Thursday, December 30, 2010

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Hey everyone! It's that time of year...time to reflect, remember, and return thanks to all who have followed, read, commented, shared, and given me the confidence to continue on this journey of writing about a life I lead, and yet still am trying to understand!

Obviously, my family deserves A LOT of credit, Joe especially. Thanks for being the butt of my jokes and for giving me awesome material. Thanks for allowing me to poke fun at your profession, when I truly believe what you're doing is amazing. Thanks for making a life for our family that is something bigger than what we can see in material things. And thanks for that gift this Christmas of fixing my treadmill (hint, hint) and putting down my rubber floor mats in my car. Har, har!

To my girls, thanks for allowing Mommy "just two more minutes" when I'm trying to finish a blog post when you really need help getting the markers down so you could potentially draw on my walls while I'm concentrating. Thanks for making my life interesting and exciting, albeit exhausting. I am your dad's wife and your mom first, and a writer way down the list, even though at times it seems like I put this first. I'm just trying to complete a sentence with correct grammar.

Which leads me to my parents. Thanks Mom for checking my grammar and giving me material, and allowing many, many phone calls to allow me to vent. Thanks Dad for also providing material, all while handing out my cards to all those who may (or may not) be interested in reading what I have to say.

Thanks to my in-laws, as well, for providing great feedback (as well as material, Rick!), and for Karma, my super sharer and potential publicity director when I hit it big! You're a great PR rep for me already!

Thanks to my "manager," Sarah for being my number one fan, and even putting me in print!! Thanks Kara for being my personal paparazzi and helping me make this blog beautiful (with the help of some ADORABLE children!). Thanks also to Illinois Farm Bureau for thinking I have enough to say (do I ever lack, really?) about agriculture to be a part of something that allowed me to stay in a hotel, talk to adults and dress fancy for a day!

Thanks to Holly Spangler at Prairie Farmer, The Farmer's Trophy Wife, and Crystal Cattle for sharing my posts and making me truly believe that people other than my friends and family are reading my posts!! Thanks to the BlogHer network for sharing my posts with a greater audience, and even paying me a little...well, hardly enough to cover a Papa John's Pizza in celebration, but that's okay...I'm not the Pioneer Woman (see an earlier post) YET.

Finally, thanks to all you readers, writers, followers, and otherwise just plain awesome people who think what I have to say is worth your time to sit down and enjoy. I know this next year will bring more mayhem to write about from this farm, but I'm also so hopeful that I can continue to strive to learn more about agriculture and share it with you all in a way that is readable and relevant.

Blessings to you all in the New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A White Christmas

I love white Christmases. Since I have only lived in Illinois, most Christmases during my lifetime have had some sort of white, thus my intense desire for at least a dusting of snow on or near Christmas. The only one that needed not to be white was the Christmas I got my hot pink Schwinn mountain bike (that I swore to my dad I would ride forever...see it now, since high school, in their basement).

Anyway, as we drove home, carefully, from my in-laws on Christmas Eve night, I was so excited! A perfectly heavy, white snow! As we made our way north and east, it kept coming, and had accumulated to nearly six inches! Whoo-hoo! The snow boots I got the girls would be perfect (Take that, Northerners!!)!

I noticed, however, the driver next to me (aka, Farmer Joe) was not as excited. Granted, he was driving on the sketchy roads, and Josie had been car sick earlier that day, and he did have many Christmas presents to set up when we got home, and it was 10:30 pm, but, still, I asked him what was wrong.


Snow? On Christmas Eve? That's the problem? Seriously...what a grinch.

No, he's a realist. Snow in the Midwest in December is inevitable, so Joe isn't a complainer about that, but snow and ice and cold, coupled with cattle make for a labor intensive next day.


And here I was happily humming Bing Crosby.

Anyway, Joe then explained that he and our hired man had winterized things, and although there would be extra work in the morning, it wouldn't be so bad. You see, livestock farmers have to prepare for all seasons. Winter is tricky, thus, one must be prepared. He has purebred cattle (they're more like pets) that are going to be calving soon, so he has had to prepare to move them to the calving barn (kind of like where Jesus was born). Then there's the issue of snow over grass or stalks. Although the cattle can root around and find some for sustenance, feeding the cattle hay (with a tractor, to multiple pastures), and some times multiple times a day, is a must. It's a busy time. I'm learning that on a working livestock farm, there is rarely a season that is NOT busy!

However, Joe had pre-fed some heifers, cut out water from ice, and readied the farm for snow after studying the weather for days on end.

He didn't prepare for Santa to bring him a flat tire on his chore tractor...the one that has a cab.

So, we switched our tune from White Christmas to Jingle Bells, and he went to work on his one horse open sleigh...aka, the tractor without a cab.

Oh what fun...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas is ALMOST Here!

Holy smokes! I just realized what date was on the calendar! YIKES!!!!!!!!!!

With Christmas being less than a week away, and with some big shot duties I have at the Kindergarten Christmas Party (har, har...get excited for Christmas BINGO!!), along with family dinner after family dinner after family dinner, I am fearful my postings this week and next will be few and far between. Thanks to the longevity of our family, as well as some out of state visitors, we'll be in and out and in and out and north and south and all around!

During this time of the year, however, I am constantly under self-imposed deadlines. I create unnecessary stress, worrying about rather ridiculous things, like making sure my house is "just right" for Santa (does he really care if the bathroom floor is mopped?), all the while trying to keep up with the craziness that is Christmas programs, Christmas parties, wrapping, refereeing, protecting the tree from a toddler, and maintaining our schedule and life on the farm.

Just recently, when I was starting to freak out, I realized I had plastered on my mom's signature "Christmas Smile." Your mom probably had one too. Our mom would be seen around the holidays with this crazy, wild-eyed smile before any family gathering, and then could be found sneaking in her yearly sip of Bartles and James before many a family Christmas (sorry, Mom). Does anyone else do this?

I know this "faking it" smile is ridiculous. No life is like a Pottery Barn catalogue, nor is it a TV show. This is a wondrous time of year, and should come without worrying about unnecessary details. I love, love, love Christmas, especially now that I see it through the eyes of my young kids. Thanks to my kids and the daily workings of the farm, I am constantly reminded that the details of Christmas should be considered just details. Because we have livestock and little kids (who are a lot more similar than you would think), each day is essentially the same. Chores, feedings, and the like have to be completed for our farm and our family to operate smoothly, regardless of how many wreaths I put out or presents I have wrapped. Cows and kids don't care. The big picture is to keep the big picture in mind. Therefore, a lot of my details that I freak out about need to remain just details.

I have to constantly step back and force myself to keep this bigger picture in mind. We are blessed to have been blessed by a baby born to save us, and we are surrounded by the miracle of the sacrifice He made on the cross.

I know, I know, I went from sassy and smarty to spiritual in one single post, but my hope is that this season, while you are enjoying (or pretending to enjoy) your family, doing your life--whether its mundane or exciting that day--, remember that we are blessed to be here. We are blessed with health and family and choices and freedoms, and, most importantly, a life that is and can continue to be amazing.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, and know that I pray for you all to be healthy and safe during this season, and that you are able to grit your teeth and plaster on your Christmas Smile during this most wonderful time of the year.

photography by Kara Kamienski Photography, Washington, IL. Hire her, she's amazing.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Snow Boot Debate

Okay, so my blog has been dubbed Farming in Fashion Boots because I admit whole heartedly that I am a fashionista. In turn, because I have been blessed with not one, not two, but three girls, whether they like it or not, they too must learn to at least appreciate having some sort of fashion sense.

Now, I'm not so psychotic that I don't make them wear their hood or hats when it's cold outside because of the potential of messing up their hair, nor do I care what they wear when we're at our house (you should see the camo and John Deere get ups Anna puts on when we have "do nothing days!!"). However, since Anna has started kindergarten, we made a pact that I would pick out her clothes and shoes for the school days.

Today, however, was a trick. There are a mere nine days until Christmas is here, and a present I got the girls (note that it was just ME who bought these) is a pair of snow boots. I'm talking cute, pink and black with sparkle detail little girl boots that they'll wear out in the snow, or Anna will wear to school on snowy days. I have had a few questionable weather days that I have considered breaking these boots out early, but thankfully, our snow measurements haven't yielded enough to warrant any boot wearing. Plus, as Joe pointed out again today, she has her Northerners. Okay, for those of you like me who don't frequent Tractor Supply Company or Farm King, Northerner boots are these green rubber-ish boots that are insulated, warm, expensive and, most importantly UGLY. They are worn primarily for choring, as they can be hosed off with great ease. These are great for Joe, Anna and even Josie to have, as they are no big deal to go tromping around in the muck, mud and who knows what else. However, to wear to school? I shuddered to think of it, and started walking towards the hiding point of the fancy boots.

Joe was horrified. How could I even consider giving the girls a Christmas present early? Who cares if she wears her chore boots to school, when all she's going to do is take them off once she gets there? Is there truly a kindergarten fashion cop?

Well, in my book, there probably is a little cute, but slightly mean girl who will comment on Anna's army green chore boots this morning, and I'm hopeful that she will not have her mother's insecurities of wanting to always be on the cusp of high style, just to basically fit in. My hope is that Anna will continue to think that her dad's occupation is the greatest one out there, and that green rubber boots, although not the most flattering, are exactly what they are: green rubber boots. They are just boots that will keep her feet dry, and that are worn to help feed and check the cattle that we care for.

I'm the one who has to get over the Northerners. Either that, or design a line of cute chore footwear!

That's IT!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Excitement and Anticipation in a Small Town

Tis the season to be jolly, and to have at least three different opportunities per Saturday morning to see Santa. Although big city conveniences are limited living in a rural community (have I ever mentioned I live nearly 30 minutes from the nearest Target??), the opportunities to participate in cute community focused events are plentiful, especially during the holiday season.

My girls are very excited for the arrival of the dude in the big red suit, and this anticipation is only intensified by the nine thousand (okay, well three) potential Breakfast with Santas they could have attended this past weekend. Thankfully, they are just still mystified by the fact that Santa can be in Yates City, Hanna City, and at Josie's preschool on the same Saturday. They aren't to the questioning phase yet, but rather devised a plan as we drove from visiting Santa to Anna's YMCA basketball game about some magical, invisible car that transported Santa between the different locales. Anna nearly stumped the preschool Santa by saying that she had seen him at school that week. Thankfully, our preschool Santa was a good actor, and just went with it.

We are so blessed to live in a small community where the Santas are as plentiful as syrup flowing at a pancake breakfast. When I get frustrated reading the different Facebook statuses of city friends talking about their trips "downtown" to see a show, or just running out to IKEA (our nearest one is THREE HOURS away....makes my trip a yearly pilgrimage), or enjoying the after Christmas sales at Nordstrom truly after Christmas, not in February, I have to remember how my girls are making memories here. They are making friends that they will have for their entire school life (which can be good and bad, I know!), as they will attend the same school, in the same building for the rest of their school days. We are so lucky to have a community that knows where we live based upon who our neighbors are or who rented our house after my grandparents moved into town. Life is good here, even if we are far away from what some consider "civilization."

Fortunately, Santa sees no place too small or too far off the beaten path to show up at a pancake breakfast, or three, on a Saturday morning.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Joys of a Winter's Morn

Waking up in the country on a snowy morning is picturesque. The freshly fallen snow on the road is pristine, as no cars have marred its fresh blanket. The wind is howling, but blowing small drifts against our out buildings, giving the appearance of a painting that should be on the front of a Christmas card.

However, looks can be deceiving. As Joe bundled up for this morning's chores, I know he was thinking about the difficulties that lie ahead. Thankfully, our cattle are in good spots to get out of the wind, but the hope, with these sub-zero temperatures, is that water will be available, or at least easy to extract from beneath a crust of ice. Chores this morning will be more difficult, not just because of the slick road covered in ice and dusted with snow, but for the simple fact that the basic needs of all living things on a day like today: food, shelter, and water, will have to be checked, double checked and secured.

I take for granted that Joe just does his job without any complaining, regardless of the extreme heat or cold. While I get to choose today whether or not to step foot outside today, Joe has to go out. He has to not only sit in a cold truck, slip and slide to his different pasture ground to check cattle, but has to get out of the warm truck, brave the 50 MPH winds and make sure that our livelihood--read, our cattle--are faring this awful weather.

Weather is merely an inconvenience to me, loading up kids in car seats with coats is not fun. Dragging all the kids to our unattached garage without anyone being knocked over by the wind or falling on the slick sidewalk is a true Christmas miracle. However, while weather is inconvenient for Joe as a livestock farmer, it could be potentially deadly for our animals, and, therefore, detrimental for our business.

But, because Joe comes from a long line of hardy folks, hard workers, and people who always prepare for the worst, he's out there, with a good attitude, making sure that everything and every being is safe, fed, and has water.

Meanwhile...I'm in my jammies, enjoying my coffee and watching cable TV, debating on whether or not currently I should walk on the treadmill or wait until this afternoon. Decisions, decisions.

Thank goodness, for the sake of our operation, that I'm not the farmer!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Secret to Weight Loss-Farmer Style

Did I reel you in? Are you intrigued? Am I the next Dr. Mehmet Oz?


I am just opinionated, if you haven't noticed, and since becoming a full time farm wife, I have been listening to my fellow moms, friends, and media with new ears. I have been reading my running and parenting magazines with new eyes, and have been trying to keep my mouth shut when some one comes out with a new "trick" of eating right.

High fructose corn syrup (aka sugar made from corn), red meat, flour, and the like have become bad words in our eating conversations. Why is that? Why are foods such as a pot roast and flour used to bake bread, staples such as flour and hamburger, which are in most of the recipes my 96 year old grandmother uses (she is the lady who has no allergies, no major health issues, and no lengthy hospital stays, sans a hip replacement when she was 92) considered bad?

Since the bulk of our operation consists of corn and cows, I truly take offense when some one proclaims that they are giving up all corn products and red meat. Seriously? You're going to spend hours upon hours in the grocery stores reading labels to cut out something that generates a bulk of your economy, if you're a Midwesterner? I’m all for being educated in regards to what you eat, but who has the time to do that? I’m just trying to figure out how to keep the kids from jumping out of the cart! I know there are extenuating circumstances. I have two sweet nieces and a dear friend's daughter who have terrible food-related allergies, and their moms had to become really educated on what their children could and could not eat because of their own health and safety. I'm not talking about these cases. I'm talking about women who have had babies, gained a few pounds and want a quick fix. I’m talking about dudes who love pizza and watching football, but not playing it. I'm talking about a huge percentage of Americans who want to eat, but not move.

I am no fitness expert, nor am I nutritionist, but I enjoyed college and its pizza and beer. I have had three children, gained weight, and subsequently lost it, and then some, but there's no secret. I ate a variety of food, enjoyed a cocktail and dessert, but I MOVED. I'm not suggesting that all of you become runners, but if you want your cake and eat it to, it's as simple as this: eat a little and move a lot.

That is truly the farmer style of weight loss. My loving husband is case in point: he loses the "Harvest 15," as we call it, because during that time, he's focusing less on snacking, eating for survival (and what his slightly bossy, health conscious wife makes him), and constantly moving. He's not a gym rat or a runner, but just his constant getting in and out of the tractor, running between the bin and the semi that's unloading, and never being still during that time allows him to eat what he wants, when he has time, and lose weight.

There's a professor who proved this point by his steady diet of Twinkies and Nutty Bars and powdered donuts, losing 27 pounds on this diet that would leave Dr. Oz aghast. This is not what I'm suggesting you do if you want to shed holiday pounds, but I am asking you to consider your sources before you go and cut out foods that are grown locally, even though may be processed or finished out a ways away.

As for me, I'm currently "enjoying" (not really, I HATE that part, despise not running, and know that no one cares but me, but STILL!) gaining weight for the sake of our new addition. However, come the birth of the child, I'll be back on my track of trying to eat a wide variety of foods, all while moving constantly. Which won't be too hard when I have four little ones to chase!

Monday, November 29, 2010

To Illuminate or Not to Illuminate?

Once upon a time, there lived a young bachelor. He was a highly esteemed agriculture teacher at a small high school. He was energetic, creative, exciting. He even decorated his country house for a Christmastime contest...and won!

Fast forward nearly 10 years, and this agriculture teacher is now a full time farmer and currently is arguing with his wife about whether or not exterior illumination is NECESSARY this year?


That is not even the question I posed (by the way, the teacher was Joe, and I'm the wife...duh). The question was simply whether or not he would be helping me (did I mention I am carrying his FOURTH child??) put up said exterior illumination, not whether there would even be any.


However, like after any discussion Joe and I have, this discussion got me to consider my viewpoint from another angle. I started to reconsider whether or not Christmas lights are necessary this year. After all, Ed and Joyce-our lovely neighbors-,my parents, and a handful of drunks out for a joy ride are the only folks who truly travel our road. Why would they need to notice our Christmas spirit?

However, why wouldn't they notice our Christmas spirit? Why shouldn't we pretend that people would notice that we did a nice job making our Norman Rockwell-ish front porch look even more Norman Rockwell-ish? Why don't I just do it myself?

Well, it's raining currently, and the wind is about 30 MPH, so I'm not interested at the moment, but my point is this: farmers tend to view anything that is outdoor related, but not farm-related as unnecessary, even if we are celebrating the birth of Christ (note the guilt trip here...pack your bags, Farmer Joe!). Seriously, it has come to my attention that because farmers are outside all day and some times even into the night, working with animals, caring for sick calves, hauling grain to the elevator in the wee hours in order to beat the lines, some tend to believe that everything else should be taken care of by those at home, or not tended to at all.

I know this is not necessarily the case with every farmer, but in my world, my mom puts up the lights, my aunt has stood on the bed of the pick up truck to string her lights, and I will, tomorrow, haul out my greenery and lights and put up my own dang Christmas lights.

Until there's some sort of competition in our "neighborhood," or when a commodity can come out of greenery and twinkling lights, we will never be accused of making a bigger carbon footprint because of the excess electricity our fancy light display is using.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Who Do You See?

What is the picture you see when you're asked to visualize a farmer?

Does he have bib overalls on?
Does he have a family?
Is there a dog, some cattle, or chickens with him?
Is he surrounded by a barn and a loving family?
Are there any plants in the picture?
Is he even a "he?"

Interestingly enough, the image of the typical American farmer that "urbanites" see in their mind's eye is a rather humble looking, slightly goofy smiling, male farmer wearing a weird t-shirt and a nerdy hat. He looks nice enough, but it surprised me that he had on neither a collared shirt, nor a seed corn cap, as that's what I see (and wash) nearly every day.

The bottom line of this picture was that the man looked trustworthy.

I guess if you wear a nerdy hat and smile like a goof, you're a good guy, and trustworthy enough to produce your food.

The image of the American farmer is skewed, and even though my family doesn't wear goofy hats or t-shirts to work, the image itself of the small, quaint farmer, who seems to just produce, well, produce is what is concerning. We smile happily when the weather is cooperating, and love the land we work, but this picture of the cutesy farmer that could potentially either harvest turnips or turn around and pick a few peaches is unrealistic. This is no one's fault, but the American farmer, his- or herself.

Even though we have been told to tell our story, been empowered by training, are fueled by the fire of those who have been collecting data and studying this "farmer image" for years to go out and get that image of the nerdy looking, yet very nice (I must emphasize) farmer out of the American public's head, we don't know how to do this, except to preach to the choir. That, or come out with our guns blazing, ready to defend all the harmful press that the lovely mainstream media keeps cranking out.

But is that really what American urbanites are concerned about? And how do I "get my story out" without seeming preachy or boring? And, most importantly, how does some one like me, who is a newbie to this farming business sound intelligent during a potentially heated debate with some one contesting my family's livelihood?

Hopefully, I have a start with my writing. I'm hopeful that this this blog will continue to not only cause me to ask questions of my family and its connection with agriculture, but also bring this information to you, the reader in a way that you can understand and be entertained and informed simultaneously.

But, after my training yesterday, I'm not sure this is enough. Would standing on the street, near a farmer's market or grocery store, and shouting out about how much we love our cows and keep them vaccinated so that they can remain healthy? Should I send a picture to all urban newspapers of our family, the one in which Joe is neither wearing a dumb hat, nor am I wearing Mom Jeans (ALL OF THE FARM MOM PICTURES HAD ON THE MOM JEANS!! Grr...).

Well, something I took away from my training was to listen. To really hear the questions and concerns, asked by the moms in my circle of friends, or family members at holiday get togethers. I should truly be mindful of the advertising at the grocery store, and see if its promoting the farmer image I see across from me at the dinner table or the goofy dude in the picture.

I love to talk, so this listening thing will be hard.

However, my question to you, dear readers, is what is your picture of an American farmer? What do you see as important issues in regards to your food? How can I help you understand about where your food comes from and who is growing it? Do you want to understand the nuts and bolts of the American Farm Family, or are you more interested in whether or not the beef you get at the grocery store is safe for you to eat?

Let me know, and I'll continue to keep you posted on the goings on at this farmstead.

And, just for the record, something to change in your mind's eye immediately is the wearing of goofy hats and mom jeans!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why I Am Not the Pioneer Woman

I just updated my Facebook status with our dinner menu for tonight. I rarely update my status with a menu since I cook most nights, and, unfortunately, it's usually not exciting. However, I was channeling my inner Ree Drummond (aka, the Pioneer Woman), whom I just watched on Throwdown With Bobby Flay.

She inspired me to cook my family a Thanksgiving feast of our own. However, I used my mother-in-law's, mother's, and frozen roll recipes, not the fancy gourmet-ish meals Ree prepared as she competed with Chef Bobby on the Food Network.

As I washed my dishes in my normal sized sink in my beautiful, yet cozy (read, smallish in comparison to the Drummond's) kitchen, I got to thinking about the beginning of my blogging. Right after I started posting, I found out about the Pioneer Woman. I even wrote to her, telling her how alike we were, living in the sticks. I explained to her that I too was new to the farming life, and was about to embark upon writing on it as a person with a new perspective on the American Family Farm. I never heard back from her, which is fine, because now that I have read a little bit more about her, followed her website, and grown with mine, I realized she and I have a different life in a seemingly common livelihood.

First realization that we are different: She has a guest house on their sprawling 1000+ acre cattle ranch in Oklahoma. Man, is that guest house something to behold. I guess cookbook sales were good, and cattle sold well for them! Seriously, their lifestyle is almost like a celebrity's life in the farm world. Huge ranchers with deep family history in the business, coupled with a best selling cookbook and a syndicated, widely followed and highly advertised website equals a guest house.

We have a shack where we store our lawn furniture in the winter.

The second realization I made is that I am not out for the same audience, or even the same goal as the Pioneer Woman. When I first saw her link to the "Confessions" category in her website, I panicked. I seriously worried that I would come across as someone who was trying to steal her idea. Of course, this dawned on me after I had already come up with my seemingly original and catchy title for my blog. However, I realize now that her niche is not to learn more and share about the agriculture and animals that surround her. She's cooking. She's making things beautiful, taking glorious pictures of it, and wearing Anthropologie to her Today Show interviews.

I'm wearing LOFT and Talbots to the Illinois Commodity Conference, while making a really noteworthy meal (that I will not be taking a picture of) for the first time in a long time.

My fears about starting this blog have subsided, and my worries that I would be stealing thunder or ideas or audience from this nationwide sensation who is featured on the Food Network are gone, and I'm happy with that.

I like my cozy kitchen, will enjoy my pumpkin pie tonight, and will go to bed realizing that my life is as extraordinary (or ordinary) as everyone else's. It's just that my marketing is just not as fancy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

To What or To Whom Should We Cast the Blame?

As I sat in the bleachers last night watching my oldest daughter at her first basketball practice, feeling like a "real" parent for the first time, I took a look around the gym. Kids of all shapes and sizes were bouncing basketballs, running after ones that had bounced off their feet, and chasing each other when the coach had lost their interest.

The kids were having a great time. None of them were concerned about the level of competition. Not a one complained about being tired. No one was self conscious about his or her clothes or shoes or anything. No one talked about what they ate, how much they weighed or anything like that. They were just kids, having a marvelous time.

The level of their physical activity for one hour was high. Each kid had to run around the court, keep his or her balance, practice good eye-hand coordination, and yet, no one whined about being tired or not having enough time to do this practice or anything.

Nothing like we adults tend to do at times.

Now, I am a self proclaimed exercise and running fanatic, so I must have something inside me that is pre-programmed to need to sweat at least once a day, hard. I need to feel my breathing heavy and my pulse racing. Call me a junkie, but I can still fit into my skinny jeans, and I'm 13 weeks pregnant. I, however, have encountered those in my life who would rather watch a ball game than participate in one. I still contend that through exercise, one can maintain a healthy lifestyle, and still eat normally (meaning, pizza on Fridays and an occasional doughnut).

Many Americans, however, are more interested in determining who or what is causing them to be fat, rather than taking their own health into their hands. High Fructose Corn Syrup is a naughty word, according to Michael Pollen, Rachael Ray, and other fancy-schmancy foodies. While I agree one shouldn't sit down and spoon up a bunch of the stuff, a lot of the problem is the AMOUNT of said corn syrup that is taken in coupled with the fact that it is often enjoyed while watching a movie, playing a video game, or just enjoying a double shot venti caramel machiatto in one's car on your way to your desk job. If we would maybe run around a bit like my little basketball player, maybe we could enjoy these treats and not worry about them killing us.

Although I have spoken up about Michael Pollen and how annoyed I am with his outspokenness (hello, Pot! It's Kettle!), I just finished reading an interesting article in Agri-News about his philosophies on not necessarily just American agriculture, but American nutrition. I have to say, gulp, I agree with him. During his presentation at the Food for Thought Conference in Indianapolis, he spoke on how the blame for the ruination of American health should not be solely placed upon farmers who produce products that go into high fructose corn syrup or other processed foods. Rather, we should be placing the blame on the fact that Americans are less concerned with nutrition and more concerned with convenience. Hmmmm...

Well, duh, I say. Thank you, Michael Pollen for speaking the somewhat obvious. Sadly, however, this may come as a surprise to some folks out there. Even if you're eating processed foods once in a while, if you just sit around and do nothing, and don't have an apple for a snack once in a while, your health will decline.

Well, duh, again, Emily.

I am not a perfect cook, nor am I a perfect parent, however, a magic word has come into my life as a parent who happens to consider herself health-conscious. That word, is no. I can say no to myself and children and even husband (ask his former co-workers about my phrase "make a healthy choice."). My kids eat Halloween candy, enjoy a McDonald's french fry once in a while, but on our table, within their reach is not a bowl of fruit snacks, but actual fruit. The kids know that if they want a snack, that's fine, but we need to talk about what they've eaten during the day and make a good choice based on that. Now, I'm not making my girls keep food diaries or anything crazy like that, but if we say no once in a while, and put a yes in there here and there, food becomes less of an issue, and more of a source of nutrition, rather than a lifestyle. We don't need to forbid foods. I believe that is the part of no that is tricky, but we need to balance everything out.

I also believe heavily in marketing. Like the commercials for Go-gurt and Pop Tarts and Dairy Queen, they have a target audience. I do too. My little girls have been choosing apples and bananas and grapes lately because that's what's in the bowl on the counter, at their eye level. Talk about ad placement...I'm a marketing GENIUS!! They prefer that for an afternoon snack, and that has nothing to do with my stellar parenting, but the marketing in which I employed to make the fruit look appetizing as well as accessible.

So, back to Michael Pollen, the gym full of kindergarten hoopsters, and the sedentary adults watching their kids. Should I blame Michael Pollen for the not-so-pretty picture he painted of production agriculture? No. He was presenting an idea in a way that was spun to fire up his audience. I agree that there are some farmers out there solely out to make a buck, and fortunately, I am married to some one who isn't a "factory farmer." Should I blame the little kindergartner for being winded during the lap they had to run, or should I blame his dad who loudly proclaimed that they had to hustle through the drive-thru to get to practice on time. Well, I shouldn't cast judgment on anyone, I know, but I do think his dad could do him a favor by packing a PB&J next time. That way, the poor kid won't chuck his nuggets as he does his laps. Who should I blame for the reason why I don't "look the way I did in high school?" I lettered in three sports and played in two summer leagues, lifted weights in the summer and swam with wonder why I was a little thinner back then! To whom should the blame be cast upon when our cholesterol is high when the discussion over dinner revolves around whether to microwave Hot Pockets or order take out pizza?

I believe wholeheartedly that American production agriculture and the regulations keeping our food safe are two things that you can count on. It's now up to us as consumers and eaters and parents and people to figure out that we need to focus less on convenience and more on living and breathing and pumping blood better. Through that, we can all live happily, in harmony and sing Kum-Bye-Ya around a campfire, while eating apples, not s'mores!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Communicating Fabulously

Okay, so I have this pretty interesting opportunity next week. I am headed to the Illinois Commodity Conference, and while there was a time that I might have run screaming from something like this, I'm actually really looking forward to it. The title of the whole conference is "Tell Your Story," and how appropriate is a person like me in attendance to hear other farmer's stories? Awesome. I even have been offered the chance to work in a smaller group of other ag communicators. A few of us "ag communicators" have been given the chance to sit down with the PR executive who is heading up the Farmer Image Campaign the different Illinois Agriculture groups (Farm Bureau, Illinois Corn and the like) have been working on. I'm excited to be a part of that training.

However, there are two aspects about this experience in which I am terrified about:
What if they ask me to actually talk about commodities? I mean, seriously, it's the Commodities Conference, for Pete's sake! Do I really know ANYTHING about commodities? Let's just hope the people pay attention to how fabulously I'm dressed...

BUT WHAT DO I WEAR???? (second freak out moment)


These are important things. What if some one asks me an agricultural question? Seriously, these people who attend conferences such as this either majored in agriculture of some sort, grew up on a farm, call farming their livelihood, or just love being around aggie people. Honestly, what if some one asks me what I think about the markets, what will I say? What do I think about anything agricultural? And, most importantly, what shoes will I be wearing? Do I carry a big bag, or does that make me look too high maintenance?


My hope is that my nerves will subside; I will ask Joe for a crash course in ag communications, and the gray kitten heel Calvin Klein shoes I bought (majorly on sale, I might add) will not kill my feet, but just look fabulous!

Say a prayer for me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thank Heaven for the Fleck in My Carpet

When a city dweller thinks of country living, I believe a few words come to mind: peace, quiet, serenity, natural , to name a few.

Such words came to my mind just four short years ago as we were putting the finishing touches on our remodeled farm house. I was ready to leave town; be on our own without neighbor kids to chase out of our yard or barking dogs to wake my new baby in the night. We were getting ready to move to not only the country, but the exact house where my grandparents lived, a place where I spent nights as a kid, chased kittens through the yard, and spent every Christmas night in a warm house, filled with cousins. I couldn't wait to leave our little cul-de-sac in town for the country life.

While I was busy thinking of how I would love to have the open space and quiet nights, nowhere in my mind's eye were the pictures of what country life really would be like. While it may seem to be ideal to live on a road off the beaten path, the night that a drunken fool left his girlfriend's trashed car in our ditch, only after stealing it and dragging it from town makes for an interesting morning discovery.

I never considered what life on a gravel road would really entail. Sure our cars would be dusty, but that's what car washes are for, right? I never considered how, on a perfectly warm day in November, after a entire family bout of the stomach flu, one would want to open the windows and let the fresh air in. However, I must weigh my options: cake the house in gray/brown dust and fight the urge to write my name on every flat surface, or just re-Clorox everything?

I choose re-Cloroxing.

Never did I consider the wonders of curbs and paved streets for ease of rolling a stroller or a bike or a trike. Thank heaven I have tough girls who have learned to ride bikes, trikes and scooters on a small pad of concrete, and graduate up to navigating their modes of transportation through divets- that resemble small craters- made by tractor wheels in the gravel drive.

Nor did I consider anything but the charm of living in a new/old house. We made our 1871 farmhouse new: new walls, new carpet/tile, refurbished hardwood floors, the works. However, on days like today when so many of my Facebook friends are rejoicing the beauty of a warm fall day, I'm counting the dead fly bodies on my white woodwork in the upstairs. In one window, I counted 25. TWENTY FIVE DEAD FLIES!!! Seriously, that's in just one window. Where do these guys come from? I have a pest man who sprays something in our house that makes the little buggars become drunken sailors, and eventually keel over and die, but where do they come from? New insulation was sprayed in the walls were windows were installed...WHAT THE HECK??

Thank heaven I have a fleck in my carpet.

An impromptu visit from a friend is few and far between, living this far out, which is a good thing on a day like today. If a buddy were to show up, my housekeeping skills would not be something to behold. Instead, I would have to suck it up and pick up my dead fly bodies with my bare hands from the window sills, and consider my choice to have a short frieze carpet with a fleck a good decision. Even if the flecks seem a little more three dimensional on days like today.

There are pros and cons of living anywhere, that's for sure. However, always consider your bug options when deciding to move to the country...or choose a carpet with a dark fleck in the pattern.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Grammar Nerds

Admitting the problem is a step in rehabilitation, right? Well, here it goes: I'm Emily, and I have a problem: correcting grammar. No form of bad grammar is ever left uncorrected in my head. From an incorrect apostrophe on the Skinny Jean's Workout at my gym (what exactly are the jeans owning???) to an incorrect use of your/you're in a facebook status, no bad grammar is left unjudged.

I know; it's snobby, but I can't help it. I completely and utterly am a product of a grammar nerd home. It's in my genes. My mom is a absolute and total grammar nerd, complete with a master's degree in English. She has been known to tell grocery clerks that the express line should read 15 items or fewer, take a Sharpie marker to signs at her school to correct apostrophe usage, even consider calling a local church when their kitchy sign was grammatically incorrect. WE CAN'T HELP IT! We are NERDS!!

However, this is a blog about agriculture. What in the heck does being a grammar nerd have to do with being a farm wife?

Well, the farmers have gone nerdy on us! Generally speaking, when the image of a farmer comes to mind, one does not necessarily consider the fact that he or she cares whether things are spelled correctly, or that apostrophes are used in the right way, or that grammar in general is important. However, thanks to a little nudging from their grammar nerd wives, and much like my quest to be educated in all things agricultural, the guys are learning! Just the other night, my husband and dad were lamenting over a local chemical and seed company's newsletter, and its obvious lack of proofreading. My dad showed it to my husband, proclaiming, "I can't even do the word scramble! Combine is spelled incorrectly!" After Joe took a look at it, he asked me if the apostrophe in one of the words was necessary!

YES!! My plan to make our farmers a superior group of grammar nerds is nearly complete!

Now, I'm not saying that all agricultural publications are usually anything but professional. There are really great writers who understand the English language (or have a great proofreader), and do a great job conveying the message of agriculture to the greater population. However, there are still those folks who either don't take the time to hit the little ABC icon atop their Word Document, or care enough to treat farmers as the well educated, intelligent men and women they are. Please write to us as people who are in need of information, rather than causing me to get all crazy and start correcting your sentences as I read them! Remember, there are grammar nerds EVERYWHERE. . . even farmers who have been converted to our side!

Grammar nerds unite!

Monday, November 1, 2010

It Ain't Over...

Okay, remember the joyous whoops and small dances that occurred last week as our harvest was complete? Remember the thoughts I had about potentially having another warm, adult body in the house? Remember how I thought that the busy-ness in this business was OVER?

Well, I was WRONG.

Here I am, on November 1st, watching as headlights create two strong beams of light through my kitchen window. No, we're not planting some crazy crop that will last through a harsh Illinois winter, nor are the guys taking a joy ride on the four wheeler out in the "back."

No, no,'s tillage time.

The trick with fall field work is that in our family's operation, we don't turn off the combine and head off to some great vacation spot. There's no, "Hey, great season, guys! See you in six months!" Instead, hardly a beat is skipped, and the guys are back on tractors, pulling three or four different tillage tools, depending on what needs to be worked, disced, chopped, or "dominated." Our fun new tool is this enormous piece of red (and if you know us, that's shocking...we run green tractors and red trucks) and shiny, sharp and scary, spiderish looking thing, that works the ground "just enough."

Tillage work around here is a fine tuned, carefully calculated art form.

This meticulous work, however, can take place at all hours of the night. The scientific (ha, ha) reasoning behind this is that dirt is dirt, and if a frost is hard or an early snow falls, you're out of luck for fall tillage work. These all nighters adds stress on this farm wife's life, but that's another story.

Anyway, our operation takes great pride in the fact that the farmers not only become good stewards of their land during the planting and harvesting times, but also understand the topography of each of our farms. Since we farm in three counties (which makes us sound really fancy, but when you live a mile from two county lines, it's bound to happen), there are many different fields that need many different tillage operations.

I thought, before I have become more worldly in this agricultural science, that black dirt and big clods were the way that ground should look when it was worked. Stalks and remnants of the past crop should be hidden, like gray hairs or messes stashed in random closets before company comes. However, this is not the case. Our tillage tools may sound like something that should be participating in an Ultimate Fight Challenge, but they are actually massagers of the land, working it just enough so that a crust won't form and the crops that go in that field in the spring will have a good chance of coming up. The Dominator and the Turbo Chopper 3000 are fancy names for tools that are making the land better, not ripping it up. They are gentle giants that keep the soil from exposing all of its good stuff for the harsh weather to strip away.

I know that this is necessary, and that with November comes the threat of crazy early winter weather, so the guys are working long hours, again. I am thankful that they are good farmers, because in the end, it all gives us a better crop to provide to the nation.

However, it does not help the fact that I am left at bed time to give three baths, read sight words, chase monsters out of closets, and have no one to discuss who should be voted off of Dancing with the Stars.

But, again, that's another story.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Lure of a Flat Surface

I'm a little OCD when it comes to my house.

