Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thinking and Knowing

article published 8-14-09 Jefferson Journal

My daughter’s science lesson last week focused on magnets. One of the points of the lesson was that there is a difference between things that we “think” and things that we “know”. This was to help her learn observation techniques and to begin to learn the scientific method. Pretty deep for 1st grade, but it was amazing how well it worked. She was very surprised to find out the difference between things she “thought” about the magnets and things that she “knew” about them. That statement has stuck with me through this week, and I can’t help but apply it to the various aspects of agriculture that are part of my every day life.
For example, we have 4 chickens in our coup that survived the great fox massacre of 2009. One of those chickens looks like a rooster in many ways. The children are convinced he is a rooster. I actually think he is too. With everything he does, and every sound he makes, the kids and I are more and more sold on the thought that he is, indeed, a rooster. When we found our first egg in the coup, my 3 year old son said, “I think the rooster laid it.” We laughed. A few days later, we could have sworn we heard the beginnings of a “cock-a-doodle-doo” coming from the coup. Not the whole thing, just part of it. So my daughter and I said, “It IS a rooster!” Just last night, the “rooster” wouldn’t let my daughter get the egg out of the coup and was very protective of the other chickens, even pecked her on the leg before she could get out of there! Just one more verification to us that the chicken is a rooster. Farmer husband laughs at us, shakes his head and says, “It is not a rooster.” I guess this is a classic case of what we “think” and what we “know.” Either way, someone is wrong and deep down inside, I “think” it is the kids and me. So our observations continue.
A lot of people have been asking if our Jersey heifer is pregnant. To be honest, I’m afraid to even talk about it for fear of jinxing the whole thing. But, I know how much the inquiring minds want to know. I want to “know” too! But I don’t “know.” I only “think.” We think she is pregnant, but we haven’t done any confirmation tests to be sure. All the signs of non-pregnancy haven’t shown up since she returned from her vacation with the gentlemen callers. She is looking fat and seems more content with life than she ever has before. Even my kids will say, “I think she’s pregnant.” But I can’t help but think to myself that it really doesn’t matter what we “think” about this situation- We simply don’t know!
In the past few years farmer-husband and I have become very passionate about the safety, affordability, and the abundance of our American food and fiber supply. We, and all the other American farmers, experience first hand the effects of what people “think” about these things, and what they “know” about them. There are certain myths that the media and marketing groups circulate and perpetuate that have been devastating to dairy farmers, cattle ranchers, and fruit/vegetable producers. These myths mainly pertain to the safety of our American food supply. I would ask each one of you who reads this to think critically when it comes to your food choices. Do you buy or avoid certain foods because of what you think is true about them, or because you know what is true about them? If you don’t know for sure, go straight to the source instead of the media-ask a farmer! I always do.
I have the privilege of homeschooling my children, and have found that so much of what I am teaching them, I am re-learning myself. Why is it that what we learn as kids just doesn’t seem to sink in until we are grown? Through their experiences on the farm and in the country, they will have the opportunity to learn the difference between “thinking” and “knowing” and hopefully I will too.

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