Bunnies in Baskets

Each holiday season, we feel blessed to be able to make a donation to a deserving organization working to make the world a better place - for people, animals, or, better yet, both.  This year, we provided a gift to a truly special organization - Bunnies in Baskets.  We met the BIB folks at Midwest BunFest in Ohio earlier this year, and were immediately taken by their kindness and mission.  Run fully by volunteers, Bunnies in Baskets works to resuce, foster, and adopt neglected, abused, an/or abandoned rabbits.  What's even more amazing is what some of those special bunnies do next. 

The most affectionate, outgoing, and "people-curious" rabbits are trained to visit individuals in need.  Through a series of activities, these special bunnies provide therapy assistance in the form of animal assisted activities, animal assisted therapy, and animal support services.  Some examples of these activities include therapy settings where the bunnies help promote improvement in human physical, social, emotional, or cognitive function.

The positive effects that animals can have on human health and wellness is well documented and inspiring.  For many, the companionship and love of a pet is an everyday comfort and joy.  But, there are many others who may not be in a position to care for a pet in their present situation or otherwise.  For these individuals, it's so heartwarming to know that there are good people like those at Bunnies in Baskets who are willing to bring the companionship, affection, and interaction of animals to them in their time of need.

Veterans Day

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations." -Woodrow Wilson

Today is a day that holds meaning for so many.  President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the day that would become Veterans Day (then called Armistice Day) in 1919.  Originally established to remember the fallen after World War I, Veterans Day now recognizes all those who have served our great country throughout history.  I’ve written often of my father’s service as a fighter pilot in World War II.  I am extremely proud of his many missions and his service, and thankful for the freedom that he and so many others fought to defend.  

It’s easy to lose sight of the sacrifices of others during our day to day activities.  Our liberties, freedoms, and comforts don’t exist in a vacuum; they were not spontaneously granted to us.  These liberties, these freedoms, these comforts are all linked to sacrifices made by millions of dedicated men and women over many decades, as well as today.  

Some of you who are reading this may be veterans yourselves; I thank you deeply for your service.  For the rest of us, I encourage you to take a moment to thank and be thankful for the veterans in your lives – not just today, but every day, for all they have given.  
 

Philosophy and Farming


“Farming is a profession of hope.” – Brian Brett

I occasionally find myself in a position to share my experiences with young people, an audience which often includes college students.  As a farmer for almost all of my adult life, I’m often drawn to use these opportunities to discuss my experiences and lifelong relationship with agriculture.  Farming is a simple concept – you plant a seed, foster it in various ways, and, some number of days and months later, harvest what it yields.  In practice, farming is remarkably complex.  The profession involves many learned, varied skills, practices and endless planning.  And then there’s the hoping.

As much as farming has to do with laboring, it’s equal parts an exercise in philosophy and faith.  I can’t think of many other professions where months of hard work can be undone in a single moment.  Farmers are at the mercy of Mother Nature every second of every day.  If you’re not a philosophical person by nature, farming will turn you into one.  Farming requires you to trust not only in your own abilities and work ethic, but in forces wholly out of your control. 

Of all of the lessons farming has taught me, the most important are philosophical in nature.  A tractor and planter are used to put a seed in the ground, but patience, faith, and hope are required to watch it grow.  
 

Recognizing Greatness

I often talk about how much Oxbow cherishes our relationship to the veterinary community. We have partnered with key veterinarians from our earliest days, and this relationship continues to inspire and guide us today. As a small symbol of our appreciation for the selfless work of veterinary leaders, we recognize one special individual each year with the Oxbow Exotic Mammal Health Award. The award is presented annually at the joint conference of the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians/Association of Avian Veterinarians/Association of Reptilian & Amphibian Veterinarians. I’m excited to announce that this year’s winner is Dr. Brendan Carmel of Australia. Dr. Carmel is a true standout in the field of exotics medicine, and continues to inspire, lead, and teach others each day.  I invite you to learn more about Dr. Carmel and his ongoing legacy of great work in the field of veterinary medicine.  To all the veterinarians out there, thank you so much for all you do! 

Global Reach

Two of Oxbow's wonderful sales team members, Lindsay and Fei, are currently in Shanghai for Pet Fair Asia.  It's been wonderful hearing updates about the show and the experience.  Something I learned years ago is that the love for small pets is universal.  Small pets are very popular in China, which is evident by the reception the Oxbow team has received at the show.  Our first international shipment left our farm in 1997, almost twenty years ago.  In the years that have followed, our international business has grown year in and year out.  We take great pride in providing premium nutrition to pets not just domestically, but all over the world.  Some days, it still boggles my mind that products manufactured or packaged in Murdock, Nebraska are enjoyed by pets in Italy, Germany, China, and many other countries.  What a world we live in!  Here's to the love and care of pet onwners all over the planet. 

