Faith & Farming

Faith and Farming: they go hand and hand:

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Some days, doesn’t it feel as though it began raining on Easter and hasn’t quit? While the naive mind might like to believe that farmers across the corn belt are putting in ponds as part of some water retention conservation project, you and I both know that just isn’t the case. You can drive through the countryside and see standing water in every direction.

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Rather than driving around the township with their best co-pilot and a steady dose of optimism, checking growth in the warm May sunshine, most growers in our area are riding around with the insurance adjuster looking at corn that has already been replanted or will be.

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Writer Lisa TerKeurst once wrote that “The space between our expectations and our reality is a fertile field. And often it’s a place where disappointment grows.” How true that is, and what fitting words when thinking of our 2017 planting season. Even when the field is flooded, the disappointment is able to grow within the rows.  I heard one farmer say that he didn’t even want to leave the house in the morning because he knew disappointment would greet his first step out the door.

You can’t blame him; it’s been a soggy and frustrating spring.

But you can’t lose faith, either.

I’ve often heard that God gives the toughest battles to His strongest soldiers but I believe there is more to that; although those in agriculture are certainly of resilient stock! I think God gives these times of disappointment to the ones who can be of example on how to stay the course amidst the frustration. He uses them as an example to others.

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I don’t know a farmer who plans on not planting in 2017 because of the amount of rain and cold air we’ve endured. I don’t know a farmer who has decided to sit this year out of farming. I don’t know a farmer who intends on selling farm because of 8 inches of rain.

The farmers we know are changing their course of action, recalculating their assumptions and adapting to the situation. The farmers we know are waiting it out and attending 6th grade graduations and dance recitals in the mean time. The farmers we know are trying really hard to exercise the patience their parents worked to instill in them.

Because the farmers we know
learned a long time ago that
faith and farming go hand and hand.

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Business Plan: Early and Often

How many questions can enter the minds of family members when the discussion regarding a farm succession plans begins?

Well, here are a few quick ones that crossed our minds:

  • Do mom and dad have any actual plan for the future of our farm?
  • How long until dad actually lets me make some decisions around here?
  • What if the daughter-in-law doesn’t stick around?
  • Are we all working towards the same goals of the farm?
  • How could I ever afford to buy the farm if mom and dad sell it for top market value to pay for their retirement?
  • How will my farm salary (sweat equity) compare to my sister who only does book work and financials?
  • Why should my brother have any say in the future of the farm when he lives two states away…in town!
  • Will it take a death before the farm succession plan is actually revealed?

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Farm succession planning is certainly not easy, nor is it fun. There is raw emotion, stress, tension and expectations. We get it. Many of our employees and members have experienced being part of a farm succession plan, and agree that it is a tough conversation to have.

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This week we wanted to highlight one farm family that has taken the bull by the horns and included the children in the future of the family farm years now. The expectations for each child is high, but so is the reward. The Powells are Harvest Land farmer-members in west-central Ohio.

We admire their business plan to include the children of the farm early and often.

The remainder of this entry is written by Haleigh Powell and can be found online at Ohio Farmer

Don’t wait too long to pass it on

By Haleigh Powell

Gaylord Nelson, co-founder of Earth Day, once said, “The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”

I am Haleigh Powell, and I’m 18 years old and part owner in a family farm operation in west-central Ohio. You may be thinking, “Where is your grandpa, daddy or uncle, and why are they letting you own part of the business?” The answer is they believe in the younger generation, and they want to train, equip and enable me to be responsible and run my own business.

As farmers, we disagree on the little things, how far apart to plant our rows, how to integrate the latest technology, what the perfect time is to plant — and the list goes on. One thing all farmers want and can agree on is the desire to see the next generation take over the farm. For many of us, farming is more than a way to make a living (if we really wanted to make money, we would go work for the EPA). For us; farming is a way of life. However, most farmers do not know how to pass on the responsibilities of running the farm to the next generation. They keep control of the farm, even when they can no longer participate in the daily activities required to run it.

Two things are wrong with this scenario:

• The older farmers are nervous about the future of a business they have invested their lives in, and this causes them to hesitantly view the next generation. This restricts the next generation’s opportunities to manage, plan and run the business.

• The younger generations are losing interest in farming because they know their chances of being able to run the farm are very small.

The whole point of raising up the next generation of farmers is to teach those who will come after us how to raise crops, manage an agriculture business and plant soybeans at just the right time to ensure optimum growth.

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Learning young
Growing up on the farm, in a family of seven children, my dad taught us responsibility from a very young age. We started out raising and selling produce throughout the surrounding small Midwestern Ohio towns. Even though we were so young, my father expected us to be responsible and run our little business like corporate professionals. Assisting through financial, managerial, employee and logistics issues we faced throughout the life of our business, my father always taught us how to be better professionals in the future. Whenever we made the mistake of giving a customer too much change or breaking yet another piece of equipment, my father used these little accidents as life’s teaching moments.

We eventually retired from the produce industry and went into grain farming. At the time, my grandpa was retiring, and he gave his grandchildren the opportunity to work together once again. This time we worked together growing and selling grain instead of vegetables.

My father gave us the opportunity to learn how to work and make money. This money was invaluable to us later in life when we wanted to start other businesses or invest in our farming business. My grandpa gave us the opportunity to farm his land; he trusted us because we had proven ourselves trustworthy through our hard work, ambition and willingness to learn. We have all realized that when the older generation takes the time to invest in the younger generation, more than just money is made: Memories are created, relationships are strengthened, and traditions are passed on.

Next generation’s worth
Like anything in life, letting go of something we have worked and lived with for so long is hard and, in many cases, takes time to adjust to. The next generation of farmers must prove themselves worthy of the farm, worthy of taking control and responsible for making the family farm better. Just like the younger generation must prove themselves, the older generation must be willing to pass the farm on.

Today, I work alongside my older and younger siblings to analyze, integrate and use the latest agriculture technology. Our goal as a company is to be constantly learning and using our knowledge to make us better farmers. We attend seminars, field days, Farm Science Reviews and webinars to learn more about variable-rate planting, spraying techniques and cost tracking accounting methods. We have a desire to learn and an urge to make the business better and bigger because we know our actions directly relate to how well our business does. Because we are farm owners now and not hired hands, we desire excellence in our fields, yields and technology.

Powell Family Farms is a partnership, formed in 2011 by two generations. We farm around 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans. Our goal is to stay on the cutting edge of technology and go the extra mile to make our fields yield more while replenishing the natural resources found in the soil. Together, we strive to learn and grow our knowledge of the agriculture world.

Powell is from Arcanum, and attends Liberty University’s business school.

 

 

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Mother’s Day Gift Guide

In case you’ve forgotten, consider this your friendly reminder that Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 14. As in, two days from now. It isn’t too late to find something wonderful for the special women in your life, especially if you follow our easy Mother’s Day Gift Guide. These are each last-minute, budget-friendly ideas. We’re farmers. We know how to make a dollar stretch.

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Help in the Kitchen

Help in the kitchen doesn’t mean chaos in the kitchen. Mom likely doesn’t want your just-walked-my-4-H-pig hands in her butter dish or mixing bowl. But she might like that stack of school papers, 4-H entries, phone chargers, sports gear, latest issue of New Horizons, belts, school pictures and bobby pins that clutter her dining room table, or kitchen island, cleared off. That’s right. There really is an appropriate place for that flyer about the summer football fundraiser, and it isn’t where the meatloaf is about to go.

General Civility

This sounds very basic, because none of the farm kids we know are the type to start wars or riots, but it is paramount when thinking of pleasing your farm mom. General Civility means no bickering at the barn. It means no complaining about siblings, school or supper. General Civility is being asked just once to complete a task. It is showing patience towards the younger siblings and taking direction well from the older ones. General Civility is doing things that reassure mom that she’s raising the next great leader, not the next gang leader. Be nice and demonstrate General Civility this Mother’s Day.

Nothing

You read that right. Sometimes the best thing you can give farm moms is nothing. No ball games to rush off to or meals to make for family coming over. No flowers to plant then water or mow around. No dishes to wash, clothes to pre-treat or laundry to fold. Do not give your farm mom jewelry she’s afraid she’ll lose at the barn or chocolates that make her fall off her frustrating diet. Instead, give her…

Everything

You also read that right. Give your farm mom everything she wants, by giving her your time. Because really, when the tractors shut down and barn doors close and the kitchen sink drains and things finally come into focus, what farm moms really want this Mother’s Day is time with the people they love the most: Their kids, husbands and grandkids. No phones of distraction, just them.

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We are thankful for each and every one of you,
whether you farm, or not.

One Saturday in May

We invite you to share a Saturday – or at least a couple hours of it – with us later this month to do some good in the world.

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We’re proud to partner with area churches and FFA chapters for the third year in a row to pack meals for the hungry in our community and also Guatemala.

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The 2017 Pack Away Hunger event will take place on Saturday, May 20 at the Hagerstown Elementary Gym.

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We’re offering two shifts this year for individuals and families to volunteer. The first is from 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM; the afternoon shift runs from 12:30 PM– 3:00 PM. Registration is now open for those who want to lend a hand. You can register online.

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This is an amazing way to show kindness to strangers and the event is suitable for all ages. There really is a job for any age!

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We hope you’ll check your calendar, block out a few hours and plan on joining our farmer-owned cooperative and friends in Hagerstown as we work to cultivate communities. This is one of those “feel good” events – we always leave the event knowing the work we just did matters.

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Register here

Ye of Little Praise

 

There are a lot of variables in businesses such as our’s. We have many different divisions, span hundreds of miles, employ 300+ people, each with different skill sets and responsibilities, and work daily among thousands of moving parts. Oh, and we’re usually running short on time, too.

In our nearly 100 years of business we’ve learned from time to time that if you’re not careful and attentive to details, things can go awry quickly. It is usually in those rare instances that we hear from our farmer-members, as we should. We appreciate the feedback; it makes us better.

Farmers may be considered “ye of little praise” (not to be confused with ye of little faith; there is no greater demonstration of faith than a man planting seeds in a field; but perhaps that is a blog for another week) because they just weren’t brought up that way. In agriculture there are very few pats on the back, few words of encouragement and absolutely no participation trophies. Often the “praise” received comes in the form of a grain check or a milk check, and it’s only then that you know that you’re doing something right.

Though every once in a great while, farmers send written words of encouragement or praise. And those are the ones that you hang onto.

Our CEO received a personally addressed letter on this desk back in February. Of course, though he might be considered one of those ye of little praise, he appreciated the words tremendously and hung on to the note of praise. Fast forward more than two months later and he thought it appropriate to share.



Dear Scott, 

We intended to send you this note at the end of harvest last fall, and here it is the middle of February. 

We were very pleased with the fertilizer application and custom spraying that the College Corner branch provided during the 2016 growing season. It was obvious that Dave Norris and the operators of the sprayers and spreaders were focused on doing a good job instead of covering the most acres in the least amount of time. Bill Curry (who did most of the harvesting) said, “You can tell they took extra care to spray the perimeters of all the fields and were careful of the waterways, too.”

So, we just wanted to let yo know we appreciated their good work and we look forward to their help in the fast approaching growing season. 

Sincerely, 

It was signed by the land owner and the farmer. 

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Despite what the evening news, price at the pump or markets tell you, there is a lot of good going on around us. There are people doing the right thing even when no one is watching.

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Photo by applicator Dave Barbee at our Lena Ag Center

This week we encourage you to refrain from being “ye of little praise” and offer encouragement or sincere thanks to someone around you who deserves it.

Your words may be brief but their impact could be enduring.

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Cultivating Communities: Hancock County Safety Day

Hancock County Farm Bureau is the proud sponsor of the 2017 Safety Day for youth enrolled in 4-H programs in Hancock County. Annually the Farm Bureau works with local police and fire departments, EMTs and local businesses to come up with relevant safety topics for area youth.

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Participants rotate through stations and are given materials to take back to share with their local 4-H Clubs.

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Harvest Land employees were happy to spend their Saturday at this event, as it allows us to cultivate safety education in the communities in which we live and serve.

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2017 presenters included:

Harvest Land – Julie Lamberson – Grain Safety

Greenfield Fire Department – Fire Extinguisher Safety

Hancock Regional Hospital – Linda Garriety – Safe Sitter Program

Smith Implements – Mower and ATV Safety

Harvest Land & Fayette County Honor Society – Earth Day & Recycling Safety

Purdue Extension – Megan Addison – Food safety

We appreciate any invitation to educate the youth in our area,

especially when it comes to safety in agriculture.
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After all, these are the faces of our future.

Best. Idea. Ever.

Admit it. You’re the best “tinker-er”, ever.

Isn’t it time that you get rewarded for your “best idea ever”?

Maybe you love to tinker and invent things. You never patent them, but you put them to work in your operation. CountryMark and Indiana Prairie Farmer a way to get more mileage from your inventions.

Here are the high level details:

Explain what you did on your farm, why you did it and why it worked. Send in your idea. If yours is one of the best ones submitted, you will win Premium Dieselex-4 off-road fuel from CountryMark.

But if you’re not an inventor, don’t worry! There are three separate categories in which you can win. Your best farm management idea or crop production idea is just as important.

Details and rules
Enter one of the three categories described below. You may only enter in one category, and only one entry per immediate household is permitted, please. Anyone 18 years old as of July 15, 2017, who lives in Indiana may enter.

Describe your best idea in 350 words or less. Submit three high-quality digital, horizontal photos with your entry. Please include yourself in at least one photo.

First place in each category will win 250 gallons of Premium Dieselex-4 off-road fuel delivered to their farm. Second place in each category will receive 150 gallons of fuel.

All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EDT on July 15. The judging panel will include a farmer. The decision of the judges is final. Any entry submitted may be used online and in print by Indiana Prairie Farmer without compensation. Whether or not an entry is published is at the discretion of the editor.

Email entries to Indiana Prairie Farmer at tom.bechman@penton.com. You must include your first and last name, address, phone number and cellphone number, and age when submitting your entry by email. Please clearly mark which category you are entering. If you have questions concerning the contest, call Indiana Prairie Farmer at 317-431-8766.

Enter one of the following three categories:

• Farm management. What is the best decision you ever made for your farm? What went into making that decision? Did you use a technique you developed on your own? Any idea related to farm management is fair game.

• Crop production. What is the best decision you’ve made to either raise yields or cut costs? What led you to make that decision? Who or where did you turn to for information?

• Machinery or technology innovation. Don’t think you must have invented the greatest thing since sliced bread to enter. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the ones that make jobs go more smoothly, prevent breakdowns or prevent injuries.

 

Good Luck!

Official Rules:

1. Introduction: Penton Business Media Inc. d/b/a Indiana Prairie Farmer (“Prairie Farmer”) and Countrymark Refining and Logistics, LLC (“CountryMark,” together with Prairie Farmer, the “Sponsors”) are offering the Indiana Prairie Farmer/CountryMark Best Ideas Contest (“Contest”). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.

2. Eligibility: To be eligible to participate in the Contest, entrant must be (i) a legal resident of the state of Indiana, and (ii) 18 years or older as of March 24, 2017. Employees of Sponsors, their parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, advertising and promotion agencies and their family/household members (defined as parents, spouse, children, siblings, grandparents) are not eligible to enter. Void outside the state of Indiana or where prohibited, taxed, or restricted by law. This Contest is governed exclusively by the laws of the United States. All federal, state and/or local rules and regulations apply.

3. Start/Ends Dates: Contest begins at 12:00 a.m. E.D.T. on March 24, 2017 and ends at 11:59 p.m. E.D.T. on Saturday, July 15, 2017 (the “Contest Period”).

4. How to Enter: Submit entry to Susan Hayhurst, Terre Haute, Indiana, the Sponsors’ designee for receiving entries and facilitating judging of entries, at email address: tom.bechman@penton.com. Include first and last names, age, legal address, phone number and cell phone number, and email address. Provide this information at the time entry is submitted. There is no pre-entry or registration form. A best idea may be submitted in one of three categories: (1) Best idea related to a farm management decision; (2) Best idea related to a crop management decision; or (3) Best idea concerning a mechanical or electronic innovation or modification you have made on the farm.

