How's it going? It has been cooling down this week. Going outside to do chores, I wore winter gloves, a coat, and even a facemask. It is cold out in the field.
I have been doing chores all week because Mom and Dad went to New York City and Washington, D.C. Here's what they did: Monday morning, Dad finished the preparations before they left for vacation. He had to make sure that the livestock had enough feed for the week. He checked all the waters for the livestock to make sure they were working, and checked other things that he thought might be a concern. Mom and Dad than drove to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to fly to Chicago and from there, they flew to New York City. While in New York, they stayed with my cousin and his wife and their one-year-old boy. They enjoyed their visit with them. Tuesday morning, Mom and Dad visited the Rockefeller Center outside of the NBC studios where the Today Show is broadcasted. They had a big poster, as did many others in the crowd, hoping that the TV cameras would catch their signs and hand waves. Katie Couric wished Mom and Dad a Happy Anniversary and signed their poster. Mom and Dad also got a picture taken with her. They also saw Matt Lauer, Al Roker, and Ann Curry. After that, Mom and Dad toured other areas of Manhattan. They visited the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Macy's, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and went to a Broadway Play, 42nd Street. They said it was absolutely fantastic!! They also visited ground zero, remembering what they saw from a year ago and how they noticed it is still very quiet in the area, just as it was last year. They saw the metal beam formed as a cross. There are still fence lines and walls filled with flowers, memorial messages, and pictures of loved ones that lost their lives to this horrible act of violence. This year they were able to get right up to the area. Last year they were a few blocks away from the site.
Wednesday was Mom and Dad's 26th Wedding Anniversary. They traveled to Washington, D.C. by train that day. After they got to their hotel, Mom and Dad rested and enjoyed a nice dinner. Thursday, they took a tour around Washington D.C. They saw Lincoln Memorial, Washington Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, White House, Capitol, Executive office buildings, FBI building, Department of Agriculture building, Ford's Theater where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, and lots more. The guided bus tour lasted 3 hours. Most of the tour was driving past all of the huge buildings and memorials, but they did get to stop at some of the sites. Mom and Dad also saw the recently built Franklin Roosevelt Memorial. They were really impressed with this.
Thursday night, Mom and Dad attended an Award's Banquet ceremony. They received the "Spirit of Organic" Award, which was given out to only 3 farm couples nationally. The National Organic Research Foundation and New Hope Media presented this award. In the picture above, you can see my parents with their award.
Friday, Mom and Dad went to the Natural Products East Expo. They brought home a couple of bags full of food samples ranging from health food nutrition bars, cereals, pastas, salad dressings, rice, chips, candies, and other snacks and beverages. Some of these were organic products. They sampled lots of foods and drinks. Many suppliers, producers, buyers, and brokers attended the expo. Of all the booths they visited, none were as well done as the Organic Valley booth. At that booth, expo visitors saw the new Organic Valley food products, and in one corner they could taste the cuisine of chef Monique Hooker. Monique has a great reputation in the culinary art world. She is a real addition to the Organic Valley staff. Food and beverage samples in Organic Valley's booth included their new European butter, many cheeses, meat dishes, orange juice, chocolate milk, and eggnog, which is also a new product for them. Mom and Dad had fun visiting with the Organic Valley employees working the booth, as well as the public, who were visiting the booth.
Saturday, Mom and Dad came home by flying out of Washington D.C. to Chicago, and from there, back to Cedar Rapids. Then, they drove home. After that, Mom and Dad went to a friend's wedding near Canton, Minnesota. This friend sold us our hazel nut bushes about 10 years ago. He owns a tree research farm. The wedding was outside at the farm. Mom and Dad thought it was a very pretty wedding.
According to mom and dad, I did a good job doing the chores while they were gone. I did all of the chores after school when I got home. It took about 1 1/2 to 2 hours each day to feed all livestock here in the farmyard, feed the sows out in the pastures, and give the cattle fresh grass to graze. After it rained over 1/2 an inch on Wednesday, doing chores became harder because of the slippery mud. I almost got the ATV stuck doing sow chores in the pasture!
Tuesday was James' Journal 2nd year Anniversary. Typing 106 journal entries, I have learned a lot about communication skills and have really enjoyed sharing my feelings about growing up on our organic farm to so many readers. I enjoy hearing the responses from readers and am glad that I can be a part of such a great project. I have also learned that there are a lot of people that really do care about eating healthy foods and where their food is coming from. I hope everybody keeps on reading and I'm looking forward to many more entries.
Farm Fact: Our local newspaper carried a full-page advertisement on the back page this past week. This ad was about the number of hog factories in our county and the concern of the well-being of the animals, industrial levels of waste, health factors, and destroying water and air quality. The ad was paid for by the United States Humane Society and the Neighborhood Alliance for a Clean Environment. The article included icons on a county map, each representing a hog confinement. Each year, hog confinements in our county produce almost 1,000 tons of manure for every square mile of the county. As of April 2002, our county had over 120 hog confinements. There are dozens of applications for new industrial confinement barns. Chickasaw County has 13,000 residents and only 39 farmers who raise 270,000 pigs industrially each year. Also pictured were an area south of our place (approximately 8 miles) where a proposed hog factory barn is to be built and the number of residents living in this area. Messages of concern by some of the neighbors were shared in the article. They support farmers using non-confinement methods but are opposed to large-scale factory farms moving in.