healthy and ensure their well-being. Often times the cold front will cause an expectant cow to go into labor so the men keep a watchful eye out for newborn calves or cows having any trouble delivering their calves.

Here are some more snowy shots from today!

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In the next picture, the cattle are lined up eating their hay. The men use a flat bed truck with “spikey arms” to load up each round bale of hay and then they release it to unroll as they drive along through the pasture. The cattle are excited to see the truck and bales of hay!

December 2012 142The calves are the only real concern in cold weather. Healthy, well-fed cattle like ours can withstand snow and ice with temperatures all the way down to -30 degrees Fahrenheit. Their hides are very thick and they develop a winter coat that serves as an insulator for their body heat. They stay together as a herd and usually duck down out of the wind if needed. Cattle are well suited for this weather!

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Have Happy New Year and please stay safe on the roads! We look forward to sharing more with you in 2013!

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A Tribute to the Blue and Gold in Honor of National FFA Week

It was fall and the start of my freshmen year of High School. Excitement filled me literally from head to toe as I zipped up my new, blue, corduroy FFA jacket perfectly embroidered in gold with my full name.  This was a big night calling for “official dress” which meant no blue jeans!  Mom and I had gone shopping to find the appropriate length of black skirts; one went all the way down to my ankles and the other just past my knees.  Tonight I was wearing the knee-length one. We also purchased black hose, professional black dress shoes and a crisp white button up blouse.  For years I had dreamed of putting on my “official dress” and rushing out to win some contest or represent the local chapter as an officer just like my dad, older sister, brother-in-law, older brother and older (by one year) best friend had done before me. I had waited and waited….and waited while sitting through countless FFA banquets, speeches and waving at them in parades. It was the fall of 1998 and it was my turn.

The older classmen, as tradition calls for, dipped our hands in John Deere green paint and we recited the FFA Creed … “I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds…” and just like that I was a Green-Hand in the Salisbury FFA Chapter. Secretly I hoped the paint would never ever fade.

(That’s my sis as a MO State FFA Officer in the second row far left!)

My grandpa surprised me with my dream SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) project when he pulled into the drive way with the five prettiest Hereford heifers you have ever seen! I had them eating out of my hands in no time and my dad helped me keep track of everything in my Record Book. I had so much fun learning about entrepreneurship. I also teased dad about how Mary, Laura, Carrie, Grace and Nellie (recognize those names?) stood out beautifully against my dad’s Black Angus cows. Remind me later to tell you about how God answered my prayers twice when Dad bred them to his Angus bulls! My dad couldn’t believe it!

(Here’s a hint! Hee hee!)

When my dad was in the FFA as a high school kid, the rules were different and their blue and gold corduroy jackets were seen as perfectly warm attire to do chores in! That was also back before women could join the organization….

Over the course of the next 4 years I was blessed with many opportunities to compete in contests including Livestock Judging, Sales, and Public Speaking. I zipped up my jacket to give a speech about the joys and trials of raising sheep to the MO Sheep Producers judges. One year later I zipped up my jacket and stood before the MO Farm Bureau Conference to speak on the importance of the Farm Bureau and how it had benefited our family farm.

I packed my jacket when our chapter went on float trips, traveled to both Kansas City and Louisville for the National Conventions (where I got to hear Danny Glover speak),  and when I toured with the MO Agri-business Academy. Through these travels I met kids in other blue and gold jackets from across the country that I would have never known existed let alone that they had a common background or interests as me.  All through High School you could find me in the Ag Department before, during and after school as well as on most weekends! The athletes were lifting weights and I was carrying feed buckets. They were memorizing plays while I was memorizing speeches. We both had important goals in mind; and we both knew it would take hard work and discipline to accomplish them.

My senior year had come and it was time to try for a State FFA Office to represent our Area. Once I knew I was on the team I would apply for Mizzou and study Ag Education.  I had dreamed about becoming a State Officer since I was 8 years old.

(The only reason I share this is to encourage another young dreamer.)

This interview called for “Official Dress” of course so I zipped up my faithful blue and gold corduroy jacket, prayed with my parents and headed off with my Advisor for what was sure to be the biggest night of my life to that point.

However… God had a different plan in mind. I soon learned that HIS plans are not always ours and His ways are actually higher than ours.

When they announced the girl’s name next to me as the new State FFA Officer from our area I was beyond devastated. We hugged, I said a brief “congratulations” and faked the best smile I could and then with a knowing look my advisor quickly rounded up our crew and we headed to the local McDonalds for milk shakes. I couldn’t go inside though…I couldn’t move. My heart was broken. Mr. Scheiderer sat with me in the car while I cried and cried and he cried with me. He told me how proud of me he was with such sincerity in his eyes. I then called my sister knowing that she had been praying for me.  When I told her through tears that I had let everyone down, she lovingly assured me that I did my best and that God simply had other plans that are good and perfect. She reminded me of my favorite verse,

 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13)

It meant that through His strength I could get through this moment, this change in direction and this sudden uncertainty of the future.

God did give me strength and it wasn’t long before HIS plans became clear.  He showed me that Ag Ed wasn’t the plan for me and gave me a peace and a place to call home at HLG-U where I studied Communications (which I use daily with my job) and met the love of my life, Ryan.  I had been so focused on MY plans that I didn’t stop to see if they aligned with HIS plans. This trial taught me humility, gratitude and perseverance.

I put on my “Official Dress” one last time for our Spring FFA Banquet just before graduation and the Lord gave me the words of a popular Michael W. Smith song to include in my farewell speech. It encourages us to focus on the time God has given us to “drink of the deep and unlock the mysteries of all we can be.” We may not know His plans, but we can always trust they are good and perfect. Another favorite verse comes from Jeremiah 29:11…

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.”

That blue and gold jacket which now hangs proudly in my parents front closet means true, life-long friends. It also means an Ag Advisor who believes in his or her students and parents who sacrifice so that their children can be at every activity and cheer loudly with each achievement. It represents to me the many members of the community who attend the FFA breakfasts and football game BBQ’s, provide scholarships from their businesses, serve as “mock judges” when students practice for contests and faithfully purchase fruit baskets so that the local chapter can travel to the conventions.

(Ryan’s cousin Michael and his fellow team from the Silex, MO FFA Chapter)

FFA jackets then and today represent hard work, respect, leadership and first and foremost, an appreciation of agriculture.

…”I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds…”

(Written by guest blogger and our youngest daughter, Kara Edwards)