March 12, 2017

What I know now: Advice to my younger self (Ag Edition)

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve read a few books and articles about what that one piece of advice would be for others, and it got me thinking. What would those in our industry have to say?

I asked and never thought that I would receive over 140 responses (5 pages worth actually) that varied from continual learning, business management, relationships, taking risks, confidence and so much more. It was so hard to choose but I narrowed down the tweets and compiled a list of my favorites…and added my advice as well. Please click here to see the list of all the great responses.

Thank you to everyone who replied to my question. There is so much wealth of knowledge and experience in our industry and it’s humbling to be able to share this advice with you.

My Favorites

-Play the hand you were dealt with like it was the hand you wanted @rjohnson7707

-It’s ok to say no, sometimes, learn how to say no without feeling like you need to explain why. Easy to get stretched thin! @StaceySagon

-Never assume you know how anything is going to go. @GoddessofGrain

-Just relax… crops will get in… crops will get harvested. Just friggin relax @sf28430

-Make that phone call…@ButterfieldBeef

-Go for it. It’s a great career, don’t dwell on mistakes you make along the way. Enjoy the ride. Be positive. @gmjochum

-The most successful people know how to implement Plan B @Sask_Mover

-Spend lots of time cultivating business relationships where both people can benefit. @RonKrahn

-Not only know your numbers but know what lender expects, so you can see warning signs early. @MaxROIfarmer

-Make people earn loyalty. Just because your family dealt with a physical location means little for your business success. @rgstone1

-Know your numbers. Understand the basics of financial management. @JoanneLidback

-Ensure everyone in your operation has the same vision and goal. @WadeMcNeil

-Not everything can go off gut instinct and not everything has to be penciled out to death; has to be a mixture of both. @Vranschau

-Don’t just work towards goals. Have some fun along the way. Also, eat more bacon. @WDSchumm

-Have confidence & conviction while taking the road less traveled. @JenSchweigert

-There is more to gain in a tough year than a perfect year, so don’t give up on a crop. Reduced tillage shines in adversity. @JerryKreuziger

-Develop strong relationships with industry people. There is a wealth of knowledge out there. @Chad_ChadRoss

-Trust yourself. Your path will be different from their’s. If you continue to learn you will be successful on your own terms. @TimHammerich

-Keep open mind about where you may end up. May not end up in area of your degree, etc. Don’t pass up an opportunity without looking at it! @Brian_Voth

-Take more Agronomy courses in college. Buy that land that you thought was too expensive… cause it won’t get cheaper!! @KowalchukFarms

-Don’t compare your farm to your neighbors. @OwenEDennis

-Stay in school, the farm isn’t going anywhere @bradproud

-Make money when you can, not when you have to. @ebenkampfarms

-Professional development is important, and the relationships you make at conferences will pay you back fast! #ageducation @KoreyPeters

-Make some time every day to learn something new, on and away from the farm. @hort4cy

-Use a dust mask in the bins, wear hearing protection and lift with your legs. @chrichtonhotel

-Get involved. If you don’t speak up someone will speak for you. @GustGD

-Find someone who is an industry leader or innovator and go work for them for awhile #learnfromthebest @BrentDouglas88

-The things you think may be impossible usually are not. And when you’re up shit creek don’t stop paddling @LMcLachlan60

-Don’t let farming take over every aspect of your life. Make some time for friends & other interests. It’ll keep you sane. @Willpenrievans

-Be a “student of agriculture.” Understand the areas where you lacking knowledge/ experience, and get the training you need. @FrmerAtHerTable

Mine would be:

When purpose, passion and skill collide, bliss happens. Be kind and smile. It’s good for the soul, it’s contagious and it attracts. And have fun! When you have fun, you can do amazing things.

What would be your one piece of advice that you would give to your younger self?

Cheers,

Lesley

February 27, 2017

We all should be done with The Food Babe and her Fake News

No one is going to stand up for us. Our story doesn’t exist if we don’t tell it.

As an agriculture industry, it’s all of us standing up for science and agriculture and having a voice. It’s all of us sharing what we do, why we do it and how we care for the land and animals. It’s sharing the love and pride that goes into producing food that our families eat. It’s debunking myths and sharing the truth. It’s understanding when fake news is no longer news and is detrimental to our industry. It’s putting an end to those who spread fear and lies and who are not the experts.

