Home » Archive by category "farm"

Farm to Fork Class Comes to the Farm

Last November, thanks to the Minnesota Farm Bureau’s Speak for Yourself program, I had the opportunity to share my farm story with the Farm to Fork class at Tracy High School. At the conclusion of my presentation, I invited the class to come visit our farm, since we are less than 30 miles from their school. On April 27th, they took us up on the offer.

The day dawned cold and windy with 100% chance of rain. We had tractors and machinery parked in the shop and the machine shed so we wouldn’t have to stand outside. I was very thankful that Jonathan and Adam took the time to clean the shop so we could meet in there…and they even turned the in-floor heat on again. In April in Minnesota, it’s not unusual to go from heat to air conditioning to heat in the span of a week.

We started out in the shop where we had our planter tractor parked with the corn and soybean planter attached. We talked about how the planter works, and how we use GPS technology to plant in a straight line, and how we can adjust the depth the seeds are planted according to the recommendations for that seed. Many of the students have helped plant gardens, so they understand the importance of planting the seeds at a proper depth. We also talked about how we use computers to plant just the right number of seeds in an acre, and how we can adjust that depending on soil types. The three monitors we have in our planter tractor were running so the kids could see what kind of information we use when we’re planting. They were able to climb up into the tractor if they wanted.

CarolynCares Farm to Fork tractor experience

While in the shop, we also talked about the records we keep and the process we go through to become a certified organic farm. We had our Organic Systems Plan, Clean Truck Affidavits, and Yield Maps & Soil Tests books that they could page through.

Next we walked over to the machine shed. Fortunately, it wasn’t raining yet. The machine shed was chilly, but at least we were out of the wind! Jonathan talked about the field cultivator and the tractor that pulls it, and how we can change the tracks on that tractor to narrow ones that will fit in between our 22 inch rows if we need to. The kids were standing around the pallets of seed that were waiting to be delivered to our seed customers, but they didn’t seem to mind.

CarolynCares Farm to Fork track tractor

The rotary hoe is parked to the left of the tractor in the photo, so we walked over and talked about why and how we use it. Then we turned and talked about the combine. It was a good time to talk about farm safety as well. The kids could see the size of the machine up close, and realize that this isn’t really meant to be on the road. I hope the message of giving the combine room in the back, and only passing when it is safe to pass is a message that sticks! The kids had the chance to climb up into the combine cab and up on the back to see what it looks like. I think they liked this part!

CarolynCares Farm to Fork Combine

We viewed the flame weeder from the door of the machine shed, since it was starting to rain at this point. Back in the shop, we gathered around our newest project, a cultivator. This cultivator has a camera that “sees” the crop and adjusts the cultivator’s position accordingly. I’ll explain that a bit more in another post.

CarolynCares Farm to Fork students

The kids were able to put their hands in a bucket of wheat seed, and we talked about how the seed we plant becomes the food they eat. Sometimes King Arthur Flour buys our wheat through one of our grain buyers. We also have sold corn and soybeans to dairy and poultry farms to supply feed for their animals. To help connect the farm to fork concept, I baked some of my favorite scones for our guests using ingredients that could affect our farm when they are purchased by consumers. The King Arthur Flour, and Organic Valley dairy products are two of our potential markets. The organic sugar and egg may not directly affect us, but show that those choices are available to consumers in southwest Minnesota. The ground vanilla beans are there because I love using ground vanilla beans in my baking, even though it is considered a premium ingredient.

CarolynCares Farm to Fork Ingredients

The students asked some great questions, and know they have someone they can ask when something comes up that they want to understand a bit more. One of the reasons why I love to share my farm story with groups, and why I love hosting groups on our farm is that connection I now have with all those I visited with.

It is important to Jonathan and I that we show consumers the impact that farmers and agriculture have on them. We talked about how Jonathan and I are giving consumers a choice by farming organically, and that we don’t mind what their families choose, since agriculture is filled with farmers and farm families like ours. No matter what they purchase in the grocery store, it started on a farm.

