MN Farm Bureau

Gotta Get Down on Friday…With Folding Laundry

Rebecca Black has ruined any other catchy “TGIF” phrase out there for Fridays. Any time I try to think of something, that song starts playing in my head. Make it stop. Please.

This week has been absolutely crazy. Mark is now in week #2 of his new position working with farmers on precision agriculture and soil sampling, and it involved a quick trip 5 hours south of us this week.  This left Harper and I on our own for a few days. We survived, although I’m pretty sure my supper one night involved a few handfuls of cheddar popcorn and a Reese’s pumpkin. It felt a bit like late night studying for finals back in college.

Monday, I moderated the Farm Bureau Collegiate Discussion Meet that was held at South Central College. I always walk away from these meets with new perspectives on issues in agriculture, but also with confidence about the future of agriculture because if students just like those that competed continue to work with such passion about what they do, agriculture will only  continue to improve and grow.

Congratulations to all who participated!

Congratulations to all who participated!

I also served on a committee for program review from the student perspective this week. Mark and I are “continued education” learners in agriculture through the Farm Business Management program. The program and education we have received, has been extremely beneficial to the success of our farm. I honestly don’t think we would be where we are with our honey bees if it wasn’t for the program really helping us figure out a business plan and getting our funding in order.

Yesterday, I was up at the state Farm Bureau office with the state resolutions committee, looking over the resolutions counties had submitted to be voted on at our annual meeting. Last year was my first year doing it, I had never done it before, so I try hard to learn more about the process. I’m sure sometimes they think I’m asking a stupid question, but it is a big learning opportunity, and I want to make sure I’m not missing something when I’m serving on the committee. I find myself often prefacing with “This may be a dumb question, or I just need some clarification…” so thanks to all those that are willing to teach the younger farmers moving in to some of these positions! Our policy team in MN does a fantastic job, and I am so thankful they are willing to help clarify the issues and shed light when needed.

Working on sorting through the county resolutions.

Working on sorting through the county resolutions.

So tonight, will involve catching up on laundry…so much laundry. Who knew one baby could produce more laundry than her mom and dad combined? Netflix and laundry should be the new phrase if you ask me!

Harper had her 6 month photos in October, and since we got them back this week, I figured I’d share one of them with you!

Harper - 6 months

Harper – 6 months

 

 

 

I hope you enjoy your weekend. We are finishing up our final class of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class this weekend, and getting some projects done around the house. It is also deer opener here in Minnesota. I won’t be going out this year, for the first time in a long time, but I am wishing everyone else a successful hunt and sending prayers for safety.

-Sara

 

 

 

The 10 Best Things to Do at the Minnesota State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair starts August 27th and runs through Labor Day. It is known as the largest state fair in the country with the most food choices! I can’t believe it is already here, as the MN State Fair is the last hurrah to summer!

I’m 25 years old, and I’ve been going to the fair for 26 years…or so the story goes in my family. My family has a long running history as part of the Great Minnesota Get Together, and I dearly miss working up there for the 12 best days of summer! I can remember when “corndogus eternus” was a phrase every Minnesotan was saying. After working there for 5 years, and attending for many more, I have compiled “The 10 Best Things to Do at the Minnesota State Fair!

1. Hawaiian Shaved Ice.  Walk a block or so down from the main gate (gate 5 on Snelling Ave & Dan Patch) and you will find a staple of the MN State Fair…Hawaiian Shaved Ice. This is a snow cone extraordinaire! It is usually the first thing I head for when I get to the fair. With over 20 flavors to choose from, including bubble gum and tropical (my favorite) you can’t leave without making a stop here! I am still waiting for the day they bring back wedding cake flavor. Yum!

Hawaiian Shaved Ice Stand at the MN State Fair!

Hawaiian Shaved Ice Stand at the MN State Fair! Photo courtesy of the MN State Fair

 

2. The Minnesota Farm Bureau Building. One of the best places to visit at the fair!  You can learn all about agriculture, talk with farmers, get recipes, and get yourself a FREE insulated lunch bag! It is a great time to get your questions about what happens on a farm answered. There are fun facts all about Minnesota agriculture throughout the building and a special space dedicated to pollinators this year! There is even an interactive Ag Cab Lab that kids can drive. There is both a combine and tractor that kids (and adults!) can hop in and plant and harvest a crop.

Stop by the Ag Cab Lab in the Minnesota Farm Bureau building!

Stop by the Ag Cab Lab in the Minnesota Farm Bureau building!

