As Nevada Farm Bureau's Young Farmer's and Rancher's We Are the Voice of Agriculture

Saturday, March 16, 2013

"Dairy-ing" to go a different route....One last tour from the National Conference.

I had intended to get this post out a little sooner than I did--As usual, life pops up and my second son, 9-years old, ended up needing an appendectomy--you just never know what adventures lie ahead when you get out of bed in the morning, so after a trip to see the surgeon in Utah and a couple days trying to recuperate (him and me!) I am thinking he is bouncing back way faster than me!  He is doing great, can't even hardly tell he's been through the ringer, and my piles of things to do are slowly going down.  So, here is the last of my tour info from the national Conference!

Welcome to the Crow's Dairy, just outside of Phoenix, AZ.
This was our third stop on our National Conference tour. 
The Crow's who own and run this dairy are retired dairy farmer's.  Yep, I did say retired.  They milked cows for many years, raising a family, and finally retiring from the business, even selling off the farm because none of their kids wanted to run it.
And, yet, here they are running a dairy?  Well, retirement gives you time to think, and time to look for new hobbies--maybe get a few goats to milk and make some fun kinds of goat cheese?
And here they are not even ten years from retirement of their first dairy and running a growing and progressive dairy on the outskirts of a vacation hotspot.

I cannot remember their first names, so I will go with Mr. and Mrs. Crow--the Mr., who ran a cow dairy for so long, swore that he hated goats milk, until he started drinking it, and as Mrs. Crow informed us, he has gained 15 lbs since.  He loves it, he admits now.  The jug in the picture above-=-his personal one in the cooler !

An idea to make a little homemade cheese turned into a two year trip around the country and even out of the country to try lots and lots of products and recipes in order to come up with the cheese that they now make and sell in these containers.  They sell the majority of their cheeses, and now their homemade gelatto (Italian-style ice cream) to the resorts around them.  High-end resorts, like the JW Marriott (where we were staying), who happens to be their biggest buyer.

Some o their bucks, Mr. Crow was showing us are pretty interesting--I never got a every good shot--but this gray-bodied male has udders/teats to compete with the milking mama's!  I had never seen anything quite like that--he joked to us that he was a hermaphrodyte .  But, all joking aside, this buck would probably sell for about $12,000 if he were ever to leave this dairy.  He is the top producing Nubian Buck in the nation and they were even getting ready to ship one of his sons all the way to Australia.

This is the coolest 'nursing bucket' ever.  Okay, at least I thought so--and maybe it wouldn't be as convenient for the big angus calves that we raise, head-butting it and sloshing all the milk out, but for these littler critters, it seems to come in real handy.  There are straws connected to each of the nipples, and they fillit up and the kids gather round to get their fill.

Since the Crows got back into the Dairy business, they have actually found a family member who wants to be a part of the business--one of their daughters married after the cow dairy was sold to someone who had never been involved with the Ag or Dairy lifestyle, but who's life now revolves around it.  In fact, this son-in-law runs most of the milking and processing and spends the majority of his day working here.   His plan is to put in the time now and build the business so that he can really enjoy the benefits later.  And it seems that each year brings greater demand and more opportunities.  So, while the price was a little high to get started because all of the smaller equipment came from Europe, they are hoping that in the long run it will really be worth it.  At $20 a gallon I'm thinking there is a pretty good chance. ;)

The Nubian goats do great in the Arizona heat, with their long ears to help them cool off, they are originally from the area of Egypt and that is why they do so well here.  Curious, friendly, and they eat and poop LOTS less than cows!  I think by the time we were done here, there were a lot of YF&R members considering the option of a little bit of goat milking-- Oh, and did I mention that their pasteurized milk sells for $20 a GALLON!!!  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Taking a Tour of Arizona Ag.....National YF&R Conference Continues.....

