Why Does Science Matter?

This summer I put myself through 8 weeks of Organic Chemistry. As an Animal Science major, I am

How could organic chemistry matter to a cattle farmer?

How could organic chemistry matter to a cattle farmer?

required to take several chemistry, biology, and any other “ology” class you can think of. Sometimes I wonder why it is necessary for someone like me, who wants to study beef cattle to learn about Newman projection of molecules, or the official IUPAC nomenclature for organic compounds. How can knowledge of organic chemistry be of any benefit to me as a cattle producer? Or maybe a better question to ask is how does science, specifically scientific advancements in beef production result in a higher quality, lower cost beef product for you to purchase at the grocery store?
In these next few weeks in my blog posts I want to “geek out” and talk about the simple science behind how beef gets from the farm to your fork, and why you should care about what research is being done to make advances in the animal science field.
What I came to discover these past few weeks is that science does matter, even organic chemistry. As we all know, science has led to inventions that have allowed our country and world to make huge advancements. But agriculture has had its fair share of advancements due to science as well.
Many times science and technology are grouped together in the same boat. While they both lead to similar results (a safer, more efficiently produced, higher quality product) I don’t think that they should always be thought of in the same context. We need them both, but science and technology play different roles in the beef cattle industry.
Science and technology are allowing farmers to produce higher quality beef

Science and technology are allowing farmers to produce higher quality beef

The science of beef cattle can span as broad a range as you want to explore. But these next few weeks I want to focus on reproduction, nutrition, health, and food safety. I will also touch on some new technologies that are being researched and used in beef cattle production that are allowing farmers to reach further in their pursuit of high quality beef production.
Even though I am completely in love with everything science, I am still intimidated by the big words, and concepts that don’t make sense. That’s why I want to break down those barriers and find the simple science behind better beef.
How does science take beef from farm to fork?

How does science take beef from farm to fork?


Join me as I start asking the question, “Why does science matter?”

Rachael

Five “Must Know” Grilling Tips for Steak

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.16.28 PMYesterday, I had the opportunity to give a beef cooking demonstration at the Ohio State Fair, showing consumers how to prepare beef with confidence. For my cooking segment, I chose to prepare Strip Steaks and a classic chimichurri sauce.

Now, I am by no means a grill expert, and my gourmet cooking skills could definitely use more practice; but perhaps that’s why so many fairgoers gathered around as I performed my demonstration. Certainly, if a 19-year-old college girl could cook a perfect steak, so could they! Here are my top 5 “must know” grilling tips for preparing the ideal steak.

 Hot, Hot, Hot!
Whether you are using a grill, skillet, or griddle, you always want your cooking surface to be extremely hot before placing on your steaks. This will help you to create a perfect “crust” around your steaks, and in return, they will cook to perfection.

 Oil the Steak, Not the Grate
Rather than greasing up your pan or grill slats, brush a little olive oil onto both sides of your steaks before cooking. This will prevent your beef from sticking to your cooking surface and help your seasonings stay on, as well.

 Avoid Excessive Flipping
By only flipping once, you will prevent your beef from drying out and becoming tough. Cook your steaks for 8 – 9 minutes, and then flip. To get those marvelous diamond grill marks, start by laying your beef diagonally on the grill and after 5 minutes, rotate at a 45° angle and continue cooking. When you turn your beef over, you will have picture perfect grill, marks every time!

 Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.12.29 PMUse a meat thermometer
Don’t trust a timer or your own touch to guess when your steaks are finished. Use a meat thermometer to be confident that your beef has reached the proper internal temperature and is safe to serve. Remember that Medium Rare is 145°F, Medium is 160°F, and Well Done is 170°. Anything less is mooing, anything more is shoe leather.

Rest!
After removing from the heat, always allow your steaks to rest for 10 – 12 minutes before cutting into them. This will allow all the beef juices to settle back into the meat and will end up on your taste buds, rather than in a puddle on your plate.

By using these 5 pointers, you’ll have your friends and family convinced that you are king (or queen) of the grill!

