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The Two Sides of Colten Jesse



He’s always knew what he wanted to be. From as far back as he can recall, Colten Jesse planned to be a bull rider, spending days and months traveling across the country for an eight-second ride. The now 24-year-old cowboy purchased his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association permit shortly after his 18th birthday in 2015.

In 2016, he joined the Professional Bull Riders, and over the course of four years won more than $310,000, qualified for the World Finals three of those years, and became a household name in the world of professional bull riding.

While his talent with a bull has been on display, Colten had another gift he occasionally shared with family and close friends. He could sing, write songs, and a play a guitar.

Then, when a nagging hip injury forced a surgery and long recovery at the beginning of 2021, his focus pivoted to the music. The bull rider-turned-troubadour’s musical career is now on an upward trajectory.

The Bulls

Colten grew up in the south central Oklahoma town of Konawa. A third generation bull rider, Colten rose through the typical ranks, beginning with sheep riding around four years old. “I never really quit, after that. After sheep I went to calves, then steers, and then bulls,” he recalled. “No one ever forced me to do anything, but it was what I really wanted to do from an early age.”

He purchased his PRCA permit in 2015, dipping his toes in the professional arena. His career took off in 2016, and he finished the year with more than $46,000 in earnings and ranked 27th in the world standings. That year he qualified for and won the Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo in Duncan, Okla., and qualified for the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo.

He decided to make the switch to the PBR in 2017. “The PBR was just somewhere I always wanted to be. I had some good people who helped me make the best decisions for me. I was able to mature mentally during my time in the PRCA before making the switch and didn’t feel as much pressure to make the finals or anything like that,” he shared.

He made the switch to the PBR late in the season, but still managed to claim a couple good wins in the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour.

In 2018, he had one of his best years, pocketing more than $108,000, including a $41,300 payday for a third-place finish at the Music City Knockout and another $21,456 from a win at the Big Sky PBR in Montana. “It was a good year. I think it was the only healthy whole year I had the whole time. It was technically my rookie year in the PBR. I made my first world finals and set the tone and knew where I was supposed to be,” he shared.

Building off his success in 2018, Colten was eager to get out on the road. A few wins early in the year propelled him higher in the standings, but then disaster struck. “It had started off to be really good. I felt more mature and was having fun, and then wound up blowing my shoulder out that summer,” Colten explained. “I was high enough in the standings I still slid into the finals even though I didn’t go anywhere after that.”

Surgery soon followed. Luckily Colten, who was living in Texas at the time, had one of the best in the business in his corner. “Dr. Tandy Freeman did the surgery and kept an eye on me. I was able to go to physical therapy right down the road from his office,” he said. “I got back to feeling good, and he cleared me to compete at the finals.”

With only a short period of time to practice before the World Finals, the event wasn’t a success. “I was able to get on maybe two practice bulls before I went out there. I still feel like it was no excuse by any means,” he said. “I have never had an outstanding finals like I know I can. It’s definitely something that has haunted me.”

Colten came back in 2020 looking for redemption. “I was ready to rock and roll. I had a really good year. I started to get into my own head and had some hiccups towards the middle of the season, but came back and had a really good summer,” he said. Summer 2020 was highlighted by a win in Bismark, N.D., at the PBR Dakota Community Bank and Trust Invitational, worth $36,770.

Then COVID-19 struck, and Colten had to sit out the next event. Then an old injury in his hip flared up. “It was kind of a dog fight from that point in September through the finals,” he said.

The issue in his hip was one that has plagued him through his career. In 2017 he knew something was wrong, and visits with the doctors resulted in having his labrum in his hip repaired. He also had a bone spur on his femur which had given him fits from an early age. “We finally got that fixed and then it resurfaced in 2020. It was something, I guess it’s just something I’m going to have to deal with. I don’t really have a choice,” he said.

With Dr. Freeman’s help, Colten got a couple injections in his hip to help him make it through the finals. “It helped, but not the way I’d like it to. It was tough, trying to ride bulls with an injury like that. It was always in my mind. I’m not so sure if it wasn’t beating me, mentally,” he admitted. “I think I went to three of the last six events. I ended up going to the finals and I don’t think I rode anything at the finals. That year, 2020, just wound up being pretty tough on me.”

With the PBR World Finals in the books, Dr. Freeman set Colten up with Dr. Thomas Byrd, an orthopedic hip specialist in Nashville. “I went and had hip surgery in January, and have just been playing music since then,” he shared. “I haven’t been on a bull since the last one I got on in AT&T Stadium in November of 2020.”

Quietly, he added, “I do miss it.”

The Music

With a looming recovery period of at least six months, Colten crafted a new plan for 2021. “I ended up buying a house and land in Davis, and just had a lot of stuff going on. I knew I wouldn’t be cleared to ride until late in the season, so I decided to take the year off and work on my house and my land and my music,” he explained.

Colten’s musical career began – and was short-lived – in junior high. “I played in the band in junior high. It was more of a social thing then, because my friends were doing it, too. I did enjoy it, and tried really hard at it. I played the saxophone, and that was about it,” he shared with a quick laugh.

He quit the band in eighth grade, then purchased his first guitar at a pawn shop when he was 18 following an injury. “I had that injury, I don’t even remember what it was, but I was limited in what I could do, so I would just sit there and play and play and play on that guitar,” he remembered. “I had some other buddies that would play and they taught me a little bit, and then I taught myself as I went along.”

He kept his talent to himself, and didn’t really play much in front of people.

Then he began to write his own songs. The first, titled “Marlboro Man,” was about an old friend. “His name was Jim Burns, and he lived down the road and was a family friend. He meant a lot to a lot of us. I wrote it for a small group of people, talking about how he was, and people just kind of latched on to that song. They’ll write me and tell me that it makes them think of their grandpa, or brother, or dad, and I think that’s pretty cool,” he said.

Colten wound up sending some songs to friends, and one posted a video to social media. “I didn’t have it finished at the time, but it started to blow up on social media. It wasn’t finished at the time, but people were messaging me and it compelled me to finish it. I went out and bought some home audio equipment, and recorded it and another one right their in my kitchen,” he admitted.

One of those first songs was “Firewater,” which he’d written after a rough time at a PBR event. “I was in Billings at the PBR, and I thought something was going on with my hip. I went ahead and got on my first bull that night, and it wasn’t working. I wound up turning out the rest of the weekend, and I guess I was just down. I went out to the bar with my friends, and wound up writing that song,” he said. “I was feeling defeated but knew I had to keep going. The song might have been about whiskey, but it was more about dealing with life in general.”

Read more about Colten in the December 2021 issue of Oklahoma Farm & Ranch.

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Country Lifestyle

Raising Chickens for Beginners: A Step-by-Step Guide



Raising chickens can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, whether you’re a homesteader looking to become more self-sufficient or a backyard enthusiast seeking fresh eggs for your family. Chickens are relatively low-maintenance animals, making them an excellent choice for beginners in the world of poultry farming. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the essentials of raising chickens, from choosing the right breed to ensuring their health and happiness.

Selecting the Right Breed

Before diving into chicken-raising, it’s crucial to choose the right breed that suits your goals and environment. Different breeds have various characteristics, including egg-laying capacity, temperament, and adaptability. Here are some popular options for beginners:

Rhode Island Red: Known for their excellent egg production and hardiness.

Plymouth Rock: Friendly birds that lay brown eggs and adapt well to various climates.

Australorp: Record-holders for egg-laying, known for their docile nature.

Silkies: Unique and fluffy birds often kept as pets; they lay smaller eggs but are adorable companions.

Research the specific breeds available in your area and consider factors like climate and available space when making your selection.

Coop and Run Setup

Before bringing your chickens home, you’ll need to set up a safe and comfortable living space for them. A coop and run are essential components of your chicken-keeping setup:

Coop: The coop is where your chickens will sleep at night and lay their eggs. It should be well-insulated, predator-proof, and provide at least two to three square feet of space per chicken.

Run: The run is an outdoor area where your chickens can roam during the day. It should be fenced and covered to protect your birds from predators and provide shade.

Make sure to include roosting bars, nesting boxes, and adequate ventilation in your coop for a healthy environment.

Feeding Your Chickens

Chickens need a balanced diet to stay healthy and lay eggs regularly. You can feed them commercial chicken feed, which comes in various forms:

Starter Feed: For chicks up to six weeks old.

Grower Feed: For chicks aged six weeks to 20 weeks.

Layer Feed: For hens producing eggs.

Additionally, you can supplement their diet with kitchen scraps, vegetables, and grains. Ensure they have access to clean, fresh water at all times.

Care and Health

Regular care and monitoring are essential to keeping your chickens healthy. Here are some key aspects of chicken care:

Regular Health Checks: Inspect your chickens for signs of illness or injury daily. Common issues include mites, respiratory infections, and injuries from pecking.

Disease Prevention: Vaccinate your chickens against common diseases to keep your flock healthy.

Egg Collection: Collect eggs daily to ensure they remain clean and prevent hens from brooding.

Clean Coop: Regularly clean the coop to prevent the buildup of waste and odors, which can attract pests.

Handling and Socializing

Chickens can be friendly and enjoy human interaction when handled gently. Spend time with your chickens, hand-feeding them treats to build trust. Avoid sudden movements or loud noises, which can startle them.

Understanding Egg Production

Egg production varies by breed and age. Hens typically start laying eggs at around 5-6 months old. The amount of daylight, diet, and stress can affect egg production. You can use artificial lighting to simulate longer daylight hours, which can encourage consistent egg-laying.

Dealing with Challenges

Chickens, like any animal, come with their challenges. Here are a few common issues and how to address them:

Predators: Invest in a secure coop and run, and consider adding motion-activated lights or alarms to deter nighttime predators.

Broodiness: Some hens may become broody and stop laying eggs. You can break this behavior by isolating them in a separate enclosure or providing them with dummy eggs to sit on.

Feather Pecking: Chickens can sometimes develop a habit of pecking at each other’s feathers. Ensure they have enough space and distractions to prevent this behavior.

Raising chickens can be a delightful and educational journey. By selecting the right breed, setting up a proper coop and run, providing a balanced diet, and offering care and attention, you can enjoy the rewards of fresh eggs and the companionship of these feathered friends. Remember that every chicken has its unique personality, so get ready to be charmed by your new flock as you embark on this fulfilling adventure in poultry farming. Happy chicken-keeping!

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Country Lifestyle

I Saw God Today



By Beth Watkins

Nature is so majestically breathtaking because it is the perfect balance of order and chaos; predictable yet ever changing. This combination creates an endless cycle of life and death that is both hypnotic and sobering. In nature we see the consistency of how everything works together to create something greater than itself. Well, unless you wonder why God created flies, ticks or mosquitos, spiders and snakes. Spending time outside surrounded by nature is generally always peaceful and awe-inspiring. I never really thought about how trees end up growing along a fence line until my life included cows. Sitting on a tailgate in a pasture eating lunch, you have time to question these things. The answer is birds! They eat seeds, and drop seeds literally from both ends all while sitting on barbed wire. Sitting on a pond bank fishing, pondering, how do fish get in a pond that has never been stocked? The answer again, birds and other waterfowl transport fish eggs from other ponds. Sitting on my porch swing watching the sunset, I came to the realization that sunsets and sunrises are determined by  where you stand on this big blue marble. 

I’ve seen a few sunrises in my many years of life. I’m not a morning person at all, so if I catch a glimpse of a sunrise, I’m in go-mode and there is most definitely a reason I am awake. I’ll confess I’ve probably seen the most sunrises in the fall on my way to Arkansas for a craft fair. Shopping is always a great motivator for early mornings. I do get up early on Sunday mornings, but I’m in a hurry to get dressed and make myself “public” presentable, so I don’t have time to check on the sunrise. Why am I in a hurry? Because I have hit the snooze button two or three too many times. Thankfully I have a cup of coffee on my twenty-five minute car ride to church, which gives me time to catch my breath and tune-up my social interaction meter.

From what I can tell most people fall into two categories: an early bird or a night owl. I’m here to tell you there should be a third option, and I shall name it poised peacock. A poised peacock is neither an early bird or a night owl, but is a unique individual that is highly functional from 10:30am till about 10:30pm. If you have to be classified as some sort of fowl, I would say that category best describes my routine. The feathers can be fully extended at exactly 10:30am and remain up for the next twelve hours but, at 10:31 I’m down for the count.

I’ve been told you get a lot more done in a day if you get up earlier. I understand that concept, I’m just not a fan. I’m not shallow or narrow minded. I’ve given it a try. I’ve had babies, they’ve gone to school, I had to be up early, and still didn’t function well until after 10:30am. For this season of my life, I’m an empty nester (there we go with the bird analogies again!) and very fortunate, I write my own schedule. Even in the summertime when my husband puts me to work; you can’t cut or bale hay until the dew dries up, so no early mornings for this princess.

 These days I prefer the time when evening begins closing in; time seems to slow down. The chores are finished for the day. It’s free time; time to choose how to spend the next few hours. If we compared our life span to the clock on the wall. I’m a few minutes after 6:00pm. For this analogy, ideally it’s a summer day that is coming to a close, which means the sun won’t set on my life till a little after 9:00pm. I am savoring these last relaxing hours, before the sunsets for good. A breathtaking sunset is the epitome of fading beauty. For a moment a glorious array of color is adored and then it’s over. Yet, the effects of admiration last long after the light has gone. My hope is that I have left an enduring impression on the hearts of my friends and family. 

Like each sunset, everyday is different, you can watch the sunset on the horizon from the same spot everyday, but it will never look the same. Oftentimes I’m overwhelmed at the amount of peace you can find from just taking a moment to breathe in the beauty that God has created. Some of the most beautiful sunsets are formed from the presence of clouds in the sky. Which reminds me of Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose. I can testify to this truth; all things are not good, but we have a good God in all things.

Maybe Sunsets are my favorite because no matter what you are doing you are instinctively drawn to admire nature’s beauty, the moment the world just stands still, you forget your worries and you can breathe deeper and become refreshed, you can’t help but see God in a sunset.  I’ve watched the sun drown in the Atlantic while traveling on a cruise ship headed west as Calypso music filled the air. I’ve caught a rather quick indescribable colorful sunset from Waikiki Beach as the Hawaiin drum beats livened the atmosphere. I’ve sat quietly on a beach in California hearing only the calming effects of the pacific waters as the sun slowly sunk. But still the grandest and most satisfying sunset of them all is the one viewed here, from home; where, in the summer, the frogs in the nearby pond begin their musical contribution to this glorious presentation; crickets begin warming up their instruments; cows eating grass close-by seem to keep the rhythm going as the colors in the sky begin to vibrate; as the sun sinks lower in the Oklahoma sky for the grand finale as the lights go down. Grateful for another inspirational end to an ordinary day, where the paved road ends.

Read more in the March 2023 issue of Oklahoma Farm & Ranch.

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Country Lifestyle

Say Yes!



FFA National Officer Karstyn Cantrell

It was a Saturday last October, when Karstyn Cantrell heard her name announced from the National Convention Stage in Indianapolis. With a pounding heart, she realized her dream of becoming a National FFA Officer had come to fruition. Years of elation and heartbreak had all culminated in that moment, and it was all because she’d learned the value of saying “Yes!”

In the Blood

Karstyn Cantrell grew up on a fourth-generation cow-calf operation in the northeast Oklahoma town of Collinsville. Her great grandfather, Olin Lewis, had started a dairy co-op. While a dairy cow hasn’t stepped foot on the place since she’s been alive, her family still stores the yearly hay supply in that original dairy barn.

“When my father (Steve) was growing up, he started diving more into the Hereford side. He was big in FFA, and was Collinsville FFA Chapter President. I have an older brother, and when he was old enough to show, we changed a lot of the genetics of our ranch, going from more cow-calf animals to more show quality livestock,” Karstyn explained.

“I began showing when I was four years old, and my brother was my biggest mentor in the show ring. Now it’s something we continue today through a lot of the national shows,” she said.

Since she spent the entirety of her life in the agriculture industry, she made a pretty seamless transition from the green corduroy jacket of 4H to the blue and gold one of FFA. “I was always big in the show ring and thought that was where I was going to find my home, but as I got older, I really fell in love with things like livestock and dairy evaluation, and being active in the Agricultural Communications Career Development Events,” she recalled.

Naturally, Karstyn’s Supervised Agricultural Experience began as raising cattle on the ranch. As she got older, she added an agricultural sales SAE, where her family owns, maintains, and creates their own blends and custom show rations for cattle. “My junior year I decided to add a third component to my SAE with an agricultural communications side and started a blog where I posed weekly updates about things that were happening in Oklahoma Legislature that affected the industry. I’d also post show results, and information about different camps, contests, conferences, and conventions. I would see profit from my blog based off of every thousand views that I got.”

While agriculture has definitely always been part of Cantrell’s story, for a long time, it looked like volleyball would hold the most important chapters. Her mother, Michelle Cantrell, was the head volleyball coach at Owasso Public Schools, and Karstyn grew up watching the teams win state tiles. “I knew volleyball was going to be the lifestyle for me. I honestly contemplated choosing the college career for volleyball. I played club and school and sand, and while FFA was fun, that wasn’t where my focus was,” she admitted.

Then fate stepped in during her junior year, and health issues forced her to stop playing volleyball.

Her decision made for her, she began diving more into FFA.

Already a chapter officer her junior year, she was looking for a new passion. She had thought running for an Oklahoma State FFA Officer might fill the void left from volleyball, but it wasn’t until she was visiting with a fellow FFA Officer that she made the decision. “My friend Kaitlan (Teague) and I were talking about what our life was like, and how FFA had really helped us grow up,” she recalled. “I told her I had to be a State Officer.”

Unfortunately, the time that Karstyn would be campaigning for the position of Northeast Area Vice President was right in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. “That meant all the chapter conferences, speech contests, livestock shows … all those things were closed down. I did a lot of virtual conversations to just maintain the relationships that I had already created. Instead of being the person who was in place at all the events, I really got to refine the connections I already had,” she recalled.

One of the coolest moments of an Oklahoma State Officer’s tenure happens during State Convention, but, once again, those plans changed. “Normally you’re surrounded by thousands of people, and you’re standing arm-in-arm with every single candidate on the convention floor,” she explained.

But because of the restrictions in place, Karstyn and her family learned of her win in a much cozier setting.

“I actually got to watch my name get called surrounded by my parents, grandparents, brother, teachers, family, and a lot of friends. We had a cookout that day, and what would have normally been a stressful environment was really fun. We were able to reflect on what FFA has meant to not only me, but also my family,” she said.

When her name was announced, the celebration was on. “I’ll never forget sitting on the floor when they called my name. All of a sudden, we were hugging each other in a big dog pile, and there was confetti and all that stuff,” she said with a laugh.

“I can’t imagine what my life would look like if I had chosen to go down the volleyball route, especially as I think about my senior year, when I was running for a state office in a time of COVID. So much of my life changed that year,” she said. “At the same time, going down path of serving as a state officer has brought me to where I am now.”

Lessons Learned

Karstyn served as the Northeast Area Vice President for the 2020-2021 year. Following the State FFA Convention in May 2021, she began the Oklahoma process of becoming a National Officer.

“Every state gets one candidate, so for me, the process included going through interviews and conversations with industry stakeholders within Oklahoma FFA. I had the opportunity to secure Oklahoma’s bid in June 2021,” she explained.

But at the 2021 National FFA Convention, her name was not called to go on stage as a new National Officer.

“It was an incredibly humbling experience to be standing on the Convention floor and watching six awesome people go up on stage after their name was called, and be one of the people who were not,” she admitted. “I can honestly say I experienced more growth within the last year than I could imagine, just because of that circumstance. It really allowed me the opportunity to find who I was in and out of the blue and gold jacket, which better prepared me to go through the process again this past year.”

She expanded on that, and added, “That taught me so much about hard work and persisting through issues. I know, for National FFA, there are more than 850,820 FFA members that we get to serve, and each and every one has faced adversity in some form or fashion.

“So for me that taught me to continue pushing through to find out what gives me joy as I walk through those difficult circumstances, and I can share that with others,” she said.

Getting There

“Something my parents have always encouraged me to do is say yes to opportunities, so that I can figure out the places I need to grow,” she explained.

That advice has been taken to heart, as Karstyn is involved in many clubs, organizations, and programs on the Oklahoma State University campus, including Ferguson College of Ag VP, Chi Omega Sorority, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow Club, Collegiate Farm Bureau Club, Student Network Alumni Ambassador Team, OSU Steering Committee, and OSU’s Student Government Association.

“I’ve always had my foot in a lot of different circles, but I think it’s cool to see that each of those have instilled a lot of different characteristics in me,” she said. 

Karstyn is an Agricultural Communications major with a minor in Legal Studies. After her gap year serving as a National Officer, she hopes to return to OSU to finish her degree. “I would like to enter a law program, so I can hopefully serve Oklahoma once again in the agricultural policy field,” she said.

When asked what she would tell a young student contemplating joining FFA, her answer was simple. Say yes!

“Say yes. Go to that camp, that conference, that convention, and every time there is a chance to sign their name up, they should do it. That’s how they figure out their place. I tried lots of things that didn’t’ work for me, but they pointed me to what would be a better fit. As  a student, you never know what experiences can change your life,” she said.

Read more great stories in the latest issue of Oklahoma Farm & Ranch.

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