You are not a farm widow.

Since social media and blogging has become a big scene, I have noticed a trend. Farm wives jokingly calling themselves ‘farm widows’. In this context farm widow refers to somebody (generally the wife) who spends long days and nights alone while the spouse (usually the husband) is busy farming.

Since planting season is in full swing in Iowa, I just wanted to take a moment to say: you are NOT a farm widow. Your husband will come home tonight and climb into bed with you. Your children will get to play with daddy again. You are not a widow. You have a hard working farmer husband, be thankful for that.

As a farm wife every time my husband leaves to run a tractor or climb a grain bin I can feel a little pang of anxiety deep down inside. Farming is one of the most dangerous occupation worldwide, killing thousands each year. Every year thousands of spouses and children never make it home. Thousands of women never get to kiss their husbands again. They are farm widows.

My husband works long hard hours to provide for not only us but for you. For the world. Be thankful for your farmer and don’t call yourself a farm widow as a joke.

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Farming – The Most Dangerous Job In The World.

American farmers are spending most of their day in the field, especially this time of year. Harvesting time is a busy period in a farmer’s life. This is the season that rewards the farmer for his green thumb and his months of hard work. Harvest time isn’t always about reaping the benefits; there are many risks that come along with it.

As the famer gives a big portion of his day to the crops, he makes himself more vulnerable to stress, pressure, fatigue and even the risk of injury.

It’s not that unusual to hear about farmers losing their life or getting seriously injured in a agriculture-related incident. Farmers agree that such mishaps can happen so quickly, the victim hardly gets time to react.

With increased production demands, the deadline for farmers is becoming tougher to achieve. Farmers are having to work harder and longer to meet these demands, putting them at an increased risk for an accident.

Deadly Statistics

  • Out of 335,000 annual workplace deaths, more than 50% are agricultural, reports International Labor Organization.
  • In the United States, agriculture continues ranking first as the deadliest industry in America.
  • Another study reveled that one-third of workplace fatalities reported in Iowa between 2001 and 2011 were agricultural.
  • Between 1991 and 2011, there have been more than 340 deaths and nearly 5,000 hospitalizations reported in Saskatchewan only.
  • Canadian fatalities related to agriculture amounted to 1,975 between 1990 and 2008. About 70% of these casualties were related to machinery.
  • Hundreds of Kenyan farmers die every year because of fungus and toxic fumes while Swedish fall victim to livestock accidents.
  • The causes among these deaths were found to be tractor rollovers, deadly fumes, electrocution, cattle rollovers, grain suffocation, and heatstroke. But tractors are by far the leading cause of deaths.

In The End
Farming accidents are something that hit the local farming community hard. But the issue is rarely discussed outside of those farming communities, but it has managed to draw some attention over the past few years.

More and more equipment is being equipped with safety devices; grain bins are now being equipped with harnesses and tractors with ROPS (roll-over protection system) and dead-man switches. Events are being held to give farmers a heads-up, safety lectures are being delivered and voluntary health inspection and farm audits are being carried out.

Maintaining safety during harvest is vital, but it can be challenging nonetheless. According to statisticians and researchers, this is the time where most deaths and injuries occur. They believe that staying sharp and attentive holds the key to fast, efficient and most importantly a safe harvest.

Farmers are advised to stay alert, avoid loose clothing, avoid dehydration, maintain a healthy diet, use machinery with utmost precaution, complete routine maintenance on implements, get enough sleep, and most importantly, stay sharp.

And please remember to share the road with farmers this harvest season!

This post brought to you by AECO Agriculture.

Celebrate National Ag Today!

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Take some time today to stop and think about where your food comes from and all the hard work that goes into growing it and getting it to your plate! Farmers are not only feeding you but are putting the clothes on your back. You’d be surprised what items are made from products grown or raised by farmers.

So remember to thank a farmer and celebrate ag!

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Tractor of the Month.

You ever have those days where you go to sit down and blog, but can’t think of a single thing to write about no matter how hard you try? Well that’s been me this week. I don’t know maybe it’s because I’ve had a lot going on and haven’t had the time to do much in blogland. Or maybe because I’m still in shock that my post So God Made a Farmer’s Wife has had 68,000+ views in the 5 days that it has been published. I know that’s not much to many bloggers but to me it’s a big deal!

But anyways…

Several months ago Kyle entered into a contest through Tom’s Agri-Diesel our of Harlan, IA. To enter the contest you had to submit a photo of a tractor you restored using Tom’s A-D/PowerMax Parts along with a brief summary about your tractor. The prize was: tractor featured in the newsletter as ‘Tractor of the Month’, picture in the Tom’s A-D calendar, and a $50 Visa gift card. We decided to submitted his 1966 John Deere 3020LP. Here’s the summary:

For my 16th birthday my dad and I went down to McCool, Mississippi to pick up this tractor. We brought it back to Iowa and restored it using a Reliance overhaul kit from Tom’s Agri-Diesel. That summer it took 1st place at the Iowa State Fair in the Restored Tractor – Original class.

