A Senior Ag Kid Looking Back, a Freshman Looking Forward

It’s that time. The time you’ve dreaded for years, the time where you hang the jacket up, move from FFA member to Alumni. The time where the showman walks in the ring for the last time and an era comes to an end. You’ve made memories that will last a lifetime. If you’re like me, you’ve picked up a nickname and some friends to go along with OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe countless hours and miles traveled. Earning state and national titles, along with flying on a plane for the first time. That blue corduroy weighs an extra couple pounds from all the pins and awards on the inside and the pockets are filled with random notes and the filling from hand warmers when one exploded in your jacket while you were judging at nationals. You’ve earned a reputation in the ring for being one of the best showman and whether you know it or not people all across the state know who you are and they are watching you when you show.  Maybe you started at eight years old like I did or when you got into high school decided to get involved, but it isn’t the amount of time that determines the amount of passion you have.  That passion and drive doesn’t go away you just have to use it differently now because you aren’t competing anymore. That doesn’t mean you are completely done though trust me, you never will be.

Maybe this isn’t you yet, maybe this is your beginning. Don’t worry we’ve all been there. Your first show animal is one that you will never forget. There’s going to be a lot of firsts in the beginning, but I can promise you that you won’t be in it alone.  I had a tremendous amount of help in the beginning to get me started and you can expect the same. Just know your first 4-H or FFA meeting is the first of many more to come. You are going to meet some of your best friends and make memories that you will talk about for years to come. It’s a crazy ride that has its ups and downs but you aren’t going to want to trade it for anything.

Whether you are coming to an end of your show career or you’re just beginning your FFA Career there’s a lot of emotions with it all. The happiness and the excitement of it all and the pride you feel. The tears when you hang the jacket up or when you sell your first steer, it can all be a little overwhelming so here’s some advice for both sides.

For the Senior looking back:

It is crazy to think but you truly are done with competing in FFA and the show ring. With that said you are never completely done. You’ve spent all this time learning and getting better, picking up little tricks along the way; don’t let it end with you. Find the little kid in IMG_0445 (2)the barn or the newcomer and teach them. Give them a mentor to look up to! I would be willing to bet that you had at least one when you were younger and now it’s your turn to fill that role. Show them how to shear a lamb or your showmanship tricks. Then stand at the fence and watch them, those memories of you going in the first time are going to flood back to you. As they get better you will feel this sense of pride, but the best part is the smile on their face when they’ve won for the first time. Be their stock show coach and their biggest fan so you can give back to an industry that has helped you grow as an individual.  It’s absolutely priceless and it will make you feel a lot better about being your showing career being over. Stay in touch with the friends you’ve made through FFA they are some of the most loyal and trusting friends you will ever have. You will never forget the FFA Creed you had to memorize or the 4-H Pledge you said your first meeting, twenty years down the road you will still know the words. Most importantly make sure you thank your FFA Advisors, 4-H leaders and the adults in the barn that have made you into the young adult you are today. Let’s face it without them you wouldn’t be half the person you are today without their knowledge, guidance and friendships you’ve been privileged with.

For the Freshman looking forward:

Get ready for the memories to be made and the stories to tell. Everything is going to be new to you and that’s ok! We all have to start somewhere, but we did it with the help of those around us. Ask for help, spend a day with someone whose been showing for a while and I guarantee they would love to help you anyway they can. At first you aren’t going to 20160123_162836go in and win every showmanship class or judging contest in FFA.
There are going to be times that things won’t go as planned and contests won’t be won but those are the moments you will learn the most. Winning is always what we strive for, but you will find in losing the drive to become better. Become close with your advisors and leaders in your community they can help you and push you to be the best. Most importantly cherish the memories and friends you will make along the way. These are times that can’t be replaced and one day when you’re looking back you will miss it all, so enjoy it now.

