Monday, November 28, 2005

With much thanks

Thanksgiving was a wonderful holiday this year - - so much to give thanks for, so much to hope for. We had dinner (more commonly known as "the great feast") at Robin & Andy's. In attendance were Mark & DJ (Marcus & Heather), Tom & Deb, Robin & Andy (Matt & Justin), and us. Ken & Kay weren't there, and it was a great disappointment to us all.

Went to my mom's for supper (another "great feast"). Gramma Geneen, Wade & Laura, Blake, Kimber & Bryce. Took a lot of pictures.

Quick (unsuccessful) shopping trip on Friday.

Mom came over Saturday night and we watched The Polar Express.

The Simpsons took Grace home with them after church, so Brett and I had a wonderful, quiet afternoon together.

Terrible winds last night with lots of rain. The house was actually shaking! Thankfully, we didn't lose any shingles. But, we did lose the back storm door - - needed to be replaced anyway.

Constant Christmas music on the radio today - - life is good!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Farmgirl by Mary Jane Butters

A farmgirl is anyone
who sews or knits or weaves
(or wants to learn how).

A farmgirl remembers
her mother or grandmother paring apples for pie.

A farmgirl believes in the strong arms of friendship,
community and the just plain fun of being together.

A farmgirl believes in connection.
a farmgirl ...
isn’t afraid to go it alone.

A farmgirl takes joy in the quiet satisfaction
of making things with her own hands.

A farmgirl wants a world that is sane, and just,
and clean, and is willing to do her part to make it so.

A farmgirl doesn’t have to live on a farm.
There’s a farmgirl in all of us.

Farmgirl is a condition of the heart.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Painful Truth [WARNING this entry contains content contrary to widely accepted farming practices]

Why is it that in Iowa, a state most often self-identified with personal responsibility, morality, and a firm desire to have the heavy hand of government leave them alone is almost always the one caught red-handed as hypocrites, not only accepting, but seeking government handouts?

Some argue that without these government subsidies, our ability to negotiate in world trade would be hindered. What happened to free trade and capitalism?

Some say that farmers can’t afford the inputs, land payments, and the cost of purchasing and maintaining the large equipment necessary to farm the acreage needed to break even. The buildings full of large, expensive equipment wouldn’t be necessary if farmers would learn to “get by” with 350 or less acres. There are also issues of "keeping up with the Joneses."

Others argue that the subsidies are utilized to assist the local economy. How? Ask the local car dealer (farmers around here buy new vehicles nearly every year). Ask the local lumberyard and contractor (farmers receiving some of the largest subsidies in this county are known to build the fanciest homes in town). And, of course, ask the local bar owner (you’ll find many of those shiny new pick up trucks parked in front of the bar every afternoon). This abject behavior gives all of us involved in agriculture a bad name. There’s also a common reaction among farmers to not want to discuss their farming operations; is it due to the fact that they might reveal just how much you and I are paying to subsidize their chosen vocation?

Dick Thompson of Practical Farmers of Iowa asserts that by having a small farm (350 acres or less), owner/operators “are able to manage each acre with exceptional care, minimizing reliance on the sure-fire chemistry of Monsanto and Dupont – thus minimizing cost and environmental damage as well.” Thompson’s farm is not organic (he uses a variation on the five-year crop rotation), but they have used pesticides only once in the past twenty years. They use no antibiotics or hormones in their pigs and cattle. They do not plant genetically modified crops, yet they have some of the highest crop yields and lowest soil erosion rates in their county. They also have a solid, although not lavish, farm income – without government subsidies, having long ago sworn to refuse them, an act of defiance that many find particularly confounding. Thompson continues, “The problem is we’re raising commodities out here, not crops. But commodities don’t make communities. It takes people to make communities.”

Friday, November 18, 2005

October 2005 at Gracious Acres

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Let the Christmas Music Season Begin

Today, I brought three holiday cd's to work: Carpenter's Christmas Portrait, Santa's Top 10 Favorites, and Midnight Clear. The Carpenters album has been a favorite since my mom bought it when I was a wee girl. Karen Carpenter singing "Ave Maria" is the essence of an angel.

Was thrilled to get a response email today from Lisa Kivirist of Inn Serendipity (Wisconsin). I'm awaiting her book "The Rural Renaissance" (co-authored by her husband John Ivanko). I anticipate spending many cold winter days cuddled up and poring over the contents.