Tuesday, August 30, 2011

More than a web site...a web PRESENCE

While visiting with Victor Guerra of LaMuneca Cattle Company recently, we discussed how today businesses need more than just a web site, they need a WEB PRESENCE.

The days of just putting up a web site and then forgetting about it are over. With the trend towards more viral, constantly updated online material, it's time to really take a good look at your web presence and bump things up a level. And as always, RHD is here to help our customers.

First, yes, definitely you need a web site. That's a must. With the affordability, speed, and ease of getting a new web site going, this is a no brainer. Having a web site costs very little, especially when compared to print advertising. Your web site cost for one year will usually be at or less than what you pay for one full page color ad. Web sites are instantly updated, allow for unlimited photos, and unlimited updates.

In addition to just having a web site, the top marketers will use a total online presence, of which a web site is just one component. Besides a web site, here are some other tools to use for your online marketing efforts:

  • A blog - These are currently the "cool" thing to add to a web site. Everyone has a blog! The best blogs out there are the ones that are very frequently updated. While a blog usually won't replace the need for a web site, it gives a lot of advantages. One, blogs are a lot more casual. You can post things on a blog that you would probably never post on your web site...like funny photos, quotes, text messages, pictures taken on your camera phone, videos taken on your phone, etc. Most people can also update their own blogs through the easy to use web-based blog software. You can actually even update your blog from your cell phone. Blog sites like http://www.blogger.com/ (the one we use) are free, and easy to set up. RHD can help you in this area by designing matching blog graphics to go hand in hand with your web site. We can even do the initial set up of your blog, have it all ready to go, then just turn you loose with it.
  • A Facebook page - I swear any day now I figure that even my dad will get a facebook account. Everyone has them. Businesses should create a facebook page where friends and fans can like and share with your business. This is also free. Through your facebook page, you can also use facebook advertising, which is also extremely affordable and extremely targetted. For example, you can place a facebook ad to target everyone who lists "showing cattle" as a hobby. You can also target by states. So to take it even further, you could place a facebook ad that only appears to people from Texas, age 18 and under, who list showing cattle as a hobby. Again, while these pages are very easy to set up and maintain, sometimes you just don't have the time to do it, or have other priorities. This is where we can help once again. RHD can set up your facebook page for you, design custom graphics, then turn it over to you to handle the updates. And, if you don't even want to do the updates, we can do that for you too!
  • A Twitter account - Twitter and Facebook are different, and it's important to understand that. To me, twitter is more news, information, and discussions with people that you most likely don't know, and never will know. For example, last week I re-tweeted a twitter post by Adam Levine of Maroon 5. Pretty sure if I asked to "friend" him I'd get a big IGNORE. But with twitter, you can follow, or be followed by, just about anyone in the world. For me, Facebook is more for connections with my friends that I actually know. Like know well enough to go to lunch together. My personal rule for accepting friends is that you have to be someone I know well enough to know to have a real live conversation in public. For my stock show friend invitations, my rule is that I would at least say "hi" to if we were standing in line together at the Louisville Freedom Hall concession stand.
  • Patricipation in the online community - It's all about social interaction! So get involved! Don't be afraid to hit that "like" button in facebook, or to re-tweet something. Or better yet, post comments on some of your favorite blogs and join in on discussions on message boards. These are great ways to interact with others in the online comunity. Remember that comments should be relevant, useful, polite (even if you disagree with the posts), and not self-promotion.
Now of course, we're all strapped for time. And these four tools are just a few of the thousands of ways you can build your online presence. We recommend trying one or two out, until you feel comfortable with them, then maybe try adding more. As we always say, if you're going to put yourself out there on the web, you have to stay involved and stay current. Nothing is worse than a blog that hasn't been updated in a year. So, make the commitment, and give it a try. And remember, we're here to help along the way!

Monday, August 29, 2011

New Modern Livestock Merchandising Article

We have a new article available that would make great editorial for upcoming magazines and publications. This article is called "More than a website: A web presence." and it discusses websites, blogs, Facebook, twitter, and participation in the online community.

All of the Modern Livestock Merchandising articles are now available for instant download at http://ranchhousedesigns.mybigcommerce.com/modern-livestock-merchandising-articles/.

The stories are priced starting at $50 and include both a word document as well as a camera ready PDF that is already designed and ready to be placed in your magazine.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

EZ On Vinyl

We are always excited when and new or existing client calls and wants us to build their website. EZ On Vinyl has been no exception!

The EZ ON Vinyl hot wire fence clip is a unique, innovative and revolutionary new product that makes for easy and simple installation, use and safety of with wire electric fencing that is applied to vinyl post and rail horse and livestock fencing. This new patented product targets the specific market of horse and livestock vinyl fencing of both existing and new fencing enclosures.

The inventor of EZ ON Vinyl clips understands the advantage and disadvantage of vinyl fence. Though PVC fence is esthetically pleasing and tends to increases the property’s value, its shortcomings are amplified when livestock lean against or dislodge the rails. EZ ON Vinyl clips used in conjunction with electric wire, light cable or tape eliminates this problem and keep your horses and livestock safe.

EZ ON Vinyl clips are designed specifically for the PVC posts and provide an effective long term solution to the issue of livestock and PVC fencing.

The value proposition served by EZ ON Vinyl fence clips can save the owner both time and expenses. This is attributed to minimal cost both of product acquisition, ease and minimal time required for installation, as well as being able to save on veterinary bills since there is less likelihood of the animal coming into contact with the fence and causing injury.

Click here for more information

Texas Drought Photos

A few days ago, Brandon and I were on a photo assignment from my mom and dad to get some pictures of the ranch's pastures to show some of our northern friends about the drought. She posted several on the V8 Ranch facebook page of the pastures and stuff but while we were doing the ranch photos, we decided to take some pics of Mollie vs. the drought.

When I came up with the idea to take Mollie's picture in the drought conditions, my husband said his typical response of "you are crazy". In fact, he and my granddad have this acronym they use on the ranch for problems that occur due to "W.A.C.".....standing for Women Are Crazy. Ha, that's another blog topic. And, as you can see from her picture, I guess Mollie agreed with her dad. I'm pretty sure she is thinking, "Mom, REALLY? Why are you making me do this?"

But, I insisted on taking these photos. Because years from now, when we tell Mollie that she was born in the worst drought of modern Texas times, we can show her these photos and help her put it into perspective. When I think of drought, I think of these poor helpless pioneers in their dresses and bonnets during the dustbowl.

Then, I am reminded of the fact that our drought is worse than the drought Texans faced in the 1930s. So Mollie is living in the modern day dustbowl. So we thought it would be a good illustration to photograph Mollie standing next to the big cracks in our pasture. To put it in perspective, Mollie is nearly 5 months old and weighs 15 pounds. As you can see, the cracks are bigger than her.

I know it is somewhat hard to see, but here she is standing next to the cracks that we had just put her whole body into in the pictures above.

 And here is one where you can see, her legs and feet fit easily into the cracks.

This picture shows one of our fencelines on the ranch, where the cracks in the pasture are causing the fence posts to lean over and be crooked.

These are at a different spot on the ranch, but you can see these cracks are wider than my hand.

Here is a section of what we call our "springer pasture." I was getting scared to drive across this actually.

More pictures of some smaller cracks on the ranch.

We are located about an hour south of Houston, and I know there are lots of folks out there worse off than us, especially further west. Many of our customers and friends at experiencing weather-related issues due to drought or flooding this summer. While I think we are in a rough situation at V8, every day we continue to be THANKFUL for all the many things we DO have. We are so much more blessed than most, and we try to keep this in mind. We have all of our customers and friends in our thoughts, and continue to be optimistic for the future!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More Restaurant Work

We've recently become a huge fan of Scheller's Cafe in Glen Flora, Texas. Unless you're from this area, you've probably never even heard of this little gem of a town...population 210. MAYBE.

Well in this great little town you'll find a post office, our youth fairgrounds, a few antique stores, and a great restaurant called Scheller's Cafe. This restaurant is one that I'd match right up there with any restaurant in Texas. It's got a great atmosphere, great food, and hand-dipped Blue Bell. The menu is what you would consider white table cloth, but it's so casual that you can go in your boots, pants with cow-poop on them, and you get treated like you're a "normal" person. ha ha

On some of our recent visits with the owner, we got the opportunity to design some new restaurant information cards / coasters for the cafe. Since they are a small cafe, they had been doing most of their graphic design work at home with Microsoft Word, a home printer, and a pair of scissors. On our visit to treat Megan to her special lunch, we hand delivered the new cards.

See if you can guess which one we designed?

Of course, there's nothing wrong at all with DIY advertising materials. However I think most people would be suprised to find out that getting us to do custom graphic creations and printing like this is much more affordable that you realize. Do you have a project that could use the RHD touch? Let us give you a bid!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Megan Cullers = Awesome!

This summer we were so honored to have Megan Cullers as our summer intern! And today is her official "last day" (until we can beg her to come back next summer) and so we just wanted to say a special THANK YOU to this wonderful lady! (Megan is the red head in the picture)

Megan started with us in May, when she came back home to Wharton from being at Abilene Christian University, where she is studying to be a nurse. Or actually I think it is something a little more advanced than a nurse, but it's in the health care administration and nursing field. Trust me, she is SMART.
Megan immediately became such a big part of our team here. She brightened all of our days with her sweet smile, her kind personality, and her great attitude. She was always coming up with new ideas, fun things to do, and ways that we could do things better here at RHD.

She was a HUGE asset to The Brahman Review. During the summer she helped us ad over 1500 new subscribers to our mailing list! HUGE! She is a one of a kind, go-getter, and we love her!

Last week, we went to a special lunch at Scheller's Cafe in Glen Flora, Texas to celebrate and honor Megan as a way of saying "Thank you" for the great job she did here! We had a great lunch, and each of us treated ourself with a hand-dipped Blue Bell ice cream cone!

Megan, we just want to say THANK YOU for everything! We're going to miss you so much. You have a job here during Christmas Break, Spring Break, Next Summer, or anytime you want :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cattle In Motion

Here at RHD, we are so fortunate to work with so many great professionals in the business. From time to time, we like to showcase some of our professional partners and tell others about how RHD and these businesses work hand in hand to give our mutual customers the best possible exposure and service.

Cattle In Motion is one of our preferred partners for online sales, internet auctions, and cattle video.

We work with them on numerous sales throughout the year with clients who are using their online sale service. Cattle In Motion was started in 2002, when they began filming cattle and giving breeders across the country new ways to market their products. CIM Auctions was created later in order to help livestock customers sell online. CIM Auctions gives qualified buyers with broadband access the chance to purchase cattle from anywhere in the world.

Here are some ways we work hand in hand with the CIM team.
  • Integration of your online sale through CIM and your existing web site. In the month of August 2011 alone we are currently working with four of our clients who are having sales with CIM (Heritage, V8, JDH, Schneider Brahmans). When we know you are having a sale with CIM, we can easily link your web site sales page to the special page for your internet sale in one easy step.
  • Integration of your videos to your web site. The CIM Team is so great to work with whenever they film video footage for our mutual clients. Basically they will work with RHD and the client to showcase the video in any format you prefer. Some of our clients like to post their CIM videos on You Tube. We can link or embed from your YouTube video to your web site. Others, like Heritage, prefer to link the video to CIM's video player directly from their web site. Whatever you prefer, we can do.
This year we also worked with CIM on a partnership broadcast of the Kickoff Classic Brahman Show. We paid for the broadcast service, and CIM did the rest. They also provided us with highlights videos to post on our web site. We got so many compliments from this service that we plan on doing it again throughout the years at different shows.

We've worked with CIM since they opened their doors in 2002. On every occassion we have been so pleased at their professionalism, high quality product, and the fast service they provide. Never once have we had a client sitting waiting around to get their videos from the CIM team.

We are honored to work with many professionals in the business, like Cattle in Motion. We invite you to check out their web site at http://www.cattleinmotion.com/ or call (888) 554-VIDS, to send your auction around the world.


Friday, August 19, 2011

1st Birthday Party Invitations

These little boogers were so cute we just couldn't resist posting them! Here is our latest creation from Ranch House Invitations. These are custom party invitations for special little girls' 1st birthday party.

For this project, Lyndsey's mom came in to our office with her idea for the movie star theme, the cute wordig for the cards, and the pictures of her darling little Lyndsey to go on the card. We sat down together and created this custom design that is simply stunning!

To make the invitations extra special, Lindsey's mom chose a special shape, and added a "shimmer" finish to give the card a metallic look.

When it was all said and done, these cards cost around $2 each.....making a very affordable way to give your child's party that special unique touch.

Our invitation division handles all kinds of invites and announcements. We can do wedding invitations, party invitations, graduation invitations, and Christmas cards. We can even take your photos for the cards if needed (if you live around here!)

Check out http://www.ranchhouseinvitations.com/ for more of our custom and catalog designs.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Video: How to book a website with RHD

We've joined the video blogging world! A few weeks ago we worked with Ideal Video Productions on a promo video for RHD (still to come) and then we also worked on a special video blog with Coleman Locke of J.D. Hudgins. After my own little video blog with Ideal made the cattle.com top 25 videos of July (I ranked #17 by the way). OH, and I would like to point out that my video was added on July 25, meaning I only got 5 days in the "July rankings" category. Not too shabby for a video that had been up for 5 days.

Anyway, we got a huge response from our video interview and so we decided to start a video blog as well. Now I have to say, this video blogging is HARD! For someone who is very modest like me, it's very hard to get used to the thought of yourself being on You Tube for the whole world to see.

I would also like to preface this video with the fact that literally 30 minutes before we shot this video, I was at the big V8 Ranch grass fire of 2011. So...so much for a nice hairdo. My first thought was to cancel the video blog since I smelled like smoke, all my makeup had melted of, and the hair was in a pony tail. But then I figured, what the heck, I wear a pony tail 99% of the time anyway and usually don't wear much makeup at all, so this is probably more close to an accurate representation of my normal attire as you can get.

We hope you enjoy these! We're still working on our general corporate wide promo video, and we will continually be adding new short little video tidbits little by little. Thanks for watching! More coming soon!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Best of the Barn Opinion Question

Opinion question for everyone.....

As you know Best of the Barns Nominations are now open (now through October 15th). So far we have gotten over 600 nominations!

Problem is....in some categories, we only have one nomination!!! I guess everyone thinks the same business is clearly "the best semen distributor" and such.

So, here's our question...
If the same business/person is the only one nominated in that category....should they automatically be named the winner?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You're getting hotter!

I may not be originally from the state of Texas, but I have lived here long enough to understand and respect the effects of a drought. The past three summers, I have watched cattle turn a green field into dust in order to survive and prosper. I have toughened to the heat and have educated myself on what is happening this summer as the drought turns into one of the worst in history. However, I am still a Yankee... and today was downright scary.

As the sun marked noon, Rachel came into our office asking if I had my camera with me. She said a grass fire started on one her family's lease properties, and it might be something neat to picture. We arrived to something I had never seen before; a grass fire engulfing a row of trees on their fence line. No, this was nothing compared to what others have experienced in the western part of this state and beyond, but I'm from Pennsylvania. We don't have grass fires. In fact I don't even think there is a burn ban going on up there. Rachel made the point that there was really nothing for us to do but watch as the little grass that was left in the neighboring pasture went black in a matter of minutes. How powerless? These pictures show how the crew at V8 fought the flames and fought for the livelihood of their precious pasture. Even as I was shooting, more and more trees went up in flames and more grass smoldered.

The crew was able to control and extinguish the flames with the help of a few fire departments. We are so thankful that no more damage was done, but this truly makes me have even more respect for Mother Nature and the effects of dry and hot. If you are not living in a draught stricken state, you are lucky. For those of us in Texas, it looks like we are just getting hotter!

