Thursday, May 30, 2013

Guy and Rachel Living in the Sagebrush Sea

Today we bring you from the Sagebrush Sea. Rachel and her family care for a herd of cows out in Southwestern Idaho.

You can find me at The Sagebrush Sea and Facebook.

I was raised on the Quarter Circle U Ranch on the Tongue River in South Eastern Montana, where my father’s family has been raising commercial cattle since the 1880s. My brother and I, split our time between Montana and Northeastern Wyoming, where our mother ran a herd of Registered Red Angus with her family.

When I reached high school I was fed up with cold weather and uncooperative animals, so I turned my attention to academics and polo ponies. When I left home to attend college, I thought I was escaping ranching for good. I graduated four years later; I couldn’t get back to the ranch quickly enough.

A few months later, I met my husband Guy, who was starting colts and cowboying in Wyoming. We’ve spent the last eleven years working for ranches in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Additionally, my brothers’ and I have a herd of our own cattle.

Currently, we are employed in Southwestern Idaho. My husband is the lead-off cowboy on the JS and TM ranches, owned by Simplot Land and Livestock. He is responsible for a cowboy crew of three, 1,800 head of mother cows, and a broodmare band. Our cattle travel nearly 60-miles from the winter range to the summer range and back again. So Guy spends most of the year at various cow camps along the way, while the kids and I visit over school breaks.

A commercial cow-calf operation is unique, because your responsibilities change from season-to-season. In the spring, we are calving heifers, feeding, and fencing, until the grass catches up with us. As the grass greens and the weather warms in the Summer, we finish up branding calves, watch our water closely, and ride often to prevent the cattle from damaging sensitive, riparian areas. As fall rolls in, the cattle reverse course and we begin weaning and shipping the calves. This is my favorite time of year. Not only is there a lot of horseback work to be done, I swear you can see those momma cows kick up their heels and celebrate as their calves are loaded on the truck. Winter is typically a slow time of year, with fewer responsibilities. If the weather isn't bad, we feed some hay and keep the water free of ice. Then the cycle begins again.

I am pleased that my children are a part of this lifestyle. I enjoy the interaction with animals; achieving a moment of perfect feel with your horse or witnessing the arrival of a new life into the world during calving. We ranchers measure time by the change of seasons and make a habit of watching the sky. Whether my kids continue to ranch is not important to me, but I want them to develop an appreciation for the lifestyle and its’ unique connection to the natural world.

Thank you Rachel for the feature!!! You can follow this cowboy family at The Sagebrush Sea and on Facebook!

How are you involved in agriculture? We need your story today! E-mail us at and learn how to become our next FOA!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

First Generation Farmers

Today we welcome Shea Lowe. Her family are first generation farmers in Kentucky! With hard work they are making their dreams come true - being involved in agriculture!

We are located in Murray, KY (Western KY, just west of the Land between the Lakes area KY lake). Our main cash crop is Dark Fired Tobacco (which is all labor intensive) but we also grow corn, soybeans and wheat while running a small angus cattle herd.

I have a Bachelor of Science and Masters of Science from Murray State University. I always planned to work in the business field (I love skirts and heels), but God had another plan for me in 1998. I met the love of my life and in 2002. I married a farmer! From there on it was dirty clothes and hair. We are a FIRST GENERATION FARM FAMILY!!! My caps are happy caps because we are so proud to be able to work God's Land and raise our girls within the FARM LIFE!! I am hoping my blog creates some awareness and education about agriculture.

Every day is a great day outside, with our "hands in the dirt - ourHEARTS are at work!" This is the drive and slogan that started my blog; this is my life as the farmer’s wife. The drive is the easy part. My husband grew up a typical small boy, playing with tractors and trucks. His father worked for TVA and his mother is a house wife. My parents were school teachers, and I lived in the school/sports area since birth. Neither one of us grew up on a farm nor had anyone in our families farmed for a living. To our parent’s surprise, we are proud to say that we are a first-generation farm family.

We started our farm, Lowe Farms in 2002 when we married, but it actually started in 2001 as our neighbor leased us two acres worth of dark-fired tobacco pounds. We split the crop 50/50, he paid for all the inputs and we paid the labor. The profit from this crop allowed my husband to buy an engagement ring for me and put a down payment on a double wide mobile home and two acres of ground.

We are blessed by supportive family and friends along with community relationships that keep us thriving. We were turned down in 2002 by a loan officer that said we would never make it as a farm owner and operator. That incident put a drive in us to work hard and achieve the goal of being a first generation family. Thanks to a new loan officer in 2002 at a different bank and our faith in Gods works, we still operate Lowe Farms- a dream still in the making. Our dream was to raise a family in agriculture and teach them the lifestyle that feeds the world, and that nothing is greater than calling ourselves AN AMERICAN FARMER!

