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Natural Resources Rally at the Capitol 2019

3 Jul

The rally will go down to some, depending on the article that you read, as a terrorist gathering, a group of mostly bearded men, a few tractors and trucks, a few hundred people.

But for those of us who were actually there.  Those of us who listened to the speakers and talked to the attendees, we are the ones who will remember what it was really like.

It was a peaceful gathering, one of the most respectful events ever held of that size.  There were men and women, families even, who came to show their support.  There were hundreds of trucks and tractors and thousands of people.  Signs saying, “If you bought it, a TRUCK brought it!”  People from the Natural Resource Industry were gathering to be heard!  There was respectfulness, there was impact, we were a force!  But also there was no trash left behind, no trace of demonstrators at the end of the day.   We showed true rural hospitality as we simultaneously STORMED the Capitol. We heard from loggers and farmers, men and women, who would have been devastated by House Bill 2020.  We heard from leaders in our natural resources industry, including legislators, who were so excited to see the rural population show up!  We were there to stand up for standing up!!  We showed our support our Senators who walked out, to tell them that we understand and we are with them.  11 Senators whose bold actions and courage extended to all of us, giving us the courage to do the same!I know I’ll never forget that Sunday I got a phone call from a neighbor telling me that “a few” farmers were heading to the capitol and they needed…honestly at that point we weren’t sure what was needed…but would I be willing to help?  My first answer was no; it’s harvest, we are all swamped and working 24 hour days.  But by Monday morning I found myself on a text thread with loggers, timber unity folks, farmers who wanted to do this, wanted to go big, wanted to show up and rally.  In just four short days this grass roots team mobilized and organized and brought together people from across the state to the Capitol steps.  This is just a brief preview of the rally taken from Farm Bureau. Search #timberunity for more great coverage of the rally.

Here is a full video of the entire program that day!

I’ve driven to the Capitol building probably at least a hundred times to come and testify in the past 13 years, but when we drove up early that Thursday morning, the streets of Salem already lined with log trucks and tractors, it was completely overwhelming.  Matt looked at me that morning and said, “Remember 4 days ago when you didn’t know if you all could ever pull this off, when your answer was no?  I mean look at this babe, look what you all have done in such a short period of time.” There are many of us who have waited for our industry here in Oregon to wake up and show up, and this became a moment that was more than we could have ever dreamed.  But I do hope it’s not just a moment in time, I hope the momentum of being involved continues.  This is what we need in order to be heard, and I know people see that now.  I still can’t quite believe we pulled it off.  And there’s too many people to thank to list them all here.  But you all know who you are and a true thank you for helping to make this all possible.

I’ll leave you with this….

“There is an undeniable and noble calling to take care of the earth, but this bill will not help the earth and only hurts all of us. I see fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers all around me. You all steward the natural world through farming, ranching and forestry. It’s time we stand up for each other and the earth.”

-Tiffany Harper, farmer and woodland owner from Junction City, Oregon.

Our latest crop, Tighty Whities

13 May

We aren’t exactly “growing” the infamous tighty whities on our farm, but we did plant one giant pair!!

Last week the kids and I teamed up with 9 other women and Marion County Soil & Water Conservation District and buried a very large pair of underwear on our respective farms.

The project named the, “Soil Your Undies Challenge” begins with the underwear being buried 3-6″ deep in the soil. In 2 months we will dig them back up to take a look at the condition of the cotton briefs. With the help of microbes, worms, bugs and other creatures who live in healthy soils we hope to have barely recognizable pieces of tighty whities.

Managing our soils is something that we take very seriously on our farm. Like many farmers we realize that our soil has a direct link to our ability to continue growing healthy crops year after year.

The field where we buried the underwear this year was just planted this spring with tall fescue. This crop will not be harvested until the summer of 2020. And hopefully it will stay in the ground, which means we will not till the soil, for another 5 to 7 years. It would be interesting to do this project year after year, to see the change of our soils activity with the years of non-tillage.

Our soil health is something that is very important to us. It is also something that we are continually learning more and more about as our farming practices evolve, regulations change, and markets fluctuate, farmers in Oregon are always looking to improve and do better.

**Photo credit goes to Capital Press & Marion County Soil & Water Conservation District.

Daylight Savings Time or Standard Time???

18 Mar

Now if you thought about the Oregon legislature you might not immediately think about the debate on Daylight Savings time versus Standard Time.  But currently that is a discussion being held in Salem.  And you also might not think it’s a “hot topic” but it is proving that people have some very strong opinions about what the time on the clock reads when the sun comes up.  And I also fall under that category as someone who does care one way or the other.

  1. It’s not because “I feel tired” two days a year (let’s be honest I have three kids, I am tired all the time)
  2. It’s not just because I like my late summer evenings (I’m usually in a field until dark anyway)
  3. It’s not because I personally am a farmer (because as many of you will say in your heads while I’m writing this…”You’re a farmer don’t you just work when it’s light no matter what the time says?!”)

The bills currently moving through the House and the Senate address changing Oregon’s time to year round Daylight Savings time.  Which is the time that we are currently on as we “sprung forward” into spring.  Currently we are only on Standard Time about four months out of the year, November through mid-March.  So why the heck would I be against this?  For two reasons.

  1. My kids safety to school in the dark on a bus for 30 minutes.
  2. Our employees and their work out in the fields during those months.

So reason number one is a pretty personal one.  Our son Hoot will be in all day kindergarten next year and will jump on the bus at the farm around 7:15 and arrive at school at 7:45am.  During those four months, that entire trip will be in pitch blackness.  Not to mention some of the days the view out the school window would also be dark until almost an hour into the actual school day.  And I get that even if we didn’t change he would have days where it wasn’t super bright and sunny while he rode into town for school, but it would be for way less days than if we changed to Daylight Savings through those winter months.

And reason number two…I’m an employer.  So as the “farmer” yes my husband and I work often without looking at the clock.  But when it comes to the folks who work for us, that’s a different story.  Our employees are asked to work 7 days a week often 14-16 hours days all summer.  And you know what that does for family time in the summer?  It rarely exists.  So these winter months are their time to have a set schedule at work.  To get off at a reasonable hour, often at the same time as their families so they can have a good quality of life at home.  This is important to us.  But if we change to DST year round, our employees won’t have the time outside in the orchards pruning.  This time will be cut short by an hour, or I will have to ask them to work until 6pm all winter, cutting into that family time.  If I don’t have them work until 6pm we will lose about 2-3 weeks of outside time per employee.  When it comes to pruning, we are often in the orchards until nuts are forming on the branches, so basically until the time comes when it will do more harm than good to get the job done.  I have real concerns over how much time we loose doing our jobs outside during the winter.

And this goes beyond pruning.  We also rogue out weeds, spot spray, mouse bait by hand in the fields, all during these winter months.

So there you go, that is why some of us farmers are against this change.  And believe me if Washington and California decide to change, that puts us sort of (or literally) in the middle of a time zone, and I understand that we would more than likely be forced to follow suit.  But I also think that we need to be conscience of the changes that this will bring to those of us who do work outside year round. There aren’t many of us, but what we bring to this state, not to mention the dinner table, might make some stop to think about it.

I know there are strong feelings on this topic, stronger than I ever would have thought. But feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below!

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