Friday, May 23, 2014

Snapshots on the Farm

A beautiful spring sunset on the farm. 


In the foreground, weeds and manure. We will deal with that another day; for a few moments, at least, Husband and I were able to stop and enjoy the view.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Pig Sale Load-out: Claude' and the Supervisory Grandmas

Tonight we are hosting our annual pig auction, which means we need to transport more than 100 little pigs to the fairgrounds for the sale.


Fortunately, we had world-renowned pig groomer and wrangler, Claude', on hand to help us get all the pigs loaded into the FIVE trailers we used to get them over to the auction site.



Here, Claude' is assisted by junior barn crew members Justin and Morgan, who sprang (sprung?) out of bed this morning, excited for a morning of pig loading and a day of pig washing.



As exciting as it is to work with Claude', Husband and the other farmers on hand couldn't get too out of control this morning. The supervisory Grandmas saw to that.


The Grandmas performed the critical functions of ensuring no members of the junior barn crew were run over by the trailers, providing tasty doughnuts and handing out strings (I don't know why strings are an important part of pig loading, but by God they were handed out.*).



As I type this Morgan, Justin, Ryan, their cousins and some other 4-H helpers are at the fairgrounds giving every pig a bath. After their bath, each pig is placed in a pen of nice, clean pine shavings. Tonight we will auction off the pigs and they will go home with excited 4-H'ers who will raise them this summer for the fair.

And if anyone needs help getting their pigs loaded to take to the fair this fall, please feel free to call upon Claude' or the supervisory Grandmas. You never know when you will need some string.


*NOTE: It is possible that the straw bale twine (string) was being recycled for use binding together gates inside the trailers.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Snapshots on the Farm

Fair weather farmer that I am, I couldn't resist visiting the little pigs today. These crossbred piglets are a little over a month old. 

It might be hard to tell from this photo but the sow (momma) and her pigs have their own little house with a fenced in "yard." They have an automatic waterer outside and husband comes by twice a day to feed them--even on Easter.





Wednesday, March 19, 2014

WARNING: This Post is NOT about Boogers

Ever since I successfully parlayed my fourth grade spelling words into an award-winning story for my school's "I Can Write Contest," I have had the writing bug (and also the award bug, if I must be honest).


So it made perfect sense that I would toss my hat into the ring for the 2014 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. After all, Erma is famously from Dayton and was also told, "You can write."

Before entering the contest I became a student of the event. I read winning entries from years past, I Googled around to try and find out past judges and I worked hard on my entry.

There is actually a category for Dayton area writers and I enjoyed some fun Facebook smack-talking with Jenny Rapson of Momminitup and Natasha Baker of Dance Love Sing Live about how we were going to TAKE this thing.

Except we didn't. 

It turns out that the winning Dayton entries for the past two programs have both been about BOOGERS. And sadly, I failed to write about boogers. I only wrote about how women feel this intense need to document their children's lives and then don't know what to do with the pictures. It's a little funny, I hope.


So I'll be thinking and writing for the next TWO years, waiting for my opportunity to enter the 2016 awards. Let's hope a great booger story comes to mind by then.

Guilt by a million bytes

If there is anything in motherhood that transcends generations and even technological advances, it is the guilt that we aren’t documenting the experience properly. I’m talking about mother photo guilt.

Our mothers’ unorganized boxes of photos, half finished baby books and empty albums have been replaced by this generation’s abandoned online memory books, forgotten “jpg” files on our computers and mobile phones full of images.

While our mothers lamented forgetting their cameras at special events, mothers today are usually within arm’s reach of a camera phone at all times. We are not only expected to document every birthday party and holiday but also all the mundane events in between. “Check out this photo album of the kids eating their pancakes this morning!” we exclaim on Facebook.

Last week, in an effort to help alleviate my mother photo guilt, I bought a palm-sized device that will hold a terabyte of data. A terabyte of data = one million megabytes, or roughly the capacity to store 200,000 photos.

Of course, the possession of a device that can store more photos than a mother could ever hope to take, even if her kids do win ribbons at the county fair and have cute gap-toothed smiles, is not the end of the problem. Just like the beautiful photo albums our mothers purchased with optimism, getting photos organized, labeled and into the thing, is the challenge.

I now have digital photos on CDs stuffed in a desk drawer, stashed away on my laptop, hanging out in “the cloud,” and on my mobile phone. And so a full terabyte of storage sits on my desk, waiting like an empty scrapbook for me to get organized.

