Mama’s Journal – Mud

Today the sun is shinning, the birds are singing, the trees are budding, the grass is greening up and we are in the season of mud. Yes, there is a mud season in Missouri. We don’t just have Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, we also have Mud.

Now mud can mean many different things. It can mean that the gravel road you live on will not dry out so you have to pad your departure time and plan your attire on wither or not you can show up with mud on your hem. It can be the time of year where political campaigns slinging “mud” back and forth so much that you can’t tell which way is up or who to cast your vote for on Primary Day. Kids love mud season because that is when they can splash in the mud puddles and get their cloths and each other muddy. Mud is also the season when farmers start itching to get in the fields because mud means that the ground temperature is just about right to start putting seed in the ground.

Above all else, mud means that we will be working calves and weaning them from their mama’s. Weaning happens about the same time every year, give or take a few days, and we are always in mud season. This year will be no different.

Now the lots where we bring the cattle into to sort the calves from the cows are not necessarily muddy, but when you have 60 animals in one space and the ground is soft, it becomes muddy, fast. Add in the organic matter that also usually ends up somewhere on me and you have a “slick” situation.

Blessings to you,
Laurie – Country Linkcountrylinked.wordpress.com

 

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Would You Celebrate 20 Years? Part II

Would you celebrate the 20 years of a FFA chapter?

Truthfully……it never occurred to me to celebrate. It never even crossed my mind that 20 years were about to pass from the first time I dawned my blue jacket. THANKFULLY, it did occur to the current FFA members and their teacher/advisor, Mr. Martin. These young men and women planned, organized, decorated, cooked and made song lists for the first ever Meadville FFA Alumni/Supports Barnwarming. A dinner and dance to celebrate the past 20 years of the Meadville FFA.

Our evening began with a steak dinner. The students served ribeye, (cooked to our preference) with baked potatoes, rolls, salads, green beans and sweet corn. The students not only served the food, but also cooked most of it. After dinner, the Chapter President thanked everyone for coming, introduced the officer team and made a few remarks. He then handed the floor over to the first EVER Meadville FFA Chapter President.

Twenty years ago I had one goal and that was to be the first President of the Meadville FFA Chapter. My FFA career was shorter than most, but it did have a big impact on me. The FFA helped me to determine my career path for college, it instilled in me a drive to work hard and to set goals and it helped to lead me to where I am today; working side by side my father and husband on the family farm. So when it was time for those first official officer interviews, I was ready. I knew what I wanted and I was able to achieve yet another goal, being Meadville’s first FFA President.

Being give the floor, I had a chance to give a little back ground as to how the chapter came to be and also shared a bit about our first advisor, Mrs. Lichte – Courtney. From there it was time to get everyone else involved in the story telling. Walking though the crowd and calling on specific individuals, we had a wonderful exchange of stories, memories and a few laughs.

Some of the comments made reflected on what an impact our FFA chapter made on many of the alumni. Others were able to remember funny things that happened, like walking in to the theme music of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood at chapter banquet, or the video made of one of the members practicing reasons on fluffy bunnies as a way to break the tension while practicing for nationals. One parent commented that 1996 was the year that they moved to Meadville and that they were very pleased to see that there was a FFA chapter in place where their children would be attending school. My favorite comment of the night was from an alumnus who could not be in attendance, but wrote a lovely letter to be read by her sister.

Melissa wrote this, “When I left Meadville I thought I left agriculture – but then I realized that too few people who write agriculture policy come from a small town. I get to use those skills to support farmers around the world with so little. I know I am better at my work because of what I learned 20 years ago. While I write this I am sitting in Nairobi Kenya and planning for a trip to go up to Somalia to build security by supporting the 85% of the population there that work in farming. I keep being drawn to supporting farmers because I know the dignity and pride that comes from a good harvest. I am proud of Meadville because it granted me with an unparalleled education, not only in technical knowledge, but also in how to value those things in life that only come from hard work. I like agriculture because even in the toughest of places it is inherently hopeful. I can trace all of this back to FFA.”

 

After all of the commenting and a few more thank yous, individuals stayed around to talk more, look at the chapter scrapbooks and do a bit of dancing. Being Barnwarming, the current members made sure that there was country music that multiple generations would enjoy. Some of the FFA members were also babysitting over at the school so that parents could enjoy the evening and not worry about care for their children.

The whole evening was above and beyond my expectations! I was thrilled to see many there who helped start the chapter and to see those who benefited from the chapter being started. Thank you to everyone who came, thank you to everyone who helped and thank you to the current Meadville FFA members who made it all happen!

One thing I will always remember as part of my FFA career was being handed our charter on the stage at state convention. My sister said this after the presentation, “She is not going to let that thing go”. After all of these years, I have not let go. I have not let go of what I learned, the confidence I gained, the dedicated it took, the memories made and the love I have for this organization. It may be just a piece of paper, but it is also so much more than that.

Now what? We celebrated 20 years. Do we wait for another 20 years to pass before we get together again? I for one hope not. I hope that this anniversary celebration is just the start of many more ways that Meadville FFA alumni can come together to celebrate the past, present and the future of our FFA. For this chapter belongs to those who made it possible, to those who were members and to those who are current members.

Blessings to you and to those who make up the National FF Organization,

Laurie – Country Link

Would You Celebrate 20 Years?

FFA Alumni 018-001Yesterday I told you about a certain blue jacket that has been hanging in my parents’ house for the last 20 years. Every time I see my jacket I am taken back to memories of a small metal building located next to the Meadville school, the Missouri Governors Conference, the National Convention in Kansas City and State Convention in Columbia, Missouri.

As a small school in north central Missouri, Meadville offered the usual sports; basketball, softball and track, and offered the usual organizations; Student Council, National Honors Society, SADD and what was called FHA at that time. It did not offer what many small rural schools offered – the FFA. Now my memory is a bit fuzzy on this, but apparently a few of us pestered the Superintendent about not having a FFA chapter; pestered him enough that a call was made and a plan formed and in the fall semester of 1995 we had an Ag Teacher/Advisor and the beginning of a chapter.

What does it take to start a chapter of the National FFA Orginization? HARD WORK. Really, it was hard work. It took time, dedication, effort from everyone along with a fantastic teacher to lead the charge. We were very lucky to have the teacher that we did in the beginning and I, for one, attribute our success to her, Mrs. Lichte-Courtney. At just four feet tall, she had a dedication to us that is unparalleled. She had never started a chapter before, but her past experiences as an Ag teacher and an alumnus of the Norborne FFA made her the right person for the job.

When you begin a chapter, everyone is consider a Greenhand, a first year student. Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors were all on the same learning curve and we all got to have our classes in the new little metal building built for Ag and Shop class. We would have to walk outside the school, on the sidewalk that runs in front of the school building, (K-12 is all in one building) so not to walk through the elementary and be a distraction to the younger students to get to our classroom. At that time we did not have a “bell” in our little building, so we had to watch the clock carefully, (being tardy to your next class happened on occasion).  In this building is where our practices were held, (before and after school), where we drank milk and tasted cheese, where we made plans for the chapter and leaders were shaped. It is also where Mrs. Lichte-Courtney promised us a steak dinner and a movie in the city IF we got on stage at State Convention. (Being on stage meant you placed in the top three for the whole state.)

Melissa, a classmate and FFA alumnus, recently wrote this about those early days of the chapter: “That first year our team went to the Governor’s Marketing Competition, Ms. Lichte drilled us for hours and hours. There were a lot of early morning grumbly weekend drives to the school in my old Dodge Aries. When we won and received our plaques I will never forget that she said, “You had this thing won when you walked in the building.”

Being new to FFA, attending our first National Convention was amazing! So many blue jackets, from all of the 50 states, in one place. Going to the trade show and attending a session I know were fantastic experiences, but what I remember most is that we lost a student. Don’t worry, he was found! We traveled to Kansas City with another school and one of their students started not feeling well in the middle of the day. No one knew this or that he had found the medical area and was there. This was well before everyone carried cell phones and it took forever to find him. We were very late getting home that night from convention.

