THE MAGIC WORDS: THANK YOU

I’m at a stage in my life when “thank you” means more than it used to.

This awareness of saying “thank you” first happened when my 11-year-old son first mentioned that I’m not grateful for anything he does.  And, although I continually ask more of him, I AM grateful for what he does, but I obviously wasn’t showing it.  I resolved to be more aware and more vocal about every little thing he finishes to contribute to our household and our family.

I thought about it again when my mom was sharing a story about a neighbor of hers on the farm.  This neighbor in particular and both our extended families back a few generations have been friends and helpmates.  She and my mom text to recap the weather last night, share the bounty of each other’s gardens, and help care for aging pets and family when schedules get busy.  Mom told me that she needed to drop what she was doing to give the neighbor a ride to town to fix a flat tire.  She didn’t mention it at the time, but it was another way of saying “thank you” for all the help the neighbor has provided to us.

As God continued to make me more aware of the blessings in my life and the importance of verbalizing gratitude, I thought about how farm families pull together to help each other out during planting and harvest seasons.  In fact, just this past spring, my dad helped his cousin get the crop in after a car accident that left his cousin with a broken vertebra.  It was a significant setback but just required a long recovery, so the community planted.

There are times when “thank you” doesn’t quite seem to be enough, but we say it anyway.

I believe that gratitude is something that some personalities more readily experience than others.  For some, being grateful is a paved road in our brains and it comes very naturally.  For others, saying “thank you” is more of a dirt road that we have to seek out and remember its there.

But I can’t help but wonder if growing up on a farm makes you a little more grateful.  A farmer and his or her family live a life of uncertainty.  Will there be rain?  Will there be a harvest?  Will the price I’m paid for the harvest be enough?  Will the farm be here for my family again next year?

That uncertainty makes you understand blessings in a new way.  The love and help of neighbors, of family, of community, is such an integral part of raising a family and making a living off a farm.

Don’t forget to notice the blessings all around you today and to verbalize your gratitude to friends, family, co-workers, strangers, and God.

“Thank you.”  Those two little words can get you pretty far.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

BACK TO SCHOOL MEANS NEW AG MAGS!

I remember when I was growing up I absolutely loved going school supply shopping. I would beg my mom right after the fourth of July to go to the store and get all of my supplies that I needed for that upcoming school year. There was just something about brand new crayons, folders that weren’t bent and new pencils that had never been sharpened before that I absolutely loved. I loved going to school, I loved seeing my teachers and I just loved all of the new supplies that I got.

Here at IL Corn we are excited to kick start this new school year as well! Though we can’t be in the classroom all the time, we do have the supplies and resources that one would need to teach all about corn!

Recently a new corn Ag Mag was just launched and it is the best one yet! In this Ag Mag you will find information all about the steps it takes to grow corn, parts of a corn plant, corn uses, ethanol, technology, corn based products, corn exports and interviews with corn experts. Though these are concepts are sometimes hard for us adults to fully understand, this Ag Mag really breaks it down well and is super kid friendly. It also has some awesome graphics and images that tell the story of corn very well!

Another really awesome thing about these newly released Corn Ag Mags is that there is an online version that everyone has access to! If you go to www.agintheclassroom.org and click on teacher’s resources and then Ag Mags you can click on Corn and it will pull up with whole Ag Mag. This is a great resource if you just want to check out what Ag Mags are or need to print off copies quick for a lesson.

To all of the teachers and students going back to school, have a fantastic year! Work hard, study harder, stay healthy, and be kind!

Abby Jacobs
Illinois State University

ILLINOIS FARMER Q&A: HOW HAS YOUR FARM CHANGED IN THE LAST 50 YEARS?

Illinois farmers have been growing food with care for generations. For many of them, it’s more than just a job. So we asked, “How has your farm changed in the last 50 years?”

Over the last 50 years, we have started growing more crops and raising more animals – we’ve grown. In our fields, we do more no till or minimum tillage of the soil.”

Brent Scholl, Polo, IL

“Our farm has adapted to the demands of consumers. We are raising livestock more efficiently (think feed conversion) and in an environment that is more comfortable for the hogs (yeah – tunnel ventilation during the July heat). We are applying fertilizer at a variable rate that better meets the needs of our soil. And we have expanded our farm to financially support more people coming back to work.”

Genny Six, Chapin, IL

“When I joined the family in 1977 we had a small cow herd and a small feedlot, the feedlots were all “open lot” with access to barns, but the cattle were not fed in the barns. We always tilled the soil before we planted, used a 6-row planter, and cultivated the crops to kill weeds. Crops were harvested and put into an old corn crib (converted to hold shelled corn) and one 10,000 bushel grain bin where we could dry corn if needed. Alan and I farmed with his parents. 150-bushel corn/ acre was a big deal.

