Sunday, December 14, 2014

Thinking Inside The Box

These little gals are always thinking of something when they come to Grandma's house.
We were asked to go back to the field this week. I have mixed feelings about applying in winter. Field conditions are so variable.
This is what inside a pickup box looks like after running NH3 a day. Conditions went from hard to greasy as the week progressed.
Technology controls rate, steers the tractor, turns the product on and off, and records data while going through the field. The data is then sent to the fertilizer retailer we are working for. They in turn can give it to the producer.
So all this technology is kind of cool however once in a while you need to sit down and decide if it pays. Below a technology salesman, a farm magazine, a farm university, and a producer are talking about how to measure the benefits. 
Kurt and Emily's son Jackson had his first birthday Friday. He and his Grandma Glenda share birthdays.
A year ago he was in Blank Hospital over Christmas with a blood platelet issue. Today he looks and acts so much like his Dad when he was small. As I think back over the year God has been so good.
 This is little Jackson with his great grandparents.
We helped Karl sort hogs this past week. I remember when market weight was 220 lbs. Today the packers like a hog marketed around 290 lbs. My high mileage knees sometimes take a beating when in the pen with these big guys.
Jan and I went on a ride last Sunday and stopped at an old hog house on one of our farms. This is a pen where the sow had her baby pigs. Notice the boards around the edge to help keep the sow from laying on her pigs. Also the corner gate was where the baby pigs could go sleep under a heat lamp in cold weather. 
It's interesting this old hog shed still has some coal laying in a corner. I think a coal stove would have struggled to keep up on a cold winter night with block walls and no insulation. This shed raised hogs 50 years ago.
After coal and wood folks started heating with fuel. I remember many a night going out to check the pigs and fill the knipco heater. Today geo thermal systems circulate water under ground to capture heat in winter and cool in summer.
This is an old section of the main highway used across Iowa just 50 years ago. Things sure have changed. Today we always seem to be in a hurry doing all our own stuff.
Sometimes when we are busy doing our own stuff we don't slow down and think about the blessings, the opportunities, and the gifts we've been given. Often selfcenteredness feels justified today. Our culture says if you don't take care of yourself no one else will.
People think about the what, the when, and the how of Christmas in Bethlehem at the time of Christ's birth. What's important is the why. The Bible says after Jesus was born he was laid in a manger, a feed box for livestock. I'm sure He had plenty of stuff going on in heaven yet He was selfless, came into this world as a lowly child, and was an example of how to serve during His time on earth. 
Find an opportunity to follow our Savior's example this Christmas season. It could be a nursing home visit, a gift to someone with few friends, helping out a family member, a phone call to someone lonely, financially supporting a cause, or just a smile and word of encouragement to someone. 
Making a difference takes time and effort. But if you stop and think back, what do we remember the most? If you're like me it's those times when we were helping or being with others.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Just An Ordinary Sunday

Good morning and welcome to just an ordinary Sunday in December in Iowa. The pictures this morning talk about some of the extracurriculars that happened this week. Last weekend BJ and Cassia's kids helped Jan and I decorate the cabin for Christmas.
As usual in December Stillwaters is busy with Christmas get-togethers. We're thankful we can share the cabin and enjoy the company. It keeps Jan hopping.
We had three grandsons involved in Robotics. Teams build programed machines out of Lego's and compete in different functions.
The Advancement Committee of our local Christian Grade School borrowed the shop to get their float ready for Oskaloosa's annual Christmas parade.
Thanks for all you do for our school Mike, Jason, Laura, Teresa, Tim, and Bill.
Friends of ours lost their father to cancer this past week. Because of the extra responsibilities with family they had some corn left to harvest so we helped them out with the hauling. Our sympathies Brent and Anne.
The gals took an afternoon together to tour some homes in Pella and then celebrate Jan's birthday early by going out for supper. Us guys have a lot to be thankful for because of this bunch.
Shotgun season is a big deal in Iowa. It always surprises me how much passion and emotion are involved in deer hunting in regards to hunting parties, territory, and permission.
Last evening Jan and I went to theses fellow's house for supper, a Lego movie, and playing farm.
73 years ago today started out as just an ordinary Sunday morning. Then the bombing of Pearl Harbor changed our course in history. World War II personally effected every family in this country. Would we have the faith and fortitude to survive something extraordinary? 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

I Have A Plan For You

 I'm sure many of you spent some time with family this past week. We did as well. Do you ever look back and think, Wow, so much has changed?
Do you ever wonder what things will be like for the next generation? One thing is certain. The same One that had our lives planned has theirs planned as well.
 As I thought about the paths our lives have taken over the last 40 years I decided to dig out some old but pleasant memories. I joined a Men's Chorus as a Junior in high school and was a member for 20 years. The group still sings today. I'll bet many of you from Iowa recognize some faces.
I was 18 years old when Jan and I got married. After our first date I left on a motorcycle trip. I bought her the necklace she is wearing in this picture while I was gone. I remember asking my buddy Phil, if he thought that was an ok idea.
This was and still is my little girl. Today Becky is married to Brian and they have 4 active growing boys.
 This is Mike and his friend Tracy. Today Mike is married to Suzanne, has a 6th grader Cody, and has a dozing business. His friend Tracy is a highway patrolman. Nice gold chain Mike. :)
 The kids always tell me I used to make them work hard. Looks like they are spraying weeds probably before Roundup. Today they custom spray thousands of acres for Cargill.
 There's nothing like a cold drink of water straight from a deep well after working hard.
 Here is a picture of 5 brothers taken about 20 years ago. It looks like Mike is tired and one of the twins is being a tease. Wonder which one that is?
 Here are those same 5 brothers who stopped by for dinner last week at Pella Christian High School where their mother works a day a week.
 Cassia's brother Micah was in a car accident early last week on I 80.  
 It was a miracle that he was not killed. His wheel chair in the passenger seat was destroyed.
He was released from the hospital with fractures and cuts on his face and we were happy to have him and his parents spend Thanksgiving evening with our family.
 Matt helps out after his full time job. He and his wife have 4 young children.
Alex's grandma Pearl had a 90th birthday party yesterday. After living on the farm for nearly 70 years she is looking forward to an apartment in assisted living.
We are a blessed society with an abundance. Remember when the headlines used to worry about how were we ever going to feed the growing population. We still have the freedom and the means to raise a family. We can still decide what we choose to do for a living. Our culture still allows folks to grow old with respect and dignity. God in His grace has a plan. 
However that's not the end of the story. We need to use our God-given treasures to show our gratitude by giving, caring, and sharing. We are to use our God-given talents to work hard and do everything we can to insure the freedoms and values we currently enjoy. We are to use some of our God-given time on our knees asking for His continued plan for ourselves, our families, our communities, and our country.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksliving Gifts

Good morning. We had a good week working on the farm. We are just about 4 days away from Thanksgiving. We are only about 4 weeks away from Christmas.
Sometimes I wish I could ask you folks what you like to read about. My writing goals are to keep things short, keep things interesting, as few I's as possible, and share my heart. Sharing can be rewarding and create genuine friendships. It can also be revealing and make one vulnerable. 
 Sometimes you look at a picture and you just see the picture. However sometimes if you take the time to look close you see a blessing or a friend you might have missed. Life is like that. This week I'm going to share with you those gifts I've been given in every day living.
Those of you that know me know I love my job and I'm thankful for the opportunity to farm.
I'm so very thankful for the folks I get to work with every day.
I'm thankful for the immediate and extended family God has given and I love my children and grandchildren.
I'm thankful, optimistic, and am looking forward to the future.
When you have shared life with someone for close to 40 years that home becomes familiar. I'm thankful for the wife God has given me. I love you Jan.
When time and finances allow I love fixing up farms and am thankful for the opportunity to leave them better than I found them.
 When things go wrong or get hard it is not always a pleasant experience. However looking back on life God has given me failures to build character and help me grow.
 I'm thankful for folks who are the hands and feet of Christ and give their lives to help and instruct others.
 I'm thankful for the conversations and fellowship we can enjoy in business, in church, and in community.
I'm thankful for the freedoms we have in our country. I pray that my grandchildren will have the same blessing we have had of living in a free country that acknowledges God.
 I'm thankful for friends in so many arenas of life.
 Looking back on life is like looking in a rear view mirror and seeing where one has been. Looking forward to what is ahead one is thankful for bridges to get from here to there. I am so thankful for the faith we can have in the One who is in charge because on my own I would be lost.
 That One in charge is our Father in Heaven who loves us and cares about us. He has our life planned. He sent His Son whose birth we will soon celebrate to save us. He sends the Holy Spirit to steer us, help us see opportunities, and nudge us in the right direction. He sends guardian angels to protect us. And finally since we were created in His image He gives us others to love and care about.