Homestead Update

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As hard as it is to express my love for my homestead farm with the big red barn, three silos and an orange brick house, it is even harder to be displaced from it. My feet are in that soil, my breath catches on that cool morning air, my shoulders are kissed by the Noon sun.

Those tractors are still like extra limbs, with their pops, jolts and life within. The crickets from outside my childhood bedroom have resided in my ears. I still hear them, singing me to sleep with a late night car passing by acting as the harmony to their notes.

My life is based working with the large black and white docile creatures very few get to behold. A new birth on the farm is a treasure, one I have not witnessed for too long.

The three people I have loved for 23 years are there, watching each other grow in the heat of the sun, tan lines prominant and hair brittle with wind.

The connection as a farmer’s daughter is tight and everlasting. No matter where I go or who I am with, the big red barn with three silos and an orange brick house will always be in my soul.

I can’t thank my relatives and my mother and father for raising me and my brother here at this haven enough. It is my paradise.

(Thanks mom, for the photos.)

Alyssa B.

Farrowing Crates

As a farmer, yogi, mostly healthy eater and writer, I feel it is time to talk about farrowing and gestation crates. There is a lot of false information out there showing pictures of sows (mommy pigs) in cages, laying on their sides, and this is interpreted as cruel treatment.

I did not grow up on a farm with swine, just because my old man didn’t want to raise pigs. However, I was tasked with writing a report on farrowing crates whilst in college, and I took the time to talk to a swine management professor to better understand their uses.

 

Credit: Purdue Food Animal Education Network Website

Credit: Purdue Food Animal Education Network Website

Contrary to making a pig’s life worse, as many have come to believe, these crates are actually saving lives. Yep, the lives of the piglets that is. These are safe, well ventilated crates that allow the piglets to nurse, without the danger of the sow laying on them and potentially suffocating them. The crates also help with lessening aggressive tendencies between pigs, which are more prevalent in open group pens.

These are just the basics, and there is a lot more research out there. I would suggest that if you don’t believe me, take a look at the link in the title. (http://www.ansc.purdue.edu/faen/gest%20crates.html) Also, I caution those who cry “animal abuse” to do their research or even talk to a farmer. There are plenty out there who would be willing to talk to you about their practices.

Seeking information is the best thing to do before making a claim, I have this learned the hard way.

Thanks for reading,

Alyssa B.

P.S. Info. about the UW-Platteville swine program, which has “Contact Us” links. —> http://www.uwplatt.edu/pioneer-farm/pioneer-farm-swine-enterprise

 

One of my favorite pictures of the UW-Platteville Campus

One of my favorite pictures of the UW-Platteville Campus

Platteville, Wisconsin Tornado Relief Fund

The City of Platteville, Wisconsin was recently hit by two tornadoes. The University of Wisconsin-Platteville also suffered major damages. As an alumna, I was devastated to learn about the damages, luckily no one was fatally injured. However, living three hours away and unable to help with the cleanup, it’s been hard to feel like I’m contributing or even part of the aftermath work to this beautiful community and place I consider a second home.

I have been in contact with the University Communications Director, Paul Erickson, and he told me they are working on setting up a relief fund for the university soon. I did find a Facebook page for relief awareness in Platteville and Madison, here. Like the page to stay on alert about the relief efforts.

Also, the City of Platteville, has started a relief fun at Mound City Bank, information here. Mound City’s contact information is here.

I hope that my fellow alumni, friends, family and people who love and care about Platteville will take a minute and help out. I’ll update when I have more information.

Thank you,

Alyssa B.

P.S. This is UW-Platteville’s website where you can see what the campus was like before all of this happened. http://www.uwplatt.edu/

UPDATE: Another relief fund to donate to families of Southwest Wisconsin tornado damage.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here is the link for donations directly set up for the University. Thank you!

Forever Pioneers.

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Barn Quilting

Over the Easter holiday, I wanted to take the opportunity of surprising my parents with their 25th anniversary present. I have been plotting this gift for this monumental milestone for over a year.

So a bit of background. Wisconsin 29 between Green Bay and Wittenberg has quite a few gems that deserve recognition, they litter the highway with rustic color and design. Barn quilts are the emerging farm identifiers that now adorn many barns in the area.

I may not be entirely sure if this string of quilts is part of a program or if there are a lot if loving people who care about the farmers, but they sparked inspiration into me.

With the help if Pinterest and a handy boyfriend, I was able to create Bob and Marsh their very own barn quilt.

It took a few days of priming, taping and painting, but with some patience and ease of hand, I created this…

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It is going to take some time for Papa to get it up, but I supplied the 2x4s needed to make a frame and coated the wood in a weather proof coat, so once he has a minute in between planting and cutting hay (hah!) it can go right on up.

I know Mom was very excited about it and Dad kept his emotions to himself, but I was hoping it could be something for them to remember the last 25 years farming together. I hope they remember why the industry is so important, but to also recognize they have a lot of accomplishments to be proud of.

Happy 25th Mom and Dad, you are the most supportive, encouraging and loving parentals Nathan and I could ask for.

If you aren’t near northeasten WI, Google search “Shawano County Barn Quilts” for a peak into what I’m talking about. Also, barn quilts are made of wood, not cloth, if you didn’t get that.

-Alyssa B.

A half-share from Sleepy Hollow Farm, submitted by owner Suzi Sevcik.

Community Supported Agriculture

I’ve been geeking out for the last two weeks when I discovered Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in Kewaunee County. I got so pumped, I wrote a story about it in the Star-News.

It is a way to bring locally produced, fresh and home-loved fruits, vegetables, chicken, eggs and more to your table. From being literally cooped up in an apartment since last June, I learned that your own garden space is hard to come by. We moved in too late to do a community garden, and our urban garden was a major fail.

CSA, however, takes local farmer’s produce and puts it on your table. You pay for 16-18 weeks of fresh food upfront and each week you pick up your bag of food. If you are lucky, your farmer will add recipes and tips for processing the food so none goes to waste. But, if not, a quick search will give you the info you need.

Eli and I are considering getting into partnership with one of the Kewaunee Co. farmers. All of them are non-certified organic farmers. No certification because they would rather teach their members about where and how the food is grown rather than spend a lot of money on the government certification process.

Here are the three I wrote about: Sleep Hollow Farm, Lotto’s Lazy Acres and Clario Farms.

I think this is awesome and the point of the article was to get the word out about this type of farming, because it is not very well known in the area. Let me know your CSA experiences, I know it is very popular in the Madison area.

Oh, and if you want to read it, here! CSA in Kewaunee County

Thanks for reading,

Alyssa B.

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15 Things You Learn After College That Have Nothing To Do With The “Real World”

In a desperate attempt to hang on to my beloved college memories, I am making this list. I’m already getting memory-flies (butterflies thinking of my fave memories… in case you didn’t get that.) When I say the “real world” I mean your time NOW after you spent the last 16+ years becoming educated so you could make a living.

1. If you move away from your college town, making friends is like trying to cure a zombie from being dead. You don’t know the local places to go, let alone find your way around. Your new co-workers/neighbors, depending on age, may or may not want to converse with you or hang out. FRIENDS ARE IMPORTANT! When you go to college, making friends takes as much as saying hello to a classmate, now its all about something I still haven’t figured out. Thank goodness for Snapchat, or our true college-sister-homies would be lost to us, right?

Thing is, this is me.

Thing is, this is me.

2. Music that you listened to in your dorm, walking to class or grinded to in da club brings back those perfect, embarrassing, lovely moments you experienced oh so long ago. Whether we realize it at the time or not, those melodies will keep us in those moments.

3. Being in bed at 8:30 p.m. or earlier becomes a priority. I have no idea how I could stay up so late those countless nights. I think we are trying to make up for those lost hours on our pillow after we graduate.

This is how I look sleeping.

This is how I look sleeping.

4. High school kids become the worst. YOUTH! They know nothing. I can’t explain it, they just seem so much worse than we were as younglings.

5. Drivers will piss you off so much! It was not until after college I started to realize how many people drive too fast and don’t use their blinkers. Jerks, I’m nosy and want to know where you are going!

I stopped flipping people off, I'm scared I'll get beat up at a stop sign.

I stopped flipping people off, I’m scared I’ll get beat up at a stop sign.

6. The morning news somehow becomes important. No matter how much you hated the news, you find yourself compelled to watch or listen while prepping for the day. (How did I become so boring?)

7. Being so involved with my extracurriculars in college, I now find myself thinking of things I can do so I don’t feel so lazy! I picked up crochet, holiday wreath making, reading for pleasure, yoga, craft beer/wine exploration, running 5ks and I went fishing once. All of these things were non-existent those four years in college. I did drop the partying/hangovers, which was a 3x/week thing. No longer seems appealing.

Normal weekend.

Normal weekend.

8. Imgur. What are this? Yeah. It’s pretty fantastic. Check it out if you need some emotions of any kind.

9. From watching an excessive amount of Say Yes to the Dress, I’ve learned some women pay more for a wedding dress than what I have accumulated in student loan debt. My college education is not worth some women’s white gowns. Dumb.

That dress is probably 20K or more.

That dress is probably 20K or more.

10. Making sure your younger siblings graduate from their educational adventures becomes important. You need them to succeed, so you can be awesome together! Also, it’s more fun to be poor with someone else.

11. If in a serious relationship, it seems like things happen you would have never expected in college. Apartment shopping without your bestie, but with a weird guy with great hair? Consideration of getting a pet, together? Figuring out dinner, each and every night, again, together… ? Talking about financial/relationship/permanent location futures becomes interesting. Finding out this bugger is the greatest person in the world, yeah, I think I can get used to that.

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12. I called my Mom just about everyday while in school, now she texts me. The woman texts me and emails me. What the what? Why Mom, why? I think I annoy her by calling. My Dad also started using a cellphone. That was the weirdest text I have ever seen, to say the least. They are growing up so fast.

13. Spring break is no longer a thing to look forward to, depending on the amount of paid vay-kay you have. The 10-day trip to Florida or Arizona don’t seem as important as taking a few extra days during the holidays.

<3

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14. Facebook trolling becomes essential to finding out how your more dislike peers are doing now. Also, Twitter starts winning over the good ole FB. Tweets are quippy, fun and just better because we are always trying to start a newly trending hashtag. Retweets>Likes, all day long.

15. College was awesome, and now you are here, which may not be as exciting. I’ve learned a positive attitude, a friend or two that are dealing with the same situation and a promise of many new adventures is just enough to make the transition worth it. I miss my school, the friends, the cheap beer and the experiences I was a part of, but now it is time to stop ya mopin’ and make this life just as good as the last.

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-Alyssa B.

America’s Dairyland

What do I care about? That is the question that is asked throughout this video, showing that in all walks of Wisconsin life, the agricultural industry and practices contributing to it are found.

My goals have always been to inform people about this huge industry so they know how, where and when their food was made. With this video and other passionate people, we can reach out to our neighbors and talk about what we all care about.

I couldn’t have put together a better video promoting Wisconsin agriculture. At this time, I am working to inform my readers about local ag related issues, and I want to know what you are doing to inform? Let me know in the comments below!

I found this on the Alice and Dairyland Facebook page.

Alyssa B.

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Journalism and the Olympics

With all of the tweets and photos from those lucky journalists who have the opportunity to attend the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, I thought it seemed like a good idea to talk about sports journalism.

To pick up on the “Journo Resource Project” I had started late last year, today I want to talk about Grantland. Founded by ESPN’s Bill Simmons, Grantland offers a different view at sports reporting. Stories are less about the stats and more about what the reporter sees and knows. There are more personal intrepretations of athletic happenings from the writers.

Now, I personally do not read a lot of sports stories, but like a lot of people, I am a huge sucker for the Olympics. My younger self wanted to be an Olympic gymnast, but then I got really tall, so I changed my mind and wanted to do the triple jump on the world’s stage. Well, that didn’t happen either.

I just adore the amazing things that happen at the Olympics. Winter sports especially are so fascinating with the figure skating, snowboarding tricks and overall designs on their outfits.

Naturally, I have been following up on the events and hoping to catch some event during America’s prime time on NBC. Twitter and Facebook have been great tools of reading and seeing the different feats that happen while I’m sleeping. Thank you to the journalists who are there and working hard to bring us these treats.

Grantland has a lengthy article about Sochi, including information on the opening ceremonies, the scenery and athlete chat. You can read it here. Reporter Katie Baker did a killer job. As for my opinion on her style, it is excellent. Less on the negative of hotel conditions and how creepy some think the polar bear mascot looks. (It was overkill on these two topics.) I know, it may not be as perfect as past Olympic events, but come on, the Russians are doing an overall great job. (Remember, in MY opinion, and what do I know, I’m not there.)

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As for Ms. Baker’s story, I loved it. I like this style of sports reporting. In my work, I cover both news and sports, and I let sports fall to my last priority. My editor noticed and suggested we work on bringing more to our sports readers. Lately, I have been working on including more feature stories on the local athletes in our sports section. We are trying to introduce the fans to the kids they see on the court.

Sometimes, it angers parents or friends of those who were not featured. That is the hard part. I mean, there are a lot of athletes, and they all deserve praise for their hard work. How do reporters cope with not including everyone, no idea. I haven’t figured it out.

I do think that new media is starting to move towards more exciting, inclusive and in depth sports reports, and I think this is what we need. Stats are informative, but understanding a person, atmosphere or situation can be informative and entertaining to readers. Let’s try and follow the Grantland way.

I also cannot wait to see more of team USA snatch up those medals!

God Bless America!

Alyssa B.