Meal Prep Fun!

You guys!! Do you want to make life easier? Do you like wine? and Do you want to have a festive girls night? Swap meals!

I am set for winter!! I literally have some of the most creative friends. What a fun way to meal prep! I am now stocked with country casserole, enchilada bake, manicotti, and shepherds pie. Food to fuel my body and soul through cold and snowy days!

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Kendra posed this idea to us and to be honest I jumped out of my seat with excitement! I am always trying to get on the meal prep wagon but life gets in the way! Am I right!?!? So this was a super fun and easy way to get meals on the table all winter long!

Food is such a precious thing but it can be confusing. Picking Wild Flowers has been my outlet for sharing my personal story about food and agriculture.

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Yesterday I attended a Women in Agriculture Leadership Conference and I left with inspiration beyond words! I am so blessed to work in an industry that is so passionate about where our food comes from. We are all eaters and we care about how our food is grown and farmers do too. How awesome is it that we live in a country where we have freedom to do so?

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Everyone has different values but those values are what make us who we are. Some of us have the opportunity to choose foods and others have certain diets due to allergies, diseases, food intolerance, and values.

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Conversations have become one way! We often listen to respond and not to ask questions. We need to listen, ask, listen, ask, listen, ask, share.

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So what are your feelings about food?

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Let’s Talk Organic

Well hello beautiful Picking Wild Flower readers! It has been a while but I am back and I have a interesting and fun topic for the blog tonight. Let’s talk organic! Who eats organic food? Who eats conventional? What is the difference between the two? Tell me do you eat foods with GMOs? What does GMO stand for? How about foods labeled as natural or contains no antibiotics? Food can be confusing and let me tell you… I am no expert. I just recently finished up a eight week fitness course at Next Level Extreme Fitness in North Liberty (which I highly recommend by the way) and I was encouraged to examine food labels. I soon realized that I consume a lot of salt and sugar. Two ingredients that were hiding in my daily foods. I am not sure how I will go lower two such prevalent ingredients but tonight I substituted rice for cauliflower rice- it is a start 🙂

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I decided to write this post after mom and I had a very interesting conversation when I met her for lunch today. We passed the new organic co-op in Iowa City and both mom and I wanted to stop in and check it out but we decided that we didn’t have time and we would another day. I am a person who believes in all types of farming. I think we need diversity to create a sustainable environment that will produce enough food to feed 9 billion people by 2050. I also believe in supporting local. Local farmers help the community thrive. It also allows young and small farmers to have an avenue. But if you are going to shop at a food co-op or if you want to buy organic from your local grocery store, make sure you have thought about all of your reasons for doing so. Be sure to understand that the nutritional value of organic lettuce is the same as lettuce grown conventionally. Understand that GMOs are only in 10 food items: corn, soybeans, alfalfa, cotton, sugar beats, canola, squash, papaya, potato, and apple. If you buy green peppers that say non-GMO, it is a marketing scheme and they want you to pay more because green peppers don’t ever contain GMOs (currently… science is always adapting and it is possible in the future).

Buying meat that says never been treated with antibiotics just makes me plain angry. If a cow or calf is sick wouldn’t you do anything to make it feel better. Tyler and I took our proposal picture 2 weeks before our herd had an outbreak of pink eye. That same cow in the picture was treated with the two medicines shown and if we were to sell her for meat she would need to go through a withdrawal period. We are not selling her but even-so it has been already been a month since she was on medicine and just like humans it passes through the body.

What about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organism)? There are many benefits but to name a few: 1) the use of resources, some GMO corn crops can protect harvests in water-limited conditions better than conventionally produced crops. Other GMOs can also promote the use of no-till farming, which keeps more moisture in the soil. No-till also enables farmers to make fewer passes through the field using machinery, which means less fuel used and greenhouse gases emitted. 2) Fighting Pests and Disease,
Scientists are developing crops that look and taste the same as their non-GMO counterparts, but are resistant to insects and plant-specific diseases that can impact a farmer’s harvest. Plants with traits that protect roots from insect damage have an additional benefit of using water more efficiently. 3) Conserving Natural Habitats
GMO seeds can help farmers around the world meet the increasing demand for food by helping them make the most of their existing arable land, thus enabling them to preserve nearby habitats. (https://monsanto.com/innovations/biotech-gmos/).

Now lets dive into the label “Natural” for just a second and I mean a brief second… There is no standard definition for natural so what does it even mean?? I DON’T KNOW but it is supposed to be better for us… Humm…

I love discussing food so please ask me questions. I could talk about it all day!

Just remember that food is food and it is all about moderation. Don’t food shame!! It is not nice. ;P We need all types of farmers and I don’t have a problem with organic or conventional but I think we need to hear both sides and I believe we need both in our industry to make the agriculture world go round. Just be sure to read good quality articles and ask a farmer before you jump to believe every label you read.

Goodnight! Sleep Tight 🙂

 

Cattle get Pinkeye Too

Cattle get pinkeye too! Most years this is not a problem but just like when people travel… we occasionally catch an illness. That is exactly what happened to our 25 head of cattle. This year was the first time we rented the pasture up on the hill from my grandma. The cows were beyond excited to travel to their exotic new land! They went nuts! But with new territory brings new illnesses the cows aren’t immune to.

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We noticed a few cows had drippy eyes and while those few were in the pen being examined, the rest of the herd was catching it.

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Pinkeye is also known as infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK) and is one of the most common diseases of beef cattle. It is a highly contagious disease, causing inflammation of the cornea (the clear outer layer) and conjunctiva (the pink membrane lining the eyelids) of the eye. Being that it is very contagious the whole herd was at risk.

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Signs of pinkeye include wet, red, and irritated eyes. Often times the animal blinks or squints a lot and a small white spot will appear.
Image result for pinkeye in cattle

Image result for pinkeye in cattle

How does it spread? Pinkeye begins with irritated eyes. Tall grasses and weeds, dust, sunlight and wind can irritate the cow. Once the cow is infected, the disease spreads through face flies. The bacteria can live in the fly for four days.

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How do you treat pinkeye? There are a couple options to treating pinkeye. The first is to spray pinkeye spray into the cow’s eye twice a day. This is not very efficient if the cows need to be on pasture to eat. Spraying the cow’s eye requires getting them into the chute. The second option is to give the cow a shot of Liquamycin at the first sign of pinkeye.

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The antibiotic instructions are below. We gave each cow a shot of LA-200 according to the correct dosage/weight. Most of our cows weigh 1000-1500 pounds so you can see below we gave between 45 and 54 cc. The label also says to discontinue treatment at least 28 days prior to slaughter. If and when we decide to sell a cow, we are required to wait 28 days before doing so. The meat packing plant will check for antibacterial residue when they are slaughtered.

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The third option is to give the cows a shot of penicillin in their eyelid. This might seem painful but it targets the bacteria at the site of infection. Occasionally pinkeye can get so severe that it can cause blindness or can even be fatal. The fourth option it to spray the eye and cover it up with an eye-patch. Light can cause irritation and by covering it up it excludes the UV and eliminates flies from bothering.

We did the first and fourth option when we treated the cows two weeks ago but we were noticing the spread of pinkeye to other cows so this past weekend so we treated the diseased cows with treatments one-three. Pinkeye can be tricky to cure but hopefully we are finally ahead of it. Our main priority is the comfort and well-being of our livestock.

Dad said this was the time of year grandma and grandpa would go on vacation… not this year… our cows want to keep us on our toes.

Other resources:

http://www.beefmagazine.com/health/vets-opinion/busting-pinkeye-in-cattle-0401

http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/400/400-750/400-750.html

Our Proposal!

Our love story started a year and a half ago. I had moved back from Ames for the summer and was motivated to start running. Tyler’s parents live near Mom and Steve. I would often see Tyler hanging out outside. Everyday I continued to run past his house and again he would be working on his truck, hanging with friends, or just sitting on the patio. I have always been a big fan of his white truck and I asked about it to get his attention. It worked! Tyler would say our first date was to Kent Park but I wasn’t sure how committed I was at that point. But after our first official date to Phat Daddies… I had a good feeling about him. 😉

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And a good feeling it was! Here is the story of our beautiful, perfect, and completely appropriate proposal.

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Tyler asked me on Sunday if Zach and Rachel could join us for chores one night. I didn’t think anything of it because they had joined us earlier in the summer. On Monday night Tyler headed out to the farm to talk to Dad while I was at our Farm Bureau Annual Meeting. Tuesday was just a normal chore day or so I thought…as I was completely oblivious spraying the cows for flies.

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Tyler motioned over to Josie and suggested we spray her. I kind of blew it off and said I will in a minute. A second later he suggested it again so I was like fine lets head down there haha. To my surprise, Josie had something wrapped around her neck. I sped up to get a better look. I noticed the shape of the cow bell and assumed Dad was playing a prank on me. Josie is kind of an inside joke on our farm. She isn’t the most productive cow but she is the last cow from Grandpa’s herd and she holds a special place in our hearts. You can also tell from the photo that she is super wild!

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We got a little closer and I noticed writing on the front. I knelt down and read the words “Morgan Lee will you marry me?” I instantly got emotional! Tyler was on one knee by the time I turned around. I apparently was too shocked to stand back up after I read the cow bell because I am still on my knees in all of these photos haha.

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The whole moment was absolutely beautiful!! He put incredible thought into the proposal and having the cows involved meant so much to me. He knows me well!!

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A huge thanks to Zach and Rachel for capturing the moment. I am so happy to have photos to look back at. We couldn’t wait to tell all of our close family and friends but first we were treated to some ice cream!!

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We feel blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives. Thank you to everyone who congratulated us on our proposal day! We are excited to announce that our wedding will be October, 2018.

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Bring on the love, happiness, excitement, and anticipation as we plan our fall wedding! I can’t wait to marry my best friend.

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#HappilyEverHibbs 

The Hardships of Farming

The hardships… stories farmers don’t like to talk about. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write this post but I think the world needs to know that farmers are people too and we make mistakes. Farmers are not perfect and I am not perfect. A couple of weeks ago my heart broke for one of our mama cows and her baby calf.

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We noticed that one of our new babies had scours. Scours is diarrhea that prevents the absorption of fluids from the intestines. Scours is common among new calves especially if the weather is nasty cold or scorching hot. We treat for scours whenever we see signs. Dad catches the calf and we give it a scour pill (Bolus antibiotic) which helps cure the diarrhea. Before dad left for vacation we gave this new calf a scour pill and put both the cow and calf in a pen close to the house.

Megan and I continued to check on the calf over the course of 24 hours. The calf seemed to be getting weaker and weaker. When the weather is really hot and calves are sick they tend to not nurse which results in dehydration. I gave the calf another pill by hand. Sometimes we use a wand called a pill pusher but the calf was pretty weak and putting the pill in his mouth wasn’t a problem.

Later on we went back to the house. I was looking over the bottle of scour pills and I noticed that they were expired. Usually one scour pill does the trick and I began to wonder if that was why the calf hadn’t seen any improvements. Tyler and I went to Theisen’s and bought new pills, a pill pusher and fly spray.

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Megan called to tell me that the calf wouldn’t walk very far. It was growing weaker by the day. She thought it was time to call the vet.

That morning I dialed the vet and told them what was going on. He advised that I try the new pills I had picked up and to give the calf some electrolytes. Electrolyte powder is like Gatorade. It should help keep the calf’s body hydrated. I thought I had all of my boxes crossed off. I picked up new pills, called the vet, fed the calf some electrolytes and called Tyler to see if he could come help give it a pill.

This time around I decided to try the pill pusher. Little did I know that there are two pushers. One for cows and one for calves. I had bought the one for cows… I had also bought the pill brand that Dad buys but instead of calf I bought cow. I might know what I am doing in theory but it is a whole different ball game when it comes time to purchase and act.

We got the pill stuck in the calves throat. At this point in the day I was hot, sweaty, and tired, but now I had a calf on my hands that was choking. I panicked. I started screaming, crying, and hyperventilating. I had know idea what to do. Tyler was rubbing the calves neck trying to encourage the pill back up but it was lodged to far down. I called the vet again and he said to bring him in right away. We backed Dads truck up to the field and loaded the 130 lb calf into the backseat. I hopped in and sat with him. Tyler drove us 40 minutes to the vets office. It was the longest 40 minutes…

The calf still had scours and was making a mess in the back of the truck but I didn’t care. I would clean it out later. All I cared about was the calf’s safety and health. All I kept thinking was this is my fault. In all my years of showing cattle, raising livestock, and studying agriculture; it has never been my fault. When we loss a calf it was due to natural occurrences. This was all my fault. Why did I not think to check for calf or cow pills? Why did I possibly think that pill pusher was for a calf? I thought I had all of the T’s crossed. But knowing what to do isn’t the same as actually doing it.

We got to the vets office and Dr. B looked down the calf’s throat. He couldn’t see the pill. He looked at me and asked if I would be okay with him doing a tracheotomy. The surgery only lasted 20 minutes and soon Dr. B was wrapping the calf in bandages. We went home with a two week old calf with a tube sticking out of his neck to help him breath. We put the baby back with his mom, but she began to lick his tube and we had to remove her from the pen. All seemed to be going okay and the chances in him surviving increased. We gave him a bottle and let him rest for the night. The next morning he was standing and walking around. I have never been so happy to see a calf walk!

But that night he seemed weak again. He was laying down with his head between his two front legs. He wouldn’t raise his head to eat. I felt so crushed. He was up walking around not long before. Megan and Tyler stayed to feed him the bottle and Dad and I went to check on the rest of the cows.

When we got back Megan and Tyler were outside of the barn. Their faces weren’t happy. The calf died drinking his bottle. Megan said he went peacefully. His breathing slowed and he stopped sucking. I was devastated. I have never felt so heart broken over the loss of a calf.

We put the cow back out into the pasture and buried the calf.

I was really hesitant to publish this post but I wanted all of you to know how much these cows mean to me. I would do anything to keep them happy and healthy. I have a lot of learning to do and after this instance I realize that fact even more clearly.

And on the 8th day God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker! So, God made a farmer!

 

 

Got Guts?

What is a ruminant animal? How many stomachs does a cow have? Can people digest grass? Linn County fair goers sought out the answers to these questions during Youth Day Thursday, June 29, 2017. This activity was designed based on the National Ag in the Classroom Matrix lesson “Got Guts.”

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A ruminant is a animal with a multi-chambered stomach. Cows have 4 main chambers- rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum.

To demonstrate the process kids digested their own hay with water, hot water and lemon juice.

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With each step came a new chamber.

  1. Cud, partially digested food from a ruminant animal which is regurgitated to the mouth for further chewing- “Chew” the hay and place in cup
  2. Rumen, good bacteria helps break down food- Add water and stir 
  3. Reticulum, sorts the particles and brings the large pieces back to be regurgitated in the form of cud- Pick out large particles
  4. Omasum, small chamber that helps with flow to abomasum- Add hot water and stir
  5. Abomasum, contains strong acids and enzymes- Add lemon juice and stir

ruminant hay

Starting with the dry hay and moving counter clockwise we can see the hay being digested through the 4 chambers.

Question: How many stomachs does a cow have?

Answer: One with multiple chambers! 😉

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Last summer I did a similar activity during 4-H vet camp and kids really enjoyed the hands-on portion of the lesson. This could easily be incorporated into a classroom. Make it a multi-unit lesson or complement another lesson by conducting this activity.

Would you like to see agriculture in your Linn County school? Contact mball@ifbf.org to schedule a classroom visit.

Month One

It is hard to believe that one month is already almost here and gone. I am learning and experiencing so much! Linn County has welcomed me with such kindness. What better way to kick off my summer than to attend the National Ag in the Classroom Conference?

As the Linn County Farm Bureau Education Outreach Coordinator, my goal is to increase youth awareness on the importance of agriculture, agriculture careers and the benefits provided by agriculture throughout and individual’s life by providing classroom visits, agriculture days, fair activities and Iowa Core aligned lesson plans.

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“Show Me Agriculture,” took place in Kansas City, Missouri. We made a detour on the way down to stop at Shatto Milk Company. I fell in love with the flavored milk and old-school glass jars. I of course had to try the coffee flavored milk ;). I bought two for the road! Our home has a country chic feel and the bottles add a nice touch.

First thing Wednesday morning we hopped on a bus to tour a few important spots near Kansas City. I always heard about the American Royal but we never had a chance to exhibit in the livestock show so this tour was particularly cool to see. It was neat visiting the museum and livestock arena. The education director showed us the livestock scale. The scale compares and converts human pounds to the equivalent weight in steers, hogs, and chickens.

Who knew there were so many ways to teach agriculture? I attended a few amazing breakout sessions. People from all over the US are just as excited about our future generations as I am :).

The session: Love of Cows and other Joys in Agriculture, encouraged participants to think outside of the box. Brainstorm with art and crafts- how might they be used to inspire and teach youth about where their food comes from? Kathleen shared with us her secrets to drawing the difference between a dairy and beef cow. Can you tell which one this is? Comment below if you have a guess. 🙂

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I had a first hand experience with making flour! It is such a awesome and simple idea! All you need is wheat seeds, 1 jar, and a pepper grinder. By placing the seeds into the grinder and making flour, many conversations are sparked. What foods can be made from flour? Who grows wheat? and What jobs are created from the production of wheat?

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Many other examples were captured in my journal but I don’t want to give away all of my new ideas! 😉 You will have to keep following to stay up to date!

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As everyone’s spirits were high and motivation was stirring, we were greeted and encouraged by Greg Peterson.

In 2012, Greg founded the “Peterson Farm Brothers” with his siblings. Together they agvocate for agriculture through parody videos, presentations, and blog writing. Checkout all of their awesome videos!!

We have Calves!

Good evening all! Currently… I am sitting in my apartment sipping on a homemade mocha and munching on frozen banana peanut butter bites- which I highly recommend! I am teasing my mind, warming myself with warm coffee while allowing myself to pretend it’s hot with frozen treats haha.

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I am so over this cold front already and it just arrived! Just imagine relaxing in the sun with a good novel! Ahhh I am so ready for hot summer nights! I bet our babies are also ready for warmer temperatures. The 2017 calving season will be wrapping up at the Ball Farm here in a few weeks. It has been a busy couple of months for dad. I applaud him and his hard work! I am looking forward to helping with the 2018 calving season :).

Ball Calving Season

Even though I am not physically at the farm, I feel like I was right in the midst of the action. Dad has been very diligent in sending photos of the cows and their calves. I am getting updates in real time and its very exciting to see our herd expand.

A lot of hard work and time is dedicated to the herd during calving season. Typically our season starts towards the end of March and continues into May. This year we had a calf almost every day during the month of April! Very very busy! But the first step actually starts with the cow. It is very important for the new calf to consume their first milking. The first meal for a calf includes colostrum. Just like humans, calves need colostrum to build their immune systems. The colostrum contains antibodies to protect the calf from diseases.

Ball Calving Season (1)

The second step happens a few days later. Farmers use a variety of methods to identify their calves when they are born. Most cattle producers tag their calves and some may also use more permanent methods like branding. We currently use the tagging method. To help with identifying the pairs, calves get the same number as the cow. We are in the process of developing a new numbering system that will allow us to maintain more information.

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The third step happens when we tag the calf. Unless a bull, fertile male, is going to be used as a breeding animal, farmers castrate them. Bulls are castrated for a couple of reasons, 1) it reduces aggressiveness and sexual activity and 2) creates a higher quality grade and a more tender beef cut. Banding is an alternative method to traditional castration. It offers less stress and faster healing.

calves

The fourth step takes a bit more time.  We keep in-depth records for each individual calving season. By managing strong records we can refer back to it throughout the year.  Below is an example of our records. We also record when we get the calves preconditioned by the vet.

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And finally we watch the calves grow! Calving season is a lot a work but it is so worth it. Not only do we have baby calves, we have baby seedlings!! Here is you official flower garden update: We have germination! Checkout the snapdragon seedlings :).

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Have a great night!!

5 reasons to be a Women in Ag

Happy Spring! Last week I was annoyed with the rain, clouds, and mud, but I have decided to embrace spring! As we approach Easter, I am reminded that Jesus died for our sins and we are blessed with many things. I encourage us to dance in the rain!

I stayed busy during the rainy weekend! I love learning and networking through professional development functions. I encourage everyone to attend events relating to their field! Participating in events with like minded individuals can be so inspiring! This past weekend I had the opportunity to assist with Surviving and Thriving in Challenging Times, a Grain Marketing Forum for Women. And attend the first Washington County Women in Agriculture Conference.

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Surviving and Thriving opened with a great keynote speaker. Julie Ward presented, “Grains in the Veins.” Crop farmers learned how marketing can improve their bottom line. I enjoyed taking pictures and helping to prepare for the conference ahead of time!

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Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Women in Ag was one sponsor of the first Annual Women in Agriculture Conference. I had a great time participating in the day’s events. I even ran into my Aunt Pam! We sat together and soaked in all the information we could from keynote speaker, Jolene Brown! We learned how to create farm business documents, transitional plans, and contracts.

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Jolene wrapped up the afternoon with “10 ideas to relieve stress and bring renewal to farm and family life.”

My Favorites:

1. Develop Mini Breaks: meditation and hobbies

2. Keep learning (perfect for this post)

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My time at Iowa State University has been unforgettable! “Don’t Judge Each Day by the Harvest you Reap, but By the Seeds you Plant!” I love being a women in agriculture! Here are my top 5 reasons why I have the best major ever!

  1. Professional Development: Possibilities to learn after school and throughout my life
  2. Relationships: The agriculture industry is large but at the same time small- I run into people I know all the time. It is incredibly rewarding to be involved in such a close-nit industry.
  3. Variety: Agriculture offers such unique career opportunities :).
  4. Produce: We can develop worthy work that creates a more food secure world!
  5. Fun: I have a passion for agriculture and the hands-on joy it brings me!

Be a Women in Ag! It is pretty AWESOME!!! 😉

 

 

 

Tropical Agriculture

Hello and welcome to Sarasota, Florida! Tyler and I’s first trip south was perfect! I predict many more visits in our future! I had fun meeting the Hibbs family and exploring the growing city. I loved learning all about where Tyler was born and the place he calls his second home :).

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Enjoying seafood after visiting Mote Marine

Our trip began a little rocky with 3 delays, 1 cancellation, 1 hour wait for a taxi, hotel visit, 4 more delays, frozen bathroom pipes, tornado in Sarasota, and flu season at the airport. But none of that stopped us and we made it to Florida Monday night!

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Tyler and I had so much fun hanging out with his grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends. We had a week packed full of adventure- starting with the beach. We explored the Siesta Keys twice, swam in the pool, walked through Mote Marine, discovered a flower farm, and watched the county fair dairy show.

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The weather was high 60’s and sunny! AHHH Florida Sun! 

Did you read what I just wrote??? We discovered a flower farm and saw a dairy show!! I just can’t seem to get away from agriculture! It is all around us folks!! Soak it in…. ;).

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Bucky and Joyce have family friends getting married next week and when he shared with them my love for flowers they invited us to the Native Florida Landscape. A little cove of wonder off the main road in Fruitville, Florida. Within the Native Landscape is a small business called William’s Wild flowers. Williams is creating the flower designs for the wedding next weekend.

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She creates designs using only wildflowers. The gardens are built with the intention that wildflowers will grow in their natural habitat. A few flowers are planted to ensure enough material is available to work with. The business was a unique one to capture. She is very creative and has an eye for beauty within the landscape.

The sun warming the back of my neck made for a beautiful morning outside. It made me very excited to begin my own flower garden.

 

The Hibbs took Tyler and I to the Sarasota County Fair. I noticed a few differences as I made comparisons to our own fair, but all in all the fair felt like home! The summer sun warms Florida to the core and to prevent animals from getting over heated, the fair is moved to spring time.

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Dairy show began at 7 pm 

Our last agriculture stop was more tropical than the rest. Aquaculture is a large industry in Florida and the seafood market is booming. We did not visit any fish farms but we did visit Mote Marine. An aquarium that is dear to the families heart. I learned a lot about the creatures under the sea. We even saw one large shark that no longer exists. I tried to act like it was behind me but Tyler wouldn’t play along haha.

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Spring break 2017 was great! Now begins the countdown for graduation! 1 month and 2 weeks!!!