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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

Photo from Wikipedia

Guess what, Joaquin?  I don’t know a single thing about acting, how to pursue an acting career, or what it takes to win an Oscar and I don’t pretend to know about anything about it either. 

I have seen several movies you have starred in and a personal favorite is when you played Johnny Cash in "Walk the Line."  Speaking of Johnny, he sings one of my favorite songs that really isn't just a song to me, it’s more of a personal anthem to many things in my life including standing up to people like you, Joaquin, that try to share a story that you know nothing about.  That would be like me using my platform to talk about my thoughts and beliefs on the truths of being an actor.  That favorite song of mine is titled, “I Won’t Back Down.” Here are the lyrics in case you aren’t familiar with it:

I won't back down

Well, I won't back down, no, I won't back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won't back down

Gonna stand my ground, won't be turned around
And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down
Gonna stand my ground and I won't back down

Hey, baby, there ain't no easy way out
Hey, I will stand my ground and I won't back down

Well, I know what's right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I stand my ground and I won't back down

Hey, baby, there ain't no easy way out
Hey, I will stand my ground and I won't back down
No, I won't back down

What do I know?

What do I know?   I know about caring for animals. I know about waking up at all hours of the night to check on a heifer that is close to calving.  I know about the sacrifice that my family, my parents, and the generations before us have made to feed the people who CHOOSE to eat products that we produce.  I know that I would never speak about a profession or way of life that I have never experienced. And I know that I WON’T BACK DOWN. 

I will not back down

I will not back down from the scare tactics that you use on your platform to outweigh our real-life stories that I share on my platform.   I will not be pushed around by actors or activists that have never walked a day in my shoes and that are not even interested in learning about it. I will continue to stand my ground and beliefs about a way of life that feeds and cloths the world for those that choose to partake.

So, Joaquin, in closing I want to thank you for fueling my burning ring of fire to continue sharing the stories of our Iowa life, the stories of other farmers and ranchers and the true stories of what occurs in our barns and on our land.

Sincerely,

A proud artificial inseminating livestock producer, woman, and lover of the land.

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