My Nebraska, My Home

Many parts of life are centered around family, but I think none is quite as focused on family as is the Christmas season.  A year ago, I posted pictures of our kids and grandkids being pulled on sleds on one of our many grass fields that surround our home.  This year there was no snow (part of me thinks that is great……but the stronger part of me wishes there was a little) so there was no sledding at Grandma and Grandpa's.  But Christmas was still great with all kinds of games entertaining the family.   Both of our grand-families love to play games of all kinds, and especially board games.  (I have found it to be an interesting “life dynamic” at what a very short period of time it is between “taking it easy on the younger grandchildren and letting them win” to “now I cannot beat them no matter how hard I try, and they know all of the rules and strategies far better than I do.”)  We also had great “new life” news as our daughter, Stacia, announced that they are expecting again, plus great “continuing life” news when the car with both daughters and 3 granddaughters slid off of the road and totaled the car, but no one was injured.  Thanks be to God. 

Another memorable moment was when I stopped by my Mother’s (Mary) grave for bit of reflection.  Mom was a very talented artist, quilter and writer, with many of her pictures adorning the homes of several of the neighbors who had always admired her work.  She wrote many poems, of which the family favorite was titled “My Nebraska, My Home”.  Since it was our favorite, we had a copy of it written on her tombstone.   I regret to admit that I had kind of forgotten about it, until I saw it again on the tombstone.  And, I think it bears to be shared.   I think that you will notice the themes of beauty and quilting and how that is all tied together in her life.  I hope that you enjoy “My Nebraska, My Home”…….

Deep in the heart of our Prairie Lands

The ageless windmill reigns-

Whirling, turning, creaking, pumping,

Monarch of the plains!

‘Tis a lovely symbol of this land we love,

Transformed to “Patchwork Land”-

Each piece telling of beauty around us-

A quilt to dream of and plan!

So I took a cloud from the rosy dawn,

The gold from the noonday sun;

The violet and the blue from the evening sky,

And a prayer when each day is done.

I found the tender green of spring’s first buds-

The azure blue of the sky;

A glint of white and a clear, wild call

As snow geese wing on high!

And there’s the blue-green shimmer of fields of corn-

“Knee-high by the Fourth of July”,

And the glorious thrill of the red, white and blue,

As Old Glory passes by!

I caught a sweet breath of hay in windrow deep,

Touched by the night’s first dew;

And the clear, sweet song of the meadowlark,

A vesper when day is through.

And when the air turns crisp,

And we clap to the tune of “Dear Old Nebraska U”.

None can rival our Cornhusker Red

On a Saturday afternoon!

I gathered the bronze and the ruby red

From October’s burnished hills;

And the feathery white of the first snowfall

On my drifted windowsill!

‘Tis bordered by forests and rivers wild-

From the sandhills to Arbor Lodge;

Dotted with homes and schools and churches,

Founded on courage and faith in God.

Of these I fashioned my patchwork quilt,

Each piece chosen with special care;

‘Tis quilted with history, lest we forget-

And with faith for tomorrow, to Dream and Dare.


It goes without saying that the holidays are a busy time for all of us.  For Pat and I, we are blessed this year to share the company of our children and eight wonderful grandchildren.  We count our blessings each day – blessing of family, friends and freedom.  I wanted to take a moment this busy time of year to say thank you to all of you and count the blessings of you and your animal companions as well.  Your support makes it possible for Oxbow to be a successful company and produce the products your pets enjoy, but there’s more to it than that.  From the beginning, we have been blessed to give back in various ways.  Thanks to you, we are able to support those who advocate in the name of animals – veterinarians, rescue organizations, students, and others.  On behalf of everyone in the Oxbow family, thank you, and have a warm and wonderful holiday season.           

The Power of Pets

Every once in a while, you come across a photo so adorable that even the head of a biker gang would look at it and say, “ahhhhhhh.”  The above picture falls in that category and was recently posted by a customer on the Oxbow Facebook page.  The customer was commenting on the new product sample included (the half eaten Harvest Stack seen above).  Apparently, Lola played with and ate her Harvest Stack until she’d completely wore herself out.

One of the perks of being a part of the Oxbow team is that we get to see cute photos of satisfied pet customers on a regular basis.  In addition to the obvious appeal of a photo of a fuzzy bunny, we love knowing that our products are enjoyed by and provide benefit to pets all over the globe.  Thanks to all of the Oxbow pets out there.  And thanks to their “pet parents” for sharing their pictures with us!     

Dr. Michelle Hawkins – The 2014 Oxbow Exotic Mammal Health Award Winner

Anyone who follows Oxbow knows that the veterinary community has been central to our development and growth.  In our earliest days, we enlisted top veterinarians to help us formulate products that met the dietary needs of small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas.  Many of these initial formulas have been unchanged over the years and remain the standard in the industry.  Meanwhile, the knowledge and input of top exotics vets have helped guide us as we have developed countless new products designed to provide optimum nutrition and enrichment for beloved pets. 

Over the years, our relationship to the veterinary community has only grown.  Today, we are proud to support vets with programs and tools designed to help further the field of animal medicine and care.  Along with these programs, we feel it’s important to provide recognition as well.  Established in 2009, our Oxbow Exotic Mammal Health Award is presented annually to an animal health professional who advances the field of exotic mammal medicine and care. 

I’m proud to announce that this year’s OEMHA recipient is Dr. Michelle Hawkins.  Dr. Hawkins serves as Associate Professor of Companion Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine & Surgery and Director of the California Raptor Center at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.  Dr. Hawkins is an exceptional veterinarian who personifies all of the qualities that the Oxbow Award stands for – leadership, education, research, innovation, and advocacy.  She is beloved by her colleagues and has helped make countless advances in the industry. 

We presented Dr. Hawkins with the award at the annual AEMV Conference in October.  I was not able to attend this year’s conference, but I was told that the reception in Dr. Hawkins’ honor was a great success.  Congratulations, Dr. Hawkins!  Keep up the great work!

Young Entrepreneurs

The above photo was taken at this year's Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program Celebration and features students who were a part of the founding years of the program (and Paul Engler himself).  I have written about the Engler Entrepreneurship Program in the past, and I'm honored to touch on my affiliation with this program once again.  

As a native Nebraskan and UNL graduate, Paul Engler went on to start the world's largest privately owned cattle feeding operation.  Paul is a native of Stuart, Nebraska and started down the entrepreneurial path at a very young age, working at his father’s gas station for fifty cents a day at age nine and buying his first cattle herd at age twelve.  He donated $20 million to create the Engler Agricultural Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.  His generosity will foster agricultural entrepreneurship in young Nebraskans and UNL students for many years.     

Along with seven others, I am very lucky to serve on the Engler Entrepreneurship Board.  Serving on the board is an inspiration.  It allows me to interact with the young minds of aspiring entrepreneurs, which is a true delight.  I am so thankful to Paul Engler for his vision, generosity, and commitment .  As for advice to future entrepreneurs, I'll quote Paul Engler himself: "You've got to have that fire in the belly!"