Behind the Company

As a farm wife I so often hear people talk about their love and support for farm families and local farms. The moms and dads, brothers and sisters growing wheat and hogs is exactly who they want to purchase their food from. But mention Tyson, Cargill or any company name and that love dissipates quickly.

It’s hard to love a big corporation. There’s no face, no cute kids and no great story of multiple generations working together and living on the same farmstead. But the truth is that our story is also the story of any corporate food company. The family farms, like ours, are the one responsible for growing and caring for the livestock, produce, corn and other food products that make their way to your plate via a corporate food company.

We raise beef cattle. From the time they are born until they time they are processed for beef, they are under our ownership and care (with the help of feedlot owners). Once the carcass has been processed and different cuts finalized and frozen, it’s off to the store or restaurant for consumers to enjoy.

You won’t see “Sawyer Beef” on the menu anytime soon but my husband still takes great pride in knowing that the steak at the high-end restaurant or the Big Mac you enjoyed for lunch could have come from one of the dozens of animals roaming our backyard or living somewhere on our farm.

Have faith in your food, it comes from farm families like ours. Their farm may be huge or teenier tiny, but it was very likely ran by family members dedicated to producing food and preserving the land.

Our Crazy Hectic Life

I always enjoy writing – not as much the forced, daily writing that comes with a journalism gig I once held – but the spontaneous, personal blogging that allows me to share our farm life and stories of raising crops and cattle in the heart of America.

Ironically, it seems that the same life I want to share is what prevents me from finding the time to write. But I love our life and love reading about other mom’s trials, tribulations and craziness and want to share our crazy with all of you.

First, let me explain our crazy . . . My husband is the fourth generation of his family to farm and raise cattle on our farm in Central Kansas. Right now we are in the middle of calving season, which means we will welcome a couple hundred new baby calves to our farm in the next three months. It’s a great season – who doesn’t love baby calves – but our mommas cows require a watchful eye and helping hand when things aren’t going right or the weather is not ideal for a fresh, wet baby calf to hit the ground. For almost two months, my husband and his father will take turns checking on the animal. That means he’s up every two to four hours morning, noon and night (not unlike a mother of a newborn). The cows take priority because their well being and livelihood is his top priority.

During other times of the year, planting, harvest and animal care keep my husband at the farm 60 – 80 hours a week. His job has never been 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and it sure doesn’t allow for weekends and holidays off. There are days I just want him home, but it’s not that easy. He’s the boss and the one responsible for it all at the end of the day so when work needs done, he’s the one to do it. This farm is our future and its our hope that this is here for our boys to return home to one day.

Then there’s my job. I have a great position as a District Director for our U.S. Congressman. I love my job and the responsibilities in my position, but it also is not a typical office job. I oversee staff and offices in a district that covers 63 counties and more than 47,000 square miles. There are days I can sit at my kitchen table while the boys play and nap and get my work done. But there are other days I’m on the road and unable to get home for supper or get my oldest to pre-school. I take the downtime and days at home when I can but my schedule differs widely every week and some meetings and travel requirements are simply out of my control.

And finally, there are our two adorable boys, Evan, age 4, and Owen, age 2. Evan is in pre-school and attends school four mornings a week. He just started his first sports activity – basketball – which practices Saturday morning. Owen attends daycare and for now, is just along for the ride. The boys rarely sit still but I know their busy days are still ahead of them. I look forward to baseball games and band practice but I get anxious thinking about the layer those will add to our already hectic family schedule.

Both of my boys have only known an unpredictable and somewhat chaotic schedule. I tell people who question our jobs and schedules that we are raising flexible and adaptable little boys who understand that you just gotta take each day as it comes and go with the flow! So far, they don’t seem to mind. We very much rely on a tribe of individuals, including siblings, parents, babysitters and friends to keep us going and our boys well cared for, and for those individuals I am forever grateful.

I would describe an average day, but I honestly can’t think of one. Each day is different and that’s what makes our family and lifestyle so unique. We don’t enjoy supper together at our kitchen table as much as I would like, but we find other ways to spend time together as a family – and sometimes that’s in the cab of a tractor or the side of the road in lawn chairs eating sandwiches for lunch.

