The Dirt on Another Farm: Exploring Wyoming

Last Thursday, Tim and I left to squeeze in a power road trip to Wyoming and back. We left Thursday morning after the delivery trucks rolled out and returned home Monday afternoon in time to touch base with the staff and oversee this weeks activities. While we were away, we took a look at how some folks do it in Wyoming (or Wyobraska as they call their near border location) and learned more about food in our world, while we explored a little about family and ourselves.
Tim took great interest in the style of irrigation that was being used on my families ranch/farm located just outside of Torrington Wyoming. Being I had only met my father a handful of times, I could not tell him much about it myself. My biological father, who is now nearly 65, is still maintaining a beef herd of around 50 animals, and making sure that he has enough healthy pasture land, in addition to growing enough corn and alfalfa to keep them fed. Wyoming is in their 12th year of what is classified as drought, needless to say water out that way is rarely plentiful, especially for farming. Farmers are given water rights to run off that is collected from melted snow on the mountain range and is distributed around the state in canals. Steeling more water that you have “rights” to can get you in a heap of trouble out there. Fields are set up so that gated pipe can be set out and opened to let water collected from the canals flow down the rows in the fields.
We also toured another family operation that My Aunt DeeDee and Uncle Larry run along with my cousin Eric (all relatives that I did not grow up with or ever really know). Apparently, farming is thicker in my blood than I realized. These folks are not only growing and selling potatoes, but they also build and sell custom made potato harvest equipment. It was fascinating to see all of the work and skill that goes into building these machines. Personally, I liked seeing where I may have gotten some of my entrepreneur genes.
At the family reunion, which was the driving force in getting us to make this ridiculous power trip in the middle of July in the first place, I met a fellow beekeeper that had married into the family. He is running 80 hives out in Texas, of all places! It was fascinating to learn about the honey flow out that way and how they deal with the strong influence of Africanized bees. He wears a lot more protective gear than I have to with my hives. They also don’t have much of a honey flow out that way, so they have to take their hives elsewhere to be able to get any honey. One of the places he goes is Missouri to an organic cotton field. I was also excited to find the drive through South Dakoda revealing a good deal of commercial hives that were set out on the prairie. They were collecting from the overly abundant yellow clover this year. I would have loved more time to explore and learn about all of the beekeeping stuff, but we were on a tight time crunch in order to make it back in time for this week.
The dirt on someone elses farm was fun to see and learn from. The little bit of “family dirt” that I was allowed to see was also interesting, being I don’t know much about that part of my blood line. My eyes were opened to hereditary issues within my family, like thyroid and Parkinson’s disease, and I could see similar personality traits in myself and other relatives. We were grateful to learn about more than just soil when we went out to the wild west.
I was also reminded that we all come from some sort of agriculture, and as our culture evolves, that instinct grows week and quiet in far too many of us. As I journey down my own path I feel the farmer in me awaken and remember. My connection with the land, the Earth, our planet is much more present in my daily life. My relationship with the plants and animals feels more intimate and complete in everything that I do, especially EAT. May you awaken some of the farmer in you as you deepen your relationship with LotFotL and the food and community that is nurtured here on this little patch of ground.