What You See is What You Get: Ranching, Branding and Blogging

Episode 19 with Naomi Loomis of the Circle L Ranch

On this episode I speak with a rancher from the Sandhills of Nebraska about her experience with cattle branding and her passion to bridge the gap between the consumer and producers of food.

In her own words,
“Howdy I’m Naomi Loomis, from the Circle L Ranch.

I am an adopted farm girl that grew up in Wyoming. Right out of high school, I married a cowboy from the Sandhills of Nebraska. My husband Cody, I and our 4 children are making our life on our own family ranch raising beef cattle, Quarter Horses and a few ranch dogs.

My days are spent wrangling ranch children, ranch animals, driving kids to school, managing a feedstore, while maintaining my duties as a ranch wife, ranch mom, ranch hand, ranch rodeo producer and whatever else will fit in the cracks.”

Mentioned in this episode:

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(approximate transcript)

“It’s really important to me that we have a respectful dialogue. We’re talking about people and so whoever you’re talking about, remember that there is a person on the other side.”

Hey, hey! It’s Andrea and welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast. Today, I have Naomi Loomis on the line from the Circle L Ranch in Nebraska.

Andrea: Naomi, it is really good to have you here today!

Naomi: Yes, I am so excited! This is my first podcast, so listeners be a little bit heads up that maybe I’m not the best podcaster but I’m super excited that I’d get to be in a podcast. It’s something that I have been intrigued by. And Andrea you doing it, hats off to you, because I think it’s awesome and I think it’s another way that people are getting the word out and communicating with people, which communication is always a good thing. So yeah, I’m super excited. Excuse me if I’m a little bit nervous but I’m sure we’ll get through it.

Andrea: No worries, not at all. Well, Naomi, I’m excited to have you because a couple of weeks ago, I posted something on Facebook. I just said, if you have some idea about branding or you have some stories about branding cattle, ranchers, I’m really curious about this process and I kind of knew you already. So I kind of tagged you when they were thinking maybe you’re a good person to talk to and we ended up getting on the phone and talking about it.

And it was really eye-opening for me because you told me some things that I didn’t really realize then through that process, I was just like “Oh I’d really like to have Naomi just come on the podcast to explain this to listeners because I do think that there’s a lot of really interesting value in trying to understand what branding is for cattle versus what it is for human beings and that sort of thing.” And then also just the fact that you are a blogger, you have your own voice of influence in the world, so I am looking forward to hearing how that all started for you.

Naomi: OK!

Andrea: So Naomi, why don’t you just tell us first of all just what you do, a little bit about yourself and your family?

Naomi: Yeah, so have you taken that personality test that tells you know what color you are like yellow, blue, red, green right?

Andrea: Yeah.

Naomi: So I’m a yellow. So that means I don’t tell people “no,” right? So with that being said, I do a lot of things because I can’t say no, so obviously my husband and I have a ranch and we’re raising our four kids on this ranch. It’s a family ranch. It’s in the sandhills of Nebraska. We run mama cows. We run a little herd of quarter horses. We have our own studs so we breed some mares. It’s mostly for our own good but we love baby _____ you know training them whatever. A few dogs, some chickens, some goats, some frogs, some lizards anything in between, right?

So that’s a little bit about ranch life. So also, I think it’s good to know for the listeners that it’s about 50 miles one way into town for me and we have no internet at the house. So people are always like “Well, how do you blog without the internet at the house?” Yeah that’s challenging but I get it done. So my second home is a feed store in Bridgeport, Nebraska where I’ve raised the kids here. I got hired just out of college and the boss is very generous and let me bring the kids to work and so they’ve all grown up with the feed store. So it’s also convenient that the kids go to school in this town, so yeah. So I’m a feed store manager.

Andrea: And what is a feed store? I mean, let’s just assume that the listeners know nothing about the rancher.

