Day 20 – Thoughts on gardening

I love to garden. I really, truly do. My problem is time. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

One of George's favorites out of the garden this year!

One of George’s favorites out of the garden this year!

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about people who are pretty serious about where other people should get their food from…and here’s a deep thought for them: butt out.

I’m sorry, that’s not very polite, but I’m getting a little tired of the judgments that occur daily, without people thinking twice about what it is that they are truly saying.

Guess what? The world’s not such an easy place. Answers aren’t always black or white, and so many times we get so wrapped up in being right, that we forget what it is we’re even arguing about! Argh! (Sorry, there went a rant, I should have warned you.)

Let me put it this way: If you can garden, go ahead. If you can buy organic, go ahead. If you have 10 minutes to shop and the produce aisle in Wallyworld happens to be right next to the diaper aisle, go ahead.

We need to quit getting so wrapped up in other people’s business, shouting from the rooftops that they aren’t doing it “right” that we forget to be thankful that they can even make those decisions to begin with…there are so many that do not have that privilege. And yes, it’s a privilege.

I garden because I enjoy it, not because I do not believe that anyone else could possibly grow food for my children. I use my canner because it’s a tradition, not because I fear anything at the grocery store.

Homemade salsa, a staple for the winter months!

Homemade salsa, a staple for the winter months!

But my decisions are just that, my decisions. And you each have your own to make.

It’s a month of thankfulness, perhaps we should work on that, instead of judgments.

Just a thought.

Day 6 – Thoughts on Miss A

Who is Miss A? Well, she’s my rock. Without her, I would not be able to travel, would not have the support system that I do, would miss out on one of the most rewarding friendships I’ve ever had.

Miss A and George. They make me smile.

Miss A and George. They make me smile.

Here are the things you need to know about Miss A:

  • She pretends to be tough, but I know she’s not. Just don’t tell her I told you that, I don’t want her beating me up. ;)
  • She’s sassy. And so am I. It’s why we get along so well. That, and we like to drive other people nuts. It works.
  • She loves my boys as if they were her family…and they kind of are, actually. I trust her unconditionally.Miss A and EJ...two peas.
  • She is driven, has goals and a clear path to get there. That’s not typical in today’s youth. At least, not from my experience. And although we sometimes butt heads over stuff, most of the time it’s simply because neither one of us is willing to concede the point. She’s stubborn. Really. It’s all her. Trust me.
  • She steals my Almond Joys.
  • She reminds me to be me. That means a lot. ‘Cuz sometimes I forget.

I’m not ready to face the fact that she’ll be in a different city next year. In fact, I live in denial pretty readily about that. Looking for a replacement? Never. I couldn’t, even if I tried. There is no other Miss A.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Knowing when to hold your horses

 I am on a bus, on my way out of a tour at a horse sanctuary. It was a first for me…I had to walk away, knowing that I could not express the ideas and opinions in my head.  It wasn’t because I wasn’t sure what to say, or how to word it, it was because I knew that we were too far apart in the conversation. We would never see eye to eye and neither of us would  be able to be rational in our discussion.  

When the conversation turned to horse slaughter, and comments were being made that equated the horses in the rescue to children, I knew that our views were not compatible. So I decided to walk away.  Sometimes in life you need to know “when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em,” and this was one of those moments.

Why did I walk away?  

It was the right thing to do. We were on a tour, I was a guest on a farm and I had no business criticizing her decisions on her home turf. It would have been rude, impolite and unacceptable.  But it doesn’t change how I feel, and it most certainly didn’t change my opinion.

But I did learn a lesson on how to walk away, and exercising control.  

My tongue will heal from biting it, my brain is spinning from the information and I was motivated to break out my blog…so it was a great experience.  

But I will admit that I did not leave anything in the donation box. That was as loud of a statement that I could make.

The truth about cows – a summer’s tail

Recently it was brought to my attention that there is a lot of misunderstanding about how our cattle get from the farm to the plate, so I thought I would give a quick rundown of the actual time frame that our cows spend on the farm.

Let me start by saying that I’m not claiming that this is how ALL cows are raised, but for the most part, most farms/ranches follow a similar calendar, depending on location, management styles, etc. But this will go a long way to explaining how MY farm works.

Here we go: 

To start with, our cows are bred to have their calves from the second week of February to the beginning of April or so. The reason being that our lots handle snow and ice better than mud and water. I’ve talked about that many times before, so I won’t bore you with the details. But be sure to check out some of my calving posts!

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We breed our cows for the next year in May. Then, shortly after being bred, they head to pasture where they stay until close to winter, or if the grass in the pasture deteriorates enough to warrant them being brought closer to home.

That’s right. Our cows spend a majority of their year out in the prairie…on green grass, left to their own devices. But that’s not what you hear from animal right’s activists, is it? 

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Even when our cattle are brought home, we tend to move them to a field of corn stalks or something similar to graze, instead of bringing them in our calving lots. It helps the cows to keep moving throughout their gestational period, and it provides natural fertilizer and helps break down the crop left in the field.

In average year, our cattle will come home to be fed twice a day starting in December or January…just one month or so shy of calving. 

And those calves that are leaving the farm to get to the plate? They follow a similar schedule, but are fed a little sooner, making sure that they are the healthiest they can be prior to going to a finishing operation. Generally, our cattle leaving for food production weigh about 900 to 1,000 pounds. Cattle ready for slaughter are usually about 1,200 pounds or so.

What does that mean? It means that our cattle do not end up spending a lot of time at a finishing lot gaining weight for slaughter.

Our cattle are not considered “grass-fed,” even thought that IS what makes up a good portion of their diet. And that goes the same for a majority of beef raised for your plate.

