Debbie Lyons-Blythe Talks Transition & Sustainability (Episode 307 Grounded by the Farm Podcast Transcript)

January 26, 2022

When you are farming and ranching land that has been in the family for generations, Debbie Lyons-Blythe says thinking about how to transition that land to the next generation of caretakers takes thought, planning and a lot of communications. That conversation is the focus of episode 307 of Grounded by the Farm. Videos & photos of the farm can also be seen with post that discusses the Blythe family farm transitions and sustainability.

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ranch, kids, people, ranchers, land, conversation, farming, sustainability, cattle, farm, grass, farmers, debbie, home, prairie, trent, boys, talk, beef, husband


Debbie Lyons-Blythe, Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 00:03

Food is more than just what’s on our plate. It’s the places where it’s grown. It’s the people who grow it and so much more. Join me, Janice person, your host on grounded by the farm every other week as we talk about the foods we love. Hey, everybody, this is Janice. And this conversation is one we’ve alluded to earlier in the season. I think when I was with Dana, out in Maryland, we talked about somebody that we had both gotten a chance to get to know over time. And so today we’re talking to Debbie Lyons Blythe and Debbie is a rancher, in White City, Kansas, we’re going to talk about Debbie about not only her farm and ranch and sort of what they’re doing, but we’re gonna get into something a little heavier than normal. And we’re going to talk about farming and transitions. It’s an interesting topic, if you’re not really familiar with farming, transitions is like asking people to talk about wills, retirements and all those things at once. So it’s going to be a deep conversation, but we’re gonna start off with something much lighter. So, ranching, how in the heck did you become a rancher?


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  01:12

Like most ranchers, my parents were ranchers too, right. So that’s, it’s a family legacy. It’s something that I grew up doing. And I married this guy, and he had a ranch down in this little town. And that’s just kind of how things occur, you know, and when it was time to have kids, after we got married, it was time to have kids and we realized that I could quit my day job and stay home on the ranch. So now I’m a full time rancher, I was just at a conference, and they were laughing about that the banker likes to know what job your wife has to know what kind of benefits you have. And I’m like, or your husband, because somebody has to provide the benefits and a stable income, right? Because you’ve got to be able to pay the bills every month for some reason. So yeah, so my husband, we got married in the 80s, when things were really tough on the farm, the interest rates were really, really high. And so at that time, we knew we needed a good off farm income. And so he is the one that goes to work every day. Now. We’re very much a partnership. I may be here every day, but we work together all the time. It’s both of us really all the time.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 02:17

Yeah. And you have a background that includes like communications and stuff as well as ranching. Right. So. So you do ranching, but you also do a lot of talking about it and sort of trying to help people understand what it is that happens. Yeah, can operation.


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  02:35

It’s been jokingly said that I might use my communications degree more than so many of them that are like journalists, right. So I greet and ag journalism, but it’s all about talking to the people that want to know about the ranch. So back in 2009, I started realizing that consumers wanted to know, and nobody was telling them at that time. So yeah, so I actually work really hard to make those connections and talk to consumers and host tours and all of that.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 03:04

And one of the things you were talking about probably more at one time is kids, because now they’re adults. You have several


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  03:12

Yes, several right. Yeah, we have five kids, five grandkids. That was not what we had planned. But now that they’re grown, it’s amazing. There’s a few years though, when they were little that I don’t have any memories, but but now it is spectacular. I loved every stage of raising kids, but this one is the best. We’ve got a few of them married a few of them coming home to the ranch. They’re all making their career choices, and they’re your spousal choices and all of that it’s pretty darn cool to watch and see.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 03:43

So when you say coming home to the ranch in Kansas, not everybody has taken time to drive out there. You’re in the Flint Hills. So explain what that looks like.