The Food Babe, you are not an expert in science or chemistry. You are not an expert in food or in agriculture, and you most definitely are not an expert in changing the world.

However, you are an expert in taking advantage of people and I’m done.

I’m done sitting back and watching you spread lies and erode the trust we have in our food system. I’m done with you harassing scientists, bullying companies and silencing those who express a different opinion than yours and state the truth. I’m fed up with you using the legal system in the way it wasn’t intended for to cherry pick e-mails that would cause harm to others while costing taxpayers thousands of dollars. I’m fed up you with you using buzzwords as click-bait headlines and false information disguised as news so you can attract attention and make a quick buck. I’m done with you spreading fear that causes others to think that farmers don’t produce safe, healthy food and we don’t care about the environment, animals and families who buy the food we grow and raise.

However, I am not done with standing up for science.

The science that brought insulin to save those with Type 1 Diabetes. The science that saved the papaya and is reducing food waste. The science that helps my farm produce more food with less resources and helps us be better environmental stewards. The science that is helping my land be in better condition when we pass it on to my children. The science that is trying to save the citrus industry and thousands of children from Vitamin A deficiency that causes blindness and death.

Standing up for science is more than marching for it on one day of the year with a sign. It’s more than myself making a comment on your Facebook page about actual scientific evidence or information as to what happens on our farm that contradicts your claim, only to get blocked seconds later and find out that you banned ten thousand others who also disagree with you. It’s more than watching those who do such great things in our food industry get drug through the mud time and time again. It’s more than turning a blind eye, scrolling past and letting a few do this on their own.

I’m putting my money where my mouth is and standing up for science, food and my farm.

I’m calling bullshit on these scare tactics, bullying and constant attacks of agriculture, science and the food chain as a whole.

Stand up for the truth. All of us. Everyday.

Must read articles:

#1 – http://kfolta.blogspot.ca/#!/2017/02/food-babe-vani-hari-attacking-public.html

#2 – http://gawker.com/the-food-babe-blogger-is-full-of-shit-1694902226

#3 – https://www.realagriculture.com/2016/12/fake-news-also-plagues-ag-and-food/

February 15, 2017

What Does Agriculture Mean to Me?

It’s dirt. It’s blood. It’s tears and sweat. It’s dirty hands and long days and nights. It’s disease. It’s death and then it’s life. It’s beautiful. It’s the feel of crisp air in the morning, the smell of fresh dirt in the spring and canola blooms in the summer. It’s driving down the road in the truck with the windows rolled down. It’s a two-finger wave.

It’s walking through your crops and checking your animals every day. It’s packing a basket with treats and wine to go on a date night in the combine. It’s stopping your harvest to help a neighbour in need to finish their’s. It’s rides in the tractor with your kids that turn into sleepy eyes and long naps on the cab floor. It’s everyone gathered in a circle, enjoying a harvest supper in the field. It’s watching the sunrise and sunsets from inside the cab. It’s that long hug when harvest is over. It’s that gut feeling when you sell your first crop to the market.

It’s food. It’s that long conversation with a stranger on an airplane about all the food our crops make. It’s that smile you get when you drop off a casserole. It’s passing plates around the dinner table with family and friends during the holidays. It’s that glass of wine or beer at the end of a long day.

It’s love. It’s fate. It’s passion. It’s what some of us live and breathe every second of our lives.

To me, if I had to sum up what agriculture means to me based on all the things above, it’s family, pride, life, hard work and resiliency, innovation and love.

Family – It’s about my great, great grandparents and my children’s children. It’s working so hard to continue the tradition and provide opportunities for the future. Some of the fondest memories I have are growing up with my grandparents, parents and siblings on the farm, eating suppers in the field, hoeing miles of potato hills, crop checking on the back of the quad, the numerous trips into town to get parts, and so much more. It’s watching my children learn values that can’t be taught in school, that will last a lifetime. With my family around, I feel supported, encouraged, and loved. I feel at home, part of a team and working towards something bigger than myself. Farming creates close family ties that make our lives rich in so many ways.

Pride – It’s about caring for the land because we want our kids to farm it. It’s about being good stewards and protecting our natural resources. We take great pride in giving back to Mother Nature as we are thankful for what she gives us. It’s that feeling you get when you grow food that my kids eat and others put in their grocery cart and serve at their dinner table. It’s about doing the right thing, making a difference and the feeling that comes with it.

