My Passion – Fast Food Farm

WHAT IS YOUR PASSION?   My passion is teaching our youth as well as adults at times about the importance of agriculture.  This time of the year ends my nine months of fulfilling my passion.  My year starts with the beginning of the spring season and ends with the end of the fall season in teaching about “Where Does Your Food Come From?”                                                        

Fast Food Farm sign

At the Fast Food Farm the youth become physically involved in the growing process of their food.

Through hands-on activities they learn how the weather affects the plants, and what happens to the food when it leaves the farm.   They also learn about food nutrition, food preparation, and food processing.

#3 .Harvesting for the Needy - Geans 2

In working with the Ag Science students throughout the school year I have seen them grow in leadership and character to become leaders in our community.   At the Fast Food Farm students learn how to respect the land as they discover how to cultivate and prepare the soil for planting.  

 Throughout the nine months over 5000 students are learning about “Where Does Your Food Come From?”  It is so rewarding to see our youth connect to the soil, plants, animals, and the source of their foods.

Family farm or corporate farm?

We all live busy lives today. Add to that busy-ness, information overload. What do you do with all that information? Who has time to sort through all the information surrounding us? Let me help you with at least one question. What’s the difference between a corporate farm and a Family farm? I have read so many articles lately on the evils of corporate farms and how they are pushing family farms out of business. When I follow the resources I find conflicting information; farm sizes are shrinking/Corporate mega farms are growing, family farms are being pushed out of business/more families are bringing the next generation back to the farm, too much land is being used for food and fuel production/we need to feed more people today than ever before in history ??? My head is still spinning.

Welcome to our farm

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We are a family that grows corn for food and feed, soybeans for cooking oil and sweet corn for immediate consumption :-) My husband and I raise this food together with our daughters, sons in law, grandchildren and my father and mother in law. In order to be able to sustain our farm for future generations we incorporated several years ago. Our grandchildren love working the land with us and talking to our neighbors about what we are doing as well as sharing sweet corn with them in the summer.

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So, as you can see from our farm, things are not always as they are portrayed. We are a family farm that is incorporated. Statistically you will find us included in the “corporate farm” numbers and not family farm. I think that’s very misleading. Incorporating has nothing to do with size or mission and everything to do with financial and long term identity. For us that means we can pass the farm on to our children and grandchildren in a way that protects them in the future.

What’s the difference between a corporate farm and a Family farm? Most of the time NOTHING.

Why a Farm Bill Should Matter to You

Are you interested in Congress getting a Farm Bill passed? You may think that it isn’t important to you if you are not a farmer but the farm bill affects every citizen of the United States.

There are many misconceptions about this important piece of legislation. While it is called a Farm Bill, it really encompasses much more than just the farm. A large part of funding in the bill goes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help needy citizens get the nutrition they need. SNAP is important to people all over the United States, especially during these difficult economic times.

There are environmental provisions to help protect our natural resources which is something that is important to everyone. One of the environmental programs we participate in on our farm is the Conservation Reserve Program(CRP). Some of the most fragile land we farm was planted to native grasses in order to control wind erosion. A healthy stand of native grasses keeps the soil in place during times when the Southwest Kansas wind begins to blow. Practices like these help keep our country from experiencing the Dust Bowl Days all over again.

As a farmer, I see the value of having a bill that makes sure that we have the resources we need to produce the food that feeds Americans as well as hungry people around the world. One in twelve jobs in America is tied to agriculture, that amounts to 23 million jobs. You can see that it is economically important for our county to have a healthy agriculture sector.

Healthy families, a healthy economy, healthy foods; if these things are important to you, I would ask you to consider contacting your member of congress and ask them to support passage of the Farm Bill.

My Little Slice of Heaven!

If you have never lived in a small town, you can’t believe the beauty you might be missing. I grew up in and still reside in Ulysses, Kansas, a small town in Southwest Kansas. I live closer to Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico than. I do to many areas in Kansas.

We only have one town in our county and that is Ulysses. You can travel 30 minutes any direction and find another similar small town. Our towns in this area revolve around two industries, agriculture and the oil/gas industry which means we have lots of open space, you can see forever. I want to give you a little taste of what I see most mornings on the way to work. If you live in the city, you probably don’t have the unobstructed view of the horizon that makes viewing the sunrises and sunsets spectacular.

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Beautiful sunrise in Southwest Kansas.

I want to share the beauty that I see living here in the dry, flatlands because if you have ever been through here, you may have missed the natural beauty that we enjoy. Our skies can be the bluest blue you have ever seen. You can see for miles with no hills or trees to block your views. At night, the stars pop out and light up the sky making it easy to pick out the Big and Little Dipper as well as allowing us to spy shooting stars.

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The end of a glorious day in Southwest Kansas.

Many travelers pass through here without ever realizing the beauty that exists in our somewhat barren landscape. There is nothing more beautiful to me than the sun rising or setting on our farm. If you are ever passing through, look around, really look around and appreciate the landscape that God bestowed on my little slice of heaven!

Winter weather wimp

There are a lot of things that make a farmer tough and one of these things is winter weather. When a farmer has to take care of animals in sub-zero temperatures, priorities of said farmer are never clearer. To demonstrate, let me explain what it takes to even get ready to go outdoors, let alone be functional completing chores.

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Coming into the house after a few hours in the field feels so good!

