Thursday, May 31, 2012


No, that's not a typo, and no I didn't forget the "T" in Thursday...

Thank Goodness It's Raining.


It's raining a glorious, soaking, steady rain, and we could not be happier around here. Well, except for the fact that the kids are begging to go outside (of course yesterday, when it was absolutely lovely, they wanted to be inside...but whatever). The girls can crawl the walls and whine and complain all they want, but the bottom line is we needed rain. Without a doubt, this is a gift from God.

I'm certain that pool people and sunbathers and dog walkers and city dwellers having to walk to work find the rain an annoyance, but if you haven't noticed, we farmers find rain (when needed, of course) a lifeline. It's a critical element in the growth of our crops, and since it has been so warm and dry, and the corn is still pretty early in its growing stage, we need a good soaker to ensure good roots so that in the event of a wind or a rain storm in July, the corn won't fall over...hopefully.

So, today, we watch. We watch the rain as it falls. We're watching the rain gauge across the road as it fills up. We're watching the puddles form on our road, which will inevitably tick me off because my car will be a disaster.

But I shouldn't care.

I don't care.

It's raining.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Corn Growth Journal, Week Three

Week 3...and 3 kids!!
Another week, another picture! It's hot, dry, and right at the moment sticky, sticky, sticky! So, we headed outside to take our weekly picture...minus Jack, as he was napping.

Joe is a little nervous about this picture, as the corn is kind of rolled up, but that's thanks to the lovely 90 degree temperatures we have had and the seven drops of rain we have had this week.

Anna, as you can see, is helping me by holding the yard stick, as the corn is now way too tall for a ruler (yea!). It measured approximately 20.75 inches (we were uber-scientific, as I didn't zoom in on the we checked the words on the yard stick. Thanks, Dodge Trucks!).

20.75 inches! And Anna's Crocs!
Anyway, we also had our corn sprayed today, and all you anti-spray folks can quit gasping, because I went out and took pictures of the whole thing and am happy to report I have not lost any hair and haven't sprouted any new toes or eyes or anything.

In all seriousness, however, Joe explains this application like this, and I quote,

The sprayer, working its magic...right behind my house!
This sprayer is applying the planned second pass to kill any weeds in the field and to hold back any more weeds until the corn is big enough to shade out the middle of the rows so no more weeds can grow. We hire Crop Production Services (CPS) to apply the herbicides because they own the most up-to-date technology that includes GPS swath control that makes sure every part of the field is sprayed and no part is sprayed twice.

Can you tell he was a teacher...and a good one at that??

Anyway, life on the farm rolls on...just as the dust rolls off of the road. Thankfully, today, also, Dad and Joe have taken care of that mess (literally) by rigging up a water truck to spray down the road. There's a graduation party going on about a half a mile away, so our traffic is up, but since the road has been watered down, they have slowed down. Take that, townies!
The dust truck

What a day we have had...add in a long run, trip to the grocery store and Wal-Mart and friends for dinner, and I'll say it's been productive!

Happy Saturday! 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer Schedules

Remember how I had some rant about how we don't "do" extracurriculars as much, thanks to our life on the farm (if you don't, you can read it here)? Well, our tune has changed thanks to older kids, who have opinions, options, and a dad who looooves baseball (and now loves softball).

So, as I called to make another addition to our summer schedule, one for both girls this time, I was so thankful that the girls could be scheduled back to back, as that would make for one less trip to town.

Efficient trips to town is a skill that I have yet to learn.

My husband would wholeheartedly agree with my lack of efficiency, because I do run to town.

A lot.

Like, multiple times a day, which is not a great thing, considering the age of my kids and the price of gas and the dust on my road (have I ever mentioned I hate my road and what it does to my car??? That's another post, another day.).

Anyway, my better judgement in this matter- that is, rejoicing that I would only have to make one round trip on Mondays- is something new, and thus, exciting to me. However, realizing the fact that I live in the country, and will possibly live here for the rest of my days, is something I am also embracing. I will still lament the fact that my kids won't ever  ride bikes to their activities. I have decided to quit fretting about the possibility of sending them to school on bikes or on foot.