Global Reach

Two of Oxbow's wonderful sales team members, Lindsay and Fei, are currently in Shanghai for Pet Fair Asia.  It's been wonderful hearing updates about the show and the experience.  Something I learned years ago is that the love for small pets is universal.  Small pets are very popular in China, which is evident by the reception the Oxbow team has received at the show.  Our first international shipment left our farm in 1997, almost twenty years ago.  In the years that have followed, our international business has grown year in and year out.  We take great pride in providing premium nutrition to pets not just domestically, but all over the world.  Some days, it still boggles my mind that products manufactured or packaged in Murdock, Nebraska are enjoyed by pets in Italy, Germany, China, and many other countries.  What a world we live in!  Here's to the love and care of pet onwners all over the planet. 

Bond


I love my job.  I not only get the opportunity to work with passionate people each day at Oxbow, but we all have the distinct honor of serving customers who share our passion, and then some.  Being in the pet industry provides a unique lens into the very special relationship between pet and owner.  We refer to this relationship as the “human animal bond” and I learned years ago about how powerful (and universal) it truly is.  

What every pet owner understands and cherishes is the fact that the love of pets is pure.  Unlike people, animals don’t form judgements.  They love us unconditionally and forgive our imperfections.  They provide us affection, calming, healing, humor, and love, asking for only basic care in return.  Our customers understand how amazing this bond is, and they go above and beyond when it comes to caring for their pets.  The love of our customers for their pets is remarkable and inspiring.  For us, it’s an inspiration to do our jobs the best we can, each and every day.  Like I said, I love my job.  
 

Trigger


Isn’t memory a funny thing?  Some days, I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast.  Then, there are those days when a memory from the distant past comes rushing back, unannounced and unexpected.  For me, these types of memories are usually the product of some sort of trigger.  Sometimes, it’s a piece of music, or maybe an image.  More often than not, it’s a smell.  As a farmer, there’s no more powerful trigger for me than the smell of fresh cut hay.  One smell of a freshly cut field, and I can be taken back to a million different moments.  It might be to the summers of childhood, playing on the farm.  Or, to the two am harvests of my young adulthood.  Whatever it is, the memories are always pleasant, and I’m so happy to have them.  So, what about you?  What are your triggers, and where do they take you?  I hope it’s somewhere as pleasant as a field of freshly cut hay.  

 

Sacrifice, Freedom, and Opportunity


I love basketball, so I took my 95 year old father to a University of Nebraska basketball game last week.  He really enjoys getting out and even though he has macular degeneration and thus can’t see very well.  He really enjoys the noise and cheering and fun of a university game.  He has been a longtime supporter of UNL as he has owned 4 seats for Nebraska football ever since the 40’s when he returned home from the war and settled down to farm and raise his family.  These seats are on the 45 yard line and are 32 rows up.  I can tell you that these are “near” perfect seats and are very coveted in Nebraska.  My sisters and I now enjoy those seats and are benefitting from his commitment and vision that he had those many, many years ago.  He knew it was important to believe, support, work, commit, and sacrifice for these many things that he believed in.  How BLESSED we ALL are for those who have gone before us and sacrificed so much for our freedom and opportunity.  If we all stay committed to what is true, good, pure, and helpful to mankind, we can expect the next generations to prosper as we have. 

On the Slopes and Elsewhere

 
I just returned from skiing at Copper Mountain with my brothers-in-law and some friends.  We had a great time with “good” snow and “great” weather.  The only thing better with the weather would have been if it was snowing all the time we were there so that we would have had “great” snow.   Having said that, my knees survived one more year of skiing, as did everyone’s, so we had a lot of fun.  My daughter and son-in-law also accompanied us to the slopes, where she met up with 2 of her college friends with husbands in tow, and the 3 ladies all celebrated their 40th birthdays.  I can remember how bad it hurt back when I turned 40, so just think how I feel now when my oldest child has just turned 40.  Where does the time go!   Thus…….this week’s reminder to all who read this……..”live life to the fullest, because it is gone in an instant”. 
 
Life at Oxbow continues to be a “buzz” with activity.  Our growth continues to be very strong as more and more people are caring more deeply about their small animals, and they know that Oxbow is the leader in helping with that.  We continue to do health related research that I think could have significant affects upon these animals that we all care so deeply about.  More on all of that as it becomes pertinent. 
 
Have a great week.
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