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.

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?


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. 😉

Facts on Farming

A few weeks ago, a question was asked on Facebook by a local news station regarding farmers and government payments. Don’t worry, I won’t go into my feelings about that topic right here…but I do want to try to explain something to those that aren’t involved in agriculture.

It seems as if there is a misconception about farmers. (Not shocking, I know.) But the comment that was made online really struck a chord with me…and it should for you, too. You can read about my reaction here.

But I thought maybe we should have some numbers, so that people can understand what really goes into farming.

These are our "fleet" to bring in the crop. Far from new, but they get the job done.

Now, to be honest with you, I’m using numbers for my area, so things can be markedly different where you’re at…but in the end, it should all pencil out about the same.

Let’s start with the basics. Crops are figured by the acre (which is roughly half a soccer field). So most of the items you purchase to put the crops in and take them off are calculated based on how much it costs per acre. Crops that I will use in these examples are spring wheat, corn and soybeans…some of the more common crops in my area.

Check this out:

Example 1: Spring Wheat

The average yield (crop that they harvest) per acre for spring wheat is 49 bushels/acre in my area. The average market price is estimated at $7.54 per bushel. If you multiply that out, you would come up with an average income of $369.46 per acre. Not too bad, eh?

Well, that just doesn’t happen by itself. Let’s look at what it took to get there. The average direct costs associated with planting, pest management (taking care of bugs), nutrient management (taking care of soil), insurance, fuel, repairs, etc. is $192.92 per acre. Indirect costs, such as overhead, machinery depreciation, purchasing new machinery (usually just new to you, not new-new) and land charges, run about $117.52 per acre. The costs total $310.44 per acre. Hmmm…a little too close to that first number, right?

So, in an average year, planting spring wheat, a farmer can expect to make roughly $59 per acre. And that’s with fuel costs averaged at $3.40/gallon for gas and $3.20/gallon for diesel. We all know what is forecasted for those numbers, right?

I’ll spare you all the rundowns of the other two crops, and just give you the final numbers: Soybeans would average about $103 per acre and corn (for grain) would average about $150 per acre.

So what’s the average farm size in Dickey County (where I live)? It’s 1,100 acres. So let’s say we planted our whole farm to corn, and we had 1,100 acres, we would (according to these numbers) roughly make $165,000. (Also remember, that would be if you planted every acre and were able to harvest it. Most of the time, there are significant areas of drowned-out crops, etc.) And if we planted our whole farm to wheat? $65,000. (And let me tell you, we would never, ever dream to plant our whole farm to one crop. You remember that saying about all your eggs in one basket, right?)

But seriously, folks, that’s not how it works. Those are the numbers we shoot for and strive to reach…and like most professions, very little goes as planned.

For example (and these hit a little too close to home): imagine having to harvest all your wheat in one direction, doubling your fuel costs. Or having a pest move in, doubling your pest management inputs. Or having a wet spring, dry summer, late fall, whatever have you may, lowering your yields substantially.

No, to be honest, farmers on a national average follow this graphic a little more closely:

And that would be why so many farmers, and/or their partners, seek off-farm employment.

But we will plant a crop this spring, in hopes that we’ll meet or exceed our goal yields, while trimming as much off the expenses as we can…just like any good business person would do.

And that’s a fact.

P.S. I would especially like to thank Kacey Holm, our county extension agent, for his assistance in getting me these numbers. Extension ROCKS!

Thankful Thursday – Children on the Farm

Normally I don’t discuss a lot of political stuff and government-type news. We get enough of that every day, I feel. But this latest proposal hits close to home…in fact, it hits our family directly, and possibly yours, too.

The US Department of Labor has submitted proposed new “rules” regarding children under the age of 18 working agricultural and non-agricultural jobs. Some of them make sense, and seem almost silly that we need to have a law for it. (Who truly believes that a 16-year-old should be allowed to work with dynamite?) Yet others would severely affect our farm…and many farms across the country.

