777: Consumers Won’t Survive

As a fifth generation farmer, my family  has been adapting to agricultural policies and regulations for over 100 years. The election in November won’t change that. The election in November will change our state’s ability to buy food in the grocery store.

I’m extremely passionate about 777, not just because I’m a farmer but because I’m a consumer too. My family raises many commodities but for those we don’t grow, we support other producers with our hard-earned money at the grocery store. I find it important to ensure my right to a safe and affordable food supply when I go to the grocery store, but I’m not just worried about me.

In high school I had the privilege of helping our honor society chapter in packing backpacks of food for our elementary students. Every week we would pack nearly one hundred bags of snacks and nutrition into blue backpacks that would go home with kids every Friday. Every week this task would break my heart. Children in my hometown, in my state were hungry. For reasons far beyond their control they weren’t promised to have a meal waiting for them when they got home from school.

The problem is, it’s not just my old elementary school. It’s every elementary school. It’s every classroom in our state. I would almost bet that you could ask any elementary school teacher in Oklahoma if they have kids in their class that are hungry and that their answers would form a unanimous “YES!”. More than 1 out of every 5 kids in our state are food insecure (Oklahoma Right to Farm) which means that as a state we have over 20% of our children growing up not knowing where their next meal will come from.

While I want to protect my right to a safe and affordable food supply, I find it important to protect kids in my community as well. I have seen first hand that there are families who struggle with their grocery bill. There are moms and dads all across our state doing their best to provide for their families and I can’t believe that higher prices at the grocery store would help them.

I may not buy the 68 cent can of green peas, someone is counting on it. While I may choose the more expensive beef cuts in the meat section, someone needs generic brand hamburger meat. Their groceries are JUST AS SAFE and JUST AS HEALTHY as mine. They deserve to have food in their budget as do I. While I may not spend extra money for organically grown food, I do believe it should be an option, just not a requirement.

We, as a state,  MUST ensure a wide variety of food at ALL price levels. I can promise you, the kindergartener who hugged my leg the spring of my senior year of high school, thanking me for bringing the backpacks, doesn’t care if his supper is GMO free. He needs food. He needs safe food. He needs healthy food. That is why I want to farm.

There are thousands of farmers all across our state working toward that same goal. If people weren’t hungry, we wouldn’t do what we do. Farmers don’t want to harm the land or livestock. We don’t want to pollute water. We don’t seek to destroy our environment. We seek to feed the greatest number of hungry people in the safest, most affordable way.

I urge you, as voters, to stand with me on November, 8th. Support kids and consumers all across our state by voting YES on 777.

 

 

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Something in the Wind

Wind is a strange thing. You can’t see it, but you can see its effect. You can’t point to it, but you can feel it on your skin. You can’t stop it or tame it, but you can use it. It can dry out a wheat crop, or destroy a house. It can cool you down. It can power your home. And in the world we live in today, it can even come knock on your door.

Before you exit out of this post and cuss me, hear me out. I haven’t made my mind up for sure where I stand on this issue, and my family hasn’t either. But no matter our stance on the issue, right now, wind is a big deal and where I’m from, it is knocking on the door of my family and our neighbors.

My family has worked for four and now five generations on the same land in western Oklahoma. We have seen good years, great years, and years that aren’t even worth mentioning. We have seen good health and bad. We have seen the communities that surround us join together and bless us with love and prayers and neighbors that have our backs no matter the season or time of day. It’s hard to think that the communities I have spent my whole life in are about to become so divided that relationships of even our closest neighbors will be in jeopardy, but they will.

Wind energy. Some love it. Some hate it. Somewhere in the middle is the truth. Growing up I was always taught to serve and honor my Heavenly Father in all that I do. I struggle with that daily. And today, this week, this month even, I’m struggling again. God has entrusted my family with land. Land that provides food and fiber to His people all across this world. We have tried diligently to ensure that we use the things we have been blessed with to serve the Lord and serve others. But, now, we have an option. We can use our land to further serve by providing power to families in homes all across our state and nation or we can preserve what we have and allow another family, another landowner further down the line to serve in that capacity. If we choose the former, we become the bad guy. We are greedy and selfish. If we choose the latter, we could miss out on an opportunity that could be game changing for our operation.

It’s not about the money. If my family cared about money, we wouldn’t farm. Trust me. It doesn’t pay to put food on your table, more times than not we lose money. Farming alone isn’t worth fighting for at the state capitol every year. Farming isn’t worth the long hours that are required. Serving our God IS. Using our daily jobs to feed and clothe His children IS. Getting to teach future generations how to work hard and serve others IS. If this is God’s way of providing a way for my family to continue farming and providing food and clothing for our growing world of children He loves, who am I to slap Him in the face and say I don’t need/want His help.

Many farmers, ranchers and land owners all around my area are facing a decision. One that will change the view out our windows for a good chunk of our lives. Some people see that as a blessing. Some see that as a change detrimental to our future. Somewhere in the middle is the truth. As you research and form your own opinions, don’t take anyone’s word for the what truth is. Go and see for yourself, go and study for yourself. Once you have made up your mind, act. If you are against wind farms, I support your decision. If you are for wind farms, I support that decision as well. But no matter your position, don’t curse your neighbor if they disagree. Controlling the land of others is a dangerous slope and fighting your neighbors just because you don’t like what they do is even more dangerous. It will open doors that can never be closed and close doors that will never again open. Today it might be wind farms that are a nuisance to neighbors, tomorrow it may be a cattle operation or a sheep herd. It’s dangerous, friends. We all have huge decisions to make in the coming weeks and months and having angry neighbors doesn’t make the situation any easier for anyone.

The truth of the matter is, someone is going to lose. Wind farms or no, someone is going to be upset. This is an issue far too divided for no one to be disappointed in the end. No matter where you fall when the dust settles or the wind dies down, if you will, this isn’t the time for throwing your sucker in the dirt and being upset. At the end of the day, we are still a community and we must act like it.

In the last weeks I have had the Parable of the Bags of Gold found in Matthew 25 on my heart. In the parable, a man going on a journey calls in his servants and divides his wealth among them. To one servant, 5 bags. To one servant, 2 bags. To the last servant, 1 bag. Each servant did what they believed to be best while their master was gone. The servant given 5 bags, gained 5 more. The servant given 2 bags, gained 2 more. The servant given 1 bag “went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.” Upon the master’s return, the first two servants were told “Well done, good and faithful servant!” as they had used what they were entrusted with to multiply and increase what they were able to give back. The third servant, upon his master’s return replied “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering were you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.” His master replied to him, “You wicked, lazy servant!” I don’t know about you, but I know which servant I want to be. Daily I fail at that task. I fall short of what my Father expects from me. Yet, he entrusts my family and I with ground that can be used and multiplied to further his kingdom. Pray for my family and I as we try to discern what our Father would have us do with the land he has given. Pray for wisdom as we choose which investments to make with that which we have been entrusted.

There is power in wind. There is also power the blood. While I worry about what my neighbors will think of the decisions we will eventually have to make, I care much more about what the Author and Finisher of my Faith has to say about what I do with what he has given to me.

You can be anything you want to be. Except a Farmer.

Growing up you always tell your kids that they can become anything they want to be, they can do anything they want to do. And when you tell them those words, you mean them, even believe them. Most of my play days found me with tractors, trucks and combines in my hands, not exactly the typical toys for a brown eyed, curly headed little girl.

This week I found myself browsing Oklahoma’s largest indoor farm show, in Tulsa. Thursday was a moderate day, but lots of looking and not much buying. As I walked down the isles I started to make a bet with myself. I passed booth after booth where vendors would glance at me, then continue to scan the crowd. I wasn’t who they were looking for. Not companies specializing in technology, not big machinery dealers, not even the Scentsy or LipSense ladies gave me a nod.

Granted, I am a college student who currently has $14.37 in her wallet. But, I am more than that. I’m the future of Agriculture. I’m a part owner in a 2500+ acre farming operation and irrigation business that services all of the state of Oklahoma. But, I’m a girl. And, a young one at that. I don’t fit the mold. I don’t have 50 years under my belt, my jeans aren’t Wrangler brand and I don’t wear an old co-op cap.

About 3 rows into the exhibits, without a single pitch or “Good Afternoon”, I made myself a bet. I walked out to my pickup and found a $20 bill. Walking back in I slowed my pace and let my eyes pay more attention to each booth, trying to make eye contact with the vendors. If one of them pitched their product, the $20 was theirs. My stubborn streak kicked in and I was ready to prove a point.

Half-way through the exhibits, still with no luck, I paused at a booth here and there, even picking up brochures on possible additions to our operation. Still nothing.

I made it through the entire farm show. Every booth. Every equipment display. The only interaction was with family friends that stopped me to catch up on family and farming. Not a single pitch. I didn’t fit their mold.

I can be anything I want to be. I can become a lawyer, a senator, an accountant, an astronaut (okay, maybe not with the current classes I’m enrolled in..), ANYTHING, even a farmer. I have every intention of following the passion I have for agriculture, I intend to follow it all the way back to the red soils of Caddo County. I know I am capable, I know I can put in the work, but there are still many bridges I must cross, beginning with the one that requires me to break the mold of what a farmer looks like. Let’s face it, I’m probably not gonna rock overalls on a tractor, and Red Wings just aren’t my style. But then again neither are hot pink work gloves (Seriously?! Am I working flamingos?! {No offense intended for flamingo farmers}).

I am somewhere in the middle. I’m young. I’m female. I’m the future of Agriculture. I’m one of many like me who will be putting food on your plates for the next 50+ years. At least try to sell me a tractor, I’m gonna need a few.

P.S. The $20 that I got to keep bought me a pretty good steak for supper. Pitch to the young female. She might just buy your dinner, she might even raise it.

America’s Greatest Homecoming. Stillwater’s Heaviest Heart.

Stillwater is always full of life, today it seemed like all the air had been sucked out of Payne County. It might have been Gameday, but today was not like any other day. When the sun came up this morning all signs indicated it would be a great day in Orange Country, as the sun set Orange Country was again forever changed.

I remember the night my parents came in my room to tell me a plane had crashed on its way home from Colorado carrying 10 friends of OSU. I remember the day “Remember the Four” became a household term for the Cowboy Faithful. Today, a new phrase will be added, with just as much sorrow as the ones that came before.

As my head and heart try to comprehend all that happened, I only come to one conclusion. God is Good. Before you close this, hear me out. God loves me, in my sin, in my doubt, in my disobedience. In my sin, shame, guilt, God is Good. As I type this, a girl just a few years older than me sits in a cold, dark place, feeling guilt, shame, pain, regret. In that place, God loves her. God is Good. While I pray for the families effected by today, I also pray for the soul of a girl who made a mistake. I pray she sees the goodness of my Savior, that she draws near to him. I pray I get to spend eternity with her. I pray that she allows Christ to radically work in hear heart.

Today, the choices several had made over the years of their lives became eternal. Their answer became final. I pray for comfort for the families and friends who will attend funerals in the coming days, with the realization that a decision to follow Christ can become your “final answer” at any moment. I pray that the families can find the peace that only God can provide in the midst of their broken situation.

As we end a long day of sadness and hurt I am overwhelmed at the love of my Heavenly Father and the love of my Cowboy Family. Being a Cowboy is never an easy road, today, a pothole has jarred us to our core, but ‘Ever you’ll find us, Loyal and True, to our Alma Mater, O-S-U!’ We are Stillwater Strong.

Commodity Classic and the Man I Never Met

Commodity-Classic-Round

There have always been a couple organizations that I feel like I will be part of for the rest of my life. For example, each time I leave the Oklahoma Farm Bureau convention I know deep down that I want to be part of the organization. Wheat meetings are usually the same. There is usually twinge in my heart that always makes me want to come back, similar to the twinge I feel at the end of wheat harvest.

This year sitting at the National Association of Wheat Growers Meetings held at the Commodity Classic in Phoenix, AZ the feelings are here again. The same “wanting to be part of ‘that'” feeling, except slightly different.

Sitting in the board rooms this week listening to committee meetings and reports, I thought of Dad often. Shocker, right? Usually he crosses my mind over a dozen times each day, but the past few days have been different. I ran into friends of his, people he used to argue and joke with, and my heart felt heavy. That’s the man I never got a chance to meet. Sure, I knew Jeff Krehbiel, but to me he was just Dad. The 13 year old I was when he got sick never really asked the questions I would now, given the chance. I knew he went away for business meetings or trade team trips and I have seen his resume. I know all the things he did, but I never knew the man he was. I hear stories about his board room banter or how he could compromise while still make everyone happy. People have told me about his ornery side that was so wide, it made chickens out of napkins at the nicest steakhouses across the country. Those stories give me an idea of the side I never got to see.

In some ways, I guess he never really met me either. I wouldn’t be half the person I am today if I hadn’t lost his current, daily influence in my life. People often say I would make him proud if he were still here, and I know without a doubt that would be true. At the same time, with him here I probably wouldn’t have been given half the opportunities I currently have.

In more ways than not, I am following in his footsteps. I want to be the farmer he was, I want to be the leader he was, I want to be a voice for agriculture like he was. At the same time, I will never fully know who that person was. I will be making my own way and my own place in the Ag industry.

The Commodity Classic is one of the best places to go to get excited about Agriculture and its growing future all across the world. As I hop on the plane today, I leave Phoenix with a heavy heart, yet a stronger excitement for the possibilities that Agriculture holds for me as well as others who wish to make a difference and a brighter future for the next generation.

As always, Go Agriculture and Go Pokes!

Bedlam: From Little Brother’s Perspective

Last night before I went to bed, I remember thinking “well it doesn’t look good, but if there ever was a year for us to pull out a Bedlam win it’ll be tomorrow..”

Today as the Cowboys took the field with nothing to lose, I found a blog post from some Sooner enthusiasts. The moral of the story: that their little brother from Stillwater was coming down to play and the game wouldn’t be much to write home about, only a moral boost for OU headed into bowl games. Funny story…

Oklahoma State is NOT your little brother. We might lose to OU more than we win, but we are the most loyal fans you’ll ever meet. We aren’t second rate, we have one of the best educational programs in the country that draws students from all over the world. We even developed the turf we played on tonight in Norman. We aren’t stupid. We aren’t beneath you. We are Cowboys.

I’ve had orange blood running through my veins since before I was born. The passion I have for the color orange runs deeper than a t-shirt from Chris’s University Spirit or a Joe’s cup. It makes nights like tonight worth it.

Just because we might appear to be the underdog, doesn’t mean that we don’t have the ability to make a comeback. When Bedlam is on the line, there isn’t a prediction or score spread worth the paper it’s printed on. It’s about heart. And folks, Cowboys have a lot of heart.

Go Pokes!

Coach Hohmann's newest sticker.

Coach Hohmann’s newest sticker. A couple years ago on a Bedlam win, I started a rivalry with my (OU enthusiast) softball coach. I put a OSU sticker on his windshield and three days later he vowed to get me back. He got another addition to his collection tonight!

Why Christmas Isn’t Hard After Losing a Loved One

Christmas isn’t hard for me.

Well, maybe that is an exaggeration.

Five whole years ago my family spent Christmas in the hospital. Isolation. Gloves. Masks. Gowns. Booties. Hairnets. The whole nine yards. Dad had a virtually undetectable white blood cell count. He came home after 20 days and I opened Christmas presents the night before I returned to school.

Four years ago my family spent Christmas in the hospital. ICU. Visitors by twos. Breathing Tubes. Feeding Tubes. Family Christmas in the ICU waiting room. The receptionist tried to warn me that it was against the rules for families to take over the small sleeping rooms to have a gathering. I politely informed her that it was Christmas Day, there were three other unoccupied rooms if needed, and that I, as a 15 year old, was about to spend the last Christmas with my Father here on earth in an ICU waiting room. We had Christmas.

Three years ago I celebrated my first Christmas without Dad here. It was hard. One third less presents. One third less laughter. 100% less football playing in the background to my Christmas Morning gift opening.

Christmas has changed tremendously for me over the last 5 years. Though I have grown up 5 years, some days I feel much older. Christmas is no longer in presents under a tree. It’s not in the carols or decorations. Christmas is hope. Christmas is the reason I get to see Dad again some day. He isn’t here to celebrate that gift anymore, he is WITH the gift. That is reason for celebration.

Let’s face it Christmas isn’t hard.

The other 364 days are.

During the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, empty chairs are more noticeable. Family and friends recognize the people who aren’t here. On those days, THEY aren’t forgotten. On those days, the immediate family doesn’t feel like the only ones who remember. Now, I know that many people out there remember Dad often, for some even daily and your kind words and reminiscing bring a smile to my face and help in my healing. But, often, grief is a lonely journey. Feeling as though you are the only one who remembers what things used to be like.

Hard days for me are the ones when I pick up the phone to call, only to realize I am now dialing my own phone number. Hard days are when I find myself doing things he used to do without even meaning to and he will never see the woman I am becoming. Hard days are when the air is turning from summer to fall and all I see in my mind is dirt sliding over a concrete box.

Hard days are the ones no one else ever knows about.

Sure, Christmas is hard. Every year 2011 on there will be an empty stocking hanging from our fireplace and an empty Lazy-Boy on Christmas Morning. But those are the days when everyone else remembers, and my pain is lessened.

As you sit around the table with your family during this Christmas season, you will probably have an empty chair as well. While I wish you peace and comfort during the Christmas season, I pray for your strength and peace on the days no one else realizes are hard. I trust you all to do the same.

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14