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#IHD16 Rookie

#IHD16 Rookie

#IHD16

In mid-August I received an email from Katie Pratt (Illinois Farm Girl) about attending the Illinois Harvest Dinner. To say the least, I was ECSTATIC!  I was at school and couldn’t click reply fast enough.  But then I waited to reply because I didn’t want to comes off as desperate.  Yes, I was THAT girl.  I casually replied a couple hours later and managed to contain my excitement.  Katie co-chairs the event alongside Mary Mackinson Faber from Mackinson Dairy Farm.  They are a pair full of ideas and make a great team.

The Illinois Harvest Dinner is an event that was started in 2015 by a handful of awesome agriculture advocates here in Illinois.  Their ideas blossomed and the second annual dinner did not disappoint.  I recall seeing pictures on social media of the event in 2015 and loved the nostalgic feel of the decorations, atmosphere and interactions with consumers!  From the outside looking in, last year was great.  From the inside, this year was AWESOME!  I was honored to be a part of it from the producer standpoint.  The interactions I had with dietitians, doctors and food service coordinators was nothing short of electric.  They had questions and I had answers based on the things I do on my farm and with my cows.

The table is set

Erin at Grand Vale Co. was there to work her magic through photographs.  If you haven’t seen them, go look now!  They sum up the evening wonderfully. You can also check out her blog post here!

And if the video that was beautifully done by ParkLife Films doesn’t make you want to be a part of this event in the future, I don’t know what will.

 

Yum!What would the Illinois Harvest Dinner be without a menu full of delicious food?  Chef Vince from Cracked Pepper Peoria worked his magic with everything from the delightful hors d’oeuvres to the savory pork chops.  He owns a few restaurants in the Peoria area and after this, I’m a shoe-in for going to each of them SOON!

In addition to my take on the evening, a handful of others weighed in on #IHD16!  Check them out and get excited for Round 3 of the Illinois Harvest Dinner in ’17.  Good conversation.  Good people. Great event. I was honored to represent production agriculture & the beef industry.

Sean Arians – “Supper with Sean & Chef Vince”

Sean Arians – “Supper with Sean & Thomas Titus”

News Herald newspaper in Central Illinois

Article in Prairie Farmer magazine by Holly Spangler

-A

A visit from a friend….

A visit from a friend….

In mid January, we welcomed a new friend to our farm. Flat Aggie, as she prefers to be called, came to Illinois ready to learn about the beef cattle on our farm.  Man, was she in for a surprise!  My children – Payton (6) and Nolan (3) were very excited to teach her about our cows.


The weather has been VERY mild so far this winter.  That has its pros and cons.  The cons = MUD! When Flat Aggie arrived, we had just started calving.  Calving is the process of a cow having a baby. A baby cow is called a calf and there are few things cuter than a newborn calf!  On our farm, we try very hard to walk through our cows every night to figure out which cows are closest to calving. Those cows that are close get put in the barn for the night.  They each have their own pen that is bedded down with fresh straw and alfalfa hay for them to munch on.  After the first couple times of going into the barn, they get very used to it and before we know it they all want in!  Flat Aggie was a big help when it came to cleaning those pens every night.  My son Nolan showed her what to do!

On our farm there is always something that needs to be done.  Although this is a busy time for our mama cows, we still have others to take care of.  Our replacement heifers are heifers that were born between January 2015 and March 2015.  A heifer is a female cow that has not had a baby.  Instead of selling them, we keep them and feed them through the winter.  Once they become old enough, they will replace older cows in the herd and eventually have babies of their own.  A herd is a group of cattle.  We also have bulls that we must continue to take care of.  A bull is an uncastrated male cow.  One of things we must continue to do for our cattle is provide them with minerals and salt to keep them growing and healthy.  When Payton and Nolan got distracted while helping me haul mineral around in the their wagon, Flat Aggie was a big help.  She even met a new friend….

In the two pictures above, Flat Aggie is standing by the mineral feeder.  This is what the salt and mineral goes into.  The cows lift the rubber top up with their nose and lick up whatever they want! Yum! 

