Sunday, October 4, 2015

Paying Attention

When I was a kid my brother Dan and I would have to feed cattle. My job was to climb the silo and throw out the silage. Are any of you old enough to remember you had to fork it out evenly in layers? My brother was to scoop full the 16 foot cattle bunks below walking in the bunks. However Dan would get to singing or even preaching to the cattle instead of his job. The cattle would always watch and pay attention.
Do you give little people or big people your full attention when they want to talk with you? Do you really listen or are you just waiting to talk and tell them your ideas and opinions? Do you make yourself available to folks who want to visit? 
Since all the big grandkids are in school these days Jan is down to the young ones on Mondays. Allison and Natali are playing house with their youngest cousin Malaki covering him up with a blanket and talking to him. As you can see Malaki is giving them his full attention. He has little choice.
Thanks Kristin and Malaki for helping chisel this past week. You look good in green even though you grew up in red.
I have another oops story for you this week. When our kids were young they were always getting stuck in this one mudhole that was always wet. I would get on them for working too close. Well I have this one spot of cattails that we have tiled out and it's supposed to be dry. Right? Well, not quite. I thought if I just rip it up maybe it will drain better.
Our next biggest tractor was in Altoona for a repair so Mark took me there and I drove it the 70 miles home. Nope. Alex couldn't get me out with that tractor so it just sat there in the cattails for several days.
One day my friend called and said he noticed I had a tractor stuck along the 4-lane and asked if I would like his hired man to stop by on their way by and pull me out. Thanks Jason for paying attention and taking the time to help.
One thing I like about Iowa is we have "with-it gals". We were hooking up the bean head getting ready to cut beans on Ed and Mary's farm in Al and Verna's driveway. About that time a lady drove up. Since we didn't want to make her wait we motioned for her just to drive on through between the beanhead and the combine. She never missed a beat and just drove right through, no worries.
On Thursday and Friday our Christian School teachers went to Dordt for a conference so since their was no school we had plenty of graincart drivers. Thanks Ethan, John, Cody, and Gideon for all your help. Also thanks to Ezra, Elliott, and Zach for helping Grandpa and driving his Ranger.
We have three farms that the train goes right through on it's way to Cargill and back. Although the track is kind of a pain in the butt I enjoy the company.
I really like it when the help pays attention to what they are driving and helps keep it in good shape. Little things like putting in a new CB radio, mudflaps, or cleaning out the cab, greasing, and checking the oil. Thanks Pablo, Alex, Brad, and Matt for caring. Thanks to Linda and Paula for getting supplies on your own when we are busy in the field.
Cellphones and I-pads have changed the way we pay attention. In many ways they are good at staying in touch including this visit every week. Texts and emails are the way we communicate these days and doesn't instantly impose on folks as they can read it when they have time. However it seems like you are visiting folks without a face and I think sometimes a voice and a face to face are more appropriate.
Do you communicate with God and does He communicate back to you? You have to take the time to pay attention and listen. That's what my early mornings are for. Sometimes we like shoot God a text as we ask for something on the go. However a face to face in a quiet place sometimes even on our knees is what paying attention is all about and makes things happen.
I am reminding myself this time of year we need to pay attention to those we love and care about. It's not just our jobs that get in the way but also other good things like helping others with their problem solving and meetings and being involved in organizations.
It's a beautiful time of year. Have a good week, love and care about those around you, talk to God, and pay attention.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hurry Up-And Wait

Doesn't it seem like life happens faster than it used to? There are jobs to do, places to go, people to see, meetings to attend. And that doesn't even take into account the cell phone calls.
 We figure out ways to be more efficient, to get things done faster. Down time nowadays feels abnormal. It's not just in farming. Kids have to be out waiting for the bus by daylight it seems. We put more miles on in a day than our grandparents did in a year.
We get up early, get in line, and then we wait. The gals hurry to town to be on time to pick up the kids and then wait their turn. We return supposedly important phone calls only to hear, please wait while we transfer you.
 While our trucking crew gets up early to go to Cargill, our field crew starts just as early to service their machines, wash their windows, fix breakdowns with parts delivered to a drop box overnight, and load more trucks.
Zeiglar brought out a 16 row cornhead and encouraged us to demo it a couple of days. It can pick a semi load of corn in 15 minutes however the combine seems to have to wait some since the graincart can't keep up. Thanks for the visit Neil.
 Often I get to break out of the routine to help a customer calibrate his yield monitor or check on a field's yield. It's relaxing and there is less pressure. It also reminds me we were put here to help others. Thanks Ethan for helping Grandpa.
 One night BJ and I were in the field late loading trucks for morning. Karl and Kristin had just gone home with a load. On our way home we were stopped by a DOT officer which is unusual during the night. Many times these visits are no fun however this gentleman was exceptionally nice. He was out checking and weighing trucks. I'm thankful we were not overloaded.
 After being in the field all day Kurt drove to pick up a vehicle northwest of Minneapolis, MN. one night. He got home about 5am and jumped back in the combine. As you can see he was ready for some sleep by the end of the second day.
 Since the grandkids did not have school on Friday we had more grain cart drivers so I got some chiseling done. It's always energizing to watch the sun come up when working. On this particular morning it was rewarding to watch our guys come by with semi loads of beans on their way to the Mississippi River.
 John is in 4th grade I think. He is running grain cart for his dad and even unloading on the go. It's fun to hear him ask his dad questions on the 2-way.
 Yesterday morning I took a tire off to get fixed. It seemed quite heavy and I thought about using a forklift to load it in the pickup. Since it was 10:30 and the tire shop closed at noon I was in a hurry and I thought to myself, who uses a forklift. It's just a skidloader tire. Well I threw it in and now I am waiting for my back to feel better.
 Sometimes we even get in a hurry working for the Lord. We see something that needs fixed or could be improved and we want results soon. We even feel like we are failing if things don't happen or situations don't get corrected right away.
 God tells us to wait on Him. He is in charge. He chooses to use us even though He can get things done without us. He wants us to know and get out the truth. If He asks us to lead we need to do so in faith knowing He knows which way we are going. Have a good week. Thanks for the visit.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Out-standing In Your Field

Do you enjoy your work? Are you good at what you do? Is it ok to feel you're good at what you do?
God gives you your talents. He expects and wants you to use them. He allows you the stuff and things you have. He wants you to be your best. It's ok to feel we are good at what we do. The kicker is we are to do it for God's credit, not our own. 
One of the ways we show gratitude to God for who we are and what we have is to be sold out to helping others. We do that with not only our treasures, but also our time and our talents. Landlords, Ed and Mary, came out with some friends from Cambodia to have them experience harvest here in our country. 
Ezra, Elliott, and Zach helped Monday harvest their parent's, Becky and Brian, corn crop. 
One person who is outstanding in her field at keeping our place look liveable is Jan. She enjoys taking care of her yard and is good at it.
Emily and Jackson came out one afternoon as we were finishing up a field. A big benefit of our occupation is to have family around and helping.
We are applying plant food for next years crop. Along with the phosphorus and potash we are adding a little nitrogen to our corn on corn acres to help break up and turn this past years residue into organic matter.
I'm on a committee that works to help our local Christian schools to be more efficient by working together. Since this was Jason's last meeting he brought a large pizza sized cookie made by his wife, Charisa, for coffeetime. Thanks Jason. It was great getting to know you and working with you.
Along with our 4 trucks for hauling corn to Cargill we have 4 others helping as well. Special thanks to the De Ronde, the Harris, and the Van Utrecht trucks for helping us keep the combines rolling.
Friday noon a storm rolled in from the south and it got so dark it looked like evening. We received 3 inches of rain on Thursday and Friday. The fields are starting to get soft. 
After we got rained out on Friday noon we went to Marvin and Jean's garage for a wonderful meal that Jean had fixed for us. We appreciate them not only as landlords but also as friends.
Last Sunday Jan and I attended a church service and then a noon meal in Ames with a Master Farmers group. This group has been recognized for being outstanding citizens in their field of agriculture.
It's interesting what you find when you move. Thought I'd use this picture to wish my brother a happy 52nd birthday. Doug and his wife Ginger have 4 kids and farm near where we grew up as kids.
We can be outstanding in more fields than just our occupations. Folks that love and care about others are fun to be around.
"Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to make a living and find satisfaction in his work during the few days God has given him. For this is his destiny. Moreover, when God gives man things and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his destiny, and to be happy in his work, this is a gift from God. Man seldom looks back on the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart." Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

Sunday, September 13, 2015

What Is Required

Teamwork is a requirement in any operation or organization. I'm often asked how everyone knows what their responsibilities are.
Most of us appreciate structure where we know what's expected and exactly what our job is. However we also like flexibility where we can do our own thing, not get in a rut, and contribute to the whole cause. Some of us are organizers. Some are problem solvers. Too much structure leads to rigidness. Too much flexibility leads to no focus or goal.
God made us all to feel needed and appreciated. That doesn't just include the combine operators and truck drivers. It also includes the meal makers, clothes washers, babysitters, and house cleaners.
Harvest is in full swing at our house. Corn moisture on early April plantings are ranging from 19% to 26% on 105-110 maturity hybrids. Farm yields are ranging from 180 bpa to 230 bpa. Wet corn test weights are ranging from 52# to 56#. Stalk quality will be an issue by the end of fall. 
90% of our crop is sold ahead of harvest. The corn goes straight to Eddyville. Beans are sold to either Des Moines or Burlington. This type of marketing forces us to make and manage our decisions, have a handle on cash flow, and helps us make our commitments in a timely manner.
Yes, when you sell ahead of time the market might go up and you won't get the high. However when we used to store and wait and then sell when we either needed the money, needed the bin, or because it smelled wasn't working.
Cargill has strict requirements on corn quality. Kutos to DeKalb for high quality grain. Kutos to our combine operators for setting the combines not damage the kernels and no cob pieces.
This is the only pic I have of grandkids helping so I'll use it to thank them for driving graincart, mowing field edges, or just riding along and keeping us company.
Wednesday evening before Stacy went to Gems she brought out a hot meal to the field. It was delicious and appreciated. Thanks for joining us Byron.
Yesterday afternoon we all went and did our own thing for the week since Cargill closed so I thought I would move a wagon over my auger pit with my Polaris Ranger. Well I was getting a run for it going up the bin driveway. As I turned toward the pit I looked back and saw I no longer had a wagon behind me. Lesson learned. Be sure to use a long enough hitch pin.
Due to a good forecast we mowed some hay yesterday.
I enjoy PCHS having a marching band this year at their home football games.
We remembered 9/11 this past Friday. In 2001 Becky, as a freshman at Dordt College, called me and told me about the attack as I was preparing bins for harvest. We Americans are going to have to find some strong leadership if we are going to continue as a free country.
I have been listening, attending, and reading on what a strong growing church looks like. What does God want and expect? I think He wants his children growing in their faith. I thinks He wants full surrender to Him. And I think He wants us 100% sold out to others and their needs.
God is really big and we are really little and nothing happens without prayer, thanking Him for the blessings He has loaned to us and asking Him for His will and direction.
"And what does the Lord require of you? Act justly, show mercy, and walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8