I’ve always been pretty fascinated by doomsday prophesies.  In high school my friends and I held a Y2K party, at midnight we all checked our vehicles to make sure they still ran.  Last year in June the hired kid I was riding with, my dog and all the cows disappeared for a time, I was pretty sure either they’d been raptured or I had I wasn’t sure.  This year being 2012 we have a whole new list of things to worry about.

After reading a news story about someone using xylitol to nix wolves in Idaho yesterday I’ve developed my own doomsday prophesy.  It wasn’t the article that got my mind wandering, but rather the comments following the article.  Reading comments following an agriculturally related article published in mainstream media always gets me jazzed up.  Apparently these goons don’t eat, wear clothes, have pets or children and most likely live in an asphalt jungle.

My doomsday prophesy given to my mother October 5, 2012- “You know mom, I don’t give a hoot if they take all the sheep off public lands, in fact, I HOPE they take all the sheep off public lands.  I hope they take the cows off too.  I also hope they put out every forest fire that starts for the next 10 years.  I hope they halt all timber sales and quit logging 100% on public land, then shut down logging on private land. I hope all pesticides and herbicides are banned.  I hope wolves, grizzlies, bobcats, and cougars make full population recoveries, maybe even recoveries beyond pre-extermination levels. I am excited to see what will happen when forest landscapes are blackened by mega fires, people are griping more than they already do about smoke and structures lost.  I’m stoked to see a monoculture of noxious weeds and hear about epidemic West Nile.  I can’t wait for the food supply entirely provided by foreign countries to be chock full of nasty bacteria and on top of that cost an arm and a leg.  I hope people are cold in the winter because there’s not a single solitary sheep left in the US and the only sweaters being shipped in are from Australia made entirely of wool owned by China.  It will be interesting to see peoples reactions to children being grabbed at bus stops by wolves, grizzly maulings in Kansas and the need for elk reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park.”

Yes, I realize this is a little over the top, at least I hope it is. The question is, how do we prevent Kim’s Doomsday from happening?  GET INVOLVED!  This is as much a pep talk for myself as it is for anyone that wastes 10 minutes reading my blog.  Often I find it difficult to get involved as I get so overwhelmed by the negativity being thrown around about agriculture, but sitting back and watching the policy fly may very well result in elk reintroduction and spotted knapweed lawns.

Why is it, in high school and college we were excited about our industry groups?  We were all members of FFA, 4-H, Collegiate FFA, Ag Ambassadors, junior livestock associations and the like and now we’re not?  I suspect its because we’ve already burnt out to some degree, constant inundation with the negative, always being on the defense about out way of life and a rapidly changing world.  Often we’re so busy trying to produce food and fiber we don’t have time to get involved.  A friend suggested that most organizations are made up of good ol boys and we feel like we’re not totally welcome.

Personally, I’m a member of one measly industry organization.  Believe it or not it was a difficult decision even to entertain joining.  Between lambing, calving, haying, chasing cows, chasing sheep, haying, haying, gathering…the list goes on and on I just didn’t know if I’d do any sort of group justice.  I am so glad I continue to go to meetings and do my best to be involved.  It’s such a relief to sit down in a group and discuss current events relating to agriculture with folks that live with the same hassles, irritations, setbacks and victories I do.  In addition to all that we have the opportunity to change policy, change public perception of ag and change the way my doomsday prophecy will turn out.

If nothing else, just do a little research on what sort of organizations are available.  Farm Bureau, Cattlemen’s Assn, ASI, Beef Council and 4-H leadership are a few ideas.

Lets do everything we can to thwart the ignorance creating the perfect conditions for agriculture doomsday.  I’d much rather go down in the zombie apocalypse, an alien attack, a giant tsunami that wipes out the entire west coast or the rapture than cold, hungry and owned by the foreign power that feeds us.

For the love of old cows and good horses


This is "Gam Gam", she lives on a ranch in Hereford, OR. She's a spoiled ol' gal and as she's getting on in years enjoys grain twice a day and an all you can eat hay buffet. Her owners are thankful for all the calves she's brought home from summer range.

More than likely this blog post will forever ruin my street cred as a tough, stiff upperlip, hard ass kind of chick.  I am a crier and I am a bleeding heart animal lover. I cry during sad animal movies, or heartwarming ones, I have been known to cry when my animals are in pain, or when they die, I tear up at those blasted HSUS commercials knowing darn good and well its nothing but propaganda.  Heck, that’s why they’re so successful.  Chances are good if you’re involved in animal agriculture you are a bleeding heart animal lover too, to some degree at least.  Problem is, those that aren’t tend to make the most news.

Tales of this old fellow are colorful and numerous. If you don't recognize him out of the rodeo arena, this is Sankey Pro Rodeo's "William" enjoying retirement with a bevy of beautiful mares and all the wide open space and good feed he can stand.

Today was a rough day.  While I was feeding my sheep I noticed a ewe had lambed, as I drew closer I spied a second lamb on the ground next to the first.  His entire hindquarter had been pecked away by ravens, he was still alive.  His mama was frantically running around calling for him, he was squalling… I started crying. I called Nicole (my sheepherding partner in crime), and after a few hours of cleaning, suturing and mending she, my mom and I had him kind of put back together.  Tonight he’s still alive, eating and trying to get up.  While I was still processing my ever increasing hatred of birds I went to go feed the cows.  Just as I was really starting to hit the high notes of an Adele tune on the radio, and Leo, my faithful Border Collie was considering jumping out the window as his only option to avoid hearing loss my cell phone rang.  Brian (ranch hand guy) called to tell me something was wrong with a cow, she had been lying with her back down the hill, she couldn’t get up.  As I approached the down cow my heart sank, this wasn’t just any cow, it was “Blonde”.  Blonde is so old we don’t know how old she actually is.  She is at least old enough to vote, she might be old enough to drink.  I traded my dad a perfectly nice black calf sometime between 5th and 7th grade for a fetching little yellow heifer because she was an oddity in our herd.  Blonde has had a calf every year since she was 2, she has gone to the hills, worked hard and brought home a fat calf every one of those years.  We hauled her home in the back of the feeder tonight, stood her up by the barn and gave her a little alfalfa.  Given her advanced pregnancy and age, a nice level barn lot is a good place for her to stay.

old blonde cow

I’m really sorry for the sob story, but I have a point.  Ranchers, rodeo folks and anyone involved in animal agriculture are under fire.

Rarely do I see photos surface on the news of stock contractors feeding grain to their old bucking horses for a little extra winter energy, of cold baby calves and lambs hauled into the house in the middle of the night, or of saddle horses getting rubbed down  and thanked for a hard days work.  Instead I see grainy video of downer cows being beaten, baby calves kept in confinement in knee deep excrement and half starved horses being nabbed in police raids.

Most livestock folks don’t advertise good deeds, because they don’t see them as such.  It’s just what we do.

I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend time with some of the finest equine athletes in the country. These senior citizens spend their days snoozing in the sunshine and reminiscing of short go's gone by.

The vast majority of us treat our animals with the respect they deserve for providing us the opportunity to live out here as we’ve chosen. For those that don’t, clean up your act.  You never know who’s watching, judging and reporting what they’ve seen.  Don’t give groups like HSUS and PETA the ammunition they’re looking for to end our way of life. Never hesitate to explain branding, goat tying, dehorning, castrating or any one of the multitude of “cruel” acts we commit on the ranch to someone, every explanation has the potential to take a dollar or two out of an extremists pocket.  Whether you’re at home, at the salebarn or in the arena remember, we are all ambassadors for agriculture.

Huge thanks to Cass Sullivan (Gam Gam) and Ryan Sankey (William, mares) for photos!

What exactly is my checkoff dollar doing for me?


100% American wool

Last week I received a letter from the Idaho Wool Growers Association requesting donations for a legal fund to help defend sheep ranchers in an appeal with the United States Forest Service and against special interest groups determined to eliminate sheep grazing on federal land adjoining Bighorn habitat.  I will GLADLY send a donation and suggest anyone else that values public lands grazing in any state with any species do the same.

I have absolutely no qualms whatsoever about spending hard earned money to support agriculture, promote the cattle and sheep industries and defend my way of life.  However, I grit my teeth, snarl like a junkyard dog, get red faced and preachy every single time I see the amount taken out of my livestock sales for the checkoff programs.  It’s not the idea of the checkoff programs that get me wound up, or even the dollar per head donation, its how the money is spent. Research is great, so is food safety, but I want to convert vegans, have beef for dinner in every home in the United States and never have a server confused about which country the lamb comes from again.

At some point during my education at Montana State a prof told the class that while most ranchers subscribe to industry publications smart ranchers took the “Wall Street Journal”.  I strongly suspect the general protein purchasing public doesn’t subscribe to “Beef”, “The Capital Press”, “Hay and Forage” or “Drovers” so WHY I ask WHY do I constantly see ads for beef and lamb in these types of publications?

Recently in the mail I received a glossy double sided postcard urging me to “Follow Your Lamb Checkoff”, it suggested I check out , become a fan on facebook, then look to get even more information about lamb and the lamb checkoff at,, and Having owned a business that spent quite a lot of money on advertising in a variety of manners I can pretty confidently say that the postcard itself wasn’t cheap, the lamb checkoff website isn’t cheap and the advertisements extolling the virtues of the lamb checkoff in sheep publications probably aren’t cheap.  Why did we just waste a ridiculous amount of money on advertising to tell me, the sheep producer, what the checkoff dollar does for me?  Why wasn’t that money spent promoting lamb?  I know lamb is delicious, healthy, sustainable blah blah blah… I want every grocery decision maker, restaurant owner and potential lamb customer in America to know the benefits of lamb.  A couple years ago I was hoping to find a clothing manufacturer in the United States using American wool, I called the American Sheep Industry Assn. where I was told they didn’t know of any such manufacturer.  After conducting several hours of research I found plenty. Isn’t it ASI’s job to not only know who these manufacturers are, but to promote domestic wool as the sustainable, green, clean alternative to synthetics?

In another heinous act of preaching to the choir “BEEF” magazine (July 2011, because that’s the one I grabbed) displays an advertisement on the back cover, telling me how much money has been spent on beef safety research and that I can find more information about the beef checkoff on After perusing this website I found out I can receive a booklet with beef recipes, a bookLET. I’m pretty sure Lady GaGa donning the infamous beef dress did more for beef promotion than a booklet of beef recipes.  “Beef it’s What’s for Dinner” is tired, worn out and OLD! Geico didn’t quit with the gecko, they dreamt up those ridiculous caveman commercials. Why don’t I see beef ads pop up online?  More people are gathering information from internet news sources and social media than ever before. A friend mentioned in a Facebook post several years ago she had purchased her first Carhartt coat, she was immediately bombarded with “Carhartt” ads, similarly non aggie friends have mentioned delicious steak dinners and wool sweaters in their facebook posts.  Why are they not overrun with beef and wool ads?  Why do I rarely see beef ads in mainstream publications geared towards potential customers?

A month or so ago McDonalds debuted advertisements featuring producers of beef, lettuce and potatoes grown for use in McDonalds restaurants.  My feelings about fast food and Mickey D’s aside I found myself pouring over them as high as a french fry junkie in front of a dollar menu.  AMAZING!  These ads were well shot, they told a story, they made food personal and most of all they assured us that our food was being grown by real human beings in our own country! I’ve seen variations of the McDonalds ads on youtube, television and in print.  Thank you McDonalds for doing a better job promoting my product than the people in charge of my checkoff dollars do.

Romance sells! Beautiful, pastoral settings, cowboys atop fine steeds trailing a vast herd... heck no one needs to know one of these characters got piledrived shortly after this photo was shot.

