About wagfarms

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

The new me

In the last year or so, I’ve tried to make some changes in my life. I’ve been working on a healthier, better-feeling me. I’ve been working on feeling more in control of my life. I’ve been working on finishing projects that I started long ago.

Here’s exhibit A, the photo I used for my article in local papers:

This is me...two years ago. Photo credits to my 4-year-old (at the time).

This is me…two years ago. Photo credits to my 4-year-old (at the time).

Well, just this week I posted a new profile pic, as well as submitted it for publication:

This is also me. A little lighter, a lot busier, and on the way to healthier.

This is also me. A little lighter, a lot busier, and on the way to healthier.

The response was a little daunting, and a lot unnerving. But it made me realize one important fact: how I feel about myself clearly reflects in how I carry myself. (Yeah, I know, not rocket science.)

And so earlier this week I started on another challenge (this all started with a challenge a year ago). I’m working on a healthier me by Mother’s Day. Seems appropriate, since most of what I do is pretty well driven by how my choices will affect those four amazing men in my life.

But here’s a few things I’ve quickly picked up on in the few short days I’ve kicked my exercise into gear again:

  1. I’m not sure who invented jump squats and burpees, but I’m pretty certain that they would have failed psychological evaluation.
  2. Never do an intense leg workout prior to checking cows. And if you do, make sure you have a back up plan to get back to the house. Like a motorized scooter, or someone willing to carry you. I’m not saying I had to resort to crawling, but let’s just say that if I did, it was only because the other option was sleeping in the barn.
  3. Doing above leg workout and then sitting at a desk the next day for several hours is not such a great idea. It’s a good thing I was alone in the office today. I may or may not have used my rolling office chair to get from area to area.
  4. You know it was a good workout when you drop a sugar snap pea on the floor and decide to leave it. And hey, if it sprouts, that’s just more veggies for me later. Right?
  5. Tonight was arms and abs. By Friday I will be comatose and unable to move on my own accord.
  6. Why do these videos have to show a 5’9″ 130-pound fitness expert who tells you how much they’re “feeling the burn?” All while looking cute and put together. Why can’t it be someone who looks like me, who tells you the truth? Like, “I know you think you might die, and I can’t promise that you won’t, but you just burned off two slices of bacon.”
  7. The pain is worth the gain…I know that. In my head, it all makes sense. I just have to convince my body to follow through. And not fall apart. :)
  8. You know it was a good workout when using the bathroom requires a walker, the use of safety bars and a call-button, in case you’re incapable of getting back up. Seriously. I considered getting a catheter. (Just kidding. Just kidding. Kinda.)
  9. The best part of all? I’m not on any diet. Just being sensible, letting my body dictate what I need and paying attention to needs/wants. Let’s see how this goes, shall we?
  10. SOFTBALL! The 2014 season should start in about two months. My goal is to be able to get one over the fence this year. I’ve been close. Let’s see if I can do it!

    I've been playing softball for about 20 years now. Yikes. That's a long time. But no plans to quit...until I can't.

    I’ve been playing softball for about 20 years now. Yikes. That’s a long time. But no plans to quit…until I can’t.

Don’t worry, it really hasn’t been THAT bad. Although, I really am really sore. It’ll get better, I know it. And it’ll be worth it, I know it.

And when it’s all said and done, I’ll post another picture. :)

 

Ag shouldn’t have ceilings

I’m probably about to get myself into some hot water…but it’s not the first time, and certainly not the last. So let me give my two cents:

If you haven’t heard, or if you’re not from the state of North Dakota, there’s a political race happening that seems to have piqued some interest. The Republican nomination for North Dakota Ag Commissioner has someone running against the incumbent. Namely, Judy Estenson has announced that she is running against incumbent Doug Goehring.

As any race, having a choice is a good thing. Having to defend your decisions and answer to someone every once in awhile is a good thing. That’s how real life works, and the same should be especially true in the political world.

So let’s make the race about what it should really be about…choices, visions and beliefs, not gender.

