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 :)