Remembering Grandpa

Four generations came together last Christmas. My grandpa, Home, my dad, Gregg, myself and my son, Evan.

Four generations came together last Christmas. My grandpa, Home, my dad, Gregg, myself and my son, Evan.

Today we say goodbye to my grandpa. A once strong, independent man, dementia and old age took its toll. He passed peacefully and is now reunited in heaven with his love, my grandma Mary.

My grandpa, John “Homer” Stockstill, was not a boastful or arrogant man. He never sought to be rich or famous, but to simply earn an honest living, raise a family and care for those around him. He never owned a computer, could make anything new again with a little time in his shop and kept the greenest lawn in Geneseo.

He was a WWII veteran and served in the Pacific Islands. At the same age most of us pack our bags for college, my grandpa was aboard a ship, headed to war. He earned the Purple Heart and several other honors for injuries sustained during fierce and deadly fighting. He returned home with stories and memories he rarely shared. When he did talk about his time overseas, it was enough to make you realize just how much he and others sacrificed for our great country. He never expected special treatment for his service and kept the mementos and artifacts quietly tucked away.

My father took after my grandpa is many ways. They shared physical characteristics and unique habits, noticeable only to those around them. They both had a passion for OU football that my dad continues to this day and a careful, tempered demeanor that isn’t quick to anger.

When my sister and I were young, we would visit our grandparents and enjoy dinner at the Geneseo café and time at the park. As we got older, my grandpa was a regular at our track meets, dance recitals and high school graduations. He took pride in his family and was always there to support us. He was not a man of many words, but he always expressed his love and support.

My grandpa was a quiet man, never one to share too much or pry too deep. But his love for all of his family was always evident and always appreciated. We will miss you greatly grandpa, but we know now you are in a better place.

Link to complete obituary: http://www.hutchnews.com/obituaries/john-homer-stockstill/article_b93fb745-7b3f-5efd-bf00-7df9de80ae9c.html

Race Wrap Up: Working Moms On The Run

Long before I was a farmer’s wife, took my first selfie or logged onto Facebook, I was running. I am not a “natural” runner. It’s not in my family and I don’t look the part.

In seventh grade I decided I wanted to run track. My parents were speechless and I was simply hoping to stay in shape for swim season. But the “trial run” quickly became a habit I still cling to.

I ran through middle school, high school and into college. I am no longer part of a team but most mornings you can find me on the treadmill or dirt road, listening to my Sirius XM radio and logging the miles. It takes an early bedtime and rising before the sun but it keeps me sane and at a healthy weight. 

Racing has always been a part of my running habit. I’m not a marathoner – never have been and probably never will be. But I will glady hop into any 5K or 10K. Having a full-time job, a 2-year-old and a super busy hubby limits my ability to both train and compete but I manage to squeeze in a race every now and then.

The recent rains kept my farmer hubby from planting corn Saturday so I made a very last minute decision, less than two hours prior to the start of the race,  to complete in a women-only 5K just down the road about 20 minutes. I’ve ran in this race at least six times – maybe more – and I love it.

This is was my first time competing in this race post-baby and racing as a working mom has given me a whole new perspective on the women running along side me. Never before had I really paid attention to the mob of dads with kids strapped to their fronts or skipping down the sidewalk and the running strollers occupying the back of the starting pack.

I realized that the tiny, sleeping baby in the dad’s arms means there is a mom running only months after giving birth. And the crowds of children – mine among them – symbolize these women’s ability to juggle family, work and/or volunteering and running.

Those of us participating represented a wide range of ages, shapes and sizes. Few of us are probably the shape and size we want – or at one time – use to be. But we’re out there, giving it our all, juggling multiple demands – even while on the course – and knowing that as soon as we cross the finish line we’re back to being mom, wife and partner. But for the time we’re racing, we’re super woman, running toward our goal and working our butts off to cross that finish line.

More and more women – and moms – are discovering running and for each lady who makes the decisions to squeeze one more thing into their day, I tip my sneaker. We’re may not be Olympians – or even all that fast – but we’re giving it our all and loving every minute of it!

Milestones and Memories

Three generations of Sawyers found a little time to play in the sand.

Three generations of Sawyers found a little time to play in the sand.

Above my bed hangs a small black-and-white photo of the Sawyer family and the men who have shaped our farm and family. The photos is of a young Derek, standing on a feed bunk, supported by his grandpa with his father behind them, all three gazing at a pen of cattle. It’s a simple yet memorable photo that encompasses the family aspect of farm life that hasn’t changed over the decades.

With three generations of Sawyers on our farm, I am always looking for opportunities to capture my own generational snap shot. I often assume it’s the big events that will generate those moments but as I’ve learned, when it comes to toddlers, it’s usually the simple things that make the best memories.

It’s rare that all three generations of Sawer males are in the same place, at the same time, and all holding still. But I managed to get a few pics while all three worked together to build a sand box for Evan’s second birthday.

It wasn’t a big ordeal but it was a small slice of time that I hope we will forever remember.

We like to recycle on our farm so when we decided to build Evan a sand box for his birthday, an old tractor tire was the perfect option.

We like to recycle on our farm so when we decided to build Evan a sand box for his birthday, an old tractor tire was the perfect option.

The photos encompass what makes farming so unique and special: The ability for fathers, sons and grandsons to work and play alongside one another, all carrying the same passion and working toward the same goal.

