Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I've Been Shooting Farming in the Foot: Three Things I Wish We'd Stop Saying in Agriculture.

Hello, I'm a farmer. I've been shooting myself in the foot.

Here's how.

For years, we in agriculture, have raved about the redeeming qualities of "family farms".

Don't get me wrong, I loved growing up working with my family on our farm.
That's me, part-time grain cart driver, full-time Mama.

Today, I love farming with my husband and children, but what if you were not born into a "family farm"? How would that make you feel about farming? Is there some club that you didn't get invited to? Do you somehow not belong unless you have "blood" in farming?

What if your farm is experiencing success and is growing and you need to hire help?
How does this make non-family employees on farms feel? Like they're less important than the family members on the farm team? Not so. I care for our non-family team members (and their dogs) as much as I care about my own flesh and blood.

Every member of our farm team is important. Large, small, K9, I care about them all.

What if you exited a family farming partnership?  What kind of guilt would you carry for "breaking up the family farm", even if it was the right thing to do? Not all families work together in businesses in town. Not all families are meant to farm together either.

Worst of all, the term "family farm" has been hijacked and is being used in the media as a whiny, pity-filled, political pawn.

Don't feel sorry for me. I love my vocation. I'm happy with my choice.

As just 2% of the U.S. population (Source: American Farm Bureau Federation), we farmers better get really excited about recruiting future farmers and agribusiness professionals to support us and our peers, and we better do it quickly.

I say bring on the first generation agriculturalists! Celebrate them! Mentor them!

So, please, STOP SAYING "FAMILY FARM", just call it a "FARM".


The second way I've been shooting farming in the foot is calling what we do an "industry".

For years we've called ourselves an "industry". Rolls right off the tongue. Yes, we grow things and make things. Yes, we use lots of mechanization, but "industry" sounds cold. It doesn't sound enjoyable. It sounds inhuman.  What I love most about agriculture is the culture, our people.

We are a "community".  Even those we bid against for land rental contracts, we stop and help if they're stuck in the mud or broken down, and they do the same for us.  We go to church, 4-H, and school together.  In my opinion, rural communities are the best communities. Let's start talking about why we love living where we live. Afterall, most farms are rural and immobile. If we're going to recruit first-generation farmers (or convince our own kids to come back to our farms), we'd better start talking up why we love living where we live and the communities we are thriving in.

The third, and final, term, I'm guilty of using, that is further alienating those who choose to invest in what we grow; "Consumers".

This one is tough. It's been engrained since my Dairy Princess days.
1996-97 Maryland Dairy Princess.
A life changing experience and my first opportunity to hear what the public really thinks about agriculture.

However, these days I am a parent. I do most (but not all) of the grocery shopping. I'm on the production end of agriculture as well as the retail end and I don't like being called a "consumer".  That makes me feel like I am mowing through life like a Hungry Hungry Hippo.
This is Hungry Hungry Hippos, in case you weren't a child in the 1980's :)
Call me a "parent". Call me a "customer". Call me a "food decision maker" because I am important and with every trip I take to the grocery store, I am voting with my dollars. Better yet, call me a "food choice Mom",  but please don't call me a "consumer".

Thank you for hearing me out.  If you, like me, are going to try to change the way you talk about farming, which hopefully changes how people perceive farming, THANK YOU.

God Bless,
Sarah :)

"Then he (Christ) said to his disciples. "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Matthew 9:37-38, NIV

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The End of My Rope

A few years ago, Jeremy and the kiddos and I were visiting friends and attended a Sunday morning service at Valley Christian Church in Moorhead, Minnesota.  VCC was formerly led by Pastor Phil Miller, and currently by Pastor Jim Ray.  If you are looking for a church family in the Fargo-Moorhead area, I encourage you to visit VCC. It is one of a handful of “church homes” I have had in my lifetime and you will find a warm, welcoming group of people there that truly have hearts for Jesus.

Anyway, that day there was a guest speaker.  I cannot recall his name.  I’m chalking that up to Mom brain, but perhaps it is symbolic also, because it is not our names, but the works we do and the manner in which we do them that is remembered.  What we Christians should be focused on is our works glorifying our father in heaven, not each of us as individuals, but I digress, which is generally how I operate.   This is yet another one of my winding tales, which I promise will eventually lead to a worthwhile conclusion.

