Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The USDA

Those of you who guessed that the building pictured below was located in Washington, D.C., were correct. Your prize is the satisfaction of knowing you were right! That's always a good feeling. Enjoy!

The building is actually part of the USDA (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture). We were there Monday as my husband and three other farmers were honored as National Outstanding Young Farmers. John Deere, who sponsors the OYF program, brought us all to D.C. to meet the Secretary of Agriculture. We enjoyed an hour-long visit with him and other USDA officials. It was an incredible opportunity; we were able to ask him questions regarding the Farm Bill, grain prices, the USDA position on embargoes, and how he would handle the pressure from consumers and industries who are beginning to protest increasing food prices.

Unfortunately, I was sick the entire trip. It began as a bit of a runny nose and a few sneezes. By the time we were meeting with the Secretary of Agriculture, I was beginning to re-use Kleenexes that were wadded up at the bottom of my purse. It was utterly humiliating. In addition to my nose affliction, the pressure of the airplane combined with the fluid in my head had obliterated my hearing. When I wasn't sneezing on someone, I was saying, "Huh?" I'm certain the USDA officials ran straight for the Purell after they finished shaking my hand.

It wasn't just my illness that made me feel awkward during the trip. Since I haven't had a job outside my home for six years, my wardrobe is rather sparse. I have one pants suit, which I wore to the meeting. I bought it a couple of years ago on a sale rack at Sears. My four kids were whining and hanging on me, so I didn't bother to try it on. I'm fairly certain it made me look like a circus clown, but the USDA officials were nice enough not to comment. They didn't even seem to notice when I managed to smear butter all over the cuff of my jacket during lunch. In fact, I didn't even notice that until it had smeared all over my pants as well. That was a nice confidence builder.

Aside from my raging headcold, we had a very nice trip. It was quite surreal for me, since prior to our involvement with the OYF program I had only flown once. I had never been east of Kansas. I never dreamed we would visit D.C. Thanks to our parents, who handled the kids and cows while we were gone, we were able to spend a few days with friends and have some amazing experiences.

Even with the Kleenex shoved perpetually in my nose, I managed to take 303 photos while we were gone. Here's a sampling to prove that we were really there. I'm still looking at them to prove it to myself.

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Here are some of the OYF couples (including us, on the left) at the USDA. This is before I smeared butter on my cuff.

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My friend Angela and I were in front of the Capitol here. I managed to go without wiping my nose for the entire time this photo was being taken.

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My husband and I visited our Representative's office. He wasn't there, so we made ourselves at home in his office.

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Here's the White House. Just to prove that I took this picture and didn't just swipe it from someone's Flickr account, here's one with us in front of the White House.

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Look! No Kleenex!

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I have never eaten anything like this dessert we had at the Capitol Hill Club. How do they even manage to cut it like this? It's a mystery. Unfortunately, I couldn't taste a thing because my entire head was plugged up and it rendered my tastebuds useless.

There are many, many more photos to share, but now I'm going to enjoy my own bed and my own not-so-fluffy-as-the-Hampton's pillows.

6 comments:

Susan said...

Welcome Home, Erin. Glad you had a good time despite your head cold.
Thanks to you and Shane for being a positive voice for agriculture.
Suz

Andrea said...

Oh wow I could just eat that last photo!! It looks like it would have been good! I am glad you had a great time! Hope your cold gets better!

Frazzled Farm Wife said...

Love the photos! The dessert looked awesome...too bad you couldn't taste it!

farmnwife said...

Congrats on the award.
I love going to DC. But I cringe when I see what they have done to the Washington Monument. It's a travesty.

Anonymous said...

Glad you both made it home safe.. Sounds like you both had a good time, even though your were sick.. Can't waite to see the other photos you took..

Sandy

BoufMom9 said...

Welcome home! I have missed your posts!
What great photos and a wonderful trip.
PS Could I have been more off on my guess? LOL

 
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