A milestone birthday... turning the big 50!

Dear gentle reader… okay, I've been watching too much Bridgerton on Netflix but I digress! Do you know what month this is? I mean besides Part two, Season three of Bridgerton? I turn the big 50 in June! The 16th to be exact. You know, I may not have posted a usual birthday, but 50? It's got me kind of excited, to be honest. Let me tell you why.
First of all, I did have three things I wanted to do before I turned the big 5-0, 1. Go down to Texas-check. 2. Lose 50 pounds-didn't. Chocolate is my love language. However, I'm getting better about it. 3. Really work on the yard this year (I would be happy as a second-rate Better Homes and Gardens)-check. Still have some things to finish up, but it should be done by my birthday weekend. In the words of Meatloaf; "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad".
This first 50 has been pretty great as far as I'm concerned though have I made mistakes? Yes. A little about me, even though we grew up poor, I had a pretty decent childhood back in those days. Why? I grew up without social media and a phone stuck to my head. Remember those days? Weren't they pure bliss looking back?
I literally had no one to compare my life to. All the families around us farmed and had it tough back in the late 70's and 80's too. Honestly those days shaped me into who I am. As kids on the farm, my brother Andy and I grew up close. We'd make forts under the lilac and rose bushes, and play hours of basketball. My sisters would join in on cow poop fights and my mom would make campfire meals for us in the summer. We always had cats and a dog to play with. We moved to town and made new friends and had new fun.
Then I tried college, wasn't for me. I was kind of a gypsy for a while, going from job to job, then got married. Then my first best friend/child was born and we grew up together. We had the best times just her and I. Seven years of marriage, her dad and I were divorced.
I then moved out to the Canby area. Southwest Minnesota has been good to me. I still am happy that I moved out here when I did. After all, I got to marry a great guy, adopt two kiddos and have six more after that. Yep, I feel blessed to have this first 50 years under my belt.
Now, what's in store for the next 50? Not sure. I love that the kids are getting older, I've been thinking about what Ron and I can do together, just us. Although, with our baby going into 6th grade…that's going to be a while.
On to what I want for my birthday…a good cake, like from the bakery. With all my kids over to help me eat it. Here's to however long we all get to live on this round ball. Just please, try not to take anything for granted, work hard, live, play and love harder.
Until next time, Fairchild "this is what I want for a cake…" Farmgirl

Suzanne Fairchild is a freelance writer who lives on a farm in southwest Minnesota with her husband and children. She can be reached at rmf@itctel.com.

One checked off the bucket list!

Well friends, I fulfilled a bucket list item this week.
Ron and I picked up our daughter Grace on her last day at SDSU and went to San Angelo, Texas with 1,200 pounds of Canby, Minn. wool! - is was to be washed at a scouring plant, one of only two scouring plants left in the U.S.A. To say I'm passionate about the U.S./ Minnesota/South Dakota wool industry is an understatement! I know, I'm a weirdo but oh how I'd love to see us using more natural fibers for clothing and other products!
At the San Angelo plant we learned so much! First off, their parent company is Bollman Hats out of Pennsylvania, where they make all sorts of wool felt hats. San Angelo buys wool for them as well as washes it. Check out Bollman Hats, it's a neat website. We also learned that major companies (like Pendleton) buy their wool out of China - cheaper and the Chinese do not paint their sheep-numbers on the sheep's back. You would think that if American farmers knew this, we could figure out a new way to number so we would not import as much. Or is importing wool a necessity for trade agreements etc? That would be interesting study, wouldn't it? So, if your kid is taking on a project in college for grad school or if you're looking for a project to do on the weekend, design this for the U.S.
I asked the lead guy who was giving us a tour what the 10-year outlook for scouring in the states looks like, since there's only two scouring plants left in the U.S. He said a lot of scouring would probably go to China because it's half the price and they can carbonize wash wool...using sulfuric acid that eats the vegetable matter out of the wool turning it to ash. The U.S. doesn't allow it going into any drains, so it's banned in the U.S. Which is a great thing, we don't need that. Which begs the question: China, this is bad for your environment (and ours for that matter) why do you do it?
Back to the scouring plant: I was totally fan-girling like I had just met a famous person. It was 92 degrees and we were sweating something fierce but I didn't care. I've been waiting for three years to be able to afford this trip, and now that my wool business is getting bigger and the minimum quantity of wool was 1,000 pounds incoming, this was my next logical move.
He did offer to sell me wool next time so I wouldn't have to haul it down, but in my mind, it was pretty special to bring wool from right around my area there. But his reasoning was since they like to wash 40,000 pounds at a time, not only would it be nice not to haul it, but it'd be cheaper because now they'll wash mine and have to clean out 100 feet of wash line before starting someone else's.
Anyway...we did some other super fun things, stayed at some nice hotels, last night we treated Grace to an amazing supper, another highlight was Pioneer Woman's Pawhuska and all the shops there. Now on the way home, figuring out how and where to start my finishing mill so I can make signature wool items, and you know single handedly bring the U.S. wool industry back. If you have any ideas drop them in an email, because if Ree Drummond from little ole Pawhuska, Okla. can do it, I can too.
Until next time, Fairchild "lets get our thinking caps on" Farmgirl

Suzanne Fairchild is a freelance writer who lives on a farm in southwest Minnesota with her husband and children. She can be reached at rmf@itctel.com.

Getting ready in so many ways

Why do I love March besides March Madness (for all those fellow basketball lovers out there)? Spring! Well, it’s kind of a love hate relationship to be honest…usually so much mud! This year though, we can’t complain about the weather at all. It’s been so mild! Which speaking of the weather, raise your hand if you think we’re in for a dry summer? I’m worried about no snow melt, and then looking out on the month forecast, there is nothing for weather to speak of. Eeks. I hope I’m wrong, I need a good hay crop.
In other news, I just got back from a week in Minneapolis at the Home and Garden Show. That show was good to me! I love the Convention Center, and I sold a lot of product. But let me tell you, I was more than happy to go home and pass a lone tractor on the road for the whole 16 miles to town from home. The traffic was awful down there and the crime that was happening as well as the panhandling (which I’ve never seen in Minneapolis before) and homelessness… it was grim. Again, I was so happy to come home to rural Minnesota.
I will tell you, that home and garden show really gets people in the mood for landscaping, making a better lawn, and the latest and greatest tools and equipment to use. Since I’ve been home, I’ve been so excited to get out and work on our sad, sorry lawn. This year I can!!! For the past five years I was in so much pain with my hip that needed to be replaced, that I couldn’t/wouldn’t do anything out there. Well kids, this year I feel phenomenal! That patch of grass and weeds are no match for me. I actually started this past weekend. With it being 55 degrees and little wind, we split our crew in half. Ron’s crew worked on putting the ceiling up in the new barn that is replacing the burned up one. My crew started up the fire pit and we burned leaves and sticks. We got 1/3 of our big lawn done before the wind started picking up so we put out the fire. We have also been talking about putting some landscape rock around the house and putting in a few shrubs. SO EXCITING! At the home and garden show the U of MN extension had so many displays of plants that work in our area. So I’ve already gotten out the seed catalogs. I also want to dabble in some flowers to sell. Man! To bend again! What am I saying? I mean to walk again! Pretty fabulous.
Which by the way, I’ve met a few people that need a hip or knee replaced and fear of the unknown is keeping them from going through it. Let me tell you, to be able to keep up with my kids, to go for walks and ENJOY them is priceless. To have a better quality of sleep…please get it done. You will be so happy when you do. No one deserves to live in constant pain. That was terrible. At this time last year Ron and Tedd and I were at a basketball tournament in Redwood Falls. We stepped in the building and what did we see? A huge staircase that went down to the gym. By that time I had my surgery scheduled and was patiently waiting. I remember Ron asking if I was going to be alright, the drive down to the tournament had made my hip on fire then I had to do these stairs? I was not alright. But I got down them and sat in the bleachers. When it was time to go back up the stairs, I honestly could’ve cried. I had to stop half way up and just being there for a minute the pain was so bad it felt like someone was trying to cut my hip joint in two with a machete. All our local parents knew what was wrong; our Canby sports family has always been so awesome! But here I was, having to get a new hip at 48 years old. I was super embarrassed.
Fast forward to now. Tedd has that same tournament this coming weekend. Honestly, I want to run up and down those stupid stairs shouting for joy. So what I’m trying to say, is if you need it, get it done. 24/7 pain is exhausting. If a doctor says you’re too young, go to a new doc. They can talk big when they’re not in your shoes. I went years with doctors not truly listening to me, telling me it probably was just a little arthritis, no big deal. Until I told one doctor I was demanding an x-ray that day. They couldn’t believe how many bone spurs I had and that it was all bone on bone.
So, get ready to plant some flowers, get your lawn spruced up and get ready for summer. And if you’re not feeling good, get a doctor that hears you.

Until next time, Fairchild Farmgirl

Suzanne Fairchild is a freelance writer who lives on a farm in southwest Minnesota with her husband and children. She can be reached at rmf@itctel.com.