Alledgedly it’s “beef month”, if it weren’t for Les Schwab, the local FFA chapters and the Baker County Cattlewomens I’d have no clue this most delicious holiday was underway.  Advertisement is a powerful tool, what was your favorite Super Bowl commercial this year?  Hopefully someday in the future industry leaders in charge of checkoff allocations will consider modern, real world advertisement as an option in promoting American protein and fiber.

Should you be interested in donating to the Idaho Wool Growers Litigation Fund, in order to assist Idaho sheep ranchers in a formal appeal with the USFS regarding elimination of grazing domestic sheep near bighorn populations and habitat make checks payable to IWGA Litigation fund and send to:

Idaho Wool Growers Assn: PO Box 2596: Hoff Building: 802 West Bannock: Suite 205: Boise, ID 83701

Sure you might not own sheep, you might not graze on public lands and you might think lamb is gross, but I guarantee you benefit in some way from public lands grazing and American agriculture.

making hay while the sun shines and the value of a pivot guru


With the sheep safely tucked away on warmer real estate and the sub tropical open winter we’ve experienced here in Eastern Oregon we JUST started feeding hay to the cows.  I hate feeding hay. Not so much the act of feeding, but watching an entire summers’ hard work, midnight baling, waiting for dew, cussing because there is too much dew, lost moisture testers, discussing which color twine works best and parts runs disappear with such ease.

Ranchers LOVE discussing haying, haying equipment and haying strategy. Just last week I chatted with a fellow girl rancher about the intricacies of the 4000 series Hesston big balers.  During the height of haying season here in Keating evenings are spent preparing for a night of baling hay, sleep deprived baler drivers work like an Indy pit crew to load twine, grease, fuel up, check pressures and weather reports with an obsession rivaling that of midwest storm chasers.

this lil fella wrecked my universe for the better part of a week

ice cream always makes repairs more enjoyable

comfortable and fashionable baling attire is a must for the modern baler-girl

Last summer I remember being chased out of a prime alfalfa field by a little 5 minute squall. Rain beat down for a matter of seconds, but my pressure had dropped to zilch and I’d plugged up.  I headed home with my baler, hanging my head at not finishing the last two windrows of green gold.  At the firestation (the local hangout) there was a gathering of several 4 wheelers, another baler, swather, and some pickups.  Everyone was standing outside staring at an approaching storm, several were holding beer cans which indicated they thought this would be a storm capable of putting the forthcoming nights activities to an abrupt halt.  There were several conversations going on, none of which had anything to do with world news, sports or reality television.  Topics included malfunctioning pressure sensors, swather belts, rake drivers, who was going to get the neighbors straw, exploding wheelines and the steep price of hiring custom hay crews.

This was a doozy


I can’t think of a single rancher that LOVES irrigating.  Several that are darned good at it come to mind, but none that wake up in the morning just itching to get outside sporting hip waders to clean out plugged sprinklers, lug handline across muddy alfalfa or yank a pivot tower out of the muck.

the dog is even tired

There are as many different methods of irrigation as there are crops to irrigate, and as I’ll get to a little later, pivot nozzles to irrigate with. Some prefer flooding while others swear by wheelines or pivots, some even still use… (dramatic pause)… handline.  Personally, I think mini pivots are awfully cute.

Last winter my father concluded, following lengthy consideration, discussion, and “penciling” (rancher speak for determining economic viability of a project) that his life would be simplified with the purchase of a full size (not mini, darn it) pivot.  He looked at new pivots, used pivots, wrecked pivots, pivots with rust and rot and patches, water driven pivots and electric pivots even a solar pivot. He went to exotic locales to look at pivots, like Silver Lake, Oregon. He even met a new best friend, his pivot guru.  Finally, right smack dab in the middle of lambing season he found “it”, the “one”.  His pivot lived in the middle of nowhere, Idaho.

Dad packed up half a dozen guys that called themselves his friends at the onset of this journey and headed to Idaho following a nasty cold snap, several feet of snow and brain numbing wind.  We were still lambing, but there was a pivot to retrieve.  By this time several members of the Jacobs family cringed at the use of the word “pivot”.  The gang of thieves dismantled the pivot and hauled it home. Construction began and drug on for months.  Fortunately, the pivot guru was a cell phone call away and through bribery and help from extended family the pivot rose.  I will admit I had little to do with this process.  The mere mention of “pivot” would send me  to the sheepshed, tack room, or cow pasture at a sprint.

I did help with setting the pivot “hub” and attaching nozzles. I now consider myself and expert on pivot nozzles and drilling holes in concrete which will serve me well I’m sure.  The folks at the local pivot store know me by name, ask how the family is doing and humor me by allowing me to argue with them about nozzle size.

attaching "goosenecks"

July 17th was the most monumental day of the pivot project.   The 1300 ft irrigation whiz made it all the way to its final destination sprinkling with mismatched odd sized nozzles and an end gun that seemed to me like more of a Daisy air rifle than the AK-47 I had imagined.  Its been stuck more than its run and has inspired dad’s inner logger to remove large populations of Russian Olive, cut fences and tear out an entire stackyard.

End of the story?  I doubt it.  I still fail to see how this has simplified anyone’s life.


Star the Christmas Lamb

In the spirit of Christmas I am going to hold off on my “what’s wrong with the ag community” post and share something a little more upbeat.

As most of you know I leased a band of sheep from Texas.  Much like a new mother there is no question in my mind as to my new charges’ perfection. They have perfect wool, perfect conformation, the bucks have perfect horns and they will ALL have PERFECT lambs.  Like a new mother it is best that no one point out any flaws they may posess or even suggest they are sometimes prone to bad behavior. Yes, I shed a tear the first time I left them alone with the sheepherder.  

What's not to love?

I’ve been stressed out about my lil’ fluffy mamas to the point that I don’t sleep well, have been eating like a feedlot steer on test and show signs of complete meltdown at the mere mention of lambing time.  Terror had gripped my little heart at the thought of things not going as I’d wanted them to.  What if the ewes don’t take to shed lambing?  What if we have a really wet spring and can’t get them on grass right away? WHAT IF THEY AREN’T BRED!?! WHAT THEN?!?

A few days ago I called my  mom in the evening to chat about how my day herding sheep went. I asked if ALL sheepherders got to see the “big star” during Christmas or just THOSE sheepherders.  She assured me that all sheepherders saw the star.  On my way home that night I saw a big single star off in the west.  Obviously light pollution, a lack of other stars right after dusk and fog factors may have had something to do with this, but I’m positive it was a sign of things to come

The Three Wisedogs

Bright and early this morning I rolled out of  my bunk in the Winnie, put on my slippers, walked outside in my dirty h-o-t-t Elmer Fudd pants and let the sheep out of their night pen.  Just as I was strolling back to camp to get the poochies I noticed 3 ewes didn’t leave the pen.  Weird. After doing a triple take I beheld what I thought might just be a lamb… a black lamb.  A BLACK LAMB!!!!  That is not how I had envisioned the first lamb. In my opinion Rambouillet lambs are to sheep what Hereford calves are to cows, the cutest by far of the species.  This lamb did not have a wrinkly nose, or too much hide, heck he didn’t even have the makings of wool he had a FRO!  Slowly, my memory started kicking in, I remembered the folks I leased the sheep from mentioning that the neighbors had some especially amorous hair sheep bucks that had taken the drought as a sign that they should ford the river and come for a visit.

I wanted to call him Harry the Hair sheep... which was soundly vetoed... so "Star the Christmas Lamb" he is

The relief I feel is immense, the ewe got the lamb up, he’s healthy, his tummy is full and I’m positive all of the rest of them will be the same… hopefully they’re wrinkly, white and wooly.  Tonight I’ll sleep well, and plan to start an aggressive excercise program to counteract my half pound average daily gain.


