Category Archives: Rants

I’m A Bad Ag Teacher

Hello readers! My ag teacher friend wrote this blog, and out of concern for their place in the community, we thought it might be a good idea to post it here anonymously. I believe this needs to be said and shared. Please read with an open mind…..

I’m A Bad Ag Teacher

I’ve been teaching high school agriculture for several years now. I love my job immensely. I pour my heart and soul into it. But what has become apparent over time is that I am a bad ag teacher.
Good ag teachers are all about creating people who will advocate for agriculture and tell its story to the disconnected public. I don’t do that.
Good ag teachers are constantly applying for grants and working community connections for sponsorship dollars. I don’t do that.
Good ag teachers believe that agriculture today is pretty awesome and the methods and way of life need to be protected. I really don’t believe that.
Good ag teachers are relentlessly optimistic, believing that the future of agriculture is always bright and a more important focus than the past. That’s really not me.
Good ag teachers teach their students how to perform taxidermy or methods of hunting or fishing. I don’t give a hoot about my students learning those things.
Good ag teachers encourage students to participate in youth apprenticeships or work release so students can get a head start on their careers. I struggle to do this.
So by now you’re probably thinking, “She really doesn’t do all those things that sound important, but she doesn’t necessarily sound bad. What does she actually do?” Well, let me tell you.
I encourage my students to make the most of their free (taxpayer funded) education as they never know where life will take them. I want my students to make the best choices for themselves, but to never turn down an opportunity to learn. Sometimes that takes place at an outside placement, but you can never get those years in the classroom back.
More than hands-on skills, more than agricultural knowledge, I teach my students to think critically and evaluate issues from all sides. Whether it’s wildlife management, raw milk consumption, or animal cloning; we examine data, we look for holes in arguments, and we take the perspective of those we disagree with so we are both better informed and can better communicate about things we care about.
I teach that land management on this continent did not begin with white colonizers, and that the idea of a place without white people being labeled wilderness is preposterous. By now you can probably see I’m a weird ag teacher.
I teach that soil health is paramount to human survival and that the methods we are currently using are not enough to save us. We will have to change our methods to become climate resilient and protect our water supply. This makes me at most a mediocre ag teacher.
I teach that science literacy and consistency is important for all people, and that the natural sciences and social sciences cannot exist without the other. The natural sciences help us understand how the world works, but the social sciences explain how the functions of the world affect the dynamics of human lives. The anti-GMO movement didn’t happen because lots of people just wanted to be willfully ignorant of science, it happened because they had valid concerns about how biotechnology is utilized and there was an us v. them mentality with farmers/scientists/agribusiness and consumers. This makes me a near heretical ag teacher.
I teach that United States agriculture, in all parts of the country, has been complicit in injustices since before we became a nation. Slavery, sharecropping, theft of Native land and methods, migrant and immigrant exploitation, it’s woven into the fabric of how our agricultural landscape today came to be. And despite those injustices, all people in this country have a right to determine their level of involvement and understanding of agriculture. Some want to be involved in agriculture but struggle with access due to centuries of disenfranchisement. Others don’t, and we need to be okay with that. I don’t want to be a computer science expert, I just want my phone to work for me; people in cities (many of whom were forced off the land) just want their food to be trustworthy and safe, we shouldn’t expect them to be able to list which crops have GMO versions or why castrating pigs is important. By now you’ve guessed it, I’m a pretty bad ag teacher.
And most of all, I don’t teach that agriculture exists in a vacuum, that ag is a sacred profession that is to be revered and subsidized more than others, and that there aren’t real issues in agriculture today that are hurting real people (and I’m not talking about animal rights activists). I’m an awful ag teacher.
The official mission statement of agricultural education is “Agricultural education prepares students for successful careers and a lifetime of informed choices in the global agriculture, food, fiber and natural resources systems.” I actually really like this, but it allows for a little too much wiggle room for me. Good ag teachers would argue that the phrase “informed choices in the global … systems” is referring to understanding the place of biotechnology and feeding the world. The bad ag teacher in me sees that phrase and thinks of making sure my students understand the fraught issues with natural gas pipelines, food sovereignty, and animal welfare. That’s why I wrote my own mission statement, “Agricultural education is a holistic education with a radical agenda to empower young people to be inclusive community leaders who will be agents of change in order to create a climate stable, biodiverse, environmentally and socially just, and food secure world; and have the pragmatism, communication skills, and hands-on abilities to make it so.” They’re essentially the same, right?
Most of the ag teachers I’ve met are ridiculously kind and giving people. They love the agrarian life and want to be able to pass it on to future generations, and that’s noble. But in ag education we have a ton of privilege, even if funding issues don’t always make it feel that way. We work with students who are overwhelmingly white and rural, for whom social distancing is more the norm, the police are little more than a friendly nuisance, and the right to live on the land we inherited from our ancestors is never questioned. We also spend a ton of time with our students, often forging deep bonds and helping to shape their futures. That is a privilege beyond measure. But to paraphrase a movie, “with great privilege comes great responsibility.” Since we have those bonds and time with our students, we are in a better position than most to help students understand what’s going on in the world, and what our role in it is. And for our students of color, if we aren’t acknowledging the role and trauma of their people in agriculture throughout time, we are guilty of whitewashing and erasure. If we think ag education is valuable to all students, they need to be able to see themselves both past and present in our story, and not just talk about George Washington Carver because he’s the only black person in ag we know of.
There are days I want to be a good ag teacher so badly. I tell myself I’m going to apply for that grant from a large agribusiness with questionable practices, or I’m going to explain that modern dairy production is the most efficient system ever and leave it at that, or that I’m going to spend time teaching my students to memorize different types of fishing equipment. I could do all of that, it would be easy, the resources are there. But no matter how hard I try I can’t follow through on these things and once again I show my true colors, as a bad ag teacher.


Filed under Ag, agriculture, Guest Post, Rants, Uncategorized

Shootin’ the Bull or Shooting Ourselves?

Change is hard for some of us. Especially in agriculture where we tend to be proud of the fact ‘we’ve always done it this way”. But when we resist change in such a way that we hurt or dehumanize other people, we need to stop being proud of that heritage. We need to realize we are part of the problem.
The South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association mission statement is this: Advance and protect the interests of all cattlemen by enhancing profitability through representation, promotion and information sharing. Imagine my surprise when I saw Steve Ollerich, the President of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, opinion piece in their magazine. He goes on a tirade that does nothing to enhance the beef industry in any way. In fact, I wager it reenforces negative stereotypes our urban peers have about us. I am going to put a screenshot here because we need to talk about it.

When a leader of an agriculture organizations jokes about killing transgender people, and the whole industry doesn’t stop, and go, ‘NOT OK!’ we have a problem. I’m hoping by drawing attention to it, my industry can grow, learn and improve.
When jokes are funny, we all laugh. When jokes dehumanize, it’s a gateway to violence, it normalizes aggressive, and violent policing. Dehumanizing language has long been used to justify violence and destruction of minorities. I am not willing to perpetuate this.
I see the beef industry asking again and again, how we can connect with consumers. Here is our chance. Here is a glorious, wonderful chance for us to step up, in our white cowboy hats, and do some good. We need to talk about this harmful language and attitude. This isn’t about being politically correct, or call out culture, this is about treating all human beings with respect. Something we, in agriculture, demand constantly. It’s about doing the right thing. I look forward to both The South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association addressing this in a mature and professional manner we can all learn from.


Filed under Ag, agriculture, Beef, Know a California Farmer, Rants, Uncategorized

I March For Agriculture

I March for Agriculture

Agriculture loves to put an opinionated woman in her place. My friend Abbi said it best, “the Goldilocks mentality… be strong but not too strong. Be smart but not too smart”. If we step outside our allotted roles we become fair game for attacks and put downs. This does serve a purpose though, it keeps us in our place, it keeps us subservient and quiet.


Gender roles, patriarchy and sexism are still very much alive and well within agriculture. We still perpetuate them, we still are guided by them, we still adhere to them. I was reminded of this when I was tagged in the comments section of a status update from the California CattleWomen’s Facebook page. The post was a variation of the “Why We Don’t March” status update that floats around rural Facebook every time a women’s march is organized (fun fact: women were not even allowed in FFA until 1969).

Before I delve into why this is an issue, I’d like to post the groups mission statement. I believe it’s important to know the mission of a group. It is as follows: “Because California is the world leader in food production, the most productive agriculture region on earth and because; the production of Beef Cattle is California’s fifth largest commodity, we, the California CattleWomen will focus on promoting a better understanding to consumers as to where their food originates; the quality controls used towards its safety; the impact the Beef Industry has on the economy of California; and the overall, far-reaching contributions the Beef Industry has to society as a whole.”

The post from the California CattleWomen

The post from the California CattleWomen

This is problematic when a public group representing agriculture would post such a divisive, tone-deaf and antiquated status update. Obviously, it’s an attempt to silence consumers who speak up when something is wrong, by women who often have a family name or land that affords them some protection from the wrongs. It also perpetuates the rural/urban divide, which is something agriculture has been struggling with for a long time.

I know many agriculture groups are struggling with membership. This is perhaps a major reason why. All women in agriculture are not going to have the same experiences. A greenhand young woman will not be treated the same as the fifth generation rancher. Women who are brave enough to point out how we can be better by marching, or protesting are not our enemy. Offering support to the younger, more progressive generation will encourage us to join these groups. It will bring new life blood. Alienating us will only continue to spell the inevitable, slow, death march of these groups.


The cattle industry desperately needs some good PR. We really need consumers to see cattlepeople in a better light. We have lab meat, environmental issues and a whole slew of other controversies where we NEED the public’s support. Posting something that attacks the dominate grocery shopper (women) is not a smart marketing tactic.

Maya Angelou said: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time“. It is so easy to find farmers and rancher insulting our non agriculture peers on social media, it’s like we forget the public can see it.  Then we wonder why we are not communicating well with our consumers, why they don’t listen to us. We get upset when they call us uneducated or ignorant. You know what? I think they are just listening to Ms. Angelou; we are showing the public who we are, and are being treated accordingly.

I know the women who run these accounts have attended and even been panelist and presenter at many conferences teaching us ‘to reach beyond the agriculture choir,’ just like me. I learned alienating our consumer on public accounts was a bad idea, even on personal accounts. I just feel at some point we need to admit we’re not really trying to win consumers over, we’re not trying to learn from them. No, we want them to know how much better we are because of our lifestyle. Again, not promoting betting understanding to our consumer.


The industry is at a tipping point. If our groups and leaders stepped up and lead by example, I know we could create some positive change. We either need to become serious, follow our mission statements, and stop attacking the hand the pays us or realize life as we know it, is going to change. Here is my call to action, let’s be better. Let’s stop putting down our consumers for things they are passionate about. Let’s gently remind (call out) our ranching peers to do the same. When we see industry groups setting poor examples by posting tasteless, hurtful things, let’s ask them to learn from their mistakes and stop. Our way of life simply depends on it.

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, Beef, Know a California Farmer, Media, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

Be Better Agriculture: How Women Perpetuate Sexism

Sexism and misogyny are a topics that are hitting the agricultural industry magazines and social media feeds with increased frequency. Our conversations are louder and reaching more people than ever before. Often women talk about their experiences and offer up advice on how they dealt with or how they acted when confronted by these issues. Sadly, most of this advice is feeding into the very system that demeans women.

Patriarchy is strong, it will not easily be changed without hard work. We were raised within its rules, subconsciously applying them to our every thought and action. It is not surprising women feel the need to perpetuate sexism and internalized misogyny, even without knowing it. Afterall, it is our societal norm. In fact, if women are actively and loudly working against the status quo, it is likely they will become a pariah, especially in agriculture.

Many of our peers call for us to modify our behavior so we will not be harassed, assaulted or attacked by men. This is victim blaming. Men need to be held accountable for their behavior. Men need to NOT DO THESE THINGS TO US. Women do not need to change who we fundamentally are to “make” men act better. If you are advocating women change their behavior, you are doing nothing to help the underlying cause of mistreatment; men. In fact, what you are saying is ‘make sure that man attacks another woman’, one who is “asking for it” by not acting “appropriately”.img_3803

When women say they “show and act with respect at all times”, so men will not harass them, it is yet another way we blame ourselves for how men act and minify other women we feel are not acting within societal norms. “Respect” is used as a token to say “I do nothing that could possibly be construed as threatening, questioning or anything that may challenge the status quo”. This is a safety net for women who feel as if women who do speak out are “asking for or deserve it”. If your version of ‘respect’ requires a woman to disrespect herself by tolerating people diminishing her, it is not respect, it is subserviency.img_3800

Another common fallacy cloaked as advice is urging other women to “give 110% all the time” or “I work twice as hard so men can’t complain”. This is heartbreaking because it shows women really do have to work twice as hard as men to be considered worthy. Saying ‘I’m always going to be at 100%’, is lie and an unrealistic expectation to live up to which damages mental and physical health. No one is perfect, not even the men we are asking to be equal to.img_3799

Policing women’s behavior is ingrained into our culture. Little girls are taught to act ladylike with our posture, dress codes dictate what we can wear or how we should look, but “boys will be boys”. When women say they “don’t look for ways to be offended” they are playing right into the policing behavior our culture has taught us. Speaking up, calling men’s (and some women’s) problematic behavior out, setting boundaries, are the only ways sexism will be confronted to make change. img_3886Some women say “they don’t call people out”, they just ignore the problematic behavior. The issue there is if you say nothing about a demeaning, misogynistic or sexualizing comment, often it feels like you agree with the person uttering those comments. A simple “what did you mean by that?” is sometimes all it takes for a person to reflect on an inappropriate comment and it does not feel like a call out. But ignoring the behavior will not make it go away, it continues to normalize it, making men feel okay to continue.IMG_3808

