Hello to all! I hope you are having a great end to summer and beginning to thefall season. We have been busy maintaining and cleaning things up, and of course,the usual chores. We have also been getting ready for the harvest season. Thismorning we sold our 206th shipment of hogs to Organic Prairie (the meat companyof the Organic Valley Cooperative). We sent the first shipment of market hogsin June of 1999. This past July we sent our first shipment of market cattle toOrganic Prairie.
I am very glad and fortunate to have grown up on a farm, especially in Northeast Iowa. Our farm has changed so much through the years, and will continue to evolve. Farming is a vital part of our family's life. Our values and beliefs led us to becoming organic. From early days of organic farming, my dad was introduced to individuals who shared similar interest and most importantly was introduced to Organic Valley. This is where I got involved and was asked to do a column writing about what it was like to grow up on an organic farm.
Writing James' Journal is a lot of fun, and have learned so much! I learned a lot about computers, digital cameras, and writing in general. I have had many opportunities with James' Journal to meet and visit with people. A highlight of mine was the day I met Robert Kennedy, Jr. He wanted to meet the face with the person that wrote James' Journal. What an honor it was to have my picture taken with him and to share conversation. He gave me an autographed photo and article he was featured in that I had framed and hangs in my room.
I also had the privilege to speak in front of large crowds at some of the Organic Valley Annual Meetings, Kickapoo Getaway events (Organic Valley's annual celebration), and the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Organic Valley headquarters. I would like to thank Organic Valley for giving me such a great opportunity. Thanks in particular to my parents, Carrie Branovan, Sarah Bratnober, Miekal And, Theresa Marquez, George Siemon, and many other individuals at Organic Valley for helping me in my writings, and opportunities to be a part of Organic Valley. I plan to be a part of the family farmer owned cooperative for the long haul, with my dream of possibly driving a milk truck for a while before I start my own Organic Valley family farm.
Thank you to the many readers for taking the time out of your busy schedules to read my journal. I have had e-mails from readers across the country and a reader as far away as Italy! WOW!! It's been awesome! I hope you learned and enjoyed it as much as I have learned from my experiences and have had fun doing it.
I've been writing for 5 years now, and I'm taking on some new responsibilities. I need to finish my senior year of high school, work with mom and dad on the farm caring for the livestock and crops, spend time in the shop with woodworking projects, and continue my part time job. Pretty busy! That's why I'm going to begin sharing this column space with some other young farmers around the country. You'll begin to see their letters in the coming weeks.
Every day I enjoy the sunrises and sunsets on our family farm and appreciate all that I have. On the wall in our office hangs a plaque that my mom made for my dad that truly tells the story of who we are. It is called, "A Farmer's Creed".
A Farmer's Creed
I believe a man's greatest possession is his dignity and that no calling bestows this more abundantly than farming.
I believe hard work and honest sweat are the building blocks of a person's character.
I believe that farming, despite its hardships and disappointments, is the most honest and honorable way a man can spend his days on earth.
I believe farming nurtures the close family ties that make life rich in ways money can't buy.
I believe my children are learning values that will last a lifetime and can be learned in no other way.
I believe farming provides education for life and that no other occupation teaches so much about birth, growth and maturity in such a variety of ways.
I believe many of the best things in life are indeed free: the splendor of a sunrise, the rapture of wide-open spaces, and the exhilarating sight of your land greening each spring.
I believe true happiness comes from watching your crops ripen in the field, your children grow tall in the sun, your whole family feel the pride that springs from their shared experience.
I believe that by my toil I am giving more to the world than I am taking from it, an honor that does not come to all men.
I believe my life will be measured ultimately by what I have done for my fellowman, and by this standard I fear no judgment.
I believe when a man grows old and sums up his days, he should be able to stand tall and feel pride in the life he's lived.
I believe in farming because it makes all things possible.
Farm Fact: We believe in those words and have tried to be good stewards of the land. Organic Valley has played a large role in our organic farm, what we are doing and where we are going. We thank them for being a part of our lives.