3. The Daily Parade! Every day at 2pm, a parade goes through the fairgrounds. It features a marching band competition, giant cows, crazy bicyclists and more. Fair goers can line the parade route, and watch. The marching band competition is a unique feature of the parade, and one you don’t want to miss. Bands have intricate marching formations, play fun music and often have everything from flag girls to baton twirlers. Don’t forget to wave at the Princess Kay of the Milky Way when the royalty float goes by!

Marching band competition during the MN State Fair parade. Photo courtesy of the MN State Fair.

Marching band competition during the MN State Fair parade. Photo courtesy of the MN State Fair.

4. The CHS Miracle of Birth Center. If you haven’t been, go. Witness the birth of piglets, calves, goats and sheep! You can get up close with baby chicks, bunnies and piglets. Typically, there are over 200 live births during the MN State Fair in the Miracle of Birth Center! It is a must stop to better understand farming and where food comes from.

5. Ye Old Mill. 2015 mark’s the 100th anniversary of the fair’s oldest attraction – the Ye Old Mill! We usually go for a spin on one of the wooden boats about every 3 years, but considering it is the 100th anniversary, we might have to go this year! You can catch a ride on a wooden boat through the dark tunnels for $3.25 per person.

Ye Old Mill celebrates 100 years this year! Photo courtesy of MN State Fair.

Ye Old Mill celebrates 100 years this year! Photo courtesy of MN State Fair.

6. Drink! If you love craft brews or wine tasting, the MN State Fair is the place for you! This year’s lineup includes some interesting new ones such as: S’mores beer, Minnesota Iceberg & Cherry Rhubarb Hard Cider! Provided that the MN State Fair has lots of greasy food to counteract the alcohol, I do suggest sharing some of these drinks with your friends or significant other, that way you have more room for food and sampling!

Last year, Mark tried the mini donut flavored beer!

Last year, Mark tried the mini donuts flavored beer!

7. Ball Park Cafe. If you aren’t stopping for the food & mini donuts beer (which you should), at least swing by to see the extraordinary red Zubaz that are part of the attire the employees wear! Let’s take a minute to talk about THE garlic fries. Please don’t worry about your  breath, they are worth it! The fries are all sorts of flavor delicious and a perfect crisp! They’ve also perfected the deep-fried rib, and have an impressive line-up of MN Beers.

Garlic fries from Ball Park Cafe, along with a Hawaiian Shaved Ice!

Garlic fries from Ball Park Cafe, along with a Hawaiian Shaved Ice!

8. The Leinie Lodge Bandshell. If you are looking for fantastic and free entertainment, the Leinie Lodge is the place to be. They have some awesome acts this year including the Willis Clan (I became a nerd about this show while home on maternity leave), Tonic Sol-Fa, The Wright Brothers and C. Willi Myles! A lot of times you can catch some of best up and coming acts here for free, and within the year they are on tour with someone. It also is a great place to relax in some of their lounge chairs or on the benches!

The Leinie Lodge Bandshell! Photo courtesy of the MN State Fair.

The Leinie Lodge Bandshell! Photo courtesy of the MN State Fair.

9. The Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum. The coliseum is a must do for many reasons. There is excellent shopping underneath the coliseum. I am hoping that the Sloggers will be back this year as I need another pair, but there are fun clothing places, metal artists, jewelry and more. There are a ton of shows that you can attend for free at the coliseum including: horse performances, stock dog trials and dairy shows. The horse shows are usually pretty awesome. My favorite is the draft supreme six-horse hitch show! It is really something to see that many animals working in unison to move a wagon! There is always something going on, so stop in and sit awhile and enjoy a show!

A dairy show in the coliseum at the MN State Fair. Photo courtesy of the MN State Fair.

A dairy show in the coliseum at the MN State Fair. Photo courtesy of the MN State Fair.

10. The Giant Slide. You can’t leave the State Fair without taking a ride down the Giant Slide. It has been m favorite since I was a tiny tot and it is a must do for children and adults. I can’t wait for next year when Harper will be old enough to go on it! It only costs $2.50 per rider, so it won’t break the bank either. There is just something mystical about climbing up all those stairs and then speeding down on a gunny sack with the wind whipping your hair while smells of grilled corn on the cob and deep-fried cheese curds fill the air. So worth it.

The Giant Slide is a crowd favorite at the fair! Photo courtesy of the MN State Fair.

The Giant Slide is a crowd favorite at the fair! Photo courtesy of the MN State Fair.

