Head, Heart, Hands, Health

By Katie Thomas Glick and Sarah Thomas

Every year, we know when it’s coming. We can feel it in the summer air and we prepare our schedules accordingly for a visit back home to eat our favorite taco salad and pork burger, walk the livestock barns and reminisce about old times at the Morgan County Fair!

Growing up as farm girls, it wasn’t a question if we were going to participate in 4-H or not. We were participating in 4-H because it was in our blood. Our dad was an active member of 4-H along with our uncles. The question was what were our projects going to be, and how much money could we save to buy several lemon shake-ups each day of the fair.

And while it is a place to soak up the last bits of summer with your friends, enjoy midway rides or eat some fried food, the county fair means much more to some individuals in our community. For some youth in our county, it’s about taking a pledge, having responsibility for a project or an animal and being an active member in the community. The fair is a time for 4-H members to show their projects, make memories with their friends from around the county, and play a part in shaping their future—our future. As the nation’s largest youth program, 4-H helps shape young people into responsible and active citizens.

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This picture was featured in my home town newspaper back in when my Dad was an active member in 4H.

It was 1902 in Clark County, Ohio when A. B. Graham started a youth program for youth and adults to come together to learn and teach each other about agricultural practices. We now consider this the beginning of the 4-H programs in the United States. Now there are 4-H clubs serving youth members in rural, suburban, and urban settings all around the U.S. It is the nation’s largest youth program with clubs that spread over every state.

You may have found yourself walking into the fairgrounds and seeing that familiar four leaf clover with an H stitched on each leaf and thought to yourself, “What do those four Hs stand for?” When 4-H members make the decision to join a club or to be an active member in their county 4-H they take a pledge, they learn it and know it well.

I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

While you may think that to be in 4-H you have to show some kind of livestock, this is completely untrue. Many 4-H members do have livestock projects but there are many that get involved in other ways. Be sure to visit the exhibition hall at the county fairgrounds to see other projects such as: photography, baking, sewing, electrical, genealogy, gardening and much more. All the 4-H members, in all areas, work diligently on their projects whether they are in the exhibition hall or the livestock barns.

The youth participating in 4-H make a conscious decision to take a challenge and be responsible for a project and along the way learn how to better themselves and their community. Therefore, we challenge you, as a former 4-H alumni or not, to visit the projects in the buildings and the barns and to learn something to better yourself. And along the way, you will help better your community by supporting our county 4-H members.

And as you walk to get your lemon shake-up or stand in line to get your favorite fair food, you can usually spot the 4-H members with some ribbons in their back pocket. We encourage you to talk to these members and ask them about their projects. They take great pride in their hard work. The hard work that has taught them responsibility and lessons that will be with them forever and that they will use in their community—our community.

Read more about 4H on my sister, Katie’s blog, Fancy in the Country.

 

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Where’s the Farmer without the Farmer’s Wife?

With this week being National Agriculture Week I want to continue sharing the story of American agriculture. While I love AGvocating for America’s farmers, I cannot forget to thank the women who stand next to them, the farmer’s wife. The three most important women in my life are farmer’s wives. My grandmother was a farmer’s wife for 37 years, and my mother was one for 28 years until the day God made the call to take their Farmers to their heavenly home. My sister became a farmer’s wife just last year and many of my closest family friends are farmer’s wives. Through their examples I know exactly the kind of wife and woman I want to be.
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So, today I celebrate the women who stand next to and support the hands that feed us, the Farmer’s Wife. To sum it up, thank you for being farmers too.

Below is a poem inspired by Paul Harvey’s, “So God Made a Farmer,” written by Sierra Shea.
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National Agriculture Day 2014

By Katie Thomas Glick & Sarah Thomas

When we sit down for a meal, it has become common practice to give thanks for those that have prepared the meal in front of us. However, do we go beyond those that have cooked the food to those that planted, nurtured and harvested the food? Do we thank our farmers enough for growing the corn, soybeans, wheat, vegetables and fruits along with caring for our animals?

As sisters that grew up on a farm, we have always appreciated where we came from and the soil under our feet. However, after losing our father, Tim Thomas, in a farming accident in 2009, we decided to dedicate our lives to telling the story of agriculture. Today is National Agriculture Day and we invite you to learn something new about agriculture today and to thank a farmer. If you don’t know a farmer, pray for them as they prepare for planting in the coming months or send a good thought their way when there is too much rain or not enough. You can also show your appreciation by remaining patient as your drive behind a tractor traveling from field to field.

Farmers never have a day off–from planting the crops to caring for the land, worrying about the weather, staying up late in the cold to watch a cow have her baby calf to preparing for a days work before the sun rises and harvesting after the sunset. And the worry of the weather, it’s constantly on their minds even in the winter on how much snow will fall and replenish the soil in the their fields. We heard something true recently, “mother nature never takes a day off” and neither do farmers.

Today is National Agriculture Appreciation Day but really, to us and many others, every day is agriculture appreciation day. Every day the farmer gets up to tend to his crops or livestock to make sure they are safe and prospering for us. We are consumers, almost everything we use in our day starts with the farmer. We want to help consumers understand the work of the farmer.

Below are a few fun facts and websites we wanted to share with you as you learn more about where your food comes from and the families that grow the crops and/or raise the animals. If you have questions, ask a farmer or do your part as a consumer and research the facts before assuming what you hear is true. We have the luxury of having an abundant, safe and affordable food supply in the United States and we need to remember to thank our American farmers for their hard work and dedication.

Indiana Agriculture Rankings (According to USDA NASS)
> Ranks 2nd in tomatoes for processing (Red Gold is located in Indiana)
> Ranks 2nd in spearmint
> Ranks 4th in soybeans
> Ranks 4th in total eggs produced
> Ranks 5th for number of pigs
> Ranks 5th in corn for grain

Fun Farm Facts:
> According to the 2007 USDA Agriculture Census, 95% of farms are family owned and operated.
> One acre of soybeans can produce 82,000 crayons.
> In the U.S., we spend less than 10% of our income on food versus 18-25% around the world, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
> There are 29 different cuts of beef that meet government guidelines.
> A cow will produce an average of nearly 7 gallons of milk each day. That’s more than 2,500 gallons each year.
> For every dollar spent on food in America, the farmer sees less than 12 cents.

National Ag Day, http://www.agday.org
U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, http://www.fooddialogues.com/
Common Ground, http://www.findourcommonground.com
Sarah Sums It Up, http://www.sarahsumsitup.com

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Don’t Be Afraid to Talk

Last night I read an article about a woman who frequently flies and loves to meet new people. On one of her flights she was seated next to a 70 year old farmer. She expressed how much she enjoyed listening to his story and how she better understands where her food comes from because of their conversation.

If you know me personally or have read some of my other posts on Sarah Sums It Up, you know that I LOVE farmers. They are my favorite people to talk to. I have a family full of farmers and many of my closest friends are farmers. But I must confess that at times I am scared to talk to them. I am scared because it makes me sad that I don’t get to have conversations with my favorite farmer, my dad, anymore. It’s silly really. I will go awhile without talking to some of my family and farmer friends and when I finally do stop to catch up with them, I leave with a smile on my face. I walk away from our conversations thinking, why did I wait so long to stop and say hi and to see how they are doing? I walk away happy.

For those of you who have questions about where your food comes from or you just want to find our more about what farmers do, talk to a farmer. Today farmers are understanding that it’s important to have conversations with consumers. They know that the work they are doing is good and they are learning how to share that with the consumer. Social media has opened so many avenues for farmers and ranchers to share their stories with anyone who wants to listen. Here is a list of some of my favorite farmers and ranchers out there sharing their story:

The Peterson Brothers
Agriculture Proud
The Farmer’s Life
The Beef Jar

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National Agriculture Day is March 25th! Mark your calendars for this great opportunity to start a conversation with a farmer or rancher.

To sum it up, if you get the chance to talk to a farmer, do it.

Show Some Appreciation

It’s National Write a Letter of Appreciation Week. Thanks to Illinois Corn’s blog, I was able to learn more about this. What a great way to show and tell people that you appreciation them. There is definitely a particular group of individuals that I would like to thank and show appreciation to…

Dear Farmers and Ranchers,

Thank you kindly for planting, raising, caring, harvesting and working for the food and pretty much everything I use in my day. Without you life would be pretty bland and cold. I hope you are keeping a positive outlook on your future in the agriculture industry because I and everyone else needs you. I promise to thank God for you and your work every day. I will also continue to do my part in sharing the story of agriculture.

To sum it up, I appreciate you and what you do every single day matters.

Sincerely,

Always a Farmer’s Daughter

The month of March is Agriculture Appreciation Month! Be sure to continue showing those Farmers and Ranchers that you appreciation what they do.

I also took this week as an opportunity to send my favorite kind of mail to friends and family. I appreciate you all too!

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To My Valentine…

I promise this is not going to be one of those posts confessing how much I hate Valentine’s Day. I am single. Does this mean I hate Valentine’s Day? If you asked me this question on Monday I would have shouted, “HATE IT!” But, for some reason I have had a change of heart (no pun intended here). As I started thinking about this holiday where people pour out their love, I thought well goodness I have a lot of love to pour too…

I have a love for:

1. Homemade salsa. Favorite snack EVER!!!!!!!!

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2. Cowboy boots. I love every single pair for a different reason. And I will continue to add to my collection.

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3. Stationary. I should not be unsupervised in this section at T.J. Maxx.

4. Children’s books. So much so, that I hope to write my own down the road.

5. Sitting on my front porch. Rain or shine.

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6. Indiana. My flyover state is pretty great.

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7. Westerns. Yep, my favorite actor is John Wayne.

8. Speaking of John…Wooden definitely makes my list. The coach, man, teacher, that I gain many of my “words to live by.”

9. The wonderful ladies in my life. Each one is so special to me.

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10. Campfires. I don’t even care if it makes my hair smell. Give me a fire under the stars and it’s my perfect night.

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11. Beef. I have to have this protein in my diet.

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12. The man who raised me and who continues to help shape the person I am. He always looked after me. Now he does it from a higher view.

He's always looked after me. Now he does from a higher view.

My Father and I

13. Speaking of higher views, my dad has some help sitting next to my heavenly Father. Thank you both for doing your jobs so well.

14. And of course I cannot forget about Farmers. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be able to love half the things on my list.

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There it is, my love poured out for you. So who is my valentine? Well it’s everything on the list above and so much more. To sum it up, my valentine is me and the things that remind me to love this life.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

I love that you are reading my blog.

There’s Just Somethin’ Bout a Farmer

For the past couple of months a certain story keeps popping up in my newsfeed on my social media accounts. It’s a story of a fallen Farmer from Illinois. I’ve read it and every time I see this story I’m reminded of a similar story. The story of my own fallen Farmer. The stories are not the same, they never are. But one similarity they do share is the word, “farmer.”

When I go visit my dear friends in Greens Fork, Indiana, one of my homes away from home, the story of my fallen Farmer always comes up in conversation. It especially comes up when I am talking to the mom in this family. She has a story of her own fallen Farmer. She, like me, will always be a Farmer’s daughter. I feel so comfortable talking to her about my Dad and I think she feels the same about hers. Every single time we talk about them she says, “You know Sarah, there’s just somethin’ bout a Farmer,” and she stops there. Neither one of us finishes the sentence. We sit there in silence. Both of us finishing the sentence in our own way. We say the words about ours Dads that are too hard to say out loud, we see the memories we made with them, we hear their voice. We take a moment of silence to remember our Farmers. We take a moment to be thankful for them.

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As you sit down tomorrow to give thanks for the many blessings in your life, take a moment of silence to remember those that are no longer on this earth with us. Take a moment to be thankful for them. Especially those Farmers, well to sum it up, there’s just somethin’ bout them.

Indiana State Fair Greatness

Our state fair is a great state fair! Don’t miss it, don’t even be late!

It’s the year of the popcorn at our great Indiana State Fair! While this post is a bit late (opening day was back on Aug. 2nd), I sure hope you don’t miss it! You’ve got this weekend to get on out to the Indiana State Fairgrounds to enjoy the year of popcorn and the new Glass Barn exhibit.

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The Glass Barn is new to the Indiana State Fair and it is a great addition to the fairgrounds in telling the story of Indiana agriculture. While visiting you can learn about the history of farm technology, see the journey of an Indiana soybean, and play interactive games in the uFarm section of the barn.
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There are three different family farms featured in the barn. You can learn about them in the WeGrow section. Depending on what time you visit you can see and listen to one of the farmers while they are on their farm (amazing how technology can connect us)!

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You can learn about different food products consumers eat (that’s YOU) in the uEat section, as well as all the other popular consumer products.

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Sometime during your visit be sure to grab a friend or family member and get your picture taken in the PictureU section. There are four different backgrounds you can choose from. All are so fun!

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If you have already visited the Indiana State Fair I hope you enjoyed yourself and visited the Glass Barn, ate a bag of popcorn and learned something new about Indiana agriculture. If you have not, I suggest you go visit before it’s over because it really is great!

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Happy National Beef Month!

May is National Beef Month! It is also the start of grilling season. Beef is a great addition to a healthy diet. My family raises beef cattle and I know that they have been working hard this spring welcoming new life onto our farm. Growing up on a farm and being an active 4-H member, I learned that animals like beef cattle have a purpose. Their purpose is to provide a source of food. I understand that they are not a family pet, but I also understand that they should always be treated with care. I have faith in my family and other family owned and operated farming and ranching operations, that they take great care and pride in their livestock. Their purpose is providing you and me with a heart healthy protein that we can choose to have in our diet.

I choose to eat beef. So, to sum it up, thank you farmers and ranchers for bringing one of my favorite foods to my plate.

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