I'm 400 miles from home, getting ready to walk into a church for a wedding, without my farmer. It's not the first, nor the last, event I'll attend without him at my side.
It's harvest season, which means anything I do that isn't in the cab of a combine, likely doesn't involve him.
It's been almost almost nine years ago since I said, "I do", and walking into another wedding has me thinking...
If you're thinking about marrying a farmer, stop.
You will think about an insane schedule, completely dictated by weather the seasons. And completely out of your control. Completely.
You will picture interrupted dinners because someone showed up for a load of hay at an ungodly hour and interrupted weekend getaways because the cows are out. The cows always get out.
You will think about being solo at everything from weddings to funerals, that is, if you can even go at all.
You will think about making budgets and vacation plans based on the price of corn or cattle, knowing full whatever you plan won't be right.
In fact, it won't just be your budget that won't go as planned. It will be everything. EVERYTHING.
You see, marrying a farmer is full of risk. And thinking on it too long might let the risk overshadow a lot of things.
Things like riding together in the combine at sunset, harvesting a crop you both poured your souls into.
Or watching your child's face light up when a baby lamb stands for the first time. Or raising your children knowing that the value of hard work will be engrained so deep in them they won't ever know any different.
Or being woke up at 1am by your farmer finally coming home - not from a night out on the town - but from a long day of working toward everything you both want.
Or sitting on the porch together, watching the sun rise over the land, animals and children the Lord has entrusted you to care for.
So if you're thinking about marrying a farmer, stop. Stop thinking and just do it!
Because this crazy, dependent on the weather and price of grain lifestyle, is truly the greatest blessing in the world.
Even if it means going to a wedding stag. (Besides, if your mom is anything like mine, she will always be your plus 1.)
Last week I had the opportunity to tour the Bayer Bee Care Center in North Carolina. I was excited, but also a little anxious for the tour.
As farmers, we know how important bees are for our food system. But we also like to think that we are doing things right. And honestly, I was a little nervous about what I might hear, and what I would, or wouldn't, be able to do about it.
Are modern farm families responsible for the alarming bee reports that flood our news feeds? Am I killing the bees?
When I walked through the doors, I was prepared to learn that I was. But here's what I learned instead...
1. Honey bees are not actually native to North America.
They were brought here by settlers who knew they would need them for food production. It's said the first bees arrived here in 1622 and that Native Americans called them "white man's flies." Even though they are not native, our food system is now dependent on them and the other 4,000 species of bees found in North America.
2. Spraying isn't killing bees.
As long as we are following label directions and spraying responsibly, which we do, our spraying practices are not deadly to bee populations. Some of our pesticides are toxic to bees but we have to remember "the dose makes the poison." The amounts the bees have exposure to with proper spraying is not enough to cause them harm. In similar concept, even though caffeine is toxic to humans, it's not dangerous to us in normal exposure amounts.
3. But mites are.
Varroa mites are one of the leading causes of honey bee death and it's becoming more challenging to deal with them as they develop resistance to what use to be effective treatments. As the researcher at Bayer Bee Care Center explained, "It's a challenge to find something to treat a bug that lives on a bug."
Varroa mites are parasites that live on the bees and can quickly infest an entire colony.
4. Honey bee populations aren't actually going down.
Even with the challenges of health and disease, bee populations have actually been steadily increasing over the last few decades, hitting an all time high in 2014.
5. Even though we aren't hurting the bees, we can actually be doing more to help.
I felt relief that our farming practices are not killing the bees, but I still left with a feeling that more can be done.
Many bees are loosing their environment and food sources. A bee will visit up to 5000 flowers per day, and many of them have to travel 5 or more miles to get to those flowers.
While we don't have the practical knowledge or expertise to manage hives, we do have the ability to grow wild flowers and other plants good for pollinators.
Which is exactly what we will do. In 2018, we plan on mapping out some areas of that farm that we can reserve for honey bees and other important pollinators! I'll do my best to keep you posted on our new pollinator areas next year.
Kate Lambert grew up in northern Illinois, not on a farm but active in FFA and showing livestock.
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