Wednesday, March 9, 2016

I'm the Corporate Face You Love to Hate

Yep, that yahoo with the goats right there is A face of corporate agriculture. And I don’t mean I go out into the world and sell my soul to lie about what’s going on in ag.

I mean that I work in what most would consider “factory farm” situations, for a very large pork company. Said company may be independently owned and run with Christian family values but that probably doesn’t matter to all the haters out there in the world. And fear of what those haters would say has kept me from really talking about WHAT I actually do at work. Not so much fear of all the terrible things people will say, but fear that what I say would give ammunition to the opposition.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Our Neighbors Think We're Crazy

It's no secret we bought a house in a place we thought we would never buy a house. But circumstances didn't really give us another option. And at the end of the day, I truly believe we were pointed in this direction. Not necessarily for our own mental health...but for the health of the property.

Speaking the name of the guy who previously owned our house tends to elicit the following response "Oh yea, him..." and then *silence*.  Nothing bad has ever been said, but nothing good has been said either!

He was a bit of a junk collector. And by a bit, I mean we had to use a skid-steer to take the top couple inches of dirt off the ground from around every building in order to collect all the crap just left laying around.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Other Side of Agriculture

Women in agriculture aren't a new thing.

There are many wonderful, strong, farm women sharing their stories on social media and out in public through organizations such as CommonGround. These women are mothers, sisters, partners, owner/operators and they do a magnificent job sharing their lives with the general public-the good, the bad, and the ugly.

No life is perfect, and as much as we all want to envision farm life through rose-colored glasses, with a big red barn and babies running all over the yard, the rural life isn't always that pretty.

But what we don't hear an awful lot about are the women who don't farm on their own land but work for large agricultural companies. And there's a reason we don't hear a lot about them...and that's because there aren't very many of us out in the field of these large companies. There are oodles of women in administrative positions...for good reason, women absolutely rule in those spots. 99% of the workers in the main office for our company are women.

In fact, in all of Nebraska, there were only 2 women working for our company as Field Reps. And now it's down to one...Me.

Why is that?

Because when it comes down to brass tacks, main-stream agriculture will always be a good ol' boys club.

I can't help but be jealous of all the amazing women who run (or co-run) their own family farms. I want to be them. I wanted the experience that this job would give me first though. I just never dreamed the experience would be such a roller coaster ride.

I've learned a lot in the last 9 months. And I mean a lot. But what has impacted me the most are the problems that have arisen because of my gender.

My generation is full of empowered women. We are told the sky is the limit and that if we just stay strong, we can have and do anything we want to. But we aren't told how strong we might actually have to be just to get up each and every day and go to work.

I watched my mom fight the good ol' boys club my whole life. And I thank God for having her as a role model of how to survive in a man's world and for passing on her backbone because otherwise I wouldn't even be writing this right now.

What possible problems could have arisen from being a woman? I think the better question is what problems haven't arisen from being a woman? Especially a young woman.

And the problems haven't come from the contract growers (who are largely men...although it's always nice when we deal with the wives), but from co-workers and bosses. Apparently women care too much.

We care too much about our jobs, we worry too much, we try to do a great job. 

We get upset when the men we work with don't have to work as hard yet get rewarded when they don't have to work as being promoted, while we wait around and are given the impression we will never be worthy of promotion.

We tell it like we see it, but women exaggerate and lie. When men come in and see the exact same things though, it's as if the world will end if things don't change.

My co-worker left because she got tired of working her life away and being told that it was her own fault for working her life away. Except she was just doing her job. And trying to do it well, which as a woman means caring and worrying. She had to constantly ask for help because she was given too much for one person to manage, but help never came from anybody but me. As soon as her male replacement took over though, help came out of the woodwork.

Until this point, I had never truly understood the disadvantage that being a young woman would bring me in this job. Animal Science programs are overrun by females...women are the future of agriculture. I was expected to do the same work as everyone else in my last 2 farm jobs, even if it meant I needed to learn how to do them. There is an insane number of amazing women sharing their stories out there. Women are the backbone of agricultural communities...and every community, Never once was I was given anything but hope in my future.

There have been times in the last few months where I have almost wished I had been born a guy.

How tragic is that?

I'm not sure where my story will go from here. I'm not sure that it really matters where it goes from here (not in a depressed sort of way, just that I know God has a plan).

I do know that women are a force to be reckoned with in agriculture, but we still have a long way to go to smash that glass ceiling. Because even family-based, Christian, agricultural companies still don't truly encourage equal-opportunity.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Why I Slimmed Down on Social Media

For some, when things get tough, they speak out. T'hey fight back and make so much noise they can't help but be heard. I can't say that I am one of those people. I'm the person that is happy to hunker down at home and would survive fairly well if social media didn't exist. Google, on the other hand, is something I'm not sure I could survive without. 

I recently read a blog post titled Why Social Media is the Worst for Couples Having Trouble Getting Pregnant and it spoke to me. Not because I'm trying to get pregnant (that ship won't sail for a few years hopefully! We have enough obstacles to hurdle right now) but because it made me look at why I gave up blogging. And the answer is when things got tough, I buckled down and cut loose all the obligations I had placed on blogging. I began blogging because it was a way for me to organize my thoughts, and I quit blogging because I couldn't even begin to organize my thoughts. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

It's A Miracle Anybody Gets Married

In exactly 1 month, the boy and I will be saying our vows. I, for one, can't believe that it's almost here. And not just in that "oh my goodness we are going to live happily ever after" kind of belief. More along the lines of what the heck are we getting ourselves into?

Every day is a new adventure of discovering idiosyncrasies, deep seeded traditions, outright stupidities and then trying to figure out how to move past them all and still come out relatively friendly housemates at the end of each day.

If you don't believe your environment shapes you, then you have obviously never lived with somebody outside of your own family.

Having roommates is completely different than living with a future spouse. For one, if your roommates piss you off then there's always a great chance they will move out soon anyway so problem solved. Unfortunately that's not the case with spouses. Unless you want to get divorced. Which some days sounds appealing...but probably doesn't count if you aren't married yet right?

Learning to live with somebody else's bizarre habits can be a trial and a half. Especially if the 2 people involved are as intractable as mules and twice as prickly as porcupines. Some might say we deserve each other. I think it really boils down to the fact that nobody else would be able to handle us without committing murder, going insane, or both.

So maybe we do deserve each other.

Even if it means putting up with a guy who comes home at lunchtime and sits in his boxers cuz that's what his dad does. Or not peeling potatoes over the trashcan (which I think is efficient because I'm the one that ends up cooking 99% of the time and cleaning up 100% of the time) because he thinks it's disgusting. Or fighting over TV shows because we don't like any of the same shows.

I could probably write a book on the differences in this household. Along with the billions of other people in the world. I will spare you all the gory details though since I think the above examples will do for now.

Why the heck do we put up with it?

I could go into a dissertation on love, the biological need to belong to a family unit and keep the species going, la la la.

The truth?

Even when I want to strangle the doorknob, I still want to be with him. Even if it means sitting shoulder to shoulder with smoke coming out of our ears and not speaking all night. Or day.

It would be too simple to say that it's "true love" or a chemical attraction.

We may not fit in every way, but in the ways that matter, we are a match.

And nothing reminds me to look at the positives instead of the negatives as much as being away from home. Even just 1 night is enough to remind me that at the end of the day, there is nobody I would rather be with. And nobody I can imagine spending each and every crazy, stupid, terrifying day with than him.

So maybe this is a dive into "true love". Because true love is hard work. It's not all rainbows and butterflies...but it is worth it.

It really is a miracle that marriage exists. In a good way :)

**Note: Could you tell I wrote this post in 2 separate days? I thought so! Day 1 being a frustrated day and Day 2 being a sappy day...if that doesn't show the complexity of relationships then nothing ever will!**

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Faith When I Fall

It has been a rough 2 months. Maybe the roughest 2 months of my life. Worse than losing my Dad to a sudden heart attack. Worse than moving across the country twice for 2 different college experiences.

How could it have been worse than all of that? How could I have spent 2 wonderful months with my heart and soul yet been so miserable at the same time?

In case you hadn't guessed, this is my heart and soul. :)
It's a long story. One that I won't share completely on here because I don't want to dredge up all the awfulness. Especially since I've finally regained the drive to blog (again...this year has had many blogging interruptions).

When we moved to Nebraska we didn't have a house to live in. The first two weeks we were here and working, we lived in a suite at the Days Inn (used to be a Western Extended Stay). The stock trailer full of our things was parked in a storage lot. Those 2 weeks were a breeze. As stressful as it was finding a place to live, we didn't fight at all. And if you can imagine living in a hotel room with your significant other for 2 weeks (especially if your significant other is a farmer's son with ants in his pants ALL the time) then you can imagine how much there was that we COULD have fought about.

If we didn't fight, then what the heck happened that could have made moving to Nebraska feel like the biggest mistake I have ever made?

Work happened. 

You see, I'm technically in a training position, a "Junior" position, designed to make me a more effective employee when I become a real "Field Advisor" for Wean-to-Market hog units. It's actually a great idea because there is an insane amount of information to learn for this job. Mostly because the company I am working for has policies for EVERYTHING. But when you are as large as this company is, then you need to have a pretty sturdy system in place to make sure everything runs the way it's supposed to. Or at least mostly run the way it is supposed to.

So the first month and a half after I started I was placed in a facility that was getting 24,000 weaned pigs in. I was to learn company practices from the ground up, or from weaned pig start-up and on. Basically I needed to learn our feed systems, treatments, vaccinating, ordering feed/medication/supplies, etc. Well what started out as a good experience turned into a complete and utter disaster. I've seen prettier train wrecks. Seriously.

This was the perfect storm. It was a leased unit (our pigs in a rented barn) that needed a lot of work before pigs were ever placed in the unit (which never happened) under a brand new Field Advisor and a relatively brand new manager and technician that were also responsible for 2 other units. Can you imagine how this might turn into a disaster?

But why was this so hard for me?

Well turns out my mentor had no desire for me to succeed in my job. When I started questioning some of the things that were going on and talking to people above my mentor, things got ugly. Terrible things were being said about me behind my back. Lies were flying all over the place. It finally came to a head when I came back to the unit after a week away and I was told the current lie was "So-and-so doesn't want her at his farms either so he sent her back here." It was so bad that the techs that I was working with were in complete shock over the way I was being treated.

I have never been in a situation where somebody so clearly wanted me to fail. And they almost succeeded in pushing me out. I came home bawling my eyes out every afternoon for a month and a half. And have bawled a few other nights since. The only thing that kept me hanging on was a fierce stubborn streak...and not wanting to move Cody again so soon.

Because if it had just been me, I might have picked up and moved to a different job in a completely different state. It's not that I don't like it here, because I do. It's that I don't feel as though I fit the mold for this job. But I am determined to learn as much as I can and use it in my future endeavors. If it hadn't been for Cody telling me we had to stay though, I wouldn't have stayed.

And trust me, I've been mad at him for making me stick to my guns. But Cody and Kip Moore know what they are doing. All I needed was Faith When I Fall. 

"Give me love when I ain't got nobody
A little hope when I ain't got none at all
Give me light up ahead on a journey
Give me strength when I'm standing
And faith when I fall."

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Planting 2014

As usual, I've been hanging on to this post...but it's been a crazy couple of weeks! Finishing up grad school and getting ready to move to Nebraska has been one heck of an adventure. And it's not over yet! But this post is from planting almost a month ago...

Life with a farmer's son and an ag mechanic is never a dull one. 

I've stacked hay, driven through more equipment lots than one person should ever have to-preview of the rest of my life :), kept the boy company while he worked on one thing or another, helped haul grain to the elevator, and most recently, got to witness the first run with the new planter.