Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm back....

Hello I haven't fallen off the face of the earth! I've just been away for work and having some internet connection issues at home. I just wanted to give a quick update this morning on recent happenings...

I traveled to Indianapolis, IN last week with 14 of my students for the National FFA Convention last week! The weather was great and I really enjoyed this particular group of students I was with. I also had the chance to run into several friends, both those who are Ag teachers and those who are not, so all in all it was a great time last week.

School has been going well; my worst student (this year AND of all time) moved away two weeks ago. I hate to say it, but he was a management nightmare and it is a blessing he is gone. With his move, I thought my 6th period class would dramatically improve. I was correct in my thinking, however there was a group of boys in that class who treated my sub terrible last week. They got a good tongue lashing on Monday....I've officially decided if a child of mine ever treats a sub (or regular teacher) that way, I will tie their arms behind their back and make them pick weeds with their toes for three weeks. Sometimes student behavior still mystifies me. Should I be more upset with the student or their parents for the way they raised them???

I'm headed home to see my folks, and my brother's lovely family this Halloween weekend. Looking forward to sitting on the front porch, enjoying the reprieve from the city and trick-or-treating with my nieces and nephews. Hopefully I'll get a chance to post some pictures this weekend...have a great second half of the week!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Progressive? I think not!

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) gave Baltimore Public Schools the "Proggy" Award for 2009 for establishing Meatless Mondays in their school system this year. Tony Geraci, the school district’s food and nutrition director was quoted in the Baltimore Sun as saying: “Tapping into a national campaign, the ‘Meatless Monday’ program is intended to make lunches more healthful, stretch the district's food budget and raise awareness about the environmental impact of large-scale meat production.”

Progressive? What?! Instead of progressive, I would desribe that as ignorant. The sole part of Geraci's quote that I can agree with is the part about stretching the budget. Protein is understandably the most expensive part of any diet. Expensive but necessary. But making it more healthful? Environmental impact? What about telling both sides of the story? Unfortunately though, where PETA is concerned, there is only one side to tell.

While I fully support the inclusion of an animal protein source in diets, the following points specifically speak to the value of including beef.
  • Eating less lean beef will not solve the greenhouse gas problem, but it will negatively affect our diet quality by restricting a rich source of important nutrients. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, and beef provides the most readily available and easily absorbed source of iron.
  • For America’s farming and ranching families, our land is not just where we raise cattle, it’s also where we raise our families. That means we have a personal stake in the quality of our environment; we always are looking for new ways to improve the air, land and water on or near our property.

I'm not so much disappointed in PETA as I am the move that Baltimore Public Schools made in pursuing this so called progressive decision. Maybe next time they will do a little more research when it comes to doing something that affects the 82,500 students in that district.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Little "Helper"

I took advantage of my time over fall break to do quite a few things, one of them being change a few things in my classroom. And I had to bring Johnnie Reb of course...when I'm not teaching she's my little sidekick. I just throw her in the truck (okay, she actually jumps in herself) and off we go. She does really well in my classroom. You can see just how helpful she was below:-) When she wasn't wrestling and chewing on butcher paper for my bulletin boards she was trying to eat gum off the bottom of the tables. No joke. Dis-gus-ting. I still think she's cute as heck though, even though she eats ABC gum (already been chewed).

And here you can see my (ahem) our finished products.

PS-Thanks Emily for letting me use your borders!! I love shopping at "Emily's Educational Store."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

La Ranchita: Then & Now

When I first started this blog in 2007 I didn't have a clear purpose. Or maybe I should say, the purpose wasn't yet clear to me. If you asked me then I would have said I was starting a blog because I was going to eliminate my Facebook account. I had been so bombarded with information in my teacher prep courses about professionalism that I felt Facebook was not in my best interest as a blossoming high school teacher. So I started my blog with the intent of keeping in touch as I returned to family in Arizona and left friends in Florida.

