If Not For Their Sacrifice

Memorial Day weekend in America: the unofficial start to summer.

It’s easy to get swept away in the spirit of the season: the sizzle of the grill, seeing some kind of light at the end of the tunnel in terms of planting (we’re optimists) and watching really fast cars make consistent left hand turns for nearly three hours.

Helio Castroneves, Will Power, Dario Franchitti

It is so easy to get swept away in those things, in fact, that we forget what the three-day weekend is really about: Honoring men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Military. Memorial Day is about honoring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, our country and the lives we’re fortunate to live every day.

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If not for their sacrifice we wouldn’t have the chance to play with our grandkids on the big old oak that has stood on the family farm, more than 100 years.

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If not for their sacrifice we wouldn’t have a choice. A choice when making our own purchasing decisions. A choice when selecting fertilizer. A choice when filling our diesel tanks or choosing what lubricants to use to ensure our operation continues to run like a well oiled machine. Most days. 

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If not for their sacrifice we wouldn’t have the opportunity to proudly – and freely – wave the American flag over our grain bins, fence lines  and from our combines.

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If not for their sacrifice we wouldn’t be able to sit in the same creaky pew that our great-grandmother did every Sunday for 87 years.

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If not for their sacrifice our kids wouldn’t be able to stand in front of their peers and freely explain to the class just what it means to grow up on a farm.

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If not for their sacrifice we woudn’t be able to proudly cheer for the old Black & Gold.

Or Scarlet & Grey.

Or Cream & Crimson.

Or whatever color combination you’re into.

Is it football season yet?

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If not for their sacrifice we wouldn’t have the opportunity to write our letters to the editor in our small hometown newspaper – or even the Farm World – publically expressing our praises and concerns.

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If not for their sacrifice we wouldn’t be able to attend parades on the main streets that serve as the backbone of our rural communities. We wouldn’t be able to march for causes we’re passionate about and throw candy to our neighbors and spend the day with our families celebrating the hometown spirit.

If not for their sacrifice our grandkids wouldn’t go to Vacation Bible School or Sunday School or proudly be a St. Mary’s Cub.

A Christmas Prayer

The people we remember on Memorial Day weekend
wrote a blank check made payable to
“The United States of America”
for an amount of
“up to, and including his/her life.”
And the check was cashed.

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This Memorial Day weekend, join us in honoring the selfless fallen.

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Perception: A Game Changer

Perception, as you well know, can change things.

What we see, what we hear, what we believe and how we act.
Perception is a game changer.

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While driving to church Sunday I was surprised to see a family emerge from a field and approach the roadway. I instantly hit my breaks, slowing down to try to process the situation. Did they need help?

It only took a few seconds to realize what was going on: This family was being followed out of the field by a gal with a camera and some props. They were having family photos taken on this Sunday morning. I drove by slowly as they waited for me to pass, and while doing so I scouted the field, which served as the scenic background.

I thought to myself: A weed patch? They chose the middle of a weed patch to get photos taken?

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To me, it looked like a poorly managed field that was over run by butterweed.

To this family and the photographer, it was a field full of beautiful yellow wildflowers, serving as a perfect, bright landscape for spring photos.

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Perception, as you well know, can change things.
What we see, what we hear, what we believe and how we act.
Perception is a game changer.

While we’re not in the business to make photographers work harder to scout the perfect field of “wildflowers”, we are in the business of finding solutions for local farmers to increase yield and profits. One of those ways is to implement a fall herbicide program that burns down weeds long before they even become a twinkle in a photographer’s eye.

Here are points worth remembering to ensure that weeds – such as the beautiful butterweed –don’t rob your yield.

  • All good weed control programs utilize a strong soil residual herbicide, followed by a timely post application when the weeds are still small.
  • Pests that winter in crop fields can make their home in annual winter weeds. Be proactive and use a fall herbicide to prevent the pests from over-staying their welcome during the cold winter months. Your wife’s weird uncle already does enough of that around Christmas! Pests such as black cutworm and soybean cyst nematode are easier to control in the fall by eliminating winter weeds.
  • Seedling corn does not compete well with early-season weed competition. Weeds that reach over 4 inches in height before they are sprayed silently rob yield.
  • Soils warm more quickly where fall herbicides are applied. In fact, studies show that soil temperatures increase by as much as 5 degrees in corn and 8 degrees in soybeans when a residual fall herbicide was applied. This allows for faster planting and fewer delays for customers who exercise a fall burndown program.
  • Maximize your time: Fall months usually provide more days that are suitable for field work. A burndown application applied post-harvest allows farmers to be certain that when the spring weather (finally) arrives they can efficiently use their time  planting the next crop.
  • All good weed control programs utilize a strong soil residual herbicide, followed by a timely post application when the weeds are still small.

I collaborated with agronomist Steve Dlugosz to write this week and he gave the family photo shoot story and the idea of perception a laugh. He remembers watching the music video of John Mellencamp’s Little Pink Houses on MTV and hearing the host remark about the beautiful, giant field of marigolds Mellencamp was dancing in.

Those weren’t marigolds; those were soybeans.

 

Ah, perception.

Rain Makes (More Than) Corn

Spring storms have been unforgiving in much of the country over the last week. Our trade area, which includes eastern Indiana and western Ohio, has seen its share of rain, but we’ve experienced nothing like the destruction that moved through Oklahoma. It’s always easy to complain throughout the day about not getting in the fields…until you turn on the NBC evening news and Lester Holt’s lead story covers the F4 tornados shredding the helpless Oklahoma plains.

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Untimely rain makes planting season tough.

Untimely rain makes farmers frustrated by slowing their progress.

Luke Bryan has a special (slightly annoying to some people) way of reminding country music listeners that rain also makes corn.

 

While that song painfully gets stuck in your head,

we thought this week we’d take a look at:

rain makes

Rain Makes Farmers Catch Up on Book Work

Some things seem to go by the wayside when the wheels start turning and thstack paperwork.jpge seed begins to drop – and book work is one of them. I mean really, who wants to sit at a desk and balance numbers, pay bills and sort paper to achieve some kind of order when you can be in the field? No one.

So when the rain falls, farmers kind of get forced to bring organization to chaos. You can only sit in the cab of your 8100 while the rain comes down outside for so long before you become the talk of the township.

Rain Makes Farmers Spend Money

While you’re in the office catching up on book work, it’s only fitting that you stop to look through a few magazines that have gone unread, maybe catch up on a few emails, perhaps search the web. You may even – as the rain continues – sit back in your chair and think of all the improvements that you’ve considered over the last six months to 25 years to advance your operation.

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To keep up with changing technology.

To set your son – or grandkids – up for success.

The rain, as it turns out, emits some sort of special signal to farmers to move forward with making plans and finalizing decisions and spending money. Where do you think the term “rainy day fund” came from? Rain can get spendy.

Rain Makes Farmers Reconnect

I met an industry partner for lunch at a restaurant on the other side of the county earlier this week. It was a rainy day, preceded by a rainy night, and the perfect time to sit down for a meal that didn’t come from a Ziploc bag. During our visit, a local farm family came into the restaurant and I couldn’t help but watch their arrival in, out of the rain. First through the door was the great-grandmother: the matriarch of a successful farm family. Behind her came the great-granddaughter, blonde ponytail and maybe five-years-old; her grandmother, who had held the door, followed the child. “Three generations of farm gals out for lunch,” I thought to myself, “What a fun day for them.

Only moments passed before the restaurant door opened again.

Then, the farmer walked in.

The son of the great-grandmother.

The husband of the grandmother.

The granddad of the five-year-old blonde.

I couldn’t help but smile to myself:

This multi-generational lunch made possible by none other than the falling rain.

While farmers may be getting grumpy (that phrase, by the way, is one way a farmer described himself this week, those are not the writer’s words!) because of all the May rains, these rains have certainly opened an opportunity for other important events to take place. They’ve allowed for farmers to step out of the cab, shop or field and reconnect with those so important to them. Planting Widows become married once again, if only for a few days while the rain comes down.

Rain makes time for life’s good stuff,
like enjoying lunch with your
88-year-old mother
and five-year-old granddaughter.

Rain makes corn. (OK, that was the last Luke Bryan reference, we promise).

Rain makes farmers catch up on bookwork.

Rain makes farmers spend money.

Rain makes farmers reconnect.

Rain, as it turns out, may not be so bad,
after all.

(We’re certain you’ll agree in July.)

What Farm Moms Don’t Do

Mother’s Day is Sunday (consider this your friendly reminder) and we’ve been thinking a lot about the hard working Farm Moms that we know. They’re a strong part of our communities, families and homes.

Farm Moms do so much to keep the wheels turning at home, at school, at work, and on the farm, and we’re lucky to know quite a few Farm Moms who do just that, so well. In a single day, they may be called a chauffeur, chef, nurse, counselor, beautician, and teacher. I get tired just thinking of all that they do.

But what about all of those things Farm Moms don’t do? Yep, believe it or not, there are certain things that you rarely – maybe even never – see a Farm Mom do. In honor of Mother’s Day, we’ve made a list of things Farm Moms just don’t do:

Farm Moms don’t complain about meals on equipment.

They understand that time is of the essence when planting, harvesting, baling hay or even running cattle through the chute. So if that means that the farm truck tailgate or the hay wagon needs to be transformed into the dining room table for a few minutes, they don’t ask questions, except “Can you pass the napkins to your brother?” They’re just happy to have the family around the “table” for a meal.

Farm Moms don’t spend much money at the car wash.

Sure, it’s nice to rinse off the ol’ grocery getter every once in a while, but every Farm Mom knows that the best way to ensure that rain falls on the freshly mown hay field is to spend $10 on a car wash. Spring mud, harvest dust, grease-covered jeans, muddy Muck boots: each sure to cover or enter the vehicle at some point throughout any given week. Why wash it now?

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Farm Moms don’t take for granted the people behind the counter.

The man at the local parts dealership displays great patience as she tries to decipher the third item on her poorly scribbled parts list. The woman at the pharmacy uses a gentle smile and kindness to reassure her that their first-born should be feeling better within two days. The young girl at the check out waits calmly as the Farm Mom runs back to aisle 6 to get one more box of cornbread mix; you just never know when harvest help will stay for dinner.

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Farm Moms don’t go a day without worry.

Will the youngest pass her spelling test? Will the middle be included? Will the oldest remember to use his turn signals? Will the milk check be enough? Will daddy’s doctor appointment go OK? Will the rain keep her husband out of the field again? These are only the thoughts that go through her head before getting out of bed.

But Farm Moms also don’t go a day without prayer.

They pray for safe days, healthy kids and strong markets. They also say prayers of sincere thanks for the life they’re able to live on the family farm.

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Farm Moms don’t let you – or anyone – go hungry.

Are you worried about your book report? Have a snack. Are you spending your day hauling grain? Take a lunch box full of snacks. Are you getting ready for Friday’s night’s football game? Bring the whole team over for a pre-game snack. If you’re not miserable when you leave the dinner table, you didn’t eat enough. Here, have another biscuit.

Farm Moms don’t watch very much TV.

Their reason for lack of TV watching is three-part:

  1. Lack of time (who can tune into a 7:00 PM show when the family doesn’t come in from the barn until 9:00?)
  2. Lack of desire (once in the house, who has the energy to watch someone else’s hectic life unfold?)
  3. She already knows she could win any season of Survivor: she’s gotten the kids on the bus on time for 26 days straight and hasn’t killed anyone in the process.

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Farm Moms don’t get surprised any longer by the things they find in the washing machine.

Tonka trucks, eyebolts, toothpicks, wheat pennies and more; each telling a small story of how the previous week unfolded.

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Farm Moms don’t get very excited about science fair projects because they think their life, in general, can be viewed as a science fair project.

Learning that a child can survive after sucking on a dropped-in-the-barn-pacifier, GMO arguments, mud room sink discoveries, testing if vinegar or peroxide remove blood more quickly from the carpet, and more. Your science fair project is due Friday? Let’s just clean out the bottom drawer of the refrigerator and call it done.

Farm Moms don’t think they’ll ever live up to the standards in which their mother, mother-in-law and grandmothers set before them. But what they don’t realize is that in their husband’s and kids’ eyes,
they already have.

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We are thankful for you

and all those things you don’t do.