 

I sincerely hope you make a visit to the MN State Fair as part of your end of summer plans. I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed! From art displays to everything on a stick to dog surgeries to high-flying trampoline acrobatics to milking a cow, there is something for everyone. I didn’t even touch on the shopping available at the Bazaar and Heritage Place or in the Grandstand. I didn’t talk about favorites like the education building where you can get weighed or walk away with a free tree to plant at your home! Hopefully this post helped you narrow down some of what you want to do at the Great Minnesota Get Together! We’re a fun bunch! :)

-Sara

H.R. 1599 – GMO Labeling at the Federal Level

I’ve seen a lot of headlines come across social media lately in regards to H.R. 1599 – The Safe and Affordable Food Labeling Act. Most of them have stated in  one way or another that our Federal Government is banning GMO labeling on foods. When you see headlines like “Congress may ban states from GMO labeling” instead of “Congress may create federal GMO labeling program” how do you interpret it? (Thank you CNBC by the way for that misleading headline!)

This is why we need to learn to evaluate our sources and frankly, read the proposed bill ourselves. It is set to be voted on by the House today, and is suspected to pass due to bipartisan support.

So what does this bill actually do? It creates a voluntary, federal GMO labeling program. Why is it important that GMO labeling is done at a federal level? It is important because right now, the creation of patchwork state GMO labeling laws are hurting consumers, businesses and confusing grocery stores and people alike. What does a GMO label or Non-GMO label mean in Iowa if standards are different in Missouri? Frankly, it doesn’t really mean a thing to consumers. If each state can make different rules about what is allowed and what isn’t, then what does that say about the trust of a label? And why would we need one at all then, if it doesn’t have a set standard?  This bill would also arrange federal policy for GMO labeling, which currently requires labeling for genetically-engineered products that are materially different from their conventional counterparts in terms of functional, nutritional, or compositional characteristics.

GMO infographic

A federal labeling system would create clarity for the consumer by clearly labeling products the same way, with the same requirements. For instance, you would only see one label, same color, same design, same logo, etc. backed by the FDA, rather than a Minnesota label on this pack of cereal from Company A and a Idaho label on this box of cereal from Company B. Does this actually create the label if it passes? Not at this time, but it gives authority to the FDA to set the standards and create a federal labeling program if needed. Currently, the patchwork of state labeling that is starting, will drive up costs of production for food companies, and this cost will ultimately be passed on to consumers or consumers won’t be able to purchase a favorite product made in New York because that company doesn’t want to pay to put a label on created by Vermont’s state, or pay for the number of employees it would take to understand and cover all the regulations from states with labeling requirements.

I am all about consumers having more knowledge about their food and what they feed their families. I know for some, organic is very important to their lifestyle and diet. For me, thought it isn’t a big deal. However, it has been stated over and over again that there is no difference between GMO and non-GMO foods and they are safe – See HERE and HERE. It is also why I’m an advocate for doing your own research – finding scholarly articles and science based fact, and asking farmers directly, rather than reading the news headline. I went and read through H.R. 1599. It isn’t about banning labels, it’s about creating labels – and giving the FDA the ability to create a federal regulation that is easier for consumers to recognize and understand, as well as for companies and businesses to follow. If you choose to follow a non-GMO diet, that is just fine and you can do so by purchasing foods with the USDA Certified Organic label currently. What I don’t want, is a Mom at the grocery store confused as to what GMO, Non-GMO and Organic mean in one state versus the other and what apple is what. I don’t want a mom stretching her grocery budget to have to pay $2 more for a nutritious food product because Food Company X had to put a special label on their product in order for it to be sold in her home state. Sometimes, federal regulation is necessary and this is one of those times.

Many farmers and farm organizations support the passage of H.R. 1599, despite many of us also believing that GMO’s are safe and don’t need labeling. We understand that consumers want more knowledge about what they eat, but we also know a hodgepodge system isn’t the answer either. We want clarity for everyone involved from the farmer to the food industry to the consumer.

Find out more HERE about why Farm Bureau supports H.R. 1599 and find out some information about Minnesota and GMO’s and labeling. 

-Sara

Ditch The Rule Already EPA!

Many of you have seen my posts, pictures and updates about EPA’s proposed rule to change what they define as Waters of the United States or commonly referred to as WOTUS. The EPA is trying to write it off as this will help with clean water, when really all it does is gives them more overreaching authority to regulate your dry land, and what you can do or can’t do as a land owner!

ditch the rule EPA

Time to #ditchtherule EPA! We #readthefineprint!

Here’s the thing, the EPA is trying to redefine what they call navigable waters of the U.S., meaning you can float a boat on them- think lakes, rivers, some streams and ponds, by leaving the term “tributary” open to definition. A definition that includes dry land. Land that might hold water for a few days after a rain, a ditch that might hold water a few days out of the year, or a dry crick bed that only fills up for a week during the spring in your back yard. This definition even includes land that hasn’t had a single puddle in it, ever, but because of soil samples (some taken many, many years ago) having markers for water potential, they are now listed as a potential wetland area.

If EPA get’s their way, this would happen to a field that my family has farmed for over 100 years. They have put a spot right in the middle of it, saying that is has potential to be a wetland area even though it has never been wet the entire time we’ve farmed it. If their rule goes through, we would have to go through a permitting process to now farm this land. A permit from the EPA right now, can take anywhere from 2-6 months to receive, and they can still deny that permit if they want to.

This rule won’t just affect farmers. It affects every single land owner out there. Want to dig up and plant a garden in your backyard that has that dry crick-bed majority of the summer 25 feet from it? Think again. Permit time. How about mowing that ditch in your front yard that fills up with water for three days after a heavy rain? No way. That is now a WOTUS and you will need a permit to mow that lawn! These scenarios are all possible thanks to EPA’s new proposed rule and their interpretive rule. You can view how this rule has placed water in your backyard by visiting this interactive map. Just enter in your address and select the layers you want to see. This map is still only estimated to be a fraction of what the EPA wants to regulate.

The EPA wants to regulate fields like this now, and require farmers to get a permit. This field had a spot filled with water due to heavy rains this spring. In about a week or so, the water was completely gone and the farmer replanted this section. It doesn't stay a "pond" nor is it navigable!

The EPA wants to regulate fields like this now, and require farmers to get a permit. This field had a spot filled with water due to heavy rains this spring. In about a week or so, the water was completely gone and the farmer replanted this section. It doesn’t stay a “pond” nor is it navigable!

The interpretive rule is also a conundrum with what the EPA was thinking. They included 56 conservation acts that farmer’s currently and voluntarily practice and said that these conservation acts would not be subject to the rule or permitting process. However, the rule is put forth that in order to get a permit, you may have to have one or more of these conservation practices in place-not so voluntary now, is it? But want to know something, there is a list of over 200 (yeap, 200!) conservation practices that farmers currently and voluntarily do. Farmers work with their local NRCS offices and soil and water conservation districts to implement many of these practices because they know it is the right thing to do, it benefits their land, wildlife and water and it just plain and simply makes sense! Farmers have established relationships with these offices because they are the ones who know the area, know the land, and can deal with the unique situations that exist county to county, state to state, and even in the same field! Currently, those practices are voluntary. However, the EPA wants to make the NRCS enforce some of these as mandatory. Why does the EPA want to ruin these relationships and jeopardize what farmers are already doing?

These same exemptions or practices that won’t require a permit however only apply to farms that have been in operation since the 1970’s. That means many new, beginning farmers, the start-up CSA’s, and the local vegetable producers that are new to the scene are subject to the rule no matter what. They can’t be exempt, no matter what they do.

I know, the EPA has said that we are overreacting. That they won’t actually enforce their rule. They are trying to just make the definition more clear. But did you know that if the EPA doesn’t enforce the rule, other environmental groups such as HSUS, The Sierra Club and EarthJustice can, and knowing them, they will, sue the EPA for not enforcing it? Just because this administration of EPA says they won’t enforce it, doesn’t mean the next administration won’t either.

The Young Farmers & Ranchers group from the MN Farm Bureau dropped off 1400 postcards telling the EPA to ditch the rule!

The Young Farmers & Ranchers group from the MN Farm Bureau dropped off 1400 postcards telling the EPA to ditch the rule in Washington, D.C. last week!

Last week, on my trip to Washington, D.C. I was able to be part of a group that dropped off 1400 postcards from Minnesota farmers, community members, land owners and concerned citizens telling the EPA to #ditchtherule already! Many of our House members from Minnesota voted on #Hr5078 and we are so thankful for those that did! Now, it is time for not only the Senate to take action stopping the EPA, but also you! Remember, Congress makes the laws, not agencies with an agenda!

How can you help? There is still time to comment on their proposed rule. Let them know how it will affect you! Visit Ditch The Rule  and click on take action! Get on social media and Tweet, Instagram and post on Facebook using the hashtags #ditchtherule and #readthefineprint with your updates. Let the EPA know this is a complete overreach of their authority and as a citizen and landowner, you are not okay with it!

