Sunday, August 13, 2017

Buxton: Remembered, Reclaimed, And Restored

From 1895 till around 1920 the coal mining town of Buxton had a population of 7,000 to 10,000 people. It was located east of Lovilla on the Mahaska-Monroe County line. Although it was known for being mostly colored folks there were European and Asian immigrants as well. The town has been remembered for having no segregation which was unusual for that time frame. History remembers folks being taken care of. Buxton was a company town. They had homes, schools, parks, a YMCA, and many stores. The companies security guards acted as the police force. The Monroe Mercantile Store opened in 1901 and employed 100 people till it burned down in 1911.
Last Sunday afternoon while on a ride with Donna and Arlin looking at crops we happened onto this has-been town. There are remains of about 4 old buildings. The grass around the area was neatly mowed. Most of the rest of the town is now forest or farmland.   
As we were driving from Lovilla to Pleasantville we crossed North Cedar Creek and saw this covered bridge in Marion County built in 1894. It was bypassed by a Missouri crossing in 2011. It is now private owned and has been restored.
Jackson and Malaki came across this old 4-wheeler in the machine shed across the road that their older cousins used to ride. They rummaged everywhere looking for the seat. A most important part in their little minds. Then came the endless question of asking if we could fix it. Kurt told them it needed a carburetor. That was their new word for the rest of the day.
The corn around here is dying meaning harvest could be just three weeks away. So different folks are in charge of getting different pieces of equipment ready. Andy is in charge of Flames. The crew is helping him replace brakes. Jim will be getting in grain trailers Monday.
A requirement for CRP acres that have been reentered into the program is that they be mowed after August 1. So we have been busy mowing acres for others. This field was tall and ugly.
However Ryan and I reclaimed the field back from the Indians and got it mowed. We cleaned off the mowers before we headed home.
2017 will be a year remembered for a number of things. It will be remembered for BJ and Cassia and family losing a home. However it will also be remembered for building another one close on the same yard. Jeremiah (builder), Brett (cement), and BJ are staking out the new basement.
2017 will be remembered for being dry, especially in our area. The cracks in the ground are large enough to lose a pliers as the old timers used to say. It takes a dry season to appreciate all the many years that rain so faithfully came, many in just the nick of time, over the past years. The corn crop yield is determined due to it's maturity. We should have ears start to black layer (meaning the kernels are finished) by late next week. The soybean plant pods are drying up and falling on the ground. Since pod development on soybeans are continual a rain would kick them back in gear however we are quickly running out of growing season as beans decide to mature based on sunlight hours and length of days. 
As we were mowing CRP acres near Eddyville yesterday afternoon I noticed the Muchakinock Creek in that area was basically dry. This creek starts just north of Vermeer's near Pella and empties in the Des Moines River on the north edge of Eddyville. Although it may have happened before I have not seen this creek down to a trickle in the 40 years I have lived on this side of town.
Since we were having folks over for supper Wednesday evening and since our rock road is about two inches deep in dust Karl spread about 8 loads of water out of the pond for dust control. Water also reactivates the dust control already put down in front of our yard.
I didn't get a picture during supper Wednesday. However I enjoy this pic and would like to share it. We enjoy each others company getting ready. Helping each other out for a common cause rejuvenates friendships. Grandson Ethan is on the ladder. Kasey, Andy, and Pablo are helping. Kurt is watching. :) Just kidding. Again, Kudos to Jan who planned and prepared food for around 100 folks more than we have ever had before. And again, the amounts she prepared turned out just right.
Our evening was a success. Our goal is appreciation and fellowship. If you think about it fellowship happens around food. We serve coffee time when folks come to visit our home. Business folks often bring over breakfast pizza or donuts at 7 am when wanting to catch us in the shop. This morning the extended Terpstra family is getting together here for church and a reunion and again Jan is planning a meal. Food was also the center of get-togethers in Bible times. Remember Martha telling Jesus to have her sister Mary help her in the kitchen because they had so much company. Remember the disciples asking Jesus where they were going to find so much food when 5000 folks and again later 4000 folks were following and Jesus said to feed them. Remember Jesus used the last supper to explain to His disciples he was going to be killed by church leaders. The young folks below are Olivia, Hanna, Moriah, who I like to call Gracie, Johanna, Ki, and grandsons Ethan, Cody, and Gideon.
