Farmwife 101

This post originally appeared on The Pulse (http://cofarmbureaublog.wordpress.com/) last year but as I continue to hear from farm and ranch wives across the state and the Farmwife Project takes shape, I would like to repost it. If you are interested in participating in the state’s largest sorority, please email me at rachel@lincolncountyfb.com about taking part in the Farmwife Project.

There is a poem I read a number of years ago that now speaks to me with a great deal of levity. Joan Hoffman, a ranch wife since the 1940s, writes about a ranch wife who walks into her new life “love first,’ and “in the evening listens to unfamiliar talk concerning post-hole diggers, pump-leathers, and rake teeth.” She misses her old life with her father’s charge card, her mother’s perfume, skipping out on the dishes and parking on the way home but “she squares her shoulders, burns the toast again and settles in.”

In the days in which this poem meant less to me, I was not yet a member of the largest sorority in rural America, a farm wife. My husband, a fifth generation farmer, has taught me a plethora of new skills and I have not yet caused any major injuries to either of us. When I visit with other farm wives around Lincoln County and eastern Colorado, they all have stories about learning to be farm wives. Many of the stories reflect the similar experiences we have.

I was relaying the story about my husband trying to teach me to drive the old Case tractor and disc to my friend, Larra, and how close I had come to throwing him from the cab. We laughed reliving the story, especially since Jason stood there, without injury, following my driving lesson. Larra’s husband cuts acres and acres of hay and often has Larra run the swather. She said he never really complained as long as the swathing was done until she cut a windrow in a field near a road. He finally told her that if she was going to cut near the road she was going to have to do it straight so no one who drove by thought he had swathed that crooked windrow.

No matter whether we are farm wives in Lincoln County, ranch wives on the western slope, the wives of dairymen, poultry producers, potato growers, honeybee kings or otherwise, we share a common thread and bond. We are all certainly lucky to live where we live and to make a living the ways we do. We are lucky enough.

Faith Runs Deep

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at our country church vacuuming and decking the halls for the Christmas season. All churches are special but this one is especially so.

Central Bible Church, located one mile north of our farm headquarters, was Central School until 1961. Jason’s paternal great grandmother, Mae, taught school there until the doors closed and it reopened as the church.

There are still several of Mae’s former students around the area and they all assure me that whatever stories I’ve heard about Mae’s strict, no-nonsense teaching style…they’re all true.

The pastor at Central is Jerry Allen, one of the kindest men I’ve known. In addition to baptising Jason, Jerry baptised Jason’s father, married his father and mother, and delivered the sermon at his father’s funeral six years ago. He has also married a number of other family members and presided at some of the family’s most important events. He wears a tie tack with a black and white photo of his late wife as a young woman upon it. I can’t help but think that she is with him during his sermons and funerals and she brings good luck to the pulpit when he performs weddings.

It’s an amazing thing each Sunday to sit in the pew that overlooks farmground and to sing some of the same old hymns that Mae sang in the same church.

Some may think that faith is old fashioned and that old fashioned church services are outdated.  But I can tell you that from where I sit each Sunday, the faith runs as deep as the family roots in this area.

Regardless of what happens elsewhere, we’ll spend our Sundays in that sunny room, praying for moisture and looking forward to potluck dinners and continuing to write our family’s history in the parched, dusty ground of eastern Colorado.

The Farmwife Project

The Farmwife Project is beginning to take shape and it may very well be one of the coolest projects around.

In the upcoming weeks, a group of agvocates are coming together right here on this blog. They raise hogs, cattle, potatoes, bees, and children. They are farmwives, daughters, sisters, and mothers. And they are one of the most interesting collective voices of Colorado agriculture.

We are the Real Farmwives of Colorado and we will each be writing periodic blog entries that will appear right here on the Vermillion Farms blog. We will be agvocating and telling the stories that we would share with our sisters or our girlfriends at the kitchen table.

We will also have the opportunity to get together soon and the day will include chocolate, a photo shoot, a discussion about the issues we wish to address and…well, more chocolate.

You’ll be hearing more soon from The Real Farmwives of Colorado! If you’re interested in being a part of the Farmwife Project, please email me for more information.

Yours in Farmwife-dom!

Rachel

My #foodthanks

Today I’m preparing a pile of pies and rolls and other goodies. They run the gamut from gooseberry to pumpkin cream. The rolls are a recipe from my grandmother and I made both a gluten-full and a gluten-free (gf) version.

It’s an odd thing to be whipping up gluten-free dishes on a wheat farm but it’s one of the things I’m grateful for.

Almost ten years ago, I had a new baby and a diagnosis of Celiac Disease. I wouldn’t have thought that simply having to cut gluten from my diet would have been emotional but it was and more. I recall nearly bursting into tears trying to choose a safe dish at a social event. I also recall fully bursting into tears walking through a grocery store with my mother trying to restock my pantry with foods that wouldn’t make me sick.

In the midst of learning to cook, shop and eat again, my marriage ended. I can’t think of any other situations that I’m more grateful to be looking at from the other side than the one I left behind.

Now, ten years and countless less than delicious dishes later, I’ve been back home in Colorado for several years. Through great companies  like Bob’s Red Mill and Udi’s, gluten-free baking is getting easier, less expensive and tastier. My thankfulness also includes the farmers who raise the unique ingredients that go into gf baking mixes like tapioca flour, fava beans, and rice flour.

So when tomorrow’s Thanksgiving celebration comes, know that I will be giving thanks for all involved in from bringing food to fruition. I’ll also be giving thanks for my family and my awesome hubby, the wheat farmer. I’m so proud to be part of Colorado agriculture and for all of the amazing blessings that have come our way.

Ag class

Today in our agriculture classes here in eastern Colorado, we spent some time learning about how some of our favorite Thanksgiving foods are produced.

Maybe the most interesting thing we learned was about crop rotations. Here in our neck of the woods, a popular crop rotation would involve wheat, sorghum, corn, or sunflowers. We watched an episode of America’s Heartland and met a farmer who raises rice in Louisiana. When his rice fields are flooded, he uses them to raise crawfish. We thought this looked like a delicious idea! Check out this episode at http://www.americasheartland.org/episodes/episode_601/index.htm.

It’s always great to learn about agriculture in places we just can’t see from our classroom in Colorado.

As you prepare for your Thanksgiving celebrations, please take time to give thanks for the farmers and ranchers who produce the food, fiber, feed, and fuel that keep this country running.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Colorado Farm Bureau Annual Meeting

Jason and I are so pleased that we will be representing Colorado at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, in January in the Excellence in Agriculture competition.

I was also thrilled to be recognized as the first Colorado Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Emerging Leader Award winner.

Congratulations and good luck to Colorado YF&R Chair Dale Bartee and Discussion Meet winner Nathan Weathers of Yuma County.

We have a number of amazing young people in Colorado Farm Bureau and I’m so glad to be a part.

Brian Allmer of Barn Radio featured me on his show today. Go to http://brianallmerradionetwork.wordpress.com/2010/11/23/11-22-10-colorado-farm-bureau-awards-vermillion-yfr-excellence-in-ag-award/#more-60595 to read and hear the entire interview.

Remember to give thanks for the farmers and ranchers who provide food, fiber, feed, and fuel to keep this country running!

Rental Pigs

As an agriculture teacher, I get a number of requests throughout the course of the day. Last night, I answered a phone call and heard the sweet and slightly desperate voice of Patty.

Patty, a middle school teacher in Colorado Springs, organized a food drive at her school and the main attraction at the all-school assembly was a Kiss a Pig contest. She told me she had no idea it would be so difficult to locate a pig for said contest and someone had given her our phone number after a string of odd and unproductive phone calls.
She was desperate and I tried not to chuckle when she offered to “pay the pig for his or her time”.

As you may be aware, my husband and I raise show pigs and the best part of this business is that we get to know some really cool youth competitors. We try our level best to do what we can for kids and if Patty needed a pig, Patty was going to get a pig.

We’ll be meeting Patty with a good looking and very kissable baby pig early Friday morning. I’ll also be including some pamphlets about the agriculture industry and we’ll be scheduling a day to travel to west Colorado Springs with a few FFA members. Patty visited with both me and Jason and we gave her a quick overview of the industry. It’s my guess that Patty learned more about agriculture and hogs than she ever dreamed she would. By the end of the call, Patty was more knowledgeable about ag and knew some, as she said, “real, live farmers”.

I have no doubt that Patty, a teacher willing to meet us at 6 a.m. to pick up a pig in a dog carrier to make the day of her students, will have a lot to teach us, too.