As I mentioned before, it is calving time on our farm.  Flat Aggie got to be up close and personal for the birth of a little heifer calf.  Her mama is yellow tag #13 and is probably the friendliest cow we have.  She is always sneaking up behind us to sniff or lick our shirt or coat.  We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of her calf and I am so glad Flat Aggie was there to witness it.

We always hope that every cow will have a calf without problems.  Unfortunately that does not always happen.  Since Flat Aggie got to our farm, the weather has changed and it is very cold.  When heifers get ready to have their first calf, it is often hard to figure out how close they actually are. Needless to say there are certain cases when a heifer shows no signs of getting ready to have a calf and therefore she may not be in the barn. And she may decide to have it in the mud or when it is very cold out or even when a storm is coming! This happened to us the other day when it was cold and the windchill was near 10 degrees.  Most cows will immediately beginning smelling their newborn calf and then start cleaning it off.  This particular heifer had the calf outside.  She did not clean it off because she was not done calving.  Shortly thereafter she had another calf.  One calf was less fortunate than the other and died during birth.  When my husband got home she had just had the second one.  He quickly went and got the first calf, called me to hurry home and then took the calf in the house.  I keep spare towels and sheets, as well as an old hair dryer on hand for this reason (see The Truth About Calving…Beef Cattle)!  
Payton, Flat Aggie and I milked the cow out so we could get the initial colostrum to the calf – who was still warming up in the kitchen!!  Colostrum is the first secretion from the mammary glands after giving birth which is rich in antibodies necessary for the calf to get going in the early hours of it’s life. 

Photo Credit: Payton 🙂
Within three hours or so, we were able to get the little bull calf alert enough to go back to the barn with his mama.  She had very little milk and we had to supplement with some colostrum replacer for him to get some nourishment. He is still receiving a little bit of milk replacer while his mother’s milk starts producing.

The excitement will continue on our beef farm for a long time after Flat Aggie is gone, but we hope she can visit again someday!  She was a busy girl at our place and we enjoyed having her.  I think she may have learned enough she could raise her own beef cows!  
Thanks to A Kansas Farm Mom for the opportunity to host Flat Aggie and tell our beef story.  We had a blast!
Beef Resources….

Farmer Math

The Truth About Calving…Beef Cattle

The Truth About Calving…Beef Cattle

Yellow5 Bull Calf
In the midst of calving season and really any other time of the year – the dairy industry is often the focus of consumer questions and concerns.  The beef industry often flies under the radar.  With the buzz word being TRANSPARENCY, flying under the radar is not always ideal.
I love taking pictures, especially pictures of my cattle (cows, bulls, and calves alike) and, of course, my kids!  A picture is worth a thousand words and this picture below is no different.
P and the kitchen calf
This little black-white faced heifer calf was born outside on a sub-zero February morning. Her mother, a first time mother no less, showed no signs of being close to calving the night before (hence the reason she was born outside).  Right off the bat, during morning chores and calving checks, my husband noticed her.  I was inside getting ready to go to work and I hear the truck back up to the door and moments later I had a newborn calf on my kitchen floor.  And just like that my super soft, but worn out king size sheets were being used to warm up this little icicle of a babe.  My blow dryer that was on it’s last leg was getting a workout.  Her little ears were frozen and just like humans – 5 minutes in sub-zero temperatures – can become frostbit.  I dried, my daughter dried, I dried again and we kept taking turns.  After about an hour inside, this little sweetie was back in the barn with her mother & ready to take on the world. She needed a little extra help nursing for the first time and getting that ever so important colostrum into her system.
Up to this point, this whole process may sound very similar or almost identical to a dairy operation!  Our beef cattle operation is called a cow-calf operation.  Point in case.  A cow is a female bovine that has birthed a calf.  The cows on our farm range in age from 3 – 15 years old.  The goal of our operation is for our cows to produce calves that will yield high quality meat cuts that are in demand in the marketplace.  We keep the top 10% of our heifers for replacement heifers – replacing older cows or cows that have slacked off on raising a calf.  While providing our customers with high quality beef is very important to us, it is equally important that the animals we raise are done so humanely and live a quality life on our farm.  When explaining to others how we go through our “heavy bred” pen every night during calving season to determine which cows need to be put in the barn for the night, some may say that we are babying them.  Some statements made have been such as, “A good cow that is bred right should be able to have a calf unassisted” or “if you help them all the time they will never try to have a calf on their own”.  My immediate response to these comments is always that every operation is different and every producer can run his/her operation the way he or she sees fit! Which is exactly what we do.  My husband and I both have full-time jobs off the farm, therefore our operation is more like a hobby.  It takes up just as much time as our jobs do, but we love every second of it. One calf makes a HUGE difference!  Hence, the reason why we put cows that are close to calving inside at night.
 
