Saturday, July 30, 2011

By the Book

I was just checking Facebook, and a friend of mine was commenting on how she was on Day One of "eating clean." After reading a few of the comments, I read it aloud to Joe, asking what he thought it meant.

His response: "We eat clean all the time."

Really? How do I know what's clean and what's not if I don't have this book that this woman is using? How can I do it, if I don't have the recipes, grocery lists, whathaveyou right in front of me?

Answer: We eat clean all the time.

Our dinner tonight consisted of a ham roast, from my father-in-law's hogs, sweet corn from our sweet corn patch, picked today by Anna and her cousin, grapes (which were from California), and whole wheat bread. Last night, same story: burgers from our family's beef cattle, tomatoes from the garden.

Did I need a book? No.
Did I eat relatively "clean?" I hope so. I don't have the book, and haven't done much past a google search on this topic, but I think I probably have a decent idea of what is clean and what isn't. At least, I hope so, as I think you can't get any cleaner and more fresh than this!

I know I'm lucky. I'm fortunate to have this fresh meat, produce, etc. at my fingertips, but it's not that hard to find someone somewhere who can help you to eat this way. Believe me, I'm no foodie, nor am I anything but a person who wants to eat well myself, have my kids eat nutritiously, to have all of us live a long healthy life, all the while having food taste good.

So do I need a book to eat clean? Probably not. I'm sure I'm not doing it exactly the way it's probably prescribed, but my point is I'm no food rocket scientist, and if I didn't have my own beef and own produce, I would have to search a little harder. However, my quest for you, dear readers, is HUNT(not literally, figuratively). Gather. Look around. Ask questions. To quote John Belushi in The Blues Brothers, "Bring me your children (actually I think it was sell me your children, but that freaks me out.)." Find a beef producer you know, or even one who you don't, and enjoy a hamburger from them before you proclaim that you hate red meat.

If all else fails, call me. Joe claims he can turn any vegetarian into a carnivore with one of his ribeyes.

I dare you.


Well, I spoke too soon.

Just a quick update on yesterday's "we dodged another bullet" post.

We have downed corn, but not so disastrous as it could have been, but frustrating nonetheless. Thankfully, we have a good strong "stand" on the plant (meaning, it was literally standing well before the wind came), so we're hopeful it will bounce up a little. Also, we have good crop case it doesn't bounce up as much as we need it to and there is a loss to report.

The interesting thing about this event, however, is that it brings out a lot of interesting character traits.

Observation #1: My husband, who is generally laid back and focused, is a mess about this. He logically knows there's nothing he could have done to prevent this wind, but it is eating him up, and that is bizarre and unfamiliar to me. I'm the one who is supposed to freak out.

Observation #2: My dad, who is pretty high strung (see my personality) is very "it is what it is" about this whole thing. That
is something that I am not used to. He and my uncle, however, are a good team for Joe to work with. They do not freak out about the weather. They are absolutely not in control of it, so they will not stew about it. It's strange.

Anyway, I spoke too soon yesterday morning, but fortunately, again, we are okay. Just another bump in the road.

Lucky me.

Friday, July 29, 2011


I was up super early this morning for many reasons: newborn(ish) baby, quiet time without anyone needing anything, the potential (notice I said potential)of an early run to beat the heat. However, I decided to catch a bit of the news...and fell back asleep.

I was awoken by rain, glorious rain, but leaped out of my slumber to go and shut the windows on our entryway porch...the one where we keep most of our shoes. Aurgh. As I soaked myself, shutting the windows and laying down our pool towels (which are kept out there as well), I heard Joe get up, too, and begin to pace.

This rain, this glorious, soaking rain, was coming down in sheets, but was also accompanied by wind.

Scary, strong, nasty wind.

I could read Joe's mind as he stood in front of our big kitchen window:

"Ohpleaseohpleaseohplease...not wind."

Wind sometimes equals downed corn, which at this point, could be disastrous. Later in the growing season, it would also be terrible, but the corn could at least be mature enough to be harvested. Our corn is still forming its kernels, and if it were to snap and flatten, that would be bad, bad news.

But, it didn't. We got some rain, and some relief, and once again, I am contemplating going to and finding Joe a desk job.

However, as I write, in my soaked running clothes, I am reminded again that we are okay. We may be on edge 97% of the time, but we have yet to fall off this cliff called farming. I might be slightly annoyed with farming some times in my life, but I am not living in a place where my safety is compromised on a daily basis. My children are healthy, and we are blessed to have them healthy. All the things that I find around my house that need a little tweak and a brushstroke of paint are cosmetic; they are things. I'm not standing in a rubble heap after a tornado like those unfortunate folks in Joplin, Missouri (thanks to my mom for her Facebook status to remind me of that, again!).

I'm trying to remember that. Our ohpleaseohpleaseohplease moments are so small in comparison to what others go through, and I need to remember that. My pool towels can be dried, our corn crop still looks good, and all these things are miniscule in the grand scheme of life.

Remind me of that, please? Possibly tomorrow.. and the next day, and the next?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Worse Than a Curse Word

"Rain, rain, go away, come again another day..." our four year old sweetheart sang as she ate her breakfast this morning.

I stopped my cereal pouring. Joe halted in his tracks.

"WHAT?" we asked simultaneously.

We were probably a little harsh in our tone, stopping this sweet girl in her song, but after weeks of no rain and a terribly, even dangerously, hot week, we are desperate for rain.

Remember those bullets I thought we had dodged earlier this summer? Well, that thought is coming back to haunt me.

So this conversation and a few tears from my darling daughter, got me to think. In a farmer's life, what's worse than a curse word from a farm kid's 's mouth? The wish for no rain.

This is new for me. I was baptized (literally and figuratively) by fire with a huge rain storm on my wedding day. As I looked out the windows of our church, praying that it would stop raining for the grand exit, hoping that I would be showered with rose petals, not rain drops, I was told by my mom, a late in life farm wife..."Never, ever curse an August rainshower."


So, it poured on our wedding loudly that people still talk about the fact that they couldn't hear the pastor's message or our vows during the ceremony. And our video, shot from the rafters of the metal and steel building --sigh-- it's a beautiful picture, but the sound is something to remember...or forget.

But I digress. Here we are, nearly eight years after that day, and I'm just now getting the message. We need rain. And we need all the good rain vibes we can get. So we have put the stop to all nursery rhymes that ask for rain to go away. When Anna had a t-ball game cancelled due to rain, we didn't pout. Tonight's Vacation Bible School at our church would probably go off a lot smoother if it was not raining, but we are not worrying about that.

We need rain. I will do a rain dance if I have to in order to keep it going.

Because what's important at this moment in our farm life is rain, and no one better cuss it today!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Separating the Men from the Boys

In all professions, there is a certain speak, a verbage, a set of acronyms, phrases, whathaveyou that set apart those who are in that particular field from those who aren't. From a doctor to an engineer to a coach to a teacher, heck even a truck driver, when each of these folks are in the biz, they speak the dialect.

The same goes with farming, and there are times now that I have to catch myself for becoming snobby when some one uses the "wrong" term for something "farmy." For example, this is the time of year we process steers for beef. We did this last summer, too, and every time I heard one of our satisfied customers comment on the "cow," I caught myself snickering. COW??? How's the cow? Silly, silly city-folks, this is not a cow (which is actually a female), it's a steer (which is a male), and most correctly, it's a beef that is being processed, not a cow. After ten minutes at the locker plant, this steer becomes a beef, no longer living, but now being processed for our enjoyment and nourishment.

However, why should I be snickering? Wasn't I just the one not knowing the difference a mere month or two ago?

Answer: YES!

But where does that leave me? Am I an expert now? Have I crossed over from being a young padiwon learner to a Jedi Farmer of sorts?

Answer: NO!

Although I know the difference between a cow and a steer and a beef, I still have so, so much to learn. And that's why, I'm kind of freaking out about my month of August.

As a part of the Illinois Farm Families campaign, I am helping out at a few events. One for just moms with questions about agriculture in a quiet, kid-friendly (maybe that's an oxymoron) coffee bar in Chicago, and another is at the Daley Plaza Farmer's Market, also in Chicago. Thankfully, the moms having coffee and those unsuspecting farmer's market patrons will- hopefully- not be fluent in farm-speak, but the other agricultural representatives will. GASP!!! Another moment for me of, "WHY AM I HERE?"

I'm practicing, however. I'm brushing up on my new language, and will try not to sound like a moron when asked a question. I'm also planning my outfits, so as to look like I'm not too "downstate," but not so fancy that I look like I'm trying too hard. Black pants, it is!

