Year End Comments

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I’ve thought about doing this year end blog for a while now. At times I think, no, not going to and yet I can’t shake it.

 2018 for farmers has been a horrible, awful year. It’s the worst I’ve endured in my 47 years on the farm. Every day on social media I read about another farmer calling it quits. I read too often about farmers committing suicide. I read from my personal friends their heart’s cry of despair.

The future is dismal, and relief is too far away.

It feels like I’ve posted so many undesirable things about farming this year because frankly, that is what most farmers are living.

When I started to blog a long time ago, I decided to share the truth. To be transparent. And in doing so, it has been quite negative lately.

In a few days a new year starts. There doesn’t appear to be much to look forward to. Some farmers are trying to finish 2018 harvest and won’t complete it until 2019. Income prices seem to be stuck in a time zone – the 1970s.

I will continue to share the truth – the good, the bad and the ugly.

But I am purposing to do one thing different.

I will add one good thing each time I post. If we stop and search, there are so many blessings in our lives. Sometimes it just gets buried under the weight of our daily tasks. Somedays I will have blessings overflowing. Other times I know it will be a challenge, but I will find something positive to share – no matter how small the slice of goodness, I will serve it up.

Today’s Goodness: We are still here. We are all healthy and whole. We have full bellies, warm bodies and hearts to share. The weather is clear – no rain with a small possibility of snow late tonight. So grateful for no rain.

What's Behind a Name?

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These are four of the five critters I had to feed by bottle the other night.  

Let me introduce you.

Moe is the dark, handsome guy. You don’t see Curly – he’s behind me causing trouble. Moe and Curly are a couple of goof balls. Hopping around, kicking up their feet, causing general mayhem.

Prancer is the only female. Talk about ADD. She can’t stand still for more than three consecutive seconds. And, every time she has to dance around, she lets go of the nipple and twirls around. Which means I have to get her attention, get ahold of her again and get the nipple back into her mouth for perhaps 1.5 sucks before we start the dance again. Every dance step includes bending over and if I’m lucky – not stepping in a new pile of poop.

Twister could win a talent show that was looking for how far you can turn your neck while standing on all four legs. After much wrangling, this calf will start drinking and with each suck he turns his head until his head is upside down and you can’t hang onto the bottle anymore. Every third or fourth time he falls over and we have to start it again. Which once again includes a lot of bending and poop stepping.

And, then there’s Houdini. Now, this guy is an amazing drinker. Grabs the nipple right away and drinks the whole bottle without a problem. The problem is when the bottle is empty, he thinks he needs more and will follow you around trying to get more. This will include him banging his head up against any body part he can reach, sucking on the side of your leg and trying to get the nipple from the other calf you are wrestling with.

So, when he was done with his bottle, I corralled him behind a piece of plywood that was standing up against an old head lock. There was a triangle shaped space that would hold him nicely. When I came back with another bottle and was fighting . . . um, I mean feeding another calf I could hear him making a noise like he was knocking at a door.

I stopped feeding the other calf and looked over the edge of the plywood and he wasn’t there. A quick look around and I found him trying to climb up a board laying behind the headlock. He found a 10-inch opening that he squeezed through, climbed up another piece of board and was attempting to scale new heights.

I moved the piece of plywood and to say I squeezed through the 10-inch space would be like saying I shoved a 9-inch round cake into a cupcake holder, or a size 10 foot into a size 4 shoe, or . . . you get the picture. That alone wasn’t the worst part. The fact that Houdini is only 3 feet tall and I’m 5 feet plus 5 inches I got to be the one to clean out all those cobwebs and dust banners that draped across the top of the headlock and boards. I never saw that coming and there was a little bit of screeching involved with that.

I was able to turn him around and head him back where he came from when he spotted another board tipped on its side with an opening that would be able to hold about half of his body. Of course, he just had to attempt that. With his back side outside of that spot I pulled him back and turned him around to the original escape route.

Anyone who has messed with calves know they don’t move easily. Unless you’re talking about their bowels. Yep, as I was guiding him out, he pooped all over my leg and into my boot.