Where ever we went and whatever we did, we knew we had to do it well and make an impression. So when I say we practiced and we studied, I MEAN we practiced and we studied – A LOT. When it came close to State Convention time, Mrs. Lichte-Courtney would let us take some class time to work on our CDE teams, but only when it got really close to state convention time. We came in before school, after school, on weekends, whatever it took to get our practices in. We were on a mission to prove something, not just to the community and our base chapter, Chillicothe, but to ourselves too. We needed to prove to ourselves that we could do it. All of our hard work and dedication paid off and after only one year, instead of the original three, we were granted the chance to apply for our own charter.

We are now approaching the 20th Anniversary of that charter date. We now have 20 years of history consisting of accomplishments, different advisors, different students, a national team, countless area officers and a state officer. So what do you do with all of that? Would you celebrate? Would you bring together those who started it all and have supported the chapter through the years? Would you invite Alumni to return and reminisce about their days of being a member? Would you celebrate 20 years?

Blessings to you,

Laurie – Country Link

*Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of “Would You Celebrate 20 Years?”.

A Certain Blue Jacket…

001-012A certain blue jacket has been hanging in a closet in my parents’ home for the past 20 years. Last week I took it out of the closet and tried it on. After 20 years it still fit… After 20 years it still had three pins pinned to the front of it and it still had the ladies necktie in the pocket… After 20 years I still remember so much about what it meant to wear that jacket…After 20 years I still remember the joy I felt in being a part of a very special organization…After 20 years I still remember these words…

I believe in the future of agriculture

Twenty years is a long time to keep a jacket, especially a jacket that one does not wear. Being the sentimental type that I am, I could not bear to part with my blue jacket. For you see, 20 years ago I was one of several who helped to start a Chapter of the National FFA Association at our high school. A high school in rural north central Missouri, in the heart of farm country, and it was without FFA.

“I believe that to live and work on a good farm, or to be engaged in other agricultural pursuits, is pleasant as well as challenging

At first we functioned as a satellite chapter. The Chillicothe FFA served as our base. We did have our own teacher/advisor and chapter officers, but Chillicothe was the name on the back of our blue jackets and would be for at least three years; or so we thought. It took students, school staff and administrators, the board of education and parents all pursuing this dream of a Meadville FFA chapter to make it so in only one year.

“I believe in leadership from ourselves and respect from others

Being a brand new chapter, we worked hard to prove ourselves. Not only to other chapters across the state, but also to the community so that they would know that we were not going to take this chance for granted. We entered contests, perfected our record books and wrote speeches all in the hope that we would make it to the stage at State Convention. Make it there we did.

“I believe in less dependence on begging and more power in bargaining

In the two short years that I was able to wear my blue jacket, I learned that what is in the jacket is just as important as what the jacket represents. For I had to believe in myself and in my classmates. I had to put forth the time and the effort to meet my goals. I had to trust that my advisor was there to help me succeed. I had to embrace all that the classes and the program had to offer. I had to become an FFA member.

“I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true

Even though 20 years has passed since the beginning, one thing still holds true; the Meadville FFA chapter is dedicated to the future of agriculture. That dedication brings forth productive citizen who peruse higher education, seek careers in the agriculture field, return to the family farm and have a deeper appreciation for where their food, fiber and fuel comes from.

As I have reflected on the past 20 years, one thing I noticed was how timeless this organization is. Students today are still learning things that I learned and are still competing in the same Career Development Events that I competed in. All of these things are traditions, and rightly so, but what truly makes the FFA successful and timeless, is the students who dawn their own blue jackets year after year.

How long has it been since you last put on your blue jacket? Is it still hanging in your closet?

Blessings to you and every member of the National FFA Organization,

Laurie – Country Link

Harvest Report

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In case you have been wondering, harvest is rolling here in Missouri, and has been for a while. We started September 22 harvesting corn in a field located next to a creek. We call this our bottom ground. The yields were less than desirable and the corn was still a bit wet, (it had not dried all of the way down in the field) but we were needing to get the corn shelled so that drainage tile could be put in the ground. I will share pictures of that process soon.

