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Downwind

Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

“Everyone is from somewhere” “Where are you from?”  is perhaps the most commonly asked question posed when we meet a stranger after “What’s your name?” It’s usually a way of generating safe conversation in which we seek to find common ground. Everyone is from “somewhere” right? When someone asks me where I am from, I have a tough time responding. Sure, I’m from somewhere. However, the person that asked this question doesn’t really want to hear my life story as I struggle to come up with a good answer. My parents, during my youth, farmed for various other larger farmers as they attempted to become established farmers for their “living”.  They continually sought better opportunities so that they could eventually farm for themselves (finally happening in 1983 when I was 18 years old).  This meant that we moved from farm to farm, town to town fairly frequently. Where am I from? I could say I’m from the cit ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam Where the deer in the antelope play Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word And the skies are not cloudy all day  Home, home on the range… A few months ago, I was out in the Big Horn Mountains fishing with some buddies. I marveled, as we traversed through and around the low-lying ranches of the country, about how much wildlife is fed high quality, irrigated alfalfa and hay grasses grown by the ranchers.  Of course, those crops in the form of hay are intended to go to the gullets of cows and sheep during the cold winter months. The lush valleys of hay crops, nestled between mountains, attract hundreds of deer and antelope, especially in the evening hours, to gorge on the finest product the rancher has to offer. I often wonder if the ranchers get upset with these natural grass thieves. I snapped these photos of deer and antelope “playing” in the hay fields in August as we drove through one of these valleys.   ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

“Democracy is Not Easy” Courage. Patriotism. Heroism. Bravery. Right over wrong. Liberty. My wife and I love going to Washington, D.C. to soak in history, learn more about the famous, not-so-famous and the infamous figures that have influenced the course of our great country. We go from landmark to historic marker, from tribute to memorial absorbing the moments, times and people of impact. History captured in granite, marble, quotes, and photos. The words, phrases, images and quotes etched into stone and metal transcend the centuries and generations, bringing tears and smiles, inspiration and humbleness, sadness and pride.  I marvel at the situations in which ordinary men and women rise to occasions. I marvel at the circumstances that lift and elevate the average to historic proportions.  Our son recently began his service to the United States of America through the Army and has been assigned to 3rd US Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard” stationed at Fort Myer next to Ar ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

My First “Ride”  Most Americans hold great nostalgia about the first car they owned.  Your first “ride” usually wasn’t the best, flashiest, nicest, or coolest. Many times, it reflected a piece of one’s personality: “how fast it would go, how cheap it was, how great it cornered, how practical it was, how ugly it was, how many times it broke down, how many people could fit in it, etc.” Perhaps it was a true “classic”…a Gremlin, A big boat, a Ford Pinto, a Chevy Chevette, a VW bug, a station wagon, or the a perfect color for a rattletrap.  That first ride provided a great feeling of independence; you didn’t have to ask your parents to borrow the car any longer! Prior to my “first ride”, I was fortunate to have access to farm vehicles of various types and sizes. I remember the Farmer’s (my father) 1976 F 100 Ford pickup truck that my brothers and I borrowed for several years. This truck was really attractiv ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

DIY a Farm Attitude  “Do It Yourself” (DIY) TV shows flood the cable networks. My father, The Farmer, would probably say that farming is just one huge, never-ending DIY project.  Building, repairing, fixing, constructing, and creating is every day on the farm. Being part of the unpaid labor (I was worth it) on the farm, I was fortunate to be involved with many DIY projects during the years. A special thank you goes to the sharing nature of the Farmer. Here are a few quick DIY examples that I still carry skills (scars) from today… ·        We took a massive section of roof off of a confinement chicken grower building, hauled it 5 miles using a tractor and to jack it up 14 feet to set it on top of telephone poles that we had stuck in the ground. A DIY machine shed! ·        We tore down a barn and saved the wood and the roofing tin to construct a new shop (to complete DIY projects in comfort and s ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

The magic of rejection What is the “magic” that makes some organizations successful (my favorite baseball team!) when others fall on their face (my favorite football team!)?  Fairy dust? Money? Voodoo? Leadership? Just blind luck? I want my favorite organization (Cook County Farm Bureau®) to have the “magic” to enjoy unbridled success for members. In April, I took an Executive Leadership online course to explore the topic. Of no surprise, disruptive change and the extreme pace of change was forefront. Change is inevitable. The organizations and leaders that have the skills to steer through change will survive and adapt. And those that don’t change become Blockbuster Video, Blackberry, Woolworths, Circuit City, Montgomery Wards, Pan-American Airlines, Pullman Company, MCI WorldCom, Oldsmobile, Compaq Computers, and DeLorean Motors. Did those companies plan to fail or fail to plan? Something that prevents organizations from changing and evolving is leadership’ ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

“Give me the boot” When I was in high school, many years ago, hog prices were ridiculously low. For every hog we sold, we lost money on it. The price of hogs had a direct and lasting impact on my family’s standard of living during that period.  There was no money floating around for new clothes (my Mom actually made my prom suit for me), trinkets, frills and trappings. I can recall my work boots were so beat up, with ripped seams, that my most of my foot was exposed. The Farmer (Dad) handed me a roll of duct tape. Every few weeks, I would re-wrap my boots with a fresh layer duct of tape to keep my foot in and the mud out. Which boot does not fit? Bonus: I did not realize at the time that duct tape footwear was quite stylish and becoming! It was on the farm that I learned about boots. Boots are made of leather with lots of eyelets and steel toes. They are scuffed, stained, used and sometimes abused. They’re made of cowhide or, on those special occasions, ostrich or gator. In ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

March Madness In the farm circles, the preparation for the planting season can be described as “March Madness”. Think of it as a giant collaborative project with many moving parts… making sure farm equipment is repaired, greased, and ready to roll, suppliers in tune with the supply orders, seed in stock, deliveries of products received, advisory services in place, hired help on the payroll, weather cooperating, time available, and so much more. When I was growing up, I did not fully comprehend that these many moving parts were being managed by my father as he prepared to move into planting season.  I was in the mindset of “Just tell me where and when to drive the tractor, Dad”.  I guess I thought planting season just happened magically, with the turn of the calendar.  Admittedly, I was more concerned about that other March Madness: high school and college basketball. While I enjoy the spring planting season, basketball’s March Madness has always been a m ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

“Sticks for Dinner? No. Thank you.” Today (2/16/17), as I write this month’s column, the local and national news is abuzz with the “Day without Immigrants” protests in which a number of restaurants and businesses across the country closed to demonstrate the importance of immigrant labor and immigrant people in the United States. Farming and agriculture in the United States depends on labor in order to provide food for this nation’s people…immigrant labor is an important part, especially in certain types of farms. What would happen if farmers decided to hold a similar event… a Day without Agriculture? What would that day look like? Would anyone care? Would anyone know? Would there be marches on Washington DC? Would there be Riots on the street? I don’t think so. Our food, fiber, and fuel system (fortunately) comes with plenty of bulk handling, warehouse storage, and freezer space…one day of “no farming/no agriculture” may have litt ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

Downwