Last week I went to the dentist and was surprised with an unexpected root canal. Nice, right?
The dentist explained the entire process and said that root canals have come along way with modern technology and were safe, and fairly pain free.
I shocked him and said, “Doc, I appreciate the offer but would you mind doing the procedure the same way it was done in the 50’s?”
OK, I didn’t actually say that. (Everyone knows you can’t actually talk to the dentist because they only talk to you with their tools in your mouth.)
I just nodded and embraced the modern advancements that made the process nearly pain free.
As crazy as that request sounds- for a patient to request a dentist revert back to practices from decades ago - it’s the same request that is thrown at farm families all the time.
“Grow food the way we used to.”
“Farm the way Grandpa did.”
“Technology doesn’t belong in my food.”
I understand there’s much more nostalgia associated with our food than a root canal. It’s more personal and frankly, there’s more at risk if we get it wrong.
But can I share something with you?
We aren’t getting it wrong.
I’m not claiming the system - especially the system beyond the farm level - is perfect. But overwhelmingly, modern farming is moving in the right direction.
The list of technology and advancements available to farm families like us is long: modern plant and animal genetics, modern chemistry, precision farming, data collection and analysis, improved machinery, more advanced weather prediction. And on and on.
All of this technology allows us to meet growing demands of a modern world with less: Less impact on our environment, less released carbon, less land, less water.
In other words - we are raising a safer, more transparent and more traceable product than ever before all while moving in the direction of actively protecting our environment and resources.
I want you to keep holding farmers and our industry accountable for doing it right. But I also want you to pause and think about the importance of technology in hitting those goals.
A person would be crazy to request a root canal with 50 year old procedures.
Likewise, it would be crazy to ask us to farm that way too.
(Corn pictured is a GMO hybrid with traits for insect protection and herbicide resistance, key traits for minimizing our environmental impact on our farms. It was planted and will be sprayed and harvested with machinery equipped with computers and GPS to manage outputs down to the square inch. If you ever want to understand how that technology makes us better stewards of the environment just holler.)
Well... we did it. We were in a hip little craft beer joint in Nashville, saw the Impossible burger on the menu, and ordered one.
Of course they wanted to send it out with a fresh baked bun, cheese and all the sauces.
But we passed on all of that so we could really get an idea what all the fuss was about. Here’s what we decided:
🌱 It is better with ranch. Matt jokes, “What vegetable isn’t?” (His jokes are getting worse the older he gets.)
🌱 It is fairly close, although not identical, in terms of appearance. The texture was a little off to me, but not as much as I assumed it would be.
🌱 It’s taste is OK, but we definitely didn’t fall into the category that is was the same as beef. It has a little bit of an odd after-taste but we also agreed a lot of that is probably disguised with buns, topping and sauce.
🌱 The smell is a little funky. Our waitress told us they really stink up the kitchen when they cook them. Again, that’s probably masked fairly well when it’s all dressed up.
🌱 It is not healthier. The Impossible burger is higher in fat, significantly higher in sodium, and short 7 grams of protein compared to lean ground beef. It does have some fiber (go plants!) that lean beef does not.
With all that in mind, we know a lot of the people that choose a plant-based burger do so because they’ve been told it’s a better choice for the environment. Unfortunately, that’s not true either.
Livestock are an important piece of a healthy, sustainable farming. Our cattle play a key role in maximizing our land efficiency, soil and water quality and cycling GHGs right here on our farm. (If you think they aren’t part of the natural ecosystem, don’t forget that millions of buffalo used to wander these lands.)
Agriculture as an entire industry only accounts for 8.4% of total US GHG emissions and we are well on our way to reducing that to less than 4% (USFRA, 2019). Livestock only make up a small portion of that.
Look, if you like this sort of thing - that’s awesome! We raise the grains that go into that plant patty too, so we are all about options. (We do however highly recommend you use ranch.)
But if you don’t like it - because of the taste, nutrition, price, or funky smell - that’s cool too. We get you. We are you.
Don’t let Hollywood, or Nancy next door, make you feel bad about that choice - because it’s actually a pretty solid one.
A lot of people write about young love or new love. Tonight, I had to write about our love - which isn’t young or new. But like a whiskey aging in a barrel, it’s only getting better.
“Are you two newlyweds?” She shouted at me, over the band.
“Newlyweds?” I must have raised an eyebrow.
“We’ve been watching you two. He doesn’t see anyone else in the room. We figured you were just married.”
I looked at him. He smiled - one of my favorite, whiskey-all-day smiles - and pulled me closer to finish our dance.
Oh no... when we were newlyweds I was a size 2. I was full of the confidence that comes from lack of living and certain we would never be more in love than we were right then, on our wedding night.
When we were newlyweds, that was well before he had seen me...
Seen me laughing so hard I spit coffee out all over my shirt. And crying so hard my whole body trembled with my tears.
Before he seen me transition from a careless, never-say-no to fun undergrad to someone that keeps a written planner and three calendars on her at all times.
It was before he seen me slim down to train for marathons and nearly double my body weight while growing his child (twice). It was definitely before he seen these stretch marks he swears he doesn’t notice.
It was before he’d seen me step up onto a stage to steal an audience, and watched me fall down onto the floor when it all has been too much.
He’s seen me sick. Fat. Thin. Ugly. Pretty. Strong. Weak. Happy. Angry. Sad. Scared.
Tired. Really tired. He probably sees me tired more than anything else...
But not this night. This night, hours away from home and the farm and real life we aren’t tired. We have rewound life for a single night, back to when our only care in the world was loving each other.
Back to when we were newlywed.
Only, now it’s better. Because we aren’t clueless, hopeful newlyweds praying this thing works.
The curtain is gone now.
Now, he definitely sees me. All of me. (Stretch marks included.)
And tonight, in this little bar crammed full of people, with a band playing all the right music, we aren’t kids, praying it works anymore.
Now, we know it does.
I answered her. “No, we’ve been married almost 11 years,” I said.
“To each other?” She laughed, shook her head and told us to have fun.
Here’s to love that ages like good spirits. 🥃
I spent the first few years of my adult life expecting my husband to manage all things financial. Even though I was working and bringing in a regular paycheck, those responsibilities seemed (in my mind) to naturally fall to him. It was a huge, and unfair burden I placed on him to carry alone.
Several years ago I became frustrated with not understanding where all of our money was going. I made the decision that I was going to step-up and get control of our household finances.
Looking back, I can easily say this is one of the greatest things I do for our family, farm and future. I now know exactly where our family spending goes and know that we are on track for our personal goals.
Below I am sharing a tool I've created to use for our budget. I do this twice a month, with each of my paychecks, and use this to manage our family living. (This is NOT a tool we use to manage farm income and expenses.)
This isn't a fancy tool. It's very basic. For me, it's perfect. For others, it may not work. But in the case it has some value to someone, I've decided to share.
I was pulling out to head north for Thanksgiving, leaving back my farmer, who has to stay behind to work, when a song was playing on the radio.
I’d do whatever she likes
Give her Christmas in July
She ain't gotta tell me twice
I would do, I would do anything...
I was signing along and then stopped.
Anything she wants?? What a load of crap.
It sounds romantic. It sounds like love - some guy willing to drop everything, spend everything, do everything because it’s what she wants.
And that might be fun. When you’re 17. But hear me - that ain’t going to cut it in real life.
There’s going to come a day when suddenly you find yourself smack dab in the middle of adulting. It’ll hit you out of nowhere. You’ll wake up one morning, exhausted, carrying an extra 5 pounds, and feeling hung over but you’re definitely not hung over because you don’t have time for a drink.
There will be bills to pay, college to save for, dinner to cook, and lists. Lists everywhere - lists for things to be done, things to be bought, things to be prayed for, things not to forget, things you already forgot, places you have to go, places they have to go...
You get the picture.
When you’re there. When you wake up in the middle of that chaos, not sure what happened or how you got there, you’re going to want a man by your side that knows how to say no.
No to staying in bed, even when you’d both rather, because there is work to be done.
No to dropping his responsibilities in the name of fun, because he knows his family counts on him.
No to spending money that isn’t there because corn prices are at rock bottom and bills still have to be paid.
No to complaining about leftovers three nights in a row because you’re just too beat to cook dinner yet again.
I know sometimes it sounds romantic to forget about life and just be in love. But trust me, when you find yourself in the thick of it all, you’ll no longer be intrigued by a man who indulges every whim and functions off what “feels good”.
Instead, you’ll treasure the steady, calm patience of a man disciplined enough to say no to what feels good and instead says yes to what needs to be done.
That’s love. Even if it means missing out on all the fun.
10/9/2019 1 Comment
I grew up with a family in the restaurant business and as a kid, loved everything about hanging out in our local, downtown business. So, when my husband climbed on board with the idea of running a small agritourism business on our farm, I jumped in. During that time, it’s become clear a few things people can do to support small-town businesses.
1. Shout the good out and whisper the bad in. This is the complete opposite of how we normally behave, and I am just as guilty as anyone. Think about the last time you had a bad meal in a restaurant. The server comes by and says, “How is everything?” Most people respond, “Fine.” Then, when they walk out, they literally tell everyone how awful the meal was… everyone except the one person who needs to know in order to change it – the business owner!
On the flip, when someone has a good experience, they will often rave to the business owner and then forget about it shortly after leaving. According to Andrew Thomas on Inc.com, a dissatisfied customer will tell 9 to 15 people. Only one out of every 10 satisfied customers will share about their experience.
So if you really want to see small town business succeed, change the way you communicate the good and bad. When something is wrong, quietly and politely let the business owner know. They can’t fix what they don’t know is broken. When something is good, be the one out of ten and tell your friends!
2. Stop in and hang. Atmosphere is so much of what makes a business work. When people see other people at a place, it silently communicates that place has value, that place is worth being at. When they walk into a place that’s dead quiet, it communicates something else altogether. Plus, a slow day is a HARD on a small-town business owner where every single dollar counts. Swing by and say hello. Hang out a minute. Buy a donut…
3. Try to avoid the big city comparisons. Our small-town business is an agritourism adventure, commonly known as a pumpkin patch. Last year we were over-the-moon excited when we hit our 1,000th visitor. It was literally the weekend before we closed for the season. Most businesses like ours are located near large population centers – or at least larger than the town of 4,000 and county of 10,000 that we call home. Many pumpkin patches will have a single Saturday attendance as large as our entire season attendance. As much as we want to be as awesome as “Big City Pumpkin Patch”, we cannot feasible do a lot of what they get to. Even if you tell us about six dozen times.
Instead of comparing small-town businesses to their big city counterparts, try to find the things that make small-town businesses unique – their super service, their quant, small-town feel, the fact that you’ll always know other people there, their great, up-close FREE parking, the amazing apple-cider donuts – and focus on those things!
Having grown up in a more suburban area, I can tell you – there’s a whole lot of value in small town businesses that the big city, or the internet, can never match. Find those things and appreciate them.
4. Share the love on social media.Small-town businesses run on tight – I mean TIGHT – operating budgets. Social media can often be one of the greatest tools a small-town business has to get the word out there about their products and services. Throw in the fact that a majority of American adults make buying decisions based off friend’s recommendations, your social media shout-out to a local business is HUGE!
Check in when you are at their location, tag them in your photos, and tell your friends about the great things you found or experience you had. Don’t forget – whisper the bad to the business owner to give them a chance to correct or explain. Posting negative things on social media first only makes a business owner feel bad and defensive. (Yes, business owners are people with feelings.)
Thomas says it takes FORTY positive customer reviews to undo the damage of a single negative review. Knowing that 88% of people read an online review before making a purchase decision, your social media love is priceless!
5. Vote with your dollars.At the end of the day, what will keep your small-town businesses alive comes right down to dollars and cents – literally. So go and visit and find something you just can’t live without (and then buy three)!
Matt and Kate would like to thank their own community for showing such amazing support over the last two years to this new farm tourism adventure. The lessons discussed above have been learned from the love shown to them by people in the community who are veterans at supporting small-town business with both their dollars and their influence. They are continually amazed at the efforts people will go through to help others get started – some of those people have already made two or more trips to the patch this year!
I’ve been hiding.
I have been doing these leadership and growth things. You know - those ones you’re supposed to do to get ready for all the other things you’re supposed to do.
Yea, those things.
I keep reading that, “because of my confidence and competence I need to be aware that I can intimidate those around me.”
Intimidate... those around me.
CRAP! I love the people around me. I don’t want to intimidate them. I don’t mean to intimidate them. I want them to like me because I like them.
And let’s be real, we all want to be liked. Not feared. Right?
So, that’s been hanging with me.
When I walk in a room, when I speak to an audience, when I speak up on a team.
“Careful Kate. Don’t speak to confidently. Don’t provide too much information. Act like you don’t know the answer. Pretend you don’t have any ideas. Don’t let anyone know you’ve spent hours researching to be ready for this. Don’t intimidate.”
Sunday morning, during a walk to check my pumpkins, I had a podcast playing. (God Centered Success with Mia Rene. Check it out, it’s good.)
She read a piece of scripture I’ve read a dozen times but never heard.
Sunday I heard.
Three men. Each, given a different gift from his master to manage. (In literal terms, bags of gold.)
Two, managed well and doubled their gifts. One, out of fear and not knowing his master’s heart, buried his gift until his master returned.
When his master returned, he responded to his fearful actions by calling him a “wicked and lazy servant.” (Matthew 25:26)
According to Matthew 25, Parable of the Talents, we are given unique gifts, “each according to his ability”. Those who use those gifts are called “good and faithful”.
Those who bury their gifts out of fear are called “wicked and lazy.”
The message rang loud and clear to me. Probably because I’ve been trying to bury my gifts out of fear.
But on Sunday I heard. I am to use those gifts. I am to use my own gifts for the works laid out before me.
And actually, so are you...
I’ll stop hiding now. And I’ll pray he guides me as I show back up and take my seat at the table. You can pray for me too.
When I was a little girl, I thought I could do anything, because, as culture told me, I was just as smart, just as strong, just as capable as anyone - especially any man.
As it turns out, that’s actually a load of crap.
But I didn’t realize it right away. I graduated college and entered my career still believing it. I entered the room believing whatever I thought, whatever I had to say, was equally as relevant as anyone else in the room. To hell with wisdom and experience- I was equal and I knew it because I had been told so.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when, but at some point, something clicked. And suddenly I realized, I’m not equal. I’m not equally as smart, equally as strong or equally as capable.
Now, I consider it one of the greatest blessings of my professional life to daily be sitting at a table where everyone around me is more intelligent, stronger and more capable.
Even at home, I’m grateful everyday my husband is physically stronger, more mechanically inclined and more detailed oriented than me. (If he wasn’t we would be in a real mess.)
Now, I’ve got some things I bring to the table. I’ll bring more passion than anyone. Whatever I give up in smarts I’ll make up for in work. I’ve got a knack for envisioning solutions that are outside the box, executable and more-often than not successful. I can understand complex things and then communicate them in an elementary way.
I’m good at those things - really good, actually.
But... I’m not equal. To the men, or the women, who sit with me. Sometimes (like in passion) I’m a little bit more. Often times (like in the details, mental strength or just plain intelligence) I’m quite a bit less.
We were created differently and our Creator doesn’t make mistakes. We were intentionally made to be more in some, and less in others.
Maybe that design is to keep us humble, or to encourage relationship, or maybe to constantly remind us that we cannot function alone. (All things that we have to remember to truly be in relationship with Jesus.)
I get the equality movement - it’s valid and important. But I also know the dangers, firsthand, that mindset can play if we encourage everyone to see themselves as the same, instead of embrace the differences God intentionally created us with.
I have been more successful as a professional, a wife and a friend once I learned to embrace myself as different, not equal.
This is not meant to disparage the Women’s Equality movement. As a professional woman who has experienced some of the problem, I want to clearly state those issues are real, worthy of attention, and in need of correction.
However, some of the conversations I’ve seen in relation to today’s equality celebration, attempt to promote the same damaging idea that I fell victim to. I have been more successful as a professional, a wife and a friend once I learned to embrace myself as different, not equal.
Imposter syndrome: the persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one's own efforts or skills.
I suffer. Some days a little. Some days a lot. Earlier this week I was having one of those days. I had an amazing opportunity and was surrounded by amazing people...
And felt like I didn’t deserve to be there. I didn’t belong and wasn’t qualified and at any moment everyone was likely to figure that out.
I was handling it by hiding behind my camera, staying back in the group, not taking a seat at the table.
I was doing well hiding right up until this guy, who happens to be the United States Secretary of Agriculture, quite literally pulled me out from behind my camera, from behind my group, and asked, “May I have my picture with you?”
Secretary Sonny - I know you likely do this a lot, it’s in your nature. But I want you to know that Tuesday morning when you did that to me you spoke much deeper to me in that moment than you’ll ever realize.
As you took a moment to visit with me about my career, my farm, and even tease me about being embarrassed, what you really said to this girl from Missouri who felt like she didn’t belong in our nation’s Capital City, was “It’s OK. Come up to the front. You can be here, you belong. You can talk and I will listen.”
Secretary, you have big, important things to do. And on behalf of all of us I’m so grateful you do. But in that small moment, you took your power and your position to pull someone else forward - to give someone else value.
And that Secretary, is the true definition of leadership.
I am forever thankful and will forever treasure this photo.
I need you to hear something right now. I need you to hear this loud and clear - I’m so sorry for everything this year has thrown at you. I’m so sorry for all the things you cannot control that put so much weight on you. But hear me - YOU are not defined by this year’s crop. Or this year’s income. Or this year’s “success”.
You are not the farm. You are more than the farm.
I saw you leave again this morning, smiling, but still carrying the stress. I know the first thing you did was drive down by the creek to see how much the water has receded. After you do chores in flooded pastures, you’ll sit with your Dad to try and figure out what fields might dry out the fastest and what, if anything, can be done while you wait.
You’ll run the numbers another time or two, to see if it all makes sense. You’ll run through the calendar a few more times, to count down how many days you have left to get caught up on work. We both know you’re never going to be caught up.
You’re standing there, facing wet fields and a crop that may not generate enough income to cover its own expenses, hay fields that can’t be cut, and calves that don’t quit eating just because it’s wet. In your head, you’re hearing the clock - tick, tick, tick - counting down the hours you’ve got to do the work you’re so far behind on.
I know, that even though you keep smiling and laughing, the stress is getting heavier each day. I see it in your eyes. I feel it in the way you toss and turn all night.
So I need you to hear me again - YOU ARE NOT THE FARM.
You are a man who works harder than anyone I know. You are a man who is honest to a fault. You are a man who always finds new ways, better ways. You are a man who can keep the big picture in mind while maintaining laser focus on the details. You are a man who quietly, and humbly, prays for God to help you on the tasks he’s laid before you.
You’re a husband. A father. A son. A brother and an uncle. You are a farmer, a damn good one too, but you are not defined by the farm.
Your family and friends - we love you, regardless of your corn yield or planted acres or the price you sell your calves for.
We will get through this year - one, rainy, wet day at a time. Together, with the strength and guidance of God, we will get through this.
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Kate Lambert grew up in northern Illinois, not on a farm but active in FFA and showing livestock.
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