The life of an ag journalist.

Lil Wayne and I share the same birthplace.

That’s right both lil Wayne and I were welcomed into the world in the deep south city of New Orleans, and while I like to think we are somewhat in some weird way bonded by this, lil Wayne chose the life of a rapper, with dreads and tattoos. I on the other hand chose the life of an ag journalist complete with cowboy boots and big hair. You might believe these careers are unrelated but here is where lil Wayne and I share another common bond. Granted he tells people about “lollipops” and “how to love” while I explain why corn is tasseling early and how to provide better hay for your livestock, at the end of the day we are both writers.

I’ve officially been at my post-graduation job as the Associate Editor at Farm Talk Newspaper for over a month. What a month it has been, to say the least. It’s had up’s, down’s and all around’s, but I can genuinely say I enjoy the work I do at Farm Talk. The transition from college student to working professional and from somewhat ag girl to being thrown head first into the ocean of agriculture has been an “enlightening” experience so far.

So here is a general synopsis of the past month about what it’s like to an ag journalist and just a writer in general:

You might be an Ag journalist if…

  • Sitting down to take notes may involve pulling up a milk canister in an old milking barn while the farmer you’re interviewing sits on the bed of a feed truck.
  • After taking notes for a good 15 minutes on what you thought was “Calf creep” turns out the rancher being interviewed is talking about “concrete.” (Both made sense)
  • Editor pops into the office and says “How do you feel about helicopters?” “Ever ridden in one?” “You’re not scared right?” “Good, because I think this year we are going to have you take pictures of the Farm Show from the air.”
  • Having writers block
  • Losing the black pen used to take notes, losing the red pen used to edit, losing the back-up pen used because the other pens have been misplaced, only to realize later all three of the missing pens have been sticking out of your hair… Of course they were placed here in the middle of trying to think of synonyms for “he said.”
  • Pacing around the office because you have writer’s block
  • Panicking because the post-it notes are missing, then realizing they are beneath the cell phone which is under the mountain of papers, and notes that accumulate in front of the computer everyday.
  • You find alfalfa in your shirt pockets.
  • Having four open reporter’s pads, two coffee cups, two notepads, and stacks of miscellaneous notes scattered around and all are serving a current purpose, that is until one makes the mistake of crossing onto the keyboard… then it’s an issue
  • Getting on a roll while writing a story only to have someone step in the office and completely throw off any train of thought there was bringing on writer’s block.
  • Your publisher asks if you can operate a tractor.
  • Part of your job description includes operating a tractor and/or other various heavy machinery.
  • The places you drive to for a story are so far out in the country you can only pick up one maybe two radio stations. (On a good day.)
  • You can kiss cell phone service good-bye… everywhere. you. travel. to.
  • On top of checking the local and national news each morning, you also make a point to check the daily cattle markets.
  • People are actually excited to see members of the press.
  • The GPS brings you to roads like this. (Yes, this is a county road, not a cow trail)
  • Learning not to rely on the iPhone GPS, the Tom-Tom or Google maps to get you to the remote locations of Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma that you have to travel to for a story.
  • You’ve accomplished quite a task if at the end of the day there is not cow manure in the floorboard of the work truck.
  • You blame procrastination on writer’s block
  • “Dressing up” is a cardigan with jeans and cowboy boots, instead of the usual plaid button-up with jeans and cowboy boots.

This list could go on, but that’s another story for another day. In the words of lil Wayne, “You got beef, bring your cow. I will cattle you.” I’m not sure I want to know what exactly he means by this, I can just imagine… but he made an ag reference so I’m running with it. From rappers to agriculture journalist the mission of a writer is to have their word heard. (Yeah, that rhymed, I know.) This past month has showed me the impact those words can make on the lives of others, in every genre of life. I’m looking forward to what the coming months and years as an ag writer have in store for me.

“I know my role and I play it well.” -lil Wayne

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