Three Wisedogs, a Black Lamb and a Winnie: A Christmas Eve Story

You have to get off your horse to implant a CIDR.


Living the dream: bucked off, pitched silage, pulled a calf and drowned a Blackberry all in under an afternoon

Today, I was struck by a violent and malicious head cold and was therefore rendered worthless for half a day.  During my respite from ranch activity I made the poor decision to check out everyone’s facebook updates.  Someone had posted their disapproval regarding rancher’s hiring requirements and the payscale for today’s “cowboy”.  There were DOZENS of comments praising this observation, many further discussed low pay, inadequate housing, unrealistic expectations and other inadequacies of todays agriculture management.

Before I decided to realize my lifelong dream of becoming a sheepherder I was on a job search that revealed several of these gripes to be completely true.  Many ranches hiring were searching for a hand that could rope, break colts, irrigate, cut hay, mechanic, feed, calve, choose a fine wine, and sing opera with an advanced college degree.  It was ridiculous and I was pretty disheartened.  In saying all of that I should point out that petroleum products gross me out, I’m a less than sorry roper, and I quit school with a measly undergrad degree.

I'm a terrible roper, but I still enjoy attempting greatness

During the course of the discussion it occurred to me that biggest indecency being asked of these “cowboys” was stepping off their horses to do ranch work. I am not incriminating everyone in this discussion as I realize there are several good points made, however, there was talk of becoming a Wal Mart greeter before using a 4 wheeler to gather cattle.  Whoa…

American agriculture has grown by leaps and bounds.  We are feeding more people with less cattle than ever before, are seeing record high lamb and wool prices and are reaping the benefits of technology, research and advancement in our craft.  These are exciting times in ag folks!

On the flip side we deal with pressure from the public in the form of special interest environmental groups, heightening government regulation, increasing predator presence, record high fuel prices and the use of wicked fast communication.  My father has a smart phone, he can figure out the weather, send photos of wolf tracks and find the owner of a lost cow with the touch of a finger.  If he has progressed to the age of superfast technology we can’t imagine what pro-wolf activists and the Hells Cyn Preservation Council are capable of.

There is so much more to ranching today than there was when it was as simple as jumping on the back of your favorite mount, gathering, sorting and living the romantic lifestyle of cowboydom.  Cows are wearing RFID tags now, commercial cattlemen are using AI and ET technology to make a more uniform product that the consumer DEMANDS.  Joe and Jane Blow, urban/suburban city dwellers buy meat and it is them, not us, that set the standard for what that meat will look like, taste like and how that meat will be handled from the time it hits the ground to the time it hits their plate.

gorgeous day to chase cows

Things were a lot different, just 25 years ago.

During my college internship on an Angus seedstock operation we used 4 wheelers, we also did a lot of work afootback.  Every operations different, not everyone can justify having a dozen bridle horses standing around so everyone can don their flat hats and look the part.  Someone has to grow winter feed, make sure the bills get paid, the fence is up and that their cattle are meeting the demand of the industry.  I strongly suspect cattle managers will be asked to show their educational back ground more and more in the future.

I’d love to pay ranch workers more money, especially for a job well done.  But I also have to have a ranch in order to hire workers.  After a land payment, vehicle payment, fuel payment, and every little small bill; parts, vet, horseshoer, feed, industry assn dues… what do I have left?  Right now I’m paying my sheepherder more than I make, my  sheepherder herds sheep, nothing more.

balers need greasing, unfortunately

That being said, my favorite ranch work is absolutely, most definately, ahorseback.  A nice working horse and dog make my heart sing, but I also know how many grease zerks can be found on the knotter system of a 4900 big baler, can AI a cow, shear a sheep, pitch hay and though I hate to admit this move handline. I think quite a few people who claim to love the romance of the west, live the “cowboy” lifestyle and want better wages should get off their high horses and realize that though they proclaim be “born in the wrong century” fact is they weren’t.

pivot construction