National Ag Day…

If you had asked me 20 years ago what the letters Ag stood for, I would not have been able to tell you.  Those initials represented a community of people that I seldom ran across in the swimming pools of South Florida.

This week our country celebrated National Ag Day and many social media posts thanking farmers permeated the cyber sphere.  I have no memory as a child of being any more aware of National Ag Day than the term Ag.  Today, I wonder how many people outside of farmers celebrated this special day?

Sometimes you just have to take the plunge...

Sometimes you just have to take the plunge…

As I think about our farm and what Matt and I have worked for over the past 16 years, I feel a myriad of emotions.  Most of all, I marvel at the maturity and the insight that I have gained.  I find myself struggling to remember the 22 year old young woman that moved to Nebraska and set out to learn how to be the Boss Lady at the cattle feed yard.

He teaches me compassion and compels me to understand his needs...

He teaches me compassion and compels me to understand his needs…

While I am sure that parts of me (namely the stubbornness and determination) are still relatively prominent, I look at the world very differently today than I did when I moved to Nebraska in 1997.  As I remember the girl with unusual dreams and stars in her eyes, I marvel at her confidence.

I have loved him more than half my life...

I have loved him more than half my life…

Youthful optimism is a powerful mental tool—Just as I never doubted that Matt and I were meant to build a life together, I also never doubted that I could learn to be a good cattle caregiver.  As I became successful at the feed yard, I began to broaden my spectrum and to work in a volunteer status to improve cattle care practices through the Beef Quality Assurance program.

My belief was so strong that I never looked back...

My belief was so strong that I never looked back…

Quite honestly, it never occurred to me that I would fail.  That is the beauty of youthful passion and faith.   Through the years, it seems as though maturity has replaced that youthful confidence. Today, as I look at agriculture from the eyes of a 38 year old mother of three, there are days that I can no longer find the stars that used to inhabit my eyes.  A myriad of challenges threaten to replace those stars with doubts.

  • Mother Nature
  • Volatile commodity markets
  • Pressures from both increased government regulations and activist groups
  • Lack of unity within the agricultural community
  • Lack of trust between farmers and urbanites

In particular, the last three weigh heavily on my “not so youthful” optimism. Quite frankly, I worry about this at night when I should be sleeping.  I find myself imploring both farmers and non-farmers to open up the needed conversation regarding food animal production practices.

Caring for our animals is much easier for us than sharing how we care to you--it is the nature of the cowboy to be introverted...

Caring for our animals is much easier for us than sharing how we care with you–it is the nature of the cowboy to be introverted…

I feel the tremendous need for this conversation at the same time that my heart is concerned that it may be too late, or that we will not be able to see through the emotion clearly enough to respect each other and have a meaningful conversation.

When I look at her, I see the optimism and confidence of youth...

When I look at her, I see the optimism and confidence of youth…

As I celebrate National Ag Day in 2013, I look to my faith and to my children to give me the needed strength to keep moving forward.  I look into my girls’ eyes and draw on that optimism that so closely resembles what I used to see when I looked in the mirror.  I recharge my soul with the knowledge that this challenge is too important for us to not be successful.  I pray that we can come together as a country to find a sustainable and appropriate blend of food production systems in order to ensure the security of our future.

We must always look for the beauty in one another...

We must always look for the beauty in one another…

Today, in honor of National Ag Day, don’t just thank the farmer—ask questions and help start the conversation.

8 Comments

Filed under Animal Welfare, General

8 responses to “National Ag Day…

  1. Anne,
    What a heartfelt, beautifully written tribute to AG day that incorporates both the joy and the angst. Growing up in the city but living and working most summers at our ranch, I identify. People think a ranch is heaven …which it is but the long days and often long nights seem to be passed over in the vision. You captured it all.
    Thanks!
    Marty

    • Thank you, Marty! I am so glad that the post spoke to you. While I would not trade my life for anything it is, at times, an exhausting roller coaster ride. The highs are so wonderful that they are almost surreal, but the lows can challenge you to the extreme. As you note, it is hard to find the words to accurately “tell the story”—

      Take care,
      Anne

  2. I thought the same thing..how many people outside of Ag celebrated? Not many I am certain…My own husband, the multiple generational farmer, had no idea about Ag Day…neither did his family or our employees.. I did tell the Century Link customer service agent Happy Ag Day while on the phone for an hour..she giggled with disbelief. After that phone call I wondered if this is the day the Government set aside to pay Tribute to the Agriculture sector…why were we Ag bloggers trying to bring attention to the day…isn’t that a bit arrogant? I mean if I went around all day saying it is my birthday people beyond my inner circle would be polite but not give much more attention to the matter. What I do enjoy is a birthday party where we invite the people who help us live our lives into our midst to celebrate together. I began to wonder…is that what we Ag people are doing…inviting others to celebrate with us for helping make us who we are…or are we trying to prove that we are important. In the end I think both were happening on Ag Day 2013…and my favorite part was taking time from my normal routine this week to find out about other Ag bloggers across the nation….like feedyardfoodie.com 🙂
    I hope to improve the visibility of Ag Day next year in my community…both to celebrate how great the community has made the local farmer/rancher lifestyle (Think traditional birthday party) and to remind people of the “invisible” Agriculture woven through their days (I am not certain how to term this part of the celebration…it is the part that is tough…”Hey, look at me I make your life great?” Hmmm, it seems nicer to say “Hey, look at you…I am proud to help you in ways you do not even notice!”) . Now my reply is so long I think it should have been a post on my own blog…Happy Agriculture Week from Central Kansas. I enjoy your blog! And so does my five year old, Pippi!

    • Hi Amber,

      I love your thoughts—they represent many of the things that go through my mind as I think about how to open myself to questions and conversations with those who do not live on a farm. I am constantly second guessing myself as I try to put myself in others’ shoes and look at our farm and feed yard.

      It is great to hear that you and Pippi like the blog—so glad that you are enjoying it. Thank you for taking the time to read and join the discussion. You’ll have to head north sometime to come up and visit me at the feed yard.

      All the best,
      Anne

  3. marcus

    Anne, you wrote out my life’s story better than I could’ve done it! I never worried about anything, there were always doors that opened up when I needed to make a change/move ahead. Kind of long back to those days now that I worry about IRA, Social Security, retirement, where to live/buying a place etc etc etc. Things that never crossed my mind 10, 15, 20 yrs ago. But, now I understand all the worries and concerns that my dad expressed back then. On the other hand, I’m glad they went in the one and out the other ear, else where would I be now??

    Aside from that personal note, this paragraph struck me: “I feel the tremendous need for this conversation at the same time that my heart is concerned that it may be too late, or that we will not be able to see through the emotion clearly enough to respect each other and have a meaningful conversation.” – If it’s too late now for conversation, and we don’t start/encourage conversation, then what about tomorrow? No time is better than the now. I think sometimes we get to involved in some activists talks and generalize/extrapolate from those experiences. One of the reasons I have taken a step backwards from all that engagement. It’s probably better to engage the silent consumer than the screaming minority.

    • You are correct, Marcus. Thank you for reminding me. When the conversation is this important, it is never too late.

      I am glad that the post brought back memories for you. I suspect that it describes many of us. Youthful optimism is one of life’s most vital assets!

      It’s good to hear from you,
      Anne

  4. Mary Laura

    Anne,
    Don’t forget Ag also stands for Anne Gibson! 🙂

    Cousin Mary Laura

    • I am laughing, Mary Laura. I honestly hadn’t thought of that! Great to hear from you. I hope that all is well back east! Thanks for the smile.

      Anne

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s