Dirt Road Charm

Motherhood, Agriculture, and everything in between

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Is my pillow really full of dust mites?

It is 5 am on Sunday morning and I'm wide awake and thought this would be a good idea to write a post asking for advice.....I mean aren't most people up at this time on a Sunday? There are a couple reasons I am wide awake. 1.) I swear something bit my wrist as it was dangling off the side of my bed. Could it have been a dream? I'm not sure but woke me from a dead sleep in freak out mode wanting to flip the light on and see if it was a spider, bee, vampire under the bed? Options are endless. However due to the sleeping husband I decided to abort the light and intensive search. 2.) I'm so excited for breakfast my taste buds won't let me fall back asleep. This new little cute restaurant opened in town (town consists of one stop light....population 600....maybe?). They have the most AMAZING cinnamon rolls and biscuits and gravy. My mouth is salivating.

Back to the issue at hand. So I have this pillow....it is my favorite pillow I have had since childhood. It could be paper thin and not really provide much at all support but I find it to be amazingly comfortable (perhaps due to the 2 other pillows I put under it). I recall watching an episode of Oprah back in the day when they were going through all the stuff in your house that is gross and you don't know.....here is my question....is my 15 year old pillow really full of all the dust mites like they want me to believe it is? Is it time to let go of old trusty? I have pondered this often but convince myself....not my pillow. These are my questions at 5 am on a Sunday morning. All professional medical advice is welcome. Do I keep it or trash it? Is it really that bad?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pinterest Christmas Success!

Hello All!  I hope that Christmas was an epic success for all of you.  After what seemed to be a week of holiday dinners and gatherings I am now attempting to work off all the food consumed so I can get out of these sweat pants....I really feel sometimes they should include them as professional attire especially after the holidays.  I'm not sure how the weather is in your part of the world but here in the Midwest we are getting what they would like to call a snow storm.  Now my thoughts of a snow storm and the weather man's thoughts of a snow storm must be quite different because I would expect 12 inches or so to be a storm not so much 2-4......but who am I?

While sitting here listening to the wind blow while tucked away in my warm house I would like to share some pretty cool things i created this holiday all thanks to Pinterest.  Now I feel that most people have heard of Pinterest but if you have not you need to check it out HERE asap!!!  It is a virtual pin board that has some of the most amazing things you can cook or make or buy. It is genius. 

For our family Christmas this year we decided to have a pinterest Christmas and make each other things instead of buying them!  Here is one of my favorite creations I found on Pinterest and made for my sister.

How cool is this coffee table?  Now the link on pinterest takes you to an etsy page where they are selling these for $340 dollars!!!  Here is a little secret....you can get these crates at Michaels and make this table for under $40!!
I also went to pinterest to get ideas to make food for all the different gatherings and here are some of the recipes I chose:

For Christmas morning I made this yummy potato bacon egg casserole.  It was super easy.  Layer shredded potatoes then bacon then cheese and layer again.   Pour a couple eggs with milk over the top and bake at 350 for 50 min.  voila!

This dip is AMAZING!!!  We had a cousins Christmas where all of the cousins got together since we all seem to live far apart and only see each other at holidays.  We also had a gift exchange with the "As Seen on TV" theme.  Hilarious to say the least.  I made this dip and it was a hit.  It is a different take on spinach artichoke dip.  You can get the recipe Here

And last but not least...the dessert.  This was the most amazing dessert ever and it was SUPER easy which is always a bonus!!  It is called Pumpkin Better than Sex Cake!
Photo and recipe courtesy of www.somethingswanky.com
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 small can pumpkin puree
  • 1 - 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 - 8 oz. tub cool whip
  • 1/2 bag Heath Bits
  • Caramel Sundae Sauce
  1. Mix together the cake mix and the pumpkin puree (DO NOT add the other ingredients on the cake mix box).
  2. Pour batter into a well greased 9x13 baking dish. Bake at 350ยบ according to the directions for a 9x13 cake on the cake mix box.
  3. Let cool for about 10 minutes after baking. Using the bottom of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over the top of the cake.
  4. Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the cake, filling the holes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Spread the cool whip over top of cake. Sprinkle on the heath bits, and drizzle caramel over top (just to your liking). Refrigerate for 3-4 hours, or overnight (best).
DO NOT USE PUMPKIN PIE FILLING. YOU MUST USE PUMPKIN PUREE IF YOU WANT THE CAKE TO BAKE CORRECTLY. The cake mix + pumpkin puree version of pumpkin cake may not be for everyone. I like it just fine, especially when it's soaked in SCM and caramel. But if you're not sure about it, feel free to substitute your own pumpkin cake recipe as the cake base. DO NOT mix together the pumpkin, cake mix, and the other ingredients on the back of the cake mix box!!!! ONLY mix the cake mix and the pumpkin puree. You must let the sweetened condensed milk soak in all the way. Letting it sit overnight will yield best results. Use the bottom of a wooden mixing spoon to poke the holes in the cake-- it's just the right size.
Try some of these out....you won't be disappointed!!  What was your favorite thing Santa left you this year?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Time to get off your high horse

While sitting here in Detroit at the airport while they attempt to repair our plane that has a leaky fuel tank I figured there was no better time to write a blog post than now.....mind you if they don't do a very good job repairing it this may be my last post! Ha! Only kidding....hopefully

Recently one of the inspiring people I follow on Facebook posted a picture that said "No Farmers, No Food, No Future". What I absolutely love about Anthony Pannone is that he gets you to think outside the box. He did this with replying "No Customers, No Money, No Future". I feel he pretty much nailed it on the head.

Many times I feel the we in the agriculture industry feel entitlement. Like if it wasn't for us the producer everyone would die. Now to an extent maybe but I think we get a little too high on our horse sometimes and need to be brought back a little. I think that if there were not all of us out there producing the food for the world many people would take it upon themselves to grow their own food. They don't because it is easier to go to the store and buy it and they've never "had" to produce their own food while some may just not have the capability to do so. We see the whole "Thank a Farmer" campaign but where is the "Thank a Consumer" campaign? These are questions I have.

