How NOT to Share Your Views

I had an opportunity to talk to some “urban” folk while on our trip to Hutchinson, KS, to speak at the #140Conf Small Town. It’s trips like this that make you realize just how many misconceptions are out there.

It was an eye-opening experience for me…but it’s one that I intend to relive and learn from, as often as possible.

First of all, the people at the conference weren’t necessarily “rural,” even if they were connected to a small town. And remember, the term “small town” is definitely relative. I would consider small anything less than 1,000, but that’s my experience. Some consider less than 100,000 small…I consider that a big chunk of our state! 🙂

Anyway, the fact of the matter is that I was in amongst a group of people that didn’t necessarily have farm connections. And some of my conversations made that very obvious.

For example, I was speaking to a wonderful woman from New York, who loved her local farmers and local farmer’s market, considered herself a vegetarian and enjoyed getting fish and organic eggs from happy, free chickens there. (Now, she did clarify that she probably actually qualified as a “pescetarian,” or someone who eats fish.)

When I tell people about my trip, their first response tends to be, “Well, did you tell her she’s wrong?”

No. No, I did not.

First of all, we were having a wonderful conversation, and I was telling her about my farm and our cows and how we raise things here. We were listening to each other and connecting, not debating.

Second, her reasoning wasn’t scientific, it was emotional. She didn’t say that her eggs were healthier, or that cattle were evil, or that I was destroying the world. Nope, she simply said she liked her farmer’s market and she liked happy, free chickens. How could I argue with that?

I guess I could have told her that chickens that are free, are rarely happy, unless they happen to be one of the leaders of the group. I could have explained how most birds, left to their own devices, will peck and claw and scratch at the weaker, smaller birds, until the bird dies. (You realize it’s called the “pecking order” for a reason, right?) I could have explained how some farms need to put little blinders on their birds when they’re all in one pen, so that they leave each other alone and don’t kill each other. I could have, but I didn’t.

Why?

Sometimes the soapbox isn’t the place to stand. Sometimes you make better connections, better relationships and better impressions by simply listening, learning and using the knowledge gained in the future. And it’s easier to hear down in the crowd, not up on a soapbox.

And maybe, just maybe, the next time she thinks about beef and farms and happy, free chickens, she’ll remember our conversation and remember another mother, just like her, that’s doing the best to raise her children the same as her. And maybe she’ll contact me through social media and ask the questions that she has about her food.

And that’s enough for me.

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Fish Out of Water

About a week ago, I spent a few days on a road trip with my good friend, and fellow Prairie Mama, Katie. We left our families on a Sunday evening and drove a few miles to this place called Hutchinson, KS. (And by few miles, I mean, like 700 of them.)

Why would we do such a thing? It was all in the name of sharing our story and spreading our circles.

You see, Katie and I think a lot alike on certain topics. And we’re both passionate about certain things, like our family, our faith and agriculture. And yet, we are very much so different. Katie is a stunning, tall blonde, who is an experienced traveler and can fit in anywhere, including the fields of North Dakota and the boardrooms of California. I’m, well, I’m more corn-fed and am a bit timid when it comes to spreading my wings and venturing out to places unknown.

But our trip was amazing…and it made me realize so many things (I’ll get into the details in a later post).

Like:

  • It’s good for the heart and soul to get away and laugh like a teenager again.
  • The most amazing support you can find may not even be in your own backyard…well, unless you consider the internet your backyard…or a Starbucks in Hutchinson, KS.
  • The most accomplished of speakers can spin words of wonder, and yet you will never hear a single message that they are trying to get across to you. And yet, the most quiet and nervous of speakers can knock you over by bearing their heart to you.
  • When I think space exploration, I think Hutchinson, KS. Doesn’t everyone?

The Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, KS, was truly out of this world!

 

 

  • The man in the Garmin does not like bridges. He makes us float over water.
  • There are amazing Tweeps all the way from Aberdeen, SD, to Hutchinson, KS, that can give you great tips, like when the speed limit changes or how fast you can drive before risking a ticket.
  • If you need to prepare too much to tell your story, then it’s not your story to tell.
  • Perhaps the Police Surveillance Van #4 would be more undercover if the van did not use the network titled, “Police Surveillance Van #4.” Just sayin’.
  • I love sharing my story.

And I learned this all thanks to a late-night Twitter conversation with a gal that only lives an hour from me, but I probably would have never met, had it not been for social media. And we traveled to a social media conference. Coincidence? I don’t think I believe in them any more.

A New Year

We are eight days into 2011, but it’s been a long eight days!

Boss Man and I are presently in Atlanta at the 2011 American Farm Bureau Annual Meeting. This was our first full day here, and it was a GREAT one! We read a farm-related book to a pre-school class outside of Atlanta, started our business meeting and went through our run-down for the rest of the weekend. (If you want to check out what’s going on, go to the blog here!)

Tomorrow brings more meetings, more planning and more activities…and I can’t wait. Unfortunately, the weather back home hasn’t been so great, which always makes us worry.

Whenever you leave the farm, it’s never far behind. Even more so in the winter. No matter how much planning you do, a few inches of snow and high winds changes everything. But there is nothing we can do about it here, so we try not to think about it.

Maybe it will work tomorrow.

Sure is Monday

Yep, Monday reared her ugly head. Went to have Eli’s pre-appointment blood work drawn, and decided to kill two birds with one stone and take Evan in to have him checked over. (We’ve spent a lot of time on antibiotics lately, 5 days of amoxicillin, 5 days of zithromax.)

The tests came back and Evan has strep. Woohoo! We won the jackpot! Ten days of augmentin! Yippee! If that doesn’t give him a flaming case of antibiotic butt, nothing will. Yogurt, here we come. (Normally meds don’t make you jump for joy, but when you can’t do anything else, you might as well celebrate…right???)

Eli has a double ear infection. No big deal, since he’s not symptomatic, but we’ll have to watch it. (Much like our animals, I don’t give my kids antibiotics for no reason.) But the fluids could be part of the reason that he doesn’t talk. Sooooo…just because it’s Monday, we got to discuss surgery. Not just one, but two! YAY!

If Evan’s meds don’t work this time (or he isn’t successful in the self-tonsil removal), we’re probably looking at having his tonsils removed sooner rather than later. Since the doctors and insurance companies seem to have a thing going, I’m guessing it will be right after the first of the year. But since we never have any problem with meeting our deductible anyway, I figure, the sooner, the better. (And, by the way, I LOVE telling the office that we have no copay for visits…”Sure, go ahead, schedule 14 follow-up appointments, schedule away my dear!”) Just kidding…kinda.

And in 3 months if he happens to check and Eli is having an infection, or fluid build up, in his ears, we will schedule tubes, health permitting. *sigh* poor kid, can’t catch a break. But out of the last 10 times his ears have been checked, 8 times he has had infections, or fluid. He has only passed one out of three tympanograms, so I guess that’s enough proof for me. Plus the doctor hopes that it may be the key to getting his words to come out. And I’d love to hear “Mama” again! (I’ve heard it once, at a Farm Bureau YF&R meeting, of all things!)

Oh, on a positive note, I got to talk to two lovely ladies about the Humane Society of the United States while picking up my wreath from the local crisis center for their fundraiser. I know of one organization that’ll be short some funds this next month! Woohoo! And, donations are now being DIRECTLY given to a local shelter.

See, Mondays aren’t ALL bad…just mostly! 😉

End of an era

Sorry about the down time. I’ve been dealing with some family things and didn’t want my thoughts to taint my blog. Long story, but I’m done with it now.

Anyway, last week Mark and I were fortunate to be able to attend the fall meeting of the American Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher committee. Those that we serve on the committee with are some pretty amazing people. It was a GREAT few days!

When we got back home from St. Louis, we were blessed with a few days of absolutely amazing weather here at home. We reached 70 degrees on Monday…that’s right, I said 70! Woohoo!

To take advantage of the beautiful weather, my husband and father-in-law decided to do some maintenance work around the farm. One of their chores was to take down the TV antenna that stood at the top of the house, like a sentry watching guard.

Boss man and his dad work on removing the TV antenna that has been on the roof of our house for decades.

It was kind of sad to see the antenna come down. Just one more instance of where old is replaced with new, the changing of the times. I’m sure my children will never even remember it was there, let alone what it was for.

So, do you have any things that YOU remember that the future generations will never have an inkling as to what it was all about?

Quick update

Things have been crazy around here. We finished harvest! Yay! Cows are on the way home as we speak, Halloween is over, parent-teacher conferences are done, Grandma’s house is now empty (a story I’ll have to share sometime…it’s a doozy!) and I’m getting ready to leave tomorrow for a fall Farm Bureau YF&R meeting in St. Louis. Yeah, and that is just the last 4 days!

Good news: Measure 2 was defeated – yay! I’d like to think that I helped educate a few people and had a small role in that.

Mediocre news: There will be lots of changes in the future for ND. We now are sending 2 new members to Congress. Good? Bad? We’ll see. Whatever happens, here’s to hoping that agriculture is at the forefront of their minds when voting. We will all need to be vigilant and loud when moving forward.

Bad news: Eh, why dwell on the bad. Lets skip it.

So, my next post will be in St. Louis (if the hotel has wireless…any suggestions on a carrier for traveling? Some of those are way spendy!). We’ll keep you posted!

Bright future indeed

Last week I attended the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. Let me tell you, it was AMAZING! To see that many young people interested and active in an ag organization is encouraging and inspiring, to say the least.

I was there in a “professional” capacity. My husband and I serve on the Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher committee, and on that committee, I serve on the Promotions Subcommittee. One of the great privileges I had was the chance to attend the FFA Convention. We spent hours talking to kids, giving out prizes, conducting our quiz bowl and having a blast!

(Read more about the convention from Will Gilmer’s point of view here:  http://www.fb.org/blog/index.php/2010/10/23/ffa_contestants_set_a_great_example )

Since returning home, I’ve been thinking about the future of agriculture. To tell you the truth, I think about it a lot. Lets say that some drastic piece of legislation is passed, and somehow our way of life is deemed obsolete. Or rules are enacted by the EPA that makes our farm too great of a liability. What would we do? Where would we go?

The only way we can guarantee these things don’t happen is by educating those that aren’t here with us on the farm. Show them what we do, why we do it and why our operations are important to their future. The good news is, that with more than 50,000 people attending the National FFA Convention last week, we have the opportunity to have a LOT of voices out there!

No, it won’t be easy, but we have the tools available…and the resources are all around us. Preparing the next generation to continue what we’ve started is key. I can’t wait to see where they take us!