WHITE CITY, Kan. (AP) - Debbie Lyons-Blythe describes the genesis of her blog as a "BOOM" moment.
She had been considering ways to tell people about what she does as a Flint Hills rancher.
The White City rancher and mother of five was talking with a relative at a family function, and the talk turned to hormones in milk and antibiotics in beef. Lyons-Blythe explained to a concerned relative that no milk is hormone-free and all beef is tested to make sure that there is no antibiotic residue in it.
"If she was just one generation away from the farm and has all of these questions and concerns, then how can I expect everybody else to understand it?" Lyons-Blythe asked. "That was my epiphany moment."
Seeing it as her duty, she started her blog "Life on a Kansas Cattle Ranch," http://kansascattleranch.blogspot.com.
"It's not fair of me to expect people to know about this if we've never told them," Lyons-Blythe said. "Farmers and ranchers do a terrible job of telling people what we do. We are too busy. So many of us are caught up in what we do, taking care of things. It is a 10- to 12-hour job a day.
"But if we don't tell people what we do then they come up with her own ideas."
Lyons-Blythe, who raises Angus cattle, shares stories about her life on the ranch, along with recipes for beef - reminding readers that there are 29 lean cuts of beef - craft ideas, stories about her children and photos of the Flint Hills.
"I really try and open myself up," she said. "Farmers and ranchers want to tell their story but they don't take the time or feel comfortable, whereas I'm pretty comfortable talking about it."
Lyons-Blythe said she also wants to teach people that beef is good for them.
"Beef is this huge awesome package of nutrient dense deliciousness," she said. "It is good, but the perception is that it's not. I love cows. I do. They are just fun, and there is no way I would treat them bad. They all have personalities, and they are neat."
Lyons-Blythe said she knows she might be a rarity as a female rancher but quotes her mother as saying women have been ranching since the beginning of time but the men have gotten the notoriety for it because they signed the papers.
"I don't think it's any different than any other working mom," Lyons-Blythe said. "You do what you have to do. I'm really blessed that I get to do something I love to do, which is take care of cows and be available for the kids."
Lyons-Blythe's husband, Duane, is a banker and the "mastermind" of the family crops.
"We are a really good partnership because he understands how crops grow and what crops work best in this area," Lyons-Blythe said. "I'm here every day, so I take care of the cows."
One of the most popular posts on her blog was a story about helping a calf make it to the other side of a creek. Lyons-Blythe was checking her cows two years ago when she saw a calf on a frozen creek and realized the mother couldn't make it back to the just-born baby - the ice kept breaking when the mother moved and the ice was too slick for the calf.
"The first thing I did because I was blogging was take a picture with my cell phone," Lyons-Blythe said. "Then I took my shoes off, and the ice is popping and cracking, and I thought, 'It's going to break with me and I'm holding this calf.' "
She grabbed the 80-plus-pound calf, returned him to his mother, went home and blogged about her day.
"I used that one little picture and titled it 'I saved his life,' " Lyons-Blythe said. "I have a friend who is not a farm girl, and she read the story to her daughters who then requested the story for a week straight as a bedtime story."
The light then went on again.
"Kids want to know this stuff," Lyons-Blythe said.
She is now involved in an adopt-a-rancher program with two second-grade classrooms, one in Kansas and one out of state. The students write her letters, and she responds with emails that include math problems and other tasks that they are learning.
"I can do most all of the topics that teachers are teaching and help reinforce that, plus give them a little bit of insight into what I do out here. And they love it," Lyons-Blythe said. "I Skyped one classroom, and that was so much fun. The kids were crazy, excited and had lots of good questions. In everything I do, I'm looking for a way to tell people about what I do."
Lyons-Blythe told a story about her son raking hay while she was cutting it across the field. He called to say he had seen a mountain lion, which she then posted on Twitter, leading to a long conversation with one of her followers about the sighting.
"That he was talking to a woman rancher who was driving a tractor, talking to her son on the other side of the field and that we were all communicating about that," Lyons-Blythe said. "I just thought that was so cool."
"I'm tweeting and I'm talking to people across the nation," she said. "People will ask, 'What do you mean baling hay?' I mean baling hay - I'm driving a tractor."