• Holly Spangler

    Thanks and Giving: My Farmer

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 30, 2010

    We met at a country dance place in Champaign, circa January 1995. He was a friend of many friends, and somehow, we'd lived within a block of each other for an entire semester and never met. His name was John Spangler and he had beautiful dark hair. And he could dance. We discovered we'd both signed up for calf watch, but I had to work and missed the meeting where they told us what to do and stuff. John offered to go with me, if I'd like, since we were supposed to go in pairs anyway. Um, why…

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    Thanks and Giving: Corn and Beans

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 29, 2010

    I was at a field day this past summer and a rep for Dairyland Seeds was speaking. He was from Wisconsin and was actually there to talk alfalfa, but he commented that whenever he thinks they can grow pretty good corn up there, he just drives through Illinois…because we can really grow corn here. It's true. From May to October, 12 million acres of Illinois farmland are covered with corn. I've always been amazed by the architecture of the corn plant – brace roots work so perfectly…

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    Thanks and Giving: Farm Safety

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 28, 2010

    A lot has changed in the past 30 years on the farm. Much of it is good. Like farm safety. I think back to my childhood and am slightly amazed I made it through it. Not that my parents did anything wrong necessarily. Everybody had exposed augers back then. No one had ROPS. We all played in the corn in the wagon. It's just the way it was. But over time, we've learned, often through heartache and loss. Ag engineers and farm safety experts have come up with some great stuff. Today, we…

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    Thanks and Giving: DVD Players

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 27, 2010

    We're driving from one end of Illinois to the other today. Here's what I'm thankful for. I don't think there's much more that needs to be said here. Thanks & Giving Day 28: Farm…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Thanks and Giving: Experts

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 26, 2010

    I don't know much about corn insects. But this guy does. I don't know anything about farm accounting. But this guy does. I don't know the latest growing season trends. But this guy does. I definitely don't know much about fertilizer supply and demand. But this guy does. And I can't walk out in a field and diagnose disease, yield or tillage problem. But this woman can. And every time I call each of them up, they patiently answer my questions with a depth of knowledge that I marvel…

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    Thanks and Giving: Farm Friends

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 25, 2010

    Before these children were born, their parents sat in a hotel conference room and met for the first time. The husbands were all on the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader Committee, and we were just getting to know each other. Some of us knew some of the rest from college. But over the course of the guys' four-year tenure on this committee, babies were born, jobs changed, careers came and went, farms grew and changed. We became fast friends. And in the years since, we've visited each…

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    Thanks and Giving: 4-H House

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 24, 2010

    Somewhere in February of my senior year in high school, one of my classmates was going on a college visit to the University of Illinois. I knew this place called 4-H House existed, but I hadn't given it a lot of thought. I figured I'd live in the dorm. And I don't know what came over me that day, but I said to my classmate, "If you happen to run into Kelli, ask her about 4-H House for me." We'd gone to high school with Kelli, too, and she was a sophomore at U of I and 4-H House. And while…

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    Thanks and Giving: Grandparents

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 23, 2010

    Years ago, my mother-in-law started a lovely little tradition with her grandchildren. Starting at age 3, she takes each of them on a "Special Day" for their birthday. It's become quite the thing around here. In fact, plotting for next year's Special Day often starts right after this year's is experienced. Here, Jenna and Grandma Sharon are about to embark on Jenna's most recent Special Day. Note the pink purse straps and the excitement glimmering in her eyes. In general, a Special…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Thanks and Giving: History

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 22, 2010

      I'm guest blogging over at the Illinois Corn Growers today! Click here to join me at their site for day 22 of Thanks and Giving. The photo is one of my all-time favorites. Really, I've got a copy hanging right by my back door. And I'll be back here tomorrow, for day 23! Thanks & Giving Day…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Thanks and Giving: Wisdom

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 21, 2010

      Five years ago, I was coming to realize we were the parents of what some might call a strong-willed child. And so, when I went to a motherhood conference called Hearts at Home that year, I made sure to check the box for a seminar on parenting a strong-willed child. It was led by John and Kendra Smiley, and their own (now grown) strong-willed child, Aaron. Turns out they'd written a book together. I took copious notes and bought the book immediately, if not before. A month or so…

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    Thanks and Giving: Cousins

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 20, 2010

      I don't have any cousins. My kids have six, all of whom are growing up within 10 miles of our house. And may I just say, cousins rock. (And local cousins, at that!) This is Kayla, getting a hug from my little guy, Nathan. This was a couple years ago, but it's still one of my favorite pictures. And since my husband is the youngest of three brothers, the cousins range in age from Kayla, who's now 22, down to our Caroline, who's 2 ½. We grown-ups in the family have done…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Thanks and Giving: Namesake

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 19, 2010

    Remember earlier this week, when I told you about Jenna Louise? Well, this is Louise. Louise Efnor will be 92 this month. She swims at the Y. She leads Bible studies at her apartment building. She makes it to our little church in the country nearly every week. She will witness to the power of Christ in her life to anyone who will listen – including a hospital orderly. She volunteered at Faith Bible Camp for something like 40 years or so. Generations of campers still call her…

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    A Departure from Thanks and Giving

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 17, 2010

      On Friday morning, June 10, I was rushing around the house, trying to get us organized and out the door to go show Jenna's bottle calf at the Cuba Livestock Show. John was spraying and was going to meet us there, so it was up to me to get us that far. I was packing lunches, thinking through snacks and halters and showsticks and boots and feeling fairly flustered and overwhelmed and late. I'm forever running late. The phone rang, and it was my co-worker, Josh Flint. I said, "Hey…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Thanks and Giving: Lunchboxes

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 17, 2010

    I'm going to be honest here. I can only pack so many of these things. And then it starts to get old.   Farm wives, are you with me? Anyone? Anyone?! Like, by the time I've packed lunches for my husband from September through mid-November – painstakingly making sure he's got his favorite roast beef sandwich, chips, some kind of fruit, veggie and treat – I'm a little done. And then there were the days this fall when I packed lunch for him, lunch for Jenna and Nathan for…

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    Thanks and Giving: Promise

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 16, 2010

    Farmers are optimistic. In the face of all evidence to the contrary, we persist in thinking this year will be a good one. If last year was a horribly wet and cold, with a record-setting late crop, we are certain this year will be better - assuming certain is defined as having enough confidence to invest thousands of dollars in seed, fertilizer and other inputs for next year, all before the late crop was out. And if this year came out early but yields were pretty darn disappointing, we are…

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    Thanks and Giving: New Babies

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 15, 2010

    Eight years ago, this child came into our lives. We named her Jenna Louise Spangler, and she was our perfect little peanut. She's the only of my three children who, when the doctor handed her to me, looked wide eyed at me and directly into my eyes. It's the way she tackles life; full-bore, head on, eyes wide open, ready to go. Let's get this party started. She's intense, but I love that about her. It's difficult to understand how profoundly your first child changes your life, until, of…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Thanks and Giving: Rest

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 14, 2010

    When you're tired enough, you'll sleep just about anywhere. On a bed, a couch, a truck seat, a show box, or with your favorite bovine. Take these kids, for example. They'd been up since 5 a.m. to load the trailer and hit the road for a suburban Chicago school. By this point in the afternoon, they were pretty tired. The sun was pretty warm, and the calves were pretty soft. And as someone who's also napped next to her favorite heifer, I'll tell you it's a sweet spot for a nap. You have…

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    Thanks and Giving: Adoption

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 13, 2010

    Three years ago, this little girl didn't have a home. She lived in an orphanage in Ethiopia. She didn't learn to crawl more than a couple paces because she rarely left her crib. She didn't have a mom or a dad; she didn't have anyone permanent to snuggle her close, to rock her as long as she needed it, to love her. But now she does. Two years ago, David and Shelly Roberts travelled to Ethiopia, after much saving and sacrifice, and brought her home. Today, she could not be more loved. Just…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Thanks and Giving: A Cold Drink

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 12, 2010

    Like father, like daughter? I think it's appropriate and worth noting that each of my toddlers have at some time referred to Mt. Dew as "Daddy's juice." So here's what I'm thankful for: a slice of time for my children with their dad. Lunch in the tractor cab, a moment nabbed during planting. A sandwich and a big drink, and some silly conversation. I’m not sure it gets any better than that. Thanks & Giving Day…

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    Thanks and Giving: Patriots

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 11, 2010

    I'm not sure why, but farmers are a patriotic bunch of people. Maybe because they know what sacrifice is. Or because they knew someone who sacrificed everything.   Maybe because they're grateful for the opportunity to farm freely, they way they want to. Maybe they just like seeing the flag. Because it sure crops up a lot of places, and on farms all over the country. I appreciate that very much. And our veterans. My goodness. The veterans. Think of all we wouldn't have, were…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Thanks and Giving: Time

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 10, 2010

    I've often been reminded of the Goethe quote, about how things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least, and never more so than when I visited the Allaman family a couple years ago. Roger Allaman had just been named a Master Farmer, and on a lovely day in May 2008, I went to visit with him and his family and take their pictures. Roger had been diagnosed with a pituitary brain tumor in January of that year, and his condition worsened daily. Looking back, I'm…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Thanks and Giving: Community Leaders

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 9, 2010

    Nine years ago, Paula Helle had a vision. She rounded up a bunch of young people, taught them to sing, dance and act, and put them on a stage in a historic opera house in Ellisville, Illinois. And then she did it again. And again. And again and again and again. And when those kids grew up – they became high schoolers – she started another play for them. And nine years later, they're still going strong, with a high school production in June and a younger kids' production in…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Thanks and Giving: Co-workers

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 8, 2010

    I love my co-workers. I think any time you can count the folks you work with as extended family, you are blessed indeed. When I joined Farm Progress 12 years ago, I was told the people were wonderful. Whoever said that was totally right. We're scattered all across the country and only see each other once or twice a year, if that. But those are some good times. We catch up like old family, and we've even been known to participate in a few hijinks during our overnight outings. Let's just say…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Thanks and Giving: Country Churches

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 7, 2010

    This is Checkrow Community Church. On any given Sunday, a couple hundred people from a handful of small towns and rural townships gather to worship. We fellowship, we compare harvest notes, we catch up, we worship. It's the place where my husband was raised. It's the place I attended when I was but a girlfriend, and where I first heard the complete salvation message. It's where it all began to make sense. It's where my little kids race downstairs to Sunday School and soak up the Word of God…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Thanks and Giving: Farm Boys

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 6, 2010

    This photo won't come as a surprise to anyone who's raised a little boy on the farm. Yes, this was at a friend's house. And yes, that's a s'more in his hand. I'm not sure what to be grateful for here. That he thought to do it away from everyone? That he turned his back? That he's comfortable enough with our friends to relieve himself on their bushes? I'm really not sure. But I am grateful to be raising my little boy in the country. Think of the violations we'd incur in…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Thanks and Giving: Barn Cats

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 5, 2010

    Why barn cats? Because they catch mice. And they have kittens, which make little farm girls smile. And then you can take pictures like this. And be grateful for how wonderfully happy they make your little farm kids. Thanks & Giving Day 6: Farm…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Thanks and Giving: Opportunity

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 4, 2010

    Last spring, a handful of our local farmers took a couple trailer loads of livestock to a suburban Chicago school. We got to tell our story. Ipava farmer Randy Farr even spoke with a parent who thought "Food, Inc." was a great movie that showed both sides of the story. Randy was patient, thoughtful, engaging, and he took the opportunity to tell him why organic food is safe but so is conventionally-produced food. That parent walked away with a new perspective. Tell your story. And be…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Thanks and Giving: Perspective

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 3, 2010

    I have a friend who likes to say, "Without the bitter, life isn't as sweet." He's so right. Even if you don't take for granted the good years and the good crops, when you come out of a harvest that's not so great, it makes you realize how great the good ones really were. Sometimes, all it takes is a bad crop to make you really appreciate the good ones. Thanks & Giving Day…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Thanks and Giving: Piles

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 2, 2010

    It's Day 2 of Thanks and Giving...a month-long look at what we can be thankful for in agriculture and the rural Midwest. Today, piles of stuff. I'd like to argue that piles are the true farm kid life. No boxes. Just piles. Large, messy, never-ending, amazing piles.   Snow and sand, even rocks. Perhaps a little more dangerous, but no less fun. Piles. Thanks & Giving Day…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Thanks and Giving: Heritage

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 1, 2010

    It's Day 1 of Thanks and Giving...a month-long look at what we can be thankful for in agriculture and the rural Midwest. Today, our roots. Farming is a generational business. Most of us are in it because our parents or grandparents were in it. What we have here is a heritage, and we have more than 8,300 Centennial Farms in Illinois to prove it. Take the Defenbaugh family, for example. Ray and Alice are the 9th of 10 generations of Defenbaughs to farm American soil. Every generation has…

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