Naomi: Sure! So I feed store is where farmers and ranchers come to buy mineral, salt, or protein. I sell dog food, cat food, and stuff for their animals so that’s what a feed store is. Our feed store is a little bit unique because I also sell tack for horses like saddles, bridles, and stuffs of that nature. I sell a little bit of women and men’s clothing. I sell boots, so yeah we’re kind of all around kind of a western kind of a store.

Andrea: And how big is Bridgeport?

Naomi: Oh my kids’ classes are like 16 to 17 kids. There are lots of restaurants and a couple of dollar stores and a couple of bars, I mean, that’s important, right? So that’s the feed store and then whenever I have a free moment, I also write for the Western States Ranch Rodeo Association and I’m also their association rep. So that keeps me on the rodeo trail going up and down the road attending those ranch rodeos and doing stuff like that.

Andrea: What do you write for them? What kinds of things are you writing?

Naomi: Yeah, I write for the Rodeo News, and it’s like all members or events spotlight or something like that. Mostly, it’s about the members like how they got involved in rodeo and 99.9 of them have been on the rodeo trails since they were in _____ and stuff like that so it’s interesting. I really like that part because it gives me out and about. I’ve gone a lot of places with that association and I like the rodeo. I like the history of rodeo, so it’s something that I’m passionate about. I also serve on the Fair Board. I’m the current president and have been for about 14 years of the Morrill County Fair Board.

Andrea: 14 years!

Naomi: It’s forever.

Andrea: That is forever.

Naomi: I also serve on our local cattlemen association board or FFA board. I know, I’m the president of our Morrill County Fair Foundation, so wherever there’s a craft, I’m a yellow. If you know anything about that personality thing, I’m totally a yellow.

Andrea: And you’re filling in the gaps.

Naomi: Oh yeah!

Andrea: Not just filling in the gaps though, it sounds like you’re heading up a lot of events or organizations that mean a lot to you.

Naomi: Right, absolutely. Somebody always asks me “Naomi, you’re so involved in so much stuff, how do you do it all?” When you’re so passionate about something then it makes life a lot easier and then you’re willing to go a lot further than I think if you’re not passionate about it. So ranch rodeo is something I feel like it’s a tradition. It’s been a tradition since before black and white photographs, right?

It’s a tradition with ranching families that in the old days they used to get together as like a neighborhood kind of like of branding, we haven’t talked about that, but I mean it’s a neighborhood gathering. They would get to get together. They would get their wild horses out and ride _____ then it decided they were going to make a competition about who could brand the calf the fastest or who could tie one down the fastest and so there you go into traditions.

It’s been going on generations to generations and it’s something that I want to keep going because I want my kids if they desire to have the opportunity, I want to make sure they have the opportunity. So those things like that I’m so involved in. It’s not just “Oh I have some extra time and I need to go volunteer,” right? It’s because I really do want to make a difference. I really do want to make sure that my kids have the opportunities that I did so it’s just one way to do it, I think.

Andrea: I don’t know, you’re really perpetuating your culture, your tribe if you will and you’re just making sure that the culture of your tribe really continues and sustains.

Naomi: Yeah, because really in all honesty, we can stand back and we can look at other people doing stuff and making a difference, but I really feel like if we’re able or if God gives us the chance, we need to make a difference. I guess that’s where I’m at. I hope to be doing it until I die. I hope God gives me enough energy but as I get older, I’m wondering but anyway, I’m still _____ so…

Andrea: I suppose you can always back off a little bit, but I don’t know, Aaron’s grandma is somebody who has always been like that I think and I think she’s still going strong. I just can’t believe how involved she’s still is. So Naomi when did you start blogging?

Naomi: I think I started a blog in 2009 and I didn’t really start making like saying “OK, this is something I really wanna do until about 2011.” And so then I really was like alright, I have made a couple of posts, and people that I put it out there were like “Man, we wanna hear more from you.” You know, our technology world whether as parents of teenage kids wants to believe it or not, right? It’s going faster than what you and me can keep up with so then getting away from the farm and the ranches and like where does your feed come from? These kids, nowadays, they just don’t know and is it the parents fault? Is it my fault?

