Today is the insurance cutoff for planting corn. Realistically, most farmers won’t be done planting tonight at midnight. There will still be empty fields tomorrow morning. Lots of farmers will have to make some tough choices in the coming days.
And I know that sucks. And it’s hard. You don’t know how you’re going to pay the rent/mortgage/taxes. You don’t know how you’re going to pay for the seed/fertilizer that’s not being used. You don’t know how you’re going to come out ahead this year. And you realize the consequences if you don’t.
Nothing I say in a blog post will fix it. But please know that you’re not alone. A lot of family farms are in the same mess. It wasn’t something you did. It wasn’t some personal failing that caused this. It’s just life and sometimes it kicks you when you’re down.
So talk about it with other people. Reach out to your banker, your landlords, your mortgage company, and your suppliers. Talk to other farmers. Talk to your family. Talk to your pastor. Talk to me. Talk to your dog. Talk to anyone who will listen. Just don’t feel like you have to bear this alone.
And if you feel like you might do something to harm yourself, please reach out to someone. Don’t feel bad or ashamed or whatever else. If you don’t know who to talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
The first skirmish in the beer wars played out in a Wisconsin federal courthouse. And MillerCoors came out on top!
It’s been several months since Anheuser-Busch debuted its anti-corn syrup campaign at the Super Bowl. Readers will recall that Bud Light’s commercials mocked Miller Lite and Coors Lite for using corn in the fermentation process. The beer giants battled it out over social media. And then MillerCoors filed a lawsuit.
As part of the lawsuit, MillerCoors asked the judge for a preliminary injunction. This is a procedural mechanism parties can use to stop bad behavior while they litigate. And they’re only granted when the requesting party can show the judge that its claim has merit and is likely to succeed.
Judge William Conley was convinced and granted the preliminary injunction. So Anheuser-Busch must stop:
saying Bud Light contains “100% less corn syrup;”
referencing Bud Light and “no corn syrup” without reference to “brewed with, “made with,” or “uses;” and
describing “corn syrup” as an ingredient “in” the finished product.
And it’s worth noting that Judge Conley also denied Anheuser-Busch’s motion to dismiss. That’s basically the initial procedural hurdle that a party has to get past when filing a lawsuit. So MillerCoors is sitting pretty so far.
Now, I haven’t seen the full documents, but I understand that the preliminary injunction doesn’t grant MillerCoors everything it requested. So the entire marketing campaign didn’t get pulled.
But this is definitely a strong start! Anheuser-Busch is trying to spin the results by claiming victory for “transparency.” I have no idea how that’s even supposed to make sense. But when you’re having a bad day in court, I guess you can’t always show it.
In a statement, MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley enjoyed the moment and had this to say:
As the dominant market leader, Anheuser Busch should be seeking to grow the beer category, not destroy it through deceptive advertising. Their campaign is bad for the public, bad for the beer industry and against the law. We are happy to hold them accountable for it, and we look forward to the next steps in this case .
I like Gavin’s sentiments. Why would the industry leader tear down it’s competitors with a malicious falsehood? I know “big” beer companies are struggling to hold onto a shrinking market share. But I’m not sure a bad marketing campaign is ever a viable solution. Why not try to innovate or adapt instead? That seems to be a better and more business-savvy option.
[Note: This is a guest post from the people at Farm Life Slovenia. They run an old-fashioned Slovenian farm and offer tourists the opportunity to visit and see what it’s like. They asked to trade blog posts with me. And since I visited Ukraine in 2013 and really enjoyed seeing agriculture in a different country, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity!]
The smell of freshly baked bread is very warm and comforting and evokes lovely childhood memories. Why not recreate this homely feeling and try to make your own bread, using only your hands and the most basic ingredients.
The traditional way of making bread in Slovenia used no other implements than your hands, a wooden racket and an old wood-fire oven. Some of us remember how our grandmothers used to bake bread and how delicious it was, still warm from the oven.
The craft of making your own bread is becoming quite popular, so let’s take a look how it was done in the past.
Flour, water, salt and some love
A pair of hardworking hands and some basic ingredients, such as flour, salt and water, was all that was needed to make a loaf of bread. Decades ago Slovenian housewives used to make their own “wild yeast” from a fermented mixture of flour and water. Baking bread with sour dough took time, effort and patience, but natural fermentation meant the bread was delicious and easily digested.
When the dough had risen it was time to put it in the wood burning furnace. The housewives coated the loaf with some flour and egg and put in the hot furnace with a wooden racket. After an hour the bread was baked and the kitchen would smell amazing.
You can experience this old baking method in Slovenia, a boutique picturesque country in the heart of Europe, where old traditions and customs are still alive in the countryside. Here you can experience life as it once was, combined with modern practices.
Life on a farm
Discover life on a farm with farm life Slovenia, where you visit an authentic Slovenian farm and spend a day like a farmer. Learn about traditions and customs and experience a number of activities, such as making bread the traditional way. You’ll help farmers with their daily routine and spend an active day in the country while learning and trying new exciting things.
As I sit here writing this post there’s a steady rain falling outside. The windows are partially open. And I keep getting up to check whether the rain is getting inside. But I can’t bring myself to close them completely, because we’ve hardly been able to open them all spring.
When the sun does come out, it doesn’t last very long. The grass is barely dry before the distant sound of thunder starts. Sure, we’ve had a few sunny days. And I’ve managed to plant my garden between showers. But it just keeps raining.
If you follow any other farm bloggers from the Midwest, I’m sure you’ve seen the constant complaints about the weather. I know, farmers complain about the weather every year. But the rain this year has seriously messed up plant19.
And it’s more than just a lot of rainfall. It’s also the weather pattern. Honestly, I’m not even sure we’ve had a record amount of rain. But we never have enough sun and dry weather to dry out the fields. It’s three days of rain, one of sun. Or three days of sun and rain mixed. We can’t get in the fields with the equipment if it’s muddy. So we usually need a good day or two (or more in fields with heavier soil) without rain before we can try planting. Otherwise, the tractor and planter get stuck. (Yes, we’ve gotten stuck this spring.)
My brother’s field in late May. Don’t even try to drive through that…you won’t make it!
And we’re up against the clock. The drop-dead date for planting corn is June 5th. If we plant beyond that date, we won’t be eligible for crop insurance. Considering how the weather has been so far, I’m not sure whether that’s a great risk to take or not. Also, the later we plant, the later we have to harvest. We can get snow in October in Michigan. So maybe we don’t even get the crop harvested.
The forecast for the rest of the week calls for rain. Every. Single. Day.
Honestly, I don’t see how we get it done. And that’s going to be true for a lot of farmers this year. I’m worried about how it turns out. We still have to pay the mortgage or rent, taxes, insurance, equipment loans, input costs and all the rest. Those burdens on top of an already-bad economy…. that’s rough.
My friends, family, and co-workers know that I’m a pretty proud fur mom. We adopted Mischa in the fall of 2016. And she’s had me wrapped around her finger from almost the beginning.
Mischa and her siblings were living with a local Save-A-Stray volunteer. The animal shelter had another puppy with parvo, a deadly puppy illness, and so they had to go somewhere else. When we arrived at the volunteer’s home, there were seven puppies acting much like toddlers as they waddled around the backyard wrecking havoc.
I picked Mischa up and she tried to eat my hair. So we naturally figured she was the one. (I should’ve known…)
I know there’s still a stigma around adopting dogs. There’s unknowns, especially with mixed-breed puppies. And older dogs might have a rough past. But I’ve almost never regretted adopting Mischa.
I’d still love to have a pure-bred Golden Retriever one day. But I’m also a big fan of adopting. And here’s how Mischa convinced me.
1. Mischa is incredibly resilient. And she helps me be the same.
Mischa grew up as a farm dog. Not many neighbors. Never needing a leash. Long walks on the farm roads. It was all hers.
But then we moved to a subdivision. I wasn’t even sure moving her here was going to work. She now has a fenced-in yard. Lots of neighbors. A leashed walk around the neighborhood. In other words, we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
And yet she’s thrived. It turns out she loves people. She loves our four-legged neighbors. She feels safe in the fence. And walking is her favorite part of the day.
Mischa adapted so well to life in our subdivision. And she faces any new condition like a champ. She gives me confidence too. Big changes can be scary. But if she can handle it, so can I.
2. Mischa is a hoot.
Mischa is the goofiest dog ever. At 6-months old she was sitting in front of the sliding-glass door marveling at a lightening show. She thinks she needs to challenge the vacuum cleaner whenever it’s running. And she can’t understand where the snow balls go once I throw them.
I swear she spends more time with her legs in the air than she does right-side up. And birds are her sworn enemy. Also the bathtub.
Seriously, even when she’s being naughty it’s usually funny (even if only in hindsight). She managed to find and open her wrapped presents under the Christmas tree. She jumped in our window well to play with the frogs and toads trapped inside. And she’s so pathetic when her tie-out gets wrapped around the bushes out front and she has to bark for me to come save her.
3. Mischa keeps me active.
My new job is sometimes exhausting, though in a good way. I’m being challenged. I’m always learning. And I’m constantly busy. When I come home in the evening, I ready to check out for a nap.
But Mischa doesn’t let that happen. She keeps me moving. We have to take a walk. We have to chase the ball around. We have to be active. She gets me off the couch and away from the computer. So we’re always moving.
I mean, it’s exhausting. But I know it’s good for me. And there’s nothing better than coming home to her wagging tail and frenzied kisses.
4. Mischa is always super sweet.
Despite all the naughty, energy, and goofiness, Mischa is also really a sweetheart. She usually wants to cuddle every evening. She knows when I’m upset or down. And she’s affectionate.
So when she’s in my arms, being cradled like a (rather big) baby, it makes all the other stuff worth it.
My family stocked and ran a farm stand for 26 years. So I appreciate all the hard work and dedication that goes into making this type of operation work. And I also try to patronize local farm stands. They sell food that is in season, in peak freshness, and supports our local community.
This is how I want the conversation about agriculture to start. Agriculture isn’t a “problem” that we need to “fix.” We grow more food with fewer resources than ever before. It isn’t perfect, but we’re a leader in sustainability, not a failure.