Of all the seasons in Iowa, late summer has a few perks on the others. Have you ever noticed how many creatures sing their songs in August? I love going out to our old windbreak north of the house. I head straight for the hammock; I like to close my eyes and smell the evergreens and just listen to it all. Today on our farm, I've heard a variety of animals singing their songs. The accidental free-range chickens (they would never let us not hear them, for even 3 minutes, I suspect), the dog snoring, a male Cardinal, a Blue Jay, crickets, a Ruby-Throated hummingbird that flew into the garage (no joke), frogs in the waterway up the road, and of course the locusts. The guys that always let us know fall is coming.
For so many of us in Iowa and in agriculture, we say "fall" but our minds think "harvest time". The busiest season of all.
I'm looking forward to harvest this year with a new kind of deliberateness.
There is an increasing clamor around our food these days. I know, this isn't a surprise. Most of the clamor stems from people and organizations profiting by spreading fear (read: lies) about farming. Groups that I won't mention here are all spinning tales about conventional agriculture... and they are making billions of dollars from it. It's sad, and we don't really like to talk about it personally, but it's true.
So what do we in agriculture do? Really, the answer is easy.
We tell the truth to those that will listen. That's our song to sing. Your story is quite possibly your greatest asset in 2016 America.
The truth always makes its way out, think of how many times you've seen it proven in your life. Those of us in conventional agriculture have this, the very best armor, on our side...the truth about how much we care and how safe our practices are, the fact that we make decisions for our farm after considering how it will impact our grandchildren's lives.
But listen closely for a moment. There is no way for this message to get out if you don't deliberately share it. This means you, and me, and your neighbor, and your cousin, and your buddies in your local Farm Bureau chapter and and your friends on social media that keep posting really cute selfies with their cows (I'm wildly jealous of you people and your cow selfies. I NEED A COW IN MY LIFE).
So keep talking to your non-farming friends, ask them what their concerns are about their food. Invite them over to your farm. Ask them what they think about the labels on foods.
Share your life on social media and explain what you're doing. Harvest is an opportune time for this. Yes you're busy, excessively busy, no matter what your role in farming is.... but a couple times a day, you have 5 minutes to jump on your phone or computer. Post a thought or a picture of the combine, or your dad helping your daughter into the tractor, or whatever strikes you. Share that picture of your hunk 'o farmer that he didn't expect you to take, because he was actually just taking a few minutes out of his day to help you get equipment images!
Above: Quick snapshot of Eric. Oh I do love this picture.
Below: Brooklyn is the sunflower queen of the farm right now. Headbands. Bouquets. Necklaces...I'm expecting more creations this afternoon from her!
You might not think this a big deal. You might think, "This is just what we do, why would anybody want to see my kids riding in the tractor with me?" I'll tell you who wants to see it; the guy that works 9-5 in an office building and wishes he could set his own schedule like you. The mom in Indiana that was just diagnosed with serious health problems and all of a sudden feels overwhelmed by the food choices in front of her. These people need your voice.
If you're already doing these things, take it a step further, and seek out opportunities to talk to critics through respectful dialogue. Focus on giving your thoughts a bigger place to rest through a website or a blog for your farm.
Our culture is changing. People don't trust the "experts", in the conventional sense of the word, like they did in the past. People today trust people they can relate to, and they will trust you because they can trust your reasons for farming. They can relate to your life struggles, they can relate to your triumphs, they can trust your heart. They will trust you because people long to be connected to the earth again, to breathe in fresh air in the wide-open spaces, and to live a slower-paced life...the life you are leading.
They want a part of what you have, so show them how much you are still worth trusting.
Now, go. Think about all of that peace and trust that you have to offer this noisy world, and give the world a quiet, safe place to land for a bit. The locusts are calling, harvest is coming, what's your game plan?
Hello from the heartland! I'm Krystal... a farming wife and mom. I believe in living life and living it well. My Christmas tree is up year-round, usually half decorated. I'm a lover of logic and laughter, full-fat dairy products, photography, and starting off my days with God's hand-crafted Iowa sunrises.