A Bend in the Road

Bend in the Road

Sometimes, the road of life isn’t as straight and even as you’d like it to be. My road has a bend in it that I have been ignoring for a little while. It is time to make the turn, for my health’s sake.

When I was expecting daughters two and three, I had gestational diabetes. Both times it went away as soon as the girls were delivered. Since then, my doctors have gently reminded me that if I don’t take care of myself, the diabetes could return. Here it is, 23 years later, and the warning is a little more urgent.

I try to get in for my yearly physicals in the fall, after harvest is complete. This past fall, we were fostering a little guy, which meant I put off going in. That may have turned out to be a blessing. A few weeks before my appointment, I was noticing some things were different, and not in a good way. Turns out, I have two out of three issues that accompany metabolic syndrome. Combine that with the history of gestational diabetes, and I am considered pre-diabetic. It is time to admit that I am not invincible –  as painful as that may be to my ego.

The treatment for this little bend in my road is easy and difficult at the same time. My prescription is to move myself up on my priority list, and exercise a minimum of 30 minutes every day. I now watch my food portions as well, and have cut certain extras out of my diet for the most part. The goal is to lose weight through portion control and exercise, and drop my glucose and triglyceride numbers back down to where they should be. Sounds easy enough, but the week I was diagnosed, we had 8 graduation receptions to attend. Nothing like having your resolve tested right away!

I have been on this journey for just over a month now, and I feel great. I am getting to where fitting in exercise has become a priority over watching TV or catching up on social media, and I’m not constantly worried about what I can and cannot eat when I go out to a restaurant. I’ve lost some weight, and am confident I will hit the goals I can control by my 3 month checkup. The only unknown is how my blood test will be.

So, you may see more postings about exercise, eating frustrations (looking at all the fried foods out there that are calorie bombs, but oh, so tasty!), and other things I encounter on this little bend in my road. And, hopefully, you will be seeing a smaller, healthier version of me this fall.

Wordless Wednesday: Love Your Brothers and Sisters

Love Your Brothers and Sisters

I come from a pretty close family, and love hanging out with my brothers and sisters. Even though they make me mad at times, I still love them.

When we read 1 John 4: 20-21, I’m not sure that the meaning is just our immediate siblings, but brothers and sisters in Christ. This verse challenges me when I feel hurt by another Christian…it makes me not want to love them. But I must. I am challenged to love those who are not fellow believers as well…because some day they may become a brother or sister in Christ. This is one area I’m working on with my real life relationships as well as my online relationships.

 

3 Phrases Agvocates Should Lose

Agvocates do nothing from rivalry or conceit

As agvocates, we share our perspectives of agriculture from the lens of our own truth. My lens, or filters will be different from all other agvocates, because I have different experiences and my farm is different from all others. Having that diversity is awesome when it comes to agvocating, especially if the main message is a unified one: Agriculture is important in the United States, and we are blessed to have the safest, most abundant food supply, with the best choices available to fit everyone’s desires. So, if we see things through our own lens, which gives us our own truth, how do we stand united?

Over the past 18 months, I have been to many conferences where speakers and consumer researchers have told the attendees to meet their consumers on an emotional level. We need to make them feel good, and help them understand that no matter what they purchase in the grocery store they are supporting a farming or ranching family. Looking at agvocating from that perspective, I see three phrases or ideas that we should lose in order to reach our consumers on that emotional level.

Food Shaming

It’s pretty safe to say that there isn’t a person alive in North America who hasn’t felt the sting of judgement from their friends or neighbors. Heck, some of us have felt the sting of judgement from our fellow agvocates. The most popular form of judgement is food shaming. Typically, it is seen as a totally granola mom telling all her friends they have to eat only organic to “properly” raise their children. There is a lot of outrage in those instances. When a mom who feeds her kids organic gets shamed, and told that she’s just wasting her money on a marketing scheme, is that any better? There isn’t as much outrage when that happens, but to me, shaming is shaming, and it needs to stop. We will never be the trusted source of information for consumers if we are making them feel bad about their choices. Bottom line: nobody wants to feel stupid for the choices they make. We lose their trust, and they go elsewhere for their information (Peta, HSUS, etc). We need to stop shaming our consumers…and each other.

#Stand4Science

I’ll admit that this hashtag and the accompanying tweets associated with it annoy me for a couple of reasons. First, most of the tweets have a “I can’t believe you don’t know this” attitude when telling people about some study or another that proves that biotech or whatever is safe. The problem with that attitude is, we make consumers feel dumb. How many people have a science degree, or can understand what the studies are saying? We’re told when giving speeches or agvocating in public to speak at a 4th grade level…I’ve read many study abstracts, and I can tell you, they are not written at a 4th grade level! The Center for Food Integrity’s 2014 research talks a lot about this very thing. We cannot forget about the impact that emotion plays when people are deciding whether or not to trust your truth. Secondly, many of the tweets associated with this hashtag make it sound like the only science in agriculture is biotechnology. When you think about it, biotechnology is a pretty small part of the science that goes into raising a crop, even if the majority of corn, soybeans, and cotton raised in North America are genetically engineered. We all need to pay attention to soil science, plant science (including weeds), pathology, animal science, and hydrology…not to mention computer science, and engineering. I know I’m missing some major ones, but you get the idea. Agriculture involves a lot of science, no matter what you grow. We just can’t assume that our consumers will “get” the science that we work with every day. Heck, I don’t understand the science that goes along with range management or animal nutrition, because I don’t ever work with that. Fortunately, I have trusted friends I can go to when I have questions. That’s what we need to be to our consumers.