When I finished cleaning the bottles and headed home, I had about an hour to clean up and finish making dinner for company coming that night.

I mentioned I had to feed calves and one guest said something like “Oh, it looks like that would be so much fun. They are so cute and sweet looking.”

 

I nodded and smiled while under my breath . . . “as much fun as a three-ring circus in a haunted house.”

 

 

. . . Nevertheless

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 To say that farming is tough is like saying an ice cube sank the Titanic.

If you follow me or my blog, you have read more than once how difficult this year alone has been.

To recap:

We are farming in 2018 with 1970 prices being paid for our milk. Nevertheless . . .

The weather has kept us out of the fields all year long at key times. Nevertheless . . .

We still have a few acres of rye to sow, yet we can’t get in the fields. Nevertheless . . .

Calves that brought $400 each a couple years ago now bring us $30. Nevertheless . . .

It’s getting harder to find and keep good employees. Nevertheless . . .

The confusion to the public from the “crazies” about agriculture is ramped up. Nevertheless . . .

Rules and regulations are plentiful. Nevertheless . . .

This year has taken a toll on our bodies physically like no other. Nevertheless . . .

It’s difficult to find joy and depression is always knocking on the door. Nevertheless . . .

Overwhelming stress comes in waves. Nevertheless . . .

Exhaustion is more often and lasts longer. Nevertheless . . .

I could add many more. But. Nevertheless . . .

Nevertheless . . . what?

Nevertheless – God

In, above, under and through all of this – God.

God is here.

God is with us.

God provides.

God is ever present in the middle of all of this and we are grateful.

God has a plan – the details are unseen and unknown by us, but he has a plan.

While our position in life right now is not comfortable, pleasant nor enjoyable, we are not alone. God never promised he would wave a magic wand and wipe problems away. He is doing what he promised. He will never leave us.

We appreciate any and all prayers for farmers.

When you sit down and enjoy your dinner, pull that cotton T-shirt over your head, take that medication you need, walk down the store aisle in your leather shoes, or  . . .  you get the idea . . . say a prayer for us.

One last request.

For you personally.

Fill in the blank __________________________. . .  Nevertheless – God.

 

 

A Pity Party Invite, This is Not

Fourth and possibly Fifth Generation

Fourth and possibly Fifth Generation

I was told by someone they thought that my blogs about the hard times in farming were to garner sympathy. 

Sympathy - feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune.

Apparently, I haven’t been putting my words together in the right order.

Sympathy is the last thing I want or for that matter I believe any farmer wants.

Sympathy is a waste of time in my opinion for just about everything.

Let’s try again.

Farming really, really sucks right now. There is very little joy – we have our moments where we used to have hours and days.

We work as hard or harder. We work as long or longer. Our take home? No profit. It’s not even that we are making less, we are struggling to say the least. Most farmers are.

Why?

For us, too much milk on the market. Thus, we farmers are our own worst enemies in a way.

Groups of people who have never had a chunk of manure on their shoes are influencing the public against farming. The fact that fewer people are choosing (that is subjective. I truly believe God drops the farming factor into those he wants to farm.) the profession means there are less who understand the truth and reality involved with farming.

The weather has not been on farmers side.

And, in part, the lack of new products that milk could support.

As farmers we have learned how to get more milk from each cow. That should be progress – until the too much milk causes pricing to be lowered. Also, there are some farmers – usually the mega ones that have chosen to increase their herds. That alone is sabotage to the industry. Yet, I have no right to condemn a person for doing what they feel they need to do to create a better life.

To go along with that “too much milk” issue I believe the milk coops have done a disservice also. Looking back, I think there should have been a quota or a limited percentage of increase in numbers of cows or amount of milk shipped on each farm until more processing plants or solution to the issues were in sight. Yes, this all sounds easy in print.

Social media is good and evil at the same time. These groups who will not get one dot of exposure by name here, are louder than reality. They were fake news before fake news became a reality in the world. The groups always, always have an agenda that most people don’t realize. And, the agenda usually comes with $$ attached. There will be videos that are edited falsely, dialogue that is total lies backed up by yet another agenda seeking person or group.

