Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I recently participated in a scholarship interview with a high school senior from the city of Chicago who was interested in going into a career in agriculture.

Yes, I said that right.

Someone in my group of interviewers asked her what is most surprising about being involved with agriculture when you are not from the farm.  Her response has stuck with me for a month.  She said most of the time, when she tells other students that she is from Chicago, the first two questions she receives, are: 1.  Do you know any gang members? and 2.  Are you afraid to go outside in your neighborhood.  WHAT?  I couldn't believe that these rural kids misunderstand that much about how people in urban areas live.  Really?

She invited a few of her friends from the farm to her house last semester so that they could debunk their myths about what life is like in a city.  HA!  This is exactly what we in ag try to do to urban youth!

I read a lot of blogs and Facebook posts from people who live on a farm who strongly advocate for those of the city to UNDERSTAND us on a farm, to get to know what it's like, what our priorities are, what we do everyday to make food for people.  It is rare when I read something the alternate way, when we on the farm are seeking to understand our customers, what their lives are like, what they do or eat.  We may have the same misconceptions of them that we think they may have of us.

Big agriculture, which my family is involved in, has taken a true beating the last few years. They have been accused of much that is not based on much fact, similarly to the farm kids above who had a misconstrued idea of what urban life is like.  The farmers who are involved in raising grain are our friends, our customers, those who are families like us in a business to grow food for a growing population.  Is there misunderstanding of how that is done by some?  Yes.  Do I, who does understand this industry, trust them to raise our food in a healthy manner and get it around the world?  Yes.

Do I think that there is room for those who don't believe in the way they believe food is raised to voice their opinion, seek out other manner of obtaining and eating food for their family?  Yes.

But the key here is understanding.  Understanding where the other side of the fence is coming from.  I think we in ag need to not only seek to communicate but not do the same thing that we are doing to the families who are criticizing us -- group all into the same stereotype.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Sale is Complete

We finished the sale tonight -- a great event with a great finish, and over 236,000 in sales.  WOW.

When the sale is over, I feel a rush of exhaustion afterwards.  All the excitement, gearing up, adrenaline, and putting yourself out there for the last month or so has ended, and the end of it makes that excitement just run right out of you like water out of a cooler.

I'm so proud of Alan, I'm so excited that people believed enough in our program to actually bid on these heifers using their money.  I'm happy that we have found homes for these calves that we have birthed, broke, fed, and loved on for the last few months.  That's what we raised them for.

And they are going all over the country, and out of the country.  People from California, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Ontario, Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri all now own our heifers.

Now, on to the next project.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Day 28 -- or Day 1

Today was the first day of our open house -- the day one that starts today and ends Tuesday when we end our online sale (see  We had people here from Springfield and Peoria. And then there were people from North Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana and even south of interstate 70!  This weekend is one of the busiest for purebred cattle producers and this area of Illinois tends to be a hotbed of activity.
Things I like about having a open house:  we can offer hospitality to people that come to see our calves. Most times when people come they just wander through our pastures then leave.  We will do this again tomorrow with more food and more cow washing.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 27 -- Ready we are

The food is made, the shop is cleaned out, the website is updated, the calves are all clipped up, washed, fed, and ready to be viewed.  We are ready for the open house this weekend.

We've been watching our website traffic like a hawk, which calves are getting the most views of their video, where are people looking at first.  We've been fielding calls (Alan's on one right now) asking about different calves.  It's nerve wracking, exciting, and panic creating all at the same time.

Having a sale makes you put everything out there -- for everyone to see.  Our success or failure will be able to be viewed by all -- this makes me very nervous about doing it.  But here we are, we're 5 days from the sale, and we'll know what happens Tuesday night.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day 26 -- Missing Holidays

I'm not really thinking of Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, or what we are getting people for Christmas, or how we are going to celebrate the holidays as a family.

When we have an open house right after Thanksgiving, leave for Denver right after Christmas, and have a sale right around Easter, sometimes I feel like we slight our children because the holidays are considered in my mind "something to get through while we're getting ready for ____".

I've been reading some other women's blogs, who are talking about slowing down holidays, removing the hype from the holiday, getting rid of Santa, of turkey, of all that's commercial about the holidays.  I can't say that I completely agree with that -- we enjoy the fun of the holidays, try to remember the reason for the holiday, and move along with life in general.  If there's no fun, then there's not much to look forward to, especially when I'm pretty sure I treat the holidays are something else to check off the list.

I need to figure out a way to reflect on the purpose of the holiday we're in the middle of, while we're in the middle of it, and try to slow down, and try to help the kids understand it too.  Maybe in some way piling all this other "stuff" on top of a holiday is God's way of helping me not make too much of a deal about them in the first place, although about this time before any holiday, I'm wondering what in the world He got us in the first place.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 24 -- Sink or Swim Time

So it's now 1 week until our sale.  Food has been purchased/made, the cows are all clipped and ready to be shown.  Now is the time where we sit and worry about whether or not anyone will come to look at and/or buy them.

I compare this line of thinking to when you are about to take a test, and you pull out the review sheet one more time, then realize that whatever you're going to look at for the next 30 seconds isn't going to make up for the last three days you've been studying it.  It's sink or swim time.  You need to just take it and see how much you know.

That's what we did today -- send out a bunch of emails this week to make sure people know about the sale (as if this one email will make 300,000 people suddenly look at this flier and decide to buy a heifer).  But really, the work we've been doing for the past several months is going to be the difference whether we pass the test (i.e. sell the calves at a respectable amount) or fail.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Day 24 -- Sunday Sunday Sunday

Another typical Sunday -- cows who needed to be bred, people here to pick up bulls, look at calves, etc.  Sundays can be anything on the farm, from a lazy day watching football, to a crazy day catching ourselves coming and going.  Today was a coming and going kind of day, and it needed to be -- it's a week before the sale!  If we didn't have a bunch of people here I'd be more worried.