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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Let Them Eat Grass

I have often wondered how everything we digest - physically, mentally and emotionally - really affects us.  After my 31 years of life I think most of it impacts us in some way, and now that I have a child of my own I am more certain of it. 

This spring, Mae and I were enjoying an evening outside listening to the tractor hum in the distance and watching the cows as the sun set behind the farm in the distance.  I sat little Miss Mae on the ground for a few photos where she smiled brightly and enjoyed the scenes and sounds around her.  Then I looked away to say a little prayer of thanksgiving and for the safety of our farmer while I stared at God’s portrait in the sky.  I turned back around (seriously 10 seconds later) and she was putting a handful of grass in her mouth!  Now granted, I should have known that she would have found something to grab and stick in her mouth as that is pretty standard operating procedure for our little girl.  My eyes widened as I said “no, no” but then realized it was just grass and I’m sure she has ingested much worse when she crawls around the kitchen floor where her dad’s boots sit after a day a long day’s work on the farm.  At the moment I was a little fearful of what may come out the other end, but honestly I forgot about it an hour later and guess what – she was fine.

I know parents that hover – you know like a helicopter – and have pacifier wipes and try to finish their kids’ puzzles, sentences and thoughts.  What happened to letting them figure it out on their own?  Their little brains are trying to figure out the world and digest all these new things including how we react and what we do or don’t do for them.  

Mary Poppins always said “a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down” and I think she’s right but there are lots of different flavors of sugar in this life.  I believe it’s okay to spoil our children to an extent and let them eat a little sweet sugar.  However, I also believe we shouldn’t spoon feed it to them – they need to feed themselves.  Honestly, giving and doing everything for them doesn’t help them at all.  

Eating rocks or grass - whatever your little heart desires.

I’ve told my daughter that she is beautiful to me and loved by me, is amazing to me, seems very smart to me and is important to me – not by everyone else and not the world.  If I told her the world thought she was beautiful, loved, amazing, smart and important then why would she try to develop herself and make the world a better place than how she found it?  

It’s a hard dose of tart sugar to take – one taken with a wooden spoon that has been frayed with years of use – but one that we all need to be reminded of.

After celebrating my first Mother’s Day I have recommitted to raising a thoughtful, independent, selfless child.  So let’s put down the sugar and stop telling the kids “no, no” or “you are so important”.  Let’s let them finish their own thoughts or fail their research paper because they didn’t invest the time or spell check (my mother reminded me to double check my papers but didn’t do it for me).  Let them eat the grass, dirt, rocks, ladybugs or small cow manure particles (don’t judge) – whatever may be on your kitchen floor – and experience what comes out the other end.  They will learn and become a better decision maker and citizen of their community and the world in the future.  

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hold Them & Show Them

With the news today and the issues in our community and country it’s no wonder that many parents go to sleep at night thinking of their children’s safety and future – some of us may even hold on too tight or too long that we don’t even make it to our own beds before we fall asleep.

However, there is a lesson to be learned from letting go and letting them learn as they navigate through this world and this life.

I attended a breakfast with one of our elected officials last year on the campaign trail while he was home from D.C.  We were talking about differences in cities and towns around the state and the vast differences in our own communities.  He said something that has stayed with me and I think of often – we built secluded neighborhoods where the houses looked similar and the families led similar lives.  We stopped living next to and learning from people who are different than ourselves therefore making us more secluded from an array of diverse people, backgrounds, issues and opinions.  

I am fully under the belief that creating deep roots for a child only helps them in developing who they are and who they will become.  However, some parents don’t let their child’s roots grow beyond a seedling that may never grow to see beyond the ground they are standing on.

Creating deep roots for a child to learn about their heritage and where they come from doesn’t need to take away their ability to grow wings, learn from someone different than themselves and flourish.  I was raised to appreciate my family’s history and hard work and to always remember where I came from when I got to where I was going.  However, I was told to learn and appreciate from others – no matter how different – while I was developing myself and working hard in my career.  

I feel very fortunate that I live in a community that exposes me to different cultures and am excited to raise my daughter in a community that embraces diversity.  While we have plans to travel with our children around the world and teach them about different cultures, we are also excited to come home to the cows and corn fields.  People think it’s crazy when I tell them we want to travel (especially with our kids) and immerse ourselves in different cultures, but we learn so much about ourselves and others when we do.  I hope you embrace where you come from but seek to learn what else is out there beyond the ground you are standing on.  