CarolynCares Farm to Fork Scones and Organic Valley milk

To me, there is no better way to cap off a morning on the farm than by eating a vanilla bean scone with a carton of Organic Valley Chocolate Milk served from the workbench. Thanks to the students for being awesome, and thank you to Mrs Campbell and Ms Noll for making both visits possible!

Some might think it is scary to host a Farm to Fork or Family and Consumer Sciences class at their farm. It doesn’t have to be fancy, you don’t have to be an expert on everything. Most of the kids just want the chance to meet a farmer and get a little hands on feel for what it takes for the food they eat to get to their table. If you are interested in hosting classes, contact your Farm Bureau and see if they have programs that will help you connect with teachers.

 

A huge shout out to my friend, Emily Zweber of Zweber Farms for supplying the chocolate milk…and to Jonathan for cleaning up the shop, getting equipment parked inside, and talking about farming to the Farm to Fork class…and to our hired dude, Adam, for cleaning the shop with Jonathan, and picking up after us and turning off equipment and turning out lights when we were done.

30 Things I Love: Seasons

Seasons

I love living where we get to experience four distinct seasons. Just about the time I get bored with one, the transition to the next begins.

In the spring, I can’t wait for the flowers and the rhubarb to start emerging from the ground. They are a great indicator that spring work will soon begin as the soil temperature gets warm enough to start seeding wheat. I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again, but there is nothing so sweet as the smell of freshly turned soil in the spring. This past spring, the soil was so beautiful as I was preparing the ground for planting, that I stopped the tractor and walked barefoot in it. It felt so good! After all of the seeding and planting is done, there is the anticipation of the plants germinating, and growing big enough to “row” the field…seeing plants all lined up neatly from end to end. This is also about the time that the apple tree is in full blossom, and looks beautiful.

Summer brings field work, and green. Trees are fully leafed out, crops are growing quickly, and the lawn is a beautiful green. Summer also brings plenty of heat and humidity, but I know those things will be short lived. Occasionally, Jonathan is able to get the jet-skies out and go to one of the lakes nearby for a fun afternoon on the water, and we also make time for Sunday afternoon picnics at local parks. That is a tradition we started when Anna was a baby.  When our kids were younger, summer was also a time for working on outdoor 4-H projects, and showing their horses and goats at the county fair. We work hard in the summer, yet we value family time.

Fall in Minnesota is a season that can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Fortunately for us, this fall lasted a long time. We didn’t have any snow the during harvest this year! There are so many things to love about fall. The crazy busy schedule of harvest, sitting in the combine and watching the fruits of your labor pour into the grain tank, watching the leaves turn from green to bright colors before falling to the ground, the crunch of leaves underfoot, the cooler temps that make working outside pleasant, and the satisfaction of a job well done when harvest is complete.

I’m not sure if winter is my favorite season because I like the snow, or if it’s because Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Valentine’s Day happen during this time. I know that technically Thanksgiving happens in the fall, but I live in Minnesota, and it’s snowing again as I write. Winter brings cold…and an end to ragweed, thank you…snow, hot chocolate, comfort foods, and family time. It also brings meeting and convention season where we get to see many family and friends from all over. We get to recharge our batteries as we take a weekend here and there to learn more about soils, plant health, advocating for agriculture, and agriculture related politics while we network with a wide variety of farmers.

Each season has its own reasons to be celebrated. What is your favorite season?

 

Day 1: Pizza

Day 2: Shoes

Day 3: Shout Stain Remover

Day 4: The Ability to Vote

Day 5: My Heritage

Day 6: NASCAR

Day 7: Black Velvet for Photography

Day 8: Strong Coffee and Strong Hairspray

Day 9: Peacefulness

Day 10: Winter’s First Snow

Day 11: Freedom

Day 12: Dairy

Day 13: Jonathan

Day 14: Coffee

Day 15: Seasons

Click here to go to Holly Spangler’s blog, and see the link for other 30 Day Challenge Bloggers

30 Things I Love: Jonathan

Jonathan and Anna - Father Daughter Dance

What can I say…I do love Jonathan! I feel pretty darn fortunate to be married to my best friend. When we met in 1987, we talked for hours. He was going to a college that was about 2 hours from mine. So, we had many phone conversations and wrote many letters. Keep in mind, this was before phone company plans had unlimited long distance calling, and way before email. Those letters were either typed on an electric typewriter, or written by hand, and, well, we won’t discuss the long distance charges we racked up on our parent’s phone bills!

We were married in 1988, and that is when I became a farm wife. Over the past 26 years, we have lived, parented, and worked as a team. I love that we can tell jokes while we’re working, we can discuss farming matters while we’re driving places, and we generally like hanging out with each other.

I have always admired Jonathan’s patience and encouragement when teaching me how to run a piece of machinery I haven’t run before. Since I didn’t grow up on a farm, and I really didn’t want to be the one messing things up or breaking things, I was a bit apprehensive at times. It is due to his confidence in me that I was willing to learn how to operate the combine…and now I love it!  Jonathan is also a respected boss to our migrant workers. He always treats them fairly, and genuinely cares about them. It is because of his compassion that we remodeled a shed into a summer apartment for one of the migrant families. He strongly believes that these people need to be treated as…people…not second class citizens based on their heritage or accents.

Jonathan has been a great dad to our three girls. From the time they were little, he played an active role in their upbringing…although sometimes I questioned if what he was teaching our girls was good or bad. When they are around while cookies are being made, the recipe never  seems to yield as many cookies as it does when they are not around. In the past year, each of our girls have lived at home for a little while and worked for us on the farm. Even though they are in their 20’s, the parenting doesn’t stop…it just changes.  When he walked Anna down the aisle this past June, and handed her over to our son-in-law, Doug, the look of love and pride on his face brought many people to tears…including, of course, me. The song that the two of them chose for the father/daughter dance is one that always makes me cry anyway. They thought it was just great that I lost it when the song started. It was difficult to take photos of them with all the tears in my eyes. I love how much he loves his family!

Life hasn’t always been easy, and I am thankful that Jonathan has been such a great teammate in this life of ours. I love you, Jonathan!

 

Day 1: Pizza

Day 2: Shoes

Day 3: Shout Stain Remover

Day 4: The Ability to Vote

Day 5: My Heritage

Day 6: NASCAR

Day 7: Black Velvet for Photography

Day 8: Strong Coffee and Strong Hairspray

Day 9: Peacefulness

Day 10: Winter’s First Snow

Day 11: Freedom

Day 12: Dairy

Day 13: Jonathan

Click here to go to Holly Spangler’s blog, and see the link for other 30 Day Challenge Bloggers

 

30 Things I Love: Shout Stain Remover

Shout Stain Remover

One of the things I learned quickly after becoming a farm wife, was how dirty the guys can get in a day. More than once I was told it would be just a quick stop to check something, only to have motor oil, hydraulic oil, diesel, or grease all over the good clothes. As a newlywed, I felt some pressure to figure out how to get those stains out, so Jonathan would have clean clothes for church and going to town. Coming to the farm from the city, I felt a little judged by other farm women on how clean our clothes were. My mother-in-law gave me a few tips, but I tried many products to see what ones could handle farm oils and grease.

To begin with, I created a few set-in stains, so I used WD-40 to reactivate the stain, then used Dawn dishsoap to get the WD-40 out. I don’t recommend doing this on the good clothes. It is more acceptable to be wearing Eau de WD in the barn than in the pew. I have since developed an allergy to Dawn, so I try to do a better job at pre-treating now.

Back in the day, we had stain sticks that looked a little like glue sticks. They worked ok on food stains, but never quite got all the farm stains out. I tried gels, pre-treating with laundry detergent, and using laundry boosters with varying degrees of success. I pretty much gave up on trying to get the farm stains out of farm shirts. The polyester/cotton blend t-shirts are grease stain magnets!

A few years ago I purchased an advanced formula of a stain remover, and thought it did a decent job, but it was time consuming. It required a 2 hour soak before laundering. I don’t know about you, but when I head in to do laundry, I don’t have the time or patience to wait 2 hours for a pre-treater to work. So, I kept looking for a good stain remover, and decided to try the Shout Advanced. In a nutshell, my search was over.

The Shout is made to take out grease stains, and has worked on some pretty nasty stuff. It occasionally takes two treat and wash cycles to get grease out, but I was impressed at how well it removed hydraulic oil. Now that we have a toddler foster son, I am appreciating how well it takes out food stains, too! I usually keep a spare can on hand in case there’s a hydraulic hose that breaks or comes loose and decides to cover us in oil, or with the toddler, it would be in case we eat spaghetti or lasagna. 🙂  The bonus is, the Shout works well with my HE washing machine.

Do you have any suggestions for farm laundry? Leave them in the comments!

*Just a little note: I am not sponsored by any of the products that I may write about, and I am not seeking compensation for any reviews or opinions. I am simply writing about those things I love and/or use regularly.

Day 1: Pizza

Day 2: Shoes

Day 3: Shout Stain Remover

Other 30 Day Blogs

 

 

 

Hold The Judgement, Please!

Why do you pass judgement

Sunday’s second lesson was a doozy. Hello, conviction, guilt, and being humbled! Read the full text below. Don’t just skim it, read it.

Romans 14: 1-12

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.

We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
    and every tongue shall give praise to God.”

12 So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

Yikes! Living in a society that loves to label others, and judge them based on our own standards of what is “right” and what is “wrong” is not very Christ-like, is it?

What does this mean for agriculture advocates?

Agvocating, according to those who coined the term, is about “listening to others…and connecting with those outside of agriculture.” It is about opening doors to allow for dialogue. In the post that I linked to, it also describes agtivists, and what the differences are. There is one part of agtivism that pertains to the scriptures above. Mike Haley wrote, “Individuals practicing agtivism, or agtivists’ often take offense to others with opposing views and dismiss theirs concerns about agriculture to prove their point that today’s agriculture practices must exist in order to feed the world.”  By arguing over opposing views, or dismissing their concerns about agriculture, we are passing judgement on our target audience. We are telling them that their concerns are not important, or valid; they must think like we do in order to be right. But what if they are fully convinced in their own minds that their choices are right for them and their family? Do you treat them as a brother or sister, or do you despise them and call them unsavory names in forums where you think they will not see? “Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God.”

I am thankful for forgiveness

Today’s gospel lesson and sermon talked about forgiveness. A few points have really stuck with me.

I am so thankful for forgiveness. Remember me talking about feeling convicted, guilty, and humbled? I know that I am forgiven. I don’t always think I deserve it, but God is merciful.

The gospel lesson and sermon also reminded me that I need to forgive. Asking forgiveness is only a part of the equation. I also need to extend forgiveness, “from my heart”. Not in word alone, but from the heart.

Matthew 18: 21-22

21 Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

Look closely at who Peter is concerned about. Another member of the church. For us, it could be a neighbor, another blogger, the customer service representative you need to have fix something, an elected official…anyone you come into contact with whether in person or online. Pastor also explained that seventy-seven times is code for infinity. We can never stop forgiving others. That is not an action that is ever done, or checked off the to-do list. The gospel lesson concluded with a parable about a slave who owed money, and whose debt was forgiven…but he turned around and punished another who owed him a lot less. When his master heard about it, this was the reply:

Matthew 18:32-35

32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. 35 So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Putting it all together

We should not judge others based on differences of opinion about food choices, farming choices, or lifestyle choices. Judgmental attitudes create tension, mistrust, and anger. I’m not sure any of those feelings are helpful when agvocating, or life in general. Agvocating can be done in a way that is positive, and creates conversations. That should be the goal. You don’t need to write about what your neighbor is doing, or throw others under the bus because you don’t like their choices. Sharing your own story, or using some of Ryan Goodman’s 88 blog topic ideas for agriculture bloggers are great ways to start putting positive messages out there.

There are times, however, when we will fail. We all do. Which is why we must forgive, and ask forgiveness. Seventy-seven times. To infinity, and beyond. Forgiveness heals relationships, it opens doors to friendships, and it is freeing. Walking around grumbling about who wronged you takes energy, and makes you miserable to be around. At least, that’s what my family tells me.

So, instead of looking for ways others are wrong so you can ‘set them straight’, look for ways to tell your own story. Listen to those who have a different opinion, and don’t rush to judgement. Forgive those who have hurt you, and seek the forgiveness of those you have hurt.

There is a song in our hymnal that I thought would be appropriate to close with.

In All Our Grief

Help us to put aside the angry word,

the clenching fist, the wish and will to hurt.

Teach us the way in which love best is served.

Lord, have mercy, Christ have mercy,

Lord, grant us peace.

-Sylvia Dunstan

 

Related posts:

Is It Possible…Truth

What Does it Mean to Love Our Neighbor?

Loving the Good – A Challenge

Who Am I to Judge – For Farmers and Consumers

Lessons for Agvocates from the Pew

It Depends on Agvocates to Live Peaceably

I slid into the pew a few minutes late on Sunday, still tired from the trip to the Minnesota State Fair the day before. Jonathan and I spent 4 hours in the Minnesota Farm Bureau building, sharing our farming story, and giving fair goers an opportunity to meet a real farmer. The conversations were excellent, and I hope that everyone walked away with a better view of American agriculture than when they walked in the building.

Back in the pew, it came time for the scripture lessons to be read, I was trying hard to pay attention. My coffee hadn’t kicked in yet, so concentrating was difficult. Then we came to a passage from Romans 12. This made me sit up a little straighter and listen closely.

Romans 12:9-21

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

A few of these instructions are good reminders for agvocates

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.”

When you disagree with another agvocate, do you hold fast to what is good about that person, or love them with mutual affection, or outdo them in showing honor?  That’s a difficult task, isn’t it? I know my first reaction isn’t to look for the good in a person who ticks me off. It takes work to love someone who has used words as weapons, let alone outdoing them in showing honor. Honor to me, means showing them respect as a person and a fellow farmer.

In the book The ABC’s of Networking by Thom Singer, “R” stands for “Respect”. He talks about how easy it is to see the shortcomings in people, but goes on to say, “If all you see is someone’s faults, how can you really admire them or work with them? Without admiration, can you really show them respect?” He challenges his readers to find at least one good thing in the people that we encounter every day. Seeing the good helps us to have positive relationships with those we may disagree with.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.”

Who do you feel persecutes you? Those whom you have labeled as the “anti’s”, the neighbor who delights in gossiping about you at the cafe in town, or other agvocates? How do we bless them when they’ve pushed all our buttons, or spread misinformation about our farm? I think we have to go back to the first phrase…respecting someone as a person and fellow farmer needs to be the priority. It is too easy to assume that the “enemy” doesn’t have feelings, or isn’t affected by your words of retaliation. We are instructed to bless them, not curse them.

There are a lot of blogs focused on the Food Babe being published lately. I have never heard her speak, nor do I follow her on social media. What I do know, is that the things I have read from agvocates hasn’t been very nice. She may be the enemy in this case, but cursing her (wishing her harm or calling her evil) is not the answer. Getting banned from her page should not be a badge of honor. We need to learn from the lessons of Panera, Chipotle, and Muck Boots on how to react…or not react…to these situations. As it says above, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.”  Instead of attacking those who we feel are wrong, we need to focus on getting positive messages out there, and be the trusted source for our consumers.

“Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.”

This part of the passage keeps echoing in my head. Live in harmony, do not be haughty, do not claim to be wiser than you are. Over and over. I don’t know about you, but I have issues with pride. I sometimes feel that I am better than my neighbor because I am an agvocate, and they are not even on social media. How pathetic is that? I am no better than my neighbor. I make mistakes, I get caught up in my emotions, I don’t always say the right things, I use words in anger, I am not an expert on everything. I am not perfect. But you know what? Neither are you. None of us are, so how can we claim to be wiser than our neighbors?

I’ll be honest. It bugs the heck out of me when I read a blog about a subject the author has no real world experience in. It’s kind of like a singer trying to sing out of their range. It can be painful to listen to. I’ve heard it said many times over the last few weeks that we don’t have to be the expert on everything. It’s okay to not blog about certain topics that you are not totally comfortable with. Knowing who to turn to as an expert is valuable. If I need information about dairy farming, I have friends I can turn to. If I have questions about GMOs, I have friends I can turn to. I don’t write about dairy farming, because I have never been a dairy farmer. I don’t write about GMOs because I have not used them for many years. Writing about what you do on your farm is so important, and you are the expert on what you do.

Living in harmony with one another enables us to turn to the experts in the various sectors of agriculture for a better understanding. Not being haughty, to me, means that you will accept corrections if you made a mistake in a post. Associating with the lowly is associating with those who are different than you are…which would pretty much be every other farm out there. And not claiming to be wiser than you are is being willing to let others deal with topics that you don’t have any practical experience with, or are uncomfortable with.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

Agriculture advocates really are a community of people who want the best for agriculture. As a community, we should be rejoicing with those who rejoice, and not knocking them down. We should be weeping with those who weep, whether it is a personal issue or the sting of rejection. If someone is in need of prayer, would you deny them that because they farm differently or you have a personality conflict? Lets focus on healing the relationships within our own ranks, so together we can work on a positive attitude towards agriculture.

“If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

My friend and blogging mentor, Katie Pinke, shared the Prayer of St Francis last night on her Facebook page. It fits in so well with the scripture lesson above, that I thought it would be fitting to include it here.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

 

Where Agriculture and Horror Movies Collide

Have you watched the movie “Alien” where a creature bursts out of the chest of a human, killing him? Truth be told, I am not a fan of horror movies. However, when similar things happen to insects in nature, I am totally fascinated!

Starting today, one of our soybean fields will have little wasps that act like the Alien. They sting soybean aphids, and lay their eggs inside the aphid. This kills and mummifies the aphid. When the larva is ready for the next stage of life, it bursts out of the mummified aphid body. So cool!

So, what do these vicious creatures look like?

CarolynCares Wasp

Did you see it? Maybe this extreme closeup will help…

CarolynCares Wasp Closeup

Yep, these tiny little wasps are the size of a soybean aphid…which is about as big as the dot of a Sharpie Fine Pen. Nick, a doctoral student from the University of Minnesota entomology department came out today to distribute 75,000 of these little buggers. They arrived in their shipping containers, which were mummified soybean aphids on soybean leaves. The black dots are the aphids which house the wasps…

CarolynCares Mummies

Nick transferred the wasps, leaves, and larva to a slightly larger cup, making sure he had a similar amount of wasps in each cup (yes, someone had figured out how many there were in each cup). He then put a mesh over the top that was large enough for the wasps to go in and out, but not large enough for predators like lady beetles to get in. These cups were put in milk crates as a base of sorts for the wasps.

CarolynCares Wasp Release

Nick then went walking on the edge of the field, flagging locations for the six crates to be placed. After that he measured out about 2 meters in each direction, and placed another flag. The soybean plants by those flags will be checked in 3 weeks to see if the wasps have moved that far from their point of release.

One of the limiting factors in this research is the amount of soybean aphids currently in our fields. When we were looking, we really didn’t find many at all. This is due to the delays in planting, and the cooler weather that has slowed the growth of the soybeans. Nick was explaining the optimal time for aphid movement according to soybean plant stage, and encouraged scouting within the next two weeks.