Life – It’s about the life we see every spring and harvest that teaches us so much about birth, growth and maturity. How we watch the land and dirt we care for provide a crop for us and food for others and their families, that in return puts a roof over our heads and food on our table. It’s also about seeing my babies change and grow so much every year; from being in a baby wrap with me on the combine, to holding them on my knee, to not needing me to go with them. It’s watching how tall they get when they stand in a wheat field. It’s knowing I’m measuring my life by not how much I have, but what I’m accomplishing for those around me.

Hard work and resiliency – I’ve seen tears stream down my dad’s face when we lost our crop one year. I’ve seen him not eat and not sleep. I’ve felt his quietness and stress. I’ve also seen him move forward, small steps at a time to overcome challenges we didn’t think we could get through. I’ve seen him brainstorm ideas and be on the phone for hours to think of different ways of doing things. I’ve seen the long days and even longer nights that he worked to save our farm during the bad times. I’ve felt his perseverance and seen his light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve seen the smile and heard the laugh which meant we’re okay. I’ve felt the hug that knows, with or without the farm, everything was going to be alright.

Innovation – It’s about the possibilities and opportunities that are endless in agriculture. It’s about being one of the most adaptive and innovative industries in the world. It’s about working amongst the best and brightest. It’s about learning from the challenges and always growing. It’s about being able to grow crops through a drought and developing new markets to sell food to. It’s about creating new techniques for using less resources on more land. It’s implementing better precision equipment and creating new seed genetics and technology that results in added nutritional benefits, reductions in food waste and life-saving medicine.

Love – Agriculture is about love. If we didn’t do what we loved every day, we wouldn’t be here. Some days and years are hard but we are surrounded by those we love. It’s the feeling when the year was great and saying “maybe next year” on the tough ones. It’s the love of what we do and who we do it with. It’s in our blood and what we were meant to do and I am where I am supposed to be. Farming has made everything possible for me.

That is what agriculture means to me.

I’d love to know, what does agriculture mean to you?

September 14, 2016

Natural Doesn’t Mean Better

We may mistakenly think “natural” is good, safer, healthier and will pay a premium for it. Companies know that. Heck, I gravitate to those products because they make me feel like I am doing the right thing by buying their product.

But just because there is a label on your food, doesn’t necessarily make it better than the alternative. Chemicals are in everything. Even water is a chemical 😉

“Those who prefer natural products often put honey in their tea instead of dreadful processed sugar. Sugar is white death, apparently, but honey is full of natural goodness. What these people might not know is that honey also contains small amounts of hydroxymethylfurfural. I don’t know what hydroxymethylfurfural is, but if it was in white sugar, the all-natural crowd would condemn it as toxic.”

My friend who shared this article said her motto is: Everything in moderation, and that includes moderation. As a mom, I don’t have time to research all the ingredients on a food package. But our food system is one of the safest, most regulated in the world. So I don’t feel guilty when I put that frozen pizza in my cart once a week and buy that shampoo that doesn’t have a natural label on it.

Article: http://thestarphoenix.com/opinion/columnists/no-one-ever-died-from-eating-highly-processed-cheez-whiz

September 10, 2016

It’s More Than a Shirt

Originally posted on Facebook

I have been so excited to get this shirt!!!

My friend and fellow Saskatchewanian, Cam of Houle & Sons Dairy got over 1000 retweets with this message about farming which resonated with so many of us.

He was angry and bitter about how farmers were being taken for granted and went to Twitter to voice his frustration. It went viral almost instantly. He shares his story in more detail about what led to his frustrations and what he’s learnt from it all: https://www.realagriculture.com/2016/04/frustrated-consumers-story-behind-viral-venting/

“Here’s the bottom line: Farmers know how hard we work to produce our goods, and how hard our lives are, but it’s still the life we choose. We choose it and we love it and if we don’t, then for God’s sake, get out. If you don’t live for what you do and love it, then please stop doing it.

What we do not know as farmers is how hard it is to live in urban areas and survive that life. If people are not from farms and don’t spend time on farms, it’s hardly their fault if they do not understand how our farms, our families and our lives work. Our job now is to show them, and to help them understand. And to give them the opportunity to accept or reject what we show them.”

