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May 4, 2016

What you Plant Now, you'll Harvest Later


Planting has been in full swing here in Northern Indiana. Many farmers in the area have most of their corn in the ground but we are currently held up by the rain. We had a nice stretch of dry, warmer weather for about a good week and a half. It was just enough to give everyone a good start. This is typical in early May and during planting season. God loves to practice our patience to make sure we still have it sometimes.

It's always during this time, that I fall in love all over again with our life here on the farm. I admire my husband and his dedication to always having a good management plan to make sure our crops are in the ground every spring. Sometimes he stresses over the weather, the equipment and logistics of seed and crop protection applications but I reassure him if he does his best, that's all he can do and the rewards will come later.

Coinciding with planting corn and soybeans here in Indiana, everyone has been gearing up for Indiana Primary Elections. Many of us have been following along with the Presidential race. It's been an exciting ride and the coverage has been pretty extensive. I've enjoyed the fun political rivalry with office staff and friends. Beyond the Presidential race, however, we've had a few local candidates I have been following and supporting within the county and district/state. A good buddy of ours decided to run for County Commissioner. We live in a very rural county and a lot of the younger generations have moved away after high school. Some of us have stuck around. Most of us are farm families or families that want to raise the grandkids in their hometown with grandma and grandpa. Getting younger folks involved in the community has been a challenge. It was exciting for me to see this young man make take a leap of Faith and try something he's never done before. 

Yesterday morning, Election Day, I woke up earlier than usual to make sure I had plenty of time to get to the polls before work. I pulled up to our polling location, a little community center located in our forgotten little town along the Tippecanoe River. We don't even have our own zip code. We "borrow" one for our county seat. 

I jumped out of my truck and looked across the road at the tiny little church and the pretty wooded area that followed the lines of the river. I took a breath of fresh air and felt a sense of freedom. As I strolled up to the building, I ran into my buddy who was running for commissioner. As I gave him a friendly punch in the arm, I smiled and said, "BIG DAY!" We both stood there nervous and excited. I performed my civic duty, said my goodbyes to the gals working the polling location and headed back out to get into my truck. As I sat there, I watched my friend pull away. My eyes welled up in tears as I thought about all of the underprivileged countries that don't get to vote on their leaders or run for office and stand up for their beliefs, dreams, hopes and passions. I thought about the future of our rural county and how a young man woke up one day and decided he was going to make a difference.

Work was long that day. Everyone was anxious for the election results. 6:00 pm rolled around and votes were being tallied. I pulled up to the courthouse and walked in, joining my mother in law and saw some of the candidates dressed in their Sunday's best. We all joked around and talked about the day. Everyone shuffled their feet back in forth and stretched their necks out to watch as the tallies were being written on the dry erase board. 

As each township came in, we watched my buddy's opponent bring in slightly more votes each time. My heart was sinking but I remained positive and hopeful on the outside. Inside, I felt truthfully, either gentleman will do a great job but I knew how much my buddy wanted this opportunity.

As the final results came in, he realized he didn't win but stood there with a smile on his face. Many folks tapped his arm softly and said similar things like, "We are proud of you kid!" 

And they should be.

And he should be proud of himself. He did his absolute best. 

Much like in farming, the young seeds we plant now, we will harvest later. All we can do is do our best and the rest will fall into place. Whether you are farming, running for political office, raising children or climbing up the career ladder, remember that your attitude and your actions you plant now will shape your future. 

Corn doesn't grow over night and neither does success. 

Mar 2, 2016

Rustic Coffee Table Styling

I've always enjoyed finding interesting pieces to incorporate into our Barn House.  Everything that comes into my home has purpose, a rhyme and a reason for it's invitation. I say invitation because yes, I am that picky about my decor. 

When people walk in, they enjoy how all the colors and pieces flow together. No matter what style you choose, it's very important, if you want your home or business to flow nicely, you need to be picky about what you hang on the walls and what you place on your furniture.

This is especially important for simple pieces we often take for granted and use to fill up space such as a coffee table

A coffee table can easily be the focal point of the room if you find an interesting enough piece and you style it correctly. If you've inherited a piece that doesn't fit with your particular style and you do not have a large budget to purchase something different, you can look at the option of refinishing or repainting. 

Once you've established a piece that fits with your decorating style and serves as an attractive focal point, you must next style it with similar-looking pieces.. Styling a coffee table is important because if you don't pay special attention to what you place on it, you can take away from the attractiveness of your piece. 

My husband and I have tossed around the idea of getting a fun coffee table for our living room. I have really enjoyed the idea of a coffee table repurposed from a tractor hood.  Someday, when we pull the trigger and bring a new coffee table into our home, this is how I would style mine. You can also apply my ideas to your own coffee table!

Jan 8, 2016

Cows, Barns & Ball Jars... Just a few of my Favorite Things


The holiday season has come and gone and we've started another fresh, new year. As I was taking down my Christmas decorations and giving my house a good deep clean, I enjoyed looking back through all of the cards and gifts I received from loved ones and friends this year.

This past Christmas, I participated in my third Christmas in the Country Gift Exchange that is put together by some amazing Ag Bloggers across the country. Each person who signs up for the exchanged is paired up with another blogger that he/she has to send a gift to. The match ups are a secret until the packages are received.

This year, my name was drawn by the author of Little House on the Dairy, Miss Adriane. Adriane has also published a book, Hello, My Name is Single. I've enjoyed poking around Adriane's cute blog and learning more about her. In fact, she just had a baby so I am quite impressed with the package she sent me considering I know she had other things to get ready!

Nov 26, 2015

Gratitude Creates Blessing



Every year, come Thanksgiving, we sit back and think about all the things in which we are thankful. 

In my previous post, A World Worth Living,  I asked, "When you look to your left, what do you see?"


Today I am going to ask, "When you look to your left, who do you see?"

Whether you're gathered around a table passed through generations with a home-cooked meal, around the TV watching the Lions play the Bears or hanging out in a hotel with pizza, who is surrounding you today, on the day we give thanks for all that we have? 

The other day, I heard an ad on the radio that really bothered me.

Verizon is not having a Thanksgiving sale. 

They're having a Thanksgetting sale.

Thanksgetting, people.

Granted, I know Verizon is just trying to market and sell a product with catchy words. But let's really think about that word.

Thanksgetting.

Now, let's think about that single mom working the only job she can find in retail, whose been scheduled to work on Thanksgiving Day just so someone can get their $200 TV or $10 sweater a day earlier.

When this woman looks to her left, she won't see her family. She won't see her dog. She won't see her friends. 

She will see two people fighting over a Smart TV. 

It's time for a change in this world.

More gratitude and less attitude.

Every. Single. Day.

365/7

Nov 19, 2015

A World Worth Living


I was driving home from work after a mentally exhausting day. No, week. But, that doesn't make it a bad week. Not at all. Because I get to do things that I love and sometimes the things we love exhaust us.

A million thoughts were running through my head as I pulled up to a stop sign near home. Right then and there, I felt like I reached a point where I could no longer find the strength to keep that gas pedal going.

I looked to my left and saw this. I have been so busy that I haven't been able to see the sunset in days.

I rolled down the window and turned the vehicle off. The crisp, cool air hit my face.

I sat there at that stop sign for five minutes. In silence.

There's a lot of sad things going on in our world right now. Things out of our control. Things we may not understand right now. Things we may never understand.

We are all at war, fighting a battle.  

When you look to your left, what do you see? What are you fighting for?

This is not just another picture of a sunset in my neighborhood.

This is my world.

The reason I keep pressing the gas pedal.

My world is worth fighting for.

Is yours?

If not, it's time to change your world.

Nov 8, 2015

the year's last, loveliest smile



'Tis true, Mr. Bryant.

It was only a matter of time.

I don't give a hoot what Starbucks puts on their red cups. Christmas is like, 100 weeks away.

I haven't even had my turkey yet.

For now, I'm going to sit here, enjoy the beautiful colors and listen to the geese honk as they fly south.

Maybe I'll fly south.

Oct 31, 2015

Why do Farmers Take Down Old Barns?

This post is sponsored by Indiana Family of Farmers

Do you ever wonder why farmers take down beautiful, historical barns? As a farmer and member of the Indiana Barn Foundation, I get asked this question a lot.
This subject is a hard one for me to swallow. I understand the farmer's perspective but I also understand the one of a historical preservationist.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Last Chance for Indiana Barns, barns built before 1950 are falling at an alarming rate. Historical barns are no longer practical for today's production agriculture needs. As more and more people have moved off the farm and into the city, current farmers have taken on the burden of producing more and more. Livestock herds and machinery sizes have grown tremendously in the last 60 years.

I often hear that farmers are "selfish" for buying ground with an old barn on it and just knocking it down. I don't necessarily see the person performing the common act of tearing down an old barn as selfish.

