About Me

Kentucky, United States
Fourth generation beef producer, wife, mother, 4-H & FFA supporter, agriculture advocate, Christian, WKU alum, love livestock shows, basketball, college football, Dallas Cowboys. All things agriculture.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Family Time

     I first must apologize for not writing for the last several months. I made the horrible mistake of not keeping my routine and allowed life to take over. I have had some health issues, thankfully learning that it's nothing serious but having tests and visiting several doctors really added to my already busy days. Hopefully now that I have a few weeks off from my day job I can work on my writing routine again! 

     Christmas is only a few days away and I've yet to purchase one gift for our family. It's become a tradition of mine since I began working at a college bookstore, to wait until I'm on Christmas break to begin my shopping. Those first two weeks of December I work 10 - 11 hour days and I definitely don't want to shop when I leave the store and my weekends are spent catching up on chores at home or on the farm.
     Saturday, I went into town for feed and groceries and never thought about gifts. This year all I can think about is spending the holiday with my family and how precious our time is together. This weekend my husband and future son-in-law brought our daughter home from grad school at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. We moved her down there in a whirlwind weekend in August of 2011, leaving home on a Saturday afternoon following a livestock show, arriving in Lubbock at 4:00 pm Sunday. We cleaned the apartment, unloaded all of her belongings from our two SUV's, then set out to find a good steak.  That was easy in Texas! We then made a Walmart run to stock the apartment and I think were asleep by 10:00 and back on the road by 5:30 am the next morning and home that evening. I did say whirlwind weekend!!
     They made another turn around trip this weekend. They left here at midnight Thursday night and arrived home around 4:00 am Sunday morning. This trip was full of fun and laughter and after hearing some of their stories I've laughed so hard I've cried at times over their 'moments'.  Ashley thought she had only one load of belongings left, however apparently they realized that everything was not going back into her SUV. I believe a few items were sacrificed for a seat for someone to sit in the back!!
     Following the tragedy of Newtown, CT, I'm more thankful than ever for all the moments we've shared as a family, including those on the farm working together setting tobacco or working cattle, and all the many road trips we've had going to livestock shows and sales. It's a very special time for our family, Ashley and Adam's engagement at Thanksgiving, Blake's first year as an FFA member and being together at Christmas. I'll get the shopping done and cook many meals over the next few weeks, while we enjoy our time together and have conversations concerning synchronizing and breeding cattle, which bulls to use, and goats kidding. Definitely not topics heard in the majority of American homes, I'm thankful for my farming family and the families that understand these conversations. God Bless everyone in Newtown, CT and God Bless America.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Funny Farm: (My article from Summer 2012 HoofPrint Magazine)

A Picture Tells the Whole Story

     After nearly 25 years of marriage you think you know someone, but my husband still amazes me with his big heart when it comes to children and animals. So when you put the two together, his ideas and ideals often change. As a life-long beef producer Tim was never very open-minded about bringing any other animals on the farm, primarily because our stock barn was perfect for the cattle operation and we didn't need to be changing anything. Add two children very involved in the livestock industry and you can guess how tough his stance was on beef cattle only. Our daughter began with lambs at age six and our son had his first goat at age five. There's nine years between our children so Ashley had a small flock of sheep from her show lambs and we would breed them and raise more lambs for her to show.  After six or seven years, she was ready to sell them and I think we may have had one or two years before the goat herd began.
    Now through most of those early years we didn't have to change much at our barn because we didn't have many of these non-beef animals and they all fit snugly into the existing sheds. There were those moments when working the herd or having a sick cow or needing to shelter a cow/calf pair that the sheep would get in the way. Then after we had goats, pens were built inside the main shed of the barn, taking up a great majority of the barn. That's when we heard the grumbles of 'we don't need these animals here'. But a few months later the kids would be in the show ring, working hard and generally doing a good job, and Tim's attitude toward those non-beef animals was good. 
     Being a high school agriculture teacher, Tim is always encouraging his students and other children to have livestock projects and offering to help because he knows the true value of the experience of caring for an animal. Through the years his stance on other animals at the barn has changed drastically. We have goat pens in the large shed and a 12’ by 20’ concrete pad was poured in one shed for pig projects.  
     However, most of our friends and peers have continued to give him a very difficult time when it comes to the goats. Our friends often remind him of the moment at the Kentucky State Fair when I took a picture of Tim and Ashley’s goat ‘Watermelon’. Tim had been leaning on the dumpster at the end of the ring, holding the halter on ‘Watermelon’, when the goat jumped up with front legs on the dumpster and looked at the show ring too. I captured that picture of both looking across the dumpster and after that picture they both turned and looked at me and I got that picture too. Both Tim and ‘Watermelon’ looked at me with a similar look…priceless and forever funny to our family and friends.
   "Of all our inventions for mass communications, pictures still speak the most universally understood language." A very good quote from Walt Disney which helps explain that no matter how much Tim may complain about having goat pens in the barn, his smile and dedication to his children tells another story.

     This article was recently published in the Summer 2012 volume of  HoofPrint Magazine and I thought it was an appropriate time to add it to my blog since today is the opening day of the Kentucky State Fair. I have so many wonderful memories with family and friends of livestock shows, both ringside and at the stalls at the state fair that I want to encourage everyone to make the time to attend and see Kentucky's 4-H and FFA members with their projects. I hope to see you at the fair!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

National Jr. Angus Show ~ More Than a Cattle Show

     This weekend cattle trailers hauling Angus cattle from all across the United States will roll into Louisville at the Kentucky Exposition Center for the largest single breed show, the National Junior Angus Show. It is a great opportunity for residents of Kentucky and surrounding states to see some of the best cattle in the country, and also meet some very enthusiastic young beef producers and their families.
     The National Junior Angus Show is more than a cattle show. The week-long event offers numerous activities and contests for individuals and teams, including prepared and extemporaneous public speaking, career development, cattle judging, team sales, quiz bowl, and the very popular cook-off contest.
     The NJAS also includes a Community Service Project for the junior members and this year's project is providing donations of needed items to the Center For Courageous Kids, located in Scottsville, Kentucky. This  center is a medical camping facility that provides year-round camping services to children with life-threatening or chronic conditions. The camp is a 168 acre complex complete with activities you'd find at any camp including an indoor aquatic center, equestrian center, bowling alley, and archery, plus crafts, music, and a six-acre lake to enjoy fishing and boating. NJAS members have been asked to bring items which will be collected on Monday afternoon prior to the Opening Ceremonies. For more information on the Center for Courageous Kids go to : http://www.thecenterforcourageouskids.org/
     One of the great highlights of the NJAS is the Showmanship contest which begins with preliminaries on Thursday, July 19 at 1:30 pm. Showmanship Finals are scheduled for Saturday morning at 8:00 am.
     The Bred & Owned Heifer show will begin Wednesday, July 18, at 8:00 am. The Steers, Bred & Owned Cow-Calf Pairs, Owned Cow-Calf Pairs, Bred & Owned Bulls, and Bred & Owned Best Five Head all show on Thursday, July 19, beginning at 8:00 am. The Owned Heifer show will begin on Friday, July 20 and completed on Saturday, July 21, after the Showmanship Finals and Awards Presentation.
      Make plans now to attend part or all of the NJAS, Monday, July 16 - Saturday, July 21. For more information and complete schedule go to: http://www.angus.org/njaa/entrybook/2012/NJAApg15.pdf
To view the show online, go to: http://www.angus.org/NJAA/default.aspx


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Helping Livestock Cope with Heat Stress

     A large percentage of our country is dealing with hot and dry weather much earlier than experienced in most years, and The Weather Channel has forecast temperatures above 100 degrees for the next five days for my little corner of the world here in Kentucky. Like most livestock producers we have been planning and making arrangements to care for our beef cattle, both in the field and in the show barn as well as for our goats, pigs, and one lamb.
     Livestock stress during high temperatures just like humans, and they will consume larger amounts of water if available. If you have ponds, streams, or creeks, on your farm, monitor water levels making sure adequate amounts are available during periods of drought. If all ponds are located in open fields with no shade, water tanks in shaded areas would be a good option if possible. Also, remember that when animals drink more water they will also urinate more, losing important salts and minerals so it is important to keep loose trace mineral salt available.
     As a quick heat reducer, water misters or even regular lawn and garden sprinklers attached to posts in shaded areas can also keep livestock cool. Just be sure to have a large shaded area available because animals crowding in an area can increase body temperatures and stress.
     We do not have automatic waterers inside our barn, so our show stock rely on us to provide fresh, clean water daily. It is very important to empty, rinse, and refill all water tubs for these animals daily to be sure water consumption is at its highest. Adding electrolytes to the water of show animals is always beneficial when traveling to and from shows, however, during excessive heat it's an added bonus for the animals and will often increase their consumption. Remember that copper is toxic to sheep and to purchase electrolyes and minerals labeled for sheep.
     Fans keep air moving in barns and we use them daily on our show cattle, goats, and pigs. Checking the ventilation in a barn or facility is important, and taking the time to open doors or reposition a fan can make a difference in the air movement. Adding misters to the fan cages is an added bonus and can reduce the air temperature considerably in a barn. If misters are not an option, a fogger which attaches to the hose of a livestock blower can help to lightly spray and  cool cattle. Misters and foggers can be found at most livestock show supply businesses.
     To keep all livestock eating well during heat stress, feed during cooler or coolest times of the day, early morning or late evening. Yes, it's just common sense that even the livestock don't want to eat when it's hot, but they need to continue eating well to grow or produce milk for their offspring.
     Hauling livestock to fairs and shows can be risky in extreme heat. Consider the distance and haul livestock only in early morning, late evening or overnight for their safety, or the best decision may be to just stay home.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Kentucky Youth Livestock Shows Underway

     This is the first full week of June and the Kentucky youth livestock show season is well underway! The second of eight district goat shows sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture was Monday, and on Saturday the Kentucky Colonel District Lamb Show was held in Georgetown and the Rough River District Swine Show was held in Hardinsburg.
    It's a very busy time of the year for all 4-H and FFA members as they work at home feeding, grooming, and training the animals to lead and then traveling to district shows, county fairs, and the junior livestock expos with their families. Dates, rules, and information about all district shows sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture can be found at the following link: http://www.kyagr.com/marketing/fair/index.htm
    Below you will find photographs of winners of a few of the shows. I will update as soon as I receive more information and photographs. If you have results or photographs of  district or county fair show results, email at quiggins@scrtc.com

Bluegrass District Goat Show

     Bluegrass District Goat Show Grand Champion Market Goat, exhibited by Jonathan Darby
Photograph to be posted soon!

        Bluegrass District Goat Show Reserve Grand Champion, exhibited by Jonathan Darby.    
              Photograph courtesy of Jonathan Darby                                           
Bluegrass District Goat Show Middleweight Division Champion, exhibited by Jonathan Darby.
Photograph courtesy of Jonathan Darby.
Purchased in the Kentucky Proud Elite Breeders Sale
Bluegrass District Goat Show Grand Champion Novice Market Goat, exhibited by Elle Renfro.
Photograph courtesy of Dwight Renfro.
Purchased in the Kentucky Proud Elite Breeders Sale

Central Kentucky District Goat Show

Central Kentucky District Goat Show Grand Champion Market Goat, exhibited by Cory Wallace. Photograph courtesy of Double Trouble Livestock

Central Kentucky District Goat Show Reserve Grand Champion Market Goat, exhibited by Jonathan Darby. Photograph courtesy of Jonathan Darby 

Central Kentucky District Goat Show Reserve Champion Novice Market Goat, exhibited by Elle     Renfro. Elle was also named Novice Showmanship Champion. Photograph courtesy of Dwight Renfro. Purchased in the Kentucky Proud Elite Breeders Sale

Kentucky Colonel District Lamb Show

Kentucky Colonel District Lamb Show Grand Champion Market Lamb, exhibited by Bryce Amburgey.     Photograph courtesy of Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Division of Show and Fair Promotion


Kentucky Colonel District Lamb Show Grand Champion Commercial Ewe, exhibited by McKenzie Doyle.          Photograph courtesy of Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Division of Show and Fair Promotion

Rough River District Swine Show

Samantha Ballman was named Showmanship Overall Champion at the Rough River District Swine Show.    Photograph currently unavailable