You see, agriculture shouldn’t have a ceiling, especially not a glass one. We make up less than 2 percent of the population. We value our property, our crops, our families and our standards. We need a strong spokesperson for our future…no matter the prefix to their name.

One of the first comments that I heard regarding the race announcement was, “Yes, but what does she know about farming?”

What does a woman know about farming? Ranching? I guess it would depend on the woman. I know that I don’t know nearly as much as I would like, but I’m always asking questions and would love to learn more. In fact, I do believe that I could drive Boss Man completely bonkers with my questions most days.

I may not spend every waking minute in a tractor, but I know my way around one.

I may not spend every waking minute in a tractor, but I know my way around one.

But let me tell you that my gender has little to do with my ability to know how to serve the public, how to delegate, how to serve as a spokesperson for other families, just like my own.

Last week I was in DC, going through some different training and using the opportunity to serve at a Ronald McDonald House. One of the ladies, during an icebreaker session, simply said to me, “Do you introduce yourself as a farmer?”

And the answer is a simple yes.

As I told Boss Man the other night, “If I’m not a farmer, then I’ll enjoy a few more hours of sleep, because I won’t need to worry about going out for calf checks.”

Just because I have blue Bogs and my Carhartts are purple doesn't mean that the crap on my boots smells any sweeter.

Just because I have blue Bogs and my Carhartts are purple doesn’t mean that the crap on my boots smells any sweeter.

Having the passion and the ability to make a difference in agriculture has nothing to do with how you dress, what you wear or what it takes to get ready in the morning. It has everything to do with how you speak, where your heart lies and whether or not you’re willing to stand up for what’s right for agriculture, not just what’s right for you.

The reason I love agriculture? All the fresh air…which means, there’s not a ceiling to be found…not even a glass one.

Why I put myself out there…

It was brought to my attention recently that perhaps I don’t spend nearly enough time explaining to people why it is that I’m involved so passionately about advocating for agriculture. It does seem to take a lot of time away from other things that I should be doing.

Yet, without someone willing to stand up and speak out about those issues that I hold nearest and dearest to my heart, where would we be? Could someone else do it? Sure. In fact, I know that there are people all over the area that could be doing what I’m doing. And I would love to see them become more active.

My question is: Will they? Will you?

And if not, then I need to keep moving forward, until those of us that are willing to show our operations, willing to answer those questions, willing to explain why we do what we do are much higher in numbers and much louder in volume.

It’s a simple case of mathematics. Those actively involved in agriculture are way lower in numbers than those that are not. Which means that laws that are passed, advertising that is created and articles that are written are disconnected from the one place that everyone should be connected to…our food.

It’s not easy to put yourself out there, to “open your barn doors,” so to speak. It’s not easy to let people in and open yourself to questions and observations. Yet it’s necessary. We are no longer in a society that is alright with the answer, “I know what I am doing.” They want to see, they want to understand, they want to know that what they are putting on the table is okay.

Let's celebrate food...and food choices. For the first step is being able to provide.

Let’s celebrate food…and food choices. For the first step is being able to provide.

 

And it is. No matter how you raise your crops, what type of operation you have. The United States has one of the safest and most abundant food supplies in the world. Yet those that are responsible for providing that staple are the ones quietest about what they are doing and how they are doing it.

We can’t sit back and watch as the world is shaped around us. We have to be actively involved. And it’s not for our benefit.

I have four young boys. And I have hopes and dreams that perhaps one day, if I am lucky, and if our world is lucky, one of them will want to be involved in agriculture. It’s up to me to make sure that their future is secure.

And I cannot do that by sitting quietly by while other people are out there trying to explain how I’m not doing my job right.

Farms are ever-changing operations. They are not the farms from yesterday, and we’re not yet a farm of tomorrow. But we’re doing the best that we can and we’re doing it, not for ourselves, but for the future.

I put myself out there for them.

The future of our farm...the future of your food...lies here.

The future of our farm…the future of your food…lies here.

 

But I’m here to answer questions from you.

