The By-Products of Farming

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We own and operate a dairy farm. Our one and only product that we produce for income is milk. Milk alone. Yet, there are many by-products that most wouldn’t even know about.

Let me inform you -

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We have the pleasure of seeing a lot of God’s critters that are usually hidden in his creation.

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We’ve also have coyotes, snow owls, hawks, coons and more.

Another by-product is working together as a family. We frequently have 3 generations in the field.

Son #2 Chopping, Grandson #2 hauling wagons and I am merging. 3 Generations.

Son #2 Chopping, Grandson #2 hauling wagons and I am merging. 3 Generations.

This is something Son#2 made up when I was merging with Grandson #2.

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I have the privilege of watching my Son teach his son.

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We experience miracles daily.

Watching a seed that was buried come to life.

Watching a seed that was buried come to life.

Watching our employees enjoy God’s creation.

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Having wide open spaces for our personal critters to roam - even tho it can be messy at times.

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The sweet smells. I wish there was a way to share the delish aromas. The scent of fresh cut alfalfa, the sweet smell of milk and the distinguished fragrance of feed.

Having God paint the skies for us morning and night.

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Then there is the quiet place in the barns when no one is around where you can let the weight of the world fall off your shoulders and be filled with the holiness of God.

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There you have just a few of the by-products of farming. I could continue on for pages.

If you’re confused by the word by-product, just insert the word blessing.

I’m ever so grateful God plopped me here. Taking care of his critters and creation is an enjoyable honor.

You're Not Better, Just Different. Now, Please Get Off my Back

 

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Milk alternatives are better than dairy = a big fat lie, unless they are. 

How’s that for a confusing first sentence?

Nut juices and plant-based drinks that vie for your dairy needs have done a great job of “convincing” you that their product is better for you. Well, that depends.

If you are lactose intolerant (there is a dairy alternative), allergic to milk, or just plain don’t care for the taste of milk, then drinking the alternative is better for you. It fills your personal need.

But, if you are across the board telling us that the plant-based drinks are better as in healthier than you’ve just spoken a total lie.

Now, before you start assuming I’m going to slam the dairy alternative products, think again. I will not speak against a fellow farmer. You see, there is a farmer behind those almonds, soy and whatever else they are using to create that drink. As a fellow farmer I intend to speak the truth while supporting all other farmers. Farming is way too hard to pit farmer against farmer.

I will say though I am not happy how the marketing for the alternative drinks are. The marketing firms have done a terrific job piggybacking dairy. They package like dairy; they even steal the term milk and some of these products sit in the dairy case right beside the real deal. That is confusing for shoppers. Hopefully there are things in process that will bring that false advertising to an end.

I would like to tell you a few things about the value of real dairy.

Milk is always 100% antibiotic free. 
Milk is a food item that is never touched by human hands.
There are 9 essential nutrients in milk - calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D and B12,
riboflavin and niacin.
Milk is a great recovery drink for athletes.
Milk does the body good.
Milk is not full of added ingredients. Other than Vitamin D, milk is all milk.

Don’t be confused in the grocery store by labels and advertising. Milk comes from a mammal. I’ve never seen a mammary gland on almonds or other plants.

If you want info about the other drinks, then help yourself.

Whether you choose a plant beverage or the real deal – dairy, please recognize a living breathing farmer worked hard to provide that beverage for you.

 

Opps We HAD to do it Again!

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Oyyyy. Challenges, challenges. 

We use ag bags (basically long white plastic tubes – Farmer will cringe at this simplistic definition) to store haylage and corn silage.

We’ve been very fortunate to finally be out in the fields making hay.

Yesterday we were filling one of these bags – 12’ X 300’. You can link here for another blog I did when we were filling the ag bags with corn silage – that will show you how this works. https://www.afarmwife.com/www.afarmwife.com//2013/09/its-in-bag-repost-from-2010-this-is.html?rq=ag%20bag

A good portion of the day was used filling this bag.

On one trip back to the bag someone noticed a small hole – about the size of the bottom of a Gatorade bottle – so says Son# 2. He and one of the guys went to the shop to get special tape to take care of the hole.

When they were walking back towards the bag they could see the hole had grown about 2 feet. They then turned around and went in search for a piece of ag bag to patch it.

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On their return the bag had started to split. Then it went like a zip line. Split all the way to where we were loading it – about 120 feet. The torn section flipped all the way over to the opposite side leaving nothing but a mountain of haylage in all its glory.

Son #2 and Grandson #2 made a clean cut where the tear started so the bag wouldn’t split the opposite way.

Well, that worked great – for a minute. Then the bag started to split on top going the opposite way starting at the point of the initial split. They became Ninja warriors and jumped on top of the bag and ran back a few feet to cut it again. You know jump off the top holding a knife in one hand slicing the side of the ag bag.

