Not a Mommy Blogger

Now, before you go off, accusing me of lying and thinking that I’m discounting a HUGE portion of the blog-o-sphere…let me explain. I’m not sure Mommy Bloggers exist.

What?!?

Yeah, that’s right…there’s no such thing as a Mommy Blogger. That term ranks up there with Big Foot, Toothfairy and Santa (just don’t tell my boys!). Why? Well, it’s simple. When you’re a mom, there’s no way you’re writing just about the cutesy-precious things your children do…and there’s no way you’re just writing about how many diapers you change. Being a Mom is so much more than that.

Last week, I had an online conversation with a friend of mine. She’s actually partially responsible for the creation of this blog in the first place! Let’s just say that she gave me that final push to get this blog started.

Anyway, we were talking blog stuff and the Mommy Blogger title came up. And again, I’m not sure such a thing exists. You see, when you’re a mom and you’re writing about your kids, it’s not just your kids that you’re writing about. Do I have you confused yet?

You write about society, you write about coping skills, you write about recipes. You share cleaning tips, you ask for advice and you share humor and entertainment. You write about education, you write about the future, you write about the past. You explain the simplest of life’s lessons, you share photos of the world and you pass on travel tips. There isn’t a piece of the pie that you don’t touch at some point in time. And all of that information can be translated into different realms.

Read about how a mother convinces a three-year-old that it’s their idea to take a nap. That same reasoning can be used to deal with the most difficult of customers in the retail world. Don’t think so? Trust me, I’ve done it.

Explain to a 7-year-old why our cows don’t make the milk that we drink, but they make the hamburger we eat. Then use that same conversation to base your ag education off of…trust me, a 7-year-old will ask you every hard-nosed question most reporters would think of!

Yes, in every essence of the term, I am a Mommy Blogger. Yet, I’m not. Actually, I’m more of a Farmmy Blogger.

When you come in to my blog, you will read about my children, my farm and my view points. You will learn about cattle, about crops and about life. You will hopefully laugh a lot, cry a little, but come back for more. And I will do the same.

Talk about a complicated answer to a simple question, eh?

Now ask me if I’m Republican or Democrat. 😉

Something for the future

I was reflecting on the past week, and something came to mind that I wanted to put down in my blog, so that someday Big Bro can look back and remember the impact that one little statement had on me.

As we were preparing for the Buy’N Show at the county fair (remember, the Reserve Champion ribbon that he didn’t want to compete for?), Big Bro had to fill out a form for the emcee to use to make a narrative for the Style Show part of the competition.

One question was: “Where would you like to go someday? Or where would you like to visit or vacation?”

His response caught me a bit off guard.

Big Bro asked if he could write, “Nowhere.” I asked, “Why?”

He replied, “I have everything I want right here…why would I need to go anywhere?”

Yeah, I had to wipe tears from my eyes, too.

The best gift that my son could give me...reminding me that everything I could ever want is still right here.

New adventures

Well, it’s official. I’m starting a new adventure in my life. I am officially a columnist for a regional daily newspaper.

Yeah, that’s right, someone is actually going to publish what I write. Hah! 🙂

Actually, I used to work at the Aberdeen American News prior to married life. I typed up wedding announcements and birth announcements and all sorts of community events. I proofread the paper and worked on special assignments. I met some amazing people and I LOVED my job.

But driving an hour one way, starting a new life (and family) with my new husband and having an opportunity closer to home all convinced me that I needed to travel down another path. Fast forward 10 years, and here we are!

My columns will run every other week, starting May 25…and I’m nervous! Aack! But I’m also excited. I have a chance to share my story, share my farm, and share my family with others on a scale that not many are given. How amazing is that?!?

Milk is good for you!

With these guys around, I probably won't run out of stuff to write about!

And to top it off…some of the same great people are still working at the paper. So it’s a little like coming home. In fact, the same amazing woman who was my boss so many years ago will now be my editor. Cool, eh?

Well, I better get to writing down all these ideas floating in my head. I can’t wait!!!

P.S. If you have any ideas, suggestions, etc. you’d like to share, shoot ’em at me!!

A Shovel, a Gap and Mike Rowe

I’ve always liked Mike Rowe. And earlier this year, (thanks to our time served on the American Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Committee) I was able to see him up close and personal. It was an amazing time, an amazing speech and he is an amazing man. I feel even more so now.

Mr. Rowe testified in front of the Senate Commerce Committee recently, regarding what he considers a “Skills Gap.” In essence, we push, prod and reward those that strive for excellence in careers such as doctors, lawyers, etc., but consider skilled labor as something fit for those that couldn’t make it in college, or at least not far enough to get a doctorate. It’s an amazing read, go ahead, it’s linked up above. Read it. Now.

He’s right.

And I’m guilty of it, too.

When I think of my boys’ futures, I think about doctors and lawyers and all things that moms dream of…but I’m forgetting about what they’re dreaming of. Why? Every day we rely on those people that are behind the scenes, but how many people look at their child and say, “Someday, I hope you’ll be a mechanic.” Why?

EJ is working on his truck, while Dad is washing the combine.

We use electricity, but forget about the linemen. We get into our vehicles everyday, knowing that if something goes wrong a mechanic is a phone call away. We eat, but the dirt is under someone else’s fingernails. All these things we take for granted everyday. And Mr. Rowe is right…it needs to change.

Technology is changing the world, but our reliance on skilled labor is as great as it has ever been. We need tradesmen as much as we need doctors. And we need to encourage those that have a passion for those careers.

The next time my son picks up a wrench and asks what it’s for, my answer will be different. That tool is just as important as a scalpel. Who am I to try to determine what the tools for his future are? I can provide for him all the options available, but the choice is his to make.

So whether he decides to go into a cutting-edge profession such as social-media marketing, or a centuries-old one such as farming, I know one thing for certain…I’ll be there to hand him the tools he needs.

The only planting around here…

Just like most of the state, our area has been too wet to plant. And although this week has seen more and more fields getting going, our planter is still parked in the shop, getting ready to go. So this is the planting that I did this weekend:

Part of our new garden project will include Spaghetti Squash for George to eat through the winter.

 

Our garden is taking on a new role this year. You see, with George not being able to consume much for protein, that really, really, really limits his diet. So I decided that instead of spending a ton of money on frozen and canned fruits and veggies, that I would try to supplement his diet with our own home-grown veggies.

Spaghetti squash will replace his noodles, I’ve started some sugar snap peas, some watermelon and I will get a few packs of other veggies and fun stuff at the greenhouse this week. I can’t wait!

I started these seeds inside a few weeks ago, but they’re outgrowing my containers and the garden isn’t ready yet for them to go outside. So I transplanted them this weekend.

I'm new to all this, so these are my chosen tools for the year.

 

I, of course, needed some extra soil.

 

The bottom is what I started with, and the finished product transplanted at top!

 

I even planted a few flowers in a hanging basket. I know, it's scary for me too!

 
OK, so in the last week or so, I’ve baked, I’ve crafted and now I’m gardening. I think Mark’s going to be glad I started this whole blogging thing!
 
Now, to only figure out how to organize…

Industrial-sized love

Yesterday, I overheard…hmmmm…over-read?…What would you call it if you caught a tweet that wasn’t directed TO you, but was about you? Well, anyway, that happened.

Someone claimed that a majority of farmers/ranchers involved in social media are “industrial ag.” (Particularly those that have ever participated in a Tuesday-night Twitter chat called #agchat.) I took offense to that. I’ve participated in several of these “chats,” where questions are asked and answered. No one claims to be an expert, no one claims to have all the answers, it’s just a discussion. The point is to connect the consumer to the producer. Sounds great, right?

Well, apparently someone off in cyber-world doesn’t want this conversation to take place. Perhaps it’s someone who enjoys causing trouble, or someone who profits from discontent. But when you accuse me and my friends of being something we’re not, you better back up your accusations with specific definitions, numbers, acres, parameters, etc.

I asked this particular person what “industrial ag” meant. And of course, received no response. Apparently throwing out terms and accusations is enough. Planting seeds of doubt seems to be the game, while we’re all busy planting real seeds…you know, the kind that feed the people who question our motives.

So, I’ve decided to delve into the definition of industrial ag, and see if I can come up with my own answers. I know quite a few people who have participated in the #agchat conversation on Twitter, and they have operations very similar to mine. So let’s get started:

Industrial – definition –

adjective

  1. having the nature of or characterized by industries
  2. of, connected with, or resulting from industries
  3. working in industries
  4. of or concerned with people working in industries
  5. for use by industries: said of products

noun

  1. a stock, bond, etc. of an industrial corporation or enterprise: usually used in pl.
  2. Rare a person working in industry
  3. a form of dance music characterized by pulsating rhythms, fragmented vocal lines, and distorted electronic sounds including urban sound effects

OK, so the definition doesn’t tell me much. I mean, according to the definition, anyone involved in agriculture is industrial…because we’re involved in the industry. But I don’t think that’s the connotation that was shot for when the comment was made. So let’s look at the operation:

They're oldies, but goodies.

Perhaps our state-of-the-art, vintage methods of combining our crops make us industrial?

This is the house I grew up in.

My house

Or maybe it was the silver-spoon I was raised with?

Future Farmer

EJ already knows he has big shoes to fill!

Or maybe it’s our hired men…there are four of them, you know. They don’t get paid much, but their benefits are extraordinary!

It takes all types...of equipment, that is.

Maybe it’s our specialized equipment we use?

Great us of advertising!

I took this ad out of the middle pages of a farm magazine, because EJ wanted to farm it.

Or the land we farm?

Little brother (George), looking up to his big brother, wanting to farm, just like him.

But I’m guessing it’s none of these things. I’m guessing that the reason people are casting doubts on our industry, and those of us doing what we can to protect and promote this way of life that we love, is that we’re cutting into their bottom line. Casting doubt on agriculture and spreading fear and lies about food, fuel and fiber is big business. And if we’re putting some of those questions and fears to rest, then we’re putting some people out of business.

I guess I might get a little cranky about that too.

If YOU have any questions about your food, fuel or fiber, feel free to ask! I’ll do what I can to answer, show you how we do it, explain why, whatever it may be. And if I can’t answer, I have friends across the world, involved in every aspect of agriculture, that are more than willing to do the same.

We have an industrial-sized love for agriculture…and we LOVE to share!

The doctor is in

It has been a little over a month since we were finally clued in to what was going on with George. It’s been a few weeks of trying to find our groove, feeling our way along and doing lots, and lots, and lots of research.

What I found hasn’t been all that encouraging, but if you are prepared for the worst, than anything above that is excellent…right? And either way, having some idea as to what is going on is WAY better than fighting some unknown. Trust me on that one.

I have spent countless hours on the phone, trying to figure out the logistics of George’s “medical food” (which has been an absolute nightmare), arranging for our emergency care plan (hopefully it will get old and dusty and never need to be used!),  and educating quite a few medical personnel on a rare condition called ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency. (If I had a nickel for every time I was asked to spell that this week…)

But, with the bad comes the good. George has had a GREAT week…and we’ve added another word to his vocabulary!  He now says, “More,” while signing it. It’s GREAT!

Because I’ve been asked a lot about it, I’m going to give you a quick run-down on OTC. Here are the facts:

  • OTC is a rare metabolic disorder, usually genetically inherited through the mother
  • OTC affects the body’s ability to get rid of ammonia, which is a by-product of breaking down protein. Since the body can’t get rid of the ammonia, the levels increase in the blood, causing the most damage to the brain.
  • High-stress episodes can cause the ammonia level to spike, things that we need to watch for, and seek immediate treatment for, are: fever of 101 or higher, vomitting, lethargy, hyperactivity, etc.
  • Treatment includes immediate IV fluids during episodes to lower the ammonia levels, low-protein diet, and sometimes medications. (The low-protein diet will be life-long. Although, as he grows, we should be able to add in more protein. Right now we are at only 9-10 grams of protein per day. The “medical food” provides the rest of the essential amino acids that are needed to grow and sustain life.)
  • The only “cure” is a liver transplant, which is a drastic step, to say the least.

If we follow the diet, make sure George takes his supplement, and are very diligent during times of illness, George should have a very normal life, sans meat. So that’s what we’ll do. (You can read more here.)

I will admit, though, that this week has not been easy for me. I’ve been in a bit of a dark place these last few days. The weather, lack of sleep, lack of interaction with others, fear, anxiety, anger…you name it, it’s hit me. But I promise this week will be better.

It’s up to me to make it so.