Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Sad Chapter on the Farm

It was a “fairytale courtship and wedding” but disaster has struck and our wonderful new son-in-law, Andrew, had his life end unexpectedly just a few days after their 2nd month of wedded bliss.  We are all devastated and our hearts are broken.  As we are trying to make sense of this tragedy and pick up the pieces, we still have Fall wheat crops to get in the field….. and so next week, with a heavy heart Farmer Joe with the help of Farmer Jay will begin the process of planting the winter wheat.   Grief knows no season and we will get our crop in the ground because our job is to feed America.   With that, this broken-hearted farmwife will take a break from blogging about our farm and focus on helping our family find a way to heal the big hole that has occurred with Andrew’s death.    So once winters icy grip has ended and when Spring emerges and fills the air with the promise of new life, I will revive my blog.  As I write this, my heart is warmed by the outpouring of comforting words, prayers and kind acts that our friends within the community have provided us.  During the happy time of the wedding and this sad time of planning a memorial service, we have gotten to know and love Andrew's family, so in that we are thankful to have had the privilege of calling these wonderful people  "family".  As I write my last blog for 2012,  I did want to share some of the magic from the wedding just a few short weeks ago.    I wish you well, Gayle 
P.S.  Please make sure and hug your loved ones as time is precious and sometimes short. G

Groom's parents
Step-Dad Ron, Kaitlyn, Andrew, Suzanne
(Biological father Bert & wife, Maria not pictured)

Bride's parents

As always, please feel free to email me at if you have questions or comments.  Thank to all you have left sweet and comforting comments. G

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Collective Sigh of Relief

Have you ever felt like life is on fast forward???  Since Labor Day it seems like I have been on a fast sprint with all the activity going on....  So first things first, we finished harvesting garbanzo beans yesterday and once all the crops are safely in the bins, we heave a collective sigh of relief.
Harvesting garbanzo beans is a dusty job
click here if unable to view the video

Mother Nature's packaging, a bean in each pod

Out of the pod, this is what they look like
So what have we been doing besides harvesting?  Well here is a quick update,  the Friday after Labor Day I picked up friend and reporter Pam Fretwell from Farm Journal Media  who spent the week-end with us.  Pam came to report on our Dinner on the Farm, and also incorporated a few more stories around our area which I believe will be showing up on her AgWeb Radio show in a  few weeks.  Pam is used to a fast pace, so when I picked Pam up at the airport,  we were on a sprint with not a down-time moment, plus I drug her around to family events as well (she was a very good sport about it too - but then again, I supplied beer and she supplied the laughs!).  And here is what I mean being busy.... 

As we drove around our area, the rolling hills were fascinating to Pam, who refers to herself as a "flatlander" and could not imagine farming on these hills as we do.  In our travels, Pam would have me pull to the side of the road so she could take copious amounts of pictures -  of which by now have found their way to her staff  back in Illinois.

With harvest over, we are now wanting some rain to soften the fields as we have not had any moisture since July ( I'm hoping Mother Nature reads my blog so she will take the hint and send some moisture our way). We have begun the process of getting the fields ready for the Fall planting by chopping up the wheat stubble with our "stubble-buster" which basically breaks down the straw.  The straw residue will protect the new crop that will be planted by helping  keep moisture in, controlling erosion and the straw nutrients are good for the soil health (think of it as mulching on a really large scale).

Come October 3 we will be hosting the Japan Trade team  in our home for dinner.  The buyers love connecting and meeting some of the growers and it is equally fun for us to meet those who buy what we grow.  So make sure and come back to read about that event.  =)

Well take care and send me an email if you have questions or leave a comment too.  All my best, Gayle

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dinner on the Farm 2012

"Your Dinner on the Farm is different from what I had imagined it would be like" was the observation from Pam Fretwell of  Farm Journal magazine .  Chatting as we both were cleaning up after the dinner, Pam went on to say the overall feeling of the evening would be hard to convey into words.  How do you write about rapport and relationship building without it sounding sappy?  But we both had zeroed in on the bond of mutual trust and respect that developed between our guests and us. 

