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!