#TBT: LIVING THE SIMPLE LIFE

Gpa working on planterIt is very easy to get caught up in the rat race of life. Don’t be afraid to step off that wheel and set your own pace. That is your best chance a living a happy, successful life. Here are a few ways to live a life that isn’t more complicated than it has to be.

Kids looking at chickens

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If something works well, but isn’t perfect, don’t start from scratch. Just try to improve what you already have. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, energy, and stress.

Farmer tending to cattle

Remember that you are working hard for the next generation. Show them who you are by your actions. They will follow your example; set a good one.

Find a job that you love and it will never feel like work. If you manage that, no matter how much you make at the end of the day; you’re rich.

kid showing cattleDon’t ever stop learning or trying to be your best. Even if you fail, you’ll know what you can improve on for the next time. Challenges build character and will make you a better individual.

chickNever stop appreciating the beauty of your life. Not everyone has the chance to spend their day working with their hands and following their dreams. Plus, you get to spend a lot of time with chicks.

Kids in tractor

Don’t worry about going fast. There is nothing wrong with taking it slow. Ask any farm kid and they will tell you that this is the best ride they have ever been on. 

 

nicole yorkNicole York
Southern Illinois University Carbondale

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.

YES, WE JUDGE

Last weekend I went home for our annual 4-H fair. I cannot begin to tell you how much I looked forward to this week as a kid. Now, I have been out of the 4-H program for three years, but I have yet to miss a fair. I served as a secretary for the general project show, helped weigh in animals, and helped keep the cattle and pig shows running smoothly just as I have done since I had aged out of the 4-H program.

Early Saturday morning, I arrived caffeine in-hand, to wait for the judge I had worked with in years past. I have already confirmed I would be working with him again and was pleased. Our project area was one I enjoyed and made for interesting conversation. The retired agriculture teacher and I would be judging the 4-Hers on small engines, tractors, and crops.

We quickly set up our table and didn’t have to wait long before a line of kids holding posters formed. This was a typical sight for the fair and resembled a classroom science fair. Nothing was that unusual. Then came the corn. 4-Hers carried five-gallon buckets with corn sticking out of the top into the school hallway we were using as our fairgrounds this year. What a sight these makeshift vases made with their collection proudly displayed made leaning against the wall.

4-H members sat one at a time and answered the judge’s questions about what type of seed the corn plants came from when they planted their crop when they would harvest if they had experienced as problems with bugs or disease, ideal weather for the corn, and anything else. Some of the younger members answered with questioning hesitation while older ones rattled off the answers. All the while I noted that these were the producers of the tomorrow.

Yes, we judged these kids. They were at the fair not only to learn but to compete for the top corn crop. It is important to the future or agriculture that tough questions continued to be asked of the industry. Things can’t always be done “the way our parents did it” because technology is changing as quickly as the weather.  Yes, we judged. All the kids received acknowledgment for their effort. A top few will go on to the state fair. The 4-Hers were asked questions they should be asking themselves, questions consumers want and deserve the answer to. The 4-Hers did not let me down. I don’t worry about the future of agriculture as long as we have youth stepping up to be judged. We will be fine.

Shelby Carlson
IL Corn Communication Intern

I NEVER PAID MUCH ATTENTION TO CORN

Last night I took the long familiar drive home with added company in my car. I had fellow Corn Intern, Kylie, and her roommate in the car with me and we were making casual conversation about our days at work. The three of us are friends outside of work but come from various backgrounds that all led us to the University of Illinois agriculture program.

As we drove, the conversation began to lull and from the back-seat Kylie offered, “You know, I never really paid much attention to corn until I started my internship.” The sentence took me a bit off guard before she continued, “Of course we had some corn, but it was just there.” I understood what she meant, but to me, corn had never “just been there.”

Continued reflection on the topic had me curious how one could just assume corn was nothing more than passing scenery on the interstate. It was so much more than that to everyone I knew growing up and I have never known anything different. Corn was never “just there”, it was seed selected carefully, planting done late into the night praying the rain held off, then praying for rain a few weeks later. Corn was your classmate or teacher missing an afternoon because the field really needed to be picked and someone had to get it done. No, corn wasn’t “just there”.

I then thought about how the office had reacted the recent rain we had got. It was easy to tell who had been raised with farmers and whose family farm was in what parts of the state. Some were quick to groan at the thought of more water in their already sodden fields while many rejoiced at the chance for their plants to get a drink. All of the meaning was lost on Kylie, she had never paid much attention to corn. She didn’t know what the year of the drought was like. To her, the corn was still “just there”.

After having slept on the subject, I have reached a new mentality. Most people will never pay attention to the corn along the side of the roads. They will not see the food, fuel, and fiber that keeps the country turning, the backbone of the American economy, the pride of Illinois, they will see corn. That’s okay. It would be impossible to ask Kylie to appreciate corn in ways that I do, she wasn’t raised with corn as her nearest neighbor. Rather than be annoyed, upset, or frustrated, I am inspired. The fact that others think corn is “just there” means that I get to be corn’s voice. Those in agriculture have a passion that can’t be squelched. Share that passion. Spread the word. Others don’t have to pay attention to corn as long as you do.

Shelby Carlson
IL Corn Intern