Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Losing The Iowa Nice

I have been practicing Iowa Nice this winter.  When Chipolte started releasing the exploding cow infomercials this winter, I chalked it up to corporate ignorance and desperation. I did not give the writers of this internet infomercial the satisfaction of acknowledging it - until now.  But, today I came across an article titled Breaking Bad In Iowa, written by Kamyar Enshayan, Director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI).  Now, I do take offense to his writing.  As an Iowa farmer I refuse to accept being compared to a methamphetamine maker but that is what Enshayan has done. 

In his article, Enshayan starts his attack of commodity agriculture by stating that there is no need for stable communities, civic organizations, schools, churches, libraries, or rural businesses.  Not only as a corn farmer but as a mom, I completely disagree.  We need all of the above in rural America for the quality of life.  Living in a rural community, I feel more people volunteer and take part in the community because we all feel the need to support our schools, churches, libraries, and civic organizations because there are fewer of us than in urban areas.  In cities and urban area with larger populations not as many individuals need to be volunteers for multiple organizations.  It's not out of the ordinary for a rural business owner (and this includes farmers) to be a volunteer firefighter, serve on a church committee, help out at school, and be a 4H leader.  In rural America we take care of our own. 

The writer continues on how soil erosion has degraded and impaired watersheds.  Here are a couple of interesting facts.  Soil erosion has decreased by 33% from 1982 to 2007.  Conservation farming is continuously increasing.  In 2006, conservation tillage was used on 13.9 million acres in Iowa.  In 2007, 15.2 million acres of conservation tillage was practiced.  In Iowa alone 250,000 acres of wetlands have been re-established.  Can Iowa farmers improve?  Absolutely!  But, with new technology and education we are making great strides to save AND improve our natural resources.

Here is a quote from this article. "Unlike meth, commodity agriculture is legal, legitimized by the USDA and land grant colleges of agriculture, and financed by tax dollars, laundered through corn subsidies and ethanol plants (car wash in Breaking Bad)."  Wow, nothing like calling the kettle black Enshayan.  I'm pretty sure that I'm financing you, whether I like it or not, with my tax dollars.  The world has a growing population and there is a growing need for protein.  Corn is an excellent feed source for cattle, hogs, and poultry - all protein dense foods.  There are government food subsidies to ensure economical food for the US population.  Sure, we could produce our crops without a government payment but the increased food prices in the grocery stores would reflect this.  Ethanol plants have brought jobs back into rural Iowa.  Hence more consumers and volunteers in rural Iowa towns.  Plus, when I fill my family minivan with ethanol I am buying local.

Enshayan does acknowledge in the last paragraph of his article that many Iowa farmers are practicing good agronomy.  However, like so many articles showing up in print and social media , Enshayan has taken the low road and sensationalized issues that do need addressing with poor, unrealistic comparisons.  Scare tactics are not necessary to educate the US consumer. 

I try to keep a positive attitude but it's frustrating when individuals decide to cut me and my occupation down.  So, I will now return to my Iowa Nice mode.  

Hey!  Check out this opportunity at www.Iowafoodandfamily.org!  You could spend a day with an Iowa farmer and have all of your burning questions answered about the food you eat.

Win a trip to an Iowa farm

The next time you look at farms zooming by you as you travel through the state, picture yourself there: riding in a tractor, feeding cattle, harvesting soybeans. Iowa Food & Family Project and Iowa's farmers look forward to helping you feed your curiosity about agriculture and connect the dots from the farm to the food on your plate by hosting you for a real field day!
One lucky winner and family will have the opportunity to experience spring planting on an Iowa farm. The contest entry period ends March 31 with the winner announced in early April.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving to You!

If you could travel back in time who would you want to meet?  I have a list of individuals that includes Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Amelia Earhart, Paul Tibbets, and Margaret Thatcher to name a few.  But, at the top of my list would be George Washington.  I should back up.  I am in total awe of the common citizens who took on the King of England, declared their independence, and then fought to create this county.  The colonial times through the Revolutionary War is a time period I love to read about.  I always wonder what inspired these people to act.  It's one thing to talk and complain but it's another to act upon one's grievances.  What did they have in them to take on an impossible task and succeed?  George Washington was a soldier, engineer, politician, and a farmer.  He was intelligent, quiet, humble, and a leader most respected.  But why George Washington?  What set him apart from all the others to lead during this amazing yet frightening time in our nation's history?  Historians go back and forth arguing about Washington's religious beliefs.  However, I am confident that it was God's divine intervention that inspired individuals like Washington to build this country.  For this I am thankful. 

George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation
“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me ‘to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.’
“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, Who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

“And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.”

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mom Video

We are in the midst of the county fair season and there are many 4H and FFA families on the verge of . . . well, let's just say there are a lot of very busy 4H'ers and FFA kids across the country right now.  I found this video this morning and it made me giggle.  I hope all you 4H moms and "retired" 4H/FFA moms get a giggle as well.
Ok Boys, back to work.  Only 15 days to the Clayton County Fair!  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Better Late Than Never

First, my apology.  I am not tech savvy.  In fact, I hate computers - I would much rather be outside in my hosta garden or in the kitchen cooking.  However, they are a fact of life and I do appreciate all the conveniences that come along with computer technology.  But, when a computer does not do what it is suppose to do I'm completely lost and FRUSTRATED.  So, here is a post that was to be done a week ago.  There will be a few other late posts coming up.  Please be patient with me - I'm one desperate computer operator.  Now with that little editorial complete, on with the blog.

Every 4th of July I take a picture of Grandpa and the boys in front of a corn field.  There is the old saying, "Knee high by the 4th of July".  That is an old corn farmer's gauge as to how well the crop is doing. 

With the mixed up, crazy spring we basically have three different corn plantings - mid May, late May and mid June.  None of these are considered timely.    If you would like more information about timeliness of corn planting go on back to my blog post titled "The 8th Day of Planting", the end of May.

The field I take a picture of each week on the Growing Season Picture page was one of the first farms planted.  If you hope over to that page you can see how far along this field is.  But on the 4th Dad/Grandpa was side dressing our corn on later planted farms.  So Dad being Dad we took two 4th of July pictures - one on an earlier planted farm and one on a late planted farm. 

Mid season planting of corn
on the 4th of July.

                                                   A late planted field of corn - well, at
                                                   least it made knee high on the boys.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Farm Boy Creativity

I love farm boy creativity.  Take 1 very hot and humid day, add in a couple of boys and Mom never knows what to expect.

I wasn't sure what was transpiring when Son #3 wanted to know where to find the dish soap (Apparently he has never had a need to use it before now.) and his pop-up tent.  Then I looked out the window to see every hose on the farm connected together and going all the way from the seed warehouse across the farm yard, to the top of the hill by the machine shed.  Next, I saw Son #1 wandering from building to building.  When I asked what he was looking for I got the usual "not much" comment.

When they ran out of the house in their swimming trunks I figured they were going to have a water fight.  Well, they did a little better than that . . .  All I can say is that necessity is the mother of invention.

Silage tarps tacked down with tent spikes make
a great slip and slide.

Squirt a little dish soap on the plastic to
add some speed.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Facts! Just the Facts Ma'm!

I posted this video by Cornell University on my FaceBook page: 2 Farmers & Their 3 Sprouts but I believe this is an important video well worth your time to watch.  Or, at least please listen to it while doing something else.


The scientists in this video go over the facts about GMOs, NOT the fiction that is continuously shadowing the science behind producing food for the world.