Diamond Pioneers – My Grandparents

My grandparents, Don and Lorena Bowers, were honored with the Diamond Pioneer Award on October 15, 2014 at Oregon State University. They were two of nearly a dozen to receive it this year. They will now be a permanent part of the Diamond Pioneer Agricultural Achievement Award.

The Diamond Pioneer Registry was established in March 1983 when the College Of Agricultural Sciences observed its 75th anniversary.  With the Registry, the College recognizes the significant contributions of many of our friends and colleagues who have served agriculture and related areas throughout a portion of their careers.” – Oregon State Website

2014 Diamond Pioneers, my Grandma Lorena is in the middle & my grandpa is to her right in the blue shirt.

2014 Diamond Pioneers, my Grandma Lorena is in the middle & my grandpa is to her right in the blue shirt.

Every year I read through the names in this registry to see who was inducted.  The people who are honored are cool! These farmers, ranchers, foresters, educators and other natural resource enthusiasts have maintained and advanced our industry. They have paved the way for the future generations.

I am proud to say I have a cool family. My Great-grandma Charity Bowers was honored with the Diamond Pioneer as well.  Being engaged and involved in Oregon Agriculture is a genetic trait in my family.

I was excited to submit my grandparents for the award. The deadline was in the middle of harvest but thanks to my dad, uncles and long-time industry folks I was able to compile information fairly easily. ;)  The people who have spoiled me with donuts, camping trips, pies and awesomeness are also rockstars in their profession.

The Submission: 

Don Bowers is a 3rd generation farmer in Linn County, Oregon. He and has wife Lorena started farming 1958 with his dad Roy. Roy A. Bowers & Sons was formed in 1963. In the early years, Lorena drove seed truck for the farm during harvest and then took over the bookkeeping for the growing operation in the early 1970s. She was among one of the first members of Oregon Women for Agriculture. Throughout the years they employed hundred of teenagers from the local community.  Many who still tell stories of appreciation for their job on the farm till this day.  They retired from farming in 1998 but still actively contribute to their community through the Harrisburg Museum and their local church. Don and Lorena raised three boys, Nick, Eric and Tobin, who all contribute to the grass seed industry today.

List of Organizations, capacities served & accomplishments:

Don Bowers:

  • Board member of the Oregon Ryegrass Growers Association in late 1960s
  • Member of the National Farmer’s Organization
  • 1975-1981, Oregon Ryegrass Commissioner, served as chairman 1977-79.
  • Oregon Meadowfoam Growers:

In 1983 Don Bowers was among a small group of Willamette Valley farmers would saw the potential utility of a new crop being touted for its unique seed oil.  This new crop was called Meadowfoam.  Don could see the value of a rotation crop for the Willamette Valley’s grass seed fields and the seed industry and was willing to put in the time and effort to aid in its development.  This was a risky venture on a new and unproven crop. Don was instrumental in the formation of what would come to be known as the OMG Cooperative and was a founding Board Member of the Cooperative and its marketing subsidiary, Natural Plant Products, LLC

  • 1983 the Oregon Meadowfoam Grower Association came into existence and Don Bowers was an original founding member.
  • Between 1983 and 1997 there were 7 crops of meadowfoam produced and Don participated in each crop.
  • Between 1983 and 1997 Don Bowers was the single largest producer of Meadowfoam.
  • During this time Don worked extensively with OSU researchers, OSU Extension personnel, and leaders in the seed industry to aid in the development of this new crop.
  • Participated in multiple agronomic research projects to study and explore improved production methods
  • Was deeply involved in the cleaning, storage, and processing of meadowfoam
  • In 1997 Don was a founding Board Member of OMG Cooperative and was instrumental in the subsequent creation of Natural Plant Products, LLC  to process and market Meadowfoam seed oil
  • 2007 Don Bowers retired as a Board Member

 

  • In the late 1980s to early 1990s he became part owner in a seed company
  • Previous member of Oregon State Seed Cleaning Advisory Board 2001
  • Oregon Seed Council Seedsman of the Year

This is why I felt my grandparents deserved to be Diamond Pioneers. They worked together to build a business and a family. Today that family still carries on their legacy and passion for agriculture.

From Left to Right:  Tristan, Me, Aunt Kari, Uncle Toby, Grandpa, Uncle Nick, Grandma, Aunt Donna, Mom & Dad

From Left to Right: Tristan, Me, Aunt Kari, Uncle Toby, Grandpa, Uncle Nick, Grandma, Aunt Donna, Mom & Dad

 

 

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Farmers Against Measure 92

There are thousands of farmers against Measure 92 which would require labeling on packaged & raw food* produced through Genetic Engineering.

