Posts Tagged ‘family’

What’s Your Why?

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Agriculturists meeting to represent my company, and one of the speakers, Monsanto’s Vance Crowe, talked about the challenges we face in agriculture with so much negative and frankly, incorrect, information being spread about our industry.

He showed images that he had seen on social media, being shared by millions of people, that portray modern agriculture in a frightening light. Things like tomatoes being injected with mystery fluids from syringes – never mind that (1.) there are no commercially available GMO tomatoes and (2.) syringes are not used in genetic engineering. Images like these are designed to speak to our emotions, provoking fear and distrust without saying a single word.

He said, “All you have to do for people to question modern agriculture is to sow doubt.” Regardless of the facts and the science and the layers of regulation behind everything we do, one misguided image can cause irreparable damage.

Then today, back at work, I sat down to work on some homework for a leadership class I’m part of. Our assignment was to watch this TED Talk by Simon Sinek:

It’s about 20 minutes long and worth the watch, but if you don’t have time, I’ll summarize. He describes the “golden circle,” three concentric rings with “why” in the middle, “how” next, and “what” on the outside. Normally, we try to explain things from the outside in – what we do, how we do them, and why. He says that in order to get people to make an emotional connection that can lead to a change in behavior, we need to start from the inside out – WHY we do what we do, how we do it, and then what the benefits and opportunities are.

He goes on to explain that our brains are designed to respond to these questions. Our neocortex is where rational thought and language are processed, the “what.” That’s where we can absorb facts and figures, weigh out pros and cons. Our limbic brain, however, responds to “why” and “how” – that’s where we make our decisions and experience things like trust and loyalty, but does not process language. That’s why we make “gut decisions” or say something “didn’t feel right,” he says, “because we don’t have the words to describe it otherwise.”

And then it hit me.

In agriculture, we are awesome about the “what” and even the “how.” We grow the safest, most abundant, most affordable food in the world. We have the technology to grow more than ever before on less than ever before. We have facts and figures that show how much we’ve increased soil quality, decreased the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and improved animal health and production. It’s truly amazing.

But people don’t care about those things until you can show them “why.”

The message with the emotion is the message we remember. That’s why Crowe’s example of the tomato picture elicited such a negative response without a single word. People made an involuntary connection that colored their view of any facts that may have come behind it.

We must begin making those deep connections, showing our “why” when we reach out to those who may have questions about agriculture. Food is such a personal thing to all of us, but only 2 percent of Americans are currently involved in growing it. I believe that most people are genuinely interested in why we do what we do in agriculture, and want to be reassured that we’re doing the very best we can to continue to provide safe, affordable options for their supper table, but starting the conversation with science and statistics won’t open that door.

The “why” will.

Here’s mine:


What’s yours?




More or Less

When I became pregnant, I knew motherhood would change me – more or less.

Now that I’ve been a mom for two years, I’ve realized just how much that was true.

I know more about the characters and general storylines of “Sofia the First” and “Doc McStuffins.”

I can survive on less sleep.

We own more pairs of sparkly shoes and choosing which pair to wear on any given day is serious business.

While I still like to look my best, I’ve modified my routine to spend less time getting ready and more time enjoying morning snuggles.

I care less about having an immaculate house and more about whether Little C’s enjoying her books and toys and not being afraid to make a little mess once in awhile. (But let’s be honest, I never cared too much about having a perfectly clean house.)

I think more about spending quality time together, and wonder if the quanitity is enough, too.

Sitting down to a hot meal happens less, after cutting up chicken nuggets and picking up dropped forks and refilling empty milk glasses.

I worry more about the things that matter and less about the things that don’t.

I’ve listened to more renditions of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and the silly made-up songs she invents in the car.

I have more patience…except for the days I have less.

I pray more – for her, for me, for the world in which she’ll live and grow and, hopefully, make a better place.

I appreciate my own parents more. Much, much more.

I’ve fallen more in love watching Big C as a daddy and sharing this journey of parenthood with him.

I spend less money on myself, but I have found many more riches than I ever imagined.

My days are filled with more laughter, more peace, more joy, and more love than I thought possible.

So, has motherhood changed me? More or less.Two Days Old

Day 11: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Little C is blessed.

Blessed in many ways she doesn’t even realize yet.

And one of the greatest of those blessings is the fact that she has five great-grandparents living, close enough to see regularly, and in good enough health to enjoy spending time with her.

Four generations with my mom's mother.

Four generations with my mom’s mother.

I think that is pretty amazing.

Four generations with Big C's dad's parents.

Four generations with Big C’s dad’s parents.

To start her life with the opportunity to learn from her great-grandparents, with all their collective wisdom and life experiences, is such a blessing for not only her, but also for me as I watch the joy she brings them. We’re going to spend as much time as we can, for as long as we can, with these very special people, so she can hopefully make strong memories of time spent with them.

Four generations with my dad's parents.

Four generations with my dad’s parents.

I knew two of my great-grandmothers, one on each side of the family. One passed away when I was in sixth grade, in her 90s, and the other my freshman year of high school at I believe 102 years old. I enjoy the memories I have of both women, and the stories passed along by my family about their lives. I have so much respect for the things they went through as farm wives in a world when living on the farm was vastly different than it is today.

I want Little C to grow up with the same respect for her great-grandparents and grandparents as I have for mine. They are great examples of faith and perseverance, of committed marriages and good parenting. I want her to understand the type of people who deserve her respect, and it’s people she’ll find first right in her own family tree.

I want her to want to spend time listening to their stories, learning about their lives, and loving time spent doing a variety of things. I want her to be patient, helpful, compassionate, and polite around them and others like them who deserve those behaviors.

My paternal grandpa served in the Army during the Korean War. He has shared a few stories about his service with us over the years, but like many in his generation, doesn’t talk a lot about his service. I hope he’ll be able to share some of his stories with Little C, when she’s old enough to understand, because he, like all veterans, also deserve our utmost respect for their sacrifices for each of us.

Little C, around four months old, welcoming home Pa-Pa Bob after his Honor Flight to Washington D.C. last summer.

Little C, around four months old, welcoming home Pa-Pa Bob after his Honor Flight to Washington D.C. last summer.

Little C, my little farm girl, I hope you learn to respect those who deserve your respect, and someday realize how blessed your are to need look no farther than your own family to begin.

In case you missed one:

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Day 9: Hey Good Lookin’, Whatcha Got Cookin’?

The day I finally felt like a real grown up wasn’t the day I graduated from college, the day I started a real job with benefits, or bought my first car.

It was the day I cooked a meal for my whole family, start to finish, on my own.

Salad, ham, potatoes, green beans, rolls, and dessert, all cooked correctly and done at the right time, it was quite an accomplishment!

I enjoy cooking and baking and have been doing both for years, starting with 4-H (Jackpot Drop Cookies, anyone?). I think it’s fun to take a recipe from a cookbook or magazine and try it, making it my own with ingredients from my well-stocked farm freezer and pantry. Even though I work in a larger city and drive right by several grocery stores every day, I still keep many staples on hand “just in case,” just as my mom does. I like knowing that no matter what, I can always at least make something for supper on nights I just don’t feel like spending one more minute in town.


Sharing a meal is a time-honored connection with those we love. Knowing where the ingredients come from and the love put into making even the simplest of meals makes every bite taste better. Time I spend in the kitchen making healthy, delicious meals for my family is a great joy in my life, and sitting down together to eat is an important ritual I will protect even as Little C grows up and life becomes busier with her activities.

Even during the busiest of times – spring and fall – we still make an effort to share a meal together, even though our table is the folding kind and our dining room is a field. The short break in the day to recharge, catch up on the day’s happenings, and of course fill our bellies is so important when Big C goes to work early in the morning and often doesn’t return until Little C’s been in bed for a while.

Fall of 2013 - enjoying a cracker during the evening supper break.

Fall of 2013 – enjoying a cracker during the evening supper break.

One of her favorite toys right now is a kitchen set and box of play food and dishes, and I love it when she goes in the playroom and says “Cooking!” when I ask what she’s doing. I’ve already allowed her to help me add ingredients to cookie batter and she’s a pro at licking the beaters.

Little C, my little farm girl, I hope you learn to cook with love and enjoy sharing meals with your father and me, and the rest of your family, for many years to come.

Thanks for hanging around!

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Day 3: Do What You Gotta Do

There is always work to be done around our house. We have a few pigs and a dozen chickens, and a large, lazy dog, all of whom enjoy being fed every day. We have a good-sized yard that needs mowing once a week in the summertime. I have several flower beds and a vegetable garden that need weeding regularly. And don’t even ask about things that need to be done inside the house!

In order to get everything done, there has to be a team effort involved. One person can’t do it all by themselves. Especially with the addition of Little C, there just aren’t enough hours of daylight sometimes.

Normally, Big C takes care of much of the outdoor care and maintenance. He mows and string trims the lawn, cares for the vehicles, and does the daily livestock chores. However, during certain times of the year, he’s not home much because he’s in the field, and that’s when I have to step up and take care of those tasks as well as the other things I normally do inside.

Now, I suppose I could say that I shouldn’t have to mow the lawn or feed the animals because that’s “his job,” but that wouldn’t help get those things done. In order to have a successful farm and a successful family, we all have to work together and do what needs to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of who usually handles the task.

Helping Daddy

We switched over to Daylight Saving Time yesterday and that means even when I leave work exactly on time (which doesn’t happen too often), I arrive home in the dark. I also had a call as I was leaving the office today that I needed to make a parts run all the way across town. By the time I did that and took it to the field, where I met my mom and Little C (my mom keeps her for us most days), it was good and dark when we arrived at home.

Little C loves the animals and I was happy to take her out to care for them, even though we had to use a flashlight. I had to scoop two buckets of corn screenings out of a wagon for the pigs, and while she was watching me, she asked, “Doing, Momma?” I told her we were going to feed the pigs and would she like to help? A big smile came across her face and said “Helping Momma!” and walked right out with me.

I’m glad she seems to enjoy helping around the farm. I hope that by example I can teach her that doing what needs doing is important and a way to show others we care about them, by helping make their load a little lighter.

Little C, my little farm girl, I hope you are always willing to help out and do whatever job needs doing,

Following along?

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Day 2: Keep the Faith

The senior saying I chose to be printed in my high school yearbook read:

“The greatest example of faith is a person planting a seed in the ground.”


As farmers, we are called on daily to have faith in nearly every aspect of our livelihood. So many things are out of our control – weather, markets, mechanical issues, weather, seed quality, land availability, weather – that some may think we’re crazy. And maybe, just a little bit, we are. But the reward of a bountiful, safe harvest is enough to keep us going through the uncertain times – to keep the faith.

I am blessed to have been raised in a God-fearing family. I had wonderful examples of faith in my grandparents, parents, and other extended family members who taught me the importance of “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).” I know Big C also had a similar blessing growing up and we both feel that is the single greatest gift we could have ever received from our parents.

If I do nothing else as a mother, I hope to plant in Little C the seeds of faith that will bloom and grow into the kind of faith that sustains and nourishes her all the days of her life.

Little C, my little farm girl, I pray that you will be faithful.

Thanks for joining me on my 30 Days journey!

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