I believe now we as producers need to start giving a little more thanks to the customers because if they don't buy we don't have a market and for people who rely solely on farming/ranching this is a big deal. It's time to create a balance!

With that being said the snap on truck just drove up to the plane which can only mean something may get fixed.....hopefully I make it to Vegas in time to catch the rodeo.......wish me luck!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Featured Farmer Friday: End-A-Lane Dairy

Today I am featuring Perry Cisco who is the owner of End-A-Lane Dairy.  Perry currently milks 220 cows and has been in the dairy industry 35 years!  When I first met him I thought that the name of his farm was quite interesting until you drive down his road and see that it literally dead ends at his house.  Hence the End-A-Lane.  Perhaps others picked that up a lil quicker than I....don't judge.

I would like to start off with giving a quick disclaimer.  Perry is the type of guy who is going to tell you exactly what he thinks and will not sugar coat it for you.  Which I think is great and what the Ag industry itself needs more of.....transparency.  So while you read his comments and answers to my questions please note that these are his thoughts and comments and not everyone will agree with him and that is perfectly fine.  That is what this series is about.   To get the views from all sorts of people across the country!

To begin: What is your favorite thing about the Ag industry?
         He honestly said " My milk check and deer hunting, and probably my cows too.

Where do you see the industry in 10 years:
        "I think it will all be bought and run by wallstreet.  Investment groups are buying so much land these days so at some point small farmers will be gone.  That's pretty much all we have left in the industry is land and food.  What happens when these investors buy up all the land?  There isn't much industry left that is independently owned.  Many of us in agriculture are lucky to say that we are, but for how much longer I don't know."

Do you believe that there is a gap between producer and consumer and if so how can we help to bridge that gap?
       "Yes there is a huge gap.  Most people believe that their food comes from the grocery store.  That is scary.  It will be hard to bridge that gap because people are so far removed anymore.  Back in the 60's probably 80% of people lived on some sort of farm.  We are close to 3 generations now removed from the farm.  That is what makes it hard.  We do the Breakfast on the Farm which brings a lot of people out and we also do farm tours but do you think that is really enough?

I feel he has some good points and it would be great to hear some of your thoughts on these same great questions!  Also if any of you would like to be the feature farmer or know a good candidate shoot me an email!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 26, 2012

I sell Monsanto seed and you MUST plant and grow what I say!

Earlier this evening a fellow blogger Katie Pinke of whom I look up to in the blogging world posted a statement looking for info on a matter.  She had said that while in NYC over the summer someone had said to her "I feel so bad for farmers, Monsanto decides what seeds they have to plant and tells them what crops they have to grow."  I don't even know where to begin.  Sometimes I feel that the Internet has made people loose all common sense.  Perhaps it,s because I work in the industry I know that statement is far from the truth.  If I were to hear this statement and it really concerned me I would probably drive out of the city, find a place that had grain bins or farm machinery and stop and ask some questions.  Instead people hear something or look it up on the Internet and take it for the gospel.  This amazes me.  Remember in school when you had to learn about the great depression?  You went and interviewed people that lived through it, be it your grandparents or neighbor.  Not just look it up online and roll with it.  This is the same concept.

This statement may frustrate me more than others mainly because I sell Monsanto seed.  I can tell you first hand that I do not walk onto a farm and tell a farmer what to plant and grow.  I wish it were that easy.  Do people not realize that the seed industry is not a monopoly?  There are many other genetic companies out there besides Monsanto.  For example: AgReliant Genetics, Dupont, Thurston Genetics the list goes on.  How would one company demand a farmer do something when their are other options/companies out there to choose from?  Exactly.  If I were to walk onto a farm and tell that farmer what to do he would laugh at me and kick me off the farm.  These farmers select the company they want to buy from and the varieties that they want to plant.  We help them by offering information on the varieties but by no means do we force or tell them what to buy and plant. 

I do not understand the evil that is associated with Monsanto.  A company becomes successful not by having a bad product.  They become successful by having a good product that you put a lot of time and research into that has a large demand.  It is no different than Apple.  They have evolved with technology so why are they not evil.  I guess haters will just hate.  It is hard to change their minds. My father in law says that people will believe a blatant lie before the true facts because it is easier sometimes.....that rings true a lot in Ag.  People try to  say that they want to make everything GMO.  Not true:  we sell conventional seed.  That is seed that has not been genetically modified.  Farmers have that option to purchase that seed.  Farmers purchase seed for what fits their needs.  Some need root worm protection or else they will lose their whole crop so they go with GMO seed that will protect against that.  They do their research.  They look at plot info and company research to see how these varieties do against each other and what will fit for them.  So these farmers have options and they make these decisions based on what is best for their production.  I have never been able to tell a farmer what he has to do.  If it ever comes to that point I will let you all know!

To conclude:  I would challenge you all to go out and find information on your own.  Please do not just believe the first thing you hear.  Do you remember playing telephone back in grade school?    Same concept.  Information gets twisted down the line.  If you are concerned about anything that is happening on a farm go and ask a farmer.  They are nice and friendly and would be happy to talk.  If you still don't believe me come and ride with me on some sales calls.  You will learn quickly we don't tell people what to do!!!  I can confidently say this myth has been debunked!!!!  Have a great week!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Featured Farmer Friday: My father in law-Dave Reitzel

Today is not only Black Friday but it is also featured farmer Friday on my blog!  This is where you get to meet some of the farmers and ranchers that produce the food you eat!  Since I kicked off my series with my father I figured it was only right to follow up with my father in law.  Introducing: Dave Reitzel (he pretends to be shy so finding a picture of him was quite a task!).

My father in law and his brother Kenny own a business called Reitzel Bros which is a used machinery dealership.  They ship tractors all over the country and have very successful at what they do. 
While running to auctions to buy equipment and managing a business isn't all he does; he also finds time to grain farm.  He grows corn, soybeans, and wheat. I thought it would be good to get his thoughts on some of the Ag industries current important issues.  Here are his thoughts.....
1.)  What is your favorite aspect of the Agriculture industry?