Jonathan and I are pretty interested in learning more about how this natural aphid control will work in a real world situation. We are hoping that this will turn into a viable tool that we can use to combat the soybean aphid. Right now, as organic farmers, we have no effective method to control them other than planting naturally aphid tolerant varieties of soybeans. Nick is hoping that the wasps that were released today will not only help us this year, but their future generations will be helpful in the years to come.

How cool is it that scientists have found an Alien like way to control an agriculture pest?

 

 

Fun Fact Friday – Always Thinking, Always Improving

CarolynCares New Flame Weeder

The guys tell me that our new flame weeder should be finished today!  Be looking for a full blog post next week about the build, and the safety and efficiency improvements they built into the new unit.

In the meantime, you can read up on what flame weeding is by clicking here and here.

Signs of Spring

Carolyn Cares Spring

I love walking around the yard after the snow melts, looking for signs of spring. Yesterday, I went out and looked at my rhubarb, and was excited to see some leaves poking through the mulch. This morning, I took my camera along with me on my walk. I not only found the rhubarb had grown a lot in yesterday’s warm sunshine, but the grass is starting to turn green!

Jonathan and I both love the changing seasons. Spring brings with it hope, freshness, renewal. We are looking forward to the start of our cropping season in a week or so – weather permitting. Until we can finally get out in the fields, I will rejoice in the green blades of grass, the growing rhubarb leaves, and the birds singing me awake every morning.

Happy Spring!

 

Loving the Good – A Challenge

CarolynCares Love One Another

Our scripture texts for this week’s mid-week Lenten service have been on my mind all day. The first reading was from Micah 6, with verse 8 really standing out. “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” That sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

The second reading was from Romans 12:9-13. The photo above contains the portion of the text that has stayed with me today. Again, the words sound so simple. “Don’t just pretend that you love others: really love them.” Another version says, “Let your love be genuine.”

When was the last time you showed real love for others? Too often we say one thing, but are thinking another. We say things to please or appease our audience, thinking they will like us if we say what we think they want to hear. Is popularity the driving force behind posts, or is it an outpouring of what is truly in your heart?

Everyone sees things thorough their own filter. My reality is different than your reality. In my opinion, that is the way it should be. I think where things go wrong, is when we feel our way is the only way. When we insist that we are the only “right” ones, we are not really loving others. We cannot honor each other if we are too busy judging them based on our own set of rules as to what is right.

My mind tends to connect scripture lessons and snippets of Pastor’s sermons to things happening in agriculture.  Lately, I haven’t been feeling much love on social media when it comes to agriculture. So many articles, memes, blog posts, tweets, statuses, whatever, have been divisive. If you don’t agree with this person, you are a shill. If you don’t agree with that person, you are anti-scienceIf you choose to eat this food, you are an elitist. If you choose to eat that food you are poisoning your family. Read my 10 truths about this farming system that I have no experience in, but am writing about anyway. Sometimes I just want to bang my head on the wall! One thought from Pastor’s sermon seemed to fit into these feelings. We want a set of rules to follow, yet we don’t all agree on the rules. The rules were made to make order out of chaos, yet now we have chaos because we don’t like the rules. It helps to explain church denominations…yet the same can be said for agriculture. There is no one hard and fast rule about how to grow things…or even what things to grow. Yet, we want to separate people into categories, and we judge them based on which category we put them into. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?

This is the part where I’m really thankful for grace and forgiveness. As much as I try to live like these scripture passages say, I know that I will fail. That doesn’t mean that it’s okay to give up on trying! Some days, being kind is awfully difficult. That is when I need to hate the wrong…the wrong being my attitude. Some people like to make loving them more of a challenge, but when you are loving the good, you can usually find something to love. 🙂

My challenge to you, is to work on really loving others, and focus on the positives when you write. Think about how your post might be perceived by those who do not live in your box. Was the post written with good intentions, or was it written because others have posted on this topic and received a good response?

The power to change the attitude of the multitude begins with one…you. Love the good!

 

%d bloggers like this: