Heger Family Farms

Honoring the Past, Working Today, Preparing for the Future

The Christmas Card Fiasco

So it is that time of year. The time of year that Christmas cards need to be addressed and I need to decide whether or not to write a letter to accompany it. I have to think about who  is going to get cards and who is not. Who has our family fallen out of touch with or, quite honestly, who can I skip if I run short. The trick is identifying that forgiving friend that is ok with a texted picture of the card and those who won’t even know they didn’t receive one.screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-9-30-28-pm

But the letter…that is the hardest part. With seven of us in the house I have to be fairly concise. I take a bit of time to reflect on the past year and feel like we haven’t done anything “out of the ordinary”. I pause to think about what others would want to hear and some of the things my kids and family have done. Finding the balance between sharing and bragging can be hard. Having a letter that doesn’t sounds like we live in a constant chaos and have too many different schedules is hard too. And heaven forbid I even consider saying something like, “As 2016 wraps up and 2017 kicks off, we couldn’t be happier that there will be able people required to go back to work, fossil fuels will regain vitality- drill and mine baby, drill and mine, and we are thrilled to know taxes will become more equitable and US companies will be returning to the US in order to make America great again.”  Who wants to hear about politics in a Christmas letter?!

I deeply believe that Christmas cards and letters should be filled with uplifting light-hearted highlights, stories and experiences – not politics or a written temper-tantrum and pout session.

As I await for my cards to arrive, with an unknown delivery status due to 2 weeks of crazy winter weather here in North Dakota, I sit down to write the letter that I have decided I need to write. But, as my fingers tap on the computer keys I will keep these 5 rules in mind:

  1. Keep Christ in Christmas and focus on our blessings!
  2. Share something school and extra-curricular related for each child!
  3. Share one family highlight!
  4. Keep it short and sweet!
  5. No politics!

So I ask that as you sit down to design cards or write letters think about what you really want to share and what is the most important, what sustains you from minute to minute, day to day and week to week. Keep some guidelines in mind and have some fun!

Merry Christmas to all (and because I don’t have cards to stuff and computer is about to run out of battery) to all a good night!


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.


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!

A Bag of Beans and More….

As I started making chili the other night, I wish I had taken a few minutes to soak some our farm raised Pinto Beans before heading off to work. I didn’t, so I used canned beans. Then I got to thinking, Beans…. who eats pinto, black, kidney, and white beans?  I always thought that beans were a sign of economic status- aka poverty. Meal kits and food baskets from food pantries and government food programs always provide and push eating them because they were cheep and nutritious- right? Is this true or my thoughts based on ignorance? And what are a bag of beans saying today?

Pinto Beans

My thoughts then traveled through various memories. I reflected on the years when I was starting school. I remember money being tight. I remember my mom making some of our clothes and hand making Valentine’s – (how embarrassing). Often we ate scrambled hamburger and buttered noodles or a consisting of a canned soup, rice and a meat. I remember having pea soup made from a bag of 59 cent split peas, a bit of chicken broth, and a bay leaf. I remember swapping clothes with relatives and the “new to us” items.  During the same time I know that we received free or reduced lunch and I had to tell my teacher once that I couldn’t the pay the $3.50 field trip fee. Times were tight and tough. So, why do I share this back story? Because these experiences of homemade, a bags of beans and peas, and second-hand items still exist, but in many cases they carry very different meaning and value today than 30 years ago.

My thoughts then traveled through various memories. I reflected on the years when I was starting school. I remember money being tight. I remember my mom making some of our clothes and hand making Valentine’s – (how embarrassing). Often we ate scrambled hamburger and buttered noodles or a hotdish consisting of a canned soup, rice and a meat. I remember having pea soup made from a bag of 59 cent split peas, a bit of chicken broth, and a bay leaf. I remember swapping clothes with relatives and the “new to us” items.  During the same time I know that we received free or reduced lunch and I had to tell my teacher once that I couldn’t the pay the $3.50 field trip fee. Times were tight and tough. So, why do I share this back story? Because these experiences of homemade, a bags of beans and peas, and second-hand items still exist, but in many cases they carry very different meaning and value today than 30 years ago.

img_7546Trends have made the idea of homemade and rustic fashionable. Beans have become the alternate protein and highlighted in high-end restaurants and magazines. Online rummage sales and second-hand stores are popping up all the time. Fads and trends made popular with the influence of a few with people with some previlence of social status have made my experience of the less fortunate or financial challenged into the best “new” practices.

So, what do I think? I think the trend is great! Why? It encourages support for products that often went to the way side. It encourages creativity. It looks at options and provides variety. It can help people save money and potentially reduced stigma for the scenarios and people who have lived in the darkness of being less fortunate or going trough tough times.

Depite what I see as the cutain in which I hid behind and was emabarrassed of I see an open door of new chances. I have embraced this. I am working to help my children embrace this and help others see that what was doesn’t always have to be and some trends and fads are fabulous opportunities to break free! img_7542
Take time and visit a local second-hand store. Look up a quick bean recipes ( hint: many freezer meals include beans!). Have you thought of making your own halloween costume or birthday cards? A little bit of homemade and refurbished shows love and interest. Give it a try! Besides isn’t saving a few bucks, using your imagination and spending time with family making a few things something we can all do a little more of?

Dots on a Map: Educational Standards

Have you ever had a list of places that you wanted to visit while on vacation?  Initially those places are dot on a map or items on a list.


There is no direction as to how to get to each place, what to do, when to go, or what to use when going or there. Your list is simply that, a list.

Educational standards are no different. They are a list of items that students need to learn to the best of their ability. They are NOT supposed to be prescriptive- dictating what to use, exactly how to teach, or who is supposed to be responsible for providing instruction. They are simply a list. Often they are organized into a progression of skill sets, but that structure does not prescribe how to teach, what resources to use or who should teach it. It simply identifies the level at which students are developmentally ready and in need of learning a skill so that they can build on it as they continue to learn.

With my background in education and strong belief in local control, I try to keep an eye on what is changing and who pushing what political agenda on our kids. ( Ok, I’ll be honest. I care about the education of my own kids and want what is best for them and their friends!) Anyway, that is why when the Common Core Standards were adopted by our state a few years ago, I tuned in and tried to make sense of the commotion and complaining surrounding them. My conclusion: most had not even looked at them and were up in arms because there was some prescription as to what materials were to specifically to be used and suggestions as to how they needed to be taught identified at times. There was a government dictation and imposition into what should be the local control of curricula. In other wards, the lines between curriculum and standard was significantly blurred. It also became a great marketing tool for educational material companies.

fullsizerender-13So, when the state of North Dakota announced that they were going to be revising/drafting and ultimately going to have their own set of state standards, I quickly filled out the application to be a member of the business and community member committee. This committee would be tasks with reviewing, assessing and addressing the revisions that math and english teachers made in order to reflect North Dakota education, our students, and what we, North Dakota professionals and parents, feel is needed for students to be flexible thinkers, problem solvers, and have a well balanced group of skills in order to be successful once they leave the walls of the school.

This week was my first experience working with this group of individuals. I was deeply impressed by the work that had been done by the teachers. They had really taken time to listen and think about students, the reality of differences in our schools, and the desire for the state standards to truly be one from the people of North Dakota for those in North Dakota.

Prescription was taken out of a lot of places. Definitions re-written to provide clarity, and incremental stages of learning and demonstrating knowledge outlined. Visuals for the English Language Arts standards had also been developed which increased understanding that it is a shared responsibility of all to continually be working on english and language skills. In the math area it was made clear that specifically at the high school level that the standards were laid out according to topic areas, not classes. This directly implies and puts control of the who, when, where and what is used to teach the skills into the control of local school districts and out of the hands of the state. This excited me! Does it mean a bit of work will need to be done? Yes! Will schools need to know the skills students need to learn and not guess or assume that if they teach algebra all skills are covered? Yes! It means conversations, it means collaboration, it means innovation and some rethinking….. it means possibility and opportunity for great things!

I am excited to continue through the next phases of this standards revision/ draft process!

More info on ND State Content Standards is available at:

If you are so inclined, you can also comment and share your thoughts at the link above by clicking on the survey option.

Here’s to great things in North Dakota education!








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


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!

Family Visits to the Farm

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! 

Homecoming Hullaballoo

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!



Breaking the Cycle of Back to School Shopping

It is “that” time of year again! School is a few weeks away and the stores have been serenading us for weeks with their flashy back to school ads and displays! 

picture from weekly Target ad
The  truth is …. They are catchy and there are some pretty neat items in snazzy patterns! BUT, do we really need all that they say we do! 

I have learned over the past 11 years that we often have plenty left from the previous year that can be used to start the next! Often scissors, pencil boxes, rulers, crayons, and markers have lots of life left. Backpacks, if a decent one is invested in, can last A LONG TIME! 

The hardest part is convincing kids that they don’t NEED new things until the old have run out. 

That being said, at the beginning of August I do invest in a generous supply of glue, notebooks, pencils, markers and crayons. Why? Why do so if our things are still good? Simply because it only makes sense for my pocketbook. 10 cent notebooks and glue for 25 cents and markers for 50 cents means a lot of savings later on. Plus, we tend to use them at home too. It also means that when my kids or their classmates have a need for supplies, I don’t have to find a time to drive 55 miles to purchase them.

So onto my second and last groan and moan…. Gym shoes! Whose idea was it to make soles of tennis shoes of FOAM and why? I get that foam makes them soft and light weight, but offer no support and my kids wear through them in about 2 weeks! We are taking kids- moving- active beings! The cost hasn’t gone down – $20-$30 for a layer of foam with laces😆 and I get ill thinking about paying $60 or more for a elementary kids’ shoes!  It has to be all marketing- sell more because they don’t last or force them to buy expensive ones that often get replaced because feet grow. 

Back to school is a fun time! It provides some interesting opportunities to see how kids see things, help them with consumerism- comparing products and prices, time to help guide them through needs and wants, insight into their “organizing”style, and time together. If only the stores would market in need vs want, sell quality for a fair price, and highlight the family focused non- material things that can be gained during his time of preparation and transition, they would top their sales by selling insight and experience and not carts of chaos! 

Blog at

Up ↑

daughter of a trucker

From the truck shop to the Far East... loving on Oregon's Ag


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.


There's always more to learn about ag...

Fun E Farm

One Family's Adventures in the Search for Sustainability

New To The Farm

A mom, her boys, too many cows and lots of farming

North Dakota Mom

Hi! I'm Jodi, a former teacher, now stay-at-home mom. I love sharing my recipes, projects, and any great deals I find! Glad you are visiting!

Farm Blog – Americas Farmers

Honoring the Past, Working Today, Preparing for the Future

JP loves COTTON & more

my adventures in farming, travel, & whatever else I get into.