Anyway, my point is, any one can learn to talk the talk, it's figuring out how to talk it in a way that people understand and care about what you're saying is what is most important.

That, and what shoes to be wearing while you're talking!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Pilot's Wink

Okay, so have you ever been close enough to a plane's cockpit to see the pilot wink at you?

Not while it's on the ground, but in mid-air? Potentially above your child's swing set?

If you have, you're probably a farm kid, wife or farmer, as crop dusters get close enough to the ground in order to apply fungicide (in our case) that you can see him wink. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration, but I do know that the pilot is a guy, and I'm sure he knows my shirt is purple and that we need to water our flowers, as he has been buzzing just feet above our house from north to south, covering the corn fields on either side of us.

This is a fascinating, albeit frightening, aspect of farming. This application must be done at the precise time, as in a teeny tiny window of time when the plant will take the fungicide and use it to fight off any and all diseases and pests. This application must also be applied close, but not too close, to the plants, mere feet above the fragile tassel of the corn plant. It is amazing to me, especially when the plane looks like it could come crashing through our family room windows.

My kids, however, are a little less excited once the crop duster's first pass is over. Crop dusting, like any other farming practice, is a bit of a "season," and we're now in week two of application. The first day we were buzzed by the yellow and blue aircraft, my two older girls raced from one end of the upstairs to the other, announcing the arrival and departure, as any miniature air traffic controller would. Amelia woke up in distress from her nap the first day after hearing the plane as it whizzed past our house.

Now, they're watching Barbie and the Fashion Fairytale, and not batting an eye. Even the dog is no longer hysterical, and she barks at the corn at night.

We've become as jaded as city folks who live near an airport or busy expressway. Just another that includes a plane a mere 6 feet from your house!

Anyway, I'm still infatuated with the crop duster planes. As I stepped out onto the deck to wave at the pilot the first year we lived here, I wondered how we would ever live here, with all of this stuff being applied around us. However, this is all a false worry, and something that folks should just marvel at, not worry about. This fungicide would not hurt you, your kids or your plants. The only person who can get hurt from a crop duster's application is the pilot himself. But, even a wreck may not be deadly, as last year, right after spraying one of our fields, a pilot crashed, but walked away from the accident, completely unscathed from his wrecked plane.

That in itself is amazing.

So, if you ever get the chance to step out and watch a crop duster, do, and do without any worry of sprouting an 11th toe, third eye, or hair in weird places. Look at how low they go. Marvel at their precision, and if you're lucky look for the pilot's wink.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Weekend Woes

We messed up last night. Well, actually, I messed up. Apparently, at the last t-ball game, amidst the chaos that is t-ball itself and t-ball pictures, there was a schedule change. So, when Anna and Joe showed up at the ball diamond, they were there, for the last batter, as our game had changed times.

I was supposed to know that.

It's now Saturday, the day when families are supposed to be fishing, swimming, grocery shopping, and the like, and it's 5:00, and Joe has just stepped into our "little porch," drenched in sweat from square baling hay in this crazy heat.

Thankfully, I'm not the one baling hay...I made a cake, but seriously. I have a love/hate relationship with the weekend. I know that this is supposed to be family time. Time to relax, time to regroup, time to spend together, but it is just another day for us. It's just another time when things have to be done. There's no grocery shopping together. There's no Saturday laziness. It's another day.

It's becoming obnoxious.

Sorry farmers, I'm a little annoyed right now. I'm sure that this is the life that we want. I'm certain that this is the profession Joe loves, but I'm also certain that there are aspects of this life that I cannot stand. While Joe takes care of all things farming, my job is to take care of most things kid (I say most because he does do a lot with the kids), but there are times when I cannot cram any more into my little brain, and I need a 9 to 5 dad with weekends off to step in sometimes and help me figure this life out. I'm blaming this t-ball incident on farming...can you tell?

Another weekend preconceived notion I have is playing around with the kids, doing yard work together, and generally hanging out on Saturdays. However, when Joe works all day outside, even on the hottest of days, even on a Saturday, when we are enjoying the slip-n-slide, why would he want to run around with the girls outside when he could and should be cooling off in the air-conditioning? Why would golf or fishing or hunting appeal to him, when he's out in the elements at all times?

