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September 25, 2015

Farmers Log Harvest 2015

Farmers Log...........I've been binge watching the original Star Trek, can you tell!

I currently have the desire to say 'Jent Out' instead of 10-4 on the 2 way radios, when I emerge from the tractor after several hours I wonder what the atmosphere outside of my 'ship' is like and when things happen I often say out loud to myself "Grain Cart Operators Log, Harvest 2015, Day 4........."

Yes, people a tractor is a lonely place sometimes, I must find ways to entertain myself!  Because constantly staring at the phone surfing social media causes you to completely miss the combine passing and the operator to have to call and tell you he really needs you right away - or so I have heard.

This is day 5 of harvest for us and this here is a sample of what my log might look like:

Harvest 2015: Day 1, Morning.  The sun is shining bright, equipment lined up, shiny and pointed towards the field.  Sky is blue, the corn and beans are ready, everyone is smiling.  Not sure what to expect in terms of yield but let's bring this crop home.

Harvest 2015: Day 1, Mid-Afternoon.  Down to 2 trucks, but under control.  Sun is still shining, most people still smiling.

Harvest 2015: Day 2, Early Afternoon.  Panic set in when I realized meal planning didn't pan out this week-family would insist on something for supper, had to send my Mom to the grocery store.  Thanks to her my family will live to see another day.

Harvest 2015: Day 3, Morning.  So many raido stations and so much good music.  I really should move to Nashville,  dang I can sing, sounding really good in this tractor cab right now!

Harvest 2015: Day 3, Afternoon.  Switching to beans.  What a beautiful color brown they are, sunset will be beautiful tonight.

Harvest 2015: Day 4, Early Evening, trip to Tractor Supply for wormer for cows and pigs allowed for a quick stop at grocery store for supper supplies.  Hoping that by 9pm supper time I don't accidentally worm the family and feed the chicken alfredo to the cows. Stay posted.

Harvest 2015: Day 5, Early Morning.  No clean jeans, but does it really matter?  Have to feed hogs and cows anyway, if someone notices I will tell them it was from feeding - that's true it just wasn't today!

Harvest 2015: Day 5, Afternoon.  Running beans in a smaller field, don't need the grain cart.  Asked to disc ground in front of manure spreader because knives won't go in the hard ground.  Jumped in the 4640 stomped between the pedals......and nothing happened.  I quickly realized that would not lower the steering wheel, quick glance around to make sure no one noticed and went about my business.

Pretty sure I can guess what the last few days of entries might be:

Harvest 2015: Day 13.  I can still sing like nobody's business but the radio stations must only have access to about 5 songs.  Still think I should move to Nashville!

Harvest 2015: Feels like Day 3792.  Lost in a black hole of time, drank from a measuring cup this morning and fed in my pajamas.  My jeans now stand up in corner by themselves and I fear the children have forgotten how to eat at a decent hour and at the table.......the children - where are the children????

In all reality I love the busy seasons on the farm but it does make for long days!  Be careful!

September 6, 2015

Is it really a promotion?

I consider myself low man on the totem pole around here, I still am there just aren’t as many people above me now!  Our full time guy moved on to greener pastures and by that I mean a better job-not the great beyond!  He had been with us for 15 years, started when he was in high school, I already miss him!

So here we are right before harvest and I’m trying to convince Chris we can do this!  Hogs and crop work - we got this!  And so far I have only burnt up one belt…….it’s been a whole week!

I tend to jump into things feet first ready to go, most of the time without planning or forethought.  Sometimes those unplanned things hit me at the oddest times, like this morning for instance.  

Farrowing is upon us this week.  Cleaning up afterbirth makes me quesy-there I admitted it.  Quesy as in I need to step outside, throwing up quesy.  It’s stringy!!!!  I have sleeved cows, been up in sows to pull pigs, I don’t know why that doesn’t make me sick but it doesn’t!  But cleaning up afterbirth.........even the thought, excuse me while I step outside!

And working piglets!  I know how, I have told Chris for 23 years if the need arises I can do it………I can’t, I was wrong.  I’m not opposed to it, I know the need and value but once again that feeling in my stomach hits me.

I can vaccinate any size hog, I can move hogs of any size, I can drive the truck and trailer to sell hogs, I will gladly haul manure with a smile and I will pressure wash barns all day but please don't make me clean up afterbirth or work piglets!  Eventually I will get grinding feed down as well, and it won’t involve burning up a belt I swear, but I’m trying to figure out how to get passed that feeling in my stomach for those two particular jobs!

Now if I could just convince him doing laundry and dishes makes my stomach quesy!!!

July 27, 2015

A Bizarre To Do List

This week is an interesting one!  I don't normally make a 'to do' list per say because at the end of the day it's just depressing to look over it and see nothing crossed off.  I seem to spend all my time putting out other peoples fires while mine burn out of control.

But this week it seemed like a fun idea, only because I knew exactly what I had to accomplish and how bizarre it would look written down!

The beginning of the week had me still dragging from our county fair with the desire to not move fast and sit down often but the list looming in my head kept me trudging forward.

I hate school shopping, of course I hate shopping!  Chris has been asking me for weeks to fly some corn fields with the UAV so I knew I needed to get that done!  And vaccinations on hogs are timely, this was a priority!

It's not often, or really ever, I get to write 'pack for China' on a to-do list!  When I was a kid I never dug a deep hole because I once heard someone say 'you could dig a hole to China if it was deep enough' - no thanks, I was happy right where I was!

Going to China and Vietnam were no where near my bucket list but when a once in lifetime opportunity presents itself especially to learn more about agriculture, well China here I come!

I'm not gonna lie, I'm not the checkoff's biggest fan!  Every 5 years when the referendum comes up for vote, you will probably find me at the beginning of the line.  So an opportunity to see how those funds are being utilized seemed like a learning experience I couldn't pass up!

In all honestly I also don't know much about how checkoff funds work other than it is funds taken out of our checks.  I know that with soybean half go to National and half stay in the state, I know that it seems like a small share: half of one percent of the price received per bushel of soybeans.

I know what you are thinking "half of a percent? Come on Jent" but add it up, on any farm its a fair amount of money!  Especially when the program isn't fully understood by those paying in - but then I figure maybe that's my fault and this is an excellent opportunity to learn more!

So half way around the world I will go - scared and excited all at the same time!  Well as soon as I finish my 'to do' list!

July 10, 2015

The Color Of The Ribbon

I wrote this original article last year for Indiana Prairie Farmer but as our county fair approaches the thoughts of blue ribbons and purple banners came racing back - so I am going to leave this right here to remind myself and anyone else who needs it what is truly important!

County fair time brings about numerous Facebook status about Purple ribbons and banners.  But for every kid out there that earns that coveted purple item there is a handful of kids who took just as much pride and put in just as many hours of work-where are the proud parent status updates for those kids?

I speak from the perspective of a blue…….but mostly red, white, yellow and green ribbon family!  The first thing I told each kid before they started 4-H was we aren't in this for the purple banners or ribbons, if that is the only thing you are doing this for than you aren’t in this for the right reason.  Don’t get me wrong, I encourage my kids to do their very best but just because it doesn’t earn the purple doesn’t mean it was a waste of time.

I sat in the cattle barn after the Wednesday evening steer show watching what felt like every other family in the barn hang their purple banners…..we earned none.  I was tired, feeling defeated and hungry.  Chris and Cole took me to Chili’s, it was off the fairgrounds and I ate a salad and drank two huge glasses of milk and adjusted my attitude.

I returned to the cattle barn with a different perspective.

The two steers my son showed he watched be born.  For a week every morning and every day the second he got off the bus he would run out to the barn to check and see if they were born.  He put the halter on them for the first time, he broke them to lead.

The steer our middle child took we wanted to leave at home.  We weren't sure she had worked with it enough and he wasn’t all that pretty.  We took him anyway!  He was one of our best behaved animals and the smile on her face when they got 2nd in his class in the market steer show was more than worth it.  She had seen him born, from a cow we have had for 8 years, she had put the halter on him for the first time and broke him herself.

The heifer our oldest showed spent two days living in our kitchen when she was less than a week old.  At two days old she was getting weaker and weaker only to realize she was blind from a vitamin deficiency and wasn't able to find her Momma’s udder to nurse. Our daughter saw the heifer be born, helped nurse her back to health, put the halter on her for the first time and broke her herself.

We had worked hard before and during the fair and I was going to be proud of every single ribbon my kids earned.  We left the Johnson County fair with blue, red, yellow, white and green ribbons and my kids earned every single one.


So if you follow me on any number of social media channels my updates In the next couple of weeks will more than likely include my kids having fun and working hard, hopefully grinning from ear to ear but the color purple most likely won't show up!

July 3, 2015

4-H Paperwork - Keeping It Real

There is so much I love about the 4-H program…….project paperwork is not one of them!  The concept itself sounds great - answer questions about what you learned, keep track of money spent, and turn it in to be responsible.

But we are an ‘oh shit’ don’t forget the paperwork family!  Just ask our 4-H leaders - I stalk them down every year at work or home to sign our paperwork on the way to turn it in.  Normally that is also the day we fill it out!

But a few weeks ago I walked past the office door and witness my son sitting at the computer when he pipes up and says “Filling out 4-H paperwork Mom and don’t worry I’m really kissing butt in here”!  My kids are brutally honest.

Ask me to produce an up-to-date check book register and I will fail - but ask me about 4-H paperwork and I can immediately produce all 10 years worth - we are strong believers in ‘reference’ material.  I was looking for a crops record sheet for corn and got caught up reading the answers from old records my kids have turned in.

A few of my favorites

……these are actual quotes pulled off of their turned in paperwork
2nd year-Livestock: “I learned that it makes Mom really mad when you don’t keep the water trough full.”
8th year-Genealogy: “The only problem I encountered was my Mom has lost my birth certificate.”
10th year-Livestock: “Over 10 years I have learned the banner is not the best part of showing cattle.  Showing cattle should be about wanting to spend time in the barn, talking to cows when real people get annoying and having unconditional love for your cow but still know the reason we raise livestock.”

Emi Lou:
2nd year-Photography: “I helped my Mom learn that she doesn’t need to constantly be standing over my shoulder telling how to take pictures.”
5th year-Photography: “I learned that when taking pictures for this project it is a good idea to start earlier than the day before the project is due and doing paperwork as Mom is yelling she is leaving to turn the project in is dangerous.” 

1st year-Livestock “Three things I learned this year are 1. if you work hard it pays off 2.have fun in the show ring 3. cows are fun”
2nd year-Livestock “It is not always fun to feed but it has to be done.”

A few observations:

Crops is an adult project.  Oh my kids still take it, they love it-it's easy for them!

I think that a child knowing how much their project cost is important and for some the only way is on the record sheet.  My kids each opened a checking account their first year of 4-H for just this reason.  They may not pay every single expense out of their own checkbook but crunching those numbers on paper makes it real.

The boy may have filled the paperwork out early, he may of made 2 copies for security but he put them in the same manilla envelope and put them in a safe place-that safe place is yet to be located again!

4-H is an amazing program and while paperwork is obviously not our favorite part or our forte we are more than willing to do it for the number of pros in this organization far outweigh any of the cons!

June 27, 2015

Questions and Quotes

I had the opportunity earlier this week to spend 2 days in Raleigh North Carolina at Bayer Crop Sciences Research Triangle Park.  Why you ask.....well I haven't figured that out yet.  It's a question I am wrestling with when I am offered these amazing opportunities and at little to no expense to me, except my time!

Why me?  I have had some amazing opportunities since I started blogging and I am grateful for every one of them, but why me?  I'm pretty blunt, I have opinions and I'm not afraid to share them.  I also believe whole heartedly in choice: for both farmers and consumers. And in that I don't believe one company is right for everyone, that one way of farming is right for every farmer or that consumers shouldn't have choices.  Farming is personal, emotional and a business - a tough combination to juggle for the farmer and tough to fully grasp for the consumer.

I have spent the past few days marinating, contemplating and reviewing my tweets and the tweets from those that shared this experience with me.  So what I am going to share are just a few of the quotes that truly stuck with me while there and then a few questions I am still contemplating.

 "Noise, such as the number of Facebook likes shouldn't have any weigh-in on wether science works or not."
 James Blome, President & CEO for Bayer CropScience LP and the Head of Crop Protection for the North American region. 

"We need another green revolution to move agriculture ahead." 
Catherine Feuillet, Head of Trait Research, Bayer CropScience 

This quote.....given on June 4, 1963 in his opening remarks to The World Food Congress is still true to this day.

"1 in 12 people work in agriculture, 12 in 12 people need agriculture."
Liam Condon, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bayer CropScience and Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer CropScience AG 

Why is science encouraged, accepted and applauded in all areas of life except when it comes to the one area that is the sheer sustenance of life itself?

We can talk about the 'moveable middle' but until we focus on them and ignore the squeaky wheel I feel like we are wasting our time.  I think you can explain modern agriculture all day but unless the people we talk to have an open mind it won't work!

So then my final question was to myself:   Does taking these trips make me a shill?

I honestly had to look up what the word really meant!

And then I answered myself - Maybe I am......I am a shill for modern production agriculture.

Is that such a bad thing?  I am more than willing to accept these learning experiences from any company and share them honestly with anyone who is interested in listening to me go on and on about the importance of choice and the sheer need for all types of agriculture including modern technology in farming to grow food!  But I don't hide it so maybe I'm not a shill.....I guess I really don't care!

And last but not least they left the giant scissors outside after the ribbon cutting ceremony on the new facilities........using giant scissors is an item that is actually on my metaphorical 'bucket list':

Bucket List Item: Use Giant Scissors - CHECK

June 19, 2015

But my BonBon's might melt!

I was at the grocery store the other day unloading a cart full of groceries onto the conveyer belt while my oldest (19 years old) was literally having a crisis over what candy to choose instead of helping me!

They didn’t have any Sour Skittles - for the love of all that is good in America how could they not offer up Sour Skittles in the checkout aisle, she was beyond distraught because and I quote:
 “I don’t have a backup plan,
I was positive they would
have Sour Skittles”

She then proceeds to ask if we could go to 3 other stores in town to hunt down this candy that is so required.  The conversation went exactly like this:

Oldest: “We need to find Sour Skittles can you take me to Walgreens, CVS and Kroger to look for them.  You really don’t have anything else to do today!”

Me: “But my Bon Bon’s might melt”  in my most sarcastic tone

Oldest: “You bought Bon Bon’s?  I want some!”  in her most serious as all get out tone

It reminded me how much I hate the question “So you don’t work, what do you do all day?”

I kind of quit making ‘to do’ lists a long time ago because I never got anything crossed off, I was too busy putting out other people’s fires to worry about my own!

I do a whole lot of this and a little of that some days while other day a whole lot of that and just a little of this!

A week after the Sour Skittles Debacle was a day I actually had a plan, a list if you will!

At 5:10pm Chris walks in the door hollers he has time to work through the cows let’s go get this done!  Our 'herd' has names not numbers so it's not an all day job-just not a job I had dressed for this particular day as it wasn't on my list-meetings and computer work were on the agenda, the reason for the non-manure clothing choice of that day.  Ummmmmm my plan was going quite nicely and this was not part of it but I changed clothes and we went!

Hour and half, lots of swearing, yelling, broken syringe, trip to the barns, and more yelling later I drove like a bat out of hell home and ran in the house!

I striped, laid under the ceiling fan for 30 seconds, knocked the most noticeable chunks of organic matter off my face and out of my hair, spritzed with Febreeze, threw my clean clothes back on and was out the door!  My truck needed gas and I needed a beer polar pop!

I sincerely apologize to anyone who had to sit down wind of me at either meeting!

These are all reasons I quit making lists at the beginning of the day!  It’s more fun to make a list of everything you accomplished in a day than to stare at a list of things that didn’t get marked off because you were too busy helping others mark things off their list!

I may not be the busiest person around but it feels like I do a lot wether it be in the house, barns, on the farm or in my truck running kids, parts or livestock- if it needs done and someone to do it that person is me!

And let’s be honest those Cookie Jam lives aren’t going to use themselves up!