Archive: November 2015

Women in Ag: Animal Health Territory Manager, Carmen Stevens

Carmen Stevens is a native Idahoan, and has lived in Gooding County for most of her life. She and her husband, Ben, have three children and one grandson.

How are you involved in agriculture and/or beef industry today? I am a Senior Technical Sale Representative for Bayer Animal Health. I work all across Idaho, Montana and Utah, calling on veterinarians, distributors, dealers and producers.

How has your life been shaped by agriculture and/or beef industry? As long as I can remember, I have loved livestock. When I was a young girl we had a foal that was injured and right then and there, I decided I wanted to be a veterinarian. I did not fulfill that dream, but that dream has been great help in guiding my life. Chances are I had no chance—loving agriculture is in my blood. My father’s family was Basque, and my mother came to Idaho as a young woman to teach school from Missouri. Her family farmed and had a grocery store. My dad was a good stockman and taught me a lot about cattle. Fortunately, I have been blessed to have had a lot of experiences both on the production side, as well as in sales.

Who inspires you or serves as a mentor? Anyone who is honest and true to their word! I have always admired people who are convicted and don’t change their beliefs because of the status quo. I have known a lot of really great people who will stand up and fight for what they think is right. I always looked up to those kinds of people, because a lot of people want to do what’s easy, instead of doing what’s right.

How do you provide encouragement to others? I provide encouragement to others by staying positive and maintaining a good attitude. Usually there are two ways to look at a situation. The one thing I have learned in life is that in the grand scheme of things, we don’t have a lot of control over stuff—but the better job we do of controlling the things we can, the easier life is.

Carmen is a big supporter of Idaho's beef industry; rarely missing a meeting, trade show, or producer event!

Carmen is a big supporter of Idaho’s beef industry; rarely missing a meeting, trade show, or producer event!

If given the chance, what message about agriculture or the beef industry would you share with a large group of people? Agriculture has treated me very, very well. It has provided me with a good living and given me the chance to meet some amazing people. I have travelled through some beautiful country, and have seen a lot of changes—with the majority of those being for the better. It’s great to be a part of an industry that’s essential to the survival of mankind. Agriculture often gets a bad rap—most of it being ignorance and a lack of desire to learn—but if you take the time to understand where your food comes from, you would be absolutely amazed.

What are you most thankful for? I am thankful to be a part of the livestock industry and a chance to share my knowledge with other people. I am thankful to be surrounded by people who share my ideals, my love of God, and pride for my country. I am blessed to have the support of my family, and a husband who doesn’t mind that I am gone for weeks at a time. I’m also thankful to have had the chance to raise my children in agriculture, and thankfully they’ve found a love for it, just as deep as mine.

What is your favorite meal to cook yourself or for others? I truly love beef! I love a good ribeye (Choice or Prime) seared in a hot cast iron pan and put in the oven, cooked to medium rare. I usually serve just a green salad and some sour dough bread with a glass of red wine. In my opinion there’s nothing better! I spend a lot of time driving and not too much time exercising, so it’s hard to follow the dietary guidelines for an aging woman. I really have a hard time not eating beef, twice a day, every day! Thankfully, it provides lots of protein and nutrients!

What are some of your favorite pastimes and/or hobbies? I love to bake and try new recipes….thank goodness for Pinterest!

Favorite store to shop in? Western Ranch Supply in Montana. I also like to shop in out-of-the-way places.

Favorite place to visit? Hysham, Mont., which is where my son Jack, his wife Kayla, and my grandson Jesse live.

Be sure to keep up with Carmen’s travels by following her on Facebook!

Categories: Beef, Blogging, Cattle, Idaho Cattlewomen

Women in Ag: Top Hand, Kara Kraich Smith

Kara Kraich Smith is a 4th generation rancher’s daughter raised in the sand hills of northeastern Colorado, where she’s still actively involved in her family’s stocker/feeder operation. She’s been an Idahoan for the past four years, after graduating from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor’s in Animal Science and a Master’s in Ruminant Nutrition from West Texas Tech, in Canyon, Texas. Upon moving to the Treasure Valley, Kara served as the Beef Quality Assurance Coordinator, before settling into a job with Newport Laboratories, where she currently works as their area Field Account Manager.

