This week we take a weeklong trip to visit with three different ranchers who share why they are Proud to be a part of Agriculture by telling their stories on their own personal blogs. Be sure to come back all week for a new story.
Today we start in Kansas where we find this Life on a Kansas Cattle Ranch. Debbie Lyons Blythe describes her life on the ranch, raising a family, and living only 30 minutes from the nearest Wal-mart through her blog. I will let Debbie tell you little about her story in hope that you will get a better idea about the cattlewoman behind this awesome blog.
- How did you and/or your family begin working in Agriculture?
I grew up on an Angus ranch near Manhattan, Kansas. My mom is the operator of our family ranch: Lyons Ranch. I grew up knowing that a girl could do anything she wanted to do and that included run a ranch! So when I got married and my husband had a job in town, I was not afraid to take over the management of our ranch. Now I am in charge of all the daily decisions on our cow-calf operation. We work as partners in most decisions, but I am the one who is there daily and doing the work.
- What do you enjoy most about your job/life being involved with Agriculture?
I enjoy the challenges that I am faced with each day…no two days are alike and I can decide what challenge to tackle first. I am also a mom and ranching gives me the freedom to be able to attend the kids’ sports events and school programs. I like watching my family grow and mature and watching the cattle get better each year and perform as well
. We are raising five teenaged kids and 500 cows on our ranch. We have one daughter in college, and one daughter and three sons in high school in our small town school!
- What is one thing related to your respective work in Agriculture you wish consumers better understood?
I am disappointed in the “labels” that have sprung up recently: sustainable, modern, organic, natural, conventional, factory farm, family farm, etc. I think that consumers have a preconceived notion of each label and that is not appropriate—each farm or ranch is made up of many different “labels” and could be described in many different ways. For example, we utilize modern DNA tools to predict how our cattle will perform, yet we do feed out our own calves at the feedyard. We market through US Premium Beef, but we do also participate in the local salebarn by purchasing calves at weaning time. Our ranch is big enough to be considered a “factory farm” at certain times of the year, but we are definitely family owned and operated as my kids are our working crew! These labels merely serve to divide people into groups, and that is not helpful either to the ranchers or consumers.
- What motivated you to begin sharing your Agriculture story online?
We share ownership of some pasture land with my husband’s cousins. They have moved to the city and do not have any contact with the family farm except through this land. When they came to visit with their young children a couple years ago, they were asking questions about food safety, relating to hormones and antibiotics in food. I realized then that if these people who do have a tie to the farm do not understand the safety of the US food supply, then how do we expect someone who has no tie to the land to understand? I began my blog a day after they left to return home. They are one of my followers to my blog & help me spread the word about it.
- What is your advice to those who want to begin sharing their Agriculture stories online?
I think it is very important to know your goal and audience before you begin your blog. If you want to share information with other agvocates, the information you post and the terminology that you use will be vastly different from a blog who speaks directly to consumers. Also, proofread….please pay attention to the dictionary and grammar notifications on the blog post page…if it is underlined in red or green, it means there is something wrong in that sentence!
- What have you found to be successful when sharing your Ag story online?
Be real. Be transparent. Do not try to talk about something you don’t know about or are not proficient in. Readers can tell that.
- Please describe the aim of your site. What do you write about most?
I write for people who don’t live on a farm, or even near a farm or ranch. I write for people who eat—I tell about my life on a cattle ranch and why we do what we do. I share pictures of my family and my cattle and tell about how we take care of the environment. I believe people just want to know what goes on around a ranch.
I think we need to utilize Social Media as well as on-farm tours, educational seminars, speeches to local organizations, community involvement and any other face-to-face interactions that we can to assist in getting the information out about ranching and farming. I am happy to assist anyone in starting a blog or connecting with consumers.
You can find Debbie through her blog Life on a Kansas Cattle Ranch, on Facebook, on Twitter (@DebbieLB), and on YouTube (KsRancherGal). I hope you take a moment to visit these pages and tell Debbie how much you appreciate her work to put food on your table and taking time to share her story. Thank you Debbie for telling us why you are Agriculture Proud!
I am looking for more stories this like one from ranchers, farmers, and everyone involved in agriculture. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how.