Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Blessings from an American Farm Family

A very merry and blessed Christmas to you

Thanks to a great blogger buddy(thanks Judi Graff), I have a new media gadget to show off, so I have updated the blog to showcase our farm family highlights of 2011!

Does anything say Merry Christmas like a little red tractor with a green wreath on it?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Agra-Diva 101, Perceptions and Choices

A New Day is Beginning (from harvest 2011)

Okay, I lied, this blog will not be about family like I said in last week's penning (although you can read about that on the At Home Page), as a recent event got my “tinsel all in a wad”  …… First let me start out saying that I consider myself as a goodwill ambassador for our farm; farming is our passion and way of life.  And my job is to explain what we do, why we do it and how we live it. Because we do our job, it allows other people to do something else.  Not so long ago, our ancestors had a daily mission - to go out and find food so they could eat that day.  My mom tells me of the times while growing up in rural Montana during the depression how her mom would go out in the early morning hours to fish so they would have some kind of protein to eat for that day. Today, we are fortunate as we do not have to focus on foraging the woods to put food on the table, we as Americans, enjoy the luxury of going to the well stocked grocery stores and purchasing high quality food and not using 50% of our income to sustain ourselves.

(note: if you subscribe to the email feed & are unable to view the slideshow below, please go to the website)

So let me tell you what just happened, as it has been an interesting week for this farm-wife. If you read last week’s blog you will know about the low spot of me losing a loved one and so a bright spot was being asked to write for a food publication newsletter about food, farming and being a farm-wife. The purpose was to connect the consumer with the farmer. The editor and I had spoken a few times and I was to start contributing to her newsletter in January. Although it was not a large publication, she did mention that one of her writers had recently gotten a book deal, so I could see some possibilities here and was excited to start down this new path. When getting down to the nut and bolts of what she wanted from me, content, etc, she mentioned in a P.S. sort of way, about what did I think of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and did our farm use Monsanto® products? Because if we did, it was a deal breaker (her words) as she had a friend who told her all about the evils of this company. Well… I pondered my response, and as the editor has had cookbooks published, I used the following analogy to put this on a personal level for her. Here is what I told her, “imagine you created the most perfect recipe after years of trial & error, copyrighted it, marketed it by selling franchises, so that the franchisees were in a contract with you and enjoying the success from the recipe you created, then one of them decides they no longer want to pay you for the use of your recipe, but still wants to use it in their line of business to make money – well that would be a breach of contract and you would use legal actions to stop them. It is no different than with farmers using Monsanto products as they developed seed and products to help the farmer, and when we use their certified seed, we enter into a contract with them. Plain and simple, you honor the contract rules.” So I told the truth that yes we do use some Monsanto products on our farm, we do not use GMOs, but not because we don’t value the technology to help feed the world, but because it isn’t available in the crops we raise. I further tried to convey that this company spends an untold amount developing a better seed to help farmers feed the world and asked her to please try to see them in a different light. And what was the editor’s thoughts, was she open minded? I was promptly “uninvited” to write for her publication. This is unfortunate as I fear the editor was listening to the half-truths and opinions from the Food, Inc movie and that she was completely fixated on what her friend told her. In fact, if you go to Monsanto’s website, it summarizes what I was trying to say and they did it perfectly, “if there were one word to explain about Monsanto, it would be about farmers. We create the seeds, traits, and crop protection chemicals that help farmers produce more food with less resources.” No I am not a paid Monsanto employee, we are a customer of theirs and are one farm family out of the other 259,000 of us who are charged with task of feeding the next 2 billion people that are predicted to be our neighbors by 2050.

Am I a little disappointed? Yes, but I know there will be other opportunities to write for other publications, and I will continue my blogging and farm advocacy work just as I am doing and “telling the farmer’s side of the story”. This recent setback just reinforces the need for farmers all over the country to be ”real and to be open about what we do” and most of all, be approachable. So with great anticipation for next year and because I am the “boss of me” I choose to persist, be positive, to innovate and be a significant factor for American Agriculture and to tell its story.

Thank you again for stopping by, I read every comment & love ‘em and above all, please email at if you have any questions. I’ll sign off for now as a farm-wife, a mom and agra-diva. All my best, Gayle.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tis the Season, A Celebration of Life

Greetings my friends! All is quiet on the farm front and since I last posted my Thanksgiving blog I've had happy and sad events that have shaped my little world. I was privileged to have been invited to share my farm advocacy story at the 1st Executive Women in Agriculture conference in Chicago last week and met awe inspiring & amazing women from all over the country. It was a great experience and one I will always treasure. But just before I boarded my plane, I received word that my beloved step-dad had passed away from his courageous 6 year battle with bone cancer. So this past Monday, we buried him and were thankful that he was no longer in pain and know that he will be missed by all who knew him. My step-dad loved the holiday season and was so much a part of our lives that even though he is no longer here to celebrate with us, I am finding my family is banding closer to each other more than usual, and it is like a comforting, warm blanket of love. Despite having a hole in our hearts, we recognize the need to get up, brush the dust off of ourselves and live our lives. We are all aware we need to continue making those precious memories, as when the end is near, all you have is family & memories.  With that thought in mind, the next few blogs will be focused more on this farm-wife's family as December is a quiet time on the farm.  But next month I'll start taking you on "field trips".... and I have some interesting things planned.

And as the air is getting crisper, we have had our first snowfall, and the holiday decorations are going up all over our town, it's getting me into the holiday spirit, Tis the Season! Here are a few pictures of how our farm house is decorated for the holiday season.

I've found many of my treasures from yard sales, estate sales and shopping at thrift stores.  The stains on the vintage table cloths would tell me the tale of laughter, drinks and good food during a gathering, so I embrace the stains and holes as well as  dents, chipped paint or whatever from my other treasures, as just knowing that perhaps these items were lovingly used by previous owners make it all the more special to me.

Snacks in mason jars that are in an old milk bottle basket

I love old enamel ware

The table that greets you when you walk through the front door

The sign on the bear says "1 day of coal
364 days of fun, I'll take my chances" 
  For some reason, my one of my daughters said that sign was "so me"..... I think that is a compliment. =)

I had candy canes on the bottom shelf, but
our dog kept eating them, so had to move the goodies
up to another shelf

These are acutal toys that my grand-angels play with when they come over

And yes, I've been baking.... this little goody is a White Chocolate cake.  I am undecided on what flavors mean "Christmas", so I've been driving my husband crazy by baking so many different kinds of cakes. I made a Gingerbread bundt that was okay and a few others that looked good on paper, but the results were disappointing.  This one was good and it is blog worthy for my reader friends. 

White Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Cream cheese frosting
(look for the recipe on the Cake of the Month page - for December )
As for Farmer Joe, well he has been busy attending Ag related meetings in his role as president for the Idaho Grain Producers Association and working in the farm shop.

So for now, I'll sign off, but as always I am SO GLAD you stopped by and feel free to email me at or leave me a comment.  All my best, Gayle