How are you involved in agriculture and/or beef industry today? My day job as the area field account manager for Newport Labs allows me to assist beef producers on a daily basis by partnering with them to solve animal health challenges through diagnostics and custom-made vaccines. I especially enjoy being the liaison between producers and veterinarians to help them with animal health issues they may be having on the ranch by coordinating diagnostic sample submissions and once the “bug” causing the problem has been identified, I work with ranchers and veterinarians to decide if a custom vaccine is right for their operation. In the Treasure Valley, I am also involved in organizations that support the beef industry—ICA, the Beef Council, Beef Counts and youth organizations shaping lives of young people who will be future leaders of our industry, including the working ranch project and FFA.

If you can’t find me out on the road with Newport Labs or in Boise, you will find my husband and me back on the ranch in Colorado. We spend as much time as possible helping on my family’s commercial stocker/feeder operation typically during branding, weaning, turning out in the spring and gathering yearlings in the fall to go into the feedyard. I still catch a sale with my dad from time to time and always enjoy helping wean calves in the fall. A wise woman once told me there is no one better than a lady to take care of high-risk weaning calves because we know which calves need to be pulled as “they look like they need a hug.”

How has your life been shaped by agriculture and/or beef industry? Agriculture has been the backbone of my life since I was born. My parents could always find me either horseback, in the calf pens or in the barn with all of my numerous critters! Agriculture and the western lifestyle are two things that I hold very near and dear to my heart and strive to better the industry every day in our cattle operation, employment and volunteer activities. Life lessons are best taught through trials and tribulations of hard work, entrepreneurial spirit, love of the land and God’s creations that epitomizes agriculture and the industry.

Kara and her husband, Jeff, will be celebrating their first year of marriage in the next coming weeks.

Kara and her husband, Jeff, will be celebrating their first year of marriage in the next coming weeks.

Who inspires you or serves as a mentor? Out of all of the many influences that have shaped me into the person I am today, one in particular stands out, and that’s my dad. He taught me to work hard, never give up, set a goal and don’t you dare quit until you reach it. He instilled a love for the western lifestyle and ingrained the lesson that we are the caretakers of the land and God’s creatures. He is as humble as they come, which is a quality of high regard, always drove home the concept that you should show respect and be deserving of it in return, and that honesty and integrity in your professional and personal life are above all important at end of the day. He exemplifies these qualities every day in the daily functioning of the ranch, involvement in the community and commitment to family. His lessons have served me well in every facet of my life and he was always supportive of my dreams from riding, roping, running yearlings, and he even put up with all the countless critters I brought home!

How do you provide encouragement to others? Encouragement can come in many verbal forms, but I prefer to lead by example. I’m of the mindset I cannot ask or encourage anyone to do something that I am not willing to do myself. Hard work and living a life that others can respect sets the stage to provide words of encouragement to others.

Kara always feels right at home on the back of a horse.

Kara always feels right at home on the back of a horse.

If given the chance, what message about agriculture or the beef industry would you share with a large group of people? Food is extremely personal to everyone and that is no exception to agriculture producers. We take immense pride in our role as caretakers of the land and animals and we strive to provide high quality, nutritious food to our families and yours. Every chance I get I share my story to an unsuspecting bystander (a little part of me feels a touch bad for the person sitting next to me on the airplane), but I encourage everyone involved in production agriculture to share their story. Consumers do want to hear from us; the vast majority do not understand what we do or how we do it.

What are you most thankful for? Being born and raised in the agriculture industry and having the privilege to work in it every day. I am truly blessed to be able to talk to beef producers across the United States, while being surrounded by and supported by loving family and friends. Life’s little treasures are watching the sunrise while gathering a pasture on a cool summer morning, long chats with family and friends while enjoying the sunset over a hot meal, helping a young person achieve their goals, and the opportunity to be involved in and shape the future of the industry I love.

What is your favorite meal to cook yourself or for others? I have to admit, my husband does the majority of the cooking when we are not on the road with our jobs. He’s a phenomenal cook and his Ribeye steak on the grill is by far my favorite.

However, when I do cook, the Crockpot is my go to, typically pot roast or stew, especially when it’s cold outside. For a special occasion, chicken friend steak with mashed potatoes and gravy would be at the top of the list.

Kara2What is your favorite childhood memory? Going to the sale barn with my dad. As a cattle buyer’s daughter I was immune to foul language, the smell of a sale barn and the hum of an auctioneer. But all of the cattle buyers always made a little girl with pigtails feel like she was at home. After a long day of writing down all the lots dad had bought and maybe catching a nap on the bench at the top of barn, I could always be cheered up by a Butterfinger from the sale barn owner.

One of my other favorite ranch memories was qualifying for the national high school rodeo finals on a mare we raised on the ranch. We are now raising colts out of her and they all are being used on the ranch.

What are your guilty pleasures in life? A good glass of red wine and anything made with peanut butter (sometimes a girl needs them together).

What are some of your favorite pastimes and/or hobbies? A quote from Augustus McCrae sums it up pretty well; “Ain’t nothing better than riding a fine horse through new county.” Other hobbies are breakaway roping, team roping, ranch rodeos, raising ranch horses, showing cow horses and ranch horse versatility shows—pretty much anything with horses and cattle!!

Be sure to follow along with Kara’s life in ag, on Facebook, and Twitter!

Categories: Beef, Blogging, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch Life

Women in Ag: ICA Membership & Production Manager, Dawn Schooley

Dawn grew up on the plains of southeastern Colorado. After graduating from high school, she moved to Idaho to be a Vet Tech before heading to Montana State University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science. In 2006, Dawn moved back to Idaho, taking a job with the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, working in the State Veterinarian’s office. In 2014, Dawn became the Idaho Cattle Association’s Membership and Production Manager.  

How are you involved in agriculture today? I have the good fortune with my current position at the Idaho Cattle Association (ICA) to be involved in the industry on a daily basis. I also make it a priority to go home and help my brother a few times a year with branding, turning out, weaning or even fixing fence.

How has your life been shaped by agriculture? I think my entire being has been shaped by agriculture. Growing up in rural America in an agriculture family provided me the greatest opportunity in life to continue that tradition. My family has been involved in several different aspects of agriculture; my dad is officially retired, my brother is a cow-calf producer, my uncle is a feeder, cousins are wheat farmers, my grandpa was a seedstock producer and, once upon a time, my dad and his dad raised some very nice Quarter horses. Agriculture is just in my blood and my heart.

Who inspires you or serves as a mentor? I have been very fortunate to have several people inspire me over my lifetime. Watching my grandpa and granny is where a lot of my inspiration comes from. They were both very active in the cattle industry. Granny was a CowBelle for longer than I have been alive. My grandpa was a very special man, he lost his arm in a corn thatcher in his older years, but that didn’t hold him back. I can still remember climbing into his old truck to go feed cows with him. With just one hand he still managed to handle livestock in an easy, relaxed manner that I always admired.

Along with my grandparents; I had what I consider the best ag professors in the industry. Dr. Ray Ansotegui, Dr. Jan Bowman and Dr. Clayton Marlow were outstanding professors, who were a pleasure to learn from, and always went above and beyond to educate their students. I also admire a gentlemen by the name of “Sonny” Bohleen. Sonny was a lifelong rancher in Montana who became part of my family when my brother started working as a hand for him. Sonny lived for cattle and horses and it showed every day. These are just a few of the many people in my life that inspired me to continue my family traditions and have a life in the cattle industry.

Dawn's Dad, herself, and older brother, stop for a picture after a long day of moving bulls.

Dawn’s Dad, herself, and older brother, stop for a picture after a long day of moving bulls.

How do you provide encouragement to others? This might sounds a little strange but I was always taught one way to encourage others was to be a lady. I remember being pretty young, walking down the sidewalk in town with my dad, to an event for one of my siblings. I was not very excited because I had to wear a dress and knew that I was going to have to sit and mind my manners for a long period of time. My dad took this time to explain how important it was to always be a lady. He explained no matter in life what I was doing to remember to be a lady and I would be encouraging to others. I have found this to be very true in life; whether I am encouraging a panel of millennials to learn more about the beef industry or being a role model for my niece.

If given the chance, what message about agriculture or the beef industry would you share with a large group of people? If I had the chance to speak to a large group of people I would talk about trust verses the myths of ranching. If everyone was required to take a basic 100-level animal science, range ecology and meat science class, there would not be so many misconceptions in today’s world about agriculture.

What are you most thankful for? I am most thankful for friends, family, horses and dogs.

What is your favorite meal to cook yourself or for others? My most favorite meal to cook would be prime rib, branding potatoes, coffee can bread and pecan pie (I would most likely throw in a green salad to give the table a little color).

Lacy, a dog Dawn considers to be the "best cowdog ever," waiting to bring in the horses.

Lacy, a dog Dawn considers to be the “best cowdog ever,” waiting to bring in the horses.

What are your guilty pleasures in life? My guilty pleasures in life, besides really good chocolate, are really nice horses. I look back at photos of my Dad and Grandpa, and wish we still had some of the horses they used to raise. I am always trying to convince my brother we need to buy certain horses and get back into the business.

Favorite place to visit? One of my favorite places to visit is Dingle, Ireland.

What are three little known facts about you? 1) I’m a very shy person; I have to work hard to step outside of my confort zone to talk with people I don’t know. 2) I love western history; my family came to America in 1732 and I have always been fascinated with American history. 3) I think the West would never been “won” without strong, passionate, dedicated women.

Categories: Blogging, Cattle, Idaho Cattlewomen

Women in Ag: Corporate Marketing Specialist, Alethea Prewett

Alethea may live and work in Boise, but a native Idahoan, she is not. She spent the majority of the time growing up in Hollister, Calif., where her family has ranched in the area since the 1880s. After graduating from Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and with a degree in Agriculture Communications, Alethea went to work in Denver, Colo., for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, on the Issues and Reputation Management Team. This small town ranch girl managed living in the big city for two years, before wanting a change of pace. It was then she found a job with Agri Beef Co. and has been in love with Idaho ever since!

How are you involved in agriculture today? Currently, I work at Agri Beef as a Corporate Marketing Specialist, and I have been with the company two years. The really cool thing about our company is that we have operations in every aspect of the business. From ranching, to cattle feeding and nutrition, and beef processing, there is never a boring day because I am able to interact with every sector. I especially like doing our ranch to table tours that take attendees to our ranch, one of our feedyards, and our plant to let them see how we raise beef today. I am humbled to share the hard work and passion of the many people who work for us raising cattle and producing beef with those who may have never been exposed to it otherwise. Although I have many other responsibilities, this one is my favorite because it showcases the dedication of the individuals in our great company and industry.

Outside of my 8-5 job, I also have a very small cow-calf operation back in California. My parents are still kind enough to take care of them in my absence. I try and make it back as much as I can, especially during branding season, when we ship, or to pick out replacement heifers. It’d be great if I could bring my little herd further north to Idaho one of these days! A girl can dream, right!

How has your life been shaped by agriculture? I would say that every major life lesson, the values that I have, and the person I am all trace back to the ranch lifestyle that I was raised in. You learn hard work, dedication and sacrifice because holidays and normal business hours do not exist. My appreciation for life and its fleetingness were instilled in me at a young age because the beauty of life and unfortunateness of death are part of the way of life when you grow up on a ranch.

I also certainly learned to appreciate the little things, like the stale granola bar you find buried in your jacket pocket. It may have been months or, I hate to admit it, a couple of years old; but if you’ve been gathering cows all day and there is no end in sight, that granola bar—even if it turns to dust when you open it—still tastes pretty good.

Alethea considers her Dad to be one of the most inspiring people in her life.

Alethea considers her Dad to be one of the most inspiring people in her life. Photo credit: Heather Hafleigh

Who inspires you or serves as a mentor? My father. Besides being the hardest working, most positive and humble man I know, he taught me from a young age to wake up and realize each day is a great day. I am thankful that at the very young age of two, he put me on my first horse and I was out “helping,” if you could call it that, on the ranch. Throughout my childhood, he made sure that if I showed interest in it I could participate. Whether that was gathering cows, roping and branding calves, A.I.’ing heifers, or evaluating and buying bulls, I could always jump in with two feet and learn. He fostered my love for the cattle business and the ranching lifestyle. He and my mom were incredibly supportive of my move to Denver and then to Boise. Even though I am in an office setting and not the ranch, his sayings play over in my head all the time. They may not be his original words of wisdom, but they will always be Dad’s sayings to me:

The littlest things make the biggest difference.

If you take the time it takes, it will take less time.

How do you provide encouragement to others? I’m not sure if you would consider my advice wise by any means. However, whenever I have the chance to talk to a high school or college age person, especially with a ranch or agriculture background, I encourage them to work away from home. Sometimes as ranch or farm kids, we can get in a big hurry to get back to the family place; but even after college, go work for someone else. You can always learn something new, get a new perspective, or even learn how not to do things. You will be better for it and so will your ranch, farm or company you work for in the long run.

Trust me, I will corner any young, bright-eyed, bushy tailed person and try to impart my small piece of wisdom upon them whether they want to hear it or not… and moms you are not allowed to hunt me down when your children start moving away.

If given the chance, what message about agriculture or the beef industry would you share with a large group of people? We care. For those of us involved in agriculture or bringing beef from ranch to table, this seems like a given. But somewhere between us and the everyday consumer, this sentiment has been lost. Our industry has been dehumanized. The more we can share how we care for our livestock, our land, and have shared values with those who are buying our products, I think we can turn this viewpoint around. It may be slow and take some time, but I believe it is possible.

What are you most thankful for? My supportive family and the lifestyle I was raised in. I honestly could not picture any other way to grow up or to view the world from.

What is your favorite meal to cook yourself or for others? I am a big breakfast fan and love cooking things from scratch, so I would have to say chicken fried steak and gravy.

Alethea always tries to make it back for important ranch happenings, such as branding, shipping, or picking out replacement heifers.

Alethea always tries to make it back for important ranch happenings, such as branding, shipping, or picking out replacement heifers.

Favorite store to shop in? Target. I always go in for one thing and tend to come out with 10. I have always thought that I have great self-control, until I go into Target. Then it all goes out the window, I am not sure what comes over me.

Favorite place to visit? The ranch that has been in my mom’s side of the family. It is really remote and accessible only by dirt roads. No cell service, no telephone lines, and no TV. There is a spring for water and a generator for electricity. You really feel like you can escape from the “real world.” Most people don’t believe places like that still exist, at least in California.

What are three little known facts about you? 1) I should not admit to this. I may never live it down. So I can handle spiders, snakes, even mice to a certain extent, but birds. I do not like birds…more specifically chickens, geese, ducks. I am not sure why; I was never attacked as a small child. I have no rational reason for the fear. It becomes a slight problem because our office is right on the Boise River Greenbelt and there are lots and lots of geese. I have been known to hide behind coworkers to put them between me and the geese. Embarrassing, I know. But I just cannot seem to overcome it. 2) I prefer sunrises to sunsets. I believe there is no better way to start the day than to watch the sun rise. 3) Even though I have a rather long and difficult name to pronounce, I never had a nickname as a child.

Categories: Beef, Cattle, Idaho Cattlewomen

Women in Ag: County Extension Agent, Sarah Baker

Sarah Baker grew up on the East Fork of the Salmon River and is the 6th generation on her family’s cattle ranching operation. Sarah graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Agriculture Business from the College of Southern Idaho in 1999, a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Range Livestock Management from the University of Idaho (UI) in 2002, and a Master’s of Science degree in Meat Science from UI in 2004. Following graduation, Sarah worked for the Idaho Beef Council for more than 4 years as the Program Director, before moving back to her family’s ranch. She currently works for the University of Idaho Extension and serves as the “County Agent” in Custer County. 

How are you involved in agriculture and/or beef industry today? I am very fortunate that I am able to live on the ranch and work in agriculture. Between my job at the Extension Office and helping on the ranch in my spare time, I am immersed in the beef industry every single day!

With my job in Extension, I take research based information from the University and disseminate it to the public through a variety of ways. My job focuses primarily on beef production and range management, but because I am the only one in the office, I also provide leadership and programming in 4-H youth development, forage production, horticulture and community development. I get to do something different every day and most of it is outside of the office. Many days seem like mass chaos because in a single day I can go from answering questions about a diseased tree to identifying bugs and weeds, helping a 4-H member with their record book, running rations for a winter beef feeding program, determining how much hay to buy, making fertilizer recommendations for a producer’s alfalfa field based off of soil samples and end up helping a permittee monitor their range allotment. There is never a dull moment in the Extension Office.

When I’m not working, I’m busy helping on the ranch. When I start complaining about never getting any time off, I remember what my Gramps told me, “You can sleep when you’re dead.”

How has your life been shaped by agriculture and/or beef industry? My family has been in the ranching business for more than 100 years. My Grandpa’s great grandfather arrived on the East Fork in 1888 and today the Bakers are still going strong. A lot of things have changed since 1888, but I feel very fortunate that I was born into a family that has a strong work ethic and good business sense. They have endured a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but through all of the ups and downs, they have persevered. Today, thanks to them, the East Fork valley is one of the most pristine areas in the whole state. The vast open spaces, including the green, lush fields, abundant wildlife and rivers full of fish are evidence of six generations of Bakers. I truly live in God’s country. It is no wonder those greenies wanted to make this place into a National Monument!

Hunting and fishing are some of Sarah's favorite pastimes. Here, Sarah is steelhead fishing on the Salmon River, with her Grandpa.

Hunting and fishing are some of Sarah’s favorite pastimes. Here, Sarah is steelhead fishing on the Salmon River, with her Grandpa.

During college, I was fortunate to be able to serve on the first slate of “interns” for the Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show in Denver, Colo., in 2002. I was hooked after attending my first convention. I knew I had to return and become involved! The following year, I was selected again to help at convention, this time in Nashville, Tenn. Attending those two conventions, and learning about the policy-making process, and meeting NCBA staff and cattlemen from all over the country, really got me excited to get more involved. I was involved in my state association already, having served in leadership roles of the Student Idaho Cattle Association (SICA) while at college. I was selected to serve on the Board of Directors for the Idaho Cattle Association (ICA) in 2003, which was a huge honor for a “snot-nosed college student,” and a responsibility I took very seriously. I served on the Board for 4 years and on the Executive Committee for 2 years while I was Chairman of the Idaho CattleWomen Council. These experiences afforded me the opportunity to become involved, make my voice heard, and really learn about the benefits of belonging to state and national cattle organizations.

Being raised on the East Fork helped to shape me into a strong, independent and responsible person. I appreciate the value of a dollar and what it means to put in a hard day’s work. Being active in the Student ICA, as well as the ICA and NCBA, coupled with my education, enthusiasm and enormous passion for the beef industry, all have been a huge influence on who I am today.

Who inspires you or serves as a mentor? My Grandpa always inspired me. He was my partner in crime ever since I can remember. We always had a special bond and I was with him from a very young age all the way up to his passing on June 27, 2014. When I lost Gramps, he was 92 years old. It was an extremely tough time for me and my family losing him, although we know he lived a rich and full life. He was born on the East Fork, and he passed away on the East Fork. We spread his ashes on a mountain overlooking the ranch in the sage brush and pine trees. I can look up every day from my house and see his final resting place. It brings me peace to know that he is now watching over us as we continue on his ranching legacy. When I think of him, I can’t help but smile. His hard work ethic, his can-do attitude, his appreciation for a cold beer after a long hot day in the hayfield, his love of sweets and good horses, his contagious smile and laugh….those memories continue to inspire me every single day.

