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Honoring the Past, Working Today, Preparing for the Future

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What Does it All Mean?? Words, Sights & Experiences

Have you ever been reading along and felt like you totally understood and got the gist of what the words on the page were saying? Yep, I have too! But then you start talking with someone about what you read and they give you the look and probably a few comments expressing that you are out in left field and that what you thought you understood isn’t at all what they took away from the same piece. Yep, been there done that too!

So, how does one handle that situation and how does it come about? I am totally convinced that it is the  fault of three things either independent or comorbid with each other 1) lack of focus/ multi-tasking, 2) prior knowledge set, and perhaps what I blame the most 3) the miraculous brain that makes connections and assumptions without us even consciously knowing.

http-::mrslorber.weebly.com:
Source: Mrslorber.weebly,com
What exactly do I mean? Well, ….

  • Focus and multi-tasking: We, yes all of us, are always doing at least two things at once. We are focusing on one thing while trying to do another or trying to do two things while attempting to understand and/or listen, or we are really tuned in to one thing but the phone is ringing/ nose dripping/ radio buzzing/ or someone talking. There is always more than one thing happening! This also means that we often glance at words and assume what it says or means something.
  • Warning: This just kinda, sort of, well does connect to #3. We all have experiences. Not one of us processes each experience and set of information the same, nor have we been exposed to exactly the same experiences and information. We use these experiences to make meaning and create understanding of new situations, opportunities and information.
  • The Brain. What I can I say? It is awesome, miraculous and amazing. Sometimes it just does what it does. It can see words that “we think” are there but are really in all actuality different words. It assumes ( perhaps because of #1 or #2)  that something “says”, does or means one thing when it really is another. We skim over words and take in experiences superficially and thus the meaning we construct may not always be accurate.

So why do I write about all this? I write because as a mom, a consumer, teacher, and a farmer I need to be aware of these kind of scenarios. I need to make sure that I actually comprehend what is going on and know what I am doing, seeing, reading, experiencing etc. I figure if I need to, then a few others  probably do too.

Now, I bet you are thinking, “This is all fine and dandy, but what does she really mean?” Ok, ok. Here are some common examples….

Correlation vs. Causation. 

Correlation:  a tendency to vary together Causation:  a direct relation of cause and effect

Recommended vs. Restriction

Recommend: to advise or suggest Restriction: to stay within designated limits

Fact vs. Factoid

Fact: something that actually exists, reality, truth                                                          Factoid: Fun, false fact

Prohibit vs Outlaw

Prohibit: to forbid (by authority)       Outlaw: Exclude from the law

Guidelines vs. Directions

Guidelines: suggestion, framework, practice, indicator                              Directions: reference point, instruction, command

man-profile-visible-brain-confusion-human-full-wall-bricks-word-concept-illustration-psychology-43242926
Source: dreamstime.com
See, words can be confusing. We do, read, interpret within our constraints and biases. We all can do better at interpreting what is read, said, done, heard, and experienced.  It is easy to correlate something with another if given a direct and limited set of data. For example: Kids who play on the playground jungle gym get hurt.  It may be true, but how many? How often? What were the condition? Is it all kids? Are adults hurt to? Is it all jungle gyms? Can you really say that the jungle gym causes the children to get hurt or is there a simple correlation?  In another example, some would even venture to say that a certain food makes them sick. I ask, when do they get sick? How much do they eat? What are they eating with that food? Is it hot out? Has the stomach flu been going around? Are they on medications that interact with the food? Have they not eaten that food for a long time before they eat it and get sick? One may correlate the food item to a certain feeling or reaction, but without concrete evidence and eliminating all other possible influences causation cannot be made.

Same goes for the terms recommendation and restriction. Being a farmer there are a lot of different items used in planting and caring for a crop. Each seed and care product has different guidelines and directions. Often we have training to help us understand them, to help ensure that we use the products with efficacy. Many times, the human side of a trainer comes out. They don’t want to lower the hammer too harshly and they choose words that are easier on the ears and the hearts of those in attendance. Two terms that are often interchanged are recommended and restriction. It is important to make sure that the correct word is used and it directly impacts the actions taken. Recommended says that one should or it is suggested that a certain product is used a particular way. Restricted means that a product is only allowed to be used a specific way. Many times the term recommended is used because it is easier to digest, but it can have detrimental consequences.  If the label on a product says that it is restricted to a certain use at a specified quantity, then that is what is meant. Ot is not a suggestion. It is a requirement. Our words and actions impact others and can impact the livelihoods of ourselves and neighbors.

Anyway, ultimately, I wanted to remind myself and the few others out there that often float on the surface and skim though experiences and materials they read, to think about what it is that is happening, what it is that they are reading, and to take time to question the information and opportunities that we are engrossed in.

Words are tricky and our experiences and brain create miraculous meaning… it’s time we become active and help our brain understand what is really being said, done, experienced!

It’s time to engage!

Laundry Soap: Clean Work

I have seen posts about homemade laundry soap on and off over the years. My sister made some a few years back and raved about it and how cheap it was. I just kind of brushed it off as something that “others” do and thought it was a lot of work and really not much of a savings.

Well, I received a container of homemade laundry soap and the recipe as a gift and decided to try it out. It did a nice job cleaning clothes. The clothes, even the farm work clothes came clean and smelled fresh! So what did I do? I made some…. how much? Well, a years worth plus ! Really, I really made that much and it all fit in a 5 gallon bucket!

IMG_9487Now I am sure you wonder, what ingredients were used, why I made so much and what the cost was etc. So I will break it down.

Single Batch Ingredients: 1 cup Borax, 1 cup Washing Soda (Arm &Hammer), 1/4 cup Baking Soda, 2 cups shredded Zote bar soap.

IMG_9483Directions: place all ingredients in a food processors and blend until the Zote is “pulverized” or fine. Place in a storage container and get busy washing away!  Use 1 TBSP for small- average size loads, 2 TBSP for large or heavily soiled loads.

( Single batch does 68 loads. I made 24 batches)

 

 

Cost for 24 batches: 

Borax: $3.97/ box x 3 2/3 boxes = $14.56

Washing Soda: $3.97/ box x 3 2/3 boxes = $14.56

Baking Soda: $2.99

Zote: $1.49/ bar x 12 = $17.88

Total: 49.99 ( $2.08 per batch)

WOW!!!!!!

That means that I made enough soap for 1632 loads or 816 large or loads of farm clothes. At our house we have large washing machines that I take full advantage of so I use 2 TBSPs at a time. I figure that I do 12 loads laundry a week plus about 30 extra loads throughout the year. That equals 654 loads a year ( give or take) which gives me a “little bit” extra in the bucket! IMG_9490

So how does homemade laundry soap compare to others that are frequently purchased?

ALL Free and Clear Pods: 45 pod package = $8.19 = $.18 per pod or $.36 for large load

Target Up & Up Pods: 35 pod package = $5.99 = $.17 per pod or $.34 for large load

Tide Pods: 42 pod package= $11.99 = .$29 per pod or $.57 for large load

Tide Liquid: 96 load jug = $17.99= $19 per load or $.37 for large load

Tide Powder: 68 load box = $11.99 = $.17 per load or $.35 for large load

Homemade Soap: 68 load batch= $.03 per load or $.06 for large load.

Double Wow!

The decision was pretty easy for me that the switch when I crunched the numbers! If you can spare about 2 hours mixing a few simple ingredients together, you can save quite a bit of cash!

Time to get busy…. laundry is one of those things that never ends!

 

Laundry Soap: Clean Work

I have seen posts about homemade laundry soap on and off over the years. My sister made some a few years back and raved about it and how cheap it was. I just kind of brushed it off as something that “others” do and thought it was a lot of work and really not much of a savings.