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  03:57

Oh, the Flint Hills is a really amazing location. It’s a really amazing place. It is. There’s only 4% of the tall grass prairie still left in America. It used to stretch clear up to Canada and down to almost Mexico the border, this whole swath, but because of either urbanization or farming methods. We’ve lost the prairie but here in the Flint Hills, we it is it is a hilly part of Kansas most people think Kansas flat that’s western Kansas, eastern Kansas, very hilly, but it is a very shallow topsoil. And very rocky, so when the early farmers tried to farm this area, they kept bringing up too much rock. They just couldn’t do it. But they noticed at the time that the buffalo here got really fat, and there were a lot of buffalo here in the foothills. So that’s when people started bringing in cattle and realizing the value of this grass. It is a really special area. It you know we’ve got a national park here to just have the prairie it’s a it’s a really special Prairie tall grass prairie and we’re we’re we say we we farm grass, right we but we don’t plant it, we don’t fertilize it all we have to do is manage it right graze it right and keep the trees out of this prairie because the native way that the prairie was was there was no trees. In fact we’re right along the Santa Fe Trail. And this was the last place to get wood for your wagon to repair before you got to Santa Fe. Oh, wow, it was the last of the trees and they were only down where there was water. So we have to work really hard to keep trees out of our prairie.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 05:37

We recently had an episode with Ryan Goodman talking about cattle and what the he and Stephen he says a lot of a lot of cattle ranchers or grass farmers or you know, their their primary focus is the grass. So I think I think folks will have a really good feel for that these days. When your kids come back. I assume there’s a home place.


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  05:59

Yep, so Dwayne’s mom, my husband’s mom lives on the homeplace. And that’s where our barn yard is. We live down the road about a half a mile and a house that we moved out into the middle of a pasture. And so that’s where the kids were all raised is down at this little place. We also have one other house on the ranch, it’s a very tiny little, it’s probably smaller than most people’s college. Apartment. So it’s really small. But that’s been where four generations have started their marriages on the ranch. So if you get to live on that place, it’s because you’re working on the ranch. Right? That’s part of your that’s part of your salary. Right. So the the couple that’s living there right now, Eric and CeCe are newly married and are living there right now. And yes, they are giving X number of hours a month, in order to live there rent free. Well, they actually are not giving enough. So they’re paying rent. To the ranch. Right? rent to the ranch. So that’s only fair to all the other siblings.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 06:54

Yeah, I can imagine it’s hard to figure out what’s fair to five kids?


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  06:59

Yes. Well, and we’ve always said, you know, we never let our kids say that’s not fair. Right. So it was it was always the thing. Well, I’m sorry, but there’s no such thing as perfectly equally fair, right? I’m doing my best. I love you all. I’m doing my best. But I’m sorry, she may have gotten more ice cream. I can’t help it right. But equal is not always fair. And so we’re trying we tried to be fair with our kids and appropriate and everybody parent pays their way if they need to.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 07:29

How many of your kids have come home? Or do you still have kids who are deciding what they’re going to do?


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  07:36

I think our kids pretty much have their plans set. So our daughter Megan is a surgeon, she is in surgical residency in Alabama right now. So she won’t ever be able to come home to the ranch directly. But she loves the ranch and always wants to be a part owner wants to know when we’re, you know, vaccinating calves and wants to come help all of that kind of thing if she can. So that’ll be important to her, she will come home from Alabama, she’s just down there for five years, our daughter, Allie and her husband have said same kind of thing. They love the ranch, neither one of them want to work on the ranch full time. He’s also a ranch kid from Kansas. So they know what they’re doing is where they want to be. So they probably will not be interested in moving home full time. But all three of our boys have said that they want to be working on the ranch full time. But that’s a lot. I mean, you think about a business that that will support for families, right three boys and us still. So we’re not big enough for that. We have one son that is home full time. And he still has a side gig that he that he runs in order to, you know, keep going. But the other two boys still have a full time job. And so like their dad, we schedule most of our big work for evenings or weekends, when everybody can be there and get it accomplished up to that it’s it’s tagging calves and feeding cows. And my my oldest son does that every day. Yeah.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 09:05

So we’re slowly getting into that conversation around that transition. Right. So I just want to put a disclaimer out there. So people know this can be pretty personal. So I’ve given Debbie the right to say hey, Janice, that question may be a little bit more sharing my kids stories or just like off. Let’s not get into that. So. So we’re going to try and be aware that this is kind of personal, but some of it is is if you don’t talk to people about it. It’s hard for me to understand, and I’ve known so many farmers, right? My family didn’t have any small businesses. We’ve run until I started one my brother in law has a roofing business, right? But he didn’t even start that until he was like in his 40s he worked for a lot of roofing companies and he did a lot of that. And then he started roofing business right so he has asked his children if they want to be in the business if they want to take over the business. but it doesn’t feel at all the same as the conversation with farmers and ranchers. So can you help people understand some of what goes in here is not just the financial aspect, it’s really the emotional lure of heritage. And


