Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Chasing Calves & Christ

It usually doesn't take long for people to realize I'm a passionate person. And if you know me well, you know that roping is one of those passions. It is the ultimate cowboy sport and is a true display of quality horsemanship and teamwork. Of all the ways I can use a horse, this is my number one preference.

This last weekend I had the opportunity to go with my dad to Joplin Regional Stockyards and attend the "Best of the Best" calf roping. The top 15 calf ropers in the world, along with 12 invited ropers (many of whom were just as good) all competed for a purse totaling $100,000, with the winner of short round taking home $20,000 alone. Needless to say, I was quite excited for this opportunity, but I really had no idea the perspective and experience I would encounter.

Before I continue, it's probably a proper introduction to say that many of these guys I have followed at the NFR (National Finals Rodeo) every year and I guess you could say that I do idolize some of them...in a good way. I'll never forget approaching the sponsor tent on Saturday and having 17-time world champion roper and King of the Cowboys Trevor Brazile walk within 5 feet of me....I turned to my dad and said, "That's probably the closest you'll ever get to him!"

It was an absolutely amazing experience meeting icons such as Trevor, Tuf & Clint Cooper, legends Fred Whitfield and Blair Burke, and "Shazam" Matt Shiozawa. But the story gets even cooler....

Most places where people of national recognition are gathered keep those individuals rather protected and secure. Fans are generally limited to both time and access of their heroes. But not at the Best of the Best. Not only was I able to stand within 5 feet of one of my greatest roping icons (and later get a picture with him), but as dad and I milled around the crowd, we found that all the ropers were right amongst us visiting, signing autographs and taking pictures...as if they were just another person. We were quite surprised at the casual atmosphere, and looking back I wish I had taken the opportunity to visit with some of them more, but the experience was as close to a dream as you can get.

I never would've guessed in a million years I would actually
meet one of the greatest ropers of all times and one of my heroes
17 time World Champion roper Trevor Brazile.
So now onto the real purpose of this post. While I did want to share my incredible excitement of meeting these cowboys, shaking hands and getting up close in person, that still wasn't the coolest part of the day.

Trevor Brazile, Tuf & Clint Cooper and Stran Smith are four of the best ropers in the world. They have set world records and are legends in their own time. But the thing that I admire most about these three cowboys is how they profess their faith. Of the five autographs I got on Saturday, three gave reference to God and Jesus.

Clint Cooper

Stran Smith

Trevor Brazile

They are Christians before they are cowboys and they never let a opportunity pass to give credit where credit is due.

And as for young Mr Tuf, on his shirt collar "Jesus" is embroidered and every time he is interviewed at the NFR, he never ceases to credit God for his success.

Many athletic celebrities get caught up in the life of fame and fortune and forget who they once were. But for these cowboys, the only difference between them and me is they make a lot of money throwing a rope...they're still a cowboy, a human and a down-to-earth normal person. They will carry on a conversation and visit with you like you're their next door neighbor. They're genuine, they're real, they're true Christian cowboys.

Until next time, you can find me off the beaten path and ridin for the brand!!!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Unconditional Love

Unconditional love-but don't push it....this is so reassuring :)

My mother decided it would be a comical statement to post this picture to my wall on Facebook. Thankfully, I know her well enough to both believe this and laugh at it. And I'm sure she thought it was perfectly timed given what this weekend holds for celebration.

Yes my mom can be one of the sweetest and most patient people on the earth....until she hits the end of the rope. Then you might as well just not say a word and move to grandma's for the week.

But that's not the purpose of this post. My mom is one of the coolest, sweetest and smartest moms in the world and this weekend is a celebration of how she has sacrificed and served her family and those around her.

Mothers are a very unique and special group of people. They have intel and an innate sense of their surroundings that is unmatched. They know just how to care for a baby or someone sick. They are the last ones to bed and typically the first ones up and the word "break" is seldom in their vocabulary. They are kind, loving, wise and strong. They are the lifeblood of society.

On this Mother's Day, we have the opportunity to pamper, cater and serve our mothers and show them just how much we appreciate their service the other 364 days of the year. Make the day a special one and show your mom just how much you appreciate and love her.

Until next time, you can find me off the beaten path and ridin' for the brand!!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sustainable Agriculture-It's One in the Same

Sustainability has become a hot topic in recent years as consumers are beginning to take vested interest in food production and where their eggs, milk, steaks and whole wheat bread originate. As the "green movement" has taken hold, people are becoming more aware of environmental impact and are looking to be more sensible in their consumption and lifestyles.

Unfortunately, the use of this term has also taken a bit of a twist in the agriculture community.
Apparently, not all agriculture practices are considered sustainable. At least by the public. According to the general population, if you operate what may be considered a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), use conventional production methods or follow other practices that aren't considered all-natural, your business and farm is not sustainable.
Courtesy www.certifiedangusbeef.com

Ok-time to turn this story around. It just so happens that agriculture as a whole is THE example of sustainability. It doesn't matter if it's organic, all-natural, grass-finished, cage-free or conventional. In fact, I would argue that conventional is still the most sustainable of all the options. According to Webster's dictionary, sustainable is defined as "a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged". So with this said, anything that conserves, preserves and reserves a resource is considered sustainable. This means organic, all-natural, conventional, any and all properly executed and managed production practices within agriculture fall under this category.

Today's conventional beef production remains highly sustainable
Courtesy www.wvu.edu
Focusing on beef production specifically, in this article from Missouri Farmer Today, Washington State University professor Jude Capper says "...sustainability in beef production systems is not constrained by size, style or scale. Rather sustainable beef production must be economically viable, environmentally responsible and socially conscious. And, conventional beef production meets all three of those qualifications." She continues by saying that if this wasn't the case, producers wouldn't continue to be in the business. "The long, rich history of farming and ranching in the United States is a testament to the cattle industry's sustainability," Capper said.

Numbers don't carry the weight and effect of personal application and feeling, but they still can't be overlooked. Beef production now requires
-19% less feed
-12% less water
-33% less land and
-has decreased carbon footprint by 16%

And meanwhile, carcass weights have increased almost 175# on average as compared to the 1970's. To top it all off, we've managed to reduce the number of days it takes to get an animal to harvest by four months!!! Guess what this means - conventionally raised beef requires less inputs, takes less time and yields more product.

Put this in the big picture: "In 1977, it would have taken about 3,000 days to make the same amount of beef that it took only 1,900 days in 2007. The result is a savings of 1,100 days of environmental impact," Capper said.

Farmers care for the land and livestock in hopes of preserving
the tradition for generations to come
Courtesy www.sustainableag.unl.edu
Producers today want to take every step possible to ensure the livestock and the land are around for generations to come. Passing on the family tradition is the dream. Raising safe and wholesome food for the world is the number one priority. And caring for the resources and animals that are entrusted to us is the commitment.

Consumers are BLESSED with a variety of food choices. That's the beauty of the agriculture industry, there's something for everyone. "...there is a place for all beef production systems, whether conventional, natural or grassfed. Sustainability comes down to which style is best suited to be economically viable and socially and environmentally conscious given the land and resources available," Capper said. "Feeding hungry people in a world where one in seven don't have enough food — that's sustainability."

Until next time, you can find me off the beaten path and ridin for the brand!!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Never Lose the Real

What does it mean to lose the real? Or rather to keep it? And why is the real so important?

When I was young, one of my pet peeves was people who tried to be cool and fit in with the crowd through their actions, conversations and demeanor. Whatever was the popular style or way of doing things, that was their method. I've always appreciated authenticity and when someone has to do something to be noticed rather than just be themselves I lose respect for them.

I've recently realized multiple facets of my personality and interests that I believe derive from this concept of being honest and real. One is how I handle serious conversations or leading questions. I don't like people asking me a question indirectly or in a roundabout way. And when I ask a question, even if their answer that isn't what I want to hear, I would rather know the truth than have to figure it out myself. Direct and honest communication is the most effective. And when you can be honest and real about what you want to know or say, I believe that speaks volumes. Lately in my relationships, I've had people comment on how they appreciate the fact that I'm straightforward, open and honest and that I demand that of those with whom I communicate. I think society would benefit from this standard of direct and real dialogue.

Cowboys are the symbol of hard work, honesty and
commitment to what's right.
Courtesy www.westernhats.com
The second facet is my love and appreciation of cowboys and the western way of life. No one is more direct, straightforward, honest and true to form than a cowboy. The code of the west demands it. Cowboys don't need to create an image - they ARE an image. They stand by their word, are never above reproach and are willing to lay down their life for their horse, family, country and God.

When your personality and character isn't formulated by what you think society wants to see, but rather by who you really are as God made you, it's noticed. In fact, authenticity and genuine behavior stands out to the world. So why wouldn't you just be yourself, be honest and stand your ground? When you give in to what everyone else tells you is right rather than what you believe in your heart, you lose all sight of yourself and what you live for. Like Shane in the movie, you become a prisoner--to what the world is saying rather than what God has already stated.

I'm realizing more all the time that it doesn't take long for people to figure out the majority of my personality shortly after I meet them. They see that I'm a Christian (at least that's my goal), a cowboy, and a good friend who is committed to being honest and loyal to those around me. I have no image to portray -- or hide -- I'm just who I am and that's what people see.

Do you have the real? When people see you, do they really see YOU or do they see the image and person you have created? Does your relationship with God shine or do people not even notice the difference in your life? Do you strive to live and communicate in a direct, honest and authentic way?
Being YOU is as real and honest as it gets.
Courtesy of whatdigitalcamera.media.ipcdigital.co.uk

Don't become a prisoner or puppet to what society says you should be. Be yourself. Be authentic. Be honest. And above all - Never Lose the Real.

Until next time, you can find me off the beaten path and ridin for the brand!!!