Well, I received a container of homemade laundry soap and the recipe as a gift and decided to try it out. It did a nice job cleaning clothes. The clothes, even the farm work clothes came clean and smelled fresh! So what did I do? I made some…. how much? Well, a years worth plus ! Really, I really made that much and it all fit in a 5 gallon bucket!

IMG_9487Now I am sure you wonder, what ingredients were used, why I made so much and what the cost was etc. So I will break it down.

Single Batch Ingredients: 1 cup Borax, 1 cup Washing Soda (Arm &Hammer), 1/4 cup Baking Soda, 2 cups shredded (use cheese grater) Zote bar soap.

IMG_9483Directions: place all ingredients in a food processors and blend until the Zote is “pulverized” or fine. Place in a storage container and get busy washing away!  Use 1 TBSP for small- average size loads, 2 TBSP for large or heavily soiled loads.

( Single batch does 68 loads. I made 24 batches)

 

 

Cost for 24 batches: 

Borax: $3.97/ box x 3 2/3 boxes = $14.56

Washing Soda: $3.97/ box x 3 2/3 boxes = $14.56

Baking Soda: $2.99

Zote: $1.49/ bar x 12 = $17.88

Total: 49.99 ( $2.08 per batch)

WOW!!!!!!

That means that I made enough soap for 1632 loads or 816 large or loads of farm clothes. At our house we have large washing machines that I take full advantage of so I use 2 TBSPs at a time. I figure that I do 12 loads laundry a week plus about 30 extra loads throughout the year. That equals 654 loads a year ( give or take) which gives me a “little bit” extra in the bucket! IMG_9490

So how does homemade laundry soap compare to others that are frequently purchased?

ALL Free and Clear Pods: 45 pod package = $8.19 = $.18 per pod or $.36 for large load

Target Up & Up Pods: 35 pod package = $5.99 = $.17 per pod or $.34 for large load

Tide Pods: 42 pod package= $11.99 = .$29 per pod or $.57 for large load

Tide Liquid: 96 load jug = $17.99= $19 per load or $.37 for large load

Tide Powder: 68 load box = $11.99 = $.17 per load or $.35 for large load

Homemade Soap: 68 load batch= $.03 per load or $.06 for large load.

Double Wow!

The decision was pretty easy for me that the switch when I crunched the numbers! If you can spare about 2 hours mixing a few simple ingredients together, you can save quite a bit of cash!

Time to get busy…. laundry is one of those things that never ends!

 

Baking the Day Away

It is no secret that I like to cook and despise cleaning up after myself! Well, last week I had foot surgery and my mom came to visit and help a bit. You may be thinking, She didn’t. She didn’t make her mom clean up after her. She is almost 40 after all! No, I didn’t make my mom clean up after me, but she did allow me to make a mess along side her and volunteered to clean up so I could literally put my feet up.

I made several things…IMG_9354

  •  Apple Strawberry Rhubarb pie ( top left)
  • Peanut Butter Cranberry Chocolate Chip Granola ( bars which became crumble) ( top Right)
  • Cinnamon Logs ( bottom left)
  • Pizza Dough – for breakfast pizza

These were all amazing! But the best was this bread (bottom right) that my mom has been sending pictures of for months… Bread? Really? Come on- Yes, Bread! IMG_9363

It is like an artisan bread- soft center with firm, yet chewable crust!

What makes it so amazing is that there isn’t sugar or salt? Well, there is a bit of sweetness -100% ND honey!

But really, it is the texture and natural flavors all working together that make it terrific and what will now be my “go to” recipe! Besides there being a great recipe, the secret is using a seasoned cast iron pan with a lid!

So here we go….

7 Grain Bread

FullSizeRender_1Ingredients:   3 cups bread flour, 1 cup multi-grain cereal ( I used Bob’s 5 Grain Hot Cereal), 1/3-1/2 c. flax, 1 3/4 tsp salt, 2 c. room temp water, 3 Tbs pure honey, 1 tsp instant yeast.

Supplies: 3-5 qt Cast iron pan with lid, parchment paper

Directions: Step 1) Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, add honey to warm water and stir until mixed together. Step 2) Slowly add water solution to dry ingredients, mix well. ( It will be sloppy and loose). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Step 3) Flour counter to roll dough in to coat outer layer.  Cut parchment paper big enough to sit in and cover most of the inside of cast iron pot. When hour is done, take dough out of bowl and shape into round “ball”. Roll in flour on counter to coat outside layer. Place on parchment paper and lower into cast iron pot. Trim off any parchment paper that extends above the top of the pot. Cover with lid. Step 4) Bake at 425 degrees for 30 mins, remove cover and bake for 5-12 mins to get crust to turn a deep golden brown. Check ever couple minutes after the first five. Step 5) Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan. Lift from pan using parchment paper.

Additions: 1 c. dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, herbs ( rosemary, thyme, sage) , cinnamon, dried apricots, dried apples, raisins… possibilities are endless!

Enjoy!

“Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”                                                                                                                                               –Mark Twain

Spending Our Farm Money in 2017

So where have the first three months of the year gone…. budgets, taxes, planning!

2017 has many elements that each year brings…. budgets, taxes, and planning. The difference is that budgets are tighter and therefore planning for farm needs versus wants gets a little tougher.
Each penny that gets spent in 2017 will come with a bit of double checking that it really needs to get spent. There really won’t be too many quick purchases, but a lot of shopping around to find out where the best prices are.

Take for example, seed. Seed is not all the same. BUT there is seed that is sold by different companies that has the same genetic technology, growing length, environmental tolerances, preferential growing conditions, and yield… virtually the same. The difference is a name and a price. No, the big companies aren’t always more expensive. Sometimes it is smaller companies, the ones where service is more than responsive and are willing and able to assist and support that costs more. Why? Well, perhaps simply because they are smaller. They don’t move the same quantity of product, but provide exceptional service and product. So you may ask what does the cheaper seed come with. Well, it comes with a fabulous product, a sales person that answers your questions and investigates concerns and checks in to make sure all is well. The seed has the same genetic components, but a local company sells the product for a larger company versus the company itself. Different business size and structure, same product, both with quality service! Ultimately, it means knowing what you can afford, what kind of potential profit can be made and taking emotion out of a business decision- which is not always easy!

Decisions also are a matter of timing. Being that we have been actively farming for 18 years, we know what parts and maintenance supplies for machinery we are going to need. We also know about how much fuel and propane we will use. So, we keep a very close eye on sales, specials and the price of fuels. Who doesn’t like a good deal and this year a good deal can mean 10’s of thousands of dollars. The important part of getting a good deal is that you have the capacity to take ownership of the purchases when needed. If you only have storage for 500 gallons of fuel and you bought 10,000, you either 1) need to be able to take fuel in increments or 2) find somewhere/someone that can store it or 3) set up fuel tanks to accommodate. A person has to decide whether a good deal is a good deal and if they are truly capable of handling the product. Sometimes when budgets are tight and deals are right, investment in infrastructure is the right way to go.By this I mean instead of paying someone else to store, dry, or deliver for you, purchasing bins, a dryer, fuels tanks, and/ or a semi and trailer may be the best return on your dollar. Forgive the saying but it all comes down to “crunching numbers”.

So, when I say we have been busy this winter, we really have. Yes, we have been repairing and prepping machinery for planting season and hauling crop to point of sale, but we have also been doing a lot of “number crunching” and looking for best use of our dollar on and off the farm. For you see, the farm generates income to invest back into the farm, but also to support our family and community. Decisions have to be made as to where to spend money to meet our needs and wants, as well as, contribute to our community. Decisions and discussions which are never easy, but necessary.

So as I venture into the second quarter of 2017, I can tell you that things look solid for us. Tough decisions have been made. A greater understanding has been reached and the farm planting season will be taking off soon!

2017 may just be the best year yet!  I can’t wait to share more as we get the tractors out in the field, the bottle calves into the barn and 4H projects underway!

2017- lots to come and to be seen!

 

 

Women in Ag: Adventure and Opportunity

No matter what a day on my family farm holds, I can be sure it will start early and with a large cup of coffee. Being active on our farm and sharing with others how we farm and why, all while raising a family makes each day an adventure. So, with the blaring of the alarm and the percolating of the coffee pot, I jump out of bed and let the good times roll.

Even though men are most often pictured as the faces of farming, women are actually the fastest growing group in agriculture. We play a vital role on our family farms, and are active in the food and agriculture conversation. Women purchase and run machinery, make seed and crop care choices, keep the books and budgets, do the shopping and meal prep, attend regular training and keep tabs on the social component within their own farm and family and the broader agricultural community. Through my personal outreach and desire to share what happens on our farm, I have had the privilege of meeting hundreds of inspirational women—most with different stories and backgrounds than mine.

Our farm is conventional, integrating technology and many modern approaches to raising crops. But many of the women I meet farm very differently, and many of the moms I engage with have different perspectives of what farming should look like. At first when I would have these conversations, I felt defensive, but I made it a practice first to listen and then ask lots of questions. With time and practice, I wasn’t as intimidated and defensive. These conversations became learning opportunities all around. As we shared from our perspectives, we began to see that even if we ate differently, parented differently, farmed differently and contributed to our families and businesses in different ways, we still had many things in common. We made informed choices that we felt were best for our families. Who can argue with that? Perhaps most importantly, we learned to be open to new perspectives, to ask more questions and to better understand our own actions, beliefs, choices.

Each day on my farm is different, but I have three main roles. First and foremost I am a caretaker. I work to make sure that everyone gets up and out the door, has been fed, laundry has been started, that there is a path through the house and it looks somewhat tidy, and that we all know the schedule for the rest of the day. My next role is farm support. Although this is a consistent role, it can look very different each day. Somedays, I work in the office doing book keeping and other paperwork, making phones calls and planning. Other days, I am running for parts, driving semi, attending training, or whatever else gets tossed my way.

Advocacy is another regular and important part of my day. Again, depending on what is happening it can look very different. Sometimes advocating means talking to neighbors at the store, reading or teaching in a classroom, and sharing pictures and stories on social media. Other times it is more formal and can include speaking engagements, hosting a classroom at the farm, organizing and hosting events, or talking with the media and becoming involved in the world of politics.

A woman’s work on the farm truly is never done, but it is always an adventure. I can be sure that no two days will look alike. For me the day begins with a cup of coffee and hitting the ground running, but ends with reflection and a cup of tea. I am so grateful for how each of my roles keeps me involved, busy, challenged and active in our family, farm and community, and I wouldn’t trade my ag adventure.

 

Sustainability Defined!

We all like to see businesses succeed. We like to look at our family and neighbors and feel good about what they are doing and how they are supporting their families, communities and other businesses.

Success= Sustainability!

And success looks, feels, and pencils out a little different for everyone.

So what in my eyes is success or sustainability? Simply put I believe it means that one is being responsible and caring for their resources ( family, employees, soil, seed, livestock, machinery, finances etc.) with utmost care in order to continue the practice of farming into the future. It also means that we share with others why we make the decisions we do.

img_7673

Now that is simple, but each of those items in the parenthesis above is dynamic and comes with a lot of depth and detail. Every farm has to evaluate how they will care for their resources. They have to evaluate the soil types, employee personalities types, machinery functions types, financial resources and types of expenditures needed versus wanted, and finally they are responsible for choosing and using the seeds, feeds, pastures, livestock and tools for care that are best for their farm and ranch business.

One practice and decision doesn’t fit all….. it is a process of knowledge, data evaluation, resources available, personal beliefs, planning, pacing, and then application.

Sustainability is personal!

Sustainability= Longitudinal Success!

 

The Day I Cast My Vote

So I filled in some bubbles, folded it according to the pre-creased lines, placed it in two envelopes and signed the back of my absentee ballot. This was the day I cast my vote.

