The Evolution of a Modern-Day Farm Wife

The Next Chapter

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I’ve been quite reflective lately as I prepare to turn in the keys to my classroom and begin the next chapter in life.

What began as a temporary gig to teach journalism courses for the remainder of a school year somehow morphed into 16 years. SIXTEEN years!

In January of 2003, I left my job as an associate producer for the top-rated morning news program in New Mexico. While working at the NBC affiliate in Albuquerque I saw a lot of “normal, everyday” bad news. This was also the time leading up to the invasion of Iraq. With the three Air Force bases located in New Mexico, families were already impacted—and we were covering it. The bad and the ugly overshadowing the good.

As a producer for a morning show, I saw A LOT of bad PLUS everything that happened once the sun went down. Add darkness, a full moon and constant monitoring of police scanners and it’s no wonder almost everyone in the newsroom chain smoked, cursed like sailors and heavily caffeinated.

I covered a lot of stories where either drugs, gangs, violence or death was the theme. Yes, there was the Balloon Fiesta, wildfires, and bear sightings. But so many of the truly tragic stories involved young people. I wondered if those kids’ stories would’ve been different had they had a stronger support system. So when the opportunity presented itself, I decided to do something about it instead of reporting on it. In full transparency, I also wanted to eventually be a parent who could be present for her own kids—something I saw my coworkers struggle with due to the demands of the job.

A journalism teaching position needed filled after the teacher abruptly left during the first semester. What they didn’t tell me—but I soon discovered—was that teacher who had abruptly left had been attacked by a student with a wooden shank that the student had made in the shop class. Something administration “forgot” to disclose to me until after I signed my contract.

The school had good, intelligent, talented kids (white, black, brown, legal and illegal). The problem was there was lack of opportunity for many of them. It was quite common to go into lockdown. It was quite common that students would get jumped (usually during lunch). It was quite common for young teens to be walked off campus in handcuffs. It was unfortunately the norm.

I was given funds to build as long as it focused on the improvement of reading and writing. I dug in, got my darkroom in working order and started out with pinhole cameras made from Pringles cans until my cameras arrived. My Spanish speaking students—the hardest working group of kids I’ve ever had—started a news program that we’d air right after Channel One News once a week—not because they couldn’t do a daily episode but because it took forever to render on the early non-linear editing system.

My goal was to “trick” the kids into learning. Cameras could help begin telling stories, darkroom work required focus and time (which would keep them out of trouble during lunch), producing a news program required knowing what was going on in the world by reading the newspapers and then discussing.

I enjoyed it, the challenge, the kids. So I stuck around an additional year, coaching volleyball as well.

Three states, four districts, six grade levels, four endorsements, a Master’s degree, a handful of honors, and thousands of young adults later, I sit here and can’t help but think that I’ve accomplished what I had originally set out to do:

  • Expose students to life beyond what they know.
  • Connect students to opportunities they might not find on their own.
  • Develop students to better prepare them for their futures.
  • Challenge thinking.
  • Push them.
  • Love them.
  • Survive.
  • Grow.
  • Repeat.

I swore I’d NEVER become a teacher. Now, although I’m leaving the classroom, I can’t see myself ever not working with OR for kids in some capacity. In developing them, mentoring them, challenging them, and exposing them to a world beyond their own comfort. They’ve grown on me. It’s grown on me.

My grandmother Bev was a hard-nosed New Englander. She was opinionated. She’d call out complacency and laziness and always expected better. She kept herself busy, but whatever took up her time was intentional. She worked for and voraciously supported causes she believed in. She wasn’t afraid of hurting feelings if it jumpstarted change for the better. If she wanted to do something, she wouldn’t waste time, she’d do it. She got shit done. She survived. I have a lot of Bev in me.

I’ve had a lot of students these last 16 years. Many of whom I’ve lost contact with—even with social media now. I have students who became a parent years before I’d become one. Students whose parents have had to bury them in their youth, students serving lifetime prison sentences, students who have vanished in the middle of the night. I think of these kids often.

I’ve also had students be the first in their family to go to and graduate from college, valiantly serve our country, get married and grow their own families, come out of the closet and be who they are, find their passion on the other side of the world, heal their hurts, fight for justice in their own backyard, develop successful businesses, run for Congress, and make a difference. I think of these kids often as well.

As I box up a ridiculously insane amount of personal items that I’ve added to my classroom over the years—The personal items students have gifted me. The handwritten poems and cards addressed to me—I can’t help but be grateful for all of the lives I’ve been exposed to. All of the lives I’ve encountered and the stories and experiences we’ve shared. And I can’t help but wonder if it was divine intervention that led me to this extended, part time gig. And how my original goals have actually also exposed ME to beyond what I know; connected ME to opportunities I might not have found on my own; developed ME to better prepare for my future; to challenge MY thinking; to push ME; to love; to survive; to grow; repeat.

I think my grandmother Bev would be proud of my decision to leave the classroom. I’m doing what I’d expect of AND encourage my students to do: Dream Big and Embrace Opportunities.

It’s something I want my two children to learn from me as well. After all, if I’m going to preach it, I better practice it.

And so, with as much Bev as I can channel, I begin the next chapter.

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I kissed my husband this morning before he drove out of the yard with a packed cooler and thermos in hand and jokingly said, “See ya later this summer.” 

The ground is finally dry after all of the recent rains. 

The soybeans & grain sorghum still need planted, irrigation pipes need to be laid, and wheat harvest is quickly approaching…and it’s not all going to magically get taken care of on its own. 
I’ll be making snack & drink deliveries to the fields and FaceTime calls so the kids can see their daddy and I can see my husband–even if it’s for brief visits. 

There will be an empty chair at the head of the table when we sit down for meals. And we will hold hands and pray; thanking God for all of our blessings and ask that HE keep Daddy safe and healthy while he works hard to get his jobs done.

This time of year on the farm always requires many long days of hard, tiresome work. 

This is a time of the year where sacrifices are made. 

This is the start of summer on the farm. 

#hustle #workhard #herewego #americanfarmer #agchat #soybeans #sorghum #farmlife #aliveandwellinkansas 

Fellowship on the Farm

Unless you follow my Instagram account, you probably don’t know about a really amazing experience I was part of last weekend.

Have you ever had an experience that has left you feeling so refreshed and on a natural high that you just want to bottle it up?

That’s what I was able to experience at last weekend’s Fellowship on the Farm.

It was a retreat geared specifically for farm wives.  I was invited to speak at the event and was fortunate to experience the entire weekend as well.

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The all-inclusive weekend was held at The Craft House in Newton, Kansas, and was organized by four amazing farm wives from around Kansas: Caitlin, Katie, Amanda, and Janna.

Caitlin, who also blogs over at Faith, Farming and Family, shared that God had put it on her heart to get a retreat put together for farm wives.

Luckily, she listened to HIM and had some fabulous ladies jump on board and help make the weekend become a reality.

After months and months of planning and waiting for God to lead them, a group of women from Kansas and Oklahoma farms and ranches– in all stages of life– connected with each other.

It was so cool to find out how each woman had heard about the retreat and why they decided to give up a precious weekend to attend.

One woman, Ms. Melva, said multiple times throughout the weekend something to the effect of: I don’t know why I’m here, I just felt this was where I was supposed to be.

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Oh, Ms. Melva, I think the big guy upstairs brought us all together for a reason.

It was an intimate setting surrounded by color, constant good vibes, and realness.

I was nervous about the event–leaving my husband in charge of our two kiddos during corn planting season usually wouldn’t happen under normal circumstances for a farm wife.

But I felt a nudge to stay the entire weekend. And boy, oh boy, was I glad I did.

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The weekend was an unforgettable experience and I can’t wait to attend again.

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The event kicked off Friday evening, and from the start I knew it was going to be a great weekend.

Time and time again I was quietly reminded that there are women who share similar struggles and joys as a farm wife.

That I’m not alone.

The long and unpredictable hours, the seasons, the weather, the markets, the unknowns, the expectations we put on ourselves (and our husbands), the same God we draw strength from.

It was powerful.

POWERFUL.

A lot of us were strangers on Friday, but a sisterhood was born that first evening.

After the initial program was over for the night, it was as if we had all known each other for years.

We stayed up way past our bedtimes chatting like we were old buddies catching up on life.

We snacked on cupcakes, consumed caffeine, and wore our stretchy pants.

It was glorious!

 

Saturday brought a wonderful breakfast created by the organizers of the event.

In reality, all of the meals were wonderful.

But who would expect anything different?

After all, the meals were prepared by farm wives.

And Lord knows farm wives know how to feed a crew!

Between the speakers, we had activities including sharing harvest recipes, journal time, and making some beautiful leather cuff bracelets.

For someone who considers herself a non-crafty person, I was pretty pleased with the finished product!

As the evening fell, we again jumped into our comfy pants and talked and talked and talked.

A TV was never turned on the entire weekend.

When Sunday arrived, we all enjoyed another wonderful breakfast before we started to wind down the event.

I tried so hard to capture every nook and cranny of The Craft House.

