These guys were so impressed with all the pockets they have. They were counting them to see who had the most.
Action shot with Son #1, Farmer and Chloe.
Not only is Greg a photographer he's "tractor driver" extraordinaire!
Meanwhile at the trailer these guys wait for the tractor to enhance the shot.
Greg is showing the oldest grand how to carry the bag of feed, where and how to step. You'd think a 16 year old would know how to do that.
Time for lunch - catered in by Panera Bread. We all ate extra because we felt we needed the calories to keep us warm. The temperature kept falling all day.
Another round of preparation. Once again this was hidden under the hat. Our make-up/hair stylist likes to do this kind of hair. She did a great job.
Another make-up session.
Two sons chatting. Comparing something on their phones. I always like to see my sons together.
Mountain man Son #3.
Getting set up for another action shot. The idea is they all walk together towards the camera while Greg gets just the right picture.
The tractor was added to enhance - nice touch I think. Then Greg was at it again, teaching how to walk. Control issues? They did this over and over and over again. At one point after the walkers reached Greg, he declared "Perfect!" Son #1 replied "but do it again." Greg answered "Yes."
Also, Tracie - who was the force behind all of this had them walk part way then she would holler "Laugh . . . Laugh . . . Laugh." Also each person was assigned a certain person to look at and etc. She really knows what she is doing.
Son #4 warming up our littlest wigglie - his second son.
Getting ready for another group.
Farmer - the "Thinker"
All set up and a few shots taken . . . but let's do this
switch a few around . . . but we aren't done yet.
Let's add the tractor and Chloe. See her peeking out by the tractor wheel? Son #2 the dog whisperer.
Treats for a job well done.
Chloe had a few solo shots - look out Lassie.
Farmer and Son #3. "I just love it when he uses his hands when he talks" said Greg. For us at home, we just make fun of him - especially when he does it while on the phone.
Meanwhile these three wigglies were inside the barn that the girls were in front of. Farmer was in charge of them - first mistake. A few minutes after I went back out the three wigglies came busting through the door behind the girls right into the photo shot. Good job Gramps.
A few more out by the wood pile. "Head on over to the wood pile" took on a whole new meaning.
Finally, something INSIDE the barn - at least partially. The wind was kicking up while the temps continued to fall.
Greg has magical powers - he told them to all look to the left and even Chloe did as told.
Well, Greg had a little help with that one.
A few more shots of Chloe alone.
Finally, last shot of the day. Son #2 and wife walking with Chloe.
I have not been that cold in a long time But, as a testament to the TSC clothing they were all toasty warm.
We feel blessed to have had the chance to do this again with such great people. It was worth the kids missing school - shhhhhhh don't tell where they were.
We had the privilege of being models for Tractor Supply Company again. We were in their store ads, flyers and on-line ads the fall and winter of 2013.
You can read about that experience here: http://www.afarmwife.com/2013/08/lights-camera-action.html.
The first time we (and I need to clarify - not me, I don't do photos. The rest of my family is the we.) wore Carhartts and winter clothing in August in 80+ degree weather.
Apparently TSC or we are extremists because this time the temps were freaking freezing! And damp and drizzly at times - before the snow hit.
I thought I'd give you another look behind the scenes. We had a wonderful time and hope they decide to come back to Michigan so we can hang out with them again.
The farm that was used has been turned into a riding stable/training facility. It was so cold outside we were grateful for the comforts of the barn. In 2013 everything was done outside - hair, make-up, wardrobe changing.
A tack room was the make-up room.
This wiggliette was pretty in pink. And the pink was pretty big on her.
This little dude had his new coat on and was checking out the horses sharing our dressing room.
The barn had a nice big area for the wigglies to kick up their feet and fill their shoes with sand.
Son # 4 - one of the first to have his make-up done. One of the guys favorite parts!
Farmer keeping the wigglies busy while waiting for their turn in front of the camera.
Pretty in pink getting her hair done. It was a shame it was hidden under a hat.
Littlest wigglie dressed for action.
Another wigglie ready to go.
Farmer and the photographer adjusting the flag for photos that would be taken later.
First family heading out.
This is Greg Latza. He is an amazing photographer, an upstanding guy and lots of fun to be around. You can check out his website and view his great photography and more at: http://www.greglatza.com
First round of pictures for the day. A lot of action pictures.
The three oldest dudes waiting to change.
Some more arrivals checking out their dressing room companions.
Son #2 brought Chloe and they did a few laps around the farm to get her energy level down.
Back at the wood pile . . . it was just the wigglies. You can see how large the coat is on Pretty in Pink.
Back at the flag.
Watching the action at the flag. Some were waiting their turn for wardrobe and make-up.
Greg - sitting around on the job.
Time for wardrobe.
Greg has been reduced to laying down on the job.
Son #2 giving Chloe direction.
Posing with the ponies.
Farmer, Son #1 and sons with the old Farmall - wonder who was older?
A few months ago I received a call from a teacher from our area school. He asked me if I wanted to be a part of a project with 6th graders. Several businesses would be interviewed and the students would create a display for a gallery walk that would be voted on by peers, faculty, parents and guests.
I eagerly accepted. Anytime I can share the truth about Ag I do.
Our first meeting was a month ago. I have never been to one of these so I had no idea what to expect.
I met with four students. Two boys and two girls. They came prepared with notebooks and questions. I had a few notes of my own that I wanted to share. It was interesting to interact with these kids. Two were talkative and took notes and the other two were quieter but also engaged.
We discussed everything they wanted to know and I left them information that was important to us as owners of the farm.
Over the next three weeks I received emails asking for more information or certain types of pictures.
A week ago we met again to do fact checking.
They brought an info sheet that they created. I had very few corrections. They listened well. We discussed a few ways to display the pictures I sent them. I also brought in bags of our mixed rations that they could display. They were all very excited and invested.
I asked the teacher if I could bring milk and cookies since milk was our product. She agreed.
During the week I received another email from them asking if I thought it would be OK for them to wear plaid shirts and jeans. I was impressed they thought about that detail.
I surprised them this morning and gave them each one of the T-shirts I designed and sell.
This morning I came with the cookies and milk and they had their board all set up - it looked great.
As people stopped I listened and was so pleased. They divided up certain areas that each would speak about. They highlighted every single thing I expressed that was important to us – family, hard work, love of our animals, great employees, safe food and highlighted our mission statement.
They poured the milk and kept the cookie plate filled.
I wandered around to the other exhibits and there were a lot there that did a great job as well.
Most of the time I sat back and observed my gang of kids. Over and over again I was so proud of them.
Tonight I was telling Farmer about it and said I was so proud of myself that I didn’t jump in and do all the work for them – they did it themselves.
I just received an email that our group tied for 1stplace out of the top 10 and will go on to be judged – not sure what the end result will be but will keep you posted.
I’m so proud of these kids and the great job they did.
I was reminded yesterday how easy it is to make a difference in your grandkids lives. One of the wigglies woke up and had a full day of Valentine fun waiting for him at school – party, games, candy and etc. Yet, his first question was “Is Grama getting me a Valentine’s gift this year?”
He remembered last year – a gift bag with some fun dollar store items.
See, it doesn’t take much to make a memory and leave behind warm feelings.
I am fortunate enough to have my grands live nearby and get to interact with them daily if I choose.
There are many who have complemented me on my Grama skills and I really don’t feel like I am any different than anyone else could be.
So, I thought I’d make a few suggestions for anyone who is looking for ideas.
In no particular order:
ÆSleep overs – makes messes but worth the effort.
ÆWhen they walk in the door, stop everything and welcome them with hugs – so easy yet so many of us are so busy in the kitchen or whatever we just holler hi and let it go. Take the time to stop, purposefully gather them in your arms and tell them how much you love them and are so happy they are here – even if you just saw them the day before.
ÆSit and listen. Ask questions and listen to their answers – too many of us ask questions and let their answers sail over our heads as we concentrate on something else.
ÆRead to them – go to the library together and pick out books.
ÆLay in the yard and watch clouds.
ÆLie on the driveway and watch the ants make ant hills.
ÆGo hunting with them.
ÆTarget practice with them.
ÆBake cookies together.
ÆWrite a story together.
ÆPaint and color together.
ÆSend a card in the mail – add a piece of gum, a dollar, stickers you got in the mail. Mine live across the road and I still mail cards. Who doesn’t like mail?
ÆAttend sporting events – even in cold, freezing, wet weather.
ÆAttend band and choral concerts.
ÆTake them out for lunch and leave your phone in the car.
ÆTake selfies with them.
ÆSing with them.
ÆPlay games – and do puzzles. If you are babysitting don’t set them in front of the TV – interact. We have a puzzle that has been put together 100s of times – well not quite but over and over again.
ÆTake walks – look for interesting things on your path. We walk to the back fields and find corn stalks that become swords and flowers that become magic wands.
ÆSwing together. A back porch swing is a Grama’s delight. So much happens while swinging on a hot sunny afternoon.
ÆTake them shopping. I take my two girls every year before school to purchase an outfit. I started this in kindergarten – I never had girls and it’s so much fun. This year they are in 6th grade.
ÆMake Lego towers and plow fields of corn dumped on your living room floor.
ÆMake houses out of empty boxes.
ÆMake forts with blankets and rearranged furniture.
ÆSend texts and funny GIFs.
ÆAsk them what they want to do and do it!
Æ Pick flowers.
ÆAsk them about their friends at school and have them tell you what they are like.
ÆThe most important and never ending thing is to pray. Pray for safety and good companions. Pray that they will hunger for God and have closer walk with him. Pray that God will reveal himself to them.
Whatever you do, do it with purpose wrapped in love. Gramas are meant to love, not discipline and correct (upon some occasions but I avoid it at all costs.)
The idea is that you develop such a close relationship with these kids that if they ever need someone to talk to, to confide in or to go to in a time of trouble and it’s too hard to talk to mom and dad they will have you. And as a Grama you direct them to God and back to their parents.
Farmer is 3rd generation and out of our four sons there is one that wants to continue. And as we creep closer to heaven this farm succession monster had to be faced.
Let me tell you – it ain’t for the faint of heart.
We started this whole process about three years ago. And, having a procrastinating husband didn’t help the matter but nevertheless it is a long drawn out deal.
Like I stated one of the four boys want to continue the farm. All four have worked on the farm for various lengths so while the bulk needs to go to the one continuing there are three others that we want to bless. Add to that the daughters-in-law, and grandkids.
So, we started our trusts – we each needed one. Then we had to transfer everything over to the trust (you are getting the watered down, not 100% technically correct story). That alone was so much fun. The time to get deeds, find titles and etc. Perhaps you have a better filing system than Farmer and it won’t be so difficult – piles are hard to sift through!
Anyway, there was that.
Then it came time to decide how to divide and when and . . .
We began the dance with the attorney and the accountants.
We would decide on an issue and the accountant would tell us how that wouldn’t work due to taxes, let’s do it this way. We then would go to the attorney and he would say “Sounds good but here is a legal issue, you may want to consider another way”. And back to the accountant we would go. Swing your partner and dosey doe.
And just to make the dance more fun we added a consultant to help with the process. And God bless that man – he earned extra jewels in his crown when he gets to heaven.
So finally, we have the trusts drawn up and signed. The how, what and when is decided. And we have the ability to adjust if things change – for instance we have a grandson that is leaning towards farming so we have the ability to adjust to benefit his place in the business.
I would encourage you to get this done if you are feeling like you need to. It isn’t fun or easy but necessary.
You too can join the ranks of Succession Survivalists. We made it with a few flesh wounds but they will heal completely.
I can now travel the roads and not worry about the mess left behind if I take off for heaven unexpectedly.
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