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Nov 10, 2016

Rural America

Rural America.

My home. 

My passion.

We face some crippling issues. Drugs, jobs, safety, education, infrastructure, agriculture, health care, poverty and small business are among many of the issues I had in mind when I voted for my elected officials on Tuesday.
We are going to talk politics for one second. This is my blog and this is my voice

My educated husband and I both work full time. In our spare time, we advocate for and grow the food and energy our world consumes. It's our passion and our calling. We do it on ground that's been in the family for four generations. 
We voted for the right people who will protect Rural America. The place we call home. We voted for the people that will keep it possible for those who want to farm or own a small business here. For those who want to raise and educate their families. 

We voted for those who will give the military the resources they need to protect us and provide for our veterans.

I'm sorry for those who call that hate

Instead of wasting days protesting against so-called 'hate' and burning our American flag, tutor a child. Help an old farmer bring in his crops. Coach a little league team. Get a part time job and save for your dreams. Visit a nursing home. Bake a pie for your neighbor. Detail your grandma's car. Mow someone's lawn. Babysit for a busy mom. Serve on a board of directors. Adopt a family for Christmas. Pick up the trash along the roadsides. Buy a coffee for a lonely man with your last dollar. Help a widow pick up sticks.

That's what we do here. In rural America. That is how you show love. 

You won't see us protesting in the streets. You won't see us skipping class or work because we didn't get our way. We have work to do, people to love and a community to save.

You can learn a lot from rural America.

Oct 17, 2016

New Venture

PCSarah Straeter Photography

Ever since I was a young kid, I had a passion for art, design and writing. When it comes to art, writing and design, I've experimented with just about every medium possible. Well, besides welding. And ice.

During the long winters in Indiana, between going to basketball games, sledding and riding the snowmobile through cornfields, you would find me holed up in my room at my parent's farmhouse coding websites, journaling and creating digital illustrations in Microsoft Paint.

After finishing college with a degree in General Studies with an emphasis on Graphic Design, I graduated from college during a horrible job economy. I had two choices. Take what I could find in the area or move away.

This Hoosier girl wasn't moving away.

In fact, I ended up 10 minutes from my parents on 120 acres in a barn house I designed, married to a farmer in a little river town without a zip code.

I always struggled with what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Job-wise, I took what I could get for the next several years as I did some free-lance design and writing work on the side. I've sold fasteners, worked in a retail, loaded trucks, wrote service tickets at an ag dealership, supervised a diesel shop and assisted at our county Chamber office.

One weekend I was going through my office at home and found some boxes from my old room at my parent's I hadn't touched in 12 years. Inside was a book called, The Meaning of Life, I was going to toss into the Goodwill pile.

But I hesitated.

Oct 8, 2016

New seasons. New support.

When one thinks of the seasons, they think of  Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. The seasons that dictate whether or not we wear a jacket or plant flowers.

Most of us don't realize that our lives also have seasons.

Our lives are made up of a series of seasons.

We may not have fun names for them like Spring or Summer and they may not appear on the exact same months on a calendar every year. The seasons of our lives are very tricky.

There is not a calendar for life. We don't know when our current season will change.

As human beings, we are impatient. We want things to happen now. We want what our neighbor wants. We get discouraged when we are not seeing results. Sometimes we are enjoying the season we are in, but annoying leaves start falling in our yard. Or it starts snowing.

When we become impatient, we start acting and thinking with our emotions. We take our emotions and we use them to beat ourselves up and sometimes we beat up others in the process. While we are busy beating ourselves up, we are missing the beauty of the season. In the fall, it might be getting chilly, but I sure do love the beautiful colors and I cherish every second. We do the same things with our lives.

In order to be happy with what we have and who we are, we need to come to terms with the current season of our lives. Your current season may not allow time for you to get to that home improvement project, your boss may not have the funds to give you that raise or it just may not be the right time for you to go back to school or there may be a person who just doesn't fit into your current season. As we wait for that next season, we have to adapt in our current environment - much like we must put on a coat in the winter to face the cooler weather or plant flowers in the spring when it's warm.

I think one of the hardest parts about facing a new season is realizing there may be some people in our lives who aren't experiencing the same weather you are. It's hard for us in Indiana to understand what those are going through in Florida with Hurricane Matthew as we bring in our corn and soybean harvest in the crisp, cool, gentle air.

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


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.


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. 


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, 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


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


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


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


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!

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