Category Archives: Archives

No. No, Darlin’, you didn’t.

Standard

OK so I’m a Southern girl, and aaallll that that implies ( bonus points for those of you who got the Urban Cowboy reference). I’m also a Southern cook, and – yes – Southern gets a capital S. Being a Southern cook, I don’t always use a recipe. When Mama and Granny taught me to cook, they used measurements like “a little of this” and “a dab of that,” and I either understood or figured it out right quick.

And, as I’ve grown older and cooked more, I have modified some of their dishes to suit my taste and that of the DH. But here lately, I’ve been spending some time on the Pinterest, and I’ve found some good recipes. Like with any other social media platform, though, people can’t just read something and leave well enough alone. Nooooooooo. And my silly self read the comments on some of the recipes.

Bad idea, Darlin’.

Because many of them say “I made this…. but” and that’s where things get ugly. “I made this, but instead of potatoes, I used riced cauliflower.” “I made this, but instead of grilled chicken breast, I used me some fatback pork.” “I made this, but I didn’t like ANY of the seasonings you listed, so I used something completely different instead.” And they wonder why it didn’t turn out.’

So, no darlin’, you DIDN’T “make this.” If you were inspired by a recipe to come up with your own, go for it! If you changed half the ingredients so that your dish IN NO WAY resembled the recipe, a knock yourself slick out doing so. But do not go on to someone’s pin or blog or FacePage and tell them “I made this” if you didn’t.

(Yes, I might be cooking supper using a new recipe and blogging at the same time. Go, me!)

Disclaimer: yes, I believe in tweaking recipes, and yes, I do it ALL THE TIME. This is about commenting on some poor chick’s hard-fought attempt at sharing her recipe, and basically telling her how YOU could have done it better. And yes, it’s most always ok to add a dab of bacon grease, unless you’re bakin’ a cake or makin’ a pie.

SQUEEEEEEE! #GarthBrooks

Standard

I have never been a literal Bucket List kind of girl. I am more a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl. Shocking, I know.

But. If I HAD a written bucket list, seeing Garth Brooks in concert would have been on it. And I saw him. And Miss Yearwood. And it was all I could have ever wanted and more.

IMG_9110

I have loved this man since 1989, and I might have even married a guy who bore more than a passing resemblance to this man. He speaks to me. From “In Another’s Eyes” to “Callin’ Baton Rouge” to “Friends in Low Places,” he just gets me. My funeral instructions include the playing of his “If Tomorrow Never Comes.”  Goes like this:

Sometimes late at night 
I lie awake and watch her sleeping 
She’s lost in peaceful dreams 
So I turn out the lights and lay there in the dark 
And the thought crosses my mind 
If I never wake up in the morning 
Would she ever doubt the way I feel 
About her in my heart 

If tomorrow never comes 
Will she know how much I loved her 
Did I try in every way to show her every day 
That she’s my only one 
And if my time on earth were through 
And she must face this world without me 
Is the love I gave her in the past 
Gonna be enough to last 
If tomorrow never comes 

‘Cause I’ve lost loved ones in my life 
Who never knew how much I loved them 
Now I live with the regret 
That my true feelings for them never were revealed 
So I made a promise to myself 
To say each day how much she means to me 
And avoid that circumstance 
Where there’s no second chance to tell her how I feel 

If tomorrow never comes 
Will she know how much I loved her 
Did I try in every way to show her every day 
That she’s my only one 
And if my time on earth were through 
And she must face this world without me 
Is the love I gave her in the past 
Gonna be enough to last 
If tomorrow never comes 

So tell that someone that you love 
Just what you’re thinking of 
If tomorrow never comes

The fellas who wrote that song are really onto something. I am sure I wasn’t the only one in Bridgestone Arena with tears streaming when he played this song – because I know there are people in MY life who may not know how much I care about them, and that, my friends, is all on me.

Let ’em know. Because someday tomorrow won’t come.

Rae-Wagoner-Celebration-Of-Life attendees will also hear The Dance, written by the great Tony Arata:

Looking back on the memory of 
The dance we shared beneath the stars above 
For a moment all the world was right 
How could I have known you’d ever say goodbye 
And now I’m glad I didn’t know 
The way it all would end the way it all would go 
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain 
But I’d have had to miss the dance 
Holding you I held everything 
For a moment wasn’t I the king 
But if I’d only known how the king would fall 
Hey who’s to say you know I might have changed it all 
And now I’m glad I didn’t know 
The way it all would end the way it all would go 
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain 
But I’d have had to miss the dance 
Yes my life is better left to chance 
I could have missed the pain but I’d have had to miss the dance

Wow. Don’t miss The Dance that we call Life, friends. I know this talk of Bucket Lists and funeral songs is sad, but as I have achieved a “certain age,” I think about these things from time to time. I don’t want to hand God my one talent and say “here – I hid it and kept it safe.” Matthew 25:14-30  I want to slide up to the Pearly Gates sideways, comin in hot, having LIVED and LOVED and sucked every bit of joy from the gift of this life I have been given.

I encourage you to do the same.

So, the Cosmos has SPOKEN, Darlin’

Standard

Well, SOMETHING has spoken. Maybe the planets aligned, maybe my inner overachiever has woken up, perhaps it’s simply meant to be. I was on #AgChat last night (if you don’t #AgChat and you are an ag person, you totally should! It’s a Twitter Chat held on Tuesday evenings at 8 eastern, 7 central and will totally connect you with other aggies. Subject is outlined prior, Questions are submitted ahead of time. Check it out.) and those of us who blog were either sharing #AgBrags or (this would be me) bemoaning our lack of performance for the year 2017 and PROMISING to do better in 2018.

Resolutions are like that, right? You get a brand new shiny year, with no screw-ups, and it’s like a kid with fresh school supplies! (My name is Rae, and I have a school/office supply “problem.”)  So the Fates collided (or colluded?) and as my every-Wednesday-morning-9-a.m. alarm went off on my computer, the one that reminds me to post here, I opened my personal email. The email came from National Day Calendar, proclaiming today as National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day.

choc covered cherry day

That might not be a sign to you, but seeing as how I have had this image:

choc covered cherries

on my desktop since late November, it was a real “AHA!” moment for me. You see, I had been meaning to write a blog post about chocolate covered cherries and the memories they evoke for me. Do not misunderstand – I don’t LIKE them, but my Granny LOVED them, and I loved her, so I ate one when she’d offer it to me when I was a kid.

Isn’t it funny how seeing these on an end cap (this was even her preferred BRAND!) at WalMart can reduce a grown woman to tears?

So. Soak up all that your Granny or your Grandma or your whoever has to give you. Listen to her stories. Learn about the ole days, when they had to walk 10 miles to school, uphill both ways and barefoot. Let her teach you how to cook using measurements like “a little dab” or “about a handful,” or – my personal favorite from MY Granny, “well, till it looks right…”  There will come a time that you, like me, will only have memories. Store up as many as you can.

And for those of you who subscribe to my blog, thank you. I know I have let you down over and over, and I’ve really let myself down more than I have you… I intend to do better with content frequency in this bright shiny new year.

Walkin the walk, Darlin’

Standard

So I have a friend (don’t we all that THAT friend?) who swears by “clean” eating. She has a Himalayan Pink Salt Lamp by her bed and one in her office, she makes noodles out of organic zucchini, and many of her food-related Facebook posts make my eyes roll so hard that there is danger of falling over.

And this struggle, friends, is very real. She’s a wonderful person. I’ve known her for a long time, and she’s a good Christian woman, a great mother and a loving wife. She’s not woo-crazy on the workout train, but she is concerned about her health and the health of her family, as good mothers should be.

As you can probably guess, we have some fundamental disagreements about food, food safety, animal care standards (she’s a sometimes-vegetarian, which I find to be a huge “missed steak,”) and – of course – big, bad GMOs.

This may come as a shock to some, but I am pretty blunt. (I KNOW! Who’d have thought?) I have learned to dial back the bluntness and ask questions about her fears and beliefs before jumping in with a pile of irrefutable scientific data that makes her feel defensive. That’s hard for me, but I am learning. Nobody wants to be wrong, much less be wrong because they listened to some woo-peddling crackpot wanna-be celebrity… so we often simply agree to disagree.

