Tag Archives: farming

Barnstorming (without an airplane)

7 Jan

I love a good barn. The older the better. So I asked someone I know if he’d be willing to let me explore and photograph his lovely, old specimen of barnishness. Happily, he said yes, and even though the hunters didn’t appreciate that I had taken over “their” space, I spent a good half hour or so exploring the lovely old weathered barn where once cows and sheep and horses (and at least one homeless man) lived. Now it’s home to barn swallows and mice and dust motes.

And the ghosts of chickens past.

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An Afternoon On the Farm!

15 Oct

It wasn’t hard to say, “Of course!” when my husband’s cousin asked if I’d be able to arrange a visit to some animals when she and her husband and two boys were coming to town the next weekend.

“Cows or pigs or chickens,” she said. “The boys would love to see any of them.”

The farm girl with her kitty...and the city boy plugging his nose at the smell.  By the time we were done he had long since ceased to notice the smell - which, I must add, was NOT AT ALL bad!

The farm girl with her kitty…and the city boy plugging his nose at the smell. By the time we were done he had long since ceased to notice the smell – which, I must add, was NOT AT ALL bad!

Well, when visiting in Southwest Minnesota, any of those are pretty easy to arrange. Without a moment’s hesitation, the first person I thought of was my friend, Rita.

Rita did not grow up in SW MN, but her husband, Joe, did and, in fact, I taught his younger sister way back when she was in high school. I didn’t teach him – I’m not THAT old. 🙂 

I got to know Rita when I joined the local MOPS group – Mothers of Preschoolers. Sadly, I don’t have a preschooler any longer, but thankfully I’m still in touch with Rita. My life would definitely be a lonelier place without her in it.

I love the tongue!

I love the tongue!

Rita began blogging in February of this past year. Her blog, So She Married a Farmer, is a great picture of rural farming life in this day and age. Rita knew what she was getting into when she married her farmer – she grew up on a farm and majored in something cow-related at the University of Minnesota – in fact, that’s how she met Joe.

Rita loves the heifers that they keep on their farm. And when I say “loves them”, I mean really, really cares about them. She cares about them as animals, and she cares about their product – both their babies and their milk. She is a great advocate for the dairy industry.

The neighbor's sheep.

The neighbor’s sheep.

Rita and Joe get the heifers when they’re first-time pregnant moms. They keep them at their farm until they’re almost ready to give birth. (They receive them just shortly after they are identified as pregnant.) Then when they’re ready to give birth they go elsewhere and then when they’re ready to be regular dairy cows they go over to Joe and his dad’s dairy farm. It’s a complicated business, but Rita and Joe know it inside and out.

We spent a wonderful couple of hours at Rita and Joe’s farm, accompanied by their smiley daughter. THANK YOU, Rita, for our lovely afternoon on the farm!!

I asked Rita if I could include this photo - this is Joe on the farm visiting the cows in the rain.  It's too wet to combine today, so the cows get a little more attention.

I asked Rita if I could include this photo – this is Joe on the farm visiting the cows in the rain. It’s too wet to combine today, so the cows get a little more attention.

The pink stripes indicate that she's newly pregnant.  Glad I didn't have to go through that when I was expecting!

The pink stripes indicate that she’s newly pregnant. Glad I didn’t have to go through that when I was expecting!

These chickens actually reside at the farm across the road.  We visited over there, too!

These chickens actually reside at the farm across the road. We visited over there, too!

He so badly wanted to gather the eggs.

He so badly wanted to gather the eggs.

I had forgotten that a stump can be so much fun.

I had forgotten that a stump can be so much fun.

As a youngest child, I can relate to wanting to do what my older sibling is doing!

As a youngest child, I can relate to wanting to do what my older sibling is doing!

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We ended our day out at a local pumpkin patch.

We ended our day out at a local pumpkin patch.

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"The Swan."

“The Swan.”

Good Morning, Farmland!