I don't know how many of you out there have ADD or ADHD, or have child-induced ADHD, like me, but it makes life a bit chaotic sometimes. ;)  Don't know what child-induced ADHD is?  Well, it is what happens when a woman has children and becomes so scatter-brained about all the things that she has to do that she runs around in circles starting and stopping projects along the way, constantly remembering something else she is supposed to be doing, but loving chocolates and good foods too much to ever let all that running get to her metabolism.  Some of you know what I am talking about?  Okay, well, we do have some attention issues in my family, but I think that most of mine are self-induced.  I cam down to the computer to work on some things for my church calling (job) and I realized I had not gotten my blog done for this week, and as I sat down I thought--"Oh, last loaf of bread is in the pantry--I am supposed to be baking this afternoon.  Which I have to schedule around the kids schedules, so it means I have limited time to do certain projects, and so, here I am being silly by rambling on to you when I should be getting something done!!  
SOOOOOOOO, let's get back to Arizona and the tours that we had the chance to go on this year!!!

This is a trailer of CARROTS!  Now, I apologize for the bad photography, please keep in mind that we did not get off the buses for the majority of the tours and not at all at Duncan Farms.  Duncan Farms is a BIG family owned operation that grows conventional AND organic produce for the US and Europe.  Every time we ate a salad I wondered if the greens came from them or their neighbors--and it is quite wonderful to eat salad in the winter and know that it is VERY fresh and came from VERY close by.  I eat a lot of salads and being in a rural town with a very small grocery store (maybe around 1000 sq. ft.??) Our produce is often not the greatest. But, 80 or 90 miles to the nearest Albertson's, Smith's or Wal-Mart and you make do with what you have.  
The day that we toured, Duncan Farms was harvesting Organic Carrots.  They got into the organic business years ago, in the early 90's I think, something to do with his wife bringing school classes out to tour the farm which grew into something bigger and which they did for a lot of years--but then he got sidetracked and never really finished telling why they went organic.  It takes three years for one of their fields to be converted to organic,  and has to be a certain amount of feet away from any conventional crops or any pesticides or chemicals.

This is Mr. Duncan guiding us on the tour and teaching us about the property.  They farm mainly in Arizona, but in order to compete in a year-round market, they also operate in California and keep about 420 employees in one state and about 120 in the other, swapping about 300 out as the seasons and crops change and they are needed in the other state.  The farms have been family-owned and operated for a long time--not going to quote how many generations because I can't remember, but I think it is at least 3.
It is hard to see, but right in the center of this picture is a person in white and another in blue to the left of them.  They walk across the fields and clean up any debris that might get mixed in with the carrots or greens as they are harvested.  They also do weed-pulling in a similar many as they keep things organic.

Here you can see the different types of salad greens--baby greens that are growing in the purple and green stripes.  They also harvest at different stages for different products. The carrots that we know in the market as 'baby' carrots are not true baby carrots, they are regular carrots, harvested and put through a machine that  cuts them, peels them, and rounds them off to give the appearance of 'baby' carrots.

The carrots are harvested in much the same way as potatoes.

In the middle of Duncan farms is a Women's Correctional Facility. Duncan Farms actually works with the prison and has a program to let the prisoners come out and work and harvest some of their fields.  These salad greens are considered past their prime, so most of them are picked and donated to food banks.  If you know about our YF&R Harvest For All food drives, where we partner with FEEDING AMERICA, you will better appreciate Duncan Farms, as they are a major contributor to the Feeding America group.

Just a sign outside of their offices.

And then it was time to smell the roses.....okay, so we didn't get to smell the roses, but we did get to see them being harvested at Wolf Rose Farm, a major supplier of rose bushes to wholesale companies, like Home Depot and Lowe's.  They are in the middle of big time harvesting for up and coming Mother's day--the BIGGEST rose bush selling day of the year!

