Things I’ve Learned

We started seeding our small grain this week – field peas, barley, and wheat.  You could say that I am Jonathan’s pit crew. Our drill needs to be folded up into transport mode to go down the road, and unfolded once we get into the field.  It is a two person job, so whenever Jonathan needs to move to a new location, I get a call.  I also help him load seed into the drill when I am needed – usually when a lot of bags are used as opposed to the mini-bulk system which involves a grain wagon and auger system.  After the first two days back out into the field, I have learned a few things…

  • Telling jokes and flirting with your favorite spouse while working makes the job a lot more pleasant. And it can help put you in a better mood.
  • Work boots are not great for running in.  They may have ankle support, but they are heavier than my running shoes, and not as flexible. And they don’t look as cute.
  • If you are going to go out and work with the boys, it is alright to look good. A little pink looks awesome with all of the green equipment.
  • Learning to ride a horse during the first two days of planting is not always a good idea.  Saddle sores on the bottom, and a stiff upper back can make you feel much older than you really are.
  • Running, and weight lifting with dumbbells will not prepare you enough for the lifting and pushing/pulling of farm work.  I wonder if someone could invent a machine for that for my local YMCA. Then I wouldn’t feel as wimpy in the spring.
  • I don’t like the wind. Okay, so I already knew this, but it was reinforced yesterday. I don’t like grit in my teeth. It is hard to laugh at a good joke and not get dirt in your mouth when the winds are blowing dust and dirt into every nook and cranny.
  • It is easy to work your way up the ladder at a rapid pace.  The first day it was 48 pound bags of barley. The second day it was 60 pound bags of wheat.  I’m thankful it rained. I don’t want to know what today’s bags would have weighed.

Even though it is a stressful time of year, learning to balance the farm wife part of my life with the mom and housewife part, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I may not have the fastest pit times in the neighborhood, but I’m working on it!

The Office

The Power of Bundt Cake – New York City (part 3)

We decided to stay in Parsippany, NJ and take the train into the City for the two days we had to sightsee.  The first day was all on our own. The second day, we would be meeting at Chatham Imports before going to lunch with Joe and Connie.

The train ride into the City reminded us of the Polar Express, when the conductor came down the aisle to punch our tickets.  We looked to see if he punched any words in them, but he didn’t.  Our train destination was Penn Station, which is under ground.  When we rode the escalator up to street level the first time, we were all breathless.  The view was absolutely incredible.  We were in New York City.  On Fashion Avenue. Blocks from Broadway and Times Square.  Un-be-liev-able!

We pretty much walked everywhere the first day. We ate at a McDonald’s that has appeared on Travel Channel shows, walked past the theater where we would be seeing Mary Poppins the following night, and walked into Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum to purchase tickets for our sightseeing bus tour.   We figured the bus tour would be a good bet, since we could get a feel for the city without wearing Anna out.  Unfortunately, their dry spell ended that day.  We were given rain ponchos to wear while we were on the top level of the bus, but it was raining much too hard for them to keep us dry.  Jon and I ended up sitting below, where the windows were fogged over, and there was little ventilation.  Me, being claustrophobic, thought I was going to die.  Every time the bus slowed down for a stop, water cascaded down the steps from the upper deck into the lower level.  We eventually got off at a stop without knowing exactly where we were.  We were just about to call a cab, when another bus pulled up that had a plastic cover over the front of the upper seats.  It was the Brooklyn tour.  The rain showers had let up by this point, so we jumped on and had a great tour of Brooklyn.  When the tour was finished, we walked back to Penn Station to catch the train to our hotel.  We would have to be on the ball the next morning so we wouldn’t be late for our meeting.

The weather was definitely better the following day, although trains were running late through the tunnel between New Jersey and New York due to flooding from the deluge the day before.  We had to hurry from Penn Station to Chatham’s in order to get there in time. Thanks to the GPS on my Smartphone, we made it.

The office itself was pretty small, but everyone was very friendly.  The secretary is originally from Iowa, and made us feel very welcome the way Midwesterners do.  Connie brought us into the conference room, where Joe joined us a short time later.  They asked the girls a ton of questions, just getting to know them, and making sure they were experiencing the City the way they were hoping to.

After hearing more about their company, Jonathan and I were invited to have a sampling of the vodka made from our corn.  Chatham’s markets three flavors of organic vodka under the Crop label – plain, tomato, and cucumber.  We learned the proper way to taste test without getting intoxicated before lunch. 🙂   It amazed me how the tomato and cucumber vodkas tasted just like fresh from the vine produce.  We next tasted their organic gin, which is marketed under the Farmers Gin label.  I had never tasted gin before, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  The taste of juniper was very pronounced, but when we did the “spit” part of the taste test, the flavor of lemon filled my mouth.  For fun, we were given tastes of Joe’s favorite Biscotti liqueur, which tasted just like the cookie.  We chatted for a few more minutes, then we were off to lunch.

Next… lunch!

The girls in their rain ponchos before hopping on the bus

The Power of Bundt Cake (part 2)

Now that harvest is wrapped up, and traveling is done for awhile, I can catch up on my blogging!

A few weeks after the visit from Joe, Connie, and Jim, we received a package in the mail.  It was a box from Joe and Connie, containing gifts for Jonathan and I…and Pongo, our rat terrier.  They sent Jonathan an Hermes tie, and I received an Hermes scarf.  They also sent a thank-you note with another invitation to visit them in New York.  That really started the wheels turning in Jonathan’s head!

It is tradition in our family that the graduate gets to choose the summer family vacation destination before they head off to college.  Anna chose the Iowa Speedway for the inaugural Nationwide Series race.  (She was hoping to see Joey Logano, her favorite driver. Sadly, he was not there.) Christina wanted to go to Los Angeles or Hollywood, but I was trying to talk her into staying in the Midwest.  Then we received the second invitation to visit New York.  Christina, with Jonathan’s full support, quickly chose New York City as her family vacation destination.  The first week of July we were still trying to find an open week in our schedules.  We narrowed it down to the week of July 10 – 17. That gave us about 3 days to make all of our travel arrangements, and line up help for chores.  Not to mention our town’s celebration, and my very first 5k attempt…

Jonathan contacted Connie, who was thrilled that we would be coming.  She asked what we were planning on seeing while in the City, and gave Jonathan some ideas.  Christina really wanted to see a Broadway show, and walk in Central Park.  The girls all wanted a chance to shop a little, which was no surprise.  Connie asked which Broadway show we wanted to see, which we left up to Christina.  Wicked was sold out, so she chose Mary Poppins, since we all love the movie.

We packed up, loaded the van, and headed east.  We put in a long day on that first day, getting past Chicago.  Lessons learned…take frequent breaks to stretch and get the blood flowing, drink a lot of water, and don’t eat salty snacks.

Next up – our arrival and first day in New York City.

This is me, back home after my very first 5k at Cottonwood Coming Home Days. We left the following day for New York.

Why I Care

Twenty two years ago, I went from city girl to farm wife.  I moved three hours away from my family and friends to start a new life with my husband, Jonathan.  We were married in a drought year, which meant harvest had started within a few days of our wedding.  We decided to come home a day or two early from our honeymoon to help my father-in-law.

Our house had been “decorated” by Jonathan’s friends, so we had a little clean-up to attend to before we could help move corn wagons.  My in-laws had surprised one of the guys doing the decorating, and suggested we enter the house carefully.  After a little cleaning and unpacking, I learned how to hook up the wagons to the John Deere 4020.  Eventually, I learned how to drive the 4020, and how to unload the corn into the bin.  It was a lot for me to remember and I made many mistakes.  Jonathan and his dad were so patient with me, that I wasn’t afraid to try all the new things.

The patience and caring that I was shown as a new bride in a new atmosphere has had a lasting impact.  I try to live by those same principles, and treat others with respect and care.  Their example has also fueled a passion for agriculture and its importance in our world.

Jonathan and I have three beautiful teenage daughters. We have both become active in our church and community. I am currently serving as president of our county Farm Bureau, and have served on a few State Farm Bureau committees.  I look forward to sharing some of my perspectives with you about the farming industry, and what goes on in our family during the different seasons.