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.

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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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.

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. :)

 

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.

My first final

I took my first final today…well, my first final in a decade or more (let’s not really count, ‘k?).

Wonder why I haven’t been blogging as much? Why I seem preoccupied? Well, part of it is that I’m currently a college student. Full time. Yes, I may have lost my mind.

My advice to this girl, could I go back in time, finish it the first time. But what a ride.

My advice to this girl, could I go back in time, finish it the first time. But what a ride.

I am a full-time mom, a most-time employee and a full-time student. I just finished my first four credits out of 16 this quarter…with three quarters left to go. When I am complete with my year of study, I will be a certified paralegal…or certifiable, I’m not sure which yet.

In order to be a full-time student and receive a better tuition rate, I had to re-take some of the credits that I had already transferred. (Someone, please explain to me the whole “you need to spend more money to save more money” deal…I still don’t understand.) I could have chosen any class, and I was tempted to cheese out and take algebra or English 101. But I went with Critical Thinking.

Oy vey.

The class itself is helpful, and a great learning tool, and all those things that I expected. Except one…my professor is a vegan. And an animal lover. And about as opposite of me as you could possibly get.

Oy vey.

It’s been one heck of an experience, though. And I’ve definitely stretched my wings a bit. Now I just need to face the final and see where the chips may fall. I’m not too concerned, but I write much better than I test out. Give me an essay any day! :)

But I have one class completed. Final in, grades are out…I finished with a 97%. Not too shabby for an OTA student in an online course.

There’s no place like home…there’s no place like home

There’s no place like home.

Dang. Said it three times and it still didn’t work. I’m still sitting here, at my impromptu desk on third floor of the hospital. I remember not-so-long ago when this seemed like home. But it’s been a long time since then, almost two years, I think.

For those new to the blog, my youngest son (he’s referred to as “George” on here) has a metabolic disorder. It’s called ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency, and if you want to read up about it, and George, knock yourself out. There’s a whole tab up on the top there. (And yes, spell check, I have spelled it right. Trust me.)

George’s condition makes him more susceptible to illness. But we have had a long run of good luck, and his immune system has bounced back amazingly. We haven’t had to deal with a hospital-stay-inducing illness in quite some time.

That was, until about midnight last night.

It started with a cough, followed by a sound that would wake the most sound sleeper from the deepest of sleeps…the sound of a child projectile vomiting down a flight of stairs.

George after getting settled in for what was supposed to be a simple bolus of fluids. Someday I'll learn. ;)

George after getting settled in for what was supposed to be a simple bolus of fluids. Someday I’ll learn. ;)

Needless to say, my night was short, and I ended up bringing George down to his pediatrician after the other boys got on the bus. We stopped up at the hospital for a round of fluids, and were about to disconnect the IV to head home when I noticed a change.

George’s cheeks were flush, he was no longer talking or playing and he started to get “that” look. He was now running a fever.

When he gives me this face, he could ask for the world and I would readily give it to him. (As if I wouldn't anyway.)

When he gives me this face, he could ask for the world and I would readily give it to him. (As if I wouldn’t anyway.)

I was given the option to stick around for the evening, or take him home and see how the night went. I thought about it for a few minutes, and then when George asked to go to the bathroom, he had a dizzy spell coming back to bed. My mind was decided for me, we were sticking it out.

And so, here I am, after midnight. I’ve been awake about 24 hours, give or take a few minutes here or there…and yet, I cannot sleep. I watch him like a hawk, listen for his IV pump, hold my breath when he coughs, all those things that a parent does for their child.

Yet, as tired as I am, I know one thing: I am blessed.

And that’s all I need to know.

This is the George that I can't wait to get back.

This is the George that I can’t wait to get back.

I’ll update in the morning about George’s progress and our (hopeful) discharge home. Fingers crossed for a peaceful night…well, what’s left of it.

3:46 p.m. – Heading home! YAY!