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May 19 was a peculiar morning. The air was sticky, and the sky was gray. It was my first day of work as a Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture. Nervous is not a word I commonly use to describe myself, but the anxiety I felt about the summer ahead had my stomach doing somersaults.
"Roller coaster" has been a common word in the agricultural community recently. I can't help but entertain a mental image of cowboys at a carnival, cotton candy in the hands of tough, weathered men wearing hats and blue jeans, all waiting to ride the Super Dragon.
After coming down from an epic hike in the Wichita Mountains, I thought it fitting to attend the Noble Foundation's latest installment of the Profiles and Perspectives Community Enrichment Series.
I am really trying to make the most of my time here in Ardmore. Today, we had a meeting about our final presentations. For my presentation I will be attempting to sum up the past three months of my life here into a mere 10-minute PowerPoint.
Feral hogs, branding laws, drought, grasshoppers. For most producers in Oklahoma, these words stir up feelings of frustration, stress or dread.
It was a wet and unusually cool day for southern Oklahoma as four ag scholars crawled into the suburban to make the trek to the Addison ranch.
Steve Upson, a soils and crops consultant and greenhouse guru, approached me about a farm visit he thought would intrigue me. I happily accepted his invitation, and the next day I climbed into a Suburban with him and his wife, Jeannie. We drove deep into the Sulphur countryside and turned onto a gravel driveway lined with free-range guinea fowl. Steve was right. I was intrigued.
Aghast and jaws dropped, Livestock Consultant Bryan Nichols, Seth Pratt and I watched a set of two calves disappear over the hill into the next grazing paddock accompanied by the heart-dropping sounds of stretching fence and popping insulators. Such was the situation as we attempted to herd the calves into their designated grazing pen for the grazing research project.
"We don’t have any financial restrictions…but we want to make money," Bryan Nichols, a livestock consultant and one of our acting "cooperators," instructed us a week ago as our team met to begin our rural life plan project, which will be the focus of our presentation at the end of the summer.
Conner and I got off to an early start this morning, along with Noble Livestock Consultant Bryan Nichols, Agricultural Economist Dan Childs and Research Associate Josh Gaskamp. When 5 a.m. rolled around, we loaded up in the car and made our way toward Combine, Texas.