What defines you? Who has been influential in cultivating that definition? There is one woman who has been that force in my 35 years of life more than any other person in the world.
My childhood memories of her are as Americana as they come, with some hardships, of course. I remember the early years of my childhood when she struggled with pregnancy loss. I remember sneaking into the kitchen as a very young girl and trying to cut an apple, only to slice open my thumb. I remember the mad dash to the emergency room that followed. Even in the height of the tough moments, such as when I told her I was pregnant on my 18th birthday, she never lost her temper.
Her love is forever steady. She encourages me. She holds me accountable. She has a tangible way of living out her faith like no other woman I know.
Jane Kirsti Huso Lukens, or mom to me, is named after her great-grandma Kirsti, who emigrated from Norway and homesteaded on the virgin North Dakota prairie in a sod house. She became a widow while pregnant with her seventh child. Grandma Kirsti lived to be 101 years old; my mom was 9 years old when she died. My mom has the same quiet grit and compassion I imagine her namesake had.
My mom was born a farm girl, but she never dreamed she would return to the family farm to raise her own family. That’s exactly what happened, though. My parents owned a successful advertising agency in nearby Grand Forks and later took over the reins of my mom’s family farm.
Today, my parents remain firmly rooted on the farm, just down the road from her parents, who at the ages of 89 and 84 still live in my mom’s childhood home, which her great-grandfather built. The same passion that fueled our ancestors to homestead on the North Dakota prairie fuels my parents. The legacy lives on.
My mom creates, sews, bakes, cooks and grills better than any person I know. If she would have started to document her life before Martha Stewart or Ree Drummond, she would be a pop culture icon by now. But she doesn’t want that spotlight. Instead, she is the most dedicated farm blogger I know, sharing family history, slices of farm life and modern-day farming practices through her beautiful writing at GriggsDakota.com.
She could toot her horn; yet she chooses to serve her family. From July into November, my mom cooks one or two remarkable harvest meals a day and delivers them to the fields. They’re not pinned to Pinterest, and rarely do the meals reach her farm blog. She’ll be the first to tell you, “Being in the kitchen is not the most liberating job but someone has to do it. We need to eat!”
That’s my mom. She does what she is called to do—with class and impeccable farm girl taste.
My mom has shaped my character, my values and my role as a mom and a wife. She pushes me to chase after goals and dreams. She believes in me, challenges me and empowers me.
Below, in her own words, she humbly shares her role as a woman in agriculture. It’s a defining moment for me to share with you a glimpse of my mom.
Meet Jane, my mama and a fourth-generation farmer from Aneta, North Dakota.
How has agriculture shaped your life? I enjoyed growing up on a farm for all the usual reasons. I was active in school, church and 4-H. By the time I graduated from high school, I had decided my parents worked too hard for too little reward. I attended the University of North Dakota, in part to remove myself from agriculture. Following college graduation, Fred and I lived and worked in Grand Forks for several years before returning to the farm. Maturity and my children changed my perspective on agriculture’s rewards. Plus, my mom, dad and brother Jim all lived on the farm. The combination was irresistible for us.
What excites you about your community? Aneta (population 213) has always been a special community. We support each other through successes and trials. People really do care and serve one another with celebrations or comfort as life’s occasions dictate. Right now, I’m most excited about The Aneta Community Orchard and Gardens. The Aneta Specialty Crop Group has been awarded grant money for the project through the North Dakota Department of Agriculture and USDA. We are learning so much and the community support has been impressive, which is typical for this area. You can learn more on our Facebook page.
When was the last time you tried something for the first time? Each day brings new opportunities, and I do my best to find them. I read new magazines and explore new perspectives. I use new patterns when I sew and new recipes when I’m in the kitchen. I read new authors and visit new websites. I try to embrace new ideas and find new solutions for recurring challenges every day.
What is your favorite children’s book? “Horton Hatches an Egg” by Dr. Seuss has a great lesson about the rewards of faithfulness. It simply says don’t give up. I still need to be reminded that seeing projects through to the end brings satisfaction and reward.
What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you? There is no substitute for a smile and everyday kindness. I regularly visit a nursing home, and those folks encourage me. They give away an abundance of smiles and kind words. For many, it is all they have left to give. It improves my attitude every time. I write my blog, GriggsDakota.com, which is a great way for family and others who are far away to stay connected to our farm. It is an encouragement in its own way.
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor? My grandmothers were excellent mentors. One of the many lessons they taught me is that when you don’t know what to do, just decide what should be done next and do that. Don’t think ahead too much. That bit of wisdom has gotten me through many tough days.
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be? If left unchecked, the Environmental Protection Agency will regulate the American farm into the history books. Well-intentioned laws are being overzealously proposed and enforced. Washington can help our business by using a commonsense approach to regulating food and energy production. I do not believe the American people want to pay the price that overregulation will cost them. If we want safe, reliable and affordable food and energy in America, do not let misguided regulation impede the business of agriculture.
What makes you smile? My family. From my 109-year-old great-aunt to my granddaughter who just turned one, my family is my joy.
Thank you, Mom, for helping defining me and for your endless love for our family and farm.
Below are links to all women in agriculture features this month along with this Sweet Treats Giveaway that you can kick-off your holiday baking with a shipment to your door from Sonja’s Old-Fashioned Delicacies. I will announce THREE winners on Saturday, November 29th evening on my Facebook page.
Enjoy a blessed, peaceful American Thanksgiving to my dear family and friends.