Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, Farm, farm animals, food, food safety, genetic modification, GMO, Music | Tags: Agriculture education, children, family, farm, Food, food safety, history, parody
Do you want the real story, or will you believe the “shocking” news of some entertainer? I’ve seen it so many times, a TV celebrity makes a statement or brings on a guest who makes a statement, that is totally at odds with the truth, and people actually believe it. When they make those comments about what we do here on the farm it can really hurt. I’m proud to tell you that a broad array of farm folks are stepping up to tell the real story. Among my favorites are the ladies at “Finding our Common Ground.” These young mothers are telling about what happens on the farm in a way that other young professional women can believe. One that came across my facebook feed today is about GMO’s. (http://findourcommonground.com/food-facts/corporate-farms/)
I’ve also watched the Peterson Brother do their thing in song parody that both entertains and informs. These young men and their sister are entertaining and informative. Check out one of their videos at
Today a really good video came to my computer from Midwest Dairy producers that is one of the best I have ever seen.
These are only a few of the many good efforts being made by agriculture today. The truth is that we few are a misunderstood group. What we do is shrouded in mystery because what we do is often hard, dirty work. Work that is rewarding in ways that many city jobs are not, but often so hard that many of our ancestors left the farm for the easier life in cities.Not only hard, but today very costly. It is harder and harder to get into farming without lots of money. For most of my life I struggled to make a living and feed my family on a farmers income. Because I was able to work with my dad I was able to keep going and now, 40 years later, can feel good about the life I live and the income I make. Today land and machinery prices are even higher and I wonder how the next generation will be able to farm.
My life is not “shocking,” but it is complex. We do things on the farm today in new ways because we have a heavier burden on our shoulders. When I started farming the average farmer fed 26 people, today he feeds 155. 98% of the farms are still family owned and account for 85% of the food you eat. In the last 100 years the average farm size has gone from 140 acres to about 500. Of interest is that there are now more farms today that there were 10 years ago, not hobby farms, but farms that are actually viable, $500,000 per farm gross profit farms.
So the next time someone tries to tell you how things really are on the farm, check out their bonafides. Do they really know what goes on on the farm, or are they telling you “shocking” story to get you to buy their book. You all are invited to check out the many farm stories that are now on the internet, and I know any one of us would love to hear from you. We’ll tell you what really happens down on the farm.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Farm, Farm Bureau, friends, Music, travel | Tags: AFBF, Agriculture education, american farm bureau federation, farm, Farm Bureau, friends, meeting, Nashville, Opryland Hotel, travel
We made the trip to Nashville for this years Annual Meeting. Since my sister lives just south of the city it was a dual event. Our weather started out really nice, and then went cold and rainy. Wish we could have brought some of that rain home.
Site of the meeting was the Opryland Hotel. It’s a huge place with 2881 rooms and 15 restaurants on 6 floors. Because of continued expansion and no understandable structural layout the hotel is bit confusing. Each hotel area has a central garden area that is really stunning, with each different in many ways. The attached convention area was also a bit confusing so keeping a map within reach was really helpful if you were going someplace new. They said we had almost every room in the place booked for Farm Bureau members.
Sunday morning started out for us with a Minnesota breakfast at 7:30 gathering. It was a place to get to see most of the folks who made the trip from Minnesota. It was also a chance for President Paap and his staff to give us our tasks for the event. Since I’m not known to be shy, I was assigned 4 radio stations to call back in Minnesota at specific times.
After breakfast we gathered for the opening session. Along with many awards and introductions of important people we all needed to know, we had an address from AFBF President Bob Stallman. Bob talked about the challenges and triumphs of the past year. Included in those challenges was the lack of a Farm Bill in the U.S. congress. This lack of a farm bill leaves a lot of uncertainty for all involved in agriculture. He also addressed some disturbing government regulations that we were able to stop. These included a regulation that would have prevented farm folks from employing their children on the farm, and threatened regulations on a small chicken producer that would have forced them to get a pollution discharge permit when nothing was being discharged.