Success.

Now, what do you do with all that naked haylage?

You have to figure out how to store it.

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We called the great people we get our bags from and they brought over a different kind of bagger than what we own. With this one you can dump a whole load right into the hopper or feeder – whatever you want to call it. (I need to take a moment to ask for forgiveness for all the wrong wordage I am using. Farmer is probably shuddering right about now if he even takes the time to read this.)

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With the JCB and a loader the feed was scooped back up, fed into the bagger and taken care of. It took several hours to finish.

We can look at this in a couple of different ways.

1.     Several hours were wasted having to do the same job twice. And, we are so far behind. Just one more set back.
or
2.     Well, wasn’t that fun. Something new and different!

We are choosing #2. It’s kind of funny how it all happened. And, “crap” happens.  

We’re grateful we had the nice day to make hay and the ability to fix the problem.

And, Son #2 and Grandson #2 got to get their “Ninja” on.

The naked haylage after the bag ripped.

The naked haylage after the bag ripped.

 

The new bag.

The new bag.

 

 

 

 

 

We're All in This Together

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I can become easily annoyed at something, especially if I don’t understand the reason behind the something. Add to that having a bad day or being tired or whatever and it just makes it worse. 

We received a phone call from a Right to Farm person requesting some information due to a complaint. I choose to believe this person was just like me. They didn’t like the situation and just wanted it fixed and fixed now.

The complaint was that we spread manure too thick and it smelled too bad in a field behind their home. I agree manure stinks and I’m not too happy when it’s in the fields surrounding my house either.

Spreading manure – natural fertilizer is a necessary good thing. Cows poop and we have to take care of it. Manure is an excellent natural fertilizer for our fields.

The Right to Farm guy came out and went over the records that we keep and went to the field with Son#2 and found no problem. We are following the rules and have done things correctly.

We follow the National Dairy F. A. R. M. rules. (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) and we have been MAEAP verified - The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program which is voluntary.

We feel strongly that we must be good stewards of this land and care givers to God’s critters.

This year has been a stellar year for setbacks and challenges. Having to take the time to put together the records, meet with the FARM person, travel to the field was all time that could/should have been used planting corn. And, it would have been nice to connect with someone lives near one of our fields.

Having said all of that, I would like to make a suggestion to anyone who has an issue with anything farm, please contact the farmer. We are more than happy to help clarify, or even correct a situation if it is within our power to do so.

For example, a few years back a small amount of manure splashed out of the manure spreader at a stop sign on an uphill corner. The person living there found our number and called us and left a message. Meanwhile, when the tractor driver made his trip back to the barn he saw the spill – until then he didn’t know about it. He called Son #2 and he and others went to the place with shavings and cleaned up the minor spill.

The neighbor called back and said they were amazed at how quickly and efficiently we took care of the problem. We told them we appreciated their communication.

We aren’t able to go door to door to all houses within smelling range of our fields but if we could, (and we’ve had this conversation with many) we would tell them we are willing to work with them and special occasions. If you are having a party or get-together, let us know and if at all possible we will avoid your area – whether it be hauling manure or working up the field. Our goal is to farm as efficiently as we can while having great relationships with our community.

While I’m at it and trying to explain a few things, here are a couple other complaints we’ve heard and other farmers have heard. Maybe I could clarify it here.

“Why do you have to wait until the evening to work in the fields? The tractor is too noisy.”

The answer: We don’t wait. Sometimes we have been busy all day long doing other things that had to be done. There are never enough hours in the day for farmers. If we have a time deadline or trying to beat the weather we will keep going even if it is late at night.

“Why do you have to be on the main roads, can’t you travel the back roads?”

Answer – we do as much as possible. Not all farmers have their fields connected in one area. When we have to travel to another field off the main farm we take the back roads when we can. Unfortunately, there are a few fields that are either on a main road or you can only get to them from a main road.

Those are just a couple.

We wished we had the opportunity to address each and every person and question when it comes to why, what, when and where with our farm. That is one reason we do farm tours.

I’m pretty sure most farmers are trying to do the best they can with their farming operations. And we all want to be a community that can live together in harmony.

We can’t fix what we don’t know – so let us know and we will do our very best to fix it.

Somethings just can’t be fixed – we will do our best to explain and try to find a solution.

We’re all in this together.

 

 

When Things Get Too Hard

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I finally got out of my “bubble”.

We had to travel to Ohio to pick up some seed. It was raining yet again. We had to have the seed so it was a “good” day to go.

“Good” day? Hard to use that word “good”.

It was a cloudy dreary day. The farther south we got the drearier and more depressing it became.

As we headed south we scanned the fields trying to see if the field we were driving by had been planted yet. Many had not. And, those that had been planted were hardly up and growing.

Then the standing water – worse than we have in our immediate area began.