It is hard to process women not believing other women in terms of experiencing sexism. When women claim “I’ve never experienced harassment or sexism”, or ”it is overblown” it is a lot to unpack. Especially because this is a topic that is spoken and written about constantly. Whole social movements and laws have started because of the discrimination women face. Most of these women, who claim to ‘never experienced it’ are looking for approval from men. Some women have been taught being “one of the boys” is the greatest achievement they are capable of, but this is because it is our cultural norm, especially in agriculture. 

The worst thing this woman thought she could say to me was she'll be "drinking beer with the ag guys" because I have largely been ostracized for speaking out.

The worst thing this woman thought she could say to me was she’ll be “drinking beer with the ag guys” because I have largely been ostracized for speaking out.

If the women, who never experience sexism, were forced to reckon with the truth, that sexism does indeed exist, they would then be forced to see the victims. Victim is a hard label to wear for some, perhaps because victims are not perceived as powerful, as ‘one of the boys’. A victim is someone who did not conform, who had it coming. We blame victims in our culture, victimhood is a curse. These women see how women who did speak up have been treated, they watch as the whistleblowers are attacked by the very men they defend as ‘good guys’, they do not want to be the social pariah.img_3805

However, sometimes we must use these behaviors as a survival mechanism. Sometimes it is not safe for us to challenge the status quo – our comfort zones, our jobs or even our lives depend on keeping the peace. These situations are far more common than we realize. Again, it is heartbreaking the emotional labor often falls to the women trying to survive but not the men performing the behaviors. It is important for those of us who can speak out safely, to do so.img_3804

It can be very hard to even realize the behaviors mentioned above are part of the problem. As mentioned before, the rules of patriarchy are so normalized and ingrained, we just do not notice we are playing into them until someone points it out to us. Unlearning these rules is going to be a lifelong mindful practice for most of us. It is important to remember if you feel hurt because your behavior was corrected, you are not the victim.img_3801-1

We owe it to our industry, to our future, to get better, to ensure a welcoming and safe environment for our agricultural peers. Next time, before you urge women to be more ‘respectful’, or ‘ignore’ the problem, please think twice. Be better.

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, Know a California Farmer, Rants, Uncategorized

Good Intentions

Sometimes Agriculture Has Good Intentions…

The agriculture industry is full of good intentions in terms of lessening the rural/urban divide, well, at least we think we are. Ag hosts field days, ag in the classroom, ag literacy events, all in the name of education. Farmers and ranchers are urged to share their stories with their urban counterparts. We open our barn doors and ranch gates offering our non rural peers a glimpse into our way of life. But what does agriculture do to urge farmers and ranchers to learn about our urban counterparts? What does agriculture do to educate ourselves about our urban peers? How do we glimpse into their lives? Why isn’t an effort being made to make this a two way street?

Sure, agriculture talks about consumer demand and market trends but these are faceless entities, void of any personal connection. Just as the farmer or rancher in our urban peer’s mind might be from American Gothic or a John Wayne movie, a caricature of the real thing. When agriculture talks about “consumer” we aren’t picturing actual living and working people, we see a group that needs to be taught, needs to be educated.

Agriculture loves to claim our urban peers and counterparts are out of touch with us. But perhaps, agriculture being the minority (less than 2% of our populations works in production agriculture), we are out of touch with the majority? What if agriculture is so cloistered within our own culture we forget there is a much bigger world out there? Often the only time agriculturists travel is for industry events, to talk to other industry people about industry things. Living and working in the agricultural world can be very sheltered experience.

If agriculture truly wants to connect, if we truly want to share our way of life we need to realize it is a two way street. We are not entitled to demand everyone learn about us without offering to do the same, simply because we grow food, fuel and fiber for them. We need to see value in all work done to support the society we live in.

I believe it’s time agriculture seeks out an Urban Literacy week. It’s time we take the same responsibility we demand of our consumers; learn about their way of life, form an emotional connection. It’s time we treat our urban peers with the respect and attention we demand. Perhaps it’s time for us to be educated? I urge those of you in agriculture reading this, join me in being mindful of our urban counterparts? Ask them questions about their way of life, their struggles, their concerns. Be less interested in forcing your experiences on them. Work on connecting over issues we share, not what divides us.

