Monday, July 14, 2014

Boomerang

Today was Anna's 4H Livestock Show.

When I say I really have nothing to do with Anna's 4H experience, it is no understatement. While she and Joe had headed to the general projects show on Saturday, I stayed at home with the kids (and maybe took a nap). Yesterday, they loaded up to take the cattle to the weigh-in, while I loaded up my kids to the country club pool.

Today, however, I went to the show, loading up my crew and snacks and toys once again, putting on shoes I didn't care about, and herded my friends to the fairgrounds.

The fairgrounds I went to as a child.

The fairgrounds in my home county.

The fairgrounds where my uncle, my dad, and now my girl had/have their hands in the livestock show.

As I pulled into the fairgrounds lot, careful to park in an area that wouldn't have to back up around trailers (have I mentioned I'm terrible at backing up? Even with sensors and a camera? Sheesh.), it hit me.

These are my people.

The people in the stands, the names on the animals were all familiar, if not darned friendly. Name after name after name were of people I knew from towns I grew up around, played sports against, and thought I would never, ever see again.

Ever.

However, I boomeranged.

I'm back in my home county, and now that we have kids involved in county events, it's more apparent that I am truly home. As she took the ring, she did so with a young man from a family who have known me since the toddler years, had my dad as a teacher, went to church with my aunt and uncle.

The man in the ring, guiding the cattle, assisting as needed? He's the dad of kids I used to always babysit for.

The guy cleaning out the chicken coops as the little kids and I walked through, killing time between classes? He's my old neighbor who teaches Ag at my high school.

On and on and on and on I walked around seeing people I hadn't seen in years, and who didn't expect me to be there. I must have made it abundantly clear I was never coming back.

The best part? Our name was pronounced right. Not just ours, my cousin's (Mottaz, my maiden name…I know, I went from bad to worse in the name department) was pronounced correctly. When my girl won Reserve Grand Champion, we had a cheering section, even though my parents are on opposite sides of the country this week. Neighbors, friends, relatives. People knew us. They recognized us. They were supporting us.

It was surreal.

While speaking to a couple I have known all my life, who have been 4H leaders long since their kids have left the hallowed halls of 4H, I spoke of moving home to the "home farm." Pete, the dad, choked up as he spoke of the honor it was to have his daughter and family in the same situation.

I never thought of moving back to the home county in a way that would choke up my dad.

But it means something.

My boomeranging isn't just nice because I have someone to talk to at cattle shows, someone to cheer on Anna as she won Junior Showmanship (YES… SHE DID THAT, TOO!! Proud, proud mama!!), it's nice because it means something. While I never was a huge 4Her, I was a Knox County girl, and am a Knox County girl, and when people know your history, your beginning, that's a big deal. A comfort. A happy place to be when you're sharing your home with your children.

The lure of what's bigger and better and broader is strong. I felt it. I needed to branch out. I'm happy I did, and there are days I wish I could head back, but the boomerang affect is strong. Roots are stronger. Friendly faces and correct pronunciation of names may seem small, but in a big, big world, it's nice to come home to a familiar place.

Today, I truly came home, and I couldn't be prouder.


Such a great day for such a hard worker! Great job, Anna!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Bit on the Edge

Joe and I are a little on edge this week.

We dropped off our oldest at camp this week (five miles from our house, mind you, yet still away from us and our eyes) for the first time. If you've ever sent a kid to camp, it's a little disconcerting. She's my helper with the little ones; Joe's helper on the farm. We're a little lost, and a little freaked out.

Hay is also happening, as late as it may seem. Mowing hay, baling hay before the random rains hit, and getting everything and everyone ready before the hay choppers come today have been on Joe's to-do list for weeks, and today's the day the choppers come. He's a LOT on edge. It's 7:20 in the morning, and he's already been up on the top of the silo.

However, our crops look good. That should make us a little less freaked out, however, on Monday night, as Joe was scrolling Facebook, posts from friends in his home county were flooding his news feed. A three year old had wandered into a corn field, just after 6:30, a storm was coming, and after a few hours (A FEW HOURS), search teams from neighboring towns, counties, even helicopters were called in.

A three year old.

Like our son.

By the grace of God, this child was found, safe, SIX HOURS LATER, near midnight, but can you imagine? Can you imagine the fear this sweet little girl felt as storms raged above her head, surrounded by green, green and more green. And what about the parents? I don't even want to go there. There are no words for the anguish and helplessness and fear I would feel.