Yesterday when I was merging hay there was a spot that I drove through a mud puddle. Our ground is wet but what we saw were bodies of water instead of puddles.

Mile after mile the land is under water. The corn that was planted is now drowning. The land that is untouched will stay that way much longer. It makes me wonder if it will be worked up at all this year.

As I watched farm after farm and saw farm houses and barns connected to the land I could imagine a farmer standing in the kitchen looking out the window or walking to the barn looking at the field behind the building with a sick feeling in their stomachs. Mentally calculating how many days there would be left to plant in order to get any kind of harvest. And, will it get done?

Some are tallying up their losses wishing they would have had insurance – one of the things they cut this spring because they were bleeding and needed that Band-Aid of one less payment.

The possibility of failing wraps it’s arms around the chest and makes it hard to breathe for some. The fear of “what will happen” robs sleep, sickens bodies, ravages emotions and wreaks havoc on marriages and families.

There are some farmers that are so worn out they just can’t function properly. Their mind is compromised and beaten down by trying to figure out a way to get seed in the ground that is too wet to walk on let alone a  10,000+ lb. piece of equipment necessary to do the job.

In that quiet desperation the anguish becomes too heavy to bear. The thought of being “done” with everything becomes inviting. The fight to continue has been fought and the only thing left is despair and hopelessness. The heaviness prevents rational thinking and that’s when the evil of suicide becomes a horrific action that can’t be reversed.

Please, please pray for farmers and ranchers.

Please go to their farm pages and personal pages and leave encouraging messages.

Please call them and tell them you are praying for them.

Please drop in and ask, “How are you doing?”

Please, please pay attention to them. Notice if they are becoming quiet or withdrawn. Ask them if you can help. Ask them if they need help. Offer to go for counseling with them. Call The Farmer’s Suicide number for help. Or go to this site for help https://farmcrisis.nfu.org/

Please if you are having hopeless feelings, call a friend and tell them.

We need you. This country needs you. You are part of a special tribe that can’t afford another loss. You are valuable. You cannot be replaced. Your family will not function without you. There is another way.

Following is information to call to get some help. Please, please make the effort to try one more thing – call:

800-FARM-AID – 800-327-6243 or National Suicide 800-273-TALK – 800 327-6243

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walk Around the Farm

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I thought I would take a stroll around the farm tonight and decided to bring you along.

These wagons are just itching to go - if only the weather would cooperate.

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Supper time - which is most of the time.

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A couple of newbies.

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I saw her when I was mowing lawn a week ago and wanted to get up close for a picture. She was in the close up pen and I climbed down from the feed bunk and ticked off a bunch of others to get to her. I really like her markings.

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These gals are just coming back from milking. The alleys are scraped and feed is on their table.

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My daughter-in-law does a great job with the flowers.

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While I was there tonight I snuck up on one of our awesome employees. He never saw me but I watched him. He was moving the cattle around and was walking calmly behind them - no yelling, no drama - just quietly moving them from behind.

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One of my famous selfies - a kiss from one of my girls.

A Letter to my Grandson

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My first grandson graduated this year. I can’t believe those previous years disappeared into memories. As a grandparent we have an honor to sow into our grandkids lives. We have the ability to purposefully bestow blessings.

Perhaps you are in the same situation and need a jumping off point for your letter to your own child or grandchild.

Dear Austin,

 You’ve graduated! Your first real milestone in your life. I bet it feels kinda weird. Exciting, scary, happy and sad all in one.

I wanted to start this letter on the day you were born and add to it. Well, you can see that never happened.

I do remember your first days with us. You were a scrawny, all arms and legs piece of miracle from God. I remember we laid you in the sun – naked to get your bilirubin down to normal.

As a child you were so very strong willed. Just like your dad. And, that is a wonderful thing! Not so much fun when trying to direct you as a child, but now, your strong will can serve you in a powerful way as long as your will is right.

I’ve watched you grow into such a kind, strong, loving, God fearing man. I’m so proud of you.

As you close the door to one stage of life and get ready to experience the next part of your journey I have a few things I wanted to share with you.

1.      Keep God first. Seek his face and listen to his voice in your heart. One way I always can tell it’s God’s voice and not satan’s (because satan will try his best to deceive you) Is that God calls me by my name. satan never uses my name – I’m not sure if this is true with everyone or not.

2.    There will be crap in your life. There will be times of uncertainty and fear. Always remember you are never alone. God is right there beside you. And, nothing is too big, too hard or a surprise to him.

3.    Treat others the way you think would please God and how you want to be treated yourself. One man has no more value than another.