We also got to spend some time at the trade show where they had displays from each state showing what they were doing to promote agriculture, as well as displays from several agricultural companies. We had our choice of seminars put on by companies and the Farm Bureau. I got to meet some old friends and make some new ones along the way. The evening was free to spend as we wished.
Monday included more seminars and demonstrations in both the morning and the afternoon. At noon I joined other county presidents for a luncheon and a speaker. Our closing session started at 3 in the afternoon and included more awards and contest winners. We also heard from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack who spoke of the optimism he has for the future of agriculture. The real highlight of the day was Keynote Speaker Captain Mark Kelly. He had a great story to tell.That was the end of the sessions for the general public. Tuesday brought the delegate session and regional caucuses, wednesday was the AFBF Board of Directors meeting, none of which I attended.
With the rainy and cold weather, the rest of our time was mainly spent indoors checking out area attractions including one night spent in a country music bar, we just had to check out Vince Gill and It was a fun and restful trip, but it is good to be back home.
Filed under: charity, church, family, Minnesota, Music | Tags: children, Christ, family, God, hymn, Minnesota, politics, South Africa, southwestern minnesota, welcome
I was raised in a house and a church where all were welcome. Because of that I still have no problems with hosting and talking to people of different backgrounds and beliefs. I have been known to avoid conflict with those who are “intense” in their belief and have a hard time understanding those who call “hateful” anyone who does not believe exactly what they believe. Because of my beliefs and upbringing I was really shocked when I heard of a church group that was banning the hymn “All Are Welcome” from their church.
When our church home suffered a fire and was a year in rebuilding, we used this hymn as a promise of what we were doing and what was to come. When I traveled to South Africa a year ago with a group from Southwestern Minnesota, we used this hymn as a bridge between cultures and a promise of unity for all believers. I have used the sentiments of this hymn to argue for the inclusion of women as pastors and the inclusion of gay/ lesbian members of our community into our church. I am a firm believer that all are welcome in Christ’s church.
My firm belief is founded in the actions of Christ himself. When Jesus walked this earth he was not found with the churchgoing folks of his time, but with those most reviled and downcast. He walked with the lepers and ate with prostitutes. He called the tax collector, fisherman, prostitute and all others who were not welcome in the church of his day to follow him.
It is hard to be all welcoming. As fallen creatures we are prone to want to be with those who are most like us, especially if we are living comfortable lives. We separate into “us and them” groups to help ourselves cope with the hugeness of differences in this world. To welcome all would make us feel less important. Some do manage to live out their lives with their warped convictions intact, others do not.
When I was growing up, I remember an individual who was constantly voicing their feelings about those they despised the most. The rants about the divorced, those living together without being married and above all gay/lesbian people were frequent. For this individual, karma is a bitch. As their children grew up, one married a divorced person, another moved in with a person of the opposite gender and never married, and the last has come out of the closet as gay/lesbian. They were taught one relationship at a time to love those they had once despised.
The lessons we are taught are not always that personal. I do indeed hope that you are not so warped to be one of the haters in this world. We are called to live in a world of God’s grace, God’s inclusiveness. How can we love God and His son Jesus if we are not welcoming to all. I’m going to end with the first verse from the hymn “All Are Welcome” by Marty Haugen, I encourage you to look up the hymn and check out the other verses as you contemplate your place in God’s world.
“Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live, a place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive. Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace; here the love of Christ shall end divisions; All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.”
Filed under: cars, church, food, friends, Kwazamohkuhle, Music, school, School bus, South Africa, travel | Tags: children, ELCA, ELCSA, Food, school, school bus, South Africa
Fifteen people from the Shetek conference of the ELCA flew to South Africa on an agricultural mission that departed on January 31, 2011. Among the things we packed to bring were the supplies for putting on a bible school program like we do in Minnesota. We knew that some things do not transfer to different areas of the world, but we figured they were Lutherans so it should work.
When plans were being made we asked the folks to give us some idea of how many to expect. They estimated that we would have about 140 people at the event to be held on Saturday, February 5, 2011 at the Kwazamokuhle School for the Disabled.
The program we used was Avalanche Ranch.
When you are doing a program in another country where most of the people grow up speaking another language having a native speaker at registration is important and we had the services of a bright young college student named Sinde Xaba to help put our participants at ease.
The school has hallways open to the air, but covered and paved to make wheelchair access possible.
The buildings are fairly new with construction continuing on campus as they continue to improve the school.
When you do a Vacation Bible School (VBS) in Minnesota you expect to get grade school students. In South Africa you get students that range from 11 to 52. Registration was also a bit under what we expected, but Saturday is the traditional day for funerals in the area, and with a funeral for a young person happening that day, numbers were below what we expected.
Travel is also not as easy as we are used to. People were invited to attend from all over the circuit. Some would have to travel for quite a distance. Not all of the travel plans worked out. All part of learning about life in South Africa.
One thing was not a problem, getting the participants up and singing. Zulu tradition is one of singing and dancing in church. When we were teaching new songs and doing actions to them we found ready participants.
Craft projects of all kinds found eager participants. We were very impressed with thought and originality they put into their work.
Although the food was a bit different than we were used to it was very good, and there was plenty of it.
Free time was spent playing with the kids from the school who were not high enough functioning to attend the program. Some students did attend if they were able. The left over balloons and a few frisbees were left to brighten the day of the younger students.
I had not planned to attend the program. As a driver I planned to drive participants over to the school, take a few pictures and then go back to help at the center. The learning experience was one I would not have traded. It was well worth staying.
Sunday will be a busy day. Hope you join me on my travels.
Filed under: church, food, house, hunger, Music, Politicians, Politics | Tags: greed, hunger, imagine, music, peace, war
John Lennon’s “Imagine” has been in my mind lately
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possession
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
The thought of a world with out war interests me. The things that people kill and die for are beyond me. I was raised in a world of love and acceptance, so to hate enough to kill a person is tough to think of. Yes, I believe I could kill to defend myself or another, but not for a belief.
Yet John was a dreamer, our world will never be with out passions of some kind. The struggle for food, home and to pass on our genetics is ingrained into creatures of all types. A world with out struggle will not work, but it would be nice.
Filed under: A Cappella Harmony, Barbershop Harmony, Barbershop music, BHS, Minnesota, Music | Tags: barbershop harmony, music, starting a blog
A comment by one of my fellow barbershop chorus members got me thinking, and thus I have started another blog. It’s still in the beginning stages, so there is not much there, but if you would like to find out what our chorus is doing I invite you to check it out.
Filed under: A Cappella Harmony, Barbershop Harmony, Barbershop music, church, Farm, Farm Bureau, Music, Politics, School bus, time, travel, Uncategorized | Tags: funeral
None of likes to think of death, but it comes to all of us. Once we have finished being born we are all in the process of dying. I plan on wearing out this body before I do. So although I expect to live a bit yet, here are some thoughts on my funeral.
I’m an organ donor. I have no use for this body after death, if any other does, let them have it.
I choose cremation. Just burn my remaining husk and scatter the ashes in the field. It’s where I have drawn my life from, let my ashes go back to the soil.
Carry my ashes into the church in my old canoe. It has carried me far and shown me much beauty. Yes, it’s a bit beaten up and shows some wear, but don’t we all.
I see no need for headstones or monuments. There is a quote from one of the long dead kings of Sparta that says it all. ”If I have done any deed worthy of remembrance, that deed will be my monument. If not, no monument can preserve my memory.”
Let the ushers and casket bearers be chosen from the Farm Bureau, the bus drivers and our card club. I’ve enjoyed being with them all.
The group I’ve enjoyed the most in life is our barbershop chorus. They are to be honorary casket bearers. They’ll be singing so there is no other job they need to do.
Music, specifically music sung in parts, has been a great comfort to me. Whether it is belting out the base line to some old familiar hymn or laying down the foundation for a chord in one of our barbershop chorus tunes, music is a great way to express your feelings. My favorite songs include:
- This is my Fathers World
- Earth and all Stars!
- Built on a Rock
- I was there to Hear Your Borning Cry
- I’ll Fly Away
- I’m Sitting on Top of the World
- God Bless the USA
I’ve seen much of life. I’ve travelled most of our country and many parts of the world.
