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.

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What makes a constitutional amendment?

As I’ve made perfectly clear in the past, I am in favor of Measure 3, the North Dakota Constitutional amendment that would protect farming and ranching and modern practices employed by farmers and ranchers.

I want to address one of the concerns that is being brought up by the only vocal agricultural group in opposition to this measure…the North Dakota Farmer’s Union.

First of all, as a member of Farmer’s Union (I’m a member of Farm Bureau as well), let me tell you that I’m extremely disappointed and concerned regarding the stance they have on this measure. It’s becoming more of a school-ground bullying match than fact-sharing, and it’s not what being in agriculture is all about.

Enough about that, let’s get to the issue. Opponents of the measure keep declaring that the constitutional amendment is too vague. Practices aren’t specified and there are no restrictions for negligence.

Why did I highlight constitutional amendment? Because that’s what this is…a change to our state constitution, that would protect the heritage that makes North Dakota the great state that it is, that provides food, fiber and fuel for the world.

The amendment needs to be broad enough to stand the test of time, allowing society to advance and our state constitution to stay current, even when we can’t imagine what the next century may bring.

Let’s take a look at another constitutional amendment:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

 

Wait a minute…how could that amendment have been passed? It doesn’t state that you can’t use weapons negligently. It doesn’t state that you are limited to muskets and cannons only. So, surely, it must have been voted down and didn’t stand the test of time, right?

How about another one:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 

Geez, that one didn’t pass either, did it? I mean, it doesn’t specifically state that I can’t call someone a few choice words in a newspaper ad that runs across the country. Oh, wait…but I can’t, can I? Not without the other person having legal recourse.

No, constitutional amendments are NOT about specifying exactly what it is you can or cannot do, it’s about upholding the wishes of the people of the state, for generations to come. It allows flexibility for growth and changes that are made by society, yet it protects the basic rights that we should be entitled to…and that includes our agricultural heritage.

With these rights come expectations, regulations and limitations, it does not, nor will it ever, trample on the rights and freedoms of others. It allows for the legal protection of our way of life and direction for those that are making the laws that will govern our future societies.

Please, do not tell me that Measure 3 is too vague in its wording, and needs to have specifics put in place.

Although, all I can do is ask, because there’s already an amendment that allows you that right.

Yes on North Dakota Measure 3

Did you know that America’s farmers and ranchers produce 16 percent of the total world food production on just 10 percent of the world’s land?

Agriculture and related industries provide jobs for more than 21 million Americans. That’s 15 percent of the total U.S. workforce.

In 1940, each U.S. farmer annually fed approximately 19 people in the U.S. and abroad. In 1960, each farmer feed about 46 people. In 1980, 115. In 2000, 139. Today, each U.S. farmer feeds approximately 154 people here and abroad. And they are doing it with fewer inputs, and on fewer acres.

Farming and agriculture is the backbone of our country, but more importantly, it’s the number one industry in North Dakota. Long after the oil boom has come and gone, farming will still be growing our economy and providing for our state and our country.

 

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

 

Measure 3 is a constitutional amendment that will ensure that out-of-state interests and activist groups will not be able to pass ballot initiatives that would jeopardize our heritage of agriculture. This measure would protect the way of life that has made North Dakota a great state and a great place to raise a family.

But there are misconceptions about what this measure is about, and we’d like to clear those up. This measure is NOT about farming systems, it doesn’t pit organic versus conventional or large versus small. This measure would ensure that if you wanted to use GPS and auto steer in your tractor, that would be allowed. You would be allowed to raise livestock of your choosing without worrying that some out-of-state feel-good group is going to tell you that your buildings or fences are abusive to the animal. You would also be allowed to make your own individual seed and chemincal choices on your farm, including heirlooms, biotechnology, organic or conventional. A law could not be passed determining what is right for all farms in North Dakota, those decisions would be left to each farm to make.

The measure is NOT about removing local control. It would not limit local zoning ordinances, nor would it remove the power from local and state governments for regulations.

Measure 3 IS about allowing farmer’s markets and other niche consumer activities to continue to grow and prosper, it’s about giving people choices and protecting our past, present and future. The constitutional amendment is intentionally broad enough to stand the test of time, yet focused enough to protect what North Dakota holds dear.

For those that would question whether regulations would still be allowed, we give you an example of another constitutional right. We have the right to bear arms, but with that right also comes limitations, responsibilities and regulations. The same is true for agriculture.

We just want the right to farm, without risk of having someone else from out of state taking that right away.

Protecting their future

I never used to be a political person…well, at least not much. I had general ideas about where I thought our country stood, and felt that there were so many better-educated, passionate folks that could speak for me better than I could.

I was wrong.

I’m learning rather quickly that if I don’t speak up for what my family needs, then no one else will. And I will do everything I can to make sure that my children’s future is not jeopardized by an organization that attacks our livelihood, without taking the time to understand it.

Right now, EJ plays in the dirt...but I hope that someday he'll be able to farm with his dad. I'm doing my part to guarantee that. Will you?