This is a picture of Dann Mathews and Shorty and Lacey Tom--all of NVFB YF&R learning from Mr. Wolf why this rose bush in particular is a cull, even though it looked like a good strong plant to the rest of us, it need to have three strong branch systems coming of it, which it only had two.  Mr. Wolf's family had been in the valley for generations--starting out as cotton grower's, which they referred to as 'poor man's wheat.'  Several decades ago (the 1960's???) they decided to try roses, and have had a successful (as farming goes) time with them.  They rotate in crops of barley every couple of years, but other than that I do not know if they produce anything else besides roses.

Here you can see the roses stretching on and on and the urban-sprawl in the background, which is how you find much of the valley's farming--surrounded by the city.  This has been a big challenge for AZ farmer's, fighting the infringing city and the regulations that come with it.

This attachment gently vibrates the roses right up out of the soil.  Earlier they had been trimmed down to size, and now the workers come right behind to cull, sort, string, and load.  The workers are organized into groups that always work together--they are paid not by the hour, but by their production level.  This has been a good system at Wolf Farms, as they encourage and work together and report those who are not doing their part.  The workers had good morale there and had better wages and more free-time because of their desire to be productive.

And after two rows, the wagon is loaded down with lots and lots of rose bushes.  They are sold to the wholesaler companies who then decide whether they will sell them as bare root, potted, or other ways to the big chain stores.  There is no way of knowing when you buy that bush if it comes from Wolf Farms, because they are not on any of the labels, but if you are looking for roses this spring--there is a good chance that if may have been grown in the Arizona winter!

We had one more stop on the tour, but since my little helper is awake and wanting mom's attention, well, I will leave that for next week!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

2013 American Farm Bureau YF&R Conference Begins....

Welcome to the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in Sunny Arizona, home of the 2013 National Young Farmer and Rancher Conference  Okay, well that's what you would think anyway, but this 'sunny' picture happened to be the morning before the rain moved in, and even without the rain, I would look out and think, oh it's nice out, until I went out the door!  BRRRR!  It was a little chilly, but it sure looked pretty from the balcony.

Don't believe me about the chill?  Well, maybe the empty pools will help convince you!  If you could see it in the right light you would also be seeing the steam rising from the heated water, but no takers on plunging in or even sitting out, because it was so cold!

But, we weren't there for the poolside attractions, we were there for the conference, and that was well worth the chilly weather.
The 2013 attendees from Nevada were (back row l-r):  Jexten, Jamie and Grant Perkins
(Mid l-r) Lucas Tom, Carley Alexander, Andrea and Levi Chandler, Dann and Jessica Mathews, Tami Dahl.
Lacey Tom, Betsy Hardy, Ian Chandler, Stephanie Bunker, and Trina Dalley.
*The shirts that you see on Levi and Dann were from the conference and in support of Feeding America, the foodbank that Farm Bureau and the YF&R partner with each year in our Harvest For All program.  THe shirts were $15 and all proceeds went to Feeding America and there was a # sign with a Twitter address to help promote it also (I don't twitter, so I guess I explained it right?)

Jexten and Ian are some of our youngest Nevada Farm Bureau members and met a couple of months ago at the annual meeting, they just kind of go wherever mom and dad drag them!

The conference always starts with an opening session and has several general sessions with big speakers that are usually really enjoyable, sometimes more motivational and humorous, other times very educational.  Along with teh general sessions there are smaller 'breakout' or mini-sessions.  This one was put on by the graduating class of the Partners for Agricultural Leadership Program or PALS, which just graduated its sixth class.  These people are all current or former YF&R members who have excelled and been personally invited to participate in the program that takes 2 years to finish, and trains strong agricultural leaders who can speak to the media and legislators and really be a future asset to Farm Bureau.  One of the graduates of this class was Misty Wall from Mona, Utah.  Misty and her husband Seth, were on the AFBF YF&R committee a couple of years ago over our area and attended our state meeting in Ely, helping us with the Discussion Meet.

This is another picture of our group, looking pretty snazzy on Sunday.  Stephanie Licht (far right) is our State Coordinator and a HUGE help and support of all we do in NV YF&R.

From Bernie Erven, another keynote speaker, we learned about Farm transition--usually a big deal for most YF&R age members of Farm Bureau, and always a topic that we feel we've benefited from, but how to get the older generation to hear it also?  I really enjoyed his presentation, just wished that maybe my grandparents could have heard it a year or two ago.
(From AFBF:  Bernie Erven is a professor of agricultural economics and Extension specialist at The Ohio State University. His teaching, Extension and research activities are in human resource management, farm management and business management. Bernie’s Extension and outreach program focuses on labor management topics such as hiring, training, motivation, compensation and performance evaluation. In Phoenix, Bernie will talk with Young Farmers & Ranchers about farm transitions.)

The closing session on Monday morning was a light-hearted, yet serious about Ag speaker named Mark Mayfield.  In the meantime we attended workshops on everything from leadership to the fiscal budget and whether our towns were farm-friendly and what we could do to make them so.  There were workshops for state chairs, promoting ag literacy programs, and economics of taking the lead in the family business.

In between sessions the collegiate Discussion Meet was being held, which runs after the same pattern as the regular YF&R Discussion Meet held at the AFBF annual meeting each January. but awards smaller prizes such as scholarship money.  This year our collegiate DM winner was not able to represent us due to conflict in schedule, but we hope to have some one back in the competition again next year in Virginia Beach, Virginia!!

Well, that's it for not, I'll follow up with more photos and information from the tours we went on in the next post!

Monday, December 10, 2012


(Please retain a copy of this information for your records.)
 Please have CD/electronic entries to Cindy Hardy by October 14, 2013.
 County rules and prizes are at the discretion of the respective County Farm Bureaus

YF&R DIVISION: 18 – 36 years

“Food From Farm to Fork”, 
or “A day in the Life of a Rancher or Farmer”.

 1st Place - $100; 2nd Place - $ 75; 3rd Place - $50

1. Each video is to be produced by an individual or a group of up to three contestants. The oldest contestant in a
group determines Division. Prize money is awarded lump sum to a group.
2. Videos will be between 2 and 5 minutes in length. Penalties are assessed for under or over the time limit. Use
permanent marker to identify contestant name(s), school, Division, title/topic on a CD.
3. Each video will cover a single topic and be judged: 25 pts: Appropriateness to topic, Accuracy and Organization;
15pts: Delivery, Special Effects and Music; 10 pts: Interesting and Understandable.
4. State video entries will be judged at the Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in November 2013.
5. All decisions of the judges are final. Videos without a SIGNED entry form are disqualified.
Entry forms and Video CDs for the State Contest are due by 5:00 p.m., October 14, 2013
Please submit videos to the State Farm Bureau Women’s Chair- Cindy Hardy
SIGNED Hard Copy Entry Forms and Video CD’s Submitted by Mail: P.O. Box 112 Logandale NV 89021
Any questions, please call 702-398-3137 or 702-375-8124

TITLE OF VIDEO: _____________________________________________________________________
List Main Contact on First set of Lines:
*______________________, ________________________, _____________, __________ __________
_______________________, ________________________, _____________, __________ __________
_______________________, ________________________, _____________, __________ __________
SCHOOL: _______________________________________________
COUNTY: ____________________
*MAIN CONTACT: HOME PHONE: ____________________
CELL PHONE: ___________________
Permission to Post Video on the internet YES________ NO_______
SIGNATURE OF PARENT(S): _____________________________________________________________
SIGNATURE OF PARENT(S): _____________________________________________________________
SIGNATURE OF PARENT(S): _____________________________________________________________
This SIGNED permission form is required to accompany the video entry. Thank you.
(2009 - 2012 Videos can be seen at: )

Friday, November 30, 2012

And the Winner is..... (NVFB 2012 Discussion Meet)

While Nevada Farm Bureau's Young Farmer and Ranchers were discussing current Ag topics in the Discussion Meet, our Youngest Young Farmer and Rancher's were also preparing for future discussion meets.  hopefully 20 years from now these little boys will be carrying on the traditions of Ag that their parents  are instilling in them from a very early age!  These cute boys are the sons of the State FFA Advisor, the Elko County FB YF&R Chair, and the NVFB State YF&R Chair.