All for the Love of Beef,
Sierra Jepsen

What I Learned Traveling as a National Beef Ambassador

As National Beef Ambassadors, a big part of our responsibility is to travel the nation and promote beef at assorted venues such as races, fairs, cooking and “foodie” events, campus events, etcetera. Our trips are coordinated through various states’ beef councils, CattleWomen groups, collegiate CattleWomen/men organizations, American National CattleWomen, National Cattlemen’s Beef Board, and others. Essentially, anywhere that we can promote beef to large volumes of people (or really any volumes of people), we’ll be there. Through these travels-most of which are at least a seven hour plane ride from California (not to mention hours and hours of layovers and even a sleepover at the Seattle airport)-I have learned several things:
1. Starbucks employees are trained to read name tags. It took several instances of me feeling very confused/frightened as to how my name was on the cup without me giving it to them.
2. The buckles are always a conversation-starter. People will go out of their way to come up to me and ask about my buckle in an airport–it’s awesome! image
3. Every security guard has a clever joke about beef. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “What do you call a cow with two legs?…Lean Beef!” (And I always laugh like it’s the first time I’ve heard it because security guards intimidate me).
4. There’s no better time to strike up a conversation with someone than when you’re sitting by them on a plane, and there’s no reason that conversation shouldn’t be about beef. I always explain what the National Beef Ambassadors are and if they lose interest, I ask if they have favorite cut of beef. That always gets them going.
5. Perhaps most importantly, traveling as a National Beef Ambassador has made me much more conscientious of how I’m acting and how I’m treating other people. As a representative of the nation’s beef industry, I need to be friendly and professional at all times. Now, even when I’m traveling for personal reasons, I find myself being more aware of my actions.
I’ve absolutely loved all of the conversations I’ve had while traveling this year. It has truly been one of my favorite parts of this journey as a National Beef Ambassador. Stay tuned for social media updates this weekend as Justana and I travel to New Jersey for the Atlantic City Food & Wine event.
Emma

A Farmer’s Vacation

For the average person, scheduling a vacation is an exciting and jittery activity!

But for a farmer or rancher, scheduling a vacation goes a little something like this:

 When is a good time to take a vacation?

The vacations you plan around the farming schedule turn out to be the most memorable!

The vacations you plan around the farming schedule turn out to be the most memorable!

Never! In the summer, there is hay to mow, calves to wean and grain to haul, in addition to the other projects that accumulate throughout the year. In the spring, farmers plant, in the fall, they harvest, and the winter is spent trudging through snow, mud and ice ensuring that the cattle are fed and that they are able to calve safely and comfortably. For a farmer, each day relies on variables that are out of their control, making vacation time very unsettling and nerve racking. Just the thought of being out of reach from the farm in case of emergency is enough to send any agriculturalist “unpacking.”

 When is a good time to depart?
When all the chores are done, of course! It’s often hard to convince a farmer to leave his or her work and ensure them that everything will still be the same when they get back, because you simply can’t promise that! The best thing to do is have a trustworthy individual watch over the farm while the farmer is away and make sure they understand that they will probably receive phone calls, text messages, emails, and carrier pigeons (depending on how remote the vacation location is) inquiring about how everything is back home.

What is the weather going to be like?
When farmers and ranchers scan the weather radar before departing for a getaway, it isn’t because they are concerned that a pop up shower may interfere with their afternoon vacation agenda. Producers always like to know what conditions are scheduled to be like at home so they are prepared before they leave. If it is going to be hot and dry, they move their cattle to pastures with access to lots of shade and continuous access to water. If it’s going to be cold and snowy, farmers secure all the barn doors, lay an extra thick layer of clean bedding and provide a fresh bale of hay.

What should you expect once you are at your final destination?
To have a great time and finally enjoy yourself! However, be aware that a farmer’s mind will always wander back to the farm with thoughts such as, “Should I have filled the creep feeders one more time? The electric fence was working, right? Can that grain wait to be hauled until Monday?” And the list goes on and on! These are simply signs that farmers and ranchers are biologically programmed to care for their land and livestock, and even when they are supposed to be taking a break, those responsibilities continue to be their number one priority.

This past weekend, my family made time to go fishing in between our summer responsibilities.

This past weekend, my family made time to go fishing in between our summer responsibilities.

Having the luxury of dropping everything and taking a vacation is something that many people take for granted. Farmers and ranchers do schedule time for themselves throughout the year, but it requires a lot of careful planning and consideration. Very few times do farmers and ranchers actually stop to recognize the importance of their profession or the impact they have on everyday life; they simply know what needs to be done and they take it upon themselves to be there at any hour of the day, night, or year to ensure their farming operation is managed in the most safe and responsible manner.

To farmers and ranchers everywhere, take time this summer to spend with your family and friends! The cows will understand.

All for the Love of Beef,
Sierra Jepsen

“You act like you were raised in a barn…”

‘People say “you act like you were raised in a barn” like it’s a bad thing. I was raised in a barn, and that’s where I learned the most important lessons in life. I watched life begin and end in a barn. I discovered hard work builds character and killed no one. I learned respect, love, and compassion. I realized sometimes optimism is the only way to keep going. I found sometimes you have to let go even when it breaks your heart. I dreamed and learned to never give up on those dreams. I failed and kept trying until I succeeded. I gained confidence in myself and my abilities. I understand you have to stand for what you believe in. The next time someone tells you that you act like you were raised in a barn, thank them because I can’t think of a better compliment.’

Disclaimer: I did not write this quote. I searched unsuccessfully to find the original author. If you know who wrote this, please let me know so I can give them credit. But in any event, it is so True!!

I was raised in a barn,

Rachael

Do farm signs mislead customers? What else are we missing?

My guest blogger this week is Ryan Goodman. Ryan lives in Helena, MT and comes from an Arkansas cattle ranching family. Since growing up on a family cow/calf and stocker-calf operation, he has spent the last several years learning about farming systems across the country. Ryan is a graduate of Oklahoma State and is currently working on a Master’s degree from the University of Tennessee. He works continuously to share his story of ranch life through community outreach and social media, all while encouraging others in agriculture to do the same. Ryan is the Manager of Communications for the Montana Stockgrowers Association

One of the first things noted when I began my blogging efforts back in 2009, was the fact that so much is taken for granted in the way of knowledge and experiences when sharing my story of ranch life.

Over the past few years, I have received so many questions asking me to explain what a term, phrase, or object is. I often take it for granted that everyone else know what that object is used for, simply because I have used it my entire life. This is so true, that the subject of my most popular blog posts is often a simple explanation of things used or referred to frequently in farm or ranch life.

open cattle guard

According to the Illinois Farm Bureau blog, ILFB.org, a 2010 survey of 1,109 Illinois residents found “those surveyed believed 54 percent of farms were owned by corporations based on what they had seen on TV, commercials, and signs along farm fields.” Could something as simple as crop variety signs on our farms be misleading to passers-by?

For many involved in agriculture, we recognize these roadside signs as displaying the different crop varieties planted. It provides a simple, easy to identify visual of how different varieties of crops are performing. However, to many non-farm consumers, these signs may be perceived differently. IFB found that many see the signs as displaying the owner of the farms, often as mega-corporations instead of family operations.

illinois farm road sign

One Illinois family took charge to fix this problem by adding some personalization to their roadside signs.

What farm terms, signs, objects, or practices do we take for granted and assume everyone else understands their meaning?

Next time you are explaining your work on the farm, or trying to think of a new blog post topic, remember to explain some of the simple things or ask your audience to make sure they understand what it is you are discussing.

Enjoying summer,

Rachael

Meals For Monday: World Cup Style!

The World Cup came to an exciting conclusion yesterday as Germany defeated Argentina 1-0 in their second overtime. These teams have played extremely well throughout the tournament and are extremely deserving of celebration; why not do it with beef? Here is a simple recipe to try tonight for dinner that will really score with your family!
Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 8.35.24 AM
Argentina Beef Empanadas

1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes with mild green chiles, well drained
1 box Pillsbury™ refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (2 oz)
1 egg, beaten

Heat oven to 400°F. In 12-inch skillet, cook beef and onion over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in chili powder, salt and tomatoes. Remove from heat.

On ungreased large cookie sheet, unroll pie crusts. Spoon about 2 cups beef mixture onto half of each crust, spreading to within 1/2 inch of edge. Top each with 1/4 cup cheese.

Brush edge of each crust with beaten egg. Fold untopped half of each crust over filling; press edge with fork to seal. Cut slits in several places in top of each; brush with beaten egg.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into wedges to serve.

All for the Love of Beef,
Sierra Jepsen

Beef Fuels Boilermaker

This weekend, Justana, Tori and I were given the opportunity to assist the New York Beef Council at the 2014 Boilermaker Race Expo in Utica, New York. The Boilermaker 15K (9.3 mile) race is the biggest one in the entire nation, with thousands of runners and over $40,000 offered in prizes. They also offer a 5K (3.1 miles), a three mile walk, and a children’s race. The Expo takes place during the two days before the race, and is a time for sponsors to promote their cause.  The Beef Ambassadors joined the Beef Council at the beef

The spice bar

The spice bar

booth (really it’s an entire aisle if beef-related promoters), where we served two different beef spices: “Chill-Out” beef chili seasoning and “Mama Mia” Italian steak rub. People got a recipe and a spice bag, and got it put a scoop of each individual spice into their bag to create the seasonings. This interactive method of promoting beef allowed for many conversations; the line was practically to the door.

 

The Boilermaker Burger

The Boilermaker Burger

The New York Beef Council not only supports the race, but has also developed a “Boilermaker Burger.” The burger is served at local restaurants for only 5 weeks, as a promotion for both beef and the race, and is somewhat of a novelty item. This year, for every burger sold, $0.50 went to the Food Bank of Central New York.

While promoting beef and seeing all of the competitors was a blast,I think the most excitement came from the anticipation or running the 5K. That’s right, the three of us who have never ran three miles in our lives were going to wake up at 5 am Sunday morning and join over a thousand other runners in the 2014 Boikermaker 5 kilometer race!! The thought was both exhilarating and terrifying, but we knew we had to do it for Team Beef. And we did! All three of us (and over 100 other Team Beef runners spread out through both races) finished the race-and ran the whole thing to boot! It was such a fantastic experience and encouraged me to enter more races as a part of team beef. It was a beautiful weekend in Utica, and though I wasn’t expecting to run three miles before boarding my plane, I couldn’t be more happy or proud that I did!

imageHave a great week!

Emma

Coyboy Christmas

This past weekend my family and I had an awesome Fourth of July celebration. Like Americans everywhere, cattlemen and cowboys love to celebrate and honor our countries independence and freedom.

Texas fourth of Julys aren’t known for their fireworks and cookouts, but the 4th of July rodeos, “Cowboy Christmas.”  Although we all enjoy our cookouts and firework displays, those all come before or after a rodeo. Numerous small towns host their own rodeos. Not only do these rodeos bring lots of fun and entertainment, most of them carry long thought of traditions and showcase much of their communities history.

Ranch rodeos are a big part of the Fourth of July where I’m from. Ranch rodeos are different than your average rodeo. The Ranch Rodeos are an event that serves as a living tribute to our Texas heritage. They promote our unique history and the western lifestyle by featuring competition between real cowboys from real working ranches. The cowboys and their ranch horses compete in five events that showcase the necessary skills and know how ranch hands practice daily on today’s ranches. The Ranch Rodeo’s events require the same teamwork ranch hands use in their everyday lives.image

This past weekend my brother, Kater, was on a junior ranch rodeo team (all team members must be under the age of 16) at the Saints’ Roost Ranch Rodeo Celebration in Clarendon, Texas. This is just one more way to not only honor our country but also keep a “working” legend alive.

 

I hope you and your family had a fantastic celebration!

Beef & Blessings,

Justanaimage

Raising my second calf

I kept asking my mother to get me a milk cow. I assured her that I would milk it two times every day and we would like to drink the milk, make ice cream, make yogurt, and make butter. She kept denying my request. But she did take me on a field trip to the University of Tennessee Dairy Research Station in Lewisburg, TN where they have a herd of Jersey cows. These beautiful light brown cows are raised and milked by university staff and researchers. I learned about how the cows are raised, the health routine including vaccines, and how the milk is processed. The farm manager even let me help with the feeding. Now I really wanted to take one of these lovely ladies home!

jersey calf

Instead, we got a bull calf. Because the research station is studying milk production and mastitis, they sell the bull calves when they are born. So on a cold November morning right before Thanksgiving, we got the call that we were to come pick up our calf. We jumped in the truck and headed to the station. And there he was! He had been born in the early morning and was just waiting for me! On the way home we stopped at the TN Farmer’s Coop to buy a bag of Calf Milk Replacer (think baby formula in a 50# bag), bottle (1 qt size) and nipples.

I fed my calf two times each day and he grew quickly! After 2 bags of milk replacer I weaned him to hay and calf grain. Soon he was ready!

Jerseys are know for their milk production, and especially for the high butter fat content of their milk. They were once considered the ideal milk cow for the family farm because of the smaller size but good milk production. And their milk, with the high butter fat content, made excellent cheese and butter. But Jersey bulls and steers are good meat producers. The meat has a lower fat content, although is marbled so is very tasty.