I used to be jealous of those wives who had a husband home at 5:30 p.m. every evening and all weekend long. And I’m not going to lie, there are days I still wish that was our life. But I’ve come to embrace our chaos, enjoy the time I have with my boys and embrace the flexibility that is allowed in both my and my husband’s jobs. We don’t often have the same hours of open time but when we do, we sure try to make the most of it.

I know I’m not the only farm wife struggling to keep a sense of normalcy in our kids’ lives but there is something special and wonderful about growing up and raising kids on the farm. Add to that the opportunity for my boys to see what hard work, dedication to a job and commitment to a lifestyle and future means and required is priceless.

So for all you mommas with a mountain of laundry, a to-do list a mile long, a schedule that is never the same I see you, a get you and I say keep on, keepin on! To catch more of our crazy life, follow along on Instagram and Twitter @SawyerFarm and subscribe to this blog post at www.newtothefarm.com.

 

 

Women Lead Ag – Just Look Locally

I just finished a podcast about women in agriculture. It wasn’t your usual, more women need to farm, instead it focused on the lack of women in leadership and decision-making positions at the many national farm and food organizations. As someone involved in both policy and advocacy, this issue caught my attention. But it also caught my ongoing frustration with the conversations surrounding women in leadership roles (more about that later).

The podcast featured three women ag reporter and their first example of male dominance was at an American Farm Bureau Federation’s national meeting and the claim was that there was only one women in the room voting on policy issues. I can neither verify or dismiss that claim but I can say that men do normally outnumber women in the organization – at the national level. But as a women involved in Farm Bureau that doesn’t bother me. Why? Well Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization that derives all policy positions from the local and state level. So if we look not at the national voting delegates, they are merely taking marching orders from their states. So if you look the people sitting in board rooms on a Tuesday night in a rural Kansas community, you’re likely to find as many if not more women than men. That reassures me that women are and will continue to play an important role in shaping and implementing ag policy. Listen to the complete podcast at: https://simplecast.com/s/42337269

The same holds true for several other agriculture organizations that allow their membership base to determine policy positions and direction for involvement and action. The focus of male/female ratios should not be solely on the top of the organization but on the local level where decisions are made and input given for those at the state, regional and federal levels.

But on the larger issue of women in leadership. Sheryl Sandberg sparked a movement with her book, Lean In, that promoted 100 percent, no-excuses involvement at the workplace. Women should always be working toward the next promotion and leadership position. That’s all good and fine for the women who can or chose to be 100 percent career focused. But for the other 90 percent of us, there is more to life than professional success. There are children, spouses, friends, communities and all of the joy that comes in the small moment and downtime in our lives. Success at work is wonderful – I strive for it daily – but to declare that women must reach parity with men in all industries and walks of life, I have to raise my hand and ask the question if there are that many women who really want to give it all up to sit at the top of the company organizational chart. Sure, success sounds great and the money that comes with those positions would make many aspects of life simpler. But it would, no doubt, diminish time with kids, connections to the local community and the flexibility and freedom that comes with fewer work responsibilities. I, for one, am not prepared to give that all up just to even the playing field with men. I know how and where I can play a role in policy development and advocacy and have found that I can make a different from my farm and my kitchen table.

I trust and know that if and when women want to rule the world, they can and will. And for those women who have a singular focus on career and professional success, that time will come much quicker. But for others of us who want to be present for our childrens’ school plays and Saturday football games, that success may come later in life. Or it may never be fully realized at all because somewhere along the way we figured out there was more to life than a big paycheck and the corner office.

Distance Distorts Understanding

Conveniences in food purchasing and preparation are leading to continued decline in connection to agriculture

Combine and grain cart

We Americans want it all. We want the big paychecks and the 40-hour work week. We want well behaved kids but don’t want to tell them no. We want big houses but little upkeep. And we want the trendiest, healthiest and riches foods but none of the input required to get it to the table.

Today’s culture has become obsessed with cooking and all things food. We have multiple television channels devoted to cooking and culinary trends. Food retails were responsible for more than $500 billion in sales in 2016 and just recently, retail giant Amazon jumped into the grocery market, buying Whole Foods and sending shock waves through the industry.

But like all things in our busy lives, we don’t seem to actually have time to shop for and prepare these amazing foods we are insisting be found on our dinner table. Heck, we hardly have time to sit down and enjoy a meal. Grocery stores now offer online ordering and curb side delivery and if you can’t possibly make it to the parking lot, a dozen or so new companies specialize in delivering meal kits directly to our homes.

While all of this convenience is nice, it’s also a bit worrisome. At a time when we have become so entrenched in dictating food policy and eating habits not just of ourselves but others – see article on school districts reducing meat consumption of its students – we are farther removed than ever from the people, places and systems that grow our food and deliver it to the table.

I’m certainly not one to point fingers. I just polished off a frozen microwave meal and handed my children Eggo waffles as they walked out the door this morning. But I still believe in cooking and making the weekly trek to the grocery store to personally pull the boxes and cans from the shelves and throw them into the back of my always dirty car. And being married to a farmer, I get to witness each part of the growing and harvesting process. Today less than 2% of the country’s population shares my experience and understanding of the food system and that’s too few.

That decline in direct connection to food has been in stark contrast to the uptick in regulations, proposals and pushes to label, stipulate and mandate ingredients, growing practices and preparation techniques. We want unblemished products from untreated seeds and unprotected plants. We want healthy and balanced ready in 30 minutes and for less than $5 per person. We want our farmers and ranchers to raise products using outdated and ineffective growing practices but want to use 21st century technology to deliver it the next day to our kitchen table.

As American consumers, we have access to the most abundant, healthy and affordable food supply on the planet. Nowhere else can people enjoy so much for so little. But our push to move technology out of the field but onto our kitchen table has further distorted most consumers’ views and understanding of how food is raised and impacts our bodies and overall health. We want to see all Americans with equal access to all things healthy and gourmet but we don’t want to see farms grow or consolidate to realize the efficiencies necessary to produce affordable grains, beef and dairy products. People who have never in so much as peeled a potato want to tell others how and what to eat.

American consumers cannot continue to take a hands-off approach to purchasing and preparing food but insist on dictating how our farmers raise their crops and others get their nutrients. If consumers want to make decisions on meals, they need to be more involved in the growing of the food. But the more we walk away from buying and preparation, the most uneducated and uninformed we all become in regards to our food.

National Farmer Day: The many hats of a 21st Century farmer

It’s National Farmers Day. To many people, farming is a simplistic occupation and the farmer a nice but traditional man who plants the seeds and harvests the crop. But when I look at my farmer, I see a man who has 100 jobs, a million responsibilities and a variety of skills that serve him in all aspects of the job.

As I watched my husband work on the combine this evening, I made a mental list of his many skills, responsibilities and titles. Here are just a few roles and responsibilities he carries while “farming”:

– A veterinarian, administering treatments to sick animals

– A mechanic, repairing broken farm vehicles

– A technician, fixing broken implements

– A gardener, tending to his plants and checking soil health and moisture

– A truck drive, moving crops and cattle down the road

– A cowboy, herding cattle and moving them to new pasture ground

– A welder, repairing broken fencing and equipment

IMG_8731
The boys and I paid the farmer hubs a visit to the field tonight. We don’t see much of dad during harvest.
IMG_8739
The farmer and his father work to repair a bearing on the combine header. Owen provided supervision for the job.

 

– A caretaker, tending to sick animals and watching over newborn calves

– A nigh watchman, keeping track of the neighbors while he’s burning the midnight oil planting wheat or cutting soybeans

– A salesman, finding markets and opportunities for his grains and cattle

– A banker, managing his finances and planning for the next season

– An accountant, tracking purchases, paying bills and ensuring it all balances at the end of the day

– An investor, leveraging his equity in hopes of one day providing an opportunity for the next generation

– An advocate, standing up and speaking out for what he believes in

– A leader, donating his time to his church and community

– A son, watching his father and asking for advice along the way

– A father, showing his sons his passion for farming and the work ethic needed to make it in this industry

– A husband, providing for his family

– An agronomist, determining the seed variety best fit for the soil and region

– An environmentalist, protecting the ground and world around him while caring for the land they farm

– An engineer, using the tools and resources in his truck or tractor cab to craft a fix or render a solution to the problem

– An optimist, knowing the sun will come up and God will provide

In any given day, my husband is handling one if not all of these responsibilities. It’s all part of being a 21st century farmer. Farming is a way of life and farmer is a title bestowed only those determined and resilient enough to endure the hard times, long days and imperfect options.

