Me and Bax

Baxter Black This photo was taken at the Colorado Farm Bureau Annual meeting when I met Baxter Black, cowboy poet and all around good egg. Black has long been willing to support several worthy causes I’ve been involved in but this was the first chance I had to meet him face to face.
It was a pretty good day.

Permissible but not beneficial

We’re in the business of food. I have spoken with both consumers and other producers about every issue relating to food from GMOs to natural pork to vegetarianism. We are directly involved in production agriculture. I feed my family the same pork and beef that we sell, potentially finding its way to your table. This has shown me beyond any shadow of a doubt that food is the most personal choice in the world. gretchie pig
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Hog Wild

We’re going to cause a wreck.

Highway 94 runs right in front of our place and there are often hogs of all sizes in places that, at 70 miles per hour, don’t seem kosher to passersby. I’ve been fighting with two litters of weaned pigs that are too small to contain using the means available. They’re the rhubarb diggers I referenced earlier. We’re not friends.

Caden and I were shooting his bows the other evening when a driver in an unfamiliar car honked. Pigs out, we bet. Caden went running around the front of the driveway to run the weaned pigs back to the north pens.

I saw another driver look toward him and then look again. And swerve.

I caught a glimpse of Caden bounding after the pigs, recurve bow in hand.

Outstanding. It’s like the Hunger Games around here.

State of Upheaval

The 51st State Initiative has been an interesting movement to watch develop. As the Facebook presence urged residents of my county to sign a petition, I couldn’t help but watch and wait. Many comments on the page tend to be laced with suspicion of liberals and excitement of impending freedom.

Others have taken the opportunity to illustrate the flag of the proposed state featuring a bible, guns, an oil rig, and momma, I’m sure.

I love my momma, too, but this is a stab at conservative Colorado that isn’t representative of rural Coloradoans.

I am as annoyed with the lack of representation rural Colorado has experienced as anyone but rural Colorado seceding is nothing more than a statement.

If you’re truly concerned with the direction our state is heading then now is the time to become involved. There are a million ways to become involved that carry much more weight and influence than signing a Facebook petition.

No, thanks.

One of my fellow farm and 4-H moms admitted to me today that she, like me, is over volunteered. In my head, I said, “Sister, you have no idea.” A number of wise individuals have, at one time or a hundred, told me that I need to learn to say no. My inner control freak said, “That’s cute that you think the world will go on without me running it.”

The past year has been exhausting for me emotionally and physically and this summer I stepped back and let the world go on without me.

I knew I had to do this when I could handle the failed political campaign and the heavy load of teaching other’s children, the demands of the farm and the never ending stacks of mother loving papers that live on my kitchen table, the balancing act of juggling a 12 year old’s schedule and the chaos of a one year old girl. When I could handle the struggles to find financing for a home on the farm that is both our livelihood and our liability. I handled the overflowing washer, the puking dogs, trying to decide which little, white, frozen package to cook for the hungry people who want to eat at the table covered in aforementioned papers and parts. I handled the meetings, the meetings, and the meetings. I handled signing the astronomical land loans and operating note with a smile after our previous banker told us he wouldn’t renew us despite following his directives to a tee. I handled the blown tires, tired kids, and constant stream of breakdowns that pushed my grease-covered husband to the brink. I handled helping drag a favorite sow out the door when the old girl gave up. I handled the people who call only when they need something and the friends who know they won’t hear from me until after summer break begins. I handled the snake in the garage, the sow who tried to eat three grown adults with a certain degree of success, and the huge changes that redefined families and relationships. I handled the string of rejection letters from literary agents that just keep coming. But, when the baby pigs dug up my rhubarb I couldn’t handle anymore.

Somewhere between the ridiculously dirty jeans, the sprayer parts in my kitchen, the tomatoes that need watered, and the tire that needs patched again I decided to give myself a break and am trying to remember that it doesn’t equate with being insufficient.

Drinking poison

The rodeo rigs are rolling through town today, headed to the ranch rodeo, and I’m watching them with a growing pit in my stomach.
It’s funny what sweeps you back. It might be a song, or a smell, or just a breeze that makes you feel like you’re suddenly somewhere or someone you’re no longer familiar with. Today, it’s aluminum trailers, slick horses, and deep-breathing diesel pickups flying low through town, piloted by boys in starched shirts and shaped hats.
I stepped off the merry-go-round almost 10 years ago. After a marriage that was longer than it ever should have been, I told him I wanted out and I didn’t shed a tear when I said the words. He watched me pretend to sleep that night. The next day, when I returned home from work, his things were emptied from the house, though it didn’t look much different than it had that morning.
He spent a lifetime in rodeo arenas trying to be the next big thing, playing a young man’s game in a worn out life. When the arena lights turn off for the night, the momentary grasp he had on a glamorous, fame-filled life was gone. What was left was sweaty horses and scraping money together for the month’s groceries and fuel and a growing pit in my stomach, much like the one there today.
Ten years and two states away, I have a markedly different life and my friends wouldn’t believe me if I told them how different I am; that they wouldn’t have even been my friend then and there. So I find myself straying from my usual writing topics in a wild-eyed attempt to keep my feet planted in the present reality of hog barns, paid bills, and millet fields.
I’ve been told that harboring hate and anger is akin to drinking poison and wishing someone else would die. But sometimes the past steps in, rolls through, and leaves you wishing for a stiff drink and a deep hole to hide in. And sometimes you have the maturity and the wisdom to fix your lipstick and go on with the life you cheated yourself out of but won back.

Of voters and farmers

This legislative session has left farmers, ranchers, and rural Coloradans battered and bruised. The drought has crippled many, forcing the hand of cow calf producers to sell and, in many cases, leave the state or even the business.

Crops are failing and the heat of summer is not yet upon us. To add insult to injury, and despite the efforts of several common sense representatives, legislation has left us the walking wounded.

The passage of SB 252 stands to cost some producers over $100,000. This is not merely an inconvenience. This is a move that will put families out of business and take locally grown foods off many family’s dinner tables.

The sequester of funds owed to farmers and ranchers placed a huge strain on families. This means more than cutting back on daughter’s dance lessons and son’s new shoes to farm and ranch families.

Bills legislating ag practices are opening the door for families to take their operations to other states that recognize their importance and welcome them with open arms and financial opportunity.

Oil and gas restrictions will lead companies to pack up their rigs and leave eastern Colorado, taking with them the revenue that has become vital to the small communities, families, and schools.

On the western slope, the now quieted debate about the possible addition of the sage grouse to the endangered species list would have crippled 2.4 million acres and with it, ranchers’ ability to produce their product, resulting in less food and higher prices passed to your family.

Please pray for the farm and ranch families who are your neighbors. Think of them because they are the people who make your food, fuel, and fiber possible and affordable. Then, please do not vote for the people who vote to cripple Colorado agriculture while their bellies are full compliments of agriculture.

MIA

I’ve been missing in action lately but I have a good excuse.

What a great opportunity it was to speak at the Colorado FFA Convention to unveil the video linked above and to remind them that “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

Chuffy

Bill the hairdresser called to tell us the dream was shattered. His wife had left him. She said it was the hogs.

Because Jason is too nice, we went to Bill’s Sunday morning to retrieve the hogs he said he would purchase from Bill. A last ditch effort to tempt his wife to return, perhaps? At any rate, at least we had the good sense to take a few panels with us. Bill made an attempt at calling the pigs…by name…to hop in the trailer like some kind of trained circus pigs. It may have worked had the bluebutt not been in the bunch.

The bluebutt (referred to only as such because I can neither remember, nor do I care to remember her name) jumped in the trailer only long enough for me to look away for a nanosecond. That was apparently plenty of time for her to make a dash for the exit. Gentle readers, Sunday was not the first time I have been but a speed bump on the road to glory and freedom for a renegade sow, nor will it be the last. However, it was Mother’s Day and I had no intention of losing any teeth Continue reading