As I sit here, my backyard is surrounded on two sides by corn, in tight rows for greater yield potential, taller than my tallest relative. While looking out there on this beautiful morning should give me a sense of hope for a bumper crop and great harvest, today, it makes me completely freaked out. Jack is adventurous and inquisitive. I, though I try, can't be everywhere at all times, and it could happen- to anyone.

This story has led us to quiz Jack about the safety of our backyard. We've successfully freaked out our older two kids (we'll work on Anna when she gets home) with this story. I won't shelter them from the danger of this story, as it's IN OUR BACKYARD.

So, we're a bit on edge.

The country life offers calm, peace, and tranquility. However, small things can turn into big ones in the blink of an eye. We are so thankful that this family in Pike County found their little girl safe, but scared, and that this will be a learning moment for folks out in the sticks who use cornfields as fences.

For now, however, I'll keep Jack especially away from the backyard border, enticing him with bubbles and sticks fashioned into swords and all the things he loves to play with…in the front yard.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Just the Right Tool

Have you ever decided to get a project crossed off your list, only to find that the exact tool you need is nowhere to be found?

This happens to me every single time I clean out the garage. 

Every.
Single.
Time.

You see, when you live in the country,  and especially our country (read: dirty, gross road), your garage becomes the most ridiculously disgusting display of Little Tykes toys, John Deere Power Wheels, and cattle necessities. Seriously. Now as adults, we spend time in friends' garages during parties in town. I always take a good look around and marvel at the lack of nastiness. This attention to detail (read: anxiety) has been in my persona since I was just a kid. When we'd go play with our "country friends," I remember being worried about the amount of dust and cobwebs they had in their playhouse. I was not only afraid of getting dirty, but was curious how everything was so dirty in the first place. Town playhouses and garages were not this gross.

However, that's how it is in the country, and our garage is the epitome of our dirt road life. All of our kids' bikes have a small film of dust on them, even after I hose them off. Our lawn chairs are brought to ball games with just a slight bit of grime on them. Each freezer needs a good dusting once in a while. It's gross. Don't even get me started on the amount of dead bugs in our garage's window sills. Blech.

For a person like me, it's enough to send my anxiety to the roof.

I try to turn a blind eye.

I try to embrace my country life, love my dirt road and my constant state of film as character.

But on a day like today, I couldn't take it any more.

Thus, I needed my shop broom.

Do you have one of these? If you're a town dweller, as I was (once upon a time), you probably use it to push your lawn clippings off the well maintained sidewalks. You probably sweep your garage twice a year, and don't make but a small pile of dust and rogue leaves. 

I have one of these, and it makes my pile of dust and grit and, even one time, a dead bird, so much easier. However, I usually have to beg one of the farmers to return it.

Today was no exception. 

My boy was happily riding his John Deere Gator (not caring that it is filthy…ahh, the innocence of a carefree non-anxious child), so I figured it was time. As I unloaded my garage, moved all the dusty toys, old appliances that have yet to be taken to be recycled (why have I not done that yet??), and moved my car, I realized it was gone. 

My shop broom is just the right tool for this job, thanks to the sheer quantity of nastiness and grime that our garage seems to house. However, it is also just the right tool for about 15 other jobs on the farm, such as keeping the stalls clean in our barn, sweeping out the shop, and sweeping out the bin when it is nearly empty of grain. Regardless, it's never on my hook in my garage.

It's a handy little devil, and handy little devils tend to walk away, just when you need them.

I did get my garage cleaned out today, don't worry, I just used an old kitchen broom, which worked well as I knocked off old bug bodies and cobwebs from corners. No dead birds today! Score!

Maybe some day we'll have a lovely garage with just a puff of dust, and my shop broom can be loaned out whenever, and I'll never miss it.

But for now, I'd ask nicely for my shop broom to make its return, because in a matter of days minutes, our garage will be dusty again.

Or maybe I'll just run to town and get a new one...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Oh Me, Oh My, It's Now July

Yowzers.

Where did June go? Honestly. Did I miss something? Where's July, too? It was not even 70 degrees yesterday, and I'm sitting here in jeans, as it's another cool-ish day.

Strange.

