Tuesday, December 22, 2015

What a Difference a Year Can Make in One's Life

If I didn't have the old posts on New Ag Talk to prove it, I would swear it was only yesterday that Ed received his terminal cancer diagnosis.  Yet it was a year ago this week.  Farmers from around the world were sending words of encouragement and prayers and I read him each post.  He loved hearing what they wrote.  It seems like yesterday but then again it seems like a lifetime ago. 

I still can hear his voice through YouTube videos and occasionally watch videos of his past No Till Conference presentations.  That big booming voice just fills a room. 

In the past year, I have tackled many challenges, the last of which is to sell Ed's Silverado, the one that hauled us all over the country to different farms and national parks with the camper on board, taking us to the next adventure.  We met so many wonderful people that way.  It was very hard to see the camper leave on the auction day but the people that bought it were so excited to begin a new phase of their life, travelling the country as Ed and I had been blessed to do for so many years.  I couldn't help but be happy for them. 

I have completed the multitude of tasks that it takes to settle a life estate and begin the process of moving forward.  The farmstead is sold, the auction over, Sable has a new farm family to love and protect and I am moved into my new house in town.  Life is slowly but surely going forward. 

This is the first time since I was six years old that I am living in a place with sidewalks!!  There are advantages for me...church and amenities are close by and the grand children are more accessible.  I have neighbors and my house is not big and empty and lonely.  I don't feel Ed's presence here as I did at the farm.  That, of course, is both good and bad, peaceful and sad. 

My brother, Tom, who many of you prayed for at Ed's request, passed away November 29 following his two year battle with brain cancer.  I was blessed to be able to spend a week with him just before he passed away.  It was good to have that special time. 

I know our God is Almighty but I bet even God has his hands full with both Ed and Tom in heaven.  The last time they were together, the laughter could be heard across the fields.  Those two were a hoot together and I am sure they are enjoying each other's company in heaven.  I bet they are watching over me and having a few laughs over my bumbling efforts to get things done. 

All things considered, it has been a year of growth and change for me.  I have tried to live each day and handle each challenge in a way that would make Ed proud.  I just cannot believe that it has been a year since our world as we knew it fell apart.  I am slowly but steadily rebuilding my part of that world. 

Christmas is not the same this year and probably will never be the same joy filled holiday that it was with Ed.  His elves, (daughters) Shannon, Becky and Tara, don't have any elf work this year....that was always such a fun, secretive time.  Ed just handed over his credit card and my wish list and sent them out on the hunt.  They loved being his elves.  He loved having them help.  I loved the bond it created between them. 

I will be spending the holiday with the children and grandchildren, grateful for our many blessings.  I will be thinking of all of you and wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas.

Hug your loved ones, live each moment as if it is your last and keep the Faith.  God is Good.  LuAnn

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Time Winding Down




My time to live on this beautiful farm is winding down.  I can literally FEEL it with each passing day.  Just as I felt the time I had left with Ed became more and more precious in the days before he passed away, so, too, are my days here becoming more precious.

For nearly eleven months since Ed's terminal diagnosis, I have been slowly steadily walking toward the inevitable day when I leave here....sometimes marching, sometimes trudging, sometimes backtracking, but always steadily forward.   We both knew it, we planned for it, accepted it and understood it.  He has been walking with me every step of the way. 

The auction is scheduled for November 6.  http://www.hessauctionco.com/WINKLE.htm  The bill of sale is printed and the listing is online.   There is no turning back now. 

The house is nearly empty and everything to be sold is being moved to the pole barn.  The items I am keeping to move with me are packed and ready for the movers to pick up.  Ed's son is picking up the last of Ed's personal items this weekend to share with his siblings. 

I have my A-team of supporters who will be here with me on auction day... Farmer Rob Morris, our "E-son" from Marshall Illinois, our son Eric, and our best friends, Allen and Shelly Dean from Dean Farms in Bryan, Ohio. 

I could not ask for a stronger, more compassionate group to prop me up on what will undoubtedly be one of the hardest days in all of this.  Our three daughters have been my sounding board and, although they can't be here in person, they will be with me in spirit.  Ed's sons will hold me in thought and prayer that day, I am certain. 

Ed was diagnosed right after harvest last year.  He passed right before planting season began last spring.  I calculated everything the past eleven months in terms of a full season in God's Time. 

The first full crop season is nearly complete.  I literally FELT each passing season with him in the same way we LIVED each crop season together.  Finding the right tenant farmer was easy.  Jay farms the way Ed wanted-with respect for the soil.  Throughout the summer, watching the crops grow without the endless commentary from Ed was a challenge.  I will never outlive the urge to "windshield scout" that he taught me.  From coast to coast over the years we drove along and looked at crops.  Some might call that boring, I called it a blessing. 

Then the change in the placement of the sun in the sky and the inevitable shortening of days came too quickly, signaling the beginning of the end of the crop season.  It seemed to pick up pace in September and the last couple of weeks, with combines and grain carts and the hum of the fans in the bins. 

We are approaching November, the auction coinciding with the culmination of the harvest around here.  It all comes together with the harvest season as will this part of my journey come together at the time Ed most enjoyed---the grain in the bins, the firewood on the deck, the approach of the holidays that he loved and the opportunity to hunker down for the winter until the next crop season.

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers over the next three weeks as I wind down the time I have left in this beautiful place...as Ed always said, "God's farm, temporary caretaker." 

 


Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Giant Step Backward

I took a giant step backward in my grief journey this past week two weeks and it nearly derailed me.  Thanks to help and compassion from my daughters, I am back on track and so grateful for their love and kindness.  As their mother, I know that they love me and will do anything to help me but I think it is greater than that.  They both loved Ed with all their hearts and would do anything to honor his memory by helping me when I am down as he would have done if he was here.

My setbacks were two fold:  being overwhelmed with work and the care of this beautiful property as well as a deep concern for two family members with major health issues. 

I needed to step back and analyze the work and property situation for what they are...just a part of normal life.... but I am doing it alone instead of with my partner.  When the garage doors, the dishwasher, the steam vacuum (all quit this week) and a major work project come at you all at once, it seems overwhelming and it is.  Ed took care of all that "stuff" so instead of them being a catastrophe, they were an annoyance.  Ed took care of all that "stuff" so I could focus on my work.  Why should I expect that I can do it all alone as well as Ed and I could do it together?  That's unrealistic.

Hiring some help to deal with the maintenance and repair issues has helped tremendously.  Things will break and things will need to be repaired, replaced, painted and caulked.  That is normal life.  So I got some help.  Hard to admit I needed it but easier once I got it!

The health issues of my two family members are not so easily resolved.  A loved one is facing a recurrence of cancer that he has fought for two years.  Another loved one is facing the inevitable decline that comes with age.  Both brought back a lot of emotions related to Ed's diagnosis and treatment.  My loved ones' situation brings back some tough questions about quality vs. quantity of life.  I miss Ed terribly but the quality of life that he had was not what he wanted for himself.  I sure wish we had had more years, though. 

So, I fell backwards into a bit of a pit these weeks.  Today, however, the sunrise was beautiful and I awoke with a new determination to keep walking forward.  God placed a dear friend in my path at the grocery store and we shared some wonderful memories of Ed and that encounter gave me joy and hope.  I had great visits with several of my grandchildren yesterday.  God is good. 

I know that the Lord, my family and my friends are walking with me and I will get back on track. 

God's Blessings, LuAnn

Friday, July 3, 2015

In Memory of Ed

 I awakened suddenly from a deep sleep at 6:48 this morning, highly unusual that I would sleep that late but I am on vacation for the next 11 days.  Today is the three month anniversary of Ed's passing. 

I got a call from Hiron's Monuments yesterday that his headstone was completed and set at the cemetery.  I went right after work to see it and here it is....Ed now lies beneath a monument that depicts one part of his life that was so special to him....his beloved farm. 