Since then, many other people are trying to take advantage from this tweet’s popularity and started to sell merchandise. If you are interested in purchasing this shirt, please go here and not the other sites who stole Cam’s tweet: https://shop.spreadshirt.com/1130714/definition+of+farming+by+cam+houle+in+black-A57b359d0f6c60d7f645d862a-1130714-288

Please give Cam a follow. I’ve learned so much from him over the last year. He’s real, candid, funny, honest and gives it his all every day, no matter what.

 

September 8, 2016

We Call Her Gus

Let me introduce one of the members of our team. We call her Gus. She’s named after her previous owner.

She isn’t pretty but she helps get the job done, for the last 20 or so harvests. You can tell which field is ours when you drive by because she’ll be there. She’s reliable. She’s only left us stranded when we (and it’s our fault) forgot to fill her up with gas. She’s part of some of my fondest memories growing up on the farm and has seen and heard it all. I remember learning to drive and having to take a pillow to prop under my butt so I could see over her steering wheel. She’s been part of suppers in the field and long talks standing up against her in the yard. She’s helped deliver meals, get parts from town, and been the best crop tour host out there.

Every piece on our farm has a name and every piece has a story. The story of where we’ve been and what we’ve gone through.

Because you can’t understand where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve come from.

Gus helps make that happen for us.

 

September 4, 2016

Move Aside: It’s My Turn To Drive

I always put my kids first. As a mom, it’s what we do without even thinking. They’ll be dressed like they should be going to church and I’ll have barely brushed my teeth. They’ll have ate and had their nightly bath and I’ll forget if I even had breakfast. They’ll be in every picture and video and I hope I’ve made it into that annual family selfie ☺️

But there is one thing where I do put myself first. And that’s the combine.

I know it’s also high on everyone else’s list. The season is short and we are only at the farm a couple days a week. It’s the highlight of the season and their year. The boys live and dream for the combine.

But not this time. I only get a few chances so I run with them. Even if they might cause a lil’ pout.

Move aside please…it’s my turn to drive this thing.

September 1, 2016

Harvest: Stopping to Stare

It’s September!!! September means back to school, pumpkin spiced lattes, scarves and……harvest 😉

We’re combining canola today. It’s yielding better than expected too. Yayyyy!!!

I took this picture a few days ago on our way to the farm during the sunset when the skies were filled with dark clouds. It was breathtaking with the glow and rich colours of fall and harvest. I just had to stop and stare.

August 30, 2016

The Little Red Wagon

I think every farm has that little red wagon. This one still has some life in her, even after 30 years.

To some, they may see just a toy. But it represents so much more:

Multiple generations
Smiles
Laughs
Sibling throat punches
Tears and tumbles
Preservation
Hard working
Can get through the little bumps and steep climbs
Sometimes a leader, other times a follower and vice versa, but you need to work together, as a team to push forward
Gentle enough for precious cargo, but strong enough to haul a heavy load
At times, you need to choose to go slow or fast
It doesn’t have to be the fanciest or newest to get the job done
Both play and work
Memories
Family
Love
Life

Actually, this red wagon sounds a whole lot like farming….

 

August 27, 2016

City Girl but Country Heart

My family and I’s situation is a bit different than some farm families. We don’t live on the farm. We actually live far away. My hubby, boys and I live in Regina because of my ag marketing career, which I love. But our farm is 2 hours north of the city which makes things a bit tricky at times, especially during the busy season.

Even though it has its challenges, we make the best of it and there are some really great things about living and working in the city. But we love the farm. It’s where we are supposed to be. When we turn on the grid road from the highway, the boys start to laugh and do the happy dance in their seats. They are up at 6am ready to farm and they stay up late in hopes they’ll get one last tractor ride for the day.

I feel bad because we aren’t at the farm full time and a part of me feels like I’m not contributing; that I’m not a farmer or farm wife. But I am in different ways. One day I’ll be on the combine, the next, meeting as a family to talk about safety, and then running after kids as I try to help make supper, even if it is for just a few days here and there. No matter what it looks like, we’re all working for the same goal and future.

During harvest, the kids and I make the trek to the farm on Friday nights and come back to the city on Sunday. Even though it’s crazy busy, it’s views like this that make me appreciate and be grateful for everything in my life. The kids let me stop and smell the roses…..or hay in this instance.

Nothing beats the country, its view and being on the farm.

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