Friday, December 10, 2010

Homegrown Green Chili Sauce

I love homegrown foods. I am reading a book called "The Dirty Life" by Kristin Kimball. If you want to have a better understanding of the emotional ties behind the local food movement I suggest reading the book and although I don't entirely agree with every statement made in the book (which by the way I haven't finished), reading her descriptions of cooking with homegrown foods reminded me how very lucky we are. Most kids raised in the agriculture industry are raised on homegrown foods. Whether that's the spare calf you raised as a 4-H project, or the garden you tended with your Pappa, homegrown foods abound on farms and ranches across America.

One thing that I love most about gardening is the canning. This past summer I had the chance to be home and took advantage of Momma and Daddy's garden. I put up peppers, cherries, pesto and dried basil. Unfortunately most of the produce was not in full when I left in late July. There is nothing like cooking with those ingredients knowing that they came off the land of my home.

Another thing that I have come to realize is a major blessing is giving away produce. Dear friends of my grandparents live in Crow Mountain, Arkansas and they have a huge garden every year. Mary loves to take produce to church for to give to whoever wants it. She sent jalapenos and squash with me in August and just the night before last I again enjoyed delicious butternut squash. (you can freeze almost anything!)

Homegrown foods from friends are always delicious. This past weekend I visited a friend in New Mexico and his mother sent us home with a few sacks of homegrown, fire roasted then frozen green chilies.

Amazing. I used them to make a green chili sauce that and I'm going to share that recipe with you right now.

I used frozen fire roasted chilies. If that is your situation too, remove the skins and dice them. You can also used canned chilies that you get at the store already diced.

In a large bowl combine the diced chilies with a few tablespoons of lemon juice.

Using your potato masher mash the green chilies until the mixture is relatively smooth.

Add a dash of salt, a dash of pepper, a touch of garlic, and a pinch of love. Mix well.

You can use this thick sauce on steaks, eat it with chips, burgers, eggs, really just about anything you can think of.

Wonderfully out of the ordinary and very budget friendly. ***Using store bought chilies will cost about $2.00***

America's Ranch & Farm families provide us with an abundance of delicious, safe and quality foods.... we certainly are blessed.

Until We Meet Again,


For The recipe that is pictured visit my other blog,

Anna's Quick Tip: To help frozen vegetables maintain their bright color steam them instead of boiling them!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Homemade Holiday Swags

I love homemade Christmas decorations. When I was a little girl, my sister and I had the task of going in the pasture behind our house to pick the mansanita, cut the pine and collect the pine cones that Momma would use to decorate the house. Currently I find myself in a place that is absent of mansanita and certainly absent of pine. So my first winter here I decided to make my own version of Momma's classics and I created this swag that will hang in my house for years to come.

The steps to creating your own are simple and budget friendly, get out your toolkit and get to creating!

You will need:

3 Strands of Green Swagging from the Dollar Store)
Pine Cones (You can find them at any WalMart or Dollar Store)
Fake Red Berries (Also at the Dollar Store)
Floral Wire

Step 1: Braid the 3 strands together loosely to make the swag look full and not so cheap! Tie the ends together with floral wire.

Step 2: Stick red berries throughout the swag, staggering them so there isn't very many bare spots. You can attach them with floral wire for additional security as well.

Step 3: Place the pine cones throughout and attach them with floral wire.

Step 4 (Optional): I found this cute berry star and wired it to the center of the swag. You can choose to leave this out!

Hang them anywhere in the house using small screw hooks. You know the kind that come with a picture hanging kit? They don't do much damage to the wall and they work great cause you can just hook one of the strands of swag on there and it will stay up beautifully. I have hung them over doors, over entryways and this year it hangs over a mirror in my living room!

Hope you enjoyed this homemade hint!

Until We Meet Again,


Anna's Quick Tip #23
: To add a holiday homey feel to any table just put some pine cones in a basket as a centerpiece. You can thread ribbon through them or even mix in some Christmas bulbs. Super easy, really cheap and you will love it!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Make the World Stop

You look out the kitchen window as you are preparing coffee, and you notice one of the close up heifers laying down to calve. She looks as though she just started so you continue about your morning fixing breakfast and preparing for the day. Nearly 30 minutes later you realize that she hasn't calved yet. Suspecting something is up you head out to check out the situation. You realize that she isn't going to calve on her own because the calf is too large.

You call for help and slowly ease her into the corner of the pasture where you can keep her still while you help pull the calf. When help arrives with your tools and a bucket of warm water/disinfectant, you carefully loop the calving chains on the feet of the calf; above the footlock with a half-hitch at the pastern, double looping them to take the pressure off the bones. You tug one foot at a time with the slightest pressure helping the heifer to push her calf out. She's not real pleased that you are up in her business during the process, but as the calf comes out a sigh of relief comes over all those involved. For those few moments in time nothing matters but ensuring the safe arrival of the calf and the health of her momma. The world stops for a while and then seems refreshed.

Cattle ranchers care for their cattle every day. One very important time to care for cattle is when cows are giving birth to their calves. This is an important time because should something go wrong with the birth of the calf, those problems could endanger the life of the mother. We call this dystocia. Because I grew up in the cattle industry, often I compare happenings in my life to the life cycle of cattle. The one thing in my life that I can relate to helping a heifer give birth to a calf is sitting in church every week.

As I walked up to the little church building on Wednesday night I experienced something very similar. I was in a panic because after services I was expecting a house full of guests, my house wasn't anywhere near clean before I got home that evening with only an hour to clean it before church. The pumpkin bread that I had baked for my guests was not all the way done baking when I left the house, flying to church and running late. I was so late that I didn't realize until I was nearly there that I had dried pumpkin bread batter on the side of my face. Classy right?

Never the less I made it to church and as I walked up to the church building the sound of my church family singing hymns stopped the world in the same way as helping a struggling heifer calve. For that moment in time, nothing else mattered, I realized that I was at church walking in to be fed by the Lord's word and the guidance of our church leaders. The world stopped as I spent an hour sitting in the pew and when I walked out those doors I felt refreshed.

In life it is the little things that matter, those moments the world stops. For me those moments not only include the birth of a calf, or an hour in church, but also a beautiful sunrise or sunset, a crisp fall morning horseback or sharing a delicious Sunday dinner with loved ones. What are the things that make your world stop?

Until We Meet Again,

~ Anna-Lisa

Photos via

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Safety Pin Angel

Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Each week has special meaning and as a child each week a different family in the church lit a candle on the Advent wreath and read a scripture that would help us to prepare our hearts to celebrate the Lord's birth. Christmas is probably my favorite holiday, I think it is so special that we celebrate the birth of the one person whose death has allowed us to live!

I have decided that for the rest of the Advent season Wednesdays on Anna-Lisa Smile will be dedicated to some sort of craft, recipe or idea that reminds me of my childhood. I think that these timeless traditions are fun to revisit and are also great to pass down to others.

I was a 4-H nerd as were many of you, and turns out 4-H nerds stick together because my roommate and most of my friends were actively involved in 4-H as well! I strive to live the 4-H motto each day pledging "My head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service and health to better living." The great thing about 4-H is that not only did we learn a lot about livestock and agriculture, and gain immeasurable amounts of leadership and personal development opportunities, but through 4-H I was able to learn many life skills that will help me to be a better wife and mother.

One club that I was very involved in was the home arts, we did things like knitting, baking, sewing, floral arrangement, cooking you know girl kind of stuff. On Sunday night my roommate Amanda and I decorated our house for Christmas and went back in time to a 4-H type craft while we watched You've Got Mail... Classic! So I wanted to tell you about this little gem of a craft that you can do with your children or if you are single nerd like me you can make them with your roommate!

This is a very easy craft. All of the supplies come in a package that you can buy at WalMart for $1.87. There are even instructions included.

My advice to you is to separate the beads into piles according to size. You will appreciate this hint when you are trying to tell a 10 mm bead from a 12 mm bead. Follow the directions! It will be great!

Rumor has it you can even enter these little babies in the county and state fairs! Hope you enjoy! I'm looking forward to Food Friday this week!

Until We Meet Again,


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Harvest of Thanks!

Thanksgiving is here again and my goodness do we have a lot to be thankful for. As I reflect back to Thanksgiving as a little girl, tons of pumpkin pie, ravioli, beef and even turkey fill my food memories. Accompanied by dinner table memories are memories of chores, cutting wood with dad, or branding calves over the holiday. From a young age, my family instilled in us children the importance of working hard and returning thanks daily. Returning thanks for our blessings is an everyday occurrence for most ranching and farming families. I am thankful for the producers that produce the safe and delicious foods that I get to consume daily. Not only am I thankful for their hard work, but I am also thankful that my friends and family have the ability to earn a livelihood producing food to help feed a hungry world. Unlike many in the world I have never experienced real hunger. My family has been blessed to never be in a situation where we ever went without a snack. In fact I am not sure that I know very people personally who have ever experienced hunger. I am not referring to that feeling of, “my goodness I need to eat” after a long day branding calves or playing sports. I am referring to the many men, women and children who go to sleep at night with hungry bellies not knowing whether sustenance will come with the new day. Today there are thousands of people in America who don’t wonder what will be for supper as I do, but wonder instead whether there will be supper at all. American agriculture is helping to end hunger in our country and around the world. The men and women of American agriculture receive my food thanks this year. Because, even though we have different interests, produce different products and come from a variety of backgrounds, we have this one thing in common… Farmers & Ranchers care, we care about our land and animals, we care about helping to reduce global hunger, we care about YOU.

If you want to know more about what we do, just ask us! I encourage you to contact a local farm and ranch to arrange for a day trip to learn about what they do day in and day out. I encourage you to read more about agriculture from my friends listed in the left hand column. For more information about how American farm & ranch families are helping to aid world hunger check out and tune in to AgDay on RFDTV Today, Thanksgiving Day, for a special episode about the farmers that feed us "A Harvest of Thanks".

I hope that you and your family enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving! God Bless,

~ Anna-Lisa

Monday, November 8, 2010

I am Ag - Thankful

I am ag proud and certainly ag thankful! I was asked to write a post for the Agriculture Proud blog... Read about it! Also, be sure to read the other Ag-Thankful posts on Ryan's Blog!

Continuing with this month’s Ag-Thankful theme, Anna-Lisa Giannini share with us today why she is thankful for Agriculture. Anna-Lisa is Co-Founder of Beef on a Budget, AgBlogger, and a soon-to-be graduate of Oklahoma State University. She is very passionate about encouraging people to learn more about beef production by connecting with cooks in the kitchen through her “chef-on-a-shoestring” approach to cooking beef products. I hope you enjoy this California-raised Cattlewoman’s perspective of being Ag-Thankful this November.

America is the land of opportunity; Agriculture is the opportunity of the land. Every morning when my feet hit the floor I thank God for American Agriculture. For the men and women who work day in and day out to provide food and fiber for all Americans and peoples worldwide. I am thankful for their humble lives and hard working lifestyles that allow me to enjoy life to the fullest each and every day. These families, like my own, work hard day in and day out in service of others not because they have to, but because they choose to. I am proud of American agriculture and thankful that American farmers are helping to feed a hungry world; but even more than that, I am thankful for the person that I am today because of the opportunities American Agriculture has afforded my family.

My Daddy’s Grandfather came to America from Switzerland in the very late 1800s. In 1903 after spending some time milking cows around San Francisco, Grandpa Augustus bought the ranch that I was raised on. My family has clung to our roots and Swiss-Italian tradition is part of our daily lives and especially Holidays. Grandpa Gus was proud of becoming an American. An example of this is that he wouldn’t allow his children to speak Italian because they were not Swiss; they were Americans. He was also proud to be part of agriculture making his living ranching cattle in a similar manner that they did at home in the hills of Switzerland. A sense of pride in American Agriculture was instilled in Grandpa Gus’ children and has trickled down generations to my sister’s and my heart.

My Mamma’s family was involved in the agriculture industry too! As a young man, Grandpa Larry followed the fruit harvests in California and recalled the days of his childhood on the farms some of the happiest of his life. My grandfather went to work the family farm in Arkansas right after marrying my grandmother and that was where my mother was born. Some of my Grandpa Larry’s favorite memories were on the farms in Arkansas and Oklahoma. He was proud of his agriculture roots and was proud of his grandchildren’s involvement in agriculture. The agriculture industry certainly afforded my family opportunity.

Thanksgiving is the holiday most associated with thankful hearts. I personally love Thanksgiving for everything it stands for, from the little pilgrim statues that decorate the tables representing each grandchild, to the pumpkin pie and ravioli. Ya know, I don’t remember a Thanksgiving that didn’t include morning chores, feeding cows, burning brush, cutting wood, or maybe branding calves. This taught me the importance of working hard so that we have things to be thankful for. From a young age I realized that in order for food to be on the dinner table hard work must be done to produce that food. Thanksgivings are full of traditional foods, the tradition of each family member saying something they are thankful for, and the tradition of being together as one very large, very loud, very loving and very thankful family. This Thanksgiving when you sit down to eat the foods your family loves to enjoy on Thanksgiving, be thankful for the families that are working hard to produce the food on your table. We will be at our own tables giving thanks for the opportunity to work hard, live simply, and produce the food helping you to give thanks.

Want to hear more stories like this one? Tune in all this month for guest posts and more on the topic of being Ag-Thankful this November. Send me your ideas, thoughts, and comments on this page or by email (

Thank you for featuring me Ryan!

Happy Trails,


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Random Laughs

A random collection of laughs!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

This One's For The Girls

Why do it? If you are a cattlemen, why do you care for your land and cattle? If you're a mother, why do you take care of your children? Why do farmers take excellent care of their land and equipment? Why do teachers teach? What causes us to do the things we do? I believe PASSION is the reason!

Cattlemen care for their cattle cause they are PASSIONATE about their health and well being. Mothers take care of their children because they love them and they are PASSIONATE about "raising them right". Farmers take excellent care of their land because they are PASSIONATE about producing good, healthy crops. Teachers write lesson plans because they are PASSIONATE about imparting knowledge to their students. Your PASSION is that thing that keeps you up at night, enthuses you in the morning, and pushes you through the day!

Why Agvocate? Several young people (ages 20-25) across the country are advocating agriculture. These young people are passionately telling the story of Agriculture. Why young people? As young people we realize that the future of agriculture rests in our hands. It is our responsibility to help our generation stay connected to the farm.

It is no secret that women do things with passion in EVERY area of their lives. Today, I want to highlight a group of PASSIONATE young women who are effectively telling our story daily through blogging, Twitter, and other social media outlets! This one's for the girls!

