Sunday, October 23, 2016


I spent a fair amount of time delivering crop this past week for ourselves and others. As you watch the crop come out do you ever wonder where it all goes?
We are blessed here in Iowa to have the ability to raise, harvest, and deliver a lot of corn and soybeans. If Iowa were it's own country we would be the 4th largest crop grower in the world.
 As we were reminded yesterday listening to the football game our country needs farmers. Just a little over one percent of our population raises food to feed the world. 
 In our country we spend less than 10% of our income on food. And the quantity and quality in our stores are the best in the world. Yet how many folks even know where it comes from and how it gets on the shelves and in the freezers.
We worked for a fellow up north this week that chose to store his soybeans at the local elevator in town. This was my first time delivering to Guernsey. Remember when you are on Hwy 21 heading for I80 and you look to the east. Local elevators store for farmers. When farmers sell, the elevator will then take the grain either to a processing plant for feed or to the Mississippi River for export.
 We delivered soybeans to Fairfield this week. This is a year old facility that built along a railroad. It loads 100 car trains and sends grain wherever it's needed.
 We delivered soybeans to the river terminal in Burlington where they load barges on the Mississippi River up until the river freezes. These soybeans go down to the Gulf of Mexico where they are loaded on cargo ships and then go anywhere in the world. Iowa soybean exports to China have tripled since 2009.
Finally we delivered soybeans to a processing plant in Des Moines this past week. This plant crushes the soybean and sells soybean oil and soybean meal. Well over 2/3 of our soybeans are processed and the bean meal is used for protein in livestock which is grown for us to enjoy meat, eggs, and milk in our diets. A bushel of soybeans has 48# of meal and 11# of oil.
Early in the week the mornings were so wet the soybeans would not get dry enough to combine until mid afternoon. That meant the combines would run well into the night until the early morning dew came in again.
Late in the week we finished up north and it felt good to get back to home base after a couple of weeks where the boys took time to give the equipment a bath. 
 Our team then split up and late in the week we harvested corn and beans both in different locations.
 I delivered corn to Cargill when they were open. Cargill mainly makes high fructose corn syrup for sweeteners. They also have the ability to produce ethanol. They use their by-product for livestock feed. When functioning properly they use around 350 semi loads of corn a day.
 Finally I delivered corn to the bin site. On farm grain storage is increasing every year. Storage on the farm allows the combines to continue to run when the processors and elevators are closed. It can also help farmers postpone selling hoping for better market opportunities.
Emily and Jackson brought lunch yesterday to Pella and helped Kurt run grain cart. Thanks to all the gals who brought meals to the field this week. It's always fun to see family.
We are in my favorite season here in Iowa. It's called Indian Summer and it's the nice weather after a killing frost. We are so blessed. There are many destinations fun to visit however there is not another destination I would rather live. Neighbors that wave at each other. Community that cares. An agriculture based state that loves it's job and is not scared of work. Kids that can handle responsibility and help right along side their parents. God is good.
However much we enjoy living and life, this is not our final destination however. So while we are living here on earth, let's make sure we remember what we are given, including each other, is on loan from God. Many days we run out of strength. He doesn't.
 "You are my strength when I am weak. Jesus, Lamb of God, Worthy is your name."

Sunday, October 16, 2016


I learned a new word and it's meaning this past week. Vertigo is a term used when a couple of small rocks come loose between a persons ears and everything turns upside down causing one to have no balance, become dizzy, and get really sick.
We were combining and I started  having trouble focusing and couldn't keep the corn head snouts in between the 12 corn rows. Kurt and Brad helped me in a pickup and Kurt and Jan took me to the ER where after some IVs and rest the little rocks settled down.
We've had a topsy-turvy week trying to harvest soybeans only to go back to combining corn every time the weather doesn't cooperate. 
When the soybeans get to 14% moisture we would start harvesting and not stop until the grain sample went above 14% again.
 We have also been chiseling getting ready for next years corn on corn acres.
 Mike had a good week building terraces.
 Karl has been hauling hog manure.
Karl and Kristin also got in 5600 weaner pigs this past week. Malaki is helping his dad.
We had a shocker this week. My cousin Val's husband Mike passed away suddenly Wednesday. Mike was 54. They live in Sully and have four children. We're thinking about and praying for you and your family Val.
The pipeline comes diagonally through our area. It really turns things upside down as it buries a 30" pipe. It's amazing how much equipment is on the job and how many folks are working on the project.
 One morning around 5 am we woke up to rain showers so 8 of us went out for breakfast.
 Kevin and Linda had their second grandson this week. Congratulations to parents, John and Lisa.
As we were finishing up for the day I came home late one night, parked by the shop, and saw this cross laying next to the office. No one on our crew knows who brought it or how it showed up. After wondering for a minute how it got there it then became a vivid reminder to me that the One who created me voluntarily came down from heaven, allowed His life to be turned upside down unjustly, paid for my wrongs with his life, and then conquered death and misery by His resurrection.   
 I think it's safe to say that our country is pretty upside down right now and we have more than a couple of rocks loose in our culture. Government can't fix our country. Politics right now is a result of our culture. And our current culture is a result of good people being content, apathetic, and unengaged. 
So often we go to church to remember, believe, and agree. We don't act. We don't apply. We seem to want no part of influencing the upside down stuff. I heard Chuck on the radio say that application is obedience in action. Hearing truth and agreeing with it is not God's end game. He wants us to act, to apply our faith, and to help fix loose rocks.

