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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Soybeans, Safety & Sandwiches

I came home one day, actually many days, to these beautiful, ready to harvest soybeans behind our house on the farm.  I was home alone while the farmer was busy harvesting another field.
I decided to be still for a moment and enjoy the view while it lasted.

And when you are still for a moment, you notice the littlest of things like this bug on the barbed wire fence.  
When you are still, you appreciate the small blessings in life.

I'm glad I stood still for those few moments because the next day, this view was gone.  I came home late the next evening to the hum of a tractor and the sight of a moving beam of light in the field.  The soybeans had been harvested and rye was being planted as a cover crop for my new neighbors, the cows.

While I was upset about the beans being gone, my farmer reminded me I need to chill out, it's harvest.  He also told me about how much I loved having the cows so close last spring.  
I do love cows in the backyard especially because the farmer is never home during harvest and they provide for entertainment and comfort.

Some aren't exactly thrilled that I take my walks up and down their "lane" and act like their BFF.
I think they'll get over it though.

All cows and kidding aside, the first few days of harvest are pretty stressful.  Actually, all of harvest is stressful at some level.  But the first few days you realize, and are reminded, of the dangers of farming and the safety protocols and awareness needed during this time of year.  

Farmers need to be safe while working, but the every day person on the road needs to be aware of the risks of the large tractors, trucks and combines on the road.  And they need to slow down a bit, to appreciate the farmer and the food being harvested.

I was visiting grandpa this weekend when we decided to watch my farmer and make sure he was being safe.  He thought we were annoying, I thought we were being supportive.

When we stopped for a moment, I realized what a blessing it was to see one generation watching another harvest a crop on the family farm.

We decided to leave him alone and stay off the road so he could get from the farm to field safely. 

Grandpa and I then headed out to the garden to pick the last of our crop this season.  After picking beets and carrots, we left for the field to check beans.

He picked some, told me some old seed company stories and the progress on the farm and then made me eat a few.

They'll be ready to harvest this week.
Grandpa's hands, and experience, told me so.

We are in our second week of Harvest 2015 and I feel like it's been a little longer.  A 4:00 a.m. wake-up call one week thanks to the calves in our yard, and a 1:00 a.m. bedtime on a Monday the next week.  

  I've made 10 sandwiches within 24 hours and I am already planning ways to diversify the brown bag lunches.  It's harder than you think!

I'm not the one doing any physical labor on the farm, but am trying to be a supportive farm wife and partner.  I'm slowing down to appreciate the harvest and the soybeans.  I'm so excited to have the cows back as my neighbors and I'm becoming efficient at making sandwiches!

My harvest wish is always for our farmers to stay safe.
This year I hope you slow down to stay safe and appreciate the harvest too.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Class on the Farm

My niece will celebrate her 8th birthday in a few weeks and I'm pretty excited about her gift. 
I recently learned she loves "playing school" just like I did when I was her age!  
So she will be getting a bell, hall passes, workbooks, a grade book and more!  

Obviously I am thrilled because I love back to school shopping!
And I recently wrote an article about how farmers need to "teach" more and 
open their "classrooms", their farms, more to consumers.  

You will see my recent Farm Indiana article below.
If you are a farmer, I hope you teach someone about your farm and
 what you are doing in the fields this fall.

If you are a consumer, I hope you ask a farmer about what he/she does on his/her family farm, in the fields and in the pastures with the animals.  Don't assume, ASK!

I'll be ready to teach you from the field in my backyard or with the cows in the pasture next door.
Ask me if you have questions, I'll have my bell and grade book in hand!


When I was younger, I had a school classroom set-up in my parents’ basement and acted like I was a teacher, day in and day out.  Before getting on the bus each morning I would visit my class and tell them that they would have a substitute for the day.  I never grew up to become a teacher, but I find myself “teaching” people about agriculture day in and day out.


I was at a reception lately, enjoying my wine when I encountered a woman who had been given so many myths about agriculture.  I spoke with her briefly and gave her some straight facts when she said, “I feel like we as consumers are so targeted and given so much information, I don’t know what to think anymore.”  I handed her my card and said, “Email me, I really have so much that could help you understand where your food comes from and why we do what we do on our family farms.  I want safe, healthy and affordable food just like you and I live on a farm, so let’s talk.”  I received an email from her first thing the next morning. 

Then I recently had to defend the 4-H program and bacon.  “How can those kids show those animals and become close to them, then sell them and go eat a hamburger or bacon?  I think it’s cruel.”  After taking a deep breath, I explained the 4-H program, hard work, our understanding of the circle of life and providing for others.  I didn’t get through to this person but it made me realize, yet again, that there are many people in this world that don’t understand our way of life and the lifelong lessons that 4-H teaches our children.  Nor do they understand that cruelty isn’t a part of agriculture and that farmers want to provide bacon for everyone’s table, if they want it. 

Most students will go back to school this fall and not have one lesson about agriculture even though much of what they learn is related to ag such as science, chemistry, math and even history.   I have visited classrooms and taught an agriculture lesson to inner city students who had no idea about how to grow a plant or what cows really looked like.  Cows are in my backyard, but these kids don’t even have a backyard to see something grow let alone hear cows each morning. 

We in agriculture have taken our wonderful way of life and our jobs to provide food to the world for granted too long.  We forget that many kids think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows and that brown eggs are better for you.  They think the food at the grocery or Wal-Mart comes from “the back” instead of our families’ fields, barns and pastures of the countryside. 

There is no substitute for our lives as farmers and advocates for agriculture.  And there is no bigger classroom than the one we live in, work in and dedicate our lives to—that of agriculture and our farms that touch every single person.

 So for those of you who are farmers, I urge you to teach.  Educate someone about what you do day in and day out and find some way to apply it to their lives as the everyday consumer who doesn’t live on a farm.  For those of you that don’t farm, I ask that you learn.  Be open to learning about what farmers do and how they care for their animals and their farm.  If you have questions let me know, I’m not leaving my classroom between the corn and the cattle anytime soon.   

Thursday, September 10, 2015

It's a Partnership, Not a Sponsorship

I was traveling for work and play recently and was gone for almost two weeks straight.

When I departed home for my long weeks of work meetings, time with friends and many miles in the air and on the road, I left a lot of sliced peppers.  

And when I returned, the floors were clean and his laundry was done.  

It wasn't a miracle, it's part of the partnership.  
Brett likes fresh sliced peppers to snack or just eat for dinner after a long, hot day.
I hate doing his 10 loads of laundry a week and seeing cow manure in my washer.
I also like clean floors. 

We both know what each other hates and what we like, so we try help each other out a bit in our 
busy lives, and we drink plenty of cocktails along the way.

My husband has always said, 
"Marriage is a partnership, not a sponsorship."

He knows who he married so he has to say that a lot.....but it works!

In order for this partnership to work, he knows to leave his dirty, dusty clothes on the back porch.
And I have learned that they will have to enter my washer.

This partnership works because I have finally realized I may have too many clothes and try to limit my shopping excursions.  But he has learned to just compliment, take a deep breath and shake his head.

We have really learned to embrace our heritage together and that dressing up 
with your partner is better than going at it alone.

We challenge each other to try new things and step out of our comfort zone.

I never would have kayaked.....

....or owned a dog without my husband, my partner.  

My mom always tells me that we are good together because we have our own hobbies and interests, but we also have found many things we can do together like bird hunting. 

Even though this is a good "partnership" activity, somehow he tricked me by buying me a new hunting vest with pockets.  I have pockets, he doesn't which means I have to carry the birds.  

I told him if I have a new vest, I will have to buy other new hunting accessories.
He just shook his head....

As I have just returned from traveling and wrapped up a busy summer, 
he is preparing for a busy fall and harvest.  
Sometimes we have to sponsor each other at different times of the year to make the partnership work.

And as partners, we support each other through thick and thin, the clean and the dirty.

So as I plan to "sponsor" my husband during harvest by making countless sandwiches and cutting lots of peppers, I may shop a little while he is in the field.  And when I return home, I won't mind if the floors are dirty.  Our partnership depends on it!