About wagfarms

Mom to 4 busy boys and passionate about all things agriculture!

Modern day muckraking

Pardon the pun. But really, I couldn’t resist.

For those that may not be aware of a little “episode” that occurred recently, it appears as if a group of employees from Muck boots may or may not have held a fundraiser for HSUS. The details are still up in the air, and it appears as if the story is changing regularly. But to tell you the truth, it’s not the details that I’m worried about.

What happened following the photo being spotted by an agvocate was what I would call a complete social media fall out for Muck. Some claim that the backlash was unfounded and unnecessary. Others are ready to throw out their Mucks for other brands. (I, personally, have already fallen in love with my Bogs, although my hubby owns a half-dozen Mucks.)

My Boggs keep me out of the deepest of doo-doo...Muck may need some of these.

My Bogs keep me out of the deepest of doo-doo…Muck may need some of these.

So why the mudslinging? (Seriously, this stuff just writes itself.)

For those not involved in agriculture, or those in ag that don’t understand, let me explain…HSUS has made this personal. There is no wiggle room when it comes to companies that choose to support this particular organization. (Which, by the way, recently lost favor as a charity.) And these types of social media blasts go a long way in limiting HSUS’s power and bottom line – no matter how you look at it.

Everyone I saw was pretty respectful and asked their audiences to do the same. But all of the sources that I saw requested that people reach out and ask the tough questions. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s what we need to keep doing.

If we don’t stand up, ourselves, against those that are willing to attack us on our home turf, then how can we expect others to do it for us? I can almost guarantee that Wayne Pacelle hasn’t slipped on a pair of chore boots in a long time…if ever.

Muckraking…a term used for anyone that employs investigative tactics to try to right a wrong, especially in the corporate world.

Perhaps if more companies are aware of the problems that are associated with HSUS, more will step away from this money-grabbing, farce of a charity. When donating to help animals, local is the way to go.

Sorry, Muck boots, for the puddle you found yourself in. But I’m guessing it’s a lesson learned – and a valuable one at that.

Because, trust me, HSUS isn’t going to come to your rescue. They don’t even rescue those they raise money for…and that’s a dirty shame.

You are who you are

I’m almost in tears sitting at my computer. It’s been almost three months since I’ve wrote on this blog. Three months. Wow. I cannot tell you how hard it was to not sit here and type. You have all become my friends…my family…my confidants…my support. For some reason, sitting here, typing, I feel free. I feel relief. I feel myself.

But I quit for awhile.

Never again. At least not intentionally.

It’s not like I was sitting around, twiddling my thumbs. School let out. My boys played ball, I played ball, my family had a few medical crises. You know, summer stuff.

Big Bro even tried his hand at pitching.

Big Bro even tried his hand at pitching.

Oh, the medical thing? Eh, no biggie. Just an aneurysm or two or three in my mom’s head. Oh, and my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer again…and possibly spots in his lymph nodes and his colon. All is pretty well now. Six weeks of radiation in three days will help matters immensely…if you can handle it.

And did I mention that my oldest nephew got married? And I’m still going to school full time? (16 credits for summer quarter)

And the most important activity of all…I took my boys on our first ever real-life, trip-away-from-home-not-family-event related. And they loved every minute.

A trip to the zoo..."camels" that looked an awful lot like goats and breeding season. Stories and memories galore...did I mention Scooter opened up the window in the car wash? Yeah.

A trip to the zoo…”camels” that looked an awful lot like goats and breeding season. Stories and memories galore…did I mention Scooter opened up the window in the car wash? Yeah.

George and I...proof that you can live with your heart outside of your body.

George and I…proof that you can live with your heart outside of your body.

Yes, I had a busy summer. Like most parents and people that enjoy their community. I got involved in our local Bountiful Baskets co-op. We had our county fair. I started going to a boot camp workout class.

A boy and his pigs. EJ is our true-blue farmer.

A boy and his pigs. EJ is our true-blue farmer.

But not writing was hard. I love to write. It’s as natural to me as breathing. And when I hit publish on a post, it’s hard to explain the feeling, but it’s like hitting an RBI in a tie game.

There’s a real reason why I quit writing for awhile. And it had little to do with my schedule. I am one of those people that thrive on pressure and crunch time. But what I do not deal with well is criticism and critiques. Especially from those that are supposed to be the most supportive.

I would have to say that over the course of the last two summers, I have learned a lot about myself. And I am grateful for every lesson I have learned. There are many that I need to thank for teaching me those lessons, some that have done so with encouragement and opportunities, and some that have done so through other means. Whatever the case may be, I have become a better person. And for that, I’m grateful.

I am back – blog world. I hope you are ready for me.

Chickens on a plane

I just can’t get away from it. Really. Even in a plane.

I was fortunate enough today to have some things go wrong, and then right…and I ended up sitting in the front if a plane to Atlanta. Yes, the fortunate seats up in first class.
It’s a long story, but it involves a 1 a.m. bedtime, a 2 a.m. alarm and a 3 p.m. flight. No, I didn’t make any mistakes. Just trust me on this.

The irony in it is that I’m on my way to BlogHer Food, a conference for bloggers interested in food. And if farmers aren’t interested in food, then we’re in the wrong business!

But I digress.

I’m on a plane. In first class. They serve a meal. I choose a southwestern chicken salad. In my neck of the woods, the very word “salad” means lettuce. I was expecting spicy chicken on a bed of lettuce. I got avocados, beans and corn. Hmmm…not quite what I was thinking. I have tried to convince myself that I like avocados. I mean, they’re good for you, and everyone else seems to enjoy them. But it hasn’t worked.

So I enjoyed what I could. And saved the amazing-looking cookie for last. And I was eating one of the best cookies known to man-kind…(I was starving at this point), I noticed the ingredient list.

I just shook my head. Listed, towards the bottom of the list, were the words “cage free eggs.” Really? Is that necessary?

Let me just say that I completely respect those that raise chickens. I remember our flock when I was growing up. I would never…and I mean NEVER do that again. Methods have improved. Technology has improved. My heart is warming up to it. I still don’t want my own chickens…but I’m warming.

But whether or not my packaged cookie at 30,000 feet contains one cage-free egg? Not a concern of mine.
I personally know a few people that raise chickens…and eggs. I’d rather leave it to the experts.

When it comes to food, there are choices all around us. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

And I have to say that cookie was amazing, and the egg had little to do with it.

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I am attending BlogHer Food thanks to a sponsorship from Monsanto. But don’t worry, all thoughts, crazy travel incidents, snark and any other catastrophes are all mine. Unfortunately.

The years go by

Time flies when you you’re having fun…right?

It’s hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago my little George turned 5. How is that even possible?
It seems like just yesterday I was spending countless hours at various physicians, trying to nail down what was going on…wondering where his road would lead.

Yet, here we are. Five.

For those that don’t know, or maybe haven’t been following along, or are new to this blog, 5 is a magic number for my George. It’s an age that science said he more than likely wouldn’t reach. It’s an age that should have brought more issues and concerns and perhaps a little more doom and gloom.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

George broke down the door of 5 and is rarin’ to go. He’s excelled at preschool and may need some advanced work when he hits kindergarten in the fall. Kindergarten. A dream I dared to dream.

It seemed like eons ago that I wrote about finally realizing I needed to give George a life. Not just health…a real life. One filled with friends and experiences and ups and downs. And since then, I started living too.

Do I still worry about tomorrow? Certainly. I don’t know of a single parent that wouldn’t. But why borrow the trouble of tomorrow against the miracle of today?

My guard is still up. I read about the measles outbreaks across the country and the hair on the back of my neck stands on end. I do what I can to protect George from the known issues that he may face. But I could never fully protect him. There are too many unknowns. Too many variables. So I must use a little common sense and balance.

Five whole years. It seriously feels like a lot longer than that. But if we truly lived by the adage that “it’s not the years, it’s the miles,” George would be older than most.

Blessings come in all shapes and sizes. My greatest blessing just so happens to come in a dynamite little package that keeps thumbing his nose at what the experts say. Just goes to show that the greatest Expert of all doesn’t follow a scientific journal.

