The Hottest Topic In The Food Industry

Has got to be GMO's. Or Genetically Modified Organisms. Or Genetically Engineered Foods. I wonder if they will change the acronym now? Or the simple term Biotechnology.

Anyway, it's something that has become a norm in the grocery store, in the legislative, and a top concern among consumers.

The topic is one of my top questions that I get asked. Last week I decided to take a quick trip to St. Louis to listen to some of the top players when it comes to GMO's. And when I say quick I mean I spent more time in an airport and the car than at the meeting.

But, I will have to say that it is one of the best meetings I have been to yet. The knowledge was abundant and I feel even more confident in saying we grow GMO's and I support them. Here's why.

First off the speakers we listened to are both considered "experts" in biotechnology. So, some may say it is a one sided opinion. However, it's hard to argue when these people have dedicated their lives to not only biotechnology but providing food to underprivileged countries and have made it a personal journey of solving the world's food problems.

We discussed everything from the definition of biotechnology v. traditional breeding to the labeling laws that are trying to get passed in various states (It recently failed in California).

Traditional breeding is something you will see in heirloom seeds or even in the different varieties in the greenhouse you may choose your garden plants from. In traditional breeding you basically are choosing from a parent line and select the traits you are looking for and creating a new plant.

With Biotechnology a trait is chosen in one plant and studied for years and that trait is very well understood before being put into another plant.

I often explain biotechnology as us nudging Mother Nature along. However, it was pointed out that for over 10,000 years we have been interfering with Mother Nature, selecting what we want in plants (traditional breeding) and making new plants. In biotechnology we have vast knowledge of one trait and we aren't creating something new we are simply putting that one trait into something else.

I wanted to get the basic definitions before I continue on with my findings at this meeting. So, look for more in the next couple of weeks about biotechnology, feeding the world, and the Danforth Science Center that is doing AMAZING things in St. Louis.

Marrying My Farmer

When I married my farmer, some things had to change. I couldn't just run off to town real quick for what I needed to make supper, or even to run to town to pick out the perfect outfit for a special event. Tanning and getting my nails done are now a thing of the past. My favorite make-up counter is not even existent in the state of South Dakota.

And while I miss those things and enjoy when I do get the chance to be a "city girl" again, I wouldn't trade my muck boots, pony tails, or coveralls for anything.

I wouldn't say as I married my farmer that my hobbies have changed, but I definitely feel more confident and more credible now, than ever before.

I spent my childhood being involved in 4-H and FFA. When it came time for me to go to college I knew I wanted to teach, but wasn't sure what. When I made my decision it felt right. I chose to major in Agricultural Education because as an educator I would always be learning- because the Ag industry is always changing and evolving. And that was something I wanted to be a part of.

Through out college I was active in various groups promoting the Ag Industry. I participated in debates and forums. Even sitting on a committee in the Indiana State Department of Agriculture on improving education in rural Indiana. I was President of my 4-H groups, sat on various community boards, and actively an advocate for the importance of Agricultural Education.

So, marrying my farmer didn't chance my interests. It just strengthened them. Instead of just talking or teaching about farming, now I can talk about my real life experience with it. When I say that I support GMO's, I can tell you why we use them on our farm and the benefits that I see every day across the industry as a whole.

I spend my spare time doing my hobby. Being an Advocate for the Ag Industry. Something we need more and more of. I spend late nights blogging, replying in comment sections to articles speaking out against the Ag industry, speaking at various events, and when I get the time, traveling to talk about my blog and the benefits of using social media to engage with consumers.

Marrying my farmer didn't change who I was, it only strengthened what I believe in and he has shown me the importance of continuing to put on a face on agriculture.

Make sure that when you marry your farmer you don't fall away from your passions, but make sure you marry him because he makes you a better you.

Putting Your Relationship First

We are done! All of our crops have been brought in and are either sold, in grain bins, or bunkers tarped and ready to feed this winter.

Now, we are a bit out of the norm. I am pretty sure that the last statistic I saw on Friday was that only 40% of the corn was combined across the Midwest. But, my guys, they don't like to mess around.

We work long days and even longer nights. But, finally we have reached the light at the end of the tunnel.

