Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas in the Country 2014

I am excited to say that I am participating in Christmas in the Country gift exchange between agvocates, agricultural bloggers, and country folks! This exchange is hosted by Laurie of Country Linked, The Uncharted Rhoade, Robyn from The Ranch Wife Chronicles, and Erin from Diaries from the Dirt Road

 I can't wait to find out what Christmas in the Country will bring. Check back on January 7th when we link up to see what we all receive. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A litte Thanksgiving Gratefulness

As I sit here writing this post, I slip back in time and sadly sound so much like my grandmother. Were you ever told as a child that you have to eat all the food that was put on the plate in front of you without complaining because there are millions of people in the world that are starving and would love to have any food?

There are roughly 925 million people world wide that are undernourished. 14.5% of American households are suffering from food insecurity. Those are not the people that you will find complaining about the food that they receive. The won't refuse it because it isn't organic. They won't check the label to make sure it doesn't contain a product made with GMOs. They gladly accept knowing that all food will provide them with nourishment.  So why as consumers, do we find ourselves complaining about our food? Why are there people scaring others into thinking that our food is killing us, when science has proven otherwise?

My Grandparents, John and LaVerne.
As a child, my brother and I lived with my grandparents and one thing that we were not allowed to say in our home was, "I am starving." I remember making the mistake of saying that only once! My grandfather slammed his fist on the table and then spent the next two hours giving us a sermon about what being starved was really like. See, my grandfather grew up poor in Germany, the son of a blacksmith, with 12 brothers and sisters right in the heart of World War II. He immigrated to the U.S. soon after the war ended in 1947. He knew what starvation really was because as a child he was starved. My gramps would eat anything and everything. If it had mold on it, he would scrape it off, leftovers would become a conglomeration of an everything soup, and he would chew chicken bones because he felt that the morrow in the middle was the best part of the chicken. I could share some of the war stories that my grandfather shared, but that would be an entire book as his stories always ended up as a several hour sermon, and most times the Bible would be opened and it would become a parable of sorts! 

All farmers, organic and conventional, work very hard to provide the world with as much food as possible. Without modern day farming practices there would be a lot more than 925 million people starving in this world. As farmers, we support each other, encourage each other, and help each other to provide a vast bounty of healthy food to feed the world. Complaining and picking apart our food, demanding that farming practices change and just simply degrading the food that is grown by farmers is not going to help feed the 925 million starving people nor the well-fed 7 billion people in the world.

So as Thanksgiving approaches here in America, take some time to think about the food that we have on our plates every day and then think about those that won't be having any food today. Be thankful and grateful for the bounty of which God has blessed us with.

Would you turn down food made with GMOs if it meant that your family would go hungry this Holiday season?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Trusting GMO's?

Over the weekend my husband and I watch the movie, GMO OMG! We are always trying to stay on top of things, so what we know as farmers what we are up against. I have to say that the movie was not what I expected. It was not an all out bash against GMOs and those that grow them. Now it certainly wasn't about praising them, but it wasn't and all out farmer roast!

I do have to give the guy praise, he was honestly trying to make an educated decision for the health of himself and his family, and for that I applaud him. That is what our purpose is as agvocates, to educate and inform so that consumers can make and educated decisions based from fact and not fear, 

Some of his tactics were a bit silly, and were ultimately trying to scare consumers, such as running through a field of corn with medical suits and gas masks, but he was trying to get his point across. However, even after all the interviews, travels and questions, he decided that there was nothing that truly proved GMOs to be dangerous, so he and his family continued to consume them.

However, there were a couple of points that really stood out to me personally. At one point he interviewed a farmer that grew GMO crops, and asked him if he was a Christian. He questioned him about playing God by genetically modifying an organism and changing what God has made.

Well, this is no different than what the medical field does everyday. Do surgeons not use pig and cow heart valves to replace broken ones in humans? You don't hear people complaining when their life has been saved. Do we not put another gene into our bodies through vaccinations? Do you hear about people wishing that the medical field would return to the way it was before 1930? Do you see anyone wishing for scarlet fever, mumps and polio to make a come back in society? A GMO is no different than the plant having a vaccination for diseases, worms, and many other things that prevent the plant from growing and producing efficiently. 

The father in this movie stated something else while trout fishing with his children that really caught my attention, and I feel is the ultimate answer to this debate, " Who are we going to trust to take care of this land?" Well, I know the answer to this problem. We need to trust in our Lord and Savior. He made the earth, he has a plan, he has given us as humans the intelligence and technology to do what we are able to do today, both in agriculture and medicine. 

Through out time, it has been proven that with distrust comes unrest, and that is what we are facing in the world today. We have lost trust in God and His plan for us and now have put the ultimate trust in ourselves. God's plans are here to prosper us, not to harm us.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The 'Blame Game'

So this post was written this summer when Chipotle and Factory vs. Family Farms issues were being debated. However in light of recent issues, I felt that it could certainly be applied to recent debates. 

I have started to get more involved with political and agricultural issues because agriculture is being attacked. No matter the farming practices, organic or conventional, agriculture as a whole is being debated. 

I try really hard not to get mixed up in political issues, especially when I comes to agriculture. I am interested and read about them, I form my own opinion, but I don’t always speak it. My husband has a job that can very easily be impacted by what I write about agriculture, so try not to put my opinions ’out there’. 

However, I have been doing a fair amount of research in agriculture lately, and have been reading a lot of the Factory vs. Family Farm blog posts, and catching up with the whole Chipotle debate and a few other hot topics in agriculture. And, what I don’t understand is why farms are being blamed, or accused for the problems in our food. Maybe it is just my background and understanding of farming, but I don’t feel that farms are to blame.

There is a blame game being played, and I understand that there will always be one, but I know from experience that what farmers grow in the fields or pastures is not what I am buying in the store. Haven’t you ever bought meat that is so plumb that it looks like it is dripping in juices, just to bring it home, grill it and it shrinks up to a fraction of the size that it was in the package and tastes like a rubber tire? Well, it was plumb full of artificial ‘juices’. 

What I am buying in the store is filled with additives, preservatives, fillers, dyes and waxes to make the food look or taste better, not to mention all of the processing that the food has gone through. Anyone with a small amount of knowledge in chemistry knows that the more anything is processed or cooked, especially nutrients in food, the more it breaks down, therefore the less beneficial to the human body. The farmer is not the one processing or adding to their crops, or filling their meat with ‘artificial juices’, they just grow it.

On the other hand I am also not pushing for our country to go all organic. That is also not a healthy alternative for either animal or human. Without modern farm management and practices there wouldn’t be enough food to feed everyone and the financial burden couldn’t be afforded by neither consumers nor farmers. The health and well being of both animals and humans would also be extremely compromised.

Another point that I don’t understand is what exactly are farmers being blamed for? Cancer? Obesity? Diabetes? What?

As I stated earlier in the post that this is purely a blame game that is being played, but ultimately it comes down to personal responsibility and making decisions that are best for you, your family and your health. As we have always heard, actions do speak louder than words. Farmers just grow the food that is demanded of them by consumers, they aren’t the ones that are putting the food into our mouths.

I think that it is great that people are trying to find out where their food comes from, however when you start to make accusations or just even start making lifestyle changes, please do some research and make an informed and educated decision. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall Beauty Swap

It is fall once again, and that means that it is time for another Beauty Swap from Crystal Cattle. It is always so much fun to participate in this. Who doesn't love to get a package in the mail filled with beauty products picked out just special for you?

This time I was paired with Kacie. Kacie lives in Iowa, works in the meat industry and travels the US helping to improve meat production all while keeping it safe and high in quality. I think her her job is awesome!

The package that I received from Kacie was full of lots of goodies. I received a BolderBand headband (I think it is my favorite!) EOS lip balm, an e.l.f. dual pencil sharpener, Covergirl Clump Crusher mascara, e.l.f. shine eraser, Urban Decay Naked 24/7 double-ended eye pencil, and a big pack of my all time favorite sweet treat! (notice that they are no longer a big pack, but just a couple of individuals remaining)

Overall, I love all of the products that I received, and have used them all except the mascara, as I had just bought some recently and will wait to use my new one until I run out.
Thank you to Crystal of Crystal Cattle and Ashley of Messy Kennedy for hosting this Beauty Swap, I can't wait to participate again next time, and thank you Kacie for all the the great gifts!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How I Became A Farmer's Wife

My husband Neil and I are celebrating our 10th anniversary today, and that got me thinking about how we became the family that we are today.. So I thought I would share our journey together with you.

I was born and raised in a rural Wisconsin farm community, where I spent my childhood growing up on my uncle's dairy farm. My husband was raised in the same community on his family's dairy farm.
I can't say that I remember the first time that I met Neil; I don't remember a time in my life when I didn't know him. Our parents and grandparents knew each other long before we were even a thought. In fact, my grandmother made his parent's wedding cake, our  grandparents square-danced together before we were old enough to walk, and our dads both work for our local Co-op. Despite the fact that we have known each other for so long, we were not high school sweethearts. 
My horse 'Sis' that I spent my summers enjoying in Arkansas.

After high school, I had every intention of getting out of this town as fast as I could. I knew that there was a whole world outside of this little Wisconsin hicktown, and I certainly couldn't see myself marrying a farmer. They never leave home!
I had spent most of my summers growing up traveling to my mom's house in NW Arkansas, and traveling to rodeos from there. I loved horses, loved rodeo, and loved everything about the south. In high school I spent two summers working in various National parks in Texas, and it just showed me that I needed to get out of this town.
Hiking through the mountains in Big Bend National Park

So, soon after I came home from my last summer in Texas, just before starting my senior year of high school, I came up with the best way that I could to permanently get out of dodge. I enlisted in the Army National Guard. I grew up with a lot of friends and family in the military, so it wasn't a crazy idea to anyone. However, it was less than one year after the 9-11 attacks.

My parents met and married in the Air Force. At the time I enlisted, my sister was overseas fighting in Kuwait, and many of my aunts, uncles, cousins and all of my grandfathers served in the Military.
I had always dreamed of being a veterinarian and wanted to attend the University of Findlay-Ohio, a high-end equestrian college, but I knew that I needed financial help if I wanted to complete 8 years of school. The Army offered this to me in the form of a full Army ROTC scholarship. I was to become an officer in the U.S. Army, and was super excited. This was my opportunity to explore the world outside of Wisconsin, I would get to go to the college of my dreams, and it would be paid in full by the U.S. Army. I couldn't wait to finish my senior year and finally get the heck out of Dodge!

The crew that I worked with for my summers in Texas.
Now to bring Neil back into the picture: a few months before graduation, February 16 to be exact, I went roller skating with my church. I went because my aunt was taking my little cousin, and she wanted someone to talk to. It was really meant for the younger kids, so I wasn't at all looking forward to going. Then I got there, and Neil was there with his younger sister. We were the only teenagers. Neil was actually in college already and was home on break. We had hung out in high school a lot since we are both farm kids and were very active in our FFA chapter, in fact his best friend is my cousin. But, I had never really given him much thought when it came to boyfriend material, as I tended to hang out and date the party type of guys. But dating party goers had gotten me in a bit of trouble, and so I had sworn off dating. I was headed out of Dodge, remember?

We spent the day skating together, then we got back to church and he asked if I wanted to go snowmobiling with him at one of my friend's farms (my cousin's girlfriend). We knew that they would be game as it was my cousin's night to milk at his girlfriends farm, and I agreed.

So he picked me up a couple of hours later, and we went snowmobiling. We had so much fun. I had forgotten what it was like to be treated like a lady, as I was treated pretty poorly by some guys, and with Neil there was comfort, security and safety. He completely swept me off my feet. We continued to date, even though he was four hours away at college in Madison, and I was getting ready to leave for Ohio.

Neil taking me to my Senior prom.

Neil would come home most weekends to see me, attend my senior prom with me, and do all my high school events with me. Neil really loved me for me, and I never realized that I could love someone so much. He put up with my crazy, wild side, and supported any adventure I went on. But there was always the Army in the background. We knew that soon I would be leaving, and would be the Army's property any time I wasn't in school. I still very much wanted to go, and actually had gone to Ohio for a couple of weeks right after graduation to complete my ROTC and college orientations.

Three weeks before I was to leave for Ohio for good, Neil got down on one knee and proposed, just as we were saying our good-byes for the week before he headed back to college in Madison. I said Yes of course; I was head over heels in love with this man! I loved everything about him! I loved that he was a faithful Christian man, I loved handing him wrenches, making out with him in the tractor, and all the true love and support that he gave me on a daily basis! Neil loved me too, and desperately wanted a ring on my finger before I left for good. But, a ring on my finger didn't solve anything, it just made things harder to break off when I might be across the world somewhere.

Four days later came a fateful letter in the mail. The army had found something in my medical records that they didn't like. While I was in Texas working one summer, I had a couple of allergy-induced asthma attacks. We didn't know specifically what I was allergic to that caused them, so they wanted me to take some tests and get back to them. So I took the tests and expedited everything, since I was now leaving in less than two weeks. I got the typical 'hurry-up and wait' response from the Army that they are so famous for. The letter they responded with told me that it would take them 60 days to review my results and then they would get back to me with whether or not I could continue my career in the Army. I didn't have 60 days!! I was leaving in 10 days to a $30,000/year college that I didn't know for sure I could pay for anymore.

Neil and I at my high school graduation.
After a lot of conversation with my Commanding Officers, I decided that I would delay my entry another year. I was technically not under contract with the Army since they didn't hold up their end of the contract in a 'timely matter'. So, I quickly applied to the closest university to home, UW-River Falls, and got accepted into the pre-vet program one week before classes started, not knowing where all the money would come from to pay for all eight years, but I had enough saved to give me a good start. 

Neil's prayers (and a few of mine) had been answered. I was staying close to home, at least for another year! One week later I moved myself into the dorms at River Falls and started attending classes. After a semester of Chemistry kicking my butt, I changed my major to Finance (talk about making a complete 180), and started planning a wedding for the following September.

Once that one-year mark came for me to make the final decision about the Army, I had my life planned in an entirely different direction, and chose to give up the military completely. I started having other goals and dreams that I never thought I could have. I started dreaming of a family, and a life of farming in this little Wisconsin hicktown. Mostly, I dreamed of a life with Neil. Before I had Neil in my life, getting married and starting a family was the last thing on my mind. Coming from a broken home, being a mom was something I feared, not something I looked forward to. But once I had Neil by my side, I knew that I could do anything!

I don't think that our relationship would have survived the eight-plus years that I was contracted with the Army, but looking back, God put Neil right in front of my eyes since I was a little girl, showing me what a loving, trusting marriage can be.

Our wedding day.
On September 18, 2004, I married my best friend in a John Deere themed wedding complete with green dresses for the bridesmaids, yellow flowers, and Mary Moo for the cake topper. It took an act of God to show me that this is the man of my dreams, not a buff Army dude, but a hard-working, honest farmer, that would give me all the dreams that I hadn't even dreamt of yet!

Looking back at some of the childhood memories that Neil and I shared showed us that God had a plan for us all along, that we were truly destined to be together:
Neil has given me a life that I thought was only a dream,
including giving me these three beautiful little girls.
This is all my loves, my hopes and dreams right here.
This picture was taken the day my youngest, 

Caroline was born, when Olivia and Allyson got to 
meet their new baby sister for the first time. 
We were finally a complete family!

- I remember going square-dancing once a month with my grandparents, and dancing with Neil, as he would also go dancing with his grandparents.

- When Neil and my cousin were in 8th grade, they had to make a video for history class about the Oregon Trail. In this video, I played Neil's Oregon trail wife!

- When my date left me stranded at my junior prom, Neil took me under his wing, danced with me and took me home afterward.

- While at an FFA bonfire at my cousin's, Neil walked in with another girl, a co-worker. Even though I was standing next to my high school sweetheart, I remember feeling very jealous and even saying something to my best friend.

This is my horse, Savannah, that Neil got me soon after we were married.

God has an amazing way of showing us His plan and I have learned that I just need to trust in Him to guide me through the life here on earth.

Our Happily Ever-After
Jeremiah 29:11-12 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, 
plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."

Friday, August 8, 2014

What We've Been Up To Lately...

Well, its been over a month since I have posted once again. We have been pretty busy setting up our new house. I never thought it would take so long, but we still have so many bare walls. I am being quite particular about putting things on the walls. I am leaving walls bare until I find exactly what I want.

We spent a week in Texas visiting my Aunt again last month, and had a great time. We spent most of our time shopping or in the pool. I did manage to bring home some fun d├ęcor items from Texas. We ended up renting a car and driving back and what a beautiful drive it was. We drove up through the Flint Hills of Kansas on the Turnpike, all the open land was amazing to see. Because we rented a car, we made use of the space and packed it full. I brought home a few mason jars and lamps, and also a wagon wheel for my kitchen, and a windmill for next to my front door.

Neil and I also took a day to go on a trip by ourselves, and we toured to the famous South Fork Ranch. It was beautiful, I just wish it were all mine. To our surprise, it is not at all what it seems like on the TV show Dallas.

Wouldn't you just love to drive up this every time you come home?

In my quilting world, I have managed to machine quilt a quilt for a customer (that I forgot to take a picture of), finish my Mini Swoon that will go on the wall in my sewing room, and also piece and quilt another full sized quilt for a customer.

Some of the fabric that is in my Swirls and Whirls.

I am currently working on piecing a Swirls and Whirls from Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life, that will also go on the wall of my sewing room. And I am always working on a new quilt design. I am hoping to soon have some actual patterns in print!

We have worked hard at cleaning up our yard and trimming up trees. We have a huge brush pile to burn in the back pasture, and the pile is only growing. Our next project is clearing the pasture for horses and putting up fence. That is just the next step in completing our little 'Happily Ever After'.

The giant pile and the end of the trail in the pasture that looks like a beaver dam is our brush pile, that is steadily growing.
Even though we have lived here for just over two months, it still feels like a dream when we come home to this house. We are so in love with it, and feels like we belong right here! God has blessed our family in more ways than we even knew possible and we don't want to waste a moment in which we can serve Him and give Him glory.