Busy, Busy, Busy

It would be a gross understatement to say that it has been busy around Isbell Farms lately.

Let me see if I can catch you up on everything since our last blog post.

We had visitors from the Embassy of Cuba on September 6th. We cooked lunch for them and sat around the table for some good discussion. We’ve always opened our homes to our visitors. It’s the southern way! And there’s just something about sharing a meal with people that connects you in a way that can’t be done in an office. My mom usually hosts these meals, although I have started to host some at my house as well. People around the world rave about my mom’s cooking! It is something special indeed.

We did a little testimonial on September 12th for our friends at Gowan Company. Jeremy has been working closely with them now for several years. They are a wonderful family-owned company. When Jeremy visited them, they also opened their home to him for dinner. They are good people, and we appreciate the research they do to help us out.

Mark gave us a detailed explanation of why we cut in circles, and he did it in 1 minute and 14 seconds… you should go check it out! It’s quite hilarious and also educational. But, on the other hand, we think that maybe he missed his calling and should have been an auctioneer.

And if you missed all of our social media posts, Jeremy and Harrison built “The Flamethrower 3000” to use to burn our rice fields after harvest. That led to some interesting discussion about how and why burning fields is actually the most sustainable way for us to get rid of the excess straw in the fields.

On September 16th, we were honored to host Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at the farm as he announced $2.8 billion for projects under the Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities. It was quite the experience to host a dignitary. From the advance team they sent to the farm before his arrival to his security detail and everything in between, it was pretty cool. There were many moving parts, and we enjoyed the experience very much.

On Sunday, September 18th, we hosted the president of the Japanese company Dassai and a film crew from NHK, a Japanese Television network. We are excited about the future with this company.

Monday, we flew to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Sake Stakeholders Summit at the Japanese Embassy. This was hosted by our friends at The Sake Brewers Association of North America. It was a full day of discussions about how we can further the sake market in the United States.

There was a reception following the Summit where we were able to taste sake from many brewers! There’s some really good stuff out there. If your only experience with sake is drinking it warm in a sushi restaurant, you must try it again. When it’s done right, it is beautiful. The flavors are so diverse from one brewer to another. It’s amazing! I think we will highlight a brewer per post this winter so we can introduce you to some of the people who take our rice and make it into something wonderful.

After the reception, we hosted an after-party with our friends from Moto-i and Origami Sake. We were able to continue some of those conversations that were started during the round table discussions. It was a lot of fun!

Today we visited the Embassy of Cuba. They graciously invited us into their beautiful Embassy and allowed us to sit down and talk more about the relationships between the agriculture industries between Cuba and the U.S.

Mark and Marda flew home today, and Harrison and I will head home tomorrow. If things work out, we may have something fun to share about things going on tomorrow.

Meanwhile, amid all this crazy excitement, we have continued harvesting this year’s crop. At this moment, we are a little less than halfway finished harvesting.

I talked in an earlier post about how we work together as a family. Each person has strengths, and watching how that works out is awesome.

My dad is a visionary… he loves to take crazy ideas and make them a reality. His foresight is what allowed us to be in a position to produce rice for these sake breweries.

My mom is the ultimate host… she is always willing to open her home to these visitors. She has supported my dad through the years in all of his ideas. She has endured lots of science experiments taking place in her kitchen.

I like to handle this side of things… I like social media, blogging, and all things sake…especially the tasting. I’ve been on this farm my entire life, and I love it. I can’t imagine any other lifestyle.

Jeremy keeps things running… the rice is his baby. He can’t stand being away from it too long; he likes to watch it grow. He takes care of all the fertilizer, spraying… we call him the doer of all things. He also enjoys going on trips to promote the farm. He gets his turn next week… stay tuned.

Harrison is also a visionary… he takes the more modern approach to things and uses his college marketing skills to promote the farm. He’s also a bang-up good tractor driver and talks a lot! Check him out on social media… he’s a hoot.

Alayna has the artistic skills in the family… she helps keep our graphic design projects running smoothly and spends hours editing videos for our YouTube Channel. She likes to say that she takes hours of boring and turns it into 20 minutes of awesome.

Mark is the political one… he finds all the ways to get funding for projects, and he works to establish relationships between countries through agriculture. He has a true gift. We call him the spreadsheet king, well, because he’s the spreadsheet king.

Shane is our ultimate machine operator… without him, we wouldn’t have seeds planted or rice harvested. He spends hours planting our crop, he helps water it through the summer, and then drives a combine daily until the harvest is complete.

It takes a village. A farming family village. I feel like we are blessed to have so many people with so many gifts that when they are put together, it makes a family farm!

If you can’t tell, we love what we do. And we are thrilled with all the new opportunities coming our way.

Check back for the next update…

Until Next Time,


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