A Letter to My Farm Family: Thank You for Giving Me the Farm Life

163245_1770898914302_3973129_nYou know, we can read and write blog posts about growing up on a farm or living the farming dream. I want to take it a step farther. I want to honor those who have inspired us and given us the opportunity to grow up a farm kid and for some of us even pursue our own dreams of owning our own farm. So, I decided to write a letter dedicated to those who have instilled the farming/agriculture gene within us. Whether it is parents, grandparents or other family members, this letter is written especially for them.

Several people ask me why I have chosen agriculture as an area to study and pursue a career in. What is the number one reason why I selected this industry to base the rest of my life on? The answer is my family.

A Picture of the Fulp Family at the 2010 Ozark Empire Fair

A Picture of the Fulp Family at the 2010 Ozark Empire Fair

Dear (insert your farming influence person here) for me, it is my parents and grandparents:

Thank you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be born into a farming family. Thank you for allowing me to spend my childhood growing up on a farm. Thank you for teaching me about how important agriculture is.

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Growing up a farm kid has been such a blessing that I did not realize until later on in life. I learned about how hard work is important and about taking responsibility. I learned that there is nothing more peaceful than a country sunrise/sunset or more rewarding than watching a newborn animal be born. On the flip side, we learned that life is not always fair. Losing animals, witnessing accidents, experiencing years of pure bad luck… I learned early that I should never take anything for granted. I learned that I should never give up. Most importantly, I learned that there is so much more to farming than what meets the eye. Farming is an important part of every single person’s life.

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As I grew older, I may have seemed as if I was unhappy with our lifestyle. I may have groaned when you made me go outside in the freezing cold to check livestock or when I had to get up early in the morning to go feed. I would get upset if I could not go out with one of my friends because we had hay to bring in or work around the farm to be done. I know it appeared like I did not care; however little did I even know, I was actually just getting molded for my future.

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When the “real world” got closer, I realized that farming and agriculture is in my blood. I am just as passionate about it as you are/were. I realize that I want to make it my future because you have made it apparent to me that farming is important and agriculture was my future. It truly is the only way I know; therefore there is no doubt in my mind I want to be a part of the industry for the rest of my life. The moment I realized that was one of the most refreshing and relieving feelings I have ever felt.

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Yes, I do realize that this lifestyle is not easy. It is not a career that holds guarantees. It is not something by which I will be able to make so much money that I will live in a mansion or drive a fancy vehicle. Truth is, I know there will be times when I will wonder how I will survive or get by. There will be times when I will feel like I have run out of options. There will be droughts, floods, storms, blizzards and other natural disasters that will affect my career. There will be years when fuel/feed prices are high and my output prices will be low. There will be several obstacles that will stand in my way. With each day, there will be new challenges. You have shown me this. You have taught me how to handle it.

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You see, I have learned from you. I have been watching you. I have been taking mental notes. You have been my mentor and my role model. During times of hardships, I have noticed how you never gave up and how you always found a way to keep your head held high. The stress, the tears and the heartache… It is all inevitable in this lifestyle; however you have taught me that the passion I hold for the farming lifestyle burns strong enough to fight the fear of giving up. Your example of strength and courage through those hard times has been engrained in me. I am prepared because of you.  On the flip side, the joy you had made me realize that you loved what you did. You were happy, and I realized how I want to be happy too. How would I be happy? By following in your footsteps and following the farming dream.

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Let’s talk about those good times a little more.  I will never forget the look on your face after a good harvest or after you saved the life of an animal. You have taught me that along with the heartaches, there is great joy in farming. We had so many good times, so many laughs and so many precious memories made. From the moment when I drove the tractor for the first time by myself to the moment when you left all responsibilities on the farm to me when you left for a few days, there were so many moments that I will never forget. This is what the farm life is truly all about. This is what has inspired me to follow the same path you did. I want to experience those things too. I want to experience it all.

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During the good times and the bad, I know I must always remember why I chose this lifestyle. I chose it because 1) I want to keep my family’s tradition alive; 2) I want to do my part in keeping food on peoples’ tables all over the world; and 3) I could not imagine my life being any other way. You are the ones responsible for this mindset. You have taught me so much and I am so thankful for that. I could easily go on and on; however I want to end with the valuable lessons and responsibilities you have taught me.

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First of all, to be able to make a living in the agriculture/farming world, I must be passionate about what I do. Secondly, I must be resilient and willing to push forward, even when the future looks doubtful. Next, I will not be successful unless I am willing to work hard and remain dedicated, as well as committed. I must also make farming a priority. Lastly, I must always keep a strong faith and pray to God constantly for the productivity, safety and well-being of my operation. Faith in farming is so important!

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Thank you again for raising me on a farm and inspiring me to continue your tradition. Thank you for allowing me to realize that I want my own kids to someday experience what I did. Thank you for laying down a pathway for my future. Most of all, thank you for being a great role model that I will aspire to be like every single day.

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I love this life, and I could not imagine it any other way. I seriously cannot thank you enough.

Much love,

-The future of agriculture

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If you are thankful for growing up in a farm family, share this with those who have influenced you. Share this with your friends so they can realize just how valuable this lifestyle is to you. So many people do not realize how much more there is to farming and how much the farm life teaches us. We are hard-working, passionate and driven individuals who are responsible for feeding the world.

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Until next time, God Bless our Farmers and God Bless You All!

~Ali

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“So God Made a Farmer…”

481501_10200455320567593_712146636_nThis is a post dedicated to everyone out there who is a farmer. You do not get the credit you deserve. Before I begin this post, I want to say thank you!

I know I have not posted a blog in a very long time. Why the sudden urge to begin blogging again? As crazy as it sounds, a commercial inspired me to do so. For those of you who follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook, you probably already know what commercial I am referring to.

Last night, a large portion of my mom’s side of the family decided to get together to watch the Super Bowl. I personally am not a huge fan of football; however I am always wanting to see good commercials, as well as spend time with my family. We were watching the game, talking about what commercials we were looking forward to seeing (the Clydesdale one was at the top of most of our lists), talking, eating unhealthy snack foods and just having a good time. Then the house went silent…

A commercial began to play and the name Paul Harvey appeared on the screen. An agriculturelike scene began to unfold which quickly grabbed all of our attention. The talking stopped, the kids stopped playing and all eyes were glued to the screen. These were the words that were shared on the commercial:

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk… cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the township board.” So God made a farmer.

“I need somebody with arms strong enough to wrestle a calf and yet gentle enough to cradle his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait for lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies, then tell the ladies to be sure to come back real soon and mean it.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year,’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from an ash tree, shoe a horse, who can fix a harness with hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. Who, during planting time and harvest season will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, up in another 72 hours.” So God made a farmer.

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to help a newborn calf begin to suckle and tend the pink-comb pullets, who will stop his mower in an instant to avoid the nest of meadowlarks.”

It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed, brake, disk, plow, plant, strain the milk, replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with an eight mile drive to church. Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when his family says that they are proud of what Dad does. “So God made a farmer.”See More

As these words were spoken, scenes of different agricultural/farming sectors flashed on the screen. Fields being plowed, farmers of all generations, horses, farming equipment, just to name a few. Of course, a really, really nice Dodge truck appeared at the end of the commercial to support the commercials founder Dodge Ram. After the commercial was over, I took a second to look around the room. Everyone sitting there had some sort of farming background. All of us were involved in the dairy industry in some way; most of everyone there is current dairy farmers. They all had the same reaction I did – a feeling of pride, reassurance, thankfulness and awe that the American farmer finally got some recognition on national television during one of the biggest TV events of the year. It was a very emotional moment, and I want to give a HUGE thank you to Dodge for airing such a great commercial.

This commercial got me to thinking….a lot. First of all, it is possible for our (farmers/agriculturists) voices to be heard. We can spread the word to the general public about agriculture’s importance and impact on our lives. We can show how hard farmers work and what they have to endure to provide food for people. It is a possibility and it is up to us to continue pushing forward to spread the word about agriculture.

Even though the commercial has created a lot of positive feedback from many, there are still some out there who view it as something completely different. I was researching reviews this morning and found people who had commented or posted on social media sites what they believe is meant by “so God made a farmer…” There were several references to tobacco chewers, factory farmers, tobacco farmers, hillbillies, etc. (You can find these reviews after searching the commercial on Google. Several sites come up that show them.) If that is what people truly think farmers are, then we need to work harder to change that image. Present these questions to those people:

  • Where does your food come from?
  • What did you eat for breakfast this morning? Do you know where that came from?
  • Who provides food to your grocery store?
  • How are you able to go to the store any time of the week and always have a large variety of food to choose from at a reasonable price?
  • Tell me what you know about agriculture. Do you truly believe that?
  • How would we survive if it wasn’t for our farmers?
  • How long will you survive if there were no farmers?

Once again, it just proves how uneducated the public is about what agriculture is all about. Obviously, we cannot survive without a strong agriculture industry. Our farmers are this nation’s backbone and always will be no matter who is leading this country, the technologies we have, etc.

After this commercial, I asked myself this question. How many people watched the commercial last night and did not understand it? There were probably several. Needless to say, Dodge’s “So God Made a Farmer” commercial has inspired me to make a difference. It has inspired me to keep pushing to educate the general public about American agriculture.

I apologize for the wordiness of this post. It has been so long since I have shared my thoughts, and the commercial from last night just got me thinking. I also want to make a special shout out to Budweiser for airing, in my opinion, one of their best Clydesdale commercials. The Doritos’ goat was good too. What were your favorites?

In conclusion, I hope that “So God Made a Farmer” has inspired you to agvocate even more. I hope it has inspired you to learn more about agriculture and comprehend its importance. Most of all, I hope it has instilled an utmost respect for our American farmers. They do not get the credit they so deserve for their hard work and dedication to providing safe and quality food on all of our tables. They endure every hardship – intense weather, working 24/7, working straight through holidays, sickness, the list goes on and on. Farmers deserve so much more than what most Americans give them credit for. Without them, we would not survive. Without them, we would have nothing. That is why, “God made a farmer.”

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Until next time, be sure to thank a farmer. If you are a farmer, then I want to say a special THANK YOU!!!!

Let’s all strive to make 2013 the year of the farmer!!!!

Alison

Graduation: It’s Getting Closer!

It is completely hard to believe that in just two weeks, I, along with hundreds of other graduates, will be walking on the floor of JQH Arena at Missouri State University for graduation. It seems like just yesterday when I was graduating from Billings High School, wide-eyed and scared about what the future held. However as I prepare to graduate from college, I can actually say that I am ready. Yes, there are times when I am wide-eyed and scared, but now I have developed a strong feeling of confidence about what my future holds.

There is so much to get done before graduation. Papers, finals, graduation parties, you name it. All of this has to get done in approximately 17 days. 17 days! Yes, I am a little stressed, but surprisingly not as stressed as I would have thought. Call it “senioritis” or just to the point of having so much going on that I don’t care anymore, I just feel like I am fully ready for the next step. These past four years at Missouri State have been absolutely incredible, and I could not feel more blessed to have gone to school here. Yes there are things I am going to miss about being an undergraduate – the equestrian team, my friends, some of my teachers, etc. However, I know it is time to move on to the next chapter of my life. With this being said, I am so anxious about what the next two years at this university holds.

After graduation, I plan on going back to school at Missouri State to obtain my master’s degree. Once a MSU Bear, always a MSU Bear I guess!  I will be in graduate school for another two years, which I know will be so worth the time and effort. God has placed this opportunity before me, and I know He will see me through. The work is going to be strenuous, the classes are going to be tough and my schedule is going to be crazy; however after thinking about that, I realize that is pretty much what I am used to. Like the famous quote goes “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” This is my saying for the next two years.

I know this post is a little different from the rest. There was no calf pulling, twin talking, horse showing or anything like that. I just wanted to share what my plans are after graduating May 18th where an entire new chapter of My “AG” ventures begins.

Twins?

As many of you know (and for those who don’t), I am the middle child in my family. I have two sisters, one who is 24 and the other who is 17. You are probably wondering why the title of this post is “Twins?,” but that is what I am going to talk about in this post. You see, my sisters and I all resemble each other. Everybody who sees us together always tell my parents, “Well the apple did not fall too far from the tree.” That is true; however when it comes to my older sister and I, many think we are identical twins. We are both 6-feet tall, blonde-headed and tan. We sound just alike and from a distance, look just alike. Even though we are 2 1/2 years apart, we are constantly asked, “Are you twins?” I am often mistaken for my oldest sister; called by her name, or asked how I am enjoying the married life.

