“I will never be able to explain how grateful I am for what agriculture has taught me. If you ever have the chance to help a neighbor do chores for a week, or spend a day in the tractor during harvest, take it. You’ll learn more than you can imagine.” -Crystal Blin
How does a 4th generation Canadian farm girl get to the Midwest U.S for college? On a livestock judging scholarship. Then, the Canadian farm girl met her now husband, an Iowa farmer and cattleman at a cattle show. But agriculture remains at the heart of who Crystal Blin is, no matter her location.
I “met” Crystal Blin, who I first knew as Crystal Cattle in social media. We were active on Twitter, reading one another’s blogs when she was a new college graduate and working near Kansas City, where I often worked. We met for dinner in “real life” for Italian food and then again in Indianapolis a couple of years ago at National FFA. Crystal and I became friends who have shared a love for the prairie, MAC make-up, agriculture and Hereford cattle. (Red cattle with white heads.) Crystal has suggested she might show up at our door one day with a Hereford show steer for our youngest daughter, Miss A to show in her first county fair. I have done zero livestock showing in my life. My mom thinks the passion for cows skipped a generation from her to our daughters. But Crystal has me convinced I can have daughters that actively show livestock. Now, once I have my husband convinced that is a good idea, I am giving Crystal the green light. And no one will be more proud than the my mom and grandpa.
Things I admire about Crystal as a woman in agriculture is her drive, her passion, her goal setting and accomplishing them with a list on her blog, her confidence in who she is, her willingness to speak out on issues that her important to her and her farm and her ability to balance marriage and a career as a woman with femininity and style.
Meet Crystal Blin from Independence, Iowa and originally from Breton, Alberta, Canada and married to Jon Blin. She shares below as a woman in agriculture in her own words.
What is your role in agriculture today? I wear several different agriculture hats. My husband and I both grew up with purebred livestock, and this summer we bought our first farm in Northeast Iowa. We raise purebred Hereford cattle that are used as breeding stock and show cattle. It’s fun to see our heifers get sold throughout the U.S., and find new homes with families who are as passionate about cattle and showing them as we are. We also raise a small group of cattle each year that are solely for beef consumption. It is rewarding to be involved in raising quality beef, especially when our customers rave about the final product. Everyone deserves to eat great steak. Like most Iowa farms we also have corn and soybeans. Growing up my family didn’t grow any crops, so everyday this side of the farm is a new adventure for me.
My office job is also agriculture related. I am responsible for the sales and marketing of a livestock vitamin and mineral supplement called VitaFerm. Just like people, livestock need to have a balanced diet, and insuring that their vitamin and mineral needs are met and are important. A typical day in the office can involve social media, graphic design, marketing strategies, and lots of travel visiting with our customers and dealers. As I write this I am on a plane on my way to a cattle sale in California.
How has agriculture shaped your life? Agriculture is my life. I am a fourth generation farmer. Everything that I know about work ethic, determination, success, failure (not everything is always bright and cheery on the farm), responsibility has come from the agriculture. I am originally from Canada, and a livestock judging scholarship gave me the opportunity to come to the Midwest. If it weren’t for that opportunity my life would be completely different. I have now lived in the U.S. for 10 years, have traveled all over the U.S., work for some of the top agriculture companies, attend more college football games than I can count (go K-State Wildcats), made lifelong friends and I met my husband at a cattle show.
I will never be able to explain how grateful I am for what agriculture has taught me. If you ever have the chance to help a neighbor go chores for a week, or spend a day in the tractor during harvest, take it. You’ll learn more than you can imagine.
What is your favorite home-cooked meal? I travel about 130 days each year so when we are home we cook. I’m lucky to have a husband that loves to cook as much as I do. It would be hard to pick a favorite but right now I am craving a Steak and Green Peppers recipe that I found a few years ago. I can make it really fast, and marinate gives the steak an incredible flavor. Any favorite home-cooked meal of mine is going to include steak.
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor? What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you? That’s a hard question to answer because there are lots of amazing people I look up to. I would consider myself a pretty outgoing person, but I have always struggled with the “finding a mentor” thing. I find it so awkward to say, “Will you be a mentor?” I think that is part of the reason why I reach out to a lot of other young women and make sure that my door or inbox is always open for them to bounce ideas off of.
I remember being that young girl dying to talk to those women in agriculture I looked up to but didn’t always know how to start the conversation. I am really lucky to have had a lot of wonderful opportunities in my life, so now when I see those young women or girls, in the position that I once was in; I always try to reach out first. My favorite quote is “You can have everything in life you want, as long as you just help enough people get what they want.” Zig Ziglar
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be? I want people to know how much I love agriculture and our cattle. It is my passion. However, our farm is also our business. We are going to use the newest technologies to care for our land and livestock. We are going to work at becoming more efficient at raising food. People have every right to choose what they want to eat, but I struggle when government or consumers think there is only one right way. We will give our cattle antibiotics when they are sick. (Read more about antibiotic use on Crystal’s blog here.) We will plant GMO corn. We will use pesticides to control weeds because science has proven that it is ok for us to use these technologies.
I encourage people to get to know farmers to learn where their food comes from instead of Googling it. And I also hope that we always have lots of different kinds of farmers – organic, conventional, big and small, so that the consumers will always have a choice.
What makes you smile? I’m not going real deep here, but MAC make-up. Maybe all make-up! Last week I was in Kansas City for the American Royal Livestock Show, and I got down to the Plaza MAC store. Heaven. I make be covered in cow poop or dirt but there is no reason why a girl can’t be wearing a little lipstick. My favorite MAC product is their Pro Longwear Lipstick. Put it on in the morning and it will last all day. And my husband, he rocks (and doesn’t put up too much of a fight about my make-up spending)!
Stay connected with Crystal on her blog: www.crystalcattle.com. I love her Turquoise Thursdays! Plus you can connect on her Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram. Jon and Crystal’s farm website is www.jjbcattle.com
To me, the future of agriculture is in people like Crystal and her husband Jon as they work on improving in “becoming more efficient at raising food”. For that, I am thankful.
Are you following every update of the daily features of 30 Days of Women in Agriculture this month? The response has been awesome and I am going to keep this going beyond 30 Days and keep it as a weekly feature on my blog. Subscribe in the right column to receive blog updates and I promise you will be never be spammed by me. You will just not miss updates from the North Dakota prairie on food, farming, family, faith and features on Women in Agriculture.
Don’t miss the earlier Women In Ag Features from this month:
November 3: Katie Heger, Farmer, Teacher and Mother of 5
November 2: Kelly Rivard: Country Nights, City Lights
November 1: Introducing 30 Days of Women in Agriculture