After a breakdown and a day of waiting for parts, it was back to the corn field on high ground and higher yields. As farmers we like the yields to be high because that means we are doing our job well. Between working with our seed guy, (who happens to be my husband) the local chemical company, mother nature and each other, we can be good stewards of the land. We can ensure that the land is being used to its potential and that it will provide a crop that will go on to be food, fuel or family friendly products. This also ensures that the next generation will have viable land to farm also.

Filling the Truck

The yields on the hill ground have been good, considering the very wet spring and early summer that we had. You see corn does not like to have its roots in water. What I mean is that the roots need water, but they do not like sitting in water for long periods of time. In any low sports or terrace channels in the fields you had water sitting, and sitting and sitting. The corn did not like this. Yields have dropped drastically in these areas, thus bringing the field average down. With the addition of a yield monitor, we have been able to map the fields and get a real-time analysis of how the field performed. Spots in the fields are seeing high yields for our area, (200+ bushels to the acre), while the low spots are seeing way below average for our area, (50+/- bushels to the acre).

After getting our cash rent corn out, it was back to another piece of bottom land that once again saw very low corn averages. After the corn is planted and before it reaches a certain stage in growing and a certain height, you apply Nitrogen to the field to give the corn what it needs to continue green tissue development, ear and kernel development. (This is why I love Agronomists!! The whole process is mind-blowing!) This corn did not receive its Nitrogen when it needed it because of the wet conditions and it too had wet feet all spring and summer. Thus the less than desirable yields again. Never fear though! We will try again next year.

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Next came a short time in the soybean field. There was one 50 acre field that was planted earlier than the rest, with some replant acres, that was actually ready for harvest. This field was also slated for fall planting of wheat, so we needed to get the crop out. Once again we saw bare spots in the fields from all of the rain, but we do feel blessed in that there was a crop to harvest.

We are now back in the corn field with just a bit more to go before we take a break and let the soybeans finish maturing. As you may know, the weather has been perfect for harvesting and for drying crops in the field. We could use a rain to “settle the dust” and give the pastures a much-needed drink, but we also need the crops out and that is really hard to do in muddy conditions.

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There you have! Our Harvest Report so far for 2015. What will the rest of harvest bring? Who knows, but we do know that we will continue to do it together as a Missouri Farming Family.

Blessings to you this harvest season,

Laurie – Country Link

“Why Tour Farms?”

On any given day in the small community of Garden City, Missouri you will find a retail meat shop busy during the lunch hour serving up delicious meats to local farmers, residents and those passing through town. You will probably also see the Garden City Chief of Police in there enjoying his lunch.

How do I know this? Being a member of Missouri Women Bloggers, I was invited on a farm tour organized by Missouri Farm Bureau this past Friday. We ate lunch at Kurzweils’ Country Meats and Restaurant, a family owned specialty meat market/restaurant close to Kansas City. Thus, my meeting the Garden City Chief of Police. (I am sure six women with cameras and name tags caught his attention right away, and he happened to know one of the ladies in our group). We conversed for a bit and when he found out what we were doing, he asked, “Why tour farms?”.

2015-09-18 MFBFarmTour

I guess I should have anticipated his question, but I did not. I was taken back by it for a second. Not because I did not have an answer for him, but that it was asked in the first place. Why would someone, anyone, not just a member of law enforcement, ask WHY would we, (he did not know that we were six lady bloggers), tour farms.

Aren’t farms places people go to learn and gain information? Don’t farmers know the ins and outs of raising food, fiber and fuel? Where else are you going to see cute baby calves?

Why tour farms!?! (Why indeed?) After my quick recover, this is what I told him; “Because it is important to know where our food comes from and to know who is raising it.” Do you agree? Are there others out there like myself and the five other women bloggers who want to know where our food comes from and who it is that is raising it?

I guess I have a different perspective on the subject. I love to visit farms. I love learning about different types of agriculture and seeing animals that are not on my farm. I had the best time in the “Calf Greenhouse” petting the baby dairy calves and letting them lick my fingers. I was excited to be welcomed to a farm that I have passed by on several occasions and thought what a beautiful place and to then know that the farmers there were just as gracious as I hoped. I was appreciative of the fact that they took time out of their busy days to show us not only their beef cows, but also the feed mill that they use daily to ensure a proper diet for their mama sows. With all of these things, how could one not want to tour a farm?

