Work Mom Farm Mom

wp-1489629960871.jpg

Its been awhile since I last posted. My life took some crazy twists and turns. I accepted a promotion with my company that has made me a Tolling Opperations Manager. Basically, I will be overseeing a new relationship with a company that took over my plants operations. Real life is messier than that. Its almost like overseeing a new branch startup.

However, I’m excited and optimistic about the changes. We have relocated to a sweet new town in the heart of wine country. We purchased a 12 acre turn key farm just outside of town. We inherited roughly 4 sheep, 5 lambs, and 10 or so chickens. We also have a couple additional sheep and lambs, and i’m not actually that sure which ones are ours and which ones we are holding for the neighbor until he finishes his pasture fence haha. We also inherited a great relationship with another neighbor who apparently will be growing hay and barely on some of our acreage and we will be collecting part of that in trade.

I’ve been able to set my work hours to go great for family, I still have to work a bit extra above and beyond the standard 40, but for the most part, I’m holding my own. I’m able to start my hours at 7, and leave at 3 to grab the littlest one from daycare, getting home in perfect time to catch the oldest getting off the bus. I then pull a few more hours after the kids go to bed, but i can’t complain. My commute has dropped from about 40 minutes to 10. The extra time in my day is amazing!

wp-1489629930463.jpg

The farm has made life more interesting though. I followed my youngest around outside one day and ended up having to take a business call. luckily it was my closest working colleague, because as i’m standing there on the phone try to chase the youngest from going into the sheep pen, the rooster lets out the biggest call I’ve heard. Said colleague was entertained, so I had that going for me, but I’m pretty sure I was blushing. haha.

I think anyone who has tried to talk to a mom on the phone understands the entertainment that is life of mom. Talking to my sister on the phone the other day in a 30 second span I yelled at the dog to stop peeing on the hay, & yelled at the youngest to get out of the chicken coup.

But so far, life on our little farm has been heaven. wp-1489629946963.jpgwp-1489630028235.jpg

Advertisements
Saving Seeds

Saving Seeds

DSC_1003

As a person that works for a seed company I often hear confusion and complaints around the idea of “saving seeds”. When I first started working in Ag, I too was confused on the concept. I mean really, what do you do with the leftovers?

Let me use wheat for example, and clarify that I am not in any way speaking on behalf of any companies, and all companies have contracts on the topic (allowing or not allowing).

All sates have an agriculture department that monitors regulated seed. Regulated just means that somewhere along the way someone managed to perfect (usually by breeding, but GMO would fall into this as well) a seed and give it a name, file some paperwork on it to claim the specific breeding of seed. In Washington the department that monitors this for wheat is called Washington State Crop Improvement Association. Their job is to monitor and make sure seed doesn’t get we’ll say impersonated or counterfeit, that customers can trust that it is what they are told it is. They do this with a certification process.

Now to clarify more, no one is required to buy certified seed. The benefit is that it has documented results, where as with non-certified seed there is no real way to know what you have. Think buying a papered dog, papers mean its not a mutt.

However, if you choose to buy certified seed, you will often be required to enter into a contract agreeing that should you not use all of the seed you will either return the seed or dispose of it. This clause prevents “mutts”, it’s the spay or neutering of ag.

Scenario 1: farmer Joe goes out and buys seed to grow 100 acres of wheat, he is farming dry land and his field is in a good area, no real risk of disease or other issues. After planting he realizes he has seed leftover. If he purchased non-certified seed, he’s free to store it and use it again next year. Doing so he risks quality and contamination. Depending on his end goal, this may not be of concern, which is also why he may prefer non-certified seed. This is the scenario most people think about.

Scenario 2: Frank has a field in an area that tends to have issue with disease, he is limited on land, and his customer is looking for high protein levels. After researching he finds that company x has a product that seems to fit his needs. He talked to neighbor farmers and decides that he is going to purchase wheat seed 2468. The company goes over the contract with him explains the certified guarantee and the no seed saved clause. Frank gets the benefit of perfected plant breeding and if his crop has a bunch of off types or problems, the company will work with him and have some kind of resolution where he would get compensated. The company gets the benefit of the no seed saved clause so they don’t have to worry that Frank will harvest his field and then start selling the seed to neighbors – basically considered pirated seed.

When you think of it as seed its harder to see what the big deal is and why they can’t save seed, I mean they purchased it after all. But if you look at it as if it were a different product it would make perfect sense.

Look at software for example. Generally, people don’t question why when you buy Microsoft office you can’t buy one license and then download it on your computer, all the computers at the middle school, and all the computers at the high school too. Most people think, no, you need a license per computer or an agreement for multi-user.

Look at DVDs, its not considered okay to buy the movie and then distribute copies of the movie to all your neighbors. Yes, you bought it, and you bought the blank DVDs, but the base material was not yours to duplicate.

Basically the work behind the scenes is considered intellectual property. The seed itself is not the prized possession, its the breeding that went into it.

DSC_1004

Working Mom

Working Mom

The other morning my son asked “why don’t you make stuff like my aunties”?

Dishing up my breakfast I responded confused “what do you mean?”

“Well Aunt A makes syrup, and Aunt R makes apple sauce, and ….”

And key knife twisting. In the most positive voice and a smile I could muster I explained that I did make apple sauce, and I don’t like homemade syrup, plus I use it too fast.  We discussed the benefits of stay at home mom’s and working moms, and how we need to do what works best for our family. We also talked about how we try to make sure he is still able to get as much quality time with each parent as possible.

I am part of a circle that many families are quite blessed in their ability to have the flexibility of a parent home or available most hours for the kids. My son can’t see that most of those moms work in one form or another, and only a couple are not working from home, but we talked about that too.

This really got me thinking though. Sometimes I think as moms and humans in general we really struggle with comparing ourselves to others. Social media has really amplified that too: Amazing moms posting amazing cakes and crafts on Pinterest. Fun family vacations, and perfect Christmas pictures on Facebook. We rarely stop and realize we are comparing our real life to the highlight reel of others.  When we see the perfect family with the perfect portrait pose, rarely do we think or realize that the photographer was bribing the kids with candy, or that husband and wife may have been arguing 20 minutes before over finances. Looking at the perfect birthday decoration ideas on Pinterest how often do we think about how perhaps it’s that perfect because the blog writer is paying bills by making others see perfection?

I find that from time to time I get so caught up trying to make up for working that I waste time on the details that probably won’t be remembered in 10 years.

Perfect example, I tried to earn mom points with cool shaped sandwiches in my son’s lunch. What a waste of time. By the way, you have to cut the bread before you make the sandwich – would have been smart to read the directions.

For my son’s 6th birthday he had a perfect Army Transformer’s cake, with a party at an arcade, everything looked planned and perfect. What wasn’t seen was that I forgot all about how close it was, and suddenly it was the day before and I had no cake, no decorations, no birthday gift. I had a reservation and invitations out. That was it. Late the afternoon before I was calling around like a mad woman trying to find a cake. I got lucky and Walmart had one the right size, and even sort of fit what he wanted. Birthday came, and my son thought I was AWESOME. But I knew I was a wreck.

It’s life. Life is a rollercoaster.

My life is not always perfect, and somedays I feel like I’m a wreck just barely getting by. In the end though I know my kids will look back and think “mama did her best, and loved me unconditionally”.

highlight-reel

Spring Top 5:

Spring Top 5:

farm-land-love-rain

.1.           Fresh green growth – Living in a desert I love the new spring green fresh look and smell. Trees are getting their leaves back, grass is growing, and plants everywhere are starting to wake up. Gone is the death valley of fall and winter, and back is the fresh feeling of a new start and a new year.  By the end of January most snow has gone, and left in its wake is a gray drizzly landscape that screams seasonal blues. April brings the rain and wind, but with that the color comes back too.

.2.           Jeans and sweatshirts – When winter is here I look like the little boy on A Christmas Story. I’m bundled to the max and cold all the time. Spring comes and I get to be outside in jeans and sweatshirts or sweaters, and sometimes I can skip the sweater. I would live in summer wear if I could handle the weather, so when I have to bundle up….blah. Hubby dreams of Alaska while I dream of Texas. Washington is a compromise with its 4 seasons, negative winter temps, and summer days that reach 100+. Spring and summer are my months.

DSC_0037

.3.           Spring Sports – This year my son will be in his first year of rookies baseball. As much as kid sports test my patients, I love them. I love sitting on the side lines, chatting with other moms, and soaking up the sun. The kiddos get to burn off some energy, and I get to soak up some sun.

farm-land-love-baseball (this little cutie is 7 now, this is a pic from his first season, my baby was 4)

.4.           BBQ – It’s the season of cooking outdoors. I love the smell, and the natural draw to hosting friends and family. We live in cattle country, and with that comes flies. I absolutely hate files so that’s inconvenient, but during the spring I can open the doors and windows and we’re usually bug free.  After having the house sealed up all winter, the air flow is a great change of pace.

.5.           Sweet Tea and porch sitting – This is really my number one, but its hit and miss in the spring and is more my summer past time. In my opinion there is no greater peace then relaxing in a chair with a glass of tea watching the kids play. If you’ve never made your own sweet tea, let me hook you up:

Sweet Tea:

Bring 2 quarts water to a boil, and 1 cup of sugar, and enough tea bags to brew 1 gallon of tea. I usually use about 8 regular tea packets. Mix for about 1 minute while boiling (be sure to keep the tea bags upright, sometimes the grinds seem to fall out). Remove from heat and let brew about 5 minutes. I wrap the tea bag strings around a large wood spoon and lay it across the pot. Next pour the tea into your container(s) and add enough cold water to make 1 gallon. I usually use 2 large mason jars (I think they hold about 1 liter), I split the tea evenly between the two jars and finish filling with cold water. Makes the perfect Tea.

DSC_0118Sun tea:

Fill a large Jar (grandma used to use a giant pickle jar) with water; add appropriate number of tea bags for the amount of water. Holding the strings of the tea bags outside the jar put the lid on and set it in the sun. Once it looks the darkness you like, it’s ready!

 

Falling back in love with photography

Falling back in love with photography

Recently I upgraded my camera. I’m in love with it. However, I really hadn’t used my old camera all that much over the past couple years. I just wasn’t feeling it. I think it was a cross between being busy, feeling uninspired, and the big one, it wasn’t special. Anymore a SLR camera isn’t difficult to use. Back in the day, they were film cameras, and the digital SLRs out there were very expensive, and didn’t have the quality in the finished picture that film did. But now, you can pick them up for next to nothing. Mom’s everywhere have one. You can snap a shot and see right then what it looks like. The auto settings and preset settings are amazing, and can do a lot for those that don’t really understand the technical aspects of photography. If you still need a bit more there are hundreds of photo editor programs, and even Photoshop has armature friendly software (elements – love this, I hate computer editing photos).

Now I’m not bashing anyone for picking up a camera and trying their hand. It’s a great way to express yourself and even save a few bucks when creating printed memories.

Getting my inspiration back has been slow coming. And in doing so, I’ve learned a couple things:

Photograph what inspires you. Don’t just photography anything and everything. Just because someone asks you to, doesn’t mean you should. You will likely find that photographing things that don’t interest you, or you don’t enjoy will result in less than awesome end products. For example, I don’t enjoy maternity photography. I like to do my own, but not someone else’s. I’m not comfortable dictating what pregnant women should wear, or telling them if what they chose won’t be as flattering as they’d like. Often women want to wait till they are their largest, and while I always tell them that they should do pictures around 7 months so they still have clothes that fit, and are not completely uncomfortable, it doesn’t seem to always register. As a result, I’ve never liked any of the maternity portraits I’ve done. They’ve turned out okay, and the mothers have seemed to like them, but they weren’t my best shots, and took too much time editing.

Find your style and stick with it. I personally love street photography style black and white. Sometimes rustic, sometimes industrial, but generally always black and white. I want my pictures to tell a story. You won’t find a single picture of brides jumping in my entire portfolio. It’s not my thing, so if I tried it, it wouldn’t look good. I don’t understand the idea, and wouldn’t be able to tell someone what I was looking for. Yet you can find a picture of a bride jumping on a trampoline.

 

mega pixel mumbo jumbo

What does all this mega pixel mumbo jumbo mean to me?

Basically mega pixels are tiny cubes of color that make up a picture. The more cubes your camera can use in a space, the clearer your picture will be. So the easy answer is that higher MP = better picture. However, depending on how big you want to print, after a certain size, it really doesn’t matter.  In the chart below, ranking from best to lowest quality, it would be purple followed by dark blue, light blue, green, and then orange.

As you can see 10 mp is perfectly capable of being printed at 16”x24” and look great.

mp chart

You can read more detail on the chart in this blog post.