 

What am I talking about? There is a group of individuals that have started a petition drive to collect signatures in support of a constitutional amendment that will safeguard farming and ranching in North Dakota. This amendment will guarantee that groups such as PETA and HSUS will not be able to manipulate the ballot initiative system in North Dakota and pass laws that will jeopardize our economy, our way of life and the future of our state.

The amendment simply states, “The right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state. No law shall be enacted which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices.

It’s straight, to-the-point and flexible enough to stand the test of time.

When asked about what this amendment would do, perhaps it would be easier to tell you what it isn’t…this isn’t about size of farm, types of farming, or allowing animal abuses to take place. It won’t supersede federal laws, criminal complaints or compromise zoning-type issues. It has nothing to do with farming systems, and everything to do with farming practices.

But North Dakota is an agricultural state. We would never do anything to harm our biggest industry. Right?

Did you know that ballot initiatives are already planned for our state by HSUS? We’re not talking about a far-distant, hard-to-imagine future. We’re talking about here and now.

Do you have questions? Ask and I’ll answer them or check out this link and see if your questions have already been answered. If I can’t answer, I have a whole slug of people who can (and I’m not afraid to use them!). Do you want to know how to find a petition to sign? Email me at wagntales@gmail.com and I’ll connect you to someone near you that has a petition. (You need to have been a North Dakota resident for 30 days, at least 18 years old and have a residential address…oh, and a US citizen.)

Instead of playing catch up, it’s time to take a stand and support those that make North Dakota the great state that it is.

Thank you to North Dakota Farm Bureau, North Dakota Stockmen’s Association and all other organizations in the state of North Dakota that support this effort. My boys thank you, too.

Heaven is for Real

I’m sure many of you have heard of the book, “Heaven is for Real.” I had…but I had never read it. Sometimes we avoid those things that we fear the most…and I didn’t want to think about death, or death and children specifically. But I’ve read it now. I’m pretty sure God wanted me to, so I did.

This weekend was our annual Farm Bureau meeting in Minot. George and I packed up Friday morning and headed north. I wanted to testify on one resolution specifically. It would support allowing North Dakota Children’s Special Health Services to open their doors to children with catastrophic illnesses. (Catastrophic illnesses are ones that are life-threatening. Currently, NDCSHS can only assist those children with illnesses specified by state statute…OTC is not one.)

On Saturday morning, I stood in front of the Farm Bureau delegates and tried to give a brief synopsis and explain why we needed to forward this resolution. It was, by far, one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Imagine explaining to a large body of people that your child’s life is at risk, and you would hate for other children and families to have to fight the same fights you’ve been battling. It was pretty emotional for me, and I wasn’t as strong as I would have like to have been. But I made it through, and I thank God that the resolution passed.

After that, we had our district caucus meetings. And I was sitting in the back of a room, along with my friend, Joannie. A lady came up to my table, handed me the book, “Heaven is for Real,” and told me that she thought I should have it. She gave me a hug, watched me wipe away my tears, and quietly slipped out of the room.

Sitting here, I still can’t believe it happened. It was one of those moments that (looking back on it), God was telling me not to worry about the future. No matter what happens, He’ll have George in His arms. I need to quit dwelling on the what-ifs and work on enjoying the now. I get that. And when I falter, and start to worry, I have a book to read to remind me.

I needed that.

And to the wonderful angel who delivered the message to me…thank you.

Why My Monday was Meatless

Normally on Monday, I would post a “Hunk of Meat Monday” recipe, to share with those that enjoy having protein in their diet and I would link up with Beyer Beware’s linky party…but not today.

Our household is a very unique situation. We farm. We ranch. And our son is a vegan. Actually, that doesn’t quite cover it, but it’s close. He is limited in the amount of protein that he can have. Right now his limit is 11-12 grams of protein. To put that into perspective, an 8 oz. glass of milk has about 8 grams of protein in it. So, in theory he could have a glass of milk, but then he could only have one slice of bread for the rest of the day.

What it means is that he doesn’t eat meat. And according to his dietician, he will probably never eat meat. And I’m perfectly fine with that.

George’s body can’t break down protein. When he consumes protein, it can cause a reaction in his body that can elevate his ammonia levels, cause his brain to swell, cause seizures, make him hyperactive, etc. In a nutshell, it can be life threatening.

Last week Monday, I had a package of beef jerky in the fridge. Now, normally I don’t keep those kind of snacks in the house. Many times I just leave them in the shop fridge, because my husband likes to snack on them during harvest. But for some reason, I brought some in the house.

Now, mind you, George has never really had meat before. Due to his medical issues and not knowing what was all going wrong, but knowing that he didn’t tolerate table food very well, George was on a special formula for much longer than you normally would have a child on a liquid-only diet. In fact, George had just started eating some table food just about a year ago. He was 18 months old. It was January when we learned that we would probably need to cut protein out of his diet, and finally had a plan.

Well, apparently George is curious. And he ate two sticks of beef jerky. I was working on folding clothes, and noticed that he was chewing on something. He showed me the tiny bite that was left in his mouth, promptly spit it out for me, and then I checked the fridge, realizing that not one, but two sticks were out of the package.

