Sunday, August 28, 2016

Strong, Secure, Selfless

Late one afternoon this past week a storm rolled in. 
It rained so hard we couldn't see across the yard. I was glad to be inside.
As the front rolled through the winds came. The trees leaned and cracked. Things flew across the yard. I was concerned about the crops.
Then it was over. It all happened in less than an hour. Things were bright and clean. And then a rainbow showed up. A promise. Will there be storms, struggles, or hard jobs in your life? Of course. Sometimes there is even damage. However God says, be strong, be secure, be selfless. I promise to take care of you.
We have grandkids about early grade school age that love to help and are always asking for jobs. So I try and plan my summer Mondays with them in mind. Thanks Ezra, Elliot, and Elijah for helping lay bricks.
Of course any job that includes driving tractor is especially fun. I made them practice their driving skills by asking them to back out this cornhead. It took a long time but they finally got it backed out. Notice it takes two folks this size on the seat. One isn't heavy enough to keep the non-operator button under the seat pushed down. 
Often the little ones get to hang out and help their Dad's.
However many times Grandma has the gates shut and then all they can do is watch things happen from the porch.
Especially on Mondays we try and all come in for lunch. It's kind of a transition. After lunch the three smallest have to take a nap. The middle ones get fruit roll-ups and have to be quiet. The older ones often are given Grandma jobs. They are all looking forward to something.  
Swimming!!! After the naps, quiet times, and jobs are finished they all run across the yard to the life jacket shed, a requirement at Grandma's house, and swim or play in the sand. Kinze, our Saint Bernard, usually thinks she's a life guard. 
We went up in a helicopter again this week to look at crops. We look for nitrogen deficiency and stalk strength in corn. We look for disease in soybeans. We can then make a plan as to what needs early attention come harvest time.
This picture shows the seed treatment we tried at planting time on half the planter for help against Sudden Death Syndrome in soybeans was effective.
Joe and Diana had eight couches the size and weight of pianos that needed put in rooms at Lake View Camp. Seven of the eight either had to go up or down narrow stairs.
Thanks to our crew for their help and willingness. Also thanks to Bob, Dort, and John who work at the camp often.
Last evening Jan and I hosted the board/staff social from Pella Christian High School. We had a good time. New principal Dan kept things organized. Vice pres. Rob did the grilling. Mike and Suzanne and Doug and Barb were a big help with setup and cleanup.
I volunteered to do a job yesterday for someone else  that wasn't any fun. However it was the right thing for me to do because I have been given the ability and equipment to make it happen.  
I have three basic principles I often told my kids and told the volleyball girls last week. Give 110%. That's being strong. Don't be scared of responsibility. That's being secure. And care about others. That's being selfless. I admit I don't always get it right. However at the end of a storm, there is often a rainbow.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Adding Value

I read on a fellow farmer's office wall this week that "Farming is not just a business, it's a way of life." We are two weeks away from harvest starting at our house. In any business we need to ask ourselves, what are our goals here, and who are we the face of?
Last evening after checking crops up north Jan and I stopped in New Sharon for supper. I added value to my meal with ketchup, salt, and pepper. Some of you know I love pepper. I usually have to take the lid off to get enough added. With grain prices down we try and add value to the products we produce by forward selling and minimizing loss. We try and add value to our business by keeping things neat and clean and being efficient. We try and add value to the folks that work here with affirmation and encouragement. 
Most folks are good at something however everyone is not good at everything. We happen to think that Cat has a high capacity combine that makes us more efficient. However we don't think they are up to speed with their headers. So we use a Mac Don header on soybeans and thanks to Bauer, Zeiglar, and BJ, mounted a John Deere head to pick corn. 
We spread some slow release nitrogen on Jan's new grass seed to give it a push going into the fall season.
I so appreciate thank yous and I'm guessing you do too. We support 4-H kids by attending and participating in the livestock auction at the fair. Many including some of you personally thanked us for buying or bidding on your project. Last week I received a really neat card from Jordan and this week Macy and her mother delivered us two of my favorite pies. Thank you all for your appreciation. Gratitude adds value to everything we all do.
We try and show appreciation to folks that work with us as well. Once a year we rent the Slideways go-cart track on a night when they are normally closed and enjoy racing followed by eating supper together. 
Karl and I are starting to talk to folks about next years seed needs. Our seed prices came out this week for next year and many numbers are down about 3%. 
We had an unexpected guest this week. This gentleman had delivered some pipeline parts south of town and was needing a place to shower and sleep before he headed back to Louisiana. 
Our cabin was suggested however it was being used by the PC volleyball girls. So Jan offered him our basement. I don't even know his name, I hope he had a restful stay.
Speaking of the volleyball girls, they had their annual kickoff retreat at our cabin again this year.
 Thank you Kim and Kathy for adding value to these young ladies lives by being their chaperons as they work together side by side not just in volleyball but in life as well.
Dean came with his Dad, Brent, to go racing last Tuesday evening. Folks, you can't even measure how important it is that little ones have a Dad that takes time for them.
Malaki hangs out with his Dad, Karl, and already loves the machinery. However if you ask his Mom, Kristin, I think she will tell you he likes red combines better than yellow ones.
Jackson's mind never stops when he helps his Dad, Kurt. Jackson told me yesterday his hard plastic tire on his little 4-wheeler needed air. So Grandpa finds an airhose and an end that makes a hissing sound and tells him to blow it up.
This is a cool picture of our landlord, Gary and his wife. Gary stopped to help Elijah put his bicycle chain back on. Gary owns a large manufacturing business east of Oskaloosa and has fixed and invented things all his life.
This picture was taken just six short years ago at Kurt and Emily's wedding. Today these are all young men. God has given us a responsibility and a time frame to add value to each other. It's what Jesus did and we are created in His image. Let's be the salt "and pepper" that enhances others.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


When the water in our pond is moving due to wind or activity in it, it doesn't have a reflection. However during quiet and calm times it looks and acts just like a mirror. Sometimes in life we need to stop and look at where we are at and listen to where God wants us to go. 
As we are just ahead of a busy time I really like it when we take the time to keep things neat. It reflects an appreciation for what we are entrusted with by God and others.
Thanks to Brian and Becky for getting me a ticket, I attended the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit simulcasted to 300,000 folks in 125 countries. Any organization will only be as healthy as it's leader wants it to be. 
On Thursday afternoon Jan picked up Brian and Becky's kids and headed for the State Fair. We met her there after the first day of the conference and attended the Francesca and News Boys concert. During the concert their was an hour and a half rain delay and Jan and I headed home.
Hennie is a friend from Malawi, Africa. He was born, grew up, and farmed in Zimbabwe. Due to government unrest he was driven out of his home country. He had to leave everything he owned. He now manages a large tobacco and macadamia nut farm in Malawi. When Hennie reflects on his past he says he could not have survived without his faith.
Hennie enjoyed his visit to America. When asked about his first impressions, he says everything in America is big and organized.
A friend brought over his helicopter and gave us a chance to look at crops from the air. 
While going from one farm to another we crossed over Oskaloosa including the fairgrounds and racetrack. When I asked Norm, the pilot, what the rules were as far as flying over town he said, "don't hit nothing".
It was interesting to see our church as we crossed town.
This is exit 60, our intersection off of Hwy 163, just south of Oskaloosa.
This is coming in for a landing on our yard on Wednesday evening.
We enjoyed having company over Wednesday evening during out customer appreciation supper. Jan again did an amazing job with the meal.
I'm also thankful for the girls. They served and greeted our guests.
Rich, better known as Griss, is retiring from the Sheriffs department after 25 years of service. He and his wife Melissa were so helpful in helping us purchase our promotional gift for seed orders this year.
One of the many speakers at the Leadership Summit was Alan M. He led Ford Motor Company's transformation and turn around. He said a good leader is needed in an organization to go from "I" to "we" to "service".
John M. says everything worthwhile in life is uphill. Progress takes effort. It takes being intentional. Often folks have uphill goals with downhill habits. We have leadership responsibilities in many areas. One of the most important area is family. Just as our pond water has to stop to reflect, stop this week and ask yourself how are you doing. God has our days numbered. Don't have any regrets in heaven.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Getting Ready

It doesn't matter whether you are farming, building, selling, marketing, teaching, preaching, or homemaking, the more intentional you are about getting ready the more successful you will be with whatever you are doing.
Ezra, Elliot, and Elijah helped move some bricks this week. Most compact tractors have a button under the seat that causes the tractor engine to shut off without weight so it takes the weight of two grandsons to keep the tractor running. Giving kids responsibility helps them get ready for adulthood.
John came earlier this spring for some sweet corn seed. He came back recently to show me a stalk that had four ears on it. Hope that's an indication of how the field corn might yield.
BJ, John, and I attended a farmland leasing workshop put on by Iowa State University and led by Steve J. It was mostly attended by landlords and lenders. It was a good meeting with good information. It reminded tenants and renters to keep their landlords informed. It reminded landlords that fluctuating grain and land prices sometimes means fluctuating lease rates.
It's the time of year to start thinking about getting ready for the 2017 crop. In any business you need to know the cost of your inputs in order to figure a marketing plan and then being ready to act on that plan. Many farmers sell when they need the money, need the bin, or it smells. That marketing plan leads to an emotional roller-coaster of greed when the market is going up, hope as it reaches the top and starts to drop, and despair as the market comes flying down. 
Ron and his crew came this week to form up a patio out the west basement door of our home. It will be another fun place for the grandkids to ride their toys on rainy days. If you notice the white pvc pipe to the left is a drain. Jan is going to set up a hot and cold temporary shower in the summer time on that cement wall to hose the sand off the grandkids after swimming.
Tuesday after lunch in the rain I slid down our plywood sidewalk and fell. It hurt enough to go get x-rays. No broken bones. However that did decide it was time to get our front entry finished.
Scot, our student summer pastor, and I went visiting again Wednesday afternoon. One of our stops was at Keith and Gloria's where Keith showed us where they finish cattle. 
We have been getting equipment ready for harvest. We hooked up the grain carts and Karl is installing the scale.
Ezra is driving. Gideon is holding down the seat so the tractor doesn't shut off. And John is up on the tender telling them how far to back up as they help BJ load rye seed for cover crop this fall.
Friday the girls got together with everyone's tomatoes and made salsa.
Saturday Jan's side of the family got together for lunch at the house since the cabin was busy. Jan's Uncle Homer is 91 and her Aunt Lois is 97.
Chopping cross-ways through the center of the test plot has become an annual event. It means we are getting ready to put up signs which means we are getting ready for company.
For 27 years we have hosted an appreciation supper for folks we work for, sell to, farm for, or are just friends with. Jan makes a home cooked meal. BJ is going to grill on the cattleman's grill. The girls serve. It's just a fun time when families get together before the busy fall season. If any of you would like to join us you are more than welcome anytime between 5pm and dark on Wednesday, August 10.
In 2 Timothy 4:2-3 Paul says " Preach the Word; to be ready in season and out of season; to correct, rebuke, and encourage-with patience and careful instruction. For the time is coming when people will not listen to truth but will look for teachers that will tell them what they want to hear." Let's get ready for whatever plans God has for us while we still have the opportunity. Have a good week.