Category Archives: Social Media

When things heat up, be nice or take a break

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So here we are at the halfway point of summer, and things continue to heat up – not only outdoors, but in politics and on social media. International trade, tariff discussions with China and the possible renegotiation of NAFTA are all hot topics.

In tense situations, temperatures run hot, too, and it is important to keep your cool. My granddaddy used to say “be like a duck, calm on the surface and paddling like the dickens underneath,” and I think that’s good advice. When we’re stressed out, it’s easy to pop off and say (or post or Tweet) things that we shouldn’t. Even if we have second thoughts and go back to the “delete” button later, the damage may be done.

One of the things that I find most interesting about social media is the number of “lurkers” in the community. Whether on Facebook or Twitter, there are the few people with whom we interact, then there is the silent majority. They don’t “like and share,” they don’t “favorite or retweet,” but they are always there…reading what we write and watching how we interact with others.

Many of these lurkers are in what is known as “the moveable middle,” and they are an incredibly important sector of the social media audience. Those are the people who may not have strong opinions either way on the subjects of GMOs, international trade, the use of chemicals in modern agriculture or antibiotic use in poultry and livestock. They’re probably looking to those of us who are in agriculture for information, and they acknowledge us as the authority on these subjects because we deal with them daily.

So, who are YOU more likely to believe, “Levelheaded Larry” or “Bobby Blowhard?” Seriously. Many of these lurkers are friends of friends on Facebook, or they see a retweet of what you said on Twitter. They don’t know you, and their only impression as to your credibility may be seeing what you write on social media and how you write it. Do you approach a subject in a calm, factual manner, or do you just “let it fly” and refer to consumers with derogatory language

It’s true that consumers sometimes “don’t know what they’re talking about” when it comes to modern agriculture, whether it be row crop production or the raising of livestock and poultry, but the conversations in which their lack of knowledge becomes clear is the perfect time to share what you know instead of brushing off their concerns. We don’t know it all, either. What is a common practice in one part of the country may be unheard of in another, so it’s important that we speak to what we do know.

And, if you find that you can’t be positive and civil on social media, it is perfectly OK to take a break. An unknown wise person once said, “you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.” If social media has stopped being a place where you share farm pictures and compliment your friend’s grandchildren, if you find yourself getting upset or angry when you log on, step away for a while, cool down, and come back in a week. If you keep engaging when you are in a poor mental state to do so, that will come through loud and clear in your posts and tweets.

No. No, Darlin’, you didn’t.

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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.

Be Grateful, Not Hateful, Darlin’

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I swore to myself this was not going to be a political post, but I get a D minus on that effort. I think that anyone who doesn’t know there’s been great unrest and unkindness in our nation before, during and now after the 2016 Presidential Election, has to be living under a rock.

The good news is that Election Day is behind us, and Thanksgiving is upon us. I choose to be grateful instead of hateful. There are so many who are grieving about the election – what about those who are grieving the loss of a loved one? There are those who are clinging to the political power struggle – what about the folks who can’t pay their power bill? Some are screeching “not my president,” while those on the other side of the world can’t really grasp the concept that people in America have a say in who is the highest official in our government.

So I say be grateful, not hateful. I’m thinking bumper stickers, folks. It’s a great message. There are people in many parts of the world who have no food, no shelter, no clothing and no hope. If you woke up today, be grateful. If you took a shower with running water (hot is a bonus!), be grateful. If you stood in front of your closet deciding which clothes to wear, be grateful.

If you have food to eat, rest assured that the “white, uneducated, rural people” who got so much news coverage over the past few days will continue to produce food, feed, fuel and fiber for the world. I am grateful to be a part of such an intensely personal and noble endeavor.

As many of you know, I enjoy the work that is done by volunteer farm women under the umbrella of CommonGround. This program was originally developed so that farm women could start conversations with non-farm women and help consumers to better understand farming practices, answer questions, and share the things that we have in common.

I think it’s time that we all focus on finding common ground – places that we agree, places to start conversations – and go from there. And don’t forget to “be grateful, not hateful.” (I’m thinking that would make a really nice cross-stitched sampler…)

As the holidays are upon us, I encourage us all to embrace our traditions. Listen to Uncle Bob’s stories one more time – you never know when it’ll be the last time you hear them. If Granny’s turkey is dry, thank her effusively for going to so much trouble for the big family dinner. If your cousin comes in with brand-new vegan, anti-GMO, antibiotic-free ideas, be kind. And God bless us, every one.