Full Barn
 
We typically wean our calves when they are between 6-8 months old.  This is different than a dairy operation.  Dairy operations maintain only females on the farm and cows must continue producing milk even after having a calf.  For the safety of dairy calves, they are weaned off within 3-10 hours after calving for safety purposes.  This is where beef operations and dairy operations are different.  In order for beef cattle to grow and eventually produce high quality meat cuts, they must thrive as a calf still nursing, begin consuming small amounts of feed as they get older and then eventually be weaned when they are old to “take care of themselves” and strictly consume grain and/or forage!  A beef calf that is older than 9 months old and still nursing from it’s mother is really doing more harm to the cow than good!  Cows still nursing older calves will begin to lose weight and their overall body condition is poor because that calf is essentially “sucking the life out of them”!  It will take longer for that cow to get back to her optimum body condition after nursing a calf for too long.
 
Long story short, CATTLE operations – dairy or beef – have one goal in mind…care for animals in a humane and ethical fashion and, of course, feed the world! As always, if you have questions about how your food is produced, please Ask the Farmers!
Deep breaths, deep thoughts

Deep breaths, deep thoughts

Well it’s no surprise that I have taken an obvious break from my blogging excursion.  Yea, I know, I have a total of like 5 blog posts, so it has hardly been an excursion.  Let’s be honest, I have very little free time (ok, so I have NONE) and blogging is not at the forefront.

Right now – Sunday, November 15th at 11:38 pm – I cannot sleep.  My mind is racing and my back aches.  What is on my mind is nothing short of the typical – plans for the week, grocery list items, did I lock the back door?, did I open the kid’s bedroom doors? And the list goes on and on.  The first thought that came to my mind tonight was this, “was I born to teach ag?”.  If you have read any of my blog posts or maybe follow me on social media sites, you may already know that I resigned from teaching high school agriculture after eight years.  I miss it.  I miss my students. Honestly, up until the last couple months, I wasn’t real sure I wanted to teach again.  If you are familiar with public education at all (especially in Illinois), you probably know that it is not the students or the busy workload of an ag teacher and FFA advisor.  It is, very simply, the crap that goes along with the profession.  Forms, curriculum requirements, standardized testing, less than mediocre administrators getting paid three times too much, federal initiatives, common core and the list goes on.  I have said for a long time – just let me teach!  I will do my job and everything will be just peachy.  Don’t micromanage me and my students.  Don’t try to make us a sweet deal and have a hidden agenda lingering in the background.  Just let me teach. 

I never really thought I could be busier than I already was while I was teaching.  Turns out, I can be! Go me!  I have a lot more flexibility with my current job, but that’s not all it’s cracked up to be.  I took a slight leap of faith last spring and applied for grad school.  Right now, I am taking two courses through Iowa State University’s online Agriculture Education & Studies graduate program.  Whoa! Why on God’s beautiful green Earth did I not just do this way back in 2005?  Oh yes, that’s right…I never had a desire and never ever thought I would really “need” my master’s degree. Ha!

So here I am – raising two young children along side my husband (except sometimes I feel like he is 15 steps behind me), raising beef cattle, advocating for agriculture in every way possible, working full-time and of course, attempting to keep up with my laundry.  Goals people, goals!  Just go ahead and throw some luck at me too while you’re at it!

Check out my “A Day in the Life” page to see some pictures of life on our farm!

-Alison

Our Way of Life

Our Way of Life

Originally written for the Ask The Farmers “Know Your Farmer” blog series.
Our Way of Life
My name is Alison McGrew and I am from Good Hope, Illinois.  I am one of many Ask The Farmers volunteers that simply volunteers time to answer consumer questions regarding agriculture!  My family and I raise beef cattle on our farm, but I grew up on a grain (corn, soybeans, and wheat) farm.  My husband is the manager at a family-owned farm supply company so from time to time I will ask him to help me out with questions regarding seed, chemicals, fertilizer, etc.!
My entire way of life has been centered around agriculture and farming.  My parents encouraged me to explore my options when it came to my career, but I kept reverting back to agriculture and more specifically agriculture education.  I graduated from college and became a high school agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor and loved every second…for the most part.  It is a very time consuming job, but extremely rewarding at the same time!  The truth is, I just loved teaching others about the things I was most passionate about.  I taught for eight years and made the decision to resign and leave the profession.  I had to take a break from the current situation.  It was best for myself and more importantly, my family.  I do not regret my decision at all, but I miss my students & colleagues terribly.  I miss that “ah-ha” moment when I was starting a new unit and things just started to click for them.  I have no doubts that someday I will be in the teacher role again, but for now I am living life.
Calves at the bunk
Snowball fight & chores!
My passion for agriculture is so rich that I find myself getting emotional when someone asks me why I do what I do.  Nobody ever told me that I had to be a beef producer.  Nobody ever told me to carry on with my agriculture roots.  Nobody ever made me earn a degree and start a career as an agriculture education teacher.  Being a part of agriculture made me happy.  It is who I am and for that I am very grateful.  There are some people that work their entire lives to get to do what they want.  I get to do that everyday.  Both my husband and I have full-time jobs, so our cows and our farm are our hobby.  Our cows are our weekends.  Our kids are a part of that 100% as well.  Someday they will know the importance of that.
Our beef herd consists of 35 Simmental and SimAngus cow/calf pairs.  As I mentioned before, our cows are our hobby.  I would be lying if I said that I didn’t want to go buy more pasture ground and maintain a herd close to 100!  I could definitely find plenty of “things” to fill my time and not work! 🙂  All of our cows calve within about 60 days of each other and although that is the most stressful time of year – I wouldn’t have it any other way.  My crock pot and I are best friends during calving time.  The barn needs cleaned, the new calves need tagged & given their first booster shots.  Getting in the house before 7:00 p.m. is near impossible!  Our kids know more about cows than some may ever know in a lifetime.  Most of the cows are purebred and therefore have a registration paper with their name, birth date, dam (mother), sire (father), etc.  The majority of those registration papers list one of the kids as the owner!  My 6 year old technically owns more cows than I do.  She thinks that is pretty cool.
Payton helping put mineral and salt out for our replacement heifers.
Thou he may be small, he is mighty!
Agriculture is our way of life and we take pride in providing food (BEEF!) for consumers across the world.  I encourage you to ask questions from the experts themselves – the farmers!
Below are some pictures of what life is like on our small Illinois beef cattle farm!
Nolan “helping” Daddy vaccinate calves.
Tractor selfie moving to a different field during 2014 corn harvest.
Tractor selfie moving to a different field during 2014 corn harvest.
What he never said….

What he never said….

My Daddy & me

As Father’s Day 2015 approaches, I find myself trying to determine WHO exactly influenced me the most – my Dad or my Grandpa Bud.  Of course they both, along with the rest of my family, influenced me, but the kind of influence I am divulging into is in reference to my passion as an adult. I am a farmer’s daughter, a farmer’s granddaughter, a wife, a mother, a sister, a cattle producer, a teacher and many others.  These are the most important to me, but as I write this I cannot help but think about the first two A LOT! Keyword: Farmer


I was born into a family deeply rooted into agriculture.  Specifically grain farming, harness racing and raising cattle. Be jealous!  I was never told I had to like it.  I was never told I had to have fun doing “ag” things.  I was never told I had to join 4-H and show livestock.  I was never told I had to take agriculture classes in high school.  I was never told I had to join FFA.  I was never told I had to go to college.  I was never told I had to major in agriculture.  I was never told that I had to own my own herd of cattle. Some of these things I did and some I did not.


