Archive for the 'Corn' Category

Are Antibiotics Rampant in our Food Supply

Are Antibiotics Rampant in our Food Supply

Pigs closeup“Antibiotics are rampant in our food supply.” These were the exact words Dr. Nancy Snyderman of NBC Nightly News stated in a news story she presented recently about antibiotic resistant bacteria. There is no question that antibiotic resistance is an issue and it needs to be addressed. As a mom and grandma, this is a scary problem–really scary. The issue I have is not the story, but what she said towards the end of her piece. She made an “over the top” comment about antibiotics being rampant in our food supply. Rampant means uncontrolled, unrestrained, unchecked, spreading.

With that, I have to disagree with her allegations. I view this as just another jab at creating food fear.

But when you hear and read statements like, “80% of all antibiotics sold in the United States are sold for livestock use. A vast majority of these drugs are fed to livestock day after day to help the animals grow faster and to stave off disease that could result from overcrowded, unsanitary living conditions.” (written in the Sacramento Bee) you understand why people like Dr. Snyderman and others make these type of allegations.

Let’s delve deeper into this issue. Yes, livestock does use more antibiotics than humans. That is true. But the difference lies in that livestock animals typically weigh a lot more than humans. Here is an interesting meme:

Antibiotics_InfographicB_Sept13-1

You can see why people throw out statements like 80% of antibiotics sold are sold for livestock use. But in reality, pound for pound, humans and their pets use 10 times the amount of antibiotics than what is used on livestock farms.

On our farm, we use antibiotics strategically. By strategically I mean we only give medications to those animals that are sick or animals that have a high probability of getting sick due to stressors. We only use antibiotics that are approved by the FDA at the proper dosages and more importantly, under veterinarian direction and oversight. Farmers also follow a strict drug withdrawal schedule. Withdrawals are the time from last dosage given to an animal to the time the animal is sold to the market. Withdrawals result in antibiotic-free animals. ALL meat sold is antibiotic free. Also, drugs cost money and so it doesn’t make sense to give animals more drugs than they need.

Farmers and employees are trained in proper drug administration in animals. About 75% of hog farmers in the United States are certified in the PQA Plus program. PQA Plus is a certification program where farmers and employees learn best practices on animal care and food safety issues. A significant part of the training is on proper animal drug administration. In fact, many of the major meat packers require their hog suppliers (farmers) to be PQA Plus certified. We are one of those farms where PQA Plus is a requirement with Hormel, the meat packer we sell our hogs to.  And honestly, we would have went through the training even if it were not a requirement.

manual is given to each participant and more than half of the manual is about learning the proper way to handle and administer medications. All PQA Plus participants are required to pass a test and farms also need to complete an on-farm assessments to make sure PQA Plus principles are followed. On our farm, we log every drug given, along with date, the location and the reason why the drug was administered. We take administering drugs very seriously on our farm.

PQA Plus certification shows farmers are striving to be better. Here is more information about what hog farmers do to earn consumers’ trust.

The significance of the types of drugs farmers use for their hogs is also important. Many of the drugs used are not drugs significant to humans. Look at the following chart:

ABX_Human_vs_Animal_09.26.13

Even though the crossover of drugs used in both livestock and humans are small, we still need to address drug resistance bacteria. What other steps are agriculture doing to help?

According to the The Farmer, five drug companies holding 19 animal drug applications for anti-microbials used in food-producing animals have asked the FDA to withdraw approval for those products. This is a voluntary action. Their requests are a result of FDA’s plan to help curb antimicrobial resistance by phasing out the use of medically important antimicrobials in food-producing animals for production purposes.

I am glad that Dr. Snyderman is talking about the important issue of antibiotic resistant bacteria.  The majority of her report was about how humans need to take responsibility. Being a mom and a farmer, I take this issue to heart. There would be nothing worst than having a loved one sick with a antibiotic resistant bacteria and having no effective drugs to give them.  I hope with the increased awareness, we can ALL work on the problem. Read here to find out what we as humans can do to help the antibiotic resistant bacteria problem. Agriculture IS working on their part and it’s time the medical field works on theirs.

As always, science and research should be the driver in any drug changes made in animal agriculture. I would also love to see less sensationalism and more accuracy in Dr. Snyderman’s stories. She is a respected and trusted doctor and her viewers deserve that.

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Planters Are Hitting The Ground

Planters Are Hitting The Ground

In South Dakota, and really across the Midwest from what I can see from my Facebook friends, planters are finally hitting the ground. We actually hit the ground a few weeks ago and got nearly all our corn in the ground before we had about four days of pouring down rain and really chilly temperatures. Well, chilly for this time of year anyway. It isn’t just the air temperature that can affect a growing crop, it’s also the soil temperature. When you put corn in the ground you really don’t want to see the soil temperature fall below 50 degrees. Any seed needs moisture and warm soil temperatures to grow. Hence the power of a greenhouse! Lots of warmth in there! That’s also why you see many people start their garden indoors with grow lights on the plants to help give them a bit of a push.The way that I love to explain planting season for farmers is to talk about planting season for gardens. The process is one in the same we are just planting a whole lot more than my “tiny” garden in the backyard. First off, you apply some fertilizer. We let the local Co-Op do that for us. They do a great job and are really nice guys! And slap on my wrist for not snapping a picture. The one time I was in the field that they were in I forgot my phone! I also fertilize my garden, in the past I have used cattle manure (which we also use in our fields) from my heifers, this year I used a fertilizer you just shake on.Just like in your garden we till up our fields with this big guy. My hubby’s job typically. My garden is currently tilled and waiting for some tender loving care. Well, and someone to pick up the sticks all over it from our ever shedding willow tree.

And if you are like me you do some spraying before you put your crop in the ground.  I really don’t like weeds in my garden, and the guys don’t like weeds in their fields. My brother in law spraying. 

And then you plant your seed. Which the seeds for my garden are sitting on the counter also waiting to be sorted and mapped out. I am way behindon drawing out my garden this year. Farmers are typically ordering their seed months ahead of time and know exactly how much they need and what fields are getting what seed.

And then you take adorable pictures of your child while you wait for the piece of equipment to get to the end of the field to get their lunch.

Just like in your garden all of our crops have a certain amount of time until harvest. If you look at the back of your seed packets you will see a variety of timelines for your crops to be ready for picking. Without corn the shortest amount days until harvest is 95 days. That puts us hopefully chopping our corn silage at the end of August beginning of September. Right where we want to be! Happy planting season to all my farmers out there across the country! And happy gardening season to all my gardeners. I know I can’t wait to get in my garden!  

Is It Time to Relook at GMOs?

Is It Time to Relook at GMOs?

Periodically I like to challenge myself and take a step back and question my beliefs about GMOs (genetically modified organisms). I have always been comfortable with the GMO studies I have read and researched. But I would be lying if I said that I never questioned my beliefs about GMOs when I hear how strong other people’s convictions are about their harmfulness. So, is it time to relook at GMOs?

Yes.

Believe me, there is no shortage of anti-GMO information.  I wanted to see for myself the research behind the anti-GMO movement. I emailed GMOFREEUSA and asked for a list of their independent GMO research. This was their reply:

We only research and compile peer-reviewed independent scientific research. We don’t conduct our own studies – at least not at the moment. The list of studies is in the GMO Science section of our website: http://gmofreeusa.org/gmos-are-top/gmo-science/.

I immediately fired up my web browser and headed over to gmofreeusa.org. Their list is quite long and prefaced by this statement:

This compilation is a sample of the scientific references including over 1400 studies, surveys, and analyses that suggest various adverse impacts and potential adverse impacts of genetically engineered (GE/GMO) crops, foods and related pesticides.

