Texas Farm Girl Co-Author’s with Larry King: Answering Larry King’s Big Question about the Ag Industry

As we know, Larry King has always been good at asking the question. As a journalist who’s hosted successful radio and television shows on CBS affiliates, CNN, Ora TV, and RT America (and recently an actor in television shows such as Arthur, 30 Rock, and Gravity Falls and films such as The Bee Movie, Shrek 2, and The People v. O.J. Simpson), he’s built a solid career around asking questions. In his new book to be released this summer, he asks experts about the Big Question for their industries, and I couldn’t be more grateful to be one of them.

Photo via CNN

In this book, I tackle a big question in the Ag industry. In so many TV and radio interviews, I always get asked about why so many farmers are going out of business and why there are less and less farmers in our country.  I always answer, “Consolidation is very real.” Consolidation in farming is happening at a faster pace than ever and it’s important for all of us to know why. I don’t want to spoil it, but I can tell you, this will give you an inside look at why farmers are getting bigger and why the number of farmers are becoming less.

I couldn’t be more honored and excited to be able to be a part of a book by co-authoring with a legend. To learn more about the project and my involvement, check out the press release here.

The Year of the Lone Star Pearl

This year, like any year, has certainly had its highs and lows—at a national, global, and for many of us, a personal level. We live in an unstable world, and as much as we may work to bring good to the world, there will always be trials and tribulations for us to face. That’s just life. As the New Year approaches and we begin to reflect on the year behind us, it’s important that we remember everything is about perspective. In Texas Farm Girl books, PawPaw shares a wonderful concept that I believe is especially important for us to remember these next few weeks: shine like a Lone Star Pearl.

A Lone Star Pearl is someone who looks for the positivity in a negative situation, putting their best foot forward every day. They’re glass-half-full, optimistic dreamers who don’t ignore the issues, but rather find ways to spin the situation back into something positive. They make progress and live happier, more stress-free lives.

We’re presented with a plethora of sad or upsetting news each day. While it’s important to recognize the world around us, it’s also vital that we surround ourselves with positivity, as well as have the wisdom to know what areas you should be taking action in and what areas you need to let be. You could probably make a never-ending list right now of all the bad things that happened this year, but for every negative event I guarantee you could think of three other positive events. The new job you got this year, the new friendship that blossomed, the A+ your child studied so hard for. It’s a mix of big and little breakthroughs that make this life beautiful and worth living.

As we transition into 2018, remember that January 1 is just another day. Positivity can occur any day of the year as long as we not only look for it, but also live a life of integrity that will naturally bring along good things. And when the inevitable trial comes your way, you can look at it with defeat or you can take it on and shine like a Lone Star Pearl that you are!

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

Quitting Doesn’t Have to Be Negative

“Quit” is seen as such a negative word. For many, it’s synonymous with words like “failure,” “lazy,” or “incapable.” But that doesn’t have to be the case. While it is important to work hard and persevere during times of hardships and trials, quitting can play an important role in your long term success and growth depending on the situation you are in.

Earlier this week I shared on my social media an article from AgWeb that provided a very interesting perspective on figuring out when is the best time to quit. Writer John Phipps explained that “there is indeed a time for every purpose under heaven,” and this proved to be true in the narrative he shared of his son quitting farming at the young age of 59. With a mix of good planning, financial saving, and a little luck, this turned out to be the best decision for Phipps’ son even though his business was going well for him at the time of his quitting. This choice doesn’t make his son “lazy” or a “failure”—it shows he was proactive and capable of making the best decision for his own success.

Quitting can be a positive decision in both the good and the bad times, and in many aspects of our lives. But it can also be tough to decide when the time to take that step is. It takes a lot of soul searching and prayer to find the correct guidance, and the right decision isn’t always the most logical on the surface. As Phipps said, “Neither should you expect academic or media voices to inform your decision. I cannot recall a ‘get out now’ advice article in my four decades of farming.” Life is risky and unpredictable, but no matter what you decide, God will always provide. Whether it’s a job, relationship, or other activity that plays a big role in your life, deciding to “quit” can be a scary, but a positive change when it’s time to choose a different path at the fork.  The choice can open you up to new opportunities and experiences you wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of, which can in turn help you discover what your true purpose is. Remember that when one door closes, God always makes sure another one will open.

Our health begins with the dirt beneath our feet

We love to take care of our bodies. In today’s world, there are so many diets, lifestyles, and exercise equipment and gadgets that it’s hard to keep up with the newest health trends. While some health lifestyles are more questionable than others, it’s wonderful that many people in today’s society are making efforts to take care of their bodies. But our physical well being isn’t the only important thing we should be taking care of. God created this beautiful earth for us to both enjoy and to protect—and that protection starts with the dirt beneath our feet.

Soil is life. All our produce comes from the soil, and this produce is what keeps our bodies alive. Without clean and healthy soil we wouldn’t have the sustenance needed to live the healthy lifestyles we strive for, or even feed the billions of people on this earth. With all the controversies today regarding pipelines and sustainability efforts in general, it’s so important that we educate ourselves on best practices to help keep the earth beautiful and truly sustainable. Here are a couple of ways you can do your part by keeping the soil healthy.

Add Earthworms

I know it might sound strange, but adding earthworms to your soil has its benefits to soil health. Earthworms actually help the soil’s ability to absorb nutrients.  How fun would that be to add some earthworms to the soil at your own home and illustrate how the squirmy little creatures are big helpers!

Grow Your Own

Go as local as your backyard or even patio. An herb or vegetable garden—or even a flower pot with your favorites —is fun and sustainable way to get some of your produce. You can use these as a teaching tool to have fun with the kids and learn about farming and soil health together. And as a farmer myself, I can attest that a meal made from food you’ve grown is the most rewarding meal to eat.

Some great articles on soil health and how you can make a difference

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it” – Genesis 2:15

Pickiness Drives Me Freakin’ Crazy

We live in America. Land of the Free. Home of the Brave.

We have many choices as Americans. We see them all around in almost everything we do. We are spoiled!

The grocery store is a perfect example.  You want Ice Cream?  Multiple brands and a number of combinations of flavors to choose from.  You want Yogurt?  Well….you might as well stand there for ten minutes just to familiarize yourself with all of the brands and flavors.  You want Cereal?  Lucky Charms?  Cinnamon Toast Crunch?  Trix?  What about an apple?  Gala?  Sweet Tango?  Red?  Green?

The amount of choices today is challenging for some of us.  For others, it is expected.  I personally get overwhelmed at all of the choices that there are.  I grew up with very small means where the choices were slim.  My parents were hard workers and did everything they could to provide for us, but times were hard.  A majority of the time my sister and I didn’t have a choice but for what was put in front of us, and all I could do was be thankful I had food to eat and didn’t go hungry.  We knew if we didn’t eat what was in front of us, there wasn’t an alternative to go to.

Today, our children are becoming pickier than ever. They are living in a sense of entitlement when it comes to what they want to eat, and have no problem with food waste.  To be blunt, it drives me freakin’ crazy.  First, they have no idea how hard people work behind the scenes to give them the choices they have.  Farmers dedicate their families and livelihoods to help provide for their local communities and for the food supply not only in our country, but around the world.  Secondly, parents make sacrifices in working hard to provide food on the table for their own family.  The food that sits in front of anyone of us, child to adult, has blood, sweat, and tears behind every ounce.

We as parents have a large duty on our hands to instill the value of thankfulness and appreciation into our children.  We must educate them and do the best we can to give them the realization of how blessed we are as Americans.  So many starve around the world and there are so many that only wish they could have a choice to be picky and eat what they want.

As you sit down with your child for dinner tonight, may you educate those sweet faces how that meal made it in front of them and to be thankful for the farmers and thankful to you for providing them the choices they have.  Teaching them to be thankful and appreciative is key to our children today so that our choices will be there for many years to come.

Sustainable cotton use after Hurricane Harvey’s damage to cotton crops

Farmers are the literal breadwinners of the world; they work hard to put food on your table. While it’s easy to note the fact that your food first came from a farm, you might not realize that your clothes are a product of farmers’ hard work, too.

The U.S. is the world’s third largest cotton producer (following China and India), producing more than 17 billion bales of cotton a year. To put this in perspective, just one bale of cotton can produce 215 pairs of jeans, 249 bedsheets, 690 bath towels, 3,085 diapers, 1,217 t-shirts, and 313,600 dollar bills. Needless to say, cotton is a staple in our everyday lives.

As noted in last week’s Texas Farm Girl blog, Hurricane Harvey hit cotton farms hard, resulting in the loss of more than 400,000 bales. According to the Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas is the number one cotton producer in the nation. Losing this large of a portion of what was predicted to be one of the most fruitful harvests in years could be detrimental to textile industries. Multiply the aforementioned figures by 400,000, and the damage is clear.

Just as reducing food waste can support farmers’ efforts to feed the growing population, clothing your household in a sustainable way can help counter the damage Harvey did to Texas cotton crops. Here are a couple of ways you can help:

Photo via ImseVimse

Buy lasting products

Fashion trends are constantly changing, and it’s fun to buy new clothes every season. But it’s possible to buy less while still buying products that express your personality. There are plenty of classic trends that will last you a long time—in durability and style. If you buy several staple items, you’d be surprised how many different outfit ideas you can come up with. It’ll free space in your closet, time when you’re getting dressed, and it’ll reduce clothing waste in the long run.

Donate and buy secondhand

Buying less won’t completely reduce waste, as you’ll always have to get rid of clothes every now and then. Children will outgrow things, items will wear down, and you’ll accidentally tear a few things. But if you’re getting rid of otherwise good quality clothes, consider donating instead of throwing them out. One man’s trash is another’s treasure, and you can do a little thrift shopping yourself when you drop your clothes off at your local Salvation Army.

Prayers for Texas farmers in the wake of Harvey

Two weeks ago, Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast of Texas, devastating Houston and its surrounding areas. Personally, I have family in the area who weathered the storm, but the aftermath in putting their communities back together is a taxing challenge. My heart and prayers for relief goes out to my family as well as every single person in South Texas impacted by Harvey. My prayers also go out to those in the wake of Hurricane Irma this week.

As illustrated in the first Texas Farm Girl book, Texas Farm Girl knows firsthand how harsh weather can put life and hard work at a halt—not to mention how terrifying it can be. And having your home underwater is terrifying; some areas of South Texas have received a year’s worth of rainfall, transforming highways into rivers and upending life for farmers.

The heavy winds and excessive rain that comes with a hurricane is simply too much for any crop to endure. And harvested crops aren’t necessarily safe from harm either.  Namely, cotton farmers’ harvest bundles have been especially vulnerable to the storm.

The damage will affect other parts of the U.S., too, as Texas farmers provide for large portion of the country. According to the Texas Department of Agriculture, the state exports nearly one-fourth of the country’s wheat and a significant portion of its corn and soybeans, but a shutdown of ports have halted export.

Additionally, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service reported at least 1.2 million beef cows graze in 54 counties affected by the storm. While there is no data on how many of these animals have been displaced, images of wandering cattle and rescue videos have circulated on social media.

How can we help?

The storm has passed, and it’s time for healing. Thankfully, there are many resources and programs set up so you can offer a helping hand to Harvey victims. Here are a few:

For Locals

  • hurricaneharveyrescue.org – Victims post location where immediate assistance is needed for those with rescue resources to come help
  • Feeding Texas – Find your local food bank to donate food or money
  • Airbnb – Open your home to disaster victims through their Disaster Relief Program

For Locals or Nonlocals