Every day may not be good...but there is something good in every day.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Faces of Agriculture Feature - Chad Cunningham

Our first Faces of Agriculture Feature 

Chad Cunningham

Photos taken by Kim Goldsmith of Putnam Texas

Chad, Tom and Hannah

Meet Chad Cunningham a real Texas cowboy and cattle producer.  He is the owner and operator of a cow/calf and yearling operation.  The ranch is a family business. Chad and his son Kyle with one other cowboy Joe run the ranch while his daughter keeps the books. His wife Kim has the chore of keeping all the cowboy's fed (which is no small task!).

Heading out for a day of work

Chad's son Kyle

Ranch cowboy Joe

Together this family lives and works on the land to get your food from pasture to plate. Chad's main business is running yearlings. They buy 450 - 650 pound calves, and let them grow until they weigh 750 - 850 pounds, then send them to the feedlot to finish.

Chad sorting calves
Chad does very little "farming". He says, "We are all a lot better horseback than we are in a tractor seat. The yearlings work good for our part of the country. When it is dry, we don't buy as many, when we get some rain, we buy more cattle. Plus, you get to stay horseback a lot more with yearlings than you do mama cows."

Agriculture is all about getting down and dirty!!

His blog at Chad's Stuff showcases his cowboy heritage with photos of him and the guys working cattle, and riding horses.  Chad also makes spurs and knives. He is keeping Western traditions alive and well.

 A set of Damascus spurs made by Chad


Be sure to head over to his blog and learn more about the cowboy's life!  And if you would like to be a featured farmer or know someone who should be - send me an email at wagonramblins@gmail.com or leave me a comment below!  To learn more about the Faces of Agriculture project click here.

You may also enjoy this blog post Farming and Ranching is Love!

Linking up for Rural Thursday! and Foto Friday!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Burning Daylight - Ag in Motion Pictures!

There are so many cinema marvels these days.  Some things have improved - special effects for example. Other things have gone down hill - such as a good western produced by Hollywood these days!

And there are a few movies out there that hit on agriculture and the people.  I was thinking about this the other day. Thus here is a list of movies that are based on agriculture concepts or practices.  There are so many documentaries out there - none of them are this list :) (maybe in a future post)- this is not about the documentaries. It's about entertainment!

I have seen these movies and read several of the books.  I think they have some good agricultural attributes.

 Know of other movies that need added???  Let me know!  Would love to discuss this topic more!

The Egg and I -  a funny movie based on the book of a real farm wife and chicken farmer.  Before the Pioneer Woman there was the Betty MacDonald   A city girl whose husband decides to move them to the Northwest and start a chicken farm.  This movie is full of first time farm antics and who could forget Ma and Pa Kettle??

State Fair - a lovely story about a couple of Iowa farm kids and the state fair.  This movie holds a special place in my heart - we would always watch this before we went to the fair. I think it also shows the dedication and care farmers and kids give to their show animals!  You will be rooting for Blue Boy too by the end of the movie!

Oklahoma - singing cowboys and farmers daughters.  This rousting musical is all about the people and their way of life! After all the farmer and the cowman should be friends...

The Big Country - a sweeping western drama about cattle, land and water! 

The Yearling (Gregory Peck version) - experience the hardships of the pioneers in Florida.  It also highlights the relationship between children and farm animals and the pain of growing up.  A excellent book and movie.

Old Yellar  - Like the Yearling - it potrays life for kids on the farm and the relationships we develop with our animals.

Giant - an interesting movie about a Texas cattle ranching family thru the years.

The Rare Breed - learn a little bit about Hereford cattle and the hardships of living on the range. Starring James Stewart and Maureen O'Hara.

The River  - farming families battle the elements and the rising water.  The film was based on the true story of farmers who unknowingly took the jobs as strikebreakers at a steel mill after their crops had been destroyed by rain. Starring Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek.   (not pictured)

How the West was Won -  (cause we know it wasn't won on salad)

                                                          photos from Google

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Learning to Ride...

Being married is hard work!  The hardest part I think is working to become a member of the other’s family.  Wade and I have challenges – coming from both sides of the road.  I hope we continue to meet them head on and work them out.  Some of the things are easy like learning the norms and traditions of each other’s household.  For example Wade knows that we all sit down at the table and eat lunch together as a family at my mom and dad’s.  We say grace before every meal.  Wade is learning to go to church with me.  I was so proud of him when he offered to say grace last weekend.      
I am also learning some things that are important to his family.  Riding is a core activity.  They ride for fun and ride for work. Before meeting Wade, I had been on a horse maybe a dozen times in my life.  Shortly after our second or third date (aka - come watch us ride horses an work cows date)  I was asked by Wade to come on his family and friends annual BBQ and trail ride.  I said yes, hesitantly.  Once again – not a horse person by trade.  I took an elective in college to learn basic riding.  The school horses are bomb proof and gentle and all we did was ride in an arena. - That is all the experience on a horse I have.    