        -Watching something grow from practically nothing but a small seed into an important plant that helps feed the world.

2.) Where do you see the Ag industry in 20 years when your grandchildren are in your shoes?
      -I see the industry getting better with technology because people have to eat and as long as they don't keep putting too many restrictions on us they will be fine.

3.) How do you think we can help to connect producer to consumer and do you think it is important?
    -I think it is very important.  Many consumers think that their food just comes from the grocery store.  That is scary.  I think that the people putting on seminars and like you with this blog will help to inform customers where their food comes from.

I hope that everyone had a good Thanksgiving and survived Black Friday shopping!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The BEST Thanksgiving side dish ever!!

So if any of you out there are like me, I tend to wait until the last minute to decide what to take to family gatherings.  Last Sunday we had a thanksgiving and i was debating what to take and i remembered that my new Food Network magazine recently came in the mail.  I looked through it and like a sign from god there it was......the most delicious looking sweet potato casserole i had ever seen.  While baking it made the house smelled of deliciousness and once tasted it you were in utter amazement! I got tons of compliments on the dish and am going to share this recipe with all of you so you too can be the star at this years family gatherings!!

This recipe is from non other than the woman herself....The Pioneer Woman..naturally!

We may have devoured it before I could snap a pic so here is the one from the magazine
Ree Drummond's Soul Sweet Taters
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 3/4 lbs)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar -(this is the secret weapon)
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1. preheat oven to 375 degrees  Put the sweet potatoes on the oven rack and bake until fork-tender, about 45 min.  When the potatoes are finished cooking let cool slightly, about 5 min.  Slice them open and scrape out the flesh with a fork into a large bowl.  Increase oven temp to 400 degrees.
2. Add the granulated sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla, and salt to the bowl with the sweet potatoes.  Mash the mixture with a potato masher until combined and slightly lumpy-you don't want it to be perfectly smooth
3. Now, in a separate bowl, mash the brown sugar, pecans, flour and butter with a pastry cutter or fork until thoroughly combined.  The mixture should resemble a crumble
4. Spread the sweet potato mixture in a  14-cup oval shaped baking dish and sprinkle the crumb mixture all over the top.  Bake until golden brown, about 30 min.
Good luck, enjoy, you won't be disappointed in this dish, and....HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!  Don't forget to be thankful to the farmers and ranchers that supply the food for the meal today and everyday!!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New York City.....a city that literally never sleeps...really!

New York City.....where do I start?  I traveled to NYC recently to attend theUS Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Food Dialogues which by the way was an incredible conference.  If any of you get the chance to attend one of these if they come close to you or if you're like me and like to travel then go travel to one!  It is so worth your time, but we will discuss that more later this week.  For now I would like to share with you a little of my trip.

I must say that the trip started off a little rocky.  I have been to Chicago approx 4,546,164,651 times (exaggeration? maybe a little).  I am lucky enough to have family that lives there so I get there quite frequently.  I have taken the train, taxi, been downtown, traveled out of both airports, so I figured NYC couldn't much different...right?  Well lets just say it was a little different.  I took my mother with me for a little mother daughter bonding time.  My mom is that cute little country bumpkin that enjoys her rural life and on occasion will make it into the big city.  I watched her eyes get pretty big on this trip.

We flew into Laguardia airport and as we were walking out there is a sign that SPECIFICALLY reads: If someone offers you a ride you probably shouldn't take it.  Dually noted we thought.  So we walk out the doors and a man is standing there and asks if we are needing a taxi...why yes we are.  So he directs us across the street close to the parking garage.  He comes walking over with another woman and leads us into the parking garage to this unmarked limo......we all start looking at each other thinking this may be a little sketchy.  Finally the other girl with us says "I'm from Chicago and I wouldn't even take this ride if I was at home.  This just doesn't seem right."  We then decided we will pass that proceeded by the man throwing a fit yelling at us saying "is this what a nice guy gets for just trying to help and be nice?"  Dodged a bullet there.

We meander back to the entrance to the airport and quickly see the taxi line....Duh.  So we get in line and the airport guy flags us a taxi.  The taxi driver pulls up, gets out of his taxi with his pants are undone and halfway down his legs......gross.  The airport guy starts yelling at him and sends him on his way shouthing "you sicko, these people don't want to ride with you, get out of here".  At this point my mothers eyes were quite wide and she looks at me and says "do you think we will make it home alive?"  Needless to say we finally got a nice taxi driver that safely got us to our hotel.  After that it was pretty smooth sailing....thankfully!!

Here is a review of our trip through pictures:

Who says there isn't any country in the city?
 The naked cowboy....he isn't really naked FYI

 The Lion King: this was by far the most amazing Broadway show I have ever seen.  I would suggest to everyone to go and see this.  I'm not sure how the traveling show is but the original here in NYC was beyond fabulous and left you in awe by the incredible costumes.  A must see!!!!

 The tree in Rockefeller Center.  I imagined this to be way bigger because it looks so big on TV but it really isn't.  Looks can be deceiving!

Restoration of the Cathedral

Times Square: this city really doesn't sleep.  We flew into NYC around midnight and there were a ton of people out and about.  When we were headed home we left the hotel around 4am and there were still a ton of people walking around!
Holy Heaven!  We ate lunch at Serendipity 3 and had there famous frozen hot chocolate.  It was beyond fabulous!  The food was amazing as well.  If you are in the city I would suggest it to all!

 Our last day in the city we hit 5th ave.  It reminded me a lot of Michigan Ave in Chicago.  I splurged on a gorgeous rose gold Micheal Kors watch and a lovely Tiffany & Co. necklace.
That was our trip in a nut shell.  It was a great experience.  I was pretty bummed that the statue of liberty was closed due to the hurricane but I guess that gives me a reason to go back right?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Featured Farmer Friday: My Father

As I had posted last week I am starting a new series that will feature a farmer/rancher every Friday for a year.  This is a great way for all of you people out there that don't have the wonderful opportunity to meet and talk with these producers to get to know a little bit about them.  I thought it was appropriate to kick off this series with none other than my father!