Here are the reasons this farmer is against Measure 92:

1. It violates free market principles.

Currently consumers have options to buy Organic or the Non-GMO Project.  These are a result of the free market meeting consumer wants.  Why does the government need to mandate an additional label?

2. Right to Know what? 

The label tells the consumer absolutely nothing besides that a modern breeding technique was used to develop the seed. They do not know what trait is present or what inputs were used to grow the crop. Genetically engineered food is not a thing. There are food crops produced using genetic engineering which is a breeding technique using a highly detailed process.   How does a label tell the consumer anything worthwhile?

3. Grocery bills will go up

There have been many studies on the costs of labeling.  Some estimate that grocery bills will increase $400/year and another says it will  increase $2/year.  We don’t know yet what the economic impact will be on the consumer but it is pretty certain it won’t make food any more affordable.

4. Section 1. Findings and Declarations

The sad part about our voter pamphlet is that you do not have to cite sources or provide factual information.  When you read the first section take every statement with a grain of salt and maybe involve a google search.  You will find many of the statements are simply not true or imply the worst case scenario. As with all matters in every election, please be an informed voter.

5. Section 6. Enforcement   

This section is extremely vague and appears to put all burden of proof on the farmer, since they must provide “sworn statements” with crops.  There is no talk to fines or revoking of licenses as consequences in this section, which one would expect to find in such a specific law.  Instead the consequences are “actions” brought by any citizen of Oregon or the attorney general. This really means lawsuits. If one citizen feels they were wronged they can spend our tax dollars willy-nilly for farmers to prove otherwise.

Overall, the vagueness of enforcing the measure, the alternative options already available and the increase in costs are not worth a new law.  The one thing that is for sure is it will cost taxpayers millions for regulation and enforcement.  Read the measure for yourself. Please Vote No on 92.

*The measure excludes meat & dairy products and does not apply to restaurants, schools or hospitals.

Farmers Against Measure 92

Read More on GMO Labeling & Measure 92

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Celebrate Oregon Agriculture [Video]

Lately, I have had a few “irons in the fire” besides typical farming activities. One of them is helping with Celebrate Oregon Agriculture. Oregon Women for Agriculture partnered with the Oregon Department of Agriculture & KATU a week special in this ongoing campaign.

Each morning this week on AM Northwest a different crop that Oregon farm families grow will be featured. OWA also had the opportunity to make a commercial sharing our near half century legacy!

Meadowfoam is one the featured crops this week. Yours truly got to share about it. Please give it a view!

Visit Oregon Women for Agriculture’s Celebrate Oregon Agriculture page to view our commercial featuring four generations of OWA members!

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Monica Wehby

My family had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Monica Wehby at the farm last week.   Dr. Wehby is hoping to defeat incumbent Senator Jeff Merkley in Oregon’s U.S. Senate race.

There is no doubt Dr. Wehby appears to be a woman of mystery.  It seems she came out of nowhere and is running for a U.S. Senate seat. Personally, I think it’s awesome.  How often do we wish our candidates were not career politicians?  Now we have just that, plus she is a conservative woman.

Despite her alleged elusiveness, I have found her to be very easy to connect with.  We first talked when she called me this summer to discuss the issues that were important to Oregon Women for Agriculture for her upcoming AgPAC interview.  Then again when I contacted the campaign to see if she was going to be in the area any time soon, which resulted in the event at the farm.

The group at our home with our future Senator

The group at our home with our future Senator

Dr. Wehby is eager to learn about the issues and struggles that we as farmers, ranchers and foresters face.  She has made that clear by making herself available to those of us in Rural Oregon.  Before she visited our farm she was at my friend Kathy’s farm in Rickreall with area farmers.

As engaged citizens we should not pass up to meet candidates for office or our current elected officials at least once.  I met with Senator Merkley 2 years ago in DC. I guarantee you Dr. Monica Wehby will be better than him.  His condescending attitude towards Oregon’s farmers, ranchers and foresters is absolutely disgusting to me.

Senator Merkley is a fear monger when it comes to GMOs and refuses to acknowledge the science behind it.  This has been clear in emails he has sent.  He would rather please the extreme environmentalists.  He says he is an advocate for Organic farmers but why not ALL farmers?   He claims to be proud of his timber industry heritage yet but caters those who cripple the industry.

Telling my story to Senator Merkley

Telling my story to Senator Merkley

Why do we want to keep Senator Merkley in office when he clearly does not have Oregon’s best interest at heart?

There have been criticisms of Dr. Wehby, mostly by those who supported her primary opponent. They say that she’s not conservative enough or does not have the political savvy. Some say they are just not going to vote. I say that’s BS!