I think we rode for 5 hours – I was given the use of his brother-in-laws steady horse Oakie.  And if you let me tell the story – the trails we rode that day included going down some brushy hills like those from the movie Man from Snowy River (you know the scene I’m talking about!!!) Wade’s version of that first trail ride might be a little different.  I later learned that this was a sink or swim deal with Wade. He had pulled the same stunt with other girls to see if they could hack being with him and his family and friends.   We went riding several times after that.  I liked it a lot.  I loved being around horses and riding them.

I’ve only seen a couple of spills – pretty minor – not huge wrecks my any means.  The horses were not bucking or crow-hopping out of meanness – some were fresh, others a little salty.    Last summer after one such spill in a last minute necessary change of plans; horses had to be swapped and trusty ol’ Oakie was pulled from me and I was given Wade’s moms mare Tequila.   I knew they would never give me anything I couldn’t handle to ride. But I was nervous and she was tense and fresh that morning too.  It was good experience for me.   

Now a new year of riding has arrived.  I am now using Tequila when out and about.  The same old nervous feelings are coming back and I am writing this out of pure frustration more than anything else. We went riding this weekend.  I was just plum nervous about the whole deal.  I don’t even know why I am so nervous.  I am just wound so dang tight this spring -every time I get on a horse.  Maybe I need to do some deep breathing exercises before sitting in the saddle and collect myself.

There is so much to learn!! I just get so overwhelmed.  Everything just seems to come naturally to Wade and his family. 
I’m slow and clumsy tacking up.   I second guess everything I do.  I get nervous!
I need lots of practice!!!

A lot of you out there have horses and ride.  A lot of you are teaching your children to ride.  What do you do to help them learn?  Were there any tricks of the trade you passed on? 

In the meantime I will grit my teeth, deal with these butterfly's in my stomach and get back in the saddle.  I will take joy in the little accomplishments I've achieved - like putting a bridle on correctly, keeping my reins even and heels down. Getting Tequila to lope that one time when asked and having the dream of one day learning to rope off a horse! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Faces of Agriculture

I have read numerous articles and posts about the lack of morals and ethics in agriculture.  The need for emotion, the lack of emotion, the use of science, science prevails, it goes on and on.  I've come to the conclusion that science alone cannot explain away the fears and concerns of consumers today.

Organizations like HSUS and others are trying to show the world that we are unfeeling, cold, and mechanical – using words like “factory” farming to describe our current methods.  Consumer emotions run high when they see breaking news stories that show animal welfare concerns or food issues.  What is Ag's response so far – we have been giving them more science, and economic reasons behind the practice. 

We must show consumers that we do have feeling and emotion. Explaining these processes and images with scientific terms just makes us sound unfeeling, cold – robotic almost – clinging to our formulas for max animal production.  Agriculture is about life, and feeding people – it is also a job.   Knowing that we must be responsible and held to a higher standard than other industries.

We have a right to make money and be profitable – Science helped us do that. (And if we are required to change practices - science will ensure we continue to make money).  But profits alone do not compel someone to get involved in agriculture.  It's something else - something much more. 

Those involved in the dirt and every day operations of agriculture know this already. The farmers, ranchers, laborers, hired hands, cowboys etc are the guts of the whole shebang!  We are not just an "industry," we are men, women, families, individuals. Ask them about their animals, their methods, their love of the land.  Those stories are out there waiting to be told.  The faces of agriculture are many.  Let's put people back into the agriculture equation! Let's show the consumers and anti-ag groups that we are able to take care of business.  Let's show them that their decisions and support of these new initiatives have real ramifications on farmers, and families.


How can we do this?  This is what I propose to do - I want to see photos of those farmers!  I want to see the faces of agriculture. So start posting those photos! Send me a link! Comment below this story!
Heck shoot me an email and I will post them for you!

My dad - grain farmer, and cattle producer.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Ol' Chuck Update - Flower Cupcakes!

I first saw these on Pinterest.  I wanted to make them for a special occasion.  Luckily - it was graduation and Mother's Day weekend.  They did take a little bit of time. But are really easy to make.  And look how cute they are!!!

First you will need to bake some cupcakes and ice them - a nice thick coat.

Second you will need mini marshmallows -  I used kitchen scissors and cut them at a diagonal.

That will expose a sticky side of the  marshmallow's.  Dip that in colored sugar. We had red, orange and green.  We had bought the sugar to use on home made mints for my wedding - but it didn't work like we thought. So we already had the sugar on hand - Score!!!  I think we are going to make these cupcakes again for my little sisters bridal shower - using her wedding colors!

Arrange the marshmallow's as petals - I used a gum drop for a center to work around.  But you wouldn't have to do that.

We made about 70 of these and used a bag and half of mini marshmallow's and 1 bag of gumdrops.

I got a lot of compliments on them!  Give them a try!

And check out another great blog  This Uncharted Rhoade   - she has tried several items from Pinterest!

Linking up for Cowgirl Up Linky Party and Trick or Treat Tuesday! and Two Maids A Milking

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Farm Photo Friday

Had the chance to take a lot of photos last weekend. Wanted to share a few of them with you!!! Cause you guys are my peeps right?  Right!

I will probably post more of them next week too! So be on the look out for that!
Got some posts a brewing in my head....but until then, this will do. 

This weekend will be busy. Not only is it Mother's Day...but it is also my baby sisters high school graduation.  WhooHoo!!! We are feeding the whole family Sunday night for a little celebration. That's a little shy of 90 people give or take.  So I have made over 70 cupcakes, and peeled 10lbs. of potatoes tonight. Divide and conquer is my mom's motto.  Two kitchens going is better than one.  So I hope you all have a great weekend as well!! 

Wade riding his mom's new horse 

My dad's corn crop! 

One of my favorite flowers blooming in my mother's garden. Indian Blankets! 

My flower bed at mom's house.  It has a Southwestern theme.  Usually I have more cactus. But they were neglected this winter since I wasn't home.  So I'm down to 2 ish. 

This is my hen and chicks plant.  I've had him for years!  

More flowers....

Have a Great Weekend!  Well see ya'll Monday! 

Linking up with Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop and Foto Friday and Farm Photo Friday

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ol' Chuck Wagon Update! - Stuffed Mushrooms and Pork Chops

So we had a little bit of a dinner party tonight!  A good friend of mine came over and we made dinner! When we cook, it usually involves wine - we look for recipes that involve wine. That way we can drink a little, cook a little...I will say again. We like wine! :)   Enough foolishness!  Here is the recipes.  They are Pioneer Woman dishes.  So it was a double wammy of goodness!  (Wine + Pioneer Woman = Win)  Did I mention we had wine??

The first is Pork Chops with Garlic Wine Sauce 

§  6 whole Pork Chops (medium-to-thin)  Ours were medium to thick....oh well! 
§  2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
§  2 Tablespoons Butter
§  Salt And Pepper
§  1-1/2 cup Red Wine
§  1/2 cup Beef Broth (more If Needed)
§  1 whole Bay Leaf
§  1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
§  18 whole Peeled Garlic Cloves
§  1 Tablespoon Butter (additional)

Preparation Instructions
Heat oil and butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops and sear them on both sides until they're nice and golden, about 2 minutes per side. (No need to completely cook the chops at this point.) Remove the chops from the skillet and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium-high, then throw in the whole garlic cloves. Stir them around and cook them for several minutes, or until they get nice and golden brown.

Pour in the red wine, then add the bay leaf. Stir around and let it reduce, raising the heat if necessary. Cook the sauce for several minutes, or until it's nice and reduced and thick.
Stir in the beef broth (you can add more if it needs the liquid) and add the chops back into the cooking liquid, arranging them so that they're swimming in the sauce. –And Swim they did!!! 
Allow the chops to cook in the liquid for a few minutes, then pour in the balsamic. Shake the pan to get it to distribute, then cook for a couple more minutes, or until the pork chops are done.

Remove the chops from the pan once more, then let the sauce reduce a little more if needed until it's very thick and rich and the garlic is soft. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of butter and sprinkle in a little salt and pepper.
Arrange pork chops on a platter, then pour the whole skillet of sauce (including garlic) over the top.
Serve with a green salad.
*You may substitute white wine for a slightly lighter sauce.

Here is our finished product!! These were wonderful!! They had a great flavor!!! MMMMMmmm!!! 


Oh but that was just the meat dish.....the real beauty of this meal was the stuffed mushrooms!  

Spicy Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms - yep you heard me Spinach! - Wade ate Spinach - and he liked it!!! I didn't tell him they were made with spinach  until he ate 5 or 6 of them....hehhehehehe!!!! 

§  24 ounces, weight White Mushrooms
§  1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
§  1 Tablespoon Butter
§  1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
§  1/2 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
§  Salt And Black Pepper To Taste
§  8 ounces, weight Cream Cheese, Softened
§  1/3 cup Sour Cream
§  1/2 cup Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
§  1/2 cup Grated Monterey Jack Or Farmer's Cheese
§  1 package (small) Chopped Spinach, Thawed
§  8 dashes Hot Sauce (I Used Choulula) Our dinner guest doesn't do hot sauce, so we didn't include this...still yummy! 

Preparation Instructions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Wash and dry mushrooms. Pull the stems off the mushrooms, then chop the stems finely. Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and chopped mushrooms stems and saute for several minutes, or until soft and starting to turn golden. Add panko crumbs, salt, and pepper. Stir and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Squeeze excess liquid out of thawed spinach. Set aside.
In a large bowl, add softened cream cheese, sour cream, grated cheeses, and the cooled mushroom/onion/panko mixture. Fold together to combine. Add spinach, a dash of salt, a little pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Fold together until combined.
Using a spoon, mound the mixture into the stemmed mushroom caps. Use the spoon to round the mixture on top. Place on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the mushrooms are cooked and the filling is hot. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Yummy!

Here is the link Spicy Stuffed Mushrooms

I can't tell you how wonderful these little suckers were!!! But man did I ruin my diet!! LOL so glad we served fresh green beans on the side!  And check out the Ol' Chuck Wagon Page for all those tasty recipes!  Kitchen Tested - Meat and Tater Boy approved! 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Farming and Ranching is Love

Have you heard about these books promoting vegan lifestyle to children?  The latest book is called Vegan is Love.  I first read about them in Drovers magazine, and then in an article written by Amanda Radke on the Beef magazine website.  I was trolling through the comment section (Click here for the full article) when I read this comment: “ It may be graphic and I would probably hesitate to show otto(?) (I assume they mean our)children, but is the depiction in these books untrue? At some point children should learn about slaughter. By James Saunders  on May 3, 2012

This comment struck me like lightening - stopped me in my tracks.  I had to ask myself - when did I learn about slaughter?  
I had to dig down deep in my recollections for my first experience to animal slaughter.  I think I was in kindergarten. We were at my grandma's house.  It was a chicken slaughter day. It was my chore to push my baby sister around in her stroller while the adults worked.  They killed, pluck, and gutted 50 + birds that day.  Nowhere in that memory could I recall my mom or dad sitting down and explaining to me what was going to happen or what I would see.   Did I ask questions about the process, yes! But they gave me answers I could understand. It didn't make me angry or sad that they were butchering chickens. I knew they were not pets - they were not like my dog Buddy, or the neighbor’s cat. I knew I liked chicken nuggets and they came from chickens.  It made sense, in my little kid brain.  It wasn’t cluttered with ideas about animal welfare, or the ethics of why we eat meat.  Because I was a kid!  Those are adult concepts!  Should children be taught about slaughter – YES by all means!  But are these books the answer - I'm not so sure.   I have yet to find and read one myself. So I can not offer a fair opinion on their content.  I can only offer my thoughts on teaching children about slaughter. 
Since that bygone day at my grandma’s house, I have been a part of several more butchering days.  Raising several butcher steers, and hogs. I went as far as taking a meat science class in college and learned the mechanics of the industry. In that class we butchered lambs, beef, and pork.  I made a point to work at every station, and get my hands dirty.  I will be blunt – it is not a pleasant job.  It’s not my favorite thing to do. But I learned that these animals have a purpose. They were raised to feed people. I cannot stress that point enough.
As farm kids raised with livestock we knew that these animals were not pets. Livestock are there to feed our families and others around the world. While we loved these animals, cared for and even named a few of them we knew what would happen in the end.  (I know I risk sounding hokey, or corny with this next statement.) Being raised on the farm we learned that cattle, hogs, sheep chicken, goats etc. have a noble purpose.  They die so that we may eat and nourish our bodies.   This is a very important thing to learn as a child, which is the concept we need to teach our children today.    Farming and Ranching is love!  I want to see that book on the shelf! 

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Sweet Rodeo Man

It was a hot morning, which would make for a hot afternoon
Heels and sundresses for church, - Praying that no one would get hurt
Jeans and boots for the rodeo
It was “call me when you are close, will meet you at the entrance,…I miss you”
Sitting in the bleachers – watching the boys as bull flanks are tied and riders mount
Pulling gates, bulls and broncs bustin’ out of the chutes
Climbing fences and busted knuckles

Dust, grime, sweat, blood, sunburned faces and smiles
Then it was back in the shade waiting for the next round
Talking with the men, the fighters, pickup men and stock contractors all friends
Shooting the bull and drinking cool beverages in the mid day heat
Talking and laughing about rank bulls and broncs of the past and rodeos to come
It was being pulled over to the pickup truck, “I’ve got something for you,” 
Picking up a bouquet of bright flowers from the rodeo gear in a makeshift soda bottle vase
Saying “I love you, Happy 6th Month Anniversary”
Sweet kisses away from the “guys”  
The flowers wilted by the heat, given by hands that were bandaged and bleeding
Hands that held mine, my sweet Rodeo Man.

By Elizabeth Martin 

The above describes our weekend.  Wade and I celebrated 6 wonderful months of marriage! 

This weekend - Wade worked at one of the high school rodeos.  He works for the stock contractor, so when he calls, Wade is on the road to help.  Typically he sorts stock, works chutes, and is aspiring to be a pickup man. 

The above photo is Wade (on the fence) and his best friend Tom.  Tom is a bull fighter.
Tom was one of Wades' groomsmen!  FYI he is a dancing fool! :) 

Tom at it again. 

One of the junior bulls and a junior high rider 

One of the bronc riders 

Breakaway Roping  - Loved her horse! 

Last Bull of the day! 

P.S. I'm linking up with Cowgirl Up! Linky Party!  Thanks girls! :) and Rural Thursday Blog Hop

Friday, May 4, 2012

Ol Chuck Wagon Update! - Burritos

This is one of those recipes that I threw together, with what I had on hand.
It's not really a Mexican dish its sorta-xican.    I didn't know if it would be worth a darn, so I didn't photograph it in the making.  But I surprised myself!  I love it when that happens.

Here are the ingredients...
1/2lb. of hamburger - or more - We LOVE beef!!
1 can of corn
1 can of black beans
1 can of diced tomatoes - not just any can but a can of Fire Roasted Tex Style diced tomatoes - they were amazing!!! Found them at Wal-Mart - it's new!
1 can of Queso cheese
Burritos shells or Tortilla Chips
Diced Onions - as desired
1/2 tsp of minced garlic
You will need a large skillet

So fry the burger, garlic (salt and pepper as desired), and onions together.  Drain and set aside.  Saute the corn in the same skillet as the beef - do this until the corn starts getting a little brown - almost like its grilled.  Drain black beans from the juices in the can.  Add beans, tomatoes, and ground beef.  Let it simmer. It will be really pretty at this point. Lots of color!
Mix in the can of queso cheese (as little or as much as you like) until bubbly - it will take on a texture of a dip.

This can be then wrapped in burrito shell or it's great with chips!  I just didn't have any in the pantry!

It was really good!! I liked that it still had a taco Mexican flavor with out the salty seasoning.  It made plenty for Wade and I and now we have leftovers.
Now I am not a food photographer -  So I apologize for the quality of the image.   Have a great weekend!!!

Be sure to check Ol' Chuck Wagon Page for more great recipes that are 
Kitchen Tested - Meat and Tater Boy approved! 

P.S. mosey on over to the Facebook fan page Circle the Wagons and check us out!  Lots of fun up to date articles and more randomness if you just can't get enough :)

Linking up with Two Maids A Milking!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I must-ache you a Question...

I apologize this is probably the most random post I have ever wrote. Not related to agriculture in any way shape or form.  It’s a topic of hot debate in our household.  The question is in the defense of facial hair – does your man have a mustache?   

A couple of weeks ago Wade left his shaving kit at my parent’s house.  So instead of going out and getting a little razor to use in the mean time -he decided to tuff it out, or scruff it out.  We have since rescued the shaving kit, yet the scruff remains; however, it is now trimmed and groomed.  I’m not sure how I feel about it. I am not complaining, and it is ultimately his decision.

Wade has pretty dark hair.  His “mustache” and surrounding facial hair is a mix of blond, and reddish brown. To be fair it is getting darker. There has been many a fine man own the mustache look – Tom Selleck, Sam Elliot, Burt Reynolds, Marty Robins, and even Alan Jackson.  My dad has a mustache, my uncles have mustaches, and Wade’s dad has a mustache.  So I can understand there is some mustache peer pressure…

                                                       Photo Courtsey of Google Images

But I have to know…facial hair – or no facial hair?  Love it or leave it?  What say you?

So until it reaches the point to be worthy to be listed among these great mustached men...or he decides to shave it off clean maybe I will just take photos of him from his best side. :) Just fooling!

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