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I tried to capture a picture with every woman at the retreat.

I wanted to bottle the experience.

And just like a kid one the final day of an awesome summer camp, we all exchanged Facebook contacts, took pictures, and inquired about the next retreat.

This weekend was just what I needed as we usher in the beginning of the first of many  busy seasons on our farm this year.

It was refreshing to meet so many likeminded women working so hard in many different capacities to support their husbands, their families, their businesses, their livelihoods.

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I’ve found it difficult to truly describe the weekend to others who didn’t attend.

Simply put…

Conversations were had.

Coffee was consumed.

Delicious meals were enjoyed.

Laughs and tears were shared.

Vulnerability was allowed.

Jesus was present.

For that, my heart is full.

And I am thankful.

Amen.

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Hello, It’s Me

Hello.

It’s me.

Yes, I’m alive.

Yes, I’m doing well.

Yes, I’m still in Kansas.

Do you remember the last time I went MIA with this blog?

I do.

It had to do with this little dude.

Baby Banks

That little dude really isn’t a little dude anymore.

And he definitely lets you know that he’s NOT little.

Banks at the dentist's office

Excuse me for a moment while I try to bottle him up. 

…..

…..

Ok, I’m better.

Well, would you like to take a guess where I’ve been with this latest absence?

Yep.

Pregs with Baby Girl

Here’s the proof.

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Two kiddos and we’re all doing fabulous.

Baby Girl joined our family in October a week before her brother’s birthday.

She was his best early birthday present.

No caption needed.

She has fallen right in line here on the farm.

In fact, right after we were released from the hospital we drove out to one of our soybean fields to check on the yields.

Baby Girl helping with harvest

Oh, this little girl is going to have one great story to tell.

She’s already changed so much in the few short months she’s been with us.

Livin' the suite life

Sleepy Baby Girl

Future Wildcat

I think I’ve changed, too.

So I’m back and ready to share our lives with you once again.

Thanks for joining me in this next chapter of Alive & Well in Kansas.

Here We Go!

It is officially wheat harvest for us!

My feelings about harvest this year have been a little different than years past.

I wasn’t as anxious about WHEN harvest was going to start this year.

I’m generally chomping at the bit to get harvest started so we can get finished.

I usually play a guessing game in my head to try and predict the date and time when our harvest will start.

I even included others in the guessing game last year.

But this year, I’ve had a lesson in patience.

We’ve all had a lesson in patience.

Big Time!

We got a boatload of rain this spring.

It just kept raining and raining and raining and raining and raining.

You get the point.

And with all of the rain, my husband wasn’t able to farm.

Don’t get me wrong, the man was still working like crazy to get the machines ready for spring and summer work, unloading seed orders, delivering seed orders, checking fields, and doing bookwork.

He just wasn’t able to get in the fields to plant, or spray, or furrow, or do anything else requiring a tractor in a field for a very, very long time.

A. VERY. LONG. TIME.

The rain was nice though.

We needed it!

We desperately needed it–not as desperately as our friends to the west of us, but we still needed it.

And once we got the rain that we needed, we were ready for the spigot to be shut off so work could continue.

But it didn’t.

So we rolled with it.

What else could we do?

From my standpoint, there were two options:

1.  Get grumpy and stew about all of the rain, making life miserable and putting us behind until the rain stopped, or

2.  Enjoy each other’s company.

My family chose the latter.

Don’t get me wrong, we still had our grumpy moments–but they were short-lived.

We had breakfast together as a family on Saturday mornings–an almost nonexistent practice during the spring.

We ALL went to my nephew’s birthday party–something that is tough to make happen.

We went fishing together–we’ve never done that before.

Hitting a farm pond with their poles for some fishing time.

Hitting a farm pond with their poles for some fishing time.

We bought some kayaks and tried them out in farm ponds and corn fields.

For real!

Why, yes, that is a kayak!

Why, yes, that is a kayak!

Eventually it did stop raining.

It’s been warming up as well.

The fields have dried enough to get machines in them without rutting them up or getting equipment stuck.

The ground is dry enough to get machines in.

The ground is dry enough to get machines in.

The crops that we have needed to get planted this spring are now being planted.

The field work that couldn’t be done for such a long time is now being done.

And we’ve fired up the combines to begin wheat harvest.

It’s all happening at once, but IT IS happening and it’ll all get done.

Finally planting the grain sorghum.

Finally planting the grain sorghum.

We have a great week of hot and dry weather in our forecast until a chance of storms this Friday.

It’s perfect wheat harvest weather and we plan to take advantage of it!