And I am grateful for that.

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A new tool for bugs

I was hoping to blog all about planting last week. Really, I was. But I didn’t. Because we didn’t. And this week is looking bleak. Rain and cool temps…not a farmer’s friend this spring. But it helps us make sure we’re prepared for planting, and it helps us check out new tools for the year.

Like the 20/20 Precision Planting system we’re going to be using (which I promise to write more about later)…and a cool new website that has quickly become one of my faves: http://www.insectforecast.com/

Technology is cool, but sometimes you just simply need to know what’s happening, and what’s heading your way. And this site does just that, in a way that really does amaze me.

Soybean aphids hatching risk...information that makes my inner-Geek-heart flutter.

Soybean aphids hatching risk…information that makes my inner-Geek-heart flutter.

First of all, the research part of this site appeases my inner Geek. And as much as I dislike bugs, I like to know about them. Weird…I know. The site doesn’t just assume that I know. It shows me what I want to know, and gives me the information that I so love to learn.

Cool. So cool.

So how does this possibly help my farm? Simple. It’s another tool that alerts me to what’s going on around me. Because sometimes we get so wrapped up in our day-to-day activities that we lose track of things. For instance, did you know that it’s May already? Yeah. Me neither. Where did April go?

But eventually spring will truly get here, as well as warmer temps and outbreaks of bugs. And that’s definitely something we need to stay on top of…our crops depend on it.

Another tool for the toolbox. And a hearty THANK YOU for those that made it possible.

This site was brought to my attention by someone wanting me to review it. Which I did. And I think it’s amazing. The thoughts above are definitely my own, since no one else words things quite like I do. You know what I mean. 

 

Whatever floats your boat – #DitchTheRule

“Navigable waters.” According to the internet, the accepted definition is: “deep and wide enough for boats and ships to travel on or through: capable of being navigated.”

Apparently that’s true for everyone…but EPA.

The new proposed ruling for the expanded Clean Water Act from the EPA would become the most far-reaching regulations we’ve yet seen from this regulatory agency. It’s meant to clarify what is determined as “Waters of the US.” In essence, almost any place that water could collect could be subject to regulation and the permitting process.

The CWA was started in 1972 as a way to curb pollution into what was determined navigable water from a single source – without a federal permit.

Most people would probably be amazed at what all requires permission from someone else in order to simply do something…even on your own property. There are permits to build stuff, permits to take down stuff, permits to use water, permits to take away water – I’m sure there are probably even agencies that have permits in order for another agency to allow permits. The process is essentially the same. You apply, based on whatever rules and regulations have been drawn up. You explain why you should be allowed a permit to complete whatever action or build whatever structure you have planned. You present your application with the proper fee, determined by the regulatory board or by law, and you wait to hear back.

Here’s the catch: there is no legal right to be allowed a permit. That’s right, even if you dot your I’s and cross your T’s and pay the fees and fill out each form in triplicate and you state sound reasons as to why your permit should be granted and have science on your side, you may be turned down.  Because we all know that decisions don’t always make sense.

And you may not find out if you’ve been granted a permit or if you’ve been turned down for days, or weeks, or months – we all know how speedy the federal government works, right?

Using conservation and good stewardship is nothing new to our farm. We make decisions every day based on what we feel will be best for tomorrow.

Using conservation and good stewardship is nothing new to our farm. We make decisions every day based on what we feel will be best for tomorrow.

So let me try to wrap this up in a nut shell with a completely plausible scenario: Let’s say you’re a farmer that raises cattle, and cattle poop, and you want to use the natural fertilizer that you’ve been given. Let’s say that the field you want to fertilize has a low spot that collects water when it rains. Imagine now having to fill out paperwork and a permit in order to use that fertilizer near that low spot because it may collect water at some point in time?

So why use the fertilizer? Well, it helps your crops grow to their potential, it provides better grass for our cattle and it’s cheaper to use the product that nature is already providing. And remember, we’re talking about a spot that may/may not hold water at any point in the year. Yet the amount of water held isn’t in question. When the water is held there isn’t in question. It’s simply the ability for the ground to hold water that determines whether or not the CWA is applicable.