25 Jun

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There’s nothing like waking up to the sound of an airplane flying right over your house. For a moment – that moment between awake and asleep – you might think you’re in a war zone (minus, thankfully, the shooting guns). You might think that a maniacal driver is out on your dirt road, going about 100, and then, when it’s almost too late, you realize what it is and suddenly you’re wide awake, running for the camera, because it’s crop dusting season, and you love it.
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I blogged about this once before (here, in a longer post than this one, titled A Ten Year Olds Epiphany)  – but it was only a couple of months into my blogging adventure and not many people had a chance to read it! So, I quote in part from my previous post…but with all-new photos for your enjoyment!
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Out on the deck we laugh and wave and delight in the noise, the proximity, the sheer overwhelming power. Inevitably, at some point, I run for the camera, though I’ve never been able to get a shot of it directly over my head. The good thing is, I usually have several tries, as the planes come back and forth, back and forth in their job of spraying the corn, the soybeans, the bugs that threaten the crops.DSC_0346
Not all of my friends understand the joy I find in the crop dusters, though a few of them understand a little. My husband, bless his heart, gets it, and he runs to the deck with us, shading his eyes against the sun as he admires the dangerous flying. Nevermind the possible philosophical issues with chemicals vs. organic farming, to me these planes are my youth, growing up as the daughter of a pilot – my wonderful childhood of tidepools and forts and parents who loved me – all rolled up in that airplane sound, flying over my house, over my years of memories.DSC_0347
The pilot has no idea, I’m sure, why this crazy family comes running to wave. Maybe he doesn’t even see us, focused as he is on the field before him. And then, so quickly, he’s gone, only to return, time and again, rising like the sun on the horizon, like a ship on a sea of grain.DSC_0348
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Sometimes the Pen – or the Keyboard – Has a Mind of its Own

23 Aug

The things that really matter.

I live out in the country, on ten acres of trees and grass and stream, surrounded on all four sides by farmland. Don’t get me wrong: we are not farmers. We are not even “gentleman farmers”. We have no horses fertilizing my future garden patch. No chickens wander around looking picturesque in the front yard. No cow provides our morning milk. No cats purr at our ankles. No dogs annoy the mail lady. Not even a goldfish graces our counter top.

We do have many visiting wild animals. Foxes. Woodchucks. Feral cats. Skunks. Deer. Racoons. Opossums. Beavers. Muskrats. Coyotes, occasionally. Cougars, supposedly (though we’ve never seen one), frogs and toads and birds of many a varied feather.

Reflection.


This makes me, I suppose, an imposter. I really don’t belong here, growing up as I did in a different state, a milder climate, a separate frame of mind. In the Pacific Northwest, people are radicaller than they are here. (Yes, I know that’s not a word. I’m using it anyway.) Here almost everyone goes to church. At least at Christmas and Easter. They mostly grew up here, are raising their children here, will be buried here in the prairie cemetery on the edge of town where an old cannon raises its shiny nose to the sky. And that’s okay.

Another little bit of summer.


But it sometimes makes for a little discontinuity with this former globe-trotter. I said something to our son the other day that began with the words, “When I was in Russia…” and he said, “I sometimes forget that you were there, Mom.” And I said, in a whisper of realization, “So do I.”

And that, too, is okay. I mean, I want to live in the present, to enjoy and thrive in the here-and-now, rather than pine away for what was. And, truly, I tend to be a home-body anyway. I’m content to linger over breakfast with a good book. To put off the grocery shopping until the milk turns sour. I say “no” when I feel I can, to “opportunities” for involvement. (There are still plenty of things I can’t say “no” to!) I hate when night after night brings obligations, meetings, and trips into town.

Perhaps this makes me an imposter as well. I live in a world where how busy you are proves your worth. Or, at least, it feels that way. One thing I witnessed many times while doing Beauty and the Beast was the backstage hustle and bustle of the players. Often I’d see fellow-performers RUN from place to place – whether they needed to run or not. They’d run from one side of the stage to the other, only to stand there, out of breath, waiting their turn to enter from the wings. Sometimes, of course, we had to run. Sometimes we’d push each other out of the way in our hurry, our need, tripping over cords and props in our rush. But often, the running and busy-ness struck me as a need to look important. “If I run from here to there then everyone will see how vital I am to this production.” I too, fell into this trap…until I realized how silly it was.

I don’t mean to disparage anyone…it’s just that it struck me as so interesting. So like real life. We tend to think that if we’re busy, we’re vital. We’re needed. It’s all part and parcel of finding our value in the stuff we do…rather than in WHO we are.

I’d prefer to find my value in the way I think. The way I behave towards a stranger. The way I like to wave to a slow-moving tractor on my dirt road. It doesn’t matter how much I do, or where I’ve traveled. What matters is valuing people the way God wants me to value them. Being kind to my children. Spending time with my family. Being calm enough that I can smile as I face my to-do list…instead of weeping with the overwhelming urgency of it all.

This isn’t what I meant to write about. I meant to write of farming, of summer, of crop-dusters zooming over my house like gigantic dragon flies and sending us running outside in gales of laughter, grabbing the camera, waving like mad. I guess that will have to wait until next time. Sometimes the pen – or the keyboard – has a mind of its own.

And that’s okay.

There is beauty to be found on the prairie.


It’s also okay that I fail at practicing what I preach each and every day. I mean, it’s not OKAY…but it’s reality. I guess what matters is that, hopefully, I am improving.

Seize the day, my friends. Enjoy the moment. Live in light of eternity. Stop and smell the pungent tomatoes. Summer is almost over.

And that, too, must be okay.

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