Rural vs. City: The Running Score

26 02 2011

Now that I find myself in the big city of Urbana, IL I have discovered there are a lot of things I took for granted throughout my rural childhood. Like the fact that you can have a bonfire anytime, anywhere of any size… without the police showing up. Do city people roast marshmallows in their fireplaces and over stoves? I simply wouldn’t even know! But seriously.

And what about pets? Our family had every kind of pet imaginable: snakes, toads, snapping turtles, mice, pygmy hedgehogs, pigeons, button quail, doves, deer, turkeys, a peacock, snails, etc. But the one thing we never had: a pot bellied pig.

And the thing is, in the city I guess you can’t own barn animals. This I learned from an episode of Animal Cops on Animal planet… when they confiscated a woman’s baby pot bellied pig. In the end, I can see where having roosters would annoy the neighbors (I can hear our neighbor’s from half a mile away!).

And how about the whole well water deal? My brother just opened up a bottle of “Spring Water” and seriously considered dumping it out in favor or good ol’ country well water. I have considered packing a suitcase of well water to bring with me if I ever study abroad. But here I am in the big city with chlorinated water.

Now one would think cities would be preferred in winter weather with better snow removal for their larger populations. But that just isn’t so! I would take my snowed-in driveway I could easily fish-tail my way out of than this: 

Yes, that is my car embedded in snow with an ice consistency. Yes, it took longer to dig my car out of that than to pull my car out of a snow drift with my Dad’s tractor. So farms win again.

Except in ice storms. If a farm loses power your only communication with the outside world was through a land line non-cordless phone. Remember what those look like?

A traditional land line phone for the home or office.

An even bigger annoyance than not being able to pace around your house while you chat up a friend: you loose your access to water. Therefore, a rural family must anticipate such a problem and fill various pitchers, gallon jugs, and even the bathtub with water. Yes, I did say bathtub because a lot of families, including mine, function perfectly well with only one bathroom with one bathtub. Another issue with the loss of water: going to the bathroom. There is the wait and flush later method or the use your water preserve method where you manually flush the toilet with said water.

So these are just a few of my farm vs. city observations. In case you were keeping track the running score is: Rural 4, City 1.

But you don’t have to take my word for it (phrase from Reading Rainbow, a popular television show of my youth): comment if you can think of any other pros/cons for either side or have a different opinion. I’d love to hear from you!


This Blogger Visits the Hospital…

24 02 2011

Sorry for the delay in posting… I started my Wednesday morning with a trip to Memorial Hospital in Springfield, Illinois to visit my boyfriend’s father who had a severe heart attack. He had three stints put in and looks much, much better today. Thank goodness.

However, I did end up finding a copy of farm journal in the cardiac waiting room which sparked a conversation about agriculture. One gentleman was a hired hand, another talked about his experiences on the farm, my boyfriend’s sister-in-law talked about how her parent’s are considering selling a vacation home in order to buy some farm land and I of course had a lot to offer on urbanization near our home farm.

It surprised me that within this room each of us had something to say about agriculture. It was a topic of conversation like where we are from and the weather. I wonder how many generations later will be so far removed from the farm that they don’t have anything to contribute but questions, but that’s okay.

As agriculturalists we should take every opportunity to talk about agriculture (it’s not as taboo as politics, yet!). And as non-agriculturalists we should take every opportunity to ask questions.

Now, I am going to jump off my soapbox I’ve stood on for most of this week and go back into the hospital room.

And please keep this blogger and her almost-family in your thoughts and prayers!

Boycott Bands?

21 02 2011

Sometimes I feel like the whole world is teaming up with PETA, HSUS, Beyond Pesticides against agriculture. And it doesn’t help when a few of my favorite bands are yielding lyrics. I was on my merry way back to Urbana, Illinois listening to Bright Eyes, a favorite band of mine when the lyrics finally registered. Listen for yourself! 

Did you catch it? I have listened to this CD a million times and I had never noticed the pesticide reference.

If you hate the taste of wine
Why do you drink it ’til you’re blind?
And if you swear that there’s no truth and who cares
How come you say it like you’re right?
Why are you scared to dream of god
When it’s salvation that you want?
You see stars that clear have been dead for years
But the idea just lives on

In our wheels that roll around
As we move over the ground
And all day it seems we’ve been in between the past and future town

We are nowhere, and it’s now
We are nowhere, and it’s now
You took a ten-minute dream in the passengers seat
While the world it was flying by
I haven’t been gone very long
But it feels like a lifetime

I’ve been sleeping so strange at night
Side effects they don’t advertise
I’ve been sleeping so strange
With a head full of pesticide

I got no plans and too much time
I feel too restless to unwind
I’m always lost in thought
As I walk a block to my favourite neon sign
Where the waitress looks concerned
But she never says a word
Just turns the jukebox on
And we hum along
And I smile back at her

And my friend comes after work
When the features start to blur
She says these bars are filled with things that kill
By now you probably should have learned

Did you forget that yellow bird?
How could you forget your yellow bird?

She took a small silver wreathe and pinned it onto me
She said this one will bring you love
I don’t know if it’s true but I keep it for good luck

I felt rotten, like it was one of those subconscious priming effects or something akin to backmasking (CHECK THIS OUT!).

What was I supposed to do now, join the  boycott craze? If people can boycott corn syrup (for no reason), then I can boycott something I enjoy on a daily basis too (but would it be for no reason as well?).

Then, I thought about other songs I like that criticize agricultural practices:

They paved paradise and put up a parkin’ lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swingin’ hot spot
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you got till it’s gone
They paved paradise and put up a parkin’ lot

They took all the trees, and put em in a tree museum
And they charged the people a dollar and a half to see them
No, no, no, don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone
They paved paradise, and put up a parkin’ lot

Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT
I don’t care about spots on my apples,
Leave me the birds and the bees – please
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you got till it’s gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot
Hey now, they’ve paved paradise to put up a parking lot
Why not?

Listen, late last night, I heard the screen door swing,
And a big yellow taxi took my girl away
Now don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you got till it’s gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot
Hey now now, don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you got till it’s gone
They paved paradise to put up a parking lot
Why not, they paved paradise
They put up a parking lot
Hey hey hey, paved paradise and put up a parking lot

I don’t wanna give it
Why you wanna give it
Why you wanna givin it all away
Hey, hey, hey
Now you wanna give it
I should wanna give it
Cuz you’re givin it all away, no no

I don’t wanna give it
Why you wanna give it
Why you wanna givin it all away
Cuz you’re givin it all givin it all away yeah yeah
Cuz You’re givin it all away hey, hey, hey

Hey, paved paradise, to put up a parking lot
la,la, la, la, la, la, la ,la ,la ,la ,la
Paved paradise, and put up a parking lot

Now, I realize that we have stopped using DDT but would the average teenager realize that it is banned today? Would they take the initiative to research DDT and if so would they read to the third paragraph of the Wikipedia article? Agricultural concerns are pervasive in popular culture and through songs like these the environmental concerns of half a century ago survive and thrive today.

So what is the solution? Do I stop listening to my favorite bands because they raise these issues or do I take the initiative to communicate the truth about pesticides? I choose the second option.

We Love [Safe] Farmers

16 02 2011

In the spirit if Valentine’s Day week (because one day of loving is never enough!), I wanted to find a nice “We Love Farmers” youtube video. Here is what I came up with:

And I kept looking to give all you farmers a little loving this holiday season…. but what I ended up finding set this blog post in a totally different direction than I had anticipated. This next youtube video made me want to emphasize that farmers are loved and appreciated, so be safe! I think production agriculturalists sometimes take for granted how large and dangerous farm machinery can be.

I hope this video encourages us all to take our time. Don’t rush into the planting season too soon when it is too wet. Be aware of your surroundings (especially deep ditches and power lines).

Here is an informational video about tractor safety tips involving a tractor and liquid manure spreader:

Another thing, don’t text and drive in a car OR a tractor OR combine OR any other motorized vehicle. Teenagers aren’t the only one abusing texting and smart phone apps.

The overall take home message: be safe! And…. Peace Love and Corn, which is apparently available as a bumper sticker too:… in case you need a belated Valentine’s Day gift!!

Corn Bumper Sticker

Valentine’s Day=Flowers=Agriculture!

14 02 2011

If you are lucky enough to ever have received flowers on Valentine’s Day you are playing a role in the agricultural sector called Horticulture: Horticulture is the industry and science of plant cultivation including the process of preparing soil for the planting of seeds, tubers, or cuttings…etc

We all know that scientists are mixing and matching genes to make brilliant corn plants for our fields that ward off pesky bugs or to make wonderful bean plants that are resistant to important herbicides that kill off pesky weeds.

But what are these brilliant scientists doing in Horticulture to bring you even more spectacular flowers than mother nature can provide? Who would have guessed that your flower bed could be a product of genetic engineering?!

Even more amazing, that the same technology bringing us super purple petunias, could be life-saving (or at least life-altering!!) as well!

NOVA has the answer.

For more information/the longer 14 minute version go to:

[Fill in the blank]less Mondays?

11 02 2011

So I was trying to hunt down a really inspiring Meat on Mondays youtube video, but there are apparently none to be found. Instead, I found a bagillion Meatless Monday campaign videos. The playing field is more like concert hall with Meatless Mondays taking center stage.

What I am wondering is why meat is the topic of debate. It is a renewable resource after all and one that is not even endangered. If we are going to be here a long time, let’s protect a resource that is actually in need of protection. And last I checked, meat was a vital part of human diets… except maybe not the way the Big Mac does it. What about paper and lumber supplies threatening the rainforest or the ever decreasing fossil fuel reserves? These are the items that need to protected! Let’s start paperless Thursdays or Gasless Tuesdays!!

Meat on Mondays

7 02 2011


Meat On Monday

Here is the article in the National Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow newsletter about Meat on Mondays:

University of Arkansas ACT Promotes Meat on Mondays written by Megan Crudup, University of Arkansas ACT

The University of Arkansas’ Block and Bridle and Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow clubs have teamed up to educate students on campus about the importance of beef as part of a healthy diet. With the support of the Arkansas Beef Checkoff and several other sponsors, the clubs have started a college-wide event called “Meat on Mondays.”

“We wanted to counteract the “Meatless Mondays” campaign, but still shed a positive light on the Beef Industry,” said Crystal Ahrens, Block and Bridle president. “We wanted to educate students around the university about the health benefits of having Beef in your everyday diet.”

Free packets of beef jerky and silly bands in the shape of steers and ZIP (Zinc, Iron and Protein) were passed out in various locations around campus as well as at the Arkansas State Fair. The Arkansas Beef Checkoff donated the beef jerky and silly bands for the first wave of handouts.

The Arkansas ACT chapter designed a logo and labels for the packets of beef, as well as orchestrated all media relations. Students worked closely with Jefferson Miller, University of Arkansas agricultural communications professor, to create the promotional materials. Press releases were also sent out to area newspapers and university media outlets.

“This is a great way for our agriculture students to get involved in promoting their industry,” said Miller. “Plus, they can apply their PR skills and their knowledge of meat science and human nutrition along the way.”

I personally love:

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