Even as the technology, the markets and the crops we grow change, one thing will remain the same: The passion to work with the land, grow products to feed and power the world and raise a family on the same land as the generation before.

The Dangers of Advocacy Journalism

*Editor’s Note: Please allow me a moment from my farm talk and cow pics to speak on another subject- one that is dear to my heart and part of my education and career path – journalism. 

The Background: In late 2014, Rolling Stone magazine made headlines for its article “A Rape On Campus” by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, which told the story of a University of Virginia co-ed, named Jackie for the article, who was sexually abused by a group of men during a fraternity party. The article was salacious, damaging and all anyone could talk about. There were few facts and even fewer names but enough believable content for the author and its main subject received praise for the work and attention drawn to such a divisive topic.

Fast forward a few weeks and questions began to surface and cracks began to show. Move ahead to present day and a report from the Columbia Journalism School released earlier this week highlights the multiple failures by reporters, editors and fact-checkers at Rolling Stone to question the validity and truth behind the article. The story was officially retracted and a real conversation about journalism was ignited.

Today: During the publicity tour for her article, Erdely made it known that her was goal to write an article exposing sexual abuse and violence on a college campus. After several individuals turned down her offer to make them the subject, she found Jackie, who was willing to dish out the dirt she needed. From there a scandal-plagued and largely unproven article was written, edited and published.

The Lesson: Journalism has always been tainted with emotion and a point-of-view. Journalists are human and therefore unable to completely seal off their thoughts, feelings and attitudes toward a subject, person or issue. But the really great journalists are those who take an unbiased and unfiltered stance and report the facts, in raw, unaltered form.

Sadly, those journalists are going the way of the dodo bird and dinosaurs, replaced by writers with a mission, a drum to beat and a point to prove. The sources are not the ones driving the story but merely there to support their theory and humanize a talking point. Writing to prove a point or move a message has been labeled advocacy journalism and it has taken over our news feeds.

The First Amendment is vital to the health of our democracy, the vehicle to spreading passion and the channel to new worlds and issues. But taken too far, journalism, especially advocacy journalism, can be damaging not only for the news industry but for the people, places and businesses caught in the tangled webs of lies and half-truths.

Don’t get me wrong, I engage in advocacy journalism each time I update my blog. I write to prove my point and illustrate an issue. These are not news articles suitable for front page publication. They are merely opinion articles with a few facts wrapped into a tantalizing story line.

The burden then lies with the reader to sort between fact and fiction. With headlines hitting us on every screen we own, it’s often hard to distinguish between unbiased reporting and advocacy journalism. And it’s not uncommon for a piece of advocacy to become a rallying cry for an issue as readers forget to find the other side of the story.

Reporters also have a role to play in restoring validity and trust to the journalism industry. Journalists at all levels covering all topics, must get back to reporting the news, not creating the news. All journalists want to unearth and tell great stories but the stories need to be true and complete or else the reporter is doing more than telling stories, he/she is filling in holes with plaster that will eventually crumble.

Advocacy journalism can help change our world and further great causes but in the case of a mission gone awry, it can bring down an entire publication and ruin the readers’ trust in an already damaged news industry.

Ghost Towns and Cow Tales

A recent ‪KansasAgLand article by Amy Bickel showcases Evansville, a little known ‪‎Kansas ghost town, but a ranch and family near and dear to our farm. For years, my husband has purchased cattle from the Merrill Ranch, which sits on the site of Evansville.

Dee Scherick talks about a building that remains on the Merrill Ranch. The building at one time housed the post office and mercantile shop of short-lived Evansville.

Dee Scherick talks about a building that remains on the Merrill Ranch. The building at one time housed the post office and mercantile shop of short-lived Evansville.

I’ve been fortunate enough to make a few trips to the ranch and get to know Dee and Phyllis Scherich, who manage the Merrill Ranch. As technology becomes a larger part of the agriculture industry, articles like this are a nice reminder that the true backbone of farming and ranching is good land, hard working people and a passion for producing high quality food. Follow the link below for the full article.

http://www.kansasagland.com/news/stateagnews/a-fast-carcass-on-the-kansas-canvas/article_960fa463-9b22-5f18-ae5b-91c41bb6283a.html

Beware The Comment Section

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When did it become acceptable for adults to name call and belittle people with opposing views? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, I follow politics and sports. But I never realized the level of hatred, immaturity and loathsome behavior some people are willing to stoop to over a simple disagreement in dietary choices. Continue reading

Antibiotics In Our Animals

These calves are not feeling so well. Given their young age, only a few days of sickness can lead to death. We pay close attention to all our animals and when a calf is showing signs of illness- like lowered ears (bottom picture) or scours (diarrhea in calves, top picture) – we give them a place in the barn and do everything we can to nurse them back to health. That includes administering antibiotics. It’s not the only took in our toolkit but sometimes its the most powerful and key to health.

Some consumers want to deprive ranchers the ability to use antibiotics in their animals. That would basically mean we would have to watch our sick calves die from regular and treatable conditions. We practice the responsible use of antibiotics in our animals and record all uses so that sick animals never enter the food supply.

This little girl is not feeling well. She has scours - which is basically diarrhea - and has been under close watch and care for about a day now.

This little girl is not feeling well. She has scours – which is basically diarrhea – and has been under close watch and care for about a day now.

Sick calf2