Last Saturday, I had the privilege of hosting an Alumni Day for our Sigma Alpha chapter, Alpha Xi. As co-chair of the event, I also got to help pick the speakers and Jamie Johanson was at the top of our list. Last spring, I had a class with a great person who definitely has a passion for agriculture and is proud to show it. While I didn’t get to listen to her whole speech, I did get to tune in when she started talking about sharing our passion. She was the reason I started my blog last year, and after listening to her talk, I was ready to show my passion to the world once again.
My family is REALLY into the whole photography thing so I figured I would show my passion on Facebook, through pictures of the farm and what we do. Yesterday, when I got home for fall break it was too dark to start sharing my passion so I vowed I would start today. Within a couple of minutes, I learned that sharing your passion through photography was a lot harder than people let on. Without a smartphone, I set out with my own camera, only to find the batteries dead and of course, no extra batteries anywhere in the house. Luckily, my sister allowed me to use hers as long as I ‘was really careful with it.’ So I set off down the hill to find the horses, armed with a camera and a mission.
I had had that perfect picture running though my head. Everyone has seen one, the beautiful horse loping with their mane in tail flowing in the wind. After catching Chex, I realized problem number one: it had rained recently; therefore the beautiful shiny coat would not be involved in any of my pictures. On to problem number two. Have you ever tried lunging a spirited horse while also taking pictures? Practically impossible!
So once I realized that lunging a horse would not be the product of my photography passion, I moved on to a new ‘perfect picture’. The one with your horses ears in the bottom, showing where you are riding and the path ahead of you. I was almost successful in finding a ‘Facebook worthy photo’ out of these but I still wasn’t satisfied. I was ready to give up. I turned Chex back out and led Rowdy to the house to saddle up for a ride. After a long, satisfying ride, I took one last picture.
I realized that my passion can’t be made, it has to be found. And today I found it in a sweaty horse, tired from a good ride. Tomorrow I might find it in checking the cows, or riding the four-wheelers. Even though my passion changes, I’ll always know that I can find it in the wide open spaces that I call home.
A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from my Contact Me page saying that two blogging gals wanted me to be featured on their blog the Faces of Agriculture. I was so excited! After looking into their blog, Elizabeth Martin and Jamie Rhoades have come up with a fantastic way to get the word out about what is happening in agriculture around the United States. Featuring farmers from different aspects of the agriculture industry, they are allowing people outside the industry to see what really happens on the farm. Go check out my story and this blog. Great job ladies!
This morning, while I was watching the news, I finally got some good news. And I’m not talking about the world news or politics, I’m just talking about the local weather. When good ole Zach came on channel 13 and said we had a 40 percent chance of rain, I was ecstatic. While most of Missouri is under the clutch of a drought, it seems like our farm is been completely squeezed of all water. The grass that normally feeds our animals is turning into the consistency of straw and the ponds are almost two feet lower than normal this time of year. If we don’t get a decent amount of rain soon, (hopefully today!) we have two options. One is to start feeding hay, and to start feeding hay in June is every farmer’s worst nightmare. The second option is to start cutting the herd, which isn’t a very happy option either. Either way we could really use the rain.
With it only being June, that means the rest of the summer could be rough on our little family farm. April and June are usually are wettest month but this year we are almost 5 inches behind in rainfall totals. All I can say is I really hope the sky opens and finally let our pastures get their fill of a thirsty Thursday!
Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads out there! Since yesterday was Father’s Day in all, I figured it was time to take the spotlight away from myself for awhile and focus on one of the reasons I am who I am today- my Dad.
For almost twenty years now, I have looked up to the man I call my Dad. He is the one that has pushed me to always do what’s best and never looked down at me when I failed. When I wanted a horse, he gave me a horse and a mule (after much convincing that I didn’t need them though!) When I was having a rough time in BIO 120, he had just the right words to raise my spirits and keeping studying. My dad taught me how to respect, how to listen, how to love and, of course, gave me my sarcastic flair.
Dad still teaches even when he isn’t around. In 2007, the summer before my freshman year of high school, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Steve Markway left for Iraq. Leaving for a year was bad enough but leaving your wife and two daughters to manage the farm for the whole time was even worse. With two weeks’ notice on leaving, Dad jumped into gear- teaching Mom how to drive the truck and trailer, Bethany and I how feed hay and drive the tractors and all of us how to live without him for a year. In just two weeks, we finished hay, we moved cows, and most importantly we learned-what Dad did for us and how we had to do it for ourselves. That year passed slowly, with each morning starting with an email from dad and an email back and the weekends were graced with an occasional phone call. I will never forget the first sight of Dad in a year, walking into the building with his unit for the final formation. But it was all worth it, because as Dad always says- “I work to farm”.
Farming is the thing that brings our family together, especially my Dad and I. Some nights all we do is work on the pulling tractor with ten words spoken the whole night but I wouldn’t trade those nights for the world. To me, my Dad is not only the best farmer in the world, but he is also my hero. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!
My first time loading round bales was definitely an experience. Three days out of college for the summer and just finished with finals, I didn’t think my brain could take any more concentrating. But during hay season anything is possible.
I started off the day by following Dad to the field on what I thought would be my designated tractor-a 6200 John Deere- for the day until I realized that I had the bale spear on. As soon as Dad slowed to a stop in the hay field, I abandoned the seat on my tractor and walked over to his. After climbing up, Dad showed me the vital parts- throttle, brakes, and then pointing to another random stick, stated “that’s a hand clutch” and jumped off the tractor and headed for his own. I just stared after him. I shoved the 630 John Deere (yes another John Deere, we are a green tractor type of family) into first and started to learn by doing. Soon I was working that hand clutch like a charm, and hauling bales fell into an easy pattern. Enter field, trade tractors and unhook trailer, follow Dad around to fill trailer, sit in the shade and wait for Dad to fill other trailer, up The Hill, wait for Dad to unload and start all over again.
Mainly a lot of waiting on my part until Dad decided it was time to add a little more to my work load.
That’s when the real experience started. Instead of trading tractors as normally planned, I was motioned back to the 6200 to load my own load of hay. This is the point in time where I wish someone had a video camera to compare the difference between Dad and I loading the bales. When Dad loaded bales, he barely slowed the tractor to pick it up before jutting off to put it smoothly on the trailer and zooming off to the next bale. (If you can zoom around on a tractor)
Meanwhile, I SLOWLY drove up to the bale, stopped, picked it up and then continued on to the trailer. After finally getting to the trailer, it was a mess of forward, backwards, up and down motions just to place the one bale on the trailer. Then the process started all over again. Needless to say, I only got to load two trailers of bales before Dad took over again so we could finish before midnight. Even though I only got to load two loads of bales, it was still a successful day in the hay field with my Dad!
Two weeks after starting, hay is finally done! This hay season was extremely hectic for my family because Bethany got selected for an international agriculture trip through I-CAL. (More information on that later!) Which just happened to fall right after her college graduation and in the middle of hay. Since we were missing a family member in our hay process, this year was a learning experience for me. My current experience in the hayfield consisted of a raking disaster and bringing water to whoever was working. I joined in the actual hay process only to put square bales on the elevator to the barn. But not this year! This year, with it being so warm earlier in the spring our hay went early and Dad had our smaller hay field cut and baled by the time, I got home from Missouri State University. Sunday, we broke the ‘day of rest’ rule and hooked up the tractors early to get all of the round bales hauled out. When the day began, I had no idea how to work the hand clutch on our 630 John Deere and I was scared of The Hill.
The Hill is the worst part of hauling hay with loose gravel covering a long steep hill on the only road to the hay barn. But by the end of the day, I was working the hand clutch like a pro and The Hill was just a measly bump in the road (not really, it still stresses me out a little).With the smaller field done, we moved right into the next field. Or should I say UP to the next field.
Our farm is full of steep rocky hillsides so not only did we have to conquer The Hill but we also had to go down another one before that. Before we could start hauling bales out, I got a lesson in raking the hay. After my fiasco of raking a couple years ago, I was not excited. Rounds later, I dropped Dad off and raking by myself ensued. I must say once I had the hang of it, I was the best hay raker around.
Not only was I raking by myself, but I had learned how to drive my Grandpa’s 444 International tractor; marking my hay education up to three different tractors. With hay season just now over, there are still more adventures to come!
Ever heard the song Harvest Time by Luke Bryan? Even though we don’t have crops, we are in the middle of hay season and this song pretty much sums it up! With cutting in the morning, raking and baling in the afternoon, and putting the dry hay away in the evening, there is barely enough time to eat and sleep much less blog. But there are a ton of picture opportunities!