Thursday, March 13, 2014

Part 1 Farm Life Series: Oh the things we do for our husbands!

Wednesday morning the weathermen were able to redeem themselves a bit from the miss on the last "big snow" with a royal bull's eye at our farm.

It is always hard for me to sleep when I know a big storm is coming, especially when school is not called off or delayed the night before.  Call it Momma's Worry; it is what it is, which means I can tell exactly when the rain turned to snow at our house....right around the magic hour of 4:45 a.m. (which was and still feels like the 3:45 a.m. time it was a week ago!)  Anywho....Don't even get me started on the time change!

Turned on the local news at 5:00 a.m. to see what was happening; meanwhile, Tall Guy got up, dressed, and ready to head to Lafayette with three cows scheduled to go in for processing.  I made him swear he would turn around if the roads were too bad.  Well, he did come back but just to get his phone!  Meanwhile right at 5:45 the calls started to come in announcing that school was cancelled.  We had two calls, apparently the first call had the wrong month, but SERIOUSLY PEOPLE!?!?!  You know the nice lady was calling school off for this morning!  Then the phone rang again.......

"Honey?  Can you do something for me?"

Me, groggy and almost ready to go back to sleep, "Uhm....yeah..(DANG!).... Is this going to involve me going outside?"

"Sorry Babe, but yes.  Could you go out to the cow lot and run the conveyors so that they don't freeze up as the rain turns to ice/snow?"

"......(silence).......Well, sure!  I'm guessing you are talking right now?"

"Yep!  Love you Babe!  Gotta keep going down the road."

For those of you who have not been out to the lot with me on other posts, we have a set up that is a bit older than me, so let's just say 50-something. It was built when Tall Guy had the dairy, and we still use it to feed our cows.  The whole thing is tied in to our silos, where we keep the silage, but it's basically out there, unprotected from the elements. If any of the chains freeze or break, then we cannot pull silage out of the silo or grain out of the bin and feed it in the bunkers......Big Important Stuff..... AND it's been my experience that 98% of the time there is an issue with the feeders, it's either very hot, very cold, or very wet!  I've been out there in the middle of a thunderstorm....loads of fun!

So out I went at about 6:00 a.m. taking my spoiled I-get-to-sleep-in-the-garage dog with me.  She wanted to play!?!?!  WAY TOO EARLY AND COLD FOR THAT!

Every window pretty much looked like this or worse.  Bear said she couldn't see a stinkin' thing outside because all the windows were covered.

This is the chain I had to uncover and unlock.  Hands were freezing, and I was trying not to drop my phone on any hard surface or into any organic matter.

And this is the control box with all the buttons I needed to push and few I needed to NOT push.

This is what it looks like on a nicer day.

 And here are the lovely conveyors and shuttles that needed to run and get the water out before they froze.

And on a drier day.

I quickly discovered, much to my dismay, that what looked like a big pile of snow was, in fact, a big pile of poo with about 2 inches of snow on top of it!  CRAP!  (pun intended)

And then, of course, the cats discovered me and were underfoot until I fed them.  These guys are supposed to be in the tool shed, but I think they ate all the barn cats' food.  Oy!

Feeding Frenzy!

All of this fun took a good 45 minutes to happen, and by then I was wide awake and worrying about TG getting his silly self home with the truck and trailer in tact.  He did, and off we went to greet the rest of the day.  It may seem like farmers are not so busy once the combine is put away, but there is always something to do on the farm, especially when you have livestock, and a lot of it seems to occur in the most extreme weather situations.  Hope you all enjoyed the sleeping in if you got the chance!

*All these pictures were taken with my Samsung Galaxy 4 phone that was doubling as my flashlight!  Have I told you how much I love my phone?  I did nice them up a bit with this new Lightroom program I am trying out. The options on photo editing are very cool, what I have figured out about it anyways.  The secret to a long life is to keep learning!

Stay tuned for more stories from the farm!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: DC at Night

One of our group members shouldered the load and arranged for a group bus tour of the National Monuments at Night.  It was chilly, but I am so glad we went.  The Washington Monument is still undergoing repairs from the earthquake last year.

Here is what we saw:
The Capitol

The White House

The World War II Memorial

The Jefferson Memorial

The Martin Luther King Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial

The Raising of the Flag at Iwo Jima
I think this was my favorite one!

I was also able to visit the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, the National Holocaust Museum, and the American Indian Museum.  The National Holocaust Museum was very moving, a must see when you are in Washington.  I wasn't that impressed with the American Indian Museum.... I just thought there would be more to it, BUT the restaurant was an experience because the selections were based on different areas of Native Americans, like the Northwest, the Plains, and so on.  The Air and Space Museum was fun, and I wish we had had time to go into the planetarium.  Those things fascinate me, but we were running out of time to see it all.

There is nothing quite like being in our nation's capital.  I already have the bug to plan a trip out here with the girls so we can see it all.  I think, though, we will fly and rely on the Metro and taxis.....I don't believe our marriage could stand the crazy driving in the big town.  ;-)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Whew! Working with Indiana Farm Bureau in Washington D.C.


Yep, I decided to go to Washington D.C.

Yep, I left last Saturday afternoon in order to miss the "BIG SNOW" and make a Monday meeting in Indy before leaving very early for D.C.

NOPE!  It barely snowed here or there, but it did lay down some ice, so I feel justified in spending a lovely day and a half in Indy with my cousin and her husband who spoiled me rotten.  It was a good thing they did because I hit the ground Monday running, and it was a marathon race to the end of Thursday night at 11:35 p.m. when I finally pulled back in our garage!

I've told you I am President of Benton County Farm Bureau right?  Nope?  Well, I am, and nope, I don't sell insurance.  My group is, and you can look at us as a sibling of the insurance company.  We are the "farm" part of Farm Bureau, and one of our jobs is to lobby for good agriculture legislation at the State House and up on Capitol Hill.  This visit did put me right in the middle of my not so comfortable zone, but it was a great learning experience, and we all need a better understanding of our government.

The first day we were hit with A LOT of information on the following issues:
1. Ag Labor:  Immigration Reform
2. Clean Water Act: Definition of "Waters of the US"
3. Sound Science and Access to Biotechnology
4. Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
5. Tax Reform: Cash Accounting and Section 179 Small Business Expensing

See?  Brain overload, but much of it really did start making sense to me.  So after a wonderful seafood buffet that we shared with about 200 middle school kids, (glad I decided NOT to eat dessert!), we went to bed with all sorts of laws, bills, and amendments dancing in our heads.....that and a little train music from the tracks outside our window and construction outside our rooms.

Wednesday, after a couple more speakers on our issues, we were off to The Hill.  We even hailed taxis! That is not something I do not every day, week, month, or year for that matter!

We were able to stroll around the Capitol for just a bit, then we met with Senator Dan Coats.

Next on our list was a visit with Senator Joe Donnelly.  Shelby Sigma, one of two Indiana FFA officers traveling with us, joined me in this picture.  She is a 2013 graduate of Benton Central High School.

Indiana Farm Bureau Policy Leadership Group

Then we all went out for the usual group shot.  While we were posing, the VP was zipping in and out of the Capitol just off to our right.

For lunch, we broke off into our legislative districts to meet with our House of Representative, Todd Rokita. One of his staff members took our picture, so I do not have one of those to share, but US Rep. Rokita took the time to talk with us between votes and even escorted us to the House Chambers to listen to discussions of amendments and business going on on the floor.  It was very interesting, but I am going to do you all a favor and tell you to leave all pins and metal tags/jewelry and such in your hotel room.  It was very time consuming to remove and repin every time we went through security, which was SEVERAL times!

One cool moment occurred as we ate lunch in the tunnels under the House of Representatives building.  A gentleman sat down beside us, and well, being from Indiana, we just naturally struck up a conversation with him.  He was an astrophysicist from Boulder, Colorado.  You would think once we got past the weather, we would run out of things to talk about, BUT we actually had one big topic in common.......GPS!  Part of his work involves the satalites in space that we use to communicate locations and lines in our fields!  That was very interesting.

Next post will be a big picture post on what we saw in DC, and then I am going to share a great Giveaway from a VERY WELL KNOWN company who publishes WONDERFUL cookbooks.  Stay tuned; you could win one of this books for your very own!  Have a great Tuesday!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Junior Achievement 3rd Grade Style

Before I tell you all about my trip to Washington D.C., I have a blogging assignment I have to get in here before Monday afternoon. My last JA lesson is all about "A Place Where People Communicate," and one of the sections is about BLOGGING!  WOO!

If you ever have a chance to involve yourself in your school's Junior Achievement program, please take it!  It is so much fun to teach these kids about community, government, and money management.

I've been doing this program for the last four years, and I have taught both 2nd and 3rd graders.  It's soooo fun!

Now I will tell you that Tall Guy had a bit of a worried look in his eye when I told him I was off to teach the kiddos about money management.....Oh Yee of Little Faith!  Have you ever met a farmer who thought his wife could manage money better than he can? ;-)

Ah the dreaded credit card.   It's the one spending method you don't directly pay off but, or course, the first one you should pay off.

This lesson was all about budgeting money and paying bills in a timely manner.  We learned about paying utility bills, when to and when not to use a credit card, what it means to use a credit card, and how life likes to take your money for the darndest things.  While this entity didn't pop up, I told them to watch out for FICA; it's a nasty thing that likes to take a big chunk out of your pay check.!

One of the projects was to play a game called "Piggy Bank," which is kind of like Monopoly.  They had a lot of fun managing money and keeping track of their bank accounts.

My goal at the end of these five lessons was not to have each child understand tax withholdings and interest rates ( I'm not too sure I can explain those to myself some days!)  Our takeaway is to understand the difference between wants and needs, and know that it is hard for Mom and Dad to meet everyone's wishes after all the important bills are paid.  They also learned about sales tax, and we learned about how a city is planned out and the reasoning behind each "zone."

Yep, there's Bear at the far right.  I just love watching these kids grow up to be young adults.  They will go double digits later this year, FOUR in the month of November!  Just like our money, these years can fly through your hands before you know it.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Tough Call: How do you traveling working moms do this?

I have an incredible opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. with Indiana Farm Bureau to meet with our state's legislators and learn more about how Ag and our government work together!  After a meeting in downtown Indy on Monday, our flight leaves VERY early Tuesday morning, so I'm spending the night in Plainfield Monday night........ I think.......




and the last insult to all this snow:  BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW WILL OCCUR!!!!!!


This sounded like such a fun adventure when I signed up for it several months ago, but my crystal ball/Magic 8 Ball is really doing a poor job in projecting the future, at least weather-wise.  Because of all this astronomical drama, I have been mentally through the wringer all week trying to decide the proverbial or at least lyrical question "Should I stay or should I go?"

What?  What did you say?  I'm sure I heard equal shouts of "GO!" and "STAY!" all at the same time....maybe it's just all in my head.....

How do you working ladies whose job requires travel do this?  I have laundry in the washer and dryer, will pack my bags, and in a couple of hours, I will head to my wonderful cousin's house just a few blocks from my Monday meeting to camp and see just how far I will get on this journey.

This is such a weighty decision.  It helps that Tall Guy is fine with me going.  It doesn't help that I am coming off a steroid pack (trying to stop the muscles in my body from attacking each other.....that's another long story).  It helps that the girls want me to go and make sure I get my picture taken with the President of the United States.  It doesn't help that I will miss Tink's sports banquet.  AND it doesn't help that I am 98% certainly leaving my family to be stranded for at least a couple of days in the middle of nowhere with 134 cattle to feed and water.....

And yet, I think I am going to go, and probably about half of you will be cheering me on, praying for a safe trip, while the other half will be shaking your heads and wondering why I'm not staying home with my family.

At least that's what the two warring sides in me are doing.......

Stay tuned!