Sunday, January 7, 2018

Women’s Health Corridor Article January 2018

Women often put their health on the back burner to take care of families, careers, and because it’s a hassle going to the doctor.  I want to take a bit of time, with the help of Toby Miller, APRN-CNP, to encourage you to take time and take care of yourself.  We’re going to cover a variety of topics that are related to women’s health so grab a cup of coffee and let’s get started.
First, I want to introduce you to Toby Miller, APRN-CNP, owner of Integrity Women’s Center in Stillwater, OK.  APRN-CNP stands for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse-Community Nurse Practitioner.  Toby worked in labor and delivery for fifteen years, when she decided to specialize her skills; she knew she wanted to continue working with women.  Toby has over 23 years of experience working in women’s healthcare and her scope of practice focuses on disease prevention and wellness, as well as gynecological services, annual checkups and routine healthcare.  She loves her job and the long-lasting relationships that she is able to make with her patients while providing empathetic care.  I asked Toby why she opened her own office and she said she wanted to provide a comfortable, inviting environment for women to come and get health care.  Her staff is entirely made up of women and she treats women from adolescence to aging years.  I can attest to the fact that when you walk into her office you immediately feel welcomed.  The feel is not a doctor’s office at all and you do not get the feeling of being ran through the mill like cattle.  You will not feel rushed like many doctors’ offices just trying to get people in and out.  Funny side story, last time I was there Toby spent several minutes telling me about her new hair style and will often ask about my family and tell me about hers. 

My first comment for Toby was about breast cancer awareness being all the rage and other issues getting overlooked.  Since I know she is very conscious of breast cancer awareness, I asked her for a short statement about it and then we moved on to other issues.  Her comment was that “breast cancer screening is a very individualized issue.  Many factors need to be taken into account including, age, family history, age and number of family members diagnosed with breast cancer, etc.  This should be discussed with a women’s healthcare provider.  Most women will need to start yearly mammogram screening at the age of 40.”  A lot of insurance companies will pay for that screening along with a baseline one-time screening between the age of 35 and 40.  Self-breast exams are very important.  So ladies, do not skip those monthly self-exams.  I know for a fact that they can help you catch early issues.  For more information on how to conduct a self-breast examination you can visit
We also discussed the dreaded yearly pap smear that all females, sexually active or twenty one years of age, should do.  The pap smear checks for cervical cancer by collecting cells from the cervix.  Some good news for you ladies, and I recommend asking your health care provider about, is that if the pap smear is done and HPV, human papillomavirus, is also tested for then you can go three to five years without having the dreaded pap, but Toby does recommend that you still do a well woman check-up once a year.  That would probably include a general health exam, pelvic exam, and breast exam.  
Another female related issue is menopause.  Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years and generally happens around fifty years of age; however, many women will suffer from pre-menopausal symptoms years prior to this.  Pre-menopausal and menopausal treatment is very individualized depending on the symptoms affecting the woman.  Common symptoms are hot flashes, night sweats, emotional instabilities, insomnia, low energy, and vaginal symptoms.  There are many hormonal and non-hormonal options for treatment of these symptoms.  Unfortunately, unless you have a hysterectomy, there is no speedy way through this change in your life, and it will probably last at least a year.  It’s best to be educated about what is going on in your body and be ready to take steps to deal with the symptoms. 
All those things we’ve already talked about seem scary and like big deals.  They are, but often over looked is the number one killer of women.  Heart attacks.  Toby stated that “the most common heart attack symptom in women is some type of pain, pressure, or discomfort in the chest but women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain, such as neck, jaw, shoulder, or abdominal discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, sweating, dizziness, or unusual fatigue.”  Prevention is the best and most affective source of preventing a heart attack.  You should know your family history for heart disease, do regular checks of your blood pressure, and get yearly cholesterol and blood sugar checks.  Staying active, managing stress, eating a healthy diet, and if you’re a smoker, stop smoking will go a long way in preventing heart attacks.  Visit more information on heart attacks and heart disease in women. 
In closing, ladies, make sure and take time to take care of your body.  You will have a harder time taking care of your family if you are not feeling good and it’s easier to stay on top of your health care than to wait until you have an issue that takes a lot of care.  There are some great physicians along the Corridor and find a good one who will take time and listen to your concerns and give you good treatment options.   Advances in technology are amazing in helping prevent disease, take advantage of what is available to you. 

