Thursday, September 9, 2010

Seeing the Leaves

I have a confession to make: This blogging endeavor is making me a much more attentive farm wife.

Don't get me wrong. I have always loved the farm.

I grew up on a farm in Pratt County. I learned to drive by steering the pickup as my Dad picked up fence posts. I was my dad's truck driver and a dependable go-fer. I helped rotate circle irrigation system wheels back in the early days when my Dad was pulling the system between two circles. His attempts at teaching me to drive the tractor were less successful, but he had my younger sister Lisa to fall back on.

Randy thought he was getting a farm girl when he married me 29-plus years ago. And he did.

But early in the marriage, I think he came to an astounding revelation. I will never forget the day he said, "But you grew up on a farm. I thought you'd understand that."

Yes, I grew up on a farm. But I was a farmer's daughter, not a farmer's wife.

Like most kids, I let my parents worry about the major stuff. I could keep plenty busy worrying about whether my homework was going to earn me the coveted "A," which girl was mad at me that day or whether a boy I was interested in liked me back.

Did it rain? OK. Well, I guess we weren't cutting wheat that day. Did it hail? Well, if it didn't hit me in the head, I don't know that I spent time worrying about it. Was the price of wheat down, up, unchanged? I didn't know.

Suddenly I was a farm wife. Suddenly, the rain and the hail were more important. The price of wheat going up and down and all around affected my checkbook (and the loan at the bank).

And then I became a blogger. There were a multitude of reasons, but one was to tell the story of one Kansas farm family. I never intended Kim's County Line to be all about agriculture. While that's part of who and what I am, it is not all I am.

But sharing the story of modern agriculture is a cornerstone to why I am doing this. (And you thought it was just to let me ramble on and on. Well ... there is that!) It's also given landlords a chance to see what's happening on the farm through stories and photos.

This journey is bringing a side benefit. I am paying attention. That's not to say I was clueless before. But in some ways, it's kind of like the day I got my glasses. I will never forget riding in the back seat of the car on the way home from Great Bend. I saw the individual leaves on the trees. They weren't just a green glob alongside the road any more. It was a revelation.

I am asking more questions and listening more carefully. I am approaching it more like I would an interview for a feature story. One question leads to another ... and another ... and another. (And, yes, sometimes I'm even taking notes so I can remember.)

I want to get the story straight. I want to be the one to write this story.

I am not willing to let a member of the Humane Society of the United States tell the story of modern agriculture. I'm not willing to have Greenpeace or Save the Animals say that I'm not a compassionate guardian for the planet or for the animals we tend.

I am not going to let East Coast professors Frank Popper and his wife, Deborah Popper, or billionaire Ted Turner tell the world that this part of the country should become a buffalo commons and not the breadbasket for the U.S. and the world.

None of those people get to speak for me.

Today's post started to be about cutting silage. That was one of the jobs that got done here on the County Line yesterday.

This is certainly not the first time I've ever taken photos of the process. If I search long enough among the unorganized plastic tubs in my basement, I'll find photos from other silage harvests.

But yesterday, the process of asking questions and taking photos became more. In the back of my mind, I remembered what Dr. Jay Lehr told us at the Wheat Profit Maximizer Summit in July:

"Set aside time in your life to promote agriculture to those who don't understand it. The greatest problem with agriculture today isn't the volatility of the price of inputs. It's not the volatility of prices. It's the negative attitude toward farming. Environmental zealots want to convince the public that you are spoiling the land.

"You need to become an agriculture activist. Share your knowledge with the people around you. We make small talk about our hobbies or our children. Instead, we ought to be talking about our livelihoods."

So, who is learning the most from this blogging venture?

I think it just might be me.


Well, today didn't end up where I thought I was going. Isn't that a metaphor for life in general? So tomorrow, I promise I will show you images from silage harvest on the County Line.


  1. I always like it when I see the same world I'm always in--in a whole new way! : ) I think blogging does that for us!

  2. Me, too! I, a farmer's wife, am learning a lot about farming from you!!! I needed you 50 years earlier!! It would have been much easier!

    Keep educating me!

    Jane Tompkins