Rural Mom in an Urban World

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This week on face book I saw our town, Elko-NewMarket, post a question to the residents. It said “If we gave you a million dollars what would you do with it to enhance Elko-New Market.”
Some of the replies were:
1. Grocery Store
2. Bigger gas station (where more than one dually pickup at a time can pump gas)
3. Hardware store
4. Coliseum (ya know, for concerts and stuff!)
5. Shopping Mall
6. Hospital
The list goes on! One commentator was very frustrated that Elko wasn’t growing as fast as she wanted. “If the farmers would just be willing to sell their land we could really make this town thrive!”
Here is where I start deep breathing and counting backwards from 10 before I comment.
What I really wanted to say was, “Well, don’t come knocking on OUR door for land sweetheart because the family has been here for over 150 years farming and we’re not planning on stopping any time soon! YOU moved HERE!!!!!”
But I didn’t…
And it got me thinking of just how great I have it living between country and city. We live in a town which is about 30 miles south of Minneapolis/St.Paul, MN. We have a WalMart and Target within 10 minutes, a grocery store within 15 minutes, and I can get to the closest mall in about 20. PLUS, we can watch our Minnesota Twins play baseball within a half hour. Thankfully we also have top notch medical facilities within that time frame too. I’m thinking that’s a great place to be.
We also live on the outskirts of the small town of Elko New Market where there’s one church, one bank, one post office, one gas station, and five bars! Again, a great place to be!
We can hear the cars at the Elko Speedway on Saturday nights, but can also sit around a bonfire and only hear the crackling of the fire and crickets.
We see lots of traffic going back and forth on our road, but also the tractors and combines (causing frustration and anguish when they’re going SO SLOW).
When my kids get off the school bus there’s dozens of tiny faces glued to the windows when their dad is sitting waiting for them in a big CaseIH tractor with the duals on! Our girls look pretty proud at that moment. Their dad does too 😉
I recently took my girls into the Doctor to have their yearly check up before school. The Medical Assistant goes through all sorts of questions about how they eat and sleep and if I had any concerns. One question they asked was, “Are the children ever home alone?” I don’t ever remember being asked this question, but I guess they feel like it’s their business. Whatever.
I answered the question, “No.” and my 6 year old daughter pipes up and says, “Well, we’re only home alone when mom and dad are both outside when the cows get out.”
I burst out laughing along with the nurse! “Yah, we live on a farm if you hadn’t caught that!”
I’m raising farm kids and that makes me so happy. We may be caught between two worlds of Rural living and Urban living, but I can confidently say that my kids are growing up more country than city! THATS a great place to be.

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That Just Happened

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My husband says to me, “Oh yah, we were supposed to get back to Mary about reading at Kaylee’s (our daughter) school next week.” I said, “Didn’t I tell you??? You go in on Thursday at 2:00pm to read. Oh, and Katie has a cow costume you can wear too!!”

As you can imagine I hear from hubby…”I AM NOT READING IN A COW COSTUME!” hee hee hee. “Don’t worry, hunny, you’re not…I AM!”

So let me back up…My daughter’s school has a farm themed week and during this week they get to dress up, read books, and have their education materials focused around farm animals and country life.

Kaylee was very proud when her teacher announced to the class that I was coming to read and that SHE lived on a farm near school. The kids that ride her bus know a little of her rural livelihood when they see her craw out of the skid loader or the semi to get on the bus or when she gets picked up by the combine or tractor after school. I think her dad feels pretty proud about this too 😉

So my reading day rolls around and what I didn’t tell her was that I was coming dressed up in a Jersey cow costume!!! This is what I get as I walk into the class room…

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Can you hear her saying it??? "That Just happened?" I walk in all smiles and shes just glaring at me like, really??? really mom??? THIS is what you're going to do here?! All of her classmates thought I was GREAT!!! They were laughing and clapping and so it didn't take long until Kaylee clapped too and gave me half a smile!

I read…

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and…

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I gave the kids some time for questions. “What happens if the machine gets stuck on the cow??” “What kind of ‘sores’ do they get when their yutters get too big?” “where do the babies come out from?” Seriously…I swear you could read them a book about the moon and they would STILL ask you where babies come from!

I loved every second of it because their little ears were wide open and they were so excited to hear about our farm life and ask all their questions.

When we got back home I asked Kaylee, “Were you embarrassed when I walked in dressed as a cow?” She said, “Yah kinda…I thought my friends were gonna make fun of me, but then they just made fun of you so it was ok!”

Thanks doll 😉

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A whole new world!

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Back from the dead!!!!

I am sitting in the Sheraton Hotel in Indianapolis, IN and reminiscing on an awesome 2 days I have spent here. Not only did I get to get away form my kids for a couple days but I got to do it with my husband! And I also had the opportunity to meet some pretty awesome people. Farmers from all different areas of the midwest came together to discuss one HUGE topic in our lives… “super weeds” kind of like those “super bugs” you hear about in hospitals. MRSA, VRE, ESBL to name a few. Only in the farming world these are called palmar amaranth, marystail, giant ragweed, morning glory…etc. Basically, these weeds have become resistant to an herbicide called geophosphate AKA RoundUp. What this means is farmers who would normally spray their fields with this herbicide are now faced with a huge problem because these “super weeds” have adapted
and have become resistant to the chemical and are taking over corn, soybean, and cotton fields. Much like MRSA is resistant to antibiotics. Thankfully the medical field has come up with a different medication, usually Vancomyacin, that will aid in the treatment of MRSA. Scientists have also come up with a solution to our geophosphate resistant traits in weeds…YES!!!!! Some of the brightest minds in the world have created a seed (lets stick with corn) that can be planted and treated with its “sister” product of EnlistDuo and it does not harm the plant but will kill those pesky weeds. Farmers will be able to grow corn without the weeds, and we all know that weeds are very detrimental to plants, flowers, and our crops. These last 2 days Brent and I have sat through lectures and powerpoints teaching us about all the chemistry and biology that went into making this new product and I was blown away. I used to think “what…you plant a seed, you water it, and it grows, and you have food!” I had never thought about all the time spent developing these products. Years!!! Yes YEARS go into technology like this!
I totally get that there is a fear in consumers about GMO crops and pesticide/herbicide treatments. It is kind of a scarry thought if you dont know the whole story. The products don’t come to the farmers cheap. Anti-weed products are SUPER expensive so trust me, we don’t spray more than we absolutely have to. And here’s another truth…farmers and ranchers feed my family. They feed your family too. Families are multiplying by the day and more people in this country will need food. We need to grow more food for more people using less land, less water, and most importantly less impact on our environment. Technology like this will do just that! I encourage you to ask your questions. If not here then somewhere to someone. If you’re leary of all this new fangled technology then just ask a farmer about it because they are EXCITED about it. It will keep their operations going for generations which is what we need! They are the “doctors” of their fields and they rely on science and technology to become more efficient.
I tried to keep this short and sweet, but really, IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS…ASK!!!!

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Kaylee and Macy standing in our field of Dekalb corn. Thanks to modern technology our corn grew 6 inches in 6 days! What a blessing!

Lesson learned

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The midwest is getting a break from the blistering heat we have received over the past few weeks.  Both animal and human are enjoying a reprieve from 98 degree heat and 90% humidity with heat indexes over 100 degrees some days.  It has been hot all over the country and some are in horrible draughts so i am thankful ours wasn’t too permanent.

Fortunately for us we only lost one cow and calf.  Some farmers lost much more than that due to the conditions.   Our vet had been out to give fluids and she was perking up a bit more and looking better.  Once the vet left she collapsed again and went into shock due to heat stroke.  She was 1 week from her due date so my husband made the decision to do a c-section and deliver the calf early and save at least one of them.  A decision neither him or his dad made easily.  The cow was already in a great deal of stress, but this was the calf’s only hope.  Unfortunately the calf had already died due to the stress of the mother.  I had gone out to the barn to help bring my husband some things, leaving my two girls back home with grandma and when I came in they were asking me all sorts of qustions.  I thought, “maybe they’re too young for me to try and explain what this all is or what death means.”  But the farm mom in me kicked in and reminded me that this is life on a farm.  The reality that sometimes animals have to be put down so they wont suffer anymore.  My 4 year old was very wise and mature when she said, “Well, we should make sure all the other mommies have lots of water so they wont die.”  Which we did!  All day and at night in fact…extra fans were brought in and damp towels placed on backs.  Hubby rigged up  a “cow spritzer” (what the 3 y/o called it) and I am still playing catch up on the extra laundry that 4 changes of clothes a day makes!  Enjoy the cool down everyone! 

Patience is a virtue

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My husband and I have a responsibility to our animals, land, and enviorment, to keep tham all healthy and sustainable so these 2 can come back and do the same!

Well, I just spent 2 hours in a very lively converstaion about humane animal treatment on Twitter during our weekly #agchat Tueday.  Agchat Foundation  has been a great tool of education and inspiration for me, personally.  What they want to do is bridge the gap between farmers and their consumers.  Comming from a non-ag background I can appreciate concerns from the general public about farming practices, animal health, enviromental issues, and ethics. 

I enjoyed tonight’s converstaion more than usual because it is something that I can actually talk about.  Some weeks are more into the science behind things or politics and those have never been my favorite subjects.  I have had the perfect opportunity to learn about these misconceptions in a personal way by marrying a farmer.  Why are cows given prophylactic anti-biotics??? (not true by the way:-) Why do you take the calves away from the mother shortly after birth??? Why do you give hormones to cows???  GMO seeds??? All these things and more are on people’s minds and its a GOOD thing that they are.  Who better to worry about the health of America than Americans themselves.  I have no problem with someone taking charge and chosing to eat a vegan diet because they believe its better for them.  As long as you leave room for the understanding that just because YOU are vegan doens’t mean everyone else needs to be.  Personal choices run this country.  Some should have more priority over others, but thats a whole other Blog posting. 

The questions I have written above were answered after spending time in my husband’s farm.  Listening to his dad talk about the animals more like they were family was inspiring and then to learn about the business that goes with those family members was eye opening as well. 

My husband and I spent a great weekend with other farmers at our Minnesota Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher’s Convention where we learned a lot about industry practices and how to utilize our resources to better our farm, animals, and our families.  It sounds like a broken record now, but the importance of sharing your farm stories is vital to the sustainability of our careers.  I’m pretty pumped and hubby is ALMOST talked into getting on Twitter-he’s the expert.  All farmers are!

Winter wonderland!

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All I got to say is HOLY CRAP for snow!!!!  Our area received over 20 inches of this glorious white stuff and apparently ‘ more coming this Thursday!  Ya know, I’m all for snow and having a White Christmas and all, but honestly-this is crazy talk.  Poor hubby has been out since 3 am on Saturday morning and has only come home for some dry socks, real food, and a bit of shut-eye.  Plows were taken off the roads because whats the point?

So, I get a little aggravated by all this because even though I have lived here all my life I still haven’t grown used to all this winter wonder.  Brent and I had plans to go out on Friday night with a big group of friends to celebrate the 12 Bars of Christmas.  It’s a charity thing where hundreds of people in Minneapolis go out and certain bars have specials and you buy a t-shirt to put you on a team and you’re supposed to go to 12 bars in one night.  Quite the feat-my mother said, “Oh, the baby Jesus would be so proud!”  I noticed a hint of sarcasm in her voice of course!  BUT with all the snow moving in we had to cut our evening short so hubby could get back in time to start plowing.

I work in an ER here in Minnesota so of course my thoughts went to my co-workers and hoping they all made it to work ok and if they didn’t-hopefully whoever was there could manage.  I also thought of the ambulance drivers and all the trouble they would have once the plows were pulled off the roads-them and fire and police.  A lot of people’s lives don’t stop for snow.  Farmers are also in that group-calf huts had to be covered, snow removal is still in the works to make it easier for our cattle to get to the feed bunk where their food is, our milkers weren’t able to make it so the family all chipped in and helped get things done. 

It has calmed down some though.  We are somewhat plowed out, it’s not snowing anymore, but its COLD!!!!  Below zero wind chills down to 25 below I heard.  Which means I kept myself and my two lovely daughters inside all weekend!  I’m still smiling, but I will admit I had a beer with my pizza dinner 🙂  What do girls do on a snow day? I curled their hair, put make up on, did nails, and we baked cookies-chocolate of course!  What more could a lady ask for?

dum de dum

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Well, here we are entering into the winter months in Minnesota.  I didn’t think the snow would show up so soon, but it’s here!  The guys are done with field work…obviously…and I am enjoying having my husband back in for dinner-most days:-) Niave me used to think that when winter hits that there would be nothing for him to do until Spring…WRONG!  I learned quickly that winter is just as busy, but with different things other than field work.  There is machinery to repair and maintain, animals to keep healthy, snow to plow!  haha! Our daughters have also enjoyed having daddy somewhat more available too!  Our evenings are filled with lots of family time-mostly spent with the three of them wrestling!  And ya know how they say that “it’s always greener on the other side” ?  Well, I am honestly struggling with having him back in the house more!  I am very happy he is, but the girls and I fall into our own routine and he’s kinda messing it up!  We eat, play, have a bath, read books, and have snuggle time in bed.  NOW…daddy’s home so I’m no fun obviously…and he hasn’t grasped the concept of “down time” before bed!  Well, we’re just getting started to settle into a new way of life so I guess I’ll be patient with him:-)  Gotta love him

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