4.   Keep watch over your words. Negativity serves no one.

5.    As you travel through life and you realize you’ve made a wrong turn, just make adjustments. God can handle it all.

6.    Admit it when you are wrong.

7.    Ask for forgiveness.

8.    Say “I’m sorry”.

9.    Be the last to let go when hugging.

10. Be the person everyone hates to see leave the room.

11.    Speak life – I honestly can say it makes a huge difference. Find the good. Praise the Lord.

12.  Realize you can’t hide from God – which is a huge blessing because you are always protected. You can’t do anything too wrong that God won’t forgive. He knew you well before you made the mistake and loved you anyway.

13.  Politeness and kindness count.

14. Remember someone is always watching you – you never know how your actions and words will influence a person.

15.  Be quick to forgive and show grace. You don’t have to forget and allow that person back into your life but you must forgive Unforgiveness only hurts the one not forgiving and when you sow grace, you receive grace.

My door and heart are always open to you. You could never do anything that would lessen my love of you.

You have become an amazing young man full of integrity and have great character.

God has a wonderful path set before you.

I am so proud of you and love you more than you will know. Grampa loves you and is very proud too.

Now, go out there and conquer your territory God gives you.

 

 

 

The Watchers

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In the last few days I’ve spoken with three different women from three different states and the stress level is high. 

We normally hear about the stress farmers are under and those farmers are female too, but I’m referring to the female farmer that is also the mother or wife.

As a woman I think we are naturally nurturers (not saying guys aren’t) and in that role we seem to feel like we need to be the one who holds everyone together.

We watch our husbands worry over not getting the crops in. Or when the machinery breaks down and tensions are rising we women have an overwhelming desire to fix things or to at least help our guys feel better.

“Fixing things” is not attainable yet we strive to the point of dismay.

We see relationships between husband and son, husband and wife, sons and sons  . . . the list could go on – deteriorate with each passing day that field work is stalled.

We watch as tensions rise and words are quick and sharp when normally they aren’t present.

We see the body language change. The hand running through the hair, the rubbing of the back of the neck, the tiredness in their eyes.

We try unsuccessfully to be the buffer between our farmer and bad news.

This year with so much going against us it seems worse. We should be finishing corn planting yet we have not a single kernel in the ground. Too wet. Then yesterday we had a few hours where we could have started before the rain came again but the corn planter was down. It was a holiday and with all the high tech going on farmers are at the mercy of their dealers. So, today the planter will be fixed while the rain comes back.

Simple questions about a field between father and son, mother and son etc. becomes accusatory without effort.

Conversations begin and end with negativity.

Sleep comes but rest doesn’t always accompany it.

Whether we women are side by side working, in a supporting role such as bookwork, runner, cooking for the guys or whatever, we watch.

We watch and then we try to fix.

When we come to one and try to get them to see the other person’s perspective we usually get caught in the cross fire.

Sometimes we watchers just listen. A husband or son will slip in the sit at the table and let their frustrations with others go. It’s a good dumping place. A place where the tension can spill out and give them some room to breathe for a while. But, the spill is usually soaked up by the watcher/listener. You can’t let the spill sit on the floor.

There’s a lot of attention on farmers and their emotional stability as there should be. This is a tough time.

I just want to turn the attention to the watchers.

For you farmers, sons, husbands please consider the watchers in your life. Be careful not to dump too much. Take some time to be the listener. Ask her how she’s doing. Find something positive to say. Even if you have to state the obvious – “Well, another rainy day. We’ll just have to figure it out.” Instead of “I can’t believe it. Another rainy day. When will it ever stop? How in the world will get out crops in and with milk prices so low how will. . . . ”

Watchers are strong and sturdy. Yet even the strongest trees will fall when the winds of adversity last too long.

To all the watchers out there – you are seen and cared for by the greatest Watcher of all. God stands beside you as you try to make peace and find an answer. He hears your frustration and sees your tears. He knows your heart and how divided it can be with the relationships you have. He watches as your mind spins and spins for answers. He knows. He sees. And he has one thing for you to know. You are not God. You are not responsible for everyone and everything. He watches and waits for us to take all our troubles and lay them down. He works better when we aren’t trying to “help’.

As a watcher, it’s a daily task for me to “lay it down”. We want fast, quick fixes but it doesn’t work that way.

As we daily practice to “lay it down” it does become easier at times.

Bottom line – watchers can’t fix. Give it all to the Head Watcher.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Took Normal For Granted

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I was driving past a grocery store and saw a man with an 8-year-old or so walking out to their car. The boy was swinging a bag and the man (I’m guessing dad) was walking along side. They were chatting and laughing a little.

In my head I said, “I bet he just thinks this is a normal stop at the grocery store.” Actually, he probably wasn’t thinking anything about the incident but what was going to happen next – where they were going, what they would be doing.

Every time I see an adult with their child there is a sweet sadness that wafts over me. My most favorite time of my life has been when I was in the middle of raising my sons. I really can’t explain it other than I think that was what I was created to do.