Typical day is MOM first. Normally it’s getting kids up and out the door to school. Next is to the herd to feed for the morning and make sure all are accounted for. Then I head to the tobacco field where I manage our h2a migrant workers. I drive the setter during setting time and tractors during cutting time. My duties are to see the work schedule is achieved each day and the guys are on task. You will normally find me right with them, I can’t stand to ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do myself. My husband tends to the larger crops (corn, beans and wheat) when they are in season and I take charge in the tobacco field. On days where we are caught up I work in the office and catch up on paperwork and tax information. And all days are spent working between field and family being that there are 3 meals and a house to tend too as well.

Everything is my favorite thing when it comes to living on the farm. I guess not growing up and living the farm life as a child, makes each a new day. I love the smell of the fresh air, the sounds of the tractors in the distance, and the animals that we raise. I love how they meet me as they see me coming to feed them. I love my kids barefoot and carefree. I grew up in town on the cement and heard the hustle and bustle of the college students to and from school. It was so hard to move to the country where street lights weren’t every 10 feet but maybe seen every 10 miles. Now, I have the passion of teaching and spreading the importance of hard work and the fiber that feeds this great world.

Farming isn’t a way of life IT IS MY LIFE!! It is what feeds my family and yours. From the care and compassion of the cows that we hand raise for beef, to the education of how food is properly produced for the world. Farm life if hard, and like everything in life can make you or break you.

Thank you Shea for a great post! Farming and ranching is a great life! Good luck and we wish you much farming success!!! You can follow this farming family on their blog!

What is your story? Are you a begining farmer? A 5th generation farmer? We need your story! Email us at and learn how to become the next Face of Agriculture!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Luella from Luella's Front Porch

Today we welcome Missouri native and farm girl Luella! Luella shares with us her typical day working in social media with the Missouri Soybean Association and Missouri Farmers Care, and how being raised as a farm kid made her who she is today. 

Luella and Australian Shepherd, Lucy

Hello from Missouri, a state rich and diverse in agriculture! Missouri is ranked in the top ten for beef, hay, turkey, corn, dairy, rice, soybean, cotton, ice cream, and watermelon production. With a variety of climate and soil types, Missouri is ranked second in the number of farms in the U.S. I am proud to be involved in one of the nearly 106,000 farms in the state. Missouri’s diverse landscape is home to many fruit orchards, vineyards, crop, livestock and diversified farms.

I grew up on a fifth generation row crop farm in east central Missouri. My passion for agriculture began early on and as farm kids. Little did we know, that it would be one of the greatest gifts we could ever be given and most influential part of my life. Looking back now, I thank God every day that we were raised to understand work ethic, self-sufficiency and the common sense values that I believe truly lead to success and happiness. I only hope that I can provide my family with the same experiences someday.

Growing up, we raised corn, wheat, soybeans and hay on our farm. My brother sells seed and has a specialty hay business that supports the St. Louis area. Today I am more involved in beef cattle production and enjoy livestock in addition to crops and hay. My grandpa has Hereford cattle on pasture, which has neighbored our house for as long as I can remember. I am constantly inspired by my 90-year old grandpa’s clear mind and memories of agriculture growing up in the 30’s. A lot has changed. But the honor and integrity of a farm family will always remain the same.

My typical day begins with managing social media, posting visuals or doing some writing in response to common questions or inquiries. However, every day is different. Some days are spent in the classroom and at other educational events, where I talk to students about agriculture and products they use every day. Other days are spent responding to media stories, or consumer questions about agriculture, maintaining public relations within our industry through grower communications and other communication tools.

As Manager of Communications for the Missouri Soybean Association and Merchandising Council, I have the opportunity to promote agriculture in many ways. I work on a variety of projects, maintain social media sites, lead efforts within our CommonGround consumer education program, as well as do layout for the Missouri Soybean Farmer magazine. Within the publication, we focus on stories that can benefit Missouri soybean farmers, including crop and weed management, ongoing research projects, the economic value of soybeans to Missouri as well animal agriculture, biodiesel, policy issues that impact the industry and consumer advocacy.

Missouri Soybean is an active member of a collaborative effort and organization, called, “Missouri Farmers Care.” Missouri Farmers Care is made up of many of the state’s agricultural groups and was established to promote the continued growth of Missouri agriculture and rural communities through coordinated communication, education and advocacy.

