Saturday, September 26, 2009


When my husband decided to take a city girl for a wife, there were a few things that he knew would need working on right away. For one, I was a scaredy-cat. For another, I was a worry-wart. Put these things together, and that makes for one irrational person. I couldn’t help it, I was from the city and people from the city have to be scared and worried at the same time in order to protect themselves!
Over the years, as my induction to country life began and I was forced to face my fears and worries, I realized how foolish some of them were. For example, I used to be scared of the dark. Not the dark inside my house, but the dark outside my house. Even my own driveway! When city folk get out of their cars at night, they either do so under the safety and cover of their garage and immediately go inside, or they walk briskly from their car without stopping until they get inside (I guess they’re scared too.)
I will never forget when the farmer told me after we first met, that he would sit outside in his driveway late at night looking at the stars, enjoying the night. I remember thinking to myself, “Aren’t you terrified out there?” So I have decided that I need to stop being scared outside at night. Over the years I have realized what is making noises that go bump in the night…owls, crickets, squirrels heading to their nests, trees moving in the wind. None of these are rational things to be scared of, so I knew I had to stop being such a wimp. Now I can actually go outside at night and really enjoy the stars- the stars in the country are incredible because of how dark the sky is. The city sky at night isn’t nearly as dark and therefore the stars don’t shine as brightly as they do in the country. So I have begun to let my irrational fears go, and to actually appreciate the darkness.
The sound of coyotes at night has never been one of my favorite sounds-especially when the cow and goats were babies, and now when we have 2 kitties that live outside. I, of course, don’t know exactly where the coyotes are, but I always imagine that they are on my front porch about to ring my doorbell. I have had to ask the farmer multiple times to go outside just to check on everyone out there when I hear the coyotes. My worries get the best of me. And he knows I’m going to keep him awake until he goes out there with a flashlight and gives me a full report, so he always accommodates me on this request. I, of course, was not going to be the one to go check!
I knew I had made great strides in my efforts to overcome city-girl fears and worries the other night. The coyotes were closer and louder than they had ever been before (or at least I perceived this to be the case). This time, I ran outside all by myself. I just knew the house was going to be surrounded by them when I got out there and I’d have to rescue my sweet kittens from their clutches. None of that happened, the kitties were under the car asleep and our dog running outside barking silenced the coyotes for the rest of the night. I still had to be brought back to reality by the farmer on all the fears that I had after coming back inside, but I gave myself a lot of credit for being the first responder.
With every situation that happens to me in bumpkin-land, I realize that I am getting closer and closer to dispelling my irrational worries and fears. And it thrilled my heart to no end when a few nights ago, my 3 year old son went outside at night, all by himself to get a sword out of the yard. He didn’t think twice about it. I tried to keep my mouth shut and not say something silly like, “Oh, let Daddy do that.” Because I want him to know that in the country, there’s nothing to be afraid of…well, until the next coyote howl at least!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

If you give a mouse a kitten...

This past Saturday was a rainy dreary day on the farm. We stayed inside most of the day, and by 7pm we were all feeling a little couped up (now I know how the chickens feel). I told the farmer it was time for us all to go outside to get some fresh air. The kids did not want to go out. I tried to force them and they just wouldn’t budge. So I said, fine, I’ll be on the front porch! The farmer went to feed the livestock, I sat in the rocker, and immediately heard shouting out the back door, “Edmund has a mouse! Edmund has a mouse!” Edmund is one of our little 5 month old kitties. The confusing part to me, was that Edmund was on the front porch near me and the kids were still in the house… evidently they had opened the front door, seen the poor rodent meeting his end and ran back inside and then made the announcement from the back door. I take a closer look at Edmund and sure enough, he has a mouse trapped behind our plant stand. Peter, his brother, has joined the scene and now the kids are back out front. The fat little mouse made a break for it across the porch and as the kittens chased and pounced on him, I turned around and said, “I don’t want to watch this”. 3 year old son says, “I want to!” So as anyone who has mouser-cats knows, for the next hour, the cats and mouse played cat-and-mouse. Son went to go get his sword, just in case they needed his help. I tried to ignore the whole thing, since I was trying to enjoy the “peaceful” sounds of the countryside. The cats were now growling at each other, claiming the mouse. Our dog was trying to get involved with the situation as well. My 6 year old daughter came over to me crying with tears pouring down her cheeks. “Please Mama, I want the mouse. I want to keep him. Please do something!” What?! A pet mouse? She must be kidding. The farmer says, “She didn’t cry when any of her pet chickens died, (all of whom she had named) when they were attacked by a fox or a hawk in front of her, but she’s crying over a mouse?” We took this opportunity to go over the food chain (again). We talked about how this is a cat’s natural instinct as a predator. Eventually she stopped crying. And she and my son found the giant mud pit in the drive way to play in. They got so dirty that they had to have a hose down shower outside before they were allowed inside, and all I could think about was them contracting creep interruption, or creeping eruption, or ground itch. The cold water from the hose made them get a new burst of energy right before bed time. They ran inside, soaking wet, filthy dirty, screaming all the way. They did manage to check on the status of the mouse before heading in. The poor thing was still alive, but he didn’t have long.
As soon as we all got inside, the farmer says to me, “So, how was that for some fresh air?” I had to laugh. This is my life and I love it. I’m glad that my kids can learn these lessons while they are young- it’s OK for predators to kill other animals, and it’s OK to get filthy dirty. Those are still lessons that I’m trying to learn!
Sunday morning, my son and I go out the front door to feed the cats. Sure enough, the fat mouse has found his final resting place on our door mat. I gasp. Son says, “Don’t worry, he isn’t going to move.” And so life in the country continues…

Thursday, September 10, 2009

2009 Jefferson County Farm Family of the Year

In 1966 Stephen's grandparents, CA and Ruby Fulford were the recipients of this award, and in 1979, Stephen's parents Gary and Donna Fulford were the recipients of this award...and now in 2009 we have received it! We will be recognized at our county farm bureau meeting next week, and also at the North Florida Fair in Tallahassee in November. Pretty cool, huh?

Jefferson Journal Article 9-11-09

I didn't post last weeks since it was another blog re-run....but this week is hot off the press!

This is the time of year on the farm that I love the most. This is harvest season. All spring-long, the men on the farm plant seeds in the ground without any promise of a return on their labor. They work late into the night turning the dirt over peanuts, soybeans, corn, cotton, and grain sorghum. The countless hours of work, however, don’t amount to anything until now.
The months that pass between spring and fall are crucial to a farmer’s livelihood and also to the people who depend on the commodities they grow. Was there enough rain? Did the fertilizer work properly? Was there too much rain in one particular field? Did the stink bugs destroy the crop? There is very little that the farmer actually has control of. Even the timing of planting/spraying/harvesting is determined by favorable weather conditions. Talk about stressful job conditions!
Nonetheless, harvest time is still my favorite season. From my dining room, I can often see the men folk pulling up to 3 wagons at a time with their trucks, full of the crop they have just picked, ready for storage. It is exciting to see something come out of the ground in such large amounts. It is even more satisfying to know that the commodities grown here in Jefferson County are part of what keep the world going around. I have realized over the years of being married to the farmer, that although this job is one of the most necessary jobs in the world, it is often one of the most criticized and therefore misunderstood professions as well. Most of the time it is criticized by people who have no direct involvement in the production aspect of agriculture. But yet, everyone is involved in the consumption aspect of agriculture! (The phrase, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” comes to mind here…)
Most people do not realize the ever increasing demand on farmers to produce more food and fiber through better yields and more efficient practices. This is simply due to the ever increasing population of the world. Will the farmers do this with more land? No, farm land is constantly decreasing with population growth. Will farmers do this with more workers? No, less than 1% of America’s population is involved in production agriculture.
How will this be accomplished?
There was a great article in a recent Wall Street Journal by Norman Borlaug, a professor at Texas A&M University who won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to the world food supply. He estimates that over the next four decades, the world’s population will include three billion new mouths to feed. This means the world’s farmers will have to double their current production. Again, they will need to do this with less land, less workers and increased environmental demands.
Although our farm has but a small role in the grand scheme of feeding the world, we are proud to be among the less than 1% of our country’s population that is most certainly part of the solution. And as harvest season continues here, I am grateful for what God has provided for us- the ability to farm the same land for almost 70 years and still going strong.