As the first grandchild I attended more Illinois county fairs by the age of 2 than some people do in a lifetime.  Again, be jealous! During the summer months, my entire family (literally, the entire family) traveled across the state to county fairs on the Mid-Western Illinois Racing Association circuit to race Standardbred horses.  Thanks to our little Thompson Stables crew, I learned very early on the value of a quick bath in a bucket in the horse stall, how to “pop a squat” and to never turn down a big chug of ice cold well water out of the jug!  I was too young to specifically recall, but I’ve been told my first word was not “Dada” or “Mama”, but “horse”.  Rightfully so!  As I got older, my love for agriculture continued.  4-H was a MAJOR part of my childhood and upbringing.  North Side Ag 4-H Club for life!!  I showed pigs and cattle.  I was always told I had to work hard for the things I wanted.  If I wanted to win, I had to walk my pigs and take good care of them.  If I wanted to go somewhere with my friends on a Saturday night, I had to get up early and help clean the barn.  If I wanted to play softball – a spring sport in high school, I had to give up showing cattle.  In the words of my Dad, “you can’t devote enough time to taking care of your show calves if you play softball.”  Needless to say, I chose showing cattle.  Big surprise!



Taken during the Champion Pair of Barrows drive.  Shortly after, I would be the
proud owner of the Reserve Champion Pair of Barrows! My Dad picked them
out and he was just as proud as I was!


Thompson Family Christmas card – 1984



I am a proud graduate of Western Illinois University Department of Agriculture.  The picture below was taken on the day I graduated from Western.  My Dad is very outspoken when it comes to his opinions, but very quiet when it comes to his emotions.  This may describe your Dad to a T!  I have several friends who could say that is a true statement about their Dad as well.  Must be a Dad thing!  He never told me how proud he was of me that day, but I knew.  I knew that he was very happy for me and proud to tell people that I was going to be an agriculture education teacher & FFA advisor.  I was happy to make him proud and still am to this day.

WIU Graduation Day with my parents



I love to sit and talk to my grandparents!  My Grandpa Bud has some of the best stories.  Some may be true, some may be a little spiced up for conversation!  That is what Grandpas are good for – stories!  He is my biggest role model.  I have always been very proud to call him Grandpa.  Growing up I LOVED following him around and helping harness the horses.  In the early 1990’s we moved our horses to the Illinois State Fairgrounds and began to train there. I didn’t watch cartoons on Saturday mornings, I left home at 5:00 in the morning to go to Springfield with my grandparents!  Those Saturdays were the best times of my life.  From scooping manure and cleaning stalls to cleaning harness, I was their right hand gal.  I longed for the day, my Grandpa would let me lead a horse around in the grass behind the barn after a good training mile.  As I got older, our direct involvement in harness racing got less and less.  My Grandpa was offered a job at the Illinois Department of Agriculture and therefore was unable to own, train or drive any racehorses.  I was just old enough to start doing really fun things at the barn like lead the horses around all the time…without help and give them a bath and walk them out to the track before their morning jogging workout!  Like I said, really really fun things!  Needless to say, I was disappointed. I was also happy for him.  He was a BIG deal in my eyes and I was proud of him and his accomplishments!  In the years that followed, my family still had an active role in harness racing.  I find myself saying to people, “agriculture is in my blood”.  Harness racing was no different.  As many times as I find myself telling people that agriculture is in my blood, I also get emotional.  Weird?  Yes, it is! Haha.  My passion for agriculture is because of my parents and grandparents, specifically my Dad and Grandpa – the farmers!

Menard County Fair – Petersburg, Illinois
July 28, 1984
Pictured left to right: My Granny Alice, 3 year old pacing gelding Just Gus,
my Grandpa Bud (holding me) and my Mom

This may be just like all the other “farmer Dad” stories you have read that seem to surface around Father’s Day every year. I think mine is different.  I was highly influenced to become the person I am today.  Few words were spoken and I was never told I had to do this or had to do that….in terms of my life goals.  Let’s be honest, I was told to make my bed, wash the dishes, clean my room, etc., etc. plenty of times growing up!


In addition to my Dad and Grandpa, I must also mention my husband and my father-in-law as well as the handful of male influences in my life that served as “pseudo Dads”!  I love them all dearly and appreciate them more than they will ever know.  