Typically, harvest for us ends around the end of October and I have been planning for months about what our first after harvest date is.

However, now with our 18 month old running around all the time I haven't thought too much about it.

I believe that when you are married it's super important to always put your relationship first.

Even before farming. Except maybe during planting, calving, haying, and harvest.

Let's be real, putting your relationship first when you are married to a farmer is tough.

But, no worries- there are still plenty of opportunities to put your relationship first, even during the busy seasons!

It may mean working out differences while sitting in a tractor, working cattle, or sorting pigs.

Even when you have kids I think this is super important, your marriage and relationship should always come first. Plus, it is such a good example to your children to show that their parents love one another and truly care about the bond they have as husband and wife.

Here are some tips to always keeping your relationship first when dating a farmer.

Plan dates every week, month, or every 6 weeks.  Having a set day for dates really helps. Now, we are a bit flexible on this one. We don't stick to the exact day, but we try to aim for at least once a month spending time alone together just the two of us.

Plan exciting dates. I think trying to do new things is always great. My farmer, not so much. To us, in our small town, a new movie is pretty exciting! Whether it's talking the entire night or simply sitting in silence and enjoying one another.

If it's your one date night a month, do not go to a sports bar. I can not stand it when a TV is present at wherever we are eating. I got dressed up, brushed my hair, have on heels...I want the attention on me, not the baseball game.  Farmers spend a lot of time in the tractor and my farmer listens to a lot of sporting events so getting the chance to actually see one on TV is a real treat, which I get, but I also want that undivided attention.

Head to a Farm Show. Make a day of it. My hubby and I just spend the day at a farm show towards the end of the summer. We walked and walked and walked. And we also talked. And then we ended the evening at a decent restaurant simply sitting in silence enjoying each other.

Any other ideas on how you can put your relationship first with your farmer?

Love And Respect

I have always been a reader, ever since I can remember. My parents were often telling me to "get my nose out of my book" and partake in family activities. I was a social butterfly, but could easily immerse myself in any story for days at a time. There is just something that books do to my soul. They make me cry, make me angry, fill me with love...

Each year as I grow older I find myself being drawn to different styles of books. In fiction, I never would have picked up a science fiction book until a few years ago.

The last few weeks I have been running the grain cart in the fields most days and nights. I have read about 5 or so books. And it isn't because I have nothing to do, it's because soybeans tend to go slower, and there is always that perfect timing of a breakdown, or when the semi is running behind and isn't back to the field to be reloaded with grain.

A few days ago I was digging through my back pack trying to decide what kind of mood I was in. I then had to snap this photo as I chuckled at my various subjects.

I have a Christian Fiction Romance (Moonlight On The Millpond- Reread, so I love!) and my Bible study book (Not A Fan- Which is extremely convicting! LOVE!). I also have a book on the importance of advocating for agriculture (No More Food Fights- also a real eye opener!) and a book on marriage (Love and Respect).

Now, I am pretty much in love with every one of these titles rights now. But, I really wanted to talk about Love and Respect. My husband and I received this as a wedding gift four years ago. With all of the reading I do I haven't even touched it until the last few months. Amazingly enough. I think I have finally reached a maturity in my marriage to need it.

And it isn't because my husband and I are struggling, it's because I find myself wanting to find new ways to make our marriage even better.

The concept is that love best motivates a woman and respect most powerfully motivates a man.

An example that comes through in the book is the idea that in an argument a woman feels unloved, where as a man feels disrespected.

I completely, fully agree. When my husband and I do argue I find myself sometimes feeling like he doesn't love me (Even though I know he does). I feel like he must not care enough to really want to do what I want or really listen to what I am saying. When in actuality he may just not be wanting to hear what I say because of how I am saying it to him.

Now, I am only into Part 1 of the book- The Crazy Cycle. There are two other parts I haven't gotten to yet- The Energizing Cycle and The Rewarded Cycle.

The Crazy Cycle is exactly what is sounds like. A viscous crazy cycle. Without love she reacts without respect and without respect he reacts without love. It also gives some great advice for how to get out of this cycle.

I see this concept can often be applied in all relationships. I have often used the saying "To get respect you have to give respect".

So, I think the idea of this book pretty much hits marriage relationships right on the head.