How do you provide encouragement to others? I manage the 4-H program in Custer County, which gives youth hands-on, real-world experience that they need to become leaders. When I think of how I can provide encouragement to others, I think about the 4-H slogan of “Learn by Doing.” I encourage people to learn by doing. Don’t just listen to what others say—in order to make informed decisions, you have to get out there and experience it and do it yourself. When the Wilderness Society started their push to make our backyard a National Monument, the first thing we did was invite them to come to our ranch. We invited them into our homes and gave them a firsthand view of what ranching, and managed public lands grazing, does for the environment. The reason there is abundant fish and wildlife on the East Fork is because of the good stewardship by ranchers on both private and public lands.

Sarah (6), her grandma, and grandpa (behind the camera), 1, moving cows and fixing water troughs on Pistol Creek Ridge

Sarah (6), her grandma, and grandpa (behind the camera), 1, moving cows and fixing water troughs on Pistol Creek Ridge.

If given the chance, what message about agriculture or the beef industry would you share with a large group of people? I would encourage people to think about where their food comes from before they spout off misinformation about farming and ranching. When people are uneducated and base decisions on emotion rather than facts, agriculture is in a world of hurt.  The people that are making decisions in this country need a healthy dose of reality about where their food comes from—and what it takes from ranchers and farmers to make it happen.

Custer County is comprised of 97 percent public lands, thus the use of public lands for grazing is essential to the survival of the ranches here. Simply put, there is not enough private pasture available to make it economically feasible to run a cow, unless you can utilize public lands grazing permits. Through the years, it has become increasingly difficult to run cows on public lands. What happens when it is no longer feasible to utilize public lands for grazing cattle? My dad always said, “When the cows go off the mountain, the ranchers go too.” I wonder if the greenies will enjoy the sub-divisions and development more than the vast open spaces that ranchers help sustain? I know the wildlife won’t like it as much.

So I guess my message would be to quit slapping the hand that feeds you! People should be helping ranchers and farmers sustain their livelihoods, instead of trying to run them out of business!

What are you most thankful for? I am most thankful for my family. They are the reason I took this job in Extension and moved home. When I have a rough day at work, or things get stressful, I always have my family to fall back on. We were blessed with the 7th generation of Bakers when my nephew Grant was born in August of 2004. He is the pride and joy of the Baker family and he always brings a smile to my face. I am also thankful that my family provided me with the opportunity to grow up on a ranch in the middle of God’s country. Every morning when I wake up and see Castle Peak out my living room window, I am thankful.

What is you favorite meal to cook yourself or for others? Beef of course! I love to cut meat and then grill it up on the BBQ. My favorite cut is the petite tender, but you can’t find them anywhere, unless you cut up your own beef. So I would have to say my other favorite is a ribeye steak. Pair that with some Cleto macaroni (an old family recipe), and a green salad from Mom’s garden, and man oh man. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Sarah, in 2012, with a bull elk she harvested opening day.

Sarah, in 2012, with a bull elk she harvested opening day.

What is your favorite childhood memory? Riding with my Grandpa. Whether we were moving cows, packing salt, hunting horns, or riding into a high mountain lake to go fishing, I spent a lot of time in the saddle trying to keep up my with my Gramps (I swear he trotted everywhere we went). I miss those days a lot, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

What are some of your favorite pastimes and/or hobbies? I love to team rope, even though with my job in Extension (lots of evening and weekend meetings), I don’t ever seem to have any time to go rope! I also really like to fish. There is nothing better than fishing for steelhead in the spring in the Salmon River, or ice fishing at Jimmy Smith Lake in the winter.

What are three little known facts about you? 1) We only get mail delivered twice a week on East Fork, so Tuesdays and Fridays are big days when the mail arrives! 2) We don’t have cell phone service on East Fork and I love it that way. 3) I love to cut meat. If anyone needs help cutting up an elk, deer or a beef, call me!

We encourage you to keep up with Sarah, by following her on Facebook and Twitter!

Categories: Beef, Blogging, Idaho Cattlewomen, Lifestyle, Ranch Life