Biotech is the only way to feed the world

I’ve had many great conversations about this phrase. Looking at it from an agvocating point of view, though, I think we need to lose it. As consumers, we are all a bit self centered. We want what we want when we want it. When we are making our way through the grocery store, we are not thinking about how many people in the world the average farmer is feeding. We are thinking about checking off our grocery lists, or we’re trying to remember what it is we needed as we’re being distracted by kids, neighbors who want to say hello, or the little old ladies who need help getting a bag of cat food into their cart. This message is being lost on the consumer. I don’t know about you, but I eat a pretty diverse diet. I like my cereal or eggs in the morning, but the rest of the day I’m eating a variety of meats, potatoes or rice, and vegetables. For snacks, I like fruits, or coffee. I don’t like eating the same thing all the time, because I get bored with it. There are what, nine genetically engineered crops on the market? Foods made with those crops do not make up the entirety of the average diet. We need the diversity in agriculture to make the whole system work. We celebrate diversity in every other aspect of our lives, why not in agriculture? When the whole choir only sings one note, there is no harmony. When my BLT has no L or T, it is just a bacon sandwich…but that actually doesn’t sound all that bad….

So, what should we be saying when we agvocate?

In our lenten series at church this year, our Pastor has been talking about not separating our faith from our every day life, but to treat it as we do everything else. The funny thing is, I have taken a ton of notes during his Sunday sermons lately, because they fit agvocating so well. The verse on the photo above summed up my feelings about how to agvocate effectively without running the risk of alienating other farmers or our consumers.

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2: 3-4”

How cool would it be if we all agvocated that way…doing nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

We can do this when we tell our story, since we know it better than anyone else. This also goes back to each of us having our own truth. Nobody can argue with you if you say, “On my farm, we do this…” or “On my ranch, we do that…” That is your story, and your truth. You can find things in common with your consumers if you write about things they may be able to relate to. They won’t relate to farming, but if you develop a relationship with them over a common topic, you will be their trusted source when you do write about agriculture.

I absolutely believe we can speak as a unified voice for agriculture, but it’s going to take a little change in attitude from all of us. Will you join me in supporting all of our farming and ranching families?

 

30 Things I Love: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! I love the time spent in reflection of all the good in our lives. I love the time spent with friends or family or both. And, let’s be honest, I love the food.

As we pause to give thanks for the food on our tables, remember those who have labored to grow the food so we can stuff ourselves silly. Let us also remember those who are not with family…our military, those who are working, or those who could not travel home to be with loved ones.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you, my readers, for your comments, likes, and for reading my posts. I am grateful for your support.

Wishing you a day filled with blessings!

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

Day 16: Scones

Day 17: #AgNerds

Day 18: Playing in the Dirt

Day 19: Friends

Day 20: My Church Choir Family

Day 21: OxyClean

Day 22: Small Town Celebrations

Day 23: Clouds

Day 24: Thanksgiving

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

 

 

30 Things I Love: Clouds

Clouds

I’ve been accused of walking around with my head in the clouds, but sometimes I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I love watching cloud formations changing as they move across the sky. The bonus is when the sun kisses the clouds as it sets.

The photo above was taken when Anna and I were on our way home from an appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. When you’re heading west in prairie country, it is impossible to miss a gorgeous sunset. Sometimes I try to get a photo out the windshield with my cell phone when I’m at a stop sign, but other times, the sky calls for the “good” camera and pulling over onto a gravel road to get out of the van to get the right shot. This was one of those pull over and use the good camera nights.

Our willingness to pull over and enjoy the beauty of the clouds and the sunset got me to thinking…how many times do we rush through life, and never notice the beauty that surrounds us? Anna and I could have all kinds of excuses to keep going the night I took this photo. Her appointments at the clinic were exhausting, and we were both tired from the travel. It had been a long couple of days. Instead, we were both willing to pull over and document the beauty in the skies in a stop and smell the roses kind of way.

Life is hard, and it can really get you down. It’s okay to stop every once in awhile and look around at the clouds in the sky, and be thankful.

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky. ~Rabindranath Tagore

 

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

Day 16: Scones

Day 17: #AgNerds

Day 18: Playing in the Dirt

Day 19: Friends

Day 20: My Church Choir Family

Day 21: OxyClean

Day 22: Small Town Celebrations

Day 23: Clouds

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

 

 

30 Things I Love: Small Town Celebrations

Small Town Celebrations

Many small towns in rural America have community celebrations in the summer. I love these celebrations, and reconnecting with friends and family.

Our town’s celebration is called Coming Home Days. We used to have a winter celebration, called the Fishless Derby, but after a few winters of less than ideal conditions for the snowmobile races and ice fishing contests, it was moved to the weekend after Independence Day.

There is a lake in town, where we have a fireworks display on the first evening of the celebration. We usually go sit at the beach, and watch from there. This year, the lake was almost perfectly calm, making for some cool reflections on the water. It’s a pretty good show for a small town. Saturday is the busiest day of Coming Home Days. This year, my serving group and church was in charge of the pie social. So many wonderful pies were brought in by our congregation members! Fruit pies, custard pies, cookie pies…you name it, it was there. I look forward to visiting with the people who come to enjoy a piece of pie and relax a little bit. The pie social ends just in time to head outside to watch the parade. Our parade is pretty typical of small town parades. Tractors (new and old), area fire departments and ambulances, politicians, music, local clubs, and local businesses all wind their way through town.  Following the parade, we have a pork loin feed at the town fire hall, which raises funds for new equipment for the fire department.

The thing that makes small town celebrations best, are the people who come home to visit. It is so fun to see people that have been away for awhile. People that we may have taught in confirmation or Sunday school, were classmates of our daughters, or who were friends of Jonathan from high school. Catching up and reconnecting are just as important as the other events that are going on. After all, our small towns are nothing without the community of people. If you’re debating whether or not to attend your hometown’s celebration this year, I would encourage you to go. Not for the entertainment as much as reconnecting with family and friends. It’s the community that people create that make small towns great.

What is your town’s celebration like? What is you favorite part?

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

Day 16: Scones

Day 17: #AgNerds

Day 18: Playing in the Dirt

Day 19: Friends

Day 20: My Church Choir Family

Day 21: OxyClean

Day 22: Small Town Celebrations

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

30 Things I Love: Winter’s First Snow

First Snow

I love the first snow of the season. It is so magical! I remember as a kid, going to bed like any other autumn night, and waking up to a different, distinctive kind of light coming in the window. I would jump out of bed, and look out of the window, and be so excited that my world had transformed overnight.

After Jonathan and I were married, we lived in a little house across the section from where we live now. We tried to wait to turn on the old fuel oil furnace for as long as possible. That first year, the house was so cold, so I baked some Christmas cookies to heat it up. A tradition was born. There have been years (like this one) where the cookies may wait a day due to other things going on, but they always get baked! This year, I’ll be once again be making one of my favorites: Peanut Blossoms!

Peanut Blossoms

For my birthday this year, I received a GoPro Hero4 video camera. My plan is to use it one farm equipment once spring work starts, but in the meantime, I’m having a little fun with it. This afternoon, Jonathan and I went out on the 4-wheeler and the Ranger to play in the snow a little bit. We had a blast! The GoPro was attached to the front push bumper on the ranger, and it did really well considering the temperatures. I’m still learning the best settings for the camera, and how to edit a lot of footage down to the length of a song. This is the result from today’s adventure:

I know some don’t like the snow as much as I do, but I hope we can all take a little time to appreciate the magic of the first snow.

What is your favorite “first” in a season? Do you find magic in the first snow, or do you dread every aspect of winter?

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

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

 

30 Things I Love: Peacefulness

Peaceful

Today’s post will be short on words…on purpose.

I love the peacefulness that follows a chaotic harvest. I love harvest time, but that first day when the corn dryers are shut off, the machinery is in the shed, and there is no need to rush is so peaceful.

During the rush of harvest, or of spring work, I often think back to some of our vacations. My favorite spots have a common theme…water. Whether it is the lake home we rent for family gatherings, or this scene in Oregon, there is something so calming about the sound of water lapping a shoreline, or moving over rocks. Thinking of those times brings memories of peace, contentedness, and joy even during those crazy days.

Where are your favorite peaceful experiences? Do you go on vacations to relax, or are you more of the work hard, play hard type?

 

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

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

30 Things I Love – A New 30 Day Blog Challenge!

30 Things I Love

I can’t believe it is the end of October already! A year ago, I participated in a 30 Day Blog Challenge at the encouragement of Holly Spangler at Farm Progress. Last year’s theme was 30 Days of Thanksgiving. I loved the challenge of writing every day, and of seeking out those things for which I am truly thankful. This year, I decided to jump in as soon as Holly mentioned it. I just couldn’t decide on a theme. I knew I wanted it to be something positive, something that gave me wiggle room to write about random things, and something that would push me to look at my surroundings in a different way. That is when I settled on 30 Things I Love. The photo above may look all sweet and romantic, but don’t be fooled! The things I love are pretty random!

My goal for this series is to introduce you to the things I love, and to give you a little positive thought to start your day. But let’s be honest. I am not a huge planner when it comes to blogging, so some things that I write about may be discovered the day before (like a great coffee shop or bakery), some may be things I have loved for many years (like my family). Part of the fun for me – and I hope for you – are the things I will come up with throughout the month. If something I post reminds you of something you love, please share it in the comments!

If you would like to follow other 30 Day Challenge blogs, all my posts will include a link back to Holly’s post that contains a full list of every participating blogger and a link to their blog. There are many great bloggers participating this year, with a wide variety of themes. I encourage you to check them out!