Strike that, I'm a lot OCD when it comes to my house. My girls know that when the day is done, we're to pick up our toys, usually together so that they can get them back in the system that I have adopted as of late. Even my three year old, when playing with her grandma, has been known to proclaim, "We need to get this stuff organized before we get anything else OUT!"

Oh boy...

Anyway, my husband is very organized, but in an organized chaos kind of way. Usually on birthday party days, baptisms or as my "Christmas Wish," I beg him to clean his office, and all the dead fly bodies, dust bunnies, and random cell phone bills, pop bottles, etc., etc. He has his office to do with whatever he wants, but some times ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! My poor OCD brain nearly explodes when I walk by the room!

However, during truly busy seasons, Joe doesn't have time (or so he says) to put anything away, and the lure of the flat surface is strong. During harvest, calving, and planting (which, now that I think of it, is roughly 3/4ths of the year), one can find me obsessively clearing off countertops, tables, dressers, even floor space, putting away all things Joe.

Today, however, as I was putting things away, I was less concerned about the act, rather, found myself laughing at the things I was trying to find places for. Friends of mine have complained with me as I lamented on my husbands obsession with cluttering up my flat surfaces, but their husbands are insurance agents, bankers, computer guys. What weird things could they possibly leave out? My one friend who's husband is a surgeon has come close with some interesting gastro-intestinal book, but nothing like what I have found just this morning.

Just for kicks, I thought I would enlighten all of you non-farm folk with some of the things I get to identify and then try to find a place for in my house.

Here it goes:
-Four pairs of questionable work jeans. By questionable, I mean, is it mud or poop?
-A Vet Kit, complete with tools that look like guns used for vaccinations
-A random tube...could be for a tractor, probably for a cow (yuck)
-no less than 5000 grain tickets (to save or not to save?)
-a flashlight
-Napkins from Casey's (I suppose from a breakfast or lunch on the go)
-Two travel coffee mugs, both given to us by some agricultural company
-Bovine Rhinotracheitis-Virus Diarrhea-Parainfluenza3-Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccine (this was in my butter cubbie in my refrigerator)
-One single fork, perched next to the sink, leftover from a late night bite of apple crisp
-and about 10 seed corn/chemical/John Deere Dealership caps

So you see my OCD dilemma? What the heck does one do with a random tube?

I have tried to develop a system, however, and that generally includes piling it on his dresser in the back by the mud room.

I guess that's probably not exactly fair, considering I am cluttering his flat surface, but where in my system of baskets and cubes and bins does a vaccination gun fit?

My hope is that now that the busy season is over, we can come together (under the Umbrella of Peace) and help resolve this issue of flat surfaces and the cluttering there of.

Here's to hoping.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The End

Today is the day.
We are finishing. Currently, the guys are finishing up 25 acres of Joe's corn, and I couldn't be more excited. There are hardly any parallels to last year's harvest debacle (we finished as the snow was falling in December), however, there is just one:


Seriously, last year's harvest was finished in the wee hours, fists pumping as the last load was brought in as the snow fell. The same feeling of relief will happen tonight. I think the shouts of happiness, sighs of relief, and jumps for joy that will happen when the combine rolls into the driveway tonight will probably be heard all the way to town. I'm not just happy for my own selfish reasons, although having a helper to pick up Anna from the bus and going to the grocery store by myself are two of the many benefits of Joe being finished, rather I'm so happy that we have completed another harvest bountifully, without huge breakdowns, of the mental or physical kind, but most importantly, safely.

That's the big deal here. Harvest is a dangerous time. There were bins that had to be climbed at dark to check on the spinner during what the news called, "one of the worst winds" we have had in years. There are huge pieces of equipment that thresh (CUT) many, many, many plants that need to be checked with hands that could also be threshed. There are children playing during the end of the beautiful Indian Summer, riding bikes in their driveway as their dad pulled in, focused upon the task at hand and the next field, next load, next whatever. There are PTO shafts and augers that do something, I'm not sure what exactly, but from the looks of it, it could rip your arm to shreds. Fortunately, for us, there have been no incidents such as this, and for that, I am truly thankful that harvest is over.

So what now? What will this farm family do now that there's nothing pressing. Well, while I'm truly doing the "harvest is over" dance, Joe and the guys are going to continue being busy doing the next steps: prepping the land for spring by operating our two tillage tools, which I think are named after Superheroes: The Dominator and The Turbo Chopper 3000. There's lime to be spread, cattle work to be done, bookwork that needs to be caught up. Even though life at the harried harvest pace has ended, farm life truly never stops.

Isn't that the way with most things? Like the brilliant Roseanne-Rosannadanna said, "If it's not one thing, it's another."

Which is good, because what would I write about??

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just In Case You Were Wondering

I have so many helpers while I'm trying to write...

today's post was a little short, thanks to the "help" from my friend I found tickling my feet under my desk!

Almost There

Fall is marathon season, and since I have either been expecting a baby or have just had one for the past six years, I haven't had a chance to do a full marathon for awhile. However, I currently feel like I'm running one, since our adventures in harvest are still going. For the past week, Joe has been reporting that "we're almost there," or, "only two days left," or, "if we just work late tonight, we'll be close to done."

We're close, yet there is still so much to do, and so many obstacles to overcome. Last night brought an inch of, truly, well needed rain, but also high winds. I haven't had a report on any down corn, but with the crazy winds we had, I wouldn't be surprised.

We're so close, but weather or a situation like downed corn could make our "two days left" turn into a week. I equate this to being at mile 20 of a marathon. You've trained, run your long runs (up to 20 or 22 miles), but there are still 6 to go. People are cheering you on, saying, "Not much farther!" or "You're so close," but really, you're not. 6 miles can seem like an eternity to tired legs.

Kind of like these next "two days."

We're hoping to wrap up soon, and I know that this last leg of harvest will be tough, but we've made it this far. We can keep going, right?

Sure we can!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Dog Ate My Internet

Honestly, this dog is going to be the death of me. Between her priceless finds, which continue to appear on my deck (and smell like crazy) and her chewing, I'm ready for her to stop this puppy business and just be a lazy dog, like Yellow Dog in the movie Funny Farm.

Anyway, my lack of posting is two fold. Mainly, it's the lack of the connection to the 21st century, thanks to Sadie. But secondly, we are experiencing the surprise, exhaustion, and excitement of welcoming a fourth farm kid to our brood! Yep, you read that right...we're expecting!! Baby #4 will be arriving in late May hopefully by the time planting is complete. I'm hoping for he or she to stay in the "oven" until Joe is done, as I don't really want to drive myself to the hospital.

In other news, harvest is days away from being completed, and thanks to a nice shower on Saturday and a little one yesterday, the dust has settled; my mums have received a well deserved drink (I've been lazy), and Joe was able to attend not one, but two weiner roasts with us this weekend (he loves hot dogs!).

Life is good.

Now, let's just hope I can stay connected to keep up the countdown until the end of harvest!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

18 Straight Days Should Call for a Chicken Dance

We are on Day 18 of perfect harvest weather. What luck! What bliss! What mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion!

So, what does a farmer do when he's reached Day 18 of 14 hour days? The chicken dance. That's right. The chicken dance. I was washing the breakfast dishes this morning and watching out the window as Joe and Anna were unloading their first load of grain today into our "Big Bin" (kind of like a farmer's version of Big Ben). As I was wistfully thinking of how special their relationship is as a farmer and his daughter, I was thrown out of my daydream as I saw them start to do the Chicken Dance right out there in the driveway!

One driving by (thank goodness we don't have much traffic that doesn't already know we're kind of strange) would consider this a bit odd, and might even slow down to see this grown man executing a perfect Chicken Dance with his daughter. However, I know that there are two factors contributing to this silly behavior. Well, three, if you count that Joe is pretty silly with the kids, and four if you count that there was a time when Joe was the leader of aforementioned dance at roughly nine thousand fraternity brothers' weddings.

But I digress.

The first "real" factor is that we are truly on Day 18, and the guys are getting to the silly phase of exhaustion. It is wonderful to have had this perfect, dry, some times warm, some times cool weather, but it tends to drive a person nutty. The farmers are actually calling it quits early today, and not working tomorrow, just to get a bit of a break. That is something that is rarely done during a busy season, but the farmers around here know that they are starting to get borderline crazy, so a break is necessary. Thank goodness! Respite from doing the bedtime routine alone, and the potential of a dinner OUT!! Whoo-hoo!!

Secondly, I have been doing a little bit of subbing at Anna's school, and yesterday, my mission was to pretend to be a music teacher for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. My cousin, a 4th grader, was truly mortified when I started teaching tempo by having them dance the Chicken Dance (just following the sub plans...for the most part!). Anyway, Austin, my cousin, acted horrified, but as I looked closer when I saw Joe and Anna doing the Chicken Dance, a small camouflaged-sweatshirt arm began flapping, and I realized that AUSTIN was doing it, too!! Guess my lesson sunk in!

Regardless of who was teaching whom the Chicken Dance, and regardless of the day, we are thankful for the silliness. This is a good thing. Scratch that, this mood around the farm is a great thing. The guys are happy with the yields; the weather is cooperating; and although they may lament the markets, we all have made good decisions regarding them.

If you're feeling good about being a farmer/farm wife/farm kid...who wouldn't want to break out into the Chicken Dance??

Monday, October 11, 2010

Patience Is a Virtue

. . . that I do not possess.

Honestly, this is something I really need to work on. I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent, college educated adult, but my patience for events, big ones and small, is lacking. Joe and I dated for nine months, had a nine month engagement, and then waited nine months until we realized we were ready to start a family. I try to run fast, hate waiting in line, try get projects done without procrastination, and want Christmas to come quickly. This can be a good set of character traits (or flaws, whichever way you want to look at it), but as a farmer, I would be terribly disappointed and annoyed most of the time.

I have always known that Joe is more patient than I am. He is the ying to my yang. We are opposites on a lot of things, and patience is one of them. I knew that as just a person in general, having patience made Joe so much more pleasant to be around in places such as Disney Land or while we're stuck in traffic, but as a farmer it is necessary for one to have a lot of patience.

This is why he's the farmer, and I'm the farm wife.

Take harvest for example: this season in itself is an exercise in patience. Each field and its variety has a certain time when it's ready, and if it's not, you must wait, no matter what the weather is, what the neighbors are doing, etc.

Then, once you get rolling, there's the whole waiting in line elevator. This can be minutes or stretch as long as an hour or so. I'm not saying that Joe enjoys waiting, but he is good at entertaining himself, making new friends with the other drivers, and getting to know the staff at the elevator. These are basic exercises in patience.

Then there's the whole marketing side to being a patient farmer. Friday was a great day, as the markets soared. All the farmers around here were excited, as there was still a lot of grain in the field left to sell. However, Joe, being a planner, as well as being patient, has already sold quite a bit of grain ahead of schedule through his relationship with a grain selling advisor. This is generally a good practice, and since the predictions by a lot of experts this spring said to sell early in order to lock in good prices. It seemed as if Joe was doing the right thing.

Then, the fall happened. Slowly but surely, the grain markets have crept up, and on Friday, were limit up (see here for an explanation of this term... as I can't put it into words as well as can!). Anyway, being patient on your ground is necessary, but as far as marketing go, it's like gambling. You can make a great deal more money if you wait for the markets to go up, or you can lose thousands of dollars in a single day. Thankfully, Joe has some insurance, meaning, he has some things in place to allow him the option to sell at a higher level, even when his grain has already been contracted to sell at a certain price, so all is not lost, but his patience has been tested.

My methodical, patient, calm husband is realizing that although patience is a virtue, some times, one just needs to go with one's gut, and roll the dice!! His personality won't ever change, but he is coming to realize that being impatient and impulsive is some times a good thing. I love it when a personality trait I have that is seemingly undesirable is some times right!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Glamorous Side of Farm Wifery

Ahhh, Saturday. . .

I love Saturday mornings, especially since it's leisurely around here. No one needs to get anywhere on time; there's no need to rush to start chores, as our hired man has the weekends off, and we generally enjoy each other's company in the morning. It's also the one morning now that Anna is in school that she gets to go out and do chores with her dad, which leaves me with just the little girls. We are all less stressed on Saturdays.

A pretty Saturday morning such as this is a time when we get outside to play super early, which is great for my little girls. However, this morning, I was reminded of how super glorious, uber-fabulous and ultra glamorous life a farm wife leads. As I stood taking in the fallen leaves, breathing in the fresh fall air, sipping my coffee, watching my middle daughter ride her trike, I was greeted with the body of a dead baby mole. YIKES! As I headed down the deck steps, another body and another body were strewn across my sidewalk. Some sort of mole massacre must have occurred, and the culprit had to have been our beloved hound, Sadie.

Yikes, again.

So, before one my little girls squished the mole bodies more with the wheels of their tricycles, I headed to our little shed for the hoe and rake (our pooper scooper tools, which I figured could also double as mole removers), scooped up the evidence of the crime, and threw them in the ditch.

Upon returning from the ditch, I decided while I had the tools out, I might as well do the daily removal of Sadie's dog poop.

See? Didn't I title this one right? Isn't this life so glamorous?

There have been many times that I have had a chance to reflect on my life as a 32 year old, stay at home farm wife and mom and have had a realization that when I was fresh out of college and living on my own, never did I imagine I would be removing mole carcasses and dog poop before 10 AM on a Saturday.

However, unlike my 22 year old self, I am not freaking out about it. I am happy with my life, even if it does mean removing fecal material and dead moles once in a while. That's the way of our world right now, and unless I want to have Amelia pick up a dead mole with her bare hands, or Josie freak out about dog poop on her shoes as she runs to the swing set, I need to get those jobs done.

Just call me a pioneer woman... for today.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

This Time of Year

It's homecoming week. Although we don't have much to do with our daughter's school's homecoming, I tend to get excited over events such as these. I'm an event gal, always have been. As a high school student, homecoming brings back the panic and terror over finding a date for the dance, as well as the band show (yes, I am a band nerd, thus the panic over a date), skit night, coronation, bonfire, and the big game. As a college kid, I loved homecoming because it made me just feel so happy that I wasn't one of those "old" alumns out at the bars, reliving their glory days... oh, to be that young, sweet sorority girl again. Heck, I was even on the university's homecoming court, starting the trend to wave at both the east fans and the west fans during our introduction at halftime. I'm soooo fancy.

Anyway, this time of year is exciting to me already, but now being a farm wife, even though it's stressful and lonely and irritating, I'm still pumped for fall, and all it has to offer. I want to wear a set of school colors and hang out with old friends. I want to watch a football game and feel extremely loyal to a team. I'm a University of Illinois grad, so watching football is horrible, and my high school team has now consolidated so many times I have lost track of their football mascot. . .Tigers to Bulldogs to Cougars. . . OH MY! My feelings toward fall are sentimental, mainly because of the whole point of homecoming, but are now intensified by our farm life.

We have such a vested interest in the fall, that homecoming seems so extra, so unnecessary, such a waste of time during a busy season. Yet, I still yearn to participate in all the fall activities. It's hard to convince Joe to head to a football game two hours away on a perfect fall day, just for fun. He's not wired for that type of fun. On a fall day, you should be in a semi, on a grain cart or something, darn it, and if you're not, you should take out a fence or mow.


But this is not a whiny post. . . because based on your lack of comments, I know you all love those. This the point of my ramblings: fall needs no pomp and circumstance. Our parade is the parade of green machines as they head to the next field. Our big game is going on right now, and Joe is the KING of the festivities (which makes me the QUEEN...SWEET!!) This is our big time, our big dance, our big game, and why should we celebrate anything else with more grandeur? Joe is in his ultimate busy-ness, living in the present with all the great things going on, so there is no need to reminisce of the past. What's going on now is fun, exciting, and a true example of all things fall.

However, if anyone asks, I would gladly bust out any and all of my homecoming court paraphernalia and wave while sitting in a convertible!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Truth Is Boring

Okay, so Food Inc. and all of its propaganda against Evil American Agriculture has struck again, and, again, I did not keep my mouth shut. Luckily, it was just in the context of a friend's Facebook status, and I was able to comment without having to get up on my soap box, or even having to get up out of my chair, but still. . .

Why is it that sensationalized stories are always taken as fact? Why is it that we as Americans, or maybe just humans for that matter, are drawn to drama? And if it is our nature to crave excitement, action, and drama, then why is the truth usually pretty boring?

Never has a People magazine been sold just because the person on the cover was living on a farm, enjoying three kids, a dog (sometimes), and a happy marriage. No one is knocking down my door trying to get the truth on American Agriculture, or being a mom, or a former teacher, or a running junkie.


Because our life is pretty UNEVENTFUL! Oh, there are days that I have a lot going on, but it generally involves some one needing another bath because of an unfortunate run-in with a yogurt or something along the lines of having to pick up Joe in the middle of a field in order to get him a sandwich. Rarely would the daily goings-on of my life necessitate being photographed to be put in a section called, "The Buzz."

But that's okay. That's why we are living the life that we have chosen. Besides, who wants paparazzi on a gravel road, anyway?

I guess the one-sideness of the information is truly what gets me going. The fact that friends and relatives of ours are getting their information from a movie is disappointing to me. Moreover, what's even more distressing is that they are believing only what people like Oprah, Michael Pollen, or Michael Moore are saying as the truth, without asking questions from people like me. Now, I'm not saying that everything we do is right, and everything these people--who I realize are very, very successful in their fields-- is not true, but in some instances, the information tends to pay attention to one side more than another.

So, I feel as I should repeat the big soap box points I have:
1) Farmers are not all evil.
2) The use of chemicals, the safe use, on our crops and medicine for our cattle will not cause you to get sick, get cancer, or sprout an eleventh toe.
3) And, there's a big difference between Big Corporate Agriculture and people like us. However, we're all still working hard to keep your food safe and cheap.

I wish there was a forum that the not-so-great farmers (those evil ones Michael Pollen and HSUS keep flashing in front of us on a big screen), as well as farmers like us and execs from big and small agricultural corporations could come together and talk. I wish that we could get all sides to this story out. I know that this is not probably possible, however, it would be nice to have all sides of a story out there on a big screen. However, we're not in this profession to get a fat wallet or be recognized on the street. We are farmers because, frankly, Joe loves it.

So, we'll just keep on, keeping on. We are good stewards of the land, thanks to the crazy amount of paperwork Joe has to fill out for the FSA (Farm Service Agency) and NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) in order to keep our operation and all its practices aligned accordingly to federal and state regulations. So why are people like us, who are, surprisingly in the majority of agriculture, never contacted by Oprah, Michael Pollen, or even a local newspaper for that matter?

Because, we're boring, and we like it, thankyouverymuch.

However, I might get a little testy because of a random Sunday morning Facebook status.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Irony of the Mascot

Ever since we moved to the farm, I have been horrified with the fact that our district calls itself the Farmington Farmers. I guess I haven't been horrified with the name, necessarily, but rather the image, and all the stereotypes it upholds.

Case in point: the farmer himself.

As you can see, our Farmer is so hillbilly, it's pathetic. When the basketball team went to the state tournament, we played an inner city team from Chicago. Although our school certainly had the biggest crowd, we truly reinforced the image of country folk to the team we were playing. I'm all for school spirit, don't get me wrong, but a young man, who was obviously demonstrating awesome Farmer Pride, showed up to the stadium in bib overalls with no shirt, portraying the Farmington Farmer.


Can't we all just try to fight the stereotype? Can't we portray the image of the "gentleman farmer," like our operation is? My farmers wear collared shirts, drive really nice pick up trucks, have master's degrees in agriculture, and speak in COMPLETE SENTENCES.


Anyway, the irony of having a farmer for your mascot is that even though it's a perfect night to continue harvesting, our own farmers are ignoring the hillbilly aspect that I find embarassing, and are headed to town for the football game. The combine is in the shed, the new Dominator (our fun tillage tool) has ceased to dominate, and the semis are parked for the night. The Fighting Farmers are renewing a rivalry tonight with the neighboring town, and we're all shutting down to get a good seat. This rival town happens to be where my aunt grew up and now teaches, my parents currently live, where we go to church, help with youth group, have most of our friends, and basically hang out the most. Our farmers, the real farmers, are quitting on this perfect fall evening to go and cheer on our team, regardless of the time of the year, conditions of the grain, and, let's be honest, the mascot. The farmers in our operation could care less about the hillbilly. It's me who has the issues.

So, tonight, I'm putting away my small hatred towards our hillbilly mascot, and decking the girls all out in purple and gold to cheer on our Fighting Farmers.

My hope is that the young man who dressed as a hillbilly doesn't show up. I might not be able to live that one down with my Elmwood friends.

Go Farmers!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

By the Light of the Moon

Today was potentially one of the most perfect fall days we have had all year. So perfect that the guys have really had a big day. The combine has had to have multiple personalities today: the corn head was on in the morning, harvesting what was left of a field near my uncle's house, and then this afternoon/evening, the bean head went on to start the bean ground directly behind our house.

I have been trying to get a good picture of the view out my back deck, but I'm not a photographer, so you'll have to just picture it yourself. I guess the most interesting and slightly strange aspect to the harvesting tonight is to go from a silent back yard, where one could see nothing but bean ground for literally miles, to seeing headlights, hearing back up beepers, as well as the whir of the combine as they work all against the backdrop of the setting sun.

What is even more awesome is to see the workings of harvest during the night. We have friends and their kids who want combine rides, want to sit in the cab of the big track tractor in the shed, heck, some city kids even just want to sit on the lawnmower, but as someone who lives on the farm all the time, the thrill of just the presence of equipment has worn off. For me, the actual act and process of harvest is fascinating, and from just an onlooker's perspective, harvest at night is something to behold.

At night, the combine's double headlights create a strange and almost UFO-ish lighting, especially when the dust is kicked up around it. Its two sets of lights, one set atop the cab and then a set by the head (the part that sticks out in the front, for all you non-farmers) cast a glow around the machine that make it just a shadow. The dust created by the harvesting of the beans (which is, I'm noting, filling my house as we speak, but I'm okay with that. ) looks like smoke or haze, and creates an eerie presence around the combine. It is cool. Pair that with an orange harvest moon that is rising over the skyline of Yates City (all three buildings and about 100 houses), and that is something to behold.

This time in harvest is so amazing. After having two full days of good weather, good crops, and no break downs, seeing the lights of the combine behind my house make me a happy woman. Reaping what they have sown, the farmers are in good spirits, and on a night like this, why wouldn't you be? Unless you're afraid of large equipment in your back yard!

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's Not You...'s harvest.

Kind of. That's the problem around here right now. Well, let me rephrase. It's not exactly a problem, rather, a mood alter-er. We have enjoyed time with friends during this harvest season, have had rides in the combine, semi, and grain cart, and have watched as field after field around us has come out.

However, since Monday, this farm operation has been at a stand still. Thanks to rain and grain that is not quite ready to go, the guys have taken time to do other things during the day: taking out fence, finishing up little projects like washing tractors, mowing the grass, and the like. However, they are all itchy to get back out there. There is reasoning behind this madness, however, as some farmers around here are not proceeding with as much caution as we are. The farmers I am surrounded by know that with a little more time, the conditions of the ground as well as the conditions of the corn and soybeans will go from "just about right" to "just perfect." I needed to be educated on this practice, as combines around us have been rolling since Friday.

However, seriously. . . let's get this harvest party started! We're all a little on edge. The girls are clingy to Joe, as they know that once he does get going, he'll be gone. I'm grumpy, and, thus, Joe needs a break from us. Every farmer around here needs to get behind the wheel of something big and act hurried. I need harvest to start. As difficult as it may seem to believe, harvest is a nice respite from the daily grind of meals, laundry, juggling entertaining everyone, and watching baseball instead of the season premiere of Glee. I love Joe, and I love that he is a farmer. He loves his job, and I am learning to understand it better. However, the potential for just running to Target after school and not worrying about having pancakes or PB&J for dinner this week is enticing.

I hope this is not coming across as the anti-thesis of all other posts regarding being a single farm wife, but don't all humans crave a time when they can just be? Don't we all want to determine our own course of action, whether that be something as simple as taking the kids out for a run in the stroller without worrying about the time? Isn't there a time in the day that we all crave to be on our own agendas?

I know selfish thoughts such as these, a good marriage does not make, but for a farm wife, harvest is like a little vacation from the norm. However, I feel like so far, I have only packed my bags, and haven't taken off on my trip yet! Come on, already. . .let's get going!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Safely Enjoying Fall

Did you know that this is farm safety week?

I didn't until my friend on Facebook, McDonough County Farm Bureau, reminded me. Thankfully, farm safety week did not land on the week that we were using our farmer scaffolding. All joking aside, farm safety week is during a time that slow moving vehicles frequent back roads; augers are being used at great length, and bleary eyed farmers are pushing to finish fields, despite being tired.

During this week, I have been late to various activities, as I tend to be. However, my tardiness has been increased thanks to the slow moving vehicles, tractors, wagons, what-have-you that are taking up road space and going roughly 3 miles per hour. Even though my frustrations are great, I have to take a minute and remember that the person behind that wheel is some one's dad, uncle, grandfather, husband, wife, mother, daughter, aunt or cousin. Someone who would be mourned greatly if a person like me, late to a mom's group, were to compromise their safety by following too closely or passing without really having a lot of room. I have to remember that they are just trying to be safe.

Unfortunately, nearly every farm family has some sort of "war story" in regards to a farm accident. A friend of mine just called to tell me her friend lost a brother tragically in a farm accident. My grandfather was nearly crushed by a tractor as he was unloading it from a trailer. We have had close calls with fingers, fingernails, heads needing to be stitched up and the like. However, a tragedy, knock on wood, has never occurred. I believe this is truly to the credit of the farmers in our operation.

Joe especially, maybe because I spend the most time with him, is freakishly safe. He calls my dad's mower, the one he walks behind, the "Man Killer," and regularly calls him when he's working with it. When his job is to watch the unloading auger during harvest, he does not allow any of our children to be anywhere near him, as disappointed as they may become. That's not something you mess around with. As irritating as it may seem at times, Joe never wears his wedding band. When we first started farming, I would hound him to at least wear it to church. However, I just found it in his "junk" drawer as I was rummaging for some change. A few short months ago, I would have been irritated with him, but I am thankful he has a finger to wear the ring on, as some farmers have lost a digit thanks to proclaiming their love publicly by wearing a wedding ring while working on equipment or with livestock.

There's too much to lose if one does not exercise safety on the farm. Period. I am thankful that I haven't had to endure a loss of a loved one or take anyone to the ER because of negligence or a freak turn of events, but there are those who have. For them, I am deeply sorry. There have been times that I haven't been able to reach either Joe or my dad, and I have played out the absolute worst in my head, only to be, thankfully, corrected by the simple call proclaiming that they couldn't hear their cell phones.

Going to get preachy here: Even though it's annoying to be following equipment on the road, or having to wait for a combine as it moves from a field to the road, please exercise caution around farm vehicles and equipment. Remember that someone like me is expecting a loved one home to kiss my daughters good night.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

It's Not So Bad

It rained. Neither a gully washer, nor a sprinkle, but just enough to keep the guys out of the field for yesterday and today. However, because they have been able to knock out a few fields in four really good days, no one is in hysterics.

Thanks to these couple days of showers, my dad has been able to keep up with the downloading of the yield information from the combine. Although experts were predicting not-so-great yields this year, and the guys were bracing themselves for what could have been low yields, the results of the fields we have completed are surprisingly good. Again, no one is in hysterics.

Is there something wrong with this picture? Where are the farmers who were so forlorn looking last year as the rain poured and poured and poured? Where are these fields that the experts predicted as being disappointing? How was it that I was able to go out to dinner with my husband and friends last night, and not have to worry about the cost of the meal (thank you, grain check!!) or worry about whether I would have to go stag?

Is something going on here? Is there some sort of crop circle forming? When is the other shoe going to drop?

The answer is: It's not so bad.

Farmers are ultimate pessimists, and even though my husband is the proud owner of the book, How to Be an Up Person in a Down World, once he became a full time farmer, his optimistic attitude was and is often times over-shadowed by pessimism. That's a defense mechanism of farmers. Because factors are 99% of the time left to God and Mother Nature, farmers have to be mentally prepared for bad news. Everyone around my farmstead started out with kind of a hesitant attitude, and now that the results are in, we're all pleasantly surprised! The crops aren't that bad! The weather is actually cooperating! We're getting a few days rest, thanks to the rain, so that the guys don't become zombie like behind the tractor's steering wheel.

There are still hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of acres and days and days and days of dry, sunny weather we need, so I am feeling a bit nervous about posting these optimistic thoughts, but I am going to break the cycle of seeing the glass half empty!

Optimists UNITE! Harvest is going to be great!

If only the sun would come out. . .

And the grain market would continue to cooperate. . .

And the combine will not have a breakdown. . .

And I'm able to go to the Trivia Night in town next weekend, with a date. . .

Here's to hoping!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

You Might Be a Farm Kid If. . .

. . .your dad takes you to the bus stop on his way to the elevator in a semi filled with grain. Honestly, there are some times I stop and look at my life, and just have to laugh. Never in my mind's eye of my perfect suburban family did I see my little girl hop up into the cab of a bright teal semi. Anyway, with harvest going great guns, early mornings and late nights are the norm for Joe. He hasn't seen his youngest daughter awake since Monday night, as Joe's been getting up early to haul grain to the elevator, and is back long after Amelia has gone to bed.

Anyway, part of our agreement in the taking and picking up of Anna (she catches the bus at my cousin's house, as she would have had to ride nearly 2 hours total each day, eek!) is that Joe is solely in charge of taking her in the morning, en route to his morning chores, and back up in the afternoon, mainly for bonding purposes. Today, as he came in after his second load, I, still in my pajamas, sleepily asked him if he was still taking our kindergartener up to the hard road.

The answer I hoped for was a yes, without hestiation, as I still had two other sleepers. However, the answer was a hesitant maybe. What???? Am I going to have to put my bathrobe on, wake up the little girls, and do the ultimate stay-at-home mom thing that is to take the kids to school in my jammies? Plus, didn't Joe know I had to teach the study at our mom's group today as well as take Josie to preschool? I mean, come on, man. . .I have a schedule to keep and coffee to drink!!!

Upon replaying the situation of strapping in two sleepy toddlers (as I know a lot of you moms out there do, and kudos to you!), I begged Joe to reconsider his self-made schedule. They hadn't started combining yet for the day, and Joe was simply being the over-achiever that he is. . .which I love, somewhat conditionally! Thankfully, he reconsidered, and loaded up Anna's car seat, to my surprise, in the teal blue semi, full of grain.

Now I don't care who you are, whether the girly-est of girls or the boyish of boys, riding to the bus stop as a kindergartener in a semi is pretty awesome, and when Anna saw her dad load her booster, she flipped! She was so excited. As I watched her tie her shoes (I know, she's a prodigy), I told her that not many kids will get to ride the bus and in a semi in the same morning. As she finished her second shoe, she stated with the utmost certainty:

"Not many kids are lucky to be a farm girl like me."

No, they are not.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Why I decided to have dark wood furniture in my house is beyond me, but today the dust from our gravel road is good dust. The dust on our TV, coffee table, end tables, and basically any other flat surface in my house is the dust kicked up by the semis hauling grain to the elevator in town. The dust off to the west is grain dust from the combine, signaling the start to a new harvest season. The dust on Joe's clothes is from waiting in line at the elevator, as he unloads his grain.

This is good dust.

I never, ever thought I would say that. Ever. I hate our road. I hate that in the summer, it's so dusty our shoes get filthy while we play in the yard. I hate that in the spring, the wet weather causes it to ooze mud and slop, dirtying every crevice in every vehicle we own. I hate that my window sills are in a constant state of griminess, covered with dust no matter how hard I try to keep them clean.

However, today, I have come to terms with my road. While I'm not saying that if the road commissioner came to us and told us he'd be paving it tomorrow, I wouldn't do a small dance, I will say that today the dust on the road signifies the hustle and bustle that is harvest. Everyone wants to be a part of this today, and seeing the dust from the combine, my cousin jumped into my vehicle at the bus stop and asked to have me take him to his dad on the combine. The dust ahead of us on the road was from Joe's semi, and even though she's dead tired from kindergarten, Anna begged to ride with her dad. Dust today equals excitement.

Coupled with this excitement is hope for the season. We as a family have endured a pretty tight summer, and I have been told many times if I can "just hold out until harvest starts. . . " then I can fill in the blank. No, it does not include a new leather couch or a new wardrobe or trip to the Caribbean, but we're going to be able to be calm, for a while. Just as I have made peace with my dusty road, I am making peace with this lifestyle we have chosen. I need to quit whining about the little stuff, and realize how lucky I am to be able to see where my husband is at all times, and most of that is thanks to the dust.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Farmer's Intuition

Farmers, both of the older generation and the new, have this knack for knowing things that I could only predict with the flip of a coin. Joe has the way of knowing when to drag the kids' outside toys in because it's going to rain cats and dogs before I even notice the first cloud. My dad knows when it's the right time to start working on the equipment to get it ready to roll in both the fall and the spring. My uncle knows when to start cutting beans or combining corn. . . by the way, it's next Wednesday. My father-in-law has almost a sixth sense on certain things, and today, as our country remembers 9/11, I am thinking of not only those who had ties to those who lost their lives that day, but my father-in-law's intuition on that clear fall day.

Joe and I have shared our "where we were" stories to each other, as we weren't even an item at that time. I was teaching and could hardly believe it when my student, Ethan, said a plane hit a building in New York. Joe remembers driving to work that day, without his cell phone, huddling around a television at his office on the U of I campus. Joe's dad was out raking hay, in an open station tractor, with no radio, no television, no student to report what had happened, but he knew something was up. He didn't notice any planes flying that day.

Isn't that amazing? Isn't it strange that a guy who was just doing what needed to be done on the farm noticed there was not a plane in the sky? This is a guy who lives 45 minutes from a small airport and almost 2 hours from a big one. This is a man whose commute is driving 3 miles to the hog buildings. That to me is part of his farmer's intuition. Rick, my father-in-law, is a hard worker, a good steward of the land, and an amazing father to his kids. However, the thing I have noticed about him the most in my almost 9 years of hanging around with him, is that he is very perceptive. I believe that this is a great personality characteristic, but it's also something that makes him a good farmer.

He knows what's going on, without being too concerned about the "Joneses," caring little of what other folks are doing, unless they need help. He is in-tune with his animals and their needs, working hours and hours and hours to keep his hog confinement operation up to par with the standards of the EPA and the USDA. That takes dedication, my friends.

But it's his intuition on September 11, 2001 that will always intrigue me. I think of all the times I am outside with the kids or running that I hardly notice anything but the whereabouts of the girls and my footfalls on the pavement. Rick, however, noticed the lack of planes that day. Talk about knowing your surroundings.

All farmers have this intuition, in some way, shape, or form. Some are just better at putting it to use. Rick is also the guy who gives me advice on when to cut my hair to promote growth, so he has some pretty silly intuition, but we won't go there.

I think that what I gather from seeing this farmer's intuition put to use is that I need to stop and check out my surroundings a little bit closer. I need to quit moving onto the next thing before my first chore is finished. I need to quit multi-tasking. . . Okay, I can't stop that or our house will fall apart! Regardless, if you ever want to know when to do something, whether cut your hair or if you have a funny feeling about something, my advice would be to ask a farmer. They're probably just as good as a psychic.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hobbies: Happiness or Hooey?

We get a lot of agricultural mail: weekly newspapers, monthly magazines, parts catalogues, bills, etc. Today, however, we received an invitation to subscribe to Hobby Farming magazine. We even were sent cute little return address labels with fuzzy sheep, red barns, and an alpaca (or a llama. . .I don't know which one, but it has a long neck.). However cute these labels are, the premise of this magazine is funny to me, as we are not in this biz for a walk in the park.

So, it got me to thinking. . . who is?

Who are these mythical, mysterious hobby farmers, and what are their real jobs? Moreover, why would they choose such a labor intensive, costly, and frustrating hobby?

In my research on this magazine (i.e. googling Hobby Farming magazine and reading a few articles.), I am understanding hobby farmers are those who aren't investing hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment, seed, land, and/or operating loans. These folks are just hanging with their animals, probably in a small area, treating them as pets. They're gardening, probably (well, definitely) more successfully than my gardening attempts. They're enjoying the land because they are not having to pay their power bills off of it.

This realization of farming for the simple enjoyment of the land and its beasts made me look at the farmers in our gang of land lovers. Do they have a hobby? The answer is yes and no, I guess. Luckily, these guys are doing something they enjoy, so a hobby seems a little unnecessary. When one is accomplishing something during the day and enjoying what he is doing, then why would a day on the golf course be necessary? If you're spending a lovely fall day by enjoying it with your cattle in a pristine pasture, then why would you equate relaxation with something like hunting? So, I guess my farmers don't need hobbies. . .they may think that they're hooey.

However, I am a hobby girl. I love running. I love reading. I used to scrapbook. . . until I had Amelia. . .poor picture and sticker deprived child. I love shopping. I think I'd like to golf. I would like to keep up playing the piano. I guess it sounds like a do a lot of messin' around. However, activities such as these keep me sane. They keep me who I am. They keep me whole.

So, should Farmer Joe take up skeet shooting? Probably not, but I do believe that these guys, when the season is right, and the markets are up, and the stars, moon and sun are all in the correct alignment should take up something just for their own sanity and enjoyment. One that's end result doesn't affect our bottom line.

But for now, I'll just toss the magazine subscription, even though it's cheap (they understand farmers and their bank accounts!), keep the stickers for the girls, and if you receive a note from me, expect an alpaca (or llama) return address label.