Breeder Spotlight: Schrag Shorthorns

This time of year has to be my all-time favorite. State Fairs are underway, cooler weather is just around the corner, Texas calving season and most importantly- it's about to be sale season! Growing up in the Shorthorn breed, this time of year meant watching for all the new breeder ads and what genetics were being featured for their upcoming sale. This year is no different, except I get to see it from a new perspective.

Year after year, one of my favorite ads to look for is Schrag Shorthorn’s. To me the name has always been synonymous with banners and high quality females. So, when Stacey Shanks finished with their upcoming ad for their Family Event Sale, I was extremely excited to see it- and share it!

With genetics that produced National Champion after National Champion, there is no question why the list of their offspring’s’ revenue looks the way it does. Schrag Shorthorn Farms is continuously dedicated to the production of outstanding cattle that work for any breeding program.

From everyone at Ranch House Designs, we with Schrag’s only the best of luck with their upcoming sale and during the fall show season!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pasture Ads

One of the things we pride ourselves on at RHD is originality, creativity, and making sure that each and every project we do gets our fullest attention. As we were finally getting around to looking through some of the August show publications, we started noticing that many of the ads looked the same. Generic pasture shot background. Same old fonts. Same old style. Now of course, we'll give it to various designers that since most all of the sale ads in the show publications are for "Pasture Sales" the easiest and quickest ad design to do is to throw together an ad background with...guess what....a PASTURE.

So, we did a little informal survey here. We gathered up the August issue of every different show-oriented publication that we have here at the RHD office. Then we went through and quickly made a rough count of how many ads looked the same by using a stock photo pasture picture background. Guess how many ads we found that used a stock photo pasture background.....122.

You know what I'm talking about, the colorful, pretty pasture scenes. And don't get me wrong, the reason I have these to upload is because I've used them in ads we've created before. The stock photo above was actually a cover shot from a Lautner Farms catalog 3 or 4 years ago. I'm not saying to NEVER use a pasture scene background.  I just wouldn't want to use it 122 times in one month.

We realize that when you hire RHD, you do pay a premium. During tough economic times it's easy to say, oh, I can't afford the extra $50 to $150 to hire RHD to do my ad for me, when I can get it free.  And we can totally relate to that. One thing to consider is that even though you may pay $50 to $150 for the ad design, you do get a lot of extra perks too. For example, you get access to our email list and email blasts at a discounted rate. You also get mentions and uploads on our blog, our facebook page, and our twitter account.

But for reasons just like we've described here, it's worth paying a little extra to have a professional designer that's going to devote their full attention to YOUR ad. We can guarantee when you hire RHD, your ad will have a unique, original look. And, there's no chance in the world that you'll be one of the 122 people who have a generic old pasture shot as your background.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

If Someone's Gonna Brag on My Daddy....I'm Gonna Brag Right Back On Them

I hate to admit, but I haven't been able to watch much of the Matt Lautner TV posts over the past few weeks, because we are so busy at work, and I just can't make time to log on to You Tube and watch. I was honored to do a guest phone-in interview for the MLC TV show last week while driving home from work one day....and that was a lot of fun.

However, since my favorite judge was judging the Illinois State Fair steer show this past week, I tuned in to watch the Matt Lautner TV video of the champion drive....http://youtu.be/LEoJGjl5j9I

I have to say that I greatly enjoyed watching this video clip. Doing something like this type of production isn't easy, and isn't free either. There is a lot of time and effort and technical support required. I wanted to commend the people involved in this effort for doing a service that many can enjoy.

Years ago, Cherie Carrabba used to tell me how she wished we could get cattle shows broadcast on TV like they do the dog shows. The challenge is the down time, and that shows can drag on and on.

I like this format of showing the videos in short segments. I think the MLC team did a good job of keeping the videos short enough that they don't get boring, but also long enough to show the important highlights. We worked with Cattle in Motion on a similar project last week where they broadcast the champion drive highlights from the Kickoff Classic. The Cattle in Motion videos had background music, as opposed to commentary. (Oh and by the way you can see my handsome husband showing the reserve grand champion heifer in this video....which is owned by us!) After we posted those videos we had a ton of great response from people saying how they greatly enjoyed the Brahman show video highlights especially with the music like "We are the Champions" playing in the background.

To me, the commentary is where you could get into some trouble, if you had someone doing the commentary that didn't do a professional job. Clearly there are things that may be said or overheard around a makeup ring that wouldn't need to be broadcast on the internet.

In this video I watched, Chris Terembes and Matt Lautner (the hosts) gave the perfect commentary I thought. He obviously knew the inside details about the different steers but he presented it in a way that provided factual information like sires, dams, breeders, showmen, parents names, etc. It gave a bit of a personal touch so the viewers could know what was going on, but they avoided saying any personal opinions. Hats off to Chris and Matt for doing such a professional job. I also know from my experiences with the Cattle.com videos in Denver a few years, it's not as easy as it looks to be on the videos or tv. Chris and Matt did an exceptional job of making sure there wasn't a lot of downtime, they spoke clearly, they were easy and pleasant to understand, and they were very professional. And trust me, when there is a video camera rolling, it's easy to get nervous.

The MLC TV clip also gave ample time to allow the viewers to listen to the outstanding judge's comments too. So in my opinion, this particular clip had a perfect mix of introduction, commentary, judges comments, and good views of all of the steers in the lineup.  Again, I give it a great review!