I love watching my Dad and Grandpa around my two children!  I feel very fortunate that my Grandpa has the opportunity to be an active part of their lives.  He feels the same.  My Dad can entertain my kids for hours and you will never hear “Papa” sound so sweet as it does coming out of my two year old son’s mouth!

I love pictures, so I thought I would share some of my favorites! 

My Dad (#5) and my Grandpa (#9) racing.  This was a rare occurrence!

My grandparents with their pride & joy…their great grand kids! 


My parents with my children!  The look on my Dad’s face sums up how he
feels about being a Papa!


My Dad and me with my steer at our county fair in 1999.

One of my all time favorite photos – my Grandpa and my brother.
I can only imagine the stories being told!


My Dad and my son doing what they love – riding the tractor!


My father-in-law with my children!


My Grandpa with my son at the Illinois State Fair.
My Grandpa let him sit on his lap in the driver’s seat of the
starting gate at the harness races!


My husband holding our children in the hospital the day
after my son was born!

Four generations!


My favorite picture of my Dad and me.
My hardworking Dad doing his thing!



Thanks Dad for never telling me I HAD to do these things – I figured them out on my own and I hope I have made you proud!


Happy Father’s Day.  Enjoy it with all the fathers in your life – I know I will!



*This post was written as a guest post for the Illinois Farm Families blog.  Check out www.watchusgrow.org for more posts from other farmers like me!

Summed Up!

Summed Up!

So here is how things have been shaking around here lately!  Aside from the usual hustle & bustle of spring in the Midwest and being married to a seed salesman/farm supply company manager, things have been fairly calm!  Calving is DONE….I repeat….CALVING IS DONE! Check, check.  We also have our “wintering” pastures chiseled, mulched and seeded back down and ready for some sunshine & moisture!  For those that aren’t familiar with my jargon – “wintering” pastures on our farm are simply little pastures/lots that we put our cows and their young calves on until its time to go to the “big” pasture.  In our case, that time is early May.  Once early May arrives and the grass at our pastures has had a chance to get a head start, it’s freedom at last!

This may sound crazy, so do not judge me, but I really think they sense where we are going when we start loading them on the trailer!  They’ve had their calf and they have hopefully been bred back for their next calf and it’s GO time!

This year I made a point to walk out of the barn lot and down the hill in front of them so I could snap some high quality iPhone photos! Yes, there is a big white barn that I would love, love, love to restore and make it a home (LOL), but we only rent the pasture and it’s out of our neighborhood….like 15 miles! I know, WOW, 15 miles – not that far.  We cannot haul all the cows and calves on one trailer.  Hello awesome friends that help out when needed!  I’ll help you haul cows if you help me _____________________ <insert random farm work here>.  We try really hard to load the cows and calves on the same trailers for simplicity, but it doesn’t always work that way.  We keep them in separate parts of the trailer to ensure the calves’ safety.  A calf with a broken leg is a bad thing!  We arrive at the pasture and make sure the gate to go out of the barn lot and into the pasture is closed.  If you think a calf with a broken leg is bad, a calf that is disoriented and cannot find it’s mama is even worse!  Once all the cows and calves are together we open the gate and away they go! No literally, they run and jump and kick and don’t have a care in the world.  As a producer, I am just as excited and ready as they are.  Cows are born to graze.  Cows have grazed the grasses of this country for many, many years.  Let them be!

Below are some pictures I snapped with my trusty iPhone that day!  You can check out more pictures of daily “things” on our farm on my “A Day In The Life” page here on my blog!

Cows, calves, beautiful green grass, a windmill, blue
Illinois sky and a big white barn!

They are in heaven!

I have taken a lot of pictures of this creek over the past few years.
Mainly about a year and a half ago when it was about dry.  It’s flowing freely
these days!

I was (patiently) waiting for a ride back home from the rye field so I
walked across the road and found our first calf heifers were pretty
curious and photogenic!  
Lovely May evening!

