I’m honored, and a bit humbled, to share that I’m featured in the most recent issue of the Rural Route magazine, which goes out to farm families and others involved in agriculture in Wisconsin. You can read the full article below to learn more about how I got my start in farming, as well as raising meat goats and direct marketing goat meat in western Wisconsin.
I’d also like to give a big thank you to Amy Eckelberg from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau for asking me to do the interview and coming all the way to northwestern Wisconsin to take photos for the story in one of the hottest times of the year.
She also started to learn the art of taking pictures with livestock guardian dogs sniffing and licking you and figuring out how to get a good shot of grazing goats. This includes not just getting them to face you but attempting to not get too many goat rear ends or anyone taking care of business in the shot. I think Amy did ok, if you look at her pictures!
Enjoy the read!
P.S. The magazine also featured a number of grilling recipes in the Farm Flavor section from my personal food Instagram account: @GrillingLikeSteven You can check those out here.
If you want to see the whole magazine, click here to read it.
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Writer’s note: As a finalist in the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Excellence in Agriculture competition, I had the opportunity to share my background and contributions to agriculture, but also pressing issues I see impacting agriculture today. I’ll be covering these issues in my blog.
I’m going to be honest. This is an issue that bothers me to the core, yet is often is the hardest for me to talk about. I love agriculture. It’s intertwined into my life through my work, family, friends and community. This issue tears me apart inside. I recognize it’s easy to push it aside and put up barriers. But, it can’t be ignored anymore.
You may know what I’m talking about. There’s a major divide within agriculture, whether it’s large vs. small, organic vs. traditional, grass-fed vs. grain fed, and so on. I admit there are a lot of layers to this issue. Some of it has been fueled by food marketing and by consumers who want to know how their food is produced. And, I think the later fact is a good thing. That’s what we’ve been working to accomplish with programs like Ag in the Classroom and outreach through local FFA chapters. But, we need to do more to come together in agriculture.
So, what can be done to unite our agricultural community internally? This is a big issue that will take time and work from many of us in our day-to-day lives and work in agriculture. For me it has been about:
On occasion friends and colleagues ask me why I’m involved with Farm Bureau. I’ll often share how I love the leadership and education opportunities. This last weekend I graduated from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Leadership Institute, a yearlong personal and professional development program. It wasn’t until this week, following that graduation, I was able to reflect on what this organization truly means to me. It’s about friendships and a shared love for agriculture. Here’s why I’m a part of Farm Bureau:
If you’re already a member, I’d encourage you to think about what this organization means to you and where it can help you in the future. If you’re not a part of Farm Bureau, think about joining. Just like other organizations, you can pick and choose what and how much you want to do. It’s what you make of it. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be glad to share more information about membership or simply answer questions.
While farm operation is my “thing,” my husband Scott is just as invested in it as I am. While farming is hard work, and not to mention, a lot of work to start a farm operation, it’s something we truly enjoy doing. Here’s a little more on why we farm:
It's in our roots and a way of life that we know and love. We both have grown up in agriculture. I was raised in rural Northeastern Wisconsin loving the outdoors, developing a hands-on approach to life and actively participating in ag education and FFA. Scott grew up on a dairy farm in Northwestern Wisconsin. We both started our careers in agriculture working for organizations that provide supplies and services to farmers. Scott continues to do so today, while I now farm. While farming is hard work, both physical and brain power, it's a way of life we enjoy. We are thankful to be a part of agriculture and raise a family on the farm.
We love the outdoors and the land. As land owners, we're proud that we care for our land in a way that not only benefits our livestock and pasture, but also the soil and wildlife. It also the reason why we rotationally graze our goats and pasture poultry.
Making something our own. As a small business owner, there's not a better feeling of building something of our own. It's our farm and planning that's moving it forward. As we continue to grow, it's motivating to see our hard work and business plans pay off.
Doing our part to provide nutritious food to our greater community. This doesn't really need much more explanation. It is what it is and we're glad to play a part in our regional food and ag system.
If you're involved in agriculture, what’s your reason or why are you passionate about it?
I'll always be a part of the ag industry. It's just who I am. It's what I love and it's a way of life. It all started when I was a freshman in high school when I took my first agriscience course in horticulture. I loved the hands on, real life application of the life sciences. I was immediately drawn to the FFA and its opportunities in leadership and career development. And from there my love of everything agriculture started to flourish.
I own and manage Cylon Rolling Acres in northwestern Wisconsin. On my farm I raise Boer - Kiko meat goats on pasture.
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Cylon (pronounced Si-lon) is the name of our township in St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Sorry fans, our farm is not named after the robots of Battlestar Galactica.