Harvest…from the Eyes of Teenagers

Little Francie enjoying some garden time on the farm…the next combine crew!

My cousin Emily came out this week to visit the farm. We worked together for many summers out here on the farm and boy do we have some good memories. She brought her 1 year old little girl for their first combine ride! The whole time I’m thinking, “Yes, the next workforce!”    It was so great having her out in the field again, it really takes you back to those teenage years of long summer days out on the combines. Way back when, I wrote a poem to remember our last summer together out in the dust, heat, and fields. So here it is, and please remember this is about the perspective working 14 hour days, sitting on a combine…all from the head of a teenager.

13 hour days going round and round.
Sitting on our booties gaining a pound.

Eating lunch too early, getting dinner too late
Goin 2 mph, no need to concentrate.

Over the radio no interrupting is allowed.
We just sit and pray for that one rain cloud.

Through the day deep thoughts occupy our minds.
Why are the complicated boys the ones we seem to find?

Blond moments happen a lot out here.
From oops! Oh my! To…Oh Shoot! And Oh Dear!

Making endless lists of things we need to find.
Sending telepathic messages from combine to combine.

Talking of headers in her sleep and kicking her blankets off the bed.
Emily just couldn’t’ get farming out of her head.

Then there was Brenda, lying awake with a sigh
thinking too much of the one dumb guy!

Back in the fields for another long day,
Armed with books on tape, paper and odysseys in our bag.

Not forgetting hairy legs, trashy clothes and not cute hair.
We jump in our cabs cuz we really just don’t care.

A smile and rodeo queen wave as we look each other’s way.
Finally we’re done and we speed home in grey.

Excited to be going 30 times what we’ve gone the 13 hours past;
Flooring the pedal cuz it’s so fun to go so fast!

We’ll never forget those “senior moments” and port-a-potty notes.
Or how because of AC we’d freeze if we forgot a coat.

We’re just two farm girls working day to day.
Making memories that will never fade away.

Why I want to End the Oregon Death Tax…

I have been working on a campaign to End the Oregon Death Tax for about 6 months now.  It all started when I got wind of a small gathering in my town to talk about the death tax and an initiative that was hopefully going to make it to the ballot this coming November (with a lot of work, signature gathering, money, etc.)  I feel like I’m a fairly informed person, I love to learn and read and try very hard to keep up on what is going on, especially when it comes to issues that are close to the agricultural industry.  So when I heard a lot of facts about the death tax in Oregon, I realized that this issue was much more detrimental and harmful than I ever expected.

I know that I have written a blog about this issue already (as have many of my friends) but I feel as though lately I’m getting more and more questions about why this is important and more and more statements from people about why farmers have never been and aren’t going to be effected by this and it’s all about big rich terrible slimy investors saving in taxes.  I’m sick of people asking me how much my farm is worth, and then telling me that there is no way I will reach an exemption.  I’m sick of people looking at the death tax as a non-issue just because it doesn’t affect them since they aren’t millionaires.  So here you go, all you naysayers!  Here is my honest story about why the Death Tax WILL affect me someday.
  1. To those who say farmers have never been and won’t ever be affected…
    I personally know of farms that have been split up because of the death tax liability.  They have had to sell off portions of their farm, split up a family business, and take huge hits personally because of a death of a parent.  To those who want specific examples, that is as specific as I will get because it’s their story to tell. 
  2. To those who want to know how much my farm is worth and if I will reach the exemption…
    I want to give you an example of a typical farm in my area. 1000 acres of prime farm ground, market value can be upwards of $10k-15k per acre.  Right off the bat with only the land, not including buildings, houses, shop equipment, harvesting equipment, large tractors, trucks, etc, you are hitting $12 million dollars.  So let’s say that both parents die, and the agricultural exemption (even though no one can really explain it to me clearly) is at $7.5million per person.  If we take a conservative land value amount along with all the other things involved in running a farm you’re still left with about $3 million that is taxable, usually at a rate around 10%.  Are you still doing the math?  It’s $300,000…in cash…that you and your siblings as heirs have to pay to the state within 9 months.  Do you have that kind of cash??  Or do you expect a farm to have that kind of cash when over farms are usually very leveraged against that land just to make their operating loans every year?  And just as a reminder, majority of these farms are generational, so as it is in my case, more than likely the family a generation before has already paid the tax on that same base of land.
  3. Death Tax is a non-issue and won’t affect anyone other than millionaires…
    This tax, doesn’t just tax the rich, it inhibits and discourages successful business to come into our state.  Oregon is becoming an increasingly business unfriendly state and I think this is another way that we can start to turn that around.  You can’t have a healthy economy without jobs, and you can’t have jobs without businesses willing to come in, invest in our state, and plan to stay for the long haul.  I can’t move my business, but I have to tell you that after paying income taxes, after dealing with measure 66 and 67, there is a large part of me that wishes I could pick up my soil and move it to a state that sees the common sense piece that in Oregon we are missing.  I am not a millionaire, my dad is not a millionaire, and my grandfather was not a millionaire.  We are farmers who just want to be able to farm the soil that generations of blood sweat and tears have given to us.
As you can see I’m passionate about this issue because I honestly see it as a true road block for my future here in Oregon agriculture.  Please take the time to look at the issue, contact me if you have questions and I will try to help to clarify, and please help us to get this out of our state so we can start healing and making Oregon’s economy better for family business.  Also just fyi…signed petitions are due July 6th!

The Why…

So I’ve decided to start a blog. I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, realizing that my biggest fear is that maybe not a person in the world would want to hear all the crazy ridiculous things that go on in my everyday life. But then again, maybe someone will and just maybe it will bring a smile their face to know that there is in fact someone just a bit more socially awkward, super smart yet sometimes not too brilliant and just plain normal out there who enjoys to write. Also I tend to have a lot of stories, and honestly I’m forgetting like an 80 year old with Alzheimer’s here, so I thought I might want to get a few of them down on paper before it all goes to heck!


To tell you a bit about myself, I’m a young farmer in Oregon. I farm with my dad and mom and enjoy just about every minute of it. When I say that I have a crazy life, farming is a large part of that. When you’re around large equipment that is complicated or really simple and I try to make more complicated I tend to have things break down (constantly) on me. I’m not sure where I got this gift of breaking just about anything I touch, but I’ll tell you what, I’ve got it 100%. I actually wrote a poem for my dad about all the havoc I brought to the farm in just my first year of farming. This includes more than just the 4 cell phones and 2 PTO shafts!


I’m also a volunteer firefighter and EMT in my small town. This alone has brought several new experiences into my life and although not all the things I see I want to see again, I’m am glad that I have a lot of training in what to do in emergencies. I have found though that the thing that scares me the most is when people assume that because I’m around they can be more dangerous…really folks…not a good idea. Like when I was sitting at my parents house and from another room I hear my dad say to my mom, “Should we let Lila (granddaughter who is only 1) eat that huge grape?”, mom, “Oh it’s fine, plus Brenda is in the other room and she knows what to do if she chokes!” Not the best plan I think!


Traveling is another adventure I truly enjoy! I was able to study overseas twice in college and I was officially hooked on traveling all over the world. It’s been a crazy ride like getting mugged by a gypsy in Spain, but I can honestly say that I wouldn’t change a thing. I think a good story can just about make up for any hardship or frustration while traveling, that and a cold beer or large glass of wine that is!


Anyway I tend to find really random things very funny and thought that maybe this is a place where people can come to get a good laugh and learn about a different sort of life than a lot of people my age are living. So ENJOY!

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