Clean water, wildlife and parks – but dirty politics

Let me clarify a few things: First and foremost, I’m a mother. My four boys are my sun, moon and stars, even when they drive me crazy. On top of that, I’m a farmer, a rancher, an agriculture advocate, a student, a blogger, a paralegal, a softball player, a writer and someone who enjoys having a fun time. I am not an economist, a tax expert, a politician (yet), an accountant, a lawyer…none of those things.

boys on first day of school

I have four reasons for writing…and here they are.

So when I write, I write from the heart, I do my research and I write my opinion. It’s how I view the world, and the $18 per year that I spend on this site gives me the right to share those views as I see fit, within legal reason. If you want to point out what you see as flaws in my reasoning, I’m OK with that. But be careful what you wish for – because I like research. And I like information. And I like to share.

Recently one of my posts on Measure 5 apparently ruffled some feathers. I was told that my “pie analogy” was flawed. I actually find that funny, because one of the “Yes on 5” ads brings up the same analogy. Stating something along the lines that there’s still “enough to go around.”

He stated that this proposed constitutional amendment does not affect the general fund. I think he needs to double check that. Unless, of course, my research is all flawed. And it’s possible, since I’m not paid to do this professionally.

Check out the numbers yourself:

Oil Tax allocations for 2011-13 biennium

So that little issue should be answered. Yes, Measure 5 would seem to have an impact on the whole “pie” thing. But let’s say that wasn’t an issue. There’s still a lot of flaws here.

Let me check off my biggest concerns:

1) Mandated spending in our state constitution. How many times can I emphasize that this is a bad idea?

2) An extraordinary amount of money with no clear plan. It sets up a fund where money can be “granted” to projects that are approved by a board of people (only one is specifically a farmer).  $150 million per year. Almost $3 million per week. Yikes. I was told that it’s really not all that much money. I’m sorry, but as a mother of a child that has been diagnosed with a rare metabolic condition, I could only imagine what that type of money could do for research into a cure. Not that much money? I shudder to think of the type of world we’re heading towards, when you can scoff at that type of funding.

Yes, our family values the outdoors. But the type of funding tied to this constitutional amendment could change the world for a lot of kids in our state...including George's.

Yes, our family values the outdoors. But the type of funding tied to this constitutional amendment could change the world for a lot of kids in our state…including George’s.

3) I wonder if they forgot that our last legislative session passed a similar fund already. Oh, that’s right, though…they can’t buy land with that money.

4) We have some real needs in our state that this money can address. There are children with rare conditions that slip through the cracks. There is research that can be funded. There are advances that can be made.

I have no desire to get into a mudslinging fight. But I cannot put my children’s future at risk with this type of irresponsible mandate.

Do we really want to keep North Dakota’s traditions alive? Then let’s take care of the water, the air, the land the right way. Because it’s the right thing to do. That’s the North Dakota tradition.

My sunset tonight was just as beautiful as it was yesterday – and it will be beautiful tomorrow, too.

A wolf in geese clothing

November is sneaking up on us…which means that it’s time to start thinking about what’s going to happen at the ballot box. And, let me tell you, as a North Dakotan, there’s a few things that have me concerned. Let me take a minute to explain to you one of my largest concerns:

The “Clean Water, Wildlife & Parks Amendment.”

Let me just say, that if it walks like a duck, and talks about ducks, doesn’t mean that it’s good for the ducks.

And it’s not good for North Dakotans, either.

gun, hunting

I love hunting. I love eating what I hunt. I will be hunting with my oldest son this year, something we are BOTH looking forward to.

Let’s start off with the obvious: this is a change to our STATE CONSTITUTION. That’s right. We’re to put a “tax” into our state constitution. A bad idea. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes any state can make is putting tax code into the constitution. Why? Because the constitution is meant to be a permanent, living, breathing document…and also not the easiest to change. We need to take any state constitutional amendment seriously. And this doesn’t belong here. Ever.

Second of all, check out the numbers:

  • $150,000,000 – the amount the fund would receive per year, right now
  • 75% – the amount that MUST be spent each year, according to the amendment
  • $2.8 million – the amount that the fund would receive each WEEK, right now
  • $4.8 BILLION – the amount the fund would receive in the next 25 years
  • $65,000,000 – the amount that ND already provides to conservation through the state legislature
  • 13 – the number of members of the advisory board who would provide funding recommendations
  • 1 – the number of farmer members on the proposed board
  • 0 – the number of spending plans proposed for this constitutionally-mandated fund

I don’t know about you, but those numbers don’t sit well with me.