In farming, the cows have to get milked today, and the crops need to get picked when they are ready to harvest. We can’t wait 6 months for a permit from the EPA to say “yes” or “no” on something we’ve been doing for years. I don’t think any landowner can wait 6 months for a permit to mow their lawn before they’d get a fine from the city or county. Time to take action.

-Sara

Minnesota State Fair – Food, Felfies & Farming

The Minnesota State Fair is approaching quickly! It starts August 21st!

For anyone that knows me, I have not missed a Minnesota State Fair in my 24 years of life. I love going! I love seeing all the new attractions, people watching, visiting with my former co-workers and of course all of the food! I always stop for garlic fries from Ballpark Cafe and Hawaiian Shaved Ice! You can’t leave without some Sweet Martha’s Cookie’s either. There truly is something for everyone.

What better way to get your questions about food and farms answered while slurping a shaved ice or munching on a foot long hotdog? You can do just that while visiting the Minnesota Farm Bureau booth at the state fair! The booth is located at 1305 Underwood Street, directly across from the Food Building and behind the Giant Slide. You can’t miss the red barn looking building.

Garlic Fries and Hawaiian Shaved Ice are 2 musts on the food list if you haven't  had them yet!

Garlic Fries and Hawaiian Shaved Ice are 2 musts on the food list if you haven’t had them yet!

Farmers will be available to answer your questions about farming and food. I received a lot of questions about our family farm last year, and how we are ensuring it passes down to the next generation. Folks want to make sure our family farms can continue to operate and feel very strongly about it. I do to. I want to make sure our future children can farm if they would like to as well. It was nice to hear how passionate some of the fair attendees were about this.

You can also register to win one of three $50 grocery gift cards! You take a “felfie” (farmer selfie) with one of the farmers in the booth, and post it to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #MFBFfelfie for a chance to win! There will also be drawings for children’s books and a rain barrel! And just for visiting the booth and learning some facts about agriculture, Minnesota Farm Bureau sets you up with a free insulated lunch bag! These are super handy for car trips! We use ours when traveling to pack snacks in! You will also have a chance to receive the a recipe for a Minnesota favorite hotdish! What is more Minnesotan than a hotdish? They sure aren’t casseroles in this state!

Don’t forget to take a ride in the AgCab Lab while you are in the booth either! It gets you inside a real tractor cab and at the controls to virtually plant and cultivate your fields. It is really awesome for kids to hop inside and grab the wheel and learn how to let their cultivator and planter down using hydraulics.

Take a ride in the AgCab Lab tractor while visiting the booth!

Take a ride in the AgCab Lab tractor while visiting the booth!

We will be there on 2 different days volunteering to staff the Farm Bureau booth, answering any questions you might have about how we grow your food, what our crops are used for, our farm plans, and more! We hope you will stop by the Minnesota Farm Bureau booth during the 12 days of the Great Minnesota Get Together!

Come see us at the Minnesota State Fair!

Come see us at the Minnesota State Fair!

-Sara 

 

Wisconsin YF&R Tour Recap

I am thankful for the early risers, especially those that are dairy farmers. Recently, Mark and I were able to hop on a Young Farmers & Ranchers tour to Wisconsin that focused on dairy.
Mark has never grown up with livestock, where as, I have, so it was really eye-opening for him. I don’t think we will be starting a dairy herd any time soon though. It was interesting to learn about a side of the agriculture industry we both aren’t too familiar with.
I wanted to share our tour stops with you through some of the photos below!

Our first tour stop was ABS Global in Deforest, Wisconsin. ABS Global deals with genetics and reproductive technologies. Honestly, I never knew that semen collection could be so interesting – haha! The process and science that goes into picking out specific genetics to breed the best beef and dairy in the industry really is fascinating!

ABS Global deals with genetics and reproduction.

ABS Global deals with genetics and reproduction.

The bulls in the first photo are young stock, and depending on genetic markers, may become one of the bulls used for semen collection. The middle photo is of the lab, where each sample goes through rigorous testing. Everything from count to mobility gets tested to ensure that the product is good and will produce offspring with the genetics the purchaser wants. The last photo is of the mounting bulls. These didn’t make the cut in terms of genetics, but because of their size, are used as mounts for the other bulls. You know how the man in your life seems to have a preference for blondes or brunettes? The bulls are the same way. They have a preference for their mount and their handler!

Next we toured Sassy Cow Creamery.  Sassy Cow Creamery bottles their own milk, makes cheese and ice cream.

Sassy Cow Creamery in Columbus, Wisconsin.

Sassy Cow Creamery in Columbus, Wisconsin.

Sassy Cow Creamery has both an organic and conventional dairy operation. They have 450 head in their conventional diary and 250 in their organic. They are also known for their ice cream. Check out those flavors in the photo! They have close to 50 different flavors. Don’t worry, I sampled some. I tried the Maple Walnut and it was delicious!

Our 3rd tour stop was a robotic dairy. Talk about high-tech! Don’t think technology and farming have anything to do with each other, think again!

Robotic Dairy Tour Stop #3

Robotic Dairy Tour Stop #3

The ladies basically milk themselves. In essence, when they feel they need to be milked, they make their way into the parlor where a robotic arm with a laser measures where the teats are and then cleans their udders, milks them and then treats them when they are done. When she is done, she just walks on her merry way back to the loafing shed.  Each robotic style arm even showed how much milk she was producing and expected to produce, as they have a sensor they wear that registers when they enter the parlor. This also means, a cow can’t get milked twice if she is coming in to try and get a second treat after just having been milked. One tried to get away with that while we were watching. It was quite a site to see! The dairy even had what can be described as a giant Rumba vacuum to clean up in the loafing barn area.

This girl kept giving me the stink eye.

This girl kept giving me the stink eye.

 

 Our last tour was to Rob-n-Cin Dairy in West Bend, Wisconsin. This family farm has so much happening on it, I’m  not sure how they have time to themselves!

Rob-n-Cin Dairy is a family dairy that has tons of plans for expansion!

Rob-n-Cin Dairy is a family dairy that has tons of plans for expansion!

Rick gave us our tour and talked about all the things they have happening from their calf sheds to their recycled manure bedding! His sister is also starting a new business operation based on ag tourism, and just constructed a building on site to be used for educational purposes for the farm tours. Rick is also finishing up his time on the National YF&R Committee for Farm Bureau. They have rooms to expand their herd to at least 1,000 head in the future in order to support the expanding family. They will be building an additional barn and holding tank in the near future. Their recycled bedding was really interesting. They separate their solid manure from their liquid, and reuse it as bedding. It is literally like a very fine sand that the cows lie on. You can see her in the photo above just hanging out in it. They have been able to cut down on the amount of straw bedding they use, and are able to now sell some of that instead.

 

I’m really thankful for opportunities like this tour as part of my membership to the Minnesota Farm Bureau. One of my biggest goals in agriculture is to learn as much as I can about every other type of farm operation out there. If we can all share our information and experiences, then we can continue to make agriculture better for those working in it or just entering it. We noticed things like barn set-ups, or office set-ups that we liked and could use on our farm. We asked questions about financials and marketing. There are some great insights we can learn from each other, and these tours help make it happen!

-Sara

How Time Flys: 2013 Recap!

I can’t believe 2013 is almost over! Sometimes I really wonder how time seems to move so fast.

Some days, I feel like I’m just getting older! Case in-point: my niece turned 16 and got her drivers license this year, my vehicle hit 155,000 miles and is now over 10 years old, we bought a house, and I got excited about getting a water softner installed! Yeap, definitely getting older!

I wanted to do a little recap about what we all did in 2013. Sometimes I can’t believe the things I’ve already forgotten! I think my resolution for 2014, will be to start a journal so I won’t forget everything! It truly was an amazing year full of wonderful blessings and busy schedules!

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico!

I started off 2013 with a trip to Cabo San Lucas with my friend Karrie and her parents! Her mom & dad have been like a 2nd family to me since about 4th grade! They are organic farmers in my hometown and I’m still fascinated by how they do weed control! Her dad calls my hubby for troubleshooting on their combine too :) It was my first “real” time in Mexico (I’ve been across the border at Progreso) at a resort with drinks, whale watching, fancy restaurants, pool and beach sitting and so much more! It was fantastic and a much needed vacation away from Minnesota weather!

Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas – January 2013 with my friend Karrie!

P!NK in concert! The Xcel in St.Paul!

So normally, a concert probably wouldn’t warrant special attention for me in a year. We go to a few every year. But frankly, P!nk’s concert was pretty darn amazing! The acrobatics involved were crazy and she sang a wide variety of her songs so it brought me back to middle school! I was able to go with a large group of friends. Pictured below are my friends Liz and Karrie. The other reason this warrants a special mention: get out of your bubble! We couldn’t find a place to sit in a restaurant as all were packed downtown St. Paul, so Karrie just sauntered on up to a booth full of women and sat down. We made some great friends (paid for their meal for letting us sit with them) and had a blast!

P!nk concert

P!nk concert in St. Paul!

Traveled to Seed Savers in Decorah, Iowa

So for whatever reason, this year I decided to try out this whole heirloom seeds thing. Needless, to say, my garden did not have much success other than radishes, some spinach, carrots and green beans. No tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce or pumpkins grew. I’ve never had any trouble with them before and my mom is a garden whisperer as she has worked for two different greenhouses, and has never had trouble with her plants before. My mom chuckled and gave me a big old “I told you so” when it came to that one. From now on, I will be sticking to getting plants and seeds that are conventionally grown and are from our local green houses. We have 2 fantastic ones in my area: Donahue’s and Drummers.  On the plus side, we were able to learn a lot from our trip down there. I even wrote a post about it. I learned my lesson, and my mom was right…again.

At Seed Savers Decorah Iowa

Traveled down to Seed Savers in Decorah, Iowa.

We bought a new (slightly used) camper!

We bought a new camper! This was so exciting for us as we love to camp! We had been camping in a 1979 pop-up. Retro orange interior and everything! We sold it for what we bought it for, and purchased this baby: a Jayco Quest 5th wheel! We camped in our yard the first weekend we brought it home.

New Camper

Our new camper!

I Graduated!! (Insert cheers here!!)

I finally graduated! I received a B.S. in Sport Management and a B.A. in English Literature from Minnesota State University, Mankato. I seriously thought I would be done with school. Then I decided to further my education and started my graduate studies during the fall.

Graduation from Mankato

I graduated!

We put another crop in the ground.

This warrants a huge mention in 2013 because we literally didn’t know if we would be able to get a crop in the ground this year. We worked in our crop insurance guy, our seed salesman, a implement dealer and the big Guy upstairs to make it happen. In MN and surrounding states we were involved in a situation called prevented plant. It was a mess. The fields were way too wet, acres were left unplanted and equipment broke. Luckily for us, we were able to change out some of our fields to soybeans, and in some areas of our fields we just pulled up and left it unplanted. However, neighbors weren’t so lucky with whole fields going unplanted.

Corn coming up

We put another crop in the ground

We completed three 5K’s, including the Warrior Dash!

Here’s what happened this year in my training for running. I ran my first 5K in early May which was a hills 5K through a State Park. I didn’t do too terrible all things considered, but ended up pulling a muscle in my back-I know weird. Since then, It made running and doing everyday things difficult. I completed 2 more-one I walked with someone who had never done one before-my momma! Plus, she completed hers with a knee replacement! You go mom! Then I completed the Warrior Dash, which thankfully my friend Nicole stuck with me throughout it because my asthma kicked in full force after the first hill. Go me. But I did finish them all, and the Warrior Dash was a blast. It left me bruised, bloodied and full of mud, but it rocked!!!

After completing the Warrior Dash.

After completing the Warrior Dash.

We traveled! Vacation to South Dakota!

We took our camper across state lines into South Dakota this year for vacation. Mark had not been back to see Mt. Rushmore since he was a kid, so I decided it was time he saw it again through adult eyes (I have been there various times growing up because we stopped on our way to see family in Idaho). We were able to visit Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands and Custer St. Park. We visited 2 different wineries: The Naked Winery and Prairie Berry Winery as well as visited Firehouse Brewing Company in Rapid City. We went horseback riding, hiking and swimming! It was a blast and a very busy vacation.

South Dakota- Custer St Park

We traveled to South Dakota!

We purchased our first home!

So there’s a ton of things wrong with it: location, it’s not in the country, its tiny, there’s no fenced yard, no heat registers in the main room of the basement, we trip the circuit breaker every time we plug in the vacuum and the kitchen is definitely not big enough. BUT it is our house, our own space and we’ve already made many memories there. It does have good qualities like original hardwood floors, all brand new appliances, a brand new kitchen, new bathrooms, new carpet, and a new furnace, plus a small heating and electric bill. It is closer to Mark’s family’s farm, but further away from my mom’s. In the future, we hope to build somewhere in between the two. It works for now, and it is a big accomplishment for us too!

New house

We bought a house!

Minnesota Farm Bureau

There’s a few things to say here. We completed another year doing the Speak for Yourself program! We were elected to the LeSueur County Farm Bureau board. I completed an internship with the Farm Bureau. We were also chosen to be featured in the Minnesota Farm Bureau building at the Minnesota State Fair! Below is the photo that was used. We also worked up there in the building too, helping answer questions about farming. Most were surprised to find out we were young farmers, and I had a moving conversation with one lady about farm protection and land protection so we can keep farming. It has been an awesome year as members of the Minnesota Farm Bureau!

Mn State Fair Photo

We were featured in the Farm Bureau building at the MN State Fair!

AgChat Conference 2013

I was able to attend not one, but two AgChat conferences this year! Wow. Feeling so blessed. The first time I kind of went on a whim to the regional conference in Rochester, MN, as my fee was paid for with a scholarship. I learned a lot and immediately put it on my calendar to go to the conference! The actual conference was in Charlotte, NC. I met so many amazing people that are farming, blogging, and telling their stories. It was inspirational, motivational, and thrilling. I walked away with a renewed sense of self, and more reason to tell my story. I truly hope I can get to the next one!

AgChat 2013

AgChat Group…Ready to get loud.

We celebrated our 1 year anniversary!

In 2013, we were officially married a whole whopping year! We took 1 year anniversary photos and went to the Cheesecake Factory. I thought the photos would be a great way to commemorate a year and to see where we’ve come in our marriage every year. So from now on, I’m going to try and get photos taken around our wedding anniversary time. It will be fun to see the changes every year!

1 year anniversary

In September, we celebrated 1 year as a married couple!

I painted my own masterpiece!

Okay, so maybe not a masterpiece, but I had a great time painting my own canvas! My friend Nicole, invited me to go to a Wine and Canvas night up in the cities with her. It put me out of my comfort zone, and I had to struggle a bit with the painting, but in the end, I walked away with a new work of art that hangs in my office. I still think it is awesome how different our paintings look when we painted the same picture! I also was able to spend some much needed time with a friend I’ve had since high school!

Painting!

Wine & Canvas

We harvested a crop.

I feel like no matter what, having a harvest will always be a highlight of the year. You just never know if you will have a crop at the end or not. We were really worried about yields with the wet spring, and then having drought conditions in July and August, then having freezing cold temperatures in early September. I’m thankful we were able to get the crop in the bin with very few issues.

Harvest 2013

Harvest 2013

Had a blog post get lots of attention

Some days I write and wonder if anyone is even reading this. Then I wrote a blog post about women farmers wearing makeup. Needless to say, it got some attention. I can’t thank the blogging community enough for all their support and sharing of it. It was pretty awesome, and it gives me encouragement to keep writing.

Women farmers wear makeup!

Women farmers wear makeup!

We were in our first wedding together (not as bride and groom!)

I know, a weird milestone, but we come from two very different towns an hour apart with a very different group of friends. We were so honored to be part of our friends wedding as a bridesmaid and groomsmen (we even got to walk down the aisle together!) because it felt like a milestone for us as a couple. Both Amy and Aaron were my friends before Mark and I were together, so it definitely means a lot for the two of them to include and be friends with my husband. It was a fun wedding, even if it was freezing for the first weekend in October. We danced a lot, Mark told the story of Aaron eating one too many cream puffs at a party we had, and Amy had us take some sweet pics on her parent’s farm. So thank you to Amy & Aaron for letting us be a part of your big day and for giving us a new milestone as a married couple!

wedding photo

Our friends’ (Amy & Aaron) wedding!

Spending time with family

One of the many things I am thankful for in 2013, was being able to spend time with family. We (my mom, myself and Mark) were able to visit my aunt Linda, who is my dad’s sister, and pictured below. She has been battling cancer for, well as long as I can remember now, going through remission then it coming back. The doctors have told her they can’t cure her this time, but try to keep the cancer at bay, instead. Linda is a fighter, so she keeps going back for treatment. I treasured the time I was able to spend with her this fall, because frankly, you just never know.

Visiting my aunt with my mom

Visiting my aunt with my mom

Well, that’s all she wrote for 2013. Thanks for recapping some of my biggest moments with me. I’m ready for a new year though. A new year focused on our farm, my husband, my career, schooling, and personal growth. I have already signed up for a free online class (besides my graduate studies) about agriculture that starts in 2014 and 2 conferences. I also am making sure I include a little bit more time for fun this year as last year was consumed with school, work and internships. I’m also making sure I focus on my marriage, and how we can grow as a couple and bring God as a focus in our relationship. I’m excited for 2014. How about you?

one of the photos from our 1 year married session

one of the photos from our 1 year married session

-Sara