5 Signs of a Displaced Farmer

You may be a displaced farmer if you give directions using east or west, or you think all your neighbors in town really need a rain gauge. Like fish out of water, townies immediately spot displaced farmers recently (or not so recently) moved from the farm to living in town.

Growing up, I longed to live in town. I dreamed about living just a short walk from the drugstore or Dairy Queen. I imagined what it would be like to play with other kids in the neighborhood. When I received my driver’s license, I dreaded our long gravel lanes in winter; let’s just say neither brothers, nor dad loved plowing snow. I eyed our snow covered lane between telephone poles. #livingonaprayer

Top Five Tell Tale Signs of a Displaced Farmer

You may be a displaced farmer if….

1.) The concept of “designated” trash days confuses you. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know I still fail to grasp this concept. Even after living in Paris for 18 months, kind garbage men and neighbors move my garbage the curb for me. Thank the lord for people helping their slow neighbor.

2.) Locked doors and house keys add weight to your bag or pocket. Growing up I never carried house keys. My family never locked our doors. Even when we went on vacation, my grandparents and hired hands worked down the hill from our home on our home farm. One of our county deputies also lived a few miles down the gravel road. Now I lock my doors each time I leave my apartment and before going to bed.

3.) Window blinds represent a huge colossal hindrance to your life. This is the everlasting battle between sunlight and privacy. On the farm, we never worried about neighbors; blinds served to shield from blinding us at the exact moment the sun went down. Are neighbors really looking if you open the blinds? When is it safe to raise the blinds? And who are these neighbors looking? #thestruggleisreal

Open space as far as you can see!  Sam, our yellow Lab loves to say hello!

Open space as far as you can see! Sam, our yellow Lab loves to say hello!

4.) You still get giddy inside when you realize restaurants deliver to your address.  Growing up, we automatically answered carryout to any pizza place that asked delivery or carry out.  Living out of town, no one understands that you actually can distinguish between trees and fields to find my house in the country. Contrary to popular belief, not all rural scenery looks the same!  And finally…

5.) You still consider your ‘vacation home’ to be the farm. After all, when I take vacation time, I often return to my family’s farm to taste fresh sweet corn, head out to the backyard to play with our Labrador, and hitch a tractor ride or two during spring planting and harvest.

And my mom’s response to my childhood complaints above? Remember, that gravel road got you to where you are today. Fair point, because now I miss those gravel lanes and our dog,  greeting me when I come home. In town, I love my neighbors and I still get excited when I have time to go home for lunch. I also love the convenience of taking five minutes to run the store or go out to eat. But I always remember my ag roots.

Lay of the Land (Land for the Lay!)

American farmers lay claim to providing the safest and most abundant food supply throughout the world.  In a culture of food fear, GMOs (genetically modified organisms), animal antibiotic use, and gluten and dairy free concern all consumers.  What reassures consumers of food safety?  Moms, chefs, foodies, celebrity health experts ask the million dollar question?  Do farmers face safety regulations for crops and livestock?

Your answer?  YES.  Farmers face regulations from livestock site regulations to water reporting and the latest change in Waters of the United States.

Antibiotic Use: Farmers like southern Edgar County farmer Tom Ogle and Delmar Bell use antibiotics for their beef cattle responsibly.  Why use antibiotics?  Like in humans, farmers use antibiotics to cure infection in sick animals.  Government regulations regulate that antibiotics in animals be used not for “production” purposes, but to “prevent, control or treat illnesses in food-producing animals under the supervision of a veterinarian.” In other words, antibiotics are supervised and distributed by veterinarians to cure infections in sick animals.

Livestock regulations:  Ever heard of the Livestock Facilities Management Act in our great state?  Before farmers begin to build new facilities for hogs, cattle, or poultry, Illinois law gives farmers guidelines on how far back they must build from any residence, waste regulations for animals and public information meetings for the public.

In addition to these regulations, farmers also comply with the Clean Water Act to keep drinking water safe, report water usage, and follow regulations based on science for biotechnology.  I highlighted just a few issues farmers follow.  In addition to these regulations, farmers voluntarily best practices to farm to remove both nitrates and phosphates from water.

Family farmers account for 98% of all farms in Illinois.  Interested in our process?  If you need more interactive views, visit www.watchusgrow.org.  Here, Chicago moms tour Illinois farms and meet Illinois Farm Families.  Chicago moms ask Illinois farmers questions about seed choices, humane treatment of animals, and even Monsanto.  Your biggest reassurance lies in family farmers: Farmers grow safe and healthy food for their family and yours.

And if you still question farmers’ integrity and commitment to the land?  Visit a place such as China where they regulate food in propaganda only.  Firsthand I experienced health effects of unregulated standards of food.  If you ate today, thank your nearest American farmer!

Ode to Fair Kids

So many Farm Bureau and ag t-shirts, so many memories to go with each one. T-shirts and polos from Farm Bureau trainee programs, agriculture in the classroom, fundraisers, and all kinds of agriculture based events. Today’s t-shirt was John Deere green encouraging teachers, farmers, and those passionate about agriculture to “Plant a Seed, Grow A Mind.” Throwback Thursday transported me back to Rock Island County fairgrounds. Someone had a sense of humor because I taught sheep to hundreds of elementary school students. If you know me, you know I grew up on my family’s grain farm, no livestock there, save a black Labrador farm dog.

Just a few of my AgVocate t-shirts!

Just a few of my AgVocate t-shirts!

No one could have predicted I’d sound like an expert to first graders…and their curious adult chaperones. A few awkward questions later and I let chaperones in on the secret; I was a farmer fraud when it came to sheep.

Admittedly I didn’t always appreciate hotel rooms across Illinois or moving counties each month as a trainee. As a trainee, I also landed in a pig pen teaching pigs, helped run a tractor pull, learned to shoot a pistol, participated in a dairy tour, and facilitated a Congressional Forum. When I look back, I experienced so many opportunities not available in other positions. In hindsight, I worked hard and gained many manager mentors that still support me today.

Thomas Edison once said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Now I treasure those memories and learned so much. I evolved and adapted in the three years I’ve spent with Farm Bureau.

To all those who work so hard and diligently on projects, keep lessons learned, friends made, and awards earned with you. I understand your hard work with projects and care for your animals; hard work pays off and leads to opportunities beyond your imagination. Good luck to all showing at the fair!