Thursday, April 24, 2014

Our Calf Crew

The other day I sat out in our cattle corral and reflected upon many things. As I was doing so, I was surrounded by 3 calves. They were nudging me, licking me and mooing!It was then that I realized how much enjoyment raising a few calves can bring. This is our second year taking on a few bottle calves and we LOVE it!
They are just the right size for all my kids to interact with, learn about their characteristics, and to care for. They are also just right for me! I love having them run to the gate when they hear the back door open and close. Seeing them jump around play is a wonderful sight. They play tag with the kids and our goats and give lots of kisses. I especially love that the kids take on the responsibility of feeding, watering and changing their bedding. Taking in and raising a few calves is not a necessity, but a nicety. It teaches us all about compassion, responsibility, priorities and planning. It helps us understand the needs of other living things and get a feel for what ranchers and livestock owners go through each and everyday. Our calves our loved, cared for and played with. My kids give them names according to their personalities. This year we have Rosey- an average size gal, good natured and strong, Daisy- petite, calm, and personable, and Rocky- a large bull calf, playful, and gentle. The kids give the calves a lot of attention, love and treats, but they know that they are different than the pets we have. They are ultimately being raised for food. My kids are ok with that. They know that that is the lifecycle of cattle and other animals that we have. How do I know? Well, because they say it. They tell others. They look forward to selling their animals each fall and taking in new ones in the spring. Raising a few animals is an experience that I cherish because it naturally teaches many things that are essential at all stages of life!
Here's to Moo-ving forward and raising healthy calves, well-rounded happy kids and experiences of a lifetime!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

3 Cheers for H2O and a Greener Planet, right?

Today, April 22nd, marks a day that millions of people focus on making choices that are good for the environment. It is Earth Day!
Sometimes we pledge to recycle more, waste less, reuse things when possible. Other times we take the time to plant a tree, pick up garbage, turn off the lights or even walk and carpool places. But it is necessary for us to focus a whole day or only 1 day on practices such as these? I go back and forth on an answer to that. Part of me says we shouldn't need to "celebrate" the Earth for an entire day as we should be making wise decisions everyday. I struggle because I know that many do not think about the decisions we make each day and what impact that will have on future generations. So, perhaps, we do need a whole day to help us remember to be more eco-friendly!

I am a teacher by trade and have always asked my students, 4-Hers, and religious class students to participate in an activity that would be good for our environment. The down side was that I never took the time to research or find out how Earth Day came to be and why we celebrate it. This year I took a few minutes and started to read. The first Earth Day was in 1970. It fell in the midst of the protests against the Vietnam War, a milestone in music with the death of Jimi Hendrix and the last Beatles album release, and a large oil spill in California. Gaylord Nelson, a US Senator from Wisconsin, wanted to get people excited about the air and water with the intention of inspiring people to stand up and request that they be protected. He was successful! The era of happiness and save all living things was an ideal time for him to rally support from college and university students, as well, as other groups that were trying to stop deforestation and oil. As a result of the 1st Earth Day the in United States, US representatives came together and supported the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Soon after the creation of the EPA, the "Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Act" followed.
This all sounds great right? Well, parts of it is. From where I sit, I see it two ways..... 1) it raised awareness that wasn't there before and engaged millions of people in a dialog that wasn't present previously and 2) it has given the EPA and other environmental interest groups a voice, money, and a desire to control and regulate aspects of our landscapes, lives and livelihood that they have no right or need to control.

As a farmer in central North Dakota I am concerned about the air I breathe, the soil I depend on to provide an income for my family, and the water that falls from the sky, sits in my sloughs and flows in the lakes, rivers and streams around me. I want to make sure that I leave the environments that I come in contact with each day no worse, if not better than what it was when I encountered them. I know, cliche' right? Well, it may sound that way, but I truly mean it! Over the years our farm has invested time, energy, and money into making the best decisions for the land we use. We know that soil can not be regenerated at the rate that it was blowing and washing away, we know that the minerals and elements found in the soil are a precious commodity, we know that every drop of water that we are blessed with is vital for life, and we know that the air we breathe is essential and strive to keep all these things as pure as possible. Because my family has invested so much time into doing what is right, not just on Earth Day, but every day, I feel that I need to extend a hand and let people know that the EPA and other environmental groups along with the Corps of Engineers are fighting to control one of the most valuable resources... WATER! These groups want to be able to regulate the water that flows from slough to slough, from pond to pond, and from spring stream to stream. In short they want to have a say in what happens to every drop of precipitation that comes from the sky.

On my farm and the land in which we live, many areas are used for hay production. These ditches, grass waterways, and edges of larger or year round water will be regulated and taken out of use. The new proposal also has serious implications for our farm and what we do each day. In the spring we have several potholes, places where snow melts and early season rains collect. These areas eventually dry and can be planted. Sometimes they need to be cultivated to hasten the drying process, but nonetheless they are not a flowing body of water, definitely not navigable, and not permanent. As a result of the revised and updated "Clean Water Act", we would not be able to farm these lands. For me, living in what is called the "Prairie Pot Hole Region", the EPA and Corps Clean Water regulations could literally make farming a large portion of our land impossible. Most years we have more than 75% of our field that is covered with Spring water and of that about 20% lasts a few weeks into planting season and is planted with later season crops. As the Clean Water Act is written, my family wouldn't be able to plant these acres and we would be pushed out of farming! The EPA and Corps regulations also impact my ability to minimize the effect of insects. This means that I potentially couldn't spray for certain kinds of bugs that do harm to crops. I also could not spray for insects such as mosquitoes. Moist areas also breed insects and mold, two things that can cause crop damage, but also health issues if not dealt with. In addition, these regulations would not allow my farm to implement the conservation techniques that we have invested in. My concern is that these federal agencies are making rules that make no sense.

Water is a natural resource! It is natural and is mighty. It chooses where it wants to flow. It has carved out landscapes that make us stop in our tracks and admire it. Water is important, it is vital, and it is a gift from our creator. Let us respect it!

On Earth Day, I still encourage you to think about ways that you can extend a hand and do something positive for the environment that you aren't already doing. I ask that you celebrate the day and raise awareness of the value of the Earth and all it has to offer. I also ask that you take a moment to explore the practices in place that are working to ensure a future for our environment and question the need to be over regulated. Just because something started as a way to raise awareness, doesn't mean that it needs to continue to expand its authority.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Extraordinary Places Policy is Extraordinarily Dangerous

Hold on tight... this is a bit of a long one!

As a property owner, a farmer, a citizen of North Dakota, and a mom, I have become increasingly interested in the future of the state. I want to make sure that my family, my children and all that come after have the opportunity to make their own decisions and live in a state which will allow them to be responsible, honorable, that respects their heritage, allows them to be innovative, creative and a productive individual.
One action that will limit my, my families, and your rights is the “Extraordinary Places” or “Areas of Interest” policy that was recently adopted by the ND Industrial Commission.The ND Industrial Commission, comprised of Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Commissioner of Agriculture Doug Goehring, and Governor Jack Dalrymple, has officially put this policy into place and it is dangerous!

The Drilling Permit Review Policy was adopted March 3, 2014, after it had been amended. The Commission did not allow for public comment on the amended version. The previous version of the policy had over 400 phones call to the Governor Dalrymple’s office alone and numerous additional electronic comments. Commissioner Goehring has been quoted as stating that this, the policy, is a “workable solution. We can avoid any unintended consequences”. He boldly shares this despite the fact that he knew fully that private property owners were included in the list and in the setback areas identified in the policy and that these areas located in the western part of the state and along waterways are lined by land privately owned and would be impacted by the outlined provisions. My question is, “What’s the problem we need a solution for?” We already have a system in place.

