Category Archives: Family

Ag Humor

From now on, every Saturday, I am going to do an AG HUMOR page. To those of us in the industry we sometimes get bogged down by everything that needs to get done and to those outside of the Farm Life, all they hear is whining and complaining! I think, wait…I KNOW that everyday there is something that just makes you laugh around the farm. Stupid antics of animals or visitors who just ask the strangest questions!

Saturday, November 19th, 2011
Have you ever had one of those moments that you knew would stick in your mind forever as an unforgettable moment? On of those moments you just know you are still going to be laughing about on your death bed?

I had one of those “moments” yesterday! The whole story isn’t nearly as funny in text but it is still funny enough that I think many of you will be laughing about it. So…here goes!

As many of you already know, I work on Mr. Farmer’s Uncle’s Farm too. When we do haying every year, all of the large round bales (balage) are wrapped and stored at their farm, exactly 5.5 miles from home. Normally this is no big deal because we are there daily anyway. Yesterday was no different. Other than a few mishaps along the way…

The first issue started when the steering arm on the tractor used to load the bales broken. A quick “fix-er-up” with some wire got us rolling enough to get the bale loaded onto the back of the truck. Now with a round bale in the back and a calf that needs some addition one-on-one attention into the farm truck, I headed home. I did good til I hit Rt. 79 (3/4 of the way from their farm to ours). I knew I had a trail of plastic wrap behind me, but I also had a calf tagging along that I really needed to get home. I pull off the side street, went about 1,000 ft. when I noticed traffic moving up very fast behind me and then swerving looking for a place to pass. Being nice, I edge over to the side of the road allowing the cars to pass by.

I was watching in the side mirror for all the cars to go by, when I notice a state police car. The car kicks on his lights and follows me to the curb of the road. Mortified, I watch him pull a piece of plastic from the round bale into the back of the truck. Understand, I didn’t realize that the plastic was hanging out about 12 feet. He comes to the window and says “Do you know why I pulled you ov(insert a calf bleat here)er?” A look of awe and astonishment on his face now, the conversation goes (The officer) “This is a first for me.”  (me)”Would you like to take a picture?”  (officer)”That would be great!”  and then the guy just backs into the road in front of an oncoming truck with his camera phone aimed at the truck! Thank God there were no injuries!

Katie takes a ride in the front of the pickup

He got his photo, (I assume it looks something similar to the photo above) which was immediately sent out to his whole address book in his phone! (Insert a really red face on my behalf now please). I told him where I lived and the guy literally followed me home. In his excitement, he never checked my seatbelt (which I wasn’t wearing) or asked for my license (which I didn’t have on me)…but he did run the plate!

He pulls in behind me once I arrive on the farm and he gets out, watches me unload the calf, start asking all types of questions and is just being a general pain in the rear…BUT atleast he is interested in learning more. As patiently as I could, I tried to answer all of his questions. This gentleman even asked to come back for a visit with his kids! You know, sometimes it is amazing how a farmer can connect with the outside “Ag” world!

Just thankful to have walked away with a few laughs and no ticket!!!

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Ag Stats

Yesterday provided me with two seperate opportunities to discuss agriculture within my region. The first meeting I attended yesterday morning was a Tioga SET (Sustainable Economies Together) that is focusing on increasing bioenergy awareness and development within the Southern Tier Region of NY. During the meeting, our major focus for this month was demographic, statistical trends and how trends could change through the development of bioenergy within the region.
One attendee made a comment that within the Ag Statistics, he felt that the farms with an annual sale of less than $10,000 should be dropped off the list because they are considered hobby farmers. I will admit, this did upset me greatly. I haven’t delved into my mind about the reasoning on exactly why it bothers me so much…so I am going to discuss it here.
I am one of those farmers that takes in less than 10K/year. Now, I don’t work any less on each individual animal than a farm that makes 500k/year. If anything I think I am more concerned about animal well-being, how my crops grow, how clean my barns are…the list goes on and on. What other reasons concern me about this? According to the NY State overall Ag Stats, this makes up a fair percentage of our farms. Then the rebuttle I recieved when asking what the real issue was over not including those farms, I recieved the following answer: Because they are not really contributing to the over food supply chain within the state. If those farms weren’t factored for Ag Stats, they wouldn’t recieve tax deductions and would have to pay tax on all the goods they buy.
Now, that develops into a whole different issue for me. As a land owner that pays 26% or more of the land value for taxes every year (grand total is 140/WEEK), I would atleast like to be able make enough “farm sales” to be able to pay for my taxes every year. I don’t consider myself a hobby farmer. I consider our farm part time employment! Two hours every morning and night equals four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year….more hours and devotion than someone flipping burgers at McD’s. Now considerating just those hours contributed, wouldn’t I still be qualified as a worker in agriculture?
Now, taking a step back and accessing this from the bioenergy sector…I personally think that these farms are the ones that could contribute the most. I think they are much more capabile of diversity too. Flexibility in agriculture is growing in importance due to the swinging shifts in Ag Markets. It makes each farm less dependant upon just the price of corn or hay.