Entrant may submit ONE entry only in ONE category only. Limit one entry per person, per email address and only one entry per immediate household (defined as participant, spouse and any children still living within entrant’s home). Submitted entry must include (i) description of “best idea” (not to exceed 350 words) AND three high quality, large format, digital horizontal photos. Entrant’s picture must be included in at least one of the photos. All entries must be received during the Contest Period.  Sponsors are the official time keeper for the Contest, and all decisions of Contest judges are final.  More than one entry from any person or e-mail address will void all entries from that person or e-mail address.  No automated entry devices and/or programs permitted.  Sponsors are not responsible for lost, late, illegible, stolen, incomplete, invalid, unintelligible, misdirected, technically corrupted or garbled entries, which will be disqualified, or for problems of any kind whether mechanical, human or electronic , including, but not limited to, bugs or malfunctions, that entrants may encounter when submitting an entry or participating in the Contest.  Proof of submission will not be deemed to be proof of receipt by Sponsors.   Entrants must accurately provide all required contact information.  All entries, including descriptions and photographs, must be fully original creations of the entrants.  By entering, all entrants warrant and represent that their respective entries are their own fully original creations, and their respective entries (including all materials integrated into their entries) do not infringe or violate the rights of any third parties, including but not limited to copyrights, trademarks, or rights of publicity/privacy.  Sponsors reserve the right to reject any entries deemed, in their sole discretion, to be inappropriate, for any reason whatsoever.

5. Judging Criteria: Prize winners will be selected by a panel of judges appointed by Sponsors based on the following criteria: (i) 34% for originality of idea submitted; (ii) 33% for description of value of the idea to the contestant and others; and (iii) 33% for how well the idea is explained in photographs and captions. The Contest will take place under the supervision of Sponsors. Participants agree to be bound by these rules and the decision of the judges, whose decisions are final.  Potential winners will be notified by e-mail on or about August 15, 2017. Each entrant selected as a potential winner must comply with all terms and conditions set forth in these Official Rules, and winning is contingent upon fulfilling all such requirements.

6. Prizes: Two prizes will be awarded in each of the three categories for a total of six prizes (i.e., three first prizes and three second prizes).

First Prize winner in each category will receive 250 gallons of CountryMark Premium Dieselex-4 off-road fuel delivered to winner’s business. Approximate retail value of each first prize is $500.

Second Prize winner in each category will receive 150 gallons of CountryMark Premium Dieselex-4 off-road fuel delivered to winner’s business. Approximate retail value of each second prize is $300.

Total Approximate Retail Value of All Prizes combined: $2,400

Sponsors make no warranties with regard to the prizes. Prizes are non-transferable and must be accepted as awarded. In the event that a prize cannot be awarded for any reason, Sponsors may, in their sole discretion, substitute a prize of equal or greater value. All taxes, fees and surcharges on prizes are the sole responsibility of winners. Each prize winner is solely responsible for the fuel storage tanks necessary to store the fuel awarded as the prize. Each Contest entrant hereby irrevocably waives the right to assert as a cost of receiving any prize any and all costs of verification and redemption to redeem such prize, if any, and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem such prize.  Prizes will only be delivered to addresses in Indiana.

7. Entries: All entries, including submitted written material and photographs, become the property of Prairie Farmer, and will not be returned. All entries much be original, may not have won previous prizes, and must not infringe on any third party rights. Submission of entry constitutes entrant’s consent to irrevocably assign to Prairie Farmer any and all rights to the entry including, but not limited to, intellectual property rights. Submission of an entry grants Prairie Farmer and its designees and licensees the right to modify and edit the entry and to use, adapt, reproduce, publish, display and distribute the entry worldwide, in perpetuity, in any and all media, now existing or hereafter developed, without compensation to the entrant.

8. Affidavit of Eligibility/Release: Potential winners may be required to execute an Affidavit of Eligibility/Liability Release and where lawful, a Publicity Release within 14 days of prize notification.  If the winner cannot be contacted within seven (7) calendar days of first notification attempt, if prize or prize notification is returned as undeliverable, if winner rejects his/her prize, or in the event of non-compliance with these Contest rules and requirements, the prize will be forfeited and an alternate winner will be selected from all remaining eligible entries.  Upon prize forfeiture, no compensation will be given.

9. Conditions: Entry constitutes permission to use the winner’s name, picture, likeness, and city and state of residence for purposes of trade, publicity, or promotion for no additional compensation except where prohibited by law. By participating, entrants and winners agree to release and hold harmless Sponsors, and their parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, advertising and promotions agencies, partners, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, employees, officers and directors, from any and all liability, for loss, harm, damage, injury, cost or expense whatsoever, including without limitation, property damage, personal injury and/or death which may occur in connection with, preparation for, or participation in Contest, or possession, acceptance and/or use or misuse of prize or participation in any Contest-related activity, and for any claims based on publicity rights, defamation or invasion of privacy and merchandise delivery. Sponsors are not responsible if Contest cannot take place or if any prize cannot be awarded due to delays or interruptions, acts of God, acts of war, natural disasters, weather, or acts of terrorism. Sponsors reserve the right to suspend, cancel or modify these Official Rules as necessary for any reason or as required by applicable law.  Any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of or connected with the Contest or any prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action.

10. Miscellaneous: All entries become the sole property of Sponsors, and none will be returned. In the event of a dispute, entries submitted by Internet will be deemed made by the authorized account holder of the e-mail address submitted at the time of entry. The “authorized account holder” is deemed the natural person who is assigned to an e-mail address by an Internet access provider, service provider or other online organization that is responsible for assigning e-mail addresses for the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address. A potential winner may be requested to provide Sponsors with proof that he/she is the authorized account holder of the e-mail address associated with the winning entry. If for any reason the Contest is not capable of running as planned, including due to infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failure, human error or any other causes beyond the control of Sponsors that corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of the Contest, Sponsors reserve the right in their sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process, and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest. Sponsors assume no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, communications line failure, theft, destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of, entries. Sponsors are not responsible for any problems or technical malfunction of any telephone network or lines, computer online systems, servers, or providers, computer equipment, software, failure of any e-mail or entry to be received by Sponsors on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any web site, any combination thereof, or otherwise, including any injury or damage to entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from participation or downloading any materials in the Contest. Sponsors may prohibit an entrant from participating in the Contest, in Sponsors’ sole discretion, if Sponsors determine that said entrant is attempting to undermine the legitimate operation of the Contest by cheating, hacking, deception, or other unfair playing practices (including the use of automated quick entry programs) or intending to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other entrants or Sponsors’ representatives.

CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEB SITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST MAY BE A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS, AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSORS RESERVE THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.

11. Use of Data. Prairie Farmer will be collecting personal data about entrants in accordance with its privacy policy, which is hereby incorporated herein.  Please review Prairie Farmer’s privacy policy at http://www.penton.com/privacy-policy/. Entrants hereby acknowledge that they have read and accepted Prairie Farmer’s privacy policy and agree to Prairie Farmer’s collection and usage of their personal information in accordance with such privacy policy.

12. List of Winners. Names of winners will be published in the October 2017 issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer and will be available on the indianaprairiefarmer.com website on or about October 1, 2017.

13. Sponsors: The Sponsors of this Contest are Penton Business Media, Inc. d/b/a Indiana Prairie Farmer with address at P.O. Box 247, Franklin, IN 46131 and Countrymark Refining and Logistics, LLC with address at 225 South East Street, Suite 144, Indianapolis, IN 46202.

The Butterfly Effect

We’ve talked a lot about choices lately around our farmer-owned cooperative. More specifically, regarding how we assess choices and spend time debating them, whether internally or with others. We can expend a lot of energy considering things that sit in our mind, making pros/cons lists, discussing and debating. Perhaps the heaviest component in the decision-making process is determining what you want in the first place.

Making a living in agriculture is no different from the other choices we make throughout our lives. Every decision, every choice and every action we take matters, both to ourselves and to those around us. We’re about to see another crop go in the ground very soon, and the agronomic choices made in the previous months will ultimately determine how that crop turns out. Oh, and weather has something to do with it, too.

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The whole idea of making choices and taking actions that affect yourself and others reminds us of the butterfly effect. 

In short, the butterfly effect, also known as “sensitive dependence on initial conditions,” is the idea that small changes can have large consequences. The idea came to be known as the “butterfly effect” after Edward Lorenz suggested that the flap of a butterfly’s wings might ultimately cause a tornado.

Wait. What?

We thought the same….initially.

We know your time is valuable. But this week’s message is powerfully poured into this short video featuring Andy Andrews. We promise it will be worth your time.

Norman Borlaug -> Henry Wallace -> George Washington Carver -> Moses Carver -> Unless….

What an incredible thought that every single thing we do and every choice we make – large or quite small – has the ability to make a difference and affect others. Our actions and decisions have the power to reach people that we don’t even know exist. Your daily actions and decisions can point your life in such a direction that you may impact someone else’s, without ever realizing it. How powerful is that?

It is a theory that will surely change your thinking. butterfly-sharper-edges2

Andy Andrews went on to write a children’s book about this incredible string of events and the impact that one little boy, Norman Borlaug, had on billions of people. You can find the book, The Boy Who Changed the Worldhere.

Everything you do matters, for all of us – and forever.

Were You Hired To Do That?

A middle school student, from a town not far from our cooperative headquarters, was given the assignment to job shadow someone working in a field that might interest him down the road.

His top choices for a future career – at age 14 – were

  • a pediatrician (should a student spend their day in a medical office during flu season?)
  • a preacher (he gets weekly insight from this field every Sunday and at youth group)
  • the agricultural field (he chose to spend his day at our farmer-owned cooperative)

I had a meeting with our agronomist and the gentleman that this student was shadowing for the day, our Chief Operations Officer. The three of us discussed plans for an upcoming presentation we are giving at Ball State University, while the student sat in quiet observation. After collaboration over a meal, we engaged the student by explaining to him our individual paths that lead to the current positions we have within Harvest Land.

It was a really valuable conversation. Not only did I learn about the very unique roads my coworkers have taken to get to the successful levels they’re at today, but I also noticed a trend that I think is worth sharing with you.

One employee never went to college, they went straight to into the work force out of high school.

One employee went to a highly accredited 4-year university (after turning down an offer at Notre Dame) and even went on to attain their Master’s.

One employee graduated with a bachelor’s degree in a non-agriculture field.

All three were leaps and bounds above the level – both in position and pay – in which they were first hired (one started at $1 an hour – and it wasn’t 1929). All three shared oddly similar stories when visiting with the job-shadowing-student.

All three never turned down a job.
  • Sweeping the shop floor
  • Answering phones
  • Tying feed sacks
  • Mixing chemicals
  • Making the office coffee (which could be comparable to mixing chemicals)
  • Washing trucks
  • Delivering meals to the field
  • Cleaning up after meetings or guests
  • Taking out the trash
  • Sweeping out bins
  • Working in the pit
  • Loading trucks with bagged feed
  • Painting tanks
  • Making parts runs
  • And more

These were just a few of the things these highly successful adults did in their early careers.

“Were you hired to do that?!” the student asked the COO.
“No, I wasn’t. But it needed done.”

What a lesson that can resonate with today’s students about to begin their careers. There is a strange expectation from many who are early in their career that they will get hired into a middle management position and climb the ladder of success by starting on the third rung. Today’s work force doesn’t work that way. The workforce in 2007 didn’t work that way. The work force in 1997 didn’t work that way. The work force in 1987 didn’t work that way. Do you notice a trend?

ladder

What an advantage someone will have if they choose early in life to do the work that needs to be done, whether it was written in their job description, or not. Those who keep the phrase “That’s not my job,” off their lips will have a far greater advantage over those who use it.

Now, this isn’t giving every supervisor across America to take advantage of those who work hard.

But we offer this encouragement to those who want to be successful in their field of choice: If you’re willing to do more than what is expected of you, more opportunities than you expect will come your way. 

work bootsWe believe that farm kids get hired and promoted regularly because they understand that there is work to be done, no matter who does it. They come from a place where 5:00 PM simply means that there is still four more hours of daylight and work ahead of them. They come from a team that doesn’t clock in or clock out – their work begins when the boots go on and it ends when they come off…and then they have to eat dinner with their co-workers.

Farm kids understand that even the bosses have to do the dirty jobs sometimes – – -because they’ve seen their grandfathers use auto steer in the brand new tractor in the same day that they saw him picking up rocks out of the field.

rock in field

We encourage those early in their career to take full advantage of the opportunities to do many different jobs – the good, bad, and ugly – when given the chance. Not only will it offer you new experiences, it will expand your skill set and build your character.

And who knows, it might start a really enlightening conversation in 30 years when you’re being job shadowed by an eager middle schooler trying to figure out the world.