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

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.

A Look at What One Rancher is Cooking Up for His Cattle

Jonathan and I went on a Texas ranch tour after the American Farm Bureau Annual Convention on Tuesday. We toured Blanco County, which has been in a drought situation for a few years. Our tour guide for the day is also the Blanco County Farm Bureau president, Don Casey. Don came up with a way to remove the spines of the cactus, making them easier for the cattle to eat. He invited the tour to his cattle pasture, where he gave a demonstration on how the process works.

Prickly Pear Cactus are common houseplants in Minnesota, but in Texas, they grow in pastures and ditches. They have two lengths of spines, both of them very sharp.

Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly Pear Cactus

To begin his project, Don took a boat trailer, removed the rollers, and mounted an LP Tank on the back to make it very portable.

LP Tank Trailer
LP Tank Trailer

He uses a long burner arm to be able to reach into large patches of the cactus. It sounds and acts a lot like our flame weeder, only it is made for walking around with.

CarolynCares Flame Wand

He burns the spines one side at a time, giving the smoke time to clear in between passes in order to make sure he isn’t missing any plants.

CarolynCares Flaming Cactus 1

Here you can see the spines that are on fire. This is a very quick, effective way to remove the spines.

CarolynCares Flaming Cactus 2

Notice the difference in color between the cactus in the foreground, and those in the back. When the flame is applied to the plant, it is lightly cooking the plant as well. Don flames enough cactus for one or two days of foraging, otherwise it rots before the cattle have a chance to use it for food.

CarolynCares Prickly Pear Cactus Patch

In this close up, notice how shiny the outside of the plant looks compared to the first photo.

Spineless Cactus

This is what the inside of the plant looks like – moist, and ready to eat. Cactus has a high water content, and is useful for its carbohydrates. The cattle are also fed a pelletized feed and minerals to balance out their diet.

CarolynCares Cactus

Don has 25 head of cattle in this pasture, and they all were just waiting for us to move a little out of the way so they could get at the plants.

CarolynCares Cattle

One person on our tour asked if the cattle like to eat the cactus. It was pretty obvious that they do when they all ran over to the patch and dug right in.

CarolynCares Cattle Eating Cactus

It was fun and interesting to see someone else using flames for a very different purpose than what we use it for.

We appreciate the American Farm Bureau for lining up tours to showcase agriculture in a different region, and to help bring an understanding that while we all are different, our roots are the same.


Agriculture is Not One Size Fits All

We all like things neat and tidy. We want everything to fit into the box we see as ideal. Our perceptions as to what is right, true, and good are shaped by our experiences and the people around us. Funny thing is, even those who have grown up in the same family have very different opinions on how they do things.

There are 5 kids in my family. Three of us have three children. Even though we were raised the same way in the same house, we parent very differently.   We all remember family things differently. What sticks out in my sister’s mind as a significant event, I may have totally forgotten about. We each see the same things in a different manner.

When Jonathan and I went on our first date, I can remember what I wore, but I can never remember where we went to eat. Jonathan has a great memory for the details & places of significance in our relationship, but I tend to remember the emotions. It’s part of what makes us work together well. We can help to fill in each other’s gaps.

What does this have to do with agriculture? Everything. We each bring our unique perspectives to our farms and ranches. We have certain ways we like to do things, for reasons we probably cannot explain. Does that make me wrong if I do something a different way than you do? Absolutely not. The diversity in agriculture helps to fill in the gaps. We can’t all grow cotton or rice or soybeans or tomatoes. Consumers are asking for choices, and we have the ability to provide that.

We farm our crops organically. We like the process. The management, the record keeping, the constant assessments in the field, the soil management, the relationships with our buyers – we like it all. It suits our land, and it suits our personalities.  Neither one of us thinks that everyone would be good at organic farming. We’re okay with that. We just want the opportunity to be the best organic farmers we can be. If your passion is raising cow/calf pairs in South Dakota, that’s awesome. Be the best rancher you can be. If your passion is raising vegetables and running a CSA, more power to you. It’s not where my passion lies, but I’m glad it’s yours – especially when I want a BLT.

The point is, agriculture is not a one size fits all you have to do it this way everything is black and white industry. Find your passion, and run with it. Just remember, my passion is going to be different from yours, and that’s okay. Just concentrate on being the best you can be in whatever you choose to do. Everyone should be given that opportunity.

Related posts:

Who Am I To Judge – For Farmers and Consumers

What Does it Mean to Love Our Neighbor?

