Well, days off aren’t really much off a day off for a farm mom of three. Today Cord is in second grade trying not to clip down for talking. Ella is off somewhere… (I know she told me – twice I think, and I even signed a permission slip. But I was talking, yes, talking, Brian and I were definitely talking – insert aka not yelling at Cord while I was listening to Ella and signing that form about where she was going today. Please tell me other parents get like this!) Anyway – she is off at a land judging competition thing for 4-H/FFA. And yes, even as agriculture literate as I have gotten over the years, I have no clue what you judge about land – I mean it’s dirt, it lays there and if it rains it turns to mud, but if you would like a really long winded description just ask my 12 year old or her Dad.
And, now, to the point of this post – finally – Brie and I are in Clay County volunteering with Farm Safety Day, while Brian is in Overton County volunteering with Ag in the Classroom.
So, of my five family members – four of us are doing Ag stuff.
So, for my non- agriculture friends, which according to the most current stats would be most of you, what are Farm Safety days and Ag in the Class room days???
It’s where the county school system and teachers and volunteers (either Farmers and Farm Bureau Federation – not just the insurance part spend their day doing Ag in the class room) or farm Safety volunteers where TN wildlife, farmers, lawnmower owners, electricians, TVA workers, Hospital employees, EMS, THP stuff like volunteer to talk with kids for a day. It’s a full day interacting with kids about things they might never have seen otherwise.
Actually, since Brie is a 5th grader she went through all the stations and I helped some awesome up and coming advocates for agriculture tell the story of American Agriculture to what you would think would be fairly rural kids, but even out here in the sticks where I live (there is no stop lights in my county – no I did not make that up) only one kid per group of 12-20 would raise their hand that they live on a “farm”. We started with terms of where “horse power” came from, what a “spring house” means, and why momma pigs are kept in special pens to keep us, then, and the baby pigs safe during a right after birth. One of the first things i learned coming into Ag from the outside is how awful so things sound to people that are actually very safe and healthy for the animals. But because we don’t tell communicate the need for tail docking ( keep other pigs from eating the tails and making the injured animal sick), farrowing crates (keep momma pig from eating her own baby or laying/stepping on one or keep two momma’s from fighting), etc. We just devolve in fights and look like heartless bad animal haters to some people.
But as a good agriculturalists we should be the first to admit that their are bad apples in every bunch and work the HARDEST to root them out when found!!!
So, we talked about how agriculture had changed over the last one hundred years, about how much farmers care about our animals/land/food, about how safe the American food supply is, what makes a good a GMO, what organic means, about how less than 1% of America farms today and the Average age of those farmers is over 62, how fast the population is growing and why as a doctor I worry about that. I talked about how few farmers we have to feed the growing population and what some things they can do to help farmers. The kids did great stressing that it’s OK to have a food choice, but not to let their food choice leave others to starve.
I could not be more proud of those growing advocates. I look forward to seeing Cora, Heath, Clark, and Peyton do great things for agriculture. Of course, with UT extension leaders/4-H leaders like Randle Kimes and Wendy Key guiding them, they will do just fine. One of the hardest things I have had to learn to do as a OCD, type A overachiever is to step back and let others lead, but I was proud of the kids today teaching Ag advocacy as adamantly as I have ever done.
Got more questions about American agriculture – then I have a few sites and blogs I would recommend for you.
Hungry for Truth this is a blog about food and facts from South Dakota farmers themselves.
Cause Matters – gate to plate blog run by a dairy farmer and agriculture advocate in Indiania (disclosure, she wrote a book and I am actually a guest writer in her book)
JP loves Cotton – OK you really cannot go anywhere in Ag and not read Janice’s writing. Yes, she works for Monsanto, but guess what so do a lot of really intelligent science type people that have never been near a farm, but they are working to keep those billions of people from dying of starvation. So, if you have issues with GMO or Monsanto might want to skip this. As a perk, Janice’s site has a very nice site of Ag blogs in general to look at.
Like I told the kids today, I have a very live and let live ideology. If you can afford free range, organic, locally grow – go for it. I am not gonna stop you or tell you other wise. But please don’t make the single working mom or dads of the world feel bad because it’s all they can do to give their family food stamp milk and cheese with canned beans and chicken twice a week and frozen food other nights, because at least their trying. And in my mind we need a lot more trying and a lots less judging thank you all very much.
I spent the day with these kids as the TN Cattlewomen’s representative and Brie’s Mom. So, maybe between Brie, the animals, the other adults, and everything today we have helped bring a little farm to these rural but not agricultural kids.
Here are pictures from Brian’s day in Overton County Ag in the Class room. He does the Ag Trivia station. You would be amazed how many third graders think chocolate milk comes from brown cows – yes I am really serious.
For someone who started out in our dating life notliking to talk in public, it looks like he has gotten over it.
All in all, it’s been a great day. Even if my name is still MUD to my Mom (for those new readers my Mom lives with me since she and my Dad got a divorce over 11 years ago, yes my husband is a great guy) because I still did not go to Wal-Mart. See, I was really hot and tired after today and no sleep last night. I am going tomorrow- I hope. I am learning I do better as a Mom, a person, and a wife with a little less self judgement- trust me there is enough food in this house we won’t starve or even get really hungry for at least two more weeks. It’s just not the food every body wants.
Oh, well, I hope by sharing this days adventure you too in the electronic highways and byways may learn about our little old farm too. I also hope you learn to love you friends and family every day for who they are, not who you want them to be. You only get them for a little while anyway.