Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Bucket and Other Legacies

Maybe no one else can see the value and legacy in a beat up old Tupperware container. And just like that old container, we can sometimes be a little "worse for wear" in dealing with plummeting commodity prices on one side but rising equipment and input costs on the other side.

This old Tupperware container was part of our inheritance. Really. It's been used to hold the pulling chains and disinfectant since I've been part of the family, nearly 36 years now. I don't know how long it was used prior to that.

It used to be stored in my in-laws' mudroom, but it now makes its home in my basement or back porch, depending upon the season. I'm sure when Marie bought that Tupperware long ago, it was never intended for use in a barn or calving shed. In fact, according to the label, it was part of the Millionaire Line. Man, if only THAT had come true! After a quick perusal at the Tupperware website, I have concluded they don't make it anymore. Maybe I could suggest a whole new marketing campaign for cow/calf producer products. On second thought, no. Somebody somewhere would protest that the plastic isn't "GMO-free" or "local" or some other buzzword.
Just last week, Randy used it as a bucket when he milked out a heifer so he could hand feed its calf. 
I've done a fair amount of thinking about the bucket since calving started again. The bucket itself is certainly nothing remarkable. In its former life, it was probably used for beverages, since it has a pour spout. Since it still has a working lid, it's handy for keeping disinfectant in the container when we use it for the pulling chains or for disinfecting the scalpel when our bull calves become steers.

It could be replaced. It probably should be replaced, since I doubt the scratched and stained plastic container is impenetrable by germ-free standards.
However, the dingy old Tupperware is more than the sum of its parts. It's kind of a passing-of-the-torch symbol - a hold-it-in-your-hands representation of Randy's and my places in the fifth-generation of our respective farm families.
I wish I had a photo of Melvin and Randy using the bucket together. I know it happened, but I wasn't recording every moment in blogland back then. For seven years of our marriage, I was driving back and forth to Hutchinson as a reporter and editor at The Hutchinson News.
Randy's grandpa Clarence with one of their bulls.
While that off-the-farm work helped pay the farm bills, it didn't give me the opportunity to play an active role on the farm. During part of the that time, I was commuting with infant - then toddler - daughter, Jill. After Brent was born, I "retired" from the full-time newspaper job, but I was raising two young children and doing some freelance writing work and later working at the school. So I didn't always make it out to watch a calf being pulled. I took more photos of the kids than I did of the farm. And that's OK. That's the ebb and flow of life. Different seasons often bring alternate perspectives.

But in this season of life, I've used the same reporting and photography skills in a new way. And while I didn't begin the blog to garner attention, it's always nice to be recognized
Last week, I was notified that I had received a "Golden Tractor Award" from Lawnstarter.com. Here's the email I got:
First of all, we’re huge fans of Kim's County Line, which has been chosen by LawnStarter’s editorial team to receive our 2016 Golden Tractor Award! Congratulations!

The Golden Tractor Award celebrates the Top Farming & Agriculture Blogs on the internet. We spent countless hours scouring the web in search of the blogs that deserve recognition.

We judged your blog based on criteria such as:
  • How well-written and informative the 2016 content was
  • How engaging it was (social shares, comments, aesthetics)
  • Popularity (pageviews, “popular posts” lists, etc.)
We hope that you enjoy our list of winners and encourage you to show off your Golden Tractor Award on your website (along with other awards that we’re sure your blog has received).
You can read our article announcing the winners here.
Randy and his first 4-H calf.
In this era of "fake news" and "alternate facts," I think it's important for people in the ag community to tell our own stories. Nobody can tell it like the people who live it, even though fast food restaurants and advertising companies are glad to share their thoughts about the evils of modern agriculture. 

But, just like that old bucket, we persevere - one day at a time.


  1. Yea for you, Miss Kim! You do have a knack for sharing your Ag story and relating it so ag and non-ag people can understand. In addition, you do a great job using your photographs to help tell the story. Congratulations!

    1. Thank you, Robyn! Right back at you!

  2. Congratulations - an ward most definitely well earned. It was interesting to read through the list of winners and also to read of your wonderful Grandpa Neely.
    I look forward to continuing to read of your life on the farm and spotting the Golden Tractor Award, logo.