The summer is getting to me. I'm feeling like we are just treading water...literally and figuratively, if you count the pool time we've had. I feel like our cup is running over with blessings, but we barely have time to enjoy said blessings because of hay and cows and wheat and the weather and a newborn and a toddler and our two active big girls and playdates and the like. When do we slow down?

More like, how do we slow down?

The simple answer is, "do less." Thank you, Mr. or Mrs. Obvious, but then we would be bored, right?

Honestly, I wish that Anna didn't miss last night's game because I wish I would have heard or written down or listened more carefully to the schedule change. I wish Joe could be around at 3:00 on a Saturday afternoon instead of after 5:00 because then maybe we could do something as a family, other than what we do nearly every night...however, with a newborn, a 2 year old and two other big girls, what can you do?

My expectations for what my family picture looks like and how and when we do things are high, I know, and farming is cramping my style! My hope is that I'll look back at these days and think, "wow, was I tired, busy and INSANE, but happy."

So let me vent for a bit, and then I will choose to be happy. Take that, farmer's schedule!

It's Always Something

In the fall of 2000 (loooong before I ever even dreamed about being a farm wife), it was downed corn, corn plants knocked over late in their life (thank goodness...because there were some kernels to harvest). I rode with my dad, since that was the only time we could see him that fall, in the cab of the combine. We drove roughly 2 mph, crawling through the field, picking up corn kernels with a contraption hooked on to the corn head of the combine that looked like a spider's legs. That was the year of my brother's wedding, where the guys leaped off the combine to come to the festivities, and then leaped back on, frantic in their pace.

In 2009, it was the rain, and rain, and rain. We probably should have considered an ark instead of whether or not we needed more dry storage that year.

Now, in a year that we have felt that we have dodged major bullets, the farmers are starting to get a little nervous. I have actually heard the sentence, "We could use a little shower," uttered a few times too many for me to know that now, we could really use a shower. After watching the radar this spring, and early this summer, and hoping beyond hope that the red and even pink blotches would not hit us or our family a little south of here. After seeing pictures of our friends' field (yeah, it's you, made it again!), damaged by hail, although we wouldn't take something so extreme, the rain that accompanied that devastating hail would be welcome.

Our ground is in pretty good shape, thanks to some really good soakers this spring. However, the forecast is calling for extremely hot temperatures and no rain this week and even into the next.

Good for the pool. Bad for the farm.

It's always something.

Even last night, as Joe was wrapping up paperwork for his "other job," he mentioned that some of his clients were concerned about Japanese beetles. These are potentially devastating to a field.


So, this morning, as I'm writing, I am looking out at my grandpa's field. The one that looks really good. The one that's now taller than Joe, complete with tassels and little yellowish silks on the ears. The one that Joe used as a little agronomy lesson for me: if you notice that a corn field has ears and silks that are at a uniform height, that means that it has the potential to be good. There's some more to that explanation, but I forgot it. However, what I noticed was the semantics he used (because I am, in fact, a huge word nerd). What he said was the potential.

Always the optimist.

Today, even though my girls are psyched about breaking out the slip-n-slide, and we're looking forward to slathering on the sunscreen for the library's swim party, I will also be looking to the sky, hoping that these hot, hot temperatures will brew a pop up shower now and then during this week.

However, it can't have wind.

Or hail.

Or too much rain. is always something.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

World's Largest Wienie Roast

Isn't that what straw bales are for? Sitting fireside on a fall night, roasting a hot dog with 1000 of your closest friends? Well, we have the straw bales for you! I'm not sure if it's really 1000...or if it's more or less...I'll get back to you, but judging from the straw that has come out of Joe's pockets and the sweaty shirt that is draped over my deck railing, we have baled a lot of square straw bales yesterday and even more today.

Not hay bales, mind you...straw bales.

There's a difference, didn't you know? The agricultural readers out there will probably correct me or laugh at me, but from my limited knowledge, when Joe mows hay, he mows it, rakes it (which is like combing it), and then bales it up in large, round bales, which we use as feed for the cattle. This is done multiple times of the year, and is a constant source of stress and weather related swearing.