I'm not saying that to have a perfect marriage you need to pick up this book. But, I will definitely say it has already in the last month changed some of the ways I communicate with my husband. I try to respect him more and I think he naturally has shown more love. And he hasn't even touched this book.

After four years of marriage, two miscarriages, life threatening medical conditions, and one beautiful little girl, I would say it is safe to say we have been on a roller coaster most of our marriage.

Our marriage has been through a lot and we have learned a lot about one another as individuals, as a couple, as business partners, as parents. And I foresee many more roller coaster rides in years to come. And I think advice on how to make things even better in our marriage is something I could never turn down.

Don't be afraid to pick up books on communication, marriage, or relationship advice. You may have something perfect already, but having the tools in place when you hit the bumpy spots on your road will only strengthen your relationship that much more.

My First Trip To The Farm

If you remember from my previous posts, this is the time of year I met my farmer face-to-face for the first time- down the road from our house on the exit ramp actually!

Anyway, my first visit to our farm was one of my first visits to what you might define as a "big" farm. And not just amount of acres. Family. Equipment. Commodities.

The first few days on the farm I spent it following my husband around with his (now ours) camera.

I basically was his pal around for the week, taking some time to spend with his family in between.

I remember my first visit seeming like the days were full- but not too full.

Now, when I moved to South Dakota just a few months later I moved right before we started chopping silage. And all of a sudden those full days became really, really long days. And nights.

There was a ton of running around, a lot of equipment getting moved, and a lot of caffeine-drive husbands.

And there wasn't any date nights for the first couple of months.

I remember being in awe of what my husband and his brothers had accomplished in such a short amount of time, and the relationship that they must have with their parents in order for them to all work together each day.

I remember my farmer telling me he worked every day of the week, but that didn't really sink in with me that first visit to the farm. It took a good year for me to realize that days off are few and far between- and they normally involve a visit to family.

If your first visit to the farm is coming up, bring your camera along and a listening ear. Make sure to ask lots of questions, chances are this is your match's pride and joy and something he is really passionate about!

From Field To The Feed Bunk

In case you are new to dating a farmer one of the things he may be talking about is chopping corn silage. He may have just finished chopping corn silage, or be towards the end of chopping.

I remember my first year on the farm, I thought corn silage season was fascinating...

Here is a post from my blog Stories Of A First Generation Farm Wife breaking it down for you, in case you were wondering what the hype is all about!

Corn silage season has officially ended around here. Time to clean up the chopper and get the trucks ready for combining soybeans. The pile is all tarped up and it feels good to be moving on to the next portion of harvest. 

Now, this post is a repeat from a few years ago, but I used to it last year as well because it explains corn silage and it also contains the first video I ever made using my Flip cam! Woo hoo for me! 

First, to explain a little bit about corn silage I am pulling this blog from over at South Dakota Corn's blog. They did a great job of explaining the purpose for corn silage. And plus, they are a great resource for more information about corn.

Late August and early September, or when the corn fields start turning from green to gold usually marks the start for corn silage season in South Dakota. Chopping corn for silage is a very popular practice, especially among cattle feeders as silage contains high energy nutrients and is easily digestible.
Corn silage is ideally harvested when the corn ears are well-dented and the plant begins to turn brown and dry.  Late cut silage that includes brown and dead leaves will produce a quality feed, but will yield as much as 30% less.
As the corn is chopped, the plant is still alive as it continues to breathe producing carbon dioxide and heat. When the plant cells stop breathing, the plant begins to ferment and will continue for around three weeks while the silage preserves. The less air reaching the corn silage the better, as it’s important to properly cover the pile or fill the silo with temperatures between 80-100 degrees Fahrenheit. Properly packed and heated silage will have a light-green to yellow color with a vinegar type odor.
Now that you know what corn silage is, here is a closer look at what chopping corn silage looks like...

Wedding Planning With Your Farmer

Now that you have selected the PERFECT time of year for your wedding, you now have to look at all the planning that goes into it. 

And, you definitely want to make sure your wedding is "farmer friendly" too. Keep in mind that you may have selected the perfect time of year for your wedding, however, the months before the wedding may be a busy season. 

If you remember, my farmer and I were engaged in July and married in November. That means that we had just about 3ish months to plan. And most of that was going to be smack in the middle of Harvest.

Once my husband and I selected the location, the details were left up to me. 

I would have been just fine with a big BBQ thrown at our shop, but my husband wanted a nice supper and a wedding dance to remember. 

I wasn't too picky on decorations or colors, but my husband had the idea of using the kids' tractors as part of the centerpieces and I loved it. I added in some various glass vases, some Fall foliage and it fit us perfectly.

 I have a really beautiful sapphire engagement ring, passed down from my mother. But, when I chose the ring I would wear everyday I chose a unique band with diamonds. No sense in wearing a 3 carat diamond around on the farm everyday. 

Instead of sand we poured two types of corn

We were married in the church we now attend on Sundays.

I was pretty easy going about what dresses my bridesmaids chose. Half of them switched to their boots by the end of the evening. All of our men in the wedding party wore black wranglers. And I may have climbed our combine ladder in my very white dress. 

Don't be afraid to pull details from the life you are going to have with your farmer. My husband enjoyed hearing the details and adding his own thoughts here and there from the seat of the tractor.

Planning a wedding is so much fun, but I think it's even more fun when you are marrying a farmer!

Marrying Your Farmer?

Is there ever a perfect time for a farmer to get married?

Honestly, I'm not really sure. But, there is always the chance of picking the perfect time of year for your farmer.

For example. If you are marrying a rancher, who mainly has cows that are having calves from February to June, you probably shouldn't pick one of those months.

If you are dating strictly a crop farmer, you probably shouldn't pick planting season (April) or harvest season (anywhere from September to November).

We don't make a whole lot of square bales anymore, but haying during summer is still pretty busy whether it's square bales or round bales. 

If you are marrying a farmer that has his hands into a couple of different things. Like crops and cattle, like me, pray for a really perfect year and pick a day.

My husband and I were engaged in July and we were married that November. We had to work around numerous this. Snow, for example. In South Dakota it blizzards something fierce and not only would snow deter our guests, but it would also keep my hubby focused on moving a lot of snow from our cattle feed yards in order to feed cattle. This took out December to March. We plant crops, so planting season, that takes our April. And harvest season, end of August to October for us. We always set the goal to be done by October 31st and in the five years I have been here we have only one time not made the deadline, the year we got married. Go figure.

Tarping our corn silage pile this Fall. 

My husband didn't initially want to get married in November. And I understand, but we both agreed summer was just too busy with weddings already and it's hot. So, we quickly cut out all other months of the year.

And, personally I have enjoyed three years of having our anniversary, soon four, on November 7. It's actually pretty perfect. Dating during harvest is already terrible, and we are busy, and we don't spend hardly any time together. Since we are normally done by October 31, what a better way to spend our anniversary than celebrating the end of harvest and another year of wedded bliss?

So, when thinking about what day you want to be special for you the rest of your life, choose wisely and be conscious of what season it is on the farm because your farmer may take time for your wedding, but he probably won't promise to take time for your anniversary in years to follow!

The Harvest Rush

If you haven't found out yet, you will soon find out, what the rush of harvest can really feel like. 

It means early mornings, very late nights, running back and forth from field to field, and having a farmer that is going a mile minute. 

The one and only tractor nap I was able to get out of this girl this week!
I raked some hay, and then some more hay....

And then some more hay....

And then when I was almost done my hubby baled it. 

I got to see this cutie smile at me every time I came to get her from her Daddy!
We have been chopping a lot of corn silage. Tomorrow this bunk should be completely full and ready to be tarped down.
I drove the water trailer around the section and watered all the new fence posts my husband set a couple of days ago. She is my helper. 
And, in the midst of harvest I am getting my garden cleaned up. She wanted to run behind the wagon because she could then talk to the cattle in the feed yard. 
And I baked 4 dozen cookies to get me through my cooking week for the farm next week. Not to mention two loaves of pumpkin bread and some brownies. 
I ended today moving the bales my husband baled yesterday. I stacked them all nice in a line ready and waiting to be hauled for feed for our cattle.

Our busy season is already busy with us being in the fields non stop, but that doesn't mean the other work just gets pushed to the side. There is still hay to be baled, cattle to be fed, fence to set, meals to make.

This is where the farmer's wife comes in, or girlfriend! :)

Happy Harvest!

New To Harvest?

For some of you this may be your first go round for harvest....Well, gear up because this may be a bumpy ride that you may find a little hard to understand at times!

Whether you are just newly dating, or even newly married, experiencing your first harvest on the farm is likely something you will not forget. 
My first harvest on the farm is something I will never forget! We had been dating a few months and I had just moved to South Dakota about a week before we started chopping corn silage. I spent the next few months riding along in tractors and semis, not only with my husband, but with his brothers, my sister in laws, hired help, and my father in law. 
I spent late nights curled up in the buddy seat of the tractor my head on my hubby's lap as he pushed silage. We took funny videos and funny photos and talked for hours. 
But, it isn't all sunshine and butterflies during harvest all the time. The truth is those long nights can get really long and having a meal not in the tractor is something you dream about for a few months. 
My best advice... 
Be understanding and be a part of it. This is the time of year farmers prepare for all year long. Farming is their passion and their livelihood, try to understand that and be a part of it. My farmer loves how I have became a part of his livelihood and I take part in harvest every year. 
Take advantage of one more romantic date night before harvest gets started, we had ours this last Wednesday. Having that last special evening before the busy season starts is something you can remember when you get sick and tired of the late nights and the non-returned phone calls. 
Surprise your farmer with treats. My farmer loves it, and I mean really loves it, when I show up with a fun treat for him in the tractor. If it's my week to cook I make one of his favorite meals. If it is not my week to cook I go for some of his favorite snacks, like a chocolate malt or homemade chex mix.
Offer to help out. You may have a full time job, or you may be in school, but offer to give rides, help fuel up a vehicle, bring out a meal, or even make a run for parts. It's the perfect chance to see harvest in action and show your farmer you are willing to work. 
And last of all. If this is your first attention. And I really mean that. Pay attention to everything that is going on- how much time is invested in bringing in crops, the long hours, the late nights, equipment breaking, the weather. I stress this because harvest is an important time of year for crop farmers. It is something you have to be sure you can live with every year for 2 or 3 months for the rest of your life. 
Being married to a farmer, or dating a farmer, is also about understanding the passion and love that goes into farming. Take this first harvest to really get to know your farmer and what he is all about. And enjoy your first Fall! It's a beautiful time of year and one that is amazing and wonderful to watch as we reap the benefits of the growing season! 

Where To Begin The Conversation

If the farmer you meet on FarmersOnly is anything like my my farmer you may find yourself staring at a very closed off conversation at first.

And what I mean by that...

The first conversation I had with my farmer after sending that first message went a little like this:

Me: "How was your day today?"

Farmer: "Good"

Me: "What did you do?"

Farmer: "Hayed"

Me: "Anything Else?"

Farmer: "Nope"

Really!? I mean where in the world was I supposed to go with that?

After about five very direct answers, and no reciprocation, I thought of the idea- I'll ask ten, you ask ten.

Basically what we did was I sent ten questions, he answered them a long with sending me ten back.

It may seem a little too simple, but in the beginning when you aren't really sure you are ready to give out your cell number, or meet in person, it really is the perfect place to start.

Because of these questions my farmer really opened up to me about tons of topics- and he actually got pretty good at typing too!

It's amazing how much you can learn about a person when you ask them ten questions every other day.

We talked quite a bit once we established this pattern because we were both excited to see one another's answers.

Don't be afraid to make them think outside the box either!

I asked everything from favorite color to greatest fears, dream vacations, and even what he thought the best qualities of his parents were. Music, strengths, weaknesses, ideal dates...

The thing about asking questions through the computer is that after awhile all walls seem to come down.

By the first time I met my husband on the exit ramp down the road from our home I felt like I knew every single part of him and being in his arms felt just right.

So, if you find yourself unsure of where to take the conversation I suggest the "I'll ask ten, you ask ten" method. And don't just ask the serious questions, ask silly questions. Ask what they love, what they hate. What they do on a Sunday afternoon off. Their favorite TV shows.

After weeks of only talking to my farmer this way- I really, truly felt like I knew him better than some of my closest friends.

Not to mention that if you talk and you learn to ask questions it's a habit that will continue through your relationship.

After 5 years of being together I still find us playing the "I'll ask ten, you ask ten" on long road trips.

And it's amazing after 5 years what you can still learn about one another!

Happy Conversing!

Dating with Flexibility

By the end of the summer around here we are typically finishing up odds and ends on the farm, around our home, and planning the last of our date nights for the next couple of months. 

But, more importantly we are gearing up for a busy, fulfilling time of year. Harvest. 

During Harvest we work long, we work hard; I go back to being single, and a single Mom. 

Date nights are few and far between and typically means it is raining. 

One the of most important things about dating a farmer, or being married to one, is the ability to be flexible. 

I am completely organized, on top of things- always, and prefer to stick tight to a schedule. Real tight. 

And I married a farmer. That often will call for a "quick" ride that turns into two hours later. A "quick" parts run that takes all day. And, "Can you come run the tractor for a little bit..." that turns into a 16 hour day. 

Needless to say, in the last 5 years flexibility and I have learned to live in the same house...not always happily, but we live. 

It's also important to remember that if you have animals they always, always come first. And that means 7 days a week, all year long. Even on Christmas. So, being flexible about having to move snow on Christmas day, instead of spending time together as a family is a definite possibility. It has happened to me twice in 5 years!

I have learned in my 5 years on the farm to take advantage of EVERY opportunity to be together, or else you will go awhile before you are together. It may mean sitting in a bumpy tractor for the day reading off and on, picking up rocks, and getting some good quality conversation in between. 

It may mean riding in the semi at 4 A.M. eight months pregnant just to spend some time with your hubby. 

It may mean taking silly pictures in the tractor at midnight while you wait for the last few loads of silage, because you only have a few to go before you are done. 

Flexibility and I haven't always been friends. 

But, I have learned to be flexible.

Some of the best memories I have of me and my farmer are during those long nights in the tractor taking funny photos, cleaning grain bins, driving around checking fields, and even a sushi date every now and then. 

It may be hard to be flexible at times, but I think you will find, just as I did, that sometimes the best memories come from those times of being willing to add some flexibility in your schedule. 

My Own Success Story

It seems only right that I start off my time blogging here at FarmersOnly with my own success story. I have so enjoyed reading everyone's and I always love sharing my own! 

My name is Morgan and my husband and I met on FarmersOnly back in the summer of 2008. We have been married nearly 4 years and have one beautiful little girl. Our life is full of love, laughter, and lots of farm work. But, we wouldn't have it any other way. 

Family time spent feeding the cows in the early Spring. 

A friend of mine actually introduced me to FarmersOnly and I decided one day to check it out.

The site actually offered three free days of service at the time. I decided to check it out for free, but there was no way I was going to pay for a dating website. (My husband on the other hand fell for the $15.95 a month hook, line, and sinker)

If you knew me personally you would know how outgoing, loud, and super talkative I am. I had to be the last person who needed a dating website. I was insistent I didn't need it.

But really, what did I have to lose? 

I actually met a few "farm" boys on the website. I have become great friends with an Ag teacher in Iowa, and of course my wonderful husband!

My husband and I spoke via email and texting for just over a month before we had our first phone call. 

The first time I met him in person it was on the exit ramp up the road from our house. 

We had about 5 minutes together before he took me to his parents' house to shower.

I then spent the next 2 hours meeting his brothers, their wives, their children, and his other friends and neighbors.

It wasn't really supposed to work like that. We had hoped to have a few hours together before I met practically every person he knew. But, thanks to Iowa traffic and a tire that blew on me in Minnesota, that didn't happen. 

I spent the next week following him around on the farm (Just because I was there didn't mean he stopped being a farmer!), a few days with his sister in laws, and then finally a really hard goodbye. 

Not too soon after that we decided that we were head over heels in love. 

I transferred from Purdue University to South Dakota State University, finished my degree in Agricultural Education, and married the man of my dreams. 

People always ask me how I met my husband, or how I ended up in South Dakota. I really have enjoyed telling the story and love that people get a kick out of the beginning to the rest of our lives.

I owe FarmersOnly so much for introducing me to my husband and I tell everyone that is looking for that special someone that FarmersOnly is a great place to start!