Sunday, November 19, 2017

Vertical And Horizonal Application

I often wonder what you folks would like to visit about. My ideas usually come from our jobs during the work week. An explanation of what we are up to. And then an application to how it all fits together in life.  
When we chisel cornstalks we are getting ready for another corn crop next year. Soybeans are forgiving and can be easily no-tilled in last years crop residue. However you want to plan for a corn crop not to have a bad day. The deep rippers on this tillage trip go about 14 inches deep and is the vertical operation. Their job is to break up compaction. This allows the soils to better receive and hold next years rains rather than have the water run off in a sheet like fashion. It also really helps develop strong corn roots. The disk on the front and back of these machines are designed to stir, mix, and bury previous crop residue in the soil structure. This is the horizontal action. Burying old crop residue builds organic material. Cover crop these days are designed do the same thing. You still need a percentage of that residue in the top soil profile to prevent erosion.
Last year I asked you folks who these birds were and where they all come from during a tillage trip. Dale called and told me they were sea gulls and they come from Lake Red Rock. I tend to agree with him. I certainly wonder how they figure out who is chiseling and where so they can come and eat the exposed bugs and worms. I have even seen them eat mice.
We had the lug nuts come loose on a chisel and lost a wheel. The hub was ruined and the rim was totally egged out from not catching it in time. So we had to weld new rings in the center of the wheel.
Our wire welder was out of Argon gas so I plugged in my favorite old stick welder. This 300 amp Craftsman welder is a 1946 model according to the serial number. My father-in-law gave it to me 25 years ago when he got a new one. This is the welder our kids learned to weld with. It's also the one our grandkids ask if they can practice welding with. This 71 year old machine has used truckloads of welding rods. It helped build Jan's father's first hybrid truck/tractor. It was part of the first tractor pulling sled at the Southern Iowa Fairgrounds in the early 1960s. It helped build the stage on wheels that Central Reformed Church used when they had services at the drive-in theater on the west side of Oskaloosa. 
BJ and Andy have been tiling all week. Tile needs fall. The extra water in soil finds these perforated tubes and run down hill via gravity. This is the vertical application. Pattern tiling is when you place tile in the whole farm about 30-40 feet apart in a pattern. A pattern tile job cost close to $1000/acre. A tile about 4 feet deep can pull water about a rod in both directions in the soil. This is the horizontal application. Southern Iowa soils greatly benefit from tiling because our sub soils  have a far amount of tight clay. 
Recently a visitor asked Linda, our bookkeeper, what the cross on our shop office was for. She shared how it just showed up one day and was laying by the door. Just like a cross on a necklace it reminds us and our visitors of Christ's gift to us. However I think it also has a second application. The vertical 4x4 points up. Our operation is dependent on God. The horizontal 4x4 points out both directions. We are also dependent one way on each other working together, and the other way on the folks we work for including landlords and custom work.  
Week two of Jan's project is slow coming along. No friends, it's not going to be a graven image.:) Stay tuned.
BJ and Cassia's new home has a vertical and horizontal application. Vertical is the foundation, the rafters, the walls, the strength, the protection from the elements. 
Horizontal is the floor plan, the windows, the doors, the wrap around porch. Horizontal is planning the kitchen for meals together. The individual rooms for raising a family. The family room for having guests over. The porch for enjoying time together.
Speaking of homes, I stopped at Keith and Gloria's place to drop off a seed order. I was reminded again that this was the place I lived when I started kindergarten. Cal and Irene and their big family lived just east up the lane where Dale and Nancy live now. That was four generations ago.:)
The sprayer has been in the warm shop waiting to be winterized. It takes about 60 gallon of RV antifreeze through it's system so parts don't freeze and break when it sits in a machine shed during our cold winters. Matt started pouring in jugs and Ryan helped me finish yesterday.
Last evening The Family Leader had their "Celebrate The Family" event. Ben, a US Senator from Nebraska was the keynote speaker. He is 45 years old and is serving his first term. He talked about relationships, family, and community and how we were created to be needed in our jobs and relationships.
Speaking of family, the time kids spend with their parents is the vertical part of growing up. The "roots" of growing up are being established when kids feel loved and needed. They learn to work, responsibility, and others by helping outside the home. They learn they are not the center of life, however totally loved. They learn relationships and self worth hanging around their folks and other adults in the work place. I realize this isn't possible in many jobs. 
Interacting with siblings, cousins, and friends is the horizontal part of kids growing up. Playing together, sharing, going to school together, and working on Grandma's jobs together develop those roots that started with hanging out with their parents when they were young. No matter what they do in life when they grow up folks can never take away those character traits.
Judy is a jewel. She loves the Lord and people. She and Brent were married at our place a few years back. Brent unexpectedly and suddenly passed away yesterday morning. Judy, Justin, Cary, and family, we promise to keep you in our thoughts and prayers this coming week and in the future. We also promise to keep Diane, Verlan, and the rest of Brent's siblings in prayer during this loss.
Those of us that have grown up in church remember learning sin, salvation, service. The catechism calls it misery, deliverance, and gratitude. The first part, sin and misery is often the "life sucks" down here on earth. The second part, Salvation and deliverance is the vertical part of our faith. It's when God gifted us with a relationship with Him and helps us, especially during our hard times. This part is the truth and roots of our faith. It's love God with all your heart part. Sometimes I think the church forgets to talk about the third part of what we believe. The horizontal part. The service to others out of gratitude to God for helping us. The fruit producing part because of those earlier roots. The love your neighbor as much or more than you love yourself part. The everyday practical stuff. The relationships Ben talked about last night. Have a good week. And let's work on the service and gratitude part of our faith this Thanksgiving week.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Called To Honor

Yesterday was set aside to honor veterans. At the state football playoffs yesterday a coach from each team was selected to be recognized. Jeff from Iowa City Regina and son, Mike, from Pella Christian were selected and honored for their service to our country. Mike was in the Marines from 1995-1999.
The Pella Christian football team made the state playoffs this year and played at the UNI dome yesterday. Even though they lost a close game by two points they gave it their all. Thanks to the players, the coaches, the cheerleaders, and the fans for a good showing.
I was honored to help Andy with his plan yesterday. On Friday evening he asked if he could make a quick trip to Des Moines. He was planning on chiseling his new farm on Saturday afternoon and asked Amara to ride along. He placed a large rock in a waterway with an engagement ring underneath it. While chiseling together they noticed the rock  and Andy asked Amara if she would help him pick it up. I wasn't there for the details however Amara found the ring. Andy asked if she would marry him. Amara said yes! Congratulations both of you. Love, honor, and cherish are words that make for a great marriage. Honor involves recognizing the value of your spouse and your relationship.
Friday morning has been our chilliest morning so far. Around 5:45 I received a call from Andy that my pickup had died at Casey's in New Sharon. After helping him try all the correct ways of getting it started like recycling the ignition a bunch and removing and replacing the battery cables we finally just went with the old reliable way and used a can of either. I'm not sure why it decided to be contrary unless it was actually cold enough to jell diesel fuel.
Last Tuesday Kyle came with his crane and helped Jeremiah and BJ put up truss rafters. Jeremiah hopes to have BJ and Cassia's new home enclosed in two weeks.
Last Sunday afternoon Jan and I drove over to check on building progress, walk through the floor plan, and dream about the future of BJ and Cassia's new home. We also wrote Bible verses on the stud walls and framing. Family and friends have been writing verses on their new home for a couple of weeks now as they come and visit. If you would like to come, see progress, and write your favorite verse this is your invite. Struggles in life like losing a home to a fire make us dependent. Writing Bible verses honors God. It also reminds us where our help comes from. Psalms 121 reminds us where our help comes from. Your homework for today.
Getting ready for next years crop is in full gear. Kurt and Alex have been busy applying NH3. NH3 is anhydrous ammonia. It's a nitrogen source for next years corn crop. It's comes in those white tanks you see running around the country side these days. It can be dangerous. It's what burned the cornea off both BJ's eyes in an accident four years ago. We still thank God for the miracle of BJ's site today.
Karl and I have been hauling hog manure. It's also a source of fertilizer for our corn crop. Corn produces hogs. Hogs produce manure. Manure produces corn. It's a cycle in farming country that helps feeding the world stay economical. Thanks to American agriculture we spend less percentage of our income on food  than anyone else in the world. I've been to Africa three or four times helping folks farm. Just about 100% of their time, energy, and resources go into keeping their families fed.
We have also been spreading dry fertilizer for ourselves and others. This source is mainly phosphorus and potash. These minerals are taking up by the crop next growing season.
Mike took a break from dozing a couple of days and helped chisel corn stalks. Our family grows a lot of continuous corn. That means a corn crop every year rather than rotating to soybeans every other year. Continuous corn builds organic matter in the soil as does cover crop as the old crop residue rots and is worked back into the soil.
Sometimes crop residue such as these corn stalks are used for cattle feed and bedding. Then the cattle manure is spread back on the acres that were used for harvesting corn stalks. I'm raking and BJ baled these stalks for Kurt who feeds cattle for our landlord and friend, Jerry.
In the old days the fields around the farm building sites were the most fertile because the old timers always spread their livestock manure close to home. The past two weeks we have been tankering hog manure to farther away locations for others. Thanks to Jim, Matt, and Pablo for keeping this outfit running. 
I took the time to gather some used tires for Jan's next project. Stay tuned. You will enjoy her next venture.
 Honoring others has an impact on folks. It inspires them. It even empowers them. God calls us to love our neighbor as much or more than we love ourselves. That means giving others credit, maybe even for some of our own success. That's not always so easy. We want to feel self made.
 Dishonoring others either intentionally or unintentionally has an impact on folks as well. Discrediting, humiliating, degrading, to make less of, and diminishing other's efforts can take the feet right out from under a person like the steer in the pic below. If you listen to the news today (which I no longer do) our culture is constantly pointing out the failures of others and blaming others. It's not productive and does nothing for self esteem even though that's why we often do it.
Today is Sunday. Today is set aside to honor God. How do we do that? We rest from our work. We go to church. We talk to God and teach our kids and grandkids to talk to God. Finally out of gratitude for what God does for us we reach out and honor others. Take care. Thanks for your time. Let's visit again next week.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Investing In Others Pays Returns