How does a fund of this magnitude spend $2.8 million each week? Well, I checked out the website for the backers of the amendment…and it was pretty easy to see what the intentions for this money would be: to purchase land.

As the number of farms and ranches in North Dakota dwindles, and the age of farmers and ranchers increase, I cannot help but worry about the future of agriculture. My oldest son has already expressed a lot of interest in farming, yet if he has to compete with an entity that has an unlimited checkbook…well, how can he even begin to compete?

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

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

We talk about wanting to see small family farms make a comeback. We talk about wanting to see more young people involved in agriculture. Yeah…we do a lot of talking…but it’s time we put our votes where our mouth is.

Let’s address conservation funding where it should be addressed – legislatively.

This is a pile of deer carcasses that were collected from our hay yard a few years ago. Approximately 60-80 deer in this group. We had hundreds in our yard, and many died that winter. Less than a mile away was a parcel of land that was taken out of agriculture production specifically to provide habitat for wildlife. Yet it did nothing to "conserve" these animals.

This is a pile of deer carcasses that were collected from our hay yard a few years ago. Approximately 60-80 deer in this group. We had hundreds in our yard, and many died that winter. Less than a mile away was a parcel of land that was taken out of agriculture production specifically to provide habitat for wildlife. Yet it did nothing to “conserve” these animals.

I love hunting. I love fishing. I love wildlife.

But I love my farm. I love agriculture. And I love my children.

I’m pretty certain that Little Red Riding Hood’s mother wouldn’t have sent her out to the wolf, had she known what was going to happen. I have no intention of letting the wolf loose on my children’s futures, either.

I’m voting NO on the constitutional amendment.

A sure sign of fall

I received this in the mail this week:

This is a landowner gratis tag. There's no charge for the tag, but it only allows me one deer, antlered or antlerless, and I can only hunt on the land we own or lease that I have specified on my application.

This is a landowner gratis tag. There’s no charge for the tag, but it only allows me one deer, antlered or antlerless, and I can only hunt on the land we own or lease that I have specified on my application.

Which means I’m anxiously waiting for the time to do this:

gun, hunting

Hopefully this year I’ll stay a little drier.

But sometimes this:

Not exactly what I "planned" to wear when hunting, but it works!

Not exactly what I “planned” to wear when hunting, but it works!

Which occasionally leads to this:

Apparently being a mom that hunts makes me weird. I can live with that.

Apparently being a mom that hunts makes me weird. I can live with that.

But can almost always lead to this:

I don't just hunt because I enjoy it. I also hunt to provide for my family.

I don’t just hunt because I enjoy it. I also hunt to provide for my family.

Which is much better than this:

This is a pile of deer carcasses that were collected from our hay yard a few years ago. Approximately 60-80 deer in this group. We had hundreds in our yard, and many died that winter. To make a long story short, our hay was too rich for their system and we could get no help in dispersing them from our land.

This is a pile of deer carcasses that were collected from our hay yard a few years ago. Approximately 60-80 deer in this group. We had hundreds in our yard, and many died that winter. To make a long story short, our hay was too rich for their system and we could get no help in dispersing them from our land.

What’s your sure sign of fall?

Spring in North Dakota

So glad that April is here…I’m getting the gardening bug. So I thought I’d go out and get some things ready today. Want to come along?

shoveling snow in winter

First, I checked my garden path. Making sure it was ready to go. Check.

snow drifts in winter

Went to get my gardening tools. I keep them in the shop. Good thing I have them ready to go! Check.

The tulips in front of the house are almost ready to bloom! Hopefully the sun will convince them to open up. Check.

The tulips in front of the house are almost ready to bloom! Hopefully the sun will convince them to open up. Check.

geese flying in winter

Even the geese are confused. They came north, now thinking about going south, and settled on southwest instead.

I am more than ready for spring…now if spring would just show up.

 

 

 

An unwelcomed visitor

Yesterday, there was a visitor on our farm. In fact, she was still here this morning, but I’m hoping she’s on her way by now. I haven’t seen her this afternoon, so either she’s moved on…or something.

It always starts with one...

It always starts with one…

Yesterday morning, my husband woke me up and asked me to look out by the calf shelter. At first I didn’t catch what he was seeing, but then a movement caught my eye. My first thought? “Oh no! Not again!” But then I was relieved to see only one…not a herd.