Along that line, when you are reading quotes concerning food or agriculture, follow the trail all the way back to the source. Many so-called experts are some with a deep desire to kill the animal industry and will stop at nothing to get you to believe their manure.

The uncontrollable circumstances – the weather. For us this year we had a wet spring which delayed getting into the fields. Then there was a short drought that just about killed some of our crops – decreased the end product value. And, then we have had a wet harvest season where we couldn’t get into the fields to get crops off when they were at the best food value. We personally are still combining corn which is really late for us. I joked the other day that I would be happy if we got 2018 crops in by 2018 and didn’t have to carry over into 2019. That will be a reality for some farmers and that is not a good thing.

As an industry I think we need to come up with new ways to use dairy. There are some dairies that have done an excellent job and cornered a market – Good job!

We need to correct the fake news about the value of milk, the safety of milk and the people behind the product.

And, thus there is part of the reason why I blog. I want you to see, feel and know who we are. To see our struggles, our joys, our hearts. You need to know there are decent, caring people who put their animals before themselves. You need to know that when work needs to be done, it gets done – no matter how long. Dinners are late, plans are canceled, sleep is ignored. It’s all part of the picture of farming.

Farmers are driven from within – otherwise there would be no farmers providing food for you and your family.

So, I don’t want your sympathy – let’s make that crystal clear. I think what I would like is appreciation and value shown to farmers. My Farmer and sons who farm are beat up physically, mentally and emotionally at times.

Once again, no sympathy, just a little appreciation and value please.

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Two of my favorite farmers. 

 

Another Farm Death

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I just shared another post on face book about a family farm going under.

My first thought – “Oh, no, another one. Lord please surround these people with your love.”

And then this emotion that I can’t name (I think it is sadness, anger, despair, grief all mixed together) rose up and my mind screamed “What are we going to do about this? What is going to happen?”

That thought was followed by – “How would/did this play out for other professions?”

I wonder if the medical field, the entertainment field, the sports field professions were falling like flies – what would be the reaction?

I’ve noticed a few times lately with the entertainment industry that has had a canceled program will be revived if enough fans speak up.

The sports industry seems to thrive no matter what – although I really have no clue what’s going on on the inside. And, it’s on the inside that the truth lives.

So, how is it the main profession that keeps America, the world alive is so infected and diseased that farm after farm is dying. Farms are being amputated and there are miscarriages and terminally ill farms all over America.

Who do we blame? Who can help? What can be done?

All questions I have that are void of answers.

The intriguing part of this is that the people who survive because of this profession either have no clue or couldn’t care less.

Week after week they walk in to the grocery store, fill up their cart, take it home and place it in the fridge or cupboards. Many times, the fridge will need to be cleaned out and wasted food thrown away before the “new” food can be stored.

Food is such an easy, cheap commodity in America.

Meanwhile, back on the farm we are working more hours with no pay just trying to keep our life intact. There are no vacations, no sick days, no holidays no bonuses. The life that was once a joyful fulfillment is heavy with worry, fear and uncertainty for many.

Once again, who can we blame – and what good will that do?

A better question is who can help?

No farmer I know wants a hand-out. A hand-up for a period of time would be wonderful. To be able to make a living using our passion filled abilities is really all most of us want.

And, this isn’t just affecting the “little guys”.  There may be some mega farms that have figured out how to survive. But it’s all relative. What’s large for one person is not so for another. Farmers pointing fingers at other farmers won’t help a thing.

I’m not really sure there is an expectation for this post other than trying to dump my feelings onto paper (e-paper?) to try to relieve the heaviness of carrying it around.

There are a couple things I would like to ask though.

Please pray. Pray for farmers everywhere. Farmers are now the number one group of people committing suicide.

Pay attention to what you eat and wear. You can’t go very far without eating, wearing or running into something that came from a farmer.

Show your appreciation when you can. A thank you on social media, a note in the mail would be an easy encouragement.

If you have a question, please just ask us. Don’t believe what you read. There are so many mistruths and flat out lies (which would be a whole ‘nother blog post) being pushed on us.