In a way our mothers had it easier. The photos they took often lived on the camera for months before they finally got developed, flipped through and then tossed in a shoebox. And if you did have your act together, you created slides, which caused everyone you knew to flee when they saw you get out the projector and head for the light switch.

Mothers today are expected to insta-share the critical and not-so-critical moments of our children’s lives, including: the birthday cakes and the dinner casseroles; the baseball victories and trips to the park; and special days at the zoo along with every single time we sit down and do a craft.

With all of the obligatory documenting of our children’s lives, at least the result is digital. I think of the dusty boxes of photos that taunted my mother from her laundry room, and I am grateful that if I must collect 200,000 photos of my kids, at least they will all fit in the palm of my hand.





Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ageless Farm Wife Problems to Make You Laugh

Back in 1986, before there were blogs, farm wives still had funny stories to tell, I learned today. A nice lady at church gave me a booklet titled "Why Farm Wives Age Fast," full of essays from nice ladies living in places like Roca, Nebraska and Daingerfield, Texas.


You gotta love church ladies, always bringing in article clippings about your Grandpa, and finding surprisingly pristine farm wife essays from 30 years ago to share with you.

This afternoon I flipped through the booklet reluctantly, bound by social obligation to at least say I appreciated it. What I wasn't counting on was that through these decades of innovation, of the change in role that many women play on the farm, of the technology at our disposal, one thing hasn't changed a single bit for farm wives: our husbands.

I found myself laughing at stories that started out with their farmer husbands promising, "this will only take a minute," and ended with the wife covered in the foulest muck on the farm.  There was a whole essay about how NOTHING that leaves the house in the hands of a man ever makes it back again, especially scissors, or that hammer you try to keep for household tasks. I chuckled at an article by a lady named Lavon who had "invented" an agricultural workout that included opening and closing gates for the truck and shoveling grain for the animals.

I just about burst out laughing reading the essay from a woman in Georgia who shared a due date with her husband's prized sow--and she wasn't entirely sure whose birth he was going to attend.

Lastly, after this terrible winter, I sympathized with the farm wife who ordered a load of driveway gravel for three of her husband's birthdays in a row, only to continue to fight holes and bumpy travel.

I guess the lesson here is that while farmers haven't changed a bit, farm wives will always find a way to tell their stories to remind us that we're not alone in our humorous struggles.

And thanks to the church lady, I got to be reminded that my stories aren't unique--farm wives have been dealing with farmers since the the dawn of agriculture.

NOTE: If you would like to order "Why Farm Wives Age Fast," Volume I or II, "write your name and address on a slip of paper and mail with payment to..." Oh, how things HAVE changed.



Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pig Farmer Olympics

Our farm family has really enjoyed watching the Olympics in Sochi. This winter has been tough on the farm, with both bitter cold and lots of snow making it challenging for us, and by us I mean Husband and Ryan, to get the work done.

Watching the Olympics has made me appreciate these dedicated Americans who have worked hard outside in the elements, sometimes under adverse conditions, to pursue their passion. Like some farmers I know.

Here are a few of our family's gold medal farming events:

Ice Dancing - My not-so-graceful journey in the snow to get into my van and drive it down the lane. My farmer Husband spends his shoveling time and energy on pig pens. Our driveway is last priority.

Curling - Husband raises his pigs in small pig-height buildings. To ensure we have pigs the right size for our state and county fairs, Husband has a lot of pigs being born in the winter. He stays up many nights, curled up in the little house, waiting to ensure the piglets get under the heat lamp right after they are born.

Half Pipe - Many of our waterers have frozen this winter, leaving Husband hauling water by hand to provide fresh water to his pigs.

2-Man Bobsled - I have gotten my van stuck in my own driveway four times this year (see Ice Dancing). In each instance, Husband comes to my rescue, driving the van out onto the road for a quick switch of drivers on the yellow line.

Skeleton - On his Groundhog Day birthday, husband walked out the door and slipped on the ice. From dragging his boots through the heavy snow or climbing into and out of pig pens to shovel, Husband has had a very physical, exhausting winter.

Biathalon - With all the hard work Husband does 365 days a year, it is amazing to me that he can take the time (and has the energy) to help coach both of our sons's basketball teams. This weekend he coached all day, then came home, dressed in his warm clothes and went outside to feed the pigs in the cold and dark.

USA farmers don't get medals. Sometimes all farmers get is low market prices, disease and expensive feed, but like true champions, we push through adversity. And every time you bring your fork to your mouth, you taste the results of our hard work.