If I was a sponsor of one of these segments, I would also be very pleased at the sponsor recognition. I'm not sure how much MLC is charging for these, but they did a great job of recognizing the sponsors numerous times, and I also noticed the sponsor name was built into the video's title. All extra incentives to the sponsor.

I thought this was a great example of Matt and his team pooling together the combined resources of lots of people in the show steer circles to produce something all of us could enjoy. Thanks again to this crew and I'm looking forward to watching more.

Friday, August 12, 2011

TMAC Show Steers, Wyoming

Here's a design we just completed today for Travis McIntosh, Wheatland, Wyoming. We've been working with Travis since 2007 and it's always an honor to design his fall ad.

More Junior Nationals Highlights: A memorable All American

You may remember that a few weeks ago, we posted a blog on two of our clients that had great success at their junior nationals this summer. Well, I was talking about the features with one of my friends from college. He said, “what is the point in the junior associations?” I immediately reacted with hostility, narrowed eyes, and fast talking. But I think all I really should have done was let him read this post. Unlike my last blog on the winning juniors, I let the exhibitors tell their story. Because, really, no one knows the story like they do.

Both are from the All American Brahman Show. Our first young lady purchased her heifer from V8 Ranch. Our second purchased her champions from, once again, V8 as well as Heritage Cattle Company.

Kelli Lucas. Champion Grey Brahman Female 2011 ‘All American’
“I am the fifteen year old daughter of Reggie and Carmie Lucas. We live in Deville, LA and I will be a sophomore at Buckeye High School this year. I am a straight- A student and a member of the National Beta Club. I attended my first livestock show when I was 2 weeks old to cheer on my brother and sister while they were showing catle. Obviously, I’ve been around cattle all of my life. I’ve shown Beefmaster cattle and marker steers since I was 9 and Brahmans since I was 11. Recently, I started showing market lambs. My life revolves around my animals and I love every minute of it! When I get older, I would like to attend LSU to become a Pediatrician or Oncologist
I got my heifer from V8 Ranch in Boling, Texas. Her sire is JDH Avery Manso 159/7 and her dam is Miss V8491/6. She was born on March 28, 2009, so that makes her a little over 2 years old. Her name is Miss V8 174/7, but we call her Birdie.

I love the cattle at V8 Ranch, but I love the people even more! They are always so welcoming. Mr. Jim knows his cattle and can answer any questions we have in the drop of a hat. Most importantly, he tells the truth about them. I want people to be honest with me, and Mr. Jim is. This is why I love him! I plan on continuing to go to V8 to buy cattle to build up quality in me herd of Brahmans. With this said, their cattle are obviously great!

Amie Ferguson. Champion Showman, Champion Grey Brahman Bull, and Champion Red Brahman Female 2011 ‘All American’

“I am the 17 year old daughter of Robert and Malinda Ferguson of Roanoke, Louisiana. I am going to be a senior at Notre Dame Catholic High School, which is located in Crowley, Louisiana. I not only show Brahman cattle, but I also rodeo. My events include barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, and cutting. I have repeatedly qualified on the state level in these events, beginning with my 8th grade year. Last year, 2010, I qualified in Girls Cutting for National High School Rodeo Finals, which was held in Gillette, Wyoming.
I always loved cattle and couldn’t wait until I could be of age to show. One of my first shows was the open show at Houston. I showed at the early age of 5. We entered our own cow/calf pair and ended up winning a class. I was so excited about that show. I remember hauling the trophy up and down the aisles of the barn with a big smile. I couldn’t wait to show in the junior shows, so I entered every pee wee showmanship around. I also entered open shows whenever possible. We met a lot of people at these shows. One day, my dad visited with Mr. Judd Cullers of Heritage Cattle Company. He mentioned to Mr. Judd that I wanted a red Brahman heifer. Mr. Judd mentioned that he had some, so we planned a trip to Hungerford, Texas to visit his ranch. We ended up buying Lady H Armi 836. This cow became a part of me. Mr. Judd stressed the importance of working daily with my heifer and that is exactly what I did. Every day, I practiced showing and setting Armi and all of a sudden, I started doing better in showmanship. Then finally at my state LJBA show, Armi and I did it. We won showmanship. Not only was I excited, but so were Mr Judd and the entire Cullers family. I had many more trips to get great calves that came from Heritage Cattle Company. On one of my trips, I spotted this awesome looking red heifer, which to this day, still amazes me. I am referring to Lady H Elizabeth Rojo 50/9, aka “Lizzie”. Lizzie has won many division championships, including Houston, but the biggest win for me with her is the 2011 All American Red Heifer Champion. I am very grateful that the Cullers family was there to share that great moment with me.

Another ranch that we visited for my show calves is V8 Ranch in Boling, Texas. The Williams family has a tremendous amount of respect in the Brahman business. Dad was interested in buying a gray bull, so we decided to go to V8 Ranch to look. I never was a fan of showing bulls, so dad knew I would be very selective on one. We spotted Mr.V8 918/6, also known as “Blue”. I loved him. I started realizing at home while I worked with him that he may be showmanship material. I decided at my 2010 district show to try him in showmanship. Mom was not sure about my decision, because he was a bull. When I made my first round into the showring, he started to act up, but I was able to control him. We ended up winning showmanship, which also awarded a scholarship. We also won the gray bull show and went on to win the state supreme championship. Although these wins were big for me, my dream was to win the “All American” showmanship, and in 2011 at Fort Smith, Arkansas, my dream came true. I remember, as I was grooming Blue’s tail, how nice it would be to win. And sure enough, we did. Mr. Jim Williams described me and Blue as being picture perfect.
As I mentioned earlier, my dream was to win showmanship at the All American. After I won the Red Heifer and Gray bull show, I was speechless. What a show!! Truly this All American is one that I will remember always. Great thanks go to the Cullers family of Heritage Cattle Company and the Williams family of V8 Ranch. Without these great breeders, I would not have had such a memorable show.”

