“Lover of good coffee and cattle.”
Heather (Noun): believer in the power of prayer. Fan of expensive boots and dark wash jeans, cloud-filled skies and good horses.
When Heather started her interview with these words, I knew we were going to get along. If you don’t know Heather Maude very well, let me first tell you that this gal and her husband (and kids, of course) pretty much do it all. Heather and her husband raise kids, cows, pigs, wheat, barley, millet, hay, Sorghum Sudan silage. Ohh yeah, I also forgot to mention that they have a small feedlot where they background and develop their own AND outside heifers.
In addition to being deeply involved on her family’s operation, Heather is an agriculture photographer and a journalist. This is something that Heather started as a hobby but has now turned into a source of income. Despite having so many “irons in the fire”, Heather considers herself lucky. Because their operation is so diverse and they have numerous sources of income; Heather and her husband are both able to stay at home and raise their children in agriculture.
Heather was raised in agriculture, she grew up on a ranch in eastern Wyoming. Her family ran sheep and cattle in pretty rough country. It takes about 50 acres to run a cow where Heather is from. Heather has some great advice for young people who did not grow up in agriculture but have the passion to pursue a career in ag. She says, “Dream big, work harder and pray hardest.” She also encourages them to find a reliable source of knowledge in the field they are interested in and soak up all the wisdom they can. Heather knows in order to make it in agriculture you, often, have to have help or advice from someone else.
I asked Heather to tell me some of the goals she has for her family’s operation in the next couple years. I always enjoy asking this question. I think a persons’ goals say a lot about them and Heather’s response is one of my favorites so far. You can tell where her priorities are and FOR REAL the Maude’s are serious #goalgetters! She says:
To grow closer in our walk with the Lord is number one both personally and professionally on our place. We also hope to continue decreasing our debt load while increasing our efficiency and improving the quality of livestock and crops we raise. We plan to add a barn to the hog operation to house our pigs from weaning to roughly 100 pounds, at which time they can go to our butcher barn and lot. That will be a huge improvement for us. Putting up a shop and machinery storage building is another goal. We have lots of cement-oriented goals, from feed bunks to a floor
in our sow barn. A couple major fencing and water projects are also on our list to improve the utilization of our summer pasture, as is converting from an antique irrigation gun to a center pivot. Continuing to grow our local markets for beef and pork through obtaining our own meat labels and implementing a website is another focus for the next couple years. Getting our three-year-old to wear clothes next summer ranks pretty high as well.
There is not doubt that she has some serious plans to grow and improve Maude Hog and Cattle. She’s even tackling the hard stuff, like getting her three-year-old to wear clothes 🙂
Since Heather has been involved in many different aspects of the agriculture industry I wanted her opinion on some of the challenges facing farmers and ranchers. She listed a couple of different issues. She mentioned decreased or elimination of federal grazing ground putting ranchers out of business, sky high land costs, and seemingly always present issue of health care. One of the issues that I am so happy Heather brought up is decreased logging, resulting in increased fire hazard. When the forest inevitably goes up in flames, millions of tax payers dollars are spent to fight the fire and as a result there is destruction of natural and agricultural ecosystem. I agree with Heather on this topic 100%; this is an issue that needs to be addressed. Another issue Heather mentioned is making it harder for farmers and ranchers to take care of their livestock. Here is what she has to say about this issue:
“The vet directive requiring prescriptions for a multitude of livestock drugs is the first step toward complete government control of the livestock health system, and will at some point become a serious detriment to the rancher in caring for his animals.”
In my opinion, Heather is right on target with many of the challenges facing agriculture and I am so appreciative of her knowledge and willingness to speak about these issues.
I want to extend my gratitude to Heather for helping me but this post together. If you want to get in touch with Heather you can find her over on the ‘gram @heather.maude.