Teaching Flat Ryan About Cover Crops

FlatRyan is the brainchild of a few fabulous agvocates who took over the Agriculture Proud blog while Ryan is finishing his Master’s degree. You can read all about it and learn how to participate here. This blog post first appeared on Agriculture Proud on September 18th.

On the last day of August, #FlatRyan got in on a little cover crop planting on our farm. Saturday was pretty warm for Minnesota standards, but it was a good day to get some work done.  We do things a little differently than most of our neighbors, which sometimes leads to many questions. We farm organic row crops, so we follow different rules. One of those rules is a three crop rotation.  Each year, we have approximately one-third field corn, one-third soybeans, and one-third small grain (wheat, and a mix of barley & field peas).  We use cover cropping to help lock in nutrients, for weed control, and to prevent soil erosion.

The field we were working in had been a barley and field pea field.  The barley and peas had been harvested, the straw baled, and manure applied for next year’s corn crop.  The manure was worked into the soil with a deep till chisel plow before we seeded oats with a broadcast spreader. The oats were worked in with the field cultivator, which was set to go only an inch or two deep.  We were then ready to try something we’ve never done before.

#FlatRyan, Pongo the Rat Terrier, and I took the Ranger across the road to check in with Jonathan and see how he was doing.

Pongo Meeting Flat Ryan

We have been seeding Tillage Radish with our oats for a few years. Tillage Radish is different from the radishes you grow in your garden. A Tillage Radish has a pretty strong tap root that can break up compacted layers in the soil. The root keeps nutrients locked up over the winter, and when the plant dies, it leaves a hole the size of the radish that the corn plant’s roots will be able to use to grow bigger.

Tillage Radish and Full Size Sharpie
Tillage Radish and Full Size Sharpie

Last year, we attended a cover cropping seminar, and heard about a study that was being done where they planted the Tillage Radish seed with the corn planter, using sugar beet plates.  To us, it made total sense. Using GPS mapping in the tractor, we have the capability of planting the corn directly over the rows that we planted the Tillage Radish in. We weren’t sure exactly how well it would work, or if the Precision Planting system would be able to accurately measure how many seeds per acre we were planting.  This is where #FlatRyan joined us.

When Jonathan got to the end, we needed to check the planter boxes to see if he was planting the correct number of seeds per acre.  Here, #FlatRyan is looking to see how much seed is left in the first box. FlatRyan2 carolyncares

It was decided that Jonathan needed more seed, so #FlatRyan, Pongo, and I headed to the seed shed in the yard. Many of our bags are white with no markings, so reading a seed tag is important. Tillage Radish comes in colorful bags, so they were easy to spot.

FlatRyan3 carolyncares

We loaded a couple of bags into the back of the Ranger, and went back across the road to meet the planter once again.

FlatRyan4 carolyncares

Jonathan split the 50 pounds of seed between the 16 boxes, and we put the other bag in the rock box. We still weren’t sure how much would be needed to finish this field. #FlatRyan was so excited by how well the planter was working to plant the radish seeds that he was kicking up his heels!

FlatRyan5 carolyncares

Not long after Jonathan finished planting this field, the clouds rolled in, and we were blessed with ½ inch of rain!

FlatRyan6 carolyncares

This is how the field looked 10 days after we planted the Tillage Radish. Looks like both the oats and the radish are off to a good start!

radish seedling carolyncares

After #FlatRyan’s weekend with us, Jonathan and I seeded and planted our wheat fields the same way. In the last field, we planted 46 acres of Tillage Radish like we did in the barley and pea field. We were racing with the rain on the last day, so we decided to broadcast seed the oats and Tillage Radish on the remaining 100 acres. Then, for good measure, we left about 8 acres as a check strip. That way, we have all three methods in one field.  Next spring we will till the field with the field cultivator, which will disturb the decayed matter and small weeds on the surface, but will preserve the channels created by the Tillage Radish.

We hope #FlatRyan had fun helping us with our experiment! This is one experiment that will take a long time to see the results, but in the meantime, it does keep the neighbors guessing about what we’re up to!

To see more of Flat Ryan’s adventures, click here. He’s had a lot of fun, and has learned some amazing things so far!

Why Is It…?

My Twitter feed is increasingly making me crabby. I follow a pretty diverse group, both conventional and organic farmers, a variety of agriculture businesses, and a wide range of bloggers. Why is it that every morning, my twitter feed is clogged with more conventional farmers putting down organic agriculture? The organic farmers I follow don’t share near the non-GM stuff as what the conventional farmers are sharing. Even some people that work for groups that are supposed to support all of agriculture are sharing more anti-organic graphics. I thought that when you claim to be an “agvocate”, you would be speaking for agriculture, not pitting one method against another.

I belong to a speakers group through the Minnesota Farm Bureau called Speak for Yourself. In our training sessions, we are taught to tell our farm story through the use of Power Point presentations. We are given the opportunity to create our presentations, then give them to our class for practice. We are to focus on our farm, and not worry about what our neighbors are doing. That way, when we go out and speak to groups like a Lions Club or Rotary Club, we are putting a face on farming. We are taught to present a positive picture of agriculture, and to be a resource to those who we have shared our story. As an organic farmer, I have been able to give my presentation to a group that had quite a few Monsanto employees in it. They enjoyed the presentation because I focused on my farm, without putting any commentary about other farms into my presentation. This is proof that speaking about only my farm can bring a clear message.

Do you hear a lot of people talking about the Paleo diet, vegetarianism, veganism, the Whole30 Challenge, and other restrictive diets? Why is it that those diets are acceptable, yet people who choose to eat organic foods are called anti-science? Last time I checked, it was not advised to go on a diet that eliminates whole food groups or are too restrictive. There are many scientific articles relating to the long term viability of vegan diets, for example. If I were to follow in other farmer’s footsteps, I could post a graphic that I found on the internet. After all, whatever is on the internet has to be true, right?

A few of my friends have told people that they can go ahead and waste their money by paying extra for the organic label. Really? How is that attitude fostering a positive image of agriculture? These same people are so excited when the farmers market opens and they can finally get fresh produce. I’m sure you could get tomatoes from the grocery store for less. So what if they are a little more pale and pulpy than the organic ones, or the ones fresh from the farmers market. Sounds a little bit hypocritical to me. No wonder consumers are confused.

Speaking of consumers, I see a lot of the anti-organic graphics and studies aimed at them. Talk about mommy guilt. Conventional farmers are just as bad as organic farmers if you really look at the graphics being shared. Why is it that only the end products are looked at when people are arguing over methods? Isn’t there a grower in there somewhere that is preparing the soil, buying seeds, planting, nurturing, and harvesting? In my mind, there is a whole lot more to these systems than just the end product.

This brings me back to the whole organic farmers are anti-science statements that make me cringe. We are anti-science because we choose not to use a certain seed technology? What the heck? That is such an insult. We use science to determine what our soil profiles are, how much manure needs to be applied, how much nitrogen the corn plants are taking up, when to flame weed the corn, and what tillage methods we need to tweak. We use more technology in our tractors than most of our neighbors. So, using the same logic, we can call all farmers who don’t use GPS guidance systems and field mapping anti-technology, backwards, and old, right? Why is it that conventional farmers feel the need to call others names because they farm different? It sounds a lot like school yard bullying, and makes us all look stupid.

Why is it so hard to resist hitting the share button when you know it’s going to hurt your farming friends and neighbors?  You tell your story, I’ll tell mine, let other farmers tell theirs. When we start to tell each other’s stories, the whole agriculture message gets all mucked up, and consumers don’t know who to trust. We need to resist the temptation to post things that prove we are “right”. Who says that anyone is wrong? What is right for you will not be right for me. Even if we farmed using the same methods. Your soils, climate, personality…everything about you is different than me. That is what is awesome about being a farmer in the US. We have the freedom to farm how we like. We have the freedom to grow what we want. We have markets available to sell our products. There is so much good happening in agriculture, why is it that we feel like we need to put others down?

Let me leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

“To be one, to be united is a great thing. But to respect the right to be different is maybe even greater.” -Bono

Fun Fact Friday – Barley Harvest!

Did you know that there is more than one way to harvest barley?

We combine our barley with our “soybean head” while the barley is still standing tall in the field. Part of the reason is that we also have field peas mixed in. For more on growing barley and field peas together, click here.

Barley Pea Harvest - CarolynCares
“Straight” combining barley & field peas


Other farmers swath their barley first, let it dry on the ground, then combine it using a “pick up head”.

Yesterday, I read a blog about barley harvest where they swath the barley first. The photos on Griggs Dakota are awesome. You need to go check out the photos, and learn another way of harvesting barley.

Thanks for stopping by!


Who am I to Judge – For Farmers and Consumers

Late last week, my Facebook and Twitter feeds blew up with farmers and consumers weighing in on Panera Bread’s new marketing campaign. My friend, Dairy Carrie, wrote this blog as an open letter to Panera Bread. So many farmers were offended by the insinuation that they are lazy for using antibiotics, that the blog post went wild. It took a few days for the CMO to contact Carrie, and she wrote about the conversation here.  I started writing a response, but was a little too hot under the collar at the level of disrespect, so I scrapped it.

One of the scripture passages that we read on Sunday kind of had me sit up a little more. I included the part that stuck out to me below:

Colssians 2:16-19 16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

The last verse reminded me of this passage:

1 Corinthians 12:12-26   12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

So, what does this have to do with Panera Bread?

There have been many tweets, Facebook postings, and blogs written from all points of view. Some were nasty towards other farmer’s opinions, and some were nasty towards Panera. There also posts that invited Panera into a conversation with farmers, and posts that made you stop and think about why we had the reaction we did.

The nasty posts made me a little sad. Who are we to judge another farmer’s method of raising animals or crops. If the animals are healthy and thriving, have enough food and shelter, should we be condemning them because we prefer to raise our animals in a barn? The farmer who chooses to raise his animals as a completely antibiotic free animal for a specific market has every right to do so. Just as those who use antibiotics under a veterinarians guidance has every right to do so.

The same can be said for those who choose to grow their crops with pesticides, and those who choose to grow their crops without. Every farmer has made a choice based on what works for them and their farm. If I don’t want to buy GM sweet corn, I can buy organic sweet corn. If I don’t want to buy organic produce, I can buy conventional produce.

What the scriptures above basically say, is that we are not to judge others based on what they eat or drink. Or what church they go to. Or what celebrations they attend. The important thing is that, as Christians, we are all forgiven when we ask. We are all one body…which I think can apply to agriculture as well.

There are many parts to agriculture. There are some that are larger than others, but that doesn’t meant they are more important. Every individual has a say…and the way Dairy Carrie’s blogs were shared, there was a lot of say’in this weekend.

I also think these passages point to respecting others. While I do not sell any goods to Panera Bread, I was a frequent visitor of their Sioux Falls location. I was offended at the lack of respect they showed for both the farmer and the consumer. By telling the consumers that they, and the farmers who raise conventional chickens, are lazy if they don’t choose Panera’s antibiotic free chicken is going against Colssians 2:16. The smugness of the CMO’s response, and the failure to pull the ad campaign entirely, points to the puffed up with pride reference. Panera has so many good things going for it, they didn’t need to “go there” with this new marketing angle.

I believe that the Bible can teach us so many things about how to have effective relationships with people. Do I think Panera can still have a conversation with farmers? Absolutely. We both must come to the table realizing that we are different parts of the same body. We need to show respect and humility on both sides. Most of all, we need to stop judging people by their food or farming choices.

After the Burn – A Follow Up to Burn Baby Burn

A few people have been asking for a follow up from my Burn Baby Burn post. Here it is!

This photo is an overview of the corn field two days after the flame weeder went through. You can see how some areas are burned a little more than others. This photo was taken while standing on the side of the road.

Two days post flaming
Two days post flaming

This photo is nine days after the flame weeder went through. It is almost in the same area as the one above, but this one was taken from the window of the van. The mosquitoes are so bad right now, I didn’t want to get out. 🙂

Nine days post flaming
Nine days post flaming

I enlisted Jonathan’s help in taking the next few photos. We were on a parts run (farmer date), so he took the photos while I walked out into the corn.  The field I’m standing in is the one we were flaming in the video (link above). It was about knee high nine days ago!

Corn has grown quite a bit in nine days!
Corn has grown quite a bit in nine days!

Here are two close ups of the corn leaves. You can see that there are still a few burned edges, but for the most part, the plants are nice and green again.

The lower leaves are singed, but the upper leaves are green
The lower leaves are singed, but the upper leaves are green
Most of the corn looks like this area...a nice deep green
Most of the corn looks like this area…a nice deep green

Last weekend, we had great corn growing weather. High temperatures, high humidity, and little wind. Some say that if you stand out in the field and listen, you can hear the corn grow on days like that. The corn is looking great. There were some broad leafed weeds that didn’t die, so our crew will be walking the fields this week to hoe those weeds out.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section!





Burn Baby Burn! Flame Weeding Video

I rode along with Jonathan while he was flame weeding the corn. If the video doesn’t answer your questions, feel free to leave them in the comments!