Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Story of Christian Farmers

During this season of Lent, as we turn our hearts and minds to the appreciation of the greatest gift God has given us: His son, Jesus Christ, so that we may spend our eternal life in heaven, I thought it appropriate at this time to share this story of two incredible people with you.

My Grandparents have always been an inspiration to me, in their faith, in farming, in their marriage, and in the way they have taken my husband, Jeremy, under their wing and loved him as one of their own.

They are a blessing in so many ways, yet they are so very humble.

They have been involved with the Christian Farmers Outreach ( for a number of years. In 2006 this article was written about them. I hope you find my Grandparents' story as much of an inspiration as I have.

God bless,

Sarah :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Tea for Two and Two for Tea

Here the wee red head (age 2) prepares and serves "hot tea" (a.k.a. the fleece scraps from the Peter Pan Halloween costume I sewed for Jeremy). These scraps are amazingly versatile. Some days they are scarves for stuffed animals and other days they are "spinach soup"...and they make this really fun sound when vacuumed up...."foomp"!

Meet Moose...
And Mouse...
And White Puppy...

Hope you enjoyed stopping by our little tea party :)

Sarah :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Recommended Reading: "Heaven is for Real"

I highly recommend you read "Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back" by Todd Burpo.

Once in a great while a book comes along that can change your whole outlook on things.

It will make you think.

It will make you rethink.

You will ponder it for days.

This book had that effect on me.

A dear friend gave it to me and said "you just have to read this and when you're finished call me. I want to know what you think about it. I read it and I just can't stop thinking about it".

So I did. I was a bit skeptical, afterall, I'm a busy Mom to two little gals...and a farmwife...and I have to jobs off the farm...and....

Well, I did it. One evening I opened it up and I couldn't stop. I left the baskets of laundry that needed folding piled up on the bed. Jeremy eventually stumbled in from the farm office and went to sleep. I kept reading. I read the ENTIRE BOOK in four hours, which is unheard of for me.

Then I ordered TEN copies to share with friends and family who I knew would appreciate this book or needed to hear little Colton Burpo's story. It brought me such a tremendous sense of peace about some of the losses I have endured in my life, answered some of those questions about heaven that I had always wondered about, and most importantly, it helped me to focus on what is truly important in this temporary life we have here on earth. All who have recieved the book and read it thanked me profusely.

So I'm telling you what my friend told me. You just have to read this book.

Then go read the Bible, because I recommend that over all other books :)

God Bless,
Sarah :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Happy National Agriculture Day!

In 1920, J. Harry and Susan Wilson, Jeremy's great grandparents (below), settled where we still farm today.

We are busy raising not only the fifth generation on the Wilson Farm, but also food (corn, wheat, soybeans) and fuel (ethanol) for YOUR family.

If you did the following today...
- Ate food
-Used ethanol to fuel your vehicle
-Wore cotton or wool clothing
-Or used one of the thousands of household, pharmaceutical, or health products derived from livestock and plants that a farmer has raised
...remember to THANK a farmer!
Take a few minutes to learn more about the History of Agriculture in the United States and take a gander at these videos to learn how far agriculture has come:

Have a great day!
Sarah :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Avedore Power Plant

Today in Denmark, we toured one of the BEST and MOST EFFICIENT power plants in the WORLD. DONG (Danish Oil and Natural Gas) Energy's Avedore Combined Heat and Power Plant is, in one word, impressive. The exterior was designed by an architect to be very appealing to the eye and as you pass through the heavy Viking-style copper door you enter a world of unprecedented technologies.

To see a video about the Avedore Power Plant, click here, scroll down and click on the video. Pictures cannot do it justice, it is simply amazing.

Safety first! North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring prepare for the plant tour by donning hard hats and an earpiece so the tour guide could be heard as our group maneuvered through the plant.

Here is a sample of the "wood chips" the plant was burning to produce power today.

Susanne Juhl (pronounced Susannah Yool), Deputy Permanent Secretary for National Energy and Climate, gave our group an overview of Danish energy policy. Here the elected officials in our group pose for a photo with Miss Juhl. From left, Representative Phillip Meuller, Senator Jim Dotzenrod, Senator Terry Wanzek, Jamestown Mayor Katie Anderson, Representative Dennis Johnson, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, Miss Juhl, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Senator Tim Flakoll, and Representative Craig Headland.

In her presentation, Miss Juhl made the statement that Denmark has "declared a state of energy independence."

My question to Americans, especially North Dakotans who read this: Can WE declare a state of energy independence as well, stop relying on foreign oil and start looking within our borders for the answers to our energy needs? I think we can.

I also think that some of the technologies I have seen these last few days may be part of the answer. Obviously, you can't just "copy and paste" what the Danish are doing and expect it to work in North Dakota, in a completely different political and economic system, but the question our group is trying to answer is "what pieces of the technology that the Danish have developed can be applied successfully in North Dakota"?

A few other fun facts about Danish energy policy:
- Denmark is the ONLY nation in the European Union that is a net energy exporter.
- There are 5,050 wind towers in Denmark.
- 17% of the energy generated from wind towers in Denmark is generated off shore (by wind towers in the ocean).
- The Danish utilize wind, straw, wood, biogas, waste (manure and food waste), and heat pumps as sources of energy.
- The Danish have set a goal of "fossil fuel independence" and have set forth to stop using oil by 2050.
- There currently is no tax on biomass because it is a fairly new source of energy. They will begin to tax biomass in 2020.

Here was my favorite part of today's tour: The fully automated crane that offloaded EIGHT large straw bales at a time (weighing MANY TONS) and stacked them on the conveyor system to be utilized in the power plant. Oh how I wish the baler/wagons I worked with as a kid had this feature :) I remember some really hot, muggy Maryland summers pulling small square bales out of the baler and stacking them on a flatbed wagon and then returning from the field and stacking them (again) in the barn . Built character...right? :)

Hope you enjoyed another virtual adventure in Denmark!
Sarah :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Inbicon Kalundborg Biomass Refinery Demonstration Plant

Kalundborg Biomass Refinery Demonstration Plant

Today in Denmark, on my journey to learn more about converting cellulosic biomass into high value products, we had presentations by the Inbicon CEO, Niels Henrikson, Inbicon staff Henrik Boye Jorgenson, and Danish Technological Institute staff Jorgen Hinge.

Here are a few key points:

Neils reviewed the history of DONG Energy's development of Inbicon and the Kalundborg demonstration plant. Their vision is to deliver renewable energy on a stable basis. Currently, DONG Energy produces energy from coal, wind, and oil drilling in the North Sea. Currently, they are making 80% of their energy from coal. In 2009, they utilized 11% biomass. Their goal is to utilize 60% biomass for combined heat and power production by 2020. DONG Energy is a major player in European energy production, employs 6,000 people and had $10 billion (U.S. dollars) in revenue in 2009.
Inbicon, a subsidiary of DONG Energy, desires to be a partner with other companies, providing the knowledge to help build energy plants around the world. In 2009 the Kalundborg plant opened.
ND Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring (standing, on right) presents a thank you gift to Neils Henrikson, CEO of Inbicon (standing, on left) for hosting our group.
Henrik Jorgenson (center, red coat) leads a tour through the plant. Also pictured are Rick Lancaster, Vice President of Great River Energy (on left), and Jim Boyd, representing the Jamestown/Stustman Development Corporation (on right).

Here's our group sporting our safety gear: Steel toed shoes, safety glasses and hard hats.
Click here to learn more about the Kalundborg Biomass Refinery Demonstration Plant

The basics:
Add wheat straw. (Wheat straw is the "stem" of the wheat plant). The actual bales are MUCH larger than this one! About 4 feet tall, 4 feet wide, and 8 feet long.
The straw is "pre-treated" by chopping and heating it, then enzymes are added which liquifies the fibers, then you ferment it with yeast, then you distill it, then you seperate it.
Three energy products result:
Bioethanol, which can be blended with gasoline to fuel your car!
...Solid biofuel (lignin), which can be used to replace coal in power and heat generation.
...and C5 Molasses, which can be used for energy production or animal feed. This smells SO delicious. It would be like candy to a cow!
Hope you enjoyed this virtual tour of the Kalundborg Biomass Refinery Demonstration Plant!
Sarah :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Velkommen til Kobenhavn!

Velkommen til Kovenhavn! (Welcome to Copenhagen!)

Yesterday/today (it's all running together now) I travelled from Jamestown, North Dakota to Minneapolis, Minnesota (airport tram ride with MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty- cool!) to Amsterdam (capital of the Netherlands) to Copenhagan, Denmark. No real issues until we arrived and learned that there are not one, but SEVEN "Scandic Hotels" in Copenhagan. The first one we went to was NOT the one we needed to be at, so we investigated and then traveled 5 minutes to the correct hotel :)

Dropping off my bags in my tidy little room with the traditional clean lines of Danish design was SUCH a relief!

The view from my hotel room window:
My travelling companions at this point are Jim Boyd, representing the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corporation (JSDC), Randy Neva, Jamestown-area farmer/rancher, and Jamestown Mayor, Katie Andersen.
Tomorrow we'll be joined by a host of others including local legislators, the ND Agriculture Commissioner, ND Attorney General, and representatives from Great River Energy, The Bank of North Dakota, Great Plains Institute, ND Dept. of Commerce, ND Corn Growers Association, ND Corn Utilization Council, and the ND Grain Growers Association. We'll total 22 when everyone arrives.
I was honored to be invited to be part of this delegation by the JSDC and am charged with the responsibility of representing the interests of our farm and other Jamestown area farmers. See for more information on the work of the JSDC.
So, WHY, you ask is our group in Denmark?
Great River Energy and Inbicon, the cellulosic biomass refinery technology subsidiary of the Danish utility company, DONG Energy, are working together to develop and build a cellulosic biomass refinery in North Dakota. The biomass refinery, Dakota Spirit Ag Energy (DSA) will be located in Spiritwood, North Dakota.
Eventually, the goal is to have DSA converting biomass (wheat straw and parts of corn plants other than corn grain called "corn stover") into a variety of energy products including ethanol, molasses, and lignin pellets. DSA would utilize approximately 480,000 tons/year of biomass.
Here in Denmark, Inbicon has a demonstration biomass facility in Kalundborn (about an hour and a half bus ride from Copenhagen).
We're going to take a gander at that plant tomorrow.
So will this work in North Dakota? The jury is still out. We've got a lot to analyze. What are the logistics? How will we grow and harvest the biomass crops and deliver them to the plant? What are the effects on soil health? Most importantly, will this be profitable for local farmers and other parties involved?
My list of questions to answer this week is long, but I'm excited to get learning tomorrow. Stay tuned!
One last note. I sat down with my fellow Jamestownians tonight and enjoyed a delicious supper of chicken cordon bleu. I was entertained by the fact that the menu at our hotel restaurant had a "CLIMATE" section. In this section, plant-based, organic, locally produced foods were proclaimed as superior to other foods, and the production of cod (fish) fillet was even compared to a liter of milk, based on it's carbon emission.
Oh boy, am I ever back in Europe. Don't get me wrong, I really love European farmers, but they are subjected to the whims of a public (and resulting legislators/legislation) that have bought into the "climate change" gimic hook, line, and sinker. (groan).
I happily and gratefully enjoyed my dinner that included pork and chicken and cheese (dairy), along with an array of fresh vegetables, and gave thanks for ALL farmers (not just the organic folks), including my family, who are working hard everyday to raise food using sustainable, environmentally-friendly methods.
Food for thought: If it weren't for the initiative of farmers and the agriculture industry to constantly pursue innovations in efficient and effective methods of feeding and fueling our world, I would be at home in North Dakota, content with the status quo, instead of doing research in Denmark.
THANKS for taking the time to visit my little place in cyberspace,
Sarah :)