-Karly Hanson

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Hard Facts About Wheat

   Did you know that one bushel of wheat contains 1,000,000 individual kernels? Or that a IMG_7281modern combine can harvest 1,000 bushels of wheat in 1 hour?  How about the fact that a family of 4 could live for 10 years off of the bread made by 1 acre of wheat? This grain is a complete mystery for people that are not involved in the wheat industry.IMG_7283


In the great state of Texas when May rolls around, it means wheat harvest for all the local farmers. Tractors, eighteen wheelers, combines, and harvesters are slowing down all the highway traffic and even the back roads to get to the fields to harvest no matter rain or shine.IMG_7284

In between 2008 and 2009, U.S. farmers grew nearly 2.4 billion bushels of wheat on 63 million acres of land. One bushel is approximately 60 pounds, whereas, the U.S. national acre yields around 40 bushels of wheat. NOW THAT’S A LOT OF WHEAT! It has been shown that wheat originated 9,000+ years ago from Southwest Asia, one 60-pound bushel of wheat is able to provide about 42 pounds of white flour, 60-73 loaves of bread and even up to 42 pounds of pasta. Over 60% of Americans see wheat as just IMG_7277another grain that is used for cooking and already mixed into their food. However, this is not exactly true, wheat is the IMG_7287principal human food grain that is produced in the United States, without wheat we would not be able to have the majority of our foods on our tables.

Now that we have looked at some interesting facts of the wheat industry, I hope others will look differently at how this industry is developing over time right under our feet. The next IMG_7288time that you are passing a harvester or combine rolling down the road, you should look at them with gratitude, wave and say thank you for producing crops for us to consume. IMG_7286I want to say a big thank you to Matt Mahler for letting me use his pictures for this blog! I hope you enjoy the blog and the pictures as much as I do!




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~Montana Lehman






10 Reasons Why Kids Brought Up in Agriculture Make the Best Employees


Kids involved in agriculture are truly one of a kind. They possess a unique skill set unlike anyone else. For the record, there are more than 10 reasons why you should hire an ag kid, but here are some of the best and most important reasons why ag kids make the best employees.

  1. They understand the importance of being on time.

For Ag kids they know that time is of the essence and wasting daylight is not an option. Even if your five minutes late feeding that show lamb, it will notice. You can expect us to be 15 minutes early because that’s what we’ve learned from our time at the barn.

  1. Respect is something they value more than anything.

They have worked hard in the show ring to be well-respected so they understand that respect isn’t something that’s given it’s EARNED. FFA taught them to, “…believe in leadership from ourselves and respect from others.”

  1. A hard day’s work is the only way to work.

They are up to feed before they go to school and after Judging practice they’re out in the field until ten working their stock so they are show ready. Most people know a 9 to 5 job, not kids raised in a barn, they know a 5 to 9 job and will do it with 110%.

  1. They can speak their mind eloquently.

Between preparing a speech for National 4-H Congress or practicing oral reasons for the next Livestock Judging contest, these kids know what they want to say, the importance of what they are saying, and how to deliver it. You won’t have to worry about them talking to customers or clients. In fact, you are going to want them to.

  1. They are willing to do the dirty work.

Whether they had to muck out the pig pen or clean out the underneath of a lawnmower they understand that it has to be done. It may not be the most fun job in the world but they will get it done with a great attitude. They know that no person is too good for any job, big or small.

  1. You won’t meet someone more driven then they are.

Ag kids strive for greatness every single day. They are willing to get up at three for the latest trip and on top of it miss prom to compete just so they can be better than they were the last contest. Competing in multiple Career Development Events, working a show hog to be the best showman, being the star athlete on the football team and maintaining a 4.0 GPA is what they strive for and they know they can’t do it alone. They have had a support system of family, Ag teachers and advisors, 4-H leaders, and Grange members helping them along the way.

  1. Their record keeping skills are on point.

Ag kids have kept records since they were little. 4-H records and project books where they kept track of their project’s value and showed their skills on paper, then on to SAE projects through AET where everything was digitalized and had records the equivalent of a successful business. Many of their awards and degrees depended on quality records so making sure your business has records worth winning state convention won’t be a problem.

