Katie Pinke / Agweek Publisher
If you've lived through trauma and tragedy, you know how drastically life can change in an instant. On Dec. 27, our son, Hunter, was in a skiing accident in Keystone, Colo. As of "right now" or "today," as Hunter says, he's paralyzed. The day-to-day feels dark, but we keep going. We hang on to hints of hope — the glimpses of light that reveal the path forward. Hunter is the most faithful man I know, and I am honored to journey alongside him.
For a few years, I decorated a bathroom in our home with cow art, a variety of prints and pictures I loved. My husband said to a cattleman friend once to our home, "Those are the only cows we're buying," pointing towards the bathroom. My non-livestock raising husband has always known though that our youngest daughter, Anika, age 10, has other plans.
It is finished. Corn harvest wrapped on my parent's farm and I was there to watch the final passes. For those involved in agriculture, you know the relief of finishing harvest in 2019 or the anxiousness for the many who will wait it out until spring before they can finish harvesting because of crop conditions. I ventured out to the cornfield on Dec. 18, 2019, to ride along for the final passes of corn harvest simply as a celebratory cheerleader.
What if you had the opportunity to plan a five-night, 3,000-mile road trip? Would you go? What if you had three days before you needed to depart and it was a holiday weekend? In life, we have little moments to stay back or go. We can play it safe or jump into the unknown. A few weeks ago, my husband, daughters and I went on a 3,213-mile journey from North Dakota to southern Louisiana and back again.
When I feel the pressures of creating more or the feelings that others around me have their Christmas season plans more organized, kids' program outfits planned, gifts purchased and wrapped, homes perfectly decorated and holiday baking complete, I pause. I used to push forward and try to buy, decorate, bake and host more. And when those feelings of "Christmas is overwhelming" still find their way of gripping me, I let myself think back to Christmas Eve 1993, one of my favorite Christmas memories.
I had lined up a few farmers to do combine ride-alongs this fall. I wanted to follow up on an earlier column from this fall to ride along in farmers' buddy seats and encourage others to participate in the #buddyseatchallenge. But with the unpredictable fall weather and late harvest, nothing was working out for us to get into the field. Farmers weren't in the fields or if they were, they were troubled with difficult conditions, not ready for an interview while operating their combine.
Have you started Christmas shopping? According to the National Retail Federation, we're in for historic holiday sales and spending, with about a 4% increase from last year and creating a possible $730 billion in sales. Living rural and knowing farm income is at least 50% less than what was just six years ago, I see and know small, independent businesses need our support this holiday season and year-round. Farmers and agri-business drive our economies, whether you live in a big town or rural area.
"Welcome! Welcome! Live your dream. I hope your boys are living their dreams. My son is living his dream today." The words flowed out of the exuberant opposing team fan as he walked toward my husband and me along with fellow University of North Dakota football parents with us. We had taken an Uber ride from our hotel in Odgen, Utah, to watch our sons play in a Saturday afternoon game at Weber State University.
This fall, I've frequently driven by a rural church with a sign up that says "See the good in all things." At the beginning of the month, I ventured on a northeast North Dakota road trip to two growers who were held up by rain, snow and ice. Despite the harvest woes, I was reminded of some good. Randy Schaley grows soybeans, pinto beans and spring wheat in Nelson County. This fall brought him 11 inches of rain, followed by 20 inches of snow, bringing his harvest to a halt. We walked an unharvested pinto bean field together.
Miss Montana USA 2020, Merissa Underwood, created a social media firestorm over the past week as she took on her platform to address what she believes is a correlation of animal agriculture negatively impacting climate change.