Sunday, July 30, 2017

Steps and Stages

I'm often asked, "What's happening on the farm these days?" Well, Ryan and Matt helped me form up some steps from our house sidewalk down to where I walk to the shop.
 Once we get the steps poured Jan can finish planning her landscape around our front door.
 Remember the pallet racks we talked about a couple of weeks ago? Well, we got them assembled. Then we filled them. That was the first step in getting our machine shed organized.
 I helped sell hogs while Karl and Kristin were gone for a couple of days. I like the hog sheds these days. Karl already had them sorted and ready to load. Back in the day I would get the kids up on Monday mornings about 5 am and we would sort 34 head, load them on our straight truck, and deliver them to Ottumwa. If we had time we would stop at McDonalds on the way home before school.
 One of the steps of loading hogs in the summer time is to start by attaching a garden hose to the semi trailer and mist the hogs continually during and after loading.
 Karl and Kristin's second building is progressing. The concrete is finished. The slats are set and Kurt is backfilling the overdig.
 I hauled a load of oats to Marv that Eugene had combined for Fred. I appreciated Hanna, Eugene's daughter, helping.
 Jan has a lot of flowers and plants all over our yard. Since it's been so dry they need a drink several times a week so Jan spends hours watering.
 All of our first year trees have been thirsty and even our trees planted two and three years ago were looking tough with dead and shriveled leaves so we have been watering them as well usually 24 hours at a time. It's hard to go through all the work to plant them and then lose them on a dry summer.
We have been watering the second batch of sweet corn non stop all week. Between the flowers, trees, and sweet corn I counted 5 garden hoses on 4 different hydrants strung around our yard. 
 One of the first steps in getting ready for harvest is to inspect the equipment, repair and replace worn parts, and make sure things will be in reliable shape.
 The thought process that comes with no rain happens in steps and stages. There's the planning, the planting, the tending to, the satisfaction, and the appreciation for a promising result. Then there comes the hope, the watching the weather, and the wondering how long the crop will wait. Finally there's the realization the crop is suffering, and the process of watching parts of the field slowly die.
 Then the planning stage starts again. Harvest will be early. There may be aflatoxin, a fungus that grows on stressed plants. Conversations start with crop insurance folks. Communications stay open with grain merchants since much of our crop is already sold. And finally the step of thinking about the possibilities of replacing lost crop income with something else.
 We have all experienced different stages of our lives. When we were young we have all gone through the stage of wishing we were older so we could keep up with the big kids and help outside all day.
Some of you are in the stage of starting your career or raising a family.  Many of you are like me. You're past your prime however you don't feel that old yet. Except when the younger generation calls you Grandpa. My friend Steve sent me an interesting article about farming and marketing that said there have only been around 240 generations since the beginning of time and only the last 160 of those generations have grown crops as a business. If you think about it only about 4 generations have farmed with tractors.
Carl was one of those farmers from the generation that experienced and watched the transition from horses to horsepower. Carl liked cattle. He enjoyed spending time order buying cattle for folks with his brother Willis. The past few years we mowed and baled Carl's hay for him. He was a friend that would stop at our shop and ask, "Where is BJ? I think it's time to mow hay." He was at the fair last Saturday morning enjoying folk's company and the 4-H auction. He had a heart attack and passed away at his home later that same day. Carl experienced all the steps and stages of life. Including meeting his Lord and Savior. He was well remembered. Crops, lack of rain, and a "to do" list take a back seat to being a friend and taking the time to have a relationship with folks.

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