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Miss Rodeo Oklahoma Anna Woolsey

With her flashy clothes, gorgeous hair, and award-winning smile, Anna Woolsey might appear, at first glance, to be the quintessential rodeo queen. However, although she did grow up on the back of a horse, her reasons for pursuing titles for rodeo are a bit different from what might be considered normal.

And for the 22-year-old, that’s just fine. “Since I grew up with a different background and wasn’t raised as a rodeo girl, some people underestimated me and what I could do,” she explained. “That was something that kind of affected me when I was younger, but now I have found my niche as a rodeo queen. I know the most important thing is to be true to myself.”

Anna, who now lives in Skiatook, Okla., was raised around horses. She showed her first horse in a halter class at just three years old. When she turned seven, she began showing reining horses, and has ever since, although she has also dabbled in numerous events and disciplines including ranch riding, showmanship, horsemanship, and equitation.

“When I was growing up my dad (Chris Woolsey) worked for Jackie Krshka, who is a Hall of Fame horsewoman, so I was always surrounded my true horsemen. I know it shaped me into who I am when it comes to horses,” she explained.

Anna excelled in the show pen. She qualified for the American Quarter Horse Association Youth World Show every year she was eligible from the time she was 12 years old, and in 2018 she finished sixth for Youth Ranch Riding. She also has titles from the American Buckskin Registry Association and the Color Breed Congress. 

While beginning her college career at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, she competed on the equestrian team, finishing with the reserve National Championship in Reining.

So how did a horse show girl become rodeo royalty?

It was all because of a saddle when she was 13 years old.

Anna had been riding in her mom Morgan’s old barrel saddle, and wanted one of her own. “My mom told me, ‘You know, you could win one if you entered a Queen contest and won.’ So that’s what I did,” she recalled with a laugh.

Morgan has been a rodeo queen when she was younger, and her knowledge and eye for fashion has proved invaluable. “She is in charge of my clothes and is a wonderful fashionista. Anything she puts me in, I know I’m going to love,” Anna said. “It’s pretty neat, because my mom and I both held the Tulsa State Fair title, and now we are the pageant directors for the ACRA (American Cowboys Rodeo Association) Queen Pageant.”

Anna’s first title was followed by several others. In 2015 she was crowned the Newkirk Range Riders Teen Queen, the ACRA Queen in 2016, and in 2017 took the title of Miss Rodeo Oklahoma Teen. She took a two-year sabbatical from the pageants before being named the 2019 Pawhuska International Calvacade Queen. In 2020, she won the crown for Broken Arrow’s Rooster Day Rodeo, and that was the title she took to the Miss Rodeo Oklahoma Pageant in Woodward, Okla., in 2021.  

Woolsey won the competition in style, taking the wins in all but one category. She won the speech, horsemanship, appearance, congeniality, and personality categories, as well as the Annie Oakley and Betty Baker awards.The Betty Baker Award is presented to the contestant who has the highest overall interview scores.

“There was a lot of preparation involved. You have to give an extemporaneous speech, which I hadn’t done before, so we hired a trainer to help with that. My dad made sure my horse was tuned up and ready to go, and my mom made sure I had great outfits,” Anna explained. “Then I did a lot of studying about rodeo, the PRCA, and everything else I need to know to be a good representative of the state and the sport.”

While many young ladies may cringe at the thought of being judged, Anna believes her horse show background helped her be mentally prepared for the competition. “I don’t really stress that much. I have the mindset that they are either going to like me or they’re not, and I can’t really change it. It’s like showing horses. Sometimes they will like your horse, and sometimes they won’t, and it’s fine,” she said.

Anna added that she embraces her different background. “I grew up with a wide variety of horses to ride, and I loved them all. Even though I didn’t grow up in a rodeo family, I have always had an appreciation for it and a love for the horse industry as a whole,” she said. “As a rodeo queen, you spend so much of your time on the back of a horse, so being a true horsewoman is a major advantage.”

Accepting and embracing one’s uniqueness is an act she encourages all young women to try, whether it’s in pageants or other areas of their life.

“Never let anyone change you or try to mold you into what they think you should be. Some people might tell you your hair color isn’t right, or your clothes aren’t stylish enough, but as long as you are true to yourself, and bring your true self to the table every day, you’re going to have the most success,” she said. “Truly, what a judge wants in a rodeo queen is someone who is honest and unapologetic about herself. They don’t want a cookie cutter girl, so it’s important to be your own person.”

Skiatook Paws & Claws

When you ask Anna to share what she’s passionate about, she’ll quickly share that her love for animals extends beyond horses. Over the past five years, she has helped rescue more than 300 dogs!

“I love animals and have fostered dogs since I was 17 years old for Skiatook Paws & Claws. I can get on my soapbox about getting your animals fixed; it’s something I am incredibly passionate about,” she shared.

Animal rescue is so near to her heart that at her Coronation ceremony (which will be held January 29 in Luther), Anna will not only be raising money for her reign as Miss Rodeo Oklahoma, she’ll also be donating a portion of the proceeds to Paws & Claws.

“When I was younger I would see shelter dogs and see them on television, and it would pull my heartstrings, but I never could understand how anyone could work with these animals because it was so sad,” Anna admitted.

Then Anna rescued her first dog, Lady, from the side of the road. “I was able to see the impact that I had on her and her puppies. Since then I have been able to see how we can really change an animal’s life. My appreciation for the people who work with rescues has just continued to grow. They amaze me,” she shared.

Reed more in the February 2022 issue of Oklahoma Farm & Ranch.

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Country Lifestyle

Poinsettia Partnerships Will Make Your Holidays Beautiful




Norman Winter

Horticulturist, Author and Speaker

National Poinsettia Day just passed, December 12 to be exact. While I am sure the powers to be wanted a celebratory type day, from what I have been seeing this year is this may have been a deadline day. This most likely applies to poinsettia partners too! If you are asking what a poinsettia partner is then put on your thinking cap and gather around.

Proven Winners got most of us to thinking partners when they introduced the concept of combining poinsettias with Diamond Frost euphorbias. This is one of the best ideas ever and we now actually have three choices, Diamond Frost, Diamond Snow with double flowers and Diamond Mountain that is the taller of the three.

To a horticulturist like myself this combination is so special because both the Poinsettia and the Diamond Frost are Euphorbias. That’s right, they are cousins. Just like Christmas, families visiting and long-lost cousins getting together. Of course, the main reason we like this idea is that the red, pink, or variegated poinsettia looks incredible, it’s as though it is sitting on a bed of snow or frost. I have found these to be more available at fine florists.

But if you are going to create your own and go plant shopping then keep in mind some other options you might want to-try. For instance, a couple of years ago Jenny Simpson of Creekside Nursery in Dallas North Carolina introduced us to not only using caladiums at Christmas but even in combinations with poinsettias. She used the Heart to Heart White Snowdrift caladiums which turned out to be a perfect partner with red poinsettias.

My time as Executive Director at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens in Savannah GA taught me there are opportunities for outside use with poinsettias, particularly if you are astute at long range weather forecasting. First consider that Savannah is technically zone 8B with a proclivity to lean into zone 9. We used poinsettias in large planters surrounded by Silver Bullet Dusty Miller or artemisia.

A similar application gave me the opportunity of photographing pink poinsettias mass planted in an atrium-like setting and surrounded by gray leaved Icicles helichrysum. But the most obvious and perhaps easiest if you are getting a late start is to combine your poinsettias with another Christmas plant like cyclamen. White cyclamen around a red poinsettia can be simply breathtaking.

This year I have also been watching what I call the professional garden club ladies walking out of both florists and floral departments with holly berries. We all think of hollies on swags above the fireplace or front door, but two or three preserved branches loaded with red berries stuck in a pot of white poinsettias is quick, easy and unbeatable.

Red berries for Christmas, landscape beauty, and of course feeding the birds is a prime reason to grow winterberry hollies like the compact Berry Poppins. Consider also growing Berry Heavy Gold winterberry holly. Cutting branches of the gold berries to be used with red poinsettias makes a stunning partnership. Go to Proven Winners site, Winterberry Holly: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Colorful Berries. If you don’t have poinsettias yet make today your shopping day! Follow me on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy for more photos and garden inspiration.

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Country Lifestyle

Homesteading Skills: The Essentials for Self-Sufficiency and Sustainable Living



Homesteading, once a way of life for our ancestors, is experiencing a resurgence in today’s world. As people seek greater self-sufficiency, a deeper connection with the land, and more sustainable lifestyles, homesteading skills have become not only practical but also deeply rewarding. In this article, we’ll explore the essential homesteading skills that can empower individuals and families to live more self-reliant and sustainable lives.

1. Gardening

At the heart of homesteading is the ability to grow your own food. Gardening is the foundation of self-sufficiency, and it’s a skill that can be cultivated no matter the size of your property. Key gardening skills include:

Soil preparation and composting

Seed starting and transplanting

Crop rotation and companion planting

Pest and weed management

Harvesting and food preservation techniques like canning, freezing, and drying

2. Animal Husbandry

Raising animals for food, fiber, and companionship is a fundamental aspect of homesteading. The skills related to animal husbandry include:

Care and feeding of livestock, such as chickens, goats, cows, or pigs

Breeding and reproduction management

Livestock housing and pasture management

Animal health and basic veterinary care

Dairy and meat processing if you’re raising animals for consumption

3. Food Preservation

To make the most of your garden’s bounty or the harvest from your livestock, knowing how to preserve food is essential. Food preservation skills include:

Canning fruits and vegetables

Fermentation for foods like sauerkraut and kimchi

Dehydrating fruits, vegetables, and herbs

Making homemade jams, jellies, and pickles

Smoking, curing, and other methods for meat preservation

4. Foraging and Wildcrafting

Homesteading often involves making the most of what nature provides. Learning to identify and use wild edibles and medicinals is a valuable skill:

Identifying edible wild plants and mushrooms

Harvesting herbs for teas, tinctures, and salves

Sustainable foraging practices to protect local ecosystems

Preserving wildcrafted items for later use

5. Beekeeping

Keeping bees not only provides a source of honey but also contributes to pollination on your property. Beekeeping skills include:

Setting up and maintaining beehives

Handling and managing bees safely

Harvesting and processing honey and beeswax

Identifying and addressing common bee health issues

6. Food Self-Sufficiency

Beyond gardening, you can work toward greater food self-sufficiency by learning skills like:

Seed saving to preserve heirloom and open-pollinated varieties

Raising and harvesting small livestock like rabbits or quail

Cultivating perennial food crops like fruit trees and berry bushes

Aquaponics or hydroponics for year-round food production

7. Basic Carpentry and DIY Skills

Homesteaders often find themselves needing to build and repair structures, tools, and equipment. Carpentry and DIY skills include:

Building raised beds, chicken coops, and animal shelters

Basic woodworking for constructing furniture and farm implements

Repairing and maintaining machinery like tractors and generators

Fencing and infrastructure construction for property management

8. Water Management

Managing water resources efficiently is crucial for sustainable living. Key skills include:

Rainwater harvesting and storage

Drip irrigation and water-saving techniques for gardening

Proper well maintenance and water testing

Building and maintaining ponds or water features for livestock and wildlife

9. Energy Independence

To live off the grid or reduce your environmental footprint, consider energy independence skills:

Solar panel installation and maintenance

Wind turbine installation and maintenance

Energy-efficient building design and retrofits

Off-grid living strategies for reduced reliance on public utilities

10. Soap and Candle Making

Homemade soaps and candles can reduce reliance on store-bought products. These skills include:

Making soap using cold or hot process methods

Crafting candles from beeswax, soy, or other materials

Adding scents and colors naturally

11. Herbal Medicine and Remedies

Homesteaders often turn to herbal medicine and remedies for self-sufficiency in healthcare:

Growing and harvesting medicinal herbs

Making tinctures, salves, and herbal teas

Natural remedies for common ailments

Basic first-aid and emergency care skills

12. Sewing and Textile Arts

Basic sewing skills are essential for making and repairing clothing, linens, and more. These skills include:

Hand and machine sewing techniques

Mending and darning clothing

Knitting, crocheting, and other textile arts

Crafting items like blankets, rugs, and quilts

Homesteading is not just a return to simpler times but a way to embrace self-sufficiency, sustainability, and a deeper connection with the land. While mastering all these skills may take time, the journey itself is a rich and rewarding experience. Homesteading is about learning, adapting, and continually improving your ability to live more independently and in harmony with the environment. Whether you have acres of land or a small urban plot, these essential homesteading skills can empower you to live a more self-reliant and sustainable life, fostering a sense of fulfillment and purpose in the process.

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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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