This year's dinner conversation flowed just like the wine, where we talked some about farming, shared stories and we were never short on laughing (a lot)... although that could be attributed to Farmer Jay & Lisa's witty personalities, but I did notice this year's dinner guests seemed to share a deeper than normal rapport with us.

The guest list included 2 of the 3 person management team from the Moscow Food Co-op along with their spouses, 2 University of Idaho college students, and a new neighbor whose family moved in just down the road from Farmer Jay and Lisa. Besides Pam, Farmer Jay & farmwife Lisa, was our daughter, Kaitlyn and son in law, Andrew.

Dinner on the Farm Menu for 2012
Below Farmer Joe and Pam were visiting after she had interviewed him, of which the live radio link is below.
Farmer Joe and Farm Journal reporter, Pam Fretwell visiting

Highlight from the Dinner on the Farm.... click here if unable to view video

Well we are still in the midst of harvesting garbanzo beans, although Farmer Joe's combine has had lots of breakdowns this past week (& expensive ones too...eeek) so as it was being repaired, Farmer Joe (who is the President of the Idaho Grain Producers Assoc) took a couple of days off to fly to our nation's capitol to attend and represent Idaho farmers for the Farm Bill Rally that took place on Wednesday.

Farm Bill Rally
As always, thanks so much for stopping by and drop me an email or comment at  All my best, Gayle

P.S.  I wanted to expand on my guest list as we not only welcome all those interested in where their food comes from and who is growing some of what we all eat,  but my rational is I do tend to target the clientele from our local vibrant Moscow Food Co-op.  Why? Because their customers tend to care deeply about where their food comes from, they want that connection to the farmer, they have the disposable income to buy organic, and they are the ones who tend to watch the “Food, Inc.” kind of movies.  Plus they are typically highly educated & they vote.  So what better way to connect to this type of consumer to share the why and how’s of what a conventional farmer does (we do not  grow organic crops).  Thus, at least they have a better understanding behind what we do and  the guests then have a personal farmer contact to ask questions if they see/hear something when they read/watch something from one of those kinds of movies.  Because if we do not tell our story, then the anti-Ag unfriendlys who try to portray the family farm in an unfavorable light will try to tell our story their way.   Plus I really try to cultivate a good rapport with the Food Coop management because together we can help their customers understand American Ag methods and together keep a common ground and conversation going about the people who grow America's food.  G

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Flurry of Work & Fun on the Farm

Crisp mornings and cool evenings are Mother Nature's announcement that summer has ended and her Fall colors will soon be arriving here in the region we call "the Palouse".  The ending of wheat harvest is also the unofficial signal that summer is over as well and all the fields are now sporting their "cropped look" as pictured below.

Wheat stubble
Here is the last wheat video from yesterday that Farmer Joe shot harvesting on one of our steeper hillsides. 

Farmer Jay is harvesting garbanzo beans at the Southern Tammany farm and Farmer Joe is hoping to get started on the garbanzo beans at the Genesee farm today (Thursday) - so I'll hopefully have more photos and videos soon on that.

We have saved a small patch of the hard red wheat by our home so our Dinner on the Farm guests can get a ride in the combine and see it for themselves.  This week (besides my off the farm job) has been a mix of cleaning, decorating and getting ready for our 4th annual dinner, so let's just say I've been a tad bit busy.  I'm almost ready tho, so here is a peek of what the outside Fall decorating looks like. 

Once the mums are planted in the bucket, it will be a nice look

I have 3 tubs of Fall decorations and this is what it looked like before I started.

Summer is officially over for me once the Fall decorations come out
Menu for the dinner at the front entry table

The fireplace mantel shows my love of the Fall things

The table is ready to be set
Tomorrow I pick up Pam, the reporter from Farm Journal magazine, and she will be doing the story on our dinner for her publication.  So let the fun begin!    I'll be posting more, so I hope you will come back to see what this year's Dinner on the Farm event looks like.  Again, thanks so much for dropping by and be sure to email me  if you have any questions or comments.  All my best, Gayle