Celeste Laurent

Celeste is a senior at Western Kentucky University studying animal science and news editorial journalism. She grew up on a hog farm in Kentucky and was actively involved in 4-H and FFA. Celeste does a great job Agvocating all sectors of agriculture and writes a great blog called "A Farm Girl's Perspective".

Amanda Sollman

Amanda is a student at Michigan State University studying Agriculture Education and Communications. Amanda was actively involved FFA during high school and is involved in collegiate FFA at Michigan State. Amanda is very involved in the AgChat foundation and does a great job telling our story. Check out Amanda's blog "On The Journey".

Crystal Young

Crystal is a graduate of Kansas State University. She is originally from Alberta, Canada. She is passionate about the agriculture industry and works for the Angus Association. Crystal agvocates using her blog "Crystal Cattle" as well as through her position with Angus.

Kelly Rivard

Kelly is studying Interactive Media/ English Composition at North Central College in Illinois. She has a passion for agriculture, and corn, that runs deep. Kelly writes a blog called "Midwestern Gold" a blog that celebrates Illinois agriculture.

Whitney Wallace

Whitney is a recent graduate of the University of Missouri. Whitney uses her personal blog to encourage and guide young women in their career pursuits. Whitney also works for Missouri Beef Council and is an agvocate for the beef industry. Take a look at Whitney's blog "Professional In Pink". You can also get great tips and recipe ideas from Whitney at the Missour Beef Council.

These young women, and many others, are working hard to tell our story! I am proud of them and proud to be among those who are passionately trying to make a difference with genuine hearts, diligence and dedication. Thanks for all you do girls! YOU ROCK MY SOCKS OFF!

"This one's for the girls who love without holding back, who dream with everything they have; all around the world, this one's for the girls"

Happy Trails,

~ Anna-Lisa

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Road I'm On

I am a very blessed girl. I have a family and friends who laugh, cry, support, tease, encourage and love me. I am pursuing an education at one of the best institutions in the country. Learning tons each day about cattle production, agriculture, business, communications and several other areas that will benefit my future. The problem with schools like mine are that they are located in TOWN! WHY.. this is an epic failure of the land grant system that these institutions are located in large towns, booming with people and the hustle and bustle of life off the ranch. This morning when I woke up, I looked out the window above my bed to see the sun reflecting of the clouds in the West as it rose. This sight was gorgeous pink and orange. My initial thought... if the neighbor's house was not there I could see this beautiful sunrise, should I be living on the ranch right now, I wouldn't need that tall back yard fence, those telephone wires wouldn't be there... I could enjoy the beauty of the Lord's creation to its fullness. This sent me into a downward spiral towards a case of the Mean Reds.

What are the Mean Reds you ask? Well they aren't the same as the Blues. The blues are depressed, sad and for some they result in a dark bedroom. The Mean Reds on the other hand aren't necessarily sad, they aren't really depressed and when you've got a case of the Mean Reds, the last place you want to be is inside. Feelings of discontentment, restlessness, and the need for wide open western skies are common with the Mean Reds. Today I want to be on the South end of a North bound cow. I would love to be disgustingly dirty, sweaty and exhausted. But instead of getting up this morning throwing on grub clothes and a cap, I got dressed tamed my unruly curly hair and put on some war paint. Instead of feeling the sun's warmth on my face, and the fresh dirt under my boots, I will be walking on pavement and under the glow of light bulbs.

I know that the Lord's path will lead me back down a dirt road to a ranch and with faith I will continue to walk humbly with my God according to His purpose, I just really wish that today the road I'm walking on wasn't paved with asphalt.

"'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 hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11

Happy Trails,

~ Anna-Lisa

Thursday, October 21, 2010

You've got choices!

Grain-fed beef, grass-finished beef, certified organic, natural beef, naturally raised beef... the list goes on. As a consumer you have so many choices in the beef meat case. For some of you this can be confusing and for producers there are many misconceptions of this marketing opportunity. There has been a lot of talk in the beef industry lately about working together, uniting, and striving toward common goals. A post by Ryan Goodman (AR_ranchhand on Twitter) started a huge discussion about the need of the cattle business to stick together realizing that our commonality rests in the consumer. We cannot do away with niche marketing because without it there would be little to distinguish our products for marketing. So in reality the your choices not only result in your happiness but also better prices for beef producers.

The national beef checkoff recognizes the need for you (the consumer) to better understand your options... there is a rack card published by the beef checkoff entitled "Beef From Pasture to Plate; Many Choices, One Commitment". This is most certainly true; while there are many choices for you in the meat case, there is only one commitment for all beef producers. That commitment is safe, nutritious, and budget friendly beef. No matter which type of beef you purchase ALL beef products are safe across the board.

The American beef industry takes steps to ensure that U.S. beef remains the safest in the world. That commitment starts with beef producer diligence on the farm and ends with safe food handling practices in grocery stores, restaurants and in your kitchen. With proper food safety measures you can rest assured that beef is safe from pasture to plate. There are a few important tips to keep in mind. Be sure beef is cooked to proper temperature; remembering that ground beef must be cooked to a higher internal temperature than steaks or roasts. Keep your foods out of the danger zone (temps between 40 - 140 F) this helps prevent the growth of bacteria. The last thing to remember is to keep your hands, counter tops, dish towels and utensils clean; washing them with soapy water after they touch uncooked meat.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wacky Wednesday - A Cowboy's Guide To Life

I recently read this and laughed, A LOT, so I thought I would share it!

A Cowboy's Guide to Life

Never squat with yer spurs on.

There are two theories to arguin' with a woman; neither one works.

Don't worry about bitin' off more than you can chew, your mouth is probably a whole lot bigger'n you think.

If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.

After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring.
He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him.
The moral: When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut.

If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.

Never smack a man who's chewin' tobacco.

It don't take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep.

Never ask a barber if he thinks you need a haircut.

Good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment.

Always drink upstream from the herd.

Never drop your gun to hug a grizzly.

If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there.

When you give a lesson in meanness to a critter or a person, don't be surprised if they learn their lesson.

When you're throwin' your weight around, be ready to have it thrown around by somebody else.

Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier 'n puttin' it back in.

Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was.

The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

Happy Trails,


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wacky Wednesday - Consumer Perception

Hope you enjoyed the laughs!

Happy Trails,


Monday, October 11, 2010

"Angus" - Better beef?

I had the chance to spend this past weekend in Colorado. The drive from Stillwater, Oklahoma through the Texas Panhandle and up to Colorado through Raton, New Mexico is gorgeous. Aside from the beautiful countryside I also notice that at nearly every fast food restaurant we passed had an advertisement for something "Angus" on the billboard. This sparked an internal debate in my mind that I thought on for the several hours we spent in the car. How did "Angus" become a buzz word among consumers for better tasting beef? Do they know what Angus cattle are, the difference between Angus and Charlois... or even know that Angus is a breed of cattle? Maybe they merely notice that it is set apart, in terms of advertising, from the the other beef options in fast food restaurants? I have considered some statistics by Certified Angus Beef and USA Today while trying to determine a hypothesis, "ya know theory", so I will share those with you as well!

- 65% of consumers preferred some type of branded beef.

- 28% preferred their steaks branded as Angus beef.

- The term “Angus” outweighed any other branding term, including Prime, tender, organic and grass-fed in consumers’ perception.