The thing is, I didn’t realize it at the time. Oh, I was having a good time. I just didn’t put enough value on it. It was just normal for me.

It was normal to dig worms out of jeans pockets, fish jackknives from the washing machine, bandage miscellaneous body parts. It was normal to have to mop the bathroom floor after a bath. It was normal to break up fights, to wrestle one down to clean their ears, to tell them 4 or 5 times to brush their teeth.

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Normal came in so many varieties.

Leaving clothes lay around and not taking clean clothes back upstairs. Chunks of mud on the floor in zig zag designs from their shoes. Ripped jeans and stretched out stained T-shirts. Endless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the mountains of chocolate chip cookies made. The list could go on for a long time.

After the boys were all grown and left the nest I stayed busy in many ways. I was on my back-porch swing with one of my wigglies and I remember asking God if he could give me something great to do. I wanted to do something that would have impact – especially for him.

He spoke to my heart. “You don’t need something great to do. I have blessed you with so many things and you have much to do. It doesn’t have to be big. You need to pay attention to the everyday things put in front of you. Celebrate the Ordinary.”

Celebrate the Ordinary became my new life’s purpose.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I actually found a Bible verse to back this up.

Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation! Selah. Psalm 68:19.

Daily, ordinary, normal benefits that we lose sight of. 

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Young parents that are frazzled by the mountains of dirty clothes, homework, chauffeuring kids from place to place. The huge grocery bill for the bottomless pit kids, the constant correction needing to be given are all blessings. Don’t let these “normal” days and years pass you by.

The same could be said in every stage of our lives.

The newlyweds that laugh at each other’s not funny jokes, the spontaneous trips, sleeping in on the weekend – whatever it is that newlyweds do.

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Those with older parents that you are caring for. The constant doctor’s appointments, the reminding over and over, the frustrations of care giving. It will all be a thing of the past and you will long for one more conversation. These are precious blessings – not normal nor ordinary.

No matter where you are in life, chances are you need to stop and pay attention to the ordinary. Normal, ordinary are blessings from God. There is much more joy in life when you appreciate what God gives daily.

Purpose to not let the normal go unnoticed.

 

 

 

 

 

A Mother's Day Tribute

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There are four reasons why I can celebrate Mother’s Day. And this is in acknowledgment of them.

Son #1 – It’s a wonder he’s alive. The first one is the experimental, learning one. He came into the world backwards and caused the start of C-sections in my future. I will spare you the details other than saying it wasn’t the best bonding experience. Trying to do a spinal that didn’t work and waking up to a new baby - it was quite the initiation into motherhood.

He has all the first-born virtues. He’s like me when it comes to certain things – mostly all his good qualities. He now owns Anchorage Yacht Sales and jumping into one of his “boats” is a luxury for us. He will always hold a special place in my heart as being the first.

Son #2 – He came into the world during a blizzard. Also, C-section. This time I was awake and got to meet him sooner.

He has my softer, sentimental traits. He is also the one who has the best memories of incidents, lines from movies and odd randomness stored within his cerebral housing. He also it the MacGyver of the family. Give him duct tape, a little wire and you will lack nothing. He will always hold a special place in my heart as being the second.

Son #3 – He’s a mix between first born and the middle child. I waited five years between him and #2. He was the smiley, happiest of all the sons.

He is our techy guy. If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times – “did you google it?” – when asking him for help. He also is one that can spout correct information about the most random things. He’s an avid podcast listener and has a plethora of topics he has learned.

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He’s a lot like me when it comes to righteous indignation. We both can have a zealous streak every now and then – more now than then. He will always hold a special place in my heart as being the third.

Son#4 – My last hurrah. The others say he is spoiled. I prefer to think he was easier – by the time he came along I was on auto pilot and not much freaked me out with him.

He’s a mix of his previous brothers. I also think he tolerates me the most. Probably because he was picked on and called “the favorite” by three older brothers and I went to his defense. Well, not really, he could hold his own but they said I always intervened. He will always hold a special place in my heart as being the final one.

Being Mom to these four have been my greatest joy. I am proud of each of them and who they have become.

 

 

 

 

 

Farming for Flowers. It's a Beautiful Thing

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When you think of farming, do you think flowers?

Here in West MI we have all variants of farming. We are fortunate to have a gem within our boundaries.

Veldheer Tulip Gardens
12755 Quincy St
Holland, Michigan 49424

Farmer and I have the blessing of being able to call the Veldheers friends. They are some of the nicest, most “down to earth” folks you will meet.

We had a cookout there the other night after hours and we got the scoop! Jodi took us on a tour and I blasted her with question after question. And, I just got to the surface. The more I asked, the more I didn’t know.

I’m going to give you a quick tour with a few facts in order to convince you to make the trip. Especially in the spring when it’s in its full regal.

They are over 6 million now.