Was it easy? The bubble filling was, but my decisions came with a lot of thought. The toughest bubble to color- President. I had a few thoughts cross my mind….Do I pick a candidate that is not a “R” or “D”? Do I not fill in a bubble at all? Do I align myself based on the party I identify with primarily? Hmmmm. Lots to consider.

Media has taken both major candidates and highlighted all their social nuances and ill doings. Both Trump and Clinton have been nasty to each other. People have blasted social media with their favorite parodies and personal feelings. Candidates have avoided answering questions and when they do answer share just enough. So, how does a person decide who to vote for when both act like they are auditioning for a new or a revisited 2017 sitcom? Well, I had to step back and look at issues and topics important to me…

Taxes, immigration, abortion, trade, economy.

fullsizerender-15Ok, those are the big ticket items and yes, I did not mention agriculture. You may ask, “How can I do that being that we farm?”. The reason is that many of the issues I did tune in to are related to or have a direct impact on agriculture.

So here is what I did….

The first step I took before deciding which bubbles to fill in was to decide if I had a duty to vote or if it was simply a right granted to be. I had to decide if those thoughts were the same or different. I decided that they were different. I have a right granted to me by our constitution and I have a responsibility to place an informed vote. Should I have decided to not spend time to know what or whom I was voting for, I would be acting irresponsibly and should withhold my vote. BUT, I did take time to read and listen and think before I filled in my circle.

The second step I took, before I dove into each candidates position, was to write down what I felt was important and what my beliefs were on the topics listed above.Why you may ask. Well, simply because it is easy to sway one direction or another as a person dives into information. I knew that media’s drama of the candidates was inevitable and  as I was to embark on a bit of “research” wanted to keep true or as close to my core beliefs as possible. So, I sat down, did a bit of soul searching, and made some notes.

The third step was to dive in and read. I looked at some information shared by organizations I belonged to. I went to the candidates own websites, reviewed positions from my state’s elected officials, watched the debates, and tuned in to various news stations. I made notes and eventually knew that there were just some positions that I couldn’t compromise on. After taking time to “get to know” the candidates positions, I made my decision.

The last step was the easiest- I filled in bubbles, folded the ballot and placed it in the envelope sealing it with my signature.

My right to vote was acted on as a result of the responsibility I felt that right deemed necessary. Just voting for voting sake it scary. Not voting is just as scary. We have the duty to be informed and although finding the truth in matters such as discovering what the presidential candidates are all about may be difficult, we should take the time and energy to make an attempt, to ask questions and listen. In the long run, even if we choose the candidate that is not victorious, we will know that we made an informed choice that reflected what we felt was best. Ultimately THAT, the informed vote based on our beliefs, is the right choice!

Do We Eat What We Grow? 

There are a lot of different crops grown in North Dakota. Our farm changes what we grow each year a little, but always raise corn, soybeans, and wheat. This year we also raised field peas and pinto beans.

So, that all sounds like food- do we eat it?

Yes and no.

When we grow a crop, we decide the type of seed that we are going to raise based on the growing conditions given to us (short growing season, moisture, and soil type). Most of the crops we are able to raise on our farm are not sold into the food market.

Our crops are used for the following…

Corn: ethanolimg_4162

Soybeans: oil, plastics, insulation, crayons, livestock feedimg_7431

Wheat: flour

img_7430-1

Field peas: livestock,  food aid for foreign countries 

Pinto beans: food- refined beans, canned beans, fast food market 

So back to the question “Do we eat the food we raise?.

We eat the field peas in pod right out of the field when they are plump and bright green. We eat the pinto beans once dry and combined in soups, chili and as homemade refried beans.

img_2683The other crops we do nimg_7437ot eat directly. With that said, we do eat the some of our corn, soybeans, and dried peas in the form of beef, pork, chevon as a result of the cattle, pigs and goats eating them ground as feed.

Additionally, we raise an acre of sweet corn and eat as much as we can when it is ripe. Most of the time we don’t even cook it- it’s shuck and eat for us!


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