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Life Beyond the Farm & Having it All

12 Dec

I have found it a very common theme that farmers or those involved in agriculture have a reach that goes much beyond their own acres of land.  Maybe it’s because we are traditionally from smaller communities that have been built with volunteers, or maybe it’s because we have needed help at some point too and have always had a network to reach out to just over the fence row.  Or maybe it’s because we are bored…oh wait…nope…scratch that…it’s definitely not the reason. I have yet to meet a bored farmer!

I don’t often talk about my life outside of farming and family on here.  And probably a lot of it has to do with the fact that I never think of it as interesting or worth blogging about, because it’s just what I have always done and what has always been the norm for my life.  I grew up in a family that volunteered and gave their time where it was needed, and it’s something that runs as deep in my blood as the soil that I farm.  I, like many other farmers, volunteer as a firefighter and EMT in our community.  I also sit on many boards, mostly agriculturally involved.  I give a lot of time to these efforts of making things better for my fellow farmers, making things safer for my neighbors and overall helping where needed in the community.

This is a photo from the Woodburn High School Fire back in 2012, when I was still “Kirsch”

So all that being said, as many of you know I am expecting our third little baby this coming spring.  I actually headed up to the fire department just last night to have department photos taken and looked like this in my uniform shirt.  Which was hilarious but also made me a little sad.

A few months back I had to make a number of phone calls that I truly didn’t want to make, conversations about me stepping down, stepping back, and in some cases leaving all together.  Off boards with friends who have become family, folks who I have sat next to over years, in some cases over 10 years, at the local fire station, farm bureau board room or even coffee shop.  These meetings were more than just meetings, it’s where I learned some of the most valuable lessons of not only about how to be a good fireman, EMT or farmer; but a friend, a good colleague, and a solid person.

At a Marion County Farm Bureau Meeting, showing that “I Farm I Vote”

So last night when I tried (and really I did try) to button up that uniform shirt for what might be the last time in a long time, it was very bittersweet.  It was a blatant sign that I had made a choice, it was a sign that having it all doesn’t always mean you have it “all” and that decisions no matter how tough, have to be made.  I know I have made the right choice in moving back from my involvement, but it doesn’t make it any easier to say “see you later” to the folks who have made life here in this small town, and within the farming industry, so amazing.  I have no doubt that I’ll be back, remember it’s in my blood…and for now farming and having three kids under 4 (which yes I realize is still a lot) will take my time and focus.

I often have people ask me how I do it “all” and I often don’t really know what to say.  But I think now I’ll say that having it “all” doesn’t mean that you get to have everything you want right now.  It means to me that I have to be realistic and make choices that make what I can handle in the “now” all the more worth it.  Moving forward with life is not a choice, time will keep passing, but it does mean we get to make choices in the direction we head.  So for now, I’m heading back to the boys who are calling “mommy” (all the time!) and back to the fields to look for slugs.  For now that’s where my “all” is, and for now that’s all I need.

Ag Day is Everyday #AgDay365

10 Apr

A few years ago I was advocating for some pro-agriculture legislation at the state level.  I wrote a blog about how great it would be for Oregon’s farmers and for our industry as a whole.   A friend of mine reached out and told me that she was confused about why I was working so hard at getting this passed at the state level, she thought my efforts were wasted because,

“We should save these state level fights for things that effect everyone, not just for farmers.  This is not an issue of statewide concern.” 

To say I was shocked was an understatement, so I took a deep breath and asked a few simple questions…when she last had a meal.  I asked what her clothes were made of.  I asked her to look around her and told her that Oregon agriculture employs 1 in every 12 of the people she sees.  I wanted to help her see that while only 2% of the population might be a farmer…farming reaches everyone, statewide and beyond!

Which is why I was so excited to see the new campaign that American Women in Agriculture launched this year.  Ag Day 365, showing how Ag Day is Everyday! The goal of this campaign is to show everyone how much our lives, all our lives, connect to agriculture.  It’s not just for us farmers out in the fields, farming touches the lives of every single person every single day.  Even for all my friends from Loyola Marymount University in LA, yes to all of you who only know one farmer, your lives are constantly being affected by farmers from all over the world.

If you want to learn more you can check out the website AgDay365, or feel free to follow along with #AgDay365 to see the many posts from farmers all over the United States.  Here are just a few of my favorites from some great advocates for agriculture…

Allowing people a look into what farmers face each and everyday is not an easy task.  It takes time and effort that goes beyond just trying to make your business survive to the next generation.  But in the end, groups like American Agri-women and our local affiliate Oregon Women for Agriculture are always helping the effort.  Please follow along and encourage others to as well.  Because while farmers are such a small number in people, there are a growing number of us who are trying to reach out and let everyone know what we are up to out in the fields, how we raise the food you eat, and share in some of the challenges and successes that make up what we are proud to call Oregon agriculture.

Dirt Math

10 Mar

What do you do when you have to do math for your legislative testimony and you find yourself out in a field pruning, paperless and pen-less?


You scratch it in the dirt with your pruning sheers!  Just another day of many hats…farmer, accountant and agvocate!  

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