The speaker that day talked used a rope as a prop and it was a powerful visual.

As he began to talk he held up about six inches of the end of the rope between his hands.  This represented the amount of time we are here on earth.

I’ve been to what I would consider far too many funerals.  That time can be incredibly short, which can seem cruel and unfair at times, as I’ve said goodbye to people who were so young or taken so quickly.

But here’s the good news.

 They’re not gone, they’ve just gone ahead.

The pastor held up that rope, with just the first, short portion representing our earthly lives, and then he had his son help stretch it out.  It went from the pulpit, down along the front pew, and all the way out the door.

Even this was not enough rope to show how long our eternal lives in heaven will be.

It is spelled out in the Bible in that familiar verse, John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

It brings me great joy to hear my children recite this verse, because I know that their young hearts believe that when I’m gone from here, that I’ve just gone ahead to be with my father in heaven.

So as promised, here is the worthwhile conclusion.

Nothing is too big or too heavy for God.  Give Him your heart. Give up the weight of those sins you’ve been carrying. If you haven’t already, give your life to Christ today and let Him be your guide and He will fulfill His promise of that everlasting life that is more wonderful than we can imagine.

It is my hope that someday when I’ve gone ahead, you will remember that I was not really at the end of my rope, but only the beginning.

Thanks for stopping by,

Sarah J

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sun Dogs and Soybeans on the Prairie

Last week, Jeremy and I headed to Fargo, ND for the Northern Soybean Expo, which is the annual meeting of the North Dakota Soybean Growers Association and North Dakota Soybean Council.

We were looking forward to an exciting day of learning, networking, and spending time together as a farm and family management team.  I'm calling it a "working date" :)

On the way, we got to witness something we've never seen before.  Now, I'm fairly new to sun dogs, so they're all new and exciting to me, but when Jeremy, who grew up on the prairie, said he'd never seen anything like it, I knew I was witnessing something REALLY special.

The biggest Sun Dogs EVER!

What's a Sun Dog? Check out this link for more information:


Usually when we see Sun Dogs, it's simply two small rainbows on either side of the sun.  But this was spectactular.

There was a full ring around the sun.

There was even a full SECOND ring around the sun!
It gets cold here on the prairie. Really, really cold, but seeing things like this makes enduring negative 10 degrees (with a 35 degree below windchill) well worth it!
Brrr...That lip balm I got at the Soybean Expo (which is made from soybeans we grow)
sure is going to come in handy!
Thanks for stopping by!
Sarah :)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Carpet From Corn!

Yesterday something rare happened.  Perhaps even naughty.
Okay, really nothing naughty about it, but it felt wickedly good to break the rules of our "regularly scheduled life" :)
Jeremy and I skipped out on a conference we had planned to attend. 
It's called the Cornvention and it is the annual meeting of the North Dakota Corn Growers Association.  Yes, you guessed it, there you can learn lots about growing corn in North Dakota.
(Click HERE for a video on how we harvest corn on our farm.)
However, there is something going on in our lives that has temporarily taken precedence over corn.
We're giving the Wilson family farm house a makeover. 
This requires us to make approximately 80,000 little decisions that when they come together will create a new home for our family.
Yesterday we tackled some decisions about cabinets and flooring.
There is some irony here. As we were skipping out on the Cornvention (gasp!), we discovered that Mohawk (which, to my knowledge, is a branch of DuPont) has a new line of carpet.
It's called SmartStrand Silk.
It is THE SOFTEST carpet I have ever touched.  Softer than my daughter's favorite teddy bear!
AND the best part is that it is made from CORN!!!
The same corn we grow in our fields!  We have have 79,999 more decisions to make, but I'm pretty sure we're sold on this carpet :)
Thanks for stopping by! And if we missed you at the Cornvention, we'll see you next year!
Sarah :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Official Ram Trucks Super Bowl Commercial "Farmer"

On Sunday night, I couldn't get the video to embed right, so here it is!