Their words are chosen very carefully. The word “suggest” and “potential” are not definitive. I was expecting a statement such as GMOs cause this . . .  Their obscure statements are similar to me saying, “If I walk down to my mailbox (which is located at the end of my driveway on a road) to retrieve the mail, I have the “potential” of getting hit by a car.”  The words “suggest” and “potential” gives their research a lot of leeway in my opinion.

I proceeded to look at some of the exact research in their list. One of the reports stated that Monsanto developed corn that contained toxins which cause organ failure in rats and adverse effects in pregnant women.

Hmmmm. . .

This sounded serious. Upon further research, I find out these claims are false according to the well-known site SnopesSnopes.com is an Internet source that looks at specific claims and determines if these claims are accurate. And no, Snopes does not and never has received any monies from companies or industries – they are an independent entity, who receives their funding from advertising.

Other than Snopes, how does one know if a research report is true? For the non-scientific person (such as myself), there are some basic requirements to determine if a study is respected and an approved science research study. Authentic scientific research needs to be peer-reviewed and able to be duplicated. In addition, one must also determine biases such as who is funding the research and does this funding affect the results of the study? Check this link to learn more about evaluating biases. 

Another common argument I hear often is the “correlation is causation.” We need to be very careful about that analysis. Just because two things seem to correlate, or happen at about the same time, does not mean one caused the other. Correlation is an example of pseudo science.

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center sign
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Biofortified.org is a good web site to reference. Biology Fortified, Inc. is an independent, non-profit organization devoted to providing factual information and fostering discussion about issues in biology, with a particular emphasis on plant genetics and genetic engineering in agriculture. They list GMO research studies, including independent studies. And let me just state that not all the studies are positive to GMO, although the majority are. Here is a good synopsis article about these studies.

Most importantly, no matter how you do it, it is good to take a step back and look at all your beliefs with a critical eye. It’s up to each of us to do the research, to learn, be open-minded and not get sucked into certain celebrities’ positions and certain high-profile social media sites such as Food Babe. The Internet has allowed people, such as Food Babe (who has no relevant credentials), to open a new “information-based” business. Many of her arguments fall in the line of “hydrogen (H2O) is part of the makeup of water, hydrogen is also used to make gas, therefore, hydrogen must not be good for us because hydrogen gas is highly flammable.” People fall for these analogies and the charisma. Her gain? Money and notoriety. I am not saying everything she is doing is bad, but we really need to look at her analogies with a critical eye because many of them are misleading.

I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not against non-GMO, I am just against the misinformation about them. Please do your own research.

Follow me at Blog: http:// www.mnfarmliving.com or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/minnesotafarmer or Twitter: @MinnFarmer

Oh, What’s In A Label

Oh, What's In A Label

Recently, it seems that a lot of the conversations I am having with producers and also consumers is all about labels.

Labeling on GMO’s specifically. Or Genetically Modified Organisms. Really, it’s just a bunch of Biotechnology.

California tried to pass this law last year and it failed miserably. Not because it was a horrible idea, for the simple reason it wasn’t well thought out.

Here’s the truth.

If we were to label every item that contained GMO’s you may be surprised to see that there are quite a bit of products with GMO’s used in them. Does that tell you if they are good or bad? No, not necessarily.

Honestly, it might even be more confusing than anything.

Every time a label gets slapped on something it makes for more to read, more to know, more to understand. And if we have to take the time and money to put a label on then something must not be right with the ingredients…right?

I am not opposed to GMO labeling, but here is what you need to know to know about GMO’s.

However, I am opposed to lack of understanding when it comes to biotechnology and what it entails to actually get a GMO on the market. It takes some serious time and some serious money to get one biotechnology trait approved. And the truth is we have been safely eating foods that have been produced with biotechnology for over three decades

Because of biotechnology American farmers produce 40% of the world’s corn on only 20% of the world’s harvested acres.

And because of that we have one of the most affordable food supplies in the world. And GMO labeling may cause an increase in price within the food system, depending on what the labeling will entail. And here’s a question, if it isn’t GMO what else goes into the production? Should that also be on the label?

www.choosingraw.com

Remember I am not opposed to GMO labeling. But, I am worried about going to the grocery store and seeing more and more people confused over the vast amount of labels on one package of chicken.

If you have questions about GMOs, ask them. The answers are out there. And I am willing to help you find them and will most likely learn something along the way myself!

I am a part of a pretty diverse industry. There are quite a few options when it comes to growing food. People do things a lot of different ways. Knowledge is valuable and the only thing that will make me happy about the food that I eat is knowing about it, not just sticking a label on it.

What Do You Do With a Whole Pork Tenderloin?

What Do You Do With a Whole Pork Tenderloin?
Whole Pork Loin
Hormel Whole Pork Tenderloin

I love bargains! And nothing beats meat sales! I judiciously watch my local grocery store ads for specials on whole pork loins. Pork loin is one of the most versatile and leanest cuts of meat. It’s also a really great source of protein. I prefer Hormel’s whole pork loins because they are great looking, tasty and I know a great source of nutritious protein for my family. (Oh, and by the way, that is where we sell our hogs!) Most whole pork loins weigh between 8-10 pounds. So unless you are planning on company, you may be wondering - What do you do with a whole pork loin? The answer is simple – take a little time and cut and slice up multiple cuts of meat Want to know more about the different cuts of pork? Check out the PorkBeInspired site.

Whole Pork Loin Cutup
Whole Pork Loin Cutup
Pork Loin Chart
Pork Loin Chart

I will share with what I did with a whole pork loin that I bought for $1.98 per pound at my local HyVee store. Today I followed this chart as a guide. I ended up with a Sirloin Pork Roast, a package of Boneless Country Style Ribs, 2 packages of 3/4″ Pork Chops, 1 package of Breakfast Chops and 1 package of pork strips. All for slightly over $17!

That calculates to less than $3 per meal. How economical is that?

Another way that I use the whole pork loins is just to grill the whole thing. I usually season my pork with Martin County Magic Seasoning. I usually cut it in half so it fits better on my Holland grill. It normally takes about 45 minutes per side (total time of 1 1/2 hrs). I only flip it one time and I make sure I use my meat thermometer. The key to great tasting and moist pork is to cook it to 145 degrees internal, then let it rest for 3 minutes. After that we will eat what we can and then I will slice and freeze the rest.

Martin County Magic Seasoning was created by pork farmers from my home county in Minnesota – Martin County. And I need to disclose that I sell the seasoning – but I only make enough to cover the costs. It’s the perfect complement to pork and other foods. I have even heard people use it on popcorn and tator tots!

Whole Pork Loin Packaged for freezer
Whole Pork Loin Cutup, Packaged and Ready for Freezer

 

Need some scrumptious pork recipes? Check out my Pinterest page and the recipe section of my blog. Also the PorkBeInspired has great recipes! You can also order Martin County Magic Seasoning here.

Martin County Magic Seasoning
Martin County Magic Seasoning

 

 

 

We Raise “Locally Grown” Food in our CAFO – Is That Possible?

We Raise "Locally Grown" Food in our CAFO - Is That Possible?

There is no question the “locally grown food” phenomena is hot right now. I love farmers markets and before we know it, they will be displaying the results of their hard work. I like farmers markets because the produce I buy is usually fresh and grown locally. And sometimes that helps me out when my garden decides to rebel against me. Believe this or not, I have been struggling to grow rhubarb the past few years. Either too much rain or not enough. But no problem – I just go to my local farmers market where I can buy fresh rhubarb! But sometimes, the produce at our farmers markets is not always locally grown as I found out last year. One vendor was selling peaches that he bought from another farmer located in western U.S. This made me think about what “locally grown” food is. Is there a standard definition and is it possible that we raise “locally grown” pork in our hog barns?

Yes, there is a definition of locally grown. According to the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, locally grown is defined as products transported less than 400 miles or within the state in which they are produced. So based on that definition, our pigs are LOCALLY GROWN!

 

CAFO

What is my basis for this? We raise our hogs in confinement barns, better known as CAFOs. CAFO stands for “concentrated animal feeding operation.” And really, all that means, is that we raise our hogs inside barns. Our barns are located on the farm where we live.

And why do we use CAFOs? Because we have better control over the care of our hogs. Taking care of hogs outside is hard when it snows heavily and/or the temperatures are 40 below zero with the wind howling and, with the other weather extreme, pigs suffer when the temperatures are hot and humid (pigs do not sweat). Barns offer weather protection. And, I might add, farmers like them too. Not only are barns important in regards to protecting animals from the weather, but barns can also utilize efficiencies and technologies. Controlling air flow, temperature and feed are examples of technologies that are used in CAFOs.

Much of the care we give our pigs has local roots. Our pigs come to our farm from another farm about 15 miles away. The feed they are fed is mostly made from corn and soybeans. In fact, nearly 98% of what our pigs eat is corn and soybeans. We make our pig’s feed on our farm. The corn we use comes from our corn field right across the road (think of this as picking fresh tomatoes, lettuce and carrots from your garden for your family’s meal!) The soybean meal is from a local soybean processing plant (about 8 miles away). The processing plant grinds soybeans sold to them from local farmers. They make soybean meal and soy oil. Farmers only use soybean meal for livestock feed. The labor we use is also local. And when it’s time to sell our hogs they are trucked to Hormel, which is about about 70 miles away. This, in all practicality, means our hogs are locally grown! Think about that when you are at your local grocery store’s meat counter. And, it also means we are more sustainable. Did you know hog farmers are more sustainable than ever before?

Pig Feed

So the next question may be, why don’t we sell directly to customers? First, we don’t have the population base or food processing infrastructure in southern Minnesota for people to buy the hogs raised here. And, we have a marketing contract with Hormel that works well for us and for them. We sell all our hogs to Hormel, except for the ones that don’t meet their criteria (they only want the best!). The hogs that don’t meet Hormel’s specifications are sold to a secondary market, where we receive considerably less money. So it’s in our best interest to have quality, healthy hogs. We do, by the way, save back a few hogs every year for our own freezer and our family’s freezers!

Some people may call us a factory farm because we use CAFOs, but really we are just a family farm raising hogs the best way we know, And, yes, that means using confinement barns or CAFOs.

You can find me at Blog: www.mnfarmliving.com, Facebook: www.facebook.com/minnesotafarmer and Twitter: @MinnFarmer

 

Flat Aggie Visits Southern Minnesota

Flat Aggie Visits Southern Minnesota

You may be wondering who is Flat Aggie. If you are familiar with the concept of Flat Stanley, a cultural project that many school children participate in, Flat Aggie is the “farming” version of Flat Stanley. Our Flat Aggie is from a northern California school, Walden RiverHawks. And this is a “letter” to the school children from Walden”

Flat Aggie

Flat Aggie arrived a few weeks ago to a very cold and snowy southern Minnesota town of Welcome (yes, that is a real name for a town!). He told me he was quite surprised by the weather because California isn’t as cold or snowy.  Southern Minnesota is a rural area known for growing corn and soybeans and raising pigs. We happen to be the largest pig county in the state of Minnesota and we are #9 in the whole U.S. Flat told me he was very excited to learn about farming and pigs, so we got him started early!

After moving into our spare bedroom, Mr. Aggie was ready to help. We were in the midst of putting corn in our truck and driving the corn to an ethanol plant, which is located about 6 miles from our home. Ethanol is put into gas and used as a renewable source of fuel. He loved riding in the truck! And he even got to play in the corn! The only problem we had was it was very cold, about zero degrees, and windy. But we still had to get the work done.

Flat Aggie

Another day, I needed to do some work in my office. Mr. Aggie told me he was really good at math, which is important when doing bookwork. And boy did he have great math skills! Your school must be a really great school! I was also surprised that he already knew how to use the computer. I was so grateful he could help me.

