Thursday, July 17, 2014

Teaching Teachers

Mark and I have been gorging on green peas from the garden. He likes them lightly boiled, add butter. I like them straight from the pod, preferably one after another as you’re picking them. Didn’t we all do that as kids? Raid the pea patch? If you didn't you should have. One of the joys of childhood . . . and adulthood.

I am officially connected. Yes, I got an i-phone. I was having a hard time talking myself into it. My sister-in-law, Mona, told me, “Of course you’re worth it!” Seth told me, “Go ahead and get it Mom. You’re going to have buyer’s remorse, but that’s okay.” It's a kick. I can even send photos with my texts to the kids!

It’s been hot, in the mid 90’s most days. We lucked out and got a break in the heat long enough to host an evening function at Gary’s dance barn; twenty-five teachers touring Idaho agricultural operations for continuing education credit. They were hosted by a program called “Ag in the Classroom.” What fun, engaging, inquisitive folks they were!

Mark showed them an irrigated pasture and explained the benefits of time-controlled grazing. I compiled a slide show of a year on the ranch. Then as supper was laid out in the shaded courtyard, Mark walked them out for a “meet and greet” with Gary’s Longhorn pairs. The evening was perfect, no wind, no bugs, sublime temperatures, good food and stimulating conversation.

It was the culmination of the teachers’ three day tour and they shared insights they had gained from visiting food producers including, among others, a dairy, a large scale farm, a fish hatchery, and a honey bee operation. One teacher said, “I’m glad they (farmers and ranchers) are still here. My grandparent’s farm is a subdivision.” Another said that from her vantage in our state's capital city of Boise where promising jobs are offered mostly by hi-tech, the medical field and government, it had been a real eye-opener. “I can’t wait to get back and tell my gifted and talented students about the wonderful opportunities for a career in agriculture.”

Education – only this time going upstream to the teacher. We were honored to be a part of it. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Pedaling thru July

There is simple pleasure in having a bike waiting for you at the end of the sidewalk, slanted against the kickstand, waiting. I haven’t ridden a bike since, well, I never really rode a bike much. I got one in college, a ten-speed with skinny tires that I never felt safe on. Plus, biking in the city probably wasn’t in the cards for a timid country girl. I grew up on a dirt road, not much fun biking there either. Who knew at the age of fifty-four I would discover the joys of riding a bicycle?

Anna left her hand-me-down bike at home this summer. It's faded purple, a Diamondback, and just my size. Actually she forgot it, but now I tell her she can’t take it back until school starts.  

I live in the perfect situation for a bike. It’s a short ¾ mile to ranch headquarters, paved road, minimal traffic. I take the dogs with me, and my favorite part is stopping at the canal to let them wade in for a drink, cooling off up to their bellies. The plants are heady with July growth. On the way by I soak up a passing fragrance of . . . what is that? Milkweed in bloom, alfalfa, maybe yellow headed mustard, or just the coyote willows that crowd the lane. Today a swallow was tormenting a hawk, who just shrugged at her threats. Some days I pedal through a lovely bank of cool air. All of this we miss driving our vehicles with the radio on and the air conditioner blowing.  

Bonny, at 95, wishes she could ride with me. She told me about Gary’s bike he bought with his own money when he was 10 years old. He gathered beer and pop bottles for recycling. He would fill a case of twenty-four and get 35 cents for a case of beer bottles and 50 cents for pop bottles. He hit the mother lode in a neighbor’s trash heap, $11.00 in one stop! The local grocer gave him cash in return. His folks took him to Clegg's Second Hand Store where they sold new bicycles. When he got his bike home he was disappointed to find it didn't go very good in the sand. I discovered the same thing when I spun out in the stackyard.

Gary still has the bike, it cost $35.00, a fortune to a kid in the 50’s. He added a carrier later on to haul a passenger along. 

I'm on the hunt for a used basket to fasten to the handlebars and complete my look. 

Gary's blue and white Schwinn -circa 1954
(note the beaded buckskin gloves)