Exploring the Young Farmers & Ranchers Group – The Williams Family

Early morning “cloudy” sunrise on the beach. First time many have seen the Atlantic Ocean.  Well worth the frigid temps.

Early morning “cloudy” sunrise on the beach. First time many have seen the Atlantic Ocean.
Well worth the frigid temps.

The weekend came, along with another plane ticket taking us to Virginia Beach for the National Young Farmer’s & Rancher’s Conference.  On the plane ride back, I started thinking again about who might be reading this. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a prospective new YF&R member who isn’t really sure what this committee or organization is about.

Marty and I really didn’t have much experience with Farm Bureau and the YF&R group 6-10 years ago. Our county YF&R group has generally been small and inconsistent … not surprising as our age bracket is busy starting new jobs and families, which really isn’t a viable excuse as any age bracket is stretched in commitments and priorities. It is a challenge nonetheless. When we were elected to the state committee, we really didn’t know what to expect since our experience at the county level has been nonexistent other than helping with the farmhand Olympics at the county fair. The past 3 years we have served our state committee have provided the most informative and eye-opening opportunities for us to see how Farm Bureau works as well as each respective committee. Heck, I’ve got to meet people and see places I otherwise would never have gotten to see. Flying out of Virginia Beach, an amazing hub of commerce & trade, history, Naval presence, and contribution to agriculture, I am so appreciative of these opportunities.

Keili Summey, AGED OSU student, coming from a non-ag background. Competed in Final 4 National Collegiate discussion meet in Virginia Beach.

Keili Summey, AGED OSU student, coming from a non-ag background. Competed in Final 4 National Collegiate discussion meet in Virginia Beach.

This is a grassroots organization. One may think sure, the grassroots starts at the county level, and it does, but for me personally I have gained a little more insight into where exactly the involvement and education begins. It doesn’t begin with just YF&R, although this great committee presence is involved. It really starts with the kids. Kids involved in 4-H, FFA, Collegiate YF&R … and surprisingly with non-ag kids who are mentored into these great programs. I have heard more testimonies about kids with no ag background  (impacted by FFA leaders) who are great advocates and leaders of ag.

Both the county YF&R committees and our elected state committee are involved in mentoring kids young and older. We sometimes collaborate together with other counties and organizations (examples are Ag in the Classroom, OSU extension agents, etc.) to do just that. YF&R’s purpose ranges from mentoring programs for kids of all ages, to get them involved, teach leadership skills, and promote anything that has to do with agriculture (safety, legislation, education, etc.).

Great young leaders from our State committee enjoying time with fellow farmers and ranchers,  learning how to be better leaders and advocates back home.

Great young leaders from our State committee enjoying time with fellow farmers and ranchers,
learning how to be better leaders and advocates back home.

Why is this relevant or important to you, the reader? You may be like Marty and I six years ago. Wondering, what is YF&R? What is Farm bureau, I thought it was an insurance company? How do I commit to meetings when I have no one available for childcare? What can I do if my county YF&R committee isn’t very strong? Or more importantly, what you can do to encourage ag and non-ag kids interested in agriculture but without much direction or family support to support an industry that supplies the basic essentials for human life?

You don’t have to be an “expert” in farming or ranching to be involved with this organization. You simply have to have an interest and passion to learn, mentor, or advocate for agriculture.

The 2014 OKFB Young Farmers & Ranchers committee.

The 2014 OKFB Young Farmers & Ranchers committee.

The challenge that has been presenting itself within these three years is making time and eliminating excuse after excuse, to strengthen our county YF&R presence. Goals of the program are to provide state committee members not only a firsthand look into how legislation works for agriculture and other important issues, but also to see agriculture at work in our state, nation, and world. Perspective, networks, and leadership are broadened.  Individuals serving on this committee show up, commit, and sacrifice personal time to invest interest in creating a stronger county and State Farm Bureau team.   Ultimately the goal for members serving on the state committee is to take back what we have each learned about networking, commerce and legislation, and educate our county members (prospective and current), the non-ag consumer, and our youth.

If you have any questions about getting involved with your county YF&R or Women’s Leadership Team, please check out our Oklahom Farm Bureau website at http://www.okfarmbureau.org.  Contact information is available there under the tab “member engagement”. We want nothing more than for more members to these great committees.

Down to southeast Oklahoma – The Bain family

The Bain Family

The Bain Family

Hello fellow bloggers! We are the Bain family, your district 5 representatives. JT and Sara, along with three growing girls Mattie, Mollie,and Maccie. Here are some things we would like you to know about us. We live in Southeast Oklahoma where JT is a Farm Loan Manager for the Farm Service Agency in McAlester. He services 4 counties, and loves his youth programs! Sara is employed by Stuart Public Schools where she works as a tutor and bus driver. We are very active with our local 4-H and FFA chapters, along with our Church and community.

Feeding cattle with a tub feeder.

Feeding cattle with a tub feeder.

We run a 250-head cow/calf operation and 300 stockers. We also bale hay, wheat, and silage.  JT owns a semi tuck and cattle trailer that he rents to a friend when we are not using it. Our ranch keeps us plenty busy. We are either planting a crop, spraying weeds, harvesting a crop, calving out our mamma cows, hauling cattle or straightening out our stockers.

On the other side of our family, the girls keep us very busy as well! Mattie is a 5th grader, and is very involved with 4-H, for which she has a heifer named “The Funk,” in addition to enjoying basketball and softball. She loves messing with her calf and enjoys helping move and stack hay.

The Bain girls: Mattie, Mollie and Macie.

The Bain girls: Mattie, Mollie and Macie.

Mollie is a 2nd grader and loves her sports. She plays basketball and softball. She also enjoys taking care of our orphaned calves and helping feed with Dad.

Maccie is a kindergartner. She is full of questions about everything her Daddy is doing. She loves going in the semi to haul a load, feed with Dad, or mix feed! She is also involved in basketball and softball.

We look forward to showing you a little bit each month of what our daily operation consists of! Thanks for taking time to learn about our family!!

Same song, different dance – The Harris Family

Spraying a wheat field in southwest Oklahoma.

Spraying a wheat field in southwest Oklahoma.

Well its very cold and dry STILL in Southwest Oklahoma.  We are working on several projects and planning for this year’s crops. Zac has began micromanaging each of the fields to try to maximize production.  We began this last year, instead of putting all the fertilizer on the wheat at one time, but rather applying it in a timely fashion before a rain, etc.  This way we can split the fertilizer over a 2-month span and hopefully gain maximum benefit by the crop having ample nutrition at all stages.  Not only does this add time covering 6000 acres twice, but also our overhead costs of engine hours on equipment, diesel and the opportunity for break downs.  We feel like last year it improved our yields despite the four late freezes that caused significant damage; providing more of a safe product for the world.

Chopping ice is a necessity to ensure livestock have water during cold spells.

Chopping ice is a necessity to ensure livestock have water during cold spells.

With weather all over the place it makes it really hard on all life, including livestock.  One of my chickens died; the kids have had them since last spring and they had just began laying eggs consistently.  Really warm days followed by harsh cold fronts and polar vortices give opportunity for cattle to be sick quickly.

Zac has bought 2 wheat trucks that needed complete overhauling- in fact one of them was a wrecked truck.  Apparently, the driver had gotten too far in the ditch to allow a vehicle to travel along the same road and the wheat in the box shifted and caused the truck to flip on its side.  So he has spent a lot of time straightening and tweaking the bent iron to make this a useable truck for the years to come.  Over a year ago, he also bought a very similar truck that needed a motor overhaul.  So this is the year of the trucks at the Harris Farms.

Kenda's horse and 4-H steer get to know each other across the fence.

Kenda’s horse and 4-H steer get to know each other across the fence.

Kenda has been busy washing and working hair on her Oklahoma Youth Expo steer project.  She has shown mini Herefords before but this is her first official 4-H project.  Her brother and sister have been very helpful! Trale’ feels like she needs a “widdle steer” herself!

Just staying busy. If you come SW give us a shout we’d love to buy your dinner!

Zac and Amy


Success at OYE – The Bolen Family

Anna Bolen in the showmanship contest

Anna Bolen in the showmanship contest

We spent our spring break in Oklahoma City at OYE showing sheep. Our daughter Bay won the sixteen-year-old sheep showmanship division out of 45 participants. I think she has been showing at OYE for maybe 5 years and has never even placed for showmanship there. It’s really difficult to catch the judge’s eye with that many good showmen in the ring at one time. But this time she got the payoff for years and hours of working her lambs at home. Bay also showed a ewe that didn’t place and a whether that placed 10th.
 Anna showed for showmanship and didn’t get pulled for a placing spot, but did a great job. She also showed a ewe that didn’t place. Autumn, our youngest, had a lamb, but the lamb was ill and couldn’t make the trip.


Bay showing her lamb at OYE.

We had a good time together as a family even though it’s a lot of work and sometimes a bit stressful. We use every opportunity at such events for learning experiences that are almost endless. The girls even got some time to go shopping at the local malls. I on the other hand got to visit with several old friends and college acquaintances.

As I’ve stated before, the young people involved with 4-H and FFA are second to none in my opinion.

Also, the OYE staff need to be commended for their hard work and dedication to the youth of this state.

A welcome rain break – The Leonard family

Water stands in one of the Leonards' fields after recent rains.

This past week has been one of change at the Leonard Farm.  After a very dry summer, fall, and winter we had 5 days of rain totaling a little over 7 inches.  So instead of dust and dry ponds we now have muddy fields to work in and washed out water gaps with fence to fix.   We needed the rain and it is unbelievable how much the grass has grown where we had spread fertilizer earlier.  We are now past feeding hay and that is a welcome event as we all wondered if we had enough hay to make it through the winter after the drought last summer. Because of the mild open winter we ended up with about a third of our hay left to carry over into next year’s feeding time just in case the summer turns dry again.

Cattle follow the feed buggy as the Leonards move them around their farm.

We had many projects planned during spring break besides watching the OSU women play basketball, but because of all the rain we worked in the shop, got caught up on office work and record keeping( this seems to take more and more time with all the requirements now place on business).  In the shop we had to put a new rear tractor tire on because we ran over something and ruined a nearly new tire.  That was just a $1800 dollar unexpected expense.  We were able to get the fall-calving cows worked and moved to a pasture with tall grass Sunday afternoon. As seen in the one picture it is a good thing to have some of the kids past 4-H heifers in with the cow herd when it comes to moving cows with a feed buggy!  At least the sun was shining even if it was a little muddy in the corral.  We also got to fix some fence around the water gaps after the rain water run off and the creeks went down.

Wheat development is several weeks ahead of normal.

To start this week we have been scouting the wheat fields for aphids and getting the airplane lined up to spray fungicides for us as it is to wet to get a ground sprayer across the wheat fields.  Sunday we did find the first few wheat heads coming out of the early planted wheat.  This is a good two to three weeks early for us and now it looks like we maybe harvesting wheat in late May instead of the normal June.

As for the kids this is the beginning week of FFA crop judging contests and Kody is interviewing for District Star Farmer on Tuesday.

I will hope for more sunshine and drier weather as I have around 1200 acres of corn that really needs to be planted before April 10th.