Straw, on the other hand, is done once a year, with a crew of people, and is baled up in square bales, racked on a hay rack (think homecoming floats or hay rack rides at the apple orchard), and stored to also be to bed down barns in the winter for the cattle, among other things. My dad, our employee, and a couple of his friends/relatives are out there working alongside Joe to get this task completed. Part of the fun of this job is that it always, without question, has to be done on one of the most hot, humid and sticky days of the summer. Didn't you know that, too? Well, that's not entirely true, but if you were to ask around the countryside, the majority of those who have dealt with straw baling would's hot, it's sweaty, and it's backbreaking work. Talk about awesome cardio...maybe I should have gone out today!

Anyway, no, we are prepping to host the world's largest wienie roast this year, but we do have a heck of a lot of straw bales en route to the barn right now. My hope is that Joe will finish up this task in a timely manner, and try to remember to shake out his pockets before coming inside next time!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Garage

Once upon a time, there lived a sweet couple. Not only were they newlyweds, they were also the proud new homeowners of a lovely gray ranch house on a shaded lot. The wife of this couple adored her little house, sans the duck-adorned wallpaper that came off even before the papers were signed. With great care this wife took to making this house a home.

The sweet husband was in dude heaven. He was not only the proud owner of a new John Deere lawnmower, and 3/4 of an acre to mow, he had a 3 car garage to store it in. The garage was not only huge; it was heated, had a full sized fridge/freezer combo, was full of cubbies and shelves and pegboards and hooks, and even had a pull down, walled attic above the third stall. It was bliss with a concrete floor. It was organized. It was a man's dream.

As the couple added to their family, the garage started to fill. A jog stroller as well as a baby travel system (fancy way of saying, another stroller) were covered with great care, blanketed in old sheets and unveiled when their precious baby girl arrived, only to be recovered to keep them in pristine condition. The third stall soon housed a neighbor's unused vehicle for a time being, since it was a wide expanse of unused space.

It still remained bliss on a concrete slab.

Alas, the couple moved from this sweet ranch, and left the lovely garage to another family. The couple moved to the country, and traded their three car garage for a detached, supposedly two car garage on a dirt/gravel road. They blissfully traded, do not get me wrong, but traded nonetheless. The strollers remained covered, but this country dust has a mind of it's own, creeping in through the old sheets.

Okay, enough weird story telling style. It's the dog days of summer; we're outside a ton; it hasn't rained in days, and I'm OVER my garage. We indeed did live in garage heaven, however, I wonder what it would have been like once the Little Tykes ride-on purchasing would have begun? I was never crazy about my garage in our old house, but what was there to be crazy about? There was a place for everything and everything had its place. However, we had ONE kid, who owned two strollers, one Cozy Coupe car and one Little Tykes boat. Now, it looks like a Little Tykes little stockholder and buying convention happened in my garage, as there is no more room in the inn for any other vehicle besides mine. I just went out to try to clear a path so that we could walk in, but it is futile.

Another exercise in futility is trying to keep this place clean. Between the grain dust and the road dusts, there's no point. My hope is some day to have a garage on the other side of the house, attached, not facing the road. Here's to hoping.

So, here's my question: is this normal? Am I living in a fantasy land, expecting my husband to help with the organization of our toys, balls, bikes and strollers (of which, we now have five...I know, it's sinful) amidst his chore boots, tools, and other supplies? Should I expect a guy who works all day, and some times into the night to give a rip about whether or not the bike helmet is on the right peg, and not resting atop a muddy and potentially cow-manure covered boot? Is is wrong to wish that some time, some day, someone else will notice my garage door is open, and close it before filling a semi, and subsequently a garage, full of pink grain dust? Yes, I love the color pink, no I do not like it all over everything.


This fairytale will not, however, have a tragic ending. The garage will not conquer me, as I will conquer it some day! I will continue my quest of sweeping, organizing, and sighing every time something is out of place. Do not fret, however, for this couple continues to be blissful homeowners, however, some day, some time, some where, they will live even more happily ever after, complete with an organized, clean, and lovely three car attached garage.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Combine? In JULY?

After finishing reading my news feed on Facebook this morning, I'm realizing once again the differences between living on a working livestock/grain farm and my townie friends. Even though Joe was able to come with us and enjoy fireworks in town last night, he was yawning incessantly due to the simple fact that it was later than we're usually out (we're usually snoozing on our respective couches the second the kids are in this normal?), but he was also exhausted after a day spent in the heat prepping the combine and wagons for our wheat harvesting today.

Yep, that's right. Wheat. We have wheat...did you know that? I knew that at one time we had wheat, but thanks to our busy fall, I must have missed the conversation about planting...excuse me sowing wheat. Oops.

Regardless, it's early, two of the four kids are up, it's basketball camp/library/t-ball day, and Joe's already out the door, hauling a load of corn to get the semi cleared out before the wheat needs to be put into the semi's hopper bottom (or trailer with a mechanized hole in the bottom, as I like to think of it).

The lack of Joe's participation in all of our Fourth of July activities is not what struck me this time, it's the combine! In JULY! I nearly had a panic attack when I saw it, feeling the nervousness and loneliness I tend to get when we're deep in the heart of harvest. I started to rifle through the pantry to make sure I had Nutty Bars, a harvest staple, and then caught myself:

IT'S JULY. And, it's WHEAT. Thus, this harvest is only a DAY or TWO!! Whew.

So, as my panic attack subsided, my questions started. Joe's not super thrilled to have wheat, as it's harvest time is not quite ideal. No, he's not lamenting the fact that the fourth of July was not spent camping or golfing or swimming. He always laughs that outdoor leisure activities are not his style, as his job is spent outside most of the time. What's the fun of nature when you're in nature already? Anyway, he's feeling the time crunch of hay mowing and baling as well as loads of grain that need to be hauled for July contract dates (grain contracts are like a deadline or a due date). He's also seeing the importance of being present in our kids' lives. A benefit of farming (and there are not many fringe benefits...sans a seed corn cap or two) is the ability to be present during the day, in and out of the house and yard with the kids. It's a blessing and curse, Joe will tell you, as I depend on him way too much for every day things, and when he's not free, I'm shocked. Anyway, being present is tricky when there's a crop that is time sensitive.

Thankfully, however, Joe's wheat harvesting is just a day or two, and he will be able to sit a kid or two on his lap as he drives (actually, the combine drives itself, but that's another post) the combine through the picturesque wheat field. With my panic of seeing the combine subsiding, I will gladly pack and Nutty Bar in honor and preparation of the season that causes me great strife.

I guess this is just a warm up.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Back in the Saddle

I guess I should be careful with my title, as I am not literally back in the saddle. Living on a cattle farm, one could get confused. I am speaking in the figurative sense of the phrase, as I have been cleared for running.

This makes me happy. This makes me whole, and this is usually marked by a new pair of shoes, a new outfit, new route, and a renewed love of a sport that brings me balance.

I'm balanced, or as balanced as I can be, but with the USDA crop report (think the 1983 classic, shown weekly on USA Trading Places) out yesterday, with the market projections limit down (if you don't know what that means, I wouldn't suggest asking a grain farmer, unless you want a deep, frustrated sigh and a not-so-happy explanation), a new outfit and shoes were out for the time being. However, I am looking at the bright side of no new shoes, as running on gravel in new shoes would be foolish.

I'm digressing.

Anyway, back to being in the saddle, so to speak. As I put on my running shoes, I took off on my second run of the postpartum running season and noted a marked difference in my run, route, and thoughts between my first and fourth children. Instead of running the "country" trail at Lake of the Woods Park, ticking off my mileage by noting the spray painted mile markers along the paved, well manicured path, I took off from my gravel driveway to the gravel road, dodging a dead bird and then a live snake. Instead of meeting other runners, I met mama cows, who gave me inquisitive looks as I pep talked myself up the hill. Cars whizzed by me, but unlike city commuters, they looked, waved, and were potentially the t-ball coach, a cousin, or a neighbor off to work, chores, or to the coffee shop for some gossip. Instead of marking my turn-around point with a pit-stop at the public restroom, I made my turn around at the pile of raccoon poop.

Nice, huh?

Even though the differences between the settings are polar opposites, the run is the same. My feet still hit the ground, whether it's manicured asphalt or gravel. My sweat is still sweaty, whether I'm enjoying a cool off point at a water fountain on my route or being shaded by the timber. It's all the same.

This is why it's good for me to run. I am balanced, and through this, I can realize once again, that even though our summer is rough and the crops here look great-- even though there's always the markets, hail, or a random windstorm to put the farmers ill at ease at all times-- we are okay. We are thriving, not just surviving. We are healthy, the kids are happy, and I can run. Shouldn't I be grateful just for that?

Man, balance is clairvoyant, isn't it? Here's hoping I can keep this up, and keep out of the way of dead birds and snakes during my moments of clarity.