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17

An open letter to my husband, my family and farming friends:

I see you.

I see you checking your phone to see what the weather is going to do, what the markets did, and what the latest news story is on your profession. I see you praying silently at church and wonder if you are asking for a rebound in the markets or are just thanking our Lord for a healthy family and a roof over their heads.  I see you teaching the next generation how to conserve and care for the land because it is the only one we will ever get. I see the worry in your eyes when more severe weather is on its way. I see you looking up to those that have gone before you seeking or at least wondering what their advice would be.


I hear you.

I hear you cussing and becoming short-tempered as Flood Creek is once again teasing the edges of her banks and threatening to rip out the fence that your family spent hours putting back up after her last rage.  I hear you (under your breath) asking, “Why do we do this?” But then I see the grin on your face when a healthy calf hits the ground. I hear your frustration when parts break and machines quit working. 

I smell you.

I smell the sweat from a hard day's work that often starts before the sun comes up and ends when the stars are out. I smell the manure that you are hauling to fertilize our fields and to create a comfortable, clean space for our animals.  I smell the fresh cut hay as it lay waiting to be baled to feed our cattle and provide income for our family.

I feel you.

I feel the pain that you’re feeling when you turn the other cheek to a critic about your profession or those people blasting comments about taking the insurance check.  I feel your frustration when that heifer we set up the perfect artificial insemination protocol for came back into heat or when the rain came right before our intended hay baling date. I feel you tossing and turning at night, unable to sleep because you are thinking about what to plant and how much grain to sell and thinking about how you will get it all done.

I taste you. 

I taste your hard work in the meat that you raised and the crops that you produced when we sit down at our table to enjoy a meal with our family and friends. I taste the blood, sweat, and tears that went into creating every ounce.

To all farmers, ranchers, and farming families. I see you. We see you. I see you because I am standing behind you every step of the way.  I keep it my goal to stay positive for our community, share what life on our farm is like, to provide a strong arm to hold you up when you want to fall and to encourage you to keep going when you feel like stopping.

Do you see us? Do you see what the farmers and ranchers are trying to do? I challenge you to make sure you are truly seeing what is going on around you.

I see you, 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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