A single drop of water...is that all it would take?

A single drop of water…is that all it would take?

The good news? It’s not too late. The proposed rule changes are open to public comment through July 21 by visiting the website at http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/CWAwaters.cfm, or through the FBAct Insider page at: http://capwiz.com/afb/issues/alert/?alertid=63192396.

Laws and regulations that expand government reach and hurt our local economies will continue to be passed unless we’re willing to stand up and protect our rights for future generations. We need to let the EPA know that they need to #DitchTheRule.

My four boys drink from the hydrant in our yard. And there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to ensure that our water is safe for generations to come. Our family farm has been making improvements to our methods of farming for generations, not through regulations and laws, but through using common sense and stewardship.

The CWA was set up to protect places that could float a boat. My field is not such a place. My ditch is not such a place. My yard is not such a place. Not a single one of these places could float my boat…and neither does this rule.

The anatomy of a farmer

I was told recently, point blank, that “agriculture is a man’s world.” And I will freely admit that my first reaction was not a very pleasant one. Yes, it made me angry. Very angry.

Are there certain situations that being a man is helpful? Sure. I must admit that there are many men stronger than I am, but then again, I’m also stronger than a lot of guys I know, too. It all boils down to the situation. But I also am quite certain that politics is not one of those situations. Your gender does not…and should not…EVER make an impact on your ability to be elected to serve in office.

Yet, it became painfully obvious last weekend that we have so much work to do on this front.

So let me start by explaining to you what a farmer looks like…from head to toe:

A farmer is required to be a person capable of wearing many hats – from accountant to nurse to scientist to engineer. A farmer’s head is full of so much information, and also full of contacts, for those questions that they can’t answer. A farmer knows how to make the best out of a sticky situation, and knows when to call in reinforcements. Facial hair has never been a requirement…although, I must admit, it would come in handy come winter.

Fashion has little to do with farming...warmth, on the other hand...

Fashion has little to do with farming…warmth, on the other hand…

A farmer has a mouth that can communicate the needs of the farm, to a variety of audiences. From legislators to neighbors to school kids to friends and family – a farmer knows that in order to preserve our work for future generations, we need to start engaging people more. It does not matter if those lips are covered in lip stick, lip gloss, chapstick or whiskers…the message is the same.

A farmer has broad shoulders – more in a figurative sense than anything. A farmer is able to carry the weight of the current growing season, worrying about changes in the weather, all while enjoying the miracle of each season. Whether it be watching a new calf learn to walk, watching a new crop erupt from the ground, watching baby chicks develop their first feathers, or watching a sick animal slowly recover – a farmer takes responsibility for what happens on the farm, good and bad.

A farmer has strong hands. They are able to be involved in almost every aspect of the farm. From gently handling an injured animal, to convincing a rusty bolt to budge, to writing out checks to pay for inputs to folding them in prayer at the end of the day…a farmer’s hands hold more strength than many would guess. Whether or not your nails are polished doesn’t matter.

teamwork, farmwork

Two different sets of hands working for a common goal…does it matter which were replaced with a woman’s hand?

A farmer has a caring heart. A farmer strives to do what is best for the land…and the job…that she loves. This includes protecting the land for the generations to come. A farmer also knows that they are not in this fight alone, and that there are so many involved in the process of being successful.

A farmer has a pair of feet that can walk miles in other’s shoes, and never skip a beat. A farmer can wear a pair of work boots all day, slip on a pair of dress shoes for church, a pair of tennis shoes for playing catch and a pair of flip flops for a day of fishing. The size of the heel doesn’t matter.

These feet work hard...

These feet work hard…

...and so do these.

…and so do these.

Whatever the role of the farm may be, each person has an integral part in the success of the farm. And the only thing that determines the extent of involvement is the willingness to work hard, the flexibility to adapt to unexpected events and the passion to see something through to the end…and gender does not determine any one of those things.

Agriculture a man’s world? I certainly hope not. Our industry would be missing a whole lot of talent if that were true.

What makes a farmer? It has a whole lot more to do with who is on the inside, not the outside.