It's good to be back.
Twenty-five years after I wrote my final column for Agweek, I’m again at the keyboard. Besides my column, I’ll be writing stories about agriculture in the northern Red River Valley, reporting on crops, people, businesses and other topics related to the industry and rural lifestyle.
I’ve long lived that rural lifestyle. I grew up on a farm seven miles southeast of Larimore, North Dakota, in western Grand Forks County, where my dad, Adrian, and mom, Marcia, raised cattle, small grains and row crops. My three older brothers, younger sister, and I helped our parents with the crops and livestock production, so we experienced firsthand the hard work and strong connection farmers and ranchers have to the land and to animals, and because of that, the emotional highs and lows they feel.
Some of my favorite memories of my years on the farm revolve around working and sharing meals with my parents and siblings. My dad, brothers, sister and I cleaned barns and baled hay together. My sister and I helped my mom with in the garden and mowed lawns. Besides cattle, our farm animals also included horses, so I grew up riding, and checking the cows and fields, on horseback, with my dad and siblings.
No matter what chores we we were doing, my family ate dinner — which, of course, was at noon — around a big kitchen table where we talked about the crops, cattle and other news of the day.
Although my parents are deceased and my husband, Brian and I don’t farm, I remain connected to agriculture in other ways. For example, Brian and I raised our three children on the farm where my great-grandparents James and Theresa Barrett lived. Brendan, 24, Thomas, 22, and Ellen, 18, are the fifth generation of the Barretts’ descendants to have lived in our house, which was built in 1911.
Our farmstead, which is two and a half miles west of where I grew up, is surrounded by crops, so during the growing season I witness first-hand the ups and downs of farming. Meanwhile, the farmers who grow many of the crops are neighbors, which means I also get anecdotal agricultural information during my conversations with them.
Both of those were helpful tools for covering my most recent beat with the Grand Forks Herald, which was reporting on rural northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota. Many of the stories I wrote were about farmers, crops and rural living, similar to what I will write for Agweek.
Although, writing stories has been, and is, a major part of my life, I consider my most important role in life is as a wife and mother. No writing awards I've received can compare to the pride I feel in my children and husband, whose greatest accomplishments, as I see it, are being kind, compassionate and moral human beings whose goals are to make the world a better place.
Those last three are the things I strive to live and work by, and that I think about when I interview sources and write their stories. I feel a great sense of responsibility to accurately report what people tell me, and to give the people who read the stories insight into something new, help them with similar challenges they’re facing on their own farms and ranches or simply enjoy them because they’re engaging and interesting.
During my travels for Agweek stories, I’ll likely meet some readers in person, and others, I will stay connected to through my columns and stories about agriculture. Readers can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if they want to “visit” or share a story idea. I’m looking forward to hearing back from you.