Because why should I worry about that?

I'm learning to realize that riding bikes in the gravel amongst corn and bean fields is just as good as throwing the bikes in the truck so that they can ride to friend's houses. It's just a matter of scheduling.

And another potential trip to town.

The New Normal

So it's officially summer. The two older ones are out of school; the temperature has been rising...summertime, and the living's easy, right?

Well, sort of.

For our family, however, this year's summertime will bring a new normal. So far, we've had only two full days of break, and I'm getting nervous. Gone is the predictable schedule of school, planting, activities, and order. Gone is the stability of "I'll have a few minutes between naps and bus drop off to collect my thoughts." Gone is the possibility of even considering dusting...thanks to my "helpers" and my crazy dusty road.

While my new normal includes fun stuff like pool time, ball games, and playing outside, I am trying to figure out how to keep the fun stuff rolling all the while keeping my flowers from dying (did you know they need WATER???) and keeping my very inquisitive and increasingly mobile and fearless one year old away from the outlets, stairs and dog's mouth. Our girls are also experiencing a shift in order. Our kids are learning how to play with each other, all the time, all day long, sharing Mom/Dad/Grandma/Grandpa time while trying to figure out who gets Ken while they play Barbies. I know... big stuff.

As far as the farm goes, the new normal includes a little bit more relaxed choring schedule, thanks to the cows being on grass, but our hay season has begun, and did you know that hay production and baling depends upon dew? As in, morning dew? As in, how do you even predict/schedule/ fathom DEW?

Anyway, if you're a loyal reader, you've probably noticed a lack of posts. I am trying to figure out my new normal. I am trying to figure out how to complete a thought, make it grammatically correct and cohesive, advocate for agriculture, all the while refereeing, feeding, and trying to keep my boy from eating the computer cord as I write outside while the kids are playing.


So bear with me this summer, and if you see me, don't remind me that I'm busy...I know, just maybe hand me something caffeinated, I need the energy.

Happy summer!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Farm Boy in the Making

Our little guy turns one tomorrow.


As in, has been a part of our family for one, whole year.


Where have I been, other than not sleeping?

Don't worry, I'm not getting the "oh, I think I need another baby" feeling.

At. All.

However, I can't help but be a bit cliche in considering how this year has flown. One year ago, I was grouchy, uncomfortable, nervous, swollen, frantic, and did I mention grouchy? One year ago, I was stressing about where to put him, how I would go anywhere, do anything, and did I mention laundry? Yikes.

Jack's birth has escalated our "busy-ness" for sure, but his easygoing personality has helped curb the moments of panic I have as I count four children at the playground or church or the grocery store parking lot.

Our little guy is definitely a blessing, our lives benefiting from his sunny personality. The promise of a farm boy amongst our farm girls is exciting, and now that he is becoming more aware of his surroundings, I can see the farm boy in the making.

Jack now points and says, "Oh" every time a tractor pulls in the driveway or a semi revvs up. His chubby finger directs my attention to something loud and exciting if we're driving anywhere. He pulls himself up to the window (and fortunately, our old house has great windows for one year olds to view the world) to check the calves and look for Daddy. The four wheeler is exciting, and when Joe comes down the hill on the pasture across the road, Jack stands at attention, watching and waiting for his buddy to come home.

He's a farm boy in the making.

I'm so excited to see how his personality plays out. Right now, I'm making the assumption that he'll be out there with Joe most of his days. However, we'll see, and we'll continue to love and enjoy and treasure our little guy as he grows up.

Happy birthday, Jack!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day Is A Soft Holiday

So, it's Mother's Day weekend, and the marketing on TV has been truly laughable, to us (and maybe just to us, so there you go). Joe has spent a lot of time rolling his eyes and explaining to the girls why Mommy doesn't need a $500 necklace to know that she is loved on Mother's Day.

Now, while I would never turn down a lovely necklace from my children, he's right, I don't need it. I don't even really want it. I know...shocker! Mother's Day since we have been farming has ranged from time spent together with a lovely steak lunch prepared entirely by my husband to a lovely poem written about how although he "is still very charming, he couldn't get a card because he was busy farming." as well as last year, while Joe was in the field, I took the girls to Target and Jimmy John's all just days from giving birth to Jack.