Guess what time it is?

Let me see if I can give you a few clues:

These will keep me warm, especially at night.

These will keep me warm, especially at night.

These critters are now a little closer to home.

These critters are now a little closer to home.

This place is ready for some company. (And the moon was just a cool bonus.)

This place is ready for some company. (And the moon was just a cool bonus.)

I'm gearing up for a little less sleep and a lot more "fresh air."

I’m gearing up for a little less sleep and a lot more “fresh air.”

Have it figured out yet? Here’s the last piece of evidence you need:

The first calf of the 2014 calving season is enjoying a little bit of time under the heat lamp. The next few months will be busy on the farm!

The first calf of the 2014 calving season is enjoying a little bit of time under the heat lamp. The next few months will be busy on the farm!

 

 

Why I beat my kids…

Put down the phone. Seriously. It’s not what you think, I promise.

Let me explain…

Yesterday, while picking George up from daycare, I noticed someone watching our exit. As I thought about what they had seen, I figured they were picking me out as the worst mommy in the place, but I was actually trying hard not to be. Really hard.

Almost every day that George goes to daycare, we race to the door. And every night that I pick him up, we race to the suburban. And to tell you the truth, about half of the time…I beat him.

Terrible, right?

Except not.

At the tender age of 4, my son is learning that Mom doesn’t always have to protect him from everything. That he’s responsible for his own wins and losses. That he can lose gracefully and still love the person you lose to. Of course, he just thinks he’s having fun.

And the same is true at home. We win some games, we lose some games, fits are not allowed, but good sportsmanship is mandatory. Is it hard to lose? Certainly (especially to your mom), but it’s a lesson that we don’t teach often enough these days.

It’s time that we stop telling our children that there is nothing they can’t do…because, truly, there are things they can’t do…at least, not right away. And if you never have to strive towards a goal and work hard, then what’s the value of winning?

Being an adult is hard…but having to become an adult and never having to stand on your own would be harder yet. So let’s spend a little less time making sure everyone has a trophy, and a little more time making sure that everyone is learning something.

And to the lady who may have thought I was off my rocker yesterday…yes, I was racing a 4-year-old, and yes, I won. But Mom needed a little boost to her self-esteem, too. ;)

My prize? The biggest smile and a great big kiss from the cutest 4-year-old I know. I’d do it again in a second.

Teaching our children includes teaching them how to lose, not just win.

Teaching our children includes teaching them how to lose, not just win. And when the prize includes a smile like this, that can melt your heart, well, you better believe that I give it my all!

Who are you growing food for?

A few weeks ago I spent a day at a conference, where I participated in a session that discussed how independent seed professionals could engage with their growers. It really got me to thinking about the reasons why we do what we do…and that includes our crop/livestock decisions.

What seeds are you planting today? Who are you planting for?

What seeds are you planting today? Who are you planting for?

Here’s the deal: we spend a lot of time reading articles and blog posts and listening to the activists and those that have the time/means/ability to use media to increase their audience. I know how that goes, I do it as well.

We aim our messages at the masses that fire back at us, the vocal minority that give us reason to pause and take note of what we’re doing, and more importantly, why we’re doing it. And I have no problem with that.

But do you know who I would really like to hear from?

Those that don’t have access to a blog community. The homeless woman in NY…the single father of four in Chicago…the family in San Diego where both parents work two jobs. THOSE are the people I want to reach. THOSE are the people I’m most concerned about.

But those are the people that have neither the time, nor the connections to speak to me. So I will continue to reach out, to explain our decisions, to answer questions, all while knowing that I haven’t quite reached my goal. Because where would we be without goals that we haven’t reached?

Don’t get me wrong, I love to be challenged. I love having to think outside the box and no one should be afraid of having their beliefs questioned. In fact, I enjoy it. I have some pretty strong convictions, if you haven’t noticed, and I’m willing to stand behind them, explain myself, whatever it may be.

