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Thursday, July 31, 2014

When Fancy & Farmer Go on a Trip.....

.....this is what happens. 

A little carry on suitcase for the farmer and the big suitcase full of outfit options for the fancy girl.  I think my jewelry weighed at least 10 pounds....

We had to delay our honeymoon after our wedding last summer because of work trips, harvest and more work trips.  We headed to South America in late January to get out of our home with barely any  heat.  

When we arrived to our first hotel in Santiago, Chile, there was an architecture book in the lobby.  Brett opened it up to the map inside, and we saw a little dot that seemed to be very close to home.  And it was!  Our little city in Indiana was featured in this book so many miles away and we felt at home.

Every where we travel, the passion for learning about agriculture and different types of agriculture seems to follow us.  We were in wine country so we took the opportunity to take some private tours and take advantage of many tastings.....

When in Mendoza and among the grapes you must take those opportunities right?!

Besides looking pretty, I was a little thrown off by the rose bush at the end of row of grapevines.  Well, I learned that it does have a purpose.  This vineyard, and many others, plant rose bushes to detect disease.  If the rose bush dies, that means something is wrong and the grapevines may be next.  Fun agriculture fact for you!

Growing, harvesting and making wine is truly an art.  It may seem fancy but it is very hard work and it is agriculture.  

Oh and so are the tastings......it's a part of the agriculture process, right?!

Brett and I spent one day exploring the city of Santiago and found the market pretty fascinating.  The corn obviously caught our eye.  This is a photo of "choclo" or Peruvian corn.  

I would say this is my most "normal" photo of the meat at this market even though it does include pig feet.  We even saw a guy walking behind a counter with a carcass thrown over his shoulder!  We skipped the market for lunch but enjoyed the sightseeing!  

Our day of fly fishing with our guide, Pablo, and our driver, Franco, was absolutely fantastic.  I knew it was going to be a great day when they drove us to a ranch in the mountains that had a vineyard in the front yard!  This ranch grows enough grapes to make all the wine it needs for a year of entertaining guests.

Of course, Brett had to investigate the cellar on the ranch that stored the meats.  No matter where we are in the world he is always a farmer, curious and interested in things that grow and animals--alive or ready to eat.

The wine and canned fruits and vegetables were also stored here.  The gaucho's wife (cowboy) does most of this work and cooks for guests as well.  She is a part of agriculture.

Pablo taught us a lot along that mountain stream that day.  About the local gauchos and their cattle roaming the ranch.  He taught us about the trout in the stream and how patience is a prerequisite for fly fishing.  And we taught him about American agriculture.  

And while our canned peaches from the ranch and homegrown wine chilled in the stream, we shared our story of agriculture too.  It's always with us, whether we are farming, being fancy or fly fishing.  

Agriculture is everywhere.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cocktail Hour in the Corn & with the Cows

Last week was a full week in the office after traveling most of the month.  And all I wanted on Friday night was a good cocktail and some Katie time.  My favorite time...Katie's Cocktail Hour.  

But then I got a call from my farmer husband and he reminded me that we needed to pick sweet corn and check the cows.  So....I headed to the farm.

At first I was a little mad because I was so tired and just wanted to get home and get my cocktail!  But then I realized that this is what I really needed. 

I needed the smells of summer, fields of corn, setting sun and the farm.  

 Oh and I ran into this guy!  Remember him from the county 4-H livestock auction a few weeks ago, the one we went to on our anniversary?  Apparently, he needed to get outside and into the fields of corn too.

 I turned around after checking a row of squash with Brett's grandma and saw this image.  The classic American farm scene that touches my heart every time.  And I was at peace, I no longer needed my cocktail. 

And then I turned the other way and saw Brett in the sweet corn and thought, "what is he doing over there....??"

Oh, of course!  He's just eating our sweet corn freshly shucked and raw, standing in the middle of the field.  Why not...?

So I decided to as well and I rather liked it!  

It was the perfect night for it.

Then grandpa showed up and wanted to pick some fresh vegetables for the dinner I would be cooking that night.  "Come on," he said "let's get you some broccoli, green beans and tomatoes."

So as grandpa started picking the broccoli, I turned around and saw Brett picking sweet corn for us and grandma looking on.  A better scene than any cocktail hour.

Old, rugged hands and fresh vegetables.  Blessed to have both in my life.

And then their mischievous banter began; this time about the garden and the sweet corn field.  These two are entertaining to listen to sometimes, but I usually need a cocktail for that.  

So we had fresh, homegrown vegetables for the week and this girl was happy she would spend less time running through the aisles of the grocery store.

Brett then reminded me that we needed to go check the cattle.  

"We'll take some corn to give them their own cocktail hour."

And as we pulled in, they came running!  They know what it means when a truck pulls into the middle of the pasture.  

The cows love their sweet corn....they love their corn in general. 

And this is Chocolate, who is not camera shy and never has been in her 4 years on the farm.  And she has a sweet tooth.

These girls must have been craving the corn because they swarmed the truck.   They are pregnant so maybe it's a craving they have this time of year..... 

So Brett just climbed in the back and threw it to them.  

And then came Chocolate, to get her corn hand fed to her.  So demanding.....

So we gave the girls quite the little cocktail hour on Friday night.

And they barely left us any to eat that night!  After all of that, Brett and I had 4 ears of corn left.  

And when Mr. Bull realized we were all out, that's when I hopped in the truck and we dashed back through the pasture before he started running for us.  

So after a long, exhausting week, I didn't really need a cocktail hour.  I needed the farm and the sweet summer air.  Sometimes I am too concentrated on the goal or task at hand that I forget to turn around see what's around me.  

When I do, I find the sweetest surprises like an old farmer picking fresh vegetables or my husband eating sweet corn or the rabbit we bought at the 4-H fair to support a young girl or the classic farm scene with our American Flag waving in the summer breeze.

Those moments are part of the best hours, no cocktail needed.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tired and Worn but Still Standing

"America's greatest asset is its people."

I heard that on the news last night during a report of the wild fires in Washington State.  One family lost their home and so did their daughter and their brother and all their friends.  

And guess what?  They are still standing

And guess why?  Because they are Americans.  

And guess how?  Because we live in the greatest, most free country in the world.  Where people still come together in times of tragedy and need.

A country where freedom rings and we are able to visit our nation's capital and express our opinions with our elected officials.  Now they might not always agree or make the change we want, but we can do it....because we are free.

I think we forget that a lot.  And every so often it's good to be reminded. 

And when we complain, maybe we aren't doing enough or using our freedom enough or expressing enough.  

I mean when we get a flag in our hamburger we get giddy about it.  Why don't we wear the flag and put it to good use?  Waving it high and proud every day?

That day, I did.  I took that flag from my greasy, delicious burger and stuck it in my purse and carried it around for weeks.  She got a little run down but continued to stand proudly.  To this day, I carry a flag around.  

And I continued to carry one the last two weeks when I was in DC with soybean and corn growers from around Indiana.  These growers were taking their opportunity to wave their flag and express their opinions on certain issues related to our industry such as:  trade, regulatory issues, transportation, aquaculture, the renewable fuels standard, farm bill implementation, conservation and much more. 

Not only do farmers worry about what happens in their fields, they worry about what happens on The Hill and in their statehouses and with their local officials.  They fly to DC and travel miles throughout their states to take advantage of expressing their freedoms, advocating for agriculture and being the greatest asset for their industry and for their America.  

Are you part of America's greatest asset?  

Do you wave your flag high and take advantage of your freedoms in America? 

Do you get involved and take your precious time to get involved?

When in DC, the one thing that resonates is that people have been waving flags, visiting their elected officials, expressing their feelings, sharing their thoughts and taking advantage of their freedoms for over 200 years.  

And guess what, she is still standing.  

America, after all struggles and failures and being tired and run down.....Still standing.  

Are you?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

SOLD.....!! "Honey, I bought some rabbits......"

It wasn't exactly the phrase I was expecting to hear on the morning of my anniversary while at the county 4-H livestock auction, but in this romantic #fancyinthecountry life anything can happen.

And so I just responded how I normally do with my farmer husband, who craves the outdoors and his animals, and politely muttered, "Oh you did....?" and then proceeded to politely shake my head and return my focus to the 4-H kids.  

The kids who spend years dreaming of being a 4-H member (okay maybe that was just me) and months preparing their projects which consist of anything from sewing to livestock to baking, small engines, genealogy, electronics and much more. 

On that morning, the day we celebrated one year of marriage, we decided to use our passion and some cash to support the kids who dedicate so much time, effort, love, sweat and tears into their projects. 

When the auction was about to start my husband thoughtfully reminded me not to speak with my hands, as I usually do, because he feared I would bid too much and too high.  So I tried to not even make eye contact with the auctioneer or his ring men and just focus on the people around me. My favorites that day were the old time auctioneer who had been helping the county fair and the kids for many years, and the young onlookers as they learned from each other and rested their heads after a long, hard week.

And so I laid low and when I took a break from sitting in the stands, I came back to 2 rabbits.  The proud little girl who owned the rabbits and showed them came up to shake our hands after we were announced as the winning bidders.  The best part was her fancy style in the sale ring that morning as she  was wearing a sparkly belt and headband (my kind of girl)! 

Sophie loved her rabbits and spent a lot of time with them during her first year of 4-H.  When Brett went to pick them up the following week, she gave him this card.  A thank you card.  How many kids do you know that write thank you cards these days?  Well most 4-H kids do, and I always looked forward to writing mine when I was younger and picking out my new stationary!  

Your 4-H friend.  Yep, this is going on the fridge!  

The 4 Hs stand for "head, heart, hands and health" and as members of 4-H they strive to better themselves and others through their pledge.

"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 learned this pledge by example from my dad.  I don't remember him reading it to me or making me memorize it.  But as a 10 year 4-H member himself, he lived that pledge every day and was an example to fellow 4-H members and others.    

While I believe my 4-H experience prepared me for life in many ways, it instilled in me to work hard at everything in life and in every moment.  Even if that means you have to wear your normal grown-up clothes to do weekend chores at your best friend's farm because her mom cooked you brunch and you drank her dad's Budweiser.

It also taught me to be an example for those who may follow behind me, just like my dad was an example for me.  This photo was taken several years ago and now these two girls are grown and 4-H members themselves, working hard year-round to prepare for the county fair.  

So we spent our anniversary at the county fair supporting 4-H members and their livestock projects.   
I sat on my hands for fear of bidding and cried in the stands watching 4-Hers sell their animals while my husband talked markets, weather, and equipment with his fellow farmers.  Oh and don't forget about our new purchases....the rabbits, pigs and chickens.

 And I wouldn't have wanted to celebrate our special day any other way.  As former 4-H members ourselves, we pledged our "head, heart, hands and health" long ago and will continue to do so for many years to come.  

Next year, we may be walking away from the auction with more rabbits.  But in the end we will walk away knowing the 4-H program and commitment by its members is still going strong and that our skills still come in handy in our fancy in the country lifestyle today.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Experience Every Season Together"

It was some of the best advice I received from my mother.  

This was after Brett and I had been dating for about 4 months and I told her I thought he was the one. 

"That's great" she said, "but.....you should really experience every season together before you decide for sure."

"Um, what?!  You are telling me that my heart is not for sure?  Isn't that what they tell you?  When your heart feels right, he is the one?"

"Just trust me," she said.  
And as moms are usually right, I decided to take her word for it.  

So Brett and I got to know each other pretty well after meeting each other in December and then that spring when I was traveling and he was busy with seed sales.  Then summer came....that summer....the summer.  

Well, it started out great!

We always enjoyed the farmers' market in town selling beef that he raised directly to customers and having conversations with them about agriculture.

Then going to New Orleans with fellow corn and soybean growers from around the country.  And we had a true swamp experience.   

And then there was the drought.  The drought of 2012 when I threatened to do rain dances after hearing thunder in the middle of the night and when tough choices about the farm and animals had to be made.  

That was rough....the worst season for us thus far.  What was supposed to be the most beautiful time of year (in my opinion) was actually not so beautiful that year like it had been in the past.  

We got through it, hand in hand.  Supporting each other and having the respect to understand each other's stress with his family farm and my family farm; both of which seemed to miss rain every single time a drop even thought about hitting the precious ground where our crops stood, or tried to stand.

But we weathered through....together.  And experienced our first Purdue football game together that fall where my family friends gathered and pretty much accepted Brett into our "Village". 

And when we celebrated that day together.....it poured.  I don't know if it was God or my dad sending the rain drops down that day, but feeling that rain made me have little hope for the years to come and the hope that it would all be okay because we would be together.

And then winter came and it was time for holiday parties with friends and family along with lots of Glick home brew and fancy wine. 

And the next thing you know, we have experienced every season together.  It happened just like that.....that first season together and then our first year together and then our first year of marriage together--just like the blink of an eye.  

And we are ready for more--more of all the seasons and anything they bring to our lives.  No matter if there is a flood or drought or a market crash or tragedy, triumphs, successes or more hidden packages on the porch....

One year down and many more to go!

And we are ready to continue our commitment to each other to experience every season together....whether we are standing together or sitting down in the grass that I ran barefoot in as a child on my family farm or leaning on the hitching post his dad built on his family farm.  We are always doing it together.