We cannot win the war on our livelihoods and freedom if we are not willing to change our battle strategy. And we for sure will not win it if we do not vote!!

Monica Wehby

I am excited for the change Dr. Monica Wehby can bring to the U.S. Senate!

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Support Family Farms

Support Family Farms.

I saw this on a bumper sticker on my way home from the field Friday night. Taking a closer look, I realized the slogan was associated with a recent “Anti-GMO” campaign*.

I have seen this messaging used before in “Anti GMO” campaigns.  It continues to boggle my mind.

Ninety-eight percent of the farms in the United States and 98% of farms in Oregon are family owned and operated. Family farms come in many sizes, structures and types.  They use different methods & technologies, choosing what is best for their farms and family.  This includes using GMOs, more accurately known as genetic engineering or biotechnology. 

A quick google search of “Support Family Farms” immediately lists three organizations that claim to do just that.  However, these groups loudly advocate against biotechnology, corporations and whatever a “factory farm”** is.  In their world only if you are small, organic and sell locally then you are a family farmer. Everyone else is Big Ag and controlled by corporations.

My family farm, that I am 5th generation on, does not fit in their box. It is not small, nor organic and we are a corporation. Often I find myself testifying in the legislature on bills that would directly impact our farm. The people testifying against my position are usually associated with the aforementioned organizations.

If these groups support family farms like they claim, then how can they take the opposite stance of me and other family farmers?

Election Day is two months away. Many campaigns, groups & politicians will say they support family farms. If their definition of family farm is anything other than the fact that it is owned and operated by a family then it is wrong.  Especially if their agenda includes singling out one type of farming method and thus ultimately limits ALL farmers’ choices.

If  you hear “We Support Family Farms” think critically about how the candidate or ballot measure might impact my family farm or others like mine.

There is room for all types of farms, family and otherwise.

Bowers Family Farm

Family photo from a few years ago at our family farm. Four generations pictured.

 

*An “Anti-GMO” campaign is one that advocates for restrictions, bans or labels on biotechnology or genetic engineering. Currently in Oregon there is ballot measure 92 that would require to label food products that contain or may contain ingredients that were produced using genetic engineering. Which I will be sharing more about later.

**Factory farm is a bogus term. There are farms that are vertically integrated, which means they include most, if not all, of the steps between the farm and fork. A factory farm does not exist.

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Highlights of Harvest 2014

Sorry for the blogging hiatus.  It was a busy Harvest 2014 and the last week drug on about 5 days longer than necessary. Thank you Mother Nature.

Per usual harvest had its ups and downs with weather, breakdowns and yields but overall it was successful.

Here are a few highlights:

Marie Bowers and Fawn Fescue

Selfie with the Combine in Fawn Fescue

Typical 4th of July, view from the tractor cab!

Typical 4th of July, view from the tractor cab!

Team Baler!

Team Baler!

Perfect view of Combining

Perfect view of Combining

Marie Bowers Stagg

Traveling the 45+ miles from one end of the farm to the other!

My imagination is always active, I thought Tosh looked like "The Dust Queen" in this picture!

My imagination is always active, I thought Tosh looked like “The Dust Queen” in this picture!

Future Chinese Food!

Future Chinese Food! Wheat Harvest 2014!

Wheat storage

Gluten Storage

You can’t beat the view from this office!

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Filed under Agriculture, Grass Seed, Oregon

Harvest 2014 is here!

Harvest 2014 is here and the last 10 days have been a blur.

It all started last Friday with cutting Fawn Fescue, which is a forage variety.

Vroom! Cutting fawn fescue #agchat #orag #harvest14

After that it seemed we jumped into 12-14 hour days immediately.  Which is no big deal, but the first week is always an adjustment.  This week getting home before 10 PM will seem early.

In my usual fashion I also had some other “side” things happening as well.

I hosted an elementary school teacher from Redmond, Oregon. She experienced the farm and spent the night at my house.  This is part of Summer Ag Institute, which is a week-long program through Oregon State University for teachers to learn about Oregon Agriculture while earning credits.

Hopefully I gave her a memorable & educational experience.  She rode with me while I cut the roughest field we have and then we broke down.  The next morning we serviced a windrower* and she helped.  She was a good sport and hopefully enjoyed it all!

Teacher Kim & I after servicing a windrower!

Teacher Kim & I after servicing a windrower!

Most Importantly in the last 10 days… 
I taught my husband how to drive windrower!

Marital Bonding!

Marital Bonding!

This week the combines will start in grass seed and by the end of the week the balers will be rolling!  Harvest 2014 is here and we are ready to go full throttle!!

*A wndrower is also called a swather, they both cut the grass into rows/swaths for the combine to thrash.

Read about when my friend Janice visited our farm!