Wheat harvest is happening, planting is happening, irrigation is happening, spraying is happening.

It. Is. Happening.

Let’s break on three…One. Two. Three.  TEAM!

Here We Go!

 

 

Apricot Pecan Crisp

Happy summer!  We’re going to skip the small talk about where I’ve been for six months and jump straight to today’s post.

OK?

OK.

I currently have an apricot tree that is full of fruit right now.

Like, LOADED FULL!

Having apricots is a special treat since my trees don’t produce the little fruit every year due to a number of conditions (like the weather).

Tiny apricots heavily fill one of my trees.

Tiny apricots heavily fill one of my trees.

They aren’t very big apricots.  In fact, each one is smaller than a ping-pong ball.

BUT, these little fruits sure are delicious!

So what do you do if you have tons of apricots on your tree?

If you’re like me, you either pick them and freeze them, or make some apricot crisp!

I had a lot of mouths to feed the other day at lunch, so I thought what better way to share these delicious fruits than to whip up a crisp.

And if you know me, I don’t like complicated recipes.

This is a seriously quick and easy recipe that will hit the spot.

For me, the results were unanimous; this recipe is a keeper!

Add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream and reap the rewards.

Add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream and reap the rewards of summer.

Apricot Pecan Crisp (serves 6 people)

  • Approximately 5 cups of halved apricots
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1/4 cup of chopped pecans

Preheat the oven  to 375˚F

Step 1.  Cut apricots into halves or quarters and place fruit in a square, 2-quart baking dish and stir in the granulated sugar.

Step 2. In a separate bowl, mix the oats, brown sugar, flour and nutmeg together.  Then cut the butter into the mixture.  Add the pecans and then sprinkle the mix over the apricots.

Step 3.  Bake in a 375˚ oven for 35-45 minutes or until the topping is golden.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and enjoy this piece of summer!

Easy, peasy summer recipe!

Fertilizing the Wheat

When I was a single gal living in town, I had big plans to have the nicest, greenest yard on the block one summer.  We won’t focus on how it turned out–especially since it barely rained that summer and I depended solely on rain to water my yard.

Regardless, that spring I went out and bought a decent sized bag of fertilizer and a handheld spreader.

I cranked, and cranked, and cranked, and cranked while I spread the fertilizer all over my yard.

I thought my arm was going to fall off, but I felt accomplished because I could tell where I had applied that fertilizer.

You could actually see the little white granules covering the ground.

Little white pieces of evidence.

Little white pieces of evidence.

Fast forward to 2015 and Adam has been pretty much doing the same thing except at a much, much larger scale.

He’s been busy spreading urea (dry nitrogen fertilizer) to some of the wheat fields during this first week of 2015.

Generally the guys like to apply urea to the fields in December, BUT it was too wet this year.

Spreading 5 tons of urea at 10 miles per hour.

Spreading 5 tons of urea at 10 miles per hour.

So January it is!

I had a little boy refusing to take a nap yesterday, so I strapped him in his carseat and set off to see what Adam was up to.

I couldn’t help but imagine how muscular my arms would be if I used that handheld spreader to broadcast the urea on the area Adam was covering.

No, wait.  That’s crazy talk!

Adam was using a spreader that holds five tons of fertilizer.

FIVE TONS!

It has all kinds of interesting functions that I don’t fully understand but gets farmers really excited.

And it requires none of my muscles, which makes me excited!

One of the functions that I do understand is that it has a variable rate dry spreader.

Basically, you can punch in some numbers which will increase or decrease the amount of urea that is spread over an area based on soil tests.

So, the areas that need more urea get more, and the areas that need less get less.

Isn’t technology wonderful?!?

You can also punch in a number and the spreader will apply a blanket application.

That’s what’s being done here.

THE Spreader

So while Adam cruised up and down this wheat field at 10 mph, the amount of urea was evenly applied.

Take a look at the aerial footage of how this all works…

We’re hoping it’ll now snow so the urea will get wet, dissolve, and work its way into the soil.

Once it’s in the soil, this will get to the roots of the wheat plants that are just hanging out in the fields during this time of the year.

It's on the ground, now it just needs some moisture to get it moving into the soil.

It’s on the ground, now it just needs some moisture to get it moving into the soil.

When the wheat comes out of dormancy and starts greening up in March, the fertilizer is in the root zone, and the wheat can grow big and strong.

The variable is that we need moisture to make all of that magic happen.

And if we’re going to get moisture, it might as well be snow.

And if it’s going to snow, it might as well REALLY snow!

Here’s to a lot of snow this next week!

For the sole sake of the soil and wheat, of course 🙂

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