 Not only a great father but a great grandpa as well!  He lets his grand kids do his hair :)

My father was blessed with 3 wonderful daughters and I am thankful everyday that he treated us like his boys.  We didn't hesitate to go out in the shop and help dad with machinery or field work.  My parents taught us at a young age that if you want something you have to work for it.  And that we did...when it came to raising fair animals we did it all.  My parents were not those that did all the work and we just grabbed the steer and led it into the ring.  Not judging those who do that I'm just saying I'm thankful that my parents showed us responsibility and hard work.  My father is a grain farmer and rotationally raises corn, soybeans, and wheat.

I learned so much by just following dad around.  From trips to the elevator to riding around in the tractor and learning how make crops grows.  One of my my hardest lessons learned was that hydraulic oil does NOT make a good tanning oil   My sister and I were on the back of the bean drill watching the seeds to make sure dad didn't run out because he was getting close to the end of the field.  Earlier that day dad had blew a hydraulic line and hydraulic oil went everywhere.  My sister and I thought that while we were out in the sun the "oil" would help make for great tanning.....not so much.  I'm pretty sure we had 2nd and 3rd degree burns on our shoulders and faces.  Those are the memories that I will never forget. 

While you have profitable years and not so profitable years these men and women keep going out year after year in hopes for a profitable year.  I thank my father (and mom) for raising me in the agriculture industry and creating a passion for the industry that gets stronger every year.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Birthday review and some fashion diaries!

Today was my birthday! Yay!  I had the great pleasure of spending my birthday down in Greensburg Indiana at our company headquarters meeting all the important people that make the business successful.  What better way could one think of spending their birthday?......I could think of none :)

 I was pretty excited to break out some of my new jewelry that I had purchased from Southern Jewlz and Keys Country.

My husband woke me up around midnight last night just to give me my present.  I was really surprised because I had told him a while back what I really wanted but by no means thought he would actually get it for me.   And HE DID!!!!

I saw this amazing purse at Spool 72 and had to have it.  How can one resist fringe AND Aztec pattern? Exactly my point! 

To finish off the day everyone at the office sang happy birthday and they got me an ice cream cake!!

And that is my birthday wrap up!  Pretty successful day I'd have to say!  I would also like to say thanks to all of my social media friends that gave a birthday shout out!  It is amazing how some people you have never met or only met briefly in person can almost feel like family! Thank you!

Also, stay tuned tomorrow for my new series Friday's Featured Farmer!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I don't know a more passionate industry than agriculture

I have had the pleasure to have some great jobs in agriculture since graduating college. After graduating I accepted a position with ABS Global selling bull semen and breeding cows. I met some pretty amazing beef and dairy producers that treated me like I was one of their own children. These people care for their animals like they care for their families. Heck most of them feel these animals ARE part of the family. I recently accepted a new position as the district sales manager for Stewart Seeds. While I still get to visit with my old customers I have gained a new customer base.

While out prospecting (stopping in to visit with people that do not currently purchase my brand of seed) this past week I stumbled upon a very nice and well kept grain facility. I was pretty excited because I actually saw someone around to talk with! This time of year it is hard to find people because when the weather is nice most people are out in the fields harvesting their crops. I walked up to the nice older gentleman that was hooking up his tractor to a mower and introduced myself. It took but only a few seconds for the man to start telling me his life story.

One of the things I quickly learned from being in sales is that farmers and ranchers LOVE telling you their story and why they do what they do. It wasn't long before I saw tears rolling down this man's cheeks. He has been farming for 56 years. Recently he has been having heart trouble and had to make the hard decision to retire. As of December 1 he will no longer be farming and auctioning off everything. If he still had his health he said he would continue until he died. He started farming at 15 years old when his father passed away. He said he left school one day, went to the local equipment dealer and purchased his first one row corn picker. And that is where his passion and career began.

It was hard to not tear up myself listening to his story. This is the most frustrating part when you hear these stories and then read rude and heartless comments on stories saying farmers and ranchers only do things because of the money. I would challenge anyone that has that opinion to talk to a farmer or rancher. You will learn quite quickly it isn't just a job. It's a passion and a way of life. That was shown to me that day as I stood there listening to a 70 yr old man tell his story in tears and be literally heartbroken for having to retire due to health reasons.

I was reassured that day that the agriculture industry has to be one of the most passionate and fulfilling industries out there. I truly believe that.

Monday, October 22, 2012

From a traveling duo to the pitter patter of baby feet

College is probably for some the most memorable years of their life.  I for one am very grateful for my college years for many reasons.  Obviously we are all grateful for the great education we received....right?  Maybe not that so much as the amazing friendships we made along the way.  I have Michigan State University to thank for some of the greatest friendships I could have ever imagined.  This blog post goes out to my dear friend Lisa Mitchell who just had a milestone event happen (you will learn later on in the post).  First off lets relive some great moments in this friendship........

It all started with this little activity one would call Crew (aka rowing). Now if you have never heard of crew let me give you a little insight.....it is the most physically demanding thing I have ever done in my life! 

Here is a pic to help you understand.  They are 8 or 4 person boats normally and you race down a river.  Well this is where it all started.  We met during this little sport and began a friendship that was bound to be inseparable.  Little did we know that we had the same interests and were connected by mutual friends....Agriculture, Barkow, and Potter
This was the gang....we spent most of our time and money at Leo's Lodge.  (I suggest anyone that travels to the Lansing area you eat there.....best food ever!!!!)  You tend to form a family while in college.  The people that you can always lean on and run to.  These were my people.   While we slaved away at college we got the bright idea to take spring break to Vegas....and that is when the traveling duo began!
In Vegas in front of Bellagio
In Chicago
We went from Vegas to Texas.  Then decided to try out Miami and many trips to Chicago.  Even took sailing lessons in Chicago.  It is the type of friendship that one calls the other and says lets go on vacation, we look online, find what we want, book it, inform the significant others, and off we go.  We also got on a groupon kick....anything that looked interesting we tried from sailing lessons to horseback riding lessons....why not?
Celebrating graduation together
The best part about our friendship is that we maintain it states away.  We can go weeks even months without talking and then when we meet up or call it is like we pick up where we left off.  Sometimes you never know if people realize how much they mean to you so that is why I writing this post.  I am so blessed to have such a great friend!!!
This dear friend of mine also just had an amazing event happen....SHE HAD A BABY!!!

