Monday, December 21, 2015

It's Been A Long December...

I have that Counting Crows song in my head "it's been a long December and there's reason to believe, that maybe this year will be better than the last."  It's capturing my mood perfectly these days because I tell you what, it's been a long December around these parts.

When we first decided to do Christmas Lights, I had misgivings (see previous blog post), mostly about the amount of time it was going to take to get it up and I didn't want to miss out on family time around the holiday.  Had I known how much blood, sweat, and tears it was going to take I'd have definitely put my foot down and no amount of persuasion would have been able to talk me into it.  It was hard, really hard.  The weather wasn't awesome on the weekends in November, we were trying to keep overhead as low as possible in case this wasn't a hit, and we ended up doing an insane mad dash scramble just to get the props up...and then since we've opened we've had light problems, wiring problems, generator problems, radio problems (if I never see another radio it will be too soon), weather problems (remember that rogue windstorm last week?  It blew down half our props and now it's going to rain most of this week)'s just been one thing after another every week.  Then factor in the customers...maybe that's our fault.  We decided to do it too late and weren't able to get the word out.  Maybe people don't really understand what we're trying to do out here.  Maybe they don't want to walk (it's not far I swear!).  Maybe it's just too busy of a season for us to try to do anything.  Maybe we're just burned out from the fall and the craziness that entails.  Maybe our heart's just not in it (more about that in the ensuing paragraphs), I'm not sure.  We've had some steady nights and we know it's going to take time for us to build up a customer base, but it's not been busy.  So if you're looking a light display show without a wait, come see us (of course, it looks like tonight might be our last night open, since the forecast is for rain the rest of the week)!

Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
It's amazing how much Christmas lights will do in a cornfield.
Even the tractor got a little bling!
Another tough pill to swallow this year, we will not have a 2016 strawberry crop.  I know, I know, I hate it more than you know (even though I like to gripe about how much work they are).  It's like a part of our farm is missing.  I can't tell you how sad I am about it.  We tried to plant, we went and got all the materials, and then it rained, and rained, and rained, and so by the time it dried out enough to plant, we were almost a month behind planting (not to mention in the middle of the corn maze season and slam busy) and then The Husband got busy traveling around handling claims with his job (he works a lot in SC, where they had 30 inches of rain in a weekend) and when he wasn't busy, it rained again.  So we were a month and a half behind and every forecast I saw said it was going to be cold and wet.  We could push the plants if it was going to be a warmer winter, but if it's going to be cold, we found out last year, there's not any pushing you can do.  So instead of starting the season already behind and trying to run and play catch-up all winter and spring, we decided to lay out a year and plant again next fall.  We might be down, but don't count us out.  We will have a crop in 2017.

As if the business issues weren't enough, we've been through the ringer in our own family too.  I don't like to talk a lot about our personal lives here, because I feel like you're reading to learn about the farm not my life, but just this once, indulge me.  The first full week of December we were all sick with different things, viruses, colds, diverticulitis flare ups.  Then my 92 year old grandfather got sick and ended up in the hospital.  Three days later, last Sunday the 13th, he passed away.

I cannot quantify how much that man meant to me.  He was the rock of our family, the sun we all orbited around, and for me especially (I think maybe I didn't even realize how much until he was gone).  My parents were divorced and I have never been close to my father, something that has only grown worse since I've gotten older and had my own children (I like to live a drama-free life as much as humanly possible, and with my step-mother in the picture that's impossible).  I have a step-dad I love and who loves me, but he's not been the constant figure my granddaddy was.  Donald Herring was the person I measured all others by.  After my mama, he was the one who's opinion mattered the most, the one who loved me completely and unconditionally.  He was my role model and the best man I know or ever will know I think, though my Uncle Pat is a close second.  Now that he is gone, everything will change.  My grandmother has gone to live at Brookdale (what used to be The Pines) because she is unable to live alone (though so far she's doing well, a small blessing), when I have questions about things I can't ask my granddaddy anymore, my kids will never appreciate what an amazing person he was (I know I can tell them, but I've learned with trying to explain my sister to them that there are things they'll just never know.  The Boy will somewhat, but The Girl will not remember him much if at all).  Change is scary.  I know from losing my sister that our family will heal (as best you can) and it will not always be this way, but for right now we're hurting.
My grandparents taken the day before their 71st wedding anniversary last month
The Girl and her Grandpapa taken summer before last.
The Boy and Grandpapa, taken in 2010
So now that I've got you good and thoroughly depressed...

