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Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.

If you have zipped up a blue and gold corduroy jacket you know exactly what those words stand for; if you haven’t you might not know that is the motto of the FFA.  I have spent a lot of time thinking about this motto this weekend (a lot of seat time will do that to you whether it is a saddle, tractor or car.) 

I have specifically been thinking about the first 2 lines and how following this motto since I was a greenhand FFA member has led me to be the woman I am today! 

Learning to do…Doing to learn

My mind started swirling a little on Friday as my Mom and I tackled a few things (just the two of us) it started with a plan to go trail riding but a feisty quarter pony thought she would give us a run for our money in the trailer loading department.  Mom and I worked together on something we had “learned to do” years ago, we kept working with her and did not give up. Once she was loaded she was unloaded and loaded again! Why? Because she needed to “do to learn” to know we weren’t going to let her by with being a stinker. 

Jen and Mom riding horses
Trail to Mitchell

After our ride and some lunch we noticed a few things that needed to be done around my parents’ farm, but in reality knew the guys wouldn’t be getting to them until November at best with harvest in full and sometimes slow swing, as it often goes.  I had never operated my Dad’s extremely fancy skid loader but knew just enough of how to run it to be dangerous, so off we went to move some bale rings around and move some bales. Next up was unloading and setting up a 14 panel round pen for the horses.  We worked together to get them unloaded, undo each wire, and set the pen up with 0 problems!  I couldn’t help but think to myself if I hadn’t been taught to tackle hard things and didn’t learn by doing I probably wouldn’t have even suggested we try to get the “honey-do list” done. We were pretty darn proud of ourselves and only needed to do one quick facetime to my honey for a skid loader question otherwise projects done and complete on our own!

Corn

Then came Saturday, another opportunity to live out the motto!  I woke up with a to-do list in my head, but that quickly changed when the decision was made to combine the cornfield to the south of our house.  I completely stepped out of my comfort zone hauled wagons with our neighbor's tractor, dumped grain, and ran the auger on my own.  Why? Because I am learning by doing and doing to learn. Learning to do things I may have never done without the drive instilled by my family and the FFA.

You see this operation is not just my husband’s operation, this is our operation and while it may be small it is still ours and it allows us to live out dreams we have had since being those young greenhands.  I wasn’t just out helping my husband yesterday either, I was doing my part to haul in our grain while using the phone to bid on cattle at auction that I had hoped we could add to our operation. I say this because I often hear it is nice of you to help out, but when I hear that I can’t help but think it is part of who I am and my role in this operation. I liken it to someone saying a Dad is babysitting.  A dad is not babysitting, they are parenting their children just like I am working on our farm. 

Jen hauling corn with a tractor and wagon
Hauling corn

Without the motto of Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to serve on repeat in my head I am not sure I would have tackled half of the things I have in life, let alone the things accomplished this weekend. I hope I am serving as a role model for others that need to dig in and try things to learn and serve as a role model for those wanting to tackle things that they may be afraid of trying. I am here to tell you that you can tackle the things you put your mind to and when in doubt, thanks to technology, you can always check on YouTube,  facetime a brother or facetime a husband for a little help! 😉

Jen unloading corn from wagon into an auger.

What have you tackled this weekend?

How do you live out the FFA Motto?

From the gravel road,

Jen


Where does your food come from? If you are like several Americans you would answer-the grocery store. The grocery store plays a vital role in getting your food to you, but they are the distributor, not the producer.

On our farm we are small enough that we market our animals directly to the consumer, so the meat we produce doesn't go to the grocery store. After it is butchered it goes directly to the consumer. For example, this month we had four hogs butchered and we sold that meat to 12 different families to enjoy. I cannot even tell you how great that feels, knowing that local families are benefiting from our love of farming and producing a product for them to purchase.

The same process is used for the beef that we raise, we market the beef directly to the consumer, the animal is delivered to the locker, butchered, and the consumer works with the butcher to choose how they want their meat cut. Some people choose to make dried beef or beef sticks, while others just choose to get roasts, ground beef, and steak.

From beef and pork to corn and soybeans, farmers are working hard to produce a great product for their own families and yours.

It is extremely important to us that our children are involved in our operation and can help share the message about where their food comes from. I will never forget a perfect example of this, at the age of 4, Ellie was standing at the fair watching the animals be weighed in for the auction. A woman walking by asked what was happening. Our 4 year old explained the entire process to the woman right down to that fact that it is hard to let some animals go, but it is important that we have food. I am not going to lie, the woman had to pick her jaw up off of the ground and if you know our Ellie she didn't keep the conversation real short. She provided the woman everything she needed to know about producing beef for a consumer.

So, the next time you sit down with your family or guests, I ask you to please make sure your children (and adults) know where that meal on their plate came from. While the grocery store is a vital piece of the agriculture industry chain, please make sure they know ALL of the parts of that chain, especially the producer that put their heart and soul into the product.

Happy National Ag Day!

From the Gravel Road-

Jen

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