- consumers said they preferred the term "Black Angus" beef to ground beef 11-to-1

Now the question is why, and I don't know the answer to this one... I would love to hear your opinion! What value does the buzz word "Angus" hold for consumers? Share with me please!

Happy Trails!

~ Anna-Lisa

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Are Vegetarians Alienated by Animal Agriculture?

In light of National Vegetarian Month...

Are vegetarians alienated by Animal Agriculture? Share your thoughts with me!

Happy Trails & Wacky Cow Tales,


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Agricultural Animals - Sustaining The Environment

October is National Vegetarian month. I am very intrigued that they would pick such an odd month to claim vegetarian month. I mean if you really want to make a statement choose a month always associated with the consumption of meat... November, everyone eats turkey at Thanksgiving, December, most people eat ham at Christmas, April, there is an increase of lamb and goat consumption at Easter, July, most people grill or have BBQ on the 4th... Seriously OCTOBER? Anyway this month is a great time to explain the important role that agricultural animals play in sustaining the environment.

Recently in one of my classes, Agricultural Animals of the World (Camel Production for giggles), I was reminded of the importance of agricultural animals to sustain our environment and I wanted to remind you as well! I was asked this question: What would you tell someone who thought that agriculture animals (livestock) are a luxury? The following is my response to that question.

Approximatly 1/3 of the world land mass is considered to be agriculture land. In other words only 1/3 of all the land in the world is used for agriculture. This is a very shocking statistic when you think about the fact that with that mere 1/3 of land, farmers and ranchers produce enough food and fiber to supply the entire world. Many people believe that the majority of agriculture land is cultivated and farmed, this can lead to claims of agriculture lacking sustainability etc. The truth is that only 1/3 of the agriculture land is devoted to cultivated farming.

The rest of the land is dedicated to native grasslands and rangelands. When we look at this in the grand scheme, only 1/6 of the world’s total land mass is cultivated. Because so much land is dedicated to native forages, our need for ruminant animals is very great. See, ruminant animals (cows, sheep and goats) have the ability to convert forages that cannot be consumed by human populations into animal proteins which are very beneficial to the human diet. Think for a minute what might happen if we were not able to utilize all of that native range to our benefit? Would it sit stagnate? Would it grow out of control and propose a fire hazard?

Maybe it would be developed into more urban areas and further reduce the amount of land considered agricultural. Ruminant animals are of the utmost importance to human populations because of their ability to transform non usable plant proteins to beneficial animal proteins. The best way I can think to demonstrate that agricultural animals are not a luxury is to think about ruminant animals. How many people do you know that enjoy eating yucca, tumble weed or sage? Cows don’t mind, in fact a cow on native range in Nevada would be more than glad to eat sage, and because of their amazing digestive system we then can benefit from their ability to eat plants that we are not able to digest.

Cows, sheep and goats aren't the only agricultural animals that help us to be sustainable. Pigs, chickens and turkeys help out too! These animals have the unique ability to be able to convert foodstuffs considered waste by humans into animal proteins for the human diet! The ability of livestock to convert what we waste, throw away, discard and are unable to use most certainly proves to me that agricultural animals are in fact not a luxury but a necessity.

October is a great month to explain the importance of livestock! How would you explain the importance of agricultural animals to a vegetarian person who does not believe agriculture to be sustainable? Food For Thought...

Happy Trails,

Photos Via Ryan Goodman & Oklahoma State University Extension

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Beef Industry - Adding Value

What do added value products mean to you? When you add value to something you improve it right? I think it is safe to say that the beef industry is in the business of adding value. We have got to be, to increase efficiency, yields, and demand. What ways do we add value? Well the "Meat Geeks" would probably tell you the the best way that we add value is by taking cuts now being ground into filler meats or ground beef, cutting them differently and marketing them as "added-value" cuts of beef. I.E. Denver steaks, flat iron steaks, fajita meat etc. They are right! New product development is a very important way to ensure quality affordable products for all consumers, however, I am not sure that this is the only way that we (the beef industry) add value to our products.

Photo Via

When we are able to tell consumers the story behind the products they purchase in the grocery store, we are adding value correct? At that point, they are no longer just purchasing protein, but they are purchasing American Beef raised by families just like theirs. They now have a sense of community, a sense of security and maybe even a sense of American pride. We add value to our products when we tell our stories and consumers fell like they are a part of something. They ARE part of something, a very important part in my opinion. Let's tell our story! The story of families like yours working very hard day in and day out to raise quality beef for all Americans. It's a great story, let's shout it from the roof tops!

Photo Via Stephanie Russell & I am Agriculture Proud

Another way the beef industry adds value to our products is through innovation and education. Our industry works very hard to develop new ways of preparing beef and then works equally hard to share those ideas with consumers. We believe that if we can help you to understand how to best prepare beef, you will have a pleasurable experience more consistantly. "The beef industry is not in the protein business, we are in the pleasure business." Dr. Tony Mata.

Photo Via

So lets look at this... Not only does the beef industry develop new products to help keep retail costs down, let you meet the people behind the steaks, but then also helps you to understand how to prepare them! I think that's AMAZING! So why not beef? Beef is lean, light and right tonight!

What are some ideas that you have to add value? Share them with me!

Happy Trails,

~ Anna-Lisa

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wacky Wednesday - Consumer Perception

Welcome to Wacky Wednesday! Quite a few bloggers have wordless Wednesdays, which is a great idea, but I am very rarely short of words so I have decided to have Wacky Wednesday! Look forward to random cartoons, lame jokes or ironic statements to come from me on Wednesdays! Today's Wacky Wednesday is all about consumer perception. I had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Tony Mata, a consultant for the NCBA Beef Innovations Group. Dr. Mata's sense of humor is very similar to mine and so one of the slides from this morning's presentation I just couldn't wait to share with y'all! Beef carcasses can be cut into a few commodity chunks of meat. From those commodity chunks, individual cuts are created and then sold in retail stores. Some of those cuts have attractive names such as, New York Strip even french like Filet Mignon... others not so attractive. Check out some of the wacky, and weird names we have named cuts of beef!

Thank you Dr. Mata & The Beef Innovations Group. Hope you enjoyed the laughs! Happy Trails Y'all!


Monday, September 27, 2010

Grocery Store Convenience - Beef Too!

Convenience at the grocery store is a big deal. Let's face it for college girls like me finding time to go to the grocery store is hard enough, let alone finding hours of time to spend preparing meals. I live 5 minutes from Walmart and here lately only go every two weeks. I just don't have much time to spend in the store. So I purchase things that are quick and easy to fix, delicious and of course BeefonaBudget friendly.

Today when I went to the grocery store I was very encouraged to find two new beef favorites. The first you can find in the freezer section. Frozen breakfast sausage is nothing new to the quick and easy section of the grocery store. Pork breakfast patties and even turkey breakfast patties are commonly found in grocery store freezers across America. But did you know that there were frozen beef breakfast patties in the freezer too? In fact there are and they are wonderfully delicious. All you have to do,is slap them on a plate and pop them in the microwave for about 1 min. Quick tasty and delicious... perfect for running out the door and eating on the way to school! They are also great with eggs, for supper, or really any time in my opinion. If you have never tried these beefy gems I encourage you to!