Yesterday I recalled to his family with vivid detail a moment on our honeymoon on July 2 at Wall, SD....fourteen years ago.  We pulled into Wall with the truck camper and started walking down the street to see what the fuss was all about....Ed pointed out a bank clock above us that showed the date....7.2.2001....and he said, "Happy Birthday, Dad!"  Then he went on to say, "Monk, can you believe that my dad is celebrating his first birthday in heaven with Jesus?"  Yesterday Ed was celebrating WITH his dad in heaven on what would have been his dad's 100th birthday. 

So much has transpired in the past three months.  In some ways things have gotten easier but in many others they remain difficult.  I find myself missing my identity as a farm wife.  I loved being identified with farming and the noble profession of farming.  I have been involved in farming since the age of six when my dad bought our beef farm.  Never, never have I felt disconnected from farming.  That was one of the things that Ed and I shared on the deepest level....our love of the land.

I loved that Ed, either through his own crops or through his knowledge and expertise, helped farmers to produce better crops and promoted stewardship of the land, God's gift to us.  He frequently said he wanted a sign at the end of the road that said "God's Farm-We are Temporary Caretakers". 

I miss that part of my identity.  With the land and grain facility leased out, and the farmstead for sale, I no longer have a stake in the risks and rewards of growing a crop.  I miss the daily phone calls from farmers and the pickup trucks in and out of the barnyard.  I miss his daily reports to me on commodity prices and rainfall.  I miss the sound of his keyboard as he typed out his blog and contributed to NAT.

Which brings me to the true substance of this post.  With the placement of his headstone, I have tried to ensure that Ed will be remembered as a farmer.   

You may wonder why I mentioned the exact time of my awakening this morning.  Three months ago today, Ed passed at 6:49 AM.   

Have a blessed day, LuAnn



Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sable Needs a Farmer

Good Morning, Everyone!  Today is an especially hard day as six kids lost the best father you could imagine.  It is our first Father's Day without Ed.  Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary.  It is hard to believe it would have been 14 years tomorrow that I married my best friend.  So many memories....

Just a note to update you on things around here in the past month and to make a heartfelt request for help.

I think Sable needs a farmer. She has a home and a farm to roam but she is still lonely beyond imagination. It is heartbreaking to step outside and walk towards the Dakota and watch her race to the door and hope for a ride to scout fields. I work about 10 hours a day and by the time I get home I am not able to give her the time and attention that a loyal German Shepherd needs. She is my company and protector but I am not doing right by her, I know.

I am looking for a farmer for her...someone who will take her in the truck and let her follow him/her everywhere. Someone who will rub her belly and scratch her ears and talk to her like Ed did. She is 6 1/2 years old, spayed and has a very handsome pedigree. Her bloodlines are very good. She has absolutely no sign of hip problems and the vet says she is in great health. If someone is interested in taking her, please email me. I will deliver her to wherever your farm is. I only ask that you love her and treat her with kindness.

Part of my request comes from my decision to sell the farmhouse and farmstead. Even with the kids and friends and neighbors helping, I am having a tough time keeping up with this big old place. Besides, it is just too big of a house for one person. I need to be in town near people and in a house that is easier for me to manage.

I know that when I move into town Sable will be miserable. I'm not sure that a fence or an invisible fence will contain her if I move into town. She loves to roam the land and sleep in the laundry room at night. I have the house listed as of last Monday and need to be able to place her when it sells. This is so hard.

Other than Sable, all of it is hard but not impossible. Ed is walking with me every step of the way. I have gone through all of his papers. Files and files and boxes and boxes of everything he wrote or kept for the information that he could include in one of his radio spots or workshops. I gained so much more appreciation for his depth and breadth of knowledge and his love of teaching others. He sure loved farming and sure loved to help farmers solve problems. I have found amazing documents of things he wrote over the years. He sure was prolific!

The scholarship fund is set up to receive applications and I am so pleased about that. Matt and I went through Ed's Oliver toy tractor collection and have selected 14 to be given to the grandchildren this coming Christmas. Each will have a package under the tree from Papaw even if he is not there physically, he will be there in spirit. The rest will be placed into a permanent collection to stay in the family.

I have scheduled an auction for August 8 for the small tools and what little machinery is left here. It won't be a big auction by any means but I can't take it to town with me. One more difficult thing to get through but I am walking by faith and trying to do my best to make Ed proud.

I am still humbled and astounded by how many calls and emails I get just checking in on me to offer encouragement and to see if I need anything. Thank you for your prayers and friendship. 

 Please think it over and if you are in a position to take a great farm dog into your life, let me know. In the meantime, please know that I appreciate all of your support and I think of all of Ed's blog followers daily when I offer prayers for your safety and prosperity. God Bless, LuAnn

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I Made A Decision

   
It’s been ten weeks since Ed passed, leaving me with a heavy heart, six devastated adult kids, fourteen grands who miss their papaw, a lonely dog, a farm to manage, a consulting business to run, a house that’s too big, our two elderly mothers with health issues, and a job that needs a lot of my time and attention. Where do I begin?

For two weeks, I functioned on autopilot. Doing what needed to be done but not fully aware of my feelings as I did tasks. I went to work every day and tried to dig out from under the pile of work that had accumulated during the three months that I was caregiving Ed. I looked for him in every room and talked incessantly about him and our life together to anyone who would listen . Privately, I mourned the loss of my life as I knew it.

The next two weeks I cried every day as I drove to work. That was my private time to mourn the loss of the familiar morning routine where we read Scripture and planned our evening meal and drank our coffee and hugged goodbye. I went to grief counseling and joined a Grief Share group at church.

The next two weeks I started cleaning out the garage and the barn and packed up Ed’s clothes and mailed them to a family member in need. It gave me comfort knowing they would be used and appreciated, so much more comforting than dropping a black plastic bag into a receptacle at the grocery store parking lot. I reminded myself with each sweater I hugged to my chest that keeping his clothes would not bring him back. I designed his headstone and thought about leaving our farm for a place that was smaller and more manageable and closer to my family. I sent up his scholarship fund. I kept on sorting. I was busy, busy, busy.

After six weeks reality set in and all the “busy-ness” could not fill the empty days and nights. I wandered the house and wallowed in my grief. Boxes of photos and letters and cards brought back so many memories. With each memory, I sank deeper into a feeling of loneliness and sadness. I sat at his desk, I drove his truck, I read his personal papers and hugged his dog, the two of us unsure how to relate to each other without Ed as a buffer.

During this time, I could not envision my future. I could not envision a “purpose” in life or a reason to go on. Why bother to eat and work and sleep and buy groceries? Why? Just to keep on living a life alone and without meaning? What good was living if life held no joy? I missed my joy. I wanted it back and I wanted this sadness to be lifted from my heart.

This pain went on for the next four weeks. It was hell.

Last Sunday, I made a decision. I made a conscious decision that every day, no matter how difficult or lonely, I would live my life with a goal of finding my joy again. I dried my tears and sat down to create a list of things that brought me joy before Ed died. I asked myself why wouldn't those things bring me joy now that I was alone.

While many of the things on my list were things we enjoyed together and shared, some were some things I had always wanted to do but had made excuses to put off trying (Yoga, painting). There were things I loved to do but never had the time or energy to do after work and our couples activities. (Photography, Creative writing). There were other things that I enjoyed but Ed did not particularly care for (boating). I had always put off these activities in favor of doing things we enjoyed together.

In my grief, I convinced myself that we had done EVERYTHING together and that we were inseparable. The truth is we did 95% of everything together and loved every minute of it but we still were two individuals with interests and dreams of our own.

Last Sunday, I decided to take the talents I had been given and the blessings I had received and use them to live life fully, again, with a goal of finding joy. I decided that no one but me could honor Ed’s memory in the exact same way I could and, if I was wallowing around in despair, I was missing opportunities to honor his memory.

I thought hard about the unfairness of wishing him back from the paradise he is experiencing in heaven. If given the choice between heaven and earthly existence, an existence that for him included pain and suffering, could I truly ask him to come back? I could not. Therefore I decided to go on with life.

Life will be what I make of it. The only thing standing between me and a joyful life is the mistaken idea that I can only experience joy with Ed here to share it. The only thing standing between me and joy is myself. My Lord and Savior will provide me with a joy-filled life if I am willing to let Him.

I am sure there will be days and weeks and months of grief that will engulf me but I will not allow it to consume me. I just have to get my joy back or I will simply die every day for however long the Lord gives me and that is not what Ed would want for me.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Very Special Sunday

Last Sunday our family celebrated two wonderful sacraments in the Catholic Church....First Holy Communion (Granddaughter Brynn Marie) and Baptism (Granddaughter Charlotte Louise).  What a beautiful celebration.  I never stopped smiling all day!

Charlotte Louise is Ed's namesake.  Many don't know that Ed's given name is Charles.  He was given the honor of choosing her name on Christmas Day and doubly honored to be asked to be her Godfather.  Last Sunday, Ed was definitely with us in spirit.  He loved to hear Brynn Marie recite the Lord's Prayer.  When we recited the Lord's Prayer, you could feel his presence.  Charlotte's father, Erik, read the following from Ed's blog in December of 2012 when he became Katherine Grace's Godfather.  It was so fitting and so special....  From Ed:

"Today I extend my journey in life as a god parent.  I was asked to be a God parent to (Charlotte Louise) a couple of months ago.  Are any of you God parents?

God parenting doesn't necessarily mean you raise the child if something happens to the parents.  That was more necessary over the ages when people didn't live as long.  God parenting has always meant to someone who will see to the child's upbringing in the Church, or at least the path to God.  For me, that means Eternal Salvation, my prayer for every soul on earth.

"It is a known practice in the Church that every person, child or adult, should have a godparent (sponsor) at the time that they enter into the faith through Holy Baptism and Chrismation. To be a godparent is at the same time a great honor and a tremendous responsibility. God asks each godparent to assist in leading souls along the narrow path which leads to the Kingdom of Heaven. For this reason the role of the godparent is not to be minimized or trivialized. It is in fact a role that is holy and needs to be taken seriously."

I take it so seriously I questioned whether or not this was the right decision of the parents to choose me!  After they went through all the reasons they chose me, I had to humbly accept their offer.  What a calling!  It's hard enough for me to find and follow the path to God but to help do that for a little child?

"Most of all, the greatest duty of the godparent is to pray fervently for their godchild that God will always watch over them and guide them throughout his/her life."  I can do that!  I pray daily if not hourly to discern God's Will and utter the words God would have me say.  I pray for every one I meet as I see their needs and hear their concerns.

It is with great joy we welcome (Charlotte Louise) into this family but more importantly the family of God.  My life has let me see there are two powerful sides to choose from, the side of Good and the side of evil.  All of the Saints and Angels, priests and religious who have went before me chose the side I chose and we pray together for the good of all mankind.

I fervently start a new role in life today and have been practicing for a couple of months now.  I never understood this role and will learn it like I do life, one day at a time.

God Bless all God Parents!

Ed"

God is Good....




Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Adirondack Chairs

 
 

These Adirondack chairs are 14 years old.  They were made by
Ed's FFA students at Clermont Northeastern.  Those chairs were Ed's wedding gift to me.  When he gave them to me, he told me that we would grow old together sitting in those chairs.  God had another plan......

Each spring, we had a ritual.  I would get out the garden hose and leaf blower and a bucket of water to wash the chairs.  My job was to get the porch ready for sitting outside on the warm summer evenings.  Ed's job on porch cleaning day was to go and get me a hanging basket to brighten the space.  I always picked the earliest warmest day possible and that night we would have our first night of the year on the porch. 

We loved having our Sunday morning coffee out there.  We loved having dinner there.  That porch has held many family gatherings, with Ed always sitting in the Adirondack chair to the left.  Many farm couples from across the country (including Brian and Mariah) have sat on that porch for lunch or a cool glass of lemonade, the guys talking farming, us gals enjoying their enthusiasm for their life's work.  The night of the Clinton County Field to Table picnic, that porch held a large group of family who came out the host the event with us.

Last summer, my brother and nephew stayed a week to celebrate my brother's cancer being in remission.  All the while he was undergoing treatment, I told him to envision having barbequed ribs and our fresh-picked sweet corn on the porch. It was a very big deal when we finally had that meal.  There were times I didn't think he would ever get to eat a picnic on my porch again.  That meal was a triumph of his spirit.

We could sit in our chairs and look out over the farm and watch whatever was going on.  Could be fireflies in June, Fourth of July Fireworks, the bat colony leaving at dusk or the hummingbirds at the feeder.  The year we bought the farm, son Eric built me a water garden with a waterfalls right outside the porch and many nights we listened to the soft sound of water running over rocks and laughed at the birds bathing in the "stream". 

I'm running about a month behind so porch cleaning day was postponed until yesterday.  I scrubbed and re-arranged.  Daughter Shannon's family brought me a basket of flowers for the table.  Daughter Becky's family brought me a flat of zinnias to brighten the garden nearby. 

Tonight I sat in my chair and watched the birds and immersed myself in the memories of the special times we enjoyed on that porch.  The chair next to me is empty now but my heart is full. 

I had the most special Mother's Day weekend a mom could ask for.  I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day and I hope it included some time on the porch with your family. 



Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Essence of a Person's Life in Stone

After months of online searching and researching and then actual lot-shopping and test-driving, I bought a Honda CRV.  Not the top of the line by any means but enough features to make me feel like I have moved up 8 years since my last new car.  I got 33 mpg driving home from Columbus today and that made me feel good.  It has great safety ratings and it was way roomier than I thought it would be. 

All in all,  I am happy.  The kids are happy.  Mom is driving something dependable.  I don't ever want to worry my kids.    So I have a new CRV.  I love my kids for caring about my safety.

Sable created a bit of a stir last night.  She ran off.  She came back hot and tired but she was gone a good while and that is not like her.  I know she needs more attention than I am giving her so I treated her to a ride in the old Dakota tonight.  She must miss that so much.  She and Ed spent hours riding around scouting. 

We drove to the cemetery to spend some quiet time with Ed's spirit.  I have been working with the monument company to design something special for Ed's (and eventually my) headstone.  Other than helping my mom to pick out my dad's headstone, I have absolutely no experience in this.  Well, I guess most of us don't until we are placed in the situation. 

Last summer we took a trip through Northern NY and into Quebec, visiting the sites where my ancestors are buried.  I studied those headstones.  They told a story.  I had never noticed before but both my maternal and paternal grandparents' headstones had praying hands holding a Rosary.  You could look around both of their cemeteries and see the faith beliefs of the families represented there.  I liked that.

In designing this monument, I learned that a headstone is truly the last physical indication that the person or couple buried there walked this earth.  The stone, in just a few words and design elements, captures the essence of the persons' lives.  It will tell a story for hundreds of years.  I am incorporating an etching of our farm into the design along with a verse from Ecclesiastes.  It was our favorite. 

I want to get it right.







Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Empty Refrigerator

Today, it has been a month since Ed's passing.  The kids came over today to have a picnic and spend time with me on a difficult day.  We had Sahlen's hot dogs from New York that I found in the freezer and I made a batch of homemade potato salad.  I laughed when Eric called the hot dogs "gold"!  That is the brand they grew up on and having them is a treat. 

Anyway, at the picnic today, Tara remarked, "Mom, there is no food in your refrigerator."  Like everything else in my life, the contents of the refrigerator has changed, too. 

Ed loved my cooking and I love to cook.  I enjoyed trying out new recipes on him and rarely did we have a "kitchen disaster" as I referred to it when the meal just wasn't a hit.  Ed would laugh at those times and we would order pizza from the corner store and he would good naturedly tease me about the failed menu. 

Ed had what he called a "Dutch palette", meaning he liked his food hearty but not spicy or unusual.  I love all kinds of cuisine and over the years he came to love unusual foods such as my homemade French Canadian meat pie, enchiladas, Louisiana gumbo and jambalaya, and his favorite broccoli salad. 

Ed did the grocery shopping.  He had those ladies at the Blanchester Kroger charmed into helping him find the strange ingredients I would put on the list.  They all knew him by name. 

I never knew what he would bring home in addition to what was on my list and sometimes it was a challenge to make a meal out of whatever had struck his fancy or what he found in the sale sections.  I think he loved to see what I could come up with. 

Anyway, the empty refrigerator has been an issue for a while.  I just avoid the grocery store.  It is too hard to go in there and try to find excitement over cooking anything.  I'm eating...just not cooking.  It is no fun to cook for one and even less fun to eat alone.  I have been eating the wonderful chicken noodle soup our neighbor sends over occasionally, doing take out from Streber's Market and scavenging in the freezer for meals I froze last winter when we were busy with chemo trips.  Shannon and the little girls have brought over meals and eaten here with me a few times.  I've been getting by. 

I miss cooking for Ed. It was nice to have a big crowd here for lunch.  It was nice to cook for an appreciative crowd.   Life is different but I am blessed with my family and friends.   Tonight it was finally time to get past that hurdle.   I went grocery shopping. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A New "Normal"

Ed and I loved to travel extensively and we were blessed to visit all fifty states and many countries to get a close up view of life, especially agriculture, in other places.  We both had a natural curiosity about things and our adventures created some of our best memories. 

We experienced many different cultures and we learned to rely on our limited foreign language skills to get around in places we visited.  You should have heard him speak horrible French with his southern accent as he tried to order a steak.  He was always polite and always attracted notice with his booming voice and hearty laugh.  In fact, the French cafĂ© owners where we frequently ate dinner on one trip came to love him and referred to him as a cowboy...he just could not get them to understand "farmer"! 

We experienced exotic foods, very different music, transportation modes, clothing, entertainment and lifestyles.  Ed loved to fly by the seat of his pants, without a plan or even a destination.  He loved to walk out the door and see what the world was all about. 

To many of our family and friends, that lifestyle seemed strange.  They couldn't reconcile the boring, homebodies that we were at home with the adventurers we would turn into as soon as Ed said, "Let's go, Monk!"  I couldn't pack fast enough!  In fact, I kept a camper checklist and a suitcase checklist so we could take off on a minute's notice. 

At home, on the farm, life was never exotic and was much simpler than the efforts we expended on satisfying our travelling bug.  We lived a simple life.  Simple meals from our garden, simple old vehicles with over 100,000 miles each, simple clothes and simple social life.  Outside of travelling, our lives were very "normal".

"Normal" for us was reading Sacred Scripture every morning.  Normal was Ed starting my car to warm it up for me before I left for work.  Normal was me calling him to let him know I was on my way home and please start the grill.  Normal was Saturday night Mass and a Sunday visit from the kids and grandchildren.  Normal was him surfing Newagtalk and me reading a book.  Normal was tending the woodstoves. 

Normal was counting our blessings as we ascended the stairs each night.   The pictures of those grandchildren on the stairway wall reminding us how well God had provided for our happiness and well being.

On December 24, with Ed's cancer diagnosis, everything changed.  Nothing after that was ever normal again.  Life became a battle for Ed's survival and a challenge to adjust to everything that was thrown at us in a very short time.  On Good Friday, with Ed's passing, everything changed once again. 

Daughter Tara told me she simply cannot fathom that Ed will not be there on Monday to welcome our 15th grandchild.  I'll have to do my best to fill the void he leaves.  Monday will be bittersweet. 

I'm struggling after barely three weeks to even try to envision my life without Ed, to create a new normal.  He was such a huge presence and a daily part of my normal life.  I know that Ed is watching over me and I hope he is proud of my efforts as I take on new responsibilities and new challenges.  I think about him in everything I do. 

I lit a fire in the insert today.  It is cold and rainy and dreary.  The fire made the house more cheery and reminds me of the days when tending a wood fire with Ed was normal. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Vehicle Shopping

I hate new car shopping.  My 2007 Buick Rendezvous has 203,000 miles on it.  I bought it new and I love still love it.  I wish GM still made this model.  It is the right size, it is the right fuel economy, it is the right comfort level and it is the right price....PAID FOR! 

But my Buick is starting to show its age and, despite a new transmission a year ago, just doesn't seem as dependable as it once was.  Plus I can see the need for four new tires, maybe some brake work and struts coming....Not really wanting to put more money into a car with that many miles on it.

My children are concerned for my safety on long trips to visit my mother or the grandkids.  Ed's sister, who never asks anything of me, asked me to please get a new dependable vehicle before winter. 

Son Mark told me about a 15% off GM program on select models in dealership inventory.  He got a great deal on a new Traverse and I decided to look into that deal.  None at any dealer I called.  None.   Plenty of Traverses, but none eligible for this 15% off deal in their inventory.

I have done my research.  I spent months over the winter checking out safety ratings and fuel economy and price.  However, everything changes when you walk into that showroom.  Being the tightwad that I am, the unlucky salesmen that got me today at three different dealerships had their work cut out for them. 

I have several models in mind that I really like but they have pros and cons:

Traverse...high price, too big, bad fuel economy....but safe
Enclave....higher price, really big, bad fuel economy.....safe and really, really comfortable...what a nice ride....
Acadia....high price, too big, bad fuel economy, rides a bit stiff....but safe

Those vehicles cost upwards of $45,000-$55,000 and I just can't bring myself to spend that.  Did I mention that I was a tightwad who loves her 8 year old Buick Rendezvous???

Here is the dilemma....there is nothing in the middle!

The next step down would be the Equinox, the Eclipse or the Terrain. 

Pros and cons:

Equinox...great price and fuel economy, nice looking....but the ride is kind of stiff and cheap
Enclave....tiny, tiny vehicle....felt like I was riding in the rear seat
Terrain....just plain ugly.....whoever thought those square fenders added to that vehicle should go back to engineering school

Why can't they make a decent, safe, fuel efficient vehicle with the SUV or crossover design in the $35-40,000 range? 

If you have a make or model that you would recommend, I am willing to listen.  Meanwhile, short trips to and from work in the Buick and, if have to go to NY or Cleveland, I will to bite the bullet and take the Silverado, bad gas mileage or not.

Side note:  Sable has been given Ed's desk chair cushion that he always sat on.  She is laying with her head on it now.  She is such a loyal dog. 





Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sable is Grieving

I took Sable to the cemetery on Saturday.  She slept all the way there in the back seat of the old Dakota until we came to the gate.  When I drove in, she jumped into the front seat and began to whine, pawing at the door.  The past two days she has been off her feed and has had two major "house trained" issues. 

Since she never had a problem when Ed was in the hospital for all those days, I can only conclude that she is grieving. 

It breaks my heart to see those big, brown eyes so sad. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Millennials

Today I had lunch with an Episcopalian Priest, a Politian and a Farmer (no this is not the beginning of a very bad joke) and the topic of conversation turned to "Millennials". 

Millennials are the demographic group of young people born between the years of 1980 and 2000, give or take a year or two.  They are marrying (or not) and raising our next generation.   They are trying to pay off student loans, trying to move out of mom and dad's basement and trying to find their life's work. 

Much research and much money is being spent on figuring out exactly what makes them tick.  Everything from their work habits and work ethic, their concept of personal relationships, how they communicate, their spending habits and their religious and personal preferences is being closely studied.  THEY are the next generation to take this country into the future.  They are an interesting group to watch.  Sociologists and marketing companies love them!