Today, Alan’s parents are retired and we farm with our youngest son. We have an employee and routinely hire summer interns from a local junior college. We got more cattle and all of the feedlot cattle are under a roof. We no longer till before we plant because our planter is specially equipped to deal with crop residue left from the previous year. We have several grain bins and no corn crib. Nowadays, 150 bushels corn/ acre is a bad year.”

JoAnn Adams, Sandwich, IL

Reposted from Illinois Farm Families

IF YOU GIVE A FARMER A REQUEST

If you give a farmer a request, he is going to follow through. In 1985, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff was published and detailed the endless track of chores that might occur if you gave a needy mouse a cookie. This trouble is not quite what ensues when you give a farmer a request, but you can almost guarantee your requests might become endless of him. Here are a few requests we all have asked of farmers over the years.

  1. If you ask a farmer for a tow, he is going to pull you out. Whether is it getting pulled out of snowy road bank or a muddy road, a farmer will be quick to lend a hand with his truck or tractor. Last time I got my dad’s jeep stuck on the dirt road, I had a list of people I was ready to call before my dad ever had to know.
  2. If you ask a farmer for a for a ride, he is going to give you a lift. To the next town, down the road, or the field to pick up your truck, a farmer will do what he can to help you out. The only stipulation is that he might expect you to return the favor. I know I have had a neighbor or two knocks on my door and ask if I have time to take him to his truck in the field down the road.
  3. If you ask a farmer for advice, he is going to give you a wise word. Whether you need advice on what crops to plant in a field or how to make up with a friend over a conflict, a farmer will always lend his wisdom. Farmers are often wiser than their years because they have been caring for other animals and plants that depend on them for life. In my life, rarely have the wise words of a farmer led me astray.
  4. If you ask a farmer for a hand, he is going to lend on. Farming is not only an industry that revolves around family but community. Whether it’s finishing up harvest in time or volunteering to cook at a school fundraiser, a farmer will always lend a hand. In anything I am doing, I know my farmer support system is just a phone call away.
  5. If you ask a farmer to feed you, he already is. Farming feeds the world. Farmers produce that feed with all the energy and love that they put into feeding their own family. I have watched these men and women work their days and nights away doing what they love and I know there is no job more underappreciated but more rewarding than a farmer.

Shelby Carlson
IL Corn Communications Intern

SIX REASONS FARMERS HATE THE HEAT

1. Walking Beans

/wÔk ing bēns/
1. strolling up and down the rows of a bean field pulling weeds.
2. typically reserved for the very young or very broke in a family, usually on days 90 degrees or warmer
3. a “fun” family activity conducted between the hours of 6 – 11 am, includes water and a sack lunch

2. Baling Hay

/bāl ing hā/
1. walking behind a wagon, picking up bales of hay and throwing them onto the wagon while another stacks the bales neatly on the wagon.
2. young men are often rushed through this job trying to beat a rainstorm, which also causes humidity to be at its highest

3. De-tasseling Corn

/de-tasəl ing kôrn/
1. the act of removing the corn tassels one by one throughout the entirety of a field.  Can be every row or select rows/plants depending on the intent.
2. de-tasseling allows the plant breeder to choose the pollen that will fertilize each ear on a plant
3. timing: this can not be completed until late June, early July when tassels form, so temperatures are usually high and there is no air flow in the middle of a field of tall corn
4. workers are urged to use cornstarch liberally

4. Cleaning out grain bins

/klēn ing out grān bin/
1. Sweeping out excess grain from a bin in an attempt to get paid for everything you grew and harvested.
2. Also, when one desires to store a different type of grain in a bin (was corn, now soybeans as an example), the bin must be cleaned of all the old grain.
3. Often occurring in August to prepare for a new harvest when temperatures inside a metal cylinder are excruciating and without air flow.

5. Mucking stalls

/mək ing stôls/
1. Shoveling animal excrement and used bedding from indoor stalls into a wheelbarrow.  Washing out stalls and replacing clean, new bedding.
2. This happens year round, but is particularly miserable in the late summer when air flow inside a barn is minimal and the heat increases the smell of feces.

6. Mowing

/mō ing/
1. Clipping the grass on roadsides, waterways, and yards.  Also, trimming around fence posts and outbuildings.
2. Very similar to the act in suburban communities, made more miserable because farmers will mow 4-6 acres at a time.
3. A right of passage for the children in a farm family.