The other current favorite of mine is called a Pecan Smoked Beef Link Sausage. They also can be bought at Walmart. You can find them between the hot dog and lunch meat section of the meat case. What I love about these sausages is that they are great several ways. I love them with eggs (I JUST LOVE EGGS I THINK) I also really like them with steamed vegetables, green beans, like a bratwurst, with sour krout, or even potatoes. You really could pair them with just about anything and they would be wonderful! There is just something about the pecan smoked beef that is oooober delicious! Check out your local stores for these two beef convenient favorites of mine.

Why do I want to be sure to point out convenient beef products? I love to share them with you because they are out there! I understand feeling overwhelmed at the grocery store because you want to buy beef but your schedule doesn't easily allow for proper planning in order to purchase traditional cuts of beef. I promise I get it, I also promise you that a busy schedule doesn't have to equate to chicken nuggets (which by the way are made primarily of chicken skin). I think that often we think we have to settle for other protein sources when in reality there are convenient beef products too they just maybe aren't on the forefront of our minds. The beef industry is working very hard to ensure that convenience no longer has to be a determining factor when deciding "What's for dinner"

What are your favorite easy prep beef foods? Share with me! I love to hear about them, get new ideas and test them out myself!

Anna-Lisa AnnaGiannini on Twitter

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ranch Wife Guidelines

Girls this is pretty accurate!

Ranch wife 101 guidelines:

1. Always load your horse last in the trailer so it is the first one unloaded. By the time he's got his horse unloaded, you will have your cinch pulled and be mounted up ready to go - lessening the chance of him riding off without you with your horse trying to follow while you are still trying to get your foot in the stirrup.

2. Never - and I repeat never - ever believe the phrase "We'll be right back," when he has asked you to help him do something out on the ranch. The echoing words, "this will only take a little while" have filtered through generations of ranch wives and still today should invoke sincere distrust in the woman who hears them.

3. Always know there is NO romantic intention when he pleadingly asks you to take a ride in the pickup with him around the ranch while he checks waters and looks at cattle. What that sweet request really means is he wants someone to open the gates.

4. He will always expect you to quickly be able to find one stray in a four-section brush-covered pasture, but he will never be able to find the mayonnaise jar in four-square feet of refrigerator.

5. Count every head of everything you see - cattle especially, but sometimes horses, deer, quail or whatever moves. Count it in the gate, out the gate or on the horizon. The first time you don't count is when he will have expected that you did. That blank eyelash-batting look you give him when he asks "How many?" will not be acceptable.

6. Know that you will never be able to ride a horse or drive a pickup to suit him. Given the choice of jobs, choose throwing the feed off the back of the pickup. If he is on the back and you are driving, the opportunity for constant criticism of speed, ability and your eyesight will be utilized to the full extent. "How in the *@*# could you NOT see that hole?"

7. Never let yourself be on foot in the alley when he is sorting cattle horseback. When he has shoved 20 head of running, bucking, kicking yearlings at you and then hollers "Hold 'em, hold 'em" at the top of his lungs, don't think that you really can do it. Contrary to what he will lead you to believe, walking back to the house is always an option that has been used throughout time.

8. Don't expect him to correctly close the snap-on tops on the plastic refrigerator containers, but know he will expect you to always close every gate. His reasoning, the cows will get out; the food will not.

9. Always praise him when he helps in the kitchen - the very same way he does when you help with the ranch work - or not.

10. Know that when you step out of the house you move from the "wife" department to "hired hand" status. Although the word "hired" indicates there will be a paycheck that you will never see, rest assured you will have job security. The price is just right. And most of the time you will be "the best help he has" even if it is because you are the ONLY help he has.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Swingin' Ropes, Mulehide & Paint?

The 3rd weekend in May marks a special event for Calaveras County. It is the weekend of the Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee. This longstanding tradition has welcomed spring for several decades. In fact it began when the main street of angels camp was paved for the first time! Not only do 4-H & FFA kids show their livestock at the fair, there are carnival rides, baked goods contests pretty much if you sewed it, drew it or grew it, there is a contest for you at the fair. This also marks a special weekend for cattlemen and women from Calaveras & surrounding counties. During Friday & Saturday of the fair local cowboys and cowgirls compete in all kids of arena events. From real ranch ropin, to pennin' and sortin' even calf branding which is the topic of this post. I think that this is one of the most important aspects of the fair. Not simply because of the good time had by all and comrodery experienced, but while these events are taking place thousands of people from cities and towns get a glimpse of ranch life. For some this may be the only time they have ever seen a horse ridden or a calf roped.

Teaching others about our heritage is something that is near and dear to my heart. I think that it is so important to teach people everywhere about life on the ranch. had the opportunity to help sponsor one of the events that took place during the weekend. Amy & I sponsored one of the belt buckles for the winning calf branding team. Being college girls on a budgets, we saved up to be able to do this, but we believe it was worth it. Not only were we able to help ensure that others caught a glimpse of ranch life, but we were also given the opportunity to give back to a community that has supported me my entire life and continues to support me today. The calf branding event was oh so fun. This is a quick glimpse of how it works.

Now it is a little different atmosphere than the branding pen on the ranch, but the idea is the same. There are four guys on a team. Two get up on their horses, the other two stay on the ground to do ground work. The ropers catch the calf, head first, then heals.

In the event the healer doesn't catch both heels, the ground men, flank the calf and adjust the ropes so that it can be stretched, they also remove the head rope and place it on the front legs of the calf.

Then they stretch out the calf and one of the ground crew guys or gals comes behind with the branding iron (dipped in paint) and paint brands the right rib.

They then switch, the ground crew gets up and the ropers come down, and they go at it again.

This is a timed event, the fastest time wins. The winning team this year was the Double Anchor Crew with a time of 1 min 35.68 seconds. Team members Jesse Fiedel, Dan Erickson, Kent Hirdes and Rigo Estrella all received a belt buckle for winning, and the purse money of course.

With swingin' ropes, mulehide & paint fun was had by all!

Happy Trails,


Photos Courtesy of Jeff White and The Calaveras County Fair.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Grace in Green Pasture

It has been nearly two weeks since I have been home. It is hard to imagine that it has been that long, time sure flies! It seems like just yesterday I drove across the country! Home is beautiful. It is May and there is still green grass, not only is it green but it is up to my waist!

There are two angles to look at. The first being that the grass is green. It is May. I don't remember many times where the grass has been green at home during the month of May, not to mention the end of it! You see, there is more than one reason California is referred to as the Golden State. The first being The Gold Rush, the second being the fact that generally by this time of year the native grasses take on a golden brown color. The state is literally GOLD from June to October on an average year. The grass is still green and the wild flowers must have known I was coming because they stuck around too! The cows are loving the green grass, they are livin' high! There is nothing quite as peaceful as cows in belly deep green grass.

The second angle to look at is that the grass is so tall! A good combination of late rain and a lot of sunshine has given our grasses a growth spurt! The grass is tall, so tall that if it grows much more it may start laying over. This is great for cattlemen like my Dad who rely on late grass growth for summer and fall feed, but it could potentially cause some problems later in the summer. See once the grass (and brush) dries out, remember the Gold comment, the fire hazard potential increases! Wild Fires also seem to paint the California sky Gold. Increased tall grasses and thick brush results in more fuel for wild fires. If we aren't careful, too much grass too late, will become too much smoke! So we will continue to be thankful, rotate cows to cut down some of the grass height, and enjoy every moment of grace full green pasture and wild flowers!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bulls & Boys By Kristen Odom

One of the neatest things about social media and blogging is the friends you make along the way. I met Kristen at the 2010 NCBA Conference in San Antonio, we became Facebook friends, then realized we both write blogs. At the time I was only writing Anna-Lisa Smile, hadn't started yet, and she was writing her blog Kristen's Corner,which is also a column in the Wellington News Leader. Kristen and I have become good friends and often share each others posts with our readers. Kristen wrote this a few months ago, and last week in my cow calf class it came to mind so I wanted to share it with all of you. It's called Bulls & Boys, and is most definitly true. I hope you enjoy! Thanks Kristen!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Bulls & Boys
The cattle industry has taught me a lot about life. Everything from responsibility to life and death, cattle are good teachers. In a conversation with my dad, I recently discovered that dating is a lot like finding a good herd bull.

“A systematic approach to finding and identifying the “right” bull is imperative,” according to the Systematic Approach to Buying a Bull, published by the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Step 1- Identify Herd Goals- Herd goals serve as the foundation for sire selection and provide guidance as to traits with the most relevance.

Step 2- Assess Herd Strengths and Weaknesses- Basic performance parameters are necessary to serve as the basis for assessing areas of strength and those needing attention.

Step 3- Establish Selection Priorities- Focus on a handful of priority traits rather than attempting to change many traits simultaneously.

My dad and I agreed that it’s key for the ‘bull’ to have sound structure, a good disposition and that he stays in the home pasture.

Highly heritable traits are important. How have the sire and dam performed? In addition to these traits, recessive genes are also good to take note of through a look at the rest of the herd.

And I think it’s imperative to know when to keep ‘em and when to cull ’em.

The joy of this last part is that it doesn’t have to be solely your decision. God is a good one to listen to considering He sees the big picture.

Proverbs 16:3 says, Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

Proverbs 3:6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight.

I know without a doubt that God has an amazing plan for my life. I pray for my future husband and look forward to the day when God brings us together.

Also, I do pray that he’s tough hided and has a good sense of humor. He’s going to need it when my dad starts asking him about his EPD’s and Gene Star DNA scores.

You can read more of Kristen's work at

I hope you all enjoy this beautiful day and have a great week!

By His Grace,Anna-Lisa

Friday, April 16, 2010

Elanco Animal Health Aiding Animal Welfare

There is so much talk these days about animal welfare vs. animal rights. It is important that we, as the agriculture community, realize the difference. It is imperative to the future of agriculture that we continue to use practices that aid the welfare of our animals. I believe that agriculturalists were the original environmentalists and that livestock producers were the original animal welfare advocates. You see until you rely on the land to make a livelihood, you cannot be fully passionate about taking care of it, its productivity and maintaining the land's integrity. Just as until you rely on livestock for a livelihood, you don't realize how important it is to care for animals, keep them comfortable and healthy. Agriculturalists are stewards of the land and the animals. They care for them with passion and enthusiasm. I want to share with you a story of an animal pharmaceutical company doing what I believe to be aiding animal welfare.

Yesterday in my stocker and feedlot cattle production class we went on a field trip. We had the opportunity to learn from a vet, a banker and a feedlot manager. While talking to vet he informed us of a new product that hit the market last week.

Elanco Animal Health makes an antibiotic called Micotil. Micotil has been around for years and is very affective as both a sub therapeutic antibiotic and a therapeutic antibiotic. Metaphilactic treatment (mass medication) of calves during the backgrounding phase is very common in the industry. This helps to prevent cattle from becoming sick and helps them to grow during the backgrounding phase. Micotil is the antibiotic of choice for the producer that we visited with. The thing about Micotil is that it can be harmful to humans. Fatal in fact. You definitely don't want to inject yourself with it. This has caused many large operations to shy away from using Micotil because of the liability risk involved with corporate workers using this drug in the corporate stocker calve setting. Elanco Animal Health has done something to change this and to ensure that cattle are being administered the medication properly.

Last week Elanco released a new syringe on the market. This syringe is very unique. It has a guard over the needle with little projections. This needle guard has two purposes. The first is that it makes it more difficult to stick yourself with the needle while administering the shot. Maybe more importantly, to be able to administer antibiotic through this syringe, the guard tents the skin so that the antibiotic is administered subcutaneously. Micotil is recommended to be given sub-q (or under the skin). This can be difficult to do in a hurry and if not careful some of the antibiotic can be deposited in the muscle (which creates grissle in the meat) however with this new syringe the animal receives the antibiotic in the proper manner, and the person giving the shot is protected. Additional protection is granted to the person giving the shot due to the dual triggers that allow the shot only to be given after both triggers have been pulled properly. Animal health companies like Elanco understand the importance of animal welfare and are actively creating ways to better care for animals, just like the new Micotil syringe.

Animal welfare not only means ensuring animals are comfortable, but also means that we are doing our part to keep them healthy, Elanco Animal Health and other animal pharmaceutical companies understand that and work hard to ensure food safety from the pasture to the plate.

For more information about this new syringe and Micotil check out

Happy Trails ~ Anna-Lisa

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Where the Summer Road Leads

It is official! Montana Stockgrowers Association officially has my application for the 2010 Multimedia Communications Internship position. Thinking of the possibility that I will be traveling north to help Montana's ranching families tell their stories is so exciting! Although I don't know if I will be the intern, I am gaining enthusiasm and excitment by the day at just the thought of applying. Anticipating the possiblity of an interview next week and hoping that is where the Lord is leading me. Could Montana be where the summer road leads?

School is wrapping up quickly! What a scary thought! Even more exciting is the fact that in less than a month I will be home with my family! I get to be home for a few weeks and I can't wait to see them, and to be on the ranch. I get to meet my little Wesley.
Not to mention the fair is on its way and the entire family will be there! This will be the first time in ages that we will be together! We are gonna have a blast. Minus the stresses of the fair, Momma and I will be way busy, actually take that back the whole family will be crazy busy! You can ask family to do things you couldn't pay anybody else to do! So we will work hard, have fun, sleep little and throughouly enjoy the 2010 Calaveras County Fair! Nothing says being home like seeing the 4-H and FFA kids, watching the ranch rodeo and western horse events and watching the frogs jump! I am ready to be there in the sunshine and summer time!

For more information about the Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee, check out their website! I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

2 Breeding Seasons... More Efficient?

I have cattle on the brain this week. Nothing new this is an everyday occurrence, but because I have back to back to back tests this week in my three cattle classes this normalcy is intensified. Today was a great day and I stumbled upon an idea during cow calf lab that I had never thought much on. Before I get to my revelation, let me share with you possibly my favorite Dr. Kropp quote ever!

We were talking about Leptospirosis. Dr. Kropp loves to tell stories and give examples, which I am all for because well, I'm a story teller too! Anyway he was using the example of a ranch he consults in Arizona. This 48,000 acre ranch borders Mexico. Now, for the quote of the day...."We just can't control Lepto much,Ya we've got coyotes, lot's of coyotes. But hell, we've even got illegals!" So eloquently he got his point across. My new idea though has nothing to do with Lepto. It actually is concerning an insurance policy.

