To The Man Who Didn’t Want To Be A Farmer, But Did For His Kids

I’ve always grown up out in the country, on what a younger me jokingly referred to as “the remnants of a once great farm” and for me, that’s how I saw it. My family has always lived on the same property, a little over one football field length away from my grandma’s  house, in the middle of what was once a pretty decently sized diversified farm involving crops, cattle, and mostly hogs. However, by the time I came along, we had long since stopped farming the land ourselves and Grandma had begun renting it out to our neighbors. The only thing we kept for a very long time was horses, and it wasn’t until I was

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Even if I’m not so little anymore, he still goofs around with this maniac.

almost done with high school that we got four cows for my sister and I to raise as an SAE project.

For my dad growing up, it was expected to help out on the family farm, but that changed on July 4th, 1979 when his dad, my Grandpa John, passed away in a farming accident. After that Dad really tried to help out and act like he wanted to run the farm for the rest of his life, but my Grandma could tell his heart wasn’t in it and told him that he should do what he really enjoyed. Dad spent the next thirtyish years doing just that, all while helping Mom to raise three little maniacs.

Eventually, those three little maniacs started to grow up and started to take an interest in agriculture. While some of the more ridiculous requests probably made Dad role his eyes, when he could tell we were actually serious about something he would take the time to talk with us about it and make sure we really understood all that would have to go into these decisions. He was always very clear on the fact that he would help, but that we were the ones with the ideas so we had to be involved or it would be over. And help Dad definitely did, I don’t know what would have happened to our cows in the first six months if it hadn’t been for Dad taking entire days to check fence lines with us, show us how to ACTUALLY work cattle, and bring home truck fulls of feed bags after work.

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Working cows is always a family affair, hyperactive puppy and all.

I know that there are days that Dad probably wished we didn’t have cows to take care of, but I’m so glad we do and he’s helped us out. I’ve learned so much from having our cows about agriculture, the cattle industry, the work that has to be put in, and just how nice a shower can feel after spending a summer day out working with the cows. Even though my sister and I are both off at college now we’ve still kept the cows and Dad has to do a large chunk of the work he knows that when we are home we aren’t going to shy away from going out into the field, if anything we’re going to fight over who’s going to drive the tractor and put out a new bale of hay. I’ve even heard my Mom talk about getting MORE cows since my little brother is starting to get older so fingers crossed!

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Dad’s lessons definitely included proper gun handling.

Dad allowing for, talking about, and fostering this interest in agriculture had definitely influenced the decisions I’ve made about where I want to go with my life. He’ll roll his eyes at this most likely, but I really want to build up the family run part of the farm again, maybe nowhere near what it was or maybe something bigger in a completely different direction, but farming none the less. I don’t know when or if it would ever be a full-time career but there’s something about raising these animals and being involved in the production of an international necessity that just makes you realize how insignificant and majorly important you can be and that’s an amazing feeling. It’s my pipe dream, and future blog post, to run my own diversified farm that also serves as a way to spread more hands on information about where our food comes from and if it weren’t for this small taste of farming I’ve already gotten I don’t know that I ever would have come up with it.

To the man that walked away from farming and came back because of some obnoxious munchkins, Thank You, if it weren’t for you and all the lessons I’ve learned from your words, actions, and sometimes silence I wouldn’t be where I am today preparing to do something I love but probably would not have discovered otherwise. I might not always show it but I love you and I really do appreciate everything you’ve done for me.

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“I think that if you were raised on a farm, you were born with dirt in your shoes. And once you get dirt in your shoes, you can’t ever get it out.” -Mark Thomas

A Friend Down Life’s Rough Way

As someone who didn’t have many close female friends back in high school I never really thought about joining a sorority, and when I did I thought it wasn’t for me because I was a tomboy who cared more about my animals than my looks.

But I had a friend who was a few years older than me and when I got to college she told me I needed to show up to Sigma Alpha info night for recruitment week, so I did. And then didn’t go to any other recruitment week events because I still thought that it wasn’t for me, and honestly that many girls kind of freaked me out. But a friend from back home and I made a deal over winter break, that if one of us went through recruitment we both would (even if we were at two different universities) so I showed back up for Spring recruitment. Even though I was still a little unsure I stuck with it and not only went through recruitment week, but I became an MC (membership candidate) and later an active member.

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My Big and I never can take a serious picture.

 
Being in a sorority has been sort of like everything I expected, but also it has been NOTHING like I anticipated. While I do spend so much time surrounded by my sisters and have so many shirts with letters or for our events, I have also met some amazing people I never would have known otherwise and I’ve had so many experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise. If it weren’t for being in Sigma Alpha I wouldn’t have met my amazing Big, who is a plant science major to my ag. comm. and is in agronomy club while I’m involved in Collegiate 4-H (we even share the same birthday!) I’ve also had the chance to have two littles of my own, who are both amazing people who I have so much in common with but again wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for being in the same sorority. Which would mean I would have no one to pawn off all of my canvas creations on (while an amazing stress reliever, you can only keep so many with out looking crazy).

Part of the reason I love Sigma Alpha is its focus on agriculture. As a group of women who are going into the agriculture field, or are just passionate about it, to have a group of like-minded girls around who all believe in the same thing is incredible. This also means that we really get involved and tailor our projects to focus on agriculture. I’ve been able to go into the Boys and Girls club and talk to kids about the dairy industry and where their milk and butter come from and I’ve been able to go and help clean up a locally run community garden that donates all its produce to local food pantries.

 

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Never thought I would be one to “through what you know”.

I’ve developed skills that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to otherwise, and I’ve had experiences that I never would have been even close to being involved in had I not joined Sigma Alpha. As a professional sorority, Sigma Alpha really works to help us develop skills to help us in the professional world and make contacts and connections that could help us down the road. I’ve also realized that having this many sisters/friends isn’t the scary drama filled thing I expected. If anything I now have a stronger support system for anything that comes my way, whether it be work issues, life troubles, or that class that seems impossible to pass, I know I can turn to them for help (and the occasional discounted textbook).

 

I’m going to wrap this up by saying that I know sororities aren’t for everyone, heck for a very long time I thought they weren’t for me, and that’s okay. But if you’re on the fence about joining or even just curious and want to learn more, reach out and talk to members so you can make an informed decision. Heck, you never know it could turn into one of the best decisions of your college career.

A sister is one who reaches for your hand and touches your heart. -Unknown

Life in Blue Corduroy

Today wraps up FFA Week 2017 and I, the slacker that I am, have just now gotten around to talking about it. All this week I have been seeing filters, pictures, posts, tags, and that “share and fill if you’re tagged” stuff for the organization that defined much of my time in high school. Yet I didn’t participate unless my profile picture of me getting my American
Degree counts but it’s been up since October. I partially believe that this fact was due to

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My senior year I went to D.C. as an officer and got to see Mount Vernon.

the crazy hectic week I’ve had. Anyway, I’m here to try and sum up what FFA means to me, which is an impossible task that I could write for years about.

 

 

 
There are so many things I’ve been able to do through my time in the Blue Jacket. I’ve traveled all over the United States, Oklahoma, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Arkansas, Mississipi, Louisiana, and Washington D.C. In fact, I could probably write an entire post on trips, but I’ll save that for another day.

I’ve been able to participate in FFA Knowledge, Entomology, Parliamentary Procedure, Meats Judging, and Agronomy contests and go to state in all of those. It wasn’t always about winning, it was about the time I spent with friends, learning things I never thought I would want to know, but I can still tell you that a Mayfly’s order is Ephemeroptera which means to live but a day, that dark cutter is caused when an animal is scared and stressed shortly before slaughter, or if you call out division in the middle of a meeting your President (and Advisors) will roll their eyes while everybody else laughs. I also learned how to sleep on a school bus full of loud freshman and to play a WIDE variety of card games (Jacobi was the official card game of the Tipton FFA 2010-2014).

I also learned that just because you really, and I mean REALLY, want to do something and think you have the perfect plan, it doesn’t mean you will always succeed. Whether it was wanting to be an area officer (and not being chosen from your chapter’s round of interviews) or trying to figure out what the heck to do for an SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience for all you who weren’t huge in FFA) project, and let me tell you I had a billion and one ideas for that.

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Here’s our newest calf, born today!!

I started out with absolutely NO idea what I wanted to do, my mom’s response was to grow a garden which I did. However, I kept plotting and planning all sorts of crazy ideas, at one point I even wanted to convert one of our old empty hog barns into some type of shooting range (what I was thinking is beyond even me)
thankfully mom and dad shut that idea down REAL quick. I then moved on to slightly more realistic ideas, which included getting a job. As a high school student in a tiny farm town, your job options are very limited, the grocery store, the drive-in (which was seasonal), mowing lawns, or Subway, all of which we either not something I wanted to do or were not hiring. So I got desperate and went into Koechner’s, a family owned poultry trailer manufacturer along with other ag-related odds and ends, where I got hired as shop help. During all of this, my sister and I were wearing down my parents about the idea of owning our own cows and eventually won out. (I just want it known that as I wrote this my mom texted me to tell me we had a calf drop!)

 

 

My SAE experience taught me lots of things, working even when you feel like crap (shredded my meniscus fall of senior year, continued to work and do sports on it until it got to the point my knee wouldn’t bend, AKA work ’til it’s broke), work smarter not harder, talk to people because you never know how they can help you or you them, and how to keep a record of receipts and disbursements (Just as Washington kept his farm accounts, carefully and accurately). It also got me to State Convention my senior year of high school where I received my State Degree, and two years later the field of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis where I received the highest honor the FFA can give, my American Degree.

My blue corduroy jacket has been there with me through it all, even if I wasn’t sure how I felt about it in the beginning. I mean how do you think a girl who swore to never wear dresses or skirts would feel when she’s told not only does she have to wear a skirt, but

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This was roughly an hour into the drive home, shortly after this I fell asleep still in official dress.

pantyhose too. Not only was that girl wrong about dresses (I still don’t wear them often but I have them) she also did not realize how much she would come to love that jacket. In fact I can still tell you what is in the pockets of it, even though its two and a half hours away, a lip smackers starburst chap stick, an extra ponytail holder, my scarf, an extra pair of hose (those things rip like no other), and finally a note that I wrote and stuck in there over six years ago at my greenhand conference. On that note are two goals, one was to make varsity in volleyball by my junior year of high school, which I did, the other was to have a successful SAE project (see above if you forgot what a struggle that was for me).

 

October 22nd, 2016 was, in all reality, the last time I was going to wear my corduroy as a member of the official dress. I knew this from the second I put it on, I knew it as I sat on the field of Lucas Oil Stadium with my parents watching, I knew it as I walked across the stage, as I got my picture taken, and I knew it as I sat through over two hours of a six-hour car ride home in it. While I will never have a reason to wear full official dress again, I know that I’ll still slip it on every once and a while and remember all I learned in it and all I learned from FFA.

 

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To the two men who dedicate their lives to teaching kids like me about ag., all I can say is thank you.

 

As we mingle with others, let us be diligent in labor, just in our dealings, courteous to everyone, and, above all, honest and fair in the game of life. -Official FFA Closing Ceremonies

How’ve you been? Good to see you, my old friend

If you couldn’t tell by the title (all credit to Lady A for not making me come up with a catchy title on my own) it’s been a while since I’ve been active on here. Don’t mind me over here hanging my head in shame, but that’s going to change.

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Can’t believe I actually achieved this dream, or that I’d get to wear official dress again!

So it’s been, well a year, since I wrote my first blog. I quickly realized how busy life can be and that running a blog and being consistent and regular with posting is more

So I was reading my first blog and had to laugh at the fact that I didn’t know what I wanted to talk about on here (because a consistent theme is very important, especially as a writer who worries and overthinks everything). Well, I guess I’m still not 100% sure where I want to take this blog, personal, advice, comedic relief, or some deep philosophical ideas, I am one hundred thousand percent sure it will have an agriculture emphasis, mostly due to the fact that agriculture is most of my life experiences and my passion in life. I’ve got some ideas bouncing around in my head on topics and blog series I want to do, so I have a little more direction this time around and I think this go round will be better than the first.

So I’ve had a few changes in the course of a year, I’m now only a few months away from graduating with my B.S. in agricultural communications, I picked up a minor in ag. business, I got my FFA American Degree (never thought I would want to spend an entire day in official dress and cry as I took it off), oh and I decided to tack on two more years of school and get my masters degree. So that’s an all new adventure I’m starting.

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This baby decided to play sick in order to get a ride in the pickup on my lap, I wish more of our calves were like this one.

As I sit in my bed, eating sour patch kids and trying to find a way to wrap up everything I’m wanting to say, all I can come up with is this is the start of a new adventure and I can only hope to boldly go where no one
(cough*me*cough) has gone before. Sorry but I just had to include some nerd joke in here.

Well, I’ve reached the end of my bag of sour patch kids so I guess that’s my signal to wrap this up, now it’s time to do homework and dream about cows.

So take a deep breath, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again. -Frank Sinatra

The Daunting First Post

Now if you were to ask any writer, in any medium, I bet you they would all say that the first work that they know will be published and put out there for the entire world to view is a pretty daunting and intimidating one to try and sit down and write. For me, this is no different, if anything I probably am up there with those that are super afraid and worried about how their message will be received, but I will carry on and write anyway.

This first post is coming to the world a mere, five minutes into this blog’s existence, but hey you’ve got to start them young right? I will also be completely honest about the fact that even as I’m typing this I’m not entirely sure what I want to talk about, but I’ll start with a little bit about myself.

My name is Sarah Bishop, I’m currently two months and a few days shy of my twentieth birthday, and am the oldest of three children. I am currently in school at Missouri State University to get my undergraduate degree in agricultural communications, and a little over halfway there. I love Springfield, but it is definitely a big difference from my hometown back in central Missouri. Back home my family lives on quite a bit of land but most of it, we rent out to friends and local farmers anymore. However, I have grown up seeing all that central Missouri farmers go through, crop shortages, bad poultry scares, and those winter days when you pray that the calves haven’t come. Seeing all of this from a young age and being an active member in 4-H and FFA has brought me to love agriculture and all it can accomplish. It has also opened my eyes to all that the world doesn’t know about agriculture and how it’s not only my obligation but my privilege to share ll that I know and am learning with others who don’t know what farmers and other agriculturalists have to go through each and every day.

I guess the purpose of this blog is to do just that, show what agricultural life is like, and that isn’t just talks about cattle, corn, and tractors, it’s also things everyone goes through, loss, love, and all to often a lack of sleep (thank you college). This is going to be a journey and I hope that you find a little something you didn’t have before on the way.

“A farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer.”   -Will Rogers