Now let’s consider this…in Chemung County says there are 116 farms with less than $1000/year in annual sales. My mind tells me that these are probably farms that produce seasonal products for local farmers markets or they are selling something like eggs directly off the farm.

Extending that out to my afternoon, I attended the Local Food, Fiber and Fuel Event at Cornell University’s Mann Library. There were vendors that produced hydroponic fruits turned into jellies and jams, a weaver that made socks/hats/sweaters/gloves from alpaca fur, local vegetable producers and even local organizations that assist agriculture. Our both was set up to discuss how Ag and biomass can work together for alternative energy. While there, I started circulating through the tables and held conversations with each table about Ag Marketing and NY Agriculture. Not one person could tell me when they last time they saw any type of advertisments supporting NY Ag. This is one of my major concerns and issues. There is no development to educate the public about what products are produced throughout the whole state. Yes, the wine manufacturers have done a fair job of promoting their products…but yet, there are still limited advertisments or write ups across the state.
No one seems to know where advertising money for NY Ag comes from or where it could even be established. My growing concern is that one of the major players that should be promoting NY Ag states, “Even if every available acres was planted, it could still only supply 30% of the food requirements for NY.” I ask you to consider this, NY Ag also supports the major city zone around NYC. I am not saying they aren’t part of the states population but do they really factor in under the Local food supply chain for the Northern District of NY, which is about 8 hours away? Or even my local food market when NYC is a four hour drive? I am going to start breaking the state down by region and the amount of food “stuff” that could be supplied within those regions. More will follow up on this topic over the next couple of days!

Feel free to comment or add your input, it is extremely valuable knowledge as I move forward in developing some type of consideration advertising for AG in any area.

Lincoln-Part One

I have been doing a bunch of reading on a person who is a true hero and inspiration to me. Abraham Lincoln was not just a great American President. He was a man who had pulled himself up by his “boot straps” to make a better life for himself.

Abraham Lincoln was born and reared in a log cabin, like many other familiar figures in American history; but you will search in vain for one whose origin and early life equalled Abraham Lincoln’s in wretchedness. Born in Kentucky on a farm consisting of a few barren acres, his father a typical “poor southern white.” His father was shiftless and without ambition for himself or his children, constantly looking for a piece of land on which he might make a living without much work. His mother, in her youth she was beautiful and bright. She aged prematurely in features and became bitter by daily toil and care. The whole household cheerless and utterly void of elevating inspirations. Only when the family had “moved” into the backwoods of Indiana, his mother had died, and a stepmother, a woman of thrift and energy had taken charge of the children, did the shaggy, ragged, barefooted, forlorn boy of seven, “began to feel like a human being.” Hard work was his early lot. When a mere boy, he had to help in supporting the family, either on his father’s clearing or hired out to other farmers to plough, dig ditches, chop wood, or drive oxen teams. Sometimes he also “tended the baby,” when the farmer’s wife was otherwise engaged. He could regard it as an advancement to a higher sphere of activity when he obtained work in a “crossroads store,” where he amused the customers by his talk over the counter. He then soon distinguished himself among the folks as one who had something to say worth listening to. To win that distinction, he had to draw mainly upon his wits. While his thirst for knowledge was great, his opportunities to satisfying that thirst were slim.

At the age of 23, he fought in the Black Hawk War and was named captain of the volunteer crew. His most notable accomplishment during the war was not in killing an Indian, but in protecting against his own men, at the peril of his own life, the life of an old savage who had strayed into his camp. After the war, he turned to politics. He ran for a Legislative set. His popularity in New Salem, had not spread far enough over the district, was not great enough and he was defeated. Then the wretched hand-to-mouth struggle began again. He set up a store-business with a dissolute partner, who drank whiskey while Lincoln was reading books. The result was a disastrous failure and a load of debt. He then became a deputy surveyor, and was appointed postmaster of New Salem. The business of the post-office being so small that he could carry the incoming and outgoing mail in his hat. All this could not lift him from poverty, and his surveying instruments, along with his horse and saddle were sold by the sheriff for debt.

He used to walk miles to borrow books from a school master until a lawyer mailed him a copy of Blackstone, which was the only law book at the time. People would look wonderingly at the grotesque figure lying in the grass, with his feet up a tree or sitting on a fence absorbed in a book. He learned to construct correct sentences and made himself a jurist. At once he gained a little practice, paying attention to miniscual details before a justice of the peace for friends, without expecting a fee. Judicial functions were thrust upon him, but only at horse-races or wrestling matches where his acknowledged honesty and fairness gave his verdicts undisputed authority. His popularity grew quickly and soon he was a candidate for the Legislature again. Although he called himself a Whig, an ardent admirer of Henry Clay, his clever stump speeches won him the election in the strongly Democratic district. Then, for the first time perhaps, he thought seriously of his outward appearance. He had been content with a garb of “Kentucky jeans,” not usually ragged, but patched, and always shabby. Now, he borrowed money from a friend to buy a new suit of clothes–store clothes fit for a Sangamon County statesman. Dressed like this he set out for the state capital, Vandalia, to take his seat among the lawmakers. His legislative career, which stretched over several sessions–for he was re-elected three times, in 1836, 1838, and 1840–was not remarkably brilliant. He did not lack ambition. He dreamed even of making himself “the De Witt Clinton of Illinois,” and he actually distinguished himself by zealous and effective work in log-rolling operations by which the young State received a general system of internal improvements in the shape of railroads, canals, and banks,–a reckless policy that burdened the State with debt and produced the usual crop of political demoralization. One thing, however, he did in which his true nature showed itself, and which gave promise of the future pursuit, against an overwhelming numbers in the Legislature and followed by only one other member, he recorded his protest against a proslavery resolution. That protest declaring “the institution of slavery to be founded on both injustice and bad policy.” This was not only the irrepressible voice of his conscience. It was true moral valor, for at that timein many parts of the West, an abolitionist was regarded as little better than a horse-thief, and even “Abe Lincoln” would hardly have been forgiven his antislavery principles, had he not been known as such an “uncommon good fellow.” But here, in obedience to the great conviction of his life, he manifested his courage to stand alone, that courage which is the first requisite of leadership in a great cause.

His reputation and influence as a politician grew his law practice, especially after he associated himself with another lawyer of good standing. He became a successful lawyer, less by his learning as a jurist than by his effectiveness as an advocate and by the striking uprightness of his character and it may truly be said that his vivid sense of truth and justice had much to do with his effectiveness as an advocate. He would refuse to act as the attorney even of personal friends when he saw the right on the other side. He would abandon cases, even during trial, when the testimony convinced him that his client was in the wrong. He would dissuade those who sought his service from pursuing an obtainable advantage when their claims seemed to him unfair. Presenting his very first case in the United States Circuit Court, the only question being one of authority, he declared that, upon careful examination, he found all the authorities on the other side and none on his. Persons accused of crime, when he thought them guilty, he would not defend at all, or attempting their defence he was unable to put forth his powers. One notable exception is on record, when his personal sympathies had been strongly aroused. But when he felt himself to be the protector of innocence, the defender of justice, or the prosecutor of wrong, he frequently disclosed such unexpected resources of reasoning, such depth of feeling, and rose to such fervor of appeal as to astonish and overwhelm his hearers. Even an ordinary law argument, coming from him, seldom failed to produce the impression that he was profoundly convinced of the soundness of his position. It is not surprising that the mere appearance of so conscientious an attorney in any case should have carried, not only to juries, but even to judges almost an act of right on his side, and that the people began to call him, sincerely meaning it, “honest Abe Lincoln.”

But, even with all of his success and steadily gaining respect, Lincoln still found himself thrown into the depths of depression. During his rise to fame he had private sorrows and trials of a painfully afflicting nature. He had loved and been loved by a girl, Ann Rutledge, who died in the flower of her youth and beauty, and he mourned her loss with such intensity of grief that his friends feared for his life. Recovering from his depression, he bestowed new affection upon another lady, who refused him. And finally, having prospects of political distinction before him, he paid his addresses to Mary Todd of Kentucky, and was accepted. But tormenting doubts of the genuineness of his own affection for her, of the compatibility of their characters, and of their future happiness came upon him. His distress was so great that he felt himself in danger of suicide, and feared to carry a pocket-knife with him. He gave mortal offence to his bride by not appearing on the appointed wedding day. Now the torturing consciousness of the wrong he had done her grew unendurable. He won back her affection, ended the agony by marrying her and became a faithful and patient husband and a good father. But it was no secret to those who knew the family well that his domestic life was full of trials. His wife was known for embarrassing fits. This only added more worry to his heart as time went on and his political gains added more for him to worry about.

All of these happenings in his life were prior to his election to office. Part Two will discuss more about his future struggles, internal and out.

My words of thought on these lessons learned from Honest Abe Lincoln:
No matter what type of environment you were born into, you can make a decision to treat people with honesty and respect.
Being born poor is no excuse to not learn about things that interest you.
That, no matter what status or station you hold, you should always be truthful to yourself and follow your heart.
Respect is earn, not freely given.
Hard work and dedication are important.
Honor your own beliefs in what is right and wrong.
Failure isn’t the end, it’s just guiding you to another turn in the path to follow your dream.
Don’t let your fear override your trust.

Summer’s Gone and So Is Fall

Well, the title about sums it up! Hard to believe that we are into November already! We still haven’t completed the addition on the barn either and I am sure that snow isn’t too far out in the forecast!

This fall turned into a slow brewing nightmare. Corn harvest still isn’t done on some of the fields because they are just too wet! Nothing like trying to get a chopper into a mud pit! Only got stuck once with the tractor but that was definately more than needed to happen.

Trying to keep up with harvest while building a ten foot addition down the full 72 foot length of our barn has not worked out so well. We got the poles in the ground, the roofing on and a new water system put in but that’s about the extent of what we have managed to complete so far.

Our herd has expanded yet again too! We now have three calves here. One bull calf that already has a group of girls to spend next summer at pasture with and two lineback/jersey cross heifers! Along with those three additions, there have also been three Dexter cattle added to our mix! I will post photos in our photo page as soon as I get some time. Our jersey rescue cow is looking good and we are awaiting the arrival of her calf! The vet was WAY off his estimates when he preg checked her…by nearly two and a half months!!!! We have been anxiously waiting too…mostly because it will be the first calf born on the farm in 25 years!!!!

Two of our steers went to the butcher shop last weekend…I miss them but I do like to eat. They were well cared for when they were here and raised with the intention that they also had a purpose.

Our young group of chickens are doing well. They have moved into a temporary hut shelter until the barn addition is completed and they are loving their barn yard! A few have started laying eggs but we still are not keeping up with the local demand for our eggs! We are selling around 15 dozen eggs a week now!!!! Everyone who buys from us keeps telling us that these are the best eggs they have ever had! Makes me happy to know that how we treat our animals here shows through!

I (Doreen) have been working more on spending time doing social media things too. Sometimes it is difficult to keep up with a new business, a farm (which really is another business) and just life in general. You can find our facebook page for the biomass happenings at and on twitter! I have my own account through twitter too…CNYFarmGirl! I know I am not as informative or as busy within the ag industry as some others are…but I do ask some good questions and have some thoughts about things on ag.
Right now, one of my newest questions: Are cows better off today with regard to animal welfare than they were 20 yr ago? Please give reasons on why or why not.
I am gonna talk more about that very soon! Hope everyone has a great day…time for me to head back to the barn!

Update

Yes, I know. Shame on me! I haven’t updated at all recently. There has been a lot going on and this was unfortunately not high on the list of main priorities.

