Katie Pinke / Agweek Publisher
It's not every day you meet someone with a degree in apparel and textile marketing who works in the agriculture industry. That's the case for Abby Stack, who I met recently at the Big Iron Farm Show. She was attending her first ag trade show for Rosies Workwear — her aunt's California-based company that offers women a stylish alternative to traditional men's workwear.
WEST FARGO—"Can you please tell me where the women's building is?" I was standing in the Agweek booth when I was asked this question by an attendee at the 38th annual Big Iron farm show in West Fargo in mid-September. "Well, the women's building is right here!" responded one male farmer who overheard the question. He pointed at who I presumed to be his wife or at least his farming partner. "She is half the land and half the iron."
I'm an advocate for rural communities and agriculture — and my passion is fueled by the kind and supportive people who live and work in those towns and industry. Occasionally, though, I meet or hear of an individual or group who are downright cruel. That's the case for some area residents of Devils Lake, N.D., and the Spirit Lake reservation. They haven't been kind to a young farmer and are trying squelch and end his farm expansion. They don't support our state and region's largest economic driver, agriculture. Gone is North Dakota nice.
This past week, I was given the opportunity to be the opening keynote speaker at the Women in Agriculture in Arizona conference in Tucson. As is often the case, I speak about my life experiences and the lessons I've learned along the way that have developed my character and career. As a single mom in my early 20s, I wanted to be on the farm with my parents. For one year, my parents let me live with them during a difficult transition. However, before I could move back to the farm for good my dad established four "rules":
"How are you doing?" is a common daily question in the rural Upper Midwest culture I call home. It's like a greeting of hello. You hear it in our small towns, passing by in the grocery store or after church on Sunday. Most answers are "good" or "busy." And then we all go on about our days. We walk away not saying how we're really doing, whether it be full of positive news or a struggle we're facing.
When there's national and global upheaval around us, it's human nature to start looking for something in our life we can control. While checking our bank account online, I noticed our monthly bill for landline telephone, internet, cable television and security cameras had gone through. It's our third highest monthly bill — and one I have the control to lower. But could I really cut back? Have you? Isn't it disturbing how much time and thought we can invest in a first-world problem?
WISHEK, N.D.—During a recent visit to California for my sister-in-law's wedding, a friend recommended we eat at The Slanted Door, a top-rated restaurant in San Francisco. We checked into our hotel and made our way to the restaurant after making a reservation using the Open Table app. Outside we waited for our table to be ready. Our daughter Elizabeth looked at the menu posted on a wall and asked, "Mom, grass-fed beef only? Is this really necessary?"
Instead of a sentimental Mother's Day column, I've decided to go the realistic route and broach a topic that is an everyday struggle for many of us. Many moms feel like they don't measure up thanks to the age-old comparison conundrum that's now fueled by society, blogs and social media. All you moms know what I'm talking about. No matter what kind of mother we are or aren't, we can't do enough. We aren't enough. In honor and celebration of Mother's Day, please stop comparing yourself. You are enough.
I'm not here to sell you anything. I've never sold anything through a pyramid-style direct sales business, neither did my mom or grandmothers. But direct sales businesses are not new to me. I remember my late Grandma Dorothy always having Avon products and a freezer full of Schwan's food. She wasn't much of a cook. As a widow, I imagine that her interaction with the Schwan's delivery driver or her local Avon representative, both who stopped by her small-town home, provided needed social interaction on quiet days.
I wasn't exposed to FFA until I was an adult and am always honored to have the opportunity to speak at FFA banquets and events. Recently, I spoke at the Rugby High School FFA banquet. About 70 percent of high schoolers in that district participate in agriculture education classes and FFA. I've watched them from afar and know they're one of the top chapters in North Dakota, the region and even the nation.