For me, the actions of the Commission are purely selfish, an attempt to appease environmental agencies, offices, and groups. They passed this policy knowing that the legislative body voted down a similar regulation when it was presented during the last legislative cycle. The Industrial Commission took it upon them self to put into action a policy (a practice imposed within an agency for enforcement) that gives environmentalist groups, generally those that are not politically aligned with the conservative principles of the Republican party, of which all three members belong to, a voice at the table while infringing on private property rights and individual freedoms.
(picture from
So, why I am so hung up on private property rights? Well, because we have become a nation where we feel that it is our responsibility to govern every aspect of what everyone else is doing. We are a people that strive to please those that make the most noise. We are a people who live in fear and what –ifs and not in common sense. We are a population that has become lazy and it is time that WE THE PEOPLE stand up and take our responsibilities back and tell government and agencies of over regulation that they need to back off.
Private property rights do not conflict with human rights. They are human rights. Private property rights are the rights of humans to use specified goods and to exchange them. Any restraint on private property rights shifts the balance of power from impersonal attributes toward personal attributes and toward behavior that political authorities approve. Private property rights protect individual liberty. This is exactly why, the Drilling Permit Review Policy, passed by the Industrial Commission, is inappropriate and completely uncalled for!

At this time the Commission boasts that private property will not be at the mercy of public, state and/ or federal comment when it comes to regulating drilling permits. This is only partially true as there is a paradox within the policy. How do you separate out the private property when it is still listed on the map and in the policy. According to Governor Dalrymple, the reason that private property is still listed is that “this is a pilot policy. If it works on the public land we will expand it to the private land in that areas of interest". As stated by the governor, the policy that has been adopted, identifies several private lands among the eighteen Areas of Interest. There are also private lands associated in what the policy calls “setback” areas. Additionally, all state trust land (ie. state school land) is included in this policy, impacting use of the land as it currently is used now (hay, farming, and grazing) and into the future.
As public lands continue to be shut down to oil, gas and water, increased private lands will be needed causing increased tension between mineral and surface owners. Land owner notification is also a concern. When the Commission identified the eighteen areas around our state, the private land owners were not included in the conversation. In fact, in at least one case they were not contacted or notified that their land was being added to the list.
As a result of the Industrial Commissions actions, we now have to ask, “What can we do to protect out rights, our liberties, our future?” The answer is not simple. The legislature will have to deal with it in the next session, but until then we need to dialog. We have to talk! We have to share what we know, listen, speak up, ask questions, and empower each other. We have to stand up for what we believe in and let our elected officials know that we are not happy with the Commissions actions. We need to take responsibility and work to have representation that represents the people of the state that have been here, are here, and that want to have future generations reside here.
Don’t let your rights vanish. Engage. Share this with others.

Property rights are human rights and we shouldn’t let them be taken away!

For more information of the “Areas of Interest”, also called “Extraordinary Places” policy go to:
ND Farm Bureau:
Map of Extraordinary Places:
ND Industrial Commission:

Friday, March 14, 2014

Corn for My Jaw

One never knows when the things growing in their backyard will come In handy. As a farmer who grows corn, I never imagined that it would turn to be a medical treatment. Yah, I know kinda crazy. Yah I know, the corn used is probably not directly from my field, but it is the same crop.... Corn!   

Over the last few years I have developed a fairly a severe click in my jaw. I have tried oral orthotics, stopped eating certain things, chiropractic care, and even electrode therapy. Nothing has worked to heal my jaw joints. So, I thought I was doomed to either have to wear a mouth piece the rest of my life or deal with the clicking and grinding. I thought that until my orthodontist recommended prolotherapy , Simple injections of a solution made of water and corn sugar! 

So what does it do? Well it is simple. Sugar in general is an inflammatory. It causes inflammation. So, when this solution is injected into the join, the issue slightly swells and it causes the tendons to constrict. Thus causing my loosened tendons to constrict and my jaw to move properly. So, how long does each treatment last about 2-3 weeks. It seems like it should last a bit longer, but one has to remember that the more the join is used the more quickly the reaction to the solution dissipates. So, I go back every 3 weeks to receive more, each time I go the dose is adjusted based in the results. Eventually, I will be able to spread out the treatments as my tendons will has "relearned" what they need to do and where they need to be, as well as, retain some of the tightness that has been lost over the years, but reintroduced through this therapy.

I am constantly reminded that the family farm I operate with my husband and our employees is much bigger than just food and fuel. We are providing products that are used in products on the shelves at stores, in medical supplies, and in construction and manufacturing materials. I am thankful for the hands at work who grow these crops, the minds that are structured to invent new uses, the technology to transform, and the industries and people who put these crop based products into our lives and use them on a daily basis! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Farmers + Politics = An Essential Combination

Farmers become involved in politics for no other reason than they have to. For it is those at the table that make and influence decisions.We live in a time when most of our state and national representation are from urban and suburban areas.
(ND Legislative districts- concentration of districts around the towns of Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismarck, & Minot)

It is also a time that the majority of our representatives are so disconnected with agriculture, farming, ranching and agribusiness that we need to become involved, share our stories and ask questions regarding proposed legislation and current law. Farmers are involved in politics to limit the constant threat of an over burdensome government. We live in a time where environmental, animal welfare, food safety, and nutritional special interest groups are driving policy and practices based on the amount of money they can sink into a campaign and the amount of fear they can drive into people's hearts.

Farmers become involved in politics as a way to connect with those representing them.
They become involved to put a face and a story to actions being contemplated. Farmers provide a specific examples of how certain rules or practice guidelines will be beneficial or detrimental to their business. Farmers become involved so that they can be knowledgeable, help their family farm and businesses prepare for the future, defend their heritage and rights as a property owner, small business owner/ operator and invest in the future of the land, agriculture, and their families.

Farmers become involved in politics because if it is not us, the farmers, then it is everyone else. If we don't get involved now, then when?
We know that we need to be present, active, and knowledgeable so that we are not forced to compromise our beliefs, heritage and future and risk the demise of the oldest industry and the backbone of our national economy at the hands of those who "think" they know what is best for us, but have never asked.

So, step up and get involved. Agriculture today and tomorrow needs you!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Vacations, Viruses, Vomit, & the Virtual World

After being gone at the national Farm Bureau Annual meeting in San Antonio, I arrived home to a tidy house, some closets cleaned out, and sickness! 

My four year had come down with Influena! Which means, coughs, fevers, weeping eyes and lots of snuggle time! It also means that we all get to be on Tamaflu! Yippee!! 

In addition to a virus (or several I presume- given the runny noses of other kids), I was greeted with a phone call from the school letting me know that my 10 year old had vomited in the hallway! Yippee #2!! So of course we go and pick her up and she is instantly better! Supposedly her stomach was irritated by the Tamaflu! So she got to hang out at home and get her bed and bathroom clean and homework completed! 

As a result of Vacation, Viruses, & Vomit, most the work I had planned on doing got put on hold again. Except for the privilege of the virtual world for meetings and work!  This was a lifesaver! When the "sickies" were resting and cleaning I was able to attend a meeting to develop a 501c3- nonprofit corporation, download forms that needed to be submitted and respond to several business & personal emails and work on a presentation! I must say that when times throw plans into a tizzy, the virtual world saves me every time!!

So, I ask... Would all this have happened if I had been home or is it payback? Hmmm... Most likely not too much would have changed... Viruses and vomit strike no matter what and the virtual world is something I depend on regularly. So, the next time I attend a meeting away, I simply pray that everyone is healthy upon my return so we can enjoy each other in healthy times.... 
"Vacations" don't make viruses and vomit!!

Friday, January 3, 2014

My New Year

As I set out this morning to gut and organize my office, I stumbled upon items that had been tucked away for years! Yes, years! Talking more than 5 and I only moved into my office 3.5 years ago! 

Some things like old teaching materials, grad school notebooks, magazines, dried  out markers and yes, a backpack with snacks, I was EXCITED to find and throw away. But it was the miscellaneous projects from my kids, materials from projects and classes I have taught, pictures and a few books that made my heart jump for joy. I paused to ask myself how do these things get shoved to the back? How can I bring them and new things of similar importance to the front of the closet, cabinet etc? 
Ok, the obvious is organization! The next step is to throw more things! And finally I decided I needed to let go of so many things that eat away at me, my sprit, my energy, my being every day. Some of them I control, but many of them I don't. 

So in 2014 I tackle letting go and being more gracious! I think I will start with finishing cleaning the office and then placing these next to my bed....  I wish you all well in 2014!