Since we look so much alike, there are several stories that could be told. We played high school basketball together for two years. Her number was 24 and my number was 42. We majorly confused our opponents as well as those who kept stats. My sister was a very good basketball player. She broke several records at our high school (scoring over 2,000 points and representing Billings in tournaments and teams all across the state). She went on to play 3 years at Drury University in Springfield on a full-ride scholarship. When it comes to my basketball playing abilities, well let’s just say I was average. 😛 I focused more on showing dairy cows and horses growing up, and basketball was not really my thing.

As you can see from our pictures, it is obvious that we resemble each other. A LOT. The only major difference in our physical appearance is that her eyes are blue and mine are green. Yes, we do look alike and sound alike, but I can assure you we are not twins. We are the complete opposite when it comes to interests and activities. She is in college studying physical education and is inspiring to become a coach. I am studying agriculture and am inspiring to become an influential person in the agriculture industry. She loves to spend more time indoors and likes to shop, while I am an outdoor type of girl through and through. She does not really like riding horses or being around cattle, whereas horses and cattle is where my heart is. She is more outspoken, while I am more reserved and independent. When people ask me about us, I always call her the city version, and tell them I am the country version. We share a lot of differences which is something a lot of people are surprised about. We look so much alike, yet live completely different lifestyles.

So this week, my “AG” ventures have led me to share with you the story that people often are interested in. Even though we are opposites in many things, we are still very close. We share a sister-to-sister relationship that a lot of people are jealous of. Don’t think I am forgetting about my little sister. The older she gets, the mroe she looks like us and the closer we get. Soon, I am going to be writing a post that is titled “Triplets?” I am very blessed to have 2 wonderful sisters. Yes, there are some days that we cannot be put in the same room, but we would not be normal if that was not the case.

So take a moment to think about your siblings and the special bonds you share. Siblings are a truly a gift. Plus in my life, they are a way to strike up conversations in all places when people ask the same question. “Are you girls twins?”

Family Tradition

 

Agriculture is in my blood. There is just no other way to say it. Both of my parents came from dairy farms. Both of my grandfathers were active in local and national dairy boards. They were both huge promoters and advocates for the dairy and entire agriculture industry. When my parents married, they too began their own dairy operation, while my father continued teaching agriculture at the high school level. I spent a majority of my childhood helping my parents on the dairy. I helped milk, fed baby calves and worked with our show animals. My parents wanted me involved in 4-H, so I began showing myself as soon as I was 8. We traveled all across the country to cattle shows of all levels. So when somebody asks me if I have a strong agriculture foundation, I easily can reply YES!

Even today, I still use this strong agriculture foundation. It is what I am studying and it is what I want to find a career in. The part-time jobs I hold all deal with agriculture whether they be taking care of horses at local stables, working at a veterinary clinic and even milking cows at my aunt’s dairy when I am needed.

Yes, I said my aunt’s dairy. Today, I still have two of my aunts that run their own dairy operations in southwest Missouri. My mother’s parents also still milk. They all run herds of about 100-150 registered Brown Swiss and Holstein. Each one of my cousins on my mother’s side have been or currently are involved in 4-H and FFA, and have a passion for showing Brown Swiss cattle. I have a cousin who teaches agriculture at Pierce City High School. This tradition my family contains is unique, and has not been given the chance to quit.

Agriculture roots run deep in my family. Not only do I want to be an advocate for the entire agriculture industry, I also want to work to protect the well-being of our farmers. I want to protect my family. It is my duty and my calling. We all know the economy is tough on farmers of all types, especially small dairy farm owners. With my family falling in that category, I want to do whatever I can to help them.

So when I am asked to tell a little bit of my background, this is what comes to mind. I do not want to see my family’s tradition end. I know the benefits of growing up on a dairy farm, and how it molds you as a person. I am just doing what I can to keep our family tradition going and strong.

Maybe you have a family tradition that you are wanting to keep going. Maybe you are wanting to start your own agriculture tradition for future generations to follow. Whatever your case may be, I encourage you to always work hard to keep it alive. Traditions in agriculture families are getting harder and harder to keep. It is up to us to save those so we can pass them on to our future, and to keep this industry strong.

A Picture of the Fulp Family at the 2010 Ozark Empire Fair

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