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Boss Lady

Just call me “Boss Lady”.

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Ok well at least for another week until my parents return from vacation.

I am not sure how other farms operate but on our farm you better be paying attention to what goes on at all times. You may get one lesson on how to do something then be expected to do the job solo with little error.

The last week and a half that has really rung true.  My dad left his brand new sprayer, Rogator 900, in my hands.

My dad loves spraying.  It is his chance to get over every field and really look at the crop thoroughly. I have been the spray truck driver since I’ve returned to the farm.  I help mix chemicals and fill the sprayer.  However, not until last week have I actually sprayed a field solo or really driven the sprayer at all.
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Before my dad left he prepared me on when & how to spray our turf type fescue and perennial ryegrass with fungicide.  These grasses are susceptible to Rust, a type of fungus.  Rust can impact the seed quality if it is not prevented or taken care of immediately if found in the field.

As of today I have sprayed over 200 acres by myself.  I’ve never been a naturally straight driver and driving the opening to rounds is somewhat nerve racking. One hundred foot booms can be intimidating, particularly when the edge of the field has trees in it. However after the 1st two rounds auto-steer comes into play, which is awesome.  Slowly but surely I am mastering the art of spraying.

Spraying has been my biggest feat while being boss lady.  Other current farm activities have been weed wiping annual ryegrass out of a baby fescue field, cutting grass hay and baling grass hay. We are also in the process of gearing up for grass seed harvest which starts in about 2 weeks.

With my dad gone we are short handed & limited in knowledge. And needless to say we have been INSANELY busy. However it all has confirmed how much I love farming.  I really cannot imagine doing anything else.

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Thoughts of Uncertainty about Oregon Agriculture

Our freedom to farm, ranch and forest in Oregon has been eroded at over the last 45 years by legislators and voters swayed by emotional rhetoric not sound facts.  Each law, regulation and ban has challenged our ability to farm, ranch and forest.  We have made the these rules work for us thinking it’ll be the last one.

We have complied with enhanced pesticide regulations, field burning bans, land use restrictions, restricted water use and limited ways to hunt livestock predators.  Not to mention the numerous federal regulations (ESA, CWA) that inhibits the way we manage our farms, ranches and forests.

The most recent mode of action in hindering a farmers ability to farm are crop bans.  In the last regular legislative session, legislators banned the growing of canola.  Just last week in Jackson County, Oregon they banned the growing of all Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

Farmers should have the ability to choose what crops they grow and how they grow it on their farm. The free market should help decide what’s grown, not legislators and voters who have never had to depend on the land to make their living.

At what point is it all enough? How do we overturn the damage that has already been done?  Or have we started down a slippery slope in which there is no way up?

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Marie’s 2014 Primary Advice

oregon-votes

Voting is the simplest form of involvement you can have in your community.  With your vote you can help to instigate change.

Oregon primary ballots were mailed out this last week.  They are due by May 20th.   There are important legislative races, county commissioner races and ballot initiatives that will be decided this race.

Sorting through the Mud

There’s a lot of mudslinging that happens in campaigns.  In my opinion, this is part of the reason many voters disengage from the political process.  Candidate bashing and twisting of words gets old quickly for the average person.

Here’s how I sort through it all:

  1. Visit each candidate’s website
  2. Look at their issues and endorsements listed
  3. Know how you prioritize your issues (like farming) and see how the candidate’s position compares
  4. Look for organizations and individuals whose points of view you respect as endorsements (such as AgPAC)
  5. Read their social media sites
  6. Google them

If still unsure….Tweet, facebook, email or call them, most days candidates should respond to you.

Personal Recommendations

These are races or issues I have taken a personal interest in for various reasons.  These recommendations reflect my personal opinions.

  • House District 11 (this is where I live):

Write in: Andrew Petersen and spell it exactly like that.  Let’s get him on the November ballot and give Phil Barnhart a run for his money! Andrew Petersen

  • House District 25

Vote for my friend Bill Post. I started interacting with Bill almost two years ago on his radio show.  I first called in to talk to him about Ending Oregon’s Death Tax.  However since then I have been an avid listener.  I also call in from time to time to talk about important agriculture issues in the legislature. Personally, I think he will bring personality and thoughtfulness to the Oregon Legislature.

  • House District 18

The incumbent, Vic Gilliam should be re-elected.  Vic has had farmers, ranchers and foresters backs in the Oregon Legislature.   His opponent has seemed to take issue with the fact that Vic is supportive of the Driver ID card.

The cards would allow undocumented workers to get a driver license and require they have insurance. Personally, I see this as a safety issue for workers & other drivers on the road.  Vic’s district has constituents with labor intensive farms so it makes sense that he supports it.  The US Congress fails to address farm labor issues so the states have started to step up and address it.