While at that conference, one of the people listening asked how we respond to the accusations. Although some would suggest that you don’t respond, my answer was this:

There’s no one I don’t try to respond to, whether or not I agree with them. You’re not responding to change that person’s mind. You’re responding for those that haven’t made up their mind, those that don’t feel strongly enough to submit a comment, those that are just watching the conversation. THAT’S where you can make a difference.

So who are you growing food for? Your family? Your neighbor? A family in Chicago? Your customer is who you should be concerned about…and once you have no customers, than the answer is in front of you.

Glorifying God doesn’t require a diet

I’m going to ask for forgiveness from the get-go. I have a feeling this post may cause an eyebrow or two to rise, if not some full-out protests. But I have a confession to make…I have a problem with diets. Especially those that claim to have a higher calling.

Stick with me a minute. I have a pretty sound reason. But it takes a second to explain.

Let me start with this: my son is limited in his diet. Genetically he cannot handle much protein. In fact, when we first started his “diet,” he was limited to 9 grams of protein per day. To put that into perspective, a glass of milk is about 8 grams of protein. There is protein in almost everything we eat…bread, noodles, potatoes, some veggies, dairy, and meat. The only “freebies” are sweets and fruits.

Let's eat intentionally, instead of judging food choices that are different. Some do not have the freedom of choice...such as those that must eat what is given.

Let’s eat intentionally, instead of judging food choices that are different. Some do not have the freedom of choice…such as those that must eat what is given.

So where is my problem? I’ve had a few acquaintances come out flashing their new diets as a badge of honor. They are deciding to give up certain foods and habits, as a hardship in honor of God. Which I’m completely OK with…but I question the message it sends.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for eating healthy and being aware of what we’re putting in our mouths and our bodies, but I question what we’re telling those that have no choice.

For example, I recently read an article where a young woman claimed to give up meat as a way to be closer to God. She stated that the hardship was worth it, because she knew what Jesus had given up for her soul.

So what does this mean for my son? Since he has no choice in his diet, does that mean that he’s destined for a life of being unable to show his gratitude? If he finds himself really wishing he could enjoy “forbidden” foods, does that make him less worthy than the others?

"Diet" means something different to him than to most people.

“Diet” means something different to him than to most people.

And then there’s the ridiculousness of it all. What happened to common sense? And someone profits from this? Really? Is that a sign of righteousness? Someone being able to sell a book?

Sorry…I did get a little snarky there. But I just question a lot of the “diets” going around.

Here’s my take on it all: Imagine, if you will, someone deciding no o use he leer “T” in heir communicaion. No maer wha, hey don’ use he leer “T.” I’s no ha hey can’ use he leer, nohing is sopping hem from doing so, hey jus feel called o no use i. Now, ruh be old, i doesn’ change much abou heir life, i jus makes communicaion wih ohers a lile more difficul.

Now, for someone who may actually have a speech impediment that prohibits them from using the letter “T,” they may actually be offended, hearing someone not use the letter, just because they feel God is calling them not to…when that person has been dreaming of being able to speak with the letter “T” for their whole life.

Does that make sense?

This is how I imagine my son feeling, if he knew that someone was mimicking his diet without a medical reason to…and I am pretty sure I would feel the same way.

I have no problem with eating healthy, exercising more and becoming more intentional in our eating as a society, but I do not believe that we’ve been given dominion over all of the gifts of this land, only to judge and chastise those that enjoy the fruits of our labors.

For those that have dietary needs that severely restrict their choices, it isn’t a decision that they take lightly…and I know that many would wish nothing more than to be able to enjoy a day of not thinking about what they are craving and to enjoy those foods that are otherwise forbidden.

And what about those that can’t afford to make such decisions? Are they less worthy?

Instead of giving up desired foods as some sort of “gift,” why don’t we just eat more intentionally…and treat each item produced as food as the gift it was meant to be.

Genesis 9:3 – “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”

I went hog hunting…really

Howdy, folks. Sorry about the delay in writing. It appears as if life snuck right up on me and bit me in the behind. ;) Really, that’s basically what happened. But it was worth every minute.

Let me start by saying that our holiday was amazing. I spent a few days with my boys, have been able to get things pretty well back in order and have even enjoyed a minute or two to myself. Hard to believe, I know.

And then I traveled to San Antonio, TX, for the American Farm Bureau annual meeting. And I took the opportunity to go hog hunting with a friend of mine. And although I was not successful, in the most basic definition of the word, it was an experience that I will never forget.

This was my special tag for hunting hogs in Texas. Really. Truly. I didn't think it would happen.

This was my special tag for hunting hogs in Texas. Really. Truly. I didn’t think it would happen. And yes, I did the nails, just for the hunt.

Let’s just say that I don’t believe that Miss J and I could ever do anything the “easy” way. It’s always an…adventure…to say the least. And this was no exception.

The details in the hunt are really not that exciting. We sat in a blind, in the dark, for roughly six hours. We saw a few pigs that were located close to us, but to our left and slightly behind us, in the blind spot of the blind, you may say. Add to that the fact that I had never used a night-vision scope, and well, let’s just say the pigs are still happily destroying Texas countryside.

Daylight view from our blind. The night-time view was remarkably darker. (Sarcasm...that's sarcasm.)

Daylight view from our blind. The night-time view was remarkably darker. (Sarcasm…that’s sarcasm.)

But our discussions were interesting. And there was a moment when an acorn dropped on the roof of the blind (steel roof, mind you), and Miss J believed for a split second that I had shot my gun.

No, the trip was definitely laughter-filled. And when we wrapped up, right around 11, we knew that it was an experience worth having gone through, even if we didn’t do it again.

And then the story becomes even more interesting.

You see, Miss J and I were dropped off some 20+ miles south of San Antonio at a gas station by a cab driver. He had been driving us around most of the day, and was willing to come back to get us, but he didn’t answer his phone.

So we get dropped off at a gas station, in the middle of nowhere, with no cab driver, and a guide that was ready to go home. And the gas station was closed. And our guide didn’t like to go into town. What do we do next? We call the yellow cab company. Problem solved. Send someone our way, we’ll be on our way back to our hotel.

Except we weren’t. The cab company never sent anyone.

And time ticked by.

And finally…finally…it was decided that our guide would at least get us closer to town. Which is a step in the right direction. Because, really, what choice did we have?

Long story short, we get dropped off by our guide just a block or two from our hotel. We had offered to be dropped off where we had walked earlier that day, but were quickly informed that it wasn’t  safe neighborhood to be in. Handy information to have, after the fact. :)

All in all, the trip was amazing, even though nary a hog was shot. The story itself is so remarkable that few would believe it from beginning to end.

But that’s the way real life is lived…just on the outskirts of believable.

How to suck the fun out of gifts…the conclusion

Well, guess what? I won. Not the lottery, something much more rewarding than that. I figured out the stinking building sets and have one whole set completed. Only two more to go. Good thing it’s a long weekend for me.

After my post yesterday, I feel like I have to clarify a few things:

  1. My boys play with their toys. I may joke about them being put on a shelf and threatening grounding, but it’s all pretend so I sound like a tough parent. I’m not. Not really. My boys are never given something I don’t fully expect to be broken. That includes the furniture in my house, the vehicles I drive, etc. It’s also the reason why all church clothes are completely washable. I’m prepared for the worst. Kinda like a boyscout.
  2. I really don’t drink that much wine.
  3. I was exaggerating about the difficulties of these sets. They’re actually much worse than what I claimed. Much, much worse.
  4. I will more than likely buy another set if they come out with them. Why? Because I enjoy pain. Actually, because once I have this much of the set completed, the somewhat OCD part of me wants to have the whole set. And since they’re such a pain, I’m guessing they’ll go on a killer sale. And then the cheapskate part of me will also be intrigued. Meaning that the part of me that hates these sets will lose out. :( I can’t win.
  5. I lied about #2. Oh wait, my Mom reads this. Just kidding. Really. #2 is completely true. I promise.

