Saturday, July 13, 2013

Stronger..but Changed

"You really don't know how strong you are until being strong is your only option".  I received this comment from reader, Sarah Schwall ( a big thank  you)  and it is one that will forever resonate in my heart and soul.  It says it perfectly and that is my new answer that I give to people when we talk about last year's events.....   

And so today’s  blog post will not  be about farming, it is more about the personal life of a former "farmerette", now a farm-ground landlord but still an Agra-Diva, ME!  Since I started sharing more about me, my family, and a very candid behind the scenes look at how one farm family has been coping with multiple tragedies, my readership has increased as I think people can relate to life not always turning out the way you thought it would. Those of us who blog and  open our lives to others are willing to  share our life’s story about what is going on in an  up close and personal view, sort of like going to a movie and watching someone elses life story on the big screen.  My main purpose is to show that those of us in the Ag industry have lives outside of growing  America's food and sometimes the "good life" can come with the not-so-good parts.  There are the unpredictables, for instance with farming  the crops have weather & market prices as the wild card....  our personal lives have people & events that can create chaos that will forever change the course of your life.  AND more importantly.... it is how you choose to navigate through those rough waters. 
As I write this tomorrow, Sunday, July 14 would have been my daughter, Kaitlyn's 1st wedding anniversary with Andrew, her now deceased husband.  And she will be spending it with me.... her mom.  It  is not the way  we both had imagined a first year wedding anniversary would be spent. ( I linked those "life turning blog posts" about me & Kaitlyn for new fellow readers. ) As I was doing it, I came across other blogs I had written on July 14 from 2010 and 2011 and reflected how different my life (as well as Kaitlyn's) was back then.   And so I will be there for her and we will get through this hard day, which I am guessing will have tears, hugs,  perhaps some laughing at some goofy memory, probably more tears and red wine,  pasta & chocolate.  Comfort food & each other as  Kaitlyn and I are each others "safe person" and together it will just be one more challenge to overcome.   Plus we  both know we have a couple more hard days coming up this Fall with the anniversary of when both of the men in our lives left us.    But we are strong... We both have been to HELL & back and  we are here  to tell you that Life is best lived in a positive & good way and that the power to create that is within each of us.....
A girl's night out...
 Just the other day, Kaitlyn and I were chatting about how we had emerged stronger but changed.  The challenges we have faced have made us different people than we once were and while some days we didn't know if we would ever feel whole again, we had hope that the sun would shine again in our lives.  We also found out how kind people are and those simple sweet acts of giving had the power to completely help heal a wounded soul and heart. I appreciate those small everyday miracles all around us and try to remember each day is a gift.  While it isn't easy and some days are harder than others, I value all the people who have come into my life, some have been a fixture in my life and will continue to be the  long-timers.... while others have briefly touched me in ways that will forever be special.     The love bestowed upon us  by family, friends, community & strangers were our "lifesavers"  and for that I am blessed.  I value the blessings, whether deserved or undeserved,  and will forever be grateful to all of you.

 A new friend in my life sent me this quote of which I want to share with you...Good words to live by.

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

As always, thank you for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment or email me at   Also don't forget to post or email me your "care labels" for a chance to win one of those great shirts from Duluth Trading Company!  ( From last week's blog.... so make sure and check it out!  Plus a few labels that have already have come in are great... made me envious of why didn't I think of that!) So keep 'em coming. And I'll post the ones I've received so far.

A special thanks to my  family, Mom, Jen & Soren & their 3 angels, Barry & Denise (who gave me an "unhitched party"), Rivers & Edie, my crazy Montana crew, Lisa & farmer Jay & Zack.  Then the unconditional support from the "Co-op Queens"( Jacie, Heather, Lezah & Vickie), Gwenn & Dave, Pete & Karen, Kristi & Kris, Dorene, Kara and the wild women's wine group ! 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A "Care Label" for Maintenance

Driving through “Big Sky” country which some refer to as Montana,  is  the  place I spent the first part of my childhood and that the wide open spaces seem to inspire creativity where thoughts seem to evolve and take form on topics that I want to write about, such as “care labels”.  I began thinking about a seminar I attended called “Choosing Happy” and maybe you are wondering my I’m telling you about the topic of being happy on a farm blog, well read on and I’ll explain…..
Happiness has many forms, people, places and sometimes things, but mostly it must originate from within.  The seminar talked about “care labels”  as in the kind you find on the backs of clothes.  These labels tell you how to properly care for your item .  And it hit me, wheat plants (as well as the other crops) and humans all have “care labels” for optimum growth and nurturing (properly cared for = HAPPY).  A plant’s instructions are pretty simple, soil, sun and adequate moisture.  If it gets those things and the farmer helps keep the weeds and bugs to a minimum, and assuming the weatherman doesn’t throw in any bad weather, then you can pretty much be guaranteed of a good yield.  But for us humans…. Well we are a bit more complex in what it takes to keep us in good shape.  Wouldn’t it be great to see another person’s “care label” the first time you met them?  You would at a glance know all about them… for example my care label would look like this: 

                   Made in PNW (Pacific Northwest)
                            Lot number: March 31
                            30% optimistic
                            20% driven
                            20% sarcastic
                            20% caring
                           10% organized*
*Other minor trace fibers may contain sassy, impatience, impulsive
Wash in warm water; add coffee, chocolate, beer/wine, fresh fruits/veggies & pasta for best results
For optimum care add in music, aesthetic settings, fresh air, honesty, love, volunteerism & farm-chick projects 

Do not use negative attitudes  or leave in chaos or muggy/hot climates










 And with that, the crop report so far is that the plants are doing great and from the last time I wrote, I said we needed some rain (so thank you for sending it our way); it was again the “million dollar rain”.  The wheat plants have formed their wheat heads & the recent moisture will help the plant fill the heads with kernels that are a farmer’s paycheck.  The garbanzo plants are getting bigger and will soon be sporting their little purple flowers which will then turn into garbanzo pods.

                        The green headed wheat will soon be golden &
                        then the combines will come out to play (which is also called "Harvest")

As my farm is in the business of helping to feed America, I also like to showcase other American businesses or companies because American made is the best, whether in crops or products!  And so getting back to the care labels…. As I mentioned in other blogs, I often get companies that offer to send me products to test out or review.  So when the Duluth Trading Company contacted me to inquire if I wanted to try out some of their products, I asked if their clothing was made in America and did they use American grown cotton for their jeans?  The reply was yes on the cotton and some products were made in the USA, while some were not .  Farmer Jay was excited to get to try out the jeans (as he had seen their humorous commercials) !!
Farmer Jay ( modeling his jeans) with son, Mr. Z
                 As for this picture, I added it  just because I liked this as one of dad & son.....
and what they advertised was true, the jeans according to Farmer Jay are well made, sturdy & enough room for everything… you will have to see the commercial to know what I’m talking about on the roomy part!   (Info on the jeans: #84011: Burly but soft 14.5 0z denim fabric is made with 100% domestic cotton, 12" deep side pockets, triple-stitched seams for extra strength, extra large zipper pulls)
As for me, I had the opportunity to try out a new shirt (Armachillo shirt #53225)specially made for wicking away moisture,UPF40 sun protection, plus a sun hat (#50227)which also has sun protection & is lightweight too.   The day I wore it, it was 97, sunny & therefore a good test.
                                              Me with my "new favorite shirt & hat"
 I love truth in advertising and the Duluth Trading Company delivered what they promised.  So as a way to pay a good thing forward, I will offer another give away ! Win a shirt like mine (men or women's).  One shirt will be given away & the winner will be selected by  impartial judges (as I would love all the care labels sent & unable to choose!)  All you have to do is email me (or post on this blog) what your "CARE LABEL" is!  Please note my NEW email address .  Remember if you post your care label to this blog, then please email me your contact info & size if you are selected.    (contest ends August 31, 2013)

As always, I am so glad you stopped by to see what was happening in this farm-chick's world.   One co-worker says all her staff have their "care labels" posted on a bulletin board at their work site.  After all, care labels are meant to get the best use for optimum results with the right treatment!   So why wait, get to work on that care label (hmmm maybe I should add "bossy" to my care label!)  =) 

 All my best, Gayle

P.S. Hope your July 4th is a wonderful one. Be safe.