You know, being a rancher, I don’t know whose fault it is but I think that there’s a lack of communication definitely between a consumer and somebody like me that does put food on your plate. And blogging was one way that I felt like “OK, I could make a difference at that time.” And so I really did kick it off with “Here’s our story, read it if you want to. If you don’t that’s OK. If it makes a difference in your life, I’m very happy about that and if it reaches one person that’s OK too.” And still I’m not trying to push anything down anybody’s throat. If there’s something that I can help somebody, absolutely that’s where I’m at.

Andrea: And what is your blog about then? So it’s about communication gap between producer and consumer?

Naomi: Yeah, so my blog has a lot. So I do a little bit of cooking recipes that I do really like to cook that’s like something that a lot of people don’t really know about me but I do like to cook. So I do add some recipes. I’m not the Pioneer Woman so I do not have a very good lighting in my kitchen or facility, so what you get is pretty well black and white _____ but that’s OK because it’s just food at the end of the day, right?

But I talk a lot about faith. I believe that we’re all here for a reason and we all can help each other out and so then I started doing something call A Sunday Thought, which is just a thought that I’ve had during the week and had to do with God and what we can do. I know I’m not the only one that struggles some weeks or I know that I’m not the only one that maybe didn’t get down on their knees today and prayed.

So I wanted to make sure that there’s other people that knew “OK, it’s alright like you’re not the only one.” So the Sunday Thought has been really good for me and has brought a lot of readers to the table. I’ll be quite honest with you, the last couple of weeks I have not had a Sunday Thought just because I have been so busy. But it’s not that I haven’t had them, it’s just that I just _____ down on paper.

And then the third part on my blog is about Our Family, about the kids. I do a little bit about marriage. You know, my husband and I, we got married when we’re 19 you know the kids thought that maybe I was pregnant or you’re too young or are you sure you want to do that? I mean, I heard it right but 19 years later, we’re still married and I still feel like “If you wanna get married at 19 and you know what you’re doing _____, ” and so I have a blog about that, I blog actually a lot about that.

I blog being adopted because I’m adopted and I feel like that that is tender to me or it’s dear to me and I really do appreciate adoptive parents and I try to get a word out with that. And of course about beef and the safety of it and just eat more beef. So my blog is probably not a traditional blog I would say, it’s kind of I want to be more of a friend. I want you all to know that I’m probably struggling, same struggles as everybody else. And if you walk into the feed store or you walk up on my ranch that the person that you read on the other side of the computer, you would know or it’s not fake. I don’t wear makeup. So that is my goal with that blog.

Andrea: It sounds like you’re wanting to connect with your audience, you’re wanting to offer yourself and your story and see how that might make a difference.

Naomi: Right, because at the end of the day, my business obviously is selling beef products, right? So I’m selling my calves that I know that they are going to be feeding families. And I think that that’s an important thing but I think we lose because there’s so many generations away from a farm or ranch that we’re losing like the real meaning of it. We’re real people too, right? You see so much crap on social media, right?

We’re back on social media but you see so much stuff about bad things that farms and ranches do and I promise you, we don’t do that. I don’t have enough energy to do that number one. I have way too big a heart to do it, number two. So it’s just a way of me trying to connect to some of those consumers that “Oh yeah, you know, I saw this blog and she told me a story about branding,” or “She talked about driving 50 miles one way to town and the struggles of that and oh well maybe life isn’t so bad and so whatever.” So I guess that’s my point with that.

Andrea: So Naomi, when I first talked to you a couple of weeks ago, I came too with a question about just what is that mean to brand cattle. I was actually just looking for stories because I had an idea of what it was in my head already but you took me to the process which is a little more helpful. And so just for the Influencer listening, the reason why I’m really interested in this is that first of all I live in the sandhills of Nebraska. I kind of on the edge of the sandhills of Nebraska but it’s part of my culture even I’m not completely in it.