We’d never had this problem, so I wasn’t sure what to do. I called his neurologist, who was on vacation. Her back-up was paged…she was on vacation. So a third person was contacted, who told me that she was going to be no help. So another neurologist was paged. And while waiting for her to call back, I called our pediatrician, who was out of the office. His nurse was very supportive, and told me that when I heard back, to let them know what they needed to do.

Under normal circumstances, were George to have issues relating to his OTC, I know what to do. I take him to the ER and hand them my letters from the doctors that give step-by-step instructions on how to care for him. But that’s what I do AFTER he’s having an “episode.” I had never had to deal with a situation in which he MIGHT have an episode.

Well, I finally heard back, and the doctor gave me some wonderful words of wisdom…like, “Don’t give him any more protein today.” Thank you, Captain Obvious. I figured that one out on my own. And, “Watch for signs of distress.” Whew. So glad I called. That really put me at ease. (By the way, that’s dripping heavily with sarcasm.)

Needless to say, I quickly learned one of George’s reactions to too much protein. He becomes off-the-wall, crazy hyper. Similar to what I would imagine a 2-year-old would act like if they were given 3-4 Mountain Dews. Seriously. He had snuck the beef jerky at about 2 that afternoon. He finally went to sleep around 1…Tuesday morning. It was crazy. But he survived, and so did I.

The point of all this?

I get the need for some people to be vegetarians, vegans, not eat meat, however you want to word it. I completely understand. I know, because I’m living it.

Here’s what I don’t like:

  • Don’t tell me that not eating meat is healthier for you. I know what the body needs. I know what children need. I’ve been researching it for months. I work with dieticians at Mayo Clinic. Trust me. I know. I also know what it takes to replace the nutrients and protein that you automatically get from meat. I know how dangerous it can be to try to live without those proteins. I know what the formula that my son will be using for the rest of his life smells like, tastes like…I’d rather eat a steak. (There are more than 25 different cuts of meat that are lean and healthier options, if that’s the kind of thing you’re looking for.)
  • Don’t tell me that livestock aren’t cared for properly. I know how they’re cared for, because I live it. We take care of our cattle, day-in, day-out, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Through blizzards, through hot streaks, in the spring, in the fall, you name it. If we need to be gone, we arrange for someone else to take care of them. It’s our responsibility and something we take very, very seriously.

This is our herd today.

  • Talk to me about your concerns. If you have heard something about animal care that concerns you, ask. Don’t just assume that whatever you see, hear is the truth. If you need to, come to my farm and look. (In fact, I’m connecting a video that our state Farm Bureau put together, showing you our farm, and telling others about why we do what we do…check it out. And remember, this was three years and one child ago!)
  • Don’t watch a movie and assume that what you see and hear is the truth. Movies are made to make money. Happy stories don’t sell as many copies as scary ones do…and don’t cause as much media hype. If you watch a movie, and it makes you think and have questions, then take those questions and ask a farmer. Don’t assume that the movie is going to give you the answers.

Sorry this became a little long-winded, but it’s a subject that hits close to my heart. As I said in the beginning, I completely understand the need for some people to limit their meat intake, or choose not to eat meat at all. I’m fine with that. Just please, please don’t tell me that I’m less of a person for enjoying my meat-eating lifestyle…and for being just a little sad that George can’t enjoy the same.

Cultivating the future

I love my school.

Now, to clarify, I don’t ALWAYS feel that way, but who ever does? My sons attend the school that I graduated from…in 1995. In fact, they have had some of the same teachers that I had. Talk about a strange feeling, sitting across from your first-grade teacher, talking about your son! I still can’t call any of them by their first names.

This month is reading month. The theme??? Cultivating Reading. WOOHOO!

The whole month is focused on farming, agriculture, animals, etc. What a great opportunity! And you can bet I’m going to do my best to maximize it!

My plan is to shine the spotlight on a favorite ag book of ours, at least a few times a week. Now, as a disclaimer, I haven’t received approval or monetary donations from any of the authors…in fact, they haven’t a clue that I’m even doing this. I don’t know any of them personally (at least, not to my knowledge). But these are books that my family loves, and that we read together.

I’m an avid reader. I LOVE to read. I received a Kindle for Christmas and have already put over 100 books through it. (Hmmm…I may need to seek help.) I’ve been trying to instill in my children the same love of books, and so far, so good. Let’s hope it keeps rolling that way!

Today at school was “Hats off to books!” Day…or Hat Day. Scooter wore one of Boss Man’s farm caps, Big Bro wore a Cat-In-The-Hat hat. It was a Monday, and they were excited about school. Who could ask for more?

My book of the day?

It’s a great farm safety book, and one that we’ve read TONS of times! Plus, many county Farm Bureau’s sponsor safety days or safety camps, that reiterate what is taught in the book. It covers everything from ATV’s to cows to grain bins.

Do you have a favorite that you think I should check out? Something you’d like to see a spotlight on? I’d love to get more farm-favorite story books in our ever-expanding library! Tomorrow is Flannel Shirt Day – “Every which way with books.”

April is going to be a GREAT month!