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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
Casey:
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.” 


Cole: 
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!