As you can see from the two ladies we have featured, junior associations play an intricate role in developing young leaders, creating friendly connections between exhibitors, making dreams reality and truly molding the future of our industry. To my friend who made the comment stated at the beginning of this post, THAT is the point.

To view more of these winning genetics, visit www.v8ranch.com and www.heritagecattle.com

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Text us to receive e-mail updates.

We are excited to announce a new way for our friends to get e-mail updates from us.

Text RHD to 22828 and we'll be glad to add you to our list.

Time to start thinking e-mail blasts!

If you've visited the RHD home page lately, you'll notice the list just keeps on growing for upcoming sales. As RHD Rep Ashley Middleswarth said, though it doesn't feel like it, fall sale season is just around the corner. Maybe we'll get some cooler weather soon!

E-mail blasts are a must for any cattle producers with a sale this fall. Our e-mail blast list includes over 15,000 contacts who have voluntarily signed up for our services asking for information from RHD. And this list keeps growing every day. We take a great amount of pride in the professional way we offer e-mail blasts through RHD, including:
  • We limit what can and cannot be sent out on our e-mail list. We realize how annoying constant spam can be, and that is why we only distribute e-mail blasts that are relevant and pertinent to our subscribers interests.
  • We guard our list very carefully, and only allow our RHD customers to use it. As you all know customer loyalty and customer appreciation is #1 to us. Well I guess maybe 1A and 1B because Service is also #1. The only people that we allow to use our e-mail blast database are our own customers. Meaning, only the people we do a web site for or a print ad for. Some joe blow off the street can't call us up and get to use our list.  We feel this is just one of the many perks of being a RHD client.
  • We carefully tailor what e-mail blasts go to who. Clearly we wouldn't send an email blast about a cattle sale to someone who's a pig breeder, or vice versa. This just goes back to our responsible list management and targetting.
We have also integrated social media coverage as a standard part of our e-mail blasts. We will tweet your email blast to all of our twitter followers and also post your blast on our facebook page, which currently has over 3,000 fans.

So, if you're an RHD client, and you want to take advantage of our highly successful e-mail blast service, give us a call at 979-532-9141 or e-mail rachel@ranchhousedesigns.com. If you're one of our many clients that we are already designing your sale advertising for....you can also take advantage of our bundling services to receive discounts on print+web+email blast work.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Too TALL to Kick Off?

The past few weeks have been nothing short of amazing. I (Joelynn) am finally back in the office and feel like I’m getting the hang of things, but more importantly, have had the chance to travel to amazing places and events, meet some of our industry’s leaders, and hear from extremely influential people in their given field. I have 100% been enlightened and look at our industry from a totally different perspective. Look for that blog post coming soon ;)

One of the events I had a chance to attend was the TALL dinner in East Bernard, Texas on July 27th. For those of you who do not know what TALL is, it’s an organization for Texas Agriculture Lifetime Leaders. A group, or class, of 26 people from across the state of Texas is chosen to travel to different ag industry sights from Amarillo to the gulf. It is a bit challenging to explain, but essentially, it is some of Texas’s finest agriculture leaders learning more about the industry through first hand experiences in each field. The group had just left J.D. Hudgins before coming to the dinner. The following night, they each got to ride in a police car in Houston city. Like I said, it covers everything. Pretty cool!

What was so neat was to hear what each of the class members did within the industry. From dairy to wine to fisheries, each had their own view of agriculture and what was important. It was most definitely one of those nights I would like to relive from a different perspective… maybe a classmate perspective?

The following week brought the Bluebonnet Kick Off Classic Brahman Show in Brenham, Texas. Wow! What an event! I love cattle shows, there is no denying that. But Brahman shows are becoming my favorite. Humor is easy to find around the barns, but so is the care and sportsmanship that is easily noticed in the show ring.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the ring, be sure to pick up a copy of the Fall Brahman Review to see some of the really cool shots Stacey Shanks got too!

Though I may still be a little tired from my travels, I am so excited to get working on new stories and clients that were picked up over the past two weeks. Congrats to the TALL Class of 2011-2012 and to everyone who exhibited at Kick Off!

What's in a Name?

This past week, at the Bluebonnet Kickoff Classic show, I was visiting with Sandy Osbourn (formerly Husfeld) and got to meet her beautiful little baby, Ruby, who is named after her grandmother.During this conversation, Suzanne Lindley informed Sandy and I of how important it was to name your child with a respectable - preferably Christian name - becase after all, you never hear of a lawyer named Shaniqua. (We both got a chuckle out of that lovely advice!)

Also recently the show cattle world the little angel Charlie Tusa into their family of friends, who is named after Charlie Wilson. Then most everyone knows that my little Mollie is named after my own grandmother, Mollie Williams, who was actually named after Mollie Hudgins, wife of J.D. Hudgins.

So I thought, this was a fitting time to also share a little bit about how I got MY own name, Rachel Ann.

If you look in this month's Texas Monthly (August issue), page 96, you'll be in the middle of their cover story called "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowgirls." A wonderful article depicting the importance of women in the Texas ranching industry. The author quotes Dale Evans as saying "'Cowgirl is an attitude. A pioneer spirit, a special American brand of courage. The cowgirl faces life head on, lives by her own lights, and makes no excuses."

Though I consider myself more of a cattlewoman, and not cowgirl, I loved the article and I know a whole heck of a lot of women who depict that fiery cowgirl attitude, though they probably never have rode a horse.

Rachel Ann Hudgins, my namesake
So, on page 96, about in the middle of the page, there is a few sentences that describe a pioneer woman that is very special to me.....Rachel Ann Northington Hudgins. The great lady I was named after. The story says:

"At one time, fifty of the Texas ranches in operation by the same family for more than one hundred years had been founded by women. Rachel Ann Northington Hudgins, for example, was the founding mother of five ranches in Wharton County. She purchased her first land in 1882, nine years after her husband died."

The ranch they are referring to is J.D. Hudgins, Inc. Rachel and her four sons established the ranch, and her son, Josiah Dawson (J.D.) took over the business after Rachel's husband Joel died in 1873. Rachel Hudgins was a small framed woman with a spirit as big as Texas, as they say.

My great uncle, James Forgason, always inspires me as he tells me stories about this great Texas lady. Nearly every Sunday morning after church, he gives me a hug and and always, every single time, he says...'Oh, you would make that little lady you were named after so proud!"

I know there is no way I could ever live up to that namesake, but it's true, knowing I'm named after someone so great gives me something to aspire to. It makes me feel like it is my responsibility to make that name proud. I bet that's how little Charlie Tusa is going to feel as well, when he hears all the stories of what a wonderful young man Charlie Wilson was. And hopefully, that is the same feeling I will be able to help give my daughter, Mollie, who's named after one of the greatest ladies I know.

So what's in a name? Oh it's hard to say, but, as Mrs. Lindley said...I bet I wouldn't be the hard working, Brahman cattle loving woman I am today if my parents had named me Shaniqua.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The RHD Team

I'd like to take a moment to brag on our wonderful team here at RHD! I thought it would be nice to put more faces with our names, so you know who you're working with here at RHD.

I (Rachel, blonde in this picture) am the sole owner and founder of RHD, and have been since 1999. Our design division includes me, Stacey, and Liz. Stacey is pictured on the left. She's has two sons, is originally from Louisiana, and is also a great photographer. Liz started here as a student worker in 2008 and handles most of our catalog projects and is the editor of The Brahman Review. She recently got engaged and is getting married in 2012. We do all of the original designs on every project - both print and web. Every new project is going to come through one of us....or possibly Christa. 

Christa is wearing the red necklace in this picture. She joined RHD in 2008 as a member of our updates team. She then moved up to web division manager, and in the past few months, she has also started working on design projects too. Christa has a 1-year old daughter, Kinleigh, and her husband Jason is an ag teacher. She has a B.S. in animal science from Texas A&M.

The other members of our web division are Carole and Jessica. Carole is the red head. She has two beautiful daughters and married her high school sweetheart, Tim. Carole is a great cook, and is probably one of the sweetest people I have ever met! Jessica, the blondest of everyone in our office, just took on a full time job here too, after working here for 4 years. She loves to shop, makes everyone laugh, and continually brightens our days with her crazy stories and cute outfits.

Then we also have 2 project managers, Tricia and Joelynn. Tricia is pictured here, with the turquoise necklace. She and her husband Lance have 4 children. Tricia is quite possibly the coolest person I know. She has a B.S. in ag journalism from A&M, and she loves anything and everything Aggie. She also writes for our local newspaper. She loves running, and has done several races and half-marathons. Most everyone who works with us is going to be in contact with Tricia in some way or another since most all new projects go through her. She (and Rachel) also give all of our project quotes and estimates.  

Our newest staff member is Joelynn Donough. Joelynn is a Pennsylvania native who grew up showing Shorthorns, Maines and sheep. She graduated from Texas A&M with a B.S. in ag communications too. She is a great writer and a great photographer! If you have noticed, she's been posting quite a few blogs lately. She was a member of the A&M livestock judging team and is ready for the fall where she's judging several shows and showmanships here in Texas.  

Then finally, we also have Stacey Forgason, who technically 'retired' from RHD in May, but still helps us on several freelance projects. She is a great contact for invitations and projects with The Brahman Review. Many of you still e-mail her for advice on invitations or about Brahman Review subscriptions, and even though she's not in our office, she always still helps everyone out, or forwards your emails to the appropriate person. :)

And, don't forget, we also have a STELLAR set of talented folks throughout the nation who represent us as RHD reps. This team is able to give information and pricing on all of our services.

Now that you've met our team here at RHD, I ask that you take a minute and look through your contacts for us. If you have any other people listed as a contact for RHD other than the ones listed here, please remove them from your address books.  If you have recently received a quote from someone you now realize is not part of our RHD team, please let us know so we can make sure you have accurate pricing from one of our representatives.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

LIVE! From the 'BCSC'

Howdy! From College Station, Texas; home of the 12th man, the Chicken and the Beef Cattle Short Course. This year marked the 57th annual ‘BCSC’ and let me tell you, it has been better than ever.
In a nut shell, the BCSC is a three day cattlemen’s paradise with sessions catering to anything imaginable pertaining to the industry, a trade show stocked with the latest and greatest ‘new’ things for beef cattle, and some amazing food.
While walking through the trade show, I was extremely excited to see some RHD design work! Our clients like R.A. Brown, Broken Triangle, Texas Red Angus Association, and the ABBA had informational booths on display amongst the over 150 vendors. It was also great to run into several of our clients who were attending the conference. Two of our clients - Donnell Brown and Bob Hudgins were speakers. We also work with Dr. Ron Gill on his web sites and it was great to see him.

I really enjoyed Bob Hudgins speech on the utilizing the global marketplace. On a side note, I’ve always been a bit of a traveler… but after listening to Mr. Hudgins session, I realized I need to do a whole lot more with my life and travel much further away from home than just California.
However, my favorite part of the BCSC thus far has to be listening to the famous Dr. Temple Grandin speak about animal handling. If anyone hasn’t seen her HBO documentary, I strongly suggest renting it, just to see the amazing feats this woman has accomplished. The movie depicts Temple to a ‘t’… even her attitude. After telling a photographer on multiple occasions to stop picturing since it distracted her (no, it was NOT me!!!), she made the whole house laugh and left us speechless as she finished with a standing ovation.
Tomorrow marks the final day of the 57th annual BCSC. With that said, I can almost collect my notes and thoughts and start working on stories for the upcoming Brahman Review. I do know for sure that readers can expect a change of pace and mindset for a few of these stories… but I also can promise the same entertainment and level of ‘yankee’ as always before J

The politically correct way to copy ads

About 10 years ago, I learned a very valuable lesson regarding ad design from my dad, that has stuck with me throughout my career....which is, there is a right way to copy something, and a wrong way to copy something.

We raise Brahman and Shorthorn cattle. There was a Shorthorn bull at the time named "Tomcat", I think he was owned by the McFarlands possibly. There was the coolest ad on this bull in the Shorthorn Country and it had a headline of "Every barn needs a good Tomcat."

We all thought that was just the catchiest headline and such a neat name for a bull. We wanted to use it too. So here is what my dad did. HE CALLED THE BULL OWNER. He asked the man if he would mind if we named one of our Brahman bulls Tomcat, and if he would mind if we used the exact same headline, because it was so good.

The Shorthorn bull owner said sure, no problem. He was actually flattered we thought it was so cool. So we named our bull Tomcat, and used that headline. What that lesson taught me, amongst the many other life lessons I've learned from my dad, is that there is a RIGHT way to copy someone, and a WRONG way.

People copying our work is nothing new. It's happened to us for 10 years. We work hard to come up with creative concepts that are really cool for our clients, so it's no suprise that people want to copy them. And with the readily available backgrounds, fonts, and stock photos on the internet, just about anyone can copy someone else's work.

If you see an ad you like, or a headline you like, call the person who ran it. I would put money on the fact that if you call the person who ran the ad you like and say "I really like that ad you had, would you mind if we used that same background?" "Or, I love that headline, can I use it on my ad this spring?" ...that of course these people would readily say sure, no problem.

People in agriculture like helping each other out. Especially if they are in a different breed or different species where totally different people see the ads. It's just the fact of when you copy someone else's work behind someone's back, and try to claim a concept as your own, that's pretty downright sorry.

Among the many things that make RHD different - and better - is that we're the original. Who wants to be a knock off? What client wants to know that their ad was actually someone else's ad 6 months ago that a designer copied? We constantly look for new design ideas, new fonts, original backgrounds, creative and powerful headlines, and layouts that are different. Because that's what we are: DIFFERENT. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Showbox Fall Sires Issue

In Texas, our cows get bred in the fall. This simple but very true statement makes a huge impact on any club calf bull owner's marketing plan. If you're trying to sell semen in the southern market, the best place to advertise in the fall sires issue is The Showbox. The Showbox is the #1 magazine in the south for marketing fall calves and those who raise them.

Do you have a bull you think would be great for Texas producers? If so, let us help you with your fall sires ad. The Showbox ads will be due August 15th to that magazine. We're ready to help you, let's get to work. Call us at 979-532-9141 or email rachel@ranchhousedesigns.com for sire advertising.

If you'd like to place an ad in the fall issue of The Showbox, call 936-544-2787.

Movin' Up the Career Ladder

Who knew back in May 2007 (over 4 years ago) that when little Jessica Hobbs joined our staff as a recent high school graduate that she would become such a HUGE part of RHD!

We are excited to announce today that Jessica has accepted a promotion here at RHD to join our staff as a full time member of our web division.

Over the past 4 years, Jessica has done just about anything and everything here at RHD. She started out working as our student worker in our old, old office (the very first one with the lime green sherbert walls). After about a year she moved up to a web site updater. She has steadily expanded her knowledge of web design, HTML and CSS through the years and is now one of our advanced web designers. Recently, she has taken the responsibility of being one of our online shopping cart specialists where she works with customers to set up their e-commerce stores.

Anyone who's done a web site with us has probably had the pleasure of working with this lively, lovely, fun loving member of our team at some point or another. She is a fanatic at web site updates, but she has a great personality that makes working with her a joy.

So congratulations to Jessica on your recent promotion!!! We're proud of you and excited for your career success!