Tag Archives: Farm Bureau

Although the saying “Failure means you’re trying” is supposed to bring comfort, hearing it doesn’t always make it easier to accept our failures.

Failure happens, both on and off the farm. And it’s hard to shake.

Thinking back to a cold, early morning in October, I had just gotten to the barn to check on a sow that was supposed to farrow (give birth) soon. She was in her farrowing crate – to keep both her and her babies safe – and she had straw, along with heat lamps and heating pads for the piglets to keep them safe and warm. I walked in that morning to something a farmer never wants to see. The sow had decided to move all the straw out of her pen, so she was laying directly on the freezing cement floor (we don’t have heated floors in our barn) and then gave birth to many piglets.

I rushed over to the piglets, swooped them up in my arms, wiped them off, and put them on the heating pad that was under the heat lamps to try to get their body temperature up. After doing so, I went back over to the sow to watch her and noticed she was having trouble. This meant I needed to assist her in birthing the remaining piglets. She gave birth to 16 piglets, but because some of them were born on the frigid cement floor before I got there, only nine survived. Was this the outcome we wanted? No. Was it a failure? Not completely, as we were able to save the sow and nine piglets.

I was an emotional wreck afterward. I was mad. I was sad. I was heartbroken. I was tired. I completely understand the circle of life. I understand that things happen. But I often wonder why I get so emotional after losing an animal. Is it because of the cuteness of them? Is it because of all the time, work and energy we put into them? Sure it is, but pinpointing exactly why I get so emotional takes me back personally in time. I have suffered multiple miscarriages as an adult and it made me feel like a failure.

“Failure means you’re trying.” Yes. Hearing that doesn’t make it any easier. But you continue to fight.

So in those moments when I am fighting to keep animals alive, I fight like crazy. I try to make sure I am doing everything within my resources to make sure that our animals are safe and healthy.

“Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights” has long been attributed to Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and our nation’s third president. When he wrote those words in 1789, Jefferson could not have imagined how true they would ring more than 200 years later, when the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed an overreaching “waters of the U.S.” rule in 2015 that was more about controlling land than protecting water.

Fortunately, at the end of 2018, after years of litigation and controversy, the agencies proposed a new rule that provides farmers and ranchers with Clean Water and Clear Rules. Now EPA and the Corps want to hear directly from members of the public – including farmers, ranchers, landowners and others who may be subject to regulation – to make sure the new Clean Water Rule provides clear and easily understood guidelines. But with the comment period on the proposed new rule closing on April 15, there’s no time to lose. To have a voice in this process, it’s important to submit your comments online now at www.fb.org/cleanwater.

EPA’s administrator has stated he wants the new Clean Water Rule to work for agriculture and all of America. Below are some key reasons to be optimistic about it:

  • The proposed new rule provides clarity, regulatory certainty and protects water resources, while respecting the federal-state balance that Congress struck in the Clean Water Act. It alleviates unpredictable and inconsistent case-by-case determinations of which waters fall under the agencies’ jurisdiction. It also brings an end to the decades-long trend of persistent federal government overreach that cannot be reconciled with either congressional intent or judicial precedent.
  • This proposed new “waters of the U.S.” definition is grounded in the Clean Water Act. It’s also consistent with Supreme Court precedent. And it helps correct past agency practice, guidance and interpretations that improperly expanded the scope of federal authority under the CWA.
  • The proposed rule eliminates much of the uncertainty, ambiguity and inconsistency that characterized previous definitions related to the scope of EPA and the Corps’ jurisdiction. The proposal also appropriately places the burden on the government, not landowners, to show jurisdiction in cases where historic evidence is needed.
  • The proposal appropriately defines tributaries to include only those streams that contribute perennial or intermittent (as opposed to occasional or ephemeral) flows to a traditional navigable water. The focus on the well-understood concepts of ephemeral, intermittent and perennial flow allows landowners and regulators to more readily identify tributaries subject to CWA jurisdiction.
  • Under the proposed rule, wetlands adjacent to other jurisdictional waters (traditional navigable waters, tributaries, ditches, lakes, ponds and impoundments) would fall under EPA jurisdiction. With this “adjacent wetlands” definition in place, agencies asserting jurisdiction over isolated, intrastate, non-navigable waters is no longer a possibility.
  • The proposal reaffirms the “prior converted cropland” exclusion, which grandfathered in many acres of cropland and exempted them from federal jurisdiction.

Farmers and ranchers want Clean Water and Clear Rules. Don’t miss this chance to let your voice be heard. Submit your comments online today at www.fb.org/cleanwater.

As in life, sometimes things don’t go as planned on the farm. A prime example is when my husband and 6-year-old son recently brought home an orphaned heifer from a family friend’s herd. The calf was just a few hours old when she moved into our barn and started receiving care. It was during one of the bitter-cold weeks when farmers were working around the clock to ensure — to the best of their abilities — the health and safety of their animals. The mother didn’t make it, and without stepping in, the calf would not have survived either.

When the calf was in the barn, the boys immediately fed her, and put a heat lamp on her. Over the next few days my son, husband and I taught that calf how to drink from a bottle.

It wasn’t easy. It was cold. It required putting on extra layers and leaving the comforts of our home to trudge to the barn in the dark at times. It required waking up earlier or stepping away from a favorite cartoon or waiting to eat a meal. It required patience and strength while the calf was held and slowly, but surely, learned how to get its milk. During this time the calf was not the only one learning.

At first, my son was quite apprehensive about holding the bottle while a squirmy, hungry calf made her best efforts to fill her belly. Besides, holding four pints of milk replacer in a large bottle can be tough for a kindergartener.

Soon the calf figured out how to nurse, and my son became comfortable with feeding.

We’re at the point now that our son can take the bottle out to the barn before he leaves for school in the morning and when he gets home at night. He feeds his calf without our help. Yes, we still assist him on occasion, but our kindergartner is the one making sure the calf is fed and cared for every day. (My husband and I keep a watchful eye on him from a distance.)

When I mentioned my son’s chores and newly assigned responsibilities to a coworker recently, the response I received was, “Wow! That’s a lot for a little boy his age.”

I thought about that comment for perhaps a little too long and began to question whether our expectations of our son are set too high. In the end, I came to the same conclusion I’m sure my parents and my husband’s parents came to when we were children: it’s an appropriate age, especially for our child.

Lady Bird Johnson once said “children are apt to live up to what you believe of them.”

My son is capable of this responsibility because I know he can do it.
Even though the initial days with that little calf were trying, and tears were shed, and the “I can’t do it” statements were made, and the feedings took an extremely long time to complete, my husband and I assured our son that he was capable of handling this situation.

My husband and I are setting the stage for our son to experience grit, determination, hard work and the ability to persevere. And while living on a farm requires all of the above plus more, life in general does as well. We’re doing our part to prepare our son to face and respond to challenges in the future.

While a lot of things don’t go as planned for us on the farm, one thing will remain a constant: our children will be accountable and held responsible for tasks on our farm — even if they seem daunting for a child — because we believe our children can and will meet the expectations set for them. I have found when things don’t go as planned, we too learn new ways of doing things and find out what is possible to accomplish within the farm and within ourselves. Our son is finding this out with his calf.

Chores that once seemed daunting are now fun, he has a sense of purpose and an understanding that his calf depends on him for its wellbeing. The lessons learned in the barn on these cold mornings before school will be ones we as parents feel will help him succeed in school and life, whether he chooses to follow us on the farm or make his own path in the world.