OOTF

This post brought to you in part by Kansas Farm Bureau. All photography credited to Wheat Photography.

I felt like a city girl gone country (outfit on the farm, ha!) as I traversed the beautiful terrain of the great state of Kansas (I’m probably also bias.)  While I didn’t have cowboy boots, I knew enough to appreciate a pair of all-rubber boots that are easily rinsed off, and covering my skin (mostly my legs) to protect me from the various hazards that are the outdoors (like the grass in the Flint Hills that kept trying to wander up my skirt, #nothanks or the mosquitoes after dark #thatwastheworst!) 

A trip around the world (or Kansas farms, whatever)

jeans (old) similar here // denim top // boots

A trip around the world (or Kansas farms, whatever)

tee // skirt 

 

A trip around the world (or Kansas farms, whatever)

dress // bracelet

A trip around the world (or Kansas farms, whatever)

tee // skirt // boots // earrings // bracelet

I want to take a moment to point out a few things, in the interest of keepin’ it real. I pose and style my outfit shoots, using angles and close-ups to create illusions of shape, negative space, height, width – whatever it takes to create a visually appealing photo. I won’t apologize for this – it is marketing and advertising and it’s what pays my bloggy bills.  I don’t photoshop my legs or even my cellulite; that’s what overexposing a photo, covering it with clothing or accessories, and just the right angle (and focal length) can easily do.  It’s a simple manipulation, manipulating the “eye” of the camera into what it can burn into photograph, just the way optical illusions can trick our minds into seeing things differently than they are.  Our minds are these incredible encyclopedias, limited only by our knowledge and experiences.  The more we see, learn, and experience, the more our minds have to choose from when processing the image our eyeballs send to it, helping us to more easily and quickly identify what we see – and the subsequent response, if any.  Nerd alert: Our family loves watching Brain Games on Netflix. It’s all about our minds, and includes shows about color perceptions – even going so far as to tricking you into seeing vivid colors in a black and white photograph. It’s also fun, wholesome entertainment, especially the episode about the difference between how men and women think lol! I’m saying all of this today because I really want to hit home the importance that you do what makes you feel the most happy (or at peace, or brings you joy, or feels the most comfortable – whatever your no. 1 priority is!)  You will hear advice on this and that, tricks and hacks, tips and tutorials (remember the blonde girl who burned her hair off trying to show us how to curl our hair? Lol!), but after taking in all of that, trust yourself enough to decide and choose for yourself.  Don’t ever wear something because everyone else is wearing it – or if they claim anyone can pull off “this trend.”

I was recently able to spend a few days with Beth Holle of Holle Farms in Atwood, KS. She was sweet and pretty and wore t-shirts that said things like Farm Hair Don’t Care.

And she was great!  She was born and raised by a farmer, married a farmer, and is raising (hopefully) more farmers.  She invited us into her hometown – literally, you guys, straight out of a movie.  Every single person on the street knew everyone, and no one was alarmed by the guy with the knife sheathed to his belt.  The only restaurant in town opened it’s doors to host a private dinner party.  We ate and laughed and y’all, I kid you not when I say it was the most All-American (the old America, not the new one) experience I’ve ever had.  Their son had lots to say, charming us with smile, his blushing and his stories.  These kids have checkbooks people – not because they are wealthy, but because they are learning about money and responsibility from the time they learn how to write.  We spoke with Beth’s father-in-law, a (do they ever really retire?!) retired farmer who has passed on his farm to his son, Beth’s husband.  He had this sort of dry humor that is totally dad-joke, but still charming and you can’t help but let loose a laugh.  He showed up early the next morning as Beth and Orrin walked us around their seeder (it was more decked out with features than my new souped-up mini-van, seriously!) and the hefers they let me feed (yeah, I still wasn’t excited about the harmless slobber, but at least I didn’t squeal!) and even walk over to the pen.  Being there was so much more peaceful and earthy (for lack of a better word) than most of my mornings; I could actually picture myself finding some sort of peace in farming.  Then the slobber thing happened and yeah, I like my fancy clothes too much (#sorrynotsorry!)  We spoke of GMO’s, pesticides, the right conditions for planting, spraying, harvesting, cattle, birthings, you name it, they do it and I asked questions about it.  If any of you haven’t been living under a rock, you probably have seen attention-grabbing headlines that debate GMOs and how healthful or harmful they can be.  If you’ve read the articles, you’ll read test-results and data from studies and horror stories, and opinions, and lots of science-y stuff that some people just don’t want to read (I feel that way about legal documents, gosh are they boring – I’d rather read Shakespeare!) Anyway, I feel like I’ve read it all and after discussing the economics of selling wheat for 187k that will bring in profits from bread sales over 6 mil and of selling locally vs. in bulk to big brands or corporations, I feel informed enough to make decisions for my family that I can absolutely live with.  Standing in the midst of their farm – their livelihood – taking care of their heifers, sifting through their wheat and climbing the silo, I knew without doubt that these were honest, good people.  Their education and understanding of agriculture and science means that I are well aware that the symbiotic relationship they have with both their animals and their grains meant they could not cut corners, or allow greed to support unethical products and actions.  I am glad that farmers like the Holles take a proactive stance in supporting good politics that will continue to ensure their success – because when they succeed, everyone succeeds.

Another stop we made was to Good Pork.  First, let me say that I love Craig and Amy!  And I love pork (mostly bacon though, to be honest.)  He has a niche farm, which basically means he raises pork for high-end restaurants (sign me up!) He answered all of my questions and I felt like a student in a biology class again, where we just spoke of science and that is it.  A baby pig is just about the most adorable thing you’ll see on a farm, but it’s squeal is pure beast lol!  It was a bit shocking, almost offensive, to learn that I had to wear plastic boots over my shoes to protect not myself, but the pigs – from diseases I may be carrying on the bottom of my shoes (amongst other things!) As if I was somehow more dirty than these pigs frolicking in the mud, lol!  Craig and his wife were just wonderful and once again, we dined a delicious meal prepared by the owners of Little Apple Brewery (a definite must if you find yourself in Manhattan, KS!)  Boars are the ugliest thing under the sun and I still love bacon more than is healthy.

We stopped by a fun little place that was a bit more in my comfort zone: an office building with a conference table and matching King Ranch leather and cowhide chairs, fit for a cattle baron (wink, wink) to visit with BMG and ILS Turns out it was fit for a few of them, and we got to sit leisurely in our swivel chairs (me trying hard to resist the urge not swivel until I got dizzy #sorrynotsorry lol!) I had never really heard of King Ranch, but King Ranch is to Cattle Barons as Chanel is to Fashion Bloggers (or fashion anyone, lol!) We soon departed for the feedlots, massive pens filled with massive cattle, eating massive amounts of food, growing at massive rates per day (have I abused the word massive here?) It was altogether stinky and boring at the same time.  Cows are boring.  There.  I said it.  In addition, most of them are not very pretty (at least not to these eyeballs) but I promise I do not discriminate.  I still like filet mignon. Moreover, bacon.

Speaking of cows, we did stop by a dairy that has invested in robotic milking machines.  It blows my mind!  Remember when you first started reading and I was speaking about optical illusions and how sometimes our own minds trick us? Well, I am guilty of not watching any of the documentaries that have probably scared some people straight into vegetarian-ism, but I have heard tales and rumors!  We had just caught the tail end of one cow being milked before watching another cow being robotically milked from start to finish, and I finally I couldn’t help but blurt out, “What is that red stuff? Or the orange stuff on the grates?” Ronda (wife and owner of Meier Dairy) had just finished explaining about how before the cow is milked, their udder and teats are first cleaned, then dried, milked, and finally “conditioned” (a combination of iodine and lotion usually.) “Iodine,” she replied casually.  You guys.  I knew it was iodine, but my brain, when it first saw that drop of dark red-brown fall from the cow’s teat, registered it as blood. I mean, my mind was literally trying to reconcile that first drop I saw to the more brown orange color on the grates.  The thought of what color a cow’s blood was ran across my mind (it’s red) as I tried to reason what I had just seen.  Can you imagine how easy it must be for someone to visit a dairy farm and come back with horror stories, simply because their mind told them what they think they saw (in relation to what their brain has to compare it with, and sometimes even based on the psychology of what the person was expecting to see.) Again, it is all about the information you have put into your brain.  It is about citing sources and fact checking, and then ultimately, armed with as many facts as you can gather, listening to your heart or gut (literally and metaphorically!)  After meeting all of these farmers, I do not doubt for one second that for every unethical, bad farmer out there – there are at least a dozen more educated, skilled, ethical and moral farmers who will not let the bad ones win. Also, Jersey cows are incredibly stunning, Holsteins not so much!

Which brings me to another stop on the three-day tour: DaleBanks Angus.  First and foremost, Mr. Perrier is a capitalist and 100% legit cowboy.  From his cowboy hat to the spurs on his boots (that clicked on the hardwood floors of his home), he was a real-live, horse-riding, cattle-driving and breeding cowboy in the flesh.  And his land is so beautiful, if you haven’t had a chance to explore the Flint Hills in Kansas, then you are really missing out on prairie grass magic, rolling hills and the most beautiful wide-open skies you will ever see (outside of anyplace tropical, of course!)  Despite his capitalist ways (just kidding, I promised to stay out of politics), again, I found myself sitting in his home and feeling like all those attention-grabbing, link-bait articles I had been seeing were just some hyped-up ravings of angry people or bloggers looking to score page views.  There was just beauty, hard work, cowboys, horses, grasses, calves being born, and a family raising some delicious beef!

I can’t leave out the Sawyers and their adorable sons who were the most experienced little farmers I had met yet, and the beautiful meal that we ate in the most aesthetically pleasing little boutique (and the surprise birthday serenade from a group of women I consider myself lucky to have been in the company of) or Jason & Lexi Goyer of Ahlerich Farms and the river that wound its way through their property – a legacy of multi-generations of farmers who crossed the river with horses and cattle as they farmed the land the old fashion way. 

This story would also not be complete without mentioning Scotty of Juniper Hill Farms, a self-proclaimed “hippie” during his schooling years (and maybe still is, if you ask me, lol!) who talked chemistry over dinner, on a sprawling front porch of an idyllic farmhouse built atop a hill perfect for watching the sunset over the roaming skies of Kansas.  When you find out the actual numbers behind laws, requirements, and specifications, words like organic and all natural suddenly do not seem like the heroes we think they are.  Scotty and I had a riveting conversation (I will not apologize for my nerdiness) about using an organic pesticide derived from mums, at something like 3 grams per yield of crop to 15 grams of another synthetic pesticide (that has the same chemical makeup) for conventional crops.  We also rode a short-bus to his fields of lettuces (it was impressive and a reminder of how much I love leafy greens!) where he talked about the sustainability of organic farming and that people want organic, but they don’t want to pay the prices it really costs a farmer to produce them.  I may have left feeling as if it would not be completely infeasible to turn my backyard into a massive garden.

 

Comments

  1. Anna says:

    A great write up as always! The food looks super delicious.

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