I can't end on a bad note.  Someone told me at the funeral my grandparents were strong people, both 'pull themselves up by their bootstraps' kind of people.  I agreed, and I hope that I've inherited some of that mentality.  I've had some pretty dark times in my life, and I have to say even though I'm sad and life will be harder for a time, this is not the darkest time I've ever experienced.  I have two beautiful healthy kids and a job I love and a family and community who is amazing, my cup runneth over.  Tomorrow is another day, 2016 is another year, the CSA sign ups are approaching and I'm excited to see what this spring will hold for our farm without strawberries.  We're exploring field trip and weekend event ideas, and it's going to be great.  So from my family to yours, please accept our heartfelt Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and lets celebrate being here to celebrate it!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like...Christmas?

It’s no secret that I (we) think Mike’s Farm is the I-Ching.  I’m not trying to really promote another farm, but they really have it all.  When you go there, it’s got a down home feel (plus, the restaurant doesn’t hurt.  If you have not eaten there, you NEED to eat there.  It’s fantastic and worth whatever wait time they have to go.  For years I went without having discovered the perfection that is their restaurant, until my friend Lindsey insisted we go and now I have her to thank for my obsession.  Thanks Linds!).  Anyway, so when we plan out our farm, that’s kind of the ultimate goal we have in mind (except for the restaurant.  I can appreciate it, but the idea of having to run it kind of freaks me out. I know we can hire people to do that and whatever but I’m not ready to entertain that yet).  This year, it seems The Husband has managed to somehow talk me into saying yes to Christmas Lights.
First, let me tell you why I am against it.  Number one, by the end of October I am kind of over the farm.  Don’t get me wrong I love my job and I love my customers, but I usually reach a point in October (generally after not having time to do anything but eat, sleep, and be at the farm) where I am burned out and need a break.  It’s been a long hot year starting in April and this year has been even more difficult since he’s not been around as much to help.  I need some time to recharge and get excited about doing this again, and that’s usually not until after Christmas when I start thinking about the upcoming CSA program.  Number two, Christmas is stressful enough (not for him mind you, because I don’t have one of those progressive men who help his wife in every-thing she does.  I have another phrase for it but since this is PG I won’t say it but let’s just say apparently those women possess something golden which I do not have, therefore I get stuck planning and buying and cooking and wrapping all on my own), without adding a Christmas Light circus to it.  Between shopping (and more importantly in my case, figuring out what to shop for since I am not an expert gift giver.  I’m an expert gift-card giver), and family events (my parents are divorced, and I’m not close to my bio-dad, therefore any family event on his side is complicated), and parties and church events…I’m tired just writing that.  My anxiety level just thinking about it goes to 10.  Finally, number three, the weather.  It’s typically raining in December.  The year I had The Girl it rained every weekend, I remember, because I told The Husband I was glad we weren’t doing Christmas Lights because we’d have been in trouble.  Plus you add the strongest El Nino event on record to that mix and it’s like a perfect storm (pun intended).  
Now I can tell you why I’m for it.  Number one, (and I know this sounds hokey) but to me, Christmas is magic.  There’s something about going to see lights on a crisp starry night, there’s something about seeing the colored lights twinkle in the darkness (when I was a little girl my mom always made the best fudge in the world [still does, it’s on the back of the marshmellow crème can and I can never get mine to be that good] and I’d get up before she did, get a piece, and lay under the Christmas tree staring at the lights), and there’s something about seeing your kids light up when they see all the wonder that Christmas brings.  Number two, our customers seem excited about it.  I was amazed by the response I got when I posed the question on Facebook.  Usually when I run ideas by the customers I get a few likes, a few responses.  I wasn’t prepared for 100+ and the wonderful ideas in the comments section.  Number three, The Husbands will can be a force of nature and if he wants it then by God he’s going to make it happen. 
Based on that, we feel like if we build it you will come, so I guess we’re going to build it.  The plan is to make a walking trail in the corn maze, widen out the paths and put some sort of lights or illumination to mark them, then place different scenes along the way.  At the end of the trail, the tractor’ll pick everyone up and bring them back here.  We might sell some trees, but I think the hot chocolate, s’mores, cookie thing will definitely be happening.  The only thing really holding us back now is time and weather.  All we have to do now is cross our fingers and pray the rain comes on the week days and we manage to get it all done before we open, which is probably going to determine when we open.  Though, I do have to say, writing this post has got me a little excited about it…(just don’t tell The Husband.  I’m using this as leverage to make up for the golden thing I do not have and making him shop with me J).

