Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Will GMOs Really Hurt Me?

I consider myself a relatively reasonable human being. I am modeling this behavior after my mom and grandma, who have strong morals and convictions, but tend to question and be skeptical, in an educated, calm manner.

Thus, my thoughts on the GMO (genetically modified organism) debate tend to err on the side of science, but I try to do a little research while I'm at it.

There's a craze going on. A food craze. An "eat nuts and berries and twigs" and "processed foods are the devil" craze, and while I agree, I would rather my kids eat fruit than fruit snacks, does that make corn bred to withstand drought that we planted evil? Does that genetic modification make us as farmers evil?

Answer from a majority of the crowd: No.

However, how does this corn, that we inevitably harvest for fuel and food products and not to be confused with sweet corn that you can pick and eat, fit into the GMO debate?

Well, good question. Because to me, it's a simple answer: It shouldn't, because scientists have done their research.

I am not a scientist, but my understanding of GMOs is that it's figuring out how to make our supply meet the demand, of the population, of the weather, etc. It's making the outcome of the crop fit the need of our growing population. It's like Joe buying a "good bull" to breed with a "good cow." It's just science. There's no evil.

Scientists are in the lab, researching, and they're not evil scientists. They are just regular dudes who are wearing white coats and looking at CELLS. They're not figuring out a way to make the American public fatter. They have extensively studied this particular crop and have found a way for farmers like us to continue to survive during the driest of years and now the wettest of springs, and still harvest a corn crop so you folks can fuel up your SUVs with gas to get to Trader Joe's to purchase organic, non-GMO (supposedly) food and then make a stand on not eating conventionally grown food (sorry for the sarcasm, I'm grouchy today).

There's plenty of information out there that is both pro and con GMO. However, writers and skeptics like Fourat Janabi who have written books with anti-GMO sentiments, have back pedaled. Janabi has since written a second edition to his book, Random Rationality, realizing there's not much footing on the GMO debate. Thanks to conversations with scientists like Kevin Folta (read the conversation here if you're interested in the science behind GMOs, plus it's an entertaining piece), Janabi has written pieces of information  so that people like me can see the GMO debate a little more clearly.

GMOs are not making us sick or fat. CHOICES are making us sick and fat. Regardless of whether you eat organic or conventional, there is no debate when you're eating too much of the wrong stuff. However, with all this GMO debate, and all the press it's getting, scaring the pants off of many Americans, it's filtering down to farmers like us, and that stinks, because we're just trying to keep up with the needs of a bigger and bigger population. GMOs are helpful in this respect, and if you don't believe it, try growing your organic garden without water this summer, and see how it turns out.

So before you post another shared "eat this not that" article on Facebook, check your sources, and think of my face, my husband's face, and know that we're not in cohoots with some big agricultural company, or trying to give you cancer or get you fatter or whatever. We're just trying to make a living in this crazy occupation that doesn't get a regular pay check, is dependent upon the weather, and has the responsibility to fuel and feed a growing global need.

Lucky us.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Water, Water, Everywhere, and NOT a Drop to Flush...

Or drink.

Or wash hands.

Or---GASP---make COFFEE!!

Honestly, remember when I proclaimed I would never complain if it rained all the time? Remember last summer when Joe did a rain dance in his towel when it rained a measly 1/2 inch?

Well, we're all home today, no school thanks to flooded roads, no chores even started thanks to the foot of water in our basement.

Thankfully, our basement houses very few things. Unfortunately, it does include our Christmas decorations, which I am trying not to think about, but it also houses important switches and pipes and other technical things for our house's water supply, thus the no flushing, no washing, no water. Period.


It has been wet here, and while the first few rounds of the good soaking rain were welcome, now it's just ridiculous. The guys haven't even considered working in the field, thanks to the water, and now this flooding business.

Thankfully, we have a great relationship with our local CPS (Crop Production Services) manager (meaning...we spend a lot of money there, and he's a "neighbor"), so when CPS opens at eight, Joe will be headed over there to borrow a big pump, since ours is not working (of course), and we'll try to get the basement taken care of.

In the meantime, I am thankful that we're safe, that all can be replaced and aired out (after a mourning period, of course), and that I had my hair cut yesterday in case I need to go anywhere without showering...just don't get too close, breath mints only take care of so much.

Here's to a better, drier day.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Something Shiny

So, if you haven't already heard, today is my birthday.

You hadn't? Well, maybe because it's Tax Day, it's overshadowed.

Anyway, I have mentioned that I am a consumer, haven't I? Previously, I have mentioned also that birthdays are a big deal, and I especially enjoy MY birthday.

me, me, ME...huh??

Anyway, my adoring husband is a lot more practical, a bit less of a consumer, and NOT AT ALL likely to be found at any sort of mall in any other season, sans Christmas.


So, when he announced the big girls and he were off to Farm King to get Anna a new pair of boots and "just some other things," I realized what day it was, the proximity to my birthday (three days...just about right for Joe's shopping timeline), I knew I would be receiving something shiny and new.

From Farm King.

That can range in awesomeness from anything from a belt buckle, mixing bowls, lug nuts for whatever you use lug nuts on, but can also include a lovely camouflaged recliner and even some camo undies.

Nice, huh?

Anyway, I have learned in the twelve years Joe and I have been together it takes a village to get me a gift. One year, it was a gift certificate that a friend of ours picked up for him. One year, it was a self-chosen and purchased pair of sunglasses. However, this year between calving and working and kids, I hadn't had time to really put into words what I wanted Joe to get me, and let's be honest, I had already picked out a super cute green skirt from Banana Republic, purchased today in honor of...ME!!!

So, off they went.

I have to admit, I was very specific this year. I needed a new electric skillet. I knew they had them in stock at Farm King. And, I made a note of it to Joe four days before my birthday to throw the poor guy a bone. It's a lot of pressure to have me as a wife. If I want it, and it's within our budget, I usually get it, and there's no way a new Suburban will be parked in my driveway on my birthday, or a new couch or whatever...and plus, I want to pick that stuff out, anyway!!

So, Farm King it is.

And, I am going to whip up a big ol' batch of pancakes that won't stick to the pan, thanks to my sweet husband and loving kids.

I am so thankful for Farm King. It allows me to enjoy a good breakfast, and also gives my husband an outlet to find me something shiny...

even if it does have a cord and is used in the kitchen.

Happy birthday to me!! Pancakes for all!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Breathless and Beefy

Remember way back, oh, you know, when I only had THREE kids?? I ran for Team ZIP, as in Zinc, Iron, and Protein...key nutrients in beef?

If you have forgotten, or you're new to this blog, here's a picture:

Nice, huh? Beef on a shirt...interesting advocacy, huh? You should have seen the looks I got at the start line! Some hungry, some offended, and most confused. In a sea of hot pink, red, black, and the other basic running gear colors, a steak emblazoned jersey kind of sticks out.

Anyway, three years and one kid later, not only has my life changed a bit, but Team ZIP has morphed into Team BEEF. So, of course I needed the new shirt! It's a little more versatile and a little less steak-y version...but I have a new team member!! My friend and running partner Amy, who loves a good burger, is a former collegiate runner (like All-American, super fast...keeps me hopping!) but also was a farm girl, and, thus, allows me to dictate our running schedule due to calving, planting, harvesting, and now working, is on board! Thanks to the lovely people at Team Beef, a sub group of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Amy and I will be zipping by in our fancy new running shirts...looking breathless and beefy!

While this level of advocacy may not be at the same as public speaking events, thoughtful blog posts,  advocating for beef producers, I feel like I'm doing what I can with what I've got, and even drug a friend into the mix!

Just like the cheesy phrase says, "If I only just touch one person..."

My grand plans of becoming the gold standard of advocacy have taken a back seat, so I have to be more subtle, if you can call this relatively obnoxious and obvious take on beef subtle.

Here's our shot this morning after a little jaunt, modeling the new shirt:

Instead of Breathless and Beefy...this picture should be captioned, Cute and pick which one is which! Either way, look out, friends, Team BEEF is comin' at ya!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Freeze or Fast Forward

Holy smokes, it's April.

Doesn't it still kind of feel like February? I feel like winter has become that old Saturday Night Live skit (ca. 1980), The Thing That Wouldn't Leave. Our girls were outside playing on Friday in short sleeves, amongst the unmelted snow pile that FINALLY melted yesterday.

It was an Easter miracle.

So today, with the sun, the promise of warmer temps (the promise...), and the beginning of April, I find myself ready to face my computer as a tool to update and educate on all things going on at our farm.

I will tell you, there were many days I wanted to fast forward through February and March, however.

Joe is an excellent, caring, and hard working herdsman, but there have been several calves born into circumstances we cannot control, thanks mainly to the weather. There have been calves born in snow that although we tried to will away, could not stop from coming. We have bloody Carhartts on our back porch because of a mama who "prolapsed." Simply put, upon delivery, her insides came out. Yikes. That was a late night vet call and a very, very thankful Joe for that particular vet. She's okay, I'm happy to report, but you can't plan for events such as that, so we'll just fast forward.

Life on the farm is a series of events that you'd rather freeze or fast forward, I'm coming to realize. Today is a day that we'd like to freeze. Kids are home from school, which means, Anna is with her dad all day, enjoying fresh air, sunshine, and time spent learning how to continue to be a junior herds woman. Jack is of the age where, "me, too!" is his favorite phrase, and although he is too young, puts on his rubber boots and cowboy hat over his jammies to spend time outside looking for baby calves. The two middle girls are just happy to be around, flouncing around in their frilly nightgowns.

Life is good.

Freeze, please.

But then there's the difficult aspects of our life on the farm, and in our life. While Joe knows that he has to tend to the ever growing herd at all times, that time spent is some times at the expense of family/church/friend time. Now that all the heifers have calved, he's a little more relaxed, and able to get away for more than three hours at a time, which is good, considering we've been sticking close to our family, thanks to that crummy "c" word that has creeped into my 6 year old's prayers at night. While it's yucky to watch a family member be sick, we've been freezing the great moments in our memories, trying to be more present when we're all together.

But we can't be in charge of our lives like a DVR. We can't choose which seasons-whether it's parenting or marriage or health or farming- will be easier. So, we deal.

I feel like lately, we here on our farm have had to deal with more than others, but I have to remember that I haven't been given the short stick. While we're dealing with a beloved family member with cancer, we see the good shining through people and are trying to stick close to our faith and family, and freeze the good days. Calving has been hard. The weather has been harder, but we're all so lucky to have good people around us to help when it's tough, and to encourage when it's tougher. While I'd like to fast forward a lot as of late, it's all do-able. It's at least all freeze worthy for a good story, right?

So today, I'm looking at our life as a series of freezable moments. I'm going to stop organizing the closet to play catch with my boy. I'm going to listen and be present to my girls' stories of playdates and calves, and I'm going to stop freaking out when Joe has to check just one more time, and respect the care of his animals.

Remind me of that when we're all at dinner, and Joe's still outside, okay? I'll need it.