November 12, 2014

Just stop… and count the blessings.

Filed under: Beef,Jaclyn Wilson,Life,Ranch — Jaclyn @ 6:31 pm

It’s a miserable cold day here in western Nebraska.   I’m well aware that cold should be the norm this time of year, but I wish Mother Nature would of acclimated us a little first!  The one advantage of cold weather is that it gives us time here on the ranch to catch up on some shop projects.   The shop projects have been ongoing the last couple of days.  The Boss Man tore “Bob” apart (yes, we named his Bobcat, and refer to it by name).  The mice decided that they would infiltrate the frame and deposit upwards of a bushel of corn in their nests.  The stupid critters also ate through a number of wires, including the radio wires attached to the radio that my brother and I had given as a birthday gift not even 6 months ago.  Along with Bob; UTV’s and ATV’s got serviced or worked on, tractors received service jobs, shop was cleaned, etc. etc.  The last couple of days have been also spent on the phone with the insurance company.

Saturday morning, I was driving my F350 down our gravel road.  It had been a couple of tough weeks.  Truth be told, the last couple of months have been challenging.  Dealing with business decisions, procrastinating people, a chronic injury that is requiring 3 appointments a week, and trying to stay on top of all my commitments hasn’t caused me to get grey hair, but I would not be surprised to wake up with one.  Saturday was no different, I wasn’t feeling up to par, and I had volunteered to co-host a dinner table at the community’s annual Habitat for Humanity fundraiser where my non Betty Crocker skills had decided to put prime rib on the menu.

So, there I was driving down the road, the sun was coming up above the hills, it was a brisk morning.  I was driving through one of our pastures that we had recently moved our steer calves into.  I remember the road being clear in front of me, and not recalling anything on my right side.  About halfway through the pasture I had slowed up some to look at the calves on my left, next thing I know my air bags go off, I see a red blur in front of me, my pickup dies, my flashers are going off, and SYNC is dialing 911.  It took me a couple seconds to gather my wits.  I was going slow enough that the airbag had only hit my arm and not my face.  I cancelled the 911 call, rolled down my window as the smell from the airbags was burning my nose, and turned off my flashers.  The calf had crippled away to the side of the road.  I get out and look at the front of my pickup, there are multiple colors of fluid leaking, my grill is gone, radiator is smashed in, and bumper destroyed.  Even my Beef State license plate is laying behind the pickup about 10 feet up the road.

Boonie living means sketchy cell service, and even with two, yes two cell phones I still had to walk to the closet tall hill and call home.  Luckily the Boss Man’s Wife answered and she and the Boss Man came to my rescue in just a matter of minutes.  I have a wall hanging on my bathroom with a quote by Mother Theresa that says:  “God never gives us more than we can handle, I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”  Sometimes when life gets in the way of living, it’s easy to feel that there is more out there than we can handle.  The pickup was my final straw, I had my 10 minute breakdown, and then recognized that I still had commitments for the day that I needed to focus on.

How we handle adversary makes us the people that we are.  By the time the Boss Man and I returned with a trailer and tractor to load the pickup and get it off the road.  I realized how lucky I was.  For what it could of been the damage was minimal,  the calf was still alive (and still is to this day), Jazz was not riding with me as she could of been seriously injured, and I walked away without a scratch.  Sometimes I forget to stop, and just count the blessings.  November is a time to be thankful… so I’ve put together a list of things that I’m thankful for this month.

1.  My family.  The Boss Man for being the awesomest teacher, mentor, and role model, and the Boss Man’s Wife for being a rock, best friend, and support system.  My brother and sister-in-law for being the amazing people that they are, and Haley, for being the absolute cutest niece in the world.

2.  My friends.  For saying it how it is, and for being a shoulder, or a kick in the butt when I need it.

3.  My lifestyle.  There’s no other occupation I can think of that lets me wake up every morning doing what I absolutely love to do.

4.  Opportunities, both professional and personally.

5.  People that make me laugh, whether it be singing idiotic songs, or making random comments.

6.  The mindset that always wants to learn and grow.

7.  Our industry.  There aren’t many people that are better out there than those that raise BEEF.

8.  Inventions.  The important ones besides clothing and shelter….like wifi, Keurig, and baseball caps.

9.  Animals, whether they are companions or part of the operation.

10. Most importantly, God; for the advantages, for the trials, and for making me the person that I am, and also for putting up with the person that I am.

There’s not reasons for a lot of things.  Why do people get sick?  Why are there car accidents?  Why did this happen or that happen?  But, staying positive, and counting the blessings that we do have make not only ranching a lot easier, but life in general.  Sure the last couple of months have been challenging, they have also been amazing.  There have been new opportunities, new joys, new laughter, and it sometimes just takes an event to stop and realize how blessed we truly are.

 

 

September 17, 2014

Haley and Haley’s Comet

Filed under: Comet,Jaclyn Wilson,Ranch — Jaclyn @ 9:19 pm

 

 

 

As promised, here are the pictures of Haley and Haley’s Comet.  Haley is coming to visit this next week and will get to meet Comet for the first time.  I can never remember a time without horses, and I hope this little girl is exactly the same!

 

September 3, 2014

Bring on the bling

Filed under: 4-H,Agriculture,Beef,County Fair,Jaclyn Wilson — Jaclyn @ 9:18 pm

There are very few inventions in the ranching industry that I do not agree with.  The calf sling used to weigh calves, frustrates the heck out of me.  Paying for turn signals on the UTV when living in the boonies irritates me.  The rubber keypad that is still sitting in the drawer that attaches to the handheld that we enter cattle records on, was a huge waste.  Nothing, and I mean nothing has gyrated on my nerves, makes my attitude flare, and gets me fired up more than “Butt Bling.”

We’ve all seen it, but let me explain it.  Butt Bling (BB) are those intricate patterns on the backside of female “western” jeans.  Most of these designs include crystals, painted plastic stones, big buttons, elaborate stitching and whatever else they can super glue or iron on that won’t hopefully set of a metal detector.  Walk into any western store, hometown country store, or country boutique and that seems to be the only jean on the shelve.  Rodeo stands are full of them, they are gracing arena floors at cattle shows, and evidently they are mandatory clothing attire at a Red Dirt concert.  I would not recommend ‘googling’ BB, as I learned the hard way, but if you are still confused as to what I’m talking about, just visit any rural venue where females are present, and check out their ummm….jeans??

I have a pair of BB jeans.  My opinion was influenced, as they were definitely not something I would purchase on my own free will.  Needless to say after one time of wearing them in public where I was sure light was reflecting like a giant disco ball off the hundreds of crystals that decorated my posterior, I decided they were being sent to the work jean closet.  I’ve often been accused of wearing jeans that are too far gone to even work in, so the Boss Man’s Wife was very surprised when I showed up one morning wearing a dark blue pair of jeans with no holes, no welding burns, and even no grease stains.  Within 12 hours, I had torn a hole in the ATV seat cover, scratched a saddle, left a mark on a tractor hood, and put a nice new rip in my leather pickup seat.  That doesn’t even take into account the fact that I could not shimmy across a fence, sit down on a pickup bed, or even perch on a five gallon bucket without needing a bandaid.

I’m not for sure who invented BB, but I’m pretty sure I can guarantee that they had not done any ranch work whatsoever!  Meanwhile, I’m going to find alternate uses for the crystals and buttons, such as reflectors on autogates or even slingshot ammunition.

In celebration of both county and state fairs everywhere, I promised some pictures of my 4-H days.  It took awhile to find pictures that I would actually allow anybody to see, but I did find a couple.

 




June 20, 2014

Labels in the boonies

Filed under: Agriculture,Beef,Jaclyn Wilson,MCOOL,NCBA YCC,politics — Jaclyn @ 6:00 am

I’ve often thought about setting up a sign somewhere on the gravel road into the ranch. It would say “End of the World 12 Miles, Wilson Ranch 13 Miles.” Living in the boonies does have its benefits, like the time I forgot my pants in the house and was getting into the pickup when I realized that the leather seats were a little cooler than normal. The downside to living in the boonies is that sometimes we forget that there is a whole other world out there.

After more than 11 years of restrictions, it was announced June 17 that Hong Kong has agreed to fully open its borders to U.S. beef and beef products. How significant is this? Well in 2013, Hong Kong was the fourth largest market for U.S. beef and beef product, and 2014 looks to top those figures from last year. Hong Kong is not the only country jumping on the U.S. Beef Train as Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay and Sri Lanka also lifted restrictions earlier this year.

So … what’s that mean to the boonie dwellers? CattleFax estimates that exports added $307/head value in 2013, and with countries importing more product, that value looks to go up.

There’s a couple developments coming down the pipeline for trade. One big one to keep an eye on is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is in negotiations by the U.S., Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Canada and Mexico. Full market access to all TPP countries would not only give us the ability to compete, but will only add value to those carcasses.

Trade is a sensitive issue — not near as sensitive as saying the word “Redskins” in DC this week, but in order to receive you have to play nice. Canada and Mexico are two of our leading trade partners, together accounting for $2.1 billion — yes, that is billion — in beef exports. I understand I spent nine days eating, breathing and sleeping NCBA during the Young Cattleman’s Conference, but my opinion has not changed. I thought MCOOL was dumb before I went, and it’s just as dumb now. Retaliation is never pretty, and this has and will continue to get ugly and uglier.

Do packers control our industry? For some people, they do, but there is a whole bundle of opportunities to find those niche spots. Branded beef programs, grid marketing, genetic marketing, NHTC, natural, grass-fed — the list goes on of value added programs that can pad the pocketbook. Instead why implement something that will cost the industry millions and carry down to us boonie dwellers. Research is showing that the majority of consumers won’t care what’s on the label, much less look at it.

If you buy beef at a grocery store, ask yourself, when was the last time you looked at a label? Did you look at the label before the price tag? Do you classify yourself as an average consumer? Do you care who’s paying for the changes and who those changes will be passed onto? I will guarantee it’s not going to be the packers that will absorb the financial implications.

Beef exports is a huge area of possibility for U.S. beef producers, but in order to continue to be an advantage, we have to play nice, and MCOOL is not nice. Contact your delegation and show your support for opening all trade!

April 16, 2014

Yes Honey, That’s Ringworm…

Filed under: Agriculture,Jaclyn Wilson,Ranch,Wrestling — Jaclyn @ 6:24 am

The mindset of wrestlers has always appealed to me.  It might be their demeanor, cockiness, or truth be told, it takes a lot of “something” to wear a skintight uniform and roll around on a mat with another guy.  The Uncle was a Division I Conference Champ back in the day (at times he still thinks he is), and it wasn’t unusual to see a wrestling match whenever the poor interns were feeling brave.  Even I would somehow find myself in a match with The Uncle once in a great while, it sure beat the roping dummy practice that for some reason I fell for time and time again.  I guess it wasn’t really a surprise that I married a college wrestler, but it sure did surprise him when I pulled out a fishhook and knuckle rub one day…

I’ve always been a big advocate of volunteering.  When Ryan moved to Nebraska, I really encouraged him to get involved in at least one community program, so I was very pleased when he came home one evening this last fall and informed me he was helping coach kids wrestling.  I figured it would be a good deal after dealing with wrestlers before to start the season off with some ground rules.

“If you end up with ringworm, you won’t even get to sleep on the couch, just pack up and head to The Uncles’!”

There is nothing that grosses me out faster then ringworm.  I understand that ringworm and funky skin issues comes with being a wrestler, but that does not make it right!  Especially when you bring it home!

Every night Ryan got home from practice, I wouldn’t hug him until he had showered (the school doesn’t have showers in town), I would throw his clothes directly in the washing machine, I reiterated sleeping at The Uncles’, I even asked if I could buy him those disinfectant wipes to use after practice which evidently wasn’t the “manly” thing to do.

A couple Saturdays ago, I was able to get done feeding early enough to catch the end of the local tournament that Ryan was coaching at.  I was having a fun afternoon away from work, until I saw one of the kids that Ryan really enjoyed sparring with…and he had a big ringworm area on his face!  I cornered both The Uncle and Ryan after the tournament when we were eating, and reiterated my stance on ringworm.  They both smiled and nodded their heads but looking back, I think all they were hearing was Charlie Brown’s teacher.

Two days later, I have our ET guy down from Montana checking through recips for most of the day.  After he left, I ran down to the house to shower and pack as I was spending the night in Brewster before heading to the Meat Animal Research Center for a board meeting with the Nebraska Cattlemen the following morning.  Imagine my surprise when getting into the shower I notice a couple of suspicious red spots on my right shoulder.  Not to be outdone, my left one is also sporting two new marks that I’m pretty sure were not there the day before.

I called the Boss Man’s Wife.

“Would you tell Ryan to get down to the house, NOW!”

Ryan showed up at the door, I’m standing in a towel with a huge scowl on my face.

“Can you tell me what this is???”

Ryan turns his head to the side.  I can see he’s trying to control his emotions, yet somehow bursts out laughing anyway as his wife is standing, fuming.

“Yes honey, that’s ringworm.”

I made frantic calls to The Uncle, grandma, and the Boss Man’s Wife trying to find something to cover the area with.  With no success, and me heading the other direction from the closest grocery store, I reverted to google.

Google told me to coat the area with fingernail polish, which sure seemed to be a more intelligent decision then the bleach Ryan was telling me to use.

I coated the area with enough fingernail polish to stock a nail salon, and headed out the door, fingernail polish in tow.

Two days later, the spots were gone…as was my sanity…and my fingernail polish.

Ryan was so impressed with the home remedy, that when he found a suspicious spot on his chest, I found him in the bathroom applying fingernail polish to the spot.

So there’s Ryan heading outside to feed the Red Headed Step Child, athletic shorts, air cast (wrestling injury) and slip-on leather shoes.

“You got quite a fashion statement going on there!”

His response?

“I’m waiting for my fingernail polish to dry!”

I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

 

 

 

March 31, 2014

New Milestone

Filed under: Jaclyn Wilson — Jaclyn @ 6:11 pm

Had a horrible blonde moment, realized that this was wrote and had been sitting in the draft box for a week!…Ugh!

I reached a new milestone today on National Agriculture Day…I took a felfie.  Well, not an actually felfie since I think under the guidelines and definition I needed to be out on the farm and taking the picture myself.  I will admit I have not been a huge advocate for the felfie.  I love the idea of producers and those involved in agriculture taking pictures of their operations.

But…..

The name just drives me crazy!  Agriculturists are some of the smartest people I know, and felfie was the best we could come up with???  It sounds like a Muppet character, and we all know that their last movie bombed!  If the purpose is for farmers to take selfies, wouldn’t that actually be a farmfie?  And what about us ranchers?  I’ve been thinking on this for awhile now.  Ranchie reminds me of dirty socks, and isn’t ralfie the “I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!”  I’m going to start advocating for an Agfie!

My Agfie came about today in a unique way.  In celebration of National Ag day I spent my morning on the airwaves of four different radio stations promoting agriculture and involvement.  My first stop was a radio station in Chadron where I spent a half hour on the air with the Executive Director of the Chadron Chamber of Commerce and a great dj that was able to keep the flow of conversation going.  Now, I had not had the opportunity to meet either of these individuals, but the ice was quick to break when the Executive Director pulled out a clipping of a blog advertisement found in Midwest Producer.  Now I’m not for sure who is responsible for the ad…but, when it says ”outrageous, entertaining, opinionated, etc. etc.”  that’s a lot to live up to!  I finished off the first interview by explaining the felfie, and encouraging everyone to get out today, hug/high five an ag producer and to post your felfies to social media.  Not only did I say felfie, but I said it on air….Kermit the Frog is laughing hysterically at this point.

The Executive Director asked if I’d step across the hall to the FM station and we proceeded to give another interview.  Guess what came up?  Yes, the felfie.  It went over so much that the new dj asked to even take her own felfie with an ag. producer to post online, and now my picture, my name and the word felfie can be found on the world wide web.

I doubt my agfie will get very far, but it was neat today to see non ag people get excited about the felfie.  What impressed me the most was when the Executive Director posted on Facebook tonight a picture of her and her daughter (a huge ag lover) in their own felfie.  National Ag. Day is a celebration of all great things agriculture.  Its one day that’s part of a week of celebrations for you and me and what we do for a living, but most importantly what we love.  It’s just one more time to tell our stories, share our influences and promote our industry.  Have a great National Ag Week!

March 18, 2014

How Fat Is Too Fat?

Filed under: Agriculture,Beef,Cattle,Jaclyn Wilson — Jaclyn @ 8:02 pm

The Boss Man and his Wife returned from their annual vacation around a week ago. Even though the Uncle is still around, I do promote myself to Boss Man Junior at this time and inform all the livestock and pets that I will answer by that moniker only (and yes, I did say “moniker”). With the lack of conversation during those couple of weeks, my brain is usually on overload and this time was no different.

How fat is too fat?

Yep, I can’t get this one off my mind.  I’m female, so one of my first arguments every morning is with the lovely bathroom scale.  Most mornings I leave the pad of torture with a smile, but some mornings you can just call me Garfield.  We have become a nation focused on obesity, but why hasn’t that carried over into the Beef Industry?

Let me start at the beginning with this train of thought.  So there I was sitting in the feeder tractor at the lot waiting for a load to finish mixing.  I usually have a couple of magazines in the cab to pass the time, and the magazine of choice for the day was the new issue of TIME magazine.  I lean right, and I’m well aware that TIME is not right, but hey, it was free.  TIME had an article about the new “American Nightmare” which is a generation of children that may have a shorter life expectancy than their parents because of obesity.  The article went on to talk about how being overweight or obese at a young age can expose children to higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, atherosclerosis and that they are twice as likely to develop certain cancers.  It also noted that premature aging of the obese/overweight young body can cause signs of chromosome wear and tissue damage seen only in older generations.  It was an interesting read, and I didn’t think much about it until I started reading the next publication in the stack.

The next publication was a well-known ag newspaper that provides seedstock sale reports.  I’m reading through the reports and one that probably wouldn’t of caught my attention normally, this time preoccupied my mind for the last week.  The report talked about a production sale that was selling bulls some of which weren’t even a year old that weighed 1500lbs.  That was a little discerning in itself that year old bulls, whose purpose is to chase cows around a pasture weigh the same as a finished feedlot steer.  The kicker??  The reporter followed up by saying that there was no loss to longevity or soundness.

What??

Okay, somebody please explain this to me.  How can I read an article that talks about scientific studies done in animals and humans where being overweight/obese leads to the list of issues above, but an overweight/obese yearling bull is going to have soundness and longevity?

I’m well aware that pounds sell in today’s industry, but maybe it’s time to look at the internal damage we are doing to livestock that are pushed too hard too fast and expected to stay in herds for years.

I’m still a firm believer that I would like to be reincarnated as a feedlot steer.  Who wouldn’t want to sit around and eat all day?  But, maybe we need to start looking at those whose purpose in life is to not sit around and eat all day and ask ourselves are we really doing what is best for the animal…and ourselves?

February 6, 2014

Call to All Beef Producers!

Filed under: Agriculture,Beef,Cattle,FMD,Jaclyn Wilson — Jaclyn @ 1:02 pm

The Olympics start tonight. I’m currently in Nashville at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and will admit that I will probably bypass the opportunity to watch the opening ceremonies for a evening at the Grand Ole Opry. Now, I’m well aware that until they have an Olympic event for loading the Kramer bale processor the fastest, or ATV half pipe that I will never be an Olympian. Terrorism has been an ongoing issue of concern with Sochi. We hear time and time again about terroristic threats not only in Sochi but throughout the world. I can guarantee that the introduction of Foot-And-Mouth (FMD) into the United States would make the majority of those terrorism acts look like a walk in the park.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) wants to allow the importation of fresh beef from 14 Brazilian states under certain conditions. Currently due to long standing concerns over FMD only thermally processed beef has been allowed in the States from Brazil.

FMD affects cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, deer, and other cloven-hoofed animals. It can be spread by direct contact, aerosol, eating contaminated feeds, clothes, shoes, people, vehicles etc. etc….starting to get the picture?

One infected animal would have a catastrophic impact on the US livestock industry. A small scale example would be to take the 14 county area of southwest Kansas. 1.2 million cattle would have to be destroyed. That’s just the start…what about those truck that carried those cattle, the visitors to those operations, even a UPS truck, or how about the pharmaceutical rep that left from the lot to board a flight to another lot in a different state. That 1.2 number rises fast, and the burn piles become larger and larger.

Brazil has not proved themselves free of FMD long enough to enter the US Market in the form of fresh meat.

ALL beef producers need to comment on this. PLEASE go to www.regulations.gov. Search for (2009-0017) and comment on how devastating this could possibly be to US beef producers! Comments need to be received on or before February 21, 2014.

Hopefully the Sochi Olympics will avoid all catastrophes, and with your input hopefully the US beef industry wiill do the same.

January 16, 2014

Intimidator

Filed under: Agriculture,Bad boy,Intimidator,Jaclyn Wilson,Life,Ranch,UTV — Jaclyn @ 8:52 pm

In the however long this blog has been in production, I’ve rarely done a product endorsement. Today that is going to change.

I’ve mentioned numerous times that we utilize the heck out of ATV’s on the ranch. At current count there’s six of them running around the operation. The Boss Man purchased the first UTV a little over a year ago, a Honda Big Red, I may be a little biased but our machine can kick his machine’s butt.

Ryan and I attended the Kansas State Fair this last year and right inside the gate was a UTV that caught our attention. The Intimidator was developed by Robert Foster most recently from Bad Boy Mowers. The company’s mission is to offer “world class, American made, side-by-side, 4×4 Utility Vehicles with unparalleled strength, power, and performance, at an affordable price.”

The UTV comes in three different body styles; classic, crew cab and truck series. Once you pick the style, there are three different engines; 1000cc Kohler Diesel, 750cc Kohler Gas, and 48v Brushless Electric.

When we were in Kansas for New Years, Ryan and I ran over to Wichita to test drive one of the “beasts.” The test drive went well. A little to well…because we ended up loading the creature and bringing it home.

The machine has been earning it’s place. The power steering and ride is incredible. Snow, mud, and sand has not been an issue, and the fact that you can carry the weight of a round bale is tempting. It even has the Boss Man’s approval…which is like a huge gold star in my book.

I’m looking forward to this summer and not having a radiator to blow out, or the dust sucking, and with a towing capacity of 2100lbs it should make a decent fencing wagon.

I can’t say I’ve used the turn signals, or the hydraulic bed yet, but I’m sure I will soon…well maybe not the turn signals.

Unfortunately the downside is that the headrests and nets are not dog proof as RYAN’s DOG decided to use them as a chew toy. Dumb dog won’t chew on a bone, but decides to eat the UTV within two weeks.

Visit www.intimidatorutv.com to check it out!

January 8, 2014

Politics Come to Cow Town

I’m sure there are many of us that can come up with a better list of things to do on a miserable raw Monday night, but on January 6, the masses came to Hyannis to listen to the seven (yes, that is seven) gubernatorial candidates respectfully hash it out.  The night was sponsored in part by the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Farm Bureau, and ICON (which also goes to show that sometimes we all CAN agree on something).

It was a great way to listen to the differences between candidates, as questions concerning property tax reduction, water issues, agriculture exemptions, animal care legislation, forming new states, improvement of rural internet, economic development, expanding Medicaid, rural education, mountain lions, White Clay, and of course any political debate must have…abortion and the death penalty were asked by the large crowd.

Needless to say, the folding chairs were causing a little soreness.

If you are not familiar yet with the candidates, here is a quick cheat sheet:

Senator Tom Carlson-State legislator for 7 years.  He has chaired both the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.  Previously taught college baseball and football.  Grew up on a farm north of Holdrege.

Senator Beau McCoy-Family ranch around the Benkleman area. Now owns a construction company in Elkhorn.  Sixth year in the legislature.

Chuck Hasselbrook- Only Democrat in the race.  Was at the Center of Rural Affairs for 36 years.  Served on the Board of Regents for 18.  Curently resides in Lyons.

Pete Ricketts- Past Senatorial candidate (fyi. I serve on Ricketts Ag. Advisory Committee, and often wonder if Ricketts would have defeated Senator Nelson in the race would we have ObamaCare???)  Past CEO of Ameritrade.

Brian Sloan-Grew up in Gordon and Gering.  Worked for Congressman Hal Dobb and with the Regan Administration.  Runs largest accounting firm in the state.  Lives in Omaha.

Senator Charlie Janssen- City councilman and State Senator from Nickerson.  Was a US Navy search and rescue swimmer prior.

Mike Foley- State senator for six years, and current Nebraska Auditor.

A very distinguished and accomplished bunch, but where do you start deciding where the politicking begins and ends?

So….here is my run down on some highlights of the evening.

All candidates are in agreement that property tax and overall tax reform is a high priority for the citizens of Nebraska.  One red flag for me was Hasselbrook and his continue push on wind energy development as a revenue development to help with the tax situation.  After traveling miles through Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado and even west Texas, nothing to me destroys the beauty of the land then wind tower after wind tower.  To rile some feathers here, after attending a seminar at Peru State College through the Nebraska LEAD Program, I’m a firm believer that we should be exploring more to do with Nuclear energy.

All were in agreement that water is going to be an ongoing issue.  Carlson and Janssen both said that this is a Nebraska issue not just a user issue and as such should be paid for by everyone in the state.

The decision on LB 405/406.  McCoy admitted that these were his bills on request from the Governor, but he also did vote to kill them in committee.  The rest of the candidates said agriculture exemptions are needed in the next tax bill.  This question was the first one where Sloan came out in support of a flat tax.  Interesting concept, which has garnered talk over the years, but may be difficult to get people to jump on board with.

My favorite question of the night was would you support/oppose animal care legislation? Six of the seven candidates slammed HSUS, and not only said they would follow Governor Heineman’s  stand “If you come to our state we will kick you @$$”, but would do all they could do ensure that the farmers/ranchers in this state were protected from activists groups like HSUS.  I did find it extremely concerning that Hasselbrook made no mention of HSUS, and am really concerned as to his relations with groups that support HSUS activities.

When asked if western Nebraska, northeast Colorado and Eastern Wyoming wanted to form a state should they be allowed?  Carlson had the best answer of the day when he commented that he wanted western Nebraska to remain part of the state, but they should at least get Nebraska news!  (For those of you that don’t know, if you have satellite in rural western Nebraska, the news comes out of Denver).  Hasselbrook talked about having a “Capital for a day”, where he would move the state capital and some staff throughout the state to different towns.  I’m not for sure where this is budgeted in yet….maybe under wishful thinking?

There was a consensus that the school aid formula is a disgrace, and there is way to much scheming of the system going on.  Janssen’s solution was to put farmers and ranchers on every school board.

Mountain lion hunting is a big YES, White Clay is a big UH, and the death penalty is a showcase of inefficiency.

After two hours of questions, my ideal candidate would be…..Foley’s aggressiveness, Sloan’s tax and international experience, McCoy’s persona, Carlson’s figure knowledge, Rickett’s common sense and collaborativeness, Janssen’s humor, and Hasselbrook’s suspenders (they were really neat!)

Like I mentioned above though, I’m a Pete Ricketts supporter, because of one main reason.  He took the time out of his day to spend a hour with me over coffee, asking about agriculture and my generation.  He never asked for a dime, he asked for my opinion.  He has spent time with a number of my peers in their homes, on their ranches, riding in their columbines absorbing all the trials and tribulations that we in agriculture face, and for that he has earned my respect.

Best of luck to all candidates, whomever you may choose.  Take the opportunity to meet them face to face, form your own opinion and be ready for a tough tough primary come May 13.

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