Around the ‘farm’….

So, I figured while I was home this week I’d take a few pictures to show off where I live. Both of my parents work full-time and farming is more the ‘hobby’ type that you hear about, so we don’t have a lot of land. Like I’ve said before, we raise pigs and lambs on a small scale and then we have a little of a lot of stuff 🙂 With no further ado, here are my pictures!

The view from my back porch...

My stepmom's horse and the hoop house that my dad's been trying to finish for...ohhh...a couple years 🙂

My house!

My neighbor's American Bison. They have 80+ of them and they are way cooler than anything we have. Still trying to convince my dad I need a baby buffalo 🙂

What you learn in a small town barber shop

I will admit, before today I had never been in a barber shop. Sure, I’ve been in a salon lots of times. I’m an eyebrow waxing, hair styling, sometimes tanning girl just as much as the next lady. A barber shop, though? Nope. And let me tell you, it was a whole different experience.

Today, my car was in the shop to see what was wrong with the air conditioning (thankfully, we figured it out–it’ll just cost me $400. But, I digress), so I had to ride home from a full day in my ag class with my dad. Of course, before we could go home, he needed to get a haircut. This is where the barber shop comes in. My dad’s barber is a dairy farmer in our county who also barbers (is that a word?) on the side. When we parked outside of the shop, my dad asked if I was going to come in with him. After telling him I was, his only response was “Okay…you might learn something.”

Holy. Gossip. Central.

Now, when my dad uttered that little sentence, I thought for sure he meant that it was a guy hangout and the barber was going to talk a little dirty–you know, guy talk. Well, I was wrong. In our hour and a half in the shop (yes, you read that right. One. And. A. Half. Hours. Of which, 20 minutes actually involved cutting my dad’s hair), we talked about everything from Guernsey cows and how much they milked, the barber’s divorce, the oil spill in the Gulf, the volcano in Iceland, quotas on milk, big agriculture, Farm Bureau, how to get the barber’s son in my dad’s ag class, and everything in between. Wow!

Not only did we talk about these things, but the barber (and the barber shop patrons) had an opinion on everything. The opinions included conspiracy theories, gossip, and trash talking. Now, I know that back in the day the beauty shop was where you got your gossip, but I never would have guessed that this tradition continued through to today. Yes, in small town America, the barber shop is still an excellent place to talk about the latest news of the day and weigh in with your two cents. And while I didn’t say a whole lot and did quite a bit of listening, I will say that it was a pretty neat experience.

A pretty neat experience, indeed.

Integrity–Do you have it?

Some may say that I’m pretty blunt, set in what I believe, and outspoken. I haven’t always been that way, though.  In high school (and in some situations now, I suppose), I had your classic fear of confrontation. I’d rather find a compromise to a problem than work toward one solution or another. I think that all started to change when I was a junior or senior in high school.

At the time, Michigan State University and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources was consolidating several majors into a new department–what would become the CARRS Department. In this merger, Agriscience Education and Agricultural Communications would be merged with Parks and Recreation and Environmental Studies and Applications.  My dad was one of the more outspoken of the state’s agriscience teachers in vehemently opposing this merger, fearing that it would lead to the disintegration of ag ed and ag comm (which it has, but I digress). Throughout the whole ordeal, I watched him stand up to some pretty powerful people within the university and some of his fellow colleagues for something that he strongly believed in, even though it was a losing battle. While I’ve always looked up to my dad, seeing someone step up and give voice to something–even though it wasn’t popular and didn’t do much good–was pretty inspiring. Since this situation, I think my need to speak out and stand up for what I believe in has developed immensely.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been in several situations where my opinion hasn’t been one people like. Whether it was a disagreement with where funding for the Michigan FFA Association should come from (something, apparently, state officers should not have an opinion on), the creation of the new Environmental Studies and Agriscience major, whether or not agriculture degrees should be available from other universities, allowing a club member special treatment because of a skill they have, or how strictly sponsors should be able to govern parts of a youth development activity that they support–my opinions have not always been popular ones.

Does that mean they shouldn’t be said, though?

Throughout all of my leadership experience–whether that’s FFA or something else–I have been taught to live life with integrity. In my opinion, integrity is something that is severely lacking in today’s society. Everyday, you see people–friends, family, strangers–backstabbing each other, kissing people’s butts to get ahead, or simply just going with the flow because it’s easier. defines integrity as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty”. Some of you described it as, “who you are when only God is watching”, “holding fast to your principles”, and “honesty and doing the right thing.” Thanks to @AR_ranchhand, @thekansascowboy, and Robert Dreer for sharing your thoughts!

To me, integrity means to define for yourself what is right and wrong–then stand up for it. Like I’ve said, sometimes people don’t like what I have to say and I definitely don’t think everyone should agree with me. However, if I didn’t stand up for or say what I believe in, I don’t think I would be meeting one quality of integrity–honesty. I wouldn’t be honest with myself and I would be being honest with everyone around me.

Sometimes having the minority opinion is not a fun place to be. Phrases such as “Yeah, it’s playing politics but that’s reality,” or “It’s not your place to have an opinion on this matter,” or “Thanks for your thoughts, but the decision’s already been made” will come out. Sometimes it feels like you’re putting a whole lot of effort into something you can’t change, no matter what you do. However, at the end of the day, you tried. You stood up. You fought. For that, you can be proud.

Winston Churchill (and later, Eminem) once said, “You’ve got enemies? Good. That means you stood up for something, sometime in your life.” What have you stood up for? Do you define your life and actions with integrity?

I hope so.