HarvestHER- A Weekend to Remember

I’m not a social person. I never have been. In a situation where I feel like I am at the mercy of others and not in control I get awkward, quiet- or even worse, way too chatty. I laugh a bit too loud and sometimes at the wrong time. The lead up to events where I know I’m going to have to “hold my own” so to speak- my anxiety goes through the roof.

So- when I (aka: my husband) signed up for this Lifted and Uplifted HarvestHER retreat in January, it was a little surprising. To begin with I was really excited. I had met Kylee at another harvester association’s convention and we just clicked. She invited me- at that convention- to join her at a retreat in March. I had made a friend, AND been invited to a weekend women’s retreat with her. GO ME!

But the closer the weekend drew for me to head to Nebraska, the more nervous I became. I almost backed out several times. I prayed for a good excuse not to go. I had myself all worked up. “these women all already know each other. these women have all been doing this for so long- they’re experienced and I’ve only been an active “harvest participant” for one season (and know next to nothing about most of it). There’s no way I will fit in. No. Way.” I’m feeling that anxiety creep up just typing this paragraph.

I guess by now, everyone has figured out- God didn’t let me off the hook. I packed my bags- met Kylee in Woodward and headed north. The longer the ride with her, the more at ease I felt. We picked Amanda up in Kansas and I found that I really enjoyed her company and conversation just flowed with the two of them so easily. (Not really normal for me.) Before I knew it we were pulling up the drive to this beautiful “Mansion on a Hill.” Queue the nerves again. My heart felt like it was in my throat. It took me a while to settle in- but each new person I met treated me with so much kindness. By the end of the evening, I knew this weekend was going to be okay.

I won’t go over the details of the entire weekend. That would be a lot. I will say, though, I learned so much. I learned about myself, I learned about the industry, and I learned about the women in the industry. I shared a ton of laughs and a few tears and built relationships with women who “get” it- women who have been where I am at one point, women eager to share a laugh, a smile, or an encouraging word. I’m glad God didn’t let me off the hook. I’m glad He guided me into and through the weekend. As I’ve been saying for the last few years- and even more so this last few months, Where God guides, He provides. How he provides.

Last, but not least, Thank you, Tracy, for planning and putting on an amazing weekend. YOU- you are a rock star. You have the most beautiful servant’s heart and I’m so happy to have met you. And thank you, Kylee, for taking the chance on me back in January and inviting me- for driving to and from the event, and, whether you know it or not, being my “home base” during the weekend. Thank you to each lady this weekend for accepting this newbie, for the laughs, the tears, the hugs, and the encouragement. I went in scared and feeling a bit alone- I came out of the weekend empowered and with a community. I look forward to seeing each of you and following your harvest journeys. Because- like it or not, I think I’m in this for the long haul, guys.  

 

(Featured photo credits to Laura Haffner)

HarvestHER1
“Mindful Morning”
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I’m Back. -With a Little Humor

I’ve been MIA from here for a while, so I thought I’d welcome myself back with a little humorous story.

(Did I mention I started raising sheep? Hah. Well, yea, I have.)

During lambing season everyone is sleep deprived, grumpy, cold probably, did I mention tired?

So it’s no surprise that Saturday night I was trudging to the barn for my 2:00 am baby check. As I approach the barn I hear a bit of a ruckus, my initial thought in my sleep deprived trudge is “ope, ole girl I’ve been watching is finally doing it.”

The closer I get, the more it sounds less like birth being given and more like the barn trying to implode on itself.

I open the door to a scene that is best described as a bar(n) room brawl. 11 heavily pregnant ewes beating the ever living crap out of each other. I rub my eyes trying to wake myself up, because surely, SURELY this is a dream.

But alas, I’m not dreaming.

The closest Scenario I can come up with is this- they were all laying around gossiping about whatever sheep nonsense they gossip about at 2:00 am when Stephanie the sheep casually mentions how dearly she misses Dorset Don and the grand few weeks they had together, which fires Patricia up, because SHE and Dorset Don also had a grand time that EXACT SAME few weeks. How dare these hussies be messing with HER man.

Now the old gals, they’ve been around the block a time or two and know the drill.

They all share the same few men once a year. So they watch on in amusement at Patricia and Stephanie beat the hell out of each other.

Well things start getting out of hand and one ewe hops up and in an attempt to get out of the way of the original brawl, steps on Francis, who pretty much already hates everyone and everything… and so would begin a chain of events. Now all but 2 ewes are fighting.

Peacekeeper Pam is in the middle yelling “WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? Please stop, love your neighbor! This really is silly!”

When all of a sudden that glutton Gertrude who’s passed out in the corner (presumably grain drunk) the entire time wakes up, sees the action and wants to join.

She comes barreling through the crowd right into peacekeeper Pam.

This light’s Pam’s fire and she’s out to shank every black headed, black footed, gnarly, heavily impregnated fluffball in the building. Literal fire comes from her nostrils as she takes aim for any soul who dare come near her.

The two in the lambing room can only hear the commotion, their pawing the fence and chanting “fight! Fight! Fight! While secretly thankful they’re in those tiny lambing crates one more night.

Enter me. Standing there in amazement. Praying to the Lord above this is not an omen for the rest of my day (by the way, it was, but that’s a story for another day) and trying to develop a plan to stop this madness I have walked in on. After I separate everyone into 4 pens, I trudge back to the house still halfway thinking my real alarm is going to go off and I’m going to come back out to a completely normal, quiet, sleeping barn of ewes.

It didn’t.

While I’m not sure what caused those girls to go into such a frenzy, I did walk into a barn full of 11 angry ewes… and that was just the beginning of my Saturday morning.

I’ve never been so happy for a Monday in all my life.

God’s Plans- Not My Own

God has a funny way of wrecking plans in the most beautiful way, doesn’t he? A year and a half ago, if you had told me I would be a mom of 2 boys today I’d have laughed in your face (and probably told you to F off, honestly) After MONTHS of crying and freaking out because this was not part of the plan I had specifically lined out in my head, here I am- a mama of a 2 year old and a 5 month old- and I have no idea how I ever lived without my second. He’s honestly the happiest baby I’ve ever seen- even his “grumpy days” are most babies’ good days. He’s the perfect image of joy.

Fast forward to today…

If you had told me 5 days ago that I would be packing up my house and getting ready to move I would have laughed at you.

No. Really.

We have been talking for a couple years about getting ready to build on the property we currently own. We had really starting moving forward with plans in the past couple months. We’ve spent so much time fixing up the property that we’re on currently. (It still needs TONS of work, but its a far cry from what it was when we started.) Thursday evening, those plans all changed- and I couldn’t be more excited!

Thursday evening a house on a property that we have admired for years came up for sale. It’s everything we want in a property. The house is cozy, cute, and sturdy. The shop is amazing, there is a barn with enough corrals to work our cattle in, a pond, garage, she-shed (Come on, don’t tell me that’s not worth being pumped about!) acreage, and only a couple miles outside of the town we spend probably 50% of our time in, in the school district we have always been set that we want our kids to go to eventually. Friday afternoon we went and looked at the place and by Friday evening we had put a bid in and by later that evening, we had already sold the home we are currently living in. I don’t say this often- and in fact, after stress and grief from my last few months, I found myself really flailing and struggling with where I stood with my beliefs, the recent HUGE growth in our custom ag business, this house? All of it? It’s a God thing- It has to be.

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been a bit stressed- a struggling a bit with letting go of all of the visions I had for our current property. Though we still own the land surrounding our house, I’m still feeling sentimental about leaving the property that we started our life out on- the property that we took from an abandoned, and overgrown place into a home. fortunately, the excitement is far outweighing the stress of the situation.

I can’t wait to share our new adventures!

“God’s plans for my future are far greater than my fears.” 

 

 

I’m Officially A #Boymom x 2…

11 days since Easton arrived.

11 days since I officially became a “‘mama of 2.”

11 nights of almost 0 sleep (though I can’t remember the last time I slept for an entire night anyways.)

Countless diapers, pull-ups, loads of laundry, an obscene amount of coffee and tears. So. Many. Tears.

Tears from the baby.

Tears from the two year old.

Tears from me.

I’d be lying if I said I have enjoyed the past 11 days. They’ve been hard. Really, really hard. Newborns are hard. Two year olds are hard. Being home alone with one of each is hard. Watching my husband walk out the door at 7 am and not seeing him come back in til 7-8 pm every night is hard. Letting him sleep in the guest room so (in theory) he can get more rest is hard. I’ve spent most of my showers (that I haven’t shared with my 2 year old) a puddle on the floor crying.

“I haven’t done enough today.”

“What is wrong with me.”

“I miss my husband.”

“I miss Gage.”

“Was I too hard on Gage today?”

“Did I spend quality time with Gage? With Easton?”

“Am I making the right choices for my kids?”

“Am I doing everything I can to make this house a home for my kids and my husband?”

“Am I serving my husband?”

“Are my kids healthy?”

“Oh gosh, they’re not getting sick are they?”

“Why did my big boy stop sleeping through the night? Will he ever sleep again?”

” Will I ever sleep again?”

“Will I ever look like anything other than a sleep deprived zombie again?”

“How many more episodes of Blaze and the Monster Machines can one watch before going insane?”

“Will I ever stop crying?”

But the love. The love is so much stronger. The love I feel when I look at my sleeping 2 year old or how much my heart almost bursts when he hugs my neck and kisses my face and says “love you mommer.” (His new term of endearment for me because I call him Gager.) the love I feel when I look at my newborn’s sweet face or feel him snuggle up into my neck and fall asleep. The complete and utter love I feel when I see the excitement my husband and my two year old have when they see each other after a long day. The way my husband loves on and hugs and plays with Gage. The way he lays Easton on his chest to rest or cooes and talks to him and rubs his little belly as he’s laying on the floor. The rare, but oh so sweet moments when Gage loves on his new brother.

It’s not easy. I’m learning even more to depend on the Lord for my strength and to get me through each day.

It’s messy. It’s exhausting. Sometimes it’s lonely. But our home is full of so much love. And some day I’m going to look back and miss the toys scattered around the house, and the endless amount of bottles and laundry to wash, and sharing my showers with a two year old, and the sweet baby snuggles I get after each night feeding…

Xo,

Amber

P.S.

This morning I saw this video and blog post on Facebook as I was laying in bed with a newborn on my chest and a toddler clinging to my waste as he had all night. I hadn’t even been remotely asleep since around midnight. And this video just hit me like. Ton of bricks.

https://www.facebook.com/HerViewFromHome/videos/1749770068377073/

Hit Them First- My Unpopular Opinion

Bullying is not okay.

No one should ever have to go through some of the hateful and hurtful things kids (and adults) say and do to each other.

Parents should not allow their children to bully other kids.

With all those, I agree but…

I’m gonna be the unpopular person- but here it goes… 

I disagree with parents who film their children after having been bullied and post it on social media. I don’t think you’re doing it to raise awareness- I feel like it’s a “let’s see how many shares and comments I can get on social media” stunt. There. I said it.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t see how holding your cell phone in your child’s face during his or her most vulnerable moments and asking them to “speak out” is really going to help anyone in the long run… and you can’t really think it’s going to stop the crap from continuing. Those bullies saw that post. You think they saw that and thought “Oh, I made him cry. I better stop!” More than likely- the answer is no. Kids are mean. People are mean. Sometimes, life in general is mean.

I’ll admit, I’m no parenting expert. In fact, most days I’m barely capable of handling my own affairs, let alone those of the tiny human I am also in charge of. But I just can’t see that if or when that day comes when my sweet boy comes home in tears with bruises on his back.. or his heart, because some boys in the locker room decided to pick on him or say mean things to him, that the first thing that comes to mind is “I’m gonna grab my camera and document this moment.” No. I, like to think that I will scoop him into a hug and let him talk about it… if he wants to… and then I’m going to give him the same advice my dad gave me.

“Don’t you dare go picking fights, but if it comes down to that; hit ’em firstest, hit ’em mostest, and hit ’em hardest.”  And then we are going to go to the school and inform the teachers and principal of the situation at hand and inform them that if nothing can be done about said bullies, my son has full permission to defend himself.

I’m not a violent person. I’m not a fighter. I never have been. But when I was in high school and was having some trouble with a group of girls constantly on a mission to ruin my life I remember that feeling of hopelessness. But I also remember the night it all came to a head and the first time I heard that little diddy from my dad.

My best friend was spending the night. My mom had taken my brother somewhere so my dad was charged with watching me. Around 10:30 the phone calls and texts from these girls started coming in. They wanted to fight. There were 5 of them and 2 of us. At first my friend and I were “preparing for battle” (putting boots on, and maybe some rings or something.. I mean whatever a 9th grader could think of to use as self protection.) Then I got a message on my phone (an unintentional recording on their part) talking about bringing rakes. *Nope. That’s it. I’m out. I don’t care how stupid I look, my dad is getting involved now.* By this time it was around midnight. The girls (driven by a college aged sister) showed up at my house but were met by my dad instead, who told them they needed to go on home.

I believe this was the first time my parents knew of any problems I was having at school. We filed a sheriff’s report (I had the texts and message recordings on my phone) and my parents talked to the school. But my parents are old fashioned in the sense that they believe the best way to solve a personal problem is to do it personally. During that time in my life I was meek and quiet for the most part, but my dad quoted the old book “Of Mice and Men” me time after time while the drama persisted. “Don’t start a fight, but if it’s coming to that, hit ’em firstest, hit ’em mostest, and hit ’em hardest.” (no my dad doesn’t have that terrible of grammar.) The teachers and principal were given a heads up of that permission I was given.

Nothing ever actually came of that couple months of girl drama. But the fact that my parents stood back on the sidelines but were there to listen to me- and also gave me the permission to stand up for myself has stuck with me since. As I’ve grown older I hold that little quote close to me. Not in the sense that I actually think I’m going to go hit someone because they made me mad- but I have that permission to stand up for myself. Verbally or physically. I don’t have to go through life scared of others- scared of the “mean” people. I don’t have to put up with crap I truly don’t deserve. I have permission and the capability to demand better.

Now, with that permission and realization comes responsibility. You can’t turn into the bully. Stay true to yourself. Stay true to what you believe in. Live an honest life. Know when to defend yourself and when to let the rain roll off your back and move on down the road. Not every action requires a reaction- but know the ones that do. Teach your kids the same.

Give your child permission to defend his or herself. Don’t just shove a phone in his face and record him in his vulnerability. Accept and harbor that vulnerable side, but encourage that strength- because like I said above. Life is mean.

Life is rough and if a man’s gonna make it he’s gotta be tough.

-Johnny Cash

Fall Harvest-A Time for Joy

It’s fall harvest time.

A time of year that I personally love.

Something about the crisp fall air and the hustle and bustle of farmers to get their crops out of the fields before winter hits… I just can’t help but feel happy. Maybe it’s just the season- the time of year that thankfulness is on everyone’s mind or the excitement of winding down one year and beginning a whole new year. Whatever it is, the past five years I have grown to adore fall harvest.

Yesterday, what should have been a great day of celebrating my son’s second birthday-was a rough day. Between news of the Las Vegas shooting, my grandfather in law having had his arm crushed working on some of our equipment and yet more sad news coming from my hometown. Days like yesterday- where nothing seems to be going right, all the news is bad, and so many people around are hurting it’s easy to lose the joy. It’s so easy to lose the focus of the good only see the bad.

Yesterday evening, however- standing in the hospital room with my family I was reminded once again to find the joy. At the news of Bob’s accident we had friends who had gone to the field after Nick and Bob headed to the hospital to make sure that everything was shut down and taken care of then came to the hospital to check on us. We had neighbors dropping by and making sure we didn’t need anything. We had people on the phone in an instant wanting to know what they could do to help us keep harvest going and get wheat planted. We were all inundated with calls, texts, snapchats, facebook messages, and drop ins- a show of support. Despite the sadness that was in the air all day and the chatter, not just amongst us, but all over the hospitals and on the T.V.s  I remembered that there is far more good. There is more love than there is hate. There is more care and concern than there is selfishness. There are more heroes than villains. Sometimes our vision just gets clouded.

This morning I woke up and kissed my husband goodbye as he left. I drove past him as he was back in the field planting wheat. If weather permits I will haul supper to the field this evening as harvest has resumed. We will stand around the vehicles and laugh and eat- we may even talk about yesterday’s events. We will wave at the other trucks hauling their grain to town. Harvest will go on. Life will go on. We will not let the blinders of bitterness creep over us- we will not let darkness steal our light… and we will not let hate steal our love.

Happy Harvest, ya’ll.

4-H, Where You Work Your Ass Off for “Nothing”

That title got your attention, didn’t it?  Now before you come at me with pitchforks and torches, hear me out.

If you have read  my bio you will know that I work in Extension and even if I didn’t, I would still have a deep passion for 4-H in my heart. I love all of the opportunities that present themselves through 4-H. I love spending time with kids teaching them life skills and sharing passions that have been and still are very, very much a part of my life. I love seeing youth grow into productive, responsible, hardworking, caring, and community minded adults.

The title of this blog post is an actually paraphrased from a quote from a 4-H mother made to me as we were walking out of our trophy auction and donor’s lunch where several companies and individuals had literally just spent thousands of dollars supporting our organization. “That’s what 4-H is all about, working your ass off and getting nothing in return, huh, Amber.” The anger came instantly. How dare someone make comments like that as we are walking out of especially that event. How dare someone say something like that to people who spend countless hours both paid and unpaid making sure programs are organized, newsletters set, putting on project meetings, buying supplies for those meetings-often out of pocket, spending countless unpaid hours away from family. How. Dare. You.  But as the evening went on I began to feel sadness for the individual who said that and her kids participating in our organization. Somewhere along the way for them 4-H became about the money being made rather than the experiences, lessons, and memories.

All I can say is that- If in 4-H you are “working your ass off” and getting nothing in return… you’re doing it wrong.

You will never “get rich” in 4-H

Sure that extra premium money you get from the livestock sale or the little extra ribbon money you get for a job well done is nice. Who wouldn’t agree. But that’s not the point of anything that you’re doing. The money you get for livestock is intended to help with cost associated with showing them, to help you to be able to continue your project- not give you a free ride. That’s part of the lessons you learn in 4-H. Life costs money.

You have options

4-H is a youth organization focused on providing participants with skills to last for a lifetime. Opportunities for classes in food and nutrition, woodworking, sewing, photography, entomology, rocketry, electricity, arts and crafts, livestock, and so, so much more which volunteers spend their time and money to put on for the youth is just the tip of the iceberg. Through each project offered a certain set of skills is obtained, you may choose to participate in everything offered or just a few that interest you.

Life skills are obtained

be it the actual skills you are learning in the different project, the tips, tricks and ideas you take home from leadership camps and events, or the subconscious things like being on time, speaking to adults, networking with others, respect, “practice makes perfect” etc. You learn things like dressing appropriately for certain occasions, volunteerism, speaking to people you don’t know, community development, interview skills, the impact of a good, strong handshake… I could go on and on.

Lifetime friends are made

Honestly, if you had told me when I was younger that I would have gone to college and knew a ton of people once I got there I would have told you that you were lying. My freshman year when I got to school I was honestly so surprised at how many people I knew because of 4-H and FFA events that I had been to. For a rather shy person who generally wouldn’t take initiative to go meet people, it was such a help to have people I was already at least a little familiar with. Even as we have all grown and gone on to our careers, families, and new places, we still keep up via social media. They are people with whom I share memories- not just in college, but youthful memories from 4-H and FFA with and people who I will always enjoy keeping up with and being friends with.

Memories

The memories made with family, schoolmates, and friends from across my county and state are memories that I will cherish for as long as I live. From late nights spent in the barn the night before the show washing, clipping, feeding, and honestly just horsing around. To show day shenanigans and sale night primping. From trips 5 miles out of town, across the state, or across the country for camps, conventions, retreats, or trainings. The laughs, the tears, the jokes, the heart to hearts and the obnoxious roadtrip karaoke sessions.  In the moment I never would have guessed how all of those little snapshots of time were forming me into the person that I am today. Be it with my family or with the various groups I would have traveled with- they helped me grow into the woman I am today.

I credit 4-H (and FFA) to my successes to date. I can walk into an interview with confidence, I can look a potential employer in the eye and give a firm handshake. I am comfortable with speaking to groups. I learned how to manage money, how to pay bills, how and when to jump in and help where it is needed, I learned how to volunteer and the importance of volunteerism. I am more community minded. I have networking resources. I can participate in an organized meeting.

Sure, 4-H is a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun too (If you’re taking full advantage of it)… and if “nothing” is what you are getting in return… you’re doing it all wrong.

 

love and peace,
Amber