Sep 19, 2016

Images become Words



Stories begin when an image translates into words.

This is one of my favorite images from a recent wedding I attended. The couple had gotten up to go get their food. I turned around and saw Mike’s jacket and Tana’s veil resting on their chairs in the back of the barn.

I snapped a picture of this moment because it was the beautiful beginning of the new chapter in this young couple’s lives. Even though they were not present at the table, their belongings they left behind reminded me of why we were all gathered together to celebrate the love these two had for each other.

Images cannot be heard and sounds cannot be seen. Think about that; and how our senses work together in telling the stories of our lives.

How are you telling your story?

Are the words, sounds and objects you leave behind delivered the way we would like others to perceive them?

Jul 30, 2016

Broken



Former President George W. Bush gave a speech at the Dallas police memorial.

A statement he made really stood out to me and resonates with something I've been struggling with internally for several months. Even years. More so now, than ever.


Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions.


I've had this struggle of judging broken people when they're at the worse. When they've hit rock bottom. When they need me [you] the most. 


We also do that as a country here in the United States of America. We judge people when they are completely broken.

The last two weeks, I watched the Republican National Conventional aka the 'RNC' and the Democratic National Convention aka the 'DNC'. 

In my 30ish years of living, this is the first political convention coverage I have watched in full. I don't have any to compare it to. I was never into politics but my interest has increased in the last few years. However, now, as a young adult with a home, a business, a community, a State and a country I love so dearly, I want to be more involved and informed.

After Hillary gave her speech Thursday evening and many late nights staying up to watch the keynote speakers, I woke up yesterday morning after the DNC was over with and thought to myself, okay, now it's time to get back to my regular scheduled programming

But what's regular scheduled programming? The time between Memorial Day, the 4th of July and political conventions? A time where we forget our Patriotism and our civic duties as a United States citizen? Is regular scheduled programming when we temporarily stop caring until we need to again? Is regular scheduled programming the day after the 4th of July when most people take their American flags back down?

Needless to say, like most of the country, I am disappointed in the way both parties turned these conventions into a contest. However, if you talk to someone who has been following politics forever, supposedly it's always been like this. Things just seem exceptionally bad. The name calling. The finger pointing. There are so many issues going on in the world right now and no one is going to be able to fix them over night. I know more about Donald Trump's and Hillary Clinton's skeletons than know about my best friend's or husband's. We dig way too deep into a politician's closet of the past.

The thing is, I don't care about Donald Trump's or Hillary Clinton's skeletons.

We put far too much pressure on our politicians to carry a perfect life.

We put far too much pressure on our politicians to be the one to fix things

Some think our political parties are broken and that they have hit rock bottom. BECAUSE we put so much emphasis on those skeletons.

However, the answer is not to abandon them during a time we are needed the most.

What would you do if your best friend or loved one was putting themselves through something so awful that no matter what you say, you can't get through to them? Do their actions make you feel guilty by association?

Do you just give up?

The answer should be no. We don't give up on people or groups because they're broken.

We must live our lives by example so we can provide a manual to help fix the broken.

My presidential candidate is not perfect. I don't expect them to be. They were once broken as we all have been. I know that if elected, they will continue to learn by example.

My beliefs are not perfect. At one time I thought they were, but as I continue to listen and learn from others, I realize we must meet in the middle. We must compromise.

We all come from many different walks of life. Of course we are going to have opposing views.

But how do we compromise on beliefs that are polar opposite?

[ w e   s i m p l y   c a n 't ]

That question leads me to believe that as a country, we may always be broken. We will never be perfect.

And that's okay.

That means we have 

freedom of speech.

But.

Those on the right have lost their freedom of speech because our beliefs are not always politically correct.

The fact that our nation was founded as 

one nation under GOD

is now considered to not be politically correct. 

What?

So now I have to worry about offending someone with the my American Flag and Christian values.

That, my friends, is what's broken.

"It is from this engagement and deliberation of opinions regarding our political processes that our democracy and freedoms are upheld. While we may not always agree, it is through a healthy exchange of perspectives and experiences that we strengthen our service to the principles that founded our great country." --Mayor Blair Milo, La Porte, Indiana 

Now it's time to go back to our regularly scheduled program. You know, the one scheduled on July 4, 1776.

Jul 6, 2016

Skinny Moscow Mule

Almost a month ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to travel to North Dakota to visit friends Jenny at Prairie California and her husband Mark (Also known as @sunflowerfarmer on Twitter!). I took away so much from our trip to North Dakota. Jenny is as fabulous cook and always on top of the latest trends. North Dakota was beautiful and we enjoyed learning about the agriculture, the German Russian heritage and the way of life on the prairie. However, one of my favorite memories is sitting in Jenny's kitchen for hours chatting away. 

As we were chatting, she whips out a copper mug and asks if I ever had a 'Moscow Mule' before. I had heard of them but never actually have one. Before I could answer, she's already whipping one up!  

Jenny slides the copper mug across the counter and I take a sip of one of the most light, refreshing drinks I've ever had.

That's when I fell in love.


Jun 29, 2016

Life Unfiltered


A lot of people wonder what farmers do while their crops are growing. With today's technologies like GE seed (otherwise known as GMOs), the herbicide Round Up and crop monitoring apps, we are able to leave the farm, share our stories and engage with the rest of the world.

After work last night, I traveled to our state's capitol and spent today serving Indiana Corn and making decisions that impact all of us farmers and the industry we love. I love it but this introvert is exhausted. My husband spent the day helping a customer with his combine. No lunch. No dinner. And a smashed thumb. He's exhausted.

No matter what our days are like, we always get to come home to our 4th generation farm to carry on a legacy.

And that's our ‪#‎unfiltered‬ story.

I may not always have time to write a blog post but with tools like my iPhone, I can take a minute to share a little bit of my world on various Social Media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Sometimes people need just that. A quick glimpse into someone else's world to better understand a situation.

Farmers, ranchers and other rural dwellers need to share their story. We may never completely understand what goes on in the city and those who live in the city may never fully understand what goes on in the rural areas. However, I have dreams that with social media, we will do better at connecting and understanding each other. We will someday work together and build a better place for us all to co-exist.

The generations of folks removed from the farm increases as our communication barrier decreases. We have everyone literally at our fingertips now.

We must all come together to share in each other's needs.

That was the point of starting this blog, Old Blue Silo back in 2011.

I wanted to share a little piece of life on a small 4th generation Indiana farm with those who have been removed. I wanted my readers to understand that things are just not done the way they used to be. I don't stay at home and can, quilt and hang my clothes out to dry while my husband drives an open cab ractor in overalls and a straw hat.

I wanted to connect with other farmers across the country like myself.

I have done just that.

I've made connections off and on the farm. I've built a small community. A safe place where readers who come back time after time know they can ask questions about agriculture or the rural lifestyle.

It didn't happen over night.

Advocating for the rural lifestyle and agriculture has not always been easy and it's still not. There have been many late nights and early mornings. Lots of traveling. Many tears. There's been more sacrifices than I can count. I've had to give up many things but at the end of the day, I know I'm doing exactly what I am meant to be doing.

I know that attending a Farm Bureau board meeting after work, reading a CNN article, listening to a podcast on leadership, or writing a blog post here at Old Blue Silo is far more important than that next episode of the Voice or whatever people are watching these days. 

Do you know how many of my 951 friends on Facebook posted about the Brexit and the situation over in Europe? 

One.

One, you guys.

We are already spending time online. We are already watching something or reading something. We are already visiting with people. Why not make the things we do high impact? Does what you do have meaning? Do you share your passion with others? Do you talk to the same people all the time or do you network with someone who is different than you?

Don't just let the days and a filtered world pass you by. 

I once thought ignorance was bliss.

However, I quickly learned that ignorance is lonely.

Jun 25, 2016

HIGH EXPECTATIONS


Hanging out in my flower beds at our homestead every summer has become a favorite pastime of mine. 

It's been fun cultivating, planting, digging and watching what comes out of the ground every spring and summer.

Some of my plants over the years have turned out exactly as I expected and others have been quite a surprise. 


[ Much like this hydrangea that was blue when I purchased it. ]


In many ways, my flower beds have been very comparable to life. I've cultivated, planted, dug and watched myself grow over the years.

Some of my life has turned out exactly the way I expected it and other events have been quite a surprise. 

Some of these surprises have been the outcome of the wrong expectations.

[ Such as expecting my flowers to be full and bountiful the moment I sink them in the ground. ]

I think it's human nature to expect things to happen a certain way or within a particular time frame. 

However, much like my flower beds, we need to sit back and enjoy the growing process. 

[Our lives, similar to my flower beds, require a lot of cultivating, planting, digging and watching.]

I believe it's okay to have high expectations and high standards, but are they within means of your available time and other resources? Once your expectations and standards become unrealistic, you're automatically setting yourself up for failure. I see some of the most successful people fail themselves all the time. They don't concentrate on how much they have accomplished. They concentrate on how much they didn't accomplish. They're never happy or satisfied because it's merely impossible for them to be.

I'm constantly letting myself down every summer as we never, ever, and I mean EVER tackle our ginormous summer to-do list. From putting rock around the pond, to tearing down more fence and planting a few more trees... it all gets moved to next summer and eventually the one after that. 

And you know what? I'm beginning to realize that, that's okay

As long as we are doing the best we can, crops are in the ground growing and our home doesn't look like an episode off of Hoarders, I think we are doing pretty good. 

I've decided that this summer, it's not about how much we get done, it's about how much we grow.

So, if once again, I forget to put the coffee grounds underneath my hydrangea plant so the flowers are  blue all summer, that's okay. They're still growing.

[ I use a Keurig anyways. I'd have to murder a lot of K-cups. ]


Jun 2, 2016

LESSONS FROM AN OLD PRAIRIE DOOR KNOB


My husband and I recently had the opportunity to take a trip out to Ashley, North Dakota, an old farm town full of German-Russian culture where my friend Jenny at Prairie Californian lives. If you don't know Jenny, she transplanted to Ashley, ND after marrying a sunflower farmer. I plan on sharing you more about our vacation, what I learned about North Dakota culture and how mine and Jenny's friendship formed. But for now, I want to share with you one of my favorite moments from Ashley, North Dakota.

Jenny is a very talented photographer and enjoys the same subject matter that I do including old farm homes. Of course she had to take us out to some of her favorite places including this old little house pictured above. We took a few shots from afar and as we drew closer to this old home, my eye kept drawing towards that front door housed by a little porch.

My imagination began running wild as I began thinking about how many times someone ran inside and outside of that door. As we approached and I was able to get even closer to the front door, the old rusty door knob caught my eye. I stared at it for a long time.

I wanted to touch it, but I couldn't.

It wasn't mine to touch.

This doorknob was turned by a farm family of eleven children. 

Eleven lives were raised in that home. Eleven lives that all had an impact on this little North Dakota community.

I'm sure if door knobs could talk, this one would have some stories to tell. 

It's interesting to think about each time the doorknob turned as each child went out out that door for the last time. 



Which direction did they go? 

Every time we turn a knob and walk out a door, we make a decision. Sometimes we choose to go places we dread. 

Sometimes we go places we love. 

Sometimes we go places we've never been. Those places may changes our lives forever. 

No matter where we go, ‪#‎home‬ will always be the place where we made our very first choice. 

And #home is where we will make our last...




...because home is where the heart is.




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.