  • Jackson and Josephine Counties

VOTE NO and protect Oregon farmers! Both of these counties have ballot initiative to ban the growing of Genetically Modified Crops (GMOs).  Currently, GMO Corn, alfalfa and sugar beets are grown in the region.  The proponents of these initiatives wish to hinder their competition but making laws on what they can and cannot grow.  In a free market society this is contradictory to the very core.

Other Resources: 

I have opinions on a lot of the races around the state. If you are curious on my stance on one please leave a comment.  My opinions are my own and do not reflect those of any organization I am affiliated with.

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Filed under Legislature, Oregon, Politics, Rural

Takeaways from Bundy Ranch

If you are like me you have probably discussed Cliven Bundy’s ranch standoff with the BLM this last week at least once. The Takeaway The Bundy Ranch situation has highlighted some points many of us have been trying to get people to pay attention to for years. Now we just have to make sure those points are heard through the banter.

  • The dangerous overreach of the Endangered Species Act. 

The original dispute started over a tortoise that got listed as an endangered species.  The BLM decided in order to save the tortoise they needed to restrict grazing on ranchers.  According to several reports Bundy was the only rancher left in his area because of his resistance to reduce grazing. Currently environmentalists want to list the Sage Grouse as an endangered species.  This bird has habitat in 11 different Western states.  What will that do to ranchers and grazing if the bird is listed?  Personally, I believe the Sage Grouse is the spotted owl for ranchers and will no doubt mean certain death to an industry.

  • The obscene amount of the land the federal government “owns” in the West. 

It is NOT appropriate for the feds to “own” 53% of Oregon and 85% of Nevada.  The founding fathers never intended for this to happen and the people in charge can sell that land anytime they want.

  • The power radical environmental groups have over our government. 

The Center for Biological Diversity threatened to sue the BLM if they did not remove Mr. Bundy’s cattle in the last year.  The Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) allows non-profits to sue the federal government and if they are successful in their lawsuit their attorney fees are covered by the taxpayers. However, depending on which party is in charge of the government the radical environmental groups have found an easy way to make money.  They use “Sue and Settle” techniques to receive their funding.  We are not talking a couple thousand dollars we are talking millions of dollars.  It is estimated that between 2000-2010 “12 environmental groups had filed more than 3,300 lawsuits over the previous decade, recovering over $37 million in EAJA funds.”  Continuing Action My hope is the people outraged by the BLM’s actions against the Bundys put their passion towards something positive.

If any part of Cliven Bundy’s situation was upsetting to you, I would suggest that you start advocating for reforms on the federal level on the issues I listed above. This is why elections matter. It matters who you vote for at the Federal, State and County levels.  They all have a say in your freedoms and your livelihoods.

Federal Government dominates land in the West.

Federal Government dominates land in the West.

Related Links: My friends Carin and Larry have done a nice job of summarizing up the story on their blogs.  Please read them both they give awesome insight.

Karen Budd-Falen, a lawyer in Wyoming, has done extensive research on environmental groups abuse of EAJA

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Filed under Agriculture, Environmentalists, Politics

Government Logic

Some days I wonder if our federal government is run by complete imbeciles. Seriously, if someone could explain their thought process I would greatly appreciate it.

Recently the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced their proposed budget of $1.1 billion and their top priorities.  They are going to spend $2.8 million dollars on fertility control for wild horses.  Also in the budget they are going to spend money to preserve the sage grouse habitat.

This makes absolutely no sense to me!

Over 50% of the land in Oregon is owned by the federal government, roughly 32 million acres. Half of that ground is owned by the BLM. Many ranchers also lease federal lands to graze their livestock on.

The horses and the sage grouse share the same federal ground.  If the BLM was truly concerned about either they would “get rid” of the horses and in turn help stop the sage grouse from getting listed as an endangered species.   The horses are contributing to the depredation of the sage grouse’s habitat.

Currently, the BLM spends more dollars than we can imagine on rounding up these horse and treating them.  The government feeds, sterilizes and medicates the horses.  This is not a win-win situation.  Horses provide nothing for the land or the taxpayers.  However, our government feels like this is an appropriate use of OUR funds.

This is just a long list of things lately that has me scratching my head about government.

  • Why does our government restrict precious ag tools that could solve our labor issue? <– I picked up on this at the Precision Farming Expo I attended last week.
  • Why does the EPA need to add more rules to the Clean Water Act, while claiming it won’t change anything?
  • Why does the federal government need to own so much land in the west?

What is your opinion or suggestion on we change how United States government functions?  Because currently I am at a loss.  I do know that elections matter and that includes all of them, county to federal.

