Alyssa the Goat Girl

The future of agriculture is bright.


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When You’re Close to Graduating, But You Can’t Yet

Last night my roommate and I figured out every single graduation ceremony we would have to attend for the next three semesters. I don’t know why we felt the need to do it, we both had a lot of things to do and we have three months before even the first of those ceremonies. Yet, we did.

My current roommate and I at Missouri State’s Student Orientation, Advisement and Registration session in the summer of 2014. I would later spend a summer working for this program.

It’s a weird sensation to be at the point we are in college. You’re not new, but you’re also not all that far away from graduating. Life after graduation is just out of reach, but you’re not sure if you actually want to experience it or not. In addition, while you’re at the point to be thinking about internships and the like, you’re a little too far away to do anything towards securing a job or an acceptance to graduate school. So you kind of just sit and twiddle your thumbs.

I will graduate in December of 2017 (if all goes as planned), and while that is not that far away, it also is. Each time I tell someone that this is my plan they ask the dreaded question, “And what will you do after that?” At this point, that is such a hard question to answer, “Well I want to go to [insert graduate program here] but first I have to take the GRE, and then apply, and then get accepted, and then hopefully find funding,” or “I hope to work at [insert company] but I have no idea if they’ll have an opening at my time of graduation or if I’ll be qualified for that opening or if they’ll even like me or if…”

Some people are lucky enough to have their future laid out. Maybe they already work somewhere that has offered them a full-time position, or a place they previously interned has a history of hiring their former interns or they’re staying at their current university for graduate school. But most of us don’t have that. So we sit around, and twiddle our thumbs, and do our homework, and wait for the day that we can do something tangible toward graduating.

Trying to do something tangible towards graduation–my first day working for the organization I’m interning with this summer.

I’m not saying that any of this is bad, you have to pay your dues, take your classes, and get the credits in order to graduate. It’s not handed to you. It’s just a weird place to be.

Until next time,

Peace out and laugh a little.

Alyssa

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” -Theodore Roosevelt


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When Farm Kids Move to College

So you’re a high school senior. If you’re thinking about heading to college within

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One of my senior pictures featuring one of our goat kids. (Photo by Trisha Harrington)

the next year, you probably have a lot of emotions running through your head. Excitement for this new step in your life, anxiety about leaving your family, and anticipation for all of the changes you are about to experience.

 

As a self-declared college expert (three years of college and a summer as an orientation leader makes me an expert, right?), I felt all of these emotions and more not that long ago. One thing that I did not anticipate was how big of an adjustment it would be transitioning from living on my family’s small farm fifteen minutes from town to living in the center of a bustling city. While Missouri State University is located in a larger city a lot of other universities, I would hazard to guess that this transition is not a Springfield, MO, exclusive.

Get to the point, Alyssa! HOW do I make this transition less difficult?

Fine, fine, I’ll quit beating around the bush. There were three ways that I made this transition less difficult:

1. I majored in agriculture.

You know I had to say it. Majoring in agriculture helped dramatically to make the farm-to-town transition. Not only was I immediately introduced to others who understood the struggles I was facing in adjusting to city life, I also had access to the school farm and you can bet that on a few days when the stress was really getting to me I went out there just to

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I try to get out and visit new places when I have the time, like this train bridge in Kirksville, MO.

be near the cattle and horses.

 

2. I acquainted myself with the local parks.

Where I’m from, forests and woodland areas run rampant. Sometimes just spending a quiet afternoon at a park or walking the trails at the local nature center is enough to calm me when I ‘m stressed. Plus, it’s always a relief to get out of the shadow of big buildings and go off the pavement.

3. I went home once a month.

As a university orientation leader, encouraging our students to stay on campus and not go home too often was one of the number one things that we talked about on a day-to-day basis. It is so tempting as a first-semester college student to want to go home every weekend. You want to see your family, you want to see your pets, you want to see your livestock, and you want to drive down a gravel road. However, going home too often makes the college adjustment even harder. It makes it much more difficult to go back each week and even more difficult to make friends. In the college environment, while acquaintances are met in the classroom,

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Just a few hours of sitting where you can’t hear a highway can do a lot when you’re homesick.

friendships are solidified outside the classroom on the weekends.

 

While of course these tips aren’t a sure-fire way to make your transition seamless, I hope that if you follow them they will make your farm-to-city transition a little less difficult and make your four (or more!) years at college enjoyable.

Until next time,

Peace out and laugh a little,

Alyssa

“You cannot have a happy, healthy and peaceful continent without food.” –John Muhaise-Bikalemesa


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Social Media in Ag: Tips from a Non-Expert

If you’re anything like me, your phone is always going off, notifying you of someone’s most recent tweet or someone else’s current Facebook Live broadcast or maybe another person’s Instagram post. Social media is everywhere, and it is kind of starting to take over our lives. While some individuals continue to resist the call of the interwebs, the rest of us continuously find ourselves sucked into the sites.

In agriculture, a wave of social media presence and advocacy is beginning to hit. More and

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Pictures like this one of myself and one of my show does help give social media posts a touch of personality.

more farms are realizing the advantages of having a social media presence and an increasing number of agriculturalists are realizing the importance of using social media to advocate for the industry. Operations like Hummel Livestock are using Facebook to reach over 33,000 interested parties to sell their livestock and promote their farm name. Individuals like The Farmer’s Wifee, Dairy Carrie, Food and Swine, and Natalina Sents, are using blogging in addition to multiple social media platforms to tell their story and the stories of others and advocate for agriculture.

 

With the majority of the American population 2-3 generations removed from the farm and less than 2% of the workforce involved in production agriculture, both advocacy and farm pages are gaining importance by sharing intimate looks at everyday farm life to people who have never set foot on a farm or touched a pig. In addition, these social media pages help those involved in agriculture build their “tribe” or support system of others all across the country facing similar challenges that they are in agriculture.

So how does an individual in agriculture use social media successfully?

Social media usage can be a mystery to unfamiliar with how to use it and how to build an audience. Remember, Rome was not built in a day, so rely on your tribe when you’re struggling to feel like what you are doing is making a difference.

I reached out to some members of my tribe on Twitter for social media tips. Check out what they said below!

So, don’t just take it from me (even though as a millennial it’s automatically assumed that I am a social media expert), take it from them! Be authentic, be yourself, be kind, be intentional. That doesn’t sound too different from how we should be interacting in the real world, does it? Go set up your social media accounts, find your tribe, and immerse yourself in the world of the Internet.

Until next time,

Peace out and laugh a little,

Alyssa

“Life on the farm is a school of patience; you can’t hurry the crops or make an ox in two days.” ~Henry Alain


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Apparently, I’m a Mommy Blogger

This week I’ve spent a few days at the Ag Chat Foundation’s Cultivate & Connect Conference. It’s so inspiring to be surrounded by so many prominent food and agriculture bloggers and social media masters (largely women!) who are really. making. a. difference.

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Myself and a friend experimenting with the conference Snapchat filters.

(Check some of them out: The Farmers Wifee, Food and Swine, Sow Momma).

 

One of the most humorous events of the trip was when, after live-tweeting conference sessions (as all communicators are prone to do), I was added to two Twitter lists entitled, “Mommy Bloggers.” As most of my friends, readers, and the general public know, I am not a mommy blogger. In fact, I’m missing the most important part–children.

This occurrence prompted myself and the two other young, unmarried, childless, millennials I was attending the conference with to discuss how difficult it is to blog and #shareyouragstory when you aren’t on the farm daily to take photos and share stories. In addition, just the presence of children on your farm and in your life can make fun and interesting photos that the general public loves to see.

So how do young millennials in college or living off the farm advocate for agriculture? I took to Twitter to answer my question:

These three pieces of advice are so beneficial if you are a collegiate (or another young millennial)  wanting to talk about your experiences growing up in the agricultural industry, and what you are learning about every day in such a dynamic industry.

My own personal challenge will be to follow the first piece of advice: get on video. Video is a medium that I am currently uncomfortable with, yet it can share both fun and beautiful moments in a whole new way (Check out some agriculture advocates who are killer at sharing their story via video: Farmer Derek Klingenberg and the Peterson Farm Bros).

This conference inspired me to try to blog more, so hopefully you’ll be hearing from me a lot more in the future! But until next time,

Peace out, laugh a little, and thank a farmer.

Alyssa

“The Farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a Farmer.” – Will Rogers


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If you’re an ag major, why are you in college?

“You’re an ag major, right? …so why are you in college?” I was asked this question the other day by a co-worker and after first infuriating me, it got me thinking. I am not even going to address the borderline major-shaming (which, I admit, I am also guilty of. And need to stop–for all majors), but instead focus on answering the question.

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The gorgeous vegetables at the Soulard Farmers Market in St. Louis, MO, would not be possible without agriculturalists.

I am studying agriculture in college because without a college education, it would be very difficult for me (or my peers) to figure out how to communicate to consumers about what happens in the agricultural industry so that everyone understands where their food comes from.

I am studying agriculture in college because it is pretty difficult to develop an effective feeding program, or determine the appropriate amount and type of fertilizer to use without first knowing basic science and mathematics.

I am studying agriculture in college because it is going to be hard to feed 9 billion people by 2050 without knowledge or research about agricultural technologies or efficient growing practices.

I am studying agriculture in college because as an agricultural communications major, I need to learn how to write articles, conduct radio interviews, design websites, manage social media pages, and so much more.

Others may study agriculture in college because they need to know how the reproductive tract of a heifer works in order to ensure that she has a safe and healthy pregnancy.

Others may study agriculture in college because they want to ensure that our wildlife and natural resources stay around for years to come.

Others may study agriculture in college because they need to know how to produce a safe food product for America’s consumers.

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Animal science majors may be in college to learn about proper livestock care.

Others may study agriculture in college because they want to ensure that their livestock animals live the healthiest and safest life that they can.

Why are pre-medical majors in college? Or accounting majors? Or education majors? Or music majors? Or psychology majors? Or any other major, for that matter (okay, I guess I am kind of addressing major shaming)? Because they want to be able to have a career in a field that they are passionate about someday, and because they want to learn more about it.

Without agriculture majors, you would not have food on your table or clothes on your back. You would not even have the wood that makes up your house. Agriculture majors are part of what makes it possible for Americans to enjoy the luxuries that we have. It’s pretty hard to enjoy your new iPhone when you have to worry about putting food on your table.

Until next time,

Peace out, laugh a little, and thank a farmer.

Alyssa

Are you an agriculture major? Share why you chose to major in agriculture in the comments below!


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Winter Isn’t ‘Kidding’ Around

After most of December seemed like spring, winter has finally hit the

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Flooding in Missouri wreaked havoc across the state this December. The picture above would normally contain a gravel road.

country in full force. Here in the midwest, it began with the torrendous flooding that wreaked terrible damage on homes, roads, and farms. The flooding turned into days that Jack Frost himself likely christened. In states like Texas and New Mexico, Winter Storm Goliath hit with a fury that has resulted in huge losses; reports estimate that over 35,000 dairy cows died during the snowstorm. In an area not used to snow, the blizzard was devastating.

Luckily on our farm, the weather has not caused much damage. The pastures are a little more wet than normal, and the goats seem mildly annoyed at the inconvenience.

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Goats first: immediately after school my siblings begin chores in order to finish before it is dark. Although I am no longer there for daily chores, I am still expected to pitch in when I am home from school.

Our daily routine consists of checking to make sure the animals have water religiously, making sure each group of animals gets fed, and counting and recounting the herd of pregnant mamas to make sure one has not wandered off to have her babies.

Therein lies the one frustration that has been on our minds lately: none of our does have kidded. I especially have been anxious for the kids to be born, because I want to see all the babies before I go back to school for second semester. However, as much as I wish the kids came when I want them to, they come when they are ready. And so far, they are not.

This means that we count the does multiple times a day: morning, early afternoon, and chore time. Lately, if one of the does look like they will go into labor soon (which honestly, they all do), we check that individual even more often. Lightning, the doe we are all convinced that will kid first, is examined every few hours for evidence of babies. But still, we wait.

Once the babies are born, their safety will be our family’s biggest concern. Immediately following their birth, they and their dam (AKA their mama)

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Pepper (left) is one of the best LGDs we’ve owned. She takes her job very seriously. Hercules (right), on the other hand, does not.

will be moved to a stall inside the barn in order to to bond and get their strength before facing the cold weather outside. Once they are a few days to a week old (as long as they are completely healthy), they will be turned out into to pasture so that they can run and play.

In order to keep them safe from predators, our veteran Large Guardian Dog (LGD), Pepper, lives and eats with them. Pepper watches over the herd to protect them from other dogs, coyotes, or other threats. She is such a good guardian that once when she had a litter of puppies, she let two bottle baby goat kids sleep, play, and even nurse with her pups.

But even though everything is in place for the kids to arrive, still they hold off much to my anxiety. But I guess the saying is true: good things come to those who wait.

Until next time,

Peace out, laugh a little, and thank a farmer.

Alyssa

“Cultivators are the most valuable citizens, they are tied to their country.” ~President Thomas Jefferson


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You Might Be an Ag Major If…

Some things just aren’t normal unless you’re getting a degree in agriculture.

…you have serious conversations about AI, ET, and breeding cycles.

I’m taking my semen tank to the neighbors later. We’re getting the cows all synced in order to AI (Artificially Inseminate) later this fall. I think I’ll use *insert name here* as my clean up bull this year. She’s a flushmate to that Grand Champion ram. All of these statements are pretty normal for agriculture majors…they just earn you some weird looks when visiting the College of Business.

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We know the difference between “cage free,” “cage-free,” and “all natural.”

…you check out sale catalogs during class.

Next Sunday there’s a Boer Production Sale in Indiana. That’s pretty far away, but still doesn’t hurt to check out the pedigrees…wait, when’s the homework due??

…any friends you knew prior to going to college you met through 4-H or FFA.

How do you know them? We competed against each other in a 4-H speech competition when we were 8.

…“dressing up” tends to mean jeans and boots.

Unless otherwise specified. C’mon, these are my nice jeans.

…at least three of your friends drive lifted trucks.

The higher the lift kit the closer to Jesus?

…you know the actual difference between organic and non-organic.

Also “cage free”, “cage-free” and “all natural.” And no, it’s not a difference in nutritional value.

…it’s not just cows, plows, and sows.

Agriculture is food, fiber, and natural resources. The clothes on your back, the food on your table, and the wood that built your house–all agriculture.

Until next time,

Peace out, laugh a little, and thank a farmer,

Alyssa