Sunday, May 29, 2016

Stay Humble And Kind

This weekend we remember. Not only our loved ones who have left this earth but also those who gave their lives defending our country.
 Mike left for the Marine Corps when he was just 17 years old and served 4 years. I've always been thankful for having a son serve his country.
 A homemaker from Massachusetts named Lori wrote a song named "Stay Humble and Kind" and sent it to Tim to record. Both families were sending kids off to college and wrote and recorded the song wanting their children to remember those qualities.
Last Sunday afternoon Matt and Megon got together with family to dedicate their second son. Matt is my brother Bill and Julie's son.  
 We as a family prayed together and asked God to help with the raising of children in a world that's much different than we grew up.
Last Sunday evening we got together at BJ and Cassia's to celebrate their oldest son, Gideon, graduating from 8th grade. Gideon is working at a greenhouse this summer.
 A big thank you to Paul, Joel, Byron, and Cory who were the praise team at our guest Sunday worship service last Sunday morning.
At that service Dr. Bob shared his testimony about his life before and after living for the Lord. Today he is on his way to Greensville, South Carolina where he and Cheryl are moving. Thank you Bob for pouring your heart into Oskaloosa and thanks for being a humble and kind friend.
 Friday evening Jan and I, Mark and kids, and Karl, joined Mike and Cody who were camping in a neat spot along the Des Moines river for supper.
 Last evening I went to a farm south of Mt Pleasant to watch the kids race side by sides.
 In a side by side race a rider is required. Ben rode with Kurt. The track is through timber and CRP ground.
 Believe it or not Cassia rides with BJ. It was a fun evening even though Kurt had two flat tires and lost his drive belt and BJ and Cassia ended up on their side once. The race last a little over an hour and ended in the dark.
Remember the pond project. It's finished and looks great and even filling with water. Karl and Kristin's house is in the background and the green patch of grass you see was the old pond where Mark got his track hoe stuck.
 This is an old abandoned railroad right-of-way on our farm just north of Eddyville. It's about 15 feet deep and 90 feet wide and about a quarter mile long. What surprises me is that this right-of-way is on 1875 county maps which was before motors were invented. Can you imagine how long and how much work it would take horses and slips to get this built?
 I tried to cross a ditch spraying this week that was wet. Thanks to Eddie, a neighbor by the Denney farm, for pulling me out. The corn is growing so fast it is going to be a race to get it sprayed before the rows close.
I lost a friend and fellow farmer this week when his tractor was hit by a semi near West Branch.
 Tom's family and our family had mutual friends. He and I have been DeKalb dealers together for 25 years. We saw each other often promoting our love of agriculture. We've been to Hawkeye games together. We have both received the Master Farmer award recently. He will be missed. My sympathies to his wife Anita and their three children, and to his parents, John and Mary Ellen.
Tom was killed on the anniversary date of another friend of mine who lost his battle with cancer three years ago. 
My hope and goal is to stay humble when folks speak good and kind when they speak bad.
 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Finishing and Starting

This past Friday evening our oldest grandson, Gideon, graduated from 8th grade at Osky Christian. As Gideon finishes grade school he starts the rest of life that God has planned for him.
 Grandsons Cody, Ethan, and Gideon stood together in their choir performance. Cody and Ethan are in 7th grade.
Congratulations to Brad and Julie on welcoming Brooklynn into their family this week. Brad and Julie are neighbors and Brad works with us farming.
 Rosie has been part of our families life for 40 years. Her and her husband rented their farm to Jan and I when we were just getting started farming. This week we helped Rosie move from White Oak Estates to North Mahaska Nursing.
 It was fun to see and visit with cousin Bill and his wife Noreen last Sunday. Bill is taking up fishing as he enjoys retirement. Bill started his career trucking livestock. Then he got in the insurance business and finished up his working days as a bank president.
 Kurt, Emily, and Jackson also came by last Sunday. After a Ranger ride Kurt helped Jackson start fishing.
We did a fair amount of custom spraying for CPS this week. Yesterday Karl and I pulled into a field where the farmer was just starting to think about getting a crop in.
 You never want to be in a hurry south of Eddyville around the double railroad tracks that go through southern Iowa. This is the route the Amtrack as well as many coal and freight trains use all the time. A freight train came by just as I was approaching the tracks on a gravel road with no lights or bars.
 I was a little slow in getting the sweetcorn sprayed and grass had started emerging so I worked on weeds the old fashion way.
 In some ways we are finishing up as most of our crops are in and emerged. In other ways we are just starting a crop season as we look forward to harvest.
Those folks that took a chance on the weather got some decent hay baled yesterday. Starting and finishing the hay crop in Iowa is usually a challenge with our diverse moisture, temp, and humidity.
 The dike on the new pond project across from Karl and Kristin's house is complete. It just needs some finishing touches with the black dirt around the edges and on the toe.
 Mike and Suzanne had some graduation get-togethers to go to this weekend in NW Iowa so Mike put in some overtime late in the week pushing clay with rain in the forecast for next week. Once you start the dike on a pond it's a little tough to finish if there is water in the bottom.
 This is a start of a new day outside our motel window in downtown Peoria, Illinois Thursday morning. While visiting with folks from all over the country Wednesday evening and Thursday, two things came to mind. At a corn milling conference most participants include business, science, and government, however just about all had and appreciated a connection with the farm. And relationships have more value than occupation.
Pastor Bill from the Nazarene church lives on a farm northeast of town next to a place we farm. He did a great job talking to 8th graders about God's plan for them in life as they finish one stage of their lives and start another.
Next week is Memorial Day when we remember. Whether we are graduating from school and just starting our lives or moving to a retirement home and are close to finishing, God has put us where we are, has a plan for us, and wants us to finish strong for Him.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Listening

Last week Sunday the kids and grandkids brought over dinner for Mother's Day. It was fun and made Jan's day special. I enjoyed listening to the conversations. It made me thankful once again for family.
Our shop office has been a collecting point for clothes that come out of vehicles or when the day gets warm. So Jan had me bring them all in the house where she washed them and we set them out hoping the girls would recognize their kid's and husband's clothes and take them home. 
After lunch some went fishing. Jackson is fishing out of a bucket. He should have pretty good luck because that's the bucket his cousins are putting their caught fish in.
We finished off Mother's Day with a graduation party and then a visit to Jan's sister and her husband.
Alex left me a message that he was going to start planting beans very early Monday morning. I brought him more seed at 6 a.m. He finished 130 acres before getting rained out.
A rainy day job is to break down pro boxes and load them on a semi that returns them to the seed plant. We had lots of help and loaded 2 loads Friday morning.
Remember last week I told you about the boys starting to build a pond.
They were able to clear the brush and dig the core last week between rains. Digging the core is when you push the black dirt back on the toe or back of the dike. Then you dig down under the dike until you get good compacting clay. Finally you build your dike out of clay so the pond won't leak. The last job is to level off the black dirt up and down the back of the toe so it grows grass.
Mark ordered new rails for his track hoe. That meant he had to remove all the pads off of the old rails and install them on the new ones. He and Elijah put the tracks back on his hoe with the help of a skid loader Thursday.
Karl got some spraying in for CPS on Thursday and Friday. Below he is spraying burndown next to Cargill/Eddyville. Burndown means you kill weeds with spray rather than tillage.
Jan keeps busy and does an awesome job of helping folks have a meeting place for their get-togethers. Our cabin has been extra busy with graduation parties. Last evening I counted close to 60 vehicles on our yard at one time.
I am blessed to work with a great bunch of guys. When it rains, life slows down a bit. We usually end up working in the shop together on repairs where we visit and listen and plan. 
Leadership often involves more listening than talking.
This is my first tractor. I bought it 43 years ago from my Dad. I sold it to Irvin and Byron when I thought I needed a bigger tractor. 21 years later I bought it back. When I was young I put on a chrome stack instead of a muffler. Since their were few tractor cabs in those days it made for a noisy tractor and probably effected my hearing and listening abilities today.
There are three things you probably should not listen too closely to or it might worry you needlessly. Old tractors have their own personal noises that make you wonder if they are going to break down. 
Listening to long range weather forecast is about a 50/50 proposition. It might rain in two weeks. It might not. I usually ask Mike. He says it always rains 100 days after a fog and keeps track. 
Listening too closely to rumors of folks speaking ill and falsely about you can be hard on your health. Don't let bad people ruin a good week. Solomon said in Eccl. 7:21-22 "Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you. For you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others".
Finally, even though I don't know who you are I occasionally pray for you and this morning I'm asking you if you would return the favor. I have been asked to speak at a Corn Milling Conference this coming week in Peoria, Illinois. They are asking for a farm family's perspective on the economics of corn farming. I hope to use the picture below to close out my talk by saying it takes more than planning, technology, production, and marketing. It takes Divine intervention with the proper amount of precipitation and sunshine. Thank you friends.