Game changers

I met a few game “game changers” today. It was an amazing opportunity that involved getting an invite to an event, and finding it important enough to buy a plane ticket to attend.

So what would be so important? The opportunity to meet and listen to Mark Lynas and Julie Borlaug. 

I’m guessing for most of you, you have not a clue as to who either of these people are, but to someone who does a lot of reading about agriculture these are celebrities. 

Mark Lynas is an environmentalist from Britain who, after spending years advocating against GMO’s, has changed his stance, understanding that there is a place in our food system for technology, including GMO products.

I am famous for making an apology.

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Julie Borlaug is the granddaughter of Norman Borlaug, a man that has been credited with saving millions of people from dying through improvements in crops and cropping systems. (I’m currently reading the book “Our Daily Bread; The Story of Norman Borlaug.” Highly suggest it to everyone who enjoys eating.)

Over the next few days, I will give my thoughts and share some of my notes from the event. It was a truly amazing experience, and worth the time, money and effort to be here in St. Louis. A great thank you to the Danforth Center for inviting me…and even giving me a special seat!

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wagfarms:

Two years ago, I wrote this, while waiting out a blizzard. We’re in the midst of one again, and I’ll be posting a new blizzard post tomorrow. The good news? We haven’t had any calves born yet. But that doesn’t stop us from having to check them every two hours, just in case.
Farmers are like mailmen of old, come rain, sleet or snow…but we won’t be getting Saturdays off any time soon! ;) Take care, stay safe and stay warm.

Originally posted on Wag'n Tales:

Farmers and ranchers are responsible for their livestock, their land, their resources, whether it’s raining in the south, or snowing in the north. That fact is true, even during a blizzard.

Our cows are normally red...not snow covered!

This afternoon a very strong storm hit our area. Now, compared to the tsunami that rocked Japan and the destruction felt in other areas afterward, what we were dealing with was small potatoes. But for our cattle, they still relied on us for safety, shelter and food.

That’s why Boss Man spent most of the evening in the barn, or out in the lot, covered in snow, not seeing more than a few feet in front of him, making sure that no new calves were born out in the terrible conditions.

This was the travel map for North Dakota for this evening. Fun!

And I went out this evening, once things had settled down a little bit, to make sure things were still good to go.

I'm on the cutting edge of blizzard fashion, I know.

Although this…

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wagfarms:

This was the first post I wrote for the AFBF 2013 Annual Meeting in Nashville. I loved every minute there, even when I thought I was coming and going so much that I met myself in the hallway! Check it out, and be sure to plan to attend next year’s meeting in San Antonio!

Originally posted on Farm Bureau Annual Convention Blog:

While preparing for our trip to Nashville for the 2013 annual meeting, I had a lot of decisions to make about what I was going to pack. But my hardest decision was trying to pick what I was going to wear on my feet. Yeah, I’m all girl like that.

So what did I bring? I’m sure you’re dying to know!

Sometimes you need to be a Rock Star!

Sometimes you need to be a Rock Star!

Well, sometimes you need to be a Rock Star and speak out for others, including your industry as a whole. So I brought with my black Rock Stars. Love these boots!

These are my Breast Cancer Awareness boots...comfy, sensible, and helping others all at once!

These are my Breast Cancer Awareness boots…comfy, sensible, and helping others all at once!

I also brought with my BCA boots. When I purchased these boots, a portion of the proceeds went to cancer research. It was a win-win. Sometimes when you go out in the world, you need to…

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Celebrating…and a new project

Yesterday was my birthday, and I am sad to announce that I am starting my final year of being eligible to be considered a Young Farmer and Rancher through Farm Bureau. If you’re familiar with the program, then you know how old I am…if not, just know that I’m still considered “young,” ‘k?

Today is my handsome little man’s birthday! Happy third birthday, George! It’s been a wild ride these last 3 years, but I’m hopeful that we are on an even keel for a bit. That is my birthday wish!

It’s been a crazy few weeks, as I mentioned earlier this week. And now we picked it up a notch. In fact, I bought an official planner yesterday, because my brain is getting muddled and I am having a hard time remembering where to be when, when to be where and who all needs to be with me. Good thing I remembered the birthdays!

I wrote a blog post earlier this week about the flawed Measure 2 in North Dakota. It was emailed to several different people, and I was asked if I would be willing to submit it to area papers as a letter to the editor. I had no problem with that, so I did.

And then began another dose of craziness.

After a back-and-forth conversation with one editor, he commented that he enjoyed my blog, and would like to feature it on their web page, with a group of blogs called, “Areavoices.” I was excited about the opportunity, and really was interested in sharing my voice with this new group of people. And so I said yes.

While trying to get it all set up, I quickly learned that I would have to give up wagfarms.com if I went solely with Areavoices…so I decided to set up a second blog. (Yeah, I know, I need my head examined.)

Now, don’t worry, this blog is my baby. I’m in love with it, and all of you. I will continue to write about our farm, our lives, our struggles and our triumphs. I will continue to give my opinions on those things happening around the world and how it will translate to our farm. Eventually this blog will be printed in book format for each of my sons, so that they can see how we evolved and changed through the years. Yet, I had to take the opportunity to spread my wings a bit and share with others those same things.

My Areavoices blog will be more about issues and farm-related education as opposed to my family. I will connect the two and refer back and forth, but they will, indeed, be separate. Right now, I can completely see how this will work…but I realize it may evolve and change as time goes on. I’m OK with that.

So, check it out, let me know what you think…and one more quick birthday shout out to George!

Sleeping on the floor in the kitchen at Grandma's house, waiting next to Grandpa's lunchbox...now that's relaxed!

Mommy loves you!