The final round of the Discussion Meet is held at the NVFB Annual Meeting's Awards dinner on the final night of the meeting.  This has been the tradition for the last few years as it gives the opportunity for the members attending to all see what the DM is and gives the competitors an opportunity to compete in front of the crowd.

Our final round from left to right was: Candace Shrecengost, Dann Mathews, (Irene Barlow as moderator) Corey Shrecengost, (Doug Bushman as room monitor) and Lacey Tom.

Nevada Farm Bureau members listen to the Discussion Meet as competitors discuss:
2. What can be done to encourage young farmers and ranchers to return home to the farm if it means living in a rural area that does not provide the same amenities (education, health care, technology) as a metropolitan community? 

Dann gives his final one minute closing.  
Unfortunately, I was not the picture fanatic at this meeting that I usually am--trying to carry a diaper bag, a baby, stroller, my Farm Bureau binder and bag, and my camera bag was just too much and so the camera bag was the one that was dropped.  That means I don't have pictures of the winners, but here are the final results of a great discussion meet:

1st Place:  Corey S.
2nd Place: Dann M.
3rd Place:  Candace S.
4th: Lacey T.

Congratulations to all on a great job!  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nevada Farm Bureau YF&R Discussion Meet 2012

This year was the largest Discussion Meet that we have had since I first attended the Nevada Farm Bureau's Annual Meeting 6 years ago in Tonopah.  I competed that day and was one of only two people that had come to the meeting to do so.  We convinced three others to join so that we would actually be able to have a 'group' discussion.  The last two years we have had nine people.  This year (drumroll, please) we had TEN!  Okay, that may not seem so big to you, but there were a few others there that we could have begged and pleaded with to join, and that is my whole point--there were ten competing YF&R members, and and about ten others attending that day that were not competing.  That is a big deal from six years ago.  All of the other states that I have visited with through YF&R activities and meetings have told me "Don't give up and Don't get discouraged, it takes time to build the YF&R program."  So, that is what I keep in mind when it seems slow.  But at least it seems steady, also.  Clark County has a full program now working.  Elko has a YF&R Chair that attended their first annual meeting and was excited about being involved.  And we have in the works a great plan to build the program in 2013 to each active county!  But, enough about that--here is a re-cap of our Discussion Meet this year:

In the first round of discussion we had Dan B. from Clark, Kaley S. from Clark, our past year's DM Winner, Irene B. from Clark, who helped as our Moderator.
Also competing in the first round were Jon D. from Elko, Candace S. from Elko, and Dann M. of Lincoln.

Competitors are introduced to the room and to the topic, they are then given the opportunity to give a 30 second opening statement on the topic before the discussion begins.  They are judged on time, presentation, cooperation, knowledge of the topic, etc.  Their topic was:  How can Farm Bureau play a role to ensure the viability of quality agricultural education programs within our schools? 

Out in the foyer we were prepping future YF&R members for the Discussion Meet.

Dann gets his final point in before the round ends.

Round two brought five more competitors to the table--Lacey T. from Clark.

Cory S. from Elko and Ashley W. from Churchill, were both attentive to the discussion at hand, the topic of this round was:  Certain sectors of agriculture are labor intensive and rely heavily on immigrant workers. What is a fair and balanced immigration policy?
Cody M. is another of our collegiate competitors from Elko County.

And the final contestant in this round is NV FFA President, Margaret W.
The round closes and the competitors have a one minute period of quiet time to compose their thoughts in order to give their one minute closing statements. After that the judges head out to tally the scores and choose the final four competitors for the final round of Discussion!!