My maternal grandfather passed away in the summer of 2017, but every time I drive on Interstate 94 between my prairie home and Fargo, I remember a trip I took with him to sell cattle. It was a hot summer day in the late 1980s. Triple-digit temperatures and a historic drought dealt a one-two punch that wouldn't let up. As the oldest child and grandchild, I often got to tag along with my grandparents. This particular day, Grandpa asked me if I wanted to go with him to haul a load of cattle to West Fargo, which is 100 miles from my grandparents' farm.
Last week, I had the opportunity to report about Iris Westman celebrating her 113th birthday and her deep connections in agriculture as well as her passion for education. The print story was published in Agweek and several Forum News Service publications and the AgweekTV story was carried across the region.
NORTHWOOD, N.D. — This week, Iris Westman celebrated her 113th birthday. Westman was born in 1905 and is a 1928 graduate of the University of North Dakota. As the oldest living North Dakotan, she still owns and rents out some of the family farmland she grew up on, possibly making her the oldest living farmer in America. "I still have a farm. Yeah, I am a farmer!" says Westman. Westman grew up on the farm with her parents and brothers. Two sisters both passed away when Iris was a young girl.
WISHEK, N.D. — As we left the house to head to the field to track down the combine, my youngest daughter, Anika, mentioned she packed a bag of snacks and other "things." She's joined her grandpa Fred for numerous combine rides in her nine years, so I didn't bother to look into the plastic sack.
HARWOOD, N.D. — With farm fields surrounding us in rural Cass County I was seated at table five at the fifth annual Banquet in a Field at Peterson Farms Seed this past week. The only person I knew at the table was Randy Melvin, a farmer from the Buffalo, N.D., area. I was there as a volunteer with CommonGround North Dakota, the host of the event and an organization I've been a part of since 2012.
WISHEK, N.D. — The University of Wyoming's new slogan, "The world needs more cowboys," is drawing criticism for being sexist and racist. Here's my first reaction: Yes, the world needs more cowboys. If you don't agree, your idea of a cowboy is different than mine. It's acceptable to think differently, and we can agree to disagree. I'm worn out by being politically correct, but I understand I'm a white, middle-class, rooted in rural America female who has a different worldview than most. Therefore, I might be offended — or not — by things differently than you.
PISEK, N.D. — A colleague said to me this week, "I have to pick up my children at daycare tonight and I'm always the last mom." I smiled and recalled writing a blog post several years ago about being the last mom. I dug it out and reread it after I dropped off my daughters for their last afternoon of basketball camp this past week. Their awards program was scheduled for 4 p.m. I explained to them I had a work meeting in West Fargo at 3 p.m. and it would take me 20 minutes to get to their camp in Moorhead, Minn. As they got out of the vehicle I said, "I might walk in at 4:05 p.m.
"Failure is temporary. Your dad told me that on the night I asked him to marry you," recalled my husband. I laughed. My dad wasn't talking about marriage or relationship failures, but instead encouraging my husband to step out and take a chance by leaving his corporate career to move home to work in his family's business. I continued to listen as my husband spoke about the lessons in failure my farmer dad had shared with him. It was election night, and Nathan had just learned he wouldn't win a seat on our local school board.
WISHEK, N.D. — This past week provided a stark reminder of the importance of social media and how it can be used as a tool for positivity and to build lasting relationships. More than 10 years ago, I started a blog from our rural area on the North Dakota prairie. I remember distinctly when a person who I didn't know commented on my blog. It opened me up to the World Wide Web awareness that not only my mom, grandma, sister and a few friends were reading my little blog.
North Dakota grows 32 percent of the nation's edible or dry beans and Minnesota contributes 9 percent. In your new role at Northarvest Bean Growers Association, what will you be focusing on and working to do for the dry bean industry? As the new director of domestic marketing and communication outreach, my main priority will be to increase the awareness and use of dry beans. I will be prioritizing current and new domestic markets for dry beans by strengthening consumer knowledge and effectively marketing their amazing health attributes, along with their many tasty uses.