Sunday, May 21, 2017

Starting And Finishing Strong

I'd like to introduce you to a friend I met last winter. Zane Grey was born in Ohio in 1872. He did not apply himself in school, barely getting by with grades. He was a natural writer however he struggled with grammar. In between fishing and baseball he became a dentist and an author. He idealized the American frontier, pioneer lifestyle, and western adventure. Much of his writing came from listening to stories of his Grandfather Colonel Zane and Isaac Zane's experiences. Isaac had married a Wyandotte Indian princess after she had saved him from being burned at the stake. 
Zane's strength as a writer was in his description of the Old West as only he remembered it. He also had the ability to get his readers to relate to the characters and countryside of his stories. Zane died suddenly and unexpectedly at his home at the age of 67.
Last year Jan visited the What Cheer flee market where she found a collection of these hard cover westerns. For a while I couldn't figure out why she bought them. I discovered that when I would take the time to read one of these books my mind would go to neutral and I enjoyed them. From last Thanksgiving to this past Easter I read two dozen Zane Grey western stories.
Zane often wrote with double meaning. On the one hand it was fiction. On the other hand it was about history and his own life. I can relate to that. Mr. Grey's stories usually consist of a main character, a group of loyal hardworking simple cowboys, bad guys, a quiet outlaw who was really a good guy, and a girl or two. The books always finish strong with the bad guys getting shot, the quiet outlaw and the girl getting married, and the happily ever after happening on the last page and sometimes even the last sentence. If I ever write a book I'm going to start strong by shooting the bad guys right off the start, getting the outlaw and the girl married sooner, and then writing about the happily ever after.
We finished up our planting season on a farm southwest of Lovilla. This bottom was being cleared of ditches, fence lines, and swampy areas. Early this spring I purchased this small field cultivator so my older grandkids could help when the large cultivators were busy. It ended up getting used quite a bit.
 Our first sprayer trip to control weeds comes after a field has been planted. It's always a good feeling when the sprayer is caught up enough that it arrives to spray even before the planter is finished. We affectionately call that "chasing the planter out of the field". We have put on our narrow sprayer tires and will start our second sprayer pass this coming week with both sprayers following down the corn rows. We will also start applying extra nitrogen this coming week with a dry spreader and narrow tires.
 We had strong wind come through south of Oskaloosa Wednesday evening. It damaged some buildings and dropped trees in the neighborhood.
 I rarely misplace my billfold however one night I forgot to take it out of my jeans and washed it and it's contents. The plastic cards and the dollar bills were the only survivors.
 Elijah and Anton finished strong in a motocross race near Cedar Rapids. Their older brother Ethan finished strong as well.
 Friday evening was eighth grade graduation at Osky Christian. Congratulations to grandsons Cody and cousin Ethan. Finishing grade school and starting high school is a milestone in a young persons life.
 Olivia, Andrew, and Elizabeth are nieces and a nephew graduating from high school this year. All these young folks in the pic below have finished their year strong whether in academics, sports, or life. I'm looking forward to my high school graduating class getting together at our cabin this next Saturday evening. It will be the first time in over twenty years that we have gotten together. Thanks Peggy, Leanne, Bryce, Karen, and others for making this get together happen.
 My high school years were a long time ago. Our oldest is turning 40 this year. There has been a lot of starting and a little finishing over my years. Growing up. Grade school and high school. Marriage and family. An occupation. Friendships and relationships. A growing faith. As I have gotten older I have made myself a goal that I would do my best to finish strong in four areas. The fourth area is my work. We had a visit this past week from a couple of good gentlemen that offered us an opportunity to meet with some folks that work with businesses in the area of leadership, management and growth.
 The third area is my friends. I want my friends to know I'm a call away if they need help. I want to be an encourager. I want my friends to see me as genuine, honest, and authentic, even if we disagree. I am working hard to be a good listener. I am trying harder to reach out. I want them to see me as loyal.
 The second area is my family. I want Jan to see I cherish her. I want my kids to know they are loved and valued. I want and need to take more time for my many grandkids, on their turf, not just mine. I want my family to know without a doubt I would do anything to help them.
 And finally the first area I want to finish strong in is my faith. I want to show folks how God has loved me, blessed me, and helped me, in life as well as business. I want not just my family and help, but the community to know without a doubt that I have a personal relationship with my Lord. I want to show others through example and conversation that I care about them because God cares about me.
When I was in the fourth grade and lived on the Ponderosa farm in Union Mills my dad would have me harrow this field near the cemetery. I was on a WD-45 and pulled a 4 section harrow that had to be lifted and folded manually. At night as a 9 year old I always thought it was kind of scary to work next to the cemetery in the dark. Last Saturday evening on my way home from a farm near Montezuma I stopped and cultivated the field edges and leveled some rough spots on this same Ponderosa farm. As I tilled along the cemetery in the dark I my mind went back some 50 years. I was thankful for the strong start my father gave me by giving me responsibility. I was also thankful for the strong finish I've been given to continue in the occupation I love.
Jan and I went on a Ranger ride last Sunday afternoon in the Leighton area and I saw my Uncle John and Aunt Edna's grave stone. How about you? When folks go for a ride some years from now and see your tomb stone, what will they remember? Make it a goal to finish strong while you are still have the opportunity. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Full Service Or Self Service

We live in a self service world today. We pump our own gas. We check ourselves out at the counter. We load our own purchases at the big stores. We can even shop on-line on our own. Jan's mower ran out of diesel the other day. I helped her fill it up.
 Using several semi loads of diesel fuel a year farming we often get offered a price savings if we would set up for semi tanker deliveries. However that would mean a one drop location. We would then have to self serve ourselves to all our outlying locations. With large tractors holding 400 gallon of fuel it would be a fulltime job for someone just delivering fuel. Brent does a great job of keeping us filled up and delivers to us just about every day during field work time.
 Dr. Gary says we all have an emotional tank that needs to be filled. It can be filled by others with acts of service, quality time, affirmation and encouragement, gifts, and physical touch.
Do you know what fills your loved ones tank? Are the tanks of those close to you staying full or running on empty? Are you a full service or self service household?
 When I hear stories about the old days I'm not sure our grandpas even knew our grandmas had a tank. Back then it was a sign of weakness to show emotion or share your heart. Some folks still feel that way today. Building walls and fences hinders relationships, comes across as unreal, and can make a person lonely. That's not how we were created.
Boy did we ever need fences yesterday. Kurt and Emily woke up to their cattle gate being wide open and all the cattle were scoping the neighborhood and checking crops. Thanks Kasey with a K for helping out with your horse.
You know planting season is about over when we break down and stack seed boxes and organize empty pallets.
 With wet weather during mid week it was time to service and grease the sprayers. They have a big season ahead of them yet. It will soon be time to add the dry spreader to the job schedule. We are just a few days away from putting on the skinny tires and starting to spray rowed corn.
Last Sunday evening the Gospel Singers sang about Amazing Grace in our church. I love listening to and singing gospel music. It was fun to catch up with friends. I sang in this men's chorus from 1972 till 1992.
We said good bye to our interim pastor for a spell. Pastor Paul and Ellen are going to spend their summer in Michigan with family. They are looking forward to a new grandchild next week. About a year ago we got to know each other. Eight months ago they came and became our full service pastor. Have a great summer Pastor and Ellen. 
I got new tires on my pickup this week. Mitchell mentioned his wife heard about the girls losing their blankets in the fire so she made them some new ones. Thank you Lindsey. Friends help friends keep their tank full.
I stopped to level some rock for Pablo. Lifehouse church has purchased a new location. I'm excited for them and their future there. Pastor Steve, Pablo, Paula, and others had a work day at their newly purchased building.
Happy Mothers Day Mom. Yea. Mom got to come home from assisted living yesterday after two hip surgeries. My mother was a selfless person filling every other person's tank she came in contact with. As a kid at home I never remember anyone other than her being the first one up in the morning. She raised six kids including a handicap son. Our home was always full of foster children. She took in elderly relation and cared for them until their death. By the way I would like to express my sympathy to my handicap brother's foster family in Rock Valley years ago. Jim passed away this past week. Praying for you Frieda.  
