• Holly Spangler

    Five Favorite Farm Photos

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 30, 2013

    Is it really Day 30 already? To round out our final day of the 30 Days|FIVE Things series, I'm sharing my five favorite photos. And let me just tell you, it was not easy. This list could've been ten times as long. But here they are, some taken a year ago and some taken 14 years ago. Scroll down to the gallery and click through. You can pause as needed, and advance to the next slide when you're ready. Thanks for following along this month! Five Things: The Series Day…

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    Five Things to Get a Farmer for Christmas

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 29, 2013

    1. Art. Illinois farm girl and "Keeping it Real" design guru extraordinaire Erin Ehnle is now selling prints and canvases of her most popular designs. I'm a fan of the canvas; they are beautifully done and the quality is excellent and you don't need a frame. You just hang them. She has an online gallery and the Christmas shopping has never been easier. 2. Smartphone protection. What farmer doesn't need an Otterbox to protect his or her smartphone? Their…

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    Five Things for Which I Am Thankful

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 28, 2013

    1.  I like turkey as much as the next beef producer, but I am grateful to have grown up in a house where Thanksgiving meant beef. And that it wasn't until I was a teenager when I began to wonder what these "turkey day" traditions were all about. But I am a major fan of the leftover turkey sandwich, and the turkey itself. So there's that. 2.  Thanksgivings with family around the table. I know; so obvious. But I will forever remember Thanksgiving 2011 as the last with…

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    Five Things I Want My Kids to Know Before They Leave My House

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 27, 2013

    1. How to appreciate good, wholesome food. That they know what a balanced meal looks like. Fruits, veggies, good meats, milk. Sweets in moderation. 2. How to cook. From scratch. That they will leave my house knowing what to do with a chuck roast. Or a sack of flour. Or a packet of yeast. 3. What our livestock mean. That they might understand not only the purpose for the livestock we raise but that through caring for them and giving them a comfortable life, they'd gain a real appreciation…

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    Five Things about GMOs

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 26, 2013

    Five resources for when you hear… 1. GMOs cause tumors. In rats. Special French rats. You know, I can see what this one has gotten traction. Rats with super giant GM-fueled tumors growing from their heads? Those are the kinds of phrases activists dream of. But even other French scientists couldn't get on board with it. The New York Times reported last year that France's six scientific academies issued a "rare joint statement" dismissing the rat study. The leader of the…

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    Five Things Farmers Need to Know about Consumers

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 25, 2013

    1. Consumers are concerned about the long-term health effects of biotechnology and pesticides. They're looking at down-the-road diseases like cancer, heart disease, obesity, the "unknown." I sat and talked about some of those questions with a group of Chicago field moms during the Larson Farms tour earlier this fall. This is not based on any research and is completely anecdotal, but I shared with them that I really believe if pesticides and biotech were causing cancer we would see…

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    Five Favorite Verses from the Bible

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 24, 2013

    1. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11. This was a favorite in college, when it served as reminder that He had a plan when I didn't know past this semester. Fast forward a few years and actually study more of Jeremiah, and I find even more comfort in the next verse: "Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." He…

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    Five Things We've Learned from Our Mothers-in-Law

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 22, 2013

    1. Help out. Christy Lee says her mother-in-law, Theta Lee taught her to get involved in the community. When Theta married and moved to their small town 40 years ago, she dove in and volunteered for good causes. So has Christy. Side benefit? If you're new to town, you get to know the people with whom you'll be working and living the rest of your life. 2. Be who you are. Amy Buhrow on Marjorie Buhrow: "My mother-in-law is the complete package: kind, selfless, giving, a model…

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    Five Chapters

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 21, 2013

    I am wary to share this as plans can (obviously) change but for now, here are five working chapter titles for the book at which I am pecking away. This is subject to change and they are not in order. And they may change. Did I mention that? 1. Carhartts and Diesels and Wranglers, Amen 2. Grit and Other Dirt-Like Substances 3. The End of a Long Road 4. What's Wrong with Modern Food Production (And It's Not the Production Part) 5. The Grouchy Princess and Other Tales from the…

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    Five Things Farmers Said

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 20, 2013

    One of the greater perks of being a farmer and of interviewing farmers for your job is that they will often say something that changes the way you think. Maybe about farming, or cattle, or family, or life. Here are five that come to mind, mentioned in the course of interviews or just plain-old good conversations. 1. David Erickson, on buying farmland: "There's never been a time in my farming career when we bought land and thought we could afford it. But we've always been glad we…

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    Five Things Parents Do in the Back of 4-H Meetings

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 19, 2013

    1.  Try to avoid saying things like, "When I was in 4-H…" Fail. 2.  Decline calls from the senile but lovely elderly woman in Galesburg who has mistaken my number for her daughter's. She's even taken to leaving me messages like, "I've lost something. And I don't even know who I'm talking to." Me either, ma'am. Me either. I feel like we're gonna be tight by Christmas, though. 3.  Text and/or Facebook with other parents who…

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    Five Places I'm Glad I've Been

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 18, 2013

    1. The Edwards County Fair. It feels like home. I'd go back in a heartbeat but a) it's the same week as my (new) home fair and b) it wouldn't be the same. And that's the way it should be. 2. Sweden. It was eye opening. It changed my perspective on the world. And on my country. All in a good way. 3. Banff National Park. As a naïve 18-year-old, I traveled to Canada as part of a world trade mission for Shorthorns. I kid. I was a Lassie queen and the Canadians invited us up…

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    Five Ways to Jazz Up a Field Lunch

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 16, 2013

        It is at this point in the season that I begin to lose my will to pack another lunch. Actually, I lie; I lost it about three weeks ago. Nonetheless, with so many of us so close to winding up harvest, here are a few lunch pail ideas, collected over the years. And please, comment away with your ideas below. It's November 16 and I need all the help I can get. 1. Kings Hawaiian Mini-Sub Rolls. Who doesn't love Hawaiian sweet bread? I found these mini-sub rolls at our local…

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    Five Things About Jenna

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 15, 2013

    1. At the end of my pregnancy with her, she would put her little feet against my lower ribs and push. Up. Hard. There was nothing to do but go lie down and take shallow breaths, because it was as if she were trying to stretch out and bust out. As if she had big things to do and no more time for this womb business. In literature, this is known as foreshadowing. 2. I have purchased and read no less than three books about strong-willed children, in my effort to understand and parent her…

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    Five Things to Love About 4-H

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 14, 2013

    1. Work today pays off tomorrow. Our county's adopted legislator, straight from the Chicago suburbs, visited our place a couple summers ago. We had a wonderful visit; she brought along her husband and her three teenage/pre-teenage children. Our kids had a ball. And she remarked that she couldn't believe our kids get up and feed bottle calves and show cattle, all before getting ready for school. It's true. But our kids wouldn't have it any other way. These are their animals and…

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    Five Misleading Food Labels

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 13, 2013

    1. "No high fructose corn syrup!" The question to ask here is whether the product had any high fructose corn syrup to start with. Because like any good marketing ploy, companies have been known to jump on the band wagon and declare their product free of something it never had to start with. Also, if you've been told HFCS is bad because of all the processing, consider this: sugar cubes do not grow on trees. It's all been processed, people. Incidentally, we may see less of this…

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    Five Things I've Learned About Grief

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 12, 2013

    1. When my former roommate was killed by a drunk driver in college, her family's car broadsided by a drunk driver in a quiet rural intersection, I sat dumbfounded for months by the idea that a half a second would've made all the difference. And that our lives are not by chance. And that's what makes them worth the living. 2. The heartbreak of grief lies in the small moments they're missing. The way I know my mom, a teacher, would've loved how Caroline not only loves…

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    Five Farm Blogs I Love

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 11, 2013

    A note: this is in no way comprehensive and would be a much lengthier list if not for the FIVE THINGS thing. I chose these five because they are written by farmers or by folks in transition to farm or ranch, and for their ability to tackle the tough subjects. There are many great agricultural blogs. Amen. 1. The Farmer's Life. Just the facts, straight from Brian Scott's Indiana farm. Plus some great visuals on transparency, like this post about the technology agreement he signs to grow…

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    Five Things I Like on My Desk

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 9, 2013

    1. Pencils. Yellow. Number 2. (I don't care if I write on a computer. I'm a writer, darnit, and I need pencils!) 2. Colored Sharpie pens. For the pretty. I'm maybe a little obsessed with them and they make my ridiculous handwriting look a little nicer. Actually, a lot nicer. (You know that line in Steel Magnolias where Clairee says, "You have the handwriting of a serial killer"? She was actually talking about me. My husband confirms.) 3. File folders. For the illusion of…

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    Five Things I Didn't Know When I Married a Farmer

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 8, 2013

    1. That I might awake in the night to John asking if I could handle the sprayer. And then panic because NO. And then he would fall back asleep and I would lie there wide awake, still panicked, but relieved he was talking in his sleep. 2. That it would become so easy to learn to roll with it. Maybe because I saw it play out time and again throughout my youth: Dad opened the back door and said, "Hey, Suz, you busy?" And just like that, my mother's morning disappeared. Or maybe her…

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    Five Tips for Better Photographs

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 7, 2013

    1. Depth of field. You know those beautiful portraits where the backgrounds are blurred out and the subjects virtually jump out of the photo? That's due to a shallow depth of field. You will not re-create the look of a professional portrait with a point-and-shoot camera, but you can make a snapshot portrait look better by paying attention to depth of field and by creating a shallow(er) depth of field. In short: zoom in, step backwards until it's framed properly, focus on your subject…

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    Five Things I've Learned as an Ag Journalist

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 6, 2013

    1. We take freedom of the press for granted in America. During our time in Sweden last year, I met journalists from countries where the press is either semi-free or recently free. Decades of reading only what the government sanctions or prints leads to a general distrust of virtually everyone and everything. Consider this as well: in countries where there's no free press, there's also hunger. It is no coincidence. Absolute power begets absolute corruption. Our press may not be perfect…

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    Five Things I'm Reading Now

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 5, 2013

    1. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, by Anna Quindlen. It is a rare writer who can make you love her writing, even when you disagree with virtually all of her basic tenants on life. Quindlen communicates the human experience like no other writer of our time. In my opinion. 2. Tribes, by Seth Godin. Who do we follow and why? 3. How Michael Pollan Misuses Journalist Power. Enough said. But if anything has ever made you angry about the GMO debate, this may top it. 4. Little House on the Prairie…

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    Five Things an Honest Farmwife Admits

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 4, 2013

    In an age of social media and well-conceived status updates and our ability to feel bad about ourselves based on that enemy of comparison, my favorite new phrase is that you should never compare your background footage to someone else's highlight reel. With that in mind, here's my background footage. And you can bet there's more where that came from. 1.  My greatest fear is doing something completely ridiculous and plugging the grain leg and every fall my prayer is this…

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    Five Things Our Farm Boy Said

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 3, 2013

    1.  John and Nathan went to check out a used 318 John Deere lawnmower, with a hand throttle so Nathan could operate it. They looked it over. Nathan leaned in and said, "Dad. This is one sweet lawnmower." 2.  Jenna: "Someday, I'm gonna sing the Star Spangler Banner at the Super Bowl."     Nathan: "I'm gonna play football in college and in the Super Bowl."     Jenna: "Yeah, like that's gonna…

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    Five Things I Loved About Growing Up on a Farm

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 2, 2013

    1. The walking to check cows. Because Dad didn't believe in three-wheelers back then. 2. The banter in the barn. Chucking bales and sweating and talking. Accomplishing something together. Mom, Dad, my brother and me. 3. The Class A license my dad made me get when I was 16. I still feel (overly) prideful and (unnecessarily) cool that I have that. Never mind that I still can't drive a 13-gear manual transmission. 4. The chance to try. When my dad sent me out (with my new aforementioned…

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    30 Days: Five Things About Five Things

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 1, 2013

    Ok. It's November 1 and that means it's time for 30 Days! Without further ado: the series this year is 30 Days of Five Things. A different list every day. Of five things. A sampling: Five Things an Honest Farmwife Admits. Five Things I've Learned as an Ag Journalist. Five Things Our Farm Boy Said. Five Things I Like on My Desk. Five Farm Blogs I Love. Five Things You Need to Know at the Grocery Story. Five Biggest Misleading Labels. Five Things to Tell Your Friends About…

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