 

Sometimes life is just hard, Darlin’

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So. I’ve been AWOL and my people deserve to know why. The first part was a JOYOUS and wonderful thing, as my coworker and dear friend Becky had a BABY! Five was born May 11, and he’s just cute as a speckled pup. She is (as we knew she would be) an AWESOME mommy, and they’re adjusting just fine.  Being one of three people in our office, which serves all of our state’s soybean farmers means that when one of us is out, the “stuff” still has to get done. It was my pleasure to help cover for Becky while she was on maternity leave – I am sure she would return the favor, but let me be perfectly clear: AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN.

 

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On July 27, something truly awful happened. My friend and boss’ husband passed away unexpectedly. Tony was a truly wonderful man, and living two doors down, we are all pretty close. That loss rocked our world and continues to do so. In addition to his beloved wife, he leaves three truly awesome kids, ages 22 and 17. Life will not be the same without Tone in it.

Most recently, my dad has had some health issues. Tomorrow will mark three weeks he’s been in the hospital, and he just last night made it up to the Transitional Care Unit to start working hard (I hope) on physical and occupational therapy to get strong enough to come home.

SO – that’s my deal, and I am hoping that things will chillax around here so that I can get back to my weekly ramble/rant. Thanks to all who know me personally and have checked in on any or all of these situations.

I’m pumped to be working on a co-presentation with a GREAT Agvocate, Jennifer Elwell, for our Kentucky Women in Ag Annual Conference. It’s called “Agvocating Tips for Introverts and Extroverts.” If you can’t guess which one I am, you’re reading the wrong blog, Darlin!

AgVocacy Matters, Darlin!

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Too little, too late? NOPE

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I was fortunate enough to attend the AgChat 2015 Cultivate and Connect Conference in Nashville recently, and, as I often do after being in the presence of such powerful AgVocates, I returned fired up and inspired.

I believe that what those of us who advocate for agriculture do is really important. Whether it’s a blog post, a Tweet, a Facebook share or a photo from the farm posted to Instagram, social media is everywhere, and it opens the barn doors both figuratively and literally to those who might not otherwise have any connection with farming.

In addition to those opportunities, I love the way the CommonGround program helps to train AgVocates for media interviews and one-on-one conversations. So many people want to jump in and help people understand what really happens on the farm, but they’re afraid to say the wrong thing, so they just keep quiet. That’s why CommonGround training is so great. There are no talking points, simply help with learning how to tell your story, your way. Authenticity is a key point of CommonGround, and that’s important. We can’t educate folks who don’t find us to be relatable, open and real.

So, being as inspired as I am upon returning from the AgChat conference, it just broke my heart to see a blog post from a farmer in another state. I follow her blog, and seeing a post titled “That Time I Gave Up on AgVocacy” just hurt. She said that she had tried and tried to talk to people, to share her story, and to gently address their misperceptions. She feels as if they don’t want to listen, and that nothing she says – not matter how or how often she says it – will make a difference, and that’s really discouraging, so she’s quitting.

I think she has some valid points, and I know from experience that trying to address some of the hot topics in the media and conversation these days is exhausting.

We, meaning those of us involved in agriculture, ARE rather late to the game. We’re behind the 8-ball with folks who are demonizing GMO technology, we’re late to the conversations about glyphosate and water and sustainability and erosion, and that’s sad. I think we are late to those conversations because we know that what we’re doing is the right thing. We know we’re not “drenching” any fields with herbicides, and we know we’re not making Frankenfood. We know that we need to take care of the land for future generations, and because it’s the right thing to do. It’s what we’ve always done. We know that while animals are raised for consumption, we need to give them a good life and a humane ending. It’s just the right thing to do.

But “we” knowing doesn’t get our knowledge out to our ultimate customer, the consumer. And “they,” the detractors of conventional ag and biotechnology, are reaching consumers with their opinionated (at best) misinformation and (at worst) their demands for farmers to use or discard certain methods that the detractors really don’t even understand.

I particularly like the comment in the movie “Farmland” in which a farmer says “we don’t have anything to hide, we just need to know… what do you wanna know?” I hope that those of you who share your stories will continue to do so. There’s no magic bullet to stop the misinformation and fearmongering that is going on, both in traditional media and social media. These misperceptions will only subside one conversation at a time.

I do have to say that for one discouraged AgVocate post, I read two that were written by female bloggers who had visited farms and whose perceptions had changed. One was on my friend Krista’s blog, TheFarmersWifee.com. She’s a wife, mother and dairy farmer in Washington State, and she recently interviewed a city lady who had visited a dairy farm. The takeway? “Trust dairy farmers more. They know what they’re doing.”

CommonGround of Kentucky hosted a media tour and farm-to-table lunch at Tommee Clark’s Sunny Acres Farm back in September. We had bloggers and media writers who learned about where their food comes from.

The Kentucky Livestock Coalition was a major sponsor of the Kentucky Proud Incredible Food Show. We asked questions, we answered questions, we had great conversations. And people learned about food and farming and how they tie together.

So keep the faith, AgVocates. Keep on keeping on – keep sharing your stories, keep posting on social media, keep inviting the homemakers club and the FFA and the radio station and the newspaper to your farm. You ARE making a difference, one perception at a time.

OMG y’all – I DID one of those things from Pinterest

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OK. Not really. But it’s a start, OK??

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I found chicken breast tenders ON SALE at the Piggly Wiggly, and I bought 3 big family sized packages of them!

The DH (darlin Husband) has gout, and therefore, no matter how much we LOVE a big ole juicy grilled steak… and a cheeseburger… and a beef roast cooked in the crock pot low and slow all day on a Sunday… and a big slab of brisket from Hugh Edward Knoth… SORRY – mouth watering, must wipe drool off… No matter how much we love beef, something in it makes his gout flare up, so I have become The Queen of Cooking A Chicken.

There’s nothing wrong with good ole country fried chicken served up with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy and some green beans that have been cooked with a little onion and a lotta bacon grease (and bacon. or ham hocks) in a cast iron skillet. This is the way of my people. But, a girl’s gotta branch out.

Sometimes when I am thinking about chicken, I flash back to watching Forrest Gump and Bubba, scrubbing the floor with their toothbrushes, while Bubba waxes poetic about the various ways to prepare shrimp. “Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich… [pauses] That- that’s about it.”

I know DH gets tired of chicken the same ole way, and (up for a challenge?) he’s not really fond of a casserole. So I have prepared fried chicken, grilled chicken, sweet and sour chicken, chicken tacos, chicken fajitas, chicken nachos, white chicken chili, chicken taco soup, chicken enchiladas, lemon pepper chicken, teriyaki chicken, creole chicken, poppyseed chicken, chicken and dressing, stir-fried chicken, and chicken and dumplings. I even made a HOMEMADE chicken pot pie (once).

So our consumption of chicken is… copious, to say the least. This works great for me, because it’s total job security. Poultry is Kentucky’s number one agricultural product, and all of those chickens (whether they’re broilers or layers) eat a diet rich in SOYBEAN MEAL! (Happy, happy, soy soy!)

(I digress. If you have read my blog before, ever, you are not surprised by this.)

I was excited to find the chicken tenders on sale at the Piggly Wiggly, and I bought three big packages, then took them home and split them into smaller, single-meal packages for the freezer. Since there’s just my mister and me for supper most nights, 6-7 tenders is plenty for a meal. I am pretty excited to say that I got TEN meals worth of chicken out of that little adventure,  at a total of…

wait for it…

I am a rockstar wife…

$2.09 per meal.

Yep. Two bucks for the main course of our supper. Thankyou, thankyouverymuch!

So, while I’m feeling all superior and frugal and housewifey… I’m just gonna go get a bacon cheeseburger now, while he’s not around. Sometimes a girl just needs a burger. #iheartbeef

So, Darlin, about Facebook

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I utilize social media a lot. In my personal life, in my job as communication director for the soybean board, and as one of the admins on our church’s Facebook page. I’m on there a lot. I thoroughly enjoy the “schedule post” button, because… life…. life happens, it gets in the way, it blows our schedules all to crap. It derails our best intentions.

So there is a lot of discussion about Facebook adding a “Dislike” button, and that’s all well and good. Sometimes I don’t want to necessarily comment on a post, but I do want the OP (original poster) to know that I saw and acknowledged their post. The “like” button is not always appropriate.

“Just wanted to let everyone know my Gramma changed her address to heaven last night.” “Like” doesn’t really cut it.

“Wish me luck in court today.”  ummmmm…. “like?””

And my least favorite thing of all – vaguebooking. “I am going through some stuff right now, I don’t really want to go into detail.” since there is not a “WTH?” button, “like” is the only option there is, so I see the appeal of a “dislike” button.

But this…

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I want this. I want the NOPE button. Picture of a 6 foot cobra-conda-rattler behind the clothes dryer in someone’s house? NOPE.

“I am getting married to a guy I have known less than a month who has been engaged four times in the past year?” NOPE

“Yippee! only X more days till winter?” NOPE

Some chef ruining an otherwise lovely recipe by slapping a big gooey egg-over-easy on top of it? NOPE

Gals in size 24W string bikinis frolicking with some old hairy dude in a Speedo? NOPE NOPE NOPE

Yep. that’s what this girl wants. A NOPE button.