Wednesday, April 27, 2016

what do you really know about farming?

Hosting my friends at the Arkansas Farm Bureau today on the blog.  Social Media and Public Relations Specialist Mollie Dykes shares some thoughts on Arkansas farming and sustainability. It really does matter on every front and in every industry!

What I love most about what she shares is to push us to ask the questions and not assume; be educated and not just gain our knowledge from what other people are saying.  Heck ask the farmer... and in this state, you can!


You might recall the smiling farmers in overalls from books you read as a child, or you may be familiar with commodity reports on the evening news, illustrated with sweeping video of combines crawling across sunlit fields. Perhaps you’ve only heard about farming through confusing and unscientific coverage of issues like GMOs or herbicides on “health” blogs or talk shows.

As you might expect, the story of farming (and farmers) is much richer and more complicated than what is often portrayed through the media. Consequently, a better, more complete telling of the “farming story” could go a long way to clearing up misunderstandings and calming fears related to health and environmental issues in agriculture. Indeed, we could transform hyperbole and heated debate into a reasonable discussion simply by sharing the real-world experiences of farmers and agriculture experts and focusing attention on facts and solid science.

Farming is not only a job; it’s a lifestyle and a mission. It’s an American tradition practiced by a relative few who love what they do and take seriously the responsibility they have to help feed the world. They must deal with economic ups and downs and cope with complications beyond their control, such as weather extremes, insects and disease, government bureaucracies and selling products to constantly changing foreign markets. Contrary to some stereotypes, they must adjust to change quickly and stay on top of the latest technology and science (in many cases far more so than the average consumer or businessperson).

Like most of you, farmers care deeply about their families, their animals, their health, and the health of our planet. It’s for this reason that recent controversies surrounding farming are so troubling. Farmers have a vested interest in producing safe and healthy products for consumption, because their families consume what they grow and raise. They have a deep and passionate love for the earth and animals, because these things are the foundations of their livelihood.

If you hear about farming directly from the farmers and if you learn about the science of agriculture from those who study it and practice it, you will begin to see the bigger farming picture in Arkansas and America. You will understand that there is always more to a story – and more sides to an issue – than is commonly portrayed or discussed in the public sphere. That is why our Arkansas Farm Bureau summer Officers and Leaders conference was developed around the theme “Be Vocal.” We wanted our members and leaders to understand that they must tell their stories and share their thoughts on farming and farming issues with farming friends and neighbors and, frankly, with anyone who will listen. We believe that this type of sharing and an open dialogue about how and why our food is grown is critically important to the future of our industry.

The simple fact of the matter is that there is a lot of misinformation out there and there is very little of the “real story” of agriculture reaching consumers. For example, some people have a tendency to lump farming into a “big business” category because they’ve heard rhetoric about “factory farms” and “corporate agriculture.” While there are certainly a number of large companies active in the agricultural sphere, it is the family farmer and the small farmer who dominate, particularly in Arkansas. Statistics show that more than 95 percent of Arkansas farms are family farms, not corporate farms, according to USDA data.

The findings of two major, national surveys about how our food is grown were released a few years ago through “The Food Dialogues,” a town hall-style discussion presented by U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA). Those opinion surveys of both farmers and the general public showed that, overwhelmingly, farmers and ranchers “share the same values as consumers on issues related to environmental stewardship and animal care.” In addition, the surveys revealed that 72 percent of consumers “know nothing or very little about farming or ranching,” but that 70 percent say purchase decisions “are affected by how food is grown and raised.” In short, people care a great deal about where their food comes from, but they know almost nothing about it. We want people to know where their food comes from and we want them to know the farmers and ranchers – the good people and families – who provide the food. We want consumers to be educated and we want everyone to understand all sides of the issues, and the only way for any of this to happen is for farmers to share their stories and say their piece.

This is why we continue to push our Arkansas farmers, agricultural researchers and experts, and anyone who makes their living in a field related to agriculture to stand up and “be vocal.” It is also why I’m asking all of the rest of you to take a moment and listen to what they have to say. Simply put, if you want to know more about your food and the sustainability practices used to produce it, ask an expert: ask a farmer or rancher.

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.


The Voice of Agriculture, informing consumers about the food production provided by Arkansas’ farmers and ranchers. We work to achieve educational improvement, economic opportunity, social advancement and promote national well-being.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

just help a sista

Do we really have to make everything so difficult?

I've had one of those days where I just don't understand why we have to make it so hard to do something that should be so simple every single day.  Maybe its just me getting through a new stage of life where everything that was super easy (like throwing away trash or donating items to a non-profit store or hooking up the phone or the internet not working, bleh).  Maybe its just a frustration, but I just can't figure out why we have to put these barriers in the way of people helping us.

I just made a phone call to a, that takes donations and they told me that they couldn't take my donations.  Now, what they really said was they couldn't come get the stuff I have to give them.  I realize I could drive the items across town, but some of the items I have are big, bigger than space I have to put them in my car.  But, I want to give it to them.

What's even crazier is in the next few weeks, I'm guest posting for the same organization in a different part of the state about how easy it was to donate my items to them and how helpful they were when I called to donate things before I moved.  So, when I moved to my new city guess who was my first place to call?

The actual conversation went like this.  "Well, we could if we had someone here with a pick up to come get it or if we had the time.  But, we are just behind and so short handed we just can't do that."  I proceeded to let her know I was not asking for her to come today, but I wanted to see if there was a regular process they had to pick up items, large household items, people wanted to give them. She took my number and told me the day they had a person with a pickup and some time, she would call me.

Having been someone who worked at a couple non-profit before I'm always struck by the thought of why we make it so difficult for people to do things to help us...

...maybe we even do this in our own lives. Its not just other people or organizations.  Maybe we do it ourselves, too.

I've been thinking through the layers of things that being married begin to reveal and one of those is the "rules" I have for the ways people can help me.  Rules for the ways things go in the dishwasher. Rules for how close we can be. Rules for the way I want clothes folded. And, am I so stuck in those that I can't let someone help me get them done.

I'm really trying hard, as a new little wifey, to not make it so difficult for my sweet hubby to help me.  I came home last night from meeting some new friends and the sink was empty and the dishwasher was running (and I didnt even ask him).  But, I couldn't let panic ensue about how many cups were on the top shelf or if the plates were all facing "the right" way.  He just did it, loaded the dishwasher.  I haven't even opened it, but I'm sure everything in there is fine.  The kitchen was spotless, the sink had those sparkle dots in it and I didn't have to lift a finger.

It all got washed and I'll get it all put away.

I just have to think, "someone helped me."  And, that's ok.  And, I'm grateful.

I can't be so particular or so stuck in where something goes or how it goes that someone can't help me.  This is something new that I"m going to have to learn because as I share life with someone, sometimes the bed is not going to be made like I want it to...or maybe even not at all. Or, the thing I needed my husband to get out of a file for me this morning so I could mail it, he didn't get it for me.  And, as grumpy as I got about it, you know what?  I went in there and I got it for myself and I put it where I needed it to be able to do what I needed to do.

So, I'm learning a lot about this, "you don't have to do it yourself" or "you don't have to always do it your way" or "within my rules and boundaries" mantra single Keisha got to live in.  But, I think that has way less to do with being married and more about being vulnerable and inviting someone in to my world. Yielding your "usuals" to allow them an opportunity to be part of your mundane.

Its ok to let someone else in and help you.  And, whether that's folding clothes and putting laundry away or mowing the yard or a craft project where everything isn't perfectly straight, it only matters that you were vulnerable enough to invite someone in to help you.

Dear non-profit, quit making it hard for people to give you money (or things you can get for free to sell to make money to do the programs you need to do).

Dear self, its ok to let someone else help you and do it their way. It won't be perfect, but it will be done.  And, you are going to survive.  You are going to learn this lesson and then move on!

(PS, I did this whole blog post from dictation while on a back road between AR and OK yesterday.  I'm already afraid of how bad my accent is going to get down....especially when I listen to a playback of myself complaining.  My desires of ever doing a podcast probably just went out the window.  My sarcasm sure has a twang!)

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Ting's Mom on Saving our Planet

So excited to share my space today with my pal Karen, aka Ting's Mom.  After I posed my question last week about how to handle my "trashy" dilemma, I remembered seeing her share something on Instagram about a few books she has recently used, to talk to her kids about taking care of the environment. Since we are both South Arkansas gals, I thought it might be the perfect bridge to participate with #NWArkCares and what we can do about it in our small, rural Arkansas towns! 

Go green. Save the planet. Reuse it.

A year ago, those phrases were far from my vocabulary. I lived my happy life in South Arkansas oblivious to the world around me. My hubby, the kids and I did what we wanted and how we wanted. Not a care in the world about the environment around us.

And then it happened. We purchased new couches and took a family trip to the local land field to dispose of our old ones. I think I spent the entire trip with my jaw on the ground. All that trash we drag to the curb each week – it was there, just sitting on the ground. Everyone’s unwanted stuff piled high as far as my eye could see. And we live in a small town.

My brain started spinning with what the land fields must look like in Texarkana. Dallas. New York! Suddenly I was hit with such a huge conviction to take better care of our planet, and teach my kids the importance of being good to the land we live on.

Thankfully our county has a recycling program. One call to the trash department and a blue recycling can was delivered to our home. I sat my kids down and went through a long spiel about not throwing away our trash. We reviewed the instructions the county gave us about what could go in our recycling bin, and I tried to make it fun and entertaining for my kids.

My kids got on board – maybe overboard. Within five minutes our kitchen recycling box (don’t tell the post office I stole one of their bins, yikes!) was full of recyclables. The kids were running all around the house grabbing things and yelling “Hey Mom, can I recycle this?”

Thankfully, they have calmed down a bit, and recycling has just become a part of our everyday life now. Emptying the kitchen bin into the outside blue can has become a daily chore for my kids. Each week we are cramming stuff into the recycling bin trying to make it all fit while the green can full of trash can go two weeks without having to be emptied these days.

However, I do not want to stop at recycling with my kids. There are so much more ways we can help care for our planet. I found these great books from Scholastic that have been a great teaching tool with my kids. We all know we need to conserve energy, turn off the water, protect the soil – but do we know why? I admit, these book may have taught me a thing or two as well.

I’d love to hear what you are doing with your kids to Save The Planet!

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.


Karen is a wife, mom, avid reader and (newly proclaimed) semi-crunchy gal. She blogs about her family life at Ting’s Mom Blog. In addition to her newfound desire to save the planet, she is transitioning her home and family to a toxin-free lifestyle. You can read all about it on her ‘Mission: Safe & Health Home’ page on her blog. When she is not raising her family, she is posting about them on her favorite social media site, Instagram. She can also be found blasting her random thoughts to the world on Twitter. Come say hi, she would love to chat with you!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

paper or plastic

Is it weird to say I’m getting really annoyed at throwing things away? 

Yes, I’m cleaning out too (and donating), but I’m getting annoyed that all my trash just goes into the trash can.  It was probably one of the first points of contention in our home after we got home from the honeymoon.  

I knew Chris was not a recycler.  But, it was different before we got married; he had his rules at his house and I had my rules at my house. I could recycle at mine and they could do whatever they wanted in boy land on Buckhead.  But now that our home is the same home, I want to recycle. (yes, I realize the silliness that this sounds like a temper tantrum) 

Lucky for him, the full dilemma does not fall on his shoulders; my new town does not provide the ease of recycling of my previous city.

Not to worry, I’ve come from the place where you have to do your own diligence to get the right things to the right bins, and I’ve been known to make a Saturday trip to the city recycling bins part of my weekly routine.

But, now that I’ve done the research and really know that’s the only option, I’m kinda sad.  There are still a ton of things that I just throw away.  Not only are our trash bins beyond over flowing each week, I’m afraid I’m becoming a statistic.

This month, the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers are focusing on the ENVIRONMENT in their monthly #NWArkCares campaign and it gave me the perfect platform to share my rant. 
We seriously take out a bag of garbage every single night.  And twice on the weekends.  (smh)

Things it makes me most sad to throw away:

  • packaging trash – with wedding presents galore and buying new things to set up our home, I feel like all I do is cut tags off new things and pull protective card board off corners. So much of that used to go in the big black bin in my garage, the recycling one.  

  • walmart sacks – yes, I have one of those things that you can shove bags into to store and reuse. But after 5 weeks, it's already full to over flowing…you can only keep so many plastic grocery baggies....

  • water bottles – my Chris loves to have something to drink in the car.  And, you can't blame him.  He is way better at getting his daily water intake than I am, but we have water bottles all the time. And, all the other bottles - my naked juice, milk, condiments, so...many...things.

  • boxes – we’ve been pretty good about getting this to spaces where they can be crushed, but I have boxes of every size.  And, it apparently takes the biggest box in the distribution center to mail one throw pillow.  I know there are good reasons why there is so much empty air space in those boxes and I'm sure Mr. UPS and Miss FedEx are thankful!  (If you work for Amazon and are reading this, could you get me the answer…seriously it baffles my mind with every delivery)

My love and I are going to take a field trip to the “recycling center” in our community.  Word is its on the property of the county jail (that’s why I’m taking my hulky hero with me the first time!).  I’m curious what drop off will be like so I can get me the proper bins to haul it out there.

In the meantime, anybody have any cool ideas for “pretty” ways to keep a recycle can beside our trash can and it not look like trash city in the kitchen?  Wondering if we can add in the extra steps to make it all happen in the garage.  Or, do you have tips for getting your hubby on board with recycling and changing habits?

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.

Friday, April 8, 2016

8 yrs clear

Well today was the day. The day once a year I remember I HAD cancer. 

Sure, I think about it other days. Little things remind me. Someone else gets diagnosed. I have a low day. I see my scar. There are moments. 

But it is guaranteed an early Friday in April, I'll think about it. I'll walk back in the doors I walked in 8 yrs ago as a scared 24 yr old and the feelings all return. 

That was my morning this morning. As we loaded the car before the sun came up this morning, my husband asked me how I was feeling; what was on my mind. "It's the only day all year that I remember I had cancer."

Today was a new day. Seeing the same doctor, but in a new place. A new building that I didn't know how to navigate or where to even park. 

But we figured it out. 

Dr M came in the room with his cliche foot shuffle and that well known smirk. A calming presence every time. He shakes my hand in the gentle way he always does followed by his usual greeting, "how ya feel?"

I smile and say, "fine". It's our usual routine. The banter we've both come to expect. But this time there is a cute, blonde man sitting in the chair beside the exam table. That all American demeanor captured my heart. "You remember a year ago you asked 'what was new?' And I replied that there was a boy". His attention shifts to the good looking guy in the infamous plaid. "Well there he is." We all chuckle and finish the appointment. 

"Everything looks good. I guess I'll see ya in a year. And we will do this until year 10 then you're done with me."

We exchange other pleasantries and then it's over. Yep, that simple. When it's done it seems that simple. 

But the hallowed look in everyone else's eyes takes me back. I remember the feeling of Friday's after chemo. The exhaustion. I remember the fear and concern that a boy would never love me after I had cancer. Would chemo steal my chances of being a mom. Would this scar always be in the way and carry a stigma. Would people see me first or just the "survivor" label. 

For the day (or atleast the morning) the feelings all return. But today I had my love with me. It was a surreal moment. Walking in from parking garage with him. Carrying in crackers for the chemo room.  

8 years cancer free. 

We paused by the elevator and kissed. (No one was around, it was ok)

And then we celebrated. We decided we're gonna find reasons every day to celebrate life. Indeed, each day is a gift. And for that, I'm most grateful!