Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Irony of the Drought

It has come to my attention that the new thing in running is the obstacle/mud run. Sometimes referred to as the Warrior Dash, the Spartan, or Dirty Run, these events have popped up around the area, and friends and friends of friends of ours have signed up in droves. Not a weekend goes by on Facebook without a set of pictures of folks standing, covered head to toe in mud, holding their finisher's medals. Not only are you to run, but run through muck and mud, hurdling over walls and scrambling up ropes.

Now, although I applaud all efforts to get out there and get some exercise, I have zero (as in NONE, NADA, ZILCH) desire to do one of these races. Give me a hot, sweaty, hilly run, and I'm there. Allow me to train for a long distance, and I'll do it. But mud, no thanks.

Maybe it's because my whole life as a farmer's wife on a gravel road is one big dirty, mucky mess. 

While thousands of folks sign up to trudge through the muck and mud, signing up and paying their fee, Joe, the kids and I merely have to walk outside, step onto our "gravel road," and there you go...mud run accomplished! Scramble up a fence and chase after a cow on the loose, no problem. No fee necessary.

Although my road could be one big dirty mud run in itself, the irony of the mud run this summer to me is not my location and station in life, it's that, like a lot of the country, there's no mud around here.

It's dry.

Bone dry.

No mucky boots are on my porch currently, however, we did have a little rain last night, so I wouldn't mind having some muck to clean up.

The irony of the drought is that a lot of people are not affected as we are, obviously. While we pray and pray and pray for rain...but not too much, too fast...folks run these races through manufactured mud, patches sprayed with hoses to make you stick and stink and sweat even more. This is funny to me, because as a person who has had to field questions from urban folks about the affects of irrigation and water supply, isn't it ironic that some of those folks might be slogging through a patch of manufactured mud just for the sake of fun? Where's the water conservation there? We can't whip out the hose to spray down the pastures as they continue to brown up in the heat and sun, we just have to hope that they will be given the necessary watering from Mother Nature, and crops will receive a drink from the heavens.

We just pray.

I'm not saying that mud runs are not worth their time and training, I am just considering hosting one myself, the next big rain. Joe would probably win, as he can not only slog through pastures when it's mucky in heavy Northerners, but is an expert fence scrambler, when something needs attention quickly in the pasture.

Anyway, good luck to all those who have and will be participating in a dirty run. My road is open to all those in need of a place to train...Joe will help you, too!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Week Seven...and Eight


So last week I forgot to take a picture.

Sorry. I know we were out and about in the yard, but I just never got it done, and generally realized it when I was falling asleep at night.

So, here's what we'll call Week 7.5!

Lots of exciting stuff...even though there still hasn't been a good rain on us for a while, the corn is starting to tassel and get it's silks!!

Our cutie pie California cousin came this week, too, so he's added in the fun of trying to capture kids, in the 100+ degree heat to make some measurements this week...this was our best of about 18 pictures. Children's photographers, I commend you.

And then there's just the crazy Webel clan. Not in the mood, but in a tutu, no less!

While we could use a good rain, our crops aren't as bad as they could be, and we're not fighting wildfires. We're continuing to do a rain dance, but know that, as with everything, we could be in a more dire situation. Pray for rain for us...and those needing it worse than us!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Water Conservation

It's dry here.

Like, really dry.

As in, today's breakfast conversation was not only a friendly reminder from Farmer Joe about energy conservation, but also water conservation.

As in, it's dry and we're on a well, and if there's not a lot of water coming out of the sky, there's not necessarily a lot of water in the ground, and that affects our supply.

As in, affects our supply for drinking, bathing, and laundry.

Oh dear heavens...NOT THE LAUNDRY!! Not only do I need to start back in my routine of switching my laundry loads in the wee small hours of the night (thanks to a lovely energy conservation plan we have enlisted in called Power Smart Pricing, which is a really neat thing, if you like to do laundry at 3AM...and I have learned to love it in the sake of saving money!), but I have to be cognizant of how much laundry I do.

Oh boy.

As a mother of four and a farmer husband, laundry has turned into not just a chore, but a mission. My mission is to keep the baskets from swallowing up aforementioned children and the "correct" carpenter jeans clean for daily wearings (did you know that farmers are particular about their jeans...just as I am about mine...maybe a little more...that's another post.). The laundry mission is not covert, by any means, as I am in constant laundry mode, and thanks to our house and it's layout, my baskets of air-drying delicates are sometimes on the kitchen table. Baskets of clean, folded laundry are sometimes also doubled up as toy toting baskets, poised at the bottom of the steps, ready to go upstairs to be put away. Baskets are the bane of my existence, however, because my kids love to play with them, which means taking out said laundry and ditching the pieces on the floor, unaware of the care I just put into organizing, folding, and sorting out the laundry to be put away.

So, not only do I have to play defense on my laundry, I have to now be sure my loads are full, my timing is correct, all for the sake of conserving our water supply.

Minor detail, right?

I'm all for planning, but yikes...that's a lot.

For the sake of our family, I will continue my laundry mission, but if you drive by at 3AM and see the light on in our laundry area, don't be alarmed, it's just me...trying to keep up with the exorbitant amount of socks we wear!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Week Six

Well folks, our corn growth journal picture is late this week for two reasons:

Reason #1:  The corn didn't look so hot (well, it looked hot, but too hot...pineappley, spikey leaves in dry, dry soil), so we kept waiting for it to look better and more healthy.

So...we waited for a rain, and we GOT ONE!!! A lovely, steady, nice, kind of windy but otherwise perfect 1.3ish inches.


The corn now stands at just over five feet, and yesterday and today you can just sense it growing, soaking up the sun and moisture and humidity in all
its glory and growing! So exciting.

Reason #2 : we didn't have all of our kids all week. Two of the four went to "Camp Grammy" (as we like to call it) at my in-laws, and even though I was down to only two children, I still was running around and getting nothing done.


However, in honor of Father's Day, I sent Joe out to take the picture in the heat with a camera that didn't have any batteries, and then the iPad, which he took video instead of still photography...that is something that should be deleted. Lots of hollerin' and silliness!

So, the picture of the kids is true...we are kind of a mess, but wouldn't you rather see us in our true form of moodiness, naughtiness, silliness, craziness and all other descriptors?

I thought so.

Happy growing!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Houston, We Have a Sandbox!

So we've been parents for seven years, and have lived in this house for six years. Thus, ever since I had a kid who wanted to play outside, I have been asking Joe to get/build/make/buy a sandbox. It's a part of being a kid, in my book (ask my mom about how much I loved to put sand in my hair...answer, a lot.).

However, it hasn't been something Joe has considered super necessary. I asked six years ago, nicely. The next year and the next were just as nice. Last summer, however, after receiving another, "I know, I know," I threatened to purchase the green plastic Little Tykes turtle sandbox.

That threat was met with silence.

You see, that Little Tykes sandbox looks cute in your well groomed, fenced town yard, but out here, that's not how we roll.

Sandboxes are constructed, not purchased. If they have to be "ready-made," they're made of an old tractor tire. However, considering the sheer number of kids we have, coupled with the fact that you can't make a nice straight, long row, if you were farming this sandbox, a tractor tire just doesn't cut the mustard.

So, with the summer coming, I planned on making my sandbox plea, again, however, the torch was passed. Amelia, our sweet, then two-year old, the one who has her dad in the palm of her hand, requested a sandbox for her birthday.

Then, to add insult to injury, our sweet little girl added, "a sandbox made by Daddy."


Isn't that just funny? Isn't that so cute? Isn't that ironic?

I have been asking for a sandbox since our oldest was still in diapers (she is mortified that I mentioned her in diapers...that's how old she is now!), and with just a bat of her eyelashes and her sweet smile, Amelia Jane has a sandbox frame, a 10x10 frame, constructed of 2x12s. It sits at the edge of our swingset, just waiting to be filled with sand, but not the sand you can purchase at Home Depot (because that ranks up there with the lame turtle purchase sand in those stupid tubes would be gauche!), but sand purchased from the dude who owns the trucking company in town and has some extra, clean sand.

It has taken seven years and four kids, but we will have our sandbox by the weekend.

Remind me that I'm excited about this when I'm blogging about the mess it makes, okay?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Benefiting From a Benefit

If you ask my kids where they are from, they'll answer, Farmington. Ironically, my dad, uncles and aunt all grew up in the exact same house and their answer to the same question is Yates City.

Technically, because our mail comes from Farmington and our kids go to school, play ball, hang out, etc. in Farmington, we consider ourselves from there. But, the closest burg to us is Yates City, population, less than 700...and I'm related to about 650 of them (or so it seems).

Anyway, our little town is unassuming. You would drive through it and note the lovely library, the nice park, the bank, and new community center, but probably notice that there aren't a lot of fancy, schmancy houses. The school has long since been left empty since the new one was built in Farmington. It's a town where some people live, some people just pass through to get to somewhere, and many may consider it nothing particularly spectacular.

However, it is.

It is a place that on Saturday, and every first Saturday in June for 10 years, becomes a place of overwhelming generosity, giving spirit and community pride.

You see, our little town, thanks to the generosity and gumption of the owner of the local bar and grill and, unfortunately, a cancer diagnoses (and thankfully remission) of a local child ten years ago, raised over 80,000 dollars that night to donate to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

$80,000, as in ...well, 80,000 smackers!!!

Isn't that amazing?

The community comes out in full force on that Saturday, but I know that there's a lot of work 364 days prior to the event. However, the event is the culmination of all that hard work. It starts early in the day and lasts all day into the wee hours with events that cover all interests, from little kids to runners to bikers to party-ers to old fogies to just generous folks. My Place Bar and Grill puts its best foot forward, and it is not is truly all for the kids at St. Jude.

We are new to this community, and hadn't really gotten involved with this cause until this year, but I will tell you if you ever want to feel a part of something bigger, part of a community, part of something that's doing something great in the midst of tragedy, this event is exemplary. The auction is indicative of the community in which we live. Folks gathered around to bid on everything from John Deere pedal tractors to Cardinals tickets to pies from Aunt Nancy, enjoying the fun of auctioning off seeing the bar owner's husband in a dress, and then re-auctioning his street clothes after he made his cross-dressing appearance. The semi-load of beans from a local farmer got great applause, a donation that made our farming roots around here apparent.

The generosity of the community was outstanding. The volunteerism was something to behold.

These people get it. They know that cancer doesn't discriminate, and that we can do a little bit all together to make a lot of difference.

As a young adult, I had the opportunity to visit the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital as a runner for the Memphis to Peoria team. I still remember the faces of the children, bald headed and smiling, as they rode hot wheels attached to their IV drips. They were so happy, despite being so ill. However, the memory I have in my mind most clearly was the look of the parents behind these happy kids. The look of desperation, exhaustion and fear shown all over their faces. I felt sad, but now that I have four cherubs myself, I really get it. I don't know what I would do if I had to be in their shoes.

So, I give. I will volunteer next year. I will do more than run the 5K in the morning and enjoy a beverage with friends in the evening.

We are so blessed with our lovely children, and know that we are lucky. Since the inception of this benefit, four other local children have been through St. Jude. We have a local farmer who has only welcomed Joe into the farming fold with respect and kindness who has a grandson currently fighting cancer, benefiting from all that St. Jude has to offer. Seeing Jerry there, surrounded by his family, laughing and enjoying the day, makes us appreciate our kids and know that in a blink of an eye, we could be in the same boat. The community support surrounding his family is amazing, and truly a bright spot in an otherwise challenging situation. We are so awed at this, and even though we were having a great time, kid free and surrounded by friends, we couldn't help but step back every now and then during the evening and remember why we were truly there.

Thank you, My Place for donating time, talents and funds to this cause, however, thanks the most for allowing me to benefit from this benefit. Thanks for allowing me to take a minute to appreciate my healthy kids, rejoicing in their noise and mess and stickiness (for now!! Ha!). Thanks for showing that even though a little town may seem like a place someone might miss if they blink, it can make a big impact.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Corn Is As High As Amelia Jane's Eye

It's the fifth week of the growing corn journal, and it happens to have landed on the big weekend of our Amelia Jane's third birthday. It's always fun/hectic/chaotic/happy/hairy to get ready for a birthday of an "aware" child. And in aware, I mean, I can't have her with me as I toss the Dora Enchanted Fairy doll into the cart at Target without her noticing.

She has been very excited, and we have been very busy preparing for this big day. While the party and the presents and the cake made it super fun, I find myself always taking a minute to remember her first moments in our life. It's funny how I can remember all the details down to the color of toenail polish I had on that day, but I can't seem to remember bread at the grocery store or to call the doctor to make her a 3 year checkup appointment. I reminisced of her birth in a post, and you can read it here, if you've forgotten, but the big difference, as documented by this picture is the crazy growing season we had back in 2009.

It was the wet year.

The really, really wet year.

And while Joe was busy trying to get soybeans planted, I was busy thinking I was going to have a baby. Our corn was barely visible at that point, and now it's as tall as our sweet girl.

While we could use another shower, everything seems to be looking okay, as of today. That all could change in a heartbeat, of course, thanks to no rain, too much rain, etc., etc., but for today, I'm going to remember how happy and healthy our crop looks, just like my sweet Amelia.

I am so lucky. We are so lucky. We are so blessed to have a child who is so full of life and sunshine and humor and joy and laughter and sass.

While we deal in commodities around here on the farm, Amelia has blessed our family in her own commodity, with her sunshiny personality. It may mean that some times we have to spend extra time at the grocery store check out while she compliments the checker's earrings, or may mean that she greets you way too early in the morning with a knock, knock joke, but we are so lucky. She is the epitome of perpetual joy in every sense of the word.

We love you, sweet Amelia Jane. Here's to many more years of your sunshine and many more pictures of you in the corn.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Week Four

We've hit a month!

And it's eye high on Jack!

 29 inches...give or take.
The kiddos...kind of still. We're trying to capture them without motion...and it's a miracle when that happens!
The corn has looks more like a green carpet from a distance, as the rows are closing up, thanks to the length of the leaves.

Happy week four!

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Great Steak Sauce Debate

I know, hard hitting content today.

We're cleaning out our freezers (yes, we have TWO deep freezes) in order to make room for a new batch of beef that will be coming to us soon. So, every meal has had beef with a side of pork, or vice versa. No, not really, but we have been planning meals based on what's space consuming in our freezer.

Last night, it was t-bone steaks.

Pretty rough eating, don't you think?

Needless to say, Joe is a master griller, and if he were to ever take up a hobby, it would be grilling. BBQ-ing, smoking name it, he'd figure out a way to grill it to perfection. He's the family griller, on both sides, a thriller on the griller, if you will.

Anyway, we enjoy our beef. Joe takes great pride in seasoning his burgers, steaks, pork chops with concoctions that make great meat even better.

And he sighs a deep, heavy sigh when I make my little puddle of A-1 next to my steak.

He used to give me a lot of grief about it, but I made my argument, I like steak. I like his seasonings, I just like steak sauce.

I have never considered a puddle of A-1 a slap in the face. It was a staple on our table when we enjoyed beef growing up. "Pass the A-1," did not ever insinuate that my mom didn't do a sufficient seasoning job on her ribeyes, it was just that we, especially my dad and I, enjoyed the taste.

Fast forward to marriage to Joe, the beef dude...a guy who won meats judging competitions and took a meats class in college from one of the top meat professors in the country, and A-1 on steaks was forbidden. A slap in the face. Just...well, unnecessary.

Our girls have been told of the evils of A-1 on good beef. Okay, okay, not evils, but again, unnecessary application of a sauce. They eat their steaks, and yes, even Jack enjoys a steak sans sauce. However, instead of the "what the heck are you doing?" comments, Joe quietly allows me to continually douse my meat in A-1, hoping, that like the children, I will learn to appreciate our beef for its natural goodness.

I'm learning please pass the A-1.