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THE Census Of Agriculture…..Friend or Foe?

Farmers and ranchers are notoriously private and skeptical people, especially when it involves the government. Seems like every farming family has a horror story about that one time Great-Great Grandpa’s neighbor worked with “the government” and lost the back 40. Even my own family has tales about eminent domain and “the government.” In an industry that constantly says “this is how we’ve always done it,” it can be hard to change perceptions, including a generations-long perception of the government.


When the government, more specifically the Department of Agriculture (USDA), asks agriculturists for detailed information about their farms every five years, it’s not met with an enthusiastic, motivated cheer. In fact, I’ve seen many of my Aggie peers proclaim the USDA’s Census of Agriculture is dangerous or something they should not be truthful about. This attitude only serves to hurt our industry; in fact, it harms the very people it’s supposed to help.

Since I broke off on my own (kinda) and lease ground from my parents, the USDA considers me a beginning farmer. My heritage pork operation enables me to finally get to be a ‘real’ rancher and have the privilege of completing the Agriculture Census! I worked very hard to get to this point in my career and did use an USDA program. I felt like it would be disingenuous of me to not talk about what I have learned and how I have benefited. Hopefully this will help clear some misconceptions and explain the many benefits the Census for you, my readers.

Over the past few years, our ranch has faced some spectacular natural disasters. From severe drought, to floods, and finally fires, Northern California has “seen some things, man.” These disasters did severe damage to many farms and ranches. Even though insurance has been purchased, it often does not always make things right completely. Sometimes the USDA can offer programs and services that help farmers and ranchers recover or prevent disasters. Without the data gathered by USDA, these programs may not exist at all.

Agriculture often feels under-represented in both government and culture. We often trot out the statistic that less than 2% of our population is directly involved with production agriculture. Having numbers like these, derived by the Ag Census, helps the public understand what a small segment we are and helps build trust, something we want our customers to feel.

Having statistics that we can depend on helps our industry preserve itself and plan for the future. Our elected officials and commodity groups can advocate for agriculture by using these numbers to craft better policy or build facilities that we need to thrive and grow. These numbers can help fund programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program which can help with conservation practices. Programs like this are why I am able to have my own operation now.

For ag marketers, having visible numbers for production, consumption and inventories help markets function competitively, helping farmers and ranchers hedge risk or expand markets. Having research driven data we can depend on is essential for agriculture and customers. Being informed about our worlds is the best way to understand it.

 Growing up in agriculture I know firsthand the rumors spread about the Census. Farmers at the corner cafe and the Facebook groups are famous for their tall tales and skepticism. However, if you want to have your voice heard, if you want agriculture to matter, I implore you, please complete your Census truthfully and completely. We need to have information about land use and ownership, operator diversity, practices, and finances. This is information is not only imperative to change perceptions in a beneficial way about agriculture, it is necessary to keep us in business.



*Special thanks to Tricia Braid for the inspiration, information and help writing this blog. She’s good people, please go follow her.

And Natalie Stoppani Csf for the meme, she has a gift.

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Favorite Things 2017 – A Gift Guide

Oh, yes, friends. It is that time of the year again! Time for a list of stuff I love, aka The Aghag’s gift guide for The Holiday’s. Now I have this set up where all you have to do is click on the link (the underlined words) and it should take you to the corresponding shop. These are all products I use and love and I am not being paid to say that.

  1. Everyone in my life is getting the 2018 FarmHer Calendar because I am in it. Mom, Dad, Grandma, Aunts, Uncles…..all of them. Silly pig and I are December. But honestly, a good old fashioned calendar is a functional gift everyone can use.
I am in this!

I am in this!

2. My Mom started using these twists and told me for the longest time how awesome they are. She finally bought me a pack of them, and I started using them too. Now I am a raving fan. These would be a great stocking stuffer!

These work in my think, long hair!

These work in my think, long hair!

3. From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty. I read her first book and it made 2015’s list. This book is as interesting, if not more. I finished it in about two days and now I tell everyone to read it. I now want to start a funeral pyre business out on one of our ranches.

I loved this book because it make me uncomfortable.

I loved this book because it make me uncomfortable.

4. When I went to Europe I experienced bidet use for the first time. I now understand why they think we are dirty Americans. Once you go bidet you can’t go back. It attaches right onto your toilet and is amazing. I installed it myself in about 10 minutes and never looked back. This product makes my list every year because it is life changing. Wiping your own butt is so 2015.

Don't question me. Just buy it.

Don’t question me. Just buy it.

5. I stumbled on this wonderful etsy store because she is local to the valley where I live in the summer. Meagan’s jewelry is custom, unique and totally fits in with Western styles. And it’s handmade! Need a gift for that person that has everything? They don’t have Renegades Bead Work, yet.

It's so pretty!!!!!

It’s so pretty!!!!!

6. I am a foodie. I take my food very, very, seriously. I am always learning and expanding my food knowledge. This year I got a sous vide and my steak making abilities rival the best steak house in town. I am not even joking. I can now enjoy steak house style steaks at home, in my undies. This is a game changer. Buy this for the foodie in your life and enjoy the amazing food that will come your way! Here is a link to get a free smart cooker if you live in California. But if you don’t live in California take 20% off on using the code “NOFOMO.

Trust me. It's a game changer.

Trust me. It’s a game changer.

7. Alamendra wine. This is a local winery, I’ve known the owners since I was a child. They started this winery and distillery in the little town of Durham and I feel like it breathed some life back into the community. I’ve been to several events there and always enjoyed myself and the booze! When the fire happened my Friend gifted me a bottle of the Luna (because Luna saved her pigs, get it?!)

After your ranch burns up a nice bottle of wine helps you feel better about the situation.

After your ranch burns up a nice bottle of wine helps you feel better about the situation.

8. I love it when women in agriculture do cool things. My friend Jennifer Campbell over at Farm Wife Feeds did just that! She wrote a book, Meet Pete! This book is a favorite of mine to give out at baby showers and kid’s birthdays. I quest to corrupt children and bring them into the dark side, you know, agriculture!

Great kid's book!

Great kid’s book!

9. As you may or may not know, the ranch burned up. It was traumatic to say the least. I told myself that if I was strong and did not completely fall a part I could buy myself something shiny. I follow and lurk a lot of stores that sell shiny things but only trust a few. I almost don’t want to share this with you because I still plan on buying myself a squash blossom from them at some point and I don’t want the competition. So just know, if you buy my squash blossom out from under me, I’m gonna be super mad (kidding, kinda). The shiny thing I bought myself was delivered super fast and in perfect condition. I love it. Like I said, I plan to spend a lot more money at Turquoise Creek Jewelry.  A side note if you feel like getting me a gift, anything from here would be super!

I love this and have worn it out exclusively since I got it.

I love this and have worn it out exclusively since I got it.


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Filed under Ag, agriculture, arts & crafts, Field Trip, Humor, Know a California Farmer, photos, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

The Saga of Sam Brown’s Wedding Table

When I was a very little girl, I used to ride my horse over to my grandfather’s ranch from our house. At that point our families ranches reached from one end of Indian Valley to the other. It was still a big deal to be allowed to ride alone that far, at least it felt like it to little me. Little did I know I was carefully watched the whole time by my Parents and Grandfather.

Pre-ride over to my Grandpa's ranch. Notice I didn't use stirrups. I didn't like them.

Pre-ride over to my Grandpa’s ranch. Notice I didn’t use stirrups. I didn’t like them.

I was my Grandfather’s favorite grandchild, and he had many. He made sure I knew it. He purchased my first 4-H pig. That was remarkable because he was not known for going out of his way, in this case to a fair, for his grandchildren. He gave me my first bottle calf that ended up being a reserve grand champion. He always kept candy hidden in his unused dishwasher for when I would come over and secretly sneak it to me. He threw a fit when I got my horse Dusty D, said it was too much horse for me. He was right, of course, but I couldn’t be stopped.

So it was a treat when I was allowed to make the mile trek through the valley, I had to open and close big gates, and jump ditches on my trusty steed, all alone. When I would arrive at my Grandpa’s house he would make a huge deal of it! He would always act like I had just completed a huge day’s work. It would make me pleased as punch to have him be proud and make a big deal over me. When I got off my horse, and put him in the horse pasture, Grandpa would have a big slice of cold watermelon with salt on it waiting for me. We would sit on the porch and visit for a while, waiting for my Dad to come get me. During these visits he would tall me stories about the family.

My Great Uncle Sam, my Great Aunt Ella, my great grandpa (who built the table) Sam, and my Grandpa Fletcher.

My Great Uncle Sam, my Great Aunt Ella, my great grandpa (who built the table) Sam, and my Grandpa Fletcher. Behind them is the big house.

He would talk about his Dad, his Mom, the ranch. These are very cherished memories to me. I felt very connected to people who died years before I was even a thought. One story in particular was my favorite. Probably because there was a gift attached to it. One day he asked me to come on in the big house and look at this table. He told me it was a special table because his Daddy made it long ago, by hand! His Daddy, Sam F. Brown, was born in 1883, right after his parents moved from Tennessee (when I asked my Dad about his grandfather now, he said he talked funny, so I am assuming he had some sort of Southern Drawl left from his parents. This tickles me to no end. Pretty much all I want in life is a southern accent. He also said the Great Grandpa was fond of saying “if you can’t make it, you can’t have it”).

The porch where my Grandpa and I would sit and eat melon. Right inside and to the left was where my table lived.

The porch where my Grandpa and I would sit and eat melon. Right inside and to the left was where my table lived.

My Grandpa showed me this table, it was right against the front door, covered with tools of our trade, buckets, cattle medicine paraphernalia, jackets, etc. He told me that one day this table would be at my wedding, it would be mine. I think he already knew at this point I was going to be the only child and the one that was to be heir to the bulk his estate someday. After my Grandpa died when I was 12, we moved into the big house. The table was left where it was, safe.

We moved out of that home when I was around 20, but that is for another blog. We left some furniture there mainly because at the time we had a travel trailer, then a mini home with no room for a large table. During my mid to late 20’s, I had a falling out with my Dad, and got an off the ranch job. According my to research almost everyone, for generations, have done this, even my Dad! During this time my wedding table was lent out without my knowledge or permission. Since I made it a point not to go into the old home except once in all those years, I didn’t notice until this summer, that my table was gone! The horror!

I immediately asked who had it. I felt relief when I learned a neighbor that watched me grow up had it, mere miles from our ranch! In fact, I can see their house from ours! They borrowed it for their daughter’s birthday party. I wrote a letter explaining I wanted my table back. They responded that as soon as they saw the document that granted me power of attorney over the ranch trust, they would “gladly comply”. The document was sent that day, and I was ecstatic that my table would soon be mine again, as I now have my own home and a place for it! I’m not quite ready for it to be at my wedding, lol. 

If you let your half naked kid ride someone like a horse, you probably trust them with your kid's wedding table.

If you let your half naked kid ride someone like a horse, you probably trust them with your kid’s wedding table.

Family history and heirlooms are incredibly important to me. I live in my Great Aunt’s old home. My coffee table was made by my Great Grandfather. My cast iron pans are from my Grandpa. I traveled back to Tennessee to see the plantation where we came from. I work and live on the same ranches as my ancestors, I’ve spent days and days researching them. This is something I will fight for, because it’s my history.

My Great Grandpa Sam, Great Great Aunt Brydie and Great, Great Uncle Albert, 1892.

My Great Grandpa Sam, Great Great Aunt Brydie and Great, Great Uncle Albert, 1892.

Sadly, despite a polite letter asking for it back, and subsequent daily check in’s, my table is still being held hostage. I think we are on day 10 or 11. I’m heartbroken over this. The worst thing about it is I don’t know why, they are completely ignoring me. I didn’t even get a wave when I drove by them on the road, and everyone in Indian Valley waves when you drive by, it’s good manners!

Here is the thing, instead of being heartbroken and wallowing, I am being proactive. I am going to do my best to get it back or at least find out what happened to it. The people who have it, were considered family at one point, I’m sure that’s why my Dad felt like it was ok to let them borrow my table. They are friends with me on social media. They drive by our ranch everyday. In fact I’m even a partial owner of their ranch. So this makes no sense at all. Even, baby Oprah forbid, if I don’t get my table back, I’m leaving a digital diary for my future ancestors. They will know I tried. Hard.

Hopefully this is just a big misunderstand or miscommunication and my next blog will be me showing off my wedding table! Stay tuned!


On a related note.



Filed under Ag, agriculture, family, History, Humor, photos, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

Updated: Congressman Doug LaMalfa’s Oroville Town Hall Meeting

I attended Congressman Doug LaMalfa’s town hall meeting in Oroville, California on April 17, 2017. I have a long history with Mr. LaMalfa. I can’t quite remember the when it started, but I have been actively engaging with him via social media for years. However, ever since the local news station came out and interviewed me about that, his engagement with me has dwindled to nothing.

Mr. LaMalfa, myself and local celebrity newsperson Linda Watkins-Bennett at a local event.

Mr. LaMalfa, myself and local celebrity newsperson Linda Watkins-Bennett at a local event.

I also attended a rally held at Mr. LaMalfa’s office in Oroville on February 27th. The Congressman knew it was planned, instead of meeting with us, his office was locked, empty and dark. Mr. LaMalfa is not only my congressmen, he is my neighbor and fellow farmer (he farms rice). His slogan for his past campaign has been that he is “one of us”. All of these factors adds to my frustration of not having an audience with him.

T rally held at Mr. LaMalfa’s office in Oroville on February 27th.

The rally held at Mr. LaMalfa’s office in Oroville on February 27th.

I finally took matters into my own hands a year ago and named a boar after the congressman. The boar was a great listener. We solved many local issues together, and it was a great catharsis to be able to give him a belly rub after our discussions. Unfortunately, the boar lived up to his namesake and was unable to perform his job in a satisfactory manner. In the agriculture world, if you don’t do your job, you get culled, so Doug LaMalfa was made into sausage and replaced with a better model.

Doug the Boargressman

Doug the Boargressman

Mr. LaMalfa has been one of those congressmen that haven’t seemed to be eager to hold town halls in his more liberal urban areas. When this one was announced I was excited, finally my voice will be heard! Or so I thought.

I took a felfie with both Jessica Holcombe who is running for Mr. LaMalfa's position. And Mr. William Connelly my Supervisor. I like my local politicians, I do!

I took a felfie with both Jessica Holcombe who is running for Mr. LaMalfa’s position. And Mr. William Connelly my Supervisor. I like my local politicians, I do!

The meeting started on a sour note, the emcee started by telling us, in a not pleasant tone “to quiet down”. That did not go over well. Mr. LaMalfa then tried to make a powerpoint presentation. I noticed he did the same thing when hosting a call in town hall meeting a few weeks back. He wasted a lot of our time re-hashing issues his constituents are well aware of and living everyday.
The crowd was not having it. People wanted to have their concerns and comments heard. It was pretty much downhill from there. Mr. LaMalfa took the stage and was openly condescending, mocking and dismissive. Sweet little old ladies started to lose their stuffing and yell at him. At one point he walked off the stage and lectured us about our behavior in church, as if having an audience with him was the same thing as a religious experience.

Photos from the town hall meeting.

Photos from the town hall meeting.

It was clear that Mr. LaMalfa was not there to listen. When he was called out on that fact, he blamed the crowd for not being nice. None of his behavior surprised me, his online persona is equally as unpleasant if his ego is not being stroked. The crowd felt the same way. There were many comments out of turn, very loud booing and general chaos. But here is the thing, crowds don’t act like that if the leadership is strong, kind and competent.
Social media and even the real media are now focusing on the behavior of the crowd at this town hall. That is a byproduct of not being listened to. People have been reaching out to Doug for YEARS only to be ignored. As Doug found out last night, it’s frustrating when your concerns are not listened to. Yelling and screaming does not diminish what a crap job Doug has done.
Protestors are not trying to gain your support by following the rules. They are trying to give you a window into feeling their experience. Their helplessness. Their fury. Remember that before you admonish them. Be thankful for the transparency. Remember your privilege. Remember how lucky you are compared to some. Think deeply about that. Then use your power for good, not judgement.
Manners do matter. But so does doing your job. If I don’t feed my hogs they get mighty pissed off at me. Rightfully so. I’m not doing my job. Apparently constituencies feel the same way.
Mr. LaMalfa has been in office since 2010. This is more than enough time to make a significant improvement in his district. He simply has not done that. He does not listen to his constituency. He does not engage well. He is not “one of us”. Simply put, it is time for him to return to his farm to think about how he can improve.


Filed under Field Trip, Know a California Farmer, Media, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

The “Farm Wife”

I used to think I wanted to be a farm wife. I always thought I would follow my Mom’s example. Working unpaid for the ranch. Doing the same work as the men, plus the books, the cooking, cleaning and taking care of me, the kid AND having a full-time off the ranch job for health insurance and financial security. I thought I’d marry, and my husband would take over for my Dad and I would continue my Mom’s role.

See the woman in the center. That "farm wife" is the reason there is a farm in the first place.

See the woman in the center? That “farm wife” is the reason there is a farm in the first place.

Then I grew up. I realized just how much work it was to be a farm wife. I realized they did the heavy lifting. They were the unappreciated glue that held everything together. I finally understood I am not tough or smart enough for the “farm wife” label. Nope. I can handle being a rancHER. That’s easy. But farm wife? I simply don’t have the balls for it. Major props to you Farm Wives! Thank you for running this industry we call agriculture! We all know what you do, but we don’t vocally ever recognize and appreciate you in a way where you get to hear or see it. I hope that starts to change, and after what I’ve witnessed over the past few days, I think it will. We need to respect, praise and appreciate the women that keep us going.


Probably the most important read out of all of this. 

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, family, History, Know a California Farmer, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized