Urban Farming

I was born in a small rural town, the 5th generation of a farming family who emigrated from Denmark and were called by Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints leaders to colonize, settle, and build the small town. Most of our neighbors remember seeing me at a few months age riding on the tractor with my dad, or riding in front of him in the saddle on his horse. The value of hard work was instilled early in me, along with an appreciation for the agricultural lifestyle.

When I was four years old, my father was killed in a farming accident. We moved to a small city in Eastern Oregon, and I immediately learned the differences in urban and rural lifestyles. From restrictive toiletry requirements (farm boys go when, where, and how they may), to the complicated interactions with people (animals are wonderful friends), to the loss of available garden food, I was in turmoil. However, proximity to schools, churches, stores, and paved roads was appealing.

A few years later my mother remarried, and we moved to a very remote ranch in northern Nevada. Our electricity came from a generator, we didn’t have a phone, and the nearest town was over 50 miles away. Wild horses and coyotes were very common, and with a corral full of horses and miles of empty land I explored a lot. However, remote distance from schools, churches, stores, and paved roads was problematic.

From this tapestry of experiences, I yearned for the educational, societal, and civic benefits of civilization. However, I also need the fulfillment of hard work, growing my own food, and instilling principles of self-sufficiency in my children. During the house hunting process, while my wife was looking at appliances and floor plans, I was analyzing acreage, soil types, and zoning regulations. We settled in a small town outside of Provo, Utah in a house that sits on 1 acre with animal rights. My goals were basic, and have yielded wonderful results. We gradually have expanded with a small farm outside of town where we raise cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, and bees (bees aren’t really raised, but maintained). Here were my initial goals with the yielded results.

  • Value of money. Parenting today is expensive. Sports, scouting, music lessons, etc. can bankrupt a family. I want my kids to value money, and appreciate how hard it is to earn, and how important it is to manage. When my kids are present for the birth of an animal (including pulling a few lambs and calves as I hold the mother), they go through the process of feeding and raising it, arriving at the selling point is monumental. They carefully guard the money they get from it, and have learned how to invest the money. Whether in CD’s, mutual funds, or more livestock, they appreciate money they have earned. They also pay for their sports, lessons, camps, and part of their school clothing. Seldom do they ask me for money.
  • Value of work. I want the work to be hard. Tilling, weeding, and watering our garden is hard. Picking and canning our fruit is too. Building fence, feeding hay in winter, gathering eggs every day, and doctoring animals stretches kids. Hauling hay usually entails our 7 year old driving the truck and everyone else stacking hay. Enough of this work has kept my kids from playing video games, seldom watching TV, and being unfamiliar with boredom. While hard, they appreciate the time we spend together, and the outcomes we enjoy at nearly every meal that we eat.
  • Appreciation and quality of food. The majority of most of our meals comes from food that we have grown. We raise our own beef, pork, lamb, and chicken. We have fresh eggs from our chickens, vegetables from our garden, and fruit from our orchard. There is pride in growing food, but also a distinct quality. I know the health records of our animals, and know that our vegetables and fruits are free of insecticides and herbicides because our chickens do a wonderful job keeping bugs out of our garden and away from our trees. We allow them to roam, and they love bugs. I don’t have ticks on animals, worms in fruit, or bugs killing plants, only a bunch of full and happy chickens! I have torn out shrubs and planted raspberries, blackberries, josta berries, elder berries, mulberries, currant berries, and strawberries. They’re colorful from a landscape perspective, and they keep my kids playing outside instead of coming in the house for a snack and sitting down to watch TV. I’ve removed many trees, and replaced them with fruit trees. On our 1 acre, we have 28 fruit trees. They shade playhouses and picnic tables, but provide fruit throughout the summer. My kids have picked out the varieties we have, and are proud of them. They also dislike the taste of fast foods, having grown to appreciate the difference in fresh vs. fast food.
  • Active lifestyle. Between the animals, garden, trees, and yard work, my kids stay very active. I give them specific assignments that vary through the seasons during the year. Feeling an ownership in what we produce though results in them taking initiative in working. I’ll often see them finish a job in the garden, and gravitate to a basketball game in the driveway. I firmly believe that their minds function at the activity level of their bodies. And eating fresh foods prepared well by my wonderful chef wife fuels their activity levels.
  • Meaningful involvement with my kids. I love the opportunities for teaching, interaction, and conversation that come through our work together. I find that I need to teach skills, but also encourage innovation and self-confidence. Not every project goes well, but seldom can these learning experiences result in permanent damage. I try to allow freedom to discover, but also the habit to work. I think an agricultural experience on any scale contributes to that. I’m amazed the questions, insights, and perspectives shared with me by my kids as we work together. And when the work is done, they play together, the simple games that they invent. These aren’t scripted and sedentary activities. They run, they laugh, and they think. It’s a joy to watch this, and it keeps me young in body, mind, and spirit.

Faith. Seeing the effects of seasons, weather patterns, and varieties strengthens belief and appreciation in a higher power. Planting a tiny seed that grows into a delicious meal is hard to explain without the principle of faith. I think that agriculture provides the best physical manifestation of the spiritual process of faith.


Just a Usin’ Horse…

By Kelli Neubert

Recently, I described one of my horses to a lady that was interested in purchasing him. Rather than specify each and every task he has performed on a daily basis, I told her that he was just a good using horse.

The response that I got back was one of raised eyebrows and caused sort of a funny look. “A good using horse? Isn’t that sort of a backhanded compliment?”

I must admit, the thought of this set me back a bit. A backhanded compliment?

In the age of political correctness and walking on eggshells as to not upset the apple cart, was I accidentally insulting my animal by using the term “using horse”?

What does a good using horse actually mean to me?

It’s true, many of them have flunked out of performance horse training. Perhaps the speed wasn’t there, or they didn’t take to the training properly. Sometimes a horse gets a late start and can’t close the age gap. His papers might be fairly unimpressive (or non-existent!), but he’s a necessity in almost every corner of the horse world. From cowboys to racetracks, from cutters to dude rides, a good using horse is anything but an oxymoron.

A using horse worth his salt is savvy to all the tasks at hand. Often it takes years for him to earn “good using horse” status. He’ll stand still while you open gates and then run a cow down the fence and turn it when asked. He waits patiently, with a leg cocked when tied, but is quick on his feet and keen to knowing precisely what you require of him in a crunch.

Photo by Kelli Neubert.

He needs to have a good mind, sound legs, a kind disposition and athletic ability. He should be sensitive enough that he’s light to your hands and feet, but quiet and gentle enough to pack a novice rider. He needs to stand calmly in the trailer, solo, while you tell stories into the night with your buddies, but snappy enough to turn back fresh heifers, pony unruly colts and rope and hold a steer.

He’s got to be bar broke, kid broke, cow smart and light in the bridle.

No, he’s not always the prettiest in the pasture. While his show horse counterparts are in stalls, snug with blankets and slick with show sheen, he might be sporting a thick, fuzzy coat and a roman nose. But his eye is kind and his hindquarters are strong. He has a good wither to hold a saddle all day and strong solid feet that keep him sound.

He’s the unsung hero of the show pen. While the rockstars and superpower performance horses get the glory of adding to their buckle collections and lifetime earnings, it’s the behind-the-scenes humble using horse that made a lot of it possible.

Yes, I’ll admit, perhaps in the future I should refer to my “using horse” with a little more tact. I could specify his role as a “professional equine associate” or a “paraprofessional bovine and farmstead assistant.” I’d hate for my gelding to overhear me say something about him that could be thought of as a “backhanded compliment.” I certainly don’t want to hurt his feelings.

Because when I refer to him as “just a good using horse,” it really means that I hold him in the highest regard. It’s a true compliment to one of the best ponies I’ve ever had.

Read more: http://www.westernhorseman.com/wh-blogs/neu-perspectives/2860-just-a-using-horse#ixzz47cqnUtR4

Cowboy Service

Serve em’ and deserve em’ don’t feed em’ and lead em’.

“A true cowboy is one who says it was nothing when it was everything and that believes that he did better than first but worse than last.”

Service is like ridin’ a fine horse in new country.

If ya don’t know a where’s you’re a goin, it’d be a good idea not to use yer spurs.

Boots, Hats, and Cowboys…Nothing else Matters!!

COWBOYS: Live Free, Serve Hard!!

(COWBOYS) They are all so tough on the outside, but so sweet and soft on the inside.

Get on, Ride hard, Hold nothing back, and give it all you’ve got! That’s the Cowboy Way!!!

Only old cowboys know when his saddle is about to get loose.

I have known many cowboys & gals, both real and not…the difference is their willingness to assist both neighbor and stranger alike for no pay.

If my boots and spurs ain’t here, I’m probably riding and serving near.

Service is a Rodeo, take it as you get it.

It may not be the easy way, but it’s the cowboy way. Service up!

You may have a cowboy hat, spurs, chaps, and a horse but you’re not a cow boy till you can serve like one.

It doesn’t matter if a Cowboy lives in the mountains or in the flats, as long as he serves and there is a place to lay his hat.