This is Alex, Jim, Pablo, Kasey, Andy, Matt, and Ryan got left before I could get a picture. Many of these guys have other jobs and help out part time. They are positive and see work often without being asked. Many folks look for the worst in people. These guys see the best in people. Who do you suppose is happier? These guys are a joy to be around and feel like family. At the Willow Creek Leadership Summit Friday a speaker said to hire folks that are better at things than you are. He also said not to hire folks you need but that you're going to need. These guys are helping our family get to wherever  God is planning on taking us. This harvest season will be different however I'm looking forward to it.
As much as we imperfect earthly fathers love each and every one of our children our heavenly Father loves His children down here on earth more than we will ever know. Just like Buxton God knows no segregation. He doesn't base His love on our performance. So often we forget Him, only talk to Him when we need something or are in trouble, and fail to surrender our accomplishments to His credit and glory. Still God takes our hand and says, "I'm not beside you to take your troubles away. I'm here to help you through them. The One that made us remembers us, reclaims us when we walk out, and restores us for the future plans he has for us.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Is Caring For Real

Caring is displaying kindness and concern for others. It's intentional. It's not just a feeling that may come and go. It's a way of life. Not just an occasional good deed. It's an action. It's not the thought that counts.
I'm sure you've experienced a conversation where someone asked you how things were going. As you were in the process of sharing with them you could tell they were totally unengaged or uninterested. We feel understood, accepted, and valued when folks care for real. 
Any guesses where this picture was taken? Actually it's the manure pit of a hog shed. The only time it would be safe down here would be before it was used. 
I was surprised to get this snap from Karl with his new hog shed progress. The foreman said it usually takes his crew of 17 guys just three days to frame and side a 277 foot long building. 
We mowed CRP acres for Jim this past week in the southern part of our county. We started out with two tire tractors. This is Kasey and Kurt on the evening I brought them supper.
However after a number of flat tires due to small sharp tree stems we had to switch to a track tractor.
It was a rewarding experiencing getting to know Jim since we had not met before. We talked about the old days. We talked about the little country church he and his wife attend just across the field. I asked him if he minded showing me. Many of us have a lifetime of memories from our church family. He said many of his friends were in the adjoining cemetery including his brother and daughter. 
Jim loaded me up with tomatoes and watermelons. Jan made the tomatoes into salsa and brought it out for coffeetime during our sidewalk project. 
Jan likes river rock added to our concrete around our home. You wash the gravel, then throw it over the poured concrete and trowel it in. After a couple of hours you wash off the top of the concrete to expose the river gravel. After the concrete is totally dry you spray on a cure and seal to protect it and make it shiny.
It's always good to have plenty of help during a "pour". I'm thankful for Ryan, Matt, Andy, BJ, Gideon, and Seth and his kids who helped after returning a tractor.
It's interesting. Once in a while I'll go back and read a blog from exactly a year ago to try and get a perspective. The first week of August in 2016  I slipped down this hill on a piece of plywood during a rain and hurt my shoulder. :) Sometimes it takes me a while to get things finished.
Chopping silage crossways across our seed plot has become an annual event. It means fall is close. It also means our annual supper is next week.
For the past 28 years we clean the shop, invite customers, folks we do business for and with, friends, and family to join us for supper and good conversation.
The evening supper is come and go anytime however we will have a few speakers greet us around 6:30 including Dekalb, Becks, and Cargill/Eddyville folks. Ray, who retired from Eddyville will be here. There will also be tables set up with folks who can help you out with drone imagery and precision planting equipment. This is your official invitation if you would like to come out and say hello.
We all care about our communities. Do we care for real? Last evening there was a gospel concert in the square of Oskaloosa. It was really good to see so many folks come out and enjoy the music as well as each others company. 
Last evening at the concert Tim mentioned that during hard times folks pray hard, however they don't surrender. Caring for real is surrendering. Surrendering to God to be in charge of our lives. Surrendering to others our time, even when we are busy. With our talents, finding ways to be a coach and an encourager. And with our treasures, even when we are not always sure what the future holds. Surrender brings blessings we never expect. Go, have a blessed week.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Steps and Stages

I'm often asked, "What's happening on the farm these days?" Well, Ryan and Matt helped me form up some steps from our house sidewalk down to where I walk to the shop.
 Once we get the steps poured Jan can finish planning her landscape around our front door.
 Remember the pallet racks we talked about a couple of weeks ago? Well, we got them assembled. Then we filled them. That was the first step in getting our machine shed organized.
 I helped sell hogs while Karl and Kristin were gone for a couple of days. I like the hog sheds these days. Karl already had them sorted and ready to load. Back in the day I would get the kids up on Monday mornings about 5 am and we would sort 34 head, load them on our straight truck, and deliver them to Ottumwa. If we had time we would stop at McDonalds on the way home before school.
 One of the steps of loading hogs in the summer time is to start by attaching a garden hose to the semi trailer and mist the hogs continually during and after loading.
 Karl and Kristin's second building is progressing. The concrete is finished. The slats are set and Kurt is backfilling the overdig.
 I hauled a load of oats to Marv that Eugene had combined for Fred. I appreciated Hanna, Eugene's daughter, helping.
 Jan has a lot of flowers and plants all over our yard. Since it's been so dry they need a drink several times a week so Jan spends hours watering.
 All of our first year trees have been thirsty and even our trees planted two and three years ago were looking tough with dead and shriveled leaves so we have been watering them as well usually 24 hours at a time. It's hard to go through all the work to plant them and then lose them on a dry summer.
We have been watering the second batch of sweet corn non stop all week. Between the flowers, trees, and sweet corn I counted 5 garden hoses on 4 different hydrants strung around our yard. 
 One of the first steps in getting ready for harvest is to inspect the equipment, repair and replace worn parts, and make sure things will be in reliable shape.
 The thought process that comes with no rain happens in steps and stages. There's the planning, the planting, the tending to, the satisfaction, and the appreciation for a promising result. Then there comes the hope, the watching the weather, and the wondering how long the crop will wait. Finally there's the realization the crop is suffering, and the process of watching parts of the field slowly die.
 Then the planning stage starts again. Harvest will be early. There may be aflatoxin, a fungus that grows on stressed plants. Conversations start with crop insurance folks. Communications stay open with grain merchants since much of our crop is already sold. And finally the step of thinking about the possibilities of replacing lost crop income with something else.
 We have all experienced different stages of our lives. When we were young we have all gone through the stage of wishing we were older so we could keep up with the big kids and help outside all day.
Some of you are in the stage of starting your career or raising a family.  Many of you are like me. You're past your prime however you don't feel that old yet. Except when the younger generation calls you Grandpa. My friend Steve sent me an interesting article about farming and marketing that said there have only been around 240 generations since the beginning of time and only the last 160 of those generations have grown crops as a business. If you think about it only about 4 generations have farmed with tractors.
Carl was one of those farmers from the generation that experienced and watched the transition from horses to horsepower. Carl liked cattle. He enjoyed spending time order buying cattle for folks with his brother Willis. The past few years we mowed and baled Carl's hay for him. He was a friend that would stop at our shop and ask, "Where is BJ? I think it's time to mow hay." He was at the fair last Saturday morning enjoying folk's company and the 4-H auction. He had a heart attack and passed away at his home later that same day. Carl experienced all the steps and stages of life. Including meeting his Lord and Savior. He was well remembered. Crops, lack of rain, and a "to do" list take a back seat to being a friend and taking the time to have a relationship with folks.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Investing In The Next Generation

As you drive around the countryside these days you see farmsteads no longer used or cared about. We hear about fewer farmers, all the jobs being in town, and kids not wanting to come back to the farm. I'm suggesting maybe some of the previous generation of these old places either didn't see the value of their kids coming back to the farm, didn't think there was room for them and their kids, or didn't invest the resources, time, and effort to help the next generation stay.
In the 1972 movie, "The Cowboys" John Wayne is a rancher in Bozeman, Montana. His help leaves him because of the gold rush so he goes to a school house and ask these kids if they would like a job driving cattle to a rail terminal.
Over the course of the movie John Wayne invests in theses kids by teaching them how to drive cattle, how to get along, how to handle adversity, and finally how to love and care about him and each other. John Wayne gets shot by bad guys who steal his cattle. Before he dies he tells these boys how they have become better at this job than he is. The kids get the cattle back and finish the job.
