Small Town USA

LSB is using the “Small Town USA” theme for our parade entries this year. To me it is very fitting as I grew up in a small town and back then we were a thriving little town. Two grocery stores, two gas stations, a hardware store, grain elevator, and a bulk oil company. Then, like so many small towns around, businesses started closing as people were shopping in Fairfield and it gradually seemed to be dying. This year Ragbrai announced their route in February and our little town was the breakfast stop on day 6.A committee was formed and we met monthly until July, organizing what we would provide for the 20,000 visitors that day. I didn’t know what to expect regarding who would come forward and volunteer. To say the least I was overwhelmed by everyone that came forward and helped do “whatever” to get our small town ready.
We cleaned the streets, pulled weeds, painted buildings etc. and it wasn’t only one or two people it was a group that has pride in our community and doesn’t want to see…

Banzai Financial Literacy

Libertyville Savings Bank (LSB) has been sponsoring financial literacy programs at 4 local schools for the last several years, most recently through a company called Banzai that focuses on making the tools fun to use. Each student runs through real life scenarios where they must make budgeting decisions in order to “win” the game. When asked about the program; Kylie Martin, a student at Fairfield High School commented, “I think Banzai was a helpful learning tool in my intro to business class. It gave examples of scenarios that could happen in real life and provided real life decisions you would have to make. It was enjoyable to use because it gave you a real perspective on real life scenarios and how you can be prepared for and handle them.” Teachers love the Banzai program as well. Many classes are required to provide some level of financial literacy to students and the Banzai program meets those requirements. One of the classes that LSB sponsors is the 3rd grade at Pence Elementary. …

Strengths and Weaknesses

I’ve never touted myself as an acclaimed farm wife.You’ll never see me baling hay, driving the combine or pulling a calf.I wish the desire to be hands on came naturally for me, but it doesn’t.I love living on the farm and it’s my favorite place to be, but I’m a better behind-the-scenes person.I like handling the other responsibilities that keep the day to day running of the farm flowing smoothly, leaving my husband free to focus on the big stuff.
There are many times when being more hands on would come in handy.This spring we had four heifers get out, and of course I was home alone.I think the cows wait until they know I’m the only one home and plot their escape, then they just sit back and watch me, laughing at my ineptitude.How hard can it be to get 4 heifers back in? For me, impossible.I got two of the four back in, but 50% doesn’t cut it in this situation.The other two seemed content walking down the gravel road, heading to town…opposite direction from their pasture. I tried for qu…

Lacey Trail Labs

My husband and I had lived in town for 35 years when we found a house out by Lake Sugema that we decided to buy.Not only was there a house, but there was a big shop located on the property.My husband Bob had always wanted to raise registered labs, and this building was the perfect spot for this.And so, it began.We’ve had numerous litters over the last four years and every time a new litter is born it’s so exciting.

The first couple weeks the Mommy takes care of the puppies all on her own.When the puppies are two weeks old their eyes are open, and they are ready for their first worming.We give them a liquid dosage, according to their weight, and then they don’t need to be wormed again until they are four weeks old.At the next worming, they are playful, and are a little harder to convince that the wormer tastes good.They are strong and try to spit it back out.By the time they are 5-6 weeks old the pup’s mom is happy to go back outside to her normal life and be done with the puppies.The p…

Round #2

Three summers ago, I was preparing for my oldest son Zach to start his senior year of high school.I remember it being a busy summer as we began making college visits, having senior pictures taken and Zach taking the ACT.Then the school year started and with a blink of the eye the year was over, and I was sitting at graduation wondering how I had survived it all.

Well, I am about to embark on round # 2 with my son Drew.I clearly remember saying to myself after I dropped Zach off at college, that I was on easy street for a while and could just sit back and enjoy the next few years.Well those few years have flown by and I must admit that I am not looking forward to this next embarkment.I was spoiled with Zach, as he just took care of everything.Being the eldest child, he always took charge and handled responsibilities.
Now we know as parents, that none of our children are ever the same and that is true with my boys.Drew is my fun loving, always has a smile on his face child, and just takes…


My childhood was shaped by the 1980s farm crisis.My dad had (and still has) a passion for farming.His dream in life was to have enough land of his own to support a family and a small cow-calf herd.My dad started out farming with my grandparents near Boone, Iowa.My parents married in 1974, and bought their first farm near Fraser, Iowa around 1977.They slowly grew their herd and acquired more land and had three children along the way.Though I was young, I remember this time being a happy and peaceful time.

Then, disaster struck – crop prices fell, interest rates climbed, farm debt soared, and land values bottomed out.I remember vividly the moment that seemed to push our family to the brink – lighting struck our new barn, causing a fire. We lost the barn, equipment and cows right in middle of calving season.Just as I was finishing kindergarten, my dad was giving up on his dream.
What followed was our family moving from town to town as my dad tried to find work that paid the bills and gave …

Getting Ready for the County Fair

My sisters and I were never involved in 4-H or FFA when we were young, so going to the county fair to me was nothing more than watching the pig show and maybe eating a corn dog. Now that I’m a parent of three 4-H / FFA youths, I realize that it’s not that simple. A lot of time and effort goes into putting on a successful County Fair!

Just at our house alone, the list of things that need to be done between now and Fair time is unbelievable. The goats need washed, groomed and their hooves need clipped. Fourteen chickens need to make a visit to the vet clinic for their disease-free certification. All the associated equipment needs to be located and organized in the show boxes according to species. We need to order more feed, so we don’t run out halfway through the fair. Fair grounds cleanup day is coming soon so the entire family will spend the day sprucing up the grounds. The list goes on and on and we’re just one family!

The Fair Board members, the County Extension and FFA Directors and …