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The Mack

It has been busy.  The sun came out and we started fertilizing like mad.  In fact we are over two-thirds done. However it has started raining which has put us on hold for a while.

Tristan (the husband) runs the fertilizing buggy and I am head truck driver.

Game camera catches Tristan

Game camera catches Tristan fertilizing fescue

Both fertilizer trucks are yellow cabovers with powerbins. I prefer the 13 speed 1979 International however I have found myself more often than not in the 1977 5 speed Mack.

The Mack was the first truck I ever drove. Before it was a fertilizer truck it was a water truck for when we used to burn fields.

One day about 10 years or so ago my dad says, “Marie I need you to take a water truck down to Camas Swale.”  Me, “I don’t know how to drive truck.”

I got two lessons up & down our road with J-Man our family bulldog on the back and then I was sent down the road. I could shift to higher gears easily enough but downshifting, not so much.  I got to where I was going and kissed the ground. And like any good farm dad he told me “Don’t tell your mom or grandma.”

Today, The Mack is a good fertilizer truck, she does her job but she has a few quirks.

  • Mold growing on steering wheel
  • Mouse House, which bounces down on me every time I hit a bump
  • Outside door handle doesn’t work so you can’t shut the door if you are not in it
  • Smoke comes out of dash once in a while

Although I am fairly certain every farm & ranch has a truck/tractor like The Mack.  A rig that serves its purpose faithfully but has a couple of quirks.

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Europe’s Breadbasket & the Rest of Us

Ukraine is a player in the global agriculture economy. It is the world’s 3rd largest exporter of corn and 5th largest exporter of wheat.

The turmoil going on in Europe’s breadbasket is affecting our markets here at home.  The wheat market spiked and now we are selling the remaining of our 2013 wheat.   For the moment, Ukraine’s misfortune is our opportunity.

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Seed, green, almost ripe, in barn

Now what happens if this continues and Russia gains control of Ukraine?  The region Russia is supposedly wants is known as Crimea.  It is where the main port is. It is also where Russia has a naval base.

A few thoughts:

  • Those who control the food & fuel supply control the people. Europe’s food, fiber and fuel flow through the Ukraine.
  • While the US grain markets are benefitting from the turmoil what does this mean long-term for the world food supply if it continues?
  • My friend Jeff shared these thoughts on his facebook, and I cannot disagree:

    Is history repeating itself?

    Is history repeating itself?

Sadly, The United States currently has a weak administration.  Putin does not respond nor does he care if he is breaking some international law so a stern talking to is not going to stop him.  Plus, is there a law that has stopped a criminal yet?

What does the future of agriculture look like if no one steps up and puts Russia in its place?  What are your thoughts on the subject as a whole?

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The Speed of Life – 3rd Blogiversary

My term as Oregon Women for Agriculture president ended Saturday afternoon after two quick years.  It made me reflect on how fast and how much has changed in the last few years.

Three years ago I wrote my first blog post and since then I have:

Because of this blog I have:

  • Gained broader perspective on agriculture as a whole
  • Become a better writer
  • Made new friends, farmers and non farmers.
  • Recognized on different levels for doing what I love, talking about agriculture!

Thank you for reading the last three years! It’s been a whirlwind but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.  Looking forward to the years of head and sharing it with all of you! Also stay tuned for a BIG blog update!

Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
-Mark Twain

Do you have a favorite post of mine?? Please share in the comments! 

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Felfies: Farmer Selfies

About a month and a half ago my cousin posted a buzzfeed article on my facebook wall.  It was about the newest internet trend: Felfies or Farmer Selfies.

During our road trip to Reno this weekend for Krone Baling School, I compiled all my “Felfies” from my instagram account. There are two plus years of pictures.  I don’t have cute farm animals to show off but I do have tractors, trucks and bulldogs.

Felfies: Farmer Selfies #flipagram featuring @ryegrassman @callienoel1 made with @flipagram♫ Music: Pistol Annies - Hell On Heels

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Oregon’s Right to Know

“Labeling Genetically Engineered Food” could be on the ballot in November if House Bill 4100 in the Oregon Legislature is passed.

I testified in opposition to this bill and mandating labels on genetically engineered food.  Here is my testimony:

Hello, my name is Marie Bowers.  I am here in opposition of HB 4100 and mandatory labels on genetically engineered products.

I am a fifth generation farmer in Harrisburg, Oregon.  On our farm we grow grass seed, wheat, meadowfoam and this year, hopefully, turnip seed. If the slugs haven’t ate them all.

Most everything I grow is a food crop. The grass seed feeds sheep and cattle locally, nationwide and internationally.  We pasture our fields with sheep all winter long.  The wheat goes into noodles.  The meadowfoam is unique, the seed is crushed for the oil in cosmetics, and the meal or left over stuff is then used as cattle feed.  There is also the delicious honey from the bees that pollinate the meadowfoam.

We are constantly trying to expand the diversity of the farm. We try new methods, crops and technology to find what fits and makes sense for our farm.  However we are often limited by soil and climate of the area

Farmers have many different tools and methods they can utilize to produce safe and abundant food.  Genetic engineering is one of these tools.  No one makes you use one method or another it is all about choice and diversity.

Diversity is a beautiful thing, particularly in Oregon agriculture. That’s what allows Oregon farmers to grow over 230 commodities in this state.  The different methods, markets and technologies all work together for Oregon Agriculture and ultimately benefit the state’s economy.

The proponents of this bill ultimately do not support diversity. They would like to see GE crops disappear entirely, no matter the cost to family farmers and the cost to family shoppers.

The late President John F. Kennedy once said, “The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.”

Labeling Genetically Engineered products are costly.  The cost will passed down to the farmer.  There are costs to the implementation and enforcement of the regulations.  Someone needs to pay for that.

There is also the cost of litigation.  The bill clearly states that if a mistake is made you are wide open to litigation.  Any person supposedly aggrieved by a mislabeled food can seek legal action against whoever they feel is responsible for it.

To be clear I am not against labeling, I am against mandatory labeling.  There are many companies out there that currently label products GMO free.  If you buy Certified Organic you are guaranteeing that you avoid GMOs.   Mandating an additional label is redundant and pointless when the labels already exist.

Ultimately this bill seeks to stigmatize competition through legislation & litigation not with honest marketing.

I urge your No vote on HB 4100.  Mandating genetically engineered labels are costly, a regulatory nightmare and ultimately redundant.

A couple of things I pondered when writing my testimony:

  • The bill doesn’t mention animals fed GE products but it also doesn’t exclude or exempt them, what is to say later on someone gets mad at their steak because it was fed GE and not labeled..would a lawsuit get through?
  • What is the fiscal impact of implementing such a law? Regulations cost money.

My GMO wish list:

  • A grass that kills slugs as soon they take a bite
  • GE Wheat
  • Salmon I can eat (Deathly allergic to the stupid things)

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Filed under Agriculture, GMOs, Green Agenda, Politics

Winter Storm 2014

For the second time in two months we have had a “severe” winter storm, at least for the South Willamette Valley.

For the second time in HISTORY we went snowmobiling in our fields! We even went down county roads to a field 10 miles away.

The snow started on Thursday. Now if you were new to the Willamette Valley you might have thought the world was ending. When it snows where it typically does not snow everything comes to a halt.

The husband and I had signed papers for a HOUSE, a real house, on Wednesday. The plan was to have keys on Thursday.  I am not very patient so before lunch I emailed the escrow officer asking the status of recording.

This was her response:

Okay, I am so sorry BUT FED EX has the package in Portland.  UGH!  We cannot close without the ORIGINAL seller docs.

Yes, I was aware that I-5 was a literal mess and 20 cars had piled up 40 minutes north of us but still, I NEEDED A HOUSE! Thankfully, Fed Ex came through.  The title company called about 3:30 pm that they had recorded .

The husband and I jumped into his pickup full of wedding presents we had not opened yet. Drove to OUR house, unloaded.  We borrowed my mom’s Yukon drove to my storage unit, loaded more presents, the husband loaded my bed in his pickup and back to OUR house we went!

OUR house!

OUR house!

Well the snow continued. The husband had started working full-time on the farm in October but prior to a farmer he was a full-time paramedic.  He continues to work part-time on the ambulance. He was scheduled to work Friday night to Saturday night.  A drive that should have taken him an hour took him two & a half hours.

I went snowmobiling Friday afternoon with my parents and a family friend. It was a blast riding on unplowed roads and zooming around the fields.  Unfortunately my snowmobile decided to break down.  We had to leave the sled in the field and planned to get it the next day.

2nd time this year! Crazy!

2nd time this winter! Crazy!

However about 4 PM on Friday the freezing rain started.  This is something that is most annoying and no one should have to experience.  Basically rain falls from the sky in near ice form and freezes to whatever surface it hits.  I made it home that night with no problem.

Saturday morning I decided to venture out to my parents.  I needed to help dad get my snowmobile, plus they have coffee and food at their house. My house was not at that point yet.

Driving in snow does not bother me.  I have lived in Pullman, Washington where I drove a milk truck in the snow at least a dozen times. (I worked at the WSU Creamery.)  I lived in Central Oregon and drove in the snow at least a few times each winter.  I find it a fun challenge more than anything else.  Test my skills as a driver.

Although I do not think I have ever driven on an inch of ice until Saturday morning.  It was about 10:30 am and the roads had barely been touched by drivers let alone a snow plow.

I have driven rigs of all sizes in various weather conditions.  Even 3 winters ago I drove a semi truck and trailer of wheat through the snow  to get it on a railcar. No big deal.  This Saturday though, I drove 7 miles white knuckled to my parents house, being sure not to touch brakes so I avoided telephone poles and ditches.

It was slippery out. You had to stomp when you walked to break the ice or else you would fall on your butt.

In the early afternoon Dad and I ventured out to go rescue the snowmobile.  The snow plows were running on the main county roads by then. But not the county road the snowmobile was on.  But we made it safely to our destination and back.

Ice Road

Ice Road

Tristan, the husband, could not make it home Saturday night because the roads where he worked were too bad to travel.  He stayed at his old house.  Luckily he made it home Sunday morning and we were off to buy things for OUR house!

The freezing rain/ice has knocked out power for thousands of people around the area  and some are unsure when it’ll be restored.  I have heard of at least four barns collapsing under the weight of snow and ice, including an 86 year old barn that my great-great grandpa built.

There are many branches and a few trees down. I wonder how many of those branches and trees are in our fields?  Hopefully we find them before the windrower does.

Were you affected by the winter storm? Share your story in the comments! 

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February 10, 2014 · 2:52 pm

Perfection

Perfection is the first word comes to my mind when I think about my wedding.

I was surrounded by family and closest friends.  The weather was gorgeous.  I was marrying my best friend.  The blessings were overflowing.  

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Sunrise!

Wedding breakfast with the girls!

Wedding breakfast with the girls!

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I went for a morning swim!

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Makeup & hair!

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Could not ask for a better sister and friend!

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Dad & his girls

Then the conch shell blew and we were married…or something like that. It was kind of a blur.

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After the wedding, we took pictures on site then traveled to a few other spots…including this cliff.

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Joel from Hanalei Shack took this fantastic image with a GoPro attached to a drone. So Cool!

These next photos were taken by my AMAZING wedding coordinator, Kaye with Maile Weddings. This all would not have been possible without her.  Seriously, if you want to get married in Kauai contact her! Check out her facebook page.

Family & Friends who were able to attend. I am blessed.

Family & Friends who were able to attend. I am blessed.

We had a ukulele player, Tommy Tokioka.  Wish he could've followed us around the rest of the trips! Amazing!

We had a ukulele player, Tommy Tokioka. Wish he could’ve followed us around the rest of the trip!

My sister captured a short clip of our first dance, courtesy of Tommy!

We had a first dance on a beach! Courtesy of an amazing ukelele player!  #tristanmarie14

Love.

Love.

Perfection.

Perfection.

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Why did I plan a Wedding in 3 months?

First of all I apologize that I have not written a lot about agriculture or farm things as of late.  My brain has been a tad bit preoccupied with my pending nuptials. I believe it’s called Wedding Brain.

Some curious minds may wonder why I planned a wedding in 3 months.  I heard murmurings as to why but NO I am NOT pregnant.

Here is why:

1) I am a farmer.  There is only about 4-5 months out the year we can get married.  January is one of them. The other months are November, December, May, maybe February and maybe June.  The last two are weather dependent.  Any other month we have fertilizing, spraying, harvest, field work and planting.

Also, ever since I was a little kid my dad made a strict rule that we could not ever get married during harvest, so a summer wedding was immediately out.

On the farm we may have the usual winter projects & maintenance, but we also get married in the winter.  My grandparents got married at the end of December, my parents and the end of November, my sister at the beginning of December and now me in January. :) All different years of course.

2) We also have to avoid hunting season.

3) I wanted a destination wedding. If I cannot get married in Oregon when it’s warm, then I am going where it’s warm.  This was really the only time of the year that it was ideal and I could be gone for two weeks. Again see reason number 1.

Destination Wedding

4) I am impatient. I like to get things done, efficiently & timely.  I don’t like to mess around with details.  And if I do have to deal with details I don’t like to dwell on them for too long.  He proposed so let’s get this thing done.  Sure it caused a bit of hurry & stress in some (or a lot) aspects of my life.  But honestly doesn’t that happen whether it’s 6 months or a year?

But for mostly reason #1 and #4 that’s why I planned a wedding in three months.

Again I am sorry for not posting more about agriculture.  “Wedding Brain” is a serious condition.

However, here’s a video of our latest ditching machine. We have to make ditches in our fields so the water can run off.  Otherwise many of our fields would be a giant mud puddle.  We try to make ditches when things are dry but cannot always get to them before the rain.

 

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Filed under Wedding