Freshly Untangled Lights
The girls had a little too much fun testing these lights
Trying to fix the broken strands, AND only 2 out of 4 got shocked!

Thursday, October 1, 2015


I don't think I would consider myself an overly superstitious person.  I've always thought black cats were pretty and Friday the 13th has never been a particular bad one.  When I was little I bought into them more because they were fun.  I didn't step on cracks, go under ladders, and I lifted my feet on bridges.  But I guess some things just get drilled into you because there are a few I still uphold even though logically I know they're crazy.  I never make snow cream with the first snow (I was told it was a cleansing snow and you'd get sick), I don't kill any crickets I find in the house (even though I HATE crickets.  They're see through, they look like roaches, and they do this half-crawl half-jump creep across the floor...I just can't!  I have the heebies just writing about it), and I try and knock on wood whenever I made a 'I never have' statement (though I know it doesn't work.  When I was pregnant with The Boy I said I'd never have a 10 pound baby and he came into the world at 10.6 so clearly fate or God or someone was trying to show me how insignificant my nevers are).  We're at the time of year where people lend themselves to the superstition and magic, and the way this season's going I can't help but wonder if I've jinxed myself.

When I was a kid, I lived through two major hurricanes, Hurricane Fran and Hurricane Floyd.  The last hurricane to bring a lot of damage to the area was Hurricane Floyd and I was in high school.  It was horrible.  We got so much rain my road washed out (I grew up the only house on a mile long dirt road) and for ages I had to get on the bus at Uncle Pat's.  My Uncle Lewis's pond overflowed across Herring Road and I saw my very first crawfish.  One of our giant pecan trees fell over because the ground was so wet.  We didn't have electricity for 2 weeks (only house on a dirt road, remember).  Now that I have kids I can't imagine what my mama went through.  However this has been 16 years ago.  So every time a storm starts brewing we say to each other 'you know, we're due for another hurricane'.  Well, I've been knocking on wood hoping I haven't jinxed myself.  

Every season there's always something, and it seems like this season it's the rain (after the dry August and most of September I can't believe I'm writing that.  My sunflowers are stunted and pumpkins stalled for lack of rain, course now they have no excuse but to grow).  I've never had to delay a season for rain, and we're going on two weekends now.  Everyone I know tells me 'don't worry about the weather, there's nothing you can do about it', and I swear if I hear it one more time... As a rational logical creature, I know I can't do anything about it, but that statement in itself is the problem.  When I see a problem I want to fix it and the feeling of helplessness I get when I look at a forecast socked with rain its almost as bad as it gets.  What's worse?  Trying to make a decision about being open.  If I close, and it turns out nice, then I've missed revenue and I have to tell people I'm not open when they call.  If I don't close and it's ugly and no one comes (because let's face it, who's coming to a pumpkin patch if it's cloudy/rainy/drizzly?  No one) then I'm paying my help to sit around and keep me company.  I HATE agonizing over a decision.  That's my Husband's job.  I want to make it and move on.  It doesn't help when I know I have people depending on it, like my help.  I stare at any weather report I can find and turn into a amateur meteorologist.  I spy on other farms to see what they're doing.  And finally, I face the inevitable and decide.  I'm calling on all my good luck omens and superstitions while at the same time feeling like I've jinxed myself, or at least that's how I felt last night when I saw Hurricane Joaquin aiming for us.  My heart sank.  Rain will dry, but corn as old as ours will not stand back up.  

Luckily, the forecast now has Joaquin staying well offshore, so really the NHC got us all worried for nothing.  I'll just cross my fingers, hope, and pray it stays that way, and no more talk about how we're due for a storm!
Right now The Farm seems more suited for these visitors rather than human ones!
Gotta keep that hay dry, why not use the high tunnel?
Pumpkins!  They are so beautiful, we can't wait for you to see them.

