Since this blog is for you to get to know me and the life I have as a farmer, I need to talk some about the negatives and positives of being in this industry.
Within the industry as a whole, I’m seen as an oddball. Odd because I don’t believe a lot of the hype for and against agriculture. I believe in the power of verifiable, educated proof. No matter what topic you research, there are pro’s and con’s to all. I see both sides and the values to most. Many times, I can hold an intelligent conversation with all different kinds of producers about choices they make.
Where the negative comes in is when you point out something against the popular belief and suddenly you become the “hobby farmer” or the “too small to get what I’m dealing with” explanation. Sometimes they are right and other times, I’m left scratching my head trying to determine how suddenly my input is invalid. Let me give you an example…
Raw milk or drinking milk off your own farm. I can’t drink pasteurized milk. It literally makes me sick, so years ago I decided to do some research and talk with my health care professional about the issue. I was told to try different pasteurization processes, which at the time I didn’t even realize there were like 4 different levels. Low temp, High temp, Ultra are the types I want to discuss. It’s important to understand how that process alters and effects our dairy products. To learn more about the process, check out the International Dairy Foods Association guidelines.
Ultra pasteurized is a process of super high heat to extend self life, effective killing any and all potential bacteria (good and bad). The IDFA says, “Another method, aseptic processing, which is also known as Ultra High Temperature (UHT), involves heating the milk using commercially sterile equipment and filling it under aseptic conditions into hermetically sealed packaging. The product is termed “shelf stable” and does not need refrigeration until opened.”
Another little known fact about UHT milk is that the casein within the milk that would allow for milk to be made into cheese are destroyed in this process. As my doctor said, anything that is UHT pasteurized is adulterated past the point of being able to scientifically being able to be called milk. Many will react with food-like allergy reactions to this product because of that altered state. She expressed that I should do my own homework, so off I went in search of answers.
What I discovered nearly rocked me to the core. I found this article with micro photography on the actual alterations for each of the process. The article, supplied by The Weston A Price Foundation, can be found here. All of this made me realize that my issues were derived from the process. Upon going back to the doctor, we started discussing my options. She couldn’t and wouldn’t recommend Raw milk due to the CDC warnings but we discussed my health back when I spent a great deal of my time on my grandparents dairy, drinking the milk and the cheese my gran made… all from raw milk.
I spent more time researching and learning the differences in nutrition between standard raised beef and grass fed beef. Being a newly fledged farmer, I decided to attempt raising one, contrary to the farm partners zealous efforts to discourage me. What I discovered after transitioning our diets on meats alone was overwhelming. Our cholesterol dropped, we weren’t visiting the doctor as much for illnesses and both of our BMI’s were better. Nothing else in our diets had changed and we were still working the same jobs, performing the same duties.
Why do I bring this information up? I bring it up because I’ve gotten a lot of flack for discussing my own personal experiences and discussing what I’ve learned via my own production, research and more. Being the marketing person I am with 20 years of history in the industry built on data, I started learning more on human health and nutrition issues even going to the extent of completely an online college credit course in social psychology.
I’ve taken flack from my own partner over confining animals in barns, setting up pastures and finding funds to build fencing to increase pastures. I’ve taken shit from my neighbors who told me it couldn’t be done. Relatives that put me down and told me I was crazy if I thought I could charge the prices I needed too. I’ve dealt with shitty contractors who felt the need to seek my husbands approval (as an FYI I’m NOT married and won’t be). I’ve been disrespected and put down over and over again.
This isn’t the industry for pats on the back and batting eyelashes. You need to be as tough as nails, highly educated on what works best for you and be very firm in fighting for what you believe in. You will fight with other producers, be called all kinds of names, deal with people so stupid you get stunned into silence and still someone will push your patience to the limits. If you are a woman, you will learn that some men will never see your value. Some women won’t either. You’ll need to be tough, learn how to get a thick skin and learn how to vocalize for yourself and demand respect.
If you become a farmer, know that I am here, always to listen to a vent or a rant. I’ll always be here to tell you that you are AMAZING, that you are a damn super woman that accomplishes more in one day that others do in a week. I’ll be here to express to you that you are a physically fit bad ass in work clothes. I’ll tell you all the things I need others to say to me as a reminder of all that I actually am. I AM A FARM GIRL. Born of grit and fire, passionate about farming and knowledgeable about what I do. That I am physically strong and quick witted when I’m not strong enough to get the job done.
I commend every single women out there working hard to fulfill the dream and lifestyle of being a farmHER. Now… could we all just get along, not call each other names, make others feel the need for validation from any man (yes, older ladies I’m specifically talking to you) because we are a powerful group. A group of powerful women that are bad asses unlike so many others. Women that devote our lives, blood, sweat and tears into the land, livestock and family around us. Have an attitude… but let it be an attitude of perseverance and support.