Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What It's All About

As the daughter of an Ohio hog and grain farmer, I've always been passionate about my family's work. I never could understand how people could be so stereotypical about something they've never encountered, like agriculture. From a young age, I was taught that the best way to help people learn about farming and livestock, was to be proactive about it. For many years, the easiest way to do that was to tell my classmates about the animals I showed at the fair, or to give them a tour of our farm. As I got older, the challenge got harder however. Three huge things happened in February of 2008 that I will elaborate on on a little. 

In the early part of February, my dad sat us all down and told us that the hog farm we'd been used to was going to change. Instead of having a 300 sow (mother pig) farrow to wean operation, we'd be converting to a wean to finish farm. The amount of hands on work, the birth of the piglets, and the monthly weaning that I'd grown so used to over 17 years was about to end. When the semi came to take away our sows, I felt like a part of me had died. It may not seem like much to you, but not waking up to sows screeching every morning for feed was heartrending. 

The second major event that changed my life, happened during the morning of February 28. My agriculture education class was hosting representatives from Chipotle restaurant. In a series of presentations and questions and answers, we were able to share our opinions on Chipotle's stance on agriculture. Basically, unless our animals were kept outside and fed grass, we were considered "factory farmers". This attack was personal. That morning changed the way I looked at my life. No longer was I going to be able to skate by on assuming people knew the truth about farming; I was going to have to fight for it. 

At 3:30 in the afternoon on that same day, February 28th, we got a call. My 53 year old father, the rock of my life and the inspiration for my love of farming, had collapsed while grinding feed. 2 hours later, he was gone. In the months that followed, my mom sold off her half of the partnership to my uncle for security reasons. While we still live at the farm, most of the time it seems like a shell of it's former self. After that, I've felt sometimes like a poser in the agriculture world. I no longer have the direct contact I'd grown up with and for some reason, this made me feel like I had no authority to speak about ag. Obviously, this isn't true, but for four years, I've had difficulty speaking up. 

The time for that is over; I was born a farm girl and I will always be a farm girl. I'm finally stepping up to use my God given talents to spread the word and the truth. I plan on creating a daily photoblog filled with photos I've taken and facts I've gathered to share the truth about America's number one industry. The posts will be from my heart and from the perspective of someone who has lived the agriculture life. I hope you'll come on this journey with me! 

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