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  10:20

that’s exactly it, Legacy heritage, all of that Dwayne, my husband is joined and his family purchased the first piece of ground out here in Kansas in 1890. So that was his great grandfather. And that piece of ground is still owned by the black family. And it’s gone through many different people through the black family. But we are the fourth generation of blinds to be here in this area. You know, farming and ranching on this on this ground, and different generations have added to it and different generations have done different things. But the foundation of that legacy of being in little town, White City, Kansas, doing right by this land, it’s just no, no other way that you can explain it. But it’s it’s a responsibility, right from his great grandpa was out here, and he saw the potential in this area. And there is a ton of potential. Then when we talk to our kids, you know, the other day I said, you might not do things exactly like we have done things. And that’s okay, because we’ve already changed how how his dad and grandpa were doing it, they used to raise Herford cattle, they they were huge farmers and ranchers back then in the day, and and we’re just not the same. Now we have Angus cattle, and we are a cow calf operation, we don’t necessarily feed out all of the cattle like they used to, of course, everybody used to, but I said, you know, if you guys choose to do it differently, that’s okay. It’s the land that we’re passing on. It’s that heritage that we want to be able to pass on.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 11:59

And so I assume you’ve probably had this conversation with your kids. Without having a specific conversation. It’s probably been part of existence for decades. Right?


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  12:11

You know, that’s true. So we have a unique situation, in that my husband lost his grandpa and his dad when he was a teenager. He was 14, his dad died. And he’s the only boy in the family and the two girls weren’t interested, really in the farm. So my husband started farming this place at age 14. And I think that’s, wow, what a what an amazing expectation for a young man. But but if you knew my husband, you’d understand why right? overachiever. And he wanted to do it. And he felt that he felt that heritage, that pressure that do a good job, right? So he’s been doing it for a lot of years. We’re in our 50s now. And he’s basically said, I want my son’s to learn beside me, not because I’m gone. And boys that want to be home. We want them to be able to do that with us, and not just pass on the ownership, but passion, pass on the business, give them the opportunity to learn what to do and how to do it and make their own decisions.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 13:17

Yeah, I think I’ve seen this workout a variety of ways. And one way is like what you’re talking about, it’s a gradual transition, where you get the kids in and have some exposure, and I’m calling them kids. But yeah, Trent SWEAT 30. They’ve all got college degrees, and they’ve all done other things, right? So I call them kids, but that’s because they’re your children. But part of it with farming and ranching is, there’s so many different things to understand the weather the animals that I mean, it’s Whoo, convoluted. And as variance helps you,


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  13:58

you’re exactly right. If you don’t work with your kids, and explain why you do things, they’ll know that it’s time to do certain things, but they won’t understand why. And they want to understand then, can we change that? You know, I think a lot of times when people say, well, that’s why my dad did it. Or that’s why grandpa did it. I think it’s not necessarily out of the inability to change. It’s more of the case that they don’t really understand why, why it was always done this way. And so if you really think through the why, and give this next generation an opportunity to understand why we vaccinate our calves before they go to grass, not just here’s the vaccines that we give and here’s the day we do it, but explain to them why we choose these vaccines. Why? You know, why do we do it at this, that this age, then they can choose those decisions later. Right and they’re able to adapt a little bit better. But hey, you’re right turns 27 don’t always listen to his mom. So we had his


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 14:54

a redhead. Let me just say he’s 27 and a redhead. So the listening to your parents I know That’s


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  15:00

right. Yep, you’re exactly right there. But I mean, he’s, he’s great to work with, I really enjoy working with him. But I just know that a 27 year old man is not necessarily listening to his mother all the time when she says different things about why. So we’re writing a lot of this down. I’ve got a whole calendar of all of the different things that we do different times of the year with cattle and Dwayne’s got a whole calendar of, you know, the feeding and why we’ve chosen different things and how much. So all of that is, is we’re ready to share that with the kids and be able to make sure that that is involved in their decision making process, and that they have that to fall back on.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 15:40