A farmer or property owner has to look at their financial well being. If you own a barn that is falling in, you have a dangerous structure on your property that puts you at a liable risk if yourself or someone were to get hurt.

One may have an appreciation for barns like I do, but may not want to put the funds necessary in the restoration. It truly is a tough, financial decision to make and that's why I understand it. 

Just to give you an idea of the financial burden to put a new roof on a barn, you are looking at anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000. To repaint a barn properly, you are looking at $8,000 plus. 

By this point, we are close to $40,000 in the hole just on a roof and paint.

Now, look at the home where you live. Let's say it needs a new roof as well.

If you only had enough to repair one structure, your home or your barn, which one are you going to choose? 

More than likely your home.

To put things in perspective financially, owning a barn is like owning a second home.

Oct 17, 2015

Farmer's Beef and Noodles




I first experienced harvest with my husband's family 7 years ago back when we had just started dating for a summer. I remember riding in the combine with Dan for many hours on end until his mother's vehicle came rolling up through the field. 

Staring at the corn feeding into the head, he glanced up and casually says, "Lunch wagon is here!" 

We climbed out of the the combine and walked towards the vehicle as the broken corn stalks crunched under our boots. Kathy opens up the back of her vehicle and there it was.... a whole spread of food. Almost an entire Thanksgiving dinner, if you will.  She had everything from the main entree of beef and noodles with mashed potatoes and creamed corn to an appetizer of cheese and crackers to your choice of iced tea or water and even dessert. I was also even shocked that she had brought her table ware right there to the field! No Styrofoam plates or plastic cups and your drink was served out of a mason jar.

I was honestly expecting sandwiches tossed into a brown bag so this was a surprise. 

And right there began my first of many, many multi course meals in the field. 

Aug 7, 2015

A Foundation for Tomorrow


Driving down an Indiana back road, you'll come across an overgrown lane that leads to a place that once was. There's one on every rural block. The sun will set and rise again over these old farms. Day after day. Year after year. Until they are no more. Our modern lives can coexist with these landmarks of our ancestors. If we let them. We've been so caught up with making things newer, faster and more efficient. The wool is slowly being removed from our eyes as we realize what we have been throwing out.

I spend a lot of time traveling our back country roads especially on nights like tonight. The weather fair, a beautiful sunset as all is quiet on the horizon. As if not a single soul is around for miles. It was a perfect Friday night to end a busy week.

Life just feels so busy at times. The moment I wake up in the morning until that very moment I am lying in my bed at night stretching my eyes open just one last time, my mind is racing a million miles a minute. 

But the moment I come across an old, abandon homestead, my mind completely stops. My busy life stops for just a moment.

A moment long enough to realize that there is more to this world then our present. 

Amongst our present is a world that has completely and utterly stopped.

Our history.

History is a precious reminder that life isn't forever. 

History, however does live on forever. 

The lives we live today are creating a foundation for the lives that will live on tomorrow. 

And I think that's why I love these old farms so much.

These old farms have created our foundation

A foundation that has been truly forgiving and understanding in this out with the old, in with the new  world we live in today. 

Aug 6, 2015

Last Chance for Indiana Barns



Historic Indiana Barns built prior to 1950 are falling at an alarming rate.  

To paint you a better picture, I often hear a chilling statistic.  

Just over a decade ago, 30,00 barns painted Indiana’s rural landscape. In this past decade alone, we have lost 10,000 which leaves us with only 20,000 barns.

You may think that 20,000 is a big number. What you don’t realize, is the amount of barns on the verge of falling down in the mix of that 20,000.

This means 2.5 barns have fallen in the Hoosier state EVERY SINGLE DAY in the last decade.

Many historical barns need a new roof, a new foundation and new siding in order to survive.

You and I both know what’s keeping many from replacing a roof, foundation and the siding on a historical barn.

Money.

It all cost money. 

A lot of it.

Families who inherit a historical barn upon purchasing their property struggle with replacing the roof on their home, let alone a barn. 

There are also many families who can afford to put money into their barn but don’t understand the need to.

“Interest in barns is wide. People don’t hate then. They just don’t understand them.”

Jul 7, 2015

Growing Season




About this time of year, my husband and I get asked a certain question on a daily basis from colleagues, friends, neighbors, etc.

How do your crops look?

Typically in agriculture, we call this the growing season. I think it's the hardest part about a farmer's job.

Seed is in the ground. Pesticide and fertilizer have been applied.

Then, it's time to watch the crops grow.