“So God Made A Farmer”

“So God Made A Farmer”

I must say as I start typing this blog post, I AM PUMPED!  I participated in an Illinois Farm Families social media & networking webinar back in early January (when I started typing this post).  I really use the term “participated” VERY lightly because I had 2 sick kids – my husband and my 5 year old daughter!  For those of you that know me – I kind of have 3 kids (insert sarcasm)!  I was watching and reading the presentation, but had tractors farming all around me and milk being spilled on my lap and to top it off, I couldn’t get the sound to work on join.me app!  Mission accomplished for the presenters because I was stoked to write my next blog and all I did was catch slides here and there!  That’s effectiveness!

Now on to the title of this post and the whole point of how I have got to this point in my life…

It was around December 3rd and I started to seriously wonder what I was going to buy my Dad for Christmas.  He is the hardest person to buy for because most generally, if he needs something (tools, gloves, work boots, etc.) he will just go buy it!  More power to you Dad, but throw me a bone and give me some ideas!  After talking to my Mom, we decided to shop around for a pair of nice square toe cowboy boots (I know, my Dad is way cool, huh?) for him and just split it three ways between the two of us and my sister and her husband!  Piece of cake.  Long story short – he wears size 14 and square toe boots are next to impossible to just go out and buy. Back to square one (aka Amazon.com) I go!  By the way, before I go any farther, if you haven’t discovered Amazon Smile – it is amazing.  No purchase necessary here, just buy the STUFF you normally would on Amazon, BUT a portion of every sale from certain products goes to the charity of your choice.  I chose St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.  How cool is that?

Back to my story…
My Dad used to read – A LOT! So I start browsing the books.  Books about John Wayne and the West and books by author Louis L’amour!  No such luck – I am quite sure he has already read each of the ones I looked at – twice!  And then I see the “For the Farmer in All of Us: An American Portrait” by Paul Harvey.  No more searching & wondering. That was all over because to me this was THE book he needed.  After I wrote a note to him about how grateful I was for his dedication to agriculture and being an American Farmer, there was no other gift more suitable!  This book – composed mainly of amazing photographs of American Farmers, the products of their toil, their families, their livelihood – was my Dad.  It was everything I grew up knowing about my Grandpa Bud, my Dad, our extended family, our neighbors, our 4-H family, our county fair friends and many others.  And of course how could I leave out my Granny & my Mom!  They are the epitome of a farm wife/mom!

These people and the values instilled in me are the reason I get emotional when talking to others about my childhood and how I became the person I am today.  They are the reason I love doing those very same things myself – pulling a calf at 6:00 am before going to work, cleaning calving pens, sledding in the pasture on a Sunday after the “priority” chores are done or going to our close friends’ annual production sale just to support them!

My daughter with a little heifer calf.
This heifer is actually due to calve anytime!
My son – doing what boys do! 

On that note, I’ll finish by saying THANK YOU to anyone who ever had an influence on me as I was growing up.  Agriculture will ALWAYS be a huge part of who I am and for that I am eternally grateful!  Happy National Ag Day – #AgDay2015  #ThankAFarmer

Time Off…

Time Off…

So here goes nothing…

The title.  The title explains where I am at right now in my crazy life as an ag….uh former ag teacher.  That is probably one of the hardest phrases I have ever had to mutter.  This is what I was put on this Earth to do.  Teaching others – impressionable minds – about agriculture is what I am good at.  It is my thing! I miss my students past and present.  I miss the teachers that made my job fun. And most of all, I miss the opportunity I had every single day to teach others about what I am passionate about!

Let’s get one thing straight right off the start – this blog is not about ME and my sob story of why after 8 years of teaching, I chose to resign.  This blog IS about my journey of educating others, young and old about the one and only industry that makes this world turn 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year and 365 days a year – AGRICULTURE!  And an added bonus is that I am a part of several social media pages (Ask the Farmers being the main one) that are for agriculturists educating other social media lovers about where their food & fiber comes from.  For now, the most important thing is taking care of my family (husband of 7 years that works 50+ hours/week OFF the farm, 5 year old daughter and 1-1/2 year old son) and doing what is best for the four of us and our operation! 


I enjoy social media and LOVE to tell my story, so if you wish to follow me on any of these avenues, I’d love to have you 🙂 


Twitter: @AlisonMcGrew
Instagram: amcgrew8342


Not a very exciting first blog post, but it’s a start!  Shoot me a comment and I’ll follow you back via one of my social media outlets!




Until next time,
Alison