Yeah. So one of the things that I know you have, we’ve kind of talked about with your kids is getting that business experience is really important, not just getting the experience with the cattle, you’ve encouraged your kids to get that kind of experience. And each one of them has something different going on. Right? That’s,


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  15:59

that’s exactly right. So we told each of the kids get a college degree, get a side gig. And that is probably the way that we’ll be able to handle having more families back on the ranch, because God is not making more land, right. So it’s hard to buy more land and expand. So we really need this land to work the best that it can and get the most out of it. But we also need these kids to be able to have something to fall back on that will give them that that insurance and stable paycheck kind of thing. So make sure that they’ve got that. So Trent though, when he graduated from Kansas State University, he graduated in a program called wildlife and outdoor enterprise management. And that is teaching kids how to run their own hunting or fishing enterprise. It’s yeah, it’s not Wildlife and Parks. So he has a pheasant outfitting service as his side hustles. So he runs, hunts on the weekends for the most part, and raises pheasant and does all that with his wife, who feeds him homemade meals and houses them and all that kind of thing. So it’s a that’s an excellent side gig for him. That kind of gives him his own thing. The other two boys right now that have just kind of started really returning. And we’re, to be honest, we’re really looking for the right way to merge them in. Because Trent has been home for four years. Tyler and Eric, it’s not their fault that they’re younger. Right? But they are just that many years behind and are now ready to come home and be a part of it. And they want to be. And we need to figure that out. But we also need to value the fact that Trump’s been here for four years with his blood, sweat and tears immediately, right. So they both have a full time job right now. And so they’re available on evenings and weekends. Also. Yeah, your Tyler and Eric and that has worked out really, really well. But I do know, they would both like a bigger role than the ranch. And so that’s, that’s the thing that I think we’ve got to just sit down as a family around the table and be really, really open and honest. And just really talk about what what do you want to see in five years? And what do you doing and I want with the ranch with the land, you know, what is our expectations? And how can we fit you people in and in a in a way that you can do this without us? Right? So we set it up? I feel like if we do a poor job today of creating that communication strategy among those guys and their and their spouses and everything, then I think that we’ve set everybody up for failure. And that’s nobody wants to do that. I bet. I don’t understand farmers and ranchers don’t talk about this, because nobody wants their ranch to fail. Nobody wants to hand it to the next generation and have it be sold. Nobody wants that.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 18:52

I think you and I have both seen kind of the the worst of the things that could happen. Right. And I mentioned, you know, I know somebody who’s like in their 30s. They’re the youngest of a lot of kids. And so the older kids are well in their 60s and stuff and you know, at different times they’ve tried to talk to their parents about well, what can we do as far as the transition and some families have had children go away and never want to come back? Because this is hard to talk about. Right? Like it’s it’s hard. You’re you’re you said you’re in your 50s It’s not like, Oh, I’m ready for the pastor myself. Right. So it’s, it’s like, how do I stay really challenged and mentally engaged and all that kind of stuff. And then yet some of the stuff you have to do it’s probably nice to have 320 Something year olds.


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  19:46

Yes. Yeah, the physical stuff is wonderful to be able to have some young men to say Hey, boys, I don’t feel like lifting all those 50 pounds sacks. Are you guys able to get that loaded for me? Yeah. They’re great. But yeah, it’s it’s a challenge because, you know, we’re talking about what’s going to happen when I die, that nobody wants to talk about when you die. Nobody’s comfortable with that, and I get it. But it, it reminds me back to the unique situation that we’re in this family, the black family has seen a lot of death. And we’ve, we’ve had to deal with it in a practical way. I mean, yes, it was, it was mentally tough on my husband to lose his dad at 14. But he’s also had to learn to deal with that and deal with the back then they had a state taxes, and you know, all of that kind of thing to deal with. And we’ve just said, You know what, we want to do that to our kids. Yeah, he didn’t expect to dive in. Right? He didn’t, nobody says, oh, today’s the day, I better have this all written down. Firstly, you never know when it’s gonna happen, right? Our opinion is, let’s share it with the kids, let’s let’s make them a part of the communication with it,


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 20:56

rather than get into your 80s and suddenly going, Okay, we’ve run the ranch our way all this time. Now, who wants to take it over?


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  21:04

Right. So we’re anxious and Dwayne is really good at this is asking, Who wants to take over this specific task? So he’ll say, who you know, who wants to go build this fence? We need this fence built? You boys want to do it? Okay, that’d be great. The ranch will pay you to do it. And then not micromanage them. Yeah, right. Let him go out and build fence. He taught them how to build fence, he knows they can build fits, he could be out there saying, Oh, that that corner post is crooked. Oh, you need Nah, you did that one wrong. But that’s not teaching the kids how to make the decisions themselves. And everybody’s got to learn and mess up some too.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 21:41

I was gonna say, and if the fence breaks and cattle get out, then then those are the people who have to go get the cattle back in. Yep, that’s


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  21:51

exactly right. You know, we all make mistakes. So you kind of decided that those mistakes are probably better to be made now. When we can help fix them. Yeah. Then then made later when we’re gone. And they go, gosh, I have no idea what mom would have said with this. How to fix this.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 22:08

Yeah, yeah. So what are the really big things that you think about as like, it was so good to learn this from my family? Or? Luckily, I had somebody else in the community for Dwayne right. What are the biggest pieces that you need to learn from experience? Because you can’t teach it at school?


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  22:27

You know, I think every geographic area is different for that. I think it’s mostly just the practical things about what happens on the ranch. So do you do you plant soybeans this year? Do you plant corn? Do you look for a cash crop of wheat? Do you do you make sure that you’ve got enough hay? You know, you’ve got to decide all of those things? Also, is it the right time to expand the herd? Maybe we should cut back on the herd and and raise heifers, you know more. So those kind of decisions are the ones that we’re trying to include the kids in. And when when Dwayne and I got married. We didn’t do any more farming. At that point, we leased out all of our property for farming. But when the boys came home, they said we want to farm. Okay, well, we didn’t have any equipment. Right? So we needed to buy a combine, we needed to buy, you know, equipment plant, we have a now you know, a special planter to no till and all of that kind of thing, which we didn’t have before. So we had to make some really tough decisions about how much money to put into equipment. Duane did a great job of including those boys, and taking them to the banker to I think that’s one of the things that so I sometimes talk about transition planning. And it’s under the guise of sustainability. Because honestly, if you have a transition plan, then then you’re way more sustainable than many, right? If you figured out how to transition, one of the questions is not only, you know, are you are you interested in the ranch, and how are you going to do that. But if mom and dad were to be gone today, with the banker, work with your kids? Oh, that’s really a tough question. Because if it’s always been us that have done the book work that have signed the loans that have done everything, do they even do they even know my kids? You know, right, and that relationship is so important, so important.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 24:28

I think it’s the same kind of thing that we try and teach our kids or nieces and nephews and stuff about advocating for themselves on the job and stuff too, right? Like you think you deserve a raise. Okay, let’s talk about what that looks like and how do you present that information in a way to get it considered by other people? It’s the same kind of thing that you have to do for the bank. Right? But it’s usually a long time kind of relationship of the same bankers and if they’ve never seen that these kids are managing the money and they’re, they’re the ones that are deciding Are we going to increase the herd or they’ve been there as you guys were making those decisions? It’s a very different kind of world than I think a lot of us think of farmers and ranchers, right? Because I would love to think of you guys as focused on paddle. Yeah, the whole time. Yeah. But you have to focus on the land, you have to focus on the labor, you have to focus on the health issues, you have to focus on the financial issues, and the environmental issues, so like helping your sons understand those different areas, it’s, it’s not something you can learn in four years of college.


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  25:38

That’s exactly right. And so part of our transition plan also includes, of course, our girls, because they both do love the ranch, but they don’t want to be involved in the day to day operations, right. And so it would not really be right, to make our boys go to them and say, we’re looking at making this change, right, because they’re not even involved in it day to day. So that part of the ranch, that operational part of the ranch, they’ll probably keep their fingers in as far as percentage of ownership, but not very much, there really is no reason to give them a whole lot of day to day ownership anything. But really what we’re passing on is the land. And so the boys are going to be the ones that work the land, you know, whether it’s with cattle, or whatever. And so, so they’re the ones that are going to deal with that operational, but all five of our kids will inherit equally in the land. And so it’s important to that our girls understand that, and that our girls are a big part of why we do things on the ranch. And they have been that’s how they were raised. They get it. But but it’s important that they’re still involved in the communications and how is that land doing? Right? And, you know, what, what decisions are we making to make the land better every year?


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 26:55

Yeah, well, they can just take all that knowledge back to this surgical room. And as they’re doing prep, they can go, Well, you know, what my brothers are doing today?


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  27:06

That is a good one. Doctors don’t get any nutrition classes or like one in men really? Yeah. Which is disturbing, I believe. And so Megan has quite a really good education, in nutrition, because of her agriculture routes, because we have everybody studies that, because we want to make sure we’re, I want to raise beef, if it’s not good for you or good for the planet, it is good for you and good for the planet. So when she has a patient that is having issues, right, she’s going to be a general surgeon doing all sorts of gut surgeries. That’s the new thing, right is gut health. So she’s able to bring that in. And also recognize that a dietitian is really the most important person in that conversation. And I think a lot of doctors forget that. But so anyway, so I think Megan really will benefit from being a cow girl, and also a surgeon.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 28:03

I love it. I love it, I can see it now. She’s gonna she’s gonna change the world just differently than the folks that are on the ranch full time. And I assume. So for now, everybody comes back for the holidays and stuff like that, right? This is very well


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  28:20

worth that funny, funny stage where there are no grandkids yet. And there are three married one engaged, Megan is engaged. And Tyler has a very stable significant other, shall we say? So we’ll see where that leads. And but with no grandkids, they come back and and it’s it’s just awesome. You know, it’s it’s easier stuff right now. And we have some of these conversations, we just sit down to dinner and Dwayne’s always done that, that’s just talking about things at the dinner table. So while we all 12 of us, right, so everybody was their significant others 12 at the dinner table routinely, whenever we’re all home is really cool. It’s it’s a really fun conversation. And it’s it’s very educational as well. It’s fun to learn from them. We told them go to college. Okay, so So we send them to college for a reason, get smart, and come back here and help us right not just, that’s the other thing. So many people I feel like are afraid of their kid saying let’s do things differently. I’m not gonna say we embrace every idea that they have, because well, we don’t some of those ideas, you know, we’ve thought through before too, but if they come home and say, Hey, I learned this in college. Let’s try this. We want to learn from it. You know? Yeah, we’re, we’re all over it. That’s, that’s great. We did that on purpose. Right?


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 29:44

Yeah. So tell me I’m knowing you know, how siblings are the do working with family, working with your children working with your siblings. You make it sound like communications is It’s like a walk in the park, we’re all having dinner together. There’s those times when it doesn’t work so smoothly to write. And I always think, you know, one of the great things about my job is, I would I would leave the job. When I came home, there’s no leaving it when you’re living on the ranch and, and everybody else is living on or next to the ranch. Do you have like a zone where you don’t discuss things?


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  30:28

Now, we don’t have them down. And I don’t know if that’s good or bad, right? I don’t want to ever though be that Okay, now let’s put on our business hat. And it’s just kind of a how we function. So the kids do and will fall into their old roles, which is good and bad. Because I want them though to each bring something to the ranch. And so that is the struggle today is trying to figure out exactly what that looks like, right? Because each one of them wants to do something within the ranch. And right now Trent’s doing it all. So we want to value the fact that trend has been here doing it all. But he also knows that we didn’t, we didn’t have five kids to let only just one inherit, that’s not the way it works. We want, we want all of them to have a part. So like I say, it’s really important and no, it’s not always easy. And then you add in significant others. And those significant others are important because I’m a significant other, right. And if I weren’t here, this ranch wouldn’t look like it does, right? It would still be here doing would definitely still have it and still be working it and all of that. But I have helped to create what it is in this generation. And so we know that those significant others do the same. And so we want to value them, but it also is these kids are the ones right these these young people, whatever it is,


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 31:52

but we keep calling them kids, but that’s your your website’s awesome kids. So I


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  31:57

know it is there. They’re the youngest are 26 and Megan’s 30. So that’s the big gap. 2620 620-728-3026 2626.



Yeah, it’s,


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  32:11

it was a lot of kids really fast. But today, it’s awesome. That’s where the blur is. I got no memories of that first two years with little kids.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 32:22

I love it. I love it. Well, is there something that I forgot to ask you about? This was really the conversation I wanted to have? Because I think it I think we all put off some of those conversations in our families, right? Like, I mean, not just around farming, plenty of us probably need to have those conversations with family members and thinking about the fact you should have them. But I know you’re really into sustainability.


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  32:46

But I am the incoming chairman, for the US roundtable for sustainable beef. So I’ll be the chairman in April. And I believe that that conversation has been going on for a long time around sustainability, climate change, environment, that whole thing. And farmers and ranchers have tried to ignore it. And that’s crazy, because we are the biggest environmentalists ever. And so my charge is that we have to get involved in the conversation, I would rather be involved in writing those than in just taking it. So the US roundtable for sustainable beef has producers, we have feed yard operators, we have packers and processors, and retailers quite a few really cool retailers that you would recognize, and then also allied industries. So you know, those that don’t fit into a sector, but they’re a company that is making claims themselves, right sustainability. And then also some of the original organizations that were pushing the conversation around sustainability and some of those environmental organizations, their members, and we are agreeing on how we can make American beef be sustainable. American beef has already been most sustainable beef in the world. But we still need to keep getting better. And we are we’ve got to get the data to fight the misinformation, that beef is bad for the environment, because that’s not true. But it’s just like all the advocacy we’ve always done. Right? We’ve got to get the information behind it. The conversation


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 34:28

around beef is an interesting one. I do think sustainability is one of those pieces that comes up time and time again and to know that farmers and ranchers are actively interested in in making sure people have information available to them, right like it’s it’s not trying to find the data to prove what you think it’s trying to find the data that’s actually out there that shows what’s happening. And then let’s decide what happens or what needs to happen.


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  34:58

Generating electricity and transport are really the big two, even in the United States, those are the biggest. There are other countries that beef is a contributor. But really, in America, agriculture as a whole is 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. And livestock then is like 2%. So total greenhouse gas emissions. So even everything that we do is not going to save the planet. Right? If we do everything perfectly, it’s not going to save the planet. But we do have to keep getting better. Everybody has, right their best management practices anyway. And a big part of that, and I really appreciate getting to talk about it is transition planning. Because if you can keep that land in grass, you are sequestering carbon. There’s so much land in the western United States that cannot grow crops, we just can’t. Our topsoil is so shallow here in the Flint Hills, that if we wanted to actually farm on some of these hills, it just it wouldn’t grow anything worthwhile. It would be a waste of our time and energy, we’d be using a lot more research resources, just to grow something here. So the best way to utilize this land is to keep it in grass. Keep it sequestering carbon because especially here in the Flint Hills, we sequester a lot of carbon our roots go down 20 feet, way more than most of the trees in America. Seriously, this grass is amazing. So if we can keep this in grass. How do we do that? We graze cows on it.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 36:28

Austin, turn that grass into protein.


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  36:31

That’s it. Man, that cow is amazing. She eats things that we can’t eat and turns it into delicious protein.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 36:39

I love it. So where can people find you online? Before we sign off?


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  36:44

I do a lot of my connecting on social media kids cows and grass. All one word kids cows and grass. And then for farmers that want to share about sustainability and learn what I’m doing on the ranch specifically connected in farmer talk, right? Is Debbie L B is so just search Debbie Lyons Blythe you’d find me mostly Instagram is is what I’m really focusing on these days.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 37:11

Love it. Alright, thanks so much, Debbie. We’re gonna put some photos and things, some video of the farm and ranch. I do want to put all that stuff up on the website so people can look at it. And knowing some of my friends are pheasant hunting kind of people. I want to make sure that we put information on how to get in touch with him as well because you never know who might be hunters that are listening. Yeah,


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  37:34

and he has an Instagram account too. So his hunting outfitting services called level Creek Outfitters and that’s what it is on Instagram and also on Facebook. And all of his contact information. A phone number is right there to give him a call and learn about coming out to hunt.


Janice Person – Grounded by the Farm 37:52

Sounds great. Thanks, Debbie.


Debbie Lyons-Blythe  37:54

Thank you

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