They are over 6 million now.

I could have you scroll for hours looking at the tulips but I’ll resist. There are more than tulips here at the garden that I want to show you too.

Here are some you can see - hopefully this will whet your appetite and visit yourself.

You know how they say pictures don’t do justice. I agree.

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This is a peony tulip. Full and fluffy - looks like the peony flower.

This is a peony tulip. Full and fluffy - looks like the peony flower.

Notice the speckling on the leaves?

Notice the speckling on the leaves?

I will post more pictures of tulips at the bottom of this blog. For now, you need to see what else is at the farm.

They have a gift shop where you can purchase any and all bulbs. Some of these tulip bulbs can be obtained from Veldheers or you have to travel to Holland - the country to get them. Yes, they have exclusive tulips. Any ya’ll know you don’t want a tulip like your neighbors - come here and get the elite ones!

One of the artists that were choosen in the past for Tulip Time has her art work on display. Also, she bringing artists into the fields to paint.

One of the artists that were choosen in the past for Tulip Time has her art work on display. Also, she bringing artists into the fields to paint.

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If you need to cleanse your sight pallete, you can check out the buffalo on the farm.

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There is also a gift shop with traditional Holland gifts. Some are imported but many are hand made and hand painted. You can watch and visit with the painters as they work.

You can be fitted and purchase wooden shoes from Holland.

You can be fitted and purchase wooden shoes from Holland.

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Or you can purchase hand made shoes from Veldheer’s. You can watch as the shoe is formed from a chunk of poplar wood.

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You can have them customed painted.

You can have them customed painted.

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Now, back to the tulips.

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See that spec on the thumbnail? That is a tulip SEED. Yes, a seed. That little seed will grow into a bulb. That’s how we aquire tulips - as a bulb. And, we should be grateful. Why? Because the only way that little seed will become a bulb is with total perfect conditions and it will take a few years - 21. Yes! It takes 21 years for a seed to form into the bulb that we purchase.

There is so much more to learn. And, I’m going to go back and camp at Veldheer Tulip Farm and bug Jim and Jodi to find out more information - at least until they kick me out.

You can follow them on face book - https://www.facebook.com/veldheertulipgardens/ or on-line - www.veldheer.com

I will leave you with more of the gorgeous tulips.

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Nebraska Bound – Revelations, Ruminations and Reflections - One Precious Drop

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Even though we traveled with 16 trucks and semis full of supplies I told Farmer I felt like we were just a drop in a bucket. 

Consider this though.

 One single drop in an empty bucket is a start.

Add more drops.

If you can make it to the halfway point of filling the bucket you should be encouraged to keep adding a drop at a time. The full bucket is in sight.

With each precious drop you come closer to being the last drop that pushes a previous drop out of the bucket.

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Our convoy was one of those drops.

Preparations –

After going through this I can’t imagine the hours of preparation that it took to pull this all together. Kerry Tucker along with others (too many to mention and fearful to leave someone out) are amazing. We delivered to many producers many different items. The trucks were loaded in an attempt to have the right supplies for each producer together. Contacting companies for donations, contacting farmers and ranchers to find out their needs. Contacting locals for their assistance.  It isn’t easy finding accommodations for 17 trucks.

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This is what Michigan brought to Nebraska.

Approximately:

170 round hay bales

50 round straw bales

400 square straw bales

100 square hay bales

6 tons Purina cattle cubes

80 mineral blocks

25 hog panels

100+ t posts

200 Easter baskets

75 50 lb. bags of horse feed

20 bags of shavings

500 lbs. pig feed

1000 lbs. cow feed

60+ rolls wire

740 wood posts

Another 3 skids of cow feed – over 1000 lbs.

Miscellaneous fencing tools

Veterinary medicines

And a whole lot of love, prayers, encouragement and well wishes.

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People -

West MI community is amazing. All the donations for personal care and the awesome Easter Baskets made and given were over the top.

The farmers who donated straw, hay and other feed. Those who lended trucks and trailers. Those who gave money for fuel and food.

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The drivers and all that went along were good, good people. The best. Their kindness and unselfishness has challenged me to be better.

Family and friends that stayed back at home so others could go. Doing chores, milking cows, taking care of kids and other business.

All of you on face book and the internet that read the posts and blogs. Your encouragement was beneficial for all. Sharing and spreading the news was wonderful. It brought more attention to where it was needed – the farmers and ranchers.

Father and son hog farmers that lost 700 hogs.

Father and son hog farmers that lost 700 hogs.

I heard it said more than once to reporters or others “It’s not about us. We’re bringing help. The focus must stay on those farmers and ranchers that were affected by this.”

Many along the way would hand off money at gas stations, rest stops, parking lots. “We love what you are doing. I want to help.”