 

 

 

The demise of the grocery store: removing another link between consumer and farmer

6.26.17 at grocery store
During our weekly shopping trip to our local Dillons Grocery Store, my youngest son, Owen, gives the bunch of bananas he helped select a kiss. I shop for our family’s groceries weekly and try to take at least one, if not both, of my sons to the store to educate them on food choices.

Jeff Bezos and his multi-billion-dollar company, Amazon, made news again this week when he announced the purchase of Whole Foods, an upscale grocery store chain that specializes in organic, natural selections.

Amazon has spent nearly two decades perfecting the mail-order business, allowing people, like myself, to bypass local retailers, traffic and the check-out line by simply ordering the product on my Amazon mobile app. Experts estimate nearly half of all American households use Amazon on a regular basis.

For those Americans who value convenience, Amazon’s entrance into the food world should be a welcome move. Now the retailer that specializes in delivering socks, diapers and books will be able to ship pasta sauce, dinner rolls and juicy red apples right to our front door.

As a mother of two ornery and energetic little boys, nothing makes me happier than to discover ways to make my everyday routine, errands and shopping trips easier. But as a farm wife, Amazon’s announcement is heartbreaking.

I must back up and note that Amazon is not the first business to disrupt the traditional grocery store model. A handful of companies have begun offering meal delivery services, essentially eliminating the need to visit the store or do the prep work for meals – food arrives in a box already sliced, diced and measured. And large grocery store chains have also made it possible to still purchase groceries locally but eliminate the need to step into the store with online ordering and curb-side pick up. All of these services are offered in the name of convenience, but they only serve to further remove the consumer from the farm.

While there is no substitute for seeing the crops in the ground and the animals at pasture, only seeing food in pieces or piles does nothing to help families connect fields to corn or orchards to applies. If children grow up not knowing what a papaya looks like in its original form – on the tree – then how do we expect them to know what a GMO food is and why need to use crop technology to avoid pest infections and disease?

To fully understand the need for crop technology, herbicides and pesticides, people must understand how food is grown. A recent poll found that 7 percent of U.S. adults believe chocolate milk comes from brown cows. Americans have basically become agriculture ignorant and taking the grocery store out of a family’s weekly routines means food now comes from the same brown box as shoes, coffee makers and hairspray. It has no originals, no life cycle and no environment.

The Economic Impact of the Grocery Store

Grocery stores do more than provide access to food. In my home state of Kansas, grocery stores are economic drivers and corner store of small, rural communities. Kansas State University estimates that each rural grocery store in Kansas has an average economic impact of a half-million dollars. Nationally independent grocery stores contribute a combined estimated $30 million in both salaries and taxes. Remove grocery stores from communities and you lose food access, jobs and financial contributions.

As an agriculture advocate, the grocery has served as a meeting ground of sorts, a place that we, as farmers and ranchers, can access consumers, talk about products and their and explain all we do to care for the animals and the land. As more grocery stores close their doors or consumers simply avoid physical locations all together those meeting places become fewer and fewer. Schools are devoting less hours to nutritional lessons and plant science courses and restaurants are creating their own – often false and misleading – narratives on how food is grown and raised.

I know the grocery store is not the most convenient or exciting item on the weekly to-do list, but it’s a vital component to connecting consumers and farmers while educating the public on what our food really looks like. Without a baseline of understanding or familiarity with our food system, consumers are at risk of completely removing themselves from the production and distribution process and taking yet another step away from the farms and ranches and produce the goods now arriving at their front door.