If you asked me now I would say that I write about the three things I am most passionate about: God, my family (yes, this includes friends) and agriculture. While it may be random thoughts or a soapbox issue that I must get off my chest, I love having the opportunity to communicate in writing. I never thought I would enjoy writing as much as I do for this purpose, but it's true.

Two years later though I am more confident about the direction of this blog and it's purpose in my life. So what's with the name then: La Ranchita? Growing up on a cow-calf ranch in north central Arizona permanently planted the long term desire in my heart to someday have a ranch of my own to call home. For now though, this is simply an idea knowing that I can make a home wherever I am because where I am, there God also resides in my heart. La Ranchita is a chance to welcome family and friends into my "home" and share what I am most passionate about....just as if you were to come and stay awhile at the ranch I hope to someday own.

With this reflection on where I've come, and where I'm going, I plan on changing the profile found on my bio but I would like some feedback from you-please let me know what you think about this:

Loving life as a rancher’s daughter, now removed from the family cattle operation and teaching high school agriculture in central Arizona. More importantly though, I am a daughter of the living God, never to be removed from His kingdom. Someday I hope to own my own ranch but until then welcome to my current frontier—I hope you enjoy learning about my passion for God, my family and agriculture.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Quotable moments

I'm on fall break this week and have enjoyed every moment of it thus far. I started the break by visiting my folks and brother's family in northern Arizona, returned on Monday to clean my house and then worked all day on Tuesday in my classroom. I flew to Indianapolis on Wednesday to spend the remainder of my break with my former college roomie and long time friend, Amanda. She is a third year PhD student in Agricultural Economics at Purdue. It's been a nice break but I did come down with a small headcold...yuck! I've still enjoyed catching up though and actually experiencing some true fall weather. I wanted to share a couple of quotes from this week though that made me chuckle-

(after climbing in Amanda's truck at the Indy airport)
Me: "You're like a comfortable pair of shoes."
Amanda: "You're like my favorite handbag."

Isn't that what good friends are like? Even if you don't live in the same town, or have coffee every day, there is still a comfortable familiarity that resumes once you're with them again. I love this quote too because it totally reflects our personalities (to a point).

(we grabbed coffee midday at Java Roaster coffee house)
Amanda: "Can we have two large coconut coffees with skim milk in each?"
Me: "Actually can I have whole milk in one?"
Barista: "We only have skim; we're like...2020 or something in here already."

The barista's comment totally made me laugh because instead of saying that they're more health minded, he says they're more 2020 or something. Totally funny.

Amanda is actually teaching right now and I'm taking advantage of a few unoccupied moments to read email and blog. We're headed to Chicago tonight to watch the Ryan Montbleau Band, catch some fall foilage tomorrow and watch Amanda's good friend run the Chicago marathon on Sunday. Hope you're having a great week!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It's in the numbers

Disclamer: I am in full support of most agricultural producers.

It doesn't matter to me if you choose conventional production methods that include the use of pesticides, herbicides or growth implants or if you choose to produce food products in an organic or natural manner. If a farmer can make a profit in a niche market for organic products, local products or natural products hats off to them. But please, pretty please, don't criticize the thousands of producers who currently employ conventional methods. Too often ignorant consumers and media extremists report that organic, natural and local are the only way to go. What? Excuse me, let me rephrase: WHAT?! In a few concise points below, I hope to illustrate that the world has an undeniable need for conventional methods of production in the coming years. (Note: John Lawrence, ISU agriculture economist has studied the effects of modern technology on beef production. To read more:

  • Some estimates predict that the current world population of 6.7 billion people will expand to 9 billion by 2050.
  • Based on 2007 prices, removing the use of growth-promotant implants, dewormers, and fly control from cow-calf production would increase the breakeven price 47%, a value f $274 per calf.
  • In the feedlot phase, removal of growth implants ionophores antimicrobial therapy, beta-agonists, and dewormers results in a 13.2% increase in breakeven, a $155 value.

If these numbers haven't hit home yet, let me elaborate a bit more. In 2007, 11.1% of US households were reported as food insecure ( If the cost of food production increases as illustrated above, this cost has to be passed onto consumers. If people already cannot afford the price of food, then increased prices only means more of the same. Fewer people can afford food that is becoming increasingly expensive.

Now back to organic, natural and local. While I don't have specific research that supports the following claims, personal experience and first hand observation are enough to tell me that my claims are true. Organic, natural and locally produced foods are more expensive. Because of their comparitively higher cost, fewer people can afford to purchase them. If we require the production of food animals (or plants) to be organic and natural, fewer people are going to be able to purchase enough food to meet the requirements of their family. And this goes without considering the fact that our global population is growing.

Now back to my disclaimer at the beginning. I wholeheartedly support agricultural production, even if its not the method that I would choose. What I don't support though are people who deny the facts--the world population cannot afford to survive on organic, natural and local products alone. There is nothing wrong with consuming or producing such products; but please don't try to pull one over on America by telling her that organic, natural and local are the only way to go. She simply can't afford it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Lamb of God

The more I study my bible the more I understand how essential it is to learn about context. When I simply read over a passage, think about it and move on, I don't find much significance or depth to the passage. What I often fail to do is think about who the author and recipients were and what their world was like when the text was written. I usually learn that Jewish culture plays a huge role in understanding what is presented and also that I usually need to refer to some part of the Old Testament to really understand the big picture.

Case in point--what is really meant when Jesus is described as the Lamb of God? Just off the top of my head I think about him being a blameless, perfect sacrifice. I think about the huge role sacrifice played in Old Testament times where there were very specific procedures and requirements for sacrifices. I think about the blood of calves and goats being sprinkled on books and clothing in the temple. But what I fail to think about is the value of the sacrifice--be it an actual lamb before Christ or more importantly, the value of Christ as a sacrifice for my sins.

What really got me thinking about this was the book I am currently reading, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. I don't want to lead you to think this is a book on Christianity because it most certainly is not. But in telling the story of an American mountaineer's quest to build schools in Pakistan, the author shares a story when a regional nurmadhar (chief) tries to stop the "American infidel" from educating local girls. He and his henchman visit the village where construction is currently underway and demands 12 of their largest rams if they wish for construction to continue and for no one to be hurt. Without batting an eye Haji Ali, the local nurmadhar, sends the village children to retrieve the rams. After handing the rams over, he leads his people back to the village and joyfully says that while the other chief may have food for a time, his people will have education forever. He didn't question his decision and fully understood that the sacrifice of those rams was more than worth it.

The picture depicted in the book was beautiful and made me think so much more about the sacrifice that was given up for me. In my book, Greg, the American mountaineer, described the rams as the most cherished and valuable posession of each family in the village. They were treated like firstborn children and it was devastating to willingly sacrifice these rams for the betterment of their community. After reading this chapter though, my eyes were opened in a whole new way to the value and importance of a sacrificial lamb. Rams must have been treated and thought of in a similar fashion in Jewish culture. The people were looking for something that could be given to God to cover their sins--they needed as perfect a sacrifice as they could find. Rams (and other animals) were sacrificed on an annual basis to act as an atonement for the sins of the people (for more info on Old Testament sacrifices, read Leviticus). These sacrifices could never complete the job though and that's where our Lamb of God comes into the picture.

Jesus is called the Lamb of God (John 1:29) because he was the perfect sacrifice for my sins. He completely satisfied God's wrath. Forever. Death and sin have been conquered. Knowing this, and having come to understand more about the value of a perfect sacrifice, I want to think of Jesus more like those Pakistani children thought of their rams. Do I cherish Him? Do I value Him and lavish attention and care on my relationship with Him? I want to place more value on my relationship with Jesus knowing that He was willingly sacrificed so that I might have life. I also yearn to know the depth of His sacrifice because He is the one, perfect sacrifice for all time.