Yes, I said by not talking about it. It doesn’t mean you aren’t passionate about it. It doesn’t mean agriculture isn’t your life. So how does NOT talking about agriculture build a community? It brings in people OUTSIDE of agriculture IN. It gives people a common link to you, a reason for them to visit your blog or social media channel. I know it seems like everyone SHOULD want to actively learn about agriculture and where our food comes from. But the honest truth is that many people in life go through the motions when it comes to our food. They honestly don’t care about how our food is made, they care just that it is available. It’s a sad reality to how far we’ve come as a society that used to live off the land. But that’s a subject for another time. So how do we speak to those people? How do we captivate their attention? Start with a variety of diverse topics and then add in agriculture.
What I am trying to get at is, if you are interested in sharing about agriculture on a blog or even social media, don’t write yourself into a corner. When I started my blog, I didn’t have a “plan”. Gasp, I know! All I knew was that I was ON FIRE for agriculture and ready to tackle each and every issue I could find. Sure I wrote quite a bit about agriculture but during the course of that time, I also shared about other interests in my life. I am so fortunate that I never boxed myself into being “just an Ag blogger”. Because after a while, that fire burns out. That fire you had burning so hot to share on each and every Ag issue dies down. What saves that fire? Diversity. The result is twofold. First, diversity allows for you to take a stand and fuel your fire on the subjects that matter most to you. Second, diversity links you to people outside of Agriculture.
It seems rather silly to think about. But so many farmers and people actively involved in agriculture feel like they have to only write about agriculture when they start a blog or share on social media. But once you branch out, you will find a whole new world outside of agriculture. You will find people who are interested in the same things you are. You will build friendships and relationships with people over all sorts of topics outside agriculture. They will read what you have to say on those topics… And guess what, whenever you write about agriculture, they will read those posts too. Even if they never before had an interest in it.
So what should you share about?
Recipes. Everyone loves food. Everyone loves to eat. And everyone loves to find new things to make. Sharing your favorite family dinner from time to time may attract some attention. The best thing about sharing about food is that it is directly related to agriculture. Recipes are like a win-win for Ag bloggers because you can explain WHERE the food item comes from, but also a cool way to cook it.
Hobbies. What do you like to do in your free time? Maybe you’ve been trying to hide the fact that you are a comic book reader? You’d be surprised how many people out there may also read comic books! When I first started sharing on my blog about fitness, I thought nobody would read it. Low and behold, I’ve formed some great online friends through sharing about my fitness journey.
Family. Are you a parent? Who can’t relate to the love you feel for your kids? Are you a husband? Maybe share about what it’s like being married to your wife. Every one of us out there have parents and family, we can all relate to the happy times, the sad times, and the proud times we experience with our own families.
Personal Struggle. Maybe your mom is dealing with cancer. Or your dad dealt with addiction in life. Don’t be afraid to use those personal struggles in your life to connect with other people. Step up to the plate and share those hard to share stories. You will be surprised at how many people may be able to relate to your story.
There is a whole list of topics you could share about. These are just a few. But I invite you, if you are actively sharing on social media or writing a blog, take a risk, try it out, and see how it goes. The worst thing that can happen is that nobody reads it. Then it’s back to regularly scheduled programming. Don’t be afraid to step outside the mold. Build your community in agriculture... by not talking about it.
I am hesitant to call it because it's North Dakota and honestly, it could snow at anytime! But lately we've been enjoying some nice spring-like weather. It's been welcomed especially since last week around this time we were just getting over another blizzard. Springtime is one of my favorite times of the year. There's something about spring that makes everything feel renewed. Here's what has been going on during spring time on the prairie....
The snow melts, the lakes thaw, water is flowing everywhere, the grass and plants we haven't seen for several months are finally revealed... It's the mark of a new season on the farm, the beginning of another year. The planting, growing, and harvest of last year is behind us. As the weather gets warmer each day, we itch to get in the fields. To start a new year, full of possibilties.
Equipment Comes Out
We pull equipment out that has been stored for the winter. We take equipment apart, work on it, replace parts that need to be replaced... We knock the dust off, shine it up, and leave no trace of the year before. We ensure everything is ready, ready for the new year.
We Check Fields
We drive around, look at fields, assess conditions. Is all the snow gone? Is it too wet? What's the soil temperature? Can we plant yet? We worry, we check the weather, and we pray... Is it too soon? Is it too late?
Mud. Enough Said.
As the weather gets warmer, the sun comes out, the snow melts... And it brings mud. We curse the mud but yet welcome it with open arms because it means no more snow. We work through out, we work around it, and we get done what needs to get done much like the rest of the year... Spring has a tendency to leave things a little dirty around here.
Spring has sprung here on the North Dakota prairie, but it's not time for planting yet... Until then... we will be dreaming of images like this...
We dream of planting
What does spring look like in your neck of the woods? What have you been up to?
Well you may or may not have noticed that I've been rather MIA from here! My husband and I took the trip of a lifetime and traveled across the world to get there... We literally just got back from spending 17 days in Southeast Asia. During the course of our trip, we visited Singapore, Cambodia, and Thailand. It was such an awesome trip.. I am still letting it all sink in. It was such an eye opening, humbling, and educating trip to see how that part of the world lives. Things are very different over there from the culture to the houses and finally, the food. But one thing that remains the same even after traveling across the world... agriculture is important no matter WHERE you go. And the diversity of agriculture is apparent EVERYWHERE!
While we were in Singapore, we got to walk through several different markets selling fruits, vegetables, fish, and meats. I was literally in awe with the variety of fruits and vegetables I've never even heard of! Multiple varieties of eggplant... green, purple, and some striped. Vegetables like lotus root, galangal, and kaffir lime. Different sizes, different shapes of the same fruit I'm used to. New fruits like durian, jackfruit, starfruit, and dragonfruit. Vendors cutting up the jackfruit and portioning it to sell.
The diversity of agriculture is abundant even in places like Cambodia which is still very much third world in some parts. Tourism has now taken over as the top source of income in Cambodia, but agriculture is right behind it. We were visiting in the dry season but still driving around the countryside we could see water buffalo grazing in the dry rice patties and handheld tractors being transported down the road.
In Thailand, fishermen were out fishing for jellyfish. They dry the jellies and export them to Tawain and Korea. Tawain enjoys the tentacles while Korea eats the heads. We actually got to watch them use that long stick with a hook on the end to plop the jellyfish into the boat. We also visited a floating village where they farm fish to clean and dry. In the photo you can see the fish farm and then the children cleaning the fish for drying. They literally salt them and then lay them out on screens in the sun to dry. It is then packaged up and sold.
Three very different countries located worlds away from North America. Yet such variety and importantance placed on agriculture. It's amazing to me that you can travel across the world and still see the influence agriculture has on everyone. Whether it be Singapore who imports most of it's products, Cambodia who still keeps farming alive despite their booming tourism, or an island in Thailand which relies on fishing and the sea to provide for its farmers. Agriculture really is a global economy and is a livelihood for people across the globe. Farmers really are feeding the world whether it be in Asia, North America, South America... agriculture is alive and well no matter where you go!
For more about our trip, you can visit my blog at http://prairiecalifornian.com
Well there is still plenty of snow on the ground and we are still experiencing sub-zero temperatures, but it is March. And that means, hopefully, spring time is around the corner! Springtime is one of my favorite times of the year. It's a new beginning for a new year on the farm, it's a re-birth of sorts as the snow melts to reveal the grass that has been hidden all winter. The grass is green, flowers bloom. It's such a beautiful time of year. Springtime, to me personally, means a whole new year to document the happenings on the farm. I document our happenings on the farm through photographs.
With one click of the shutter, a moment in time is forever captured. Today, photography doesn't require a fancy, complex camera and hauling around a bunch of gear. Photos can be captured using your smartphone. We take photos of all important aspects of our lives: births, marriages, first steps, first day of school. Small moments, large moments, emotions captured, where we have been, who we’ve been with.. All of these things are a piece of our legacy here on Earth. Farming is as much a part of our everyday lives as all of these other important events and it is indeed a huge part of our legacy here.
So why is it important to take photographs on the farm...?
1. Gives You Something to Share - We all love the iconic old time farm photos. There is something about old tractors, families working together, a farmer with dirt on his face that brings us nostaglic feelings. So much so that many long to reverse modern farming. But that is a debate for another time, the point is that we all enjoy images of farm life, it gives us something to share with those around us. It gives us visual memories to share with your kids, grandkids, or even your extended family. Everybody loves photographs, they love looking at photographs. And now with social media, photographs have the potential to build communities. Without even a spoken word, you can build friends through apps like Instagram or even sharing photos on Twitter or Facebook. The farm life interests people, it intrigues people that are far disconnected from the farm. Even every day tasks to someone outside the farm can be interesting. Never underestimate the power a photograph of a simple, daily task can have on someone looking from the outside.
For a long time, my Dad was what I call a "technological dinosaur". He didn't have an email, he wasn't ever online, and still carried with him a "dumb phone". He finally decided to upgrade, much to my surprise, to an iPhone 5. I didn't think he was going to like it, but now I get photo messages from him a few times a month. He reads my blogs and my articles on his iPad (he liked his iPhone so much we got him an iPad for Father's Day last year), he takes pictures wherever he goes, and he even has an email address now. My dad, although he still doesn't understand much about social media, understands the power of it. He understands that when he sends me photos of his every day life at the butcher shop and I post them on our Facebook, people become interested. It builds our community. And so, he continues to take photos. Not only do I enjoy seeing what is going on in his life as I am living in North Dakota, I enjoy being able to share those special moments with our customers, family, and friends online too.
2. Sparks Conversation - So let's say you decide to share an image of your every day farm task on social media. People outside of agriculture aren't only going to be interested, they may ask questions. Because they are unfamiliar with what is going on in the photo, it could spark conversation. They may be asking, "What is going on here? What is this?" This gives you the opportunity to open dialogue, share an experience, or educate through explaining what is going on in that image you just shared. Photos can often times pull on emotions much more effectively than words ever can. I think we see this all the time in animal rights groups. One image of an abused animal can have the potential to change the lives of so many people to turn against agriculture. Or think of the powerful images shared during the time of war. Photographs power charge our emotional responses, they spark conversation. By sharing your own images, you have the potential to facilitate that conversation. You are given a voice in the greater conversation.
3. Gives You a Visual Legacy and History - My mother in law every couple of years has an aerial photograph taken of the farm yard. She's been doing this for years. In my husband's grandparents house, grandma and grandpa have proudly on display, those images. It is so interesting to see the visual legacy started by my husband's grandfather and continuing to my husband and his brother. Grandpa proudly will tell you all about every building, when it was built, what year it was torn down, what the building housed, and how much it cost him to build it. The farm has indeed changed quite a bit since the first photograph, but as older buildings are torn down, new ones are built. Photographs like these give our family a visual legacy and history of the farm. It reminds us how much the farm has changed. And someday when our kids are grown and the next generation begins, they can look back on how the farm used to be when they started out.
4. It's a Reminder in Personal Growth - Personal growth is a good thing. Often times we get so busy, so stressed out, and so involved in the day to day activities on the farm that we forget how far we've come. Taking a moment to stop and reflect on images of the farm from years past is a great way to measure personal growth. Maybe it was that you replaced an older piece of equipment or that you've put up a new building that you walk into every single day. I've talked a lot about looking towards the future. But in order to progress, we must learn about the past...what worked, what didn’t work, and look back on how far we’ve come. Measuring progress is important and also allows us a great medium to share our own personal stories as well.
Photographs may be a simple record of existence, but they are so much more than that. They are a record of our legacy here, they are the trials and tribulations we experienced, they are the happy moments, the sad moments, the proud moments. Photographs can tell a visual story much greater than written words ever can. They can tell a different story, they can spark conversation. They can build communities. Taking photographs on the farm is important, not just for sharing with others via social media, but if anything, for our families. Our children, our grandchildren, and their future children. I invite you to start thinking about documenting those memories more on the farm. So that when you are long gone, there is something left of your legacy and all those hard years you spent on that same land.
What some farmers had to say about the New John Deere planter!Read more...
This week I’ve seen a lot of tension and hype surrounding a certain fast food company who has a history of using drama to sell burritos. You aren’t sure who I am talking about…? It starts with a capital “C” and ends with a “hipotle”. But I am not here to talk about them; they already get more than enough press with their fantasy filled ads that pull on the emotions of people who eat there. Apparently they are releasing another one, which ups the ante and gets even more controversial. Who is surprised…? Not I.
What I want to talk about is how should we, those of us in agriculture, address this? As with anything that threatens and smears our livelihood, our initial reaction is to fight. We have to defend what it is we do every day because we know what we are doing is okay and isn’t at all like some high profile organizations or companies portray us. We want to right the wrongs we’ve been exposed to and set the record straight. We want to stand up and shout, protest, and rally the troops for an all-out war against these particular companies and organizations.
But what is a better solution? What does that look like to someone outside of agriculture?
To someone outside of agriculture, quite frankly, this could look really bad. It could look exactly how we didn’t want it to look. A sudden outpouring of response from the Ag community when an animal rights video comes out or an ad by a company smears the industry could indeed look like we’ve got something to hide. And who is to say that these companies and groups aren’t sitting there waiting for us to take the bait? So then they can reply with “we told you so, we told you ‘Big Ag’ would come out and defend this”.
Our seemingly valiant effort to defend our livelihood has now turned into people taking a more critical look into what it is that we do and wondering what we have got to hide. Clearly, these videos and ad campaigns strike a nerve in us, but often times that is what the company or organization is banking on. They are banking on the fact that we will take their bait and give them even more publicity through our blogs, Facebook statuses, and Tweets. One by one these companies and organizations are racking up the page views by the millions. We hold some of the power to stop these ads and videos from reaching our readers and our influence. The solution? Just. don’t. share. them.
But it doesn’t mean we should turn a blind eye on WHAT these organizations and companies are saying about agriculture. So what’s the route we should take? Pay attention to the issues these organizations are saying. What problems are they identifying in our industries? Here’s an idea… Are you an Ag blogger looking for content? Look no further. You’ve got weeks of content right there in the issues brought up by companies like the big C and organizations like HSUS.
These are the types of issues we should be writing about on the regular. Ryan Goodman over at Agriculture Proud has a great post on writing PROACTIVELY instead of REACTIVELY. Ryan advises to stick to your own experience, share photos to help strengthen what you’re trying to address, be candid, and don’t be afraid to write about controversial topics. You can read Ryan’s full article HERE.
So the next time you come across an ad campaign or animal rights video that boils your blood. Take a moment, breathe, and resist the urge to share it. Assess it, figure out what the main issues it brings up, and do your best to address them. But for the love of Agriculture, let’s stop continuing to give these organizations and companies more publicity because after all, that is what they are waiting for us to do. Like bait for a fish, we take it… hook, line, and sinker.
These are just a few of the most popular buzzwords surrounding the Agriculture industry. There are many other words out there that I am sure many of us have been experiencing fatigue over.
What other buzzwords are you tired of hearing…?
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California rice is the lifeblood of many small towns around where I grew up. The area for California rice production may be small, but it boasts quite a reputation and holds its own amongst the rest of rice producing areas across the nation. California's production of rice is unique not only in the way it is farmed, it is unique to a small portion of the agricultural paradise that is California.Read more...