As a dairy farmer with 4th and 5th generation coming behind we are committed to hang on and continue as long as possible with the hope that the clouds will part and the sun will once again shine.

 

 

Sadly, Fear Trumps Facts

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There is so much fear-based information or I should say lack of information out there right now especially concerning glyphosate.

If you really want to grab someone’s attention – use fear. Convince us we are hurting, depriving or harming our children or family members and we will jump at the chance to keep them safe.

And, why would any company want to scare us into choosing their product? Could it be that the bottom line is the almighty dollar?

Fear is an emotion and it’s much easier for emotions to rule than having to take the time to find facts.

Fear us easily understood and can reach out and grab much easier than looking for facts.

Facts on the other hand are cold and carry no warm and fuzzy feelings like emotions. Facts take a little time to read and understand. The science behind some of the testing is hard to understand.

People accuse us farmers of being paid by chemical companies to use their products. If only. As a farmer we are using the best products to help us be profitable. After all, farming is our business as well as our life. We have to be profitable to live.

I love my family as much as the next person as do most farmers (I can’t speak for all). But I would never use anything that I thought would harm them.

And, I get the whole emotional, passionate part. I’m emotional and passionate about the fact that as farmers we are so misunderstood. We farmers feel the blows of every “expert” that damns us or what we are trying to do – feed people.

So, let’s put our feelings aside and purpose to find real information – from both sides – that is credible and not driven by a group that is formed from emotions concerning issues.

Let’s hold our tongues, listen to each other, look honestly at the sources of our information.

Above all, let civility rein.

And maybe have a little love for each other.

This is one good source of information if you desire to learn:

https://fafdl.org/blog/2017/04/13/glyphosate-vs-caffeine-acute-and-chronic-toxicity-assessments-explained/

 

 

How to Pray for Farmers

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1.     For Wisdom – for God to show them when to move and when to stand fast. To make the right decision that will bring prosperity.

2.     For Faith – that they will stay steadfast knowing God loves them and is hearing their petitions and is working things out even when it doesn’t appear that way.

3.     For Good Health – Farmers work hard, long hours and don’t have time or resources to deal with sickness.

4.     For Strength – Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

5.     For Peace – to know that even in the tough times they are not walking alone.

6.     For Protection – to keep them safe from injury or accidents.

7.     For Prosperity – that bills would be paid, loans paid off, extra in the bank and the desire and ability to bless others.

8.     For Joy – in the midst of all this, a joyful heart with gratitude for all God is.

9.     For Love – to be able to love ALL people, even those who speak against and falsely towards them.

10.  For Grace – for all things that come into their lives.

Above all things – thank God that there are those who work this hard to feed you and your family. And, when possible speak some words of encouragement to them.

What Does “Whack A Mole” and the movie “Groundhog Day” Have to do with Farming?

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Wondering about that title?

Farming is hard. Not just hard it’s more than hard. Great families are losing their farms daily. And it has nothing to do with business choices, bad management, lack of work ethic or any other issue the farmer could control.

As farmers we are a resilient bunch yet there comes a time when it’s over.

Right now, as a farmer still hanging on by our fingernails I couldn’t help but see the resemblance to the “Whack a Mole” game.

I feel like every morning we get up, go out with expectations that the day will be better than yesterday and things will start turning around. While we are pushing ourselves upwards and towards that evasive light at the end of the tunnel, life happens and we get smacked back down.

A hit from low prices. A hit from bad weather. A hit from machinery breakdowns. A hit from insects. A hit from false news about farming. A hit from social media spreading mistruths. A hit from accident or injury. A hit from __________ fill in the blank – this could go on for a long time.

Day after day we continue to rise up, work hard, pray more only to be whacked down again.

How many times can you get hit before you are done? That’s the question all farmers are asking and too many, way too many have reached that point.

While I don’t remember all the details from the movie “Groundhog Day” the part I remember is that each day is a repeat of the day before.