Well, that’s about it. We now have a complete seeding system. And four happy boys. And one mama whose fingers are sore. But I did get a brilliant suggestion from a friend. SUPER GLUE! I may have to use that one for the next set.

Good night friends! Here’s a few pics just to prove that I did, indeed, finish…and that I’m not a mean Mama.

And now I’ll patiently wait for my own mother to call… ;)

Complete...and check out all the extra pieces, minus two that were actually needed. But I compromised with colors.

Complete…and check out all the extra pieces, minus two that were actually needed. But I compromised with colors.

The tractor and seeder together. I can't believe I spent this amount of time on this! LOL!

The tractor and seeder together. I can’t believe I spent this amount of time on this! LOL!

EJ was making sure that George wasn't sharing any secret farmer information while Mom was taking photos. Priceless moments.

EJ was making sure that George wasn’t sharing any secret farmer information while Mom was taking photos. Priceless moments.

Farming the kitchen floor...nothing is better than this!

Farming the kitchen floor…nothing is better than this!

 

 

How to suck the fun right out of gifts…a lesson

Excuse me for a moment. I’m a tad delirious and need to share a few thoughts. Actually, it’s just that my eyes need to rest, so staring at the computer seemed like a good idea.

I would like to take a moment to address my friends at Mega Bloks. Your product ranks right up there with a set of Chinese finger traps. Seriously. Except I can just throw away the cheap finger traps and not feel bad. I have a 6-year-old looking at me with tears in his eyes, while I feel like a complete failure for not getting his set put together yet.

It all started with a well-intentioned aunt. And a Santa that found a great deal on Zulilly. Or so I heard.

A set of building blocks…but green and yellow. John Deere. Just like Dad’s. But last time I checked, Dad’s didn’t come in pieces that you had to put together on your own. Not only pieces (828 to be exact), but the pieces come in bags.

Ages 5+...yeah right. Cool set, not so cool set up.

Ages 5+…yeah right. Cool set, not so cool set up.

No biggie. Fewer pieces to lose if you have the project separated into bags, right? Wrong.

The set is labeled for ages 5 and older. Great! Three out of my four boys can build it without assistance! The youngest is almost there as well, he’ll be able to handle it. My 11-year-old is darn near an engineer. He shouldn’t have a problem at all. Wrong. All three were almost to tears a few minutes in.

The problem? The bags mean nothing. You might as well open them all up and pour them into a giant tupperware container to start with..and perhaps a glass of wine. Or two. Don’t put the bottle too far away.

Are you kidding me? Please tell me you're kidding me. They forgot the two most important pieces. Patience and a sense of humor.

Are you kidding me? Please tell me you’re kidding me. They forgot the two most important pieces. Patience and a sense of humor.

I won’t even tell you how long it took me to build the large tractor. I’m almost ashamed to admit it. It would have been fun, but every time I thought I had it figured out, I had to back up a few steps. And let’s not talk about pieces that were missing.

Let's just say that completion was figured in hours...not minutes. A true sign that I really love my boys. Really.

Let’s just say that completion was figured in hours…not minutes. A true sign that I really love my boys. Really.

Tomorrow I’ll tackle the planter. And a new bottle of wine. ;)

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • I’m pretty certain that the people who packaged and wrote the instructions for these sets should have a job with the CIA. They could write out the instructions for nuclear weapons and no one else in the world could replicate them. It would end with the enemy rocking in the fetal position, demanding a glass of wine, crying out, “It can’t be done! It can’t be done!”
  • The person in charge of suggesting what age is appropriate for these sets is on crack. “For ages 5+,” yeah right. I do believe the fine print also suggests you have a working understanding of Olde English, hieroglyphics and advanced calculus, as well as a background in engineering…preferably genetic.Oh, and be a member of Mensa.
  • The next person who buys a set of these for my children will also be required to put it together.
  • I have warned my children that these will go on a shelf. If I see anyone touching them, they will be grounded until they turn 475. I’m only exaggerating a little.