I’ve found a woman who is my best friend and who takes good care of me. There are children, family and friends.
I’ve had the chance to shake hands with presidents. I’ve been there to help shape policy in church, state and country. I’m a firm believer that the world is run by those who show up, and I’ve tried to show up whenever possible. Most of all I’ve done my best to make this a better world for all.
Yes, I’m a bit thick headed and slow to learn, but I did learn. There has been much change in my lifetime and all whom I have met have helped me learn how to deal with the world. Hopefully I’ve helped them learn to deal with all the world can throw at them as well.
Filed under: A Cappella Harmony, Barbershop Harmony, Barbershop music, BHS, Minnesota, Music
It’s now the Sunday after our barbershop chorus show, “It’s a Brand New Day.” The show went well, we sang as good or better than we ever have. The guest quartet was great, three guys in their 50′s and a kid about to finish college from ND, who liked to sing songs from the 60′s. I’m tired but happy.
Barbershop music is a great hobby where you get to work with great people and learn how to be musically excellent. It’s just that to do it right, you have to spend the time to work at it, and then you get to party.
In our chapter we put on two shows on a Springtime Saturday afternoon, then an afterglow. That means a lot of singing.
We spend at least one third of the year working toward show day. Then, on Friday night we set up the auditorium and afterglow area and practice. After practice we make sandwiches for the afterglow.
Saturday singing started at noon. We practice, put on our tuxes (with new shirts and ties) and head off to perform our 2:30 show. We sing six songs, take a break while two quartets do their sets, sing four more songs, have lunch and do it again at 7:00. We take down and put away the things we used in the auditorium as soon as people clear out of the way.
Then comes the afterglow. At the afterglow, we munch on pickles, chips and the sandwiches we made Friday, and listen to the quartets do a few more songs, and our guests head home. We clean up the tables, chairs and trash from the afterglow. Now it’s time for the diehards to party.
The after-afterglow is a place to kick back with an adult beverage, ring a few chords with the out of town quartet, teach each other some new music and talk about barbershop. When it all broke up, it was 2:15 in the morning. An early end to the affair.
Our chapter is, more or less, a social chapter. We like to sing, we sing well, and we like to talk to our friends. Some chapters are interested in competition. Everything they do is aimed at competition. That is too much work for us. We do our chapter show, sing in churches in the summer, do a benefit show or other paid performance when we can and a funeral or two for members when we must.
We’re lucky two members of our chapter are also members of a competition chorus. They bring back ideas from the other chorus that really help us grow musically. We use what we can, and we live without the rest.
We enjoy our chorus. We enjoy singing for our friends. We do our best not to look foolish on stage. Above all we make good friends with men who we otherwise might not know. Oh yes, and our wives know where we are on Monday nights.
Filed under: A Cappella Harmony, Barbershop Harmony, BHS, make a difference, Minnesota, Music, Youth in Harmony
Saturday was our barbershop chorus Youth in Harmony event. This was our 7th year to sponsor this chance for high school age men and women to learn about the joys of singing the barbershop style.
The day starts for us months in advance when we contact area music instructors. Those who wish to participate are provided with music and learning CD’s that they can share with the kids.
On Saturday we had both a men’s (Vocality) and women’s (Northern Lights) quartet and a event director (Brent Graham) who help polish the music. The men and women each learned two songs as a group and then another for all of the kids. With songs like “We go together” from Grease for the women and the Beatles “All my lovin’” for the boys the interest was high. The event closer was the song “Harmony” in 8 parts.
There was plenty of food and free time scattered in with the hard work. The event closing concert included our chorus as well as the guest quartets. The kids closed the day by singing the songs they had learned. There was a lot of music and fun for all.
Although there was some resistance from the directors when we started the program, they all agree now that this is one of the best events you can have for helping the kids learn to listen when they sing. The kids have so much fun that they cannot wait for the next time we host the Youth in Harmony event. The joy of singing with each other is appreciated by all participants. This event will live on for many years to come.