Farmers would be key characters in “Groundhog Day”. Each morning you start out thinking it’s a new day only to find yourself repeating the thoughts of “maybe tomorrow”, “how long can we do this”, “what can I do to change this”. As the hours wear on through the day the load feels heavier and heavier. Going to bed each night you try to talk yourself into thinking tomorrow will be different. Then, each morning you’re right at it again, day after day after day.

Farmers are tough. Some of the toughest people – physically, mentally and emotionally are farmers. The average person could never work this hard for this long for so little if there wasn’t a little bit of Superman inside.

All superheroes can only be super so long. Farmers are over burdened with depression and are committing suicide at a heart-breaking, record setting rate.

This isn’t going away. As long as there are people on the earth and as long as people need to eat, be clothed, have medicine and more, there will be a need for farmers.

Yet, how many of these food eating, crop wearing people ever give a thought to those who worked to provide it?

If you are a consumer there are a few things you can do to show your support for farmers.

1.     Please pray.

2.     Don’t listen to every person who slams farmers for their horrible practices. Find the source of your information and make sure they are credible. Search behind the source to see if they are connected with another group that would benefit from slamming farmers.

3.     If you have a question of concern – go to the source. Ask a farmer. There are tons of us on social media that would LOVE to help you understand.

4.     Don’t stand in judgement and think or speak that a farmer could have/should have done better.

5.     Thank a Farmer – speak some encouragement into their lives.

Lastly, for most of you reading this your food is less costly than just about anywhere else on the planet. Appreciate your spot on this ball of dirt and be grateful.

Shout Out to United Dairy Industry of Michigan - Use Them

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Here in Michigan we have and excellent source of help in promoting dairy. UDIM - United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

I get all my swag for our farm tours from them.

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They have been nothing but helpful and encouraging to us over the years and have afforded us great experiences.

Being highlighted as a Dairy Family at the Whitecaps game has been our favorite thus far.

Throwing out one of the first pitches.

Throwing out one of the first pitches.

Our latest adventure was a photo, video shoot. Take a look.

Don the photographer. First shot of the day. Son #2 and family.

Don the photographer. First shot of the day. Son #2 and family.

Dan the video and drone guy.

Dan the video and drone guy.

Getting set up for the "Milk Toast".

Getting set up for the "Milk Toast".

The guys doing the "Milk Toast". Abby watching over it all.

The guys doing the "Milk Toast". Abby watching over it all.

Then we added some puppy cuteness.

Then we added some puppy cuteness.

Watch for this on August 26 - National Dog Day. Join UDIM on facebook.

Watch for this on August 26 - National Dog Day. Join UDIM on facebook.

Then there was an interview. I do great on radio and behind the scenes so I passed this off to Son#2 and Daughter-in-law. Jolene was the expert at prying information out of him. Jane looking on while Dan is getting the camera ready.

Then there was an interview. I do great on radio and behind the scenes so I passed this off to Son#2 and Daughter-in-law. Jolene was the expert at prying information out of him. Jane looking on while Dan is getting the camera ready.

I think the blooper reel will be better than the actual footage. All in all they did a great job.

I think the blooper reel will be better than the actual footage. All in all they did a great job.

This was the best part. Watching and harassing during the interview.

This was the best part. Watching and harassing during the interview.

If you are a dairy in Michigan, please contact this great organization for help in promoting our product. They are so cooperative and have great ideas. Check them out:

 https://www.milkmeansmore.org

What the World Needs Now

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I just watched another dairy farm sell their cows and turn off the lights in their milk house for the last time.

While I know some people genuinely feel bad for them and fewer yet really get it, the majority of the world has no clue. And, to add to that, they couldn’t care less.

They don’t connect the loss of a dairy with any consequences in their life.

Let me “clue” you in.

Every time the bulk tank is emptied for the last time we don’t just lose a business. We lose a participant in a valuable lifestyle.

We lose someone who is willing to work long hard hours for little to nothing in return.

We lose someone who doesn’t stop until the job is done.

We lose someone who puts the needs of an animal over himself.

We lose someone who can withstand being covered in slime and poop.

We lose someone who learned from the previous generation and is teaching the next.

