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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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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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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Iowa Ag Facts.

Here’s just a fun post highlighting facts about Iowa agriculture.

    • Iowa ranks first in the nation in corn, soybean, pork, and chicken egg production (2010).
    • Iowa pork producers raise 28% of all U.S. pork.
    • Iowa has 92,400 farms. Farm land covers 30.8 million acres.
    • The average size of an Iowa farm is around 333 acres (as of 2008). One acre is about the size of a football field without its end zones.
    • Iowa has at least 11,000 different soils that make up some of the richest, most productive land in the world.
    • Iowa’s 40 ethanol plants have a combined annual capacity of 3.7 billion gallons of ethanol annually, more per year than any other state. Iowa produces nearly 30 percent of the nation’s ethanol. Studies show without ethanol, Americans would pay 20 to 40 cents more per gallon of gasoline.
    • Iowa produces the second most wind energy in the nation, helping generate enough electricity to power several hundred thousand homes each year.
    • Iowa raised more than 2.15 billion bushels of corn in 2010, or 17 percent of the total U.S. corn crop.
    • Iowa raised more than 496 million bushels of soybeans in 2010, or 15 percent of the nation’s total crop.
    • Iowa has 6 hogs for every person in the state. There are nearly 19 million hogs being raised in Iowa. Iowa producers marketed nearly 30 million hogs in 2010.
    • Iowa is ranked second in the nation in red meat production. Iowa ranks fourth in the United States for cattle on feed. As of January 2011, Iowa had 1.38 million cattle on feed.
    • There was an average of 209,000 milk cows on Iowa farms during 2010. A cow will produce an average of 6.3 gallons of milk each day. That’s more than 2,300 gallons each year.
    • Iowa ranked seventh in the United States for turkeys marketed with 13.2 million turkeys in 2010.
    • Iowa’s total cash receipts for farm commodities in 2010 totaled more than $23 billion – the second highest in the United States.
    • Iowa’s total agricultural exports for fiscal year 2010 were valued at more than $7 billion, ranking Iowa second in the nation in agricultural exports.
    • Livestock consume 400 million bushels of Iowa-grown corn annually.
    • Iowa’s climate is ideal for growing crops. Hot summers help plants grow and cold winters help the soil replenish itself.
Facts from Iowa Farm Bureau and Geisler Farms: Growing Family Fun.

What are some interesting ag facts about where you are from?

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Winter on the Farm.

Winter on the Farm.

Winter on the farm.
It’s pretty. It means Christmas will soon be here. It means snowmobiling. It means the New Year will be here soon.
But it also means: cold.
Really, really cold.
The corn has been harvested and now the wind blows like crazy. We don’t have many trees (well actually we just have one) but we have a lot of really big buildings. This blocks a lot of the wind but it still whips around. Snow blows and drifts easily in the country. And anytime there is a major snowfall there’s no doubt the gravel roads will drift shut. When we have a blizzard the snow drifts right up by our front door, last year we had a couple of 3-4ft. drifts right outside the door. Such a nice surprise to open the door and get a face full of freezing cold snow. Wakes you right up! Thank God for tractors & buckets. Because a shovel ain’t going to cut it! We don’t have that much snow yet, maybe 6 inches so far, but it’ll come.
You would think that since gravel roads have loose gravel and have texture that they would be easier to drive on and less slick. That’s not always the case. Gravel roads are going to be the last ones the county comes out to clean, they also don’t get salt or deicer put on them before the storm or after for that matter. Last year when we had that big ice storm the gravel roads were 10x as bad as the paved roads. 4×4 is pretty much a requirement of living in the country. Well not necessarily a requirement, I know a lot of people that have cars that live in the country, but 4×4 makes your life so much easier. Just use your head, and drive safe!
The weather has been very cold this last week, and that makes everything harder. As I sit here typing this it is -1 outside, but with the windchill feels like -20. Working outside is harder, working in unheated buildings is harder, checking the mail is harder (ahem, I drive 😉 – too far to walk, may freeze to death), bringing in groceries is harder, just being outside doing anything is harder. In fact when it feels double digits below zero, it makes leaving the house harder. If you have to be outside a lot in the cold I suggest investing in a pair of Carhartt bibs, the nice insulated ones. They have nice coats that match them also, I have one and I’m happy with it. But seriously, the one thing I could not live without is my Polaris snowmobile coat. They keep you SO warm. But if you’re working or going to get dirty/greasy don’t wear this. $300 is too much for a work coat, at least for me! But for being out and about in town or obviously for snowmobiling this coat is a must.

Make Hay While the Sun Shines.

Have you heard the saying, ‘make hay while the sun shines’? I have. I’m sure most of your rural folks have as well. I understand what it means, but a lot of people don’t get it. It has nothing to do with actually baling hay, just going off the fact that you can’t ‘make hay’ when it’s raining so you’re having downtime and not getting done what needs to be done. Yes, you can take it literally, but that’s not what they’re really getting at. Yes, you make hay during the day (hehe, that rhymed). Well you could ask that guy with the FWA we hired to custom bale some round bales that showed up at midnight, but that’s a story for a different day… Obviously, farmers can’t plant or harvest in the rain. So you’ll hear them use this phase often. They have to use every ounce of daylight and good weather to get the most done, no doubt they can farm in the dark and they will. But there are certain things that are done best during the day. Oh, how I sometimes secretly wish for a rain day during planting or harvesting so we can have a date night. Shhh, though don’t tell Kyle :). I’m not the only one who does that right!? Well anyways, it’s a good piece of advice. It’s actually considered a proverb. Basically it means you have to take advantage of the chance to do something while conditions are prime. You have to make good use of time, or make the most of an opportunity when you have the chance. This is something all farmer live by, and something everybody else should too.

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it means that you take advantage of the chance to do something while conditions are good. In other words, you make good use of your time or make the most of an opportunity while you have the chance. – See more at: http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-do-you-say-make-hay-while-the-sun-shines/#sthash.1NcB4aS2.dpuf
it means that you take advantage of the chance to do something while conditions are good. In other words, you make good use of your time or make the most of an opportunity while you have the chance. – See more at: http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-do-you-say-make-hay-while-the-sun-shines/#sthash.1NcB4aS2.dpuf
it means that you take advantage of the chance to do something while conditions are good. In other words, you make good use of your time or make the most of an opportunity while you have the chance. – See more at: http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-do-you-say-make-hay-while-the-sun-shines/#sthash.1NcB4aS2.dpuf