I'm not going to lie...when she first told me she was pregnant I was extremely happy for her yet sad all at the same time.  It felt like my little compadre was gone.  Like I was now a lone ranger.  However thankfully that was not the case.  We still had adventures together and it was like nothing had changed.  Now she is a mother.  It is incredible how proud and excited and amazed you can be with someone!  Friend you amaze me everyday and I am so happy to be able to call you a friend!  I look forward to many more adventures together....with the little nugget too!
I guess this is what growing up is all about!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dr. Oz...You're just as uninformed as the rest

I don't know if many of you had heard about GMO's (genetically modified organisms) recently but it is all over the news.  And when I say all over I mean ALL over....from your television to newspaper to every social media outlet out there.  It has gotten quite the buzz lately due to Prop 37 out in California that would like all GMO products to be labeled. 

I have a lot of thoughts on this subject but I feel if I start ranting I may go on longer than you would like to read.  So to get to the point of this blog post:  I watched the episode of Dr Oz on GMO's......wow.  He starts off by telling how they are bad and we are making "frankenfoods" with no proof to back up his scare tactics and then so graciously takes a poll on who would buy GMO's if they were labeled.  Well of course 80% said no.  Thats like taking a group of people to a swamp and telling them that there MAY be gators in the water but we have never seen any...but they MAY be in there....who wants to jump in? Duh!  After that his wonderful powerpoint goes on to blame Monsanto...naturally.  I mean Syngenta and Dupont are also using GMO technology but that must be ok right?  Only Monsanto is evil?  This just proves that your need to do your own research instead of listening to a "celebrity" doctor who doesn't even have his own facts straight.

Here is a letter to the Dr. Oz show from a professor from the University of Ilinois that was asked to be on the show but was not able to attend.....check it out here

Ellen Malloy is a very outspoken anti GMO person who recently toured Monsanto and wrote a very eye opening post about her visit.  I encourage you all to check it out at One Hundred Meals.  She pretty much nails it.  They are creating a product that the consumer wants because the consumer is buying it.  Monsanto labels their seeds for the farmer.  The farmer delivers the product to the elevator labeled.  It is then purchased by a company to create yummy foods for you which is where the label is lost.  Now who's to blame?

Bottom line to my rant is that I feel we all should have choices and you need to be educated about your choices.  this means find real evidence and not what some uninformed celebrity doctor has to say.  there is no need to try to force everyone to think the same and agree on everything.  It just won't happen.  If you feel strongly about something then influence it with your purchasing power.  Demand speaks volumes.

End rant-good day!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mr Roboto....The theme song for the Dairy Industry!!

I had the great opportunity to attend World Dairy Expo last week in Madison, WI for the first time.  It is pretty amazing to see the technology that the dairy industry is implementing these days.  It appears that everything is going robotic or automated.  From robotic milkers to automatic calf feeders to robotic feed pushers.  It is pretty amazing to see all these technologies in use and working.  I had the opportunity to visit a couple working robots and all I can say is AMAZING.

These robots pretty much do it all.  They clean and dip the teats then with a laser they are able to find the teats and attach the milkers.  After milking they dip again and send the cow on their way.  It is pretty neat to watch. You can just sense the calmness in the cattle compared to having to be pushed to the parlor multiple times a day.  These cows have the luxury of going to the parlor as they please.  Now not all cows are as cooperative as others.  There is still the potential to have to go and get cows to the milker

It appears that these little robots are saving dairies as well.  One of the diaries that I visited told me that they were to the point of either getting out of the business or going robotic.  They were at this point of decision making due to lack of help and needing a new facility.  They decided to go with the robotic milkers and he said he couldn't be happier with his decision.  Here are some pics of these cool little contraptions:

If you get a chance to check out any of these robotic milkers I really suggest you do so!  You will pretty amazed at how they work.  I hope that you all have a great week!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Would you like to walk my cows in those loafers?

I'm not sure if it is that time of year for insurance and bank salesman to make their rounds but I have seen quite a few of them lately on my travels.  I was recently dropping off supplies and product (by product I mean semen but i feel product is more politically correct) at one of my customers dairies and I see this man walking towards me in a suit and loafers carrying his coffee and dodging manure spills in the drive.  The best part is I'm sure they guy thought they were mud holes..Ha!  Naturally he walks up to me and asks if I work there....negative ghostrider.  I explain to him where he can find the owner and he starts on his trek down the drive walking on tip toes.

I can't help but think to myself...what exactly does a producer think of a salesman at first impression that comes walking up in a suit and shiny loafers?  Being in sales quite a few years and calling on the lovely people I can tell you first hand that they rarely stop what they are doing to listen to your sales pitch.  Many times I have walked cow pens with these guys or hopped in the tractor and talked while spreading a round of manure.  Are you really gonna walk cows in those loafers?.....some may.

So here is my question.....should we be prepared attire wise for whom we are trying to approach?  Do farmers and ranchers immediately make a decision of your product or if they even want to speak to you by what you are wearing that day?  Should insurance salesmen ditch the suit and come in jeans and boots?  I thought this was a great question because I see so many salesmen show up all fancy to a cattle facility and I think....What really are you going to do?

I would love some input from producers who encounter these fancified salesmen to know if it makes a difference on listening to their pitch or if you don't even noticed or care how they are dressed.

Have a great week and stay tuned because I will be attending my first ever World Dairy Expo!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Warrior Dash and Giveaway WINNER!!!!!

This past weekend I did the all amazing Warrior Dash in Grand Rapids, MI.  I did this same race last year and it was so much fun we decided to do it again.  Well....this year was quite a bit tougher.  Last year I had no problem completing all the obstacles with ease....this year not so much.  I had no problem with most all of them except one.  There was a bunch of floating boxes in the water that you had to climb over and there were four sets of them.  The first was no problem until you jumped off the first set of boxes and found you could no longer touch!!  Try pulling yourself up onto a floating box while everyone behind you is trying to grab on because they can't touch.  Needless to say it got quite chaotic.  With that said I encourage everyone to try this race....it is a BLAST!!!

The group of us after the race
My friend Ashlee and I showing off our warrior faces!
My favorite part of the whole race.....the Ginormous Turkey leg!!
On to the important part.....And the WINNER IS.....
Dirt Road Dreamer
Send me an email with your contact information and address and your Departed Swag will be on its way!! Thanks to everyone who participated and stay tuned for the next giveaway!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

GIVEAWAY!! #WorthTheFight

If any of you read my blog post yesterday you got to get a little preview of Cody Canada and The Departed's new single Worth The Fight that will be on their new album ADVENTUS that is released November 13.  You also got to see a few examples of why my passion for agvocating the Ag industry is Worth The Fight. 

This whole thing got started by Carrie Mess having an idea to incorporate agvocating Ag by showing what we think is Worth The Fight with promoting The Departed's new single and seeing if bringing the two together could bring new followers and support to Ag.  Well I must say I believe she accomplished her goal!  The response was overwhelming and the support from The Departed was amazing!!  On twitter we used the hashtag (#) #WorthTheFight to promote the blog posts and to show what we fought for and by mid day The Departed had shared all of our posts on both their facebook page and twitter.  It was neat to see the comments from people such as "we love to see all your farming friends supporting your single".  I had more traffic to my blog in just that day yesterday than I think I have since I started blogging.

Now onto the Giveaway.....

Since I was thoroughly impressed with Cody Canada and The Departed's support and sharing our posts and tweets I want to share a little Departed merchandise with you!!  How exciting is that?  Since their new album will be coming out in November I will be giving away their current album This Is Indian Land.  I purchased this album the day it was released and let me tell you it is kick ass!  I may have every single album that Cross Canadian Ragweed ever released and Cody Canada is by far one of the most talented people you could meet.  He could play the spoons and still make a kick ass album.  Along with the album you will get their awesome trucker hat.....who doesn't need one of those?

All you have to do to be entered in the giveaway is....

1.) Become a follower of the blog and leave a comment that you follow or if your already a follower comment you follow

2.) Share this giveaway on either twitter or facebook.

The winner will be announced Monday September 17.

Good Luck!!!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cody Canada and The Departed + Agvocating = Dynamic Duo

While many of you may already know I am one the biggest red dirt music fans ever if not the number 1 fan!!  I have many favorite bands but one of my ultimate favs would have to be Cody Canada....while I loved him in Cross Canadian Ragweed he is just as amazing in The Departed!

The Departed currently released their first single to the Texas country music scene for their new album coming out November 13 called ADVENTUS. The single is called Worth The Fight and you can listen to this awesome song here!

This song has a great title because it reminds me in some ways why I love agvocating and why I do what I do. Sharing my passion for agriculture is definitely "worth the fight".  While fighting isn't really the motive behind my agvocating but sometimes these debates can get heated.  When you are passionate about something and emotions are involved sometimes you find yourself getting defensive and wanting to fight back.

I have grown so much as a person since I started blogging and sharing my story just by connecting with some of the best agvocates in the industry.  They have taught me how to be a better listener and to try to find a connection with people that share a different view than you.  This will enable the start of a conversation and help to get a better understanding of their concerns instead of just getting into a heated debate and solving nothing. 

Another great lesson learned is to stop trying to create divisions within the industry and to support all sectors.  While attending the AgChat Foundation Advocacy Conference in Kansas city I heard many great statements that really hit hard and made me think about my actions such as "United
We Stand-Divided We Fall" quoted by Michele Payn-Knoper and "If people are eating they are supporting agriculture" quoted by Mike Haley.  There are many choices out there and we should support all choices even if they aren't our choices. 

These great lessons have helped me grow as as agvocate and help me show the truths about agriculture to all those who will listen.  I recently had someone tell me thank you for my blog because it connects them with the correct information and they don't have to sort through all the articles out there and they are able to stay current and up to date on what is going on in the industry.  Those comments are what make it "Worth The Fight".

Now go support The Departed, listen to their single, and buy their album when it's released!!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Seperation of School and Parenting? My take on the school lunch debacle

Yesterday the USDA held a twitter chat for people to ask questions and voice concerns about the changes to the school lunch programs.  At the time I was unsure of my thoughts on the situation and from what every one was posting children were going to starve and not get any protein because of the changes.  Of course one would be concerned.  Well.....after reading the transcript from the discussion and doing my own little research I have picked a side.....unlike most I am in favor of these changes.

I think back to my days in elementary and high school.  We all ate the same foods 1st grade through high school.   School menu was the same for both.  Mind you this was a solid 12+ years ago since I started high school.  Our lunch was far from nutritious.  We had pizza and fries every Friday.  We had some form of french fry or tator tot 3-4 times a week whether it was french fry, curly fry, smiley fries, potato wedge, tator tots, waffle fries.  I'm fairy certain there was a potato every day of the week sometimes.  Why was this not an issue then but now that they want to add more fruits and vegetables and whole grains we are throwing a fit?  I don't get it!

I did a little investigating and the new requirements for protein are min 10 oz to max 12 oz.  Well with the research I found here and here the weekly intake requirements for a healthy growing young adult are slightly over 9 oz.  So why are we so concerned they won't get enough protein and will be tired and hungry?

