What I am about to write is probably not what would be considered PC and does not fall into the farming category, but it is something that I feel needs to be said. Many of you may disagree. But I ask that you simply think back to your school years. Your teachers. Those that you loved, and those that you really did not like! And truly consider how these teachers have impacted your life.
Recently I have had multiple posts pop up on my social media accounts from parents of school age children that concern me. They have been talking of teachers making statements to the students that the parent considers bullying. Let me be clear, bullying is not nice. It can be very hurtful. But, yes there is a but here, I believe that it is our job as parents to teach our children to not only stand up to the bullies as needed, but to also simply ignore them.
As I have seen in my life, a person who acts as, what some would call, a bully lives for the reaction. So to stop a bully, simply do not give them the reaction that they want. I would say I was never bullied. Have I been picked on, sure. But I simply let it go in one ear and out the other. I am stronger than that. I know that the bully does not define me, I define me! And that is how I think parents these days are failing their children.
My parents never went to the school to berate my teachers for me if I had an issue with them. I learned to work with them on my own and I believe that gave me the skills that I use in my daily personal and professional life.
As a parent of a five year old, I had to do this with my son. When he came home from kindergarten, yes, this starts in kindergarten, telling me that he had classmates who's parents were moving them to another teacher's classroom because they didn't like the teacher I had to make a decision. Would I follow the lead of these other parents and make my kindergartener's world easier for him, or would I use this as a life lesson and explain to him that, as The Rolling Stones would say, you can't always get what you want, but you will find, you get what you need! And that is what I did. Yes, I explained to my five year old that in life, you do not always get to work with who you want. I explained that at my job, I may not like my boss, but that I needed to work with him/her to get the job done. It was not the easiest year. The teacher did seem a bit bitter to have been working with a room full of 5 year olds for around 40 years, but we made it through and I believe my son learned that sometimes in life he would need to work with those that he might rather not. That is the reality of the world we live in. Mommy will not always be there to bail you out!
So when I see parents ranting on social media about a teacher, talking about how the district is terrible, or how they are going to give that teacher a piece of their mind, I am very disheartened.
Now let me be clear, my child also attended this district. Actually, I have two children, who attended two different districts so I am not ignorant on this topic. I was on the Parent Teacher Organization for years and was the vice president of the PTO for two years. I believe parents should play a part in the system whenever possible. I do not believe that their part should be simply to complain, but to support. So when I see a parent that has made the decision to homeschool based on their disdain for the school system I am concerned.
I see parents who say that they removed their children from the public school system because they didn't like the teachers. They decided to home school because the teachers were not good enough to their children. I do not have a problem with homeschooling. There was a time I really wished I could homeschool my kids. But not because I was unhappy with the school they attended. I would have loved to homeschool so that I could have them around the homestead, and teach them more about nature, and raising their own food and the science of it all. But I knew that I could not give them the things that they could get at school. The socializing with those that were not like them, and the learning to deal with authority figures other than family were among the things I knew they would not get at home. Was every teacher amazing? Of course not. Just as I remember having great teachers and those that I did not think were so great when I was in school, but the wonderful thing about it is, each child is different. They all learn in different ways. So having a variety of personalities teaching your child is actually the great thing about public school.
There are families that have a lifestyle that works for homeschooling. They promote diverse learning, travel, and more. Some of these children are incredibly well educated and well spoken. I think that is wonderful! But homeschooling simply because we don't like some of the teachers is the easy way out! If you really care about the future of our society, get involved. Join your schools parent-teacher group. If you don't have one, start one! Run for school board so you are directly involved in the decision making. And easiest of all, vote! Get out and vote for your school board, vote for mileages, and be informed!
And one last thing, remember, the teachers, administration and staff at your child's school are human beings. To go on social media and publicly accuse them of bullying your child is, as they say, the pot calling the kettle black. The proper channels would be to have a calm discussion with the student and teacher. Get both sides of the story before making a decision. Please remember these people have dedicated their professional life to helping all of our children. Before you bad-mouth a teacher to your child, think about what you are telling them. And by all means remember, your child is not perfect. No one is, not your child, my child, or that teacher.
Trigger warning! This is a post that represents my adamant feminism that I warned you about over there. >>>>>>
My husband and I own and live on a small farm. We are farmers. Therefor I am married to a farmer, which technically makes me a farmer's wife. I am also a farmer. And he is a farmer's husband.
Hey wait! Have you ever actually heard of someone being referred to as a farmer's husband??! Well now you have! Yes, the fact is that John is a farmer's husband and I am a farmer's wife. But you know what, why can't we both simply be called farmers?!
I love getting books about farms for babies and little ones. Not only do most kids love the thought of farms, but I believe it helps them to learn where their food comes from. Even in the small town which I am from, there are adults and children alike that do not fully understand where there food comes from. So I love to share my experiences as a farmer with those around me, but especially young children. I believe a great way to share this knowledge is to buy books about farms for the little ones. But I am regularly disappointed when I pick up a book to read to a little one and find that there is a man in the book called a 'Farmer', and a woman, often holding a pie, called 'The Farmer's Wife'.
I am sure that there are some households where this is the norm. Actually as I typed that I changed my mind. All of the females that live on farms that I know are either fully engaged in the farming activities, or work off the farm, and many do both! It may have been the norm for women 100 years ago to do the cooking, cleaning, and child rearing on a farm while the husband cared for the animals and did the field work, but I would be willing to bet that even then, those women did their part caring for the farm animals.
While spreading my love of farming and healthy eating, I was invited to visit a kindergarten classroom. My sister-in-law is a teacher and invited me to speak with her class. We talked about farm animals, where eggs come from and more farm stuff (including poop). I read them a couple books about farms and farm animals and then my SIL suggested we play a game of 'The Farmer in the Dell'. You remember this one right!? I specifically remember playing this when I was in kindergarten. The game starts with a student chosen to be the farmer in the center of a circle of friends. While singing along, the game goes down the hierarchy of farm residents each choosing the next from the circle of friends to join them in the center. Farmer-Wife-Dog-Cat-Mouse-Cheese until at the end, the cheese stands alone. At this point please note that the Farmer comes first and then 'picks' a wife, as the song goes. I am not sure what children are expected to learn from this game besides a bit of institutional sexism, but I remember it being fun when I was 5. So we start out the game and Mrs SIL suggests that it only makes sense that I be the 'Farmer'. Perfect. Then comes 'The farmer picks a wife' line. She quickly changes it to 'Spouse', working quickly on her feet! So now I am to choose a spouse. Being a parental adult, I was looking for a child who really wanted to be a part of this game. One who maybe didn't often get chosen by their peers. Not at all considering the sex of said child, because that is how I think, I see a girl with big, longing eyes. One who so desperately wants to be a part of this game. One who listened well during story time and, as I see it, is looking up to me as someone she could some day emulate. So of course I chose her!
So here we are; A female farmer and her female spouse! Changing the world, one kindergartener at a time!
Now that I am in my 40s I can see that my attitude about things has evolved over the years. I am now at the stage where I know that everything happens for a reason and even when things seem tough at the time, I know it will get better. And sure enough, when the skies clear, we can see so much more beauty than we noticed before!
Each of us goes through tough times; The end of relationships, the loss of loved ones, divorce, disappointment, the list goes on. But I encourage everyone to always remember that it is not for nothing. No, every little disappointment teaches us something.
I, personally, have had a miscarriage, divorce, and death of loved ones. I have lost a job, and had two businesses that were not able to support themselves that I had to walk away from. While raising two kids, there were times that I watched them get so disappointed that it broke my heart. I believe that as a parent I need to show my children strength when they are in need, even if I am crushed inside. They need to know I can be a rock for them. So I keep moving forward.
All of these things are hard! I would never say they were not. But as they say, that which does not kill us, makes us stronger. And that is the truth!
Farming is a small allegory of the greater life. Each year we have successes and learning experiences. Some years have more learning than others.
Each spring we plant our garden with visions of perfection. In the dark winter months I imagine a beautiful, weed free, lush garden. Then reality hits. Some seeds don't germinate like we had hoped. The plant spacing is not perfect. Row spacing is not what we needed for the tractor's cultivator. Or our rows are just not straight! Then with the height of summer come the heights of weeds! And boy do they ever! Each year in August I am overwhelmed with weeds!
Not only is the garden a reflection of life but so is raising animals on the farm. I have laughed with the animals, I have cried with them. I have spent hours watching young pigs run and play. I have cried tears of joy in watching a new lamb being born while comforting the laboring mom and holding the new born twin. I have cried tears of grief in finding a still born lamb. We have had whole coops full of chickens killed by prey. And repeatedly lost ducks to prey as well. We have learned that steers (castrated male cows) do not play well with sheep. We have fenced and re-fenced and re-fenced again. And we keep moving forward.
It seems as though I forget how bad the weeds can get or the frustration we feel when the pigs get out and we have to chase them all through the woods and picker bushes. It seems I tend to forget those hard times.
Forgetting those hard times brings me back to the story of life. The story where as a mother I went through the unbelievable physical pain of natural child birth. And then within mere months, decided it would be a good idea to do it again! We forget the pain and anguish when we see the amazing results.
Those amazing results when you hold that new baby in your arms and know that you could never love another with this much passion. Just like child birth farming is a labor of love! We work for months planting seeds, watering, weeding, thinning, and watching with anticipation until that joyous day arrives when we get to bite into that garden fresh tomato. We watch that lamb be born, grow into a playful, mischievious little one, and then on to be larger and ready to leave the farm. We hold ourselves together when that lamb is taken to the butcher, trying to focus on the end result. You see as a farmer on a small, diverse farm we put love into each day and each chore so that we may feed our family and those throughout our community with healthy, delicious food raised with love. I believe that food prepared with love better benefits the body and actually tastes better. Food raised with love does the same.
So yes, there are difficulties in farming. The weather does not always cooperate, neither do the deer, or the raccoons, but these are nothing to regret! These are just lessons learned! When we are able to sit down to a meal fully prepared from our farm, or share the bounty with those in our community, that is what makes it all worth while!
So when I am asked for my advice on life I often say, 'Have no regrets, just lessons learned!'
Peace to you and yours!
The Country Girl Gardener
Here we are in August already! Summer is flying by. This summer we decided to start our CSA and I wanted to give you all an update and some info on what a CSA actually is.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Wikipedia describes a CSA as, "an alternative, locally based economic model of agriculture and food distribution." CSA refers to a group of consumers who pledge to support a local farm. The growers and the consumers share in the risks and benefits of food production. The grower decides how many 'shares' they can offer and the community of consumers then pay for a share of produce which they receive on a regular basis.
The term "Community Supported Agriculture" was coined in The United States in the mid 1980's. Since then the CSA movement has surged and there are now over 12,000 of them in the US. A CSA benefits both the farmer/grower and the consumer in multiple ways.
There are many different ways to successfully run a CSA and multiple models for doing so. Some farms include time working on the farm as part of each share's payment. Others offer delivery or multiple pick up locations. Many CSAs include other products such as honey, eggs, fresh breads and more as an addition to their produce. Some farmers even offer stand-alone CSAs for only meats, only cut flowers, and so on. As I said there are many different ways to run a CSA!
Since we have been considering starting a CSA at Lundell Farms for a couple of years we decided it was time to get our feet wet. But rather than doing a cannon-ball right into the deep end of the pool, we decided, rather, to take the steps slowly into the shallow waters and work our way to the deep end! We did not want any injuries or lost bikini tops! So to do this we decided to offer the CSA to our families for our first year.
The offer we made our families was this; We will provide you with weekly produce in exchange for your support and input. We asked that they let us know what they liked and didn't like about the program. At the same time we are able to be sure we will have enough quantity and enough variety without risking the disappointment of paying customers! So here we are! Half way through our first CSA year and oh boy! we are learning a lot!
We have learned what crops should have been in the ground earlier and which could go in later. We've learned that there can be 'too much' kale to some people. And that we can do this! We will be able to successfully run a CSA for the 2017 year. Thanks to our families we were able to have a test run, of sorts and learn from it. As the year continues I am sure we will continue to learn. So that by next spring we will be more prepared to open shares up to paying customers and to keep them satisfied.
So at this time we are able to start taking contact info for next year's CSA. We will contact each family on our list in January and start taking deposits at that time. I am grateful to John for helping to hold back my reigns as I am typically the one that wants to jump in with both feet before even testing the waters. The longer we are married the more we learn from each other and the success of Lundell Farms is proof that we are learning and making great strides each and every day in our farm life and our personal life. (That is, if there was a personal life that did not somehow involve the farm.) We thoroughly enjoy our little piece of the planet and love to spend even our down time thinking about our next project and talking about how we are accomplishing our dreams here on the homestead.
The other day John said that he loves thinking that some day we will have just what we want. I corrected him and said that we already have what we want. We just want to spend more of our time doing it!
Until we talk again, Peace and love!
Lori, The Country Girl Gardener
Yesterday at my day job (which you will likely hear very little about here since it is just a very small part of my life) a coworker offered me some sweet cherries. I politely declined but then noted that we just planted a couple cherry trees. I am very excited about this addition to our mini orchard!
Let me clarify, I LOVE cherry pie, but I do not eat sweet cherries fresh. I am not really sure why, but I think it has a lot to do with my upbringing. You see, as a child, my maternal grandparents owned a fruit farm. Each summer for as long as I can remember we would head a few small towns to the North, along West Michigan's golden coast and pick cherries. I believe this has a lot to do with my rejection of fresh cherries.
If you are not familiar with the process, we were hand picking these cherries. In order to do this the farmers have picking buckets with shoulder harnesses so that both hands are left available to pick with. And mind you, this was very important to my Great Grandmother!
My Grandma Jo, as we called her, was a truly exceptional woman! She was a very hard worker who ran that farm until the day she died at 91 years old! She was out working in the orchards one day, came in for dinner and the evening news as she always did, laid down in bed and never woke up. I have always thought that was the best way to go. And I would imagine nothing else for this amazing woman!
When I was about five years old with a need to use both hands to pick cherries, by mother rigged me up a harness with a peanut butter pail attached. For those of you who may not remember peanut butter pails these were similar to an ice cream bucket you may find now, a small plastic pail. The standard picking bucket was much too large and heavy for a five year old, but in my family of strong women, that did not mean I got to play under the trees! My mother would not have that. We were there to work, and that is what I would do!
So my mother, Grandma Jo, my sister Tonya, and I would head out to the orchard early in the morning and start picking cherries. We would each put on our bucket and harness and, using both hands, pick the cherries from the trees. Some of the orchards were smaller trees. In these, we would each get our own tree and clean off every cherry until the tree went from a brilliant red and green mix to all green leaves. In the older orchards we would group together and share a tree. A ladder would be put up in the center of the tree and one of us would clean the upper part of the tree of it's red beauty. The rest of us would work our way around the lower part of the tree until the entire tree was, again, completely emerald colored leaves.
As we filled our buckets we would go over to the trailer that was hitched behind the old tractor and dump our buckets into a wooden lug. Each of these lugs when filled would earn us $1. My sister and I would each have our own stack of filled lugs by the end of the day. We would count these and calculate our profits as the day went on! Always considering how the faster we worked, the more money we would have for our bank accounts! My bank account would one day fund my new bicycle, my freedom as a 12 year old!
As we worked, we were not allowed to eat the cherries as we picked. I recall there being two reasons for this rule; Grandma Jo's reason was that if you were eating, you were not working and we were there to work. Mom's reason was that the cherries had 'spray dope' on them and they would need to be washed first.
To this day, I will not eat a fresh cherry. I love a good cherry pie! My mom makes the best! I also love dried, Montmorency cherries. But you will not find me eating fresh cherries. Some things learned in childhood never go away.
Those summers in Oceana County, Michigan working outdoors taught me many things. I learned how to be a hard worker; use both hands, don't dawdle, and do not complain. I learned how to work together with others. I learned about a hard earned dollar, how to save money and to spend it wisely. But most of all I learned that I come from a long line of strong women, and for that I will always be thankful!
So I built this site a month or so ago. I have been planning to blog for a few years now. The time has come to start, and I am nervous, and cannot think of a good topic, and this is all so scary to me.
The craziest thing is that I rarely get like this about anything! I am always the one to jump in with both feet and encourage others to do the same. But the one thing I have learned over the last 12 years of marriage to John is that sometimes it is beneficial to go slow and steady. Sometimes. But I am still learning that!
So here I am. Just getting this ball rolling! My plan is to write weekly. I imagine some weeks will be lengthier than others. I am here to share my experiences on our small farm, my passions for natural living, feminism, cooking, canning, gardening of both flowers and vegetables, raising animals, and the overall experiences of our homestead!
I know that journaling your thoughts and experiences is good for the soul. So this is not only a place to share information for those looking to learn about life on our homestead, it is a place for me to share and possibly vent and open up to the world, whether the world is listening or not.
So I hope you will join me for this new ride! Please leave comments! Please follow Lundell Farms on Facebook! Let me know what you want to hear about.
Thank you to everyone who supports John and I and helps to make our amazing life together possible!
Peace and love!
Lori, the Country Girl Gardener
Hi! I am Lori Lundell and I am the Country Girl Gardener at Lundell Farms. Together with my husband, John, we have a small, farm focused on natural, healthy living. We raise produce, animals for meat and eggs, and love spending time together working on projects!