That said, fellow AGvocates, science is on our side! The National Academy of Sciences, one of the country’s most prestigious scientific groups, looked at more than 90 studies and a large amount of disease data. The conclusion remains that there has been no increase in health risks related to the consumption of food from genetically engineered (GE) plants.

None.

The World Health Organization had the same findings, as did The International Council for Science, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, and a whole long list (that I keep handy) of reputable scientific organizations from around the world.

But the Non-GMO Verified Project (they’re the ones with the butterfly label that companies PAY to put on their packaging) is still doing a better job than the agriculture community, swaying people into believing that food from GE plants is bad in a number of ways. I generally refuse to buy anything with that label on it, and I’m sure that one person’s purchasing decisions won’t make a bit of difference in the fearmongering marketing strategy of those companies. As those of us involved in agriculture comprise only two percent of the population, ALL of our purchasing decisions put together won’t move that needle.

But I have made it a point, when I change brands because of fearmongering or anti-GMO or animal housing sentiment, to contact the company I can no longer support with my food dollars and tell them WHY. Again, I’m not what my Granny would call “ugly” about it, just very matter-of-fact. I then also contact the company that has GAINED my business because they don’t hold that same position, and tell them WHY I am a new customer.

Sending these emails and making these contacts is tiring, (Pro Tip: keep a fill-in-the-blanks copy on your desktop – Copy and Paste is your friend), and sometimes I feel as if I am wasting my time. But then I remember a great quote from author Max Lucado that applies to so many aspects of life: “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.”

I am someone, and I can do something. You are also someone, and you can do something. Evaluate your purchases. Are you growing perfectly safe GE crops on your farm but buying things with that goofy butterfly on the label? Are you a proponent of renewable fuels who is burning petroleum-based gas and diesel on the farm?

Back to my friend from the beginning: I think she’s misguided and mistaken in her food beliefs and choices, but she is firm in her beliefs and she’s walking the walk, not just talking the talk. Can we in agriculture say the same?

 

On the subject of brown bananas

Standard

So, darlin’, life is short and uncertain. If you know me at all, you know I’m a “seize the day” kind of girl. Yes, we need to make plans for the long run such as 401k and saving for the future, insurance and the like, but I’m talking about little, everyday choices that can enrich our lives.

For instance:

bananas-1735003_1280.jpg

While great for making banana bread, these are not what I’d want for my morning snack. They’re past their prime, yet for YEARS my mom had some that looked like these on top of her refrigerator. Oh, she’d buy new bananas on her weekly grocery run, but the house rule was that we had to eat the brown, spotty, mushy bananas before we could have the new ones.

We always HAD bananas, but we stayed a week behind. Drove. Me. Nuts. After I was grown and moved out, and numerous events had happened to decrease my tolerance for living “less than,” I was able to convince my mom to pitch the brown bananas and break the cycle. I am happy to report that she has embraced fresh, yellow bananas and never looked back.

I think many folks “save the good stuff for later,” and what if later never comes? What happens is that your kids or grandkids will come clean out your house after you die, and they’ll find brand new housecoats and fancy soaps in the shape of flowers that have long since lost their scent, still wrapped in petrified plastic wrap. And those things won’t do anyone any good.

So, friends, let’s pledge to ditch the brown bananas, use the monogrammed soap while it still has a scent, and LIVE OUR LIVES. If tomorrow never comes, and some day it won’t, I want to be that person who has enjoyed and savored the life with which I have been blessed. I want you to be that person, too.

Summer is a great time to tell your story, Darlin’ !

Standard

Hey y’all! Summer is almost in full swing, and there’s no better time to share your story with the non-farm public. Chances are, you’ve been planting and spraying, doing a little side-dressing, and maybe you even have a pasture full of spring calves. Your neighbors may have some questions, and you have the answers.

Whether in person or online, there are a number of things that those of us in agriculture take for granted that the non-farm public has no idea about. Example: The Kentucky Soybean Board recently co-sponsored a farm tour with the Kentucky Beef Council, and took a couple of busloads of nutritionists and dietitians to Hill View Farms and Cecil Farms, both near Owensboro. These ladies are highly regarded as experts on food and nutrition, including food safety, yet they were shocked to see Suzanne Cecil White hold up a measuring cup to show just how much (or how little) herbicide is actually sprayed on an acre of crop land. Many of these ladies had no idea that more than 95% of the liquid in the sprayer tank is plain water.

These are intelligent and educated ladies, and they would never knowingly mislead their patients. But how are they to know about agriculture? How are they to KNOW that we aren’t drenching, dousing or drowning our crops in RoundUp once a week? Should they be expected to magically know the levels of chemicals that are applied to our crops? I don’t think so.

I think we have to tell them, and others, just what we’re doing on the farm. And sometimes that’s hard, because U.S. farmers know they’re raising the safest, most affordable food supply in the world. Farmers feed their crops to their own families and livestock. Joe Farmer knows that he and his neighbor down the road have nutrient management plans and that every acre of ground has a record of what was applied, when and why. We know we’re doing the right things for the right reasons, and it’s important that farmers – a naturally modest group – talk about the advances we’ve made in erosion control, nutrient management, animal husbandry and precision application of inputs.

The non-farm public is floored to find that the nozzles on the sprayer shut themselves off if GPS tells them there’s already been a droplet sprayed on an area. They have no idea that, thanks to precision planting technology, you know exactly how many seeds per acre are in a particular field. The fact that you can overlay harvest data on top of planting data and weather records blows their minds.

So this summer, whether you’re at a family reunion cookout or selling sweet corn at the local farmers’ market, be approachable. Tell your story. Open your “barn doors” and let folks know that we have nothing to hide, and that we in agriculture are proud of the efficient, sustainable way we are producing food, feed, fuel and fiber for our families, our country and beyond.

 

Vietnam, Part Deux, Darlin’

Standard

After a dubious night’s sleep and waking up not knowing day from night and if I should eat or not, (is it breakfast time? is it supper time? I DON’T KNOW!!!) we gathered downstairs for a briefing prior to leaving for our first day in country tour. Agricultural Attaché Ben Petlock and Agricultural specialist Nguyen Thi Huong of the USDA/FAS joined us, and shared that Vietnam is the 8th largest market for US ag products with 13% growth over the past two years. This is the first year they’ve cracked the top ten.

3 billion in mostly aquaculture products go from Vietnam to the US, while we export 3.6 billion to them, mostly forest and fishery products. Food safety and quality are big issues in Vietnam, and US products are known for being high quality. It is important to the Vietnamese government to be seen as being ahead of food safety concerns.

The average age in Vietnam is 30, and their population is growing at the rate of 1 million per year. The population explosion is partially responsible for the addition of another attache in Ho Chi Minh City this summer, thus increasing the US commitment to Vietnam.

 

As for trade policy, the US normalized trade relations with Vietnam in 1995. At that time, Vietnam was our #91 market. WITHOUT the implementation of any trade agreements, they have become our number 8 customer. (Note this was external to TPP

Soy is the second largest agriculture import for Vietnam! Go Soy! They import soybeans and corn to mix feed rations for the pork industry, which is huge in Vietnam. There are about 230 feed mills in the country, and imports continue to rise as demand for pork increases. Vietnam is currently #5 in the world in pork production.

 

Our first visit was to CP Technology, where we saw chickens go from truck to shrink-wrapped product in 4 hours. CP is fully integrated and owns 124 farms, employing 638 people. Most of their broilers are 30-45 day birds, and much of their meat goes to KFC for pot pies. They do breasts and leg quarters, and all the rest is made into chicken hot dogs, which are evidently a popular item in this country. The birds are fed 10-15% soy in their rations.

DSCN0610.JPG

Yes. I had my picture made in front of the Eviscerating Room. It’s a real thing.

CP said they do not have the capacity to meet the large and growing demand for chicken products, even though they process 60,000 birds per day. Leg quarters and thigh meat are preferred, as the Vietnamese prefer dark meat.

After a tour of CP’s pristine feed mill, we were taken out to dinner. Cultural differences permeate every aspect of life, and sometimes they are easiest to see in the food that different cultures enjoy. Note the use of the word different. Not better, not worse, no judgment. Just different that what I’m used to here in the U.S.

Bowl o guts.jpg

I am told that this is a delicacy, and am sure that’s so. Different strokes for different folks, y’all! I must admit that, in this case, I’m happy that this meal was a buffet.