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. 😉

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.

 

 

Thankful Thursday – North Dakota

What? I’m thankful for the state I live in? Really? You betcha!

Yesterday North Dakota (and to be fair, South Dakota) celebrated their “birthdays,” or the day that they were signed into the union. And although I complain about the 40 below temps, 100 inches plus of snow and other wonderful issues that come with winter, I truly love my state.

First of all, we have a budget surplus. For those that don’t understand what that means, it means that we take in more money than we spend. Shocking. I know.

Second, we have more jobs than we have people to work. No, this doesn’t mean we have NO unemployed people, but there are definitely employment opportunities that are open, for many, many people. The key would be work ethic, responsibility and eagerness to actually work. It’s part of the reason that while much of the country is slipping backwards, we’re actually looking to the future and planning ahead. Another shocker. I know.

Third, I feel safe where I live. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t dangerous areas in ND, but right now, we’ve got it pretty good. And if you come in my yard, let me warn you that my two black labs will lick you to death if you’re friendly, but harass us, and they’re on their guard. And I hunt…if you get what I mean.

Our new puppy, Maggie, and our old foster-dog, Junior.

 

 

Fourth, I know my neighbors. Sometimes that’s not such a good thing, but for the most part, I feel blessed to know that if my kids are doing something they shouldn’t be, someone will tell me. It used to drive me nuts as a child, now I dig it.

Speaking of digging. Did I mention snow?

Now THAT's a snow bank!

 

 

Once upon a time, I tried to escape ND. I thought it was a mind-suck and a place that people came to die. I despised it, and everything it stood for. Thanks be to God that those times came and went quickly! I love my rural life, I love my prairie-dwelling companions and I wouldn’t trade it for the world…well, except for maybe a week or two.

Love sundogs and sunsets on the prairie!

 

 

A Trick for Treats

Our 4-year-old, EJ, is in preschool this year, four days a week. Last year I didn’t have the chance to really get involved with snacks and things like that. (George was having problems and EJ only went to school two days a week.) Well, I’m going to do a better job this year!

Now, I didn’t say it was going to take a lot more time…I’m just going to take a few minutes here and there and try to be a more involved parent. Which is why EJ and I sat down and made these last night:

Witches’ Hats

Witches' hats...all ready for school.

Cute little things, aren’t they?

I got the idea from Pinterest, and it’s easy as could be!

Step 1: Buy fudge striped cookies, a bag of Hershey Kisses and orange frosting.

Cookie, check. Kiss, check.

Step 2: Place cookie striped-side down, circle hole with orange frosting.

Circle of orange frosting, used for "glue."

Step 3: Place Hershey Kiss on top of frosting.

EJ spent more time on placing the kiss than anything!

Step 4: Sit back, relax and enjoy the praises rained upon you by your 4-year-old that you’re the best cook ever. Because you are. Really.

Aren't they just adorable?

Yeah, not every one made it on a cookie...but that's to be expected.

What is your go-to school snack for the masses? Do you go season-themed? Or just general snacks?

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Wordless Wednesday – Butter

It’s been a few days since I posted last…life has been on a roll again! When I say there’s never a dull moment here, I truly mean it! I’ll explain later, but for now, enjoy this photo:

The other day I opened the fridge, and was greeted with this:

Hmmm...wonder if this is a hint?

 

 

Call me crazy, but I believe someone may have been playing in the fridge! And for my dairy friends, half the sticks are real butter, half are the “other” kind. I don’t use real butter for George’s stuff, but Boss Man insists on it! 🙂 We’re a mixed house like that.

Today, I’m linking up with Katie over at Pinke Post for Wordless Wednesday. Go check her out and give her a follow, she’s amazing! (And a fellow Prairie Mama!)

Don’t Fold Laundry

So, I was in the living room, folding laundry, when a surprise walked in…

Look! See! Pretty!

I tried not to lose my cool…but what the *#@!

Don't you like my surprise?

At this point, I just had to laugh. Or else the tears wouldn’t quit, you know?

Are the legs a bit much?

And then I wondered…where did he all color?

I'm so proud!

Thankfully, the only “artwork” I found was George. So, it quickly became bath time!

Oh no! I'm melting!

He kind of freaked out over the marker melting off…and I had to keep draining the tub and adding clean water.

Someone wasn't happy about losing his tats...perhaps he thought he was losing his street cred?

My lesson learned for the day? Don’t fold laundry. Now,  just to let my husband know that. 😉

Eating Dinosaur Eggs

Just thought I would throw out a quick blog update, so that you didn’t think that I had fallen off the face of the planet. Actually, harvest is upon us and things are getting busy around here. This week we:

  • need to clear an area for our new hay shed
  • need to freeze more corn
  • need to can more salsa and tomatoes
  • finishing my Dad’s siding project
  • county Farm Bureau annual meeting
  • attended a funeral
  • school functions/homework/etc.
  • prepare for corn chopping
  • get ready to wean cattle
  • prepare for my trip with Katie to the Small Town 140 Conference in Hutchinson, KS!!! (I’ll be a presenter there!)
  • prepare for a return trip to Rochester
  • get ready for a super-huge, ginormous rummage sale next weekend
  • get ready for Applefest
  • get some freezer meals ready for the rest of harvest

Sounds simple, right?

But this little story had me giggling this morning, so let me share with you…

EJ (4), asked if he could eat some oatmeal for lunch. I didn’t have a problem with that at all, I mean, a simple, fast meal that dirties one dish and can be made in a minute? Sure, count me in! I had picked up some special instant oatmeal packages the last time we were in Aberdeen, so he grabbed one of those and away we went.

EJ’s job was to open the package and put it in a bowl. I add the water, we push the buttons on the microwave together and voila! A meal is served. But he had a bit of a problem when he opened the package.

Dinosaur eggs in your oatmeal? Why not?

“Mom, what are those?”

“Hmmm….well, it says that those are dinosaur eggs.”

“Mom, I don’t think I’m hungry any more.”

“Don’t you want dinosaur eggs in your belly?”

“No, they might eat me.”

Well, being the nice mom that I am, I only tormented him for a little bit, then explained that they were actually just like little jelly beans. I would’ve kept the ruse going longer, but I didn’t want to have to make something else for lunch! 😉

Blog post replay

George is having surgery today, so I’m setting up a few blog posts ahead of time. Any thoughts and prayers you can spare are gladly appreciated. He will have his tonsils and adenoids removed, as well as tubes put in his ears. We’re hoping this will help cut down on the number of strep infections and ear infectios that land him in the hospital.

My hope and prayer is that the surgery goes smoothly, without complication, and the recoery is quick. High hopes, right? But with the short stick that George has been dealt with, I think he deserves a run of good luck and complication-free life! 🙂 So keep those prayers coming!

So here’s a replay on a post I did back in December…it rings true today, just as much as it did then:

An open invitation

2 Dec

I think the activities of the last few weeks are kind of catching up to me. That’s the only way I can explain how I feel right now. I was going through some of my e-mails and other “office” type stuff when a tweet came across Tweetdeck that had a profound effect on me.

Normally, I don’t let these kind of things bother me too much, because if I did, I’d be crazy. But this was a link to the article that Time did on the high cost of cheap food. Basically it was a piece written by someone who sits behind a desk, has food at their fingertips and never again thinks about where his next meal will come from.

Here’s my challenge, or perhaps an open invitation, to these types of people:

Come, spend 24 hours fighting the wind, snow and ice of a driving blizzard, while trying to carry calves or herd cows into a barn, just so that they are safe and protected in the storm. Then sit at the computer when you get in, while wondering if you should lay down for a few minutes, or just head back out, and while at the computer, read an article that claims that you don’t do enough to provide safe food. Then you can complain about where your food comes from.

Now THAT’s a snow bank!

Spend countless hours, weeks, months preparing to put your crop in. Spend every dime you’ve made in the last year, in hopes that you will make that, or maybe even a little more, in the coming year. Plant your seeds, watch it start to grow, take care of it the best you know how. And then watch as Mother Nature decides that she wants your crop…and have it wiped out in the blink of an eye. Then read about someone who thinks you should be happy enough with the fact that you’ll get paid a portion of what your crop was worth. That even though you have nothing to show for all of your hard work, it doesn’t matter, because you chose that line of work. That if you really wanted to, you could always get a job in town, never worrying about where food comes from, because the grocery store never runs out. Watch that unfold before your eyes…then you can complain about where your food comes from.

Put in a 20 hour day, working from before sun-up to past sun-down, taking care of whatever comes up during the day. Spend countless hours outside, loading bales by hand, helping a cow deliver a calf, fixing fence, changing tires. Then listen as someone on the radio claims that the crops you raise are going to cause our children to die at a younger age. That our country is fatter because of the unhealthy food that is grown. All while the same people are sitting behind a desk for eight hours, children are in school longer and in activities less, homework consumes all available time after school, as opposed to activities outside, menial labor is seen as substandard employment and fast-food is the king of family meals. Listen to that all day…then you can complain about where your food comes from.

All safe and warm inside, no matter what’s going on outside.

Watch your son’s first ball game from a video tape, celebrate your wife’s birthday two months late, walk into church while the second hymn is being sung…all because a cow was calving and needed help, you had one more round to make before the storm let loose, or the crop needed to be planted, sprayed or harvested. Have your life played out around seasons, weather and all things that you have no control over. Work in those conditions…then you can complain about where your food comes from.

My family strives hard every day to make sure that our work ensures that the food we produce is the safest, healthiest and cheapest it can be for the consumer, as well as for ourselves. If we abuse our land, our animals or our crops in any way, then not only is our bottom line affected, but our whole lives are as well.

Fortunately, we live in a country where people don’t have to do any of the things I’ve wrote above, and still be able to complain…loudly and publicly. People attack an industry they don’t understand, because it’s easier to lay blame than to accept it. But the ag-community is responding. Perhaps someday soon there will be more articles in the national news thanking our farmers, ranchers and those that work hard so we can provide for all. Perhaps.

A girl can dream, right?

Ag Book of the YEAR!!!

Howdy, all! If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll remember that in May I did an Ag Book of the Day theme, where I picked a book a day to feature…it coincided with my sons’ school reading program. It was an amazing month, and there were great books featured.

And now, I’ve found our latest treasure, and I’m sure it’ll soon be yours as well! And if you’re lucky, you’ll win one of the signed copies I’m giving away!!!

Here it is:

A family favorite!

 
Levi’s Lost Calf, by Amanda Radke, illustrated by Michelle Weber. We received our copies on Saturday, and we’ve already read it 15 times!!! The boys LOVE the colorful artwork and all the animals involved. The story is a simple, yet completely realistic farm story…a little boy is helping on the farm, and realizes one of his favorite calves is missing, so he takes his trusty horse and goes to find it!
 
Not only does the book have a GREAT story, but it also includes a great cowboy recipe, and vocabulary words to help those that may not be familiar with ranch lingo…how cool is that?
 
I’ve seen some really good farm books for kids, but this is one of the best! I highly recommend it, and if you leave a comment on this post, you’ll be signed up to win a copy, signed by Amanda Radke herself!!!
 
This is Amanda’s first book (and I’m hoping for many more to come!), and the artwork by Michelle Weber is breathtaking, as beautiful as it is captivating! So be sure to get your copy soon, you don’t want to miss out!
 
To enter in the contest, just leave a comment on this post. For extra entries, subsribe to my blog and follow me on twitter (wagfarms or Cows_Life)…let me know if you already do those things, it’ll still count as an entry! I’ll have a random number selected from random.org to pick my winner!
 
Good luck…I’ll draw TWO lucky winners on Friday, August 19!
 
*I better add that, although I was given the copies of the book, the opinions expressed are my own, and don’t reflect anyone else, but me, myself and I. Although, I still think it’s a super-cool, absolutely fantastic, out-of-this-world ag book, you can buy a copy yourself and decide on your own. But trust me, it’s great! 😉