Then it was time to go into the hog barns. Our hogs live in barns because it is much too cold to live outdoors in Minnesota. Look at this video to see what a blizzard looks like on our farm. All the barns have heaters to keep the pigs warm. Our baby pigs arrived on our farm in the middle of January at the age 3 weeks. Look at this video to see how pigs are moved into the barns. We use rattle paddles, which just make noise. The noise keeps the pigs moving. We are very careful with our baby pigs. Unfortunately, Flat Aggie was not hear when we moved in the baby pigs.

Some of them were put into nurseries where the temperature is warmer. Little pigs love to be warm! The pigs in our nurseries will move to bigger areas once they are older. All the pigs will stay in our barns until June and then we will sell them to a meat packer called Hormel. In June, they will weigh about 270-280 pounds. When they came to our farm in January, they weighed about 10-12 pounds. They grow really fast! The pigs will be made into sausage, pepperoni, pork roasts, ham, pork chops and bacon (my favorite!).  What is your favorite kind of pork?

Flat Aggie

We also have to clean our barns when the pigs leave. Again, Flat was not here when we cleaned our barns but you can see what that looks like by viewing this video.

Another advantage of having our pigs in barns is they don’t get sunburned in the summer and we can keep them cool by spraying a water mist on them during hot days. Did you know that pigs don’t sweat? Sweating is what allows our bodies to cool naturally so farmers help pigs stay cool in the summer by spraying water on them. Barns also allow pigs to have clean water, clean air, and clean food.

Now you may be wondering about what pigs eat. We actually make their food for them right on our farm. We take the corn we grow in our fields and mix it with other nutrients to make feed. We use a “grinder-mixer” to mix the feed together.  Think of a mixer and bowl you use in your kitchen, but ours on the farm is MUCH bigger.  We have experts who tell us what kind of nutrients we should add to the corn for their food.

Flat Aggie

Unfortunately, pigs do get sick sometimes and we do need to give them medicine. They also are vaccinated to help keep them healthy. We work closely with veterinarians, or animal doctors, and try to do what we can to keep them healthy.

We love raising pigs. We have been doing this for over 35 years. And we care very much for our pigs. We take care of them everyday, even when we are sick, when it’s cold, or when it is a holiday. Yes, we had to take care of them on Christmas and Christmas Eve. But we are okay with that because it is our job to take good care of them.

I am so glad Flat Aggie could join us on our farm. I hope you enjoy the pictures – he really liked his picture taken! And if you have any more questions for me, please be sure to ask. I would love to answer them! Oh, and by the way, Mr. Aggie was very kind and polite. He must have learned that from you and your school!

Follow me on my Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/minnesotafarmer  Blog: www.mnfarmliving.com  Twitter: @MinnFarmer

Top 10 Reasons Farmers Are A Little Odd

Top 10 Reasons Farmers Are A Little Odd

It takes a special person to farm. At times that “specialness” sometimes turns into a certain level of, shall I say, “oddness?” Here are my top 10 reasons why farmers are a little odd:

1) Farmers have binocular vision - How is it that farmers can see a piece of machinery in a field five miles away and know the model of tractor, what field it is in, who is driving and also knows they are eating the last half of a bag of Cheetos?  (okay, maybe a little exaggeration, but you get the point . . .)

2) Farmers have a “Need to Know Everyone Who Drives By and Why” syndrome. It never fails. When a truck drives by, farmers know who it is and the reason they are driving by. And if they don’t, they will ask anyone nearby, even if they know that person won’t know.

Farmer

Farmer and Grandchild

3) Farmers and driving are sometimes a hazardous combination. Have you ever ridden in a truck with a farmer? Let me just say, it can be very hazardous to your health, especially when driving though the countryside.  I swear farmers remind me of the “devil farmer who spins their head 360 degrees” while looking at what other farmers are doing in their fields or farmyards – all while driving! My advice? Keep your eyes straight ahead, have your hands ready to take the steering wheel OR, better yet, offer to drive. I do the latter often – for my own safety.