Our daughter may not want to travel and see the world like we do – she may be perfectly happy with her deep roots on the farm.  But at least she will have been given the opportunity to make that decision and understand how others think, work and live.  I would rather hold her tight while I show her the world rather than hold her tight and keep her from it.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Send Them Outside

We were walking through the freshly painted walls that were already soaked with that poignant  smell of pigs when she learned something new about her kids and their childhood.  As my sister and I watched the sows deliver piglets at the new Fair Oaks Farms Pig Adventure a few years ago, we reminisced about adventures on our family farm and with our dad.  “Remember when dad made us scoop up the stalls after the baby pigs were born?” I said. Before my sister could even respond my mom exclaimed, “he made you do what?!”  Since his passing she has learned a few things we did with dad that she was unaware of at the time. 

Even though I might have protested at the time, I’m glad he made us clean and scoop manure and more from the stalls.  I’m glad he made us stand with the piglets while he gave them their vaccinations (that screaming still rings in my ears when I think about it).  I’m happy he walked us through the woods to show us all the creeks and hollers so we could create our own adventures when he kicked us out of the house.  I’m proud of my childhood and all the blood, sweat and tears of playing and working outside - it made me a stronger and more capable woman.

I’ve had multiple conversations lately about how kids don’t go outside enough and they are too hooked to their screens.  “When I was their age, I was outside, doing chores and working!” - that’s the standard quote these days.  As a new parent I have thought a lot about this a lot.  Mae is about to crawl and she is curious about everything around her.  I don’t hand her the toys or her pacifier, if she wants it she can get it.  When I’m in the car, I talk to her about what she is seeing through the windows and what is going on in the world around her - I am not focused on my own thoughts or phone.  I’m trying to teach her, even at a young age, that it’s not all about her and what’s on the screen isn’t as important as learning about others and discovering and improving herself.

It’s funny that we get mad at our kids and the younger generation about being lazy and selfish, but didn’t we buy their phones and create their participation trophies?  They don’t have the money to buy the phone and didn’t create the trophies - we did. 

So send the kids outside this spring.  Take away the phone and video games you bought them and tell them to use their imagination to create their own adventures. Their moaning and groaning will only last for a short while, but their character and work ethic will be impacted for a lifetime.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Agriculture is Timeless

My sister Sarah and I are proud farmer's daughters. 
In honor of National Ag Day and our father who passed away in 2009 from a farming accident, we wrote an article for our hometown newspaper and dedicated books to local schools in his honor.
Please enjoy and always remember to thank a farmer.


Time is such a precious commodity to each one of us, but in our busy, bustling lives we forget about the time and the precious moments it holds.  Time spent with each other in our rapidly changing lives has caused us to almost forget and remind you about this year’s National Ag Day which will be celebrated across the country on March 21.

Our article last year taught you about the women in agriculture and the critical role they play.  We have added one young lady to our farmer’s daughter trademark - Mae Louise, Katie’s daughter born last July.  She helps check the cows and reminds us to slow down and observe how precious life is and how quickly time goes by.  Sarah has spent the last several months preparing to become a farmer’s wife - another important title on the farm - and will gain the title this Saturday as we celebrate her marriage on our family farm.

Time almost got away from us with these new life changes, but we never missed a minute with regard to our decision to honor our dad, Tim Thomas, and dedicate our lives to agriculture advocacy and literacy.  This was our second year to donate agriculture books to all the elementary schools in the county so students have books about agriculture, farms, and food.  And this year we donated agriculture career resources for the middle schools, so those students know about the variety of food and agriculture related jobs.  We need these students to choose agriculture related  careers to help develop our future food supply.  They don’t have to be a farmer to be a part of agriculture.  Katie had a boss that would always comment on her Farm Bureau “No Farms, No Food” bumper sticker on her desk.  He would say “I eat so I’m a part of ag!” and he’s right!  We all are a part of the food chain and all a part of agriculture - that is a truth that time does and will not change.