This past week in cow calf we have been talking about calving, gestation and lactation nutrition, and post-partum interval. Today we talked quite a bit about replacement heifer development and there was one thing Dr. Kropp said that got my wheels spinning and has been on my mind ever since. He said that he prefers a dual calving season (i.e. fall & spring) program because it offers the producer more latitude. I had never thought about this before. I think that when you grow up on the ranch, a lot of things get taken for granted until you go other places to see other programs. Out west it is most common to calve in the early fall. Here in Oklahoma it is most common to calve in the early spring. Why not do both?

Think of that cow that palpates open after weaning her calf in October. Only having one breeding season, a guy would have to wait to calve her out the next Spring. However if she palpated open, and a guy had two calving seasons. You could wait, breed her in her next cycle (November) and have a calf on the ground the following fall, six months sooner than if you had waited. This really would be like an insurance policy because instead of feeding an open cow a full year a producer could possibly only feed her for a month, her second chance would come a lot sooner, and unless she takes this time, a profit driven commercial cow calf producer must send her to town in my opinion.

Not only could a commercial producer take advantage of this aspect, but they could also take advantage of the seasonality of stocker feeder markets. The ability to sell two calf crops at distinctly different times of the year could be beneficial. Also I think making the decision to maintain ownership of a pen of cattle would be a bit easier because of the increased cash flow from another crop of weaned calves. The banker is probably gonna like this scenario more as well. They tend love anything with the potential to increase cash flow!

The aspect I haven't quite formulated a solution for is the seasonality of native range on a ranch. Inevitably if a producer is running two calving seasons on the same ranch, the availability of quality and frequent forages at the nutritionally critical periods of both groups would not be possible, unless maybe the operation was run on improved and irrigated pasture. My question is whether the need for increased supplementation of feed for the one group (Whichever is in a critical nutrition period during the dormant season of your native forage) would increase input costs to a point where it is no longer economically efficient? Getting a cow to maintain optimal BCS prior to calving while the native forage of a ranch is dormant could be tough, but we do it currently don't we?

Maybe as with all things in the cattle industry, this too is suspect to adjustment and solely dependent on the ranch's environment, infrastructure, manpower, breeding program, and goals.

Any ideas??? Let me know what you think!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

We Must Stick Together

I have been watching the 4-H issue unfold all day. In fact by all day I mean since early this morning. I too am heartbroken, I think more because we have to go through this. I am choosing to give 4-H the benefit of the doubt and I am hoping that this was an oversight. Today's issue has however, demonstrated something that I think we need to be very careful about. Destruction from the inside out. HSUS knows that we are a very interlinked industry, they know that we are people of passion, and they know that they cant come over our castle walls so to speak. I think that we need to be very cognisant of the fact that we have got to stick together. Name calling among industry leaders, inappropriate language usage, pitchforking and burning our own at the stake are all things that will be destructive to this industry, and that is their goal right? They want us to fail, they want to weaken us and take advantage of us in our weak points. We need to band together, work together and succeed together. Individually we are strong, together we are mighty. Let's remain mighty!

4-H invites HSUS to Conference

As a kid I was actively involved in 4-H. Whether it was showing livestock, baking cakes, speaking, or community service projects. I spent the majority of my childhood years (K-12) in green and white. I was also involved heavily in FFA of course, but my experiences as a young 4-Her molded me to be the person that I am today. I can say with confidence that if it weren't for those Thursday evening business meetings, annual fundraisers and banquets, showing livestock, or keeping record books, I would not be near as successful a student, business owner, or advocate of agriculture that I am. I attribute my passion for agriculture and agriculture advocacy to my heritage, 4-H and FFA.

I am shocked that National 4-H would allow HSUS to come to a conference of young minds and ask our students to sit through a seminar encouraging them to buy into the hiden agenda held by HSUS. In looking at the propagand our students were asked to read and understand I am sickened that we would allow such twisted materials to be presented to young agriculturists. If you look at the materials presented you will notice a whole section devoted to the Prop 2 agenda entitled "Hens Need a Hand". Capitalizing on the emotions of children is a low blow, but that's what they do right? They don't care about agriculture families, they care about dollar signs, they care about using the emotions of others, who may not understand production practices, to achieve their own political agendas. Does 4-H support this?

I think we need to look at the 4-H Pledge. This is what we teach our children, the need for thinking clearly, how necessary it is to remain loyal, and the importance of doing all of this for ourselves as well as others. Does the leadership of 4-H not live by the same pledge as its members? I pledge my head to CLEARER THINKING,my heart GREATER LOYALTY, my hands to larger service, my health to better living, for my club, my COMMUNITY, my COUNTRY, and my WORLD.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Smokey The Cow Horse

What was your favorite book as a child? I loved Smokey The Cow Horse. Will James is one of my favorite authors, and well, I have read that book more times than I can count. While I don't consider this a children's book, I have been thinking about books for children ages 4-8 a lot lately. Do we do the best job that we can, as the agriculture industry, to tell our story through children's books? If we sit down to think about it, often times the only agriculture education a parent might have is through the book that they read to their child. Are our "agriculture based" children's books telling the true story? While it is great that children can learn about the different animals through stories like "Old McDonald", is that painting an accurate picture for the parents? Does it matter that the picture painted for parents in cities and towns across the country aren't accurate? I believe that it does. We have the opportunity to be advocates for agriculture and to speak to parents through the books that they read their children. Let's tell our story! The real story... the story of efficiency, productivity, work ethic, families, trust, and environmental stewardship. These are all great characteristics for children to see examples of and can be incorporated into fun, and life lesson filled stories. Why not show their parents that agriculture practices are efficient, and productive and that ranchers and farmers, work hard to produce food for their tables, are families like their own, are completely trustworthy, and are the original environmentalists, being stewards of the land and animals? It seems to me like this could be a great way to tell our story! I know that it is easier said than done, as I am currently working on my own children's story, but maybe we should spend more time influencing parents through the fun stories that they read their children.

If you have any children's story ideas, I encourage you to write them down or post them here, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Happy Trails ~ Anna-Lisa

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Raised on The Range

I am so sorry that I haven't been posting here lately. This have been busy at school and my other venture is really taking off! The Lord is blessing Amy and I in this new cooking adventure! I want to just share with you something that I wrote today. The range has been on my heart for weeks, and a beautiful day like today only makes it worse. Enjoy this little piece of my heart...

Through his eyes we see dreams and tales of long ago,
A child on the plains learning the ways.
He sat in a saddle before he could walk,
The life of a cowboy raised on the range.

Wide open skies, and his dad’s land free to run;
There is nothing like a blue eyed little boy
Who admires his daddy and is proudly his son.
The life of a cowboy raised on the range.

Camping out under a blanket of stars,
He’s spent a long day in dust and sweat
Yet a song of thanks plays deep in his heart.
The life of a cowboy raised on the range.

He’ll spend some time in town,
Lord willin’ wont be long
Though walking on concrete the ranch is in his soul
The life of a cowboy raised on the range.

Grit and Grace will describe his wife’s heart,
Together they will dream and work very hard.
Peace in their hearts from a love and a God that are real,
The life of a cowboy raised on the range.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's Gettin' A Little Western

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" Romans 11:33

Have you ever just sat and thought about the things the Lord has done in your life? Have you ever ventured to wonder why he did them? Or maybe only why He did them in the order that He did them? I think that it is easy to say that the Lord does things and we often doubt why, or why us, or why them... and on and on. It is so hard to remember in times of trouble or stress that He is responsible for those situations and He is pressing us for a reason. Maybe... you are struggling with a class, or seeking a job, maybe you aren't happy with the way things are currently or maybe you are in my position wondering where He will lead you next and what He will have you doing next. A wise person once told me that the Lord is always three steps ahead of us. This is hard for me to imagine, I know that the Lord is all knowing, but to try and think about what will happen three situations from now hurts my brain. I have no idea! I have no idea what I will wear tomorrow let alone where I will be living in 10 years. Not the slightest clue, I know that He has a plan, but as of yet He hasn't filled me in!

