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.

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From one generation to the next: National Ag Day

Today is National Ag Day, and this year’s theme is “Generations Nourishing Generations.” It couldn’t be worded more perfectly, and if our farm were to have a motto, that would be about as close as we could get.

The whole reason for everything we do is for the next generation, and the one after that, and the one…well, you get what I mean. It’s the reason I became involved in agriculture advocacy, it’s the reason I started this blog, and it’s the reason I continue to communicate with those willing to talk to me. And I will keep going, as long as I can.

This farm started in the hopes of providing a brighter future for those being raised here – and we continue to have the same hopes and aspirations.

Whether it be through the gifts we are given...

Whether it be through the gifts we are given…

...the moments we share...

…the moments we share…

...the fences we cross...

…the fences we cross…

...or the challenges we face.

…or the challenges we face.

One thing I know for certain, I will enjoy every minute of watching the next generation grow and appreciate the land that we have come to love. And that is the best gift of all.

How are you celebrating National Ag Day?

From our next generation to yours...

From our next generation to yours…

 

 

 

 

Worth Fighting For

We’ve had a busy few days, trying to prepare for harvest, loading out hay as fast as the semi’s pull in the yard, and hosting our county Farm Bureau annual meeting here at the farm. Yet today, as I take a moment to sit down and actually gather my thoughts, I was bombarded with messages online, reminding me that today is not just any other day, and that we have so much to be thankful for…so much.

I was also made aware of a new single by The Departed, called “Worth the Fight.” Take a listen…it’s worth the time.

So, what does the anniversary of September 11th and the song have in common? I would think that is obvious. And more importantly, it’s a great reminder that all of these trials and tribulations have to be used as a base to move forward, to move up and to make improvements to the world we live in…and that is how we make it all worthwhile.

For me, my passion is agriculture. I have come to love our way of life, and I happen to feel so strongly that I’ve been driven to share my story with thousands of people around the world. And I don’t do it so that I feel better about myself, that’s not the case at all.

What makes my fight worthwhile are the four blessings that I am privileged to call my sons…and they are worth every minute I spend talking about agriculture, sharing our story and doing what I can to ensure that they have the same choices and opportunities that Boss Man and I have been blessed with.

My heart belongs here.

Today is not just a somber reminder of what was lost all those years ago.

Today is a reminder of what we are fighting for…

and it’s worth the fight.

Young Farmer Friday

Just loving my day with the boys…and who can blame me? We head to Mayo on Monday, and that’ll be worries for Monday. For today, I’ll just enjoy what we have.

"Mom, will this be mine some day?"

A rare moment of stillness, and no one fighting!

George teasing EJ that he was going to beat him to the shop.

Well, he decided the reward wasn't worth it.

 

 

Not a laughing matter

A few days ago, a close friend of mine sent me a message on Facebook, directing me to a conversation that was taking place on a specialized sheep page. The message was shocking, and laughed in the face of all we’ve been doing to educate and show consumers where their food comes from…but it was far from funny:

You are a Joke! a Fraud! you can not sell meat! What you are selling is wrong! Meat comes from the grocery store meat departments where they grow it for us to eat. You are one sick individual who says you will sell lamb meat from those cute fuzzy animals! you are gross! Milk comes in a powder that the grocery stores mix with water! Why are you lying to people! you are a sick person who claims to sell meat, milk and cheese that comes from poor helpless lambs!

And no, I can’t make stuff like that up.

So why does it matter? It’s just one loon out there, shouting lies and slinging mud at whomever will listen, right?

Wrong.

One of the reasons that agriculture is being slayed in the media the way it is, is that for too long we figured that people would “get it.” That they would understand what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and just leave us alone to get the job done.

That’s not the case any more, and I don’t think it ever will be…and shouldn’t. We want people to have a connection to their plate, we want people to understand the power of their input at the grocery store. But they also need to understand that farms are businesses, we provide a product, we need to make a profit and we prepare for the future as well.

There must be a middle ground, a place where we don’t raise our voices, don’t shake our fists and don’t make it personal…I just don’t think we’re there yet. I read a comment recently that stated that farmers need to remember that they are more than just a farm, they are people, too.

Our barn is dated from when it was built. That's a history we can't forget.

But I have to say, from a farmer’s perspective, that’s pretty hard to do. It’s not just a building and some animals, this is our heritage and our family name. It’s the work of previous generations, resting on our shoulders to see it through to the next generation. And it’s up to us to be the communicators to protect not only the future, but the history of our farms as well.

The way I see it, the fact that we’re getting responses such as the loon above, and the other slew of media backlash, must mean we’re heading the right direction.

And if we’re willing to be talking, we better be willing to listen as well.

The way to a boy’s heart…

Is apparently through his…feet?

Just a few minutes ago, the mailman brought a package to the door that wouldn’t fit in the mailbox. I had an idea about what it was, so I asked EJ if he wanted to open it…

and I have the happiest boy on this side of the county.

EJ opened new boots in today's mail! And they're "tractor boots." How cool is that?

 

Yes, I splurged a little, but not too much. They were on sale through Zulilly (I l-o-v-e that site, by the way) and they are John Deere boots. I knew he would love them, but I didn’t know that they come with a little surprise…

Box for boots, and a BARN!

 

The box that the boots come in turns into a barn! How cool is that! I had to fold some pieces together, but it’s all one piece, and I have one little boy in heaven.

Checking to make sure there's enough room for his tractors.

 

Now, normally I would buy his boots from a thrift store, or off Craigslist, or something like that. It’s not that we can’t afford to buy brand new boots, but really, let’s be sensible. If their main purpose is going to be walking through mud, riding in tractors and traipsing through a barn full of….manure…would it make sense to buy them new?

I’m pretty sure the cows don’t care. And Iknow that EJ doesn’t. But these were a special surprise, and worth every dime, just to hear the squeals of joy.

The box is even printed on the inside. "Just like ours, Mom!"

 

In a world where demands and “I deserve”s are heard more than thank-you’s, hearing my not-so-little boy exclaim with appreciation and tell me that he’s so thankful for his new boots…well, that’s worth it’s weight in cowboy boots.

And, no…they won’t be allowed in the barn yet, but I imagine they’ll make their way there soon. 😉