On our way from point A to point B yesterday, Caden, who is 11, was musing over his BLT sandwich.
“You know how different countries have food they’re famous for?” he said. “Like China has egg drop soup and Italy has pizza?”
“Here, we have bacon,” he said proudly, spoken like a true farm kid. “And we have bacon burgers, and bacon cheeseburgers, and bacon sandwiches….”
We sure do, buddy.


Dry Pastures and TV Cameras

Kevin Torres from 9 News came to Kutch, Colorado, to visit with me yesterday about the drought and the importance of keeping young producers on the land. While I appreciate Torres’ piece and believe it hit the nail on the head with its intended point for Denver viewers- it’s dry and it matters to you because your food prices will go up and we all need to heed the health of Colorado’s $20 billion ag industry- there are perhaps a few points of clarification yet to be made.

My phone rang yesterday and Torres asked whether we had received any snow from the last storm and if it was enough to end the drought. I would be one of many farmers and ranchers who would be tickled pink with a week of rain but the bottom line is that, while it may bring us closer to our average precipitation levels, the grass isn’t going to be lush a few days after a good rain. Many pastures are grazed and blown into the dirt and the grasses will take years to recover and be the beneficial short grass prairie we typically see in this area. It will take continued responsible grazing and stocking rates and good management decisions from the producers already kept up at night by the gravity of the decisions before them. 9news<

The Drop Dead Date that Torres referred to

Continue reading

Minivan Cowgirl

I was fueling my non-mini van SUV before I left the Springs the other day. I was wearing jeans and boots- not pig poo encrusted boots, though I have those, too- but my favorite square toed boots. A Chevy diesel pickup complete with a thumping bass and doo dads dangling from the rear view mirror rolled in. It was a shortbed flatbed with chrome stacks, one leaning heavily to the inside of the bed. He revved his engine, which I assume with the price of highway diesel, likely cost him $2.50, and pulled into the pump beside me as I washed the gravel road off my back glass.
This is how the conversation went:
Him: “Look at the soccer mom trying to play cowgirl driving a minivan. Heh heh heh.”
Me: Glares. Gets into vehicle. “It’s not a minivan.”

In my head, this is how the conversation went:
Him: “Look at the soccer mom trying to play cowgirl driving a minivan. Heh heh heh.”
Me: Hands him my business card from Colorado Farm Bureau State Board of Directors. “I don’t think we’ve met,” I say. “I’m Rachel and I chair the YF&R Committee as part of Colorado Farm Bureau. We’re the largest ag lobbying organization in the state and the nation. Our policy is truly grassroots. I’ve personally written policy at a kitchen table on a farm and seen it approved as part of national policy. I’m fighting for the rights of rural, Conservative Colorado in my legislative work, my writing and speaking, and on our farm everyday. When you want your voice to join in for the greater good, give me a call and I’ll send you a membership application.”

Hrmph. A minivan. As if.


We’re rebuilding where the hog unit existed before Jason was born. The house has stood empty since the hog market crashed after a string of trials and when Jason’s uncle left the farm for a job in town, he left the calendar on the wall, turned to February, 1982. I didn’t save the calendar but I did take a photo of it for one of my scrapbooks. It should go, like a captain of a ship, with the house.
The original house, built in the 1920s, is sod. It’s cool year round and leads down to the rough, hand dug basement. The basement has a dirt floor and the last time I was there, I found a jar of beets that Mary Vermillion grew, canned, and placed on the shelf for winter use. I carefully wiped the jar clean and placed them back on the shelf where Mary had put them no fewer than 30 years ago. And it is there they will stay.
The new part of the house was built in the 1950s sometime. There’s a window that looks to the west and I’m told that Mary, who was legally blind, could look out that window and know when a storm was brewing from looking at the faint outline of Pike’s Peak in the distance. I’m also told that she has a bit of a sixth sense and would put coffee on, knowing that visitors would roll across the bridge soon.
The prize of the day was discovered late in the day yesterday. On a display case built by Jason’s great grandfather’s construction company, sat a Polaroid of a sign that hung in front of the house, bearing the emblem of Royalean Pork Association. The hog is wearing a crown, an accessory I would wear everyday if I could, and the coat of arms includes a fleur de lis. My dad’s family is from Louisiana so I’m genetically inclined to love this symbol and I do.
There’s great brevity in rebuilding the hog business where it once fell and I don’t let that fact escape my attention but like to think that the sign and the beets are the blessing of past generations as we move forward in ways they couldn’t likely imagine.

Farm Fun Barbie

Kids notice everything. I teach in a small school and wearing different boots one day garners a certain amount of attention so you can only imagine what happened when I showed up with blonde and mahogany red highlights.
Sometimes the phone rings and things get weird and that was the case with the highlights. A gentleman called Jason over a year ago hoping to rent a boar, not something we typically do. Bill insisted on the quality of his facilities and we finally agreed that we were, in fact, boar poor, and he could come inspect said boars. He wanted to meet “the boys” and see their offspring and so he arrived.
He and his wife were visiting with Jason in the farrowing barn when I walked in wearing a hoodie, rubber boots, organic material-covered jeans and a ponytail. Bill was explaining to Jason that he was a hairdresser in town and wanted to rent the boar and trade it for cut and color services for me.
“Rachel,” he said with a grandiose sweep of his arm. “You could come off the prairie and be pampered and we could give you Barbie Gone Bad highlights…”

I swear I saw Jason snicker but I can’t prove it.

Long story short, I went to town Friday and came back with blonde and mahogany highlights. No part of me screams “Barbie” or “Gone Bad” on a normal day and I can’t say that’s what’s being screamed after a day at the salon but it was big news in Karval.

District X FFA: All the Cool Kids

I had the honor of addressing the District X FFA Banquet last night and this is part of what I told them:

In addition to my work with CFB, I also write on a blog and teach other farmers and ranchers to do the same through the FarmWife Project. This usually results in great tales of the happenings throughout the year on Colorado and New Mexico’s farms and ranches and there is rarely a lack of great photos. Last week, I stopped and took a few iPhone photos of dirt drifts I passed south of Karval. I don’t have to tell you how dry it is but I went ahead and wrote a blog post about the drought and posted the photos.

The blog post and the photos hit home and hundreds of people read the post. They shared it on Facebook and emailed it to different news outlets. Tim Andersen sent it to 9 News and they rolled into Karval Sunday Continue reading

Through the Lens

The news cameras rolled into Karval yesterday. The filmed the new sign reading, “100 Years of Community”. They filmed vacant buildings and then they got down to business.
They met with Marc Hollenbaugh who told them the truth. It’s bad. There are fields and pastures buried in someone else’s topsoil. The dirt, the actual definition of displaced soil, sits in drifts over fences, behind windbreaks, over piles of tumbleweeds, behind every piece of sage, and around houses. Fields of green wheat are blown smooth, the wheat invisible.
They ran into Nelson Taylor who didn’t sugarcoat anything. This will cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars. His numbers are conservative. He’s tired of the wind. He is an institution in Karval and he is worried.
The cameras missed a few things that are harder to see. They missed the frustration each time a piece of legislation is passed at the “inconvenience” of rural Colorado. These are not people who can bear any more burden nor can they vote with any more passion. Continue reading

Pray for Rain

dirt blizzard 3dirt blizzard 2dirt blizzard 1Pray for rain. Please.

The road graders rolled out of the county yard early this morning to try to repair the damage. Not a speck of gravel left on the county roads, ranchers’ teeth rattling around the washboard-covered curves this morning as they set out to feed cows, check for calves, and start the neverending task of fixing fence.

The fences are all bearing the load in one way or another. Some lean under an invisible force to the south. Others stand in sand, covered in tumbleweeds, with drifts of dirt from someone’s field or pasture covering them to the top wire. They look like something from the Dust Bowl or the desert or somewhere haunted by ghosts of people Continue reading

Goodbye, Baroness

Goodbye, Baroness.

With the loss of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher this morning, I have been in a funk. Thatcher, the Iron Lady, was an irreplaceable leader and conservative who cast a long shadow but never forgot her humble roots from her spot on high. I have long admired Thatcher for her long list of memorable quotes and the one I often think of is, “I am in politics because of the conflict between good and evil, and I believe that in the end good will triumph.”

I believe that, too.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you tonight in my Red Star chiffon evening gown. My face softly made up and my fair hair gently waved. The Iron Lady of the Western world. A cold war warrior, an amazon philistine, even a Peking plotter. Well, am I any of these things? … Yes I am an iron lady, after all it wasn’t a bad thing to be an iron duke. Yes, if that’s how they wish to interpret my defence of values and freedoms fundamental to our way of life.” – 1976, speech to Finchley Conservatives.

What a role model the world has lost.

And we’re marching…

Sigh. Some days I just don’t have it in me. Yet, here I type.

A friend I have known since our days at Whee Pre School, which was a long time ago, posted an event of Facebook rallying against Monsanto. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve seen something of this sort but as I read it, I had two thought in my mind. I first read that the March Against Monsanto is for you if “your concerned about mis-formed kidneys and livers of unborn children stay away from GMO’s. Second generation mice were born with kidney issues. Children who’s Mother ate GMO’s will have the same issue leaving them dependant on the medical system and big pharma for the rest of thier shortened life…..GMO’s also lead to food shortages due to being seedless. Eating seedless food leads to infertility…”. This made me first think, “What?!” and then I thought, “Ugh, I just don’t have the energy to get into this fight. Having known this friend since the old days, I’m quite certain that I’m her only farmer Facebook friend. Not a battle I wanted to fight.

Then I thought, I better get on the ball.

This is what she should know:

GMOs or Genetically Modified Organisms, are a debate that is a deep and murky argument. For me, the bottom line is Continue reading