As my dad might say when figuring out a creative solution to a problem, “There is more than one way to skin a cat!” It’s good to think outside the box sometimes. Happy Friday, everyone!
This last week has been incredibly warm and humid, so you may have put off plans to head the the Great Minnesota Get Together. This weekend – the final weekend of the fair – is supposed to be beautiful! It would be a great time to check out all the awesome agriculture exhibits at the Minnesota State Fair!
Our family has been attending the fair for quite a few years. We started volunteering in the Oink Booth when we were members of our county pork producers association. We had so much fun handing out pig ears and answering questions about our farm, and about raising pigs in Minnesota. After our daughters became members of 4-H, we started volunteering at the Farm Bureau barn for the days they would be competing at the state fair. This is the first year that our daughters are out of 4-H, but that doesn’t mean our state fair days are over!
On Sunday, September 1, Jonathan and I will be volunteering in the Farm Bureau Building from 1-5 pm. We are excited to be working with Bryan and Marytina Lawrence from Princeton. (To learn more about the Lawrence’s farm, click here.) We’ve known Bryan and Marytina since we first became involved with the Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program. Marytina now works with the Speak for Yourself program, which is one of the things I’m involved in.
The Speak for Yourself program does a great job of helping farmers feel comfortable telling their story in front of others. Throughout the fair, there have been several SFY participants who have volunteered to work in the Farm Bureau Building. I hope you will come out on Sunday to ask us questions, or check out the building on Monday when Wanda Patsche will be working. Be sure to also read her blog entry about the state fair before you go!
One of the reasons why I love volunteering at the Farm Bureau Building is meeting people from all over the world. Last year, there was a family from Europe who stopped by to check out how we farm compared to how they farm. When you walk into the building, you will be greeted by one of the volunteers, and asked if you would like to answer a few questions in order to win a prize. The search for the answers will take you around the displays in the building, helping you to learn more about agriculture in Minnesota. After you answer all the questions, you will receive an insulated lunch bag. There is also a recipe booklet available for those who like to cook. There are drawings for children’s books, including “Little House on the Prairie”, so make sure to sign up for your kids!
The Ag Cab Lab-Combine is also in the Farm Bureau Building. This activity is great for kids of all ages. Sit inside the cab and see what it is like to combine different crops. If you would like to see what a farmer does while driving a tractor, head on over to the CHS Miracle of Birth Center where the Ag Cab Lab-Tractor is located. While there, check out the new livestock babies that have been born during the fair. The Miracle of Birth Center is another great place to learn about agriculture in Minnesota. The veterinarians, staff, and student volunteers have been working really hard this week to make sure the animals are well cared for in the heat. Ask the FFA students about the animals they are with. They would love to answer your questions!
Besides the Oink Booth that is found in the pig barn, check out the Moo Booth, and the Baa Booth. The Moo Booth has activities going on throughout the day on Sunday, including milking demonstrations. The Baa Booth is located in the sheep barn, and has some fun facts about raising sheep. All three of these booths have farmer volunteers working in them, and they, too, would love to answer your questions.
Another great area to learn about agriculture is the Dairy Building. Not only will you be able to see Princess Kay of the Milky Way’s Butterhead, but you may even get to see Princess Kay herself! The ice cream that you can buy in the Dairy Building is awesome. You can walk around inside the building and pick up recipes from other livestock organizations. Make sure you talk to the people handing out the recipe cards. They all are passionate about what they do!
Pretty much every year, we also take a walk through the Agriculture Horticulture Building to find the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association booth. Jonathan has won many ribbons on seeds that have been submitted. There is a display there about what the seeds from different plants look like. Do you know the difference between grass seed and flax seed? This is the building that houses the contests for Christmas trees, Bees & Honey, Farm Crops, Flower Show, Fruit & Wine, and Vegetables & Potatoes. It is fun to walk through and see the entries, especially the giant vegetables!
There are so many great agriculture stories at the Minnesota State Fair. I would love to hear what you learned when you checked out all the fun displays and the barns – add it to the comments below.
See you at the Fair!
There is a photo from a family gathering years ago that both my mom and I just love. We have no idea what prompted the pose – if it was just a quick there they are lets take their photo moment, or if we were told to pose there. However the photo came about, it is one of my favorites.
I want you all to notice how my outfit, socks, and shoes match. I still like matching shoe colors to outfits.
At our family reunion this past weekend, we chartered a bus to take us around to the places where our Grandparents lived. Two lawn chairs made the trip with us.
We had an awesome time at our reunion weekend. I loved hanging out with my cousins, and look forward to the next get together.
Now, however, it is back to reality. Wheat harvest starts this afternoon. I am pretty sure I will be thinking over conversations and laughing to myself while I’m sitting in the combine. Oh, how I love my family!
Badlands National Park(click on image to enlarge)
There is so much to say. We are completely overwhelmed by the response to our gathering. I’ve taken a few days to try and form some sort of summary in my head, but there are so many wonderful memories, I’m having some difficulty. Let me start with the week of our gathering.
I am the current president of our county Farm Bureau. We had our 2nd Annual I Met a Farmer Tour on Thursday – 2 days before our Appreciation Party. The board meets a couple of days before the tour to have a “pre-tour tour” of the farms that we will be visiting. Our pre-tour tour ends with a post pre-tour meal at a local restaurant. On this particular day, I also went on a supply run to Sioux Falls (2 hours away…the closest “large city”), returning home just in time to leave for the tour.
On the day of the actual tour, I met the group at the starting point around 12:30 pm, and trusted that the shop would be presentable when we showed up on our farm for the crop farm part of the tour. Being the last stop, we were going to have supper in the brand new shop…the shop that was still being worked on that morning. The guys from the construction company were awesome. They met all of my pre-tour requirements (door on the bathroom, running water), and even helped Jonathan hang photos. When the bus arrived, the shop looked awesome!
The day after the tour, we started hitting the Century Farm party preparations hard. Unfortunately, the weather decided to hit us hard as well. The skies turned a nasty neon green color…never good. We ended up sitting in the basement for awhile during severe thunderstorm warnings, and tornado warnings. Fortunately, the hail that fell did little damage to the crops, and the only tornado that touched down in our county only touched in a field.
The storm left a lot of standing water, but we were able to continue our preparations following the storm. Laura and I needed to run to Marshall to pick up the rest of the supplies that were on our list, so we made a run for town after making sure there was nothing else on the radar. What we should have done is check the radar throughout our supply run. When we finished our grocery shopping, I heard a rumble of thunder. By the time we had the groceries in the van, it was starting to rain. Before we had gone 3 miles, the skies opened. I drove home white knuckling it in heavy rain, hail, wind, and constant lightening. I never want to drive home in a storm like that again! When we finally pulled into the garage, and I shut the van off, I started shaking like a leaf. We only carried in the cold foods, and left the rest until morning…then I went right to bed.
Saturday morning brought our Dinner Club, Jonathan’s sister Sally, and our friend Susanne out to help with food prep. We wanted to serve organic salads along with the grilled pork chops and root beer floats, but we couldn’t find anyone in our area who is able to cater organic foods. So, we worked with our local Hy-Vee, and ordered all of our produce through them. Our preppers helped to prepare the lettuce based salad and the fruit salad in the morning, and helped to serve all of the food in the afternoon. We are so thankful for our friends and family!
Getting close to “official” party time, we threw on our matching polo shirts and greeted the volunteers and relatives who arrived early as planned. Soon, the Marshall FFA showed up to set up their petting zoo, and the Lakeview FFA arrived to set up their Ag Olympics games. Everything was ready when the first guests arrived.
To be honest, the rest of the day was a blur. I visited with many people, but missed some. Jonathan visited with many people, but missed some. Between the two of us, I think we had a chance to greet everyone. I had my camera in my hand the whole day, but only took 24 photos. Thankfully, Sally had her camera and was able to get a few more. I’m going to use the “a picture is worth a thousand words” thing here. Enjoy the photos that Sally and I were able to get.
As you can see, the day was fun, even though it was very hot and humid (by Minnesota standards, anyway). We are thankful that the storms held off until after everyone was either back home, or tucked in their hotel for the night. Jonathan and I keep talking about different aspects of the day, and how much fun it was. We both feel so blessed to be a part of the heritage of this farm. We are so thankful that we have a great extended family. One thing we really try to work on is relationships – whether it is with family, neighbors, grain buyers, the guy who changes oil in the van – it doesn’t matter who they are. Relationships matter.
With that, it is time to look forward to the next 100 years.
Our Menu for the Celebration:
Click on the photo to enlarge it. Can you find the remnants of the old windmill?
With the sunshine, came an opportunity to take a walk around the yard and enjoy the beauty.