According to Dodge:

"You watch the video, you share a badge, the Ram brand makes a donation. Help us raise $1 million to support FFA and assist in local hunger and educational programs."

In case you weren't already aware, FFA ROCKS!!!

I would not be where I am today without FFA and my wonderful FFA advisors, Mrs. "Eb" and Mr. Westerberg.

Share on!

Sarah :)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

"So God Made a Farmer" Featured In Dodge Super Bowl Ad

It's true, God made a farmer.  In fact, the first job assigned to mankind in the Bible was that of a farmer.

Genesis (the first book of the Bible), chapter 1, verse 26 states:

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

One of my all time favorite recordings is that of Paul Harvey reading the poem "So God Made a Farmer".

I have tried and tried to find the original recording of this and who the author was.  Rumor has it that Mr. Harvey read it first at an American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention ages ago, but no one at the AFBF office could find it.  I've also heard he read it at a National FFA Convention years ago as well.

Either way, this simple, honest, ruggedly beautiful poem has found it's way into an ad in the Super Bowl.

Watch it here:


Here's the irony.

I missed it! Tonight my family arrived home completely exhausted (in that "my brain is full of new and exciting ideas" kind of way) from a stellar North Dakota Farm Bureau Leadership Conference (see www.ndfb.org/young for more info).

Upon getting all the children to sleep, and thinking I could finally tune in to the Super Bowl, I realized my middle child is to be the first "snack kid" of the month at preschool in the morning.  Alas, we didn't have enough snacks in the house. So I ran to the grocery store "real quick like" and upon pulling back into my garage, my phone started buzzing like mad and my Facebook wall was lighting up with comments like this...

"...the Paul Harvey commercial was for you..."

"Loved the "Farmer" commercial on the Superbowl and thought of you and your family!!"

"How'd you like the farmer ad?"

I immediately thought,  WHAT FARMER AD???

Luckily, minutes later, a friend posted the link and I was able to watch the "farmer" commercial, for Dodge Trucks, online.

I have to admit, I teared up watching it, and my heart grew three sizes from so many comments that those images reminded people of me and my family.  (Thank you, Facebook friends!)

Tonight, MILLIONS of people around the world heard a recording from decades ago that reflects values and hopes that still ring true on farms and ranches across our nation and around the world.

W.C. "Bill" Wilson (1920-2011) introduces his two year old great-granddaughter to a newborn kitten on our farm.
Tonight, one company chose to spend invest a lot of money to honor two things:

God and farmers.  This is perhaps not the most politically correct thing to do, but it was right and it was good.

For that I am deeply grateful. Although three of the three (running) pickups on our farm wear the Ford emblem, I have to say, well done, Dodge, well done.

Sarah :)

p.s. There's another excellent video by Farms.com using the same Paul Harvey speech here:


AND more of my friends who blog about agriculture are talking about the Dodge ad:

Katie over at "The Pinke Post"

Janice over at "A Colorful Adventure"

Brandi over at Buzzard's Beat

Carrie over at "Dairy Carrie"

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Frosty Winter Wonderland on the Wilson Farm

Last February, I blogged about a frosty morning on our farm.

A few weeks ago I pulled into our farmyard to find another picturesque frosty winter wonderland.  The air seemed almost blue and it was completely still and silent.  The kind of peacefulness you can only find on the prairie.

I snapped these pics with my iPhone.  Let's be honest, I don't carry a camera since I was given this phone...thanks for the "iloveyouPhone", Jeremy Wilson :)

Hope you enjoy these and I hope they give you a little virtual breath of the fresh air and peace we enjoy here on our farm on winter mornings (before any equipment is running :)

In the background you may notice some construction going on. We're giving the old Wilson farm house a new life :)


Grandpa Wilson fashioned this mail box post from one of the stall dividers from the old barn that housed the family's dairy cows.

More agricultural relics...

An old steam shovel scoop.  It's massive.

No rain in the gauge today :)

 I was impressed at the difference in the frost thickness on each side of the branch.

God's handiwork sure is amazing.  What beauty he gives us each day, but it's up to us to choose to enjoy it.

Sarah :)

"It was You who set all the boundaries of the earth; You made both summer and winter."
Psalm 74:17