Monday, August 31, 2015


Okay, okay, for all you men who happen to be reading this no, it's not a hand holding sing-a-long-type post so you are safe to keep reading.

Last January, The Husband and I attended the NC Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Convention in Durham, and I went to a session about Women in Ag.  I'd hoped it would be a collaborative session where women in ag could come together and talk about shared experiences and how we can unite our voice to get the changes we want made into reality.  To an extent it was, but I guess I just didn't get what I wanted out of it.  Listening to the other women complain about their situations (which is pretty much all they did.  It was a regular *itch-fest) did get me thinking about mine and I thought this would be the perfect platform for me to talk about it.  I've tried to write it a dozen times and it's never seemed to come out right, but I saw a post on Twitter the other day (follow me!  @ofcinc) about women running farms and women working in agriculture and they called them FarmHers and it reminded me about this post.  Maybe I can get it right this time. 

I come from a farming family.  Both sets of grandparents farmed, for a time at least, and in both couples the women worked on the farm just like the men did (except really it was twice as hard because they had to come home and cook and wash and garden and take care of kids).  In my Husbands family too, his dad's parents owned the farm we call home now and his grandma worked probably harder than his granddaddy.  In those days, farms were smaller.  Most of the time your own family tended your own family's land.  Neighbors would help each other plant and harvest crops.  Women were just as big of a part of that as men.  That generation is not that far removed from ours, yet it seems like ancient history compared to the world we live in now.  The Husband remembers his grandma teaching him to loop tobacco (they'd hang it on poles in the 'pack house' to dry and cure, and they'd 'loop' it together with twine to keep it on the stick).  My grandma tells stories of helping my granddaddy.  It's just what you did.  You saw a job that needed doing and you did it.  Then the world changed.  New technologies made things better and more efficient.  The world became smaller and more urbanized.  People started getting off-farm jobs and moving to the city to be closer to them.  Farms got bigger due to mechanization and greater effienceny (in the 50's the average farmer could feed 25 or so people, now it's 155), also it took more land to support a family.  Now the family and even the neighbors family wasn't enough to plant and harvest and people were hired.  Women weren't needed on the farm (and they had more choices; they could buy clothes in stores, have children when they wanted, have outside jobs) so they moved back to 'just' taking care of the house and the kids or having that outside job and the modern interpretation of a 'farmers wife' was born'.

I was lucky enough to have grown up in a family where both genders were equal.  No one said to me I was worse or better than anyone else.  My mama always told me I could be anything I wanted to be and at the time I really can't remember what I thought when she said that (I CAN say though, it was NOT 'I want to be a farmer'!) but now I appreciate it, especially since I have a little girl of my own (and let me let you she's a spitfire just like her father hoped.  I'd love for someone to tell her she couldn't...based on what she tells me when I tell her that whoever does is going to be kicking a hornets nest).  I combine that with the role model of my Aunt Patricia, who ever since I can remember has worked on the farm alongside my Uncle Pat.  She drives trucks and tractors and takes care of the hogs just like he does.  I add in the other farming wives I know, those who have direct involvement somehow and those who don't.  Lastly I throw in what I've always seen my family do, if a job needs doing you do it.  That's how I was raised.  So when The Husband wanted to raise strawberries, I saw a job needing doing and it did it.  That's what I wanted to tell those women at the conference who wanted to get in there and help their husbands.  If you want to be a bigger part of the farm, if you want to get your hands dirty, get in there and do it.  It doesn't matter if you're a girl or not.  Do it.  When you count your own self out you're no better than the nay-sayers. 

Last fall, The Husband took a public job.  We stopped raising row crops and decided to focus solely on agri-tourism, and it would be pretty much solely my job to run that.  I can't say it's been an easy transition.  For the most part I was already doing the things I do now, I just had someone sort of around to help me get them done.  I don't anymore, not on a regular everyday basis.  The strawberry season wasn't bad. The CSA has been stressful, but rewarding because I've proven to myself I can do it.  We'll see what the fall season brings.  When I get discouraged, I just try to look at my FarmHer role models and take a lesson from them, or look at my kids.  I want there to be a Odom Farming Company around for them to take over (at some point I'll have to retire right?  Don't laugh, a girl can dream!).  I think what we're doing for agriculture is important, I think educating the public about real farming practices and real farms is important, I think the experiences we provide and the memories we help make are worth it, and it's a job that needs doing.  Looks like I'll be the one doing it.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Every summer when I was a kid until I was probably twelve (my mom deemed me capable then of staying at home with my younger sister and not killing her or burning the house down), I stayed with my grandma Doris and granddaddy Donald (my mom's parents).  We had all sorts of adventures, but there were certain things I could always count on: we would go stay at Mrs. Bea's beach house at some point, granddaddy would take me to the tobacco market to see how Uncle Pat's tobacco sold (the best smell ever!), my Aunt Alice and Uncle Allen and Cousin Adam would come home for about a week from Europe (and all the rest of my out of town family would come in and it would be a huge party, loved it), we'd probably get enlisted to pull mustard out of Uncle Pat's field (to this day if I see it I pull it), and when the blueberries were ripe we had to pick them (I am literally crying writing this because they are some of the best memories I have of being a kid, and for those of you who don't know I lost my sister eight years ago in a car accident, and those are what I have left of her.  Okay, time to dry it up.  Who knew blueberries were so emotional?  This is supposed to be a funny blog.)

Katie and I at Mrs Bea Lamb's Beach House
Me, my cousin Adam, and Katie in one of our favorite poses

Katie and I in my grandma's kitchen.
I don't have memories of picking strawberries, but I distinctly remember picking peas, butter beans, and blueberries.  Grandma had these old ice cream buckets (grandma wasted nothing, she'd buy those gallons of vanilla or Neapolitan or orange sherbet and vanilla swirl and make us kids ice cream cones all summer, and then save the buckets to use around the house) that we'd strap to ourselves with old belts (sadly no picture, this was before cell phones guys) and she'd send us out to forage over the five or six bushes she had in her yard.  We hated it.  This was before the time of iPods or iPhones and earbuds.  We could have used a Walkman, you know, with a cassette tape and those earphones with the big black sponge headphones, but we were kids and we were supposed to have imaginations and not rely on outside things to keep us entertained (saying you were bored was worse than saying a four letter word to my grandma, and it is to me even now.  With everything there is to do in the world you're bored?  Go outside.)  But everyone else (come on, you know I'm picky.  Do you really think I eat blueberries?) loved the rewards.  Blueberry pie was one of my sister's favorites.  As soon as I could get in the kitchen I made blueberry muffins (I always made six for me without blueberries.  They are still my ultimate favorites and I would die for one right now).  I made them as long as we had blueberries and even after because we'd freeze them.  Nothing freezes better than blueberries (just pick the trash out and freeze.  NO WASHING!)  

We put blueberries in the CSA boxes this week that we got from McFarms Blueberries in Seven Springs (talk about how someone does it, they have five kids, most of which are younger than five and two are newborn twins, I'm stressed for them just writing that!).  That's what got me started on this jaunt down memory lane.  I love it when we can put two fruits in a box, and especially two berries.  This year we have more members than ever and even though I swear I will have a nervous breakdown every Tuesday, I kinda love it at the same time.  It's a logistical nightmare but that's what I like doing, organizing people.  It will get a little less stressful too when the strawberries are over, which they are almost.  But that's another post for another time.  For now, lets savor the blueberries.  
They were delicious (or so I'm told!)
This weeks full share
Here's my grandma's blueberry muffin recipe:

Blueberry Muffins
1 egg
1/3 cup oil
¾ cup milk
1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
½ cup sugar
¾ t salt
2 ½ t baking powder
¼ t nutmeg
1 cup blueberries

Mix and bake at 4000 for 25 minutes.  If you have someone in your house that doesn’t care for blueberries (like me!), they are delicious without them too!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Spring Fever

Today, I planted onions.  Or I should say, The Husband and I planted onions while The Girl picked them back up off the ground and put them in a bucket (once she tried to eat one, this is the same girl who eats lemons, but she took it out of her mouth and said 'nasty' before I could get to her to get it out) and The Boy threw them haphazardly down in some kind of ninja move (which The Girl then tried to copy unsuccessfully).

The Help
I should preface this by saying I did not want to do this.  It was probably on my top ten list of things I didn't want to do today.  I guess in the end I should rejoice because I thought I was going to end up cutting up 100 lbs of potatoes (I have psoriasis on my knuckles, and when they get wet for extended periods of time they crack and bleed and get sore, not to mention it would make my fingers raw).  Compared to that, dropping onions isn't that big of a deal.  Still, it's been crazy around the farm lately.  We're knee deep in getting our 2nd We Dig It Ag Day together (we have three weeks and two days to pull everything together before almost 1600 kids+80 FFA students+sponsors+politicians and dignitaries come out to the farm for our event.  Yikes!), plus strawberry season is coming up (if a bit later than I'd like), and CSA signups are still going on (we've got more members than we've ever had at this time of signups, yay!!!)  So honestly after running errands all day, I was anxious to come home and have a minute to check my e-mail and work on some of that work, not go outside and plant onions.

However, we are on a huge push to get these early vegetables planted.  We are behind since the month of February was pretty much horrible weather (it looks like another late start to the strawberry season around here.  Boo!).  This week has been the first week we've been able to get in the field without miring to our shins in mud (trust me, I tried to pull weeds in the strawberry field and it was a disaster, but, I didn't face plant at all!  I am sure I will pay for that good fortune later).  So we've been working double time to get things planted.  Yesterday we disced (not sure on the spelling here and spell check is not up on farming terms) land to get ready to run rows.  I've been wanting to learn how for a while.  I can drive a tractor, but I wanted to go a step further.  I am NOT mechanical at all.  Pulling more than one lever at a time while trying to look forward to drive straight and backward to make sure that end was going well proved to be a little challenging for me (go ahead and laugh, but remember my teacher was The Husband and didn't even explain the levers to me until after argument #1 plus he had it hooked up backwards).  Once I learned the process (and what all the levers did) I managed to do pretty good even if I was a little slow.  Just today The Husband planted beets, collards, kale, radishes, carrots, cauliflower, garden peas, and rutabagas (CSA members take note, this will probably be the first couple weeks of boxes + strawberries).  So I felt a bit obligated to help out since we're on double time.

He got out and threw me to the wolves to get this picture.
It's pretty easy to drop onions.  You just take the onions and place them in the dirt a couple of inches apart.  The ones we planted were spring onions, and they resembled garlic cloves.  It was all good, except they stunk, well, like onions (I do not like onions), and some of them were mushy.  I tried not to think about that as I placed them in the dirt.  I plugged my earbuds in my phone and tried to zone out (well, as much as I could, remember said kids picking up onions and throwing them and all, so of course I had to stop and call them down and explain again that his row needed to look like daddy's and if he wanted to keep getting new clothes and toys and movies he needed to help out every couple of minutes).  In the end I dreaded something that probably took thirty minutes and that's one thing down.  Now to tackle those potatoes...

Sometimes you just have to go old school


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Winter Vacation

Okay, I say this every time but I am serious.  I even set a phone alarm.  MUST START BLOGGING MORE OFTEN!

The Farm in Dormancy, except The Kiddos & Lily
I have a couple of ideas for blogs but they were all serious, so instead I figured I'd just talk about what's going on on the farm right now.  I know it looks like a big fat nothing, but in reality it's pretty busy.  At least that's what I've felt like lately.  Here's a breakdown (I did a Myers-Briggs test a couple of weeks ago for a program I'll talk about later and it said I'm an INTJ, and the J part means I like lists, so here's further proof it was right):

1- Conferences.  Yep.  It's that time of year where every organization we're involved in has some get together somewhere where we all sit through sessions that deal with everything from financing to weather to social media to legislative issues.  Yep.  They're all about that boring too.  I think I yawned writing that.  Okay maybe I'm being too harsh.  I do like hearing about other farms and what they do (we all know from previous posts I like to spy ;)) and I do get some good ideas.  This whole blog came out of the first NC Strawberry Association conference we went too.  But in the end the sessions tend to run together and everything after lunch pretty much goes downhill (usually I don't take the kids because none of us would enjoy it; not me, certainly not them, and definitely not the folks who have to listen to them whine about not enjoying it, so I'm always thinking when can I go to the room and take a nap!).  Why do we go if they're so boring?  To meet and talk to other farmers.  How many other times of the year do I get to meet other people who are working in agriculture, who understand what that means, and who are just as passionate about it as I am?  I love bouncing ideas off them and giving them whatever advice I can.  We just got back from the American Farm Bureau FUSION Conference in Nashville TN (lots of firsts here, first time to TN for The Husband and I, first time flying for him [he now claims he wants a jet, smh], first time being away from The Girl for longer than 1 night [she did fine and when I got home so did I], first time in a hotel that measured their sq footage in acres [57 under the roof to be exact]).  It was awesome, except for the whole snow/ice storm that crippled Nashville (God and Luck were on our side and we managed to get one of the only flights out of there Tuesday morning, we had many friends not so lucky!).  We met people from all over the country and heard from great speakers (first time I ever went to a conference and wanted the motivational speaker to speak longer).  We came back excited, and that's the whole point right?

The Casey's, Us, & Mrs Overman at the AFBF FUSION Conference
Nashville Airport AKA The Skating Rink
Adding this just because I think it's beautiful - Glass sculpture in the hotel lobby
2- Planning.  I'll be completely honest, last year, that whole entire adrenaline fueled disaster, last year almost broke me in the best way.  We really saw the word of mouth thing start to pay off and we were really busy (which we are so, so, so grateful for), and it took us completely by surprise (I never want to get my hopes up too high and be disappointed, so I tend to be cynical, but this year I was blown out of the water).  I felt like we were running behind the entire year and by the time November rolled around I was exhausted and burned out.  It didn't help that I had a 1 1/2 - 2 year old trailing in my wake needing TONS more attention than The Boy did at that age (I was seriously not prepared for the differences between a girl and a boy).  I felt like I couldn't give either The Girl nor The Farm the attention they needed and I played catch up all year with all of it (lesson learned, this spring she's going to daycare!).  I needed a break from The Farm for a bit.  When you own your own business it can consume your life, and I think it's worse with farming /since it's not just a business it's a way of life.  Today with the ability to always be reached and always be available it's even harder.  So when we ended the Corn Maze I think we took a good two months to breathe before we started talking about 2015.  Now it's almost March (already!) and the CSA signups are in full swing (biggest turn out ever!  I refuse to be cynical this year.  I am ready for the challenge!  Keep them coming!) and we're planning strawberry season now and already thinking about what we're going to add new this fall (I'm pulling for real bathrooms!).

These things don't just create themselves you know
3- Meetings.  There are two things I've learned in this farm life I've chosen, and they really apply to everyone not just farmers.  One - no one will promote you if you don't promote yourself.  That's true for our farm as much as it is for agriculture.  No one is going to promote Odom Farming Co for me.  No one is going to try and combat all the negative press Ag gets but farmers.  Whenever someone asks me to do something, I find a way to do it.  Whether it means we take our propaganda to an event to get the word out about our farm or we get asked to be a part of a leadership program to help get ag issues considered in our community.  This winter I am taking part in the Karl Best Ag Leadership Program through the Wayne Community College Foundation and Cooperative Extension and it's been wonderful.  It's making an ag-vocate of me (he, he!) Two - You get out of things what you put into them.  If you join a group your heart isn't in, if you blow it off or show up with no enthusiasm you might as well stay home and not bother because it's not going to do anything for you.  Another program we're involved in, the Wayne County Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers, is busy coordinating the 2nd Annual We Dig It Ag Day.  The Husband and I chair this group, and since we have the most available time and since it's kind of our baby (and The Husband will literally talk to anyone about it, seriously don't stand around him too long or he'll give you the pitch!) we take on a lot of this.  I love it, because I love organizing events and coordinating people (who'd a thunk it'd take me 30 years to figure out what I want to be when I grow up!).  It's one thing I like about the CSA (it can also be the thing I hate most about the CSA!).  Ag Day is great because it's amazing to see what a group of people can get done when they are determined.  Last year everyone looked at us like we were crazy.  We had to pull teeth to get sponsorship and jump through tons of hoops with the school system.  This year it's been smooth sailing (my cynical insides are keeping their fingers crossed!).  We have an awesome group that is just getting bigger and better and makes what seems like a job to other people a pleasure to us and because we all care so much it's a group I'm proud to be a part of.

I think it needs a border
So thanks for bearing through my long blog absence and this windy post.  Maybe you didn't fall asleep half way through.  Hopefully I will start paying attention to that alarm.  Like I said I have ideas, I just have to get them out, and if there's ever something you'd like to hear me talk about (or read me write about) then pass that idea along!