  1. You’ll be amazed by their ability to remember things.

On any given moment you could ask an Ag kid what they feed their show steer and they’ll be able to tell you, what percent crude protein it contains, the main ingredients, and how much their steer gets twice a day, all without missing a beat. They have to know this stuff in the event their judge in the ring wants to know. Or go ahead and ask them about the FFA Creed after having to recite ALL five paragraphs, I am sure they still can tell you the third line in the second paragraph pretty easily.

  1. They have experience in a variety of different areas.

Ag class has taught them a wide assortment of skills from ag business to rebuilding an engine, pulling a calf to crop science and everything in-between. They’ve done it all! Although they might be the youngest person applying for the job they know how to do just about everything agriculture and what they don’t know they can learn very quickly.

  1. You will be able to appreciate how polite they are.

The way they were raised its, “Yes ma’am, No sir, Can I help you with that, or Let me grab that door for you.”  They know that they represent more than themselves; they represent their families, ag teachers and an entire industry.

-Karly Hanson

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Budget Cuts in Oklahoma’s schools



This is a hard one to talk about guys, budget cuts is what no one wants to hear about it’s a12-10-15sfp-f7 ‘hush hush’ subject but today I’m throwing out the ‘hush hush’ and going to tell you how it effects ag in Oklahoma’s schools.

In February 2016 everyone was nervously waiting to see how much the state legislatures would cut for the 2016-2017 school year and when we found out that number hit us hard, for the 2016-2017 school years we will be having a 1.3 billon short fall, which amounts to 20% of last year’s budget. Schools are forced to lay off teachers, cut classes, and even shorten school weeks to four days.

ok FFANow how does this affect Ag? Well many schools are being forced to cut Ag as a class and others are receiving thousands of dollars in budget cuts. One Ag teacher told me that he received a 1,000 dollar cut, which would’ve gone to a new truck so he could haul livestock and take the students to and from competitions.


Ag or FFA will always survive because we raise our own money. In various fundraisers throughout the school year. Many FFA chapters have a booster club who help with money issues. All in all Oklahoma is sadly rank 49th in the U.S. because of its horrendous budget cuts in education.


Thank you for reading- Gabrielle Lambert your Oklahoma representative.



Pistol Pete and me at 2016 Oklahoma State FFA Convention


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Michael Johnson, the little man with a big heart

In response to the overwhelming responses to my pictures of my son, I was asked(by
Raised In A Barn) to write a quick story about him….so here it goes!.Our goal is to encourage people to try to see beyond their eyes, to acknowledge that, when given the chance, these kids can bring love and tech unending patience to everyone that meets them!

Born in 2005, Michael was a tiny guy, 4 lbs. 4 oz….after a 3 month stay in the NICU at the hospital, we brought him home to start our lives 100_6829.JPGtogether.

To us we had only one way to raise kids….so that is what we did. We treated him like all our other kids, 3 daughters for me, and a son and daughter for my husband. Being raised on a ranch, and me in the country, it was a no brainer….animals. Michael learned very quickly, but to keep him excited, we used animals in everything we taught from sign language to colors and counting. Find what they love and they will ask for more!

We have passed this on to all his teachers. Michael will start the 4th grade this fall, 100% integrated into a regular classroom. He does math, tells time and reads. Books about animals of course are his favorite! Yes he can read entire books by himself. His favorite shows and movies are about, animals…NatGeo, is of course his favorite channel on TV. He knows more about animals then many of his teachers, and much  more then almost DSC_0026 (1).JPGall his classmates! Farm animals is just the tip of the iceberg for him…name an animal, and he can tell you where it lives, how it migrates and what it eats.

I guess we just want everyone to know that just because he is “different”, he is the same…exactly the same as all other kids. In fact, I dare say, even better! My girls all accept that their little brother is special and such, he has his moments, but in all honesty,
outshines any other child I have ever been around. I have never had someone THANK me for bringing my child to a restaurant…nobody can believe how well behaved he is.

