Saturday, September 24, 2016

Values,Talents, And Vision

As in any business, we have values that we use as guidelines as we work on the farm that help keep us on the right track and help us enjoy working together. On our team we have many different talents that make things happen and get things accomplished. Finally we have a vision that we use as a goal so we know where we are headed and what needs done by the end of our fall season.
Since many of our team can handle any aspect of harvest including managing and planning, Jan and I were able to take the last half of the week off and attend a Family Leader Board Retreat which took place in Colorado.
A special thanks to our kids, our grandkids, our full time and part time help who stepped up and gave extra effort. They all worked together and harvested and delivered a lot of corn. They also spread fertilizer and chiseled.
With early morning starts our goal is to be finished on time, however most nights find many working.
On Wednesday Jan and I drove to Walden, Colorado where we stayed and enjoyed company with Mike and Melanie.
 We drove out to the ranch to say hello to Eric, an old friend who lost his leg in an accident a couple of years ago.
We have many good memories from some years back helping with the haying on this ranch. On this particular meadow my now son-in-law, Brian, rode with me for some time in the mower conditioner getting up his nerve to ask me if he could marry Becky.
An organization also has core values that it needs to define and a vision to create so all members, board and staff alike, know what the mission is.
 A board, staff retreat also helps everyone to get to know and care for each other better.
We also give of our talents in church. This might be time. It might be treasures (money). It might be talents as in singing on the praise team. 
Families help each other. Bruce and Jeanne each have twin granddaughters on their laps during church.
 In Exodus 35 the church leader, Moses, had a vision and asked the Israelites to bring their treasures and talents so they could build a place to worship. It says their hearts were willing and they gave freely. They brought all kinds of building materials including lumber, gold, silver, fine linens, and precious stones. Others who were contractors came and worked in their special fields building the tabernacle.
In Exodus 36:6 it says the people gave so freely that Moses had to send out a message saying, stop, we have more than enough to complete our project. Wow. Can you imagine being on a fundraising committee and having to send out an email telling folks to stop giving because you have more than enough funds for your project?
As we think about our values, our talents, and our vision for the future, let's remember to include God and others in what we hope to accomplish.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Live For The Journey

I remember helping my Dad. I remember my kids helping me. Now I watch my grandkids help their Dad's. In all three cases it wasn't about how much was being accomplished. It wasn't about getting from here to there. It was all about enjoying the ride.
So often as adults we think in terms of destinations and accomplishments and we forget to enjoy the process. 
Many times jobs can be hard, even dangerous. However when you think about it how often can you say you've had a big fury animal with horns lower his head and snort at you.
We are in full harvest mode. Crop moisture is running around 20%. Yields are very good. We have a crew of four folks in the field. Our goal is to harvest between 120 to 150 acres a day.
Thanks to our bookkeeper Linda and Kevin's families trucks and our landlord Jerry's trucks helping we have nine trucks going to Eddyville full time and a few others part time.
Cargill/Eddyville has had some struggles with it's milling process and new computer system and has had to cut back on hours of receiving corn.
One couple that enjoys their journey through retirement is Pastor Paul and Ellen. They are from Michigan where they have four grown children. Pastor Paul is our interim pastor for the next few months. During their full time ministry they pastored five churches including Pella II in the 1990s. They also interimed a year at Calvary in Pella in 2013.
We hooked up and tuned up our chisels and will be chiseling as soon as we start applying next years fertilizer.
I heard a comment made this past week that we sure have a fun crew. One of the most important ways to enjoy the journey is to value, appreciate, and be grateful for the folks you work with. It is so rewarding to watch folks help each other out, kid each other on the 2-way, and just enjoy working together. I am so thankful for our team.
Speaking of teams PCHS is enjoying another good football season and had a win Friday evening.
I have fond memories of PCHS's journey building a new campus along the 4-lane in Pella where Arvin, Randy, myself, and others spent 5 construction seasons working together. There are 3 buildings in my life that are related and resemble each other because of being the same design. In 2007 Bernie and Eric helped our family build our machine shed. In 2008 they helped build PCHS's fieldhouse pictured below. And in 2009 they helped build our cabin.
As I was driving through Leighton early yesterday morning I was reminded just how blessed we are here in rural southern Iowa with our small communities that know and care about each other.
So often in our worship services folks think about destinations rather than enjoying the journey.
Some folk's destination is just where they are, to worship just the way their grandparents did, and value traditions. That's not all bad.
Some folk's destination of worship is a dream of something more joyful and uplifting, maybe even moving. That's not all bad either.
I think God summed up worship when He said, love and serve Me with everything you've got, and love and serve each other as much or more than you love and serve yourself. It's time for church. Let's visit again next week.

Sunday, September 11, 2016


Unexpected events in our lives often cause us to remember and reflect. In many cases a struggle causes us to work together and makes us stronger.
This loaded graincart fell in a hidden hole this past week. We were able to auger off the first 600 bushel. The last 400 bushel had to be removed by hand.
We also remember planned events that are milestones. These would include weddings, births, graduations, jobs, and retirement.
Kurt and Emily's landlords had their farm sale this past week after farming for over 50 years.
Reflecting on events, unexpected or planned alike, either cause us to reach out for help or make us thankful.
On Labor Day we helped Karl sort hogs. He is starting to sell again.
This time of year makes me think back and remember previous crops. It seems our memories tend to drift back to the tough years. There were the droughts of 1977, 1980, and 1983. There was also the floods of 1993. There were the character building years during the mid 1980's when crop prices were hitting new lows and interest rates were from 17-22%.
One morning about 5:15 this past week BJ texted and said he was going to breakfast. Four of us joined him.
Congratulations to Lisa and John who are expecting their first child soon.
Mark is visiting from Colorado so he and his father, Gary, drove out on their H Farmalls.
Fifteen years ago this morning everyone remembers where they were at and what they were doing when they got word a World Trade Tower had been hit by a plane. Everyone also remembers the realization of what was happening when the second one was hit and rumors of more plane crashes elsewhere.
Jan was taking Kurt and Karl to school. I was spraying bins getting ready for harvest. I remember Becky calling me from Dordt College where she was a freshman. Later that day during a Junior High soccer game we watched Air Force One accompanied by two fighter jets fly over our area going from Omaha to Washington DC.
My youngest memory. On a Sunday afternoon in 1960 my Uncle John and Aunt Edna were visiting Uncle Guy and Aunt Helen on their rented farm west of Leighton. Cousins, Rob and Jerry, went down to this pond just southeast of the farm yard now owned by brothers, Ivan and Ray. I remember my parents getting a phone call saying the two boys were missing. I remember driving with my parents to the farm instead of Sunday evening church. I remember a raft and socks and shoes. I remember men in boats with big hooks looking for the boys. I remember them being found and my parents saying it was time to go to the house. I remember all that at four years old.
I have not experienced losing a child, grandchild, or spouse and hope I never do. Many of you have. We don't know what the future holds for us and our country. However, without a doubt we know Who holds the future. As we remember back and look forward, lets finish strong with those we love and each other during the time God has left for us.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Finishing And Starting Seasons

Fifty years ago I considered Labor Day a big deal. It was the day Grandpa and Grandma, Uncles and Aunts, and all my cousins got together for our annual family reunion. It was food, conversation, and that traditional softball game where the kids were included and got to play with the adults. How time flies. I'm now the Grandpa.
Remember Mondays? Well Jan is down to taking care of these three little guys. All the rest of their siblings and cousins are in school on Mondays as another summer vacation comes to a close.
Are all your summer projects completed? Well this project isn't finished however folks can at least get to our front door now without falling on wet plywood sidewalks. This is probably the only sidewalk I'm aware of with footings 8 foot deep. This side of our home has lots of fill material and we didn't want the front walk to settle. Thanks Ron and crew for your help.
Yesterday Malaki hung out with Grandpa and Grandma. Since most the kids and help had plans the day reminded me of a generation ago.
BJ and Cassia, Karl and Kristin, and myself went to the Farm Progress Show on Wednesday. 
This tractor was at the show and looks a little futuristic. It's a prototype of a driverless tractor. I've seen a lot of changes during my lifetime however I'm not sure if this is reality or not. Forty years ago I started without a cab but I never dreamed of a tractor without a seat or steering wheel.
Well one of the first fall jobs on the list is to spray all our grain bins for bugs. 
Kurt and Emily's landlords are having a farm equipment sale this coming Tuesday. So I drove over the combine so Kurt could pick some corn to make room for parking. Jackson is following his Dad to the combine excited about the upcoming harvest season. 
I've experienced the start of harvest season at Jackson's age, at his Dad's age, and now as a Grandpa and I still get excited about it. Five short months ago we put those little seeds in the ground trusting God to provide the proper amount of water and sunshine. I don't think you can truly be a farmer without acknowledging that their is a Creator and a plan for growing things. If Someone is in charge of growing things how much more wouldn't that Someone be in charge of us, His image bearers. God put us here with a plan and a purpose. Just like an earthly father, He doesn't mind when we ask for help. And just like an earthly father, He appreciates it when we remember to say thank you. Harvest is a good time to do that.
We are in the process of tuning up for the harvest season. That means calibrating the technology, setting the combines, making sure the scales are accurate on the grain carts, starting the dryers, and getting the semis inspected. 
We have harvested around 60 acres of corn. The moisture is running around 24-26% on 105 day corn planted the first week of April. Kernel size is large and test weight is good. There is just a hint of disease on the kernels due to a wet July and August. Stalk strength is marginal in a few places. Ground conditions are great. I hope we stay on the dryer side during harvest. And finally yield is about as good as we've seen it.
As crops come out Mike is not far behind with the dozer building terraces.
He was challenged by his football team to wear a tie to work on game day. Who knows, he may start a new trend, shorts, sleeveless, and a tie.
We went to PCHS first home game. It was a beautiful evening. The team had a nice win over Albia.
There are seasons in church as well. Most are starting up their fall schedules.
As Natalie and Zachery shell corn I think what will they and their cousins remember about growing up? What did I remember? I told you at the start of our visit, being included and valued by adults. Don't forget to value folks today. And don't settle for good when with God's help things can be great.