Trump’s First 100 Days: Through the Eyes of a Farm Wife

Apparently Trump is celebrating 100 days in office, or at least that’s all anyone in Washington D.C. can talk about these past few days. While I understand the importance of getting off to a productive start, I’m afraid the pundits along the Potomac have a very narrow focus on what constitutes success by the Trump administration.

Allow me to offer a different, perhaps, outside view of our new President, one that takes into consideration more than legislative victories.

This morning I had the extreme pleasure of hearing our new Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, speak to a crowd of farmers and ranchers. He was warm, humble, humorous, and put a smile on my face and hope back in my heart. After eight years of feeling like the USDA did not trust nor value the American farmer, I can say with 100-percent certainty that Perdue and the USDA will be a farmer-first organization devoted to supporting American farmers and ranchers and continuously looking for ways to bolster American agriculture and the farmers that feed the world.

Secretary Perdue
New USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue spoke to a packed crowd at the American Royal complex in Kansas City, Mo., Friday morning. 

His non-assuming style, southern twang and promise to follow the facts, listen to the farmers and push our president on trade and exports was just what the agriculture community – which is currently suffering from low commodity prices, high input costs and a changing global climate – needed to hear. This constituency waited nearly 95 days for a new secretary and is now eager to see what he can do to improve the farm bill and deliver regulatory relief.

But Perdue isn’t the only cabinet member that has rural America optimistic for a better tomorrow. Nearly six weeks ago, my husband and I had a unique opportunity to hear directly from EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt only minutes after he ordered the repeal of the WOTUS rule, which was illegally expanded and misused by the Obama administration. Never in my life did I believe the agriculture community would not only give an EPA administrator a standing ovation, but look forward to his time in office. Pruitt, who hails from farm country, has promised – and delivered – on efforts to roll back burdensome regulations and stop the flood of Obama proposals and rules that were set to go into effect this year. Second only to low grain and beef prices, regulations have a substantial and detrimental impact on farms and their bottom line.

Both Secretary Perdue and Pruitt were selected by President Trump and its these decisions and understanding of the type of leadership the USDA and EPA, respectively, needed to revive rural America and unbury industries from mountains of bureaucratic red tape that I give Trump an A. Most journalists and political analysts won’t consider these appointments in their assessment of Trump’s first 100 days, but for farmers like my husband and I these picks mean everything and provide a glimpse of hope and optimism in otherwise gloomy times.

I wish Perdue and Pruitt the best as they continue their work in Washington and look forward to reaping the rewards of their hard work and dedication to our great industry.

The Loneliness of Farm Life

I am on a group messenger feed with about a dozen other mothers that live in the nearby town. A few – like me – work during the day, but most are stay-at-home moms. The messages are usually invites to join someone at the park or reminders of story time or another kid-friendly activity taking place that day.

I often don’t respond. It’s not that I don’t want to join them, but that I simply can’t. I’m either at work, meaning I’m mile away at a meeting, or I’m home with the boys and therefore a 20-minute drive into town on top of getting the boys ready and piled into the car – so make that 45 minutes out given the sloth-like pace my 4-year-old choses to move in these situations.

April 2017 boys swinging
We put up a swing set for the boys last summer. With the nearest park about 15 miles away, it gets a lot of use on the evenings and weekends we are home without dad.

But the messages do more than send a small ping of mommy-guilt through me, they remind me of a group of girls I don’t get to see all that often because I married a farmer and therefore live a life much different than theirs.

There is a lot about farm life that differs from city dwelling – the obvious aspects of space, noise, fresh air and proximity to, well, everything. But the acres of open spaces and miles of farmland can sometimes be overwhelming and well, lonely.

My husband works a lot. And by a lot I mean pretty much everyday of the week – well beyond the normal 8-5. The spring is our busiest time of year – planting corn and soybeans, vaccinating and moving cows and calves to grass and watching over a maturing wheat crop. Family dinners are few and far between and many nights my husband isn’t home before 10 p.m. The boys don’t have neighbors to run with or a park down the road to escape to, so it’s just the three of us and our space, and sometimes that feels like a pretty small place.

I love my kids and cherish the time I spend with them, but talking about Lightening McQueen with my pre-schooler and playing peek-a-boo with my toddler isn’t exactly adult conversation. And on the days I work from home, I can go 12 hours without adult interaction.

The weekdays are hard but weekends are by far the worst. On Saturdays, when other families are spending time at the zoo or enjoying a lazy morning over pancakes and eggs, my farmer is out the door and I’m left to entertain two little boys for the day. In these times it’s tempting to turn to social media to see what’s going on in the outside world – because well, let’s face it, if your world is anything like mine it’s filled with dirty laundry, stinky diapers and messy kitchen floors. But instead of finding company, I find myself growing envious of the wives who get the joy of husbands each and every weekend and fellow moms who have a partner in crime to fight the dishes and weekend trips to the zoo.

And it’s not just the morning and evenings that cause me to miss my girlfriends. Since neither my husband nor I work in town, I have seen our friendships and connections to people and place unravel as time separates us. It’s not a conscious uncoupling (thanks Gwyneth) but a slow falling apart from different schedules and lifestyles that don’t allow myself or my husband to be part of evening get togethers or random “work” lunches. On the weekends when I am ready to hit the park or take a quick trip out of town, many of my city friends are enjoying family outings and not looking for a third wheel with two little boys.

The loneliness that comes with life on the farm can be overwhelming. As we enter planting season I know the stress that comes with being the only parent most days of the week and trying to juggle work, meals, laundry, yard work and whatever the boys need will be trying. My boys and I won’t see much of my farmer and outside of my work meetings and daycare drop off and pick up stops, I won’t see many friends or familiar faces. Even if an invitation for a get together is extended, I can’t ask my husband to hop off the tractor so I can sip wine with friends.

I knew all of this marrying my farmer and I know I am not along in feeling lonely and frustrated during these trying times. I try, everyday, to see the positive and blessings in this lifestyle – whether that’s a kiss and goodnight hug from my sons or the blissful quietness after everyone has fallen asleep. Farming isn’t a job or a hobby, it’s a lifestyle that encompasses not just the farmer but his family and loved ones. And while some days I struggle to accept this lifestyle and the restraints it places on my time and flexibility, I see the passion in my farmer and the vast and wonderful adventures that await my sons as they grow. It has afforded me many opportunities and made me appreciate those that chose to do the hard, dirty and thankless work.

April 2017 in Pasture
My farmer hubby and I after a recent Facebook Live show about cows. Sadly, the 15 minutes on Facebook was about all the time we spent together that day.

So for all of you fellow farm wives or mothers with super busy hubbies, I’m with you and understand your frustration and tears. It’s lonely and it’s hard but it’s rewarding and wonderful. And some day the kids will be grown and we’ll be on the other side of it all, secretly missing these days.

The Tale of Two Disasters

Wildfire 2
A hole remains where a bridge once stood – destroyed by a wildfire that burned nearly all of the grass acres on this ranch in Clark County, Kan. 

Twelve hours after witnessing, first-hand, the devastation wrought by fire and wind, I turned on the television to reports of sleet, snow and blizzard conditions.

These were two separate natural disasters, one predicted, reported and planned for, the other unforeseen, nearly unimaginable and deadly.

Last week, more than 10 counties in Kansas fell victim to wildfires with Oklahoma and Texas also fighting blazes. The exact causes of the fires are still under investigation but dry conditions, heavy winds and low humidity created an atmosphere ripe for a blaze. Ranchers across southern and western Kansas were caught unaware and largely unprepared. The fire leveled homes, metal buildings, vehicles and animals. Hundreds of thousands of acres of pasture were blackened and thousands of animals were killed or so injured that owners were forced to put them down. The scars of the fire are still visible and daunting and the recovery will take months, if not years.

A week after the fires, the Northeast is experiencing a late winter storm that is dumping cold, wind and snow. Public transportation has slowed, offices and the government are abbreviating operating hours and people are being asked to stay home and stay warm. Meteorologists saw the storm coming and municipalities were able to treat roads, close schools and reschedule events. Some estimates predict 18 million people will be impacted but no fatalities have been reported.

The fires in the Midwest and the blizzard in the east are two separate but not equal disasters. Television reports would lead you to believe the blizzard will handicap and devastate the I-95 corridor when in fact, life will likely return to normal in a matter of days. But the farmers and ranchers still sorting through injured animals, broken fences and piles of ashes that were once homes, have received little to no national attention. No major television networks giving hour-by-hour updates or ticker tape read outs of the economic impact of the fires. Instead volunteers from far and wide, many livestock owners or farmers themselves, have trekked to Clark County and other impacted areas to donate their time, energy and resources to help the rebuilding efforts. There are few federal dollars helping the recovery and municipalities in the region are too small to provide any substantial level of support or service.

Federal dollars will be slow to arrive to the fire victims – as most are funneled through FEMA, which cannot help these types of situations – and what few disaster programs exist will only cover a fraction of the lost income and future revenue sources. The fires will completely change some ranches and force those who have lived off the land for their entire lives to find other sources of employment.

Wildfires
Burnt remains of a metal building lay in a pile to be removed. The wildfire that destroyed pastures and killed livestock also decimated homes, offices and sheds. 

Meanwhile, those living in the Northeast will return to work Wednesday, having had a day to rest, recoup and let the storm pass them by. Federal and state dollars will power snowplows, tree trimmers and salt trucks to lessen the burden on residents.

We often hear about the invisibility of the “fly over states” but the timeliness of these two disasters only proves to illustrate the resilience and determination of Rural America. No warnings to help them prepare and evacuate, no public dollars to clear away the debris and no minute-by-minute updates to inform the nation of the devastation. Just hardworking families and farmers working tirelessly to rebuild their homes, their businesses and their way of life.

If you want to help the victims of the recent fires, please use the link to below to donate online:

http://www.kla.org/donationform.aspx

 

Any and all help will be appreciated.

Why I Didn’t March

On Saturday, Jan. 21, women across the nation – and world – participated in a grassroots movement that caught the attention of people around the globe. Women traveled to D.C. to march on the National Mall, gathered in their hometowns or expressed their support via social media.

I had friends and family members participate, but I did not march. On Saturday morning, as everyone waved fancy signed and took selfies with matching pink beanie’s, I was sitting in a town hall meeting listening to my state legislators talk about proposals and bills being put before their committees and the governor. I was one of only four women at the event and the only participant under the age of 35. I attend these meetings whenever possible because from them I gain knowledge, understanding and a relationship with my congressman.

owen-january-2017
My son, Owen, and I share some snuggles and selfies on the couch. Don’t let the smile fool you, this little guy wasn’t feel well this weekend.

After the meeting, I returned home to take care of my two little boys – ages 3 and 1 – who both were not feeling well and needed snuggles and hugs. I washed dirty clothes, made supper and played on the floor. That night I enjoyed a simple dinner with my family and lost a few hours of sleep rocking a baby with a fever. As a mother, I have an obligation to raise boys who respect women, who understand that things won’t always go their way and to show them unconditional love and support to allow them to chase their dreams. Nothing I did Saturday was Earth-shattering or life-changing but it made a difference in my family’s lives and those simple actions and routines will have a more substantial impact in my sons’ lives than any president or piece of legislation ever will.

Like any woman, daughter, mother and sister, I want to feel supported, included, equal and optimistic. I’ve had my failures and successes, my triumphs and tribulations. But I can’t blame any of it on the President nor will much of my everyday life be substantially impacted by the person residing in the White House. I control my destiny and I can chose to take challenges head on or stand on the side and blame others.

I work everyday to make my life, my family and my world a better place. But I don’t believe marching is the way to enact change. Instead I believe relationships with lawmakers, comments to proposed legislation and participation in any and every election possible is the most effective way to see your opinion heard and issues addressed.

I don’t want a president who gives handouts and protections. I want a president who helps grow our economy, which means more jobs and opportunities for women. I want a Congress that enacts legislation that allows small businesses to thrive and grow and a government that puts an emphasis on the safety of my life and my country.

For all of the women who chose to march, I encourage you to put that energy into getting to know your legislators, becoming active in your local and state political organizations and attending town hall meetings with law makers. Sure marches are fun and provide great photo ops but nothing is more powerful than consistent involvement and participation in the process.