Our summer is always busy. The farm is very demanding as machinery always needs repair or fine tuning, crops checked and cared for, hay is cut, baked and hauled, and animals like to be fed too! 😊 We plant some crops into early June and begin harvest of others in late July. We also tackle the county fair, summer rec, community events and sneak a bit of time at the lake here and there and a week of travel for family vacation!
This summer was a lot fun! The best part was having family visit and hosting family and friends out at the farm for a Farm-B-Q!
Whether it was family from Minneapolis, cousins from the Bismarck area or siblings Wisconsin. Lots of energy was burned off and our farm life shared!
We hope that many more family and friends venture our way in the near future!
Growing up in Minneapolis, Homecoming was fun. It was a school thing. In actuality I don’t remember if we dressed up. I don’t remember if there was tailgating. I don’t remember if we had a parade. I do remember a pep rally in the gym and often deciding to skip the football game. It wasn’t a big event or one that bad an impression on me. Well, let me tell you, in small town rural America Homecoming is not like that which I remember from my upbringing. It is almost a national holiday! Schools have dress up days for an entire week. Parade float planning is in progress for a few weeks. Discussion of whether or not “so and so” or “she and she” would or should be King and Queen is the center of discussion for more than a week. And the football game- no brainer- it’s a must!
So what happens when the excitement of Homecoming in one community gets combined with that of another through a sports coop? Let alone another community in which you compete against each other in other sports and activities? Hmmm. It can or could go two ways…1) the support and opportunity can grow or 2) people can crab and chatter as if the world is coming to an end. The real question is what do the students think. Isn’t homecoming about the students? How much focus should be placed on what was instead of what can be? Supporting our students through opportunity, collaboration, and experiences is what high school, and quite frankly what I think all of education, is all about. Homecoming is part of that and should be no different.
This year we had the privilege of combining the homecoming festivities for the two coop school communities. Students were excited! There was a bonfire midweek for everyone in all communities and schools, and then one parade, one pep rally, one tailgate on Homecoming Friday! Each school still elected their own king and queen and held noon activities Monday – Thursday. Students and teachers were able to video chat with the other schools’ students and teachers in order to plan and design their float. They also worked to plan the pep rally and administration from the schools worked hard to create environments, collaboration, instruction on new skills, social interactions, and fun for all.
When visiting with students, most enjoyed getting to build new relationships with their peers. They liked finding out more about the other school and planning over a longer period of time in short segments. They felt it was fun to do something new and have more people together. One student even shared that it made it feel like a team instead of people standing independently on the sidelines.
Team, comradery, support, spirit, bonding and a sense of community for our students; that’s what homecoming is about. We make the choice to be excited for opportunity or complain and expect things to be as they were twenty plus years ago. We need to work today and plan for the future. Change is inevitable. Adapting, working together, compromise and vision is what the future is about!
So let’s celebrate and support what we have while respecting what was for what it is worth- past experience and something that was a certain way previously. Remember it, don’t live in it, and provide for today!
How many times, have we heard the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”? Probably more than we would like.
It was made perfectly clear a few weeks ago that we don’t have to accept things as they are presented to us. We can use adversity, or lemons if you wish, to do marvelous things!
About a month ago Amberley Snyder spoke at the North Dakota Farm Bureau Farm and Ranch Conference.
Her message was more than inspiring, it was motivating and clearly showed that life is not about the cards we are dealt, but our attitude, the choices we make, and how we decide to play those cards!
Amberley had the audience, children through the “more experienced” generations held captive with her story. Her life changed in a single moment when she was injured in a car accident. As a barrel racer with big plans for her future, she was forced to pause, set adjusted goals and steps to reach those goals.
She was given a basket of lemons, but none have left her sour. With a little sweeter, positive thought and determination, Amberley’s goals became her reality! Her new reality becoming life changing for not just herself, but all those she comes in contact with.
Perhaps the most inspiring moment of her visit with the group was this story that she shared.
A second grade boy asked, “If you could go back to that day [the day of her accident] and change it, would you?” Amberley shared that before she replied she thought about the people, places and opportunities she’d been exposed to. She knew she had been a true believer in everything happens for a reason. And it was with that thought that she said, “No”. She acknowledged that she did not always know when or what, but that there was a purpose and she was going to serve that purpose!
So when it seems like the glass is empty and the cards are stacked against you, take a deep breath, find the silver lining, and make a plan. For the future is vast and at times uncertain, but you have to keep on going. “There is no future in giving up!!!”, according to Amberley.
I would highly recommend Amberley Snyder for your meeting or convention.
We have all seen commercials that use seductive models to sell cars, jeans, and even fast food, but have you ever noticed how seductive job advertisements can be?
This last week I was looking through some job ads placed on our state job service site and found some the peeked by interest, one sounded pretty ideal. It was all in the verbiage. That romance of words and the interaction of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. (I know, I confess High School English class can be useful.)
Hearing, seeing, or reading the right things causes a chemical reaction in the brain, drawing us in, pushing us to engage. Job advertisements are no different. They are selling work and trying to attract potential employees. So why not market oneself or ones business using seduction!
In all honesty I had not thought of any of this until I looked at the organization that was connected to the job description I fell in love with. I knew of the organization. I have interacted with it. I didn’t see eye to eye with it’s philosophy and actions and I knew that despite the lush heart warming language used in its lengthy and detailed advertisement, it did not do what it said, was not looking to do what it claims to want to do in its mission statement, and I knew I could not even apply knowing I would be going against my personal beliefs and positions.
So, I close this post with a simple request. Stop and think about the intent of what you see, hear, and/or read. Does it make you feel warm and fuzzy, energized, impulsive, crabby, enraged, etc.? Why? Keep in mind language and marketing is tool used to draw you in. Take time to evaluate and investigate it can save you heartache in the end.
Having a child on the brink of getting his license is scary! Having a child who knows nothing about not having blinkers or the possibility of them not working may be just as scary.
It was a day not too long ago that I had one of my many “mommy revelations” noting things my kids have no clue about that were ” the norm” for myself, my parents’ generation, and even my grandparents’generation. Hand signals were the topic of that day’s revalation and it was something that I quite honestly had really never thought about.
On that day, I asked my son to run to town in the Ranger, similar to a golf cart but with 6 seats and a little faster.(You don’t need your license to drive it.) I reminded him to make sure he stopped at corners and signaled his turns. That is when our conversation began. He reminded me there were no blinkers, asked why they would really be needed and why the driver’s education manual even included them. They were “old school”according to him. We chatted a bit about it and my oldest conceded to the fact that yes, he was going to have to use them at some point. That day was his lucky day- or the day he dreaded -, beginning the learning the signals!
Agreeing to the need to learn them was tough for my son, but for a kids who struggles with keeping straight his right and left, actually remembering which signal was which was not going to be easy. And so my teacher brain kicked in and with a little help of prayer and a favor from the Man Upstairs this popped into my head:
* Arm bent up at 90 degrees is a right turn because God is the Right guy to follow
* Arm bent down at 90 degrees is a STOP because it is the opposite direction from God and not they way to go.
* Which leaves an arm straight out to be a left turn because that is all that is left .
I know a bit cheesy, but it is working and is a subtle reminder that GOD is part of everything we do each day, even driving!
Not to mention, simply a good reminder for all of us….
“What God intended for you goes far beyond anything you can imagine.” — Oprah Winfrey
I come across headlines daily that attack farmers and food. I know that there is a disconnect and a lack of understanding between what my family does each day, along with millions of others, to provide food, fiber and fuel to Americans, most of which do not farm or ranch. But I was caught off guard when I heard a few comments last week at an agricultural convention.
The first happening that caught me off guard was when a judge at a national agriculture achievement competition told my dear friends that their story of becoming first generation farmers, with their children working at their side, working to build a farm, a legacy, and future, all while doing something that they love and sharing their passion with others was “nothing less than a country song“. It was implied that they basically made up their story. WHAT????!!!! I don’t even know where to start with my disgust and surprise. This is a national elite competition where the finalist have all been vetted by people and an organization that knows them well. It is disappointing because this was very unprofessional and disrespectful of a judge to 1) say and 2) to not respect and listen to the reality of the real life experience. One needs to know that yes, there is opportunity for people to enter into farming and truly choose this occupation. Yes, people can really love what they do! Yes, people struggle and ride the roller coaster of market prices, weather, and need for dedicated and hard working labor and still continue on each day with a smile on their face. A country song… well maybe, but not the down and out sad ones that are played on the radio. The farm story told by my friends would be uplifting, encouraging, and a darn good one at that! I would love to write a song sharing the real ups and downs and the faith that carries us through that exemplifies the story my dear friends from Kentucky and numerous others’ experience each year!
The second experience happened at the same national farm convention.
featured speaker for the closing session was Barbara Corcoran, probably known best for her role on Shark Tank. She showed a picture, (seen to the left), and stated that this farmer was not what people thought to be farmers. In fact, she said thatshe
didn’t think it was a real farmer either. I do believe my chin dropped and hit the floor! She was speaking to 1000’s of people who live and breath agriculture each day. If this isn’t a real picture of a farmer, I don’t know what is! So, after I picked my chin from the floor and put my eyeballs back in their socket, I set out to find the picture on Google.
Yes, in deed this is a real farmer. I found the picture and went to the website that it was associated with, www.JaniBryson.com . It was accompanied by a description ( printed below the photo). An email from the photographer confirmed the caption too! Ahha! I felt victorious, but I didn’t stop there. I sent a note to Barbara Corcoran herself, explaining that her picture was a real farmer, shared the copyright, (Yes, I have permission to use it), the story and where she could find more pictures capturing beautiful moments in life!
As I have been taught to do, I ended my note to her with an ask, “I ask that you take time to reflect on this presentation and find peace with the injustice you did. Perhaps, your next Corcoran Report should highlight and appreciate agriculture and the fact that farmers do work 98% of Americans refuse to do, yet that 98% sits back and reaps the benefits. Perhaps you should highlight what you can learn from us…. starting with, the fact that we won’t we bitten by a shark!”
Did I go too far? Maybe, maybe not. I was and still am bothered by Corcoran down talking agriculture when she was paid to speak to a large agricultural group. Again, I felt professionalism did not come into play. At this time, my peace has been said and I await her response, which I don’t hold my breath to receive. But when all is said and done, at least I know I have shared with her, or her secretary, my feelings and a bit of information about farmers and family farms in the USA.
To sum up these two eye opening experiences, I simply say they were surprising and caught me off guard. I have learned that I am not afraid to speak up, to value those who work hard, that there is a need to lift up those who deserve it, and to expect the unexpected!
So, to close, I say THANK YOU to all who work hard each day to provide goods and services for others!
The newest Accurate Ag Book of the year is out…First PEAS to the Table by Susan Grigsby!
Why am I so excited? Simply because now I have a new book to share with students and local libraries! Ok, so I know the book was there before it became the America Farm Bureau Foundation’s book of the year, but now I know it is an accurate reliable story!
Why do I love this book so much? Hmmm, that is easy. It incorporates a bit of history, talks about gardening, competition and helping others! In addition to a great story this book has fabulous lesson plans and activities and a full newspaper type Ag Mag!
Peas are one of my favorite garden goodies. I have taught kids to plant them in pots if they don’t have land to make into a full garden. There are many kinds of peas… yellow, green, short and fat pods, long and lean pods… each look a little different, but grow easily and are tasty!
I can’t wait to share this book and invite groups and classrooms out to our farm to partake in a Pea Adventure, perhaps we will even call it Pea Fest! The timing of honoring this book as this year’s Accurate Ag Book couldn’t be better, the entire field around my home and farm are planned to be planted into peas! What a better way to share than to let kids grow some of their own, pick a few, do a project, have a snack and listen to a story out at a real farm…
Pea Fest is it…. now time to plan and have some fun!
Check out the Peas First to the Table Resources at: https://www.dmsfulfillment.com/FarmBureau/
So many times I hear the phrase “farmers feed the world”. Yes, we truly do feed the world. Some farm in a very small scale to provide for their own family or neighbors and others for larger markets near and far, but the phrase “farmers feed the world” really has started to irritate me. It is just so cliche’! On our farm, we do more than feed the world!
Now let me explain. Yes, my farm grows crops and some of that crop is made into food products such as bread, tofu, soy milk, wheat cereal flakes, and refried beans. But that is not all. Much of our crops of ours are used to make things like ink, insulation, crayons, carpet, livestock feed and ethanol. Not all of what is grown on my farm and many other farms solely provides a commodity that is used as food. Food that is used to feed a growing population here in my small rural town and places all over the world.
So what do we do on our farm besides grow food, livestock feed, soybeans for insulation and crayons, and corn for ethanol? We analyze the soil looking for its specific nutrient values, we enrich our knowledge base by attending classes, we shovel and scoop, we climb and sweep, we plan and evaluate, we repair, we research new seeds available and weed issues, we plant and harvest, and nurture and protect the plants that grow in our fields. We make decisions ever minute of every day to be sustainable and leave this third generation farm better for the upcoming generations!
We grow in the understanding of work, we continually grow our definition of success, and we prepare a business while building a way of life that we can hand down to our children.
On our farm we draw out an outline, perhaps one would say the frame of a puzzle and the squiggly lines defining interior pieces. Each one of those interior pieces is a plot of land we farm. Then we identify soil types and nutrient levels in various places if each field, layering one level of information onto the base of the puzzle, piece by piece. Then we take the available seed varieties, match them to the soil type, weed, disease pressure, and insect issues if any, and place another layer of information over top, again piece by piece in coordinating locations onto the puzzle. (And yes, for those that are asking, we do use some seed that has been researched and developed to be resistant to pest and weed controls to meet our needs, raise a healthy crop and attempt to minimize applications of substances aiding in growing healthy plants. These seeds are genetically modified (GMO) seeds, and are one of many tools we use to grow healthy crops.) We then transfer all the information into a computer program, called Precision Farming software, in our planter and seeder to plant the seeds then the sprayer to care for plants as they grow.
We can monitor how much seed is planted to the nearest inch, how far apart the seeds are planted, how much fertilizer and exactly where it is placed, and adjust these setting as we go. That means that we can take a map and data from the past years, analyze it and know that certain parts of a field grow a smaller amount of crop than another. This can due to many reasons some of which include topography, soil type, moisture, wind, sunlight etc. We then can place less seed and nutrient supports in these areas. All of which can be programmed into the computer software ahead of time and can be done automatically through the software or manually by the driver in the tractor cab.
The future of farming is much more than planting a few seeds to feed the world. It is technology, ongoing training, sharing our story, protecting our rights, and a commitment to the future for generations to come!
So, the holidays are over. All the hype over the gifts, excessive food, and hub-bub of family and friends has died down. “Regular” life has returned and so has reality!
2016 is going to be a year of penny pinching, tightening the belt, reigning things in. So, how does one go about doing that? How can it be done and still ensure a little fun and adventure? Well, that is exactly what I reached out and asked a fabulous groups of ladies that I call my “Prairie Mamas”!
Living day to day and/ or running a business in the red is never fun and often leads to bigger issues than it should…. working to keep budgets in line is very important.
Here are some ways to that we brain stormed to cut back in 2016 to help with a household’s budget and bottom line!
Cut back on personal privileges…. expensive haircuts, hair colors, favorite bottle of wine, fancy chapstick, that not needed cool pair of clearance shoes, fancy apps, and new music
Eat out as a treat, buy on- the- go coffee at gas station not upper end coffee stores, pack snacks/ sandwiches for travel and sporting event, drink water from the water fountain
Give gifts from the heart… What can you create? What talents do you have on hand? Are gifts really needed or is a note enough? Face it.. we don’t always need all the gifts we receive…. save them for a time when you can bless someone else with them. ( Note: put a sticky on them when you tuck them away so you don’t give them back to those that blessed you with them.)
Buy what is needed! So often we buy what we FEEL we need or may need in the future at some point. Stop! Too much stuff gets forgotten about, wasted, tucked away and often we buy it again, not realizing we already had it!
On the other hand, take advantage of things like buy 3 and get a gift card. Target is great for this! I know I will use laundry soap and (at one time) diapers! Why not get “credit” for my next purchase! Plus, they will deliver to my house for free! A huge bonus since I live 60 miles away!
Movies: TONS free on Amazon if you have a membership, Youtube has a bunch too, and don’t forget about your library- most have a iTunes account and can order ones you want! Strike a deal with other family… if you have an amazon account, let them use it and you use their Netflix!
Food: portion control- making too much isn’t good for the waist line or the budget, use left overs to make fun things- wrap left overs in croissants or bread dough and bake…. and there is always a soup, stew or hotdish for an option.
Birthday parties can be expensive think about what you have around you that is entertaining and forget the goodie bags! Swimming, nature hikes, playgrounds, sledding, visiting museums and castle competitions, and for us interacting with our goats, chickens, and bottle calves are all free! Skip the cake and go for ice cream!
cut all subscriptions
turn off lights and water, turn air and heat down a few degrees
new family events: cards, games, outdoor activities, attend community events
family trips: cheaper hotels w/ breakfast included, shorten by a day, stay with friends and family, find less expensive locations
Adult night out… find a great bar/ restaurant that has free food w/ drink purchase…
Toss less, care for things better, scrub stains
Birthdays… did you know that and Lego Store will give the birthday child a free small kit?! Yahoo!
What ever you do, be realistic!
Identify needs and wants and keep in mind what you value… family time, faith, vacations, friends, personal time/ experiences. Don’t let those things go, just find new ways to meet those needs. And as for wants…. collect that laundry money, the couch coins, save those cash gifts and find something that ranks high on the list, not just the first thing you see!
The Beer family ranch blog is explaining the small role we play in the production of food including beef, bread and oils. We have a strong belief that keeping United States agriculture strong will keep our country and rural America strong.