What makes this the hardest part about farming is the unknown. We don't know how much or how little rain we'll get over the course of the summer. We don't know if once the seed is planted, we will have a late frost. What kind of storms will we get? Will our crops have hail or wind damage? What about insects and fungus? Will there be a weed that takes over?

It's all up to nature.

I think this spring and summer have been exceptionally hard on our local farmers here in Northern Indiana. Four years ago we had no rain. This year we have way too much rain. Too much rain could be just as bad as not enough ironically.

Jun 23, 2015

Homestead Versus Industry


I was recently asked to help out a friend with some photography for a Father's Day gift. This friend's father, uncle, brother and cousin operate a relatively large grain farm in my neighborhood. I've grown particularly fond of this family through their modesty, honesty and hard work. I've recognized their good character since I started dating my husband years ago before I even lived here.


Just like any industry, it's easy to lose touch of your roots as you grow and become successful. 

But, you don't see that when you visit the Ron Clauson farm.


May 29, 2015

Been Thirty




So. I've been thirty. For roughly... two weeks. But not quite.

Thirty.

Spffffffffffffffffffffttttttttttttttttttttshhhhhhhhhh.

Phew.

And you know what?

It feels good.

But.

I'm not going to lie. I was dreading my 30th. I moped. I wined. I cried. I curled up in a ball and hollered for my mom. She didn't come though. I don't think she could hear me at 20 miles away.... but it was worth a shot.

A good friend and I were texting not long before my birthday. We were making plans for the weekend. I said something along the lines of, "Let's go do something fun. I am going to be thirty. Eek!"

She replied back with some words that I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my life.

30 is only a number, Kel. You will be just fine. You are successful, admirable and so thoughtful. Just adds more wisdom to your years.... It's all about how comfortable you feel with who you are in life.

Well, I am glad I have her fooled! ;)

But seriously. She is right.

It truly is about being comfortable with who you are.

You hear the saying, 'The best years of your life' a lot. Some may refer to those years as being in high school. Maybe those college years. Some may refer to those years at retirement. Some as newlyweds.

But really, how can you define the best years of your life when you don't know what's yet to come?

I mean, honestly.

We don't know what tomorrow will bring. Heck, we don't know what next year will bring.

Life. Is full of surprises.

So, to sit back and say you've already experienced the best years of your life is, well, crap. (Sorry for using the word, mom. My brother and I learned it on the school bus when I was in like 3rd grade and I remember getting in trouble for using it.)

I challenge you.

Whether you're 3. 30. or 93.

Go out and have the best fricken years of your life.

Every. Single. Day. For the rest of your life.

May 12, 2015

Hope


We have been in the midst of planting field corn and soybeans here on the farm. I always fall into a different state of mind when we plant crops, have crops in the ground and harvest the crops. My passion for agriculture tends to grow more and more each spring.

Along with my hope.

From April to November, there's a lot of hope.

When we want in the fields, we hope it doesn't rain.

Once we get in the fields, we hope the equipment runs smoothly.

Once seed is in the ground, we hope it does rain and we hope it doesn't frost (or snow).

We hope it rains enough and not too much.

When it storms, we hope it doesn't hail or we hope the wind doesn't blow too hard.

We hope it's warm but not too warm.

During harvest, we hope the rain holds off until all the crops are out.

We continue to hope the equipment once again runs smoothly.

We hope for safety.

We hope that we are doing all the right things so that our land is fertile for next year and years to come.

We hope the commodity prices are in our favor so we can pay operation bills so we can break even and maybe even make a little extra.

We hope that someday, we will have the opportunity to rent more ground.

We hope that we would be making our ancestors proud.

Hope, in agriculture, is just as important as soil, water and air.

Hope is more important than money.

You can buy the best equipment, the most ground and operate a nice grain facility but if you lack hope, you're going to fall.

Hope in agriculture is something that money can't buy. It's something you're born with. Hope lies deep within your passion and love for the industry.

Hope is what will carry you through the hard times and it will carry you through the good times.

It's not something that can be put in a will, or forced upon someone, but hope is something that can pass through generation to generation.

Hope is a choice but it's a choice your heart makes; not your mind.

I wake up every morning and I see the hope in my husband's eyes. It's what drives my hope.

Hope allows us to dream. It allows us to follow our passion. It allows us to believe in ourselves.

Without hope, we wouldn't have soil, we'd have dirt.

We wouldn't have a passion, we'd have a job.

Hope. 

It's a word you can't see but you can feel it.

Even when everything seems to be going wrong, there is always hope to make everything right.

The only thing I don't have to hope for is hoping we are where we're suppose to be.