We didn’t hear anything from Tom’s and actually forgot all about it until one day we we’re picking up parts and the employee mentioned seeing Kyle’s tractor in the newsletter. So that was a nice little surprise. Tom’s A-D contacted him in December to let him know he’d won and to send him the gift card and some calendars. His tractor is featured in January and since the calendar contains January 2015, it’s featured twice! Another nice surprise.

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So how about some before and after pictures? Because I know ya’ll are dying to see what it looked like before. 😉

May I present to you the ‘before’ picture. She was quite the gem, don’tcha think!?Before (2)

You’ve already seen the ‘after’ from the calendar, but here ya go anyways.
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So God Made a Farmer’s Wife.

Everyone probably remembers last year Ram Truck Super Bowl commercial, ‘Year of the Farmer’. It featured Paul Harvey’s 1978 speech at the FFA Convention. This was the first commercial to really put farmers and agriculture in the spotlight, especially since it was aired during the Super Bowl. It’s nice to see commercials like this since so many are negative or misleading towards farmers. Paul Harvey’s speech inspired me to write my own version. I decided to share it today, Super Bowl Sunday, one year since the commercial aired.

So God Made a Farmer’s Wife.

And on the 9th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “The farmer needs a caretaker”. So God made a farmer’s wife.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, feed the farmer, work all day in town, come home to work alongside her farmer, make supper, and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board”. So God made a farmer’s wife.

“I need somebody with arms strong enough to keep up with the farmer yet gentle enough to cuddle a newborn baby. Somebody to run for parts, help in the fields, move trucks, deliver meals, look the farmer in the eyes and tell him ‘I love you and the life we’ve built’ – and mean it”. So God made a farmer’s wife.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with their newborn baby. And raise him right. I need somebody who can use a wrench and know where to find it, doesn’t mind getting dirty, who can remove stains, and keep a house clean. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish her forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain’n from her town job, taking care of the kids, and fieldwork, put in another seventy-two hours”. So God made a farmer’s wife.

God had to have somebody willing to cancel appointments and change plans and be ready in a minutes notice and yet will never stop and complain about this way of life. So God made a farmer’s wife.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clean out bins and throw bales, yet gentle enough to raise kids and bottle feed calves and tend to the house, who will drive the tractor and pray to God about the weather. It had to be somebody who’d be able to handle the house and field work and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and wash and dry and cook and clean and remember scheduled events and feed the farmer and stock the cupboards and finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church.

“Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when her daughter says she wants to spend her life ‘doing what mom does.'” So God made a farmer wife’s.

This is dedicated to all farm wives, fiancees, girlfriends – to all farm women.

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Disclosure: This was inspired by Paul Harvey’s speech, some wording is the same.

My thoughts on GMOs, fertilizer, organic foods, antibiotic use, and other controversial ag topics.

Now I don’t claim to be a expert on any of these topics, but I know enough to have an opinion. Growing up I’m sure we all heard ‘eat what’s on the table, or don’t eat at all’ maybe you even tell your kids that now. Well that’s what I’m telling you. Eat what’s on the table, or don’t eat at all. Farmers are doing their best, using the latest technology, to feed everyone, everywhere. You may go to the grocery store and buy your food, even bring it home and cook it, but I hate to burst your pretty little organic, vegan, antibiotic-free, GMO-hating bubble – WE grow it and without US you would not have food. Period.

If you want GMO-free, organic corn from a no-till field, have at it! Nobody’s stopping you. Go out and buy your OWN equipment and land. If you feel you can do better, do it yourself. I don’t know if you know it, but land and tractors cost a little more than your Prius. We don’t need to change the way we’ve done things for years to accommodate to you. Worry about yourself and the food you eat, not what the rest of the world is eating. Plenty of people are completely happy eating the food we provide. There are regulations in order to make sure the crops are nutritionally safe. GMOs, fertilizers, antibiotics are used because they need to be in order to provide enough food and are used in a safe manner. So if you’re not happy with what we’re working hard to put on your plate, grow it yourself. We’re not forcing you to eat what we grow. Yes, you have the right to your own opinion and to eat what you want. But you also have the right to grow your own food.

So you’re the consumer, you should have a say in what food is grown to feed you? True. But when the food is completely safe and nutritional, you don’t have a right to force your opinions and beliefs onto everyone else. You can eat organic food, be vegan or Paleo, or GMO-free, I don’t care that’s your choice. There are plenty of those options available. So take what you can get, and be happy!

It has to do with a lot more than food also. Corn and soybeans are used for so much more than human food, and farmers have to fill that demand too. There are many uses you might not even know about. For instance, corn is used in: penicillin, ethanol, starch, whiskey, oil, glue, plastic, batteries, diapers, matches, textiles, dyes, crayons, drywall, varnish, spark plugs, toothpaste, aspirin, tires, livestock feed, and so much more. Soybeans are used for biodiesel, ink, lubricants, crayons, foam, animal feed, adhesives, carpet, upholstery, varnish, lacquer, oil, flooring tiles, cleaners, and again so much more. GMOs and fertilizer help farmers to get the most of their crop, so they are able to provide the most that they can each year.