July typically is a time when we are so busy haying, however, this activity, this haying (or lack thereof), has been tricky. Joe has fought rains, so spotty that as he was mowing just the first cutting a few weeks ago, such a spotty storm popped up that Dad (who was raking) had to run from his open station (read: no cab) tractor to head for cover in the truck. However, a few miles west, nothing fell.

We haven't had a stretch of good, dry days to help Joe make his decision regarding hay. It has to be just right. His dad says, however, if it's not right for hay, it's probably okay for crops. So, it's a catch 22. Shocker. We're battling the weather even when it's good for crops.

I wish I could say that we have done a good job of documenting our crop's growth.

We haven't.

I promise you, though, we are lucky. Our corn looks awesome. "Knee high by the fourth of July," is a very, very old saying, and it's not necessarily true here. Perhaps a better set of phrases would be, "Head and shoulders over large boulders," or "Holy cow! It's taller than Farmer Joe now!"

What?

You don't think it will be catching on?

Regardless, our crop looks good, and I'm totally jinxing it, as we have friends who have had to endure wind and hail damage that have destroyed crops. Prayers for good rains, not hard ones, refreshing winds, not destructive.

Finally, the #EatYourVeggies campaign goes on…even though our veggie consumption has been limited to the carrot sticks and cucumbers I have cut up to be enjoyed in our packed lunches at the pool, and anything that is potentially vegetable based at the ball park. I promise I'll cook something up wonderful and hashtag, picture and share to my heart's content!! See BayerConnect for some guest blogs my friends have been posting. So exciting!

So, my hope for this post is that you realize what day it is, how the summer is flying by, and how lucky we are to enjoy this time together, even if it means we're munching on carrots at the pool, dodging random rain storms, and cursing the hay process.

Happy July, everyone!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Did You Know?

Did you know…

Every time I sit down to try to type a blog post, my son has to go to the bathroom? It's like that theory I learned in my ed psych classes…the one I cannot remember the name of for my life today…whenever he hears me start to type, he has to pee.

Anyway.

Did you also know…

that my dear friends, Holly and Deanna (who each have great blogs here and here) get together every now and then at my house and PODCAST????

Did you know that?

We think we're pretty cutting edge.

Did you know that?

So, if you're interested, driving, cleaning, running, or just want to hear what my lovely voice sounds like, you can clicl and listen here.

We're talking about things a little less agricultural on this episode, as you need to know us and our lives to know where we're coming from. I announce over the airwaves about the twins, and DeAnna shares honestly and wholeheartedly about her struggles with PCOS. She also wrote a really great blog here about it.

So, if you are out and about, take a listen! I don't think you'll be disappointed!!

And now, I have to pee.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Picture of Father's Day

Since our first semi-official Father's Day in 2004 (I called Joe as he was en route to California for business to tell him I was expecting Anna), I have been hyper aware of Father's Day. Maybe it's because I am hyper aware of roughly everything that has anything to do with anything with my kids, or maybe it's just because I'm a hyper aware person.

Either way, that's a lot of hyper.

Anyway, I always had a heightened sense that Father's Day should be more than just a nice lunch out and a card. Thanks to TV, magazines, my Coach online email reminders (did you know you're supposed to get your dad a man purse, according to them? Seriously.), I always feel I fall short in the "strike up the band, it's Father's Day!" department.

This year, especially.

I didn't remember to even get cards, and I was at Target twice and Wal-Mart once.

Honestly.

Anyway, the good news is, I'm the only one in this operation (I hope) who has this false sense of awesomeness when it comes to plans on Father's Day.

Enter Joe.

He's a great dad. Sure, there are times when I wish he was more aware of what I need him to do before I even ask, but the poor guy is a husband and a father, not a mind reader.

Anyway, I am so happy that Joe is the dad our kids need him to be, and that was most witnessed last weekend at Anna's first cattle show.

Showing cattle was a big portion of Joe's teenage years. His good, good friends did and are still showing (just with their kids, now), and the lessons he learned about teaching and sharing were best learned, I think, from that show ring and in the barn.

