As I was driving back from Springfield to Branson tonight, I was thinking about what to compose on this last blog, for my class that Ms. Johansen has taught. I have been attending Agriculture 399, a “public relations in agriculture” class this semester at Missouri State University. As I was driving down the highway and looking across into the valley where the Highway 76 strip meanders, I felt a sense of smallness as to the world around me. With the internet and its many sites, people can connect, talk, make business deals, send pictures instantly, watch funny videos and share life. As I admired the beautiful lights of the night, I compared the glow and sparkle to the internet. This class I was enrolled into, has made me aware of all the new and innovative tools we have at our fingertips, in the social media.
I am so grateful for the skype meeting of “Carrie Dairy” and all her advice. Her sense of humor and “down home” attitude brought some realistic expectations when I continue to use my WordPress account. I will keep my blog going and become more focused on my topic and grammar! Having this blog assignment, has forced me out of the comfort zone and to feel empowered with the internet! There were many evenings I spent at the coffee shop, consuming huge amounts of caffeine, typing out my thoughts about farming and the stewardship that is expected of us. With my many years of experience dealing with landowners and the USDA and the “city” folks I had to reach as a Park Naturalist….we as landowners, are being trusted to make the right choices. I have read many blogs on conservation and the wise use of our resources, and will continue to follow those blogs. My social media plan with the Turkey Creek Outdoors was a great assignment too! At first I thought it was overwhelming, but as I got into the project, I felt a sense of empowerment! I hope someday to use this strategy in a business of my own. In closing for now, I am happy I took this class, and I hope to see some of my classmates blogging in the future! Thank you!
As a State Park Naturalist at Roaring River State Park I had the opportunity to participate in the dye tracing at the headwaters of Roaring River Spring. Roaring River State Park is located in Barry County South of Cassville Missouri and this story will become a full circle as you will read on. We placed phosphorescent dyes in many sinkholes around in the suspected drainage area of the spring. The landforms that surround this area to the north is mainly rolling farmable land with thousands sinkholes or “recharge” areas to the many caves and springs in Barry County. To no surprise and after a good rain the dye traces were showing up down the path to Roaring River Spring. This issue of water drainage in the area soon became a future earthquake, in the following topic of Poultry Production in Southwest Missouri.
As the number of poultry farms became larger in the county, it made for many individuals to sit up and take notice. The phrase “Not in My Backyard,” became a daily phone call into the United States Department of Agriculture and that is where my second job came into play. I was hired by the Natural Resources Conservation Service as a soil technician to understand, educate and deal with the many issues that was becoming a large mountain of chickens. As I wrote in a past blog we were having many problems with the proper way of disposal of those chickens that died in the process of just being in a confined poultry house. After seeing what was going on around the county and the complaints of neighbors and even the smell of those chicken houses, now we were dealing with the extra nitrates from the excessive spreading of chicken litter or manure. I heard this time and time again…”If a little chicken litter was good fertilizer, a lot was even better!” Unfortunately we saw way too much nitrogen and phosphorus flowing into Roaring River Spring, which also feeds into Table Rock Lake. Just like when the Department of Natural Resources had to get involved with the dead bird composting for the poultry houses along came the “wise use” of the chicken litter spreading policies that had to be geared and implemented towards the poultry growers and “parent” companies they belonged to. The DNR was handed the teeth to chomp down on the excessive waste produced by the poultry producers and the USDA came into play by teaching and assisting these growers of the new laws handed down to them by the agencies involved. As USDA employees, we were to find and encourage with much tact, all the poultry growers in the area and invite them to become “stewards” of the land they were managing. The growers had guidelines to follow as far as to when, how much, and to whom they sold their litter too. They had to follow a plan on what land was used for chicken litter spreading and engage with their neighbors to smooth down a hostile environment. Because of a few poultry growers for example, spreading chicken litter on Sundays, on top of well heads, on neighboring yards, the local roads, ditches, at night, even neighbor clothes lines…it was just a cloud of “overspray” and “disgust” that gave all the poultry growers a black eye. Once the litter plans were implemented and our poultry neighbors became aware of the danger even to their animals eating the heavily fertilized soil, life with neighboring chicken farmers, became a little more tolerable. The best invention to the chicken litter management problem was with the building of “stacking sheds” or huge open air barns to store the chicken litter to keep it in the dry. It is best to be stored for spreading at a more suitable time like when the plants can use the fertility in the Spring and Summer months, not December! In closing to this huge enterprise, we are as farmers able to feed America and the world cheaply and with safety. I would hate to buy a chicken that is hanging in an open air market like you see in third world countries.
Dairy Carrie from Wisconsin came to our Agr. 399 class thru Skype, Wednesday November 13, 2013. She had mentioned that she was just outside tending to the dairy chores that occur daily on the three hundred acre farm that she lives on. Carrie has been blogging for about two years now and she has received a lot attention due to her style and humor about her life on the farm and some of the “hot” topics she has addressed about Agriculture. Her first really big challenge was when the movie star Ryan Gosling, paid by PETA, commented on dehorning cattle. She found the article extremely ridiculous therefore she replied to Gosling about the dehorning of cattle with poise, humor and education. Carrie mentioned that you should treat everyone that blogs with respect and not to attack their integrity. Her main goal in her blogging site is to present transparency in Agriculture and dealing with some of the false or misleading articles that arise daily in the news. Carrie said that you need to write from your heart and not to write in the 3rd person, but to write like you talk and make it somewhat humorous. I asked her if her husband was bothered by her spending so much time on the computer and internet and she mentioned that he and the family were a little tested by the amount of time but they realize she can shut off her phone. Carrie said that she will post on her Facebook one or two times a day and the topic is usually leading up to her blog that she writes once a week. She uses her Facebook as a tool to guide followers to her blog and she keeps the interest by posting a picture of every new baby calf that is born on the farm. Carrie is already comfortable with the internet because she used to have an online clothing site and she is now selling many articles of clothing related to being “Dairy Carrie” and I have to say the clothing line hits home and is very clever! Carrie first found out how powerful her social media was when she was empowered to formulate a hay drive to Oklahoma and Texas two years ago when those cattle farmers were in dire need of feed for their cattle because of the drought. She was able to round up seven semi-trailer loads of hay to move down the highway to those farmers. Being on Ag Chat is another avenue for Carrie with her approach in the dairy business and how the future of Agriculture needs to be proactive instead of reactive. Carrie was able to stop the advertisement campaign from Panera Bread Company when they were showing poultry growers as mega companies pumping antibiotics into their chickens. I guess seeing and listening is believing and I have been fortunate to learn about the Word Press blogging site and meeting a “real” person attached to the computer has made me want to use this tool in the future for my Agriculture business.