I never dreamed I would be an advocate for a special needs child, but God has blessed us with this task. I hope Michael’s pictures and life touch someone and maybe help them understand that all children, all people have a place in the world…even if you don’t think it is imp03-24-09_1336ortant, I guarantee it is to someone else.

One quick side story…in church one day, he kept pestering the woman in front of us, he adores women and loves to hug, all of them! At the end of mass, I finally let him crawl in
her lap and give her a hug, she turned to me with tears in her eyes and said that his hug was exactly what she needed…that he has no idea how much it meant to her that day. this has happened to us several times so far.

What is Michael’s favorite farm animal  of course it is cows. When he was younger he had his own sorting stick and would help his dad at the sale barn. He tries herding the sale barn1.JPG100_6003chickens now, much to their dismay! On our ranch we have cattle, horses (ponies with one expecting a new one any day now), chickens, dog and cats. He loves riding his pony, bottle feeding the calves, feeding the chickens and gathering their eggs. He could sit all day and watch them.
I have included a few pictures of him, doing what he loves…some date back to when he was quite small, but not that young! He is only 40 lbs and 4′ tall…always a tiny guy! He is 10 years old now and thinks he should be allowed to drive…so no different than any other kid!













This blog was posted by Raised In A Barn team member Montana Lehman.

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The Farrowing Process


Most people believe that piglets appear magically, however it’s really a long process. Farrowing is the process used by swine even though it starts before labor. Farrowing is a tedious task. You must first decide when to breed your animal. This will depend on what livestock shows you would like to compete in with the offspring that will beTANA  AI WEEZERproduced. You must carefully dictate the desired date of birth, their age approaching livestock shows, and their desired weight. Swine carry their young for 114 days on average. As a result, if you breed your animal on May 1, then the female should farrow around August 21. This information is necessary to complete later steps in this unique process.

After you have considered the facts you must know for future results, you then need to begin the farrowing process. Sterilizing and disinfecting to help prevent diseases is one of the important items to consider when it comes to cleaning out the farrowing crates. Disease prevention, which can reoccur year to year, can be collected when farrowing crates are not occupied by new tenants. This is required do to the piglets having low immune systems while at a young age.

Once we have disinfected the crates, we must disinfect the new swine that is brought_20150731_171145.JPG into the barn by washing them. Swine have a tendency of carrying staph infection and it can be passed throughout the farrowing period to the piglets if the sows are not properly cleaned. Both of these items are completed moments before entering the sows into the farrowing crates.

After this is complete, we put the sows into the farrowing crates to allow adequate time for adjustment. Adjusting to the small space is pertinent for the sows to become IMG_4218comfortable and begin nesting. This process takes place 1-5 days before the sows due date. The number of days is determined by the attitude and how the sow is acting. If she is showing signs of labor, she will be put in the farrowing crate sooner rather than later.

Now that the sow is in the farrowing crate, labor is near and we must check often for signs of farrowing. We look for things such as, droppings of milk or even IMG_4242.PNGrestlessness.
The sow needs close attention and care before, during and after the farrowing process. Paying close attention to everything that is happening to the sow at that point in time is mandatory because she may go into labor earlier than expected.

After hours of preparation and waiting, the piglets have finally arrived. We have waited months for this moment. IMG_20150820_163126923.jpgYou would think the process would end here, but it doesn’t We must now “cut” the umbilical cord, clean the piglets, move them underneath a heat lamp and document the new litter.

Finally, enjoy the little piglets while you still have a chance to carry them around. Don’t forget to give them lots of attention because those are your babies and they deserve all the attention theyIMG_20150820_192401809_HDR.jpg can get. Also, don’t forget to check on momma and her piglets
periodically. Now we can rest… well only for a short time because show season    is just around the corner.




IMG_1547Montana Lehman



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KCLASS2016 (6)

Who I am: Karly Hanson

Hello everyone, my name is Karly Hanson and I reside in the great state of Montana. I haveKCLASS2016 (42) grown up in “Big Sky Country” my whole life, where I have always been around agriculture. I just recently graduated from Flathead High School and am excited for this opportunity with Raised in a Barn, so I wanted to share a little bit about myself. I am an absolute coffee addict! If I could drink coffee, all day long I would! My favorite color is definitely teal, what can I say I love it! My nickname is “The Diva” and I actually got this from my Ag. Teacher because I tend to be a bit competitive and like to look good while doing it! There’s nothing wrong with that, right?:)

One of my favorite memories as a child was going to our county fair and walking through the livestock barn and seeing IMG_3752all of the older kids show their animals. My mom was the one who got me started showing lambs in 4-H when I was eight yearsIMG_5067 old, and I’ve been in and out of the show ring ever since. I have earned multiple titles in the ring including both market and showmanship. I truly have the heart of a showman!

When I started high school I made the decision to join our FFA Chapter, I can honestly say that was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my entire life! I hit the ground running, I started with Livestock Judging and pretty soon was involved in literally EVERYTHING! I have competed on over 10 CDE or Career Development Event teams and competing at the National level twice in Livestock Judging, once at National Convention, and again at the National Western Roundup in Denver, Colorado. Although I was never elected as an officer I was constantly involved and serving my chapter in a leadership position. I am so 15645899513_0171d2db88_opassionate about agriculture.

One of my favorite quotes is this, “An industry that feeds you is an industry worth fighting for.” This is ultimately why I chose to go into Agriculture Communications, I believe in telling our personal stories is the best way to educate the public on the importance of agriculture. In a couple of months, I am going to be starting a new chapter in my life as I head off to Casper College in Casper, Wyoming to study Agriculture Communications with a minor in Livestock Production. I will also be competing on the Livestock Judging team as well as continuing my showing career! With being on the Raised in a Barn team I am hoping to reach out to the American public and express the importance of agriculture in every capacity!

I would love to answer any questions you all might have about myself, showing, or agriculture so feel free to follow me on Instagram @kkh2016 or message me on Facebook and thank you again! I am looking forward to helping spread the story of agriculture and am proud to say I was in fact raised in a barn!

-Karly Hanson

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To Those Who Say Agriculture Isn’t Important

Agriculture isn’t important, is the biggest lie people can tell themselves. To those that have taken it upon themselves to tell the youth to find a career elsewhere this blog is for you. I hope you read it word for word, and I encourage you to question the youth about why they love agriculture and want to pursue a career in it. I’m sure the answers will make you think again.

Through Raised in a Barn I have heard countless stories and watched firsthand agriculture help kids through tough times. I’ve watched kids begin showing livestock through FFA, 4-H, or Grange and become more responsible and better. I’ve watched youth band together and help their community.

You say that FFA, 4-H, and Grange are pointless. You think there is no career in agriculture, so why have these “pointless” programs. Agricultural education, farming, Veterinarian, agribusiness, soil scientist, landscape supervisor, horticulturalist, animal husbandry, equine scientist, agricultural economist, agricultural engineering, food scientist, landscape architecture, natural resource ecology, and international agriculture. I could fill up countless pages of jobs within the agriculture industry but I’m sure you get the point. Each job within the agriculture industry is important, and when you tell a kid to not get into agriculture, you are telling someone who could make a huge difference in the world to do something else.

Organizations like FFA, 4-H, or Grange use agriculture to help kids find their calling, and to obtain the necessary skills needed in today’s world. They learn public speaking, teamwork, and how to shake hands and look someone in the eye. These organizations are built on bettering youth’s lives by keeping them involved.

I understand that you just don’t get it. You think that agriculture is pointless, and you continue telling the youth to do something else. You continue to fight for cuts in agricultural education, and you continue to stop some kids from finding their passion in life.

Growing up I received criticism from people when I said I wanted to go into agriculture. I was teased about it and instead of detouring me from my calling in life, it made me want it more. Every time you tell a student about how their love in agriculture is pointless, 9 times out of 10 they are going to work harder to prove you wrong. I know I did, and I think the people who teased me about my love for the agriculture industry aren’t laughing anymore.

People that say agriculture isn’t important tend to forget about all of the things that agriculture contributes to. Its food, fuel, fiber, and life.

