Saturday, April 30, 2011
The hard part was what to put in it and how to lay it out. We decided to use chapters and do pages based upon different things that take place in our lives. Family is first and then other activities.
We hope you enjoy looking at it and catching a glimpse of our family and farm. We plan on doing a book for each year now to highlight the different things that take place and make a collection for future generations. Enjoy.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Have you ever had one of those days where things just always seem to go wrong, even with good things happening? A type of day when no matter what you do you just can’t get ahead? Well, I had one of those days.
The day started out good enough, I woke up (one more day blessed), had my coffee and did my early morning computer time. A normal enough day so far. The weather looked decent and we were able to get stuff done around the farm like looking over the harrow to make sure it is ready for spring work. Also, no rain (although it was predicted tomorrow).
I have a chat with my brother who is working on the farm with me in the morning to discuss his progress and things that he is doing well and things that need improvement. Great conversation and work starts out fine. It was normal enough until late afternoon.
Logan was home from school and said we had a dead cow (third one in two weeks) and it wouldn't get up when he mooed at it from the barn. I told him it doesn’t always work making a sound at them, sometimes you have to walk out there. He walked, came back and said the cow was fine but we had a new calf. Great, the bull did his job last year and calving season is starting.
Now the fun begins. We get the needle, medicine, ear tag, and rubber bands (in case it is a male) and head out as a family to the pasture. Sure enough a beautiful little calf lying in the field. It gets up and starts moving…a nice healthy calf. Even better. But who is the momma?
Turns out momma is a first calf heifer whose bag is not dropping and doesn’t want the calf. Chris (little brother) gave the calf its shots, put the tag in, and banded it. Then we got him up and sent him off for momma to find. No go. We spent about 45 minutes trying to get momma to hook up with the calf to no avail.
As I get into the Kubota to go out of the pasture with Rhonda, Logan starts walking over and goes through the crust into really soft stinky manure…in his baseball cleats. He had to leave in less than ½ hour. We get out and I wash off his shoes and get them cleaned up. I leave the Kubota parked by the pump house in the middle of the farm.
After washing the shoes off I go in the office to get the colostrum (the first milk) out of the freezer to thaw. A newborn mammal needs the colostrums to kick start its immune system and we had milked a cow to keep some on hand, just in case.
As this goes on Rhonda is ready to take Dillon to drivers education and Logan to his game. We say goodbye (I am preoccupied with my thoughts) and she promptly gets into her car to go. However, when backing up she runs into the Kubota bending the tailgate that Logan sat on for the calf and dented the hatch on her Trailblazer, right rear quarter panel, and broke the backup lens.
After I rant and rave about the situation (not at her or anyone else) I get back to business of dealing with the calf. Momma still is not taking it after Chris and I feed it the colostrum. We carry the calf to the shop and make a nice pen for it to warm up and stay the night. And I miss a meeting.
I know this may sound trivial because there are other people in this country and world that have bigger problems than this. Keeping an even head and dealing with the problems head on gets the job done instead of dwelling on it.
As I was relaxing in the evening with my thoughts, the newspaper, and the NBA playoffs I started thinking about the bigger problems agriculture has…image. Movies like Food Inc., organizations like PETA, and magazines like Time all want to paint a picture that farmers, ranchers, and agriculture is bad. There is no compassion for anything we do.
It is my responsibility to make sure the people and animals that are in my care get the best possible chance. Sometimes things don’t always work out, but this time it did. It is moments like this on a farm, overcoming adversity, that’s what makes being a farmer awesome.
What we do every day on a farm or ranch is completely contrary to what is in movies, magazines and on the websites of organizations that have an agenda above any animal’s welfare. It is not everyone who can save a life and make it prosper every day.
Momma still won’t take the calf, but Dillon and Logan will have a new project and a new responsibility on the farm. They will learn another farm lesson that can only be taught by experience. One of them might even have an FFA or 4-H project. However, the memory of their experience will last with them for the rest of their lives, regardless of people against agriculture.
Monday, April 11, 2011
I was too tired to write in the morning, but will tackle that task now. After being sick and fighting the crud I needed my rest, and there was a full day on the agenda. Breakfast starts at 8 am and I am one of the first down. I took my computer with me to show the Fellows that were interested what I was doing with precision agriculture and Unmanned Air Vehicles. Definitely not enough time to eat and do everything. Cest la Vie!
Today is the day we learn the results of the tests that were sent to us a month earlier by Dr. Cheng Zhu, Expert in Leadership Development, Doctorate of Harvard. I was just hoping I didn’t fail the tests. We were still in our groups from the day before, but positions were switched around in the room. Instead of being in the back, we were in the front (probably due to necessity.)