Layers. Your mama told you to dress in layers no matter the season, right? A northerner’s winter is the rule, not the exception for this tip. A running tank top, long-sleeve waffle T-shirt, a sweater and a hooded sweatshirt will get you started, underlined with a pair of long underwear and jeans or tight pair of jeans that hug to your body to keep in warmth. Top all that with a pair of lined coverall pants (or adult snowpants and regular coveralls), a wool button-up shirt, an insulated jacket and maybe a second, larger insulated jacket with a hood. Before you put on your farm boots, now is the time to decide if you have to shed some layers to use the bathroom or go back for a belt. You’ll thank yourself in the fourth hour of chores when you’re not dancing or needing to pull up your first layer of pants that are inconveniently located under your jackets and coveralls.

Finding the right gloves and other accessories. I’m still trying to get this right and this is the number one thing that makes me a winter weather wimp. My sheep are not impressed with the pearls that I wear to my office job and they don’t care if my belt (that you can’t even see under all those layers) matches my manure-covered boots. I don’t need to say that you should find a good pair of thick, wool socks – you already know that, right? A ski mask may not be pretty but it’s definitely the best option, otherwise you may settle for a neck gator and a tight hat that covers your ears.

The gloves are what get me. My hands are slightly bigger than a teenager’s and are absolutely drowned in men’s gloves, which are the most abundant in our household and in farm stores. Dainty garden gloves won’t do it this season and kid’s gloves aren’t likely to have the tough padding needed for barn and field work. My solution is to use a pair of kid’s gloves under a men’s pair of gloves that have a wrist strap to pull tight and lock in a more solid fit. It’s important for a person’s hands to be functional to open gates, use a knife to cut bale strings, handle the tractor gears, wrap around bucket handles and use a pen for hand-written records while sorting sheep. No matter how tempting it is to take those gloves off to use your cell phone to take a video or photo of your hard work in the cold, it’s just not worth it some days. There are warmer days for #felfies.

Optimism. Knowing chores will be over in a certain (estimated) timeframe keeps a person focused on what needs to be done for the farm animals. If you know you’ll stop for lunch, that helps. Lunch hasn’t always been a first priority for us so I usually ask for the day’s agenda before dressing in my layers. And, naturally, the list is usually an optimistic list so I like to ask for more clarification of the day’s priorities. It also helps to know that June is not too far off… and with summer comes grilling season of the meat we’re caring for today!

Feeling Lucky!

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the American Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in San Antonio. I came away with many reasons to celebrate but the one that I am most proud of is belonging to a grassroots organization that develops policy from the local level on up.  I have always been a big fan of policy development and when I get the opportunity to follow policies that begin in a county Farm Bureau meeting, work their way through a District Listening Post, a State Farm Bureau Meeting and then on to the American Farm Bureau delegate session, it really makes me proud to belong to this organization.

Farmers and Ranchers from across the country work to develop policy at the AFBF Annual Meeting

Farmers and Ranchers from across the country work to develop policy at the AFBF Annual Meeting

When you bring together such a diverse group of farmers and ranchers, it is not always an easy task but one that is truly worthy to undertake. There was much discussion on many issues throughout the delegate session but in the end, a consensus was reached and a policy package was passed which will enable us to speak with one voice on issues at the national level.
There were great breakout sessions to attend throughout the conference and a trade show that had something for everyone! The Young Farmers and Ranchers were there in full force, leading me to believe that the future of agriculture is in great hands. I was inspired to hear how involved many of them are in ag education and connecting with the people who use our products.

Friends from across the country attended, some I know quite well and some I know more from contact through social media. It is always wonderful to meet people face to face after connecting on Facebook or twitter. Everywhere I looked, I saw people light up with recognition as they were approached by someone they hadn’t seen in awhile.

American Farm Bureau always has fun events lined up to do some fund raising for the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. This year was no exception, we had the annual Flapjack Fundraiser where the book of the year was revealed.

The Beeman is the 2014 AFBFA Book of the Year.

The Beeman is the 2014 AFBFA Book of the Year.

The Foundation evening fundraiser was a night made in heaven for this girl! We started off the evening with some bull riding. I grew up around the rodeo and I can’t help but think about my dad when I get the chance to attend a rodeo event. It was a love of his and I loved going with him every chance I got. At one point or another he participated at rodeos at every level from cowboy to clown to judge to announcer. It brings back great memories when I get the opportunity to attend.

Bull riding was one of the fun events at the Foundation fund raiser.

Bull riding was one of the fun events at the Foundation fund raiser.

To cap off a great evening, we were treated to a Josh Turner concert. I have always liked Josh Turner and he put on a great concert for our Farm Bureau family.

Josh Turner entertains the AFBF members at the Foundation fund raiser.

Josh Turner entertains the AFBF members at the Foundation fund raiser.

When it came time to give out the door prizes I thought I would really like to take home a Josh Turner CD to extend the fun from the evening. I didn’t win a CD but then Chevrolet, one of the generous sponsors of the event, announced the final door prize of the night was a trip to the Super Bowl complete with 2 tickets, lodging and travel money. Now I have to tell you, I have entered contests over the years trying to win tickets to the Super Bowl…I LOVE football and the Super Bowl experience has always been a dream of mine. When they made the announcement of the prize, I thought wow, someone is going to win a great prize. To make a long story short, THIS GIRL IS GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL!! Thank you Chevrolet for sponsoring so many events at our conference and for making me feel like a very lucky girl!