Did I learn anything new on this farm tour? I did! I learned more about the dairy industry and having a pumpkin patch from the Moreland Family. I learned about water collection for irrigation of crops from the Roth Family and I learned about state of the art technologies as it pertains to a feed mill from the Kurzweil Family. I was again reminded of how wonderful, intelligent, kind, resourceful, progressive, determined and happy farmers are. They love what they do and they are pretty darn good at it too .

Blessings to you and the Family Farms of Missouri,

Laurie – Country Link

*Other bloggers on the tour were:

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Photo Credit: Missouri Farm Bureau

Shanley: http://eatitkansascity.com/

Ashley: http://www.showmeashley.com/

Gina: http://ginascraftcorner.com/

Jennifer: http://faithfulhomestead.com/

Sarah: http://www.pen2page.me/

Focus on Missouri Agriculture – Photo Contest

Here it is the end of May and we are in the season of MUD. Mud is everywhere here in north Missouri. Our road is muddy, the fields are muddy, the pig pen is muddy and the spot where my garden should be is muddy. What do you do when things are this muddy? Focus on what you can do, not what you can not change.

This photo not only depicts what today’s cattle drive looks like, but also brings back the days of long ago when cattle drives were happening all across our country. This photo tells a story.

So focus we will! Today I want to focus on photos and how they tell the story of agriculture. All year-long as we tend the fields, care for the livestock and harvest the crops, I have a camera with me to capture it all. Why, you ask? The images I take not only serve as a reminder of what we have done through the year, but also serve as a connection to the land, the animals and each other. The stages of growth are captured. The compassion for life is captured and the beauty of what is all around us is captured. My camera connects others to this life and helps to tell the story of agriculture.

Are you a shutterbug like me? Do you have pictures upon pictures of farm life and work happening on the farm? Have you been to a you-pick berry patch lately and photographed your harvest? Maybe you love to photograph the diverse landscape of rural Missouri and have pictures of a beautiful sunset or a scenic farm stead? Do your photos tell the story of agriculture? If so, enter your photos in the Focus on Missouri Agriculture photo contest. The annual contest put on by the Missouri Department of Agriculture to promote and showcase Missouri’s No. 1 industry.

In its sixth year, this contest has yielded thousands of photographs capturing the diversity that is agriculture in the Show-Me state. The deadline is June 15th, (that gives you 15 days to get your pictures submitted!) and is open to any amateur photographer who is a resident of Missouri. Kids ages 12 and under are also eligible to enter pictures! They have a special category, “Children’s Barnyard“, for the youngest shutterbugs.

“Dad making bales” – This is Wyatt’s entry in the Children’s Barnyard category in 2014. The Children’s Barnyard winner and honorable mentions all receive a canvas print of their photos. 

Having entered the contest for the past four years, I encourage anyone I can to enter a photo or two or even 12, (the maximum number you can enter). To me, entering is a different way to get my pictures to a greater audience. Maybe someone will see my picture and feel connected to it or recall a happy memory. If I place as a category winner or even an honorable mention, than great! If I don’t, that’s okay too. Just entering pictures ensures that others will see them as the Department of Agriculture not only uses the winning photos, but others entered for promotion, social media campaigns and for educational purposes.

Now, you know all about the contest and I provided the link, so what are you waiting for? Don’t let a thing like an astronomical amount of pictures slow you down. (Trust me! I know the feeling!) Don’t think for a moment that yours are not good enough. All types of amateur photographers have entered and you can too! Would it help if I give a few tips? Come back on Wednesday and I will have tips and suggestions on how to pick, edit and name your photos for contests. Then you won’t have any excuse for not getting your pictures submitted!

Until Wednesday, blessings to you and all who have a passion for telling the story of agriculture,

Laurie – Country Link

*Disclaimer time: I was not asked by anyone to do this post. I have enjoyed entering the contest the past four years. I feel blessed to have had photos be category winners and honorable mentions. I want others to participate in this contest as well so that Missouri Agriculture really can be show-cased for all to see.