I’m actually in a town and I don’t engage like I don’t go up to a ranch and I don’t know much about it. But my parents grew up on farms and we kind of always go to the family farm the day before Easter and so there’s some of that in my blog, but I don’t necessarily understand that all. I’m actually a pretty sensitive gal, so I don’t like squeezing bugs let alone seeing a rodeo. It’s just hard for me to be able to understand it.

So I need to engage with it in order to be able to really understand it and that’s the reason why I wanted to talk to Naomi about it and then also because branding. This idea of putting a brand on a product is basically the same thing as what we’re trying to do as somebody who has a personal brand. What is it looks like for me to have a brand and where did this idea of branding come from? So Naomi, would you tell us a little bit about what is the process of branding cattle?

Naomi: Yeah, so you’re right and you’re probably one of my favorite people or you are. I’m going to say you are, how’s that? Because you’re the person that I’m trying to reach because I want you to ask questions to me, right? If you don’t know then I want you to come say “Hey, I know you live on a ranch and I wanna know what happens from the time that a calf is born until the time that you ship them on a truck to a feedlot, like I want to know what do you do.”

And so I really do appreciate that you’re allowing me to answer these questions because it’s something that gives me goose bumps. In fact, I have goose bumps right now just talking about it because I’m so passionate about it and I’m so thankful that you asked questions because I don’t want anybody to assume what goes on, right?

Andrea: Right.

Naomi: So with that being said, branding is a special time on a ranch, it’s just really is. And I’ll tell you why because all ranches are different but for the Circle L, we start calving in mid March. So from mid March I’m going to say 45-60 days, we are and between school and work, right? Mostly my husband does it all and we do come in and fill the cracks at night but we’re making sure that every calf that is born from our mama calves is up and walking and has the best start that they can get.

And so it’s long hours especially as you know it’s like winter storms, it’s making sure that we plan and listen to the Weather and the Weather says “Oh we’re gonna have a storm,” moving those mama cows to somewhere. And I don’t know if your listeners know that the sandhills of Nebraska are so awesome because there’s just so many, we don’t call them mountains, we call them hills, but anyway they cut the wind and makes shelters for these cows.

And so we do a lot of stuff getting the cows prepared to have their babies. We don’t put them on barns but we make sure they have shelter enough that if they’re going to have a calf that when she has it, the calf can get up and get going. So it’s a long hours, it’s tedious, and it’s stressful. Mother’s Day for the last three years, we’ve had a huge winter storm come through and we have been up for like 48 hours, you know getting calves up and dry them all and making sure that they’re alright.

So with that being said, when it comes to branding season which is in the spring we are ready, I’m not going to say to party, but we are ready to get off the ranch and to talk to other human beings. The brand itself, for example ours is a Circle L Ranch, so it’s just a circle with an L in it. It’s something that when my husband and I got married, we decide that we were going to get a brand ourselves. And so it’s a process you have to make up your brand, send it to the state brand office and they will approve it or say “Nope, there’s too many brands like that.” So it’s actually a really unique brand. It’s really unique that your neighbors don’t have.

Andrea: Right, so it’s important to be really distinctive and different because you don’t want your cattle getting mixed up with somebody else’s and all that.

Naomi: Yeah and so the Circle L Ranch came when Cody and I got married. But Cody’s dad also had brands that he had got when he was married and then also with his grandparents. So brands are like passed on from generation to generation. I grew up in Wyoming and my mom and dad had a brand and we call it ______, and I still own that brand and it’s something that I don’t brand my cattle with but I’ll never ever let it die. I’ll never let somebody else have it because it’s a tradition. It’s something that it’s important to me. It has a lot of significant value to me.

