Monday, December 12, 2011

Great ag books for with lesson plans!

It's no secret that I LOVE Rebecca ("Becky") Long Chaney's set of three children's books, written along with her twin daughters, Rianna & Sheridan! She's been a dear friend of mine since my days as a dairy princess and now, just in time for Christmas, her books now have lesson plans to accompany them!  These are my favorite books for leading story time for preschoolers and elementary-aged kiddos and there's still time to order them for Christmas gifts! I got four sets for family members!

Here's the scoop...

"Eight-Year-Old Authors Sheridan and Rianna Chaney are proud to bring you the third book in the "The Chaney Twins' Series." This book, "Star Becomes A Mother," is a sequel to book number one, "Little Star, Raising Our First Calf." In this endearing third book, the girls see Star become a mother herself, and watch as she nurtures her newborn calf that the twins have immediately named, "Starstruck." The story focuses on many facets of the beef industry and the good care farmers and ranchers give their animals no matter what the weather.

All three books are 32 pages and are full of captivating color photographs by professional photographer and the books' co-creator Kelly Hahn Johnson of Sharpsburg, Md. The easy-to-read text geared toward preschool and elementary-aged children has been selected by numerous Farm Bureau groups, Ag in the Classroom programs and county and state cattle women's organizations across the country as their “Accurate Ag Books.” Book #2, “Mini Milk Maids on the Mooove,” featuring the dairying industry, received the Ohio Farm Bureau's prestigious “Children's Literary Award.”

The books' editor Rebecca Long Chaney and twins' mother is thrilled “The Chaney Twins' Series” continues to make such an impact with ag education and is teaching children about animal agriculture.

Lesson plans have been developed for all three books. They are available in downloadable form on the Pennsylvania Beef Council web site at

Books are $12 each plus tax and postage, or for the three book-“Bundle” special, the set is $30 plus postage. For more information or to place an order, call Rebecca at 301-271-2732 or email her at, or place an order directly from her web site at Box discount specials are available for agricultural groups. Email Rebecca for details."

Friday, November 11, 2011

One little birdie can make one big mess.

This little episode happened way back in the spring, but I stumbled on these pictures and thought I'd share them at this time of thanksgiving.

I am thankful that my children are learning so many important lessons about God's creation on our farm.

One of these lessons is that sometimes God's wonderful creatures can make things messy on the farm :)

Like the little birdie that worked so hard to make this nest....way up inside the conveyor underneath the trailer we bought.  So when Jeremy turned on the conveyor for the first time to put fertilizer into the air cart so that he could distribute it in the field, it caused an instant backup and overflow of said fertilizer, which in turn, caused said farmer to have to clean up said fertilizer with that handy-dandy shovel in the background.  Isn't he lucky that his wife gave him that shovel as a wedding present?  Seriously...but that's another story for another day :) 

As always, Jeremy made the best of a messy situation, and used it as a teaching moment.

He brought over the nest and let the girls, who were helping us to chauffer Jeremy to assorted farm equipment that day, take a looksie.

The wee red head, ever the brave and fearless kiddo, practically dove right in.

Meanwhile, C.W., our calculated, more cautious daughter, wasn't quite so sure about it.

She came around, and we still talk about the little birdie nest. 

What lessons are you thankful for that your children have learned about nature?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wilson Family Halloween

It was the wee-ist Wilson's first Halloween! Our little guy (4 months old now!) went as Curious George.  I made this costume with a $6 brown sweatsuit, a printout of George's face from that I laminated and some plastic bananas from the girls' play kitchen.  I put C.W.'s old brown gloves on his feet, and we strapped the bananas to them.  The bananas kept him entertained him the whole evening!

...and I was "The Ma'am in the Yellow Hat".  If you're not up on your Curious George facts, the "Man in the Yellow Hat" is who takes care of George :)

The wee redhead was "a pwincess wid uh cwown an uh wand".  If you don't speak two  year old, that's "a princess with a crown and a wand".  Earlier in the week she kept saying she wanted to "cawwy a WASP", but indeed, she meant WAND :)

C.W. was "Wonder Woman".  Yes, after much deliberation, this frugal farm wife coughed up 20 bucks for a few bits of shiny material held together with velcro.  In the past I have always made the girls' costumes, or used hand-me-downs, but this year precious sleep won out over what would have inevitably been a costume making all-nighter.

The big hit of the night was Wonder Woman's super hero partner..."Super Papa".  Straight out of the field, he donned a cape, mask, and T-shirt with iron-on logo, along with his Wheatgrower's stocking cap, Carhartt pants and muddy work boots, and was a REAL super hero to our little girl that night :)

Halloween would be MUCH more convenient for us if it was in, oh, maybe March, instead of smack in the middle of corn harvest, but all in all, it was a GREAT night for the Wilson family!

THANKS to Grandma E. for being our "official photographer" :)

 For a fun walk down Wilson Family Halloween memory lane, check out this blog post from last year.  I had just returned home from 21 days in Germany...what a difference a year makes :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Be a Blessing

I have found that in life, the more I think about my problems, the larger they seem to be.  That's not to say that I think I should ignore big issues in my life and not deal with them, but more often than not, I just have to "let go and let God".  However, I'm the kind of person that doesn't sit still very long, so when I "let go and let God", I need somewhere else the expend the energy I was using for worrying.

The best way to use this energy is to "be a blessing". 

It might be calling up a long-lost friend and reconnecting and letting them know you care, it might be visiting someone in the hospital or nursing home, maybe baking a batch of cookies or a hotdish (otherwise known as a casserole in parts of the U.S. other than North Dakota) for someone who is recovering from surgery or just had a new baby.  Maybe you buy lunch for the guy behind you in the drive thru, or just flash a smile and say "Have a nice day" to a passerby.  It doesn't have to cost money.  It doesn't have to take much time either, but if you seek out ways to be a blessing to others and make their day a little brighter, you will find yours gets a little brighter too.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16 (NIV).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Winterizing the Wee Wilsons

Since the temps dipped into the 20's here this week, I figured it was time to winterize the Wee Wilson's.  Here is where I give THANKS on this Thankful Thursday.  With some strategically purchased clearance items from last year, and a few visits from the "hand-me-down fairies" (you know who you are ladies and you are AWESOME), I was able to outfit all three of my kiddos for winter without purchasing a SINGLE item.  Somehow, I opened two tubs from the garage and found EVERYTHING I needed...hats, scarves, mittens, coats, snowpants, boots...yes, EVERYTHING.


I sat back after I had sorted and placed all the items on the handy-dandy rack Jeremy built for the Wee Wilson's and was amazed by this, and very THANKFUL that I would not have to drag three kids through the maze of already-picked-over winter clothing items at our local stores.

I'm also THANKFUL I did this yesterday, because this morning the big kids were THANKFUL that they could run outside at 8 a.m., still in their pajamas, but covered in their warm winter gear, to make footprints in the frost.

There amongst all the chaos of my reorganization project, I was reminded of yet another reason to be THANKFUL.  In my life, I have been blessed with the most amazing family, especially, my late Grandpa Thomas Graziano, who made this beautiful hope chest for me. 

When I opened it to fill it with this season's wardrobe, I was reminded that upon the insistence of my beloved Aunt Lynne, who passed away this spring, he signed the inside of his creation. 

Cancer may have taken them from this earthly life, but it will never take them from my hearts and I am THANKFUL for many warm memories, even though it's getting cold outside.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This Makes the Wee Redhead Happy

There are a lot of things the wee redhead (age 2.5) likes...

Being "pwitty"...

Tawkin' on da phone to Gwamma...

Pancakes with sprinkles at Perkins...

Her "yittle brudda"...

Most of all, her Papa...

 He took her along to help haul grain the other day.  We use two tractor trailers (aka "semi's") to haul our crops (corn, wheat, soybeans) from the field to one of two locations.  First, it may go to the grain bins, where the grain will be stored for a few months before being hauled to the grain elevator.  Second, it may go directly to the grain elevator, where it be stored or will go by train across the U.S. and possibly on a barge overseas.

Here is one of our trucks:

Here the wee redhead and her Papa are heading for the trucks...

(THANK YOU to our friend, Tony, who has been helping with harvest, for snapping these pics of how Jeremy got her safely from one truck to the other).

Here she is perched in her car seat with her coloring book, being her Papa's assistant grain hauler.

We didn't realize how much this day meant to her until this project came home from daycare:

It says "This makes me happy..."

Thanks for stopping by!
Sarah :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thankful Thursday: I sure hope that's my husband!

During harvest, every night, and sometimes in the wee hours of the morning, this dark figure appears in my bedroom long after I finally call it a day. He stumbles in all grubby, smelling of grease, fuel, dirt soil and whatever else he's had a run-in with that day. (Hopefully, not a skunk).  I would request that he shower, but I know he is so tired that he is capable of falling asleep standing up at this point. 

I do his laundry, so even in the dark, I know that he probably looks like he rolled around on the floor of the farm shop or was dragged behind a truck and that his pants may very well stand up on their own from being caked with mud. I also know I could likely plant a few acres with the soybeans, corn kernels, or grains of wheat that have accumulated in his pockets. Cleaning the lint filter in our clothes dryer is always interesting.

I have gotten used to this nightly routine, out of necessity.  You see, an infant will wake me long before dawn.  Soon thereafter the wee Wilson gals will stumble out of their bunk beds and expect "bekfest".  I have to try to force my brain to turn off and get some shut eye, or I will be Zombie Mama the next day, and believe me, she is NOT pretty.

As I'm lying in bed and this nearly unidentifiable creature enters my room, practically falls into bed, and puts a rough, calloused hand on my shoulder, the only thing that goes through my mind is, "I sure hope that's my husband!" :-)

After I put my hand on his, confirming that it is indeed my dear Jeremy, I say a little prayer that goes something like this: "Lord, I thank you for giving me a husband who works so hard to provide for my little family. I am so grateful you got him home safe and sound. In Jesus' name. Amen."

When harvest is complete, Jeremy and I will get a babysitter, go out to dinner, give ourselves a few hours to celebrate that another year of feeding families around the world is behind us, relish the fact that we have a lot to look forward to, and we will fall in love all over again :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Harvest Prayer

Dear Lord,

you know it was a fight,

morning, noon, and night,

to get this crop into the ground,

but in you our strength is found.

So we cared for every seed

to grow the food your people need

Now I humbly ask,

Please make the yields abundant and keep us safe in every task.

In Jesus' name I pray.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why Farm Tours Matter.

When I heard that some friends of my family from Maryland, Carol and Scotty, were road-tripping to Alaska and that they were planning to come through North Dakota on their trek, I invited them to stop by.  We LOVE visitors!  We also LOVE farming and are always excited to share our passion for agriculture with others. 
Love this pic Carol took! Boy do I look tired and HUGE though, lol! Many sleepless nights led up to this day and many followed, but what a grand visit we had :)

I happened to be in the early stages of labor with our new son, who arrived the next morning, when Carol and Scotty visited in June, so the three of us hung out in the house in the air conditioning.  We talked about everything from farm policy and how the explosion of new regulations from the EPA is affecting our ability to grow food, to lessons my children are learning growing up on the farm.

I showed them our farm office and how Jeremy uses precision agriculture methods to help keep our land healthy and our farm efficient and profitable. Then I deferred the farm shop/ field tour to Jeremy so I could wrap up a few baby-prep projects.  From what I hear he made it pretty quick, because we were, after all, getting ready to have a new baby VERY soon.

Here Jeremy explains to Carol and Scotty about the flood of 2009. What you see in the background is what is left of a road/bridge that leads to some of our farmland.  They have yet to be repaired.
When our guests returned to their home after their trip, I got this message on my Facebook page:
"The wheat Jeremy gave us travelled all the way to Alaska to South Carolina and is now proudly displayed in our entertainment center for all to see and to also remind us of our visit and how important all our farmers are to our everyday lives! Bless you all - we think of you often and look forward to another visit!"

I know that farmers and ranchers everywhere are so incredibly busy, but it is well worth it to make time for a farm tour, even a quick one.  You will help others to have a better understanding of where their food comes from and they may even become life-long advocates for agriculture!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Moovelous Monday: Cow Teeth

In the spring and fall, lovely four legged ladies come over from a neighboring dairy farm to visit the Wilson Farm.  They will graze our cover crops and crop residue (what's left over after we harvest), but there is one very important tool that they each require to do so: teeth.

I know, I know, you might be thinking...this lady wrote an entire blog post on cow teeth? BORING! Well, hang with me here, you might be surprised by some of the fun facts about cow teeth.

I took this picture while coaching a Dairy Challenge team at a competition in Pennsylvania.
She apparently had something very important to say :)

Did you know that cows, along with all other 192 species of ruminants (animals that chew their cud) do not have top front teeth? Instead they have a "dental pad".  This allows them to wrap their tongue around grass and pull it into their mouth.  Then they use their BIG molars to chew. upper front teeth, but plenty of molars to grind grass and feed...

Did you know you can tell the age of a cow from it's teeth? 

This steer, "Casper", was one of the animals that was part of my graduate research.  Here he is drooling contentedly on one of my fellow students, Maciej :)

Casper had the most interesting bovine teeth I have ever seen. He never lost his "baby teeth".  I guess you can call Casper the "Peter Pan" of the bovine world...he just didn't want to grow up!

Close-ups of Casper's "double teeth", wherre his "adult" teeth had grown in, but his "baby" teeth hadn't fallen out.

If you asked my four year old daughter, C.W., who is obsessed with sharks, she would say Casper must be a part shark, because he has multiple rows of teeth :)

Did you know? Bovine teeth can also be used as substitutes for human teeth in dental studies.

Want to know more?

I also found this article about cow teeth very interesting:

Want to know if cows can bite? Visit the Zweber Farm to find out!

So why do I care so much about cow teeth?  Well, a cow's got to eat to make milk and the better she can eat, the more milk she can make.  Since I LOVE cheese, ice cream, etc, I think cow teeth are pretty important.

What's next for Moovelous Monday?  Maybe a lesson on cow tongues? They're pretty cool too!

For more facts on cows in general, check out:

USDA Animal Improvement Laboratory "Facts About Cows":

THANKS for stopping by!
Sarah :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Mama's View of Wheat Harvest

Oh how I long to be behind the wheel of one of those big machines, be it the combine which collects the grain, or the tractor trailer (aka "semi") hauling grain to the storage bin or the grain elevator.  I only get to be a farm equipment operator on rare occasions these days. 

You see, as the only child in my family, I was expected to help on the farm and be son my father never had. 

No problem for me, I was quite the tomboy, so I grew up running farm equipment, helping Dad repair equipment, sand blasting, etc.  Even in our dating days and early marriage, Jeremy was teaching me to be an official farm hand.  I loved it, but it seemed that God had other plans, because we were only 5 weeks into our marriage when we got pregnant with C.W., which was such an answer to prayer :) 

So today, having been blessed with three little ones ages four, two, and three months, and two jobs off the farm, one with a farm organization, the other as a professional speaker, I'm not only booked up, but it isn't a safe situation to have such little ones around such large equipment with Mama's attention divided. 

I know my time will come, when the kids are a little older, and I will wait patiently for the "equipment operator" chapter of my life.  Okay, those of you who know me, know that, in reality, I wait patiently for NOTHING, but I'm hoping the good Lord will help me "embrace my place" and enjoy these precious moments with my little ones for the precious gift that they are. 

So here's a little glimpse into the view from Mama's seat, not the one high up in the combine or the semi, but from the driver's seat of the family pick-up that the children named "Hi Ho Silver".  I'm the official "go-fer"...I "go-fer" supper...I "go-fer" get my drift :) 

The day I snapped these pics, we were working on wheat harvest. Yields were disappointing due to the goofy weather we had this spring/summer, but I always say something is better than nothing to harvest.

I had parked on an approach (little driveway across the ditch) into the field. I knew that a truck would be arriving soon to get filled with grain, but I stayed there because I didn't want to leave the pickup running in the tall wheat stubble (can we say fire hazard?) and we needed some air circulation and the Curious George story on CD to keep playing :)

So there I was sitting, when the baby got hungry. Sure enough, as soon as he'd settled into nursing, I had to move the pickup. So I put it into drive and got out of the way of the truck. I think this earns me a gold medal in multi-tasking :)  Of course, I would NEVER do this on a road, but in a smooth field, for a short distance, it worked. And it made me laugh. Being a farmwife and mother, I am constantly doing things that I'd never imagined doing in a million years. 

I love my life :)

- Sarah

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Give the world the best you have anyway."

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith, 1968.

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

I found this poem at the Prayer Foundation. Hope you enjoyed it.
Sarah :)

JP Loves Cotton!

I am often reminded of how diverse agriculture really is.  I am generally focused on the production of food, but there is SO much more to agriculture, including, fuel, pharmaceuticals, and fiber.  One of those wonderful fibers is COTTON.  I LOVE COTTON!  I love wearing it, I love how easily it washes, I love that it comes from farm fields right here in the good old USA.  But noone I ever met loves cotton as much as JP loves cotton. 

I met JP at the 2010 Ag Chat 2.0 training in Chicago.  I think she smiled the entire weekend.  She's my kind of gal. 

If you like my blog and following my random adventures raising kids, corn, wheat, soybeans, pinto beans and cover crops, but would be interested in slightly more urban flair, and array of different agricultural products (like rice) you've GOT to check out JP's blog:

Special THANKS to JP for mentioning me as one of the "Farm Mom Blogs" she reads (I'm a latecomer in the comments section).

Oh, and special thanks to JP for snapping this rare footage of the elusive Val Wagner and I in the wild :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Progressive Dairyman: Dairy Blogs We Love

I am honored that my blog is featured on Progressive Dairyman Magazine's "Dairy Blogs We Love" list! Progressive Dairyman is one of my favorite agricultural publications and their "Proud to Dairy" campaign is fabulous!

I'm not offically a dairy farmer, although I am a passionate advocate for dairy and on our farm here in North Dakota we partner with a local dairy farm to graze dairy heifers on our cover crops and my family raises dairy heifers in Maryland.

If you'd like to see the complete list of "Dairy Blogs We Love", check it out here:

Oh, and one more thing... someday, somehow, I WILL have dairy cattle again (like this adorable little gal I met in Germany). Mark my words :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Faith, Hope, Love.

C.W., my four year old daughter, took this picture when our wee little man was brand new. This week he'll be 12 weeks old. My how the time does fly.
"...And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love".
1 Corinthians 13:13.

Monday, September 19, 2011

You're Invited! CRP Conversion Plots & Cover Crops Tour

Sunhemp covercrop interseeded into corn.
We were awarded a grant from the USDA for Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.  We have been working in partnership with the local Natural Resources Conservation District and Soil Conservation District to research how to convert land that was in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to growing forage soybeans and other cover crops.  On our farm we also have interseeded cover crops into corn.  At yet another site we have had success partnering with a local dairy farm who grazes our cover crops in the spring and fall. 

If you're interested in seeing first hand what we are doing to increase the health and productivity of our soil, join us at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, September 20th at our Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Conversion Plots and Cover Crops Tour!
Directions to research plots: 3 miles south of I-94 & I-281 intersection.  At Countryside RV, go 1 mile west on 39th street.  Then go 1/8th mile south.

Topics Covered:

· No-Tilled Crops After CRP

· Interseeded Cover Crops Into Corn

· Selecting & Establishing Cover Crops

· Grazing Cover Crops

· Mobile Weather Station

· Soil Health Analysis

· Nutrient Availability

Featuring Representatives from:

˜ Jeremy Wilson, Wilson Farm

˜ Ryan Odenbach, Watershed Coordinator, Stutsman County SCD

˜ John Nowatski, Ag Machine Systems Specialist, NDSU

˜ Ron Volk, Western Ag Innovations, Inc.

˜ Terry Entzminger, Entzminger Dairy


Hope to see you there!
Sarah :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What is a Farmer?

This is my Mom and my Grandfather in November 1959, around the year this poem below was published :)
My Mom shared this with me. She is the daughter of a dairyman and a retired farmer's wife. When I asked her where she got it she said, " I don't know, but it's old. I think it was from something from the Maryland Extension Service. The original is on yellowed paper with worn edges." She guessed it was from the 1960's. So enjoy this oldie, but goodie, with an anonymous author. THANKS MOM!
Well, that depends entirely on where you stand.
To his wife, he's a big eater, heavy sleeper, someone to share hopes and dreams with.
To his minister, he's a believer in God in nature, and nature in God.
To a politician, he's someone you talk about during elections.
To a businessman, he's a customer.
To the banker, he's a depositor.
To his neighbor, he's a friend.
To his children, he's a man who always has a chore for them.
To his dog, he's a man with a quiet voice.
To the grocer, he's a Godsend.
To the dairy cooperative, he's the owner.
To the insurance agent, he's a big risk.
To the mechanic, he's a mechanical wizard who fixes things himself.
To the doctor, he's a physical wonder.
And to himself, well, only he can tell you that---but chances are, he won't.
You see, it depends entirely on how you look at him.
Actually, the farmer is all of these---and more.
For one thing, he's just about as close to being an independent business as one can be these days. The farmer is pretty much his own boss, and what he makes, he makes by the sweat of his own brow. Each year he has to gamble with nature as to whether or not he will have a crop. If nature wins, the farmer loses- if the farmer wins, then nature has been kind.
He's quite a man, this farmer of ours.
- Anonymous