I would like to share some of the questions asked during the discussion and share my thoughts....
  • aren't school lunches to help the poor? What abt those kids whose moms aren't able to provide that healthy food after school?
When did schools become responsible for children's home life?  Are schools supposed to supply supper for children as well for those that may not get the best options at home?  And yes school lunches do help the poor....its called free and reduced lunches
  • What do you think about all the food that is getting thrown away because kids refuse to eat it?
Here again.  The school is in charge of providing a balanced meal for children.  Not in charge of making sure children clean their plate.  If you go to any restaurant there is going to be a ton of waste as well.  Should we step in and help decide the menu so everyone eats everything on the plate?
  • Protein is shown to curb hunger and keep people full longer. Skimpy protein portions will contribute to hunger and poor focus.
Like stated before.  I don't know where people are getting the skimping on protein.  The are required to get atleast  10 oz of protein a week.  A growing male age 14-18 is required to have slightly over 9 oz of protein in a 5 day week (school week) to maintain a healthy diet.....
This one if my favorite....you have an athlete and you are outraged that the USDA said you may provide a snack for your student for before practice and you don't think you should have to supply that?  Are you not the parent here?  Should you not support and supply for YOUR child?  I was a very active student athlete.  We were not given extra food or snacks just because we were athletes.  We brought snacks to have before practice if we were hungry.   How is that the schools responsibility?
  • A9 I know a flier of a vegetable wasn't going to get me to eat more vegetables. #ASkUSDA
Here is where the parent needs to again take responsibility.  If you raise a child eating a healthy diet having to eat fruits and vegetables in school should not be an issue.  If you raise your child eating junk food like pizza and Cheetos everyday then no vegetables and fruits will not be appealing now will they?
  •  And the list goes on....you can find the transcript here to see all the questions and answers
I feel the government was trying to be proactive in the fight against childhood obesity and instead of embracing it we are fighting it.  I can almost guarantee that the reason for childhood obesity doesn't come from school lunch.  Growing up we were outside 90% of the time playing in the woods, the creek, sports, riding bikes with friends.  I look at my friends children and they are Nintendo superstars.  I just think that children are not nearly as active as they used to be.
I called my sister who is an Ag teacher at a local public school and she shared with me the meal for the day
Now explain to me how that is skimping and won't fill you up....baked beans, peaches, celery, pickle, rib eye sandwich, and milk.  Looks good to me.  She said that the meals this year are by far way better than last year.  She said their was a potato at every meal and the portions were much less last year.  With the new program they get better foods which means larger portions.  She said the meals are much less carb loaded. 
I just think that if you are that concerned of a parent you have the option to pack your kids lunch.  We had a one size fits all model my whole time through school.  You can't expect to offer 10 different meals in hopes everyone was happy.  My mom made one meal for supper.  If we didn't like it we went to bed hungry because she wasn't about to make 5 different dishes just so everyone got what they wanted.
Many people also make the comment about many of the children in their communities that are low income and the school lunch is the only good meal they get and we are leaving them hungry.  This again I don't understand.  How is it the schools responsibility to control the lifestyle that a family provides for a child.  Many schools now provide breakfast.  We were never offered breakfast at school.  So now schools are providing 2 of the 3 meals for the day......why don't we just have them make supper as well.  We have to make parents take responsibility which I find in society these days is getting harder and harder....it is much easier to pass the blame.  The school is not responsible for raising and providing for your child....you the parent are. 
So those are my thoughts and I could be way off here and if I am please feel free to share your comments.  Good Day!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

AgChat....the Best Conference Yet!!

I had the amazing opportunity to attend the AgChat Foundation 2.0 Conference this past week in Kansas City.  There is not enough I can say about this conference.  It was literally the first conference I have ever been to that captured my attention the whole time.  Not once did I ever lose interest or want to close my eyes in boredom and take a nap!  It was so very inspiring and literally gets you excited!

The conference really helped show you how to better share your story of agriculture through all the social media tools.  Also the presentations by some of the industry leaders were very informational and eye opening as to what consumers are thinking and seeing when it comes to the agriculture industry.

One of the greatest things I love about the agriculture industry as a whole is that the people are so welcoming and friendly. I headed off to this conference not knowing a single person.  Many of the people I knew through social media but had never met in person.  I happened to get connected with another person to share a room and save on hotel costs which was exciting because then I figured I would be able to meet someone and maybe "piggy back" them throughout the conference since I didn't know anyone....that was definitely not needed!

My view on the way out there.....love fly over states!
When I landed in Kansas City I was waiting down at baggage claim and this female looks at me and goes...are you here for the AgChat conf?  I'm guessing you are because of your cowboy boots.  I always knew my cowboy boots would come in handy in more ways than just keeping my feet fashionable and dry!  Another great thing is that one of the couples rented a vehicle while down there and were offering to pick people up from the airport and shuttle them back to the hotel.  What big hearts people have to just offer to pick up complete strangers and shuttle them back and forth.  I clearly took them up on this offer!
The first night we had a "tweet up".  This is such a great idea.  Most of us at the conf had already communicated via twitter and really only knew each other by our twitter handles.  We all got together in downtown KC and actually got to meet everyone in person!  It was a great success and so fun putting faces to names!  I finally got to meet my roomie Janeal.  She has her Ph.D. in meat science and was an awesome person to connect with!  If any of you have any questions/concerns about your meat definitely look her up!!!
The next day was full of presentations and break out sessions to better understand all the social media tools and show how to use these tools to their fullest potential. That evening after dinner we had a swap meet.  Everyone brought items that represented agriculture from their area and swapped with people from all across the country to learn a little about the agriculture in other areas.  On the last day they surprised us with a special guest.....none other than The Peterson Farm Brothers.  These guys made the "I'm Farming and I grow it" parody that went viral!
The Peterson Bros and myself.....I was slightly excited to meet them.....Don't judge
The conference only lasted 2 days but it was such an experience.  I would suggest to everyone that is out there sharing their story and agvocating to apply to attend this conference for next year.  You will absolutely love it and not be disappointed!  I had the time of my life and connecting with all the other people in the industry was priceless!

All the attendees of the conference...photo courtesy of Chuck Zimmerman
How do you share your story or engage conversations about the agriculture industry with others?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Temple Grandin knows best

Recently a California slaughterhouse was shut down by the USDA due to a video reported by a group called Compassion over Killing.  This group got one of their members hired into the slaughterhouse and collected video over a two week period.  The video was narrated in a way to make you believe only the worst was happening.  While not all the accusations are correct some sadly are. 