And so just like brand like we want to brand on a blog or what brand on a product, it’s something that it’s so important. It’s almost always has a significant value to it. The Circle L Ranch brand is significant to us that I want to be able to pass on to my kids as well. And so my kids also have gotten brands passed on to them from the grandpas. So it’s not like we just go find iron with something on it and put on our calves. When you see a brand of yours or your kids or maybe great great grandpas, I mean it makes your heart beat “Oh yeah.”

Any branded thing that comes out, you know, when you see it you’re like “Oh yeah that is Dr. Pepper or M&M’s,” right? So it’s the same thing with cattle and so it’s a tradition and something it’s really important. And I think that we can put that together with our personal lives like our branding of our blogs or branding of our pages. Yeah, you’ll probably going to see Circle L watermark on almost all my photos because I’m proud of that photo. I’m proud of that picture. I’m proud of what in that picture and I want everybody to know that’s Circle L, and so no different than a calf brand.

I know you’re talking about branding, your product branding. Be proud of it, be proud of that branding that you have and be proud of the brand that you do. Don’t let anybody knock you down for something like that, just be proud of it. I always tell people whether they have a page on any social media. If you’re on social media and you’re showing photos, go get a watermark app and put a brand or something on your picture. Be proud of it like you’re living it and you’re posting it, be proud of it. I’ve talked to quite a few people, I’m like “You know, you should watermark that. You should be proud of that picture.” And so same thing, does that make sense?

Andrea: Yeah, yeah.

Naomi: So your tags, you know like earrings in a human being, they get lost or they fall off, you lose them, and you can’t find them. And so your tag on a calf or on a mama cow is the same thing. They rub them off, they fall off, or you lose them and so branding is another way on that mama cow that says “Hey, that’s a Circle L cow,” and she needs to go back to where she needs to go. So it makes life a lot easier when they have a Circle L on their hip or the neighbor’s brand so you know where they go.

Right now, it’s really up in the sandhills, the neighbors and us, we turned out bulls and things just happen. They get switched around, they come over. They come visiting, bulls comes visiting us. Our bulls go visiting other people; I mean it’s just how like it is. Even the bulls, bulls are like teenage kids, they don’t stay where you tell them to stay. They go wherever they want to go wherever the ladies are and so it’s really easy if you have a brand on your bulls like “Oh yeah that’s a Circle L bull and needs to go to back to the Circle L Ranch.” So it’s really important for us ranchers is that we have some form of identification on those calves or cows or bulls.

Andrea: OK so what is the actual process like the day of the branding, people come. It sounds like the neighbor invites you, invites other people as well. How many people are gathered for branding?

Naomi: It usually depends on the year and depends on what’s going on. I’ll just say like with our branding, I cook about 35 to 50 people so that’s about what’s in it. I know there’s some branding that might have a little more than that but a good crew you can knock, brand, and get it done before noon really fast. So that’s about it, I would say it averages about 40 to 50 people.

Andrea: But that’s quite a neighborhood party.

Naomi: Yes, absolutely! It’s usually is the best. Yeah, I encourage your readers to go look at the blog and look at the pictures because it seriously is one of the best. I mean, the kids are playing, the kids get to know their neighbor kids and they get to see and catch up on mom stories. You know, I’ve had such good conversations with the neighbors and felt like “Oh yeah, I can be human again.” You know, they’re going to same struggles with their teenage kids as I am with mine. I don’t know, it’s like no other.

And if anybody, I’m going throw it out to your listeners seriously, if anybody is like “I really want come to your branding and I want to know what it’s all about,” let me know because it’s my favorite time of the year. It’s something that’s so important. It’s important for all of us, consumers too maybe on the ranch like it’s super important.

Andrea: So what happens then, you cooked your food, people come over to your house and what goes on from there?

Naomi: So typical branding, they will start at anywhere between 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. Everybody comes, saddles their horses and we gather all the cows and the calves and we put them on the _____. Everybody is assigned a duty and some of these duties, remember we’re talking about like the code of ethics for branding, so there’s a code of ethics and whoever is branding that you are at, he is the boss, so the owner of the cattle.

So I’m going to talk about _____ so my husband’s name is Cody, and so when it’s branding day of our day, he is the boss. I would wait for him to tell me what to do and so do all the people around. He doesn’t tell me what to do because I’m the cook. But if I wasn’t his wife then I would wait for his direction to say “OK, Naomi, I need you to vaccinate the calves and here’s the syringe.”

And so everybody has a job. Everybody is given a job and it goes really smooth. It’s just a line of communication. The most important job is the brander and he’s the one that puts the brand on the calf and if you are asked to brand, you are pretty high _____. It’s always been that way. It’s a tradition and so that’s how that is. So you need a brander, you need to vaccinate and then you need wrestlers, because we got to wrestle the calves down and so that’s another. We need ropers that rope the calves so everybody has a job.

And then you get asked to trade off so you might rope for a while and then you might be asked to trade with somebody else to rope and you would wrestle or vaccinate or something like that. So after branding is done, when all the calves are branded and turned out then it’s time to eat. I don’t cook in the house. I cook out on the fire, so we always have steaks, and all the wives would send either salads or desserts. So it’s kind of like a bagel picnic and you sit around and chat. And you know I’ve known that we have left brandings till 3:00, 4:00, 5:00, or 10:00 o’clock at night just _____, just talking and letting the kids play. It’s a long day but it’s super fun.

Andrea: Yeah. Now, you also mentioned to me, we were talking about the actual branding process where the heat of the iron is really important, can you explain why it’s such a big deal that you get a brand right and the person that’s branding is the one that does it right and that sort of thing?

Naomi: So what we talked about too, you know, there’s so much controversial about branding or we’re hurting the animal or it’s crying. I’ve heard “Oh my goodness, the calves cry when you brand them.” Working with cattle, they cry when they’re uncomfortable so when you’re holding the calf down, it’s crying. You haven’t even touch it and it’s crying. So you know it’s kind of like changing a 1 ½ year old diaper that’s like rolling over and not sitting still and poop is going one way and you’re trying to clean their diaper and they’re screaming that’s seriously about like holding a calf.

So it’s uncomfortable to the kids. It’s uncomfortable to the calves because they’re like “Hey, we’ve never been touched and we don’t like it.” So that’s how I kind of tell people about calves. It’s kind of like seriously screaming to you. They don’t want to do with what you want them to do because they don’t want to sit still, right? I mean, why should they sit still when they could move. So same thing with calves and that’s why they cry. The branding iron is really hot and that’s why I said it’s the most important job because the person that puts the brand on my calf, I want to make sure that it is fast that’s it’s done right and it doesn’t hurt the calf.

And so the branding iron, the heated branding iron is really important because the hotter it is, the less time it takes to just put the brand on the hide and get off. If it’s not warm enough, it takes a long time; you have to sit it on the calf side. If you put it on too long then you burn the hide that we don’t want and so it is important. It’s like an art. It takes somebody that has done it a lot to do it but it’s not what people think it is for sure.

Andrea: And you said that the skin of the calf, you wait until the calf has a little bit thicker skin or thicker hide, can you explain that too?

Naomi: Sure. We wait for those calves that are older. They’re growing their skin and their growing their bodies, they’re growing everything. So it’s not a young calf that we’re talking about. We’re not talking about like we called calf; we’re talking about month’s old calves. Their skin is thick.

Andrea: You also mentioned that underneath of the hide is where it’s particularly sensitive and that’s why it’s so important that the branding iron is being really hot so you can get on and get off and it doesn’t actually sink in to that inner layer skin that might actually hurt the calf.

Naomi: Right. I don’t want to talk about that our skin is the same as calves because it’s not, but we have layers and so the calves. When you say like first degree burns, second degree burns, what they’re talking about is the layers of the skin that the burn has burned through and so it’s no different in a calf. So when we brand, you don’t want to go through the second layer of their skin and so that’s why we make sure that the branding iron is hot. We make sure that it’s hot and you do it fast so you don’t hit that layers skin. It’s uncomfortable to the calf but it’s more uncomfortable for the calves lying on their side with you holding them than it is with the brand.

Andrea: I think it’s really interesting and helps me like I mentioned before being somebody that’s kind of sensitive and empathetic, when I see that now, my brain can kind of kick in. My outer cortex can kind of kick and explain to that part of my brain that it’s not hurting the calf that this is what’s going on, like I can kind of understand it better and I don’t have to feel that tension like I would otherwise. So I really appreciate just being equipped with that knowledge.

Naomi: Yeah, because if you think about people, like I talked to a lady the other day and I don’t have my ears pierced so I do not know what it feels like at all, but I talked to a lady that had just done like their 3-month-old baby with ear piercing and I was like “Did she cry?” And she was like “Well, yeah, a little bit but not bad.” And that’s how I feel like that we have to think about our animals a little bit not that they’re a 3-month-old kid but I mean there’s not really difference when you’re doing with your kids.

I get to make a decision about what I do with my calves just like when you make decisions with your kids. And yeah she said “She was more upset that she had to sit down in a chair, you know like more subdued than she was that she got her ears pierced.” This is same thing with the baby calves, like they’re more upset that you’re holding on through them than you are that there’s something else going on like a brand on their rear. If you think about like “Oh yeah, I bet that I ______ my kid before and they had a tantrum,” same thing with the calf.

Andrea: Sure and then the brand itself you said something that’s really important to the ranch and it means something. Tell me what it means to you to know that your calf that has your brand on it and really that’s your product is being sent off and what is that means to you like what do you want it to say about you?

Naomi: Right. So we talked about branding as one of my favorite times of the year but the second part of ranching that’s my favorite time of the year is when I see the trucks roll up and I get to put our calves on the truck and everybody is like “Oh really Naomi, your calves are leaving you.” And I get it, they’re like teenagers that are going on and they’re so much bigger. There’s a bigger mission beyond the Circle L Ranch for my calves and so when the truck pulls up and I put them on the truck, I have to thank God for giving me the opportunity to raise a family. You know, they have a marriage that we all support something that is going to help the next person in line.

I know that when that calf hits to the next step of his life which is in the feedlot that I’ve done a job well done like all those long hours and all the sleepless nights. It’s a job well done to us. I know that I’m going to feed somebody. It’s a feeling that I can’t really explain because it’s giving me goose bumps but it really is something that’s like “Wow, we’ve lived through it and we’re ready to do it again.” So that happens in a fall so when those calves go to the feedlot, they’re about 500 pounds to 600 pounds. So the brand on them, you know, it’s a proud thing it’s like “Hey, those cattle came from the Circle L, and yeah here we go, they’re on to feed the world.”

Yeah, it’s so intense; it makes me feels so good. It’s a reward that I don’t know how to even explain it, maybe if you found a $100 bill and you were on your last penny and you’re like “Oh yeah, I found a $100 bill and God just knew and placed it there.” You know, when you get goose bumps like that that might be the feeling. I don’t know, it’s really hard. When you get butterflies in your stomach, it’s amazing. It really is. It’s something that you know your hard work really does pay off and you know “OK, well I really mean this for the right reasons.”

Andrea: It really sounds like it’s an experience of knowing that you’re connected to a bigger mission, to a bigger picture, or to a bigger story that you’re not only connected to it, but you’re providing something and that the work that you have done, the hard work that you’ve done matters.

Naomi: Yes, absolutely because you know, we’re in Corporate America, it’s really hard to not find a job that isn’t owned by a bigger company nowadays and that’s just how it is, right? And so sometimes, I think that people get lost in Corporate America like you know, I go to work every day and I drive the same route every day and I get home the same time every day and it’s just repetitive. And I wish those type of people really saw like there’s light at the end of the tunnel if you just look far.

So just like calving and branding and you know kicking them out to summer pastures and then bringing them in and sending them on the truck like that’s my reward for like “OK, you did a job well done,” and I’m very proud of that. I’m pretty sure my husband would say the exact same thing like “OK, I can see all my calves on the truck, there’s not one that’s sick, there’s not one that’s lame and they are on to bigger things.” So it’s a good thing. It’s a really good thing.

Andrea: Well, Naomi, this has really been interesting. It’s been fun to hear your passion and just to know that you’re contributing your voice to this conversation about where food come from and connecting us back to that, the roots of that and I think it’s an important conversation to have and like you said it’s important to ask the questions that make us uncomfortable and ask them of people who are actually in that position or much better for me to ask you who’s actually living on the ranch than go to some research paper and try to find the answers but to actually go and talk to a person is a big deal. Thank you for sharing your voice. And Naomi, where can people find your blog and where you’re at on social media?

Naomi: Oh man, my blog. I’m redoing my blog a little bit and so I just switched it over so I’m open for suggestions if there’s something on it. It’s probably because I’m not smart enough quite yet to figure out how to change the back of it.

Andrea: And you don’t have an internet at home so you’re just doing this when you’re in town.

Naomi: Yeah, I’ve been in town almost every night 10:00 or 11 o’clock at night. I have an hour to drive home working on the blog, but I want everybody to go visit and like “Hey, Naomi, nice blog, but maybe you should work on it a little bit harder.” But anyway, it’s www.thecirclelranch.com so it’s new and I honestly just changed that like a week ago. So check it out.

Andrea: Yeah, I’ll link to it in the show notes.

Naomi: OK

Andrea: Yeah and where else are you on social media?

Naomi: OK, so I’m on Instagram, it’s faith_family_ranching. I’m on Twitter @loomis489. I don’t know _____ and then I’m on Facebook. The Circle L Ranch as well is on Facebook.

Andrea: Alright, we will definitely link to those in the show notes. If you’re wanting to be more connected to your food and to somebody who’s living that life, I think that Naomi is a great person to follow. As you can see and as she said at the beginning, as you can hear, what you see is what you get with Naomi. She is not trying to put on any kind of shoe, she’s just going to show you and tell you like it is. So I really appreciate it that about you, Naomi.

Naomi: Yes and I want to encourage everybody like honestly, put your phones down, go buy a piece of meat at the meat counter. If you have questions about your meat, if you have questions about the grain that you’re eating, I mean honestly don’t read your phone. Send me a message. I just want it to be black and white. I don’t want you to fear about what you’re eating and I don’t want you to fear about what you read. Put your phones down, call me up and I’ll leave you my phone number if you want because obviously I don’t get messages until the next morning when I drop down off the field and I get some internet.

Andrea: So they can call you anytime.

Naomi: You can call me anytime. I mean social media is a little bit sketchy but it’s not that I won’t respond and don’t think I’m being rude, it’s probably because I’m up the ranch where I don’t get internet. But honestly, I’m open. I mean, if you have a _____ problem, if you have question about your food, or if you have a faith question, I’m here. That’s just how it is.

Andrea: Love it! Thank you so much, Naomi!

Naomi: Thank you!

Andrea: This interview, this time with Naomi, I don’t know if nothing else, you know what it sounds like to hear somebody who’s just going to put it out there and say it like it is and you also don’t just go by your feelings when it comes to your food or when it comes to anything, when it comes to living your life. Dig underneath the surface; go to your research, especially if you’re going to put your voice out there in the world. Don’t say something that you can’t back up.

Go ahead and if you’re going to be speaking out against someone else or for something, make sure you go deeper, you dig deeper and know who you’re talking about and who you’re talking to. It’s really important to me that we have a respectful dialogue. We’re talking about people so whoever you’re talking about, remember that there’s a person on the other side.

So thank you so much and go make your voice matter more!