Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ag Fest!

This year I want to do a "day in the life" but for each of our events at Farm Bureau or as I am out in the counties at meetings- a typical day when I go to a county. I'll eventually have each county have a post for their board meetings and I'll do them for each of their activities (booths, festivals, annual meetings, etc.)

Some of the board members at the meeting.
So yesterday was a the first state board meeting of the year and we always have it in conjunction with our annual Ag Fest. This year we had both the board meeting and Ag Fest at the Arizona Department of Agriculture. It's close to the capital and it shows off the department as well since some of our legislators may not know it's there.

It's a reception where each county has a booth and they promote the agriculture grown in their county. They also have samples of food to try.  All thirteen counties have their booth and farmers and ranchers come in for the evening event because as a legislator shows up, a farmer or rancher then escort them around to the booths and talk about issues they are struggling with. It really helps to put a face to agriculture for all the legislators but especially those in the more urban areas.

Yuma County Farm Bureau members and their booth. 
The Yuma booth is a big hit because they can see the produce that Yuma county produces for them and the country in the winter months. The great thing about this event is it gives new members a chance to see what Farm Bureau is about.

Cochise County Farm Bureau
members at their booth.
Some booths are just the products that are grown and other have information on what agriculture looks like in their county and then some talk about a specific aspect of agriculture. This year, Cochise highlighted the fact that corn is used in ethanol production that can be used for fuel and the by products are fed back to animals. People visiting their booth also sampled pistachios and could take a bag of beans home. Both of those products are grown in Cochise County. Apache and Greenlee counties highlighted the agriculture in their counties. Apache's booth had photos of generations (parents and children) working the ranch together. Greenlee had their cheese roll and to sample as a dairy product to represent the dairy that is in the county.
Pinal County Farm Bureau ladies talking issues .

Pinal County is a hit with their lamb burritos every year. The ladies cook the lamb and it comes out shredded and so good. They are then rolled into the burritos on site. They also receive a block of cheese to take home. Pinal has cotton, cattle, dairies and even a few sheep ranchers. The sheep ranches are famous for their sheep drives they take from north Phoenix to Flagstaff every spring. You can see the herd cross through Yavapai County in a few places.
Pima County has a lot of cattle but they also have several pecan farms along with cotton,pumpkins and other crops. This year they handed out bags of pecans to legislators. They also had pumpkin cookies in the dessert room for people to take. The Graham County booth is always a popular booth because they have chips and salsa. If you have ever purchased Euro Fresh tomatoes on the vine in the grocery store (anywhere in the US) the greenhouses are in Graham County! They are more known for their cotton but it's hard to eat cotton. They always bring most of their board members to talk about their agriculture, the technology they use and the issues they face.
Pima County Farm Bureau member talking with other attendees.

Navajo highlights the farming and ranching families up there. Most families are somehow related to the Flake family it seems. They give out samples of salami and pepperoni they purchase from the local Malapai Meats.

The counties that I talked about are the counties that I covered but we also had sliders provided by Mohave County that people loved. La Paz county handed out honey sticks and Coconino and Yavapai Counties had steaks for people to take home as well as samples of beef to snack on during the reception. Their booth always has the tools of the cowboy- saddle, hay, irons, ropes, etc. They don't however bring a horse.

Graham County Farm Bureau members waiting for legislators!
I think the legislators enjoy it and look forward to it each year. I know our members enjoy it and I really like that many of the members who come and
participate both in the booth and hosting legislators are young people (under 40). It shows the elected officials that agriculture isn't a dying industry. Because if it is then as a nation and world we would be dying as well. I think our members enjoy seeing their fellow farmers and ranchers as well and catching up with them from across the state.  They may not see them until March or April or even November at our next big event and some members have built lifelong friendships with each other through Farm Bureau and the events and activities we do as a state. Because no matter the size, type of operation (ranching, dairy, cotton, vegetable) or if it's tradition, organic or natural, we all face the same issues and have many of the same concerns that make us stronger if we can share who we are and why we are important.
Navajo County Farm Bureau member talking
about agriculture in their county.

Friday, January 17, 2014

One Person's Trash is My Family's Treasure

Today marks the 18th anniversary of my mother's death. I was 21.That summer after she died I came home from college for the summer and before my internship started my goal was to clean and pack and get rid of stuff we didn't need or want of my mother's. I admit I sent many things to the Neat Repeat (our hometown version of Goodwill). Some things I regret sending and others I don't even remember. We sent about what amounts to two- four horse trailers of stuff that my mom had collected, bought or gathered over her life. One of those things she had was a silver butter dish  The tag said $1 when I put it back in the box to send back to the Neat Repeat. My mom never had a dinner party and if you know me, I am not really a dinner party host. I'm more of a potluck or BBQ person, I am a ranch kid who grew up in a Baptist church so I think it's genetic. I know how to eat at a dinner party but to host one really isn't my cup of tea. 

I never gave that butter dish a second thought until Thanksgiving.  That year,  my grandmother asked if I would set the table and if I would get out her new butter dish. She was so excited because she found it at the Neat Repeat and it was such a good deal and she had cleaned it up and wanted to have it on the table for everyone to see and use. 

I was surprised to see that same dish sitting next to her good china and started laughing because it seemed it was determined that that dish was going to be apart of our family even if someone threw it out. I explained to my confused grandmother why her new butter dish caused me such laughter. Had I known she wanted a random silver butter dish, I could have saved her the few dollars and given it to her. 

The Famous Butter Dish! 

 When my grandparents moved to Arizona because of health reasons, the butter dish came and we shared the story with my aunt and uncle. So when my grandparents died, I inherited the butter dish again because there was such a story behind it now that it can't be given away. So even though I may never host a fancy dinner party, I have a silver butter dish that can be used and I may just bring it out from time to time at the next potluck or BBQ and shine it up and use it to bring a little personality to the event.

It's tarnished and needs a good cleaning but I see it and I think of both my mother and grandmother. The dish from all outward appearances is not shiny or on display but brings me joy at the memories and just like my mother and grandmother who were not the first chosen for things, best cooks, really excelled at anything other than being good at the role God placed them in. And like the butter dish, it wasn't wanted but it found a way to keep coming back. I think it was a lesson from God that sometimes the tarnished and unwanted are the most precious and give the best lessons on value of life. 

My mother and grandmother when I was born.