To the youth that are facing criticism about wanting to pursue a career in agriculture, don’t let one person determine what you are passionate about. They don’t get to choose your calling in life, you do. If you need some advice on how to deal with someone teasing you or making your career choice feel insignificant, you can always email us at We’ve all been through it and would be glad to help you out.

To those who are giving these kids a hard time, please use that same email to talk to us. Don’t degrade these kids because they want to be farmers. Farming is vital, and a job that couldn’t be done without farmers. Next time you think about saying something to these kids, remember the clothes you are wearing, and the meal you just ate, and think to yourself where that came from.

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When You Hang Your Jacket Up

It was a great run. You competed in countless competitions, made friends that were more like family, and are ready to take the things you learned in that jacket with you to your next chapter. It’s crazy that so many years have passed so quickly, and those years feel like they just happened a few days ago. The reality of hanging up your jacket, is now something you must face.

You’ll remember the time you ordered your jacket and the time it finally came in. As you zipped it up you felt proud that you would be carrying on a tradition that so many others before you had loved. Maybe you started a tradition for your younger siblings that watched you and dreamed of the day they could own a jacket like that. You might have ordered it a bit big so you could grow into it, but you’ll think to yourself how nothing has ever fit quite as perfectly as that jacket.

Those years they went by fast and you made some of the best friends a person could ask for. You spent countless hours traveling mile after mile with a team that turned into friends, which later felt more like a family. You laughed together at your inside jokes, and cried together through some difficult times. It seemed those difficult times brought you all closer together, and made you stronger.

You’ll begin thinking about how your parents and agriculture educator drove you around the world chasing your dreams. They helped you prepare for the speech contest, and pushed you to be the best you could be. You probably never realized just how much work, time, and effort they put into fulfilling your dreams and building your character.

So you take that jacket off, put it on the hanger and just look at it for a minute. The pockets are full of knickknacks, and your heart is fuller because of that jacket. You told yourself you weren’t going to cry, but you find yourself sitting down crying because you are about to begin a new chapter in your life. You won’t be wearing that jacket anymore, and it’s now turned into a memory itself.

Your jacket is hung up in your closet. Lucky for you the memories made will last forever, and there will be the next generation of FFA, and 4-H members that will receive a jacket. Those kids will keep the tradition alive, and you can always volunteer to help them out.

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Why I Chose Agricultural Communications

My whole life has been driven by being passionate about the agriculture industry. I can honestly tell you that growing up I didn’t even know something like agricultural communications existed. Growing up I wanted to be a veterinarian, an agricultural educator, or have my own business doing something in the agriculture industry. My plans seemed to change as I grew into a young adult.

When I started college I had heard of this major called agricultural communications and had heard some really interesting things about it, but decided that agricultural business was more for me. After countless business classes and an associate’s degree later, I decided I wanted to give agricultural communications a try.

I chose agricultural communications because that passion for the agriculture industry is something that means so much to me. I have witnessed countless people degrade our hardworking farmers and ranchers. I witness more and more people wanting to know where their food comes from and searching for answers online and through Yahoo Answers. I see the disconnection between our producers and consumers growing more and more every day.

Pursing a degree in agricultural communications has given me the tools needed to advocate agriculture in an entertaining and educational way. I’ve taken countless classes in marketing, design, photography, and writing. Each one of those classes I use to advocate agriculture and shine that positive spotlight back on the agriculture industry.

I chose agricultural communications because I wanted to make a positive impact for our farmers and ranchers. I go to school, learn some neat ways to advocate to the general public, and then share what I’ve learned on Raised in a Barn. I’ve shared countless ways and ideas on how to become an AGvocate.

I’m expanding my knowledge on communications, and furthering my love of agriculture through agricultural communications.

I am excited to see where this major takes me after graduation next year. I know that the skills acquired so far has created a great platform for agriculturists around the world, from a blog called Raised in a Barn.

I encourage the high school kids to look up this major and see if it would be something they might be interested in.

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