Here are 6 Moms I love dearly. They got together one evening to support and help Cassia after the fire. For those of you new to our visits these good looking gals are our daughter and daughter-in-laws. Happy Mothers Day.
These gals are very supporting spouses. They help fill their husbands tanks. They are also all great Mom's raising their kids in loving homes and allowing their children to grow up outside with real life experiences.
Then there is Jan. What can I say other than she doesn't like her picture taken so I will just have to show her handiwork. God gave me a special wife and mother to our kids.
Jan's hobby is preparing food and she is really good at it. That's one of the ways she fills other's tanks.
 Her work and her love is our yard, flowers, trees, and plants. She has eased up a little on gardening. Jan is very good at allowing me to do what I love in farming and supporting me when my tank gets low. I thrive on work stress. I struggle once in a while with people stress.
Jan is continuing to use her talents in helping out with grandkids. Not many folks can handle as many kids as she has on Mondays. Happy Mothers Day Jan. I love you.
Don't be a self service household. Remember to think of ways and take the time to serve the folks you love and others as well. I'm late posting this morning. Have a good week.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Handling Cloudy Days

How do you handle cloudy days as you go through your week? The first part of last week started out pretty grey.
 As you wait for more productive days you look for that promise in the horizon that there are brighter days coming.
In my experiences this past week there were three attributes that stood out on how we handle life. The first one is to stay positive in all circumstances. No one likes to be around negative folks and negativity is non productive. At Ezra's ball game the coach is always positive and encouraging no matter how ugly the game gets.
 While waiting to get back to the field we mowed our yards and sprayed roundup on our farms away from home.
 We also treated soybean seed so they will be ready when customer's come to pick them up.
 Part of our crew helped BJ move mama cows and their babies to the big pasture.
A positive attitude leads to the second attribute. That's to have gratitude in all circumstances. No matter how cloudy it gets there are always things to be thankful for. This past week I was especially grateful for all our help and especially the crew I get to work with. Pablo is helping Karl rinse out the sprayer that's switching from corn to soybeans. 
 Some of our helpers have had previous cloudy days of their own yet they always have a positive attitude. Since we are finished hauling seed for the year Jim parked Karl's seed trailer for the summer.
 Gideon and John like to build things in a forge. Gideon lost one of his home forged hammers in their house fire. A friend picked them up Saturday and helped them build some new tools.
As the week improved and dried out some Mike was able to go back to building terraces. Since the field he is working on goes to corn he's trying to get finished up.
 One of the things holding Mike up was BJ was not finished putting in the tile. One of the many things holding BJ up was that his tiling machine was in the shop getting new rear end parts. Well BJ got his trencher back and was able to finish the tile lines mid week.
By late in the week the sprayers were busy. Kurt is running the John Deere and spraying corn. Karl is in the Ro Gator all spring and has switched to spraying beans.
As it gets later in the season and as it warms up weeds start to become an issue in unworked fields. Below Casey is working some ground. An Excellorator is a vertical tillage machine that stirs the ground, cuts up the residue, but leaves it on top of the surface for help with erosion. 
 Matt is cultivating some of the ground that Mike built terraces on. Spring dozing can make it tough on the crop being planted due to compaction and clods.
Positivity and gratitude lead to the third attribute and that's contentment. Contentment doesn't mean you settle for how things are. However it does mean you are always ok with where God has put you in any situation. Contentment also gives you a self confidence that means you don't need to constantly measure yourself with others. 
 Remember I visited with you about Jan washing the girl's blankets after the fire. Well they started to smell like fire again after a couple of days. So Jan made three new cuddle blankets for Rachael, Adalie, and Natalie. (I got to remember to ask Cassia about name spelling)
 Caring and response from church, friends, and community continues to be humbling. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for all your calls, well wishes, and prayers after BJ and Cassia and family's house fire.
 By the end of the week the sun had started to shine and things looked brighter in many ways. It doesn't matter whether it's a crop, a house, or a relationship, moving forward can be uncertain and scary. It can also be exciting and rewarding. God didn't create us to sit on our hands and be comfortable. Thanks for the visit and stay tuned.