Within Missouri Farmers Care, I have been involved in influencer events, including “Safe at the Plate,” educational campaign with the St. Louis Cardinals. We also organize farm tours and other educational experiences for grocers, restaurant owners and dieticians, in an effort to provide a direct source for information to build trust with the consumer.

One of my main focuses is a third grade agriculture education program, entitled “Ag Education on the Move,” through Missouri Farmers Care, where we engage students with interactive and hands-on activities, like bread in a bag and garden in a glove.

I think it is so important to plant a seed early on while children are open-minded and excited to learn. The hands-on program allows students to develop an understanding of where their food comes from over a ten-week period and includes lessons on beef, dairy, pork, poultry, soybeans, wheat, corn, soils, nutrition and careers. I have endless positive stories to share from the classroom, where agriculture has left a lasting impression on a child. . Educating children about agriculture continues to be one of my most fulfilling endeavors. It is crucial that we teach our children that their food doesn’t appear on a grocery store shelf.

Teaching children about agriculture and products they use every day.
When not involved in ag advocacy work, I enjoy being as involved on the farm as possible, by feeding, raking hay and doing other various chores. I have always enjoyed gardening and canning.
Feeding silage to calves.

In my downtime, I enjoy writing stories for my blog and creating visuals for my social media and website, and am currently working on agricultural focused children’s books. I also love to go fishing, mushroom hunting and do freelance writing. 

Type of visuals I enjoy creating for Luella's Front Porch website and social media.

Through my personal website, and blog,, I address common misconceptions, while sharing heartfelt stories and visuals about farm life and the thousands of farm families who share the same passion and lifestyle. I also develop greeting cards that promote agriculture. Cards include Christmas, Notecard sets and other holidays. 

Mother's Day Card
Along with addressing concerns, my love for cooking allows me to share ag facts through favorite recipes within the recipe portion of my site. When selling baked items, I take the opportunity to remind consumers that “Life is sweet, so thank a farmer.” You will often catch me baking bread or creating a new pork or beef recipe on most week nights. It is like my “therapy.” I enjoy being able to cook from scratch and tie my love for ag advocacy to the mix.

I have always said that farm life is not an easy life, but it is a rewarding life. Farm families make many sacrifices to ensure their livestock, land and natural resources are cared for and protected for future generations. I think, often, one of the greatest misconceptions or unknown facts is the upmost care a farmer has for their crops and livestock and that the majority of farms (98%) are family farms. Farmers work endless hours while making sacrifices others take for granted. At the end of the day, we are upholding family traditions passed down by generation after generation. Farmers work 365 days a year. There are no snow days or paid holidays. Livestock eat before we do. Christmas morning waits until after the livestock is fed and date night is a tractor ride or picnic in the field during planting, harvest and caving time. I think it is often difficult to express just how much time and care is put into providing food and everyday products we often take for granted in this country.

We face a harsh reality that we no longer can assume that agriculture is understood. For farmers, who are too busy on the farm to always tell their story have realized that they must begin or their story will be told for them. We are constantly being targeted by a variety of topics and we have to pro-active in providing resources and answers to top concerns.

I believe that everyone can make a difference and everyone has a story to tell. With a world full of technology and communication tools, we often forget how to communicate effectively. We need to be as transparent as possible. I am proud to be a part of the most important industry in the world and the values learned as farm kids have taught me many things. One, being that when you love what you do, you’ve hit the jackpot. There are some things in this life you can’t put a price tag on. Typically, those are things that are worth the most.

Thank our farmers today. For recipes, stories and rural life, visit Follow me on my blog at Find me on facebook and Pinterest at Luella’s Front Porch, I always enjoy hearing from other ag enthusiasts, I would be glad to hear from you!

Luella’s Easy Pulled Pork Sliders & Homemade Buns- great for farm families who never know when they will be in for dinner time. The pork stays warm nicely. Serves 4.

Crockpot Pulled Pork

3- center cut pork chops
1 cup favorite BBQ sauce
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced

Put all ingredients into crockpot on high. Cook until meat is cooked through. Reduce settings to warm. Great for farm families, when you are not sure when the guys will be into eat!

Homemade buns:

2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (110° to 115°)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tbs. honey
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add oil and sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Add the egg, salt and honey, and enough flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. Do not let rise. Divide into 12 pieces; shape each into a ball. Place 3 in. apart on greased baking sheets.

Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Bake at 425° for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 1 dozen.

Thanks to Luella for this great post! Be sure to check out her blog and Facebook page

Remember - to keep these great stories coming we need YOU! Contact us now to find out how you can be the next Face of Agriculture, we need your story today!