Livestock and antibiotic use is another hot topic. Just like humans do when they are sick, farmers treat sick animals with antibiotics. Without antibiotics animals would die from illness and spread it to the other ones around them. There are regulations on the use of antibiotics for livestock. Livestock cannot be sent for slaughter for a certain time period after they have received an antibiotic, once the time period has passed they are back to normal and healthy to consume.

And don’t get me started on anti-factory farming activists. 96% of farms are owned and operated by families. Factory farming is family farming.  ‘Factory farms’ is just a big scary word that activists like PETA have made up to make farmers look bad in the media. Most farmers don’t abuse their livestock, they take care of them, respect them, and treat them humanely. Occasionally, there are cases of abuse. And those people are worthless scum. I get that. But let me put this in perspective for you: There are some awful, worthless parents that abuse there children. But that doesn’t mean all parents abuse their children and we don’t treat all parents like they abuse their children. So why act like all farmers abuse there livestock?

For some people the problem is more about the equipment then the crops themselves. They are worried about emissions, diesel exhaust, our carbon footprint, erosion, and the ozone. I get that these are legitimate concerns, but farm equipment is not the only things that pollutes the air and many people besides farmers are far more detrimental to the environment. Erosion over the years has been greatly improved. Tractors, semis, and diesel trucks have emission equipment on them, they have been greatly restricted and produce much less emissions to harm the environment. Farmers use much less fertilizers these days, and the formula is safer. All other chemical are in their current safest form and scientist are constantly working to make them safer.

I think everyone needs to remember farmers are doing their best. We aren’t out to get you, we aren’t trying to harm you, we’re just trying to provide you with food (and many other things).

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What Growing Up in a Small Town Taught Me.

Growing up (and living) in the country outside of small towns has taught me a lot over the years. This is a list of the top things you learn growing up in a small town.

How to be neighborly. We learned to show everyone respect, especially our elders. People know they can call anytime and you’ll be there to help (and vise versa). We’ll give you the shirt off our backs and not expect anything in return. And of course when we pass you on the road we’ll wave.

How to drive (on gravel roads). If you live in the country I guarantee you’ve been stuck behind that car going 20mph down the middle of the road. Well we learned long ago (usually before we we’re 14) how to drive on gravel. You better stick to your side of the road when going over hills and be alert because there might be a slow moving tractor on the other side. In general, I think small town folks are better drivers. Maybe it’s because we learned sooner. Or maybe because we have to drive everywhere (no subway or walking-distance around here). Maybe it’s because life moves a little slower around here. Ever been to a big city? People can’t drive.

Give farm equipment and semis the right of way. AKA share the road and use your head. Semis can’t stop on a dime. I see this all the time during harvest time, people pulling out in front of us. More than once there have been close calls. A semi hauling 80,000lbs. of corn can’t just slam on the breaks and stop – so use you’re head because it’s semi vs. your car – you’re not going to win. Tractors can’t go 55mph and they take up the road. Slow down and pass them when it’s safe. When passing by get as far over on your side as you can. Remember we’re working all day to get food on your plate and clothes on your back.

How to live off the land. One of the first things we learned growing up was how to plant a garden – to grow our own groceries. We learn to grow gardens, crops, hogs, cattle, and chickens. We can plant, grow, harvest, and cook. We can do all this with our own two hands.

That doesn’t stink, it smells like money. A lot of people complain about the smell of manure. In fact because of that, there are many rules and regulations on where hog buildings, etc. can be built. But us country folks know that it doesn’t stink, that’s our income. Whether it be from the hog building, turkey farm, cattle ranch or the fertilizer on the field – it’s an important part of growing and raising the food that feeds everyone.

Hardwork and dedication. From the time we were able to walk and talk we were given chores. You have to pull your weight around here. You don’t know what hard work is until you’ve bailed and stacked hay on a hot summer day. Growing up with animals (or gardens) you learn dedication. You have to feed them, water them, clean them. You have to work with them daily. This instilled at a young age make us more passionate and dedicated to our future. School, jobs, animals, relationship, agriculture, hobbies, activities – the list is endless.

News travels fast. You always had to think before you acted. Whatever you did someone would see it or find out and everyone would know before you got home. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! It kept us in line (or tried). Also, if you we’re down on your luck, in bad heath, etc. people would bond together to help you out. Whether it be lending a hand, bringing you a hot meal, finishing harvest for a farmer who died, or just a friendly phone call.

It’s home. No matter how far you travel or where life takes you, you can always come back. You’ll be greeted with the same smiles, waves, and hellos as before. This closeness shows you the true meaning of community. In a small town you are able to build friendships and relationships that will last a lifetime.

I couldn’t have picked a better place to grow up. There are some values and principles you just can’t learn anywhere else but in a small town. Here’s to faith, family, friends, food, farming, and small town living.

Did you grow up in a small town or a big city? What values do you think you were instilled with because of this?

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