First, play this song – it all ties in, I promise!

May. I always find this time of year so frustrating. All I want to do is go home and forget about school, but I have to stay and take finals. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment – for a farm kid, this is torture. I know that right now the ducks are running around the yard eating bugs, the goats are taking their afternoon naps, and Dad is probably tinkering in the garden. The air will be thick with the smell of cut grass this weekend, as some of our neighbors are already taking the first cuttings of hay and winter wheat. This is the best time in Cassville because it hasn’t been hot yet. In late July, however, the air will be heavy with humidity and no amount of hairspray will come to my rescue. Over the summer, my kids will transform from scrawny, clumsy babies into fat, shiny bucks and does. Hopefully, the corn will be “knee high by the fourth of July” as the old saying goes, and the worms won’t fall in love with the tomatoes, as they seem to do every year. Days will be spent stretching barbed wire fences and baling hay, but it will seem like nothing when you step back and see a straight pasture and a barn full of square bales (even if you have the worst sunburn you can remember and your shirt is full of red clover!). My cousins from Virginia will come to visit, and the holler will sound like Teddy Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan hill for a few days as we engage in friendly-but-not-friendly bottle rocket fights. Late nights will be spent catfishing and frog gigging, and sweet tea will be the beverage of choice. My hands have grown a little soft since I only work on the weekends, but by August they will be full of calluses and scars once again, and the bottoms of my feet will be tough from going barefoot every day. There will be family drives through the holler to Roaring River, nights camping out with cousins, and evenings spent listening to the relatives tell stories. I always go through a sort of rebirth in the summer (sounds a little cliche doesn’t it?). Once all the hay has been cut and hauled, the grass has grown dry and sharp, and the pond is almost dry from the lack of rain, I know summer is almost over. I’m never ready to go back to classes, but I slowly ease back into the groove and look forward to summer once again. As this semester comes to a close, this is my last post for class credit. I do, however, intend to continue blogging and telling about my experiences. Thank you so much for following along with me this semester and reading my thoughts. I appreciate it!


Chuck Zimmerman: Ag Communications Then and Now

This past week in AGR 399, we had a Skype chat with Chuck Zimmerman, creator of He explained to us how he got started blogging about agriculture, what the blog is made up of, and how ag communications has changed over the years. Chuck’s personal background is in journalism and radio broadcasting. He was not raised in agriculture, but had always felt a passion for it. Chuck first began AgWired by writing about what he found interesting. He had a learn-as-you-go method, and taught himself many of the tricks of the trade in ag blogging. When the Internet first became popular, there was a period of time in which printed publications slowly transitioned to online publications. Chuck took advantage of this, and was soon teaching other companies how to blog and earn money. Much has changed in Chuck’s time in ag communications, and I think that internet publications will continue to grow in popularity in the future. Agriculture companies will establish themselves online, in social media, and in professional forums. In a short while, we may even see an app for tracking where our food comes from!

Chuck Zimmerman, founder of Zimm Comm New Media, LLC.

Babies on the Farm!

With the arrival of spring (though it seems to be a little late this year) comes the arrival of baby animals.  For most farm kids, myself included, this is an exciting time.  Although it was my goats that were having the babies, I was always proud when I finally had kids.  I had waited so long, and in some cases, prayed so hard for my babies to be hearty and healthy.  I have witnessed the miracle of life many times.  Sometimes that life is snuffed out after only a few minutes, and sometimes, a life doesn’t even get a chance to begin.  When there is a life, though, I get shivers when I see that baby take its first breath and wobble to its feet that first time.  Many long nights have been spent out in the cold barn, flashlight in hand, trying to stay awake, waiting for a doe to finally decide to have her babies.  Many hours have been spent trying to teach a hard-headed baby to take a bottle, and helping to dry off brand new kids when the momma couldn’t do everything herself.  Sometimes I think that this is the most rewarding part of being an agriculturalist – preserving a life for the next generation to learn from and care for.  If this is my duty, I know that I have done it well, and I will continue to do my duty in the future.


April, the first and biggest baby.



This is the second baby, a nanny, who we haven’t named yet.



This is May, April’s little sister. Her momma wouldn’t take her, so we are raising her on a bottle. She was still pretty weak in this picture, but she is strong and healthy today.



Meet Bess and Betty, who were the last babies born. They are twin nannies, and are Boer-Nubian cross. We had them on supplemental bottles for a couple of weeks, but they are totally with their momma now.


State FFA Convention

The time has finally come! For a Missouri FFA member, one of the most exciting times of the year is the middle of April. Contests are over, and the best of the best teams will be competing in Columbia for the chance to go on to National competition. This is the largest annual gathering of Missouri FFA members, and it is one of the most exciting things I have done. I have went to State FFA convention every year since freshman year of high school, and I am so excited to be attending this year as a representative of Missouri State University. So many of my FFA memories are from these conventions. The first time I went I was about eleven, and I went to watch my sister get her state degree and awards for competing in the dairy foods contest. Later, I made my own memories in Columbia. The infamous u-turn by Ms. Epperly in the middle of Columbia, going to the movies the same year because there were only four of us, the insanely early mornings spent at IHOP, and the ridiculously late nights spent attending sessions and participating in random shenanigans. I was so blessed to have my mother accompany me last year to witness me receiving my state degree and my proficiency award. As much as I dislike Mizzou, that will always be a place that I associate with some of my fondest FFA memories. As Missouri FFA members, we come from many different backgrounds and regions. The Boot heel, the north, central Missouri, and the southwest. However, for these few brief days, we can gather in one place and share our passion for agriculture and our hopes for the future. Bring on State Convention!

Laura Ingalls Wilder: An Old-Fashioned Agvocate


Most of us from Missouri know about Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her travels and memoirs have been taught to us in school, and many of us have travelled to her home in Mansfield. I can remember many evenings spent with my family in our living room, listening to Mom read chapters of the Little House series. Before most of the kids my age had even heard of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I had already heard all of her stories. I remember that we had a Little House trivia book, and I would sit for hours memorizing all the details of every story. Around the age of eight, we took a family trip to Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, and I have been hooked ever since. I have always been in love with history, and this house seemed like Heaven on earth to me. I have made several trips back since then, and I enjoy it more every time.

You may be wondering how Laura Ingalls Wilder is related to agriculture. It is quite simple, actually; for her whole life, Laura was involved in agriculture. In the Big Woods of Wisconsin, Ma kept cows (one was named Sukey) for fresh milk and butter, and Pa butchered a hog every year, and would let Laura and her sister, Mary, roast and eat the tail. Mary and Laura helped Ma make cheese and butter (which Ma would color with carrot juice to make it pretty and yellow). Pa also tells how his pa harvested maple syrup from the trees in the Big Woods. Later, in Kansas and the Dakotas, the Ingalls’ built houses out of sod and planted wheat, which was destroyed by locusts one year. Once, Pa hired on as a cowboy to help drive a herd of cattle to market, directly contributing to the beef industry. The family always had a garden, and Laura loved playing with all of the squash and pumpkins that would be stored in the attic throughout the winter. Later, after marrying Almanzo and settling in Mansfield, Laura was a reporter for the Missouri Ruralist, where she shared farming secrets, tricks of the trade, and a few memoirs of her life with Pa and Ma, and Mary and Jack. It was not until 1932 that Little House in the Big Woods was published, bringing Laura to the forefront of children’s writing. In the next 11 years, Laura would draw from her agricultural experiences in the Big Woods and on the Great Plains to write her beloved stories. Laura was once interviewed, and the the description that the visitor gave of his subject was quite fitting. To sum it up, he stated that Laura was a wonderful older woman, a grand storyteller, an agriculturalist, and “a writer, too.” I feel that without her experiences in agriculture, Laura may not have been inspired to write the story of her history, and her life would be forgotten too easily. However, we do have her story because she was determined to share it, and she has captivated generations of children, and will continue to do so in the future. I really do think of Laura as an old-fashioned agvocate.


One of my earlier trips to Rocky Ridge, but not my first.


And my latest trip this summer, during which I introduced my younger cousins to the wonderful world of The Little House.


The next generation of pioneer girls and boys!

For more information on the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home & Museum in Mansfield, MO, visit this link:

Spring Out Here

I guess I never noticed before, but spring kind of creeps up on you out in the country.  One day everything is brown and covered in snow, and the next, there’s green grass almost an inch high.  The buds on trees burst overnight, and baby animals just seem to appear out of nowhere.  Being home for Easter was kind of a bummer since the new season is just now getting a good start at home.  I had no sooner got out of my first class this morning when my mom sent me pictures of the only kids I’ll get this year.  Leave it to temperamental, spoiled nanny goats to withhold their children until after I leave!  On top of missing my kids, my duck eggs are due to hatch tomorrow. There are few things in life more adorable than tiny new duck feet, even if ducklings are louder than a tornado siren!  At night, the spring peepers keep up a commotion in the pond, and I so enjoy seeing the mist rise off of the fields in the morning.  As you may be able to tell, I really love spring!  Yes, summer is lovely, fall is a huge  relief after the heat, and winter is beautiful, but all life is renewed in the spring.  The air is not yet muggy, and you can still smell the dirt in the air.  In a few weeks the garden will be ready to plant, and there will be no end to weeding, tilling, watering, and rock picking.  When the hay is tall, it will be cut, raked, baled, and hauled in a matter of days, only to be repeated again when the grass grows back.  When the heat of the day is gone, there will be fishing trips and barbeques, swimming in the creek and catching lightning bugs.  For now though, the nights are cool and quiet, and we still just flip through the seed catalogs.  Balers and air conditioning are far from our minds as we sit in the living room with all the doors and windows open.  We’ll enjoy these few brief weeks of spring before the Missouri heat moves in, and then we’ll pick okra and green beans, and dream of next spring.


A new little doe just born this morning!


Also a little doe, trying out her new legs!


These aren’t babies from this year, but they are the same breed that will be hatching this week. You can’t see them very well, but they have afros on top of their heads!

Judi Graff: FARMnWIFE

Hello! Again this past week, we had a guest speaker in my PR in Ag class. Judi Graff, the author of the FARMnWife blog, visited our class.  Her presentation was geared toward farm business, but many of her suggestions apply to my kind of blogging as well. So, here are the top 3 things that I learned about more effective blogging.

1. Your blog must be simple and clear, yet appealing to the eye. This is important because you have about 6 seconds to catch someone’s attention before they decide your page isn’t worth reading. I have already made a few changes to my blog by adding things like a “Find me on Facebook” link and a “Top Posts” widget.

2. Have a contact section. This is important because sometimes a follower does not want to make a comment or question public for some reason or another. When you have a contact section, a follower can ask questions to the blogger directly and this kind of direct contact makes the blogger more approachable. I have already added a “Contact Me” at the top of my blog, and I hope you will take advantage of it!

3. Have a call to action. Your blog may have some great information or entertainment, but sometimes readers don’t know what to do with that information. A call to action, such as a poll or a question session, can help not only get the reader involved, but also let the blogger know what the readers like to see. In my blog, I am going to try to learn how to do polls and surveys; I think they will be fun!

Judi gave some amazing tips for effective blogging, and I am so glad that I got to hear her present. I really think that her suggestions will help to improve my blog. As always, thanks for reading, and see you next week!

P.S. Here’s the link to Judi’s blog, FARMnWife, if you want to check it out!