All Photographs on this post are used with permission of owners and credits given beneath each photograph.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Keeping Busy with Family and Farm

     I hate it that I've neglected my blog for so long but life has kept me busy and away from the computer more than usual. I also haven't made the time to sit and write because I've been enjoying time with family and friends on the farm and at events at our new livestock facility.
     Our daughter Ashley spent last week with us, on a short break from graduate school in Texas, and she is now in Costa Rica with a Texas Tech study abroad agriculture class. It was so nice to have her at home again and just spend time at the barn feeding and making time to relax together when we could. It was a busy week also with our youngest spending his last week at the only school he's attended, now headed to the high school in August. His week was filled with banquets, musical productions, and ended with us hosting a small party for his friends, parents, and teachers.
     Thankfully my life has slowed at work now that we are in the college summer sessions with fewer students and shorter business hours. This will give us time to concentrate on the farm and helping Blake with his livestock show animals.
     Life on the farm is always full of surprises and days of dealing with the unexpected. Yesterday began with finding one of our young doe kids, weak and unable to stand. After a close inspection the diagnosis soon became Floppy Kid Syndrome, a condition of acidosis resulting in a reduced absorption of Thiamine and B Vitamins which leads to weak and stumbling kids early on, progressing to kids not being able to stand or nurse, often resulting in death. Tim treated the kid with Thiamine, penicillin, B vitamins, and a solution of baking soda in water to neutralize the acidosis. So far it looks like we caught this doe early, because we know she was up, running and eating Tuesday night but unable to stand on her own Wednesday morning. I must add a disclaimer to this because thankfully this is the first case we've ever had and most of the information stated has been found on the internet. So glad to report the doe was standing on her own this morning and doing much better. Treatment will continue through tomorrow.
     This afternoon we are hosting a grooming clinic at Burley Fields Livestock Center for 4-H and FFA livestock exhibitors in our area, to instruct and help the kids with their own animals. Hopefully a true hands-on clinic will help to build confidence when grooming their own animals. Experience is the best teacher when learning how to properly fit and groom livestock for the show ring and the earlier a child learns that hair/wool grows back, the easier it is for them to take a set of clippers and go to work on their own animals.
     As we get closer to Memorial Day weekend enjoy time with your family and friends and remember those soldiers from past generations that fought for our freedom, and especially those veterans still with us today and all the soldiers currently standing watch and their understanding families.

Friday, May 18, 2012


     I've neglected my blog terribly the last month and today I'm sharing a link to Ryan Goodman's blog Agriculture Proud, where today he has kindly included an article of mine about our operation in his AgProud series, featuring agricultural producers, bloggers, and advocates from across our country.

     Please follow the link to his site and enjoy the daily articles and insights of this University of Tennessee animal science graduate student http://agricultureproud.com/2012/05/18/agproud-quiggins-chiangus-kentucky/

     You can also find him on facebook at I am Agriculture Proud.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What's in a Name?

     I had the most amazing visit yesterday with a good friend and near the end of the conversation I mentioned the first sale to be held this Saturday at our newly constructed livestock center and how I was feeling both nervous and excited as the day grows near. She reads my blog so I told her about the link to the facility called Burley Fields Livestock Center. "Why that name?" she asked. "Why not something with your name in it?"
     Immediately tears came to my eyes as my thoughts went to the origin of the name, my family. My ancestors and generations of people like them, making a living off the farm in the burley fields. Now if you're not from Kentucky, odds are you did not grow up on a tobacco farm. There are several states with tobacco producers, including Tennessee and North Carolina, but up until a decade ago most farms in Kentucky produced tobacco, no matter how large or small the farm.
     Tobacco and beef production is my heritage on both sides of my family. Income from these paid for my college education, made farm payments, and purchased farm equipment. Now my memories have little to do with money, but I do want to acknowledge the positive financial impact the tobacco industry had on the small Kentucky communities and the people. My greatest memories of being a member of a tobacco producing family include pulling tobacco plants from the bed and listening to Papaw talk about his days as a teenager and making me wonder how much he embellished the stories, taking very wet mud from the setter wheels and both throwing and smearing the mud balls on whoever was riding with me, listening to my Daddy sing wonderful old gospel songs as he drove the setter, and going to the barn every afternoon after school to strip tobacco to make sure we got it on the sale floor the day after Thanksgiving, reading the writing of Mama, Nanny and Papaw on the cardboard covered walls of the barn from twenty years earlier,  Nanny making sure we had lemon drops in a jar in the room when we stripped tobacco, and my Papaw making me re-do the hand-tied leaves every time until I got it right.  We worked hard, but 90% of the time we had fun along the way too.
    The tobacco crop brought the family together, three generations, working to get a quality product to market. Those many hours of work gave us time to talk, hear the stories of my grandparents and parents, and kept us close. This is the second year that we have not had a tobacco crop and I can say that I really miss the routine and the family time it gave us.
    However, our children share our same love of livestock industry and over the years that has replaced our "tobacco time" and we have shared many hours at our own barn and at many livestock shows. Since 1999 our family vacation has been attending the week long American Junior Chianina Association National Junior Heifer Show and hauling cattle and kids to a different location in our nation and visiting with some of the best people in the world and making new friends while the kids have learned more about the beef cattle industry, developed leadership skills, and formed life-long friendships.
     So when it came time to name the facility that we had planned for nearly 3 years before breaking ground, it was clear that the name had to include the basic crop that had provided for many generations of our family. Since we are embarking on a new adventure it's important to remember what brought us here, the hard work and many hours family members and neighbors spent with the crop, especially if we may never grow another crop of tobacco. So when you hear the name Burley Fields Livestock Center, you may not have the connection we do but I hope you will appreciate our desire to continue the farming heritage of our ancestors.
     The Kentucky Proud Elite Breeders Sale will be held this Saturday, April 21, featuring market lambs, goats, and pigs from 22 Kentucky breeders. These animals will make great 4-H and FFA projects so make plans to attend. Show of sale animals begins at 9:00 a.m. with educational program beginning at approximately 11:00 a.m., followed by the sale at 2:00 p.m. The educational program will provide 2 hours for Kentucky 4-H livestock certification requirements. For more information follow this link: http://www.kentuckyproudelitebreederssale.com/
     Our formal open house will be scheduled for a later date as we near the completion of the meeting hall of the facility.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