Success is worthless if you don't have people to share it with, no matter how you define success. Investing in others pays back in a number of ways. Often it feels like surrender. However surrender brings blessings you never expect. Also God has so invested in us, even giving His Son. We can say thank you and become His hands and feet by investing in others.
Kurt farms for Gary southwest of Lovilia. The crop comes out of the bottom via a steep narrow dirt road. Unlike the little engine that said, "I think I can", Flames didn't quite make it out.
Thanks Andy for helping pull it up to the road. Thanks Gary for loaning your vintage V8 Massey Ferguson to unload the broken truck. Thanks Pablo for helping unload. Thanks BJ for helping get it pulled to Brett at the repair shop for a new rear end.
Thanks Lucas for bringing us lunch while we were harvesting for Bill and Kathy in Poweshiek County.
Duane and Sue are friends. Our kids grew up together. Duane works in Des Moines and often invests time with folks who have never experienced harvest. These fellows came out after work to ride in the combines.

Kenny is an Amish furniture and cabinet builder near Drakesville. Jan saved some lumber from our old home and had him build us a bed headboard and matching endtables. The bed spread is one of Jan's dozens of quilts.
Mark lives near St. Louis and is a business coach. I met him through Monsanto. We became friends and visit regularly. He invests in folks and exists for one reason, to help folks both personally and professionally. Most of his clients are involved in agriculture. He helps leaders grow their capacity to think ahead more, evaluate options, manage growth, work together, and help lead change in the challenges of production agriculture. He visited our farm this past week and met our family.
Thanks to Alex, Jim, Pablo, Kasey, Andy, Matt, as well as Ryan and Linda (not pictured) for helping us out, being responsible, caring, working hard, and having the ability to manage and handle decisions when we as a family have other commitments or doing other things on the farm.
Mike has invested in kids for years through coaching football at PCHS. This past Friday evening the PC football team won their game to advance to the state tournament at the UNI- Dome in Cedar Falls this coming Saturday morning. Below is Mike, Suzanne, and Cody.
Yesterday our church had a work day at Lake View Camp. Joe and Diana invest in kids through camps. About 75 folks worked together on a variety of projects. I didn't get around to every project however I'd like to show you a number of things folks did as they invested for other's good.
Jerry mowed several areas of the camp that needed an annual mowing.
Mike and Cody built a building pad for a future building.
Paul worked with folks cutting wood and chipping mulch.
BJ cleaned timber and widened trails with his "tree eater upper" as Hanna calls it. :)
Hanna and her help brought kids to the timber and loaded up a pickup load of hedge balls that they sell for the oil.
Royce, Leon, Arvin, and others ran chain saws on trails and for firewood. Doug, Ben, Luke, and others split firewood.
Laurel, Cal, Bert, Tony, Pastor Paul, and others mulched a huge pile of brush into Cal's spreader and Bert's tractor and then spread the mulch on trails.
Jan and the gals prepared lunch for everyone. Below are granddaughters  Allison, Natalie, and Adali, who helped.
Eric brought his service truck and serviced a number of camp vehicles.
Ben moved a pile of dirt around the service garage. Many of the gals also cleaned and organized around the cabin areas. I know I'm forgetting folks and jobs. I'm sorry. There was a prayer table folks could go to and pray for camp kids or any other needs.
Kasey works for us part time. He has lived and worked with his grandfather for a long time. He is farming his grandfather's farm this coming year. Just last week he and his grandfather chiseled their field together.
Tuesday morning Rollin had a stroke and passed away. I had the privilege of meeting Kasey's grandfather for the first time at our customer appreciation supper in August. Rollin had invested in his grandson with his time, advice, and experiences. In his senior years he was getting paid back by Kasey living with and helping take care of his grandfather. Rollin had worked at the Oskaloosa Sale barn for nearly 30 years and knew my father. Our sympathies to his twin brother, Roscoe and his sisters, his wife Vina, and the rest of his family including our helper and friend, Kasey.