Sunday, October 9, 2016


The word, gathering, tends to feel like a "this time of year" word. Harvest time is gathering in the crop. We also associate "gathering" with the Thanksgiving season. At our house we spend September and the first week of October delivering forward sold corn contracts to Eddyville.
Then, with Linda's help, we gather the checks received for those contracts and pay our obligations for the year.
Now since there is more crop than expected, and prices at harvest time are often low, we are storing the remaining crop on the farm in bins.
 Storing crops in town at grain elevators is an option if storage space is available however it's expensive because elevators use a shrink deduction (meaning you get credit for less bushels than you delivered), they have a drying charge if your crop moisture is higher than 14%, and they charge an up front storage fee.
With current crop prices already below the cost to produce it, extra expense at the elevator complicates marketing.
How far do you look forward? One of my favorite quotes in hockey is, "you don't skate to the puck, you skate to where the puck is going".
Often we don't take the time or energy to think about why we are doing what we do and make a plan.

As we invest effort in a project we need to be thinking about what we hope our results are. If  we identify where we are heading we can then set goals to get there.
Life will soon get lonely if we just think about our own projects. We also need to be willing to help and teach others to be their best.
This is a late night gathering discussing the events of the day after the combines and trucks have been parked.
When there is an equipment breakdown in the field it often slows down or even stops progress. So our help gathers together and tackles the fix. Someone takes the broken piece apart while someone else heads either to the shop or to a dealer for replacement parts.
If a truck breaks down or needs tire work we decide how complicated it is and then choose to either fix it in our own shop or take it to a repair shop where Brett helps us get going.
I had a couple of good helpers driving semi yesterday. We shared snacks and pop.
We usually gather together early in the morning as a harvest crew. This week we spent some time on the South Skunk River bottom northwest of Pella. Our gathering place in that area is a farm where our friend Bonnie (as in Don and Bonnie) grew up as a kid. Thanks Layton for bringing us lunch here on Friday.
Yesterday after harvesting on a good going field in Jasper County we coasted to a stop for the week in early afternoon.
Last Sunday evening our church gathered for supper and listened to Justin talk about his work in Cambodia. Learning the language and building trusting relationships were a big part of him being effective in his work there as a missionary.
Finally this morning, congratulations to Lester and Rachael who have been married 65 years. They and their family are gathering at the cabin today to celebrate.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

What Do You See

Often we look at a business, an operation, a situation, or an individual, and see the obvious, the up front, and the assumed.
 When in fact there are a number of folks and things happening behind the scenes. I would like to recognize the folks that help our family get things done and make life happen.
Alex has been part of our team for some time and is capable of doing about any job he is given, Grandson John is also helping in this picture.
 Brad, Julie, and their three girls live close and also have their own operation. Brad is not only helpful in any job but also has the ability to manage and help plan.
 Pablo is a loyal friend and neighbor. He helps out as much as his full time job at Cargill allows.
 Matt and Becca have four children. Matt helps after work and even comes once in a while before work if we need an extra hand to run semis through Cargill. Matt has an engineering mind and loves to figure out solutions.
 Jim is the Mayor of Beacon and retired from 30 years at Shrago. Jim has mechanical talent and can fix anything.
 Larry has been hauling corn for us with Jerry's truck. He is retired. He and his wife have five grown daughters, grand kids, and great grand kids.
 Don lives in Knoxville and also comes from Jerry's crew. He is good help and enjoys being part of our team.
 Andy is in between jobs so we just recruited him to join us. Andy has the ability and willing spirit to either  truck or run farm equipment. It has been enjoyable to have him help us this fall.
 Ryan goes to William Penn College and comes and helps out three afternoons a week. I never dreamed how helpful it would be to have him do catch up jobs that take a back seat due to harvest.
 We couldn't get along without Linda and her keeping track of things in the office. Her husband Kevin and her nephews have also trucked for us all month with their trucks.
 Brian is our son-in-law and farms on Fridays. He and Becky are expecting their 5th child in December. It was fun having Becky, Zach, and Harris help out Thursday when we took their crop out. Brian is a Pastor at Sully CRC.
Obviously our operation wouldn't be possible without the rest of the family. BJ, Karl, and Kurt are the core of our operation, planning, managing, and getting things done. Mike is always willing to jump off his dozer when we ask for help. Mark and Stacy are taking their crops out on their own. It's fun to watch their family work together. Our paths cross often and we help each other out when needed. The gals also have extra responsibilities this time of year as they keep things together at home. It's always fun when they come to the field either to help or to just hang out and watch their crop come out.
The later it gets in the week the more I look forward to Sunday and I was hoping we could coast to a stop early yesterday. Well BJ's combine fell through the dry dirt near an intake late in the afternoon. It kept sinking and soon was sitting on it's belly in the terrace.

 We went and got the track hoe in order to move dirt away from the cab ladder and bottom track.
 BJ dug a hole so we could get a wagon under the unload auger and get rid of some weight.
 Yep. We finally called a wrecker where we couldn't budge it and were afraid things were going to start to break.
 We hooked 4 cables up to two different positions on the front axle and then chained the back axle to the front axle so the combine would come out in one piece.
 Yea. Late last night it finally came out intack and in working condition.
 We were all dog tired as we finished off the week by bringing our loaded trucks in line to Cargill for unloading early Monday morning.
So what do I see in this picture? So often we see the "stuck in the mud" stuff screaming at us and miss all the good stuff as it just whispers. In this example of life we have a second combine that Karl and Kristin are driving that is continuing to harvest. We have a record crop to harvest. We have the crew I introduced to you that is a joy to work with, even when getting a combine out of the mud. The combine came out in good working order. And finally what I've wanted to tell you since the beginning of our visit, none of our blessings or accomplishments would be possible without our Heavenly Father being in charge. Have a restful Sunday and don't forget to say thank you for blessings.