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This is how I know. I never hung that mirror that is so handy in the utility room. That dining room wall clock is not my style, but I would never think to move it. There are canning jars and baby bottles that were stashed in the cellar before I was born.

I am the third generation to live in this old farm house. I am the third mother that cleaned after her kids and worried about her kids and thanked God for her kids. I am the third wife that loved her husband with all her might.

Sometimes, I wonder about living in a house that was only mine, that I helped design or pick out. But, then, especially at the holidays, it’s so warm to share Darlene and Marie’s home.

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Convention or family reunion?

November 20, 2011

American Agri-Women at the 36th annual national convention.

American Agri-Women at the 36th annual national convention.

American Agri-Women (AAW) recently held its annual national convention — its 36th — in Wichita. Our convention had the framework of any other convention: keynote speakers, breakout sessions, officer elections and awards ceremony. That’s where the similarity stopped.

First, this convention was entirely coordinated by volunteers. There was not one “staffer.” Members secured the location, speakers and sponsors; arranged tours and meals; coordinated the business proceedings; devised out-of-the-ballpark themes and decorations; and attended to every last detail from registration forms to audio-visual needs to workshop signage.

Members didn’t just attend sessions in bland, sound-proof conference rooms. We broke free to venture out to see ag operations — grain elevator, wildlife preserve, ethanol plant and more.

And, perhaps most distinctively, members embraced each other as family. This family doesn’t share genetics. Instead we share a passion for agriculture. “Passion” is one of those overused marketing words. However, there is no other word that fits.

Members of other professional organizations share a loose bond, often based on occupation or industry, such as marketing, PR, etc., etc. AAW members share a lifestyle, a heritage, a legacy — producing food, fiber or fuel. We either live on family farms, go back to work on our family farms, or support family farms in our businesses.

We didn’t just listen politely during presentations. We asked questions. We challenged. And, we sometimes disagreed. Ag is serious business, after all, with major obstacles to how our legacy survives, and how we produce goods in a sustainable, responsible and profitable manner. Only a family can stand up to that kind of challenge.

There’s always room for more at the family table. So, if you eat, consider joining us: www.americanagriwomen.org.

Roberta Seiwert Lampe and Ramona Lampe

Roberta Seiwert Lampe and Ramona Lampe

Good storytellers write about what they know and what they love. For Roberta and Ramona, what they know is that prairie dogs can be pets, calves can sometimes find their way into the kitchen and a Clydesdale named Ruby was destined for divadom. What they love is turning these stories into children’s books about farm life.

Roberta Seiwert Lampe and her daughter Ramona Lampe together have written two novels, six children’s books, four books of poetry books — with several more in the works. I wrote about Roberta last year (https://lynnwoolf.wordpress.com/2010/05/14/strong-women-and-their-stories/ ) and was lucky to meet Ramona this spring.

Roberta has written throughout  her career, but started writing her first novel later in life, as a way to cope with her husband’s cancer and other family tragedies.

Agnes was a story I wanted to write for years. I thought ‘This story has to be told,’ ” says Roberta. Agnes was her grandmother, who emigrated from Germany, moved to Kansas and married a widower with six children.

Ramona started writing her first story, Ruby the Diva Clydesdale, at Roberta’s urging. “I kept saying she should write this story, but she said, ‘I don’t know anything about Clydesdales. You write it.’ So, I did.” Ramona drew upon the personality of a real-life Clydesdale from a horse farm where she works.

Their author relationship is separate from their mother-daughter relationship. Ramona says they’re not a creative team, but a marketing team. They write separately, but share book signings and speaking engagements. Both are good talkers and good listeners, so they enjoy conversations with strangers as well as friends.

I believe their mother-daughter relationship strengthens both their creativity and marketing efforts. And, it’s heartwarming to see their mutual admiration. For instance, Ramona warmly refers to Roberta as her “rebel mother.” Roberta tears up when she says  how proud she was of Ramona at a recent book signing, when Ramona shared her personal struggles after a head injury.

They share a common goal, too: Draw upon their own experiences on their family farm to help educate children about agriculture — and bring a smile or two.

A testimonial from my own farm girl (and artist): “The stories are funny and cute and the drawings are very inspirational. My favorites are Prairie Dog Pet and Calves in the Kitchen.”

You can learn more Roberta, Ramona and their books here: http:\\lampebooks.tateauthor.com.

Roberta Seiwert Lampe and Ramona Lampe

Women 4 Ag

September 16, 2010

Gayla — with  her shoulder-length curls and awesome purple cowgirl boots — greeted me when I arrived a the Agriland booth at the Kansas State Fair. I was volunteering for the Kansas Agri-Women, one of several groups that sponsor the booth.

Gayla squeezed my elbow, looked me deeply in the eyes, thanked me for joining and for helping out, then said, “Let’s go find a spot for your purse.” Loved it. She embodied what I admire about many I meet in agriculture — warmth, simplicity, authenticity and always being ready for a hard day’s work, no matter where they are.

She introduced me to a long-time leader of the group — who is still active in the organization at 80 years old. I took over at her station, a scale where kids could be weighed and then compared to a farm commodity.  The kids loved hearing they weighed as much as a baby calf (about 75 pounds) or were only a few pounds shy of a bushel of corn (56 pounds). Surprisingly, parents and teachers joined in.

The booth was loaded with other hands-on activities — a combine cab, buckets full of seed, a soil tunnel, even Blossom, the full-sized cow with her squeezable udder. (“Squeeze, don’t pull,” the sign read.)

It was a fun day of answering questions and listening to stories. Gayla’s grandson stopped by. I’m sure the little boy, who was barely walking, has a limited vocabulary, but he exclaimed, “Big. Cow,” when he came upon Blossom. It was the  powdered sugar on my funnel cake of an afternoon.

Learn more about the Kansas Agri-Women and the national group, American Agri-Women here: http://americanagriwomen.org/kansas-agri-women. Follow them on at Twitter: http://twitter.com/women4ag.

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