23rd Anniversary Angus Opportunity Sale~April 7, 2012

     Spring is in the air and it's sale time in Kentucky. Buckner & Jeffries Angus Farm is hosting their 23rd Anniversary Angus Opportunity Sale at their farm in Canmer, Kentucky, Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 12:00 noon, CDT . With over 60 lots of Angus cow/calf pairs, bred and open heifers, and service-age bulls from BJF and eight guest consignors there's proven genetics available to suit any Angus program.
     Keith and Diana Jeffries have several decades of Angus breeding experience and their sons and families are carrying on the family tradition. This year's sale includes progeny of TC Aberdeen Ace 966, the featured herd sire for Buckner & Jeffries, Hammerhead Cattle Company, and TC Ranch, named Grand Champion Bull at both the 2010 Kentucky State Fair and the 2011 Kentucky Angus Preview Show, and sire of both the Junior and Senior Get-Of-Sire at the 2011 Kentucky State Fair Angus show.
     This is an excellent opportunity for Kentucky youth to purchase heifers qualifying as Kentucky Proud, which receive added premiums at shows sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
     For an online copy of the sale catalog click on the following link:  http://www.bingmanpub.com/2012-angus-opportunity-sale-book.aspx

     For more information contact any of the Jeffries family members at the following numbers:
270-528-3318 Keith and Diana Jeffries
270-528-6605 Tim and Leslie Jeffries
270-528-7246 Todd and Denise Jeffries
270-524-3440 Troy and Tammy Jeffries
email:  beef @scrtc.com
     Guest consignors: Hammerhead Cattle Company, Shaw Family Angus, Davis Bend Farm, Caveland Angus, Jaysen Manning, JHL Angus, Patriot Angus, and Johnson Farms.
TC Aberdeen Ace 966, Grand Champion Angus Bull, 2010 Kentucky State Fair.
Featured herd sire for Buckner & Jeffries, Hammerhead Cattle Company, and TC Ranch
TC Aberdeen Ace 966 as a yearling

TC Aberdeen Ace 966 as a two-year old

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Higgins Farms: Chiangus Cattle in Tennessee

     East of Nashville, nestled in the rolling hills of Tennessee in a small farming community of Auburntown, you will find the successful beef operation of Higgins Farms. John and Marna Higgins purchased their first commercial Chianina x Angus crossed heifers in the mid 1980's and today they have a herd of 60 registered Chiangus cows.
     Higgins Farms is definitely a family operation and oldest child, Andy, helped to get the family started with a registered herd in 1997 when he began showing Chiangus heifers. That led to the family getting involved in the American Chianina Association and the three children attending the American Junior Chianina Association National Junior Heifer Show on a regular basis and being very involved with the the association. Andy was a member of the AJCA board of directors and served in many offices including president. The family is very involved with the Tennessee Chiangus Association and John serves the ACA as a member of the board of directors.
     A recent graduate of MTSU, Andy is now managing the farm and herd and has helped sisters Amelia, 16, and Allison, 18, lead many champions to the backdrop the last few years.

HIGG Ecstasy, out of TR Kellie by HIGG Remedy.Grand Champion Bred/Owned Chiangus, 2011 AJCA National Jr. Heifer Show. Exhibited by Allison Higgins.
HIGG Satin & Lace, a heifer out of SLC Lace 273U by MEFC Cross Country. Reserve Grand Champion Bred/Owned Chiangus, 2011 AJCA National Jr. Heifer Show. Exhibited by Amelia Higgins.
HIGG Wild Heart, out of TR Kellie by RDD Aces High. Reserve Grand Champion Chiangus Heifer, 2011 NAILE AJCA Jr. Heifer Show. Exhibited by Allison Higgins.
TR Kellie.  Allison Higgins' first show heifer purchased in 2004 from Talmo Ranch, Talmo, Georgia. This cow is dam of two of the three heifers pictured above. A flush out of this cow and bull of buyer's choice will be sold this Saturday, March 24, 6:00 pm at the 2012 Source Sale at Talmo Ranch.
         TR Kellie is the dam of two of the winning heifers pictured above and a flush from this cow with buyer's choice of bull will be sold Saturday, March 24, in the 2012 Source Sale. Click on the link to Talmo Ranch for complete information http://talmoranch.com/index.html
     The Higgins family is also pleased with the bull they raised HIGG Remedy, sire of HIGG Xcstasy the 2011 Champion Bred/Owned Chiangus Heifer at AJCA National Jr. Heifer Show, and HIGG You Hear Me, 2011NAILE ACA Early Jr. Heifer Calf Reserve Champion and 2012 Fort Worth Reserve Grand Champion Chiangus Female. He is also sire of the 2012 TN Agribition Supreme Female which is out of a daughter of TR Kellie.

HIGG Remedy, a Chiangus bull out of an Eagle Scout Cow and MEFC Addicted.
     Higgins Farms has two fall heifers consigned to the Source Sale sired by HIGG Remedy and out of TR Ignite females. Lots 40 and 41. They also have a cow/calf pair, lot 39, and another fall heifer, lot 42.

Lot 40. Higg Remedy x TR Ignite. 2012 Source Sale

Lot 41. HIGG Remedy X TR Ignite. 2012 Source Sale

For more information about Higgins Farms or the Source Sale, go to the Higgins Farms facebook page at the following link: http://www.facebook.com/#!/HigginsFarms

If you can't attend the sale this Saturday evening, you can watch and bid live by registering at http://www.edjecast.com/

Contact Andy Higgins at 615-330-6446.

Photographs on this post are the property of Higgins Farms and used with permission.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March Madness in the Bluegrass State

     As a member of the class of '87 of Western Kentucky University, and employee, my passion for the Hilltoppers is great, and as a Kentuckian, my passion for University of Kentucky basketball is also great. So, I find myself on this greatest day of basketball history beginning this day with much anticipation and excitement knowing that not only are my two favorite teams playing each other in Kentucky, but that Murray State also plays today in Louisville, and University of Louisville plays in Oregon.
     It's so wonderful to have four Kentucky teams in the NCAA tournament and three of those four playing the same day in Louisville, Kentucky at the YUM Center. Of course the selection committee would never have allowed U of L to play in Louisville, but it's really terrible that they were booted across the nation when the other teams move into their home.
     I won't be in Louisville today to enjoy the excitement but I will be watching the games on TV or my computer at work, except for the game between WKU and UK and then you will find me with my family in front of our TV, red towel in hand!
     What a great game it should be and wow...what if WKU beats UK? WKU is the only team in the tournament with a losing season 15-18, now 16-18 .  A #16 over a #1!! That would just be incredible. This young WKU team that's dealt with a change in head coaches and experienced a season with both extreme disappointments and jubilation now has renewed nationwide attention!! WKU coach Ray Harper, a Kentucky native, has stepped in and given motivation and confidence to this young team. A win over UK would be awesome! WKU has a great basketball tradition with 42 conference championships, third-most in NCAA history; 40 seasons with 20+ wins, sixth-most in NCAA history; and 8th in NCAA history in all-time winning percentage. WKU also has 34 post-season appearances!
     But then, I've also watched this UK team and like so many I've cheered for them and watched them play as a team like no other UK team in recent history. I grew up as a UK fan and remember well the 1978 championship team, and the many more great teams following. Do you see my problem?
     I've decided to enjoy the fact that they are playing each other and representing Kentucky well, as basketball fans everywhere watch the game tonight. I'm proud that there's not the rivalry of UK/U of L in this game, but a great respect with great friends and high school teammates Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (UK) and Derrick Gordon (WKU) playing each other in the college game they've dreamed of.
     My father made the statement to my mother, wondering if I could make it through this game. Well, I'm sure I'll make it but it will be with much excitement, yelling, and anxious moments. My parents were at our house on Tuesday when WKU came from behind and defeated Mississippi Valley State. Our house was anything but quiet with me, my husband, and our daughter, all WKU grads, so excited over the dramatic comeback and win. I'm wondering how loud our home will be tonight as we gather once again to watch THE GAME. I haven't mentioned that my mother is a huge UK fan! It should be interesting but whatever the outcome I will be proud of all the Kentucky teams and enjoy each and every moment of March Madness!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Feature Friday: The Consumer

     This week we've celebrated National Ag Week and Ag Day and no one is happier than myself to be a part of the agriculture industry. Like most farmers, I'm not the first in my family to continue to live on the farm and enjoy a life in production agriculture. Yes, this is a choice I have made but it's really made possible by the consumer. I've thought about this a lot after reading Madeline Moore's blog post "National Ag Day"  located at www.madelinemoore.wordpress.com, where she quoted Ray Prock "It's National Ag Day, have you hugged a consumer?"
     The consumer. Our neighbors, friends, and millions of people we don't know. Farmers and ranchers rely on the consumer to purchase our products and by-products of the industry. Knowing this, it is so important to keep the consumer informed and educated about all aspects of the industry.
     I want to take this time to thank those informed, knowledgeable, supportive consumers who proudly purchase U.S. produced meat, vegetables, fruit,  grain, clothing, wood, and all the other items made with by-products like pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, lubricants, and leathers.
     As we end National Ag Week continue to celebrate your role in the agriculture industry, whether you are a producer or a consumer. Stay informed and educated, and support your local producers! It only helps the economy and you know where your food comes from.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Celebrating Ag Day with photographs

     National Ag Day, March 8, 2012

Celebrating with photographs
Nothing more rewarding than a newborn calf and mama doing an excellent job!
Ashley helping and encouraging little brother Blake began at an early age....and continues today.
Friendship, teamwork, and learning together.

Ashley and Blake at a district market goat show.
Ashley at the Jr. Chi Show at the NAILE.
Family teamwork to get heifers ready on Jr. show day at Ky Beef Expo.
Blake with "Speckles" at 2009 Ky State Fair Market Hog Show, working his way to Champion Market Hog.
Photograph by Mollie Tichenor.
The smile says it all!
Our new agriculture business, Burley Fields Livestock Center, for livestock shows and sales, specifically production sales and youth shows. First event, Ky Proud Elite Breeders Sale, April 21, 2012.
Ashley named Supreme Champion Showman as a freshman at WKU Block and Bridle's Little North American. No photograph but Ashley just received the National Block and Bridle 2011-2012 Outstanding Senior Scholarship Award!

Photographs on this post property of Wanda Quiggins or used with permission.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Feature Friday: Maggie Jasper Angus

     Maggie Jasper is a third generation Kentucky Angus producer and a young leader in the Kentucky cattle industry.  Maggie grew up following her grandfather Billy Jasper and father Jimmy Jasper to cattle shows. "The state fair wasn't really about the rides as much as the Angus show on Saturday morning. I thought that was what normal kids did," explained Maggie.
     Even though she was attending the shows and enjoying every minute, she never had the desire to show cattle herself until age 13, after watching her cousin with his first steer. She talked to her Dad about wanting to show cattle that night, and literally the next day she had a heifer.
     "I remember going to my first Kentucky Junior Angus Association meeting in Bowling Green, and being a nervous wreck because I didn't know anybody. From there I have grown so close to so many in the KJAA and have bonds that reach far beyond the show ring,"  stated Jasper. Maggie is a leader in the KJAA, serving first as a director, then reporter, and now secretary. "I was encouraged to take on leadership roles and voice my opinion, and I had plenty of role models to look up to along the way."

Maggie Jasper
     Maggie has been involved with the Kentucky Junior Cattleman's Association for four years and is the current president. Maggie believes strongly in this youth organization, stating that when people associated with different breeds come together in one union, we can develop a strong group working for the beef industry. One of the largest events of the KJCA is the annual Fall Classic, scheduled for September 29 and 30 at Stanford, Kentucky.

Maggie at the 2011 KJCA Fall Classic
      In her first year at Eastern Kentucky University, Maggie is staying busy off the farm with a major in Occupational Therapy. With her passion for agriculture many don't understand her career choice, but Maggie wants to help those that need assistance or guidance to accomplish their goals. Maggie is a member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, she was named to the Dean's List, and received the President's Award. I'm certain she will remain a strong voice in the cattle industry.

Maggie Jasper Angus consignment to the Kentucky Angus Sweepstakes. She sales Saturday, March 2, at 12:00 pm in Louisville, Kentucky.
      This weekend, Maggie Jasper Angus has a consignment to the Kentucky Angus Sweepstakes, at the Kentucky Beef Expo. The show will be held today, Friday, March 2, at 9:00 am at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, with the sale on Saturday, March 3, at 12:00 pm. The heifer is a full sister to Champion Hill Phyllis 7155 that was reserve champion heifer at the 2009 Kentucky State Fair. Maggie is really pleased to offer this heifer for sale, explaining that she is very gentle and was easy to lead the first time with a halter. As an incentive Maggie is offering $500 for a class winner and an additional $500 for a division winner, to a junior exhibitor who purchases the heifer and shows at the 2012 National Junior Angus Show, to be held this summer in Louisville.

Photographs in this post property of Maggie Jasper and used with her permission.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Feature Friday: Martindell Shorthorns

     Martindell Shorthorns, of Hardyville, Kentucky has another outstanding set of bulls and heifers consigned to both the 2012 Kentucky Farm Bureau Beef Expo and the 2012 Tennessee Beef Agribition. Consistency of structural correctness, muscle, maternal traits, and overall balance and style with proven success in the pasture and show ring are the result of the family's more than 50 years of breeding Shorthorn cattle.
     C.F. Martin, Jr., purchased his first Shorthorns in 1960 and his knowledge and experience with the breed has given him the ability to know the genetics that work best in his herd.  Today he and sons Franklin and Jason have built a herd of quality cattle with repeat buyers looking for cattle to improve their herd and win in the showring. Years of consistently having one or both of the champion Shorthorns at the Kentucky Beef Expo along with numerous champions at the Kentucky State Fair, Tennessee State Fair, and the NAILE continues to attract buyers from across the country. Bulls and heifers are available for sale throughout the year directly from the farm and can be seen by scheduling a farm visit. Follow this link to their website for more information on current consignments, herd sires, and past champions.  http://www.martindellshorthorns.com/default.html
     The Kentucky Beef Expo Shorthorn Show and Sale will be held at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, on Saturday, March 3, with the show at 10:00 am EST, and the Shorthorn Sale following at 1:00 pm EST. Martindell Shorthorns has consigned one bull and two heifers to this event.

Martindell The Answer 0111, Birthdate- September 29, 2010
Grand Champion Bull 2011 Kentucky State Fair Pace Show
Kentucky Beef Expo Consignment

Martindell Empress 173, Birthdate - September 2, 2011
Sire - The Professor
Kentucky Beef Expo Consignment

     The Tennessee Beef Agribition will be held at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center, Lebanon, Tennessee,  March 9, 10, and 11, with the Shorthorn Show on Friday, March 9, at 1:30 pm CST and the Shorthorn Sale on Saturday, March 10, at 12:00 pm CST.  Martindell Shorthorns has also consigned one bull and two heifers to this event. The bull pictured below is a Tennessee Beef Agribition consignment a with pedigree that goes back to the outstanding Martindell Farm herd sire NPS Durango 774 CHB, a Shorthorn weaning and yearling trait leader.

Martindell Mission 702, Birthdate - July 7, 2010
Tennessee Beef Agribition Consignment
Martindell Mable 122, Birthdate - March 5, 2011
Tennessee Beef Agribition Consignment

      Photographs of the other heifers consigned to both sales can be viewed on Martindell Shorthorns website http://martindellshorthorns.com/
     I have lived near the Martin family most of my life and with their years of experience breeding and raising Shorthorn cattle I'm confident you can find quality cattle and answers to any questions you might have about the breed by visiting with C.F., Franklin, or Jason. Contact information: C. F. Martin (270) 528-3686; Franklin Martin (270) 528-3071; Jason Martin jasmar@scrtc.com.

Photographs on this post property of Martindell Shorthorns and used with their permission. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

National FFA Week: February 18-25, 2012

      This week is National FFA Week, and according to the FFA website this week is a time designated for FFA members to promote and educate the public about agriculture. I agree totally, and I'm so thankful for this youth organization that represents agriculture so well.     
     I did not take advantage of the opportunity I had in high school, and enroll in agriculture classes and join FFA. Even though I was a farmgirl, 4-H member, beef and tobacco producer with my family, I chose a different route in high school, looking only at college and a career in the medical field. Little did I know that by my sophomore year in college, I was missing agriculture and quickly changed my major. That background information is so you know that I'm not a product of FFA. However, I am the wife of a  agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor and I have witnessed thousands of students not only promoting and learning about agriculture, but also many non-farm students joining FFA and later pursuing careers in agriculture related fields.
     FFA, yes and 4-H, has spread the word about agriculture for decades but many still see the organization as the old stereotypical farm kid organization, and nothing could be further from the truth. Yes there are still a lot of dedicated farm kids in FFA but with a membership of 540,379 from all 50 states plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, there's definitely many non-farm  members.
     With an agriculture education FFA members choose their SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) which can range from production agriculture and environmental issues to food processes and technology, to civic organization presentations and global positioning systems. The list goes on. Conclusion, there's something for everyone! Not only do these students gain a great education and understanding of the agriculture world, they also gain the opportunity for college scholarships through their individual SAE programs.
     Leadership skills obtained from being an FFA member are priceless. Where else can you learn public speaking, sales, marketing, community service, management, writing, etc. in one organization often with one teacher? Nothing is more rewarding than meeting these students as freshman or sophomores and seeing their timidness change to confidence and authority as seniors.
     Since I've never worn one of those blue corduroy jackets, I've never had the honor of being in official dress in mid-summer 90 degree weather, with no chance of taking the jacket off for one minute. I have however, heard many students complain of being uncomfortable and counting the minutes until that jacket can come off! I have a very different opinion of that blue jacket because I've had the honor of witnessing the effects of a single person in official dress and the impression thousands of FFA members at national convention made on one person. Let me explain.
     Our daughter Ashley, as a sophomore, was honored to be accepted into the National FFA Band, and this was a year that national convention was held in Louisville, Kentucky, just an hour's drive from home. She was the first student of her high school band director to be accepted to the National FFA Band and since it was so close, she invited both her band director and school superintendent to attend a session at convention and hear the band. Her superintendent was unable to attend but her director drove to the Kentucky Exposition Center for an early session and arrived just in time to see members of Texas FFA chapters unloading buses. This  tradition included the young men standing with arms out to escort the ladies single file into the convention hall. Everyone in official dress of course. A memorable vision for anyone but especially a person first attending national convention.
     The director found his seat in the convention hall and witnessed not only the band's performance, but heard motivational speeches and saw so many positive effects of FFA, but the most memorable for him was seeing thousands of students, dressed nicely, behaving respectfully, and not seeing one tattoo or body piercing. He had a meeting to attend hours away, and he spent most of his driving time on the phone calling colleagues and the school superintendent telling of all the positive things he'd seen and how he was previously so misled by his perception of FFA, but all that changed that day. First, by a young lady making the invitation, and secondly by the overwhelming impression of thousands.
     Yes, I'm proud of each and every accomplishment of all FFA members but I'm most proud of the effects that blue corduroy jacket can have on people still today. So wear it with pride, knowing that someone is watching and as an FFA member you have the power and opportunity to promote agriculture and make a very positive impact on a single individual.

Membership information from FFA.org

Friday, February 17, 2012

Feature Friday: Star C Farm/Smilin' Goat Ranch

     I'd like to introduce my first Feature Friday post and announce plans to have an article every Friday featuring a breeder, junior exhibitor, or farm family. Being a typical agriculture blogger I too have "many irons in the fire" so hang on as I work to be more disciplined in my writing!

      James and Sarah Coomer and their children, Kristen and Kyle, farm in Temple Hill, Kentucky, located in the southeast region of Barren County. James, along with his father James, Sr., and brother Jeff have raised Simmental cattle for many years as Star C Farm. The beef operation thrives and provides many other breeders with Simmental bulls and heifers. Kristen and Kyle have exhibited their cattle at local, regional, and state levels.
     Our families have been friends since college days and our son introduced Kyle and Kristen to Boer goats at an area livestock show, and they purchased their first four market goats from a local producer the following year in 2007. They have since expanded very successfully and Smilin' Goat Ranch was formed. In 2011, Kyle had several class winners with goats out of their herd at the Kentucky district shows and Junior Livestock Expos. Today they have 31 mature does and 23 yearling does, plus 30 kids and more due in March.

A doe with a very nice set of 5-day old twin does.

Two December kids.

A stout  December kid.

          Kristen and Kyle are members of the Herd Handlers 4-H Club and they participate in many activities such as skillathon, demonstrations, and livestock judging. 4-H is a family activity with James and Sarah volunteering on local and regional levels while helping many children other than their own. Kristen is also a member of the Barren County FFA Chapter.

Kyle with his first  Boer doe at the 2007 Kentucky State Fair. The doe was a class winner in the very competitive commercial  doe classes at the Kentucky district shows.
      The Coomer farming operation is expanding and diversifying with the children continuing to exhibit Simmental cattle, market goats,and beginning in 2010, dairy goats. The dairy goat branch began when Kristen purchased her first Nigerian Dwarf doe. That doe was named Grand Champion Senior Doe at the 2010 Kentucky State Fair open dairy goat show. They have expanded to add Lamancha, Lamancha crosses, and American Saanens. Kristen also had an exciting show at the 2011 Kentucky State Fair open dairy goat show where her Nigerian Dwarf doe was named Best Senior Doe and Best Udder in Show.

Kristen with her Nigerian Dwarf doe, named Best Senior Doe of Show and Best Udder of Show in the 2011 Kentucky State Fair Open Dairy Show. Pictured, left to right, Kyle Coomer, Kristen Coomer, Sara Stewart-Judge.

        The Coomer family offers livestock options with Star C Farm and Smilin' Goat Ranch so be sure to contact them if you're searching for Simmental cattle, Boer goats (especially for market goat shows), or dairy goats. They plan to consign Boer goats to one or two area Spring sales. Call at 270-427-4481 or 270-427-4480 for more information.

All photographs on this post property of Sarah Coomer and published with permission.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

National Farm Machinery Show, Feb. 15-18

     The 47th National Farm Machinery Show is underway in Louisville, Kentucky, showcasing the new and innovative farm equipment, technology, and products. This four day trade show attracts over 300,000 visitors from all over the world and I'm very fortunate to have it in my state and less than 100 miles away. As a beef producer I'm personally not interested in the new tractors and other equipment, I leave that to my husband and son, but I enjoy seeing the new livestock handling equipment, animal nutrition products, agriculture publications and associations, and visiting with everyone. The Family Living Center offers unique gifts, farm toys, and accessories for the home, so there's something for everyone.
     The show began Wednesday, February 15, and continues through Saturday, February 18, and it's not too late to make plans to attend. For more information go to: http://www.farmmachineryshow.org/  Admission to the National Farm Machinery Show is free. Tickets are required for the Championship Tractor Pull and note that tickets to the Saturday evening pull are the first to sell out but, tickets may still be available. It's a great event for the entire family and you never know what you'll learn or who you might see.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

4-H/FFA Market Livestock Projects for Beginners

     If you, or your child, have been wanting to have a 4-H or FFA livestock project, now is the time to begin planning for the  2012 livestock show season. For children, 9 or younger, beginning with a market goat or market lamb is a great choice because they are small, easier to handle, and the cost of purchasing, housing, and  feeding is less than a beef or dairy animal or even a market hog.     
     Now before my fellow beef producers step up to voice opinions about the opening paragraph I would like to clarify that if you are a beef producer and your child has been around cattle, beginning with a beef heifer is great! I'm directing this post primarily to those families who may not be beef cattle producers or who have younger children. The smaller species are super beginning projects because the children can gain confidence in their ability to control the animal and have a safer, more enjoyable time with an animal closer to their size.

*Important Information for Kentucky Exhibitors* 
     Kentucky 4-H and FFA market animals must be tagged prior to the deadlines for each species. Kentucky 4-H market animal exhibitors, be aware of the livestock certification program requiring all 4-H market animal exhibitors to attend 6 hours of training before tagging their market animals. For more information contact your 4-H agent now for training sites and dates in your area. The  2012 Guidelines for Validating Market Animals for 4-H and FFA members can be found at the following link:  http://www2.ca.uky.edu/afs4hyouth-files/validations/2012_Validation_Program_Rules_Only.pdf
      Market steers and market heifers must be tagged by March 31. Market goats, market lambs, and market hogs, must be tagged by May 19. Validation sites (tagging sites) and dates can also be found at the Kentucky Department of Agriculture website, on the Division of Show and Fair promotion page. Just follow the link and look to the bottom right corrner for 'Calendars'. http://www.kyagr.com/marketing/fair/index.htm The KDA site also lists dates, locations, rules, and general information for preview and district shows for all species. Also, read the Ownership, Possession, and Care rules found at the followig link.  http://www2.ca.uky.edu/afs4hyouth-files/possession/Ownership-Possession-Care_Rules-2012.pdf

     I like both the market goat and market lamb projects for young children because they are animals that are easily trained and are led with a halter or collar. The correct way to lead a lamb is without a halter, by holding the lambs head, however, for young children with their first project I believe it's best to give the child confidence, letting them use the halter in the ring. You can teach the child to hold the head when setting up the animal while still having the halter in hand. He/she may not win in showmanship for using the halter, depending on regional preferences and the judge, but the gain in confidence to control an animal can be an invaluable lesson.

Entering the showring at this young age can be intimidating, but sending small children into a show with a halter gives them confidence which helps them to relax and have fun. Thanks to Dallas Bailey for providing this photo of herself and my son at our county fair market lamb show in 2001. Both continue to exhibit livestock today. 
       Having a livestock project requires a lot of responsibility for both parents and child. I think it is most important for the child to want  an animal for a project. It's great if this is the dream of the parent also, but there will only be difficult days ahead if the child is not interested in the project animal.  Key factors in deciding on species should include shelter and housing available, budget for purchasing the animal, budget for feed and care including vaccinations and de-worming costs. You have to consider your area also. If you have goat or lamb producers nearby, that may make the decision for you.
     I think it's important to include the child when selecting the animal, whether it's from your own farm, another producer's farm, or a live auction. This is a great way to begin an education of livestock judging and selection, however if you don't feel comfortable with the task, ask the breeder, another 4-H/FFA family, or your local 4-H agent or FFA advisor for help.  Keep in mind your budget and what you plan to do with this project and it may be easier for you to select just 2 or 3 animals for your child to choose from. Transportation to fairs is also easier with lambs and goats because they can be hauled in the back of a pick-up truck in a cage or in a small trailer and don't require a more costly livestock trailer. Keeping first projects simple and inexpensive is great for everyone involved.

Judge's first look at a market goat showmanship division at the 2011 Kentucky State Fair.

     Market hog projects are great fun and super if you have a barn or shed with a concrete floor. Some may say you can make it without concrete but it's difficult to keep a  200+ pound hog from rooting and destroying a dirt-filled shed or barn. It's hard to imagine how quickly that cute 30-40 pound pig can grow to 270 pounds at only 6 months of age, but it happens! Watch for future posts with more information on market hog projects.
     Stay tuned! I plan to begin featuring breeders and junior exhibitors in my next posts.    

Photograph of Kentucky State Fair market goat show, property of Wanda Quiggins

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Daily Routines with Beef Heifer Projects

     The Kentucky Beef Expo is only 5 weeks away, and anyone with consignments to sales or youth planning to exhibit in the junior show should have cattle halter-broke, in the barn, and working hair daily. If you've shown cattle for a while you know what I'm talking about. If you are new to this adventure, you might want to learn about establishing a daily routine with your show heifer.
     First, and most importantly, you need to feed your heifer twice a day, and establish a routine of 12 hours apart if possible. This requires going to the barn before school or work,  a habit of most cattle producers. It will only take a few days before the heifers know the routine. Our son does an outstanding job of going to the barn every morning before school. He fills each heifer's pan with its own ration, and takes pans to each stall. All he has to do is open the door and the heifers go to their stall to eat, and he then halters and ties the heifers. 
     In a perfect world, the heifers would be rinsed each morning, hair combed up and forward, then dried. However, the temperature is often too cold this time of the year and there's not enough time every morning to rinse, brush, and dry, so depending on the day, the heifers are brushed and blown out while they eat. Afternoon is time for walking, rinsing (temperature permitting), or brushing. It's amazing how the animals love the routine and quickly learn where to go.

Blake blow-drying his heifer at the NAILE in November.
      In warm weather, it's best to rinse the heifers each evening, work the hair again, then turn out without drying. This keeps the hair growing, trained, and in good condition. Rinsing is just as it sounds, spraying the heifer with water and not using soap. Daily use of soap or shampoo removes the natural oils of the skin drying the hair and skin, resulting in dull hair and flaking skin.
     It seems that everyone's life is full with places to go and things to do, so it makes it even more important to establish a workable routine to keep the stall area clean of manure and adding new bedding when needed. If your mornings are really busy, make it a habit of cleaning the stalls each night. Depending on your barn or facility, it's helpful to have a wheel barrow to place manure and bedding for easy removal.
     If you are beginning with your first heifer, it's not important to have a blower to dry the hair, or a fan, however, if you want to get one of these items, I would first purchase a fan. A good turbo fan used during the day either on a stand behind the heifer or hanging behind the heifer will keep the heifer cooler during hot summer months and help to retain hair.

A fan on a stand like this is convenient to use behind the heifers at home  and at some shows. Just remember that some shows restrict "butt fans" from being used in the aisles.

     If you or your child is very young or small in stature, having a grooming chute can be helpful for safety and to build confidence of the child. Grooming chutes are great to keep a heifer standing still and from moving from side to side as they can when tied in a stall.
The middle vertical bars can be moved and placed horizontally, to keep a heifer from stepping to either side. These three young fitters have many years of experience and have the bars vertical so they can easily comb and groom the heifer's sides.
     The best part about the daily routine is the bond that is formed between heifer and the child. It is amazing how differently the heifers respond when another person steps in to feed and groom. These steps teach the child responsibility and the rewards of hard work. It doesn't mean that there will always be a banner at the end of a show, but the satisfaction in leading an animal that looks good and acts well as the result of weeks of dedication and work is the first step to one of life's important lessons.

Photograph of fan and stand, used with permission from Bluegrass Show Supply
Other photographs, property of Wanda Quiggins