Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

December 21, 2009

In this hectic time of year, please take a few minutes to view the winter beauty of Iowa— its land, its people and its spirit—in these shots by photographer Joseph L. Murphy.

From all of us at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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Winter Woes

December 14, 2009

“BLIZZARD WARNING!” “Snow accumulations of eight to 14 inches!” “Heavy wind may push drifts to seven feet or higher!” The constantly streaming weather updates from harried TV meteorologists certainly got everyone’s heart racing. How did you watch the “worst blizzard in 38 years?” Through the safety of your frosted urban windowpanes? For most of us, any snow storm is a force of nature to be observed from a distance. Unless of course, you can’t.

Out there, in the snow, in the wind and the ice, Iowa farmers are risking their lives to check on livestock in their care. During a full-on Iowa blizzard, animals can die if the generator gives out in a hog barn; cattle can become disoriented, panic and wander into ravines and freeze while alone, exposed to the full wrath of Mother Nature. And, even the toughest farmer can do the same.

While I was watching steam rise from my hot mug of chocolate from the safety of my West Des Moines living room, Churdan farmer Jim Brown was zipping up his Carharts to check on his cattle. The pasture on his farm has drifts of six feet or more. That meant he had to walk the mile to the pasture to check on his cattle and make sure they’re safe in the windbreak shelter. 

How do they handle the subzero windchill? “If it is going to get really cold, we give the cows a little corn. Corn takes more energy to digest than hay thus helping the cow stay warmer,” says Brown. “Don’t think I’ve ever lost a cow because of the cold; however, calving in the spring can be a different story. I’ve warmed a few calves up in our bathtub.”

I mulled over Brown’s last words after wrestling two hours with a snow shovel on our front sidewalk. My little dog stood watch from his warm spot inside the front door as I scraped ice in the subzero weather. While many can relate to doing whatever is needed to keep their family dog or cat safe, how many can relate to risking their own lives or going the extra mile for animals that aren’t pets? It’s just part of the “calling” that is farming for Jim Brown and the hundreds of other Iowa farmers out doing their best, when nature is doing its worst.

Written by Laurie Johns
Laurie Johns is Public Relations Manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau.

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A Salute to the Beef Stick Lady

December 11, 2009

I was sitting at my computer, waiting for some divine inspiration to help me finish writing another story by deadline, when I received a call from one of my favorite Farm Bureau members.

Yes, I know I shouldn’t play favorites. After all, I’ve met hundreds of wonderful, kind folks during my 10 years as a farm writer for the Iowa Farm Bureau. But it’s hard not to have a soft spot for Dee Ann Paulsrud, a cattle farmer from Danbury in western Iowa, who has become known as the Beef Stick Lady.

From their farmhouse kitchen Paulsrud and her husband, Ted, run “Beef’n Up the Troops,” which ships free Iowa-made beef sticks to our troops serving overseas. Because of their hard work and generous donations from others, the Paulsruds have been able to send more than 75,000 beef sticks to troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other overseas military bases during the past three years.

“Maybe it’s our age or where we are at in life, (but) we want to give something back to society and not always be people who take,” Dee Ann says. “And those soldiers are protecting my freedom so I can celebrate the holidays with my family.”

Beefing up the troops hasn’t been easy. To keep costs down, the Paulsruds spent months stringing together a network of volunteers, including Sioux City’s 185th Air Refueling Wing which happily transports the beef sticks around the world for free in lumbering tanker planes.

But, it’s been worth it, especially knowing that soldiers appreciate the tasty gifts straight from the Iowa heartland. Dee Ann keeps a scrapbook packed with notes and thank-you cards from soldiers. The Iowa-made beef sticks are great, the soldiers say, because they don’t melt in the hot sun or get crushed in piles of gear. And, most importantly, the soldiers say the beef sticks are a reminder of home as they serve in a far-away land.

Many of the donations and cards from soldiers simply come addressed to the Beef Stick Lady, a nickname Dee Ann says she’s proud of.
As long as the donations keep coming, Ted and Dee Ann say they will continue sending the beef sticks to the troops.

This holiday season please send a donation to Beef’n Up the Troops. Send your donations to: Ted and Dee Ann Paulsrud, 4980 320th St., Danbury, IA 51019-8505 or call 712-883-2249. To save on delivery costs, the sticks can’t be sent to an individual soldier unless other shipping arrangements are made.

Written by Teresa Bjork
Teresa is a features Writer for the Iowa Farm Bureau.

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