BUT…I finally have the time to update what has been going around here! First off, bad weather this spring resulted in crops going in late and even some issues with replanting fields that didn’t take. Too much rain this spring made for a muddy mess no matter where you went.

Then as the spring transferred to summer, the extreme opposite happened. We went from fields of mud to field too dry. First cutting alphalpha went great but second cutting resulted in very poor yields due to lack of water and near drought conditions. Our pasture grass stopped growing and we had to feed hay much early than we ever would!

Then a couple of weeks ago, our region saw a deluge of 7-11 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. Many of our neighboors, friends and family have been displaced or effected by all of the flooding in the area that recieved national attention…

Fortunately, we were not affected by the high levels of water and are high enough in elevation to not have been impacted at all by the rest reminants of Lee.
Instead, we have started construction on a 10 foot addition on the side of our barn, a new barn roof and additions to our herd!

I will update each seperate happening in additional posts…due to the fact that I have taken lots of photos and this isn’t the post to include those in.

Right now….I need to go check on the arrival of our newest addition that is coming at any time now!
God Bless and Have a great day!

Inspiration Number Thirteen-Family and Traditions

Farming brings families closer. It makes us work together. For the older generation to instruct the younger generation on the ways, means and reasons to farm and live this way of life. From a Grandfather working with his grandson to pass on the farm and the home built there. To provide a home for the generations that follow after he is gone:

Erford's house. The home that Mr. Farmer's dad grew up in and where Mr. Farmer raised his children until it burnt in 1985.

To men who fight for this country, knowing that they have loads of responsibilities at home on the farm. Leaving behind a loving wife, children and pastures full of cows:
Harry, my paternal grandfather, when he signed on to serve in WWII at the age of 17

To women who work hard to raise seven children and still work the farm. Even after she divorced my grandfather (which was extremely uncommon in those times):
Josephine, my maternal grandmother, and the only photo I have of her

Erford, Harry and Josephine all taught valuable lessons in their own rights. From teaching us the valued lessons of hard work and family heritage, to having enough faith to take life without the assistance of a partner or companion and having enough strength to carry on no matter how tough the struggle. I don’t know if they inspired us to farm or if they are just legends from our past. If I could send a letter to heaven to my grandparents…It would read something like this:
I know that you are watching down on me from Heaven, wondering if I am out of my mind. I know you told me to stay away from farming, but I can’t seem to chase this demon from my system. I have grown to realize that there is no where else on God’s green earth that makes sense to me. You know I tried to fit in out there in the so called real world but, I was never comfortable like I am when I am in the barn or out in the pasture. Without you, I would have never learned the valuable lessons in life like working hard to find the reward at the end, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem to someone else. I would never have learned that I can stand up on my own, be proud of who I am and give my all for what I believe in and to know that at the end of the day, the sun always sets and it will rise again tomorrow. You taught me self-reliance and to not depend on anyone else to provide the things I need. You taught me how to not let go of my dreams, that one day when God decides it’s time for them to come true they will. You taught me that a house is just a house, it isn’t home. That home is where you heart is. That’s why I know you understand that farming is where I am at home. It is my heart and my soul. It is in my blood like a fire in my viens, the demon that refuses to leave and one I am not willing to remove.
Gramps, I hope your fields are growing good and your beer is cold. I just hope that limberger cheese doesn’t smell as bad up there as it does down here! Gramma Jo, I know that you are up there working on a kaliescope quilt to cover the heavens with and I know that you haven’t stabbed your finger once. I bet you have taken all of God’s gum by now playing cards too! Remember you said that you have to share! 🙂 And Erford, I know we never met but from my understanding your grandson is very much like you…so I know I would have loved you too. Stubborn old men that create rucus are just my type appartently! And so you know, the farm is looking great! A new barn this fall hopefully and things will be back to the way they used to be! You would like the new truck for your trips to visit Syracuse…sure does go lots faster than that Model A ever could! Grams (Martha, my paternal grandmother) thanks for teaching me how to cook and make butter, even though I couldn’t churn it then very well, it has come in handy to know. By the way, I still love onions and potatoes just as much now as when I was little…I just don’t have to crawl in your cupboards to eat them anymore! 🙂
We love you all and you will always hold a special place in our hearts and minds! We miss you everyday, more than you can imagine! Thanks for the lessons and the wonderful memories!