So, Mother's Day isn't a huge deal at our Joe would add, "Every day is Mother's Day!

Not that Joe isn't doing a good job at recognizing me as a mother on the actual Hallmark Holiday, I just have learned that as a farm wife, any spring or fall holiday is celebrated if the weather is not fit to be working.

I understand this.

I realize this.

So why do I still wonder what it's like to get breakfast in bed, spend the day at the nail salon and shopping, all the while sporting my new $500 necklace? Never gonna happen around this joint.

And that's okay.

My point is, we have been bombarded with marketing saying that in order to recognize Mom on Mother's Day, you have to spend a lot of money and let her do nothing, on May 13th. "Get your orders in now!" "Celebrate Mom on Sunday!"

Mother's Day around here is what we call a "soft holiday." The date is fluid. I feel like I have already had a Mother's Day, as we have been able to get away here and there...even though this week our date was to the dentist.

Maybe some day I'll be able to do nothing...right now, doing nothing on Mother's Day is not in the cards, as bean planting is getting close to done, hay needs to be mowed, and cattle, although a lot of them are new mamas, are celebrated by the joy of work.

I will be recognized with a lovely gift, and we have become "that couple..." you know, the couple who leave blaring, obvious hints about gifts. I left the home screen on Joe's computer to the exact color and style of running watch I wanted. I am assured it will be here soon.


So whether your Mother's Day is a soft or a hard and fast date on your calendar, and whether you celebrate it with a lovely Zales diamond or a meal on the go in between loading bulk beans, remember your mom, and hug a mom who is toting around her kids, alone on this special day...she might just be a farm wife!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Little Plants, Big Promise

If you’re a Facebook fan of mine, this post may seem a bit redundant.

However, I love redundancy.

Love it. Love it. Love IT!!

Anyway, we’re embarking on a photographic journey with our corn crop. We’ve learned our lesson about how to not document our life’s happenings (see the complete gut remodel of our house…no pictures… and don’t even get me started on Jack’s scrapbook, because literally, it’s not even started and he’ll be one in two weeks. Sigh.). So, with a big photographic leap, and the ease of the upload, thank you, iPad!!, we are going to take you on the journey of our corn crop and its life as it comes up behind our house.

So, we took a picture last week, when it was hot and humid thanks to a fresh thundershower, and my kids were a hot mess thanks to leaping into the puddles of aforementioned rain showers.

While you’re probably wondering how we got so lucky to have such cute kids (superior genetics, Amelia will say), and why those kids are NOT wearing pants (don’t need ‘em, Amelia will also say), you’ll note that the corn plants are barely visible. Their little green leaves are just barely cracking through the surface of the soil.

So that leads us to this week, when the greenhouse affect of the humidity allowed the plants to truly shoot through the ground and now you can “row” the corn from the upstairs windows (which means, see the plants in a (hopefully) perfectly straight line).

Farmer Joe explains it like this:
This plant is about 3" tall at its tallest point and just sprouted out of the ground 5 days earlier.

 We would technically call this plant to be in the "V1" stage, which stands for vegetative stage, 1 collar. If you look at the bottom leaf, the part that attaches to the stalk forms a "collar" around the stalk. As more and more leaves emerge from the center of the stalk, the lower leaves "collar" to provide themselves with a mechanism to stay supported by the plant. These leaves become the solar panels by which the plant turns sunlight into sugar for the plant to live and grow from.

In this 160 acre field, there are 5.6 million plants just like this one.

Isn’t that a crazy fun fact? 5.6 million plants, exactly alike, vying for the sunlight, soaking up the good rain and nutrients from the soil.

Cool, huh?

This is amazing to me. I am excited to share the growth and promise of this corn crop with you via pictures.

However, what is not documented through these smiling, goofy, and sometimes pant-less children and their corn crop pictures is the worry, the planning, the prayers, the time, the walking through the fields, the rain dances, the cease-rain dances, etc., etc. that accompany this growing season.