The first test results (Change Style Indicator) placed a person on a scale from 66 (Conserver side) to zero (Pragmatist) to 66 (Originator), a range of 132. I was a 2 on Conserver side labeling me a Pragmatist. I have never thought of myself as a pragmatist, the sound of the word makes me feel dirty or something.
The definition according to “The Free Dictionary” is: A practical, matter-of-fact way of approaching or assessing situations or of solving problems. I agree, but instead of fancy words that I don’t understand I call it common sense or being a farmer.
Everyone got up and had to line up from highest score on one side, to zero, then to the highest score on the other side of the scale. There were more people on the originator side (about 2/3). However, I was not alone and had another 2, a kindred spirit in James Rosen. I called us the negative numbers.
Ariel Hernandez (Philippines) was the highest on the originator side with a score of 24 and Gong Weibin (China) had the highest score of 12 for conservers. And imagine that, both farmers were conservers. In reality, not much separated one side from the other (36 points) on the 132 point scale or 27%. We all like to have goals and objectives to help guide us.
After a working lunch, we received the results from the FIRO-B test. It is designed to help a person understand their behavior and the behavior of others in an organization. The results consisted of two rows and three columns, a total of six boxes. The score in each row or column was then added to get a total for each.
The interesting class result was on the column for “Inclusion” and the row for “Wanted.” Out of 21 scores that I counted, 17 had a score of 3 or less (0). Inclusion is defined by the test as “…Relates to forming new relations and associating with others.” Wanted is defined as “The extent to which you want or will accept that behavior from others.”
In a nut shell the result means that we may get many invitations to attend meetings or discussions but often turn them down or don’t show up and we pick and choose which social events to attend. We are also not bothered by rejection and are exhausted by constant meetings. In other words, we could care less for being invited and it depends upon the situation. A very interesting trait for the class.
We also did an exercise involving blind folds. We were handed two puzzle pieces and as a group (about 15 people) had to decide which two shapes were missing and which two colors. This was a tough exercise with type A personalities. Our group guessed both colors and one shape ahead of the other group before time expired.
Class was officially over and we left to change into business attire and walk to the Rittenhouse Hotel for individual and group pictures. The time for hamming it up started. Not only did we get professional pictures, but everyone’s camera came out to take pictures. A great moment.
Next was the discussion meeting with Ambassador John Negroponte. This was a wonderful experience and opportunity to interact with a world leader that I grew up reading about. The questions from the Fellows were outstanding. The insight that he provided is beyond description.
A social hour followed and it was a great opportunity to talk to Fellows that I had not spent much time with and to chat with former New Jersey Governor, Christine Todd Whitman. My usual audience is my ladies (cows) and the conversation consists of them mooing to bring them hay. Most definitely a step above the norm.
Dinner followed. The Fellows were spread out at different tables and had a chance to interact with EF Trustees and Directors. This was proved to be very beneficial for my trip to Argentina. I sat at the table with 1988 Fellow Julio Hang and his wife. Julio is from Argentina and his brother has a farm. I look forward to seeing him again on my visit there.
Then to the watering hole. Since this was the last night for the US Fellows, we decided to kick up our heels and drink some adult beverages. It is not a party time, but a time to get to know each other better and to develop a better network. Don’t get me wrong, we definitely had a good time but being 40 something’s has allowed us to use better common sense.
The US Fellows definitely lived up to expectations and then some. With a time together of just two day, it was not long enough to really get close to everyone. I look forward to getting together with them next year during the closing session of our adventure. What a great time with a great group of people. Too bad it had to end.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
The first full day with all of the 2011 Fellows was awesome. Open minds and open conversations permeated the atmosphere. Friendships were quickly formed. What was interesting was the number of the international Fellows that were interested in agriculture.
It is always amazing when strangers come together in a leadership atmosphere they always become friends. There is a drive and determination to learn more, do more, grow more. And when you bring people of this caliber together the level of conversation and thinking it out of this world.
I have found my partner in crime, Rhett Proctor. Rhett is from Massachusetts and is the other agriculture Fellow. There is a lot of common ground and experiences and both of us being country boys in the big city leads to having fun after hours.
Along with that it is interesting to watch kindred spirits be drawn into small groups during the conference. You have those that are more professional, those that are more reserved, and the group that likes to kick up their heels a little. Whichever group you get into, more bonding and knowledge is shared.
As usual with leadership meetings are the exercises to get to know one another. These exercises not only do that but are designed to help the group as a whole develop a common bond and sense of direction. Trying to write a six word haiku that describes you was great.
The best one I saw or hear was from Tominiyi Owolabi of Nigeria. He is a key legal advisor on financial sector reform to the Central Bank of Nigeria. His haiku was: “Frustrated lawyer. Trying to break out.” His interpretation of this was trying to escape the prison he has built around himself out of work.
Mine was “Boys, toys, dirt. Still growing up!” For those of you who know me well you are either shaking your head in agreement and or laughing. Everything I do is to help make my boys life better. I love the toys on my farm from tractors to tools and my heritage, livelihood and soul is centered on my farm. As for still growing up, I am always trying to learn and I am definitely a kid at heart. Always have fun.
At lunch I had a great conversation with Anati Canca of South Africa. She sought me out (if not I would have grabbed her) and is the executive director of Technology Transfer of the Agriculture Research Council. Great conversation but never enough time.
We went through group exercises again and then the US Fellows broke away and walked to the Eisenhower Fellowships building for orientation. The conference room where my interview was held in September looked very familiar, but somehow was more inviting; less stress. The great part, receiving a key to the building, a tradition that symbolizes your home in the Eisenhower Family. Awesome!
We walked back to the hotel, dressed down, and traveled to Tom Ferguson’s home. Tom Ferguson is the EF Director of Development. Great food, good times, and wonderful conversations ensued. Mixing with everyone and being able to learn more in a relaxed atmosphere cannot be overlooked.
Another kindred spirit is Flavio Nogueira of Brazil. He has been very helpful by informing me of customs in his country and for Argentina and Uruguay as well. I hope that my travels down there will allow me to meet with him because this will probably be my closest international Fellow friend.
After the bus ride back to the hotel, Flavio, Rhett, and Omar Al-Madhi of Saudi Arabia were led astray by EF Alumni Associate and IT person Holly Logan. We went to a local watering hole to continue our conversation and bonding. What is interesting throughout my conversations with everyone are the problems are the same regardless of countries.
It was always in the back of my mind “What did I get myself into?” Well, I now have a new family. A family that is scattered around the world and would provide help at the drop of a hat. A family with similar values and concerns along with trying to find solutions to issues that are not only in their country, but issues that know no boundaries. I have truly been blessed to be a part of the Eisenhower Fellowships.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
2:30 in the morning is when my day started on Tuesday, April 5. I had packed the evening before and taken my stuff to the pickup. My flight left Lewiston, Idaho at 5:30 to Salt Lake City and then on to Philadelphia, the home base for Eisenhower Fellowships. The importance? I start my Eisenhower Fellowship experience.
The 2011 international Fellows arrived in Philly late last week and are starting their travels around the U.S. They are from every continent and by reading their bios, very intelligent. The 2011 US Fellows, me included, headed to Philly to meet them and to go through our orientation.
This is the first time in a few years that I have actually looked forward to traveling. Why is traveling not fun? One thing is getting up at 2:30 am. Another reason is spending most of a day either on an airplane or in an airport. Also I am away from my family and miss my boy’s activities. Finally, sitting in the row behind a 20 month old that throws up is not appealing.
The flights went well other than the hurling incident and I arrived in Philly at 3:30. Catch a cab to the hotel, check in, and then unpack the bags. Time enough to iron the wrinkles out, take a shower (to get the permeating smell off of me), and relax before going to dinner.
I head down to the lobby and the first Eisenhower person I see is Rhett Proctor, the other 2011 ag Fellow. We are friends on Facebook and have read each others bios, so it was easy to spot each other. After a couple of minutes of chatting Jason Riley showed up. Jason runs the US Fellowship program and is my contact person.
Jason’s friend, Ryan, was the chief organizer for the “Tastes of Philadelphia” Liver Foundation fundraiser. This event features the top chefs of Philly’s best restraunts cooking for one of 12 tables. We walk the several blocks to the event and are talking to each other like old friends.
The pre reception is going on when we arrive and we meet EF Director of Development, Tom Ferguson. Vice President of Eisenhower Fellowships, Dan Giesler, shows up and then US Fellow Brigitte Daniel joins us for the evening. The food was excellent and each course was paired with wine. A great experience.
After dinner Brigette went home and while Dan, Rhett, and I walked back to the hotel to meet the other 2011 Fellows for a night cap. Now the fun really began. I have three things going against me: 1) I have a hard time remembering names, 2) I don’t hear so well in crowded situations, and 3) I could not figure out how to pronounce some of the international names from their bios. Fun!
I am not going to name everyone there, but there were 11 international and 4 US Fellows present. The interesting part is how sincere everyone was to meet each other and the conversation flowed very easily. This is the start of the EF experience. I can’t wait and look forward to see what happens on day 2.