The destination for that cattle drive in the movie is Belle Fourche, a rail terminal town. Jan and I spent some time in Belle Fourche last week while we were in South Dakota. It still has an active cattle salebarn. In the late 1800s cattle from as far away as Texas were driven on hoof to Belle Fourche to be loaded on railcars and taken east to slaughter.
My two favorite pioneers when I was a kid were Daniel Boone and Wild Bill Hickok. They lived at different times. Daniel Boone pioneered in the Cumberland Gap area in Kentucky and Tennessee and died in 1820. Wild Bill Hickok lived 50 years later and died in this town, Deadwood, in the Black Hills as it was called before it became a state. Jan and I also visited here last week.
Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, and Doc Holiday were all outlaws early in their lives and lawmen later. Wild Bill Hickok never liked sitting with his back to the door. However one night he did while playing poker in Deadwood. He was shot by Jack McCall, an unsuccessful gambler. McCall was tried by a miners jury and was acquitted. Later after bragging about killing Bill he was rearrested, tried in Yankton, and sentenced to death. He was hung and was buried with the noose around his neck.
Anyhow, back to why we were really in the Black Hills. Jan and I attended the Cadet Camporee church service near Custer. About 1000 boys and counselors camped for a week here in the hills making their own shelters, cooking their own food, and hauling their own water. Kudos to the men who used their vacation time this year to invest in these boys lives.
Jan and I had two grandsons, Ethan and John, as well as other local boys attend. It was fun to see their camp, meet their counselors, go to a church service, and have lunch with them.
Well, I have too many pictures this week and my time is getting away on this Sunday morning so I'm going to try and speed up before I lose you all. This is Gideon baling straw. 
This is Kasey, Kurt, Andy, and Alex loading on a very hot day.
We are trying to fix the twisters on a very ornery wire tie baler.
After 400 bales we just gave up and went and got backup, BJ and his round baler.
A straw baling day would not be complete without jumping in the pond afterwards. And of course our cowboys go and get the tallehand and see how high they dare to jump.
We rescued a Cat dozer at the neighbors this week with Mark's excavator. The dozer was pushing fill dirt out of an old drained pond.
It wouldn't be summer at our house without sweet corn. We have a couple of batches because of planting dates and maturities. This is our first.
Sometimes investing in the next generation means letting cousins jump on Grandma's couch.
I think 4-H is an excellent opportunity to invest in the next generation. Below Charlie is receiving his award for showmanship.
I think kids having 4-H projects gives them experience on purchasing, chores, recordkeeping, and selling. It can be large animals like cattle and hogs, or small animals like rabbits and chickens. I try and invest in the next generation of community kids by being an active buyer of their livestock projects at the 4-H auction.
Well, finally I hesitate to bring this subject up because my goal is to always have a positive visit with you. However I usually come up with material for our visits based by what's on my mind. I generally share my heart even though that's a vulnerable thing to do. And I found out when visiting at the fair that's it's on everyone else's mind as well. Over the last four hot, dry days we are starting to lose significant crop in parts of our community. Below Karl is getting a load of water out of our pond to try and save some sweet corn and vegetables.
I do need to tell you that since our family farms in a variety of areas we do have farms that have gotten significant rain. We have beans in the well watered areas that are waist high. These beans here at home were planted April 14. They are around a foot tall and are starting to die on the weak soils. We will have to decide next week whether or not to spray for spider mites, a pest that comes with drought, or let them go until it rains. We have had a half inch of rain at home here since late May.
I have experienced significant droughts in my career however not in the last 30 years. This field of corn was tall, dense, and dark green just two weeks ago. It's amazing how good some of these weak spots in the fields looked while waiting on moisture however the hot, dry summer is finally taking it's toll. Even though it's on my mind and it is of concern I want you to know we will be fine even if it doesn't rain for the rest of the summer. What I learned from all those droughts 30 years ago is that the One (God) who is in charge of the rain also loves me and I have a history (His-story) of being taken care of. The hard part for me is not worrying. The hard part for me is watching the ones I love and care about worry. I also realize it's hard when it rains on some folks and not others. When I was young God used droughts to keep me dependent on Him. I reckon He's doing the same thing to the next generation. Remember life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you handle it. Enjoy the rest of your summer and watch for ways to invest in others.