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.

Thankful Thursday – Zoo Days

Yesterday was a crazy day…really, really crazy. So today, I was looking back through some photos and remembered a trip I took with my boys to the zoo.

It wasn’t that long ago, and we took some of my nephews with. It was so much fun…and on days like today (when I feel lousy and exhausted), it’s a great chance to relive those moments.

So here we go:

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Just another Manic Monday

School starts here tomorrow. And as bad as I feel for saying it…I can’t wait. I need some routine, some down time, some “regular” stuff. You know?

Just when I thought a week of plane crashes, hospital stays and sick little boys was looking up, fate stepped in. Big Bro was bit by a dog at the local park. Said dog had no vaccinations. It all adds up to Big Bro having to be on a round of antibiotics for the sore, and the dog being quarantined for 10 days to watch for signs of rabies. Even indoor pets need vaccinations. (Let’s not even get to why an “indoor” pet was at the park.)

For those that don’t know…let me explain to you what rabies all entails.

  • Rabies attacks the brain and spinal cord. If it is not prevented, it WILL cause death.
  • This year, more than 55,000 people will die from rabies. That’s one person every 10 minutes.
  • Rabies is 100% preventable. There are vaccinations for animals and treatment for humans that are in contact with infected animals.
  • It can only be passed through saliva, not blood.
  • More than 40% of the people bitten and affected are children under the age of 15.
  • Dogs are the source of 99% of human rabies death.
  • There are no tests available to diagnose rabies infection in human prior to the onset of clinical disease.

Well, enough of that, I think you get the point. Rabies is serious, rabies is deadly, and it’s simple to prevent. This is all a situation that didn’t need to occur. So please, have your pets properly vaccinated and cared for by veterinarians. If you can’t afford to do that, then do your animal a favor, and find them a new home.

I will know within 10 days if we have to go through the rabies series with Big Bro. Sooner if the animal dies between now and then. Is it likely that the dog has rabies? No, but even “indoor” pets can have contact with disease-carrying animals. Is it likely that the animal will get sick? No, but with a 100% fatality record, it’s not worth the risk.

What a way to start the week…and the school year!

The Littlest of Blessings

A few weeks ago, I received a great surprise in the mail. The boys were so excited because it came in this HUGE box…

So COOL!!!

It wasn’t what they expected, but I was still really stoked about it!. It’s a beautiful garden bench plant stand from Avant Garden Decor.

I LOVE IT!!! It’s so beautful, and fits in with any outside decor.

And it’s tough. (But I’ll get to that in a minute.)

First, I purchased some flowers to plant, and prepared my area.

Getting everything ready to go!

Then, I got to work and it turned out wonderfully! I was so excited about my planter!

It fit in so nicely!

It was growing to well, and the flowers were really taking off…and then the storm hit. I thought for sure that my beautiful little planter would be toast, gone with the wind, vanished into thin air. For pete’s sake, the wall to our shop was caved in, how could a little plant stand stay put???

But it did.

A little rough, but still standing...hope for us all!

The flowers were a little rough around the edges, but they’re coming back. My precious little planter withstood winds that our great cottonwoods couldn’t stand up to…and it taught me a lesson.

Sometimes in life, it’s not the largest, strongest that survive. And sometimes amid destruction, you can find a little beauty.

If you would like to win a Hanging Basket of your own head over to the Real Farmwives of America & Friends Blog and sign up for their giveaway!

Avant Garden Decor did provide me with this product to review, however the thoughts, opinions and photos shared about this product on this blog are my own.

Wordless Wednesday – The Beauty Behind the Storm

This storm passed by our farm on Sunday.

 

 

If you remember, we were hit by 125+ mph winds just a week before.

 

 

Thankfully, we sustained no damage this week...

 

 

although communities just to the north of us sustained tremendous amounts of damage.

 

 

My attempt at a full-rainbow picture. Mother Nature can be difficult, but there's beauty in it all.

Wordless Wednesday – Storm Damage

My last few posts have been just about our yard and things that are damaged pretty close to the house. Let me give you a little tour of the rest of the farm…we were truly blessed with no injuries throughout the area that was hit by Sunday’s storm.

I found EJ's tractor...but it didn't make it.

 

  • Yep, no fixing this. Anyone know where I can purchase another? EJ promised not to leave it outside anymore…after shedding a few tears over losing it.

These horse trailers were moved a few feet...and their jacks are buried.

At first I just thought this sheet metal was laying on the seeder.

...but it was impaled.

Our corn choppers can also slice sheet metal!

Cattle trailer injuries.

Something hit the trailer with force!

I found this rock that landed on a corn leaf. Strange!

Yes, that's a hay rack. And yes, that's a shelterbelt. Not sure how we'll get it out of there. It's impaled on a tree.

Our barn is missing three doors and a few windows.

The loading and working area is pretty well shot. Mark's been meaning to update for years...now he doesn't get a choice!

We were indeed blessed…indeed.

Clean-up – Day One

Well, we have a good start on clean-up from Sunday’s storm. But it’ll take awhile.

We spent most of yesterday cleaning up the major stuff…downed trees, clearing out George’s soaked room, picking up fence chunks, etc. Today we’ll start coming through the yard, piling up debris, deciding what’s salvageable and what’s beyond repair. Measuring windows, figuring out which doors will need to be replaced, making plans.

It’s actually a great way to take stock of what you need, what you don’t and where you want to go from here. It’s a tough way to do it, but it gets the job done in a hurry, that’s for sure!

Two of my nieces are here to help watch the boys at my Mom and Dad’s while I’m out here getting things settled down. The girls have been such a help! I would rather the boys not see things the way they are, and have things look a little cleaned up by the time they come out here. (Plus, it’s so much easier to do things without the “help” of a 2- and 4-year-old.) I have pictures to show them when they want to see what it looked like, but sometimes this is a little much for me, I can’t imagine involving them right now.

Thank you to everyone who has given us encouraging words, stopped and talked, helped out and pitched in. We live in a wonderful community, and with so many having so much destroyed, it’s just amazing to see it all come together.

Mark hooked up the generator first thing Monday morning.

 

 

The Dakota Valley Electric crew was AMAZING and worked hard and fast to restore our power. THANK YOU!!!

 

 

My Dad can't use a regular chainsaw, thanks to his pacemaker, but he did what he could with his electric chainsaw. It worked wonders!

 

 

The roots on the cottonwood were amazing. Not the easiest job to get out!

 

 

This was the pile from day one...let's see what today brings!

The Aftermath

Today will be a pretty wordless post. I have updates from the fair, but it all seems a bit off for me. Our farm was hit by a tornado last night. (***I’m going to have to re-word as “possible” tornado. I guess they are assessing this today and believe they may have been “just” straight-line winds in excess of 100 mph. How about this…the weather blew stuff all over the yard and caused a bunch of damage. It doesn’t really matter what you want to call it.)

We were blessed that no one was injured. My husband rode the storm out in the shop. (Crazy man.) The boys and I were in town at my Mom and Dad’s, just finished up from the fair and were waiting for supper to finish on the grill when the sirens went off and we spent an hour in the basement.

I knew it was bad when Mark called and said, “Well, we have damage.” You see, he’s notorious for shrugging things off and downplaying what’s going on. For him to admit there were problems meant that things weren’t good. But material things can be replaced, and it makes you count your blessings even more.

I'm pretty sure this isn't supposed to look like this.

This evergreen was right outside our door. So lucky the house didn't have more damage!

EJ was most upset about the swing set. He cried.

Mark's water truck met with a big-'ol cottonwood. Neither won.

These little building have all been spun off their foundations.

This bin should be sitting on the cement slab...the other bin is strewn across our corn field.

Some of EJ's tractors didn't fare well, either. Again, easily replaced.

This is the west end of the shop Mark was in when the storm hit. The whole side is caved in.

The garden looks pretty tough. All that hard work. George's food for winter. Oh well, easy to replace.

Mary, Mary…

Well, after wondering if my garden would pull through the flooding, it’s obvious that it handled it rather well! Yay!

In fact, I spotted my first pea pod already filling…can’t wait for more!

I thought I would take a few pics of my favorite blooms to share with you…enjoy!

The hard, fast rain has compacted the ground a bit, but nothing a little hard work won't help out!

 

 

These spaghetti squash will serve as George's noodles in the upcoming months. Can't wait!!!

 

 

We have a pea pod! Yay!!! Can't wait for the others to set on!

 

 

Cukes, cukes and more cukes. Hubby loves them, and so do the kids!

 

 

The peppers have been the hardest hit, but they're coming around.

 

 

Some of my tomatoes look great, and some look pretty sparse, but this little guy is trying to blossom...giving me hope! My salsa is demanded around this house!

 

 

Hopefully in the next few weeks this patch will be pumping out the produce and my boys will be enjoying my hard work. I won’t lie to you, it’s been a really tough year to do this. But in the end, it’ll all be worth it…

Right?

North Dakota nice…even when flooding

Have you heard the term “North Dakota nice” used before? Around here, it means that no matter what, you’re polite and kind, even to total strangers. And it happens…a lot.

And now we use it for our road signs…as I saw yesterday on the way to baseball/tee-ball:

Please...and thank you.

 
We’re flooding around here. And although it’s nothing like what’s going on north of us, it’s pretty significant for our area. Now our roads are flooding in places that have never flooded before…but we’re being nice about it. We’re remembering our manners and asking nicely for everyone to “take turns.”
 

The highway now has water over the road. It's one vehicle only crossing, so please, take turns!

 

My Mom tried to take a picture of the water we were driving through, but it's basically just a picture of her taking a picture. LOL! 🙂

 

If you're traveling Highway 11 east of Ellendale, please be careful!

 
 
But, it’s not just that way here. If you check out the Minot News Facebook page, you’ll see hundreds, if not thousands of instances of “North Dakota nice,” where people ask for help and receive it. Or people offere assistance without even being asked.
 
People have offered truck driving assistance, storage spaces, places to sleep, walking pets, watching children, packing items, you name it, it’s been offered. (Even licensed massage therapists have offered their assistance!)
 
A lady posted on Facebook that an elderly woman needed assistance evacuating. Within seconds, the call for help was answered and more than 30 people showed up to pack what they could and help her out.
 
I guess you could say that’s just how we operate. You take care of what you can…and when you can’t, someone will usually be there to help you out. Most of the time, you don’t even have to ask for the help, it’s just there.
 
But, back to the ball game…and a very important announcement! The boys love their summer ballgames, even when they don’t have many opportunities to play, thanks to the rainy summer we’ve had!

It's a big swing for this little batter!

 

Happy Birthday Big Bro!!! Where did the last 9 years go???

 
Today is a very special birthday for a very special boy…HAPPY BIRTHDAY BIG BRO! Nine years ago we were blessed with you…and every day I thank God for having you in our family! I am one lucky Mama indeed!!!