We lose someone who will pull a calf from its mother and do mouth to mouth to save its life.

We lose someone who soldiers through blown disks in their backs, broken bones and sore muscles.

We lose someone who can fix just about anything with duct tape, binder twine and wire.

We lose someone who sings off key as they lug full pails of warm milk so heavy it feels like your arms will be pulled out of their sockets.

We lose someone who tucks their kids in the corner of the cab on a pile of coats to take a nap.

We lose someone who walks through a cornfield that is curled and burned from too much sun and no rain while promising next year will be better.

We lose someone whose hands are knarled, cut and stained with grease and oil.

We lose someone who wrestles critters ten times their weight and cradles a fragile calf in their lap.

We lose someone whose word is as good as a legal document.

We lose someone whose character, integrity and reputation are natural daily activities.

The world doesn’t have enough souls with these qualities.

The world is thirsty for what we are losing.

The world will suffer a little more with each farm that dies.

The world needs to pay attention and be concerned.

 

 

 

Light in the Darkness

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Right now, it’s so easy to write about what’s wrong with farming.

Never ever have I felt so much distress and dismay about my life I live.

Never ever have we been working so physically hard with no light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel gets longer and darker as the days go by. And, the tunnel is getting crowded.

Work hard and success will follow is what I’ve been taught. Well, if that’s the case then Farmer would be a multi-millionaire.

Just about every time I open face book to any of my farm pages there is one more dairy farmer selling out. Wisconsin lost 500 dairy farms in 2017, and about 150 have quit milking cows so far this year according to USA Today.

Some will read this and think that’s too bad and never give it another thought. It’s not just losing a job. Losing your dairy farm that has been in the family for 100+ years is losing part of who you are. You feel like you are disappointing those who worked so hard to build it to this point and totally failing those coming after you who want nothing more than to continue the legacy.

When I first came to the farm I watched Farmer work alongside his father. Our sons have worked with Farmer and now a Grandson is working with his dad. There are times when we have three generations in the fields together.

4th and 5th generation

4th and 5th generation

When people glibly suggest just sell out and take all that money and start something else they don’t have a clue. First of all there won’t be all that money. Some will be lucky to break even. Secondly, you can’t change the DNA of your dreams that easily or quickly.

Others have suggested building a bottling plant so we can have more control over the finished product. Well, I’d like to suggest that if the money was available to build a plant then we wouldn’t be in this position.

Everything in dairy farming takes time. It takes at least 9 months for a cow to be able to give milk once she has reached the age of breeding. You can’t turn on and off your milk productions quickly. There is no quick fix.

Part of the problem is some farmers are increasing their herd size to have a better cash flow. That is doing nothing but making things worse for the whole. Yet, I can’t fault someone for doing what they think is best for themselves.

The hopelessness for farmers has become deadly. According to Kansas Wheat, from 2014 to 2015, farm income dropped 95% and farm debt levels have increased by 25%. The farmers’ rate of suicide is 84.5 suicide deaths out of 100,000.

In an article in Civil Eats - Over the past year, media reports in Newsweek, the New York Times, and an in-depth piece in The Guardian have called attention to alarming rates of suicide among farmers and farmworkers, from grain growers in the Midwest to dairy farmers in the Northeast.

Basically, right now doing what we feel we were created to do is exhausting, depressing and is wrapped in hopelessness. So, it is really easy to write about what is wrong with being a dairy farmer.

I am challenging myself to find some light in all the darkness and share what is good about farming.

Here we go:

            Every day we get to enjoy the fresh air. We aren’t cooped up inside a building in front of a computer screen or repetitively doing the same thing.

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            Animals! There is something special about walking through the barns with cattle on both sides. It’s a calming effect. And, to help bring a new calf into the world is nothing short of miraculous.

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            The smells are heavenly – for the most part. The smell of fresh earth turned over in the spring and of course newly mown alfalfa is God’s perfume. Even the smell of manure is comforting at times.

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            Working side by side with your husband, son, daughter-in-law and grandkids is wonderful – especially when everyone is in a good place.

            Having employees that work with you and being able to pass blessings back and forth between each other is rewarding.

            Bringing guests to the farm to show and tell how God works is gratifying.

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I have been told more times than I can count that “God is in control”. I believe that. It’s just hard at times to trust that. Oh my, did I actually admit that? Yep, at times my trust muscle isn’t as strong as I wish.

How long will this last? How long will we be able to continue? Only God knows. I just wish he’d let me know.

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Farm Life Preservation 101

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What part of farm life am I referring too?

Anyone who comes in contact with the farmer this time of year.

For us with late April snow and never-ending May showers started us off behind. Now, add a broken-down hay mower and the chopper which has been in the dealership shop since April and no delivery back to the farm date and you have created the perfect storm for needing to know about farm life protection. This is what we call the “Angry Bear” stage of farming.

Here are the 10 guidelines of Farm Life Preservation 101.

1.     When approaching the farmer during this stressful time give him wide berth. Stay at least 10 feet away. That way you’ll have a better chance to duck flying tools.

2.     When approaching the farmer, make no quick movements and avoid eye contact.

3.     When leaving the farmer, back away slowly.

4.     While in the presence of the farmer, only speak when spoken to and speak in soft hushed tones unless machinery is running and then you must be able to lip read and shout louder than a jet engine revving up. Always agree with what they are saying.

5.     Never ask any questions.

6.     When feeding time comes push the food under the equipment with a long stick.

7.     Unless bellowed to enter, only go into the shop if it is necessary and when doing so, be stealthy and quiet so as not to rile the farmer.

8.     If he asks you to help him for just a minute, quietly text your doctor and let him know you can’t make it in for your liver transplant scheduled for later in the day.

9.     Always be on guard and ready to jump. The expectancy level is high, and you never know what will trigger it.

10.  If for any reason the farmer has fallen asleep, NEVER EVER wake him up unless you have had training.

All nonsense aside, it is a very stressful time of the year and all prayers for all farmers would be welcomed.

But, hey, I can’t fix any of the problems so why not have a little fun. The good thing is Farmer is so busy he won’t read this for several weeks and by then hopefully the “Angry Bear” syndrome will have past.

We’re Better Than That

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When a fellow farmer has a problem whether it be sickness, accident, fire or other natural disaster we farmers jump in and fully invest ourselves to assist.

I’ve heard many times how wonderful the farming community is and that the rest of the population should take heed and learn to work together and help.

I’ve been watching some infighting with farmers because of Walmart’s choice to use milk from different producers than it previously had. Walmart’s choice has left some farmers without a market which is horrible.

But, there’s more to the story – there always is.

Some are saying Walmart is starting their own dairy and adding cows to the market – False.

They are using milk from different farmers than in the past. Walmart is using milk from three suppliers. One of the suppliers is Foremost Farms – our coop. Another thing I know about Walmart’s different milk producers is that the milk has to meet certain somatic cell count specifications.

I’m hearing that Walmart is using milk from large farms only. I’m not sure that is correct. They are purchasing milk from coops and I know our coop takes milk from all sizes of farms.

I’m hearing “boycott” Walmart and whatever you do, do not buy milk there. How hypocritical is this? If you’re a dairy farmer right now you are hurting – it doesn’t matter what size, you are. By boycotting Walmart you are boycotting fellow farmers.

When we farmers accuse and attack each other we are doing the job of anti-animal activists. They can sit back and watch as our community unravels.

There is a farmer behind every drop of milk.

I was called out about a year ago when I wrote a blog that involved almond juice. I’m pretty zealous about fooling or scaring our consumers about food choices. In the process of comparing nut juice with dairy, I became very judgmental which shed a bad light on the almond farmer. One of my followers commented that I was totally criticizing a fellow farmer. They were right. I felt physically sick and proceeded to blog about my mistake and apologize.

This is happening now in mass. Large farms are being blamed for pushing out the mom and pop farms. And CAFO – or the very misnamed factory farms are still painted as evil.

In the spirt of transparency – we are a CAFO farm. We increased our size back in 2003 – we haven’t had any large increases since then. But, we did so to support three sons coming into the farm. We are a family farm. Our farm is hurting. We are all in – don’t have time to go off the farm to bring in income from other places. We’re sweating it out and working our butts off to cut costs. It’s not a fun time and it’s a worrisome time.

The bottom line in all this low milk prices is capitalism. We just don’t want to connect a family farm with the business world – impossible to separate.

I'd prefer to be referred to as those farmers who come to the rescue of other farmers, who lend a helping hand, to fill in the needed gaps of each other.

I’m just asking that we farmers stop the back biting, in house fighting. Let’s circle the wagons and try to support all farmers.

We’re better than that.

A house divided cannot stand.

 

 

O Bill Schuette, Where Art Thou?

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Once, again, Bill Schuette is a no-show.

We were at the Michigan Ag Gubernatorial Forum with the other candidates that are running for governor.

There have been several forums where the gubernatorial candidates have come together to meet the public. Events to hear what we, the public, have to say and what we need.

Yet, time after time Bill is a no-show.

Makes me wonder - why?

Is he so sure of himself he doesn’t want to waste his time meeting with us?

Does he have better things to do than meet the people he wants to serve?

Does he not want contact with us because we will ask him why or why not on his decisions?

For me, it just doesn’t make sense that he, who is trying to obtain an office that is supposed to serve us, has been absent over and over again.

If you know me, you know I support Dr. Jim Hines – take a moment and check him out here: www.hines4michigan.com

My opinion – if Bill isn’t available and present now, what makes you think he will be if elected.

O Bill Schuette, Where Art Thou?

 

 

Stop Scare Tactic Shopping – no Food Fear Needed

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I am beyond sick and tired of the lies being spread about our food safety in the US – specifically the non-GMO rubbish that runs rampant throughout our grocery stores.

Dear Consumers –

There is a project out there and its goal is to confuse and dupe you into purchasing food products that are not GMO – for their profit.

According to an article in the Genetic Literacy Project concerning a non-GMO company - Executive Director Megan Westgate told the Wall Street Journal that it is focusing on shrinking the market for existing GMO ingredients and prevent new commercial biotech crops, which would grow the business of the organic and natural products industry. 

Now, if you want to eat non-GMO food, great. Have at it.

But, if you’re purchasing it because you think it’s safer or more healthy than GMO food then please read on.

What is GMO – Genetically Modified Organisms?  Genetic engineering, also referred to as biotechnology, allows plant breeders to take a desirable trait found in nature and transfer it from one plant or organism to the plant they want to improve, as well as make a change to an existing trait in a plant they are developing. – from gmoanswers.com.

Are GMOs bad?

If you are fearful that there is something wrong with GMOs there is no reason to purchase non-GMO products. There is no scientific proof that GMOs are harmful.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) issued a report confirming the safety of GMOs and also their compositional and nutritional equivalency with non-GMO foods – from gmoanswers.com

American Medical Association, World Health Organization, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization are other organizations that deem GMOs safe.

Recently, Genetic Literacy Project reports that GMOs provides substantial health benefits and yield increase in crops. With GMO corn there is a reduction in mycotoxins, which are toxic and carcinogenic for humans and animals.

The mycotoxins weaken the plant's "immune system" and leave it more susceptible to fungal development.  Mycotoxins remain a persistent health threat and studies have shown a correlation between mycotoxins and certain cancers.

I’ve created a cheat sheet for you if you still want non-GMO food.

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These are the only GMO foods available in the US.

The following are not even available as a non-GMO, yet the slick tricky label is plastered on many items.

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As a farmer we use GMO seed. We plant the seed. We walk through the fields with GMO plants. Our kids, dogs and grandkids run through the fields. Do you really think we would if we had any fear of a health issue?

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People are starving.

The world is growing.

Do we want to move forward with technology and feed our communities or do we want to scare people into spending money they work so hard for on unnecessary expenses?

Here are a few other sites that explain and report much more than covered here.

https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2018/02/19/gmo-corns-yield-human-health-benefits-vindicated-21-years-studies/

https://gmoanswers.com