Friday, April 20, 2012

Letter to Hilda Solis and the Department of Labor

Dear Mrs. Solis,

I am writing to you because I am a concerned farm wife.  Most of my life has been about farming.  I grew up on a farm and watched my father work very hard to keep food on our table.  It wasn't always easy.  He was the only employee on his farm.  We endured hail storms and drought and even a torando that ripped through five of our fields in 1991.  We spent an entire summer cleaning up the aweful mess that torando left behind.  Sometimes we would go days without seeing my dad.  He was up and gone before we were and he came home long after we had gone to bed.  We cherished the times when we got to take dinner to the field so we could have some time with him.  We also lived through watching my dad let go of his dream of being a farmer, and handing it over to his family, because it was just too hard to survive being the only employee. 

In 2006 I married the love of my life and moved to Mount Hope, KS.  He is a fifth generation farmer.  He and his dad farm 3,000 acres together.  They have one other full time employee and a couple part time helpers.  This family farm is much different than what I grew up with.  It has been handed down and added on to as the years have passed.  It is interesting to me the similarities and differences of these two farms.  We still don't get to see my husband as much because there is always work to do, but we try every second we get to go ride the tractor with him even if it is just fifteen minutes.  We bring dinner to the fields just like when I was little.  The real difference is that if we really need my husband he can be here because his dad is there to help pick up the slack.  That is probably the nicest advantage that we have.  Being a family farm we work together to grow and build what we love the most, our livelihood.

In 2011 I quit my job to become a stay at home mom and an extra farm hand.  One of the reasons behind this is because of a conversation I had with my son.  We were coming home from day care one night and I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up.  Now mind you he could have told me anything as his day care provider was my Great Aunt and he had lots of influential cousins, that were at her house a lot, who play all sports under the sun.  He could have said any number of things but he stated to me that he wanted to be a farmer.  Right then and there I knew what I needed to do as his mother.  I wanted to create and keep this life my sons wants.  I wanted to go back to my roots of being on the farm and doing everything I could to help it succeed.

The reason for this letter you may ask is because I want these new rules that you all are trying to get passed to be stopped.  I want to be able to teach my son about farm saftey and about how it takes a lot of people to run a farm.  I know it does because my father is living proof that you can't do it alone.  I want my son to continue this dream of his and his father's and his grand father's because that is what he was born to do.  I want my son to be able to have 4-H and FFA to teach him about safety and the correct way to handle animals.  I want him to have all the opportunities I had and more.  With these new rules he may not be able to do what he wants and that makes this mom very sad.

I understand that these rules are put into place because we want to keep people safe.  People are afraid of children getting hurt working around big equipment.  But unfortunately kids get hurt every single day whether in rural america or in the big city.  That is why they are called accidents.  No one means for them to happen.  Putting more rules in place isn't going to stop every accident.  Please let parents be parents and let us continue to work with our children and show them how to be safe.  I have a strong feeling that, that is all these farm parents including myself want.  Please don't take our teaching abilities away from us.  Let us teach our kids before the age of 16, when they think they know it all and are bullet proof, about hard work, dedication, and saftey.

I appreciate your time and attention!

Sincerely,
Concerned Farm Wife
Vickie Winter

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Catching up

Okay it is time to get caught up!  There has been quite a few things that have been happening around the farm and in our lives.  So I will try to make this short and sweet...Here we go!

March 8, 2012 was National Ag Day.  I spent most of the week trying to do things with my kids that involved Agriculture.  The first day we planted soybeans.  The kids had fun doing this activity.  We found the directions on http://www.myamericanfarm.com/.
The second day we played the memory game on http://www.myamericanfarm.com/. This site has lots of neat games to play.  It was built to educate people on agriculture as well as entertain.  This site is for all ages.
The next day we read Milk Comes From a Cow and The Soil Neighborhood.  These books are written by Dan Yunk and give good insight into the life of agriculture.  They can be ordered from http://www.kfb.org/.
Then National Ag day we went to our good friend Mick Rausch's house to watch him milk cows.  This brought back lots of memories for me as I worked on a Dairy in college.  It was ran by the university and it was a great experience.  I think the kids had just as much fun as I did.
The weekend of March 24-25th we went to Hays for a Young Farmers and Ranchers commitee meeting.  We did a community project at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.  We helped clean the store and put out variouse items that had been donated to the store.  We continued to plan the 2013 annual conference.  We also had a visit from Senator Jerry Moran.  He spoke to us about things going on in Congress and the Child Labor law he is trying to put a stop to.  It was a great weekend with great people.
Then it was Easter fun.  We spent two weekends in a row hunting easter eggs.  The kids had a blast and I had fun watching them.
And probably the most amazing thing has been the addition to my extended family.  Kelsey Marie was born on April 8th at 8:38 am.  She was 10 weeks early and only weighed 3 lbs 5 ounces.  She was 15 3/4 inches long.  My sister had been on best rest in the hospital for two weeks before Kelsey decided to grace us with her presence.  Even though she is so small she is showing great signs of improvement and hopefully she will be able to join her mom, dad and sister at home, where she belongs, soon.
Love my Kelsey Marie!
And now we are all caught up!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Photos from around the farm part 2

I love sunsets.

And clouds for that matter.


The different colors here is what caught my eye.

This barn is amazing!

Local dealership.


Soybean harvest.


What a flood irrigated field looks like before it is planted.


Co-op in the back ground.

Dusting of snow.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekend Getaway!

Last weekend we decided we needed a weekend away.  We had tickets to go to the farm show in Kansas City, Mo (KC).  We left early Saturday morning and hit the road.
We finally made it to KC.  I have never been to a farm show so I wasn't sure what to expect.  I was excited to see what this show was all about.  I have to say I was pretty amazed.  I have never seen so much equipment under one roof.  There were two stories. Every piece was all shiny and new.  The kids wanted to climb up in every piece of equipment they could find.  They just about succeeded!
Swather...mommy like.  I want one if I am going to help swath straw this year!

Gleaner Combine.  Jeff ran one like this last year as a test for Gleaner.

Sprayer
After we spent several hours at the show we then drove to our buddies house which is between Topeka, KS and Manhattan, KS.  Him, his dad and grandpa ranch.  They have 700 head of angus cattle.  They have about 650 momma cows.  They ride horses to check cows and these horses are amazing.  Anyone can ride them.  I love going there to ride and see the cows.  The kids also got to help feed a couple of orphaned calves.  I loved that they got to experience this.
He had so much fun.  Little sister wasn't strong enough to hold the bottle so mommy had to help.  Mommy can multitask but not good enough to feed a hungry calf and take a picture!

My favorite horse on the ranch is Blaze.  This is also Heath's Grandpa's horse.
We also had to have a least one unexpected adventure and that was the car decided it wanted to lock itself with the keys still inside.  We are still trying to figure that mystery out!
The boys trying to get the car to unlock.
After spending some good quality time at Heath's ranch we then headed into Manhattan where we bedded down for the night. The kids were a little sad that we got there after the hotel pool closed but after the day we had I don't think they would have had the energy to swim (it was really the big kids I was worried about not having any energy!).

The next morning we got up and attended church at St. Isidore's, which is right off the K-State campuse.  I remember it always being packed but the church was completely full with 10 minutes left before mass started.  Father Keith gives everyone a hug as you come in.  The hugs from him is my favorite part besides his sermons.  I miss going to that church.  The atmosphere is wonderful!  After church we decided to walk around campus.  It is more fun to walk around campus now that I don't have to go to class!
The kids running in the center of campus.

We of course did some shopping at Varney's.  That is the only place that I buy my K-State gear.  That way I know that I am just as cool as the college kids (okay that is big maybe on the cool part but I do love the new K-State gear!).  After that we grabbed some pizza and headed to my friend Rachael's house to visit her family and her new addition.  Her little girl is so cute and her little boy is so sweet.  I could have stayed there all day and cuddled with him!
Pretending they are taking naps!

Sweet baby boy!
I finally told my husband that the only way for us to get back on the road to home was to make me give the sweet baby boy back to his momma.  After a lot of convencing to hand him over, we headed home.  We got home about 7 that night and everyone agreed that it was the best mini-vaction we have had in a long time.

And that my friends concludes our weekend getaway!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Swather work

Note: You will have to pause the music in order to hear the commentary on the videos.

I am having a hard time believing that we are still in winter.  We have had some wonderful temperatures that have let us play outside.  On this particular day we went over to the farm and watched as daddy worked on the swather.

I know nothing about working on this piece of equipment (I do know how to drive it though!) but thought it might be interesting to learn a little bit about maintenance.







I learned that if you take the header off the swather, it is much easier to work on.  If you don't, the work space is not very conducive to getting any work done.

Here is my husband replacing some belts.
video

It is amazing to me to think about how much my husband has to know in order to fix anything on the farm.  There are so many moving parts and nuts and bolts that hold things together, that I have no idea how he keeps it all straight.

I then decided to interview my son.  Now if you know anything about him you know that he hears one story and makes it his own.  This particular day he had his own story on what he was fixing.  His sister steals some of his thunder though.
video

So then I had to put my baby girl on the spot.  I think she might be a little camera shy. But she sure does have an award winning smile!
video

Here are the kids helping out in the cab of the swather.


Now that the belts are back in working order it is time to put the header back onto the swather.  It looks easier than it really is.  Everything has to line up just perfect.  Someone has to drive the swather and then the other one has to help the header line up.




Success!

We ended our day at the farm with a "three wheeler" ride around the yard.


Hope we have more of these warm days so I can continue to go to the farm and learn more about fixing and working on the equipment that helps make our lively hood possible!