While the time has passed when most children woke before dawn to do farm chores and arrive at school with manure on their boots and dirt under their fingernails, it doesn’t mean the time has passed for children to learn about where their food comes from and who produces it.  You too can encourage your children, family members and neighbors to use these resources at the schools in our county to educate themselves and become intrigued by an agriculture career.  

The way we plant, nourish, harvest, process, transport, deliver, prepare, distribute, buy, cook, and consume our food has changed over time.  However, the way it grows hasn’t changed.  The way the farmer cares for the food he grows for you and his dedication to his farm, fields, and family hasn’t changed.  Our passion for agriculture and efforts to educate you on behalf of our father will never change but only grow like the seeds he once planted on on our family farm and within us - that’s timeless.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Be Patient, Positive & Personal

I work in an office with a bunch of suits (you know what I mean), and I’ve come to embrace their questions and curiosity.  Sometimes I chuckle at their questions and sometimes I tilt my head with a questionable grin.  While I am sure my facial expressions may say differently, I have learned over the years to be patient and positive with my friends and colleagues as they try to learn and understand the world of agriculture.  Navigating through a conversation with someone about such a large topic that few of us live every day and all of us need every day is quite challenging.  

My sister and I have been talking for weeks about how we are going to honor our father for Ag Appreciation Month in March and brainstormed some great ideas that we have already put into action.  But yet I have struggled recently on how to tell my story without getting so overwhelmed with the amount of information I need to tell about life on the farm and how important agriculture is to us all.  Rattling off farm facts – how many people we feed and the stats on what and how we produce – don’t suffice for me anymore.  Those numbers disappear through the thin air and short attention spans of individuals living in the hustle and bustle of the 21st century and are disconnected from their food source.  

Instead of numbers, I use personal touches.  I tell the blue suit about the calves that were born that morning and how it affected our morning routine – and after a chaotic morning, one of them died.  I explain to the black suit about how the weather and various trade policies affect the corn, soybean and wheat markets every day and I hear about it every night.  I tell the gray suit about my experience in 4-H and how it helped me develop life lessons that I apply to my life today – hard work, be caring, the buying and selling and losing something you have worked hard for.  And then I grieve to my secretary that the gravel driveway full of rocks and mud from my farmer’s truck are ruining my high heels which have caused a horrendous hole and run in my tights before a big meeting.  

People remember the importance and understand the need for agriculture when they know that it affects someone on a personal level.  We don’t look each other enough in the eyes anymore because we are too busy comparing our lives to someone else’s online.  So when you are patient with someone when they ask you a question, positive in your tone and personal in your response while looking in their eyes – they remember and they appreciate.  

As I finish writing this I have gotten a text from a friend in Iowa asking how many calves we’ve had and then a colleague came in to chat about the recent pig farming story he heard on NPR.  Every moment of my life involves agriculture and so does yours – appreciate it. Your patience and positive attitude about your personal agriculture story will last longer than any agriculture appreciation month.  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

For the Love of the Farmer

Happy early Valentine's Day from our family to yours.  We don't really celebrate the holiday because we love and appreciate each other all year long.  However, this year Mae and I are sending a few cards and dressing up because we can and she is full of love!

Enjoy a recent article I wrote for our newspaper below and embrace your loved ones.

Time and time again I shake my head at my dirty floors and loads of laundry and then sigh.  It’s not that I feel overwhelmed with the house work or burdened by it.  My headshakes are about how my younger, detailed and tidy self would have never let this fly.  When we were first married I promised myself that we would be the farm house that was clean and put together – no cow manure on the floor, Carhartts washed at all times and a cute back porch.  Well, I got one week into that “married to a farmer” deal and realized my household goals would never be realized.

I grew up on a farm and should have known better, but my passionate and organized spirit got the best of me for awhile.  But for the love of the farm and my farmer, I gave it up.  I decided that my own fancy boots weren’t going to stay clean and that was just part of it.  And if we both had a pair of dirty boots that was more proof that we were lockstep in this path called life together. 

I recently read an article about how a woman always nagged her husband for not picking up after himself and forgetting to do things around the house.  Then one day he was gone - he had left this earth and she couldn’t nag him any longer.  As much as she hated the random socks everywhere or incomplete honey-do chores, she wasn’t going to be able to live her life with him anymore.  She made a commitment to stop nagging and worrying about the little things because they weren’t important.  Just like having dirty floors isn’t as important as the steps you take on them with the people that matter.

As we approach that February holiday of love, I hope you sacrifice something for someone else.  For the love of my farmer, I plan on overlooking that wretched smelling hat, holey socks, dirty floors and time with him so he can work the land he loves – we love.

I also hope you take a moment to realize the sacrifices farmers make for you – their time away from their families, physical tolls they endure and risks they take on multiple levels.  For the love of the farmer and the food on your table, say thank you to the next one you see at the store, church, market or ballgame.

This Valentine’s I hope I come home to mud and manure soaked Carhartts still attached to the boots on my dirty back porch.  Just like last time, I’m going to walk right past them to focus on more important things like my family and our farm.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Curiosity and Understanding

We survived our first holiday season with our little girl – the first where we celebrated her life and the sparkle in her eyes when she saw the tree.  According to our daughter, “Jingle Bells” is the best song ever written and she might be one of those people that listen to Christmas music year-round (which her father will be thrilled about).

After watching her grow and develop these past six months, her curiosity is quite entertaining.  
Can you imagine how strange the world looks through a baby’s eyes?  They don’t fully understand the concept of life or death, heartbreak and heartache or the good, bad and ugly of it all.  They see shiny things and become entranced.  They slowly start to recognize you and embrace what is familiar.  But honestly, some things have to seem so strange and odd to them.

I feel that way a lot when I have conversations with people about our farm.  I’ve recently spent time with a lot of people who do not live in the country or have the slightest concept of what it is like living on a farm or working in agriculture. 

At a recent girls’ night, where I only knew a few of the women, my friend said my husband was a farmer and you would have thought I lived in 1950.  The curious looks and number of head tilts I saw were quite entertaining.  Then, while opening gifts, she told everyone that I had brought her meat from our farm, again the looks and the tilts.  One of the women looked at me with a strange glare and said, “I could never raise an animal and then send it off to market I just couldn’t.  And then eat it – never.”  Well, I can and I do.

Here’s the thing, I understand that you don’t understand and that you can’t.  But why can’t you understand that I can and that I do?  I don’t know how I’m surprised by it anymore, but it seems strange to me that people don’t understand that farmers and farming still exist and that people still live on farms.  We are just as normal as you but we have a greater fortune than you, or so I think.  We have been blessed with the opportunity to live on the land while raising a family, running a business, making a living and caring for the land for generations to come.  Farming is a huge responsibility that we don’t take lightly and that others would find to be a burden.

And yes, we get upset when our favorite animals pass away or go to market.  But we understand that life and death, heartbreak and heartache and the good, bad and ugly of farming are part of it.  I appreciate your curiosity and encourage you to have a conversation with me or another farmer.  I almost feel relieved when people ask me questions because they do genuinely want to know about our farm.

My daughter’s eyes sparkle when she sees the cows and she becomes entranced with their sounds and movement – I hope it stays that way.  She will recognize that we care for the cattle on our farm but that they are a part of our business.  She will also become familiar with the smell of cow manure and embrace it.  My daughter will understand that chocolate milk doesn’t come from brown cows and all food doesn’t come from the grocery store.  And at this rate, I’m guessing her first 4-H pig will be named Jingle Bells.  She will be given opportunities on our farm and off the farm, and whichever path she chooses I hope she stays curious and seeks to understand others while educating them about our way of life on the farm.  In the new year, I hope you genuinely become curious and understanding of what you don’t know and then maybe the world won’t look so strange.  

Friday, December 23, 2016

Live in the Moment

I always preach about slowing down and embracing each moment.
And I've been acutely aware of that advice this year as our little girl has gone from being a tiny newborn to a smiling, little baby with thick cheeks and the cutest fat baby legs.

While I am still busy and can't quite understand the concept of saying "no", I have
learned to really slow down and spend time doing nothing at home while I read to my
daughter or stare at her (as creepy as it may sound).

I'm not going to apologize for not writing more blogs and taking time to stare at my computer, I have her journal to write in and her precious face to stare at.  I'm not going to apologize for not sharing more because I have a lot to share with my daughter - even though she just stares at me and smiles, she already understands I want to be a part of her life and share this amazing journey with her.

With a year full of firsts and another one around the corner, I pray that time slows down.

This was the first year I spent Thanksgiving without my mom and the first I spent with my daughter.
As you may well know, Thanksgiving is hard for our family because we lost my dad over the holiday 7 years ago.  Funny how the holiday of thanks can remind you of the blessings that once were and still remain. And how the time can move so quickly.

Last month was the first time Mae rode the clouds and got a little closer to heaven.
She loved it and is ready to play Mary Poppins in the school play.

Not only did we celebrate Mae's first few months on this earth, but we celebrated Indiana's Bicentennial!  She has been a great state for 200 years and our families have been a part of her heritage for a good portion of that time.  We are excited to see where the next 200 lead us and to share the rich history of her ancestors with our daughter.  

Then we saw Santa and smiled and laughed a lot.  
Mae loves to read and enjoyed reading about Katie the Candy Cane Fairy!
I hope she grows up to think I have magical powers.....and not to mess with me.

I don't apologize for my lack of engagement on my blog or social media.  While I appreciate and am truly touched when people comment about my writing, the blog is not what my moments are about.  Sometimes I think we get too wrapped up in our moments online that we forget about the moments we are in.

My moments are about who's beside me and who is in my arms.

I pray that we all celebrate this holiday season and are thankful for our blessings and our Savior.
Instead of opening up presents and snapping pictures of tangible things that the kids will forget about in a few months, open a book and read a story, The Story.

I pray that you are present this holiday season and live in the moment with the people you love.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!

Friday, October 28, 2016

When They Go

This farm wife and working mom has been getting used to our new schedule and evenings without her husband.  I rush all day long to get things marked off my to do list, and when I get home I just want to spend time feeding my child, reading to her and playing.  She is growing up too fast so my spare moments are spent with her, not the blog.  So the post below is my recent Farm Indiana article and hopefully when the farmer is finished with harvest I'll have a little more time to write.  
Happy Fall!


They go to the farm on a daily basis not ever really knowing what that day may bring.  And we as farm wives see them off never knowing when they will come home.  Farmers leave at all hours of the day and night for various reasons.  I’m currently experiencing early morning goodbyes and the late night hellos, and sometimes a repeat of the same greetings late at night when he runs to check on the grain dryer. 

Miss Mae watching harvest from our backyard.

However, sometimes when they say goodbye they don’t return.  My mom experienced that the day we lost my dad on the farm.  And I hope and pray that I never have to endure that heartache as she has.  I try to be fully bright-eyed and busy tailed when he leaves in the morning to kiss and say goodbye.  And then I try to be at home waiting his return with a smile and sometimes a hot meal. 

When we were first married, he left in the morning a few times without saying goodbye or giving me a morning kiss and I was devastated.  Let’s be honest, I was probably a little more dramatic than I needed to be but I could not start my day without that goodbye or that kiss.  In the back of my mind, I am always prepared for it to be our last.

Before the farmer goes to the farm to work the land that he loves and the animals that he cares for, he has to prepare for his day.  First up, a check of the weather—always.  Next, he makes some morning coffee and maybe some eggs if there is time because you know, there is no burning daylight so a few extra minutes of sleep might have cost him his breakfast.  And he now knows he can’t skip the last portion of his morning routine—the goodbye.

Before the farmer goes to the farm to collect dirt and cow manure that will end up in my washer, I say a prayer that he and all the farmers will be safe as they work so passionately in the early morning fog until well after sunset.  I embrace my dirty kitchen floors and loads of never ending laundry because if the floors were clean and the laundry was done, he would have only left and never come home. 
Sometimes when the farmer leaves now, it’s to take a walk with our baby girl to introduce her to the cows and watch the Indiana sunsets (and to give me a moment of peace and quiet).  And while they are gone, I pray that she learns about the goodbyes and hellos of life and that sometimes they are really hard but they make us stronger and more prepared for the next greetings.

No matter how the farmers may leave us or when God decides to take them, when they go there is always a lesson to be learned.  Dad always said, “There’s no burnin’ daylight”.  And my farmer always says, “It will be okay”.  So I guess I’ll survive the early morning goodbyes and pray for the late night hellos.  I know that he's always working through the daylight and he will be okay and come home at night well after God's paintings have faded into the dark sky to become stars.

The view from our upstairs window--golden corn and God's painting.  
(Don't judge my dirty window!)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Moments In-Between

I've been taking my last few weeks, days and moments before going back to work today to spend time with our little girl.  To soak up every moment because she grows every day.

As my mother-in-law says, "my mom always said when you lay a baby down they grow."  
And oh how this is true!

So here is my recent article in our local newspaper Farm Indiana.  
I'll write again soon but I've been enjoying the moments in-between her growth spurts.


I woke-up on a recent morning to the sounds of the evening crickets and the morning birds.  I had never really heard that sound before, the sound in-between the night and the morning, probably because I have always been asleep at that time.  However, with the arrival of our first born, the moments I found myself in lately are in-between a lot of different things.

When I was little, we played in the woods a lot and made up various names for the rolling hills and valleys behind my childhood home.  We had to set-up different forts just in case we got too tired and had to rest along our treks on our various adventures.  The life of a child in-between reality and imagination is so charming, yet we forget to let them have those moments.

I live a life in the country but work in the city and the time I found myself in-between the two places is the time I take to reflect on my passion for both where I live and what I do.  It’s a time where I try to remember where I came from while I’m trying to get to where I’m going.  However, many times I am so rushed that I forget the moments in-between the two places are treasured.  I need to remember when my wheels are rubbing the pavement, my thoughts are only my own. 

And now that we have our first little baby, I am really trying to slow down because the moments I find myself in-between are too precious to let go and forget.  I’ve found motherhood to be a lot more calming than I realized because it has taught me to slow down, relax and just be.  I have to sit down for a good portion of the day to feed my child and after I do that I just want to watch her.  Her eyelashes grow longer overnight and each time I pick her up I think her legs are chubbier than before.  The nursing, trying to eat with my non-dominant hand, changing diapers, keeping us with the daily news and communication with friends and taking care of myself is exhausting, but the moments in-between are worth every minute of it.  She changes daily and if I don’t slow down and pay attention, the moments will be lost forever. 

As a farmer’s wife, I live in-between seasons and each one brings its challenges and its thrills.  From the outside, it may seem like the planting and harvest are the only seasons a farmer works. And yet it’s in-between those moments that farmers take time to reflect on the past and work towards the future along with doing all the other chores you may not see.  It’s a time they may stop rubbing the pavement and dirt to have a little adventure and slow down to reflect and care for themselves and their land for the next generation of young farmers.  And during those moments, I bet they still wake-up to hear the crickets and the birds.  I hope you take a moment to hear them too.

Friday, September 9, 2016

A Good First Time Heifer & Her Baby

Just like that, we had a baby and now she's two months old.

I'm not quite sure why time passes by so quickly when you are trying to embrace the most precious of moments, but it does.  Our little Glick Seed has gone from a tiny baby resting in our arms, to a wiggle worm with so much personality already that I'm unsure how my husband is going to survive us both.

I expressed to my husband recently that I thought I was a good momma cow.  
(Yes, this is how I think in terms of motherhood because of growing up on a farm.)  

His reply started with, "No...." which I thought he would say something about not being a cow, but no, like any good farmer he went back to the farm reference.
He finished by saying, ".....honey, you are what we call a good first time heifer."

"Oh.......thanks honey, I really do take that as a compliment."
And I do, a good momma cow is well respected by her herd and the farmer.

I really have to give thanks to my husband for the nice compliment only a farmer's wife would understand and for his patience.  I don't have to thank him for his help because he should be doing that anyway, I mean she is half his.

We respect each other enough to know we both have to chip in and make sacrifices for each other and her.  And when I do thank him for something random, his response is always, "I'm happy to do it".  
And I know he truly means it.

While I will be raising my little girl to love fancy things.....

.....he will be teaching her about the family business and helping her get her hands dirty.

And we both will teach her where she came from and where she can go. 

And now that the corn is turning from it's bright summer green to the harvest brown, the little Glick Girl is changing from a tiny baby to a chubby, smiley baby with lots of personality and curiosity. 

So as the time flies and the seasons change, we will continue to cherish and enjoy the precious moments with our little Miss Mae and those well respected cows.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Why Are We Going This Way?

I really should know better than to ask that question.  Growing up with a dad who was a farmer and now being married to one, you just know that sometimes you are along for the ride.  And sometimes they are the best rides.
We were coming home recently from the lake and he turned a different way, well a new way that I had never been.  “Why are we going this way?” I asked.  And I got the classic farmer answer, “I want to check some fields.”  “Great,” I thought, another road for me to learn in this county that I’m still getting used to.

 Much of what you learn growing up on a farm are from things you observe.  Growing up, I would patiently wait in the back seat or next to my dad in the truck.  One thing I learned pretty quickly is that he could drive on the road without actually watching the road!  It was as if he had eyes on the sides of his head as he looked out the windows to check each row of corn and soybeans growing in the fields.  When I first started to notice this, I was scared.  But then I realize that it’s just part of it, we were safe, it is just part of the farmer way of life and something they do. 

The second thing I learned was not to ask where we were going.  He was going to get us home or to our destination even if it took a little longer which I learned was okay.  We got to explore new ways of getting somewhere; we learned new things along the way about the history of our county or the family that once farmed the land.  Our parents never let us have a TV in the car and we rarely read or played games, we looked out the window at the fields or roads or towns along our drive and explored the world on a different path each time.

 The third lesson I learned from these unexpected drives was to listen.  Once you get farmers in their element or on a topic they know, you learn a lot.  I basically learned much of what I know about farming, the crops we grow, weed and pest control, the markets, the weather and the land I love by listening to my dad on these drives.  And now I’ve continued that tradition with my husband.

I’m not one to question God about the way things are going or the path he has set forth before me.  So I’m not sure why I asked the farmer because I am certain he was taking us along a path that would lead us to where we were going, we would get there safely and 
I would even learn a thing or two along the way. 

With today’s ever present questions of “why this way?” and “why that way?” about so many topics and issues, I feel pretty lucky to know why I am going a certain way and down a certain path.  And even if I don’t, I know everything will be okay when we get there.  I hope you have that confidence or luck and if not, maybe you should take a drive with a farmer.  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Commit to the Clover

It’s a long standing tradition, one that has been around for over 100 years.  It’s about hard work, commitment, education, responsibility and development.  For many people it’s about “summer homework” and hot, summer days spent committed to something other than yourself culminating in a week of fun with friends you may only see once a year. 

I am sure you have grasped that I’m talking about 4-H and imagining the green clover.  It’s a long standing tradition that empowers and teaches our young people and reminds us alumni of the power in our head, heart, hands and health.

I will admit, just like most people, that I hated homework so filling out my 4-H project books wasn’t my idea of fun.  And the hot summer days really got to me especially working with the pigs.  We shaved our pigs one summer so they would look nice, and I will never, ever forget that day, what it felt like and what I looked like in the end.  And fair week, while it seemed like hell for my parents, was a mini-camp or vacation with my friends from around the county I only saw once a year with many great memories I think of often.

 One of the great things about 4-H is that it’s not just for the country kids.  It’s for all kids of all kinds to be a part of something special, something greater than themselves, which has been a part of people’s lives for three different centuries.

Sometimes I think about what would happen if more of our children experienced 4-H, and had the summer homework, the commitment needed to get through the summer day and had the lifelong friendships and network from just one week a year.  What would happen if every child of ours was able to learn, recite by heart and commit to the 4-H pledge for a lifetime? 

I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

I personally think we would be a better community, country and world.  So as we approach fair week in our community, I am recommitting myself to the 4-H pledge.  And as a 10 year 4-H alumnae, I want my daughter to experience a long-standing tradition and commit herself to positive change through her head, heart, hands and health. 

I hope you will do the same for the program, yourself, the children and our community. If you never experienced 4-H, it doesn’t mean you can’t support the program with you contributions or skills.  You can and you should, just as the alumni, encourage our young people to be a part of a tradition that will stay with them for a lifetime.  When I see the 80 and 90 year old men and women still visit the fair because of their commitment to the 4-H program and to our youth, I can only imagine the memories they have and their reasons for still showing up.  With their aging heads and hearts, their worn and callused hands and their dwindling health, they are still committed to the clover just as we all should be.