Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Talking About Talking

It’s not surprising to those who know me, even those who may have just met me, that I’m a talker. I do it for a living. I speak at different events. Even as a toddler, I had a debate over Kleenex vs. Napkin with my dad. When our first child spoke in complete sentences at a year, I was surprised, only to be brought back to reality by my friend Andrea who looked at me and said, “Do you KNOW who her mother is?”

Oh yeah…

This gift can be a blessing, but a curse at times…ask poor Joe. While I am a communicator, a verbalizer, it can sometimes be too much.


However, in the three years I have been blogging, I have completed numerous trainings on how to talk effectively to consumers, those not in the agricultural world, etc. It’s interesting how even if one is innately a talker, you still have to revist the how of communication once in awhile.

This “how” of communication is really at the forefront of my thoughts today. In the past few weeks, I have blogged about some pretty hot button topics: specifically, GMO and HSUS. These are issues that directly affect us as farmers, me as a mom, and me as just a person trying to decipher what is best for my kids and family. However, I have learned in my short time blogging that when you blog about certain topics that hit a nerve, you must be ready to talk back. Not fight. Just talk. Communicate. Verbalize.

We are living in a world where communication is fast and furious, and that is excellent at times. The internet and blogosphere is ideal for a communicator like me, as it offers an outlet for opinions. However, when I put myself out there on hot button topics, I have to be ready to receive feedback that is not so warm and fuzzy. That’s okay. I have been trained, never fear…ha, ha., and I love the other side of the coin discussion. It makes me reevaluate and sometimes validate my decision even more. It’s interesting, though, that because of the outlet and semi-anonymity of the Internet, folks are able to voice opinions, but when asked to talk through issues, such as GMOs or HSUS, there’s often times complete silence.

Like, crickets chirping silence.

Why is that?

On one hand, I understand that we all have opinions, standards, and beliefs that will not ever change. I have that, too. However, when I am searching for answers and navigating through territory I don’t understand, to voice an opinion and not be willing and open and, well, not snarky, to receive information that comes straight from the source, that’s just bizarre.

So, let’s talk about talking.

Let’s have a Q & A.

Let’s air our grievances, as we would during the Festivus Holiday season.

If you’re so bold, ask me a beef question in regards to antibiotics. Ask me a fertilizer question. While I do not contend to be an expert on ANYTHING agricultural, I live with someone who is pretty in the biz, am the daughter of someone who TAUGHT agriculture for over 30 years, and have friends upon friends who are communicators, writers, experts in the field who would love to answer your questions.

Just hear me out…be kind. Don’t attack my lifestyle. Don’t think I’m evil because we sometimes have to give our animals medicine in order for them to survive and thrive, and thus, allow us to survive and thrive.  Voice your opinions, but be ready to have a conversation, not a one-sided one, a back and forth.

I challenge you dear readers…this could be a big thing.

Let’s call it, Dear Emily…


  1. Dear Emily,
    Love it!

  2. I uh...uh...uh...never mind. KB

  3. Dear Emily, I did read your previous blog post. To be honest with you I have no idea one way or the other as far as agriculture and food growth. I can imagine that the pressure to feed the world would be great. We all have crazy obstacles to jump whenever we do anything. I think the fear is that people realize that every year as we become more and more advanced with technology we do things with trial and error. Our knowledge is only based on our own experience and others previous experience. When I make food choices I do it because I personally feel better. I have asked for help from professional Doctors and they even make mistakes. I think what I was most offended by with the post was the tone. I have no question in my mind that farmers are doing everything in their power for their families, for future farmers, and for feeding the world. Everything we do in life comes with a cost. I think some people who fight it just value things differently. I admire your boldness to touch on sensitive topics. (Even that comes with a cost.) More than likely what will happen in 50 -100 years times will change and in that time farming will change, health care will change and people will continue to learn. Changes will happen based on what the current trending topics are at that time. Michelle :)

  4. Never my intention to offend, always trying to be transparent and real. Thanks for the comments and keep the questions coming!

  5. Dear Emily,
    I'm currently enrolled in an environmental science class. Throughout the course (two semesters for a total of seven college credits) our textbook has made NUMEROUS references to the fact that "cutting meat out of your diet is better for the environment." I know that there are scientific studies to back up this belief...but seriously eighteen students took this course and were repeatedly told to eat less meat. I put on my "Advocate for Agriculture" hat and started posting from the point of view of a farm girl. When students stated in our discussion group (online) that they were setting a goal to cut meat from their families diets for three days out of the week, I asked them if they were replacing the protein in their diet with something else, or if they knew the recommended daily allowance of protein at all? But seriously, from an environmental standpoint - where is the proof that eating meat, in moderation and at a level consistent with a diet for a healthy human, is NOT bad for the environment? These anti-farming and animal-rights groups have LOADED the internet with their misinformation....but it is so difficult to find the scientific evidence to argue with their statements!

    1. I am forwarding this onto my expert husband, a former agriculture instructor, supervisor, and lifetime farm boy... I will have him reply as soon as he can! It's raining today, so I'm assuming he's going to be inside some time! Thanks for the question!

  6. Dear Emily, What can we do to help our families understand that our lifestyle, be it slower and less stressful than theirs, is just as fulfilling and just as much a job as their job is. How do you explain how hard it is to run a farm. They seem to think that the animals feed themselves and that I should never have a speck of dust in my house because I don't have a "job". Mind you I am a house wife, I run our farm and my husband works full time, we have 5 children, 1 of which is autistic, 17 goats (3 of which just has sets of twins and 11 that should be dropping any day now), 45 or 50 chickens, a "garden" that is over an acre, 2 Llamas, 14 ducks, 6 rabbits, and ourselves.

    1. That's a tough one, as it's something I have to deal with regularly. The best advice I have received from either trainings or just in interactions with others in the farming world is to not be defensive. Folks literally don't understand how life on a farm, especially one with animals, really is. But it's not because they're judging you, it's because it's so different from the predictability of business hours and a pay check.
      My best advice to you is to be real. While this can sometimes be scary, as I have been really real and raw for the past year, and have offended and turned off some folks, if you're not real and putting your story out there in its true light, then it's not telling the truth.
      Another piece of advice is to speak out. That's another way to get "in trouble," but if you don't tell your story, who will? If you don't share your farm's day-to-day operation, someone will speculate, and that's never good.
      You are, I'm sure, doing great things, not just for agriculture, but for your farm itself, your animals, and your family. Keep spreading your story, and keep plugging along. I know it's hard, but if folks like us don't keep doing it, who will? And...what would they eat???

      Thanks for the question...such a great one!