But, I'll take the time to document that through this blog, don't you worry!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Grandma's Level of Trust

My grandma is 97 years old. She is amazing, not just because she's 97 and still with us, but also because she's still lovely, loving, kind, caring, and offers opinions on everything from politics to education to agriculture. She's a life long farm kid/wife, living in the same house she was born and raised in still to this day.

I love her.

One of the things I love the most about her is considering all she has seen in her life time. She rode a horse to her one-room grade school. She taught school in a one room schoolhouse in between times that she needed money to go to college. In a time of the Depression, she went to (and finished) college. She was a WWII bride, sending her beloved to Europe only after marrying him in Tennessee, far from home. He came back, and they raised kids during the 50s, and in the 70s, watched her daughter (my mom) send her new husband (my dad) overseas to another war in Vietnam. She fought for her community, trying to keep a landfill out of the area, when it was coming to town. She gardened and canned and "did corn" when it wasn't cool and hip. She still makes one heck of a pie. She has purged her house of unnecessary things, and has written on the backs of photographs so we won't forget our family.

Can you tell she's amazing?

Anyway, I fear that this time in which she is currently living, although she has lived through a lot of changes and tragedy, is upsetting to her. We live in a fast world, as we all know, full of folks giving opinions and suggestions about things they know not a lot about. My grandma reads up on this through her US News and World Report and Time Magazine subscriptions, and is generally horrified at what the text on the page has to say.

Lately, I have tended to agree.

While I love my iPad, my Facebook friends, and my cell phone, these things have made me lazy, opinionated about folks and their lifestyles when I have no idea what it's really like, as well as allowing myself become more informed about things that I don't understand. I find myself googling things on a daily basis, trying to WebMD myself when I should just go to a doctor. I think (note the word, think) I know a lot about the world around me, but I tend to just gloss over the headlines that Yahoo! offers me. I think myself informed, but am not, really.

In a world where information is at our fingertips, we have taken advantage of this and become opinionated and so open minded that our brains have fallen out. I myself need to simmer down, take a step back, and learn a lesson from my wise grandmother. While she is educated, opinionated and knowledgeable, she is trusting of the world around her.


Not blissfully ignorant, trusting.

This is a big problem that is hurting American agriculture, particularly livestock farming. No one is trusting of ranchers and growers such as my husband. No one cares that although we were able to get away for less than 24 hours last weekend, we were only gone 24 hours, having to get back in order for the cows, calves, bulls and steers to be checked and fed. Why is it okay to attack our livelihood from a talk show or newspaper or blog when the writer/producer/star (who most likely is advocating "natural" methods all the while smiling a Botox enhanced smile) has never walked a pasture in our shoes.

In the wake of Burger King authorizing purchases of chickens and pigs who are raised only cage free, and a, thankfully, contained case of BSE (Mad Cow) in California, farmers and ranchers are taking a hit from the media blitz that has caused markets to go down and poultry and pig farmers to heave another big sigh as they watch their industry take yet another hit below the belt. Why are these folks having an opinion that makes such a crazy impact on people's lives?

So what do we do? I don't want to ride a horse to school, nor do I want to live without my husband...or my iPad for that matter! However, shouldn't there be a balance? Shouldn't we be informed, entitled to our own opinion, but trusting of those who are the most qualified to make the decisions? Grandma didn't win her battle against the landfill, and it came to the area. Instead of making stink after stink after stink, Grandma (although she doesn't like it), noted that they did put up lovely fences around the property.

She trusted that they knew what they were doing, and hoped for the best.

I guess I am not being like Grandma still, offering my opinion to tell the people who have no idea about agriculture to shut the heck up. My hope, however, is that through opinions like this, you, dear reader, will know that we're trying our best, some times to the sacrifice of our own fun, comfort, and bottom line to produce quality products for you to enjoy.

Trust is not ignorance. Trust is faith. Trust is respect. Trust is allowing us to do what we know is right so you can enjoy a steak dinner.

Trust us, life on the farm is fun and hard and rewarding and labor intensive, but trust me, not everyone can do it, every day...I hardly can!