Special thanks to Toby Miller, APRN-CNP for taking time to answer my questions and for providing a comfortable place for women to get health care.  If you are a woman in the Stillwater area looking for health care check out Integrity Women’s Center,, tell her Missy sent you.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Real Story of Santa, Corridor Article December 2017

“Hey, Hey, Hey, he heard them say, Santa’s phony – all the way!”  These are the words from the mean older kids in the book, Santa Are You For Real.  We know that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ but how did Santa Claus get his foot in the door to try to take the celebration over? 

I honestly do not remember when I figured out Santa wasn’t a jolly ol’ fellow who came down the chimney to bring me gifts on Christmas and that wasn’t the whole reason Christmas existed, but I do remember when I learned who Santa, or Saint Nicholas really was.  About 1998 I experienced my first Advent Season with my soon to be husband’s family and one of the things they do every December 6th is read the book, Santa Are You For Real, to celebrate St. Nicholas Day.  This illustrated kid’s book tells the “real” story of Santa Claus. 

           What do we know for sure about Saint Nicholas?  He was born March 15, 270 in PataraLycia in Asia Minor to wealthy Christian parents.  Nicholas lived his life for God even from an early age.  His parents both died in an epidemic when he was young and Nicholas was raised by his uncle, also named Nicholas, who was a bishop.  Nicholas later became a bishop, and even after the death of his parents and the suffering he faced, he never became bitter but spread joy, love, and hope thought the country. 
One story has him begging wheat from sailors passing through his area, for his country that was experiencing a famine.  The sailors were afraid that if they gave it to him they would not have the required amount to give to the Emperor.  Nicholas promised they would not suffer any loss and was given enough wheat for two years, including enough for sowing.  When the sailors offloaded at their final destination and the wheat was weighed for the emperor, the amount had not changed. 
The tradition of hanging stockings is from a time when Nicholas heard about three daughters of a poor man who did not have money for a dowry and would in all likelihood be forced to go into prostitution.  On three separate occasions, under cover of darkness, because he did not want credit for the act, he tossed enough gold coin in the window of the house to cover the dowries for the daughters, once the gold landed in a stocking that was hanging to dry.  Hence the hanging stockings for Christmas morning. 
How did St. Nicholas end up as an American Icon?  In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister, wrote a long Christmas poem for his three daughters entitled “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.”  The poem, which he was hesitant to publish due to the frivolous nature of its subject, is largely responsible for the modern image of Santa Claus as a “right jolly old elf” with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a mere nod of his head! Although some of Moore’s imagery was probably borrowed from other sources, his poem helped popularize the now-familiar image of a Santa Claus who flew from house to house on Christmas Eve, in “a miniature sleigh” led by eight flying reindeer–leaving presents for deserving children. “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” created a new and immediately popular American icon. In 1881, political cartoonist Thomas Nast drew on Moore’s poem to create the first likeness that matches our modern image of Santa Claus. His cartoon, which appeared in Harper’s Weekly, depicted Santa as a rotund, cheerful man with a full, white beard, holding a sack laden with toys for lucky children. It is Nast who gave Santa his bright red suit trimmed with white fur, North Pole workshop, elves, and his wife, Mrs. Claus.
Another name associated with St. Nicholas is Kriss Kringle.  The word comes from Germany and is translated as Christ Child, meaning gift-giver.  God sent the ultimate gift of life to us in the form of his Son and that is the true reason we celebrate Christmas. 
On a side note, I went to my favorite source for gathering data, Facebook, and asked my friends this question: What history do you know about St. Nicholas/Santa Claus? How old were you when you found out he wasn't "real"? How did you tell your kids that he isn't "real"?
First off I got several adults who said, “What?  Santa’s not real”, I also got one comment that he, St. Nicholas, punched a heretic at a church council meeting, then we got down to business and it was about fifty-fifty on parents who let their kids believe in Santa and those who told them right off the bat that he isn’t real. 
One mom states “we never did Santa; we wanted our children to celebrate Jesus only.  We told them that others played Santa and the tales of St. Nick and encouraged them not to ruin it for others that played it.  All of our children are grown now and have families of their own and have expressed appreciation that we were honest with them and that it did not ruin Christmas knowing Santa wasn’t real.” 
Another mother said they never introduced Santa as a magical creature who brings gifts to children.  They try to model their Christmas around Jesus but they also ask their children not to ruin the magic of Santa for others and for now to keep it to themselves that Santa isn’t real. 
Renee’ said her oldest figured it out around second grade and told her younger brother, neither seemed bothered by it and she has shared with them the bits and pieces of what she knows about the history and folklore of the real Saint. 
There were also several that said they tell their kids they still believe in Santa themselves and that Santa is the “magic” of Christmas or that Santa is the spirit of giving.  Then we have people like Judy who told her kids when they were young that the minute they tell me Santa isn’t real they start getting underwear for Christmas.  Her kids are all grown now and still believe for fear of having to open underwear on Christmas morning.
So, if you are looking for a way to tell your children the real story of Santa I highly recommend the book mentioned here several times, Santa Are You For Real.  It keeps the spirit of Santa intact with gift giving and magic but honors the real reason for Christmas.
Now, get out along The Corridor find a Santa to take your picture with, have fun giving gifts in secret and sharing the spirit and magic of Christmas and in closing remember the words from Todd in the book Santa Are You For Real “I’ll act like St. Nick,” Todd said to his dad, “It’s Jesus he loved – He makes us all glad!” 

Wishing the readers along The Corridor a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Missy Husted~

After the Kill, Corridor Article November 2017

The sun is fixing to set and you hear a rustling in the trees. You keep watch and the buck of a lifetime steps out and is fixing to cross your shooting lane at 50 yards.  Your adrenaline kicks in and you start shaking; that excitement is what makes the kill, no matter if it’s a doe or buck, worth the hunt.  You very slowly move your rifle up onto your shoulder and find the monster in your scope and put the cross hairs right in the middle of the kill zone, take your safety off, and gently squeeze the trigger.  BOOM!  Monster buck stumbles and crashes into the tree out of sight.  Still shaking you work the action of your rifle and put it back on safety and sit and wait as patiently as you can.  You don’t want to get out of your tree too early and take a chance of jumping it up in case it is taking a bit of time to die.  You wait about 15 minutes and gather your things and climb out of the tree and head in the direction of the last place you saw Mr. Big Buck.  It takes you just a minute to find the blood trail and see him laying just yards from where you shot him.  As slow as the adrenaline will allow you, you walk up to him, making sure he is down for the count, and then whoop for joy as you get close and see the true massiveness of the animal.  Grabbing your cell phone you snap a selfie so you can start the bragging process of text messages and Facebook posts.    
Now it’s time to field dress and cape the massive buck and get him headed to the taxidermist and get the meat into your freezer.  But how do you do that and keep your taxidermist happy and with enough of a cape to make your mount look amazing?  I did a little research for you and talked to my friend Christine Seaton of Turing Heads Taxidermy to get you some tips on exactly what and what not to do.  First off, Christine says there are two major issues she sees when she gets a deer in the taxidermy shop.  First is the cape did not get cooled down quick enough and the hair is slipping and/or the hide is growing bacteria.  Second, the hunter cuts the cape too short in the armpits.
To start caping you want to make a cut around the mid-section of the animal, four to six inches back from the shoulder blades to ensure there is enough skin to cover the shoulder mount.  Then cut the back from the middle toward the head, stopping two to three inches from the back of the head where the spine and the skull meet.  Next make cuts around the front legs, remembering to leave plenty of hide around the armpits, and remove the skin from the legs. 
Next you want to get the cape cooled off as quickly as possible.  If you are still in the field, lay it flat in the shade to cool while you finish processing the animal.  If you are where you can, get it in an ice chest, refrigerator, or freezer as quick as possible.  
A few recaps and tips for caping:
·         Skin your kill as quick as possible but remember to leave enough of the hide for the taxidermist to work with. 
·         Keep your cape clean as possible
·         Cool it off quickly.  Do not let it set in the sun.  The ears on a deer are especially susceptible to heat damage when left in direct sunlight.  Heat also promotes bacteria growth and can cause the hair to slip off the cape. 
·         If you are putting your caped buck in an ice chest do not let it get wet.  This can also cause hair slippage.
·         It is best to fold the hide inside out to keep dirt and gravel off the hide. 
·         Make sure your knife is sharp before starting the caping process. 
·         The initial caping is fairly simple, but leave the detail work around the nose, eyes, and mouth to the professional. 
·         If you put the cape in the freezer make sure it is wrapped good and is not allowed to dry out or freezer burn. Again this will cause hair to slip and make it hard for the taxidermist to work with.
·         Do not drag your buck or wrap a rope around its neck.  This will cause baldness on your cape.  If you have to drag him, tie the rope around his antlers and put a jacket or something under his shoulders to keep the hide from rubbing on the ground. 
·         Never cut the throat to bleed out the deer, it will ruin the cape and you will be very disappointed.
Now that the cape is taken care of you need to process the deer for the freezer so you can feed your family all winter long.   You want to be sure and get your caped and gutted deer cooled off as quickly as possible so you have no spoilage or bacteria growth.  To age the deer cool it between 32 and 42 degrees for two to seven days depending on the age of the deer.  The older the deer the longer you want to age it to combat toughness in the meat.  I personally do not have a cooler to hang a deer in and don’t like the possibility of getting blood in my frig so I quarter my deer and put them in ice chests to age.  Keep the water drained off and the meat covered with ice.  This technique has served me well.
1        1)      The first part of the deer we butcher is the front shoulders. The shoulder should be pulled away from the torso of the deer to expose the pass through cut zone. Cutting with your knife’s blade parallel to the rib cage, you will pass through the shoulder joint. If having a difficult time finding where to cut, pull the front leg away from the torso and aim you knife strokes for the hinge area.
2        2)      Before removing the back straps, you can shave off any excess fat that has built up in the area. After fat removal, we need to find the knobby part of the hip bone. We will cut just under this bone and to the back bone on both sides. After cutting this initial cross section of the back strap, we will now run our knife down and along the back bone. This cut will run all the way through the neck. We can now return to the initial cuts we made and start peeling and freeing the back strap with our knife. Take your time and try not to leave any of this valuable meat on the back bone. Once you have the back strap down to the front shoulders, you can cut them off.
3         3)      The neck of the deer can have quite a bit of meat that is very good for grinding. Pull the meat from the back strap incision and skin the meat off the neck bone. You will work this meat from the top of the neck to the deer’s wind pipe.
4)      If you desire, you can now carve out any meat left on the front half of the deer. This can be anything from meat along the rib cage (brisket) to rib cage meat itself. Any of this boned out meat will be excellent for ground meat use.
5)      Once done with the front half of the deer, we can now saw the backbone leaving us with the hind quarters.
6          6)      Starting from the knee of the hindquarter, work your knife parallel with the leg bone until you reach the hip. Now turn your knife 90 degrees and finish the cut
7         7)      We leave the hind quarters attached to the pelvic bone during this final butchering stage. Starting on the rear of the leg and just below (upward on the animals leg) the Achilles tendon, cut in and to the bone. Now work this cut around the knee and continue to cut so all the meat will be freed from the leg bones and the pelvic bone. This will leave you with a large hunk of roast meat which will be made up of around 3 muscle groups: rump roast, bottom round, and the eye of round. You can pretty much separate these muscle groups by hand with minimal knife work.
8)      Now is the time to salvage meat left behind which we can use for stew meat or ground.
9)      You can wrap in plastic wrap and butcher paper for storage, use freezer zipper bags, or vacuum seal the meat.  Make sure and remember to label the packages. 
In closing, get out along The Corridor, hunt hard for those trophy bucks, properly care for them, then you will have memories to hang on your wall for a lifetime and food in your stomach for a season.  Speaking of food in your stomach, if you have more venison than you know what to do with look up Hunters Against Hunger, you can find a list of processors at www.wildlifedepartment.comThis program operates primarily through the state’s deer processors, gives nutritious, fresh meat to those who are hungry in our state. Many tons of venison are donated annually to food banks statewide, providing many thousands of nutritious meals.  Happy Hunting.


Destinations: Prague, OK (October 2017 Corridor Article)

       Entrepreneurs Alex and DeeAnn Capron took a bit of time out of their busy schedule to sit down with me and tell me about their newest venture, a restaurant that is bringing a joy to the stomachs of people far and wide.  For years the Capron’s have owned and operated ACE Paving and Construction, a company that does commercial concrete and fencing.  In 2015 they expanded into the restaurant business that has been an adventure for the whole family.  When I asked what parts the family play in this business Alex was quick to praise his family and their hard work.  First, he told me about how great his wife DeeAnn is.  She is the full time accountant for their businesses, a homeschool teacher to their school age children, an incredible wife, and that is all before she walks in the restaurant, where, like many restaurant owners, she does whatever needs done.  You might find her making the homemade desserts the restaurant servers, hostessing, bussing tables, or refilling drinks.  They have three daughters who work for them as waitresses or fill ins where needed and one daughter, eight year old Izzy, who rules the roost.  She is always a favorite among the diners and will bring a smile to your face when she walks in with her little apron and big smile.
You may be wondering what the concept is behind the name Destinations.  Alex says his vision is for their restaurant to not only be a place to get great local food on a daily basis but to take you to a destination.  He states “in the future we will have special nights where we will take you on a journey around the world to enjoy the cuisine of other cultures and countries; for example banger and mash from the Great Britain area or traditional spaghetti and meatballs from Italy.” 
Before you walk in the door of Destinations you are greeted with a fun atmosphere, the outdoor seating, a small carousal, and corn hole game make you want to sit and enjoy the goings-on of Main Street Prague.  But don’t stop there, go inside and check out the décor.  I was a little taken back at the busyness of the décor, but while I walked around and looked I fell in love.  First you will find a train mounted along the windows that really works, you’ll see small airplanes hanging from the ceiling along with a canoe, dog sled, and bicycle.  On the walls you will see a buffalo head, old signs and maps among many other things.  The busyness really works!  The eclectic décor takes you on a Destination and conjures up all kinds of fun fantasies and adventures while you wait on your food.  Now that you enjoyed the inside décor, you can go back and sit on that fun patio and watch the traffic along Main Street and enjoy the great fall afternoon in Oklahoma.
Let’s get to the real and most important reason for this article, the food!  The Capron’s try to do as many things from scratch as possible; if you are from the Prague area you will recognize some of the items from the old Fillin’ Station that was owned by Alex’s brother several years ago.  A few of the crowd favorites are the hand breaded chicken fried steak, a delicious cube steak breaded in a seasoned flour and deep fried to golden brown and deliciousness,  the hand cut chunk chicken marinated and cooked to perfection served with homemade ranch, honey, or gravy, and of course the all-time favorite hand pattied burger.  Yes, I said hand pattied burger!  After these burgers are hand pattied they are cooked on a flat grill, which gives them that classic *greasy* burger taste.  Alex said he knows it’s a good burger when it’s dripping down your forearm and that’s the way he serves his burgers. 
            I asked DeeAnn what I needed to have for lunch and after talking through several things on the menu; she finally decided the taco salad with smoked pork is what I should try.  Good choice!  They take a huge flour tortilla and fry it into the shape of a giant taco and load it up with lettuce, tomato, cheese black beans, corn, onions, and of course delicious smoked pork, and top it with salsa, sour cream, and cilantro.  I also had to try the Smokie Okies for an appetizer.  YUMMY!  First, Alex pointed out that their baked potatoes are smoked, which I think adds another dimension of flavor and texture to the potato.  So, the Smokie Okies are a sliced baked potato fried a bit with tons of cheese, real bacon bits, and chives, served with homemade ranch.  I probably could have eaten the whole plate full but since I knew I had a taco salad on the way I refrained and only ate half.  You can also find your favorite 6-point beer on draft or in a bottle, the beers are currently rotated while they are looking for that perfect combination to keep on hand.  Wine is another option that is finding its way on the menu; enjoy a nice glass with one of their great flame grilled steaks.
Aside from the regular menu items they also offer a daily special.  Some specials change depending on the day, some are always served the same day of the week.  Among several favorites is Wednesday and Saturday’s smoked ribs, Thursday’s Rubens and Friday’s Catfish.  Daily homemade desserts are also available.  Alex poked DeeAnn in the ribs and said “for a non-baker she comes up with some pretty good stuff”.  I hear her butterfinger pie is to die for, but by the time I had finished my appetizer and taco salad there was no room for dessert.  Next time I’m in the area I will for sure have to stop and see what she’s came up with to tantalize my sweet tooth. 
The Capron’s also offer catering and host special events and offer lunches delivered to the Prague schools.  They will cater just about whatever you want but their specialties are smoked brisket, pork loin, and grilled chicken along with all the great sides.  They recently hosted the Corvette Club and had sixty diners and a whole parking lot full of beautiful corvettes.  Alex said it was amazing and he would love to have more cruise-ins like this in the future.  For more information on catering and special events or to have Destinations host a cruise-in call the restaurant at 405-567-2525.

You will find Destinations just half a block west of the stoplight in Prague and the summer hours are Monday thru Saturday 11am to 9pm and winter hours will be Monday thru Thursday 11am to 8pm and Friday and Saturday 11am to 9pm, closed every Sunday.    Be sure to keep your eyes open along The Corridor; you never know where the Capron’s aspirations for expanding their Destination will lead.  
***Since the publication of this article in The Corridor, Destinations has announced that they have bought a restaurant in Chandler, OK on Rt 66 and will be opening another location soon! 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Farming Life - Through the Windshield of a Tractor: The Hayfield September 2017 Corridor Article

People often ask me “what do you do,” in reference to what I do for a living. I usually
laugh and tell them I’m retired, when in all actuality I wear many different hats. I even get paid
to wear some of those hats! In 2014 I “retired” from working a 9 to 5 job. Well, okay, I owned a
restaurant so it was more like 6am to 9pm but you get the point, and since then I have been
able to do things that I enjoy. One of those things is farming, and although I don’t technically
get paid to farm, I am thankful that Mr. Husted has a “real” job that pays the bills and I can
continue to be “retired.”
Now, about three years ago my buddy Gary, who we lease land for cattle from, asked
me to move some hay bales off a field for him. I think this was a test on how well I adapted to
life in a tractor. I guess I passed his test, because the next year I was promoted to “hay raker”
and this year he’s trusted me with a big fancy hay cutter! I’ve learned some valuable lessons
and skills behind the windshield of a tractor and I have loved *almost* every bit of it. . .but it
does help when I get to use nice equipment and cabbed tractors with good air conditioners!
The point of this article is to give you a glimpse into my world in the hay field, to honor a
couple farmers I know, and talk about a few things I’ve learned through the windshield of the
tractor in the hay fields the last few years. Some of those things you may relate with, some are
serious, some you may laugh at, and some you may roll your eyes at and wonder what I was
thinking and how in the world I survive.
Hay bales scattered after we finish raking and baling
Maybe I should first start by explaining the haying process for those who aren’t familiar
with that part of farming. This is how Gary and I do it, and some may have different techniques,
that’s alright, they can be wrong if they want to! Right off the bat, you need a field with good
grass that has been sprayed for weeds or the weeds are minimal. Then you need optimal
weather. Rain on hay once it is cut and laying on the ground can causes mold and you have
the possibility of losing nutritional value, and if you bale it while wet you take a chance of the
hay overheating and catching on fire. Yes, odd as it sounds, wet hay is more susceptible to
spontaneous combustion. After a field is picked and you have a good window of weather you
will start by mowing the field using disc mowers, in our case. Mine folds up to the side of my
tractor when not in use and Gary’s is pulled right behind his tractor and when in use it is moved
over to the side. After mowing, depending on the type of grass, we wait a day or two or three
and then I go in with a rake attached to the tractor and start making rows to be baled, then Gary
follows with the baler and bales it, and then someone comes along sometime and hauls it from
the field.
Mowing a hay meadow
We’ll dive right in and start with a bit of a laughing matter to some. To avoid dehydration
I try to drink water, a lot of water, which is great and everyone should do this, unless you are a
female, spending hours in a bouncy tractor, in the middle of nowhere, and your sidekick in this
hay business is a male. What do you do? First you strategize. Yes that sounds funny but you
do what you gotta do in intense situations. So, you get to the field after driving the tractor a few
miles down a bumpy dirt road and immediately start looking around for good places to stop and
take care of business. A few things have to be taken into consideration. Are there houses
around? Is the road close? How far away is the other tractor? Probably most importantly,
does that look like poison ivy on that tree you’re about to squat behind? If you are raking and
the baler is behind you, you can get a lap on him and angle your tractor so that the giant wheel
and the hay bale give you a bit of privacy. The first time out to the hay field, you probably didn’t
think of all those little details before drinking a lot of water. . .but you will think about them from
now on!

One of my favorite things is to see God’s beautiful creation. A couple weeks ago we
went to a prairie meadow that was hidden deep in the trees in the middle of a section of land. It
was beautiful, almost breath taking, a pretty field surrounded by dense woods with smatters of
wild flowers, clumps of hardwood trees, and a few giant cedar. Yes most farmers hate cedars
but I think they are pretty. It was a place that you could sit and be surrounded by God’s beauty
and be at peace. I did spot a tree stand on the edge of the woods and I’m a little jealous of the
hunter that gets to sit and view the beautiful place while hunting. I love that these hidden gems
exist and that sometimes God brings me to one of these places so I can be in awe of His
creation and worship Him.
One of the prettiest fields I got to rake and mow.
To get to this pretty field you had to go up on the side of the steep terrace so the mower wouldn't hit the trees
Thankfully the rakes can roll through the light tree branches but you do have to watch for the heavy stuff!
The down side of finding one of these beautiful places is sometimes they are hard to get
to and that brings me to my next topic. Terrible-ditch ridden-creek crossing-steep- narrow paths
to the fields. Wow, when you are driving a tractor with a mower attached that sticks up above
the cab of the tractor or pulling a rake that is long and a bit wide you really have to be cautious
about your surroundings! I broke the tail light off the top corner of the tractor cab going from the
road into a field the other day and I felt terrible, especially since it isn’t my equipment. I really
hate to tear up something that isn’t mine. I was on the edge of the road going about a tenth of a
mile an hour and went to up a small ditch and my mower, that is folded up the side of my tractor,
bounced funny and busted the tail light out. You also have to watch all sides of you and make
sure that your mower isn’t too tall to go under big tree limbs. The rake isn’t as bad because it is
on the back and pulls straight like a trailer but you do have to watch corners and mail boxes.
Then think about steep hills/ditches, again with a mower hanging on the side it is a bit scary.
You have a lot of unbalanced weight sticking out that you have to pay attention to. Then while
you’re in the field mowing or raking you have to watch fences and obstructions in the field. I
actually prefer to work in a field with a little bit of an obstacle course, it keeps things interesting
and keeps me awake, but I have gotten my rake tines in a fence or tree a couple times.
Thankfully it was all easily fixable. . .and I know I’m not the first to make those mistakes.
Something else you don’t think about is that mowing a field disturbs a lot of wildlife. 
There is the baby fawn or cotton tail rabbit that is buried in the tall grass, the field mice that feast
in the fields, and the heebeegeebee giving snakes that eat the mice and other things. 
Somehow the coyotes and hawks know that you are churning up some dinner for them when
they hear the mower on the tractor and come running.  I try to remember to carry a rifle in the
cab with me to take out those rotten coyotes but a few weeks ago I forgot to grab my rifle.  I
really didn’t give it a lot of thought until a young coyote came out of the woods.  It taunted me for
what seemed like hours chasing mice and such.  It would catch something and trot off to the
woods to dine in privacy then come back for something else.  I shot it with my finger a couple
times and yelled at it in the cab of my tractor but neither of those things did any good.  Of course
the next day when we went back to the field to rake and bale and I *had* my rifle the coyote
never came back.  For the record, coyotes build dens in the fields and make them rough to drive
across and if you have a big watermelon patch, like I do, they come in the field and carry your
watermelon off right as they are ripe and ready for picking.  That’s one of the many reasons
farmers don’t like coyotes….
I keep my rifle behind the seat to dispatch unwanted critters!
As any farmer can tell you, farming (or haying, in my case) involves hours of driving
circles, which makes comfort pretty important. “My” tractor is, of course, not as nice as Gary’s
and not even mine! He owns them both, so I use the smaller one and he uses the “Cadillac.”
I’ve only used the Cadillac once to move hay, and he was sure to mention that I shouldn’t get
used to it, because I wouldn’t be using it very often! Mine has a radio but it doesn’t work so I
often serenade myself. I’m pretty sure y’all would get a kick out of me talking and singing to
myself if there was a hidden camera. I also download books or sermons on my phone to listen
to or I sit in the peace and quiet (except for the comforting noise of the tractor engine), pray or
praise or listen for the still small voice of God. The seat of a tractor is a great place to reflect on
life and the beauty around me, to plan and dream about the future, and to learn to enjoy being
by myself.

I am super thankful for the experience I’ve gotten the last few years behind the
windshield of a tractor and have become more aware of how even the small farmers feed the
world. So, in closing, something staggering to think about: according to Clemson University, in
1940 a farmer could feed 19 people, and in 2011 that increased to 155. Technology and
advances in equipment have helped increase those numbers in a good way. By 2050 the food
production will need to increase seventy percent to feed 9.1 billion people. With less and less
farms, farmers, and farmland there has to be other ways to increase production from the
available land. That is where technology comes in. Just something to think about………

*Because of space limitations these did not get included in the article but I want to make sure they are recognized anyway!

Honoring Farmers: I am so thankful for all farmers big and small.  You can't begin to imagine how much these families sacrifice to provide food for the world.  So take time and thank a farmer!
Snyder Farms in Prague, Oklahoma has been a Strong Family Tradition since 1891. Seven generations deep with four generations currently helping on the family farm together. The Jesse Snyder family raise Angus Cattle, Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, Hay, Sweet Corn, Pumpkins and various Garden Produce.
You can follow their farming journey at

Tyler and Karen Stefansen are relatively new to farming.  Tyler was raised on a homestead where he learned about gardens and deer plots.  He has a degree from OSU in Wildlife/Fisheries Ecology and Rangeland Management and worked in college for the Oklahoma Wildlife Department as a field biologist and Soil Conservation Service.  They currently raise soybeans and wheat.  I asked Tyler how he’s learned what he knows and been successful without having the experience of working for a row crop farmer.  He says “by immersing myself in the trade; book knowledge from OSU, hours and hours of research, visiting with local farmers, and most importantly tons of prayer.” He and Karen are raising two children and hope to ingrain in them their love of the land.

Sherman Terrell is a 3rd generation farmer.  With the help and support of his wife Mary Jo he started farming full time in the late 1950’s, and has continued since.  Over the years they have produced peanuts, alfalfa, wheat, and has grown produce such as watermelons, cantaloupes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins.  At one time, Sherman and Mary Jo grew and supplied produce crops to around fifteen local grocery stores.  They have also raise beef cattle.  They have two sons that are involved in the farm operation, and a daughter whose husband was involved for many years.

Just some fun pictures I've taken the last year from the seat of a tractor. 
We had to cross this little creek to get into the hay field. 

Gopher mounds can make a very dusty mowing experience.  Thankful for a cabbed tractor.  

I often get bugs that ride along.  This ones name is Fred and he rode with me about 2 hours!

Sometimes we have to refuel!

Okay, we have to refuel a lot.  My tractor uses more fuel mowing than raking because it's having to work harder. 

Sometimes you can sit on a hill and find hidden treasures.  This house looks amazing, I may have to see if I can see it from the road sometime.

I over heated, YIKES!  The radiator got covered with crud and the tractor was having to work extra hard in thick grass....

Sometimes things get clogged up and you have to get down and dirty to get it going again.

Kind of like this mess with my mower.  Finally got enough pulled out that I could put it in 4 wheel drive and back over the mess.  Wet grass is sometimes tough to mow.

Workers gotta eat and sometimes there isn't shade so you have to make due with a bucket for seating and the tractor for shade.  
This field was full of terraces.  It looks like it'd be an easy job but it isn't you have to cut and rake between the terraces instead of going back and forth over them. 
Sometimes farmers have to "road" tractors.  Please Please Please be patient with them.  They are doing the best they can and will get out of the way when they can.  Keep a decent distance, pass them when it's safe, and pray for their safety.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Tribute to Military

For the July 2017 Corridor Article I asked people to pay tribute to their military hero.... This is what I got.  I love that we can celebrate freedom and appreciate all who chose to serve.  

Taylor Williams says “my favorite veteran is my father in law, Brian Williams. He has been serving in the Air Force for 35 years now. He has served in Iraq twice, Turkey five times, Qatar, and Afghanistan. He has received countless metals but is so humble I'm sure I don't even know all of them. Chief Williams has a special place in my heart and I'm so thankful he is home safe. He has put his life on the line for many years and he is so proud to have been able to serve his country. He is a proud American and our family would be lost without him!”

Bo Kociuba wanted to share few details about her father, Janusz Bratek, who was just a 10yr old boy when the war started in Poland Oct.1, 1939.  “He is my hero and there are no adequate words to express my gratitude and recognize his sacrifice.”  Her father was a child who lost his mother at the age of ten and his father at the age of thirteen.  He was a survivor of Majdanek concentration camp and a member of the Polish Underground Army.  Janusz fought in the bloody and heroic Warsaw Uprising, the major World War II 63 day battle, where Polish resistance, most of them young teenagers, fought to liberate Warsaw from German occupation  For his actions he was awarded a Cross of Valor. He was a survivor of German Stalags of Lamsdorf, Muhlberg and Oschatz where prisoners, because of starvation, were forced to hunt for cats and rats. He was one of a youngest POWs in WWII. He served under Gen. Anders in Italy with a rank of Petty Officer. In 1945 ended up in Manchester, England then came back to Poland in 1947.  *While we recognize that Janusz Bratek was not a United States Soldier, we still want to recognize the heroic role he played in the freedom of people like his daughter Bo Kociuba, who is now a US citizen.

Pilar Dykes wanted to recognize her husband Zack Dykes.  Zack was active Army from 2010 to 2014 in Ft. Lewis, Tacoma, WA, and served in Afghanistan 2012 as a gunner on a Striker armored truck.  He is currently serving in the Army Reserves.  Like many other service men and women, Zack has received awards and medals but he is very humble about it and does not share those stories with many folks.

C’Anne Smally wants to recognize her husband, Jason Smalley.  He served 6 years active duty in the United States Marine Corps. His job was communication, navigation and electronics countermeasure systems. He left the Marine Corps as a Staff Sergeant. He deployed to the South Pacific, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. Jason was an expert marksman. Jason received two Navy Achievement Marine Corps Medals (NAM), a Presidential Unit Citation and two Marine Good Conduct Medals along with other medals and ribbons.

Stacy Burns, wife SSG Tyler W. Burns Army National Guard, B Co 1-179 Deployed 2007-2008 & 2011-2012 says “after our second date, I told Tyler I would not date him because I would not fall in love with him because I would not marry him and I would not be an Army Wife. God had other plans. Before the year was over we were married. Three months later I watched him load a bus that would take eventually take him to Afghanistan. That was a scary year for us both. Thankfully God watched over him and brought him back safely. We now have two beautiful boys who look and act just like their Daddy. I am so proud of my soldier! He is a strong man and someone our boys can look up to every day.”