Winter on a Rice Farm

My Winter Days – Part 1

It’s winter and there aren’t any crops in the field. What does a row crop farmer do all winter? Go hunting? Stay home with family? Travel to warmer destinations? Well all those sound great –but unfortunately there is a huge amount of work to do in the winter months to prepare for spring!

We did take some time off during the Christmas and New Year holidays to enjoy family and rest, relax and restore. Personally I spend time reflecting on the past year and reading and writing hopes and dreams for the new year during this time off. Who doesn’t love a new planner to organize as well?? But as of January 2 it is full time on the job. I guess you could say its just a 40 hour week this time of year! I try to arrive at the office around 7:30 – 8:00 a.m. and make myself leave by no later than 5:00p.m. I do work quite a bit on Saturdays so that ruins my 40 hour week! The office is just much less hectic and I am able to get so much more done. On week days, arriving a little later allows me some time at home in the mornings to just “do my thing” and then extra time at night to READ! Reading is something I love to do and I have a goal to read 24 books in 2019!

Sunrise over harvested rice

Winter does feel a little lazy and I LOVE standard time. I think we should do away with daylight savings time and just go with the sun!! Of course I suppose that’s what farmers do anyway so it is no wonder I might feel this way. I am usually up by 5:00 a.m. and have a morning routine I try to keep year round. Harvest time is more difficult but I excel at it in winter! Now that we have a new puppy it does involve a little extra time to take care of Blitz but he is just the cutest so I don’t mind! The darkness and the peacefulness of the morning is something I thrive upon to make a fresh start to the day.

Energize Pre-workout (aka Unicorn Juice) and my Devotional books

I typically drink my favorite pre-workout (Beachbody Energize) while I read a devotional. I just finished 100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs and I highly recommend it. Then I review my day in my planner and write down my intentions for the day. These may be tasks to accomplish, people I need to contact, prayers I want to remember and so forth. I also make a list of 5 things I am grateful for from the previous day. This keeps me paying attention during the day so I look for the small blessings in life that make it wonderful. For example, the sunrise pictured above. I feel so fortunate to be able to sit in my driveway each morning and watch as the glorious sun rises to start our day. Next, I exercise for 30-40 minutes. Exercise is an important part of my day and life. It keeps me feeling strong and healthy and gives me energy. I can certainly tell when I am am not consistent. Then I hit the shower and head to the office -my commute is tough – 3 minutes tops!

The winter involves lots of office time and meetings. It is even called the “meeting season” for farmers. I have already been to one this week, Arkansas Rice, and will be heading to my winter peer group meeting tomorrow. I can’t wait to hear about each operation’s triumphs and struggles and run a few ideas by them as well. I will be back to share more of my winter days with you. Balance sheets and marketing plans, choosing seed to plant and adjusting our fertilizer recommendations to our fields and so much more to get ready for another crop. Plus a trip to Japan to visit our soybean buyers, but that isn’t for a few weeks. In the meantime, I would love to hear about your morning routine and you MUST comment about your favorites books for me to read in 2019. I have a short list but need some great ones to keep me motivated. For fun, I enjoy reading mystery and suspense novels and I am a sucker for a good motivational book! I hope to hear from you.

Persistence and Determination

Do you have a favorite quote?  I have many and I hear new ones all the time that motivate and inspire me.  I even chose one word for 2018 to remind me of my goals and to stay on course.  More about that in a later post though.  For now I want to focus on the Persistence quote from Calvin Coolidge.  It hangs on the wall in our office and has become a family quote and mantra.

It helps me to read the quote now and again to remind myself that I reached earlier goals through hard work, persistence and determination.  I do believe that to live a fulfilling life you must be willing to push forward even when things seem hard or unattainable.  In those moments sometimes I just repeat to myself “persistence and determination; persistence and determination” and it gets me back on my game.

This quote seems ever so relevant in production agriculture.  I am sure there are many other industries that can relate as well but agriculture is what I know.  Farming is more than a career choice it is a way of life.  Any of you who have married into the farming life know this first hand.  I think that it is actually harder to marry into farming than be born into it.  The working hours are ridiculous and totally unthinkable if you grew up living in a family with 9 am – 5 pm; 5 days a week jobs.  In production agriculture, the work must be done when the calendar and the weather give you the opportunity or you miss it completely.  For most families there is no scheduling events, you just have to work around the farm.  I can see where this is foreign to most Americans.  7 days a week from daylight until dark until the job is completed or it rains; these are the hours.  Farm kids understand this all too well but they also know when it rains they get a whole day of fun!  I can remember my Dad taking me swimming in the middle of the week and there wasn’t another Dad at the pool!  I also remember my Dad standing in the back of the school auditorium covered in dust or hydraulic oil or whatever the day had thrown on him.  I knew to look in the back and he would wave and be out the door before the crowd.  It’s not that the farm is more important than the family; It’s that the family IS the farm.

A good analogy of persistence and determination is in the seeds we plant and nurture.  One tiny rice seed is planted into the soil under what we hope are best conditions.  The seed must establish a root and the shoot or what we think of as the plant in short order or risk rotting in the soil.  Depending on the type of grain length planted, this tiny seed measures 5.5 mm to 7.5 mm in length.  They pack a powerful amount of vigor to do the job they were made to do.  This little guy must achieve his goals one step at a time.  The first goal is to push out of the soil and see the sun!  That is just its first amazing accomplishment for the season.

Look around your daily life and find examples of persistence which have given you the rewards you were seeking.  I am sure they are there!  Be mindful and grateful for those small pieces of strength that show up in you.  I don’t mean you have an award on the wall for these things (or you might!) but that you accomplished a goal.  Heck it may be that you are a Mom and you got through the day without getting frustrated with your child.  Maybe you crossed some things off your to do list at work that have been there for months.  The planter ran all day without a single problem.  Be present in these accomplishments so you have the energy and motivation to stay or BECOME persistent and determined to reach your goals.  You may be like the tiny rice seed that pushes through the layers of soil to grow and flourish and reach your goals and dreams one step at a time!

 

 

Welcome!

Welcome to my first ever blog post!  This blog has been in my head for years.  I have just never had the push to pull the trigger on getting started.  It has been a progression and I have so many ideas to share with you!

Let’s start with an introduction:  I am Jennifer James from Arkansas.  I live in a small rural community with row crop agriculture at its core.  It is the lifeblood of our community and my family.  I am a 4th generation farmer and a female farmer at that!  I have a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business from the University of Arkansas.  Go Hogs!  My husband and I have been married for 23 years and business partners for much of that time.  I am so lucky to still have a romance with him!  We have one child a 17-year-old young man who thrives and loves the farm.  So we are immersed in the farming life here in rural Arkansas.

However, getting away from here and experiencing the cultures, people, food and all that is available outside the rural areas are very important to us.  If our son decides to return to the farm it will be because he has experienced the world outside our gates!

Rice field just a few weeks after planting

The tag lines: Farming  I hope to give you a glimpse of what a true southern family row crop farm looks like.  The good days and the rough ones too.  I want you to learn about US agriculture with a focus on the rice industry.  Rice is the backbone of our farm with soybeans and corn thrown in for diversity and rotation.  Arkansas is the #1 rice-growing state with half of all US rice produced here.  The crop is very important to our state’s economy.  I also hope to feature women who are successful in the agriculture industry across the country.  I have made a list of these women and I know you will have more to add.  I hope to lift them up and show other women the great opportunities in agriculture that might never have crossed your mind!

My family after a high school football game.

Family and Food:  I am a Mom, Wife, Christian, amateur chef (ha!), avid health and wellness advocate, and true believer in growth and personal development along side my professional career.  I do all the things that you do everyday for myself and my family.  Here is where I want to tell you that you can do or be anything your heart desires and maybe I will have a few tips to help out along your journey.  Living in a rural area, we do not have access to a variety of take out and I cook dinner most nights a week.  Plus I love to share recipes that contain US grown rice!

Selfie after a little treadmill time!

Fitness:  I strongly believe that you must take care of yourself first and fitness encompasses many facets of health for me.  It is also a journey but I am getting better at it for myself and would love to have you join me.  I am working on developing meditation into my daily routine.  Why is it so hard y’all?

I invite you to join me as this blog evolves.  I would love your comments and direction along the way.  And lastly, Did you eat US grown rice today?

Jennifer