The proposed laws would eliminate children from the farm-labor work force, or at least not without proper training and certification. Sounds great, right? I’m all for more safety on the farm. But upon closer inspection, these rules do very little to ensure safety and do a lot to infringe upon farm families.

For instance, a child would no longer be able to pick up sticks and branches around the yard while Mom or Dad is using a chainsaw, or some other mechanical method to bring down trees and shrubs. (Actually, the child couldn’t be using ANY power tool…that would include battery-operated drills, screwdrivers, etc.) The only exemption would be if Mom and Dad own the farm wholly on their own (not in cooperation with someone else, including family). I know that not everyone is aware of this, but many farms incorporate and set up business structures, so that success can be shared throughout the family equally, same as expenses.

Is this the closest he'll get?

Another portion of the proposed rules states that a child under the age of 16 could not work “on a farm in a yard, pen or stall occupied by a bull, boar, stud horse maintained for breeding purposes, sow with suckling pigs, or cow with newborn calf (with umbilical cord present).”

Trust me, as a mother of four young children, our house already has laws and rules in place regarding what our kids can and cannot do, including not being anywhere near the bulls, staying out of the yard when the cows are calving, etc. But now would we be open to fines if our children were to go into the barn to feed the cats while cows were in the barn with their calves? (And just to clarify, there are pens that keep each cow/calf separate and out of the main part of the barn.)

EJ, keeping me company while waiting for the silage cutter to be fixed.

And yet one more silly section would make it against the rules for anyone under the age of 18 to even ride IN a tractor with someone who is working, or in the process of working.

How in the world are we supposed to educate and involve the next generation? What about those that don’t have farm backgrounds, but are interested in becoming involved in agriculture? How do we tell the next generation that we don’t want their help, until they’re adults? One thing I have learned quickly, raising four boys, is that the more involved I get them earlier on, the more they enjoy and want to learn about the farm. If you leave them out, where will farming be in 40-50 years?

Waiting his turn...his dad is in the tractor, his grandpa is in the combine. Is his future in jeopardy?

And what about 4-H?

The answer is not clear. Would children be able to show their animals if their parents weren’t direct owners of their operations? Would they be able to sell their livestock and receive the money for college funds, as so many kids in 4-H do?

My oldest two have found excitement and education in 4-H. Is that in jeopardy as well?

I understand the need to update regulations…the present set hasn’t been updated since 1970. Yet, can common sense come into play, please? They rattle off statistics of children that are injured or killed in farm accidents, but if you look closely, some of those statistics are misleading.

One such example they give is a 17-year-old who was illegally employed and was a fatality in an accident. The way I look at it, if the child was already illegally employed, then changing the laws would do nothing to ensure that child’s safety. Laws only protect those that follow them.

Yes, I’m all for protecting our children, especially those that live on or near farms, but we cannot protect our children while making their home off-limits and telling them that they’re not wanted, or needed, on the farm. That’s a disservice to all.

Comments on the proposed changes are being accepted through TODAY, please make your voice heard. Visit www.regulations.gov, it’s RIN 1245-AA06.

Today is Thankful Thursday. Today I am thankful that my children can be raised on our farm, in a safe and loving home. I’m thankful that I, as a parent, can teach and instill in my children the love and respect for the farm that it deserves. But it’s MY job to be a parent…not my government’s.

Wordless Wednesday – Corn Chopping (AKA Silage Cutting)

I was going through some of my older photos…and I realized that I hadn’t shared the shots that my 4-year-old took while we were driving truck for silage cutting.  Some of them are so funny, that I have to share.

EJ definitely has an eye for photography!

Today's post, brought to you by 4-year-old EJ.



Chopper at work...well, actually at rest, but getting ready to work.



Self-portrait. We'll call this, "EJ - Through the Looking Glass"



Chopper, at work again.



Up close shot of silage flying around.



Well, where would we be without our hands?



Had to get a shot in of his favorite person/mentor...Mr. Shorty.