Not all parts of the industry are perfect and you do have bad seeds that give the industry a bad name.  This happens in all industries...not just agriculture.  I was excited to see that Dr. Temple Grandin issued a statement about the video because she is probably the most knowledgeable about the issue.  For those of you who don't know who Temple Grandin is let me give you a little insight...Dr. Grandin is a designer of livestock handling facilities and a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. She is passionate about animal handling, facility design, and animal welfare.  She is the most accomplished and well-known autistic person in the world.  She has written many books and they even made a movie about her!  She is just an all around incredible lady that I had the amazing opportunity to meet while attending Michigan State University.  You can learn more about her here.

I wanted to share her statement with you because she doesn't attempt to cover up or sugar coat the incidents that were portrayed in the video.  She calls out what is false and admits to what is wrong and needs to stop.  Take a look....98248-temple-grandin-issues-statement-over-central-valley-meats-undercover-video

Monday, August 20, 2012

Exhaust, dirt, sunburn, dehydration......my weekend wrap up!!

Over the weekend I spent my time smelling exhaust, getting covered in dirt and dust, and getting a "slight" sunburn as well at the National Tractor Pulling Championship in Bowling Green, Ohio.  Now if you have never heard of this you definitely need to check it out.  People take trucks, tractors, and semis and soup them up with huge motors even jet engines and pull a weight sled down a track in hopes of getting a FULL PULL.  A full pull is when you pull the weight sled 300 feet.  It may sound lame to some but believe me it is a good time. 

Growing up in Northwest Ohio we were fortunate enough to live close to this event and my father took us girls all the time growing up.  The tradition has continued and a group of us went down and camped the whole weekend.  While it is only and hour and a half drive for us people drive from all over the country to get there.   It is crazy what you take for granted when things are so close to you. 

One of the greatest aspects for me about going to the tractor pull is it is like going to an Owens Community College class reunion.  I went to Owens and got my associates in Agri-business management and spent 2 years with the same 15 people and you become pretty close friends.  Since we all apparently have the same interest I got to see most of the friends I graduated with which is always a good time.

Now to show you some of the action that I witnessed over the weekend and maybe get some of you to gain a little interest :)

Here is one of the pulling tractors

One of the pulling trucks....not quite like what you see driving down the road

Here is one of the pulls in action

And here is another...

When you sit in the sun from noon until the sun goes down you will more than likely have a sunburn....epic fail on my part.  Thankfully Walgreen's has this amazing spray on aloe that takes away the pain......kind of.  Well I hope you enjoy me weekend update and go out and check out some pulls!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wise words from a dairy farmer

Being a 26 year old female with no children yet is a hard concept for many of my cattle customers to wrap their heads around. I am asked weekly "so when are you having kids?". I never understood why everyone gets so concerned. Do my ovaries shrivel up and die at age 27?

While sitting and talking to a customer yesterday the conversation quickly went from discussing his new nutritionist to the predictable question of children. Mind you he has asked this question multiple times with my answer usually being maybe when I'm 30. Well this time I really gave him my thoughts. It went a little like this.....

Children? I can't think of children right now! If my husband doesn't stop buying land maybe I could have children! It's expensive. I don't know how people own 1000's of acres. It clearly must be handed down generations because it's expensive! Plus I have a school loan I'm paying on! It's also I long commitment. 18 YEARS!! Plus I enjoy my freedom and vacationing. Then you have the issue of what if they grow up hating you. Don't you watch the news? They will probably just grow up and kill me for my prescription meds when I'm old. Those were my thoughts.

He looked at me for a couple seconds and said......Taysha stop being selfish. If you want to farm you will farm. It doesn't matter if you have 5 acres or 5000. If you enjoy it you will do it whether you own or have to rent land. Just enjoy it. Also if you wait to "have" money to have children you will never have any. It always works itself out. Trust me. Lastly if you raise your children around Christ I can almost guarantee they won't kill you for your meds.

Well that shut me up pretty quick. I had no rebuttal. We went back to talking cattle. Now don't get me wrong I'm not gonna run home and start having children but I may not be as freaked out in a couple years when I decide it's time to bring a little junior into the world.

You never know where you may learn your next life lesson. In my case it came from a veteran dairy farmer standing in a barn full of cattle.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Label say WHAT?!

I just love America and how we reach everywhere and anywhere to place blame.  One of my most recent encounters would be of the big debate of high fructose corn syrup.  As I'm doing some grocery shopping I see so many different labels saying "contains no high fructose corn syrup".   Ok?  However it still contains SUGAR!!!! The best part is that people are trying to blame high fructose corn syrup for obesity.  SUGAR IS SUGAR IS SUGAR!!!!!  No matter if it is table sugar or high fructose corn syrup or honey they all three contain the same calories and all need be consumed in MODERATION.  Ok so to get off my soap box..........

I wanted to share with you some fun facts about high fructose corn syrup so that you can go back to shopping and not just buy something because it says "contains no high fructose corn syrup"!  For example the ole peter pan peanut butter had that exact quote on it however it still contains 4 grams of sugar per serving......so it doesn't contain sugar from corn but it contains sugar from cane......like said before sugar should consumed in moderation no matter where the sugar comes from!

On to the fun facts:

  • High fructose corn syrup is not sweeter than sugar; and high fructose corn syrup, sugar and honey all contain the same number of calories (four calories per gram).
  • High fructose corn syrup and sugar are metabolized similarly by the body.
  • Many confuse pure “fructose” with “high fructose corn syrup.” Recent studies that have examined pure fructose have been inappropriately applied to high fructose corn syrup and have caused significant consumer confusion. High fructose corn syrup never contains fructose alone, but always in combination with a roughly equivalent amount of a second sugar (glucose).
  • The American Medical Association stated in June 2008 that “…high fructose syrup does not appear to contribute to obesity more than other caloric sweeteners…” And, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) concluded in December 2008 that “No persuasive evidence supports the claim that high fructose corn syrup is a unique contributor to obesity.”
  • High fructose corn syrup is made from corn, a natural grain product. High fructose corn syrup contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives and meets the FDA requirements for use of the term “natural.”
I got these fun facts from Corn.org  Check out the website for other great facts about corn!