4) Farmers know exactly where everything is on their farm. But when it comes to the house, it’s like they have left their memory in the barn. For example, last week the sugar bowl needed refilling. Instead of asking me to fill it, my farmer decided to do it himself (surprising, I know). Simple job, right? Well, he ended up looking in every cupboard but the one where the sugar canister was. Let me just share the sugar has always been in the exact same place for the last 28 YEARS!

5) Running errands ALWAYS takes longer than what you think. If you ever ride along with a farmer to the local Fleet Farm store, be prepared to be there awhile.  It’s almost a 100% guarantee they will run into other farmers, who also have this overwhelming desire to solve the world’s problems right in the middle of the store. And that takes awhile.

6) Farmers should win the “cleanest people on earth” award. Some days it takes a lot of clothes and showers to farm, especially if you are a livestock farmer. It’s not unusual to change clothes and/or shower 2 to 4 times per day.  It’s just the way it is.

7) Farmers thrive during harvest. During harvest, when the work day is done by 11:00 p.m., it’s an early night. And they are back at it by 6:00 a.m. the next day. Day after day until the work is done. Thank goodness for adrenaline rushes, caffeine and harvest lunches because that is what keeps them going. And they love every minute of it.

8) Farmers know their neighbors. Neighbors help each other, often not asking anything in return. And if a neighbor is in real dire straights, neighbors will be tripping over themselves to help out. It’s just what farming neighbors do.

9) Working hard while not knowing the end result. Sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail. But even through the failures, famers always, always think next time will be better – over and over again.

Killdeer Eggs

10) Farmers have the utmost respect for nature. In the midst of the day-to-day work, farmers will stop and admire, appreciate and respect the nature that is around them. They go out of their way to help – like the time my farmer put flag markers around a killdeer nest with eggs because that killdeer happened to build a nest next to a high traffic area on the farm. It’s the little things that really are big things. And farmers know that.

And while the top 10 reasons of why farmers are a little odd, farmers think it’s a little odd when certain people think farmers are the evil-doers of the food world. It’s incomprehensible to them. Yes, they may be odd at times. Evil-doers? Not by a long shot.

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So God Made a Farmer – What it Really Means

So God Made a Farmer - What it Really Means
“So God Made A Farmer”

As I heard these words read by the one and only Paul Harvey, tears welled up in my eyes, my lips were quivering and a big lump was building in my throat. I asked myself, what’s going on here?  It’s not that I haven’t heard these words before. And then, a huge overwhelming sense of pride. Yes, God did make a farmer and that’s us.

It was so refreshing to actually hear someone acknowledge and be appreciative of what we as farmers do everyday. The Dodge Ram truck commercial was so unexpected and yet, so needed.

So God Made a Farmer

What passage stood out for me?

And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain’n from ‘tractor back,’ put in another seventy-two hours.” So God made a farmer.

Why does this passage resonate with me? It’s not that we have horses, or we shape ax handles and we definitely don’t shoe horses out of a car tire.  But we do have pigs and I think of the endless hours we spend taking care of them–holidays, days we are sick, 7 days a week. I think of all the time spent helping mother pigs giving birth or helping struggling baby pigs find their first meal of warm milk. But, unfortunately, it has not all been peaches and cream . . .

I remember one particular incident that happened quite a few years ago. My husband skipped family Thanksgiving dinner so he could be with our pigs who contracted the virus TGE. Let me just say. You just don’t skip Thanksgiving Dinner. That’s a big deal in my family.

But he felt a duty and responsibility to be with these pigs–to do everything he could to keep them alive. TGE is a disease that is lethal to baby pigs. The pigs are born healthy, but once they start drinking the mother’s milk, they become very sick and die. It is nearly 100% fatal until after the pigs build up an immunity to the virus. But he was determined to prove the veterinarian wrong.  He was going to save them. With all his determination and work in trying to nurse them back to health . . .

They all died.