Producers -

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The farmers and ranchers we went to help are strong people. They truly are what’s right with America. They stand strong and firm, facing the future of rebuilding and restoring. Even when all is lost they carry a flicker of hope within. We all need to fan those tiny glimmers of fire with prayer and any help we can provide.

Some issues they are faced with are insurance problems. One farmer can’t get insurance money unless he shows them the dead cow. Many of his cows were washed away. Some are still buried in the sand and there are some on his property that aren’t his.

The hog producer that we helped had to pay $5000 for 2 semi-trucks to haul away the dead pigs. His insurance refuses to pay. There will be time spent trying to fight that.

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Another was told it would take $8300 an acre to scrape off the sand and silt from his land. Who can afford that?

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There are miles and miles of missing fencing.

Feed bins split and collapsed spilling the feed in the flooding waters. Those that didn’t spill over are ruined from the feed sitting in the water.

Those that lost the cattle had spent years growing their herd through genetics. Most animal replacement will be a long-term process.

As a farm wife and mother, it is hard to watch my husband and son when hardships come. I am only able to help so much. These mothers, wives, daughters, sons and other family members feel so inadequate. The toll this is taking on the health of these families is physical and emotionally painful.

People again -

Father and son producers

Father and son producers

The glimmer of sunshine in all this darkness is the younger generation. The sons and daughters of the producers affected are standing with their parents and are choosing to stay, not throw up their hands, walk away and work at another profession. They are committed to be the next generation to work the soil, to inhabit the farmstead.

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I must, I have to and I cannot say it strong enough – the kids that came with us are the best!! Farm kids are a different breed from non-farm kids. These kids worked their hineys off. They pitched in. They saw a need and went into action before anyone asked. There was no whining, no complaining.

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And they managed to have fun all along the way.

I’m going to stray down another path a moment. I try not to be judgmental. I try to be sensitive and caring. But, I just have to say. I think we are growing a weak, spineless bunch of kids when we don’t insist our kids work for the things they want. The bubble wrap we are using when a kid is bullied isn’t going to help them when they get into the real world where the bubble wrap has been used up. We need to let our kids get tough with real world experiences. Electronics are great. Life experiences are greater. Most farm kids grow backbones through the “have tos” on the farm. When life depends on your actions you learn perseverance and tenacity.

Perspective –

This event was horrible. This was life altering. It looks and feels overwhelming. There are mountains for these producers to climb. Standing on the mountain top of their needs this weekend gives us a clear view of how small our issues are.

Two of my favorite farmers - it’s the people not the things.

Two of my favorite farmers - it’s the people not the things.

The stuff we have here shrinks. The “things” we need to deal with need to remain things. Relationships hold the value of life.

Relationships created on this trip will last a long time. Memories of their stories will invade our thoughts. Blessings will be returned to us – that’s the cool thing God designed. When you bless it comes back.

There are still needs to be met. There will be for a long time.

You can help by praying. You can help financially. If you have a desire to help, send a message on the Facebook page – Farm and Ranchers Aid from West Mi and you will be directed.

We are all drops in this thing called life. I’m grateful we could be a drop that helped to start to refill those farmers’ and ranchers’ buckets.

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Nebraska Bound - Installation 4

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We spent several hours in Schuyler dispersing items. Many grateful people were there to pick up and we enjoyed meeting and hearing their experiences. 

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We unloaded and loaded back up Easter baskets, family tub of supplies, saddles, halters, fencing, salt blocks, wire, horse feed etc. One thing I learned – a weird phenonium. As you transfer 50# bags of horse feed from the back of one pick up to the other, the bags increase in weight as you go along. There’s been a study from the University of BS that documents this.

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From there we headed to Columbus where the convoy became a logistical moving puzzle. Kerry Tucker did an amazing job shuffling semis and trucks to their perspective producer. Many came to the location where we circled the wagons to pick up their supplies.

Then Kerry sent us off indifferent directions to deliver our items.

The water carried corn stalks and whatever it could pick up from the fields and caught on fences - tearing fencing out and damaging what was left standing.

The water carried corn stalks and whatever it could pick up from the fields and caught on fences - tearing fencing out and damaging what was left standing.

We had round straw bales that we delivered to a farm that had beef cattle. The river is approximately 1.5 miles from where we unloaded the straw. Their property covers the area up to the river. They lost most of their fencing and a few calves that drowned.

We were one of three trucks to unload there. Once we were unloaded we split apart again.

One truck headed north to spend the night at a friend’s house and then on to MI the next day.

The other semi left to head to Iowa for the evening and then back to Michigan.

We went back to Schuyler to meet up with the remaining drivers that were spending the night there. We arrived before some of the others so we dropped the trailer – thanks Craig for guarding it – and we drove to the river to see the damage. 

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After we went through four Closed Road signs we could see the effects of the flooding more there than anywhere else.

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There is feet and feet of sand and silt on top of the land. We were told it will take about $8300.00 an acre to scrape and remove the sand so farmers can replant.

While the damage isn’t as visible as when the fires broke out there will be long lasting issues. There are miles and miles of fencing that needs to be replaced – many of those pastures we won’t see driving through the towns.

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There is feed in storage bins that are rotting or washed away that needs to be replace. Animals in all stages of growth are lost. It takes time to build up a herd – especially with the genetics coming into play.

The clean-up, repair, rebuild and carry on will be a long-time process. The $$ will be costly.

Others left from where they had delivered their last load.

We all were hot, tired and dirty and hungry. We went to supper with one of our recipients. It was nice to sit and relax with each other a little. And we were treated to supper by the rancher who joined us.

We said our good-byes before heading to our rooms and falling into bed.

It was a long, tiring, hot, emotional day. There was great pleasure in doing this and many grateful hearts on the receiving and giving side of the equations.

This morning we were blessed to find out that someone had covered out hotel expenses.

So many blessings to come from this – some we will not know of for a long time coming and maybe never at all.

Check out Farm and Rancher Aid from West Michigan facebook page to see more pictures and read more experiences.

Stay tuned for my final - Nebraska Bound Observations and Reflections. 

Nebraska Bound - Installation 3

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We all arrived at the same time to our hotel last night. We rolled in about 12:15am Nebraska time. We had a good chunk of time that we waited for all the stragglers (there were a few issues amongst the vehicles) but we arrived together. 

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It was a quick sleep. We were treated to breakfast from someone who donated money to go towards a meal for us all. So, we got off this morning with full bellies.

Now onto the full hearts.

This whole effort is a continuous moving machine.

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Our first recipients met us at the hotel because the trucks couldn’t get to their farm because of road conditions. We loaded pig fencing and posts. Then part of our group went with a semi load of straw to another location where the straw was stacked for later dispersal from the farmers.

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This family lost 700 hogs. Within 30 minutes the water went from ankle deep to above knee level. Previously the highest the water ever reached was about 4 inches. Their farm is about 1.5 miles from the river. The land flooded past 2 miles from the river.

By the time it was said and done the water level was above 7 feet. They attempted getting pigs out but only were able to save about 15. Thankfully, the day before they moved their cattle to another farm.

Once the water receded they had a rendering company come in and they loaded 2 semis full of dead pigs.

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We had a couple of women come and take Easter baskets that would be handed out. They were extensions of us.

Eventually, we headed to Schuyler. This small town was hard hit.

We had a police escort . . .

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and a celebrity.

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We could see some lasting effects from the flood. The railroads are being rebuilt or repaired.

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We met in a parking lot and some of the farmers and ranchers brought vehicles to transport things home. Some farms couldn’t be accessed.

There were more tears and more grateful hearts.

Over and over we hear “We never thought anything like this would happen here.”

There have been some that don’t want to take cash that was designated. One young man was just about forced to take the money. He was in tears. Farmers are really good at giving. Receiving, not so much.

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When we were in Schuyler we were treated  like kings. There was enough pizza, cookies, desserts and water for an army. They were so kind.

It is now around 2:00 PM and we are still unloading supplies. Once this is done, then on to some individual farms and then to Columbus.

There are a few consistencies here.

1.     Farmers and Ranchers are tough.

2.     Farmers and Ranchers are full of hope.

3.     These Farmers and Ranchers will carry on.

Life will be different. Life will go on.

Anyone who eats, wears clothing, has furniture, medication, etc. should be grateful.

Stay tuned for future installations.

Also, check out https://www.facebook.com/groups/894013340738541/ for more detailed information.

Nebraska Bound - Installation 2

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To drink or not to drink? That is the question. 

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I’m sitting here at the World’s largest truck stop with my Taco Bell and a Coke. I purchased the Coke for the caffeine – trying to ward off a migraine.

But, my dilemma is – drinking Coke might kill the headache but the intake of a liquid beverage will result in dispersal later. And, once again, I’m not convinced I’m on the same schedule has the head dispersaler.

We have just entered Iowa. We’ve snacked ourselves through three states and we are now waiting for some of the others to catch up.

We’ve had a few issues – flat tire, straps coming undone, had to transfer some of the load of one to another and something about a wheel stud (please realize I know nothing about this and for those on the trip if you’re reading, feel free to correct in the comments.)

But like a flock of startled birds that fly off in every direction they all swoop back around and land together. Thus, we are in the swooping mode.

What better place than this. So many food choices and so many “items we don’t need” choices.

All in all, I think we’ve been doing pretty well, but this is my first and hopefully all of ours’s last time doing this.

I think the Coke is going to win out and I’m going undercover to discover who the head dispersaler is and buy them lots to drink.

Stay tuned for future adventures.