What in the world could I be talking about? Deer. Or in this instance, one deer. But it never stops at one.

This deer hardly even flinched when I moved up to the fence to snap this picture.

This deer hardly even flinched when I moved up to the fence to snap this picture.

Why does this one deer have me concerned? Where do I start…

1) Deer are wild creatures. They are not a domestic animal and should be afraid of humans. This deer is not. And it only moved when I was extremely close…but it never left the area. In fact, it only moved over to the next cattle-holding area.

Yes, that is a feed bunk for the cows that have just calved.

Yes, that is a feed bunk for the cows that have just calved.

2) Sick? The fact that this deer isn’t exhibiting normal deer behavior sets of warning bells in my head that something is physically wrong with it. And this deer is too close to our calves for comfort.

Just to show how close this deer is to our cattle.

Just to show how close this deer is to our cattle.

3) In my experience, deer are like mice. If you see one, there’s hundreds near by…and I don’t want a repeat of two years ago. Ever. The death and destruction was sickening. And those that are supposed to provide assistance did not.

So today I keep an eye out for our unwelcomed visitor. And if it shows signs of obvious illness or distress I will be quick to call the proper authorities to come take care of it. I’m just hoping it runs off, and doesn’t return with a few hundred of its closest friends and relatives.

WW – Calving 2013

I have a lot of stuff running through my head, but not enough time to write it all down. Here’s some cuteness to get you through the day:

A peak at a new calf through the gate in the barn.

A peak at a new calf through the gate in the barn.

Fresh on the farm!

Fresh on the farm!

This is the fourth bull calf from #27, the famous cow the tweets!

This is the fourth bull calf from #27, the famous cow the tweets!

Just catching some rays!

Just catching some rays!

Strike a pose!

Strike a pose!

Most kids get in trouble when they drink milk straight from the carton!

Most kids get in trouble when they drink milk straight from the carton!

Flat Aggie visits our farm

We had a visitor at our farm this week. He didn’t eat much, didn’t take up much room, but wanted to learn about what we do. His name is Flat Aggie, and he’s a project that was started by a teacher in California.

Many people are aware of Flat Stanley, the popular children’s book that follows the adventures of a paper man. This project is very similar, except the teacher sends Flat Aggie to farms across the country, hoping to learn through Flat Aggie’s travels all about what happens on the farm.

So what did Flat Aggie learn about on our farm? He helped with tagging our heifers with their cow tags. (To learn more about what the cow tags mean, such as their color, read more here.) For our heifers, that’s kind of like being adopted. When we switch out their calf tag with a cow tag, we’re including them in our herd.

A simple hair cut around the ears helps us see the cow tag better. Notice how the number on the left is much easier to see than the number on the right? Thanks, Flat Aggie, for the help!

A simple hair cut around the ears helps us see the cow tag better. Notice how the number on the left is much easier to see than the number on the right? Thanks, Flat Aggie, for the help!

While we were tagging the heifers, Flat Aggie also helped us trim the hair growing in the cattle’s ears. This makes it easier to see the tag numbers when we are working with the cattle. It’s important that we’re able to know which cow we’re dealing with from a distance, so that we can keep track of health, calving progress, etc.

This heifer (meaning she's going to have her first calf soon) is trading her yellow calf tag in for a blue cow tag!

This heifer (meaning she’s going to have her first calf soon) is trading her yellow calf tag in for a blue cow tag!

The last thing Flat Aggie helped us with was giving pre-calving vaccinations. For our cattle, this is very important for the health of the unborn calf. Think of it as a pregnant woman getting a flu shot. The risk of being ill while pregnant, or immediately after the baby is born is greater than the minimal risk of the vaccination. In cattle, even more so.

Before she goes back to eating her breakfast, this heifer gets a shot that will help protect her unborn calf from illness.

Before she goes back to eating her breakfast, this heifer gets a shot that will help protect her unborn calf from illness.

The best part of having Flat Aggie visit our farm? Being able to see things from another perspective. Having to figure out how to explain what we do so that a student could understand was a real eye-opening experience. And it’s great to connect to others across the country that are interested in what we do, but really have no way of finding out, other than through activities like this.

Did it take a little time? Of course. Was it worth it? Without a doubt.

Flat Aggie will be moving on to his next farm, learning his next lesson, sharing his next story. But you don’t need to have a piece of paper to encourage you to share your story. You can do it all on your own.

Trust me, people are wanting to hear what you have to say…you just have to take the step to share it.