He may have felt a little defeated but it didn’t deter his attitude or his compassion that things will be better next time. The pigs eventually returned to health and life carried on. Farmers always think things will be better next time.

And I smile when I think about the comparisons of farmers using their resourcefulness to either fix things or make things out of practically nothing. Farmers can literally make anything or fix anything out of next to nothing. They make parts for tractors when none can be had and make engineering improvements manufacturing companies haven’t thought of.

It’s not just the things that my husband can do on the farm, but it’s “other” things. Build a handrail for his ill mother-in-law out of lumber scraps, allow his young granddaughters help “grease” the tractor (with oil can and grandpa’s flannel shirt on so they don’t get too dirty), give his 8-month old granddaughter a ride on the lawnmower, put a John Deere tractor puzzle together while explaining ALL the parts of a tractor, build block towers only to watch his grandchildren crash them to the floor, play toy tractors (enhanced with “Grrrrrrr” sound), put a water tank together for my garden when the rain would not be, grill pork chops for county fair goers, or giving someone a hug when they need one. This is what it means to be a farmer.

And the hours that farmers work? Paul Harvey is spot on about having a 40-hour week by Tuesday noon. I remember many nights, especially during harvest, working in the field until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. Why? Because we are God’s stewards. As God’s stewards, we make sure all of what God has blessed us is harvested in a timely manner – not wanting to take a chance with what Mother Nature could take away in a blink of an eye.

And last but not least, we truly feel and live as though we are God’s caretakers. When you think about it, it’s really a very humbling job - to be God’s caretaker. But we work everyday to make that day better than the one before. All in God’s name. This is what farmers do.

For the complete passage of “So God Made A Farmer”, click on my blog link.

 

Top 10 Most Popular Posts of 2013

Top 10 Most Popular Posts of 2013

Happy New Years! And am I excited for 2014! But before I start a new clean slate for the year, I thought it would be fun to reflect on my most popular posts for 2013, counting down from #10 to #1. Enjoy the recap!

10. “When it Just Doesn’t Make Sense – A post about child loss in the wake of the Newtown massacre. Many families have lost children, including my own family. A reflection on child loss.

9. “Harvest13 – My only video blog post to make my top 10 list. I take you inside the combine I use during the fall harvest season. Celebrating Women in Ag.

8. “So God Made a Farmer – What it Really Means? – During the Superbowl many people were taken aback when a Paul Harvey voiceover commercial with poetically read “So God Made a Farmer”. Ram trucks celebrating ag and farmers.

7. “Undercver Videos” on a “Factory Farm” – So what does a factory farm really look like? Sorry, I didn’t take hours and hours of video footage to find a few minutes of highly edited video. Don’t be surprised if you find it a little boring because sometimes it is.

6. “What the Food Industry Wants You to Know Dr. Oz” – A rebuttal on some untruths on a show Dr. Oz did on GMO’s.

5. “We Want to Talk – A Message to Food Retail Companies” – When companies make major decisions in regards to their supply chain, it is important to get both sides of the story. Just sayin’. It’s a good business practice to talk to farmers when your business is selling food.

4. “Are Today’s Farmers Good Land Stewards?” – The media has a tendency to present a one-sided view on this question. Find out what farmers really do to protect the environment.

3. “Top 5 Myths About GMO Foods – A Mom’s Perspective” – The title is self-explanatory.

2. “Standing Up to Panera Bread – Farmers are Not Lazy!” – A recap on Panera Bread’s EZChicken marketing campaign.

Drum roll . . . . . . And my most popular post for 2013 was a very recent blog post I wrote about the Rolling Stone article – “Animal Cruelty is the Price we Pay for Cheap Meat.”

1. “Animal Cruelty is NOT the Price we Pay for Cheap Meat” – A rebuttal on the RollingStone article.

Thanks to all who have read and shared my posts. More to come in 2014!  You can also follow me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/minnesotafarmer, Blog: www.mnfarmliving.com and Twitter: @MinnFarmer.

 

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