Anyway, back to the lunch conversation....

Despite all the promise of a bright future these folks have due to economic and educational opportunities, equal rights, better health care, etc., all three of my table mates concurred regarding one major issue....these young adults are severely handicapped by technology. 

WHAT?  They are the techno-gurus!  They can take any gadget and make it do a multitude of tasks.  They have the world and all its information and culture and creativity at their fingertips.  Why would my friends, from very diverse backgrounds, all think this group of young people are handicapped by technology?

My friends believe, in virtually every aspect of Millennials' lives, technology has replaced good old fashioned communication so necessary to sustaining relationships.  They sit at dinner texting each other across the table.  They text in movies, in church, in school, in the workplace and in bed. 

They don't make eye contact.  They are mesmerized by fantasy...fantasy movies and Fantasy Football.  They are captivated by video games.  They live on social media.  They have created a "reality" based on technology that is not sustainable in the true reality of a global social or economic setting.  They depend on a keyboard to convey their emotions and their ideas.  It's kind of Orwellian when you think about it. 

Those of us who are managing this group of folks in the workplace are being coached on how to adjust to their reality instead of this group being coached on how to fit into the reality of the global economy and workplace.  It is frustrating and frightening. 

To be fair, some of their characteristics are incredibly noble and altruistic....they care about the poor and the disadvantaged, they care about their personal time, they care about the environment, they care about people....they just can't communicate with them. 

http://www.app.com/story/life/family/relationships/2015/04/06/reasons-marriage-just-work-anymore/25349495/

This column from app.com gives a great overview of how things have changed.  If you have a millennial in your life, pass it on.  Open the dialogue.  Start a conversation.  Take the first step in drawing them back from the technology cliff.  They deserve to have a chance to experience the life we had.





Sunday, April 19, 2015

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Taking over the yard work has provided me with some wonderful opportunities to reflect on the time Ed and I spent here at the farm.  Son Eric reminded me yesterday that the majority of our life together, 11 of 14 years, had been lived on this beautiful land.  The memories are just wonderful. 

When I first married Ed in 2001 and moved here, we lived on five acres in a beautiful home but it never felt like home to me.  I always felt like a guest.  Ed endured my remodeling and redecorating but it never felt just right.  Ed had a path worn between the house and the pole barn after his retirement in 2002.  And everywhere I drove, I felt like I was driving north.  It became a laughing point. 

When we bought this farm, it instantly became "home".  My compass re-calculated and I no longer yearned to go north.  This place has wonderful views of growing crops and sits on a hill that always has a breeze.  The porches just call for you to sit for a few minutes and take in God's Creation. 

One of the young men who delivered seed corn on Friday, mentioned how often Ed would include a respect for Creation in his way of teaching good agriculture practices.  I was so touched by how that young man took that to heart in his own caretaking of the land. 

Last week, taking my mom back to NY after Ed's funeral, I could not wait to come back home, home to our farm. Ed always reminded me, "It is God's land and we are temporary caretakers."  In fact, he always joked about having something like that put on his headstone......

But, back to the opportunities to reflect....Sable laid down somewhere in the middle of the lawn where I was mowing and it was like watching a tennis match.  Her head went back and forth, back and forth for the two hours I mowed that section. 

She has a track packed down around the house.  Some might call it unsightly but it was the path she followed from door to door, always placing herself at the entrance nearest to wherever we were inside.  It was uncanny how she knew.  She spent hours on the front porch laying under the window nearest Ed's desk.  Her loyalty to him was unbelievable.  Her loyalty to me is becoming more evident.  We are in this together.

What has all this to do with Strawberry Rhubarb pie?  Well, some lucky daughters are going to get some pie today.  Ed bought me a rhubarb plant for Mother's Day a couple of years ago.  He loved pie.  Any kind of pie.  And I love Strawberry Rhubarb pie.  I think he was hinting.

I looked a couple of weeks ago at the bare spot where the rhubarb plant was supposed to be and decided that the harsh winter had gotten the plant.  Yesterday, while mowing, I saw a beautiful plant ready to harvest right where he planted it for me.  God's land, temporary caretaker. 

Be safe, be kind and be yourself.  LA



Saturday, April 18, 2015

Three Things I Learned This Week

I thought it might be therapeutic for me to post on Ed's blog for a while.  Even if no one reads it. 

This week I learned three important things:

1.  The person who said "It is better to give than to receive" only got it half right.  Being on the receiving end of the genuine outpouring of kindness and compassion from so many family and friends (and complete strangers) has been a humbling, life changing experience for me.  It has already made me a better person and will impact how I reach out to others in the future.  So many times I thought that my words or actions to assist others were inconsequential, that those in need had many other more important people in there lives and didn't need little old me reaching out.....I was wrong.  Each and every act of kindness is a gift from God.  I knew this in my heart and I always tried to be a good person by doing good for others.  But until I truly experienced it, humbly being on the receiving end, I could not fathom it. 

2.  Sable knows where Ed is buried.  I decided today was the day to go to the cemetery for the first time since Ed's funeral.  I decided to take Sable with me.  It was sunny and warm, spring blossoms abound and I needed to go there.  I needed to talk with Ed for a while about the farm and the kids and the new grandbaby.  After laying quietly sleeping in the back seat of the Dakota for the 20 minute ride to the cemetery, Sable came up front and started to whine when I pulled into the cemetery gate.  She had never been in this place before.  But somehow she knew.  She just knew.

3.  Don't use the electric chain saw to cut down the dead ornamental grass that is eight feet tall.  Don't be lazy.  Use the hedge trimmers.  Their bar is made for grass.  The hour I spent taking the chainsaw bar apart and cleaning out the sprocket taught me to not cut corners.  I'm sure Ed is laughing to himself at my expense. 

Be kind, be patient and be yourself.  LuAnn 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Stomach Pain

If you have never suffered through severe stomach pain very long, I probably can't communicate what I am talking about very well.  I hope you haven't because it is not fun to go through at all.  Maybe cancer victims are the only people who can really appreciate this, I don't know.

I got through another night but not without moderate to severe stomach pain.  This has kicked up in the past two weeks or so and I really need to find some relief.  An hour after eating causes pain through digestion and I can't find a happy medium to it yet.  It looks like we are headed in the right direction though so I just have to give it time to work.

I am feeling better today though, just trying to balance the new medicine regime with some still missing is like starting over again.  I think what they have planned though will answer a lot of pain questions I had and get me back to more of a normal.  The cancer is changing daily with the radiation so the medicine program must change with it also.

We have had a good day with three grand children and their parents.  I guess it's really four grand children with one "baby on board."    Mom has not had a good day though so that takes away some of the joy.  I am glad my brother and sister are available to help her though because LuAnn and I are barely able to take care of me with all of these changes.  Linda called and gave me an update on her way home this evening.  She sure needs our prayers.

Richard was able to start my day off right from church this morning so that helped get things rolling.  The air is still pretty cold though and it never got as warm as they predicted it would.  The sun never got out much to warm it up like they predicted at the various weather stations.

We did enjoy watching the much abashed Big Ten get two teams in the final four so that helped, too!  Tom Izzo struck again and his team really came up to show off their training this year.  I don't think Gonzaga has enough guns against the Blue Devils as I thought they would.

April is almost here and the weather finally feels like it.  It has been a very hard 3 months for LuAnn and I.  I hate to see her spend so much time away from her job as she is very good at it.  She has done so much for others through her work.  She has given so much to me as my wife and care giver I can't ever repay her but that's OK.  That's just the way it is.

I hope you had a good weekend.  It's that time of the year you know you are going to have to get the mower out soon.  You don't want to start because after you do, you won't stop until October.  I haven't figured out how we are going to keep this big yard mowed and manicured yet all summer but we will figure out a way.  I think a lot of my good will gestures to help will be called in to get us through.

Right now it is just to get better one day at a time.

Ed Winkle

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Another 10 Days in the Hospital

I sure was ready to come home today.  That was half as long as the first stay in December.  We got a lot of things addressed and we think the radiation may be working already.

It is a proton device and only takes 10 minutes but I have difficulty holding still that long but I think I can do it.  It is not as envasive as other forms of radiation but five times stronger than most forms.  It is aimed at cancer cells only.

Unlike other types of radiation therapy that use x-rays to destroy cancer cells, proton therapy uses a beam of special particles called protons. Doctors can better aim proton beams onto a tumor, so there is less damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. This allows doctors to use a higher dose of radiation with proton therapy than they can use with x-rays.
Proton therapy is used to treat cancers that have not spread. Because it causes less damage to healthy tissue, proton therapy is often used for cancers that are very close to critical parts of the body.
Doctors may use proton therapy to treat the following types of cancer:

I go back every day next week and the following Monday and then I have equal to 60 treatments completed.  I have hopes this is going to give me more quality time at home and make it easier on me and my caregivers, mainly LuAnn.

I met some more mighty fine people serving those of us in need.  They really know what they are doing at this this hospital so I think I am getting the best care I can get in the region.

They have changed my medicine for regularity but the pains are much more severe.  I was beginning to wonder if I could even come home today at 10 AM this morning but here I am.  LuAnn is cooking up some dinner though I am back to tiny bites of specific foods to keep my regularity.

Thanks again for the thoughts and prayers, they were surely needed and much appreciated.  My troubles seem small compared to mom's right now.  She was doing so well and now she has had the rug pulled out from under her, too.

The blue sky is a welcome sight but it's supposed to get down to 19 degrees F again tonight.  It was cold today but forecast near 55 tomorrow which would be great.

I hope I can get some sleep tonight and can post this in the morning.

Ed

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mom Fell

Today my brother and his wife visited with the news we have kind of expected the past many years, mom fell.  It's the words no one wants to hear about their elderly parents and the TV ads prey on our emotions about these events.

Our mother has fought for her independence all her life.  For anyone wanting an example of what a person can do if they want it badly enough,it  is our mother.

Mom was raised in Vanceburg, Kentucky and ended up in Higginsport, Ohio when dad met her during WWII.  She worked at the shoe factory and dad farmed in Sardinia.  They were married in 1949 and I was born just before 1950.

Grandpa moved to the farm she owns in 1918 and dad officially took over when he and mom where married.  Mom always planned to own that farm and saw her dream come true in 1990, the same year dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The farm might not meet the rules for Ohio's 100 year ownership but I figure that in 2018 it deserves that recognition.  It really doesn't matter now, all we care for is that mom is comfortable and does not suffer.

I wish they had brought her to the hospital I am in but they stopped a few miles short.  I just hope she gets good care wherever she is.  Our family sure didn't need this right now but no family ever does.

If you could muster up a prayer for Lorena Winkle,  I sure would appreciate it and know she would too.

Ed

Friday, March 27, 2015

Hospital

LuAnn here.....We are still in the hospital.  We are anxious to get a few health issues taken care of and get home to Sable.

This cancer challenge has really made us reach deeper into our faith beliefs and rely on the power of God to reveal his plan for us.  We find ourselves living our vows to love "for better or worse" in a most poignant way.

Through it all we try to maintain a sense of humor and keep everything in perspective.  Despite a pretty miserable situation, we realize that we have so many blessings.

Our children and grandchildren are a wonderful reminder of our blessings.  Last night Shannon brought granddaughter Brynn to visit briefly.  She took Ed for a walk around the unit, holding his hand and encouraging him every step.  It melted the hearts of everyone who saw them.

Thank you for the prayers and good thoughts.  We feel them.  LuAnn





Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ileus

The last x-ray showed the ileus is slowly going away.  They are very mysterious the way they come and slowly leave gut.

I've had a lot of pain this round.  A week quickly evaporated in this stay at the hospital.  This is eating up my life's time and quite troublesome and pain full but it's all I have right now.   We need to improve my plan.  We do keep refining it.

I am sorry I missed some days but this one caught me off guard a week ago.

I think I will go check around and see what I've missed and add to this later.

Thank you dear friends,

Ed

Monday, March 23, 2015

Humic Acid

Humic substances, such as those listed in the above title, play a vital role in soil fertility and
plant nutrition. Plants grown on soils which contain adequate humin, humic adds (HAs), and
fulvic adds (FAs) are less subject to stress, are healthier, produce higher yields; and the
nutritional quality of harvested foods and feeds are superior. The value of humic substances in
soil fertility and plant nutrition relates to the many functions these complex organic compounds
perform as a part of the life cycle on earth. The life death cycle involves a recycling of the
carbon containing structural components of plants and animals through the soil and air and
back into the living plant.

Man became distracted from the importance of organic compound cycling when it was
discovered that soluble acidic based N P K "fertilizers" could stimulate plant growth. Large
industrial concerns took advantage of the N P K discovery to market industrially processed
"fertilizers" from mineral deposit. Continued use of these acidic fertilizers in the absence of
adequate humic substances (in the soil) has caused many serious sociological and ecological
problems. Man needs to reconsider his approach to fertilization techniques by giving higher
priority to soil humus.

The urgency to emphasize the importance of humic substances and their value as fertilizer
ingredients has never been more important than it is today. All those concerned about the
ability of soils to support plant growth need to assist in educating the public. Humic substances
are recognized by most soil scientists and agronomists as the most important component of a
healthy fertile soil. To illustrate how humic substances function, the following summary, based
on published scientific data, has been prepared as a guide for an educational program. In
addition, by understanding how these carbon containing substances function, professionals will
have a solid foundation on which to design environmentally acceptable sustainable agriculture
programs.

My friend Leon Bird wants me to apply his humic acid product on my crops this year.  I am not sure I can get this done but I would like to.

There are so many products available farmers are wary of them and mnay consider them uneeded or even "snake oil."  You know how I hate the term "snake oil" because all of those products probably have a place, they are not understood and often misplaced.  Just like the second paragraph where it says "man became distracted" and forgot about basic biology for then cheaper NPK fertilizers.

About all of the contest winners use humic acid as well as a lot of other "snake oils" but they understand enough to tweek their yields.  I heard an interview with the corn champ in Georgia and was impressed with his take on all of these things.  It made sense.

The economics of 2015 has farmers turn back to the basics.  What are your basics?  Removal rates of NPK fertilizer?  Are you still going to try some other things that interest you or has worked for you in the past?

Ed Winkle

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Nutrient Loss By Erosion

The loss of organic matter and its nutrient value by erosion has significant effect on both the long-term sustainability of the soil nutrient pool and soil productivity. Nutrient availability in the soil to plants is inherently linked to the soil organic matter pool that is replenished through plant-animal-soil-atmosphere interactions, creating different pools of organic matter.

These different carbon pools play a significant role in providing nutrients to plants through the decomposition process by the soil microbial community over time (Fig. 1). Thus, loss in soil productivity cannot be decoupled from the loss of organic matter. The removal of soil organic matter through erosion and its associated economic cost far exceeds the estimated cost of the primary nutrient components of the soil: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.

Soil organic matter lost to soil erosion contains not only these three primary nutrients, but also other macro and micro nutrients that need to be factored into the calculation of determining the cost of organic matter loss as a nutrient source. Therefore, any attempt to determine the value of nutrient loss, has to take into consideration the long-term impact on soil productivity.

  1. Let’s assume there are two soils types with organic matter contents of 3% and 5%.
  2. Let’s also assume the organic matter nutrient value is $0.10/lb (based on the nutrient value of a manure source, which can be higher depending on the hauling distance, application cost, etc.). We chose manure as a reference rather than commercial fertilizer, because liquid or dry manure contains the primary nutrients and other macro as well as micro nutrients. In addition, manure possesses properties that enhance the building of soil quality and improves soil organic matter.
  3. To calculate the cost of nutrient loss by soil erosion based on the above assumptions, the following example is provided:
    1. One ton of soil=2,000 lb of soil minerals and organic matter.
    2. Amount of organic matter per/one ton or 2000 lb of soil:
      for 3% O.M.= 0.03 x 2000 = 60 lb of organic matter
      for 5% O.M.= 0.05 x 2000=100 lb of organic matter
    3. The value for 3% OM =60lb x $0.10 = $6 per ton of soil loss for 5% OM=100lb x $0.10 =$10 per ton of soil loss
    4. If the soil loss is 5 tons/acre, then the total nutrient loss per acre for each of the two soil types:
      for 3% and 5% organic matter content, respectively, will be equivalent to $30 and $50 per acre ($6 x5 tons/acre or $10 x 5 tons/acre).
These calculations are an estimate of the nutrient loss, which highlight the economic loss in the short as well as in the long-term of soil productivity. However, the economic value of nutrient loss from soil erosion needs to be coupled with the loss of soil productivity at least in the near term, but it can be permanent from long-term perspectives. The reason for loss of soil productivity stems from the changes and degradation that occur in the physical, biological and chemical properties of the soil, which affect long-term productivity, and impact crop production regardless of how much chemical fertilizer is applied. Also, the loss of organic matter will lead to an increase in input cost of nutrients applied as chemical fertilizer to mitigate or manage the loss of soil productivity.

The economic value of nutrients lost due to soil erosion is only a small indicator of the problem with far reaching effects on soil productivity. Thus, there is continued need and an on-going effort for comprehensive soil conservation measures to improve and sustain soil health and productivity. In addition to the immediate cost of fertility loss from soil erosion, the long-term cost to society in terms water quality and other environmental risks can be significant.

These figures are conservative.  Long term damage and rebuilding time is not considered.  It took thousands of years to build what we can destroy in one year.  Even one ton loss in no-till is significant to me.

Let's do a better job of keeping soil where it belongs.

Ed


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Tips For Young Farmer Success

A decade ago, Joel Salatin had already earned a reputation as a controversial farmer, author and speaker, advocating for turning pastures into “salad bars” for livestock and avoiding chemicals and growth-enhancing hormones to produce good food. Still farming in Swoope, Va., on land his father purchased in 1961, Salatin and his family have come a long way in the past 10 years.

Back then, he farmed 500 owned and leased acres. Salatin was proud of making the equivalent of about $40 per hour. Today, he manages a 2,000-acre organic farm that grosses $2 million a year. It supports 20 full-time salaries and offers a paying internship program for young, would-be producers.

Years ago, when Salatin and his wife, Theresa, started out, they were convinced of certain failure. “We really thought we wouldn’t be able to make it,” the former newspaper journalist says.

But in 1982, the couple leaped into full-time farming with enough money squirreled away to live on for a year. Living in Salatin’s parents’ attic, driving a $50 car and growing as much of their own food as they could, the young Salatins subsisted on $300 per month. #1. TURN OFF NETFLIX(forget TV) His advice to beginning farmers isn’t surprising, given those experiences. Tipping his wide-brimmed hat farther down over his brow and looking at me closely through horn-rimmed glasses, he advises: “Get a nest egg. Don’t jump foolishly. Turn off Netflix. Don’t go out to dinner, and sell your second car. Establish self-reliance first,” he adds.

The Salatins began their farm with 10 beef cattle, which they direct-marketed to friends and neighbors. They sold six the first year as freezer beef in quarters, halves and wholes. They grossed $20,000. The next year, they added chickens to the operation and came up with the idea of building portable chicken shelters they could move from field to field.

Again, they marketed to neighbors and local establishments and restaurants. “If you grow chicken for Tyson, you need a $400,000 chicken house,” Salatin says. “We had 280 chickens and a $100 portable shelter.” Even though Salatin's Polyface Farms earns the majority of its income from beef and pork today, chicken remains its signature piece. Sit down at a farm-to-table restaurant in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley or even Washington, D.C., and you’ll find references to organic chicken from Polyface. (The name Polyface has interesting roots. The Salatins call their operation “the farm of many faces” because of all the products they produce — thus, Polyface Farms.)

I never followed Joel but he made agricultural news as he started his ideas and they were reported to work.  I am guessing that was in the 90's.  Then I started watching Farm Kings a couple of years ago and enjoyed the one King son Daniel try an internship at Joel's farm and it became as educational as it was entertaining.

There are lots of tips for success for young farmers but you have to make or receive an opportunity somewhere and grow it.  A few people have that old entrepreneurial knack in America but most people don't.

I thought this was a good story worth sharing with my readers, especially you young, budding farmers.  I keep trying to clue you in what I learned, what I did wrong and how to do better than I did, at least quicker!  My email is always open and I enjoy helping you.

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

National Agriculture Week In Martinsville

The week of spring each year marks National Agriculture Week.  I love these promotions so much I have written about them.  The 18th is not only my mother's birthday, it is National Agriculture Day.  Each year agricultural groups put on all kinds of activities and all kinds of effort to support our most important industry, agriculture.

I never knew much about this celebration until I became an agricultural educator and our FFA Chapter participated in these activities.  Over 30 years, we put on all kinds of activities and promotions for students, parents, schools, boards, any good audience we good educate!

It's easy to take agriculture for granted.  It is so successfully quiet we only hear about the bad news, whether it's manure in the creek or a tragic grain bin accident.  The media is so far removed from farming, they don't even know which questions to ask.  The public media doesn't pick up on ag media as much as it could.

Yesterday I signed up for the 2015 Farm Bill..  For me it was a "piece of cake" because I've had all this time to work on it.  I signed up everything in ARC County because it calculated as well with my known risks as well as any other choice.

I had to smile when she showed me the numbers, my yields were all nearly double what they were when we moved here.  Bases don't change much but mine are strong in corn and wheat thanks to our crop rotation.  I told Brenda gee, I didn't do too bad and she just smiled.  I was in and out of there in 10 minutes and most of that was document copy time.

Now the public media would focus on how much money our government spends or "wastes" on agriculture programs.  Ag media would take you through the computations and the myriad of outcomes you could get one one farm like ours.  The public doesn't learn a thing about Agriculture Week, let alone the new Farm Bill.  It's all Greek to them and your neighbors know how well you are doing by just observing.

It's been a quiet week here for National Agriculture Week.  I am enjoying it except for the pains and weakness I can see are going to recover slowly.  I still have enough nerve pain that chemo week scares me.  I do like the 12 hour pain tabs over the 4 hour doses because 4 hours just goes so fast.  It seems to release in waves though, I will have no pain and then do something more strenuous and it's like I don't have pain medicine at all.

St. Patrick's Day was very sad as we lost a 67 year old family member.  That was shocking and hit very hard.  Some of our grand children lost a grandpa when the worry has been about me the last 3 months.  That wiped out any joy our family could have today on National Agriculture Day.

I do wish my mother happy birthday as she as fought and clawed for 88 years.  She still cares for animals and livestock at her age, now that is an agriculture story right there.  That is something to shout about and her next great grand children are almost here.

I wish you all a good day and a good week.  The sunshine this week has made it one to remember.

Ed Winkle


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Food Waste


The impact of food waste is not just financial. Environmentally, food waste leads to wasteful use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides; more fuel used for transportation; and more rotting food, creating more methane – one of the most harmful greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change. Methane is 23 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. The vast amount of food going to landfills makes a significant contribution to global warming. 
  • Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.
  • Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes).
  • The amount of food lost or wasted every year is equivalent to more than half of the world's annual cereals crop (2.3 billion tonnes in 2009/2010).
  • Food loss and waste also amount to a major squandering of resources, including water, land, energy, labour and capital and needlessly produce greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming and climate change.
  • In developing countries food waste and losses occur mainly at early stages of the food value chain and can be traced back to financial, managerial and technical constraints in harvesting techniques as well as storage –and cooling facilities. Thus, a strengthening of the supply chain through the support farmers and investments in infrastructure, transportation, as well as in an expansion of the food –and packaging industry could help to reduce the amount of food loss and waste. 
  • In medium- and high-income countries food is wasted and lost mainly at later stages in the supply chain. Differing from the situation in developing countries, the behavior of consumers plays a huge part in industrialized countries. Moreover, the study identified a lacking coordination between actors in the supply chain as a contributing factor. Farmer-buyer agreements can be helpful to increase the level of coordination. Additionally, raising awareness among industries, retailers and consumers as well as finding beneficial use for save food that is presently thrown away are useful measures to decrease the amount of losses and waste. 
  • In the United States 30% of all food, worth US$48.3 billion (€32.5 billion), is thrown away each year. It is estimated that about half of the water used to produce this food also goes to waste, since agriculture is the largest human use of water. (Jones, 2004 cited in Lundqvist et al., 2008)
  • United Kingdom households waste an estimated 6.7 million tonnes of food every year, around one third of the 21.7 million tonnes purchased. This means that approximately 32% of all food purchased per year is not eaten. Most of this (5.9 million tonnes or 88%) is currently collected by local authorities. Most of the food waste (4.1 million tonnes or 61%) is avoidable and could have been eaten had it been better managed (WRAP, 2008; Knight and Davis, 2007).
  • In the USA, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions.
We are reading in our daily spiritual readings about the poor and how starved they really are.  With all our efforts, we continue to fail to feed the people.  I know, we do a lot of good things but many of the world's starving people are not close enough to the food source to get it to them.

Having poor and starving in your own backyard, that's another thing.  Yes we have it.  The charities we support work hard at identifying these people and serving their needs.  The local Catholic food pantry feeds 300-400 families a week here in rural Ohio.

I pray we continue to narrow the gap because the amount of this food waste reported by FAO is troubling to say the least.  Don't waste the green on St.Patrick's Day or any day!

Ed Winkle

Monday, March 16, 2015

Health Update

I wanted to update my readers since so many of you have asked me how I am doing.  Friday was a big day, getting my first CT scan in three months since I was diagnosed.

I drank half the prep solution two hours before the appointed time and the other half on the way to the lab.  The scan was very quick.  One nurse prepped me and as soon as I laid down on the scanner, the nurse radiologist in charge injected the contrast.  I had to hold my arms behind my head which was painful and tiring on worn out shoulders but it didn't last long.

I told LuAnn we ought to see who was in at the oncologist's office so we could ask our questions about the scan and the chemo scheduled for next week.  We asked for Jill the nurse but Dr. Andolina took time to see us.

He said let's take next week off and decide our plan during that week.  That was music to my ears but I didn't want to get behind in my treatments, either.  He said one week was no problem and I needed the rest and he needed the time to decide how we go forward.

Dr. Andolina told us to text him before he left the office to remind him and he would give us an update.  LuAnn texted him around 4 pm and he called before he left the office.  The news is the small cell cancer is much smaller and nearly under control.  He was pleased how the liver and lympth nodes looked  The only problem was there was no change in my prostate gland which was not larger or smaller and I've had BPH for years.  He said that could be the typical prostate cancer and does not respond to the chemo but does respond to hormone injections.

I said that is what my dad had and he took the injections for 10 years at Christ Hospital.  I see a biopsy in my future and I wouldn't be surprised if it is this week.

We feel pretty positive about all of this if I can keep my strength up and keep improving.  Getting enough exercise is a problem now since I am so weak.  The balance between exercise, proper diet and rest is important now and I need to get better at managing it.

That's where I am at today in our battle against cancer.  I do thank you all for your thoughts and prayers and all the consideration and concern you have shown us both.

It's a hard fight but right now I feel like I can do it.  God help me when I can't.

Ed Winkle


Sunday, March 15, 2015

What would you give?

A friend in Missouri invited me to watch these short video's over Lent.  I have been watching them everyday and some have been very insightful.  Today's video sums it all up.  What would you give?  What would it take for you to give it?

As a parent, there is perhaps nothing more difficult than watching your kids suffer. God the Father gave his only son, knowing full well the ending Jesus would face. His love is amazing. He loves so unselfishly.

kathleen mccarthy #ShareJesus blog

How do you receive this love? It remains an abstract idea or just a nice concept until we encounter this love. He gives it each and every day for us.

Here’s a great thought for your prayer today: It is always the time of hope, confidence and love. Everything passes; love remains. We will not be disappointed.”- Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini
Kathleen McCarthy talks today about why God would give his only son and challenges you to consider what you are willing to give of yourself to share the gospel.

I have nothing to lose now.  I have nothing to lose but my soul and that is of utmost importance to me.  It's a very personal choice but I've not seen anything that would keep me from believing or spreading this message.

God loves me. It seems like the simplest of messages, in fact it's the basic gospel message. Why is it so hard to believe sometimes? The reality is that we are sinners. The reality is we mess up. Sometimes it seems like darkness surrounds us.

The greater reality is God loves us perfectly for who we are. He loves us no less when we sin. He loves us no more when we do great things. The reality of God's amazing love for us in highlighted is this Sunday's Gospel

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

When we know the reality and depth of God's love for us, this changes everything. It changes the way we encounter God, the way we live our lives, and the way we are not afraid to share the good news of the gospel. When someone is falling in love you can see it. My prayer is that you will continue to fall in love with Him and that this love will be visible to the people you encounter.

Ed Winkle

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Plant Cells Have Steel Like Fibers

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A study by Purdue University plant scientists and University of Nebraska-Lincoln engineers advances our understanding of how plants control their shape and development at the cellular level.

Their findings could help researchers engineer better cotton fibers, improve plant defense against insects, alter plant architecture and toughen root response to drought.

"This collaboration enabled us to learn more about what really controls plant cell shape in one year than we had in the previous 10," said Daniel Szymanski, Purdue professor of botany and plant pathology and leader of the research team. "The degree to which our discoveries linked interacting systems and provided clear explanations for cell shape control was great. The opportunities to apply this knowledge are limitless."

The team used a combination of experimental data from live plant cells and computational modeling to gain new insights into how plant cytoskeletons - intricate networks of protein fibers and tubes within cells - cooperate to produce complex cell shapes.

Unlike mammalian cells, plant cells are rigid, constrained by a thick wall of fibers that have the tensile strength of steel. Plant cells can also come in complicated shapes, such as the pointed, three-branched Arabidopsis trichomes that served as cell models in Szymanski's study.

This is very appropriate to this blog because of the of the soil and plant nutrition we have talked about.  Many farmers use lime and gypsum knowing that calcium is key to strong cell walls.  Without strong cell walls, we can't build the factory required to grow high yielding, nutritious and profitable crops.

I can see the difference in a crop that is Sufficient in the nutrients tested on the tissue test because it will be greener, stronger and healthier looking than test results from crops that are lacking in essential nutrients.  My calcium results has always been one of my stronger points because I learned this early on.  Balancing calcium with the other 16 essential plant nutrients is key.

My soil was high in magnesium so I often saw Magnesium content high in relationship to calcium when I started a new field or farm.  Lime and gypsum helps me quickly reverse that problem to the point I need to watch magnesium nutrition on my soils now.

As calcium increases throughout my soil profile and below it, I know I have more atmospheric air and more aerobic beneficial organisms that build healthy cells for a better factory.  This year there is no extra money available for excess nutrients or soil building of fertility because of low crop prices, at least for me.

Is your plant factories operating at near capacity?  Are your soils healthy enough to make that happen?

Ed Winkle