Spring Time in the Flint Hills

Thank you for joining me on this new journey. I hope that in the future I can provide helpful and timely information through this venue for both sheep and goat producers.

First though, I wanted to provide you with some background on myself and the hopeful direction and goals of the KSU Sheep and Goat program.

I was raised in North Central Alabama in the Appalachian hills. My father is a farrier and trains some horses as well. I was raised helping him and barrel racing and team roping, so yes, somewhere deep down, I am a ‘horse girl’. I worked for some cattle ranches in the area as well as a large animal vet throughout high school and college. I attended Berry College in Rome, GA where I was a supervisor at our Beef Cattle Unit, then later managed the Sheep Unit. I cherish the four years I had there as it gave me so many practical experiences with livestock, great connections, but also started me down the sheep and research path.

From Georgia, I moved to North Dakota (Hettinger, in the southwest corner) to begin graduate school. I spent most of my 6 years in ND at the Hettinger Research Extension Center, the state’s sheep research facility (home to a flock of 1200 Rambouillet commercial ewes and about 75 Columbia ewes), and also the 3rd largest sheep research facility in the country. I loved working there as I was a part of daily management, data management, and the research programs. The station housed many disciplines, wildlife/range, weed science, agronomy, and later beef cattle scientists. I also was able to help with many extension events and programs like the ND Ram Test, New Shepherd’s Clinics, Ram Sales, and wool judging. Part time, I also worked for a shearing crew as a wool handler. I cherish the many experiences I had in that wonderful place as it allowed me to gather so much training that I use to teach here in Kansas, but also make comparisons.

After North Dakota, I moved to Kansas, to become a professor here at Kansas State University. There aren’t many sheep extension positions left across the country, but especially west of the Missouri River, so I jumped at the opportunity to be here and work with producers. At one point, Kansas was a rather large sheep state. I hope that through my programs we can grow the sheep and goat numbers in this state to preserve it’s natural beauty, restore range lands, but also provide and support the way of life so many across the West cherish.

Spring time in the Flint Hills is a beautiful and very busy time. The flowers are blooming, the morels are growing (and quickly being picked), and there are lambs, kids, and calves everywhere! It was also a rough winter for livestock producers across the West and the Plains. In those rough times, I always try to look at the positives though. It actually is rather simple in agriculture though. When ND was in a drought (and in SD’s blizzard that killed hundreds of thousands of cattle), KS sent us hay, ND returned the favor during the KS wildfires and now again following the Nebraska flooding. These times are hard, but isn’t it wonderful to know that we are a part of a global family that always steps up to the plate to help their neighbors? I know farmers and ranchers are passionate about their land, their families, and their lifestyle, but the caring nature they have for their industry is something to behold. I am honored to be a part of it every single day and look forward to my career that I will spend every day trying to help these wonderful people.

Have a wonderful weekend! I hope to regularly post timely, helpful information.

Alison

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