We are not to worry, Jesus tells us in Matthew not to worry about anything, He says "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all things shall be added unto you, therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it's own." Matthew 6:33-34

Isn't it so hard to truly have that much faith everyday, day in and day out worrying about nothing! Keep in mind we aren't to quite working hard, or planning for the future, or dreaming about things to come, or to disregard our obligations, or to break commitments, we are merely to do all these things without worrying. Sounds like a tall order to me!

I am a single, white, female, 21 years old and finishing up a degree in animal science, what am I to do next? I don't know, but what I do know, is that he has a plan and the his plan includes the choices I make today, many of which will effect me forever. I know that the opportunities I take advantage of, and the success that I find while I am in school and as I graduate will in fact someday make me a better wife and mother. I would encourage you in this season of Lent to seek him eagerly, serve him honestly, and trust him to fulfill his promises and his perfect will. Because his plan is perfect, it is so perfect that we can't fathom it, follow it or begin to figure it out! His plan is a crazy windy road, full of twists, turns, steaks and coffee breaks; buckle up...."It's gettin' a little western!"

Monday, February 15, 2010

The View From Here

"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

There is nothing like a good friend on the phone to encourage you to do something spontaneous! It was Friday night and Amy, Michelle and I had just gone to see the new movie Dear John. Which, ps, follows the book rather well until the ending. Anyway, Amy and I were sitting in the Wal Mart parking lot talking to Lyndsey on the phone when we decided that we would in fact head to Stinnett for the weekend. While it was 10 pm the thought of spending the weekend in Texas was very appealing. We made a quick decision we would leave in as soon as possible and we did just that. From the time we got off the phone with Lyndsey to the time I was picking Amy up at the dorm and we were headed west was literally 20 minutes. Keep in mind prior to leaving we gathered up clothes, checked the oil and tire pressure and called RA and Griffin to let somebody know we were coming. We wanted to surprise her parents, but thought it best that one of the boys knew we were coming, to let us in, and also to cover our bases in terms of safety. So we came smokin into Texas with the hammer down at about 1:30 am and made it to the ranch by about 3:00 am. A minor detail we had forgotten was the gate lock, but luckily RA had a good idea and we got in through the neighbors pasture.

Talley and Rob A. were in fact surprised and so were Amy's siblings. We had a wonderful time and spent the weekend relaxing working on homework and having fun. There is nothing quite like watching a 4 year old boy help to gather first time heifers on his own little mare. Ike is a good cowboy! Four years old and already making a hand.

From where I'm sitting, on the back of a horse, The Lord is blessing us daily! He has blessed me with amazing friends and their families who enourage me to be who I am, to serve the Lord and to work hard like my own family encourages me. From sage brush and sand to the foothills of the west, we truly are blessed and that's the view from here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

All We Need Is Love

It is fast approaching.... the day when people everywhere experience one of two situations....the first being a wonderful date with their significant other whom they absolutely adore, and the other well....a rare steak and An Affair to Remember in your pajamas sharing the couch with your dog. I am leaning toward the later due to the fact that I currently have no significant other. However, for my friends reading who will someday give hints to THE GUY.... I prefer fresh wild flowers and a nice 14 oz. rib eye medium rare with sauteed mushrooms and a Shiner. Just FYI.... anyway, with all this "love" in the air, I can't help but to think of my post last week about loving others. "Whoever does not know love does not know God, because God is Love."-1 John 4:8

The Lord has called us to be love to others. While there are several definitions of love and a few meanings of the word love, Paul clearly describes the characteristics of love in his first letter to the Corinthians. Paul is writing to the church at Corinth and advising them about how to love, encouraging them to pursue love, and explaining to them the importance of love in our everyday lives.

This week the "Love Chapter" (1 Corinthians 13) as it often is referred to, has been on my heart. So often I find myself trying to love as I have described it, not as the Lord has described it. I pick out portions of chapter 13 to apply to my life ignoring the others. It is much easier to only apply the parts of the passage that I feel like applying to my life on that given day at that given time. You see I am waiting on THE GUY to come along, I have specific criteria outlined, as most girls do, but being patient for the Lord to cross our paths is the hardest part. I believe in the Lord's divine timing, and right now is not it, but I pray that when the time is right my love will be just as Paul described it to be.

This prayer (which I derived from 1 Corinthians 13) has been mine this past week, and I pray that you will make it yours as well, whether you are in a relationship or not, loving our neighbors, friends and enemies too, is what we are called to do.

Heavenly Father,
Give me patience and help me to be kind.
I will not envy, I will not boast.
Take my pride, rude and self-seeking ways.
Guard my temper, and help me to forgive.
I will not delight in evil, but only in your truth.
Help me always to trust, protect, hope and persevere.
In all these things I pray that I will be LOVE to others.
It is By Your Grace. ~Amen.

The last verse of chapter 13 says "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

In the words quoted by my amazing little sister.... "All we need is love, love, love."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Motions

There are some things that I absolutely love to do. Cooking for example... love it! Playing the piano, singing to the radio, in the shower, in church or really anytime, a cup of coffee or three, talking on the phone, talking in general, public speaking, crafty things, decorating, being in the middle of nowhere, and taking pictures... especially of ranch life. Inevitably, there are some things that I don't enjoy. I really don't like to clean, I hate doing the dishes, I am awful at folding laundry, I can't keep my pickup clean ever, and i might could lose my head if it wasn't attached. I don't enjoy homework for most classes and I don't enjoy applying myself to things I have no interest in. The Lord has given me the gift of passion. I am passionate about agriculture, ranching, music, crafts, cooking, and life out of town. It is easy for me to do the fun things, the things I enjoy because I am passionate about them.

I think that it is often hard to remember that even the things I don't enjoy doing are tasks He has given me to do. For instance, English, I absolutely hate writing papers, I hate having rules about writing and I really just don't like liberal philosophy. However, He put me in an English class on purpose to fulfill His will. Even though it often is difficult it is important to realize that we don't do things for ourselves, for our instructors, or for institutions, but in all things we do them for the Lord. He has given us tasks and has asked that we fulfill them even though they may not be enjoyable. They are put in our paths for a reason. There is a song that I love, a line states, "I don't wanna go through the motions, I don't wanna have one more day, without you're all consuming passion inside of me. I don't wanna spend my whole life asking, What if I had given everything, instead of going through the motions."

I am reminded of my business and my innate ability to set things that I don't enjoy aside or to only do them partially because I don't necessarily want to be passionate about them. It is a goal that I have set for myself to be passionate about all tasks, obstacles and opportunities He has given me, not to only be passionate about the fun things, the cooking, and the crafts, but to strive to be passionate about laundry, dishes and boring homework as well.

Instead of handling the tasks, obstacles and opportunities He puts on our path like a Democrat handles their taxes, let's actually do them, do them well and give every opportunity our everything, instead of just going through the motions.