Last week, when Anna stepped into the ring, I couldn't find Joe at first. Thinking he would be right beside her as she waited to walk in, I was surprised when he showed up by my side, in the bleacher area. As we watched our little girl lead her animal with such confidence, smiling at the judge as he walked by, I couldn't help but burst with pride. Not just for Anna, but for Joe. He has worked so hard to help Anna be confident in herself in the ring. He instilled in her, in just the short year they have been working with these animals, that this was her deal. He wasn't going to be the dad who spent a ton of money on an animal, work with it himself, and then hand the halter to her just as she walked into the ring. He wanted her to feel the joy and confidence and satisfaction for her hard work. While he was spending those early mornings with what she thought was just brushing and washing and leading, Joe was really teaching Anna how to succeed, herself.

Doing it all herself.


That's pretty amazing, really. In a world where moms and dads are accused of being helicopter parents, Joe is exceptional at teaching the kids a skill and walking away to let them do it. "Figure it out," is one of his favorite phrases, and our kids have all become more and more independent because of this skill he has instilled in them.

We have a lot of kids, so there's a lot of chances to learn. Similarly, there are probably more learning opportunities out here on the farm, but the manner in which Joe allows our kids to have age appropriate success and failure makes him a great dad. My hyper sensitivity to the materialism of Father's Day is simmered down by the fact that Joe wants to just be a good dad, and doesn't need a Coach Man-Purse to celebrate. However, the recliner we did get him seems to suit him well (and I was able to pick out the one I wanted, not the cup-holdered marshmallow-y, armchair quarterback number that may or may not have come home, should he have been with me! Ha!).

Thanks for being my partner in this endeavor, Farmer Joe. My hope is that when we're 54 and 57, and our final kids (notice I said FINAL?) are 18, we can look at our kids and see all the great qualities you have helped instill in their personalities.

Happy Father's Day, my dearest.
On the first day of second grade with Anna.

Three generations of Webel men.

Joe and Jack watching the combine.

Two of his favorite helpers.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

#EatYourVeggies

Well, look at that.

I've never started a blog with a hashtag.

Does that mean that I'm increasing my youthfulness? Am I more hip?

Nah…we're just starting a new adventure!

I have mentioned that my grandma is 100, as in 100 years old. The amazing thing about her, is that besides a hip replacement due to a fall and a few minor illnesses, the woman is the epitome of health. Seriously. She is 100, friends, and doesn't take anything but an Anacin once in a while for a head ache.

However, I think the secret to her success is a wide variety of good, nutritious food. She's never been one for fad diets. Although she probably knows of Dr. Oz, she would disagree with his extremist beliefs: her favorite piece of advice, "Everything in moderation." However, they would agree on his eating philosophy: breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.

But that's it.

Never trendy, always delicious, her lunch time meals were a rainbow of color. Her table, generally set with her signature red checked table cloth, was always full of choices. Not only did you have a source of protein, but you had a starch (typically a potato of some sort), at least two vegetables, a fruit choice, slices of bread and butter, and dessert.

Always dessert.

But not much of it. Portion control was key too.

She always, always served a vegetable. And, when I was younger and she was a little more spry, they were, in season, from her own garden. I never knew until I was in college the corn could come from a can. It came from a frozen tupperware container with a masking tape label from Grandma.

She never made a stink about how they were grown. She doesn't have the personality for over debate, because there was no debate: Eat Your Veggies. Period. Wash them, make sure there's nothing crazy going on with them, cook them or eat them raw, but eat them. Always.

However, this is not a post about my grandma and her fountain of nutritional youth. It's the inaugural post of our #EatYourVeggies campaign. Thanks to the lovely folks at safefruitsandveggies.com, the word is getting out, the big secret about veggies.

Guess what that is?

EAT THEM.

Who cares if they're organic or conventional. Wash them off, prepare them as your family likes, dip them in ranch dressing, drizzle them with olive oil, but JUST EAT THEM.

I have some friends who are joining me on this plight, as I'm not an expert veggie grower, but I do prepare them for my family…sometimes to great success (asparagus!), sometimes to no avail (brussel sprouts…Pinterest, you LIE that they will gobble up roasted brussel sprouts!!). So, I'm going to glean from these other bloggers to learn how to best prep and potentially grow (after the babies grow…after our house grows…so probably in about 15 years), and will pull in one of my local gardening experts for a Q & A.

If you want to join us, please do! Link to this initial post, and I'll add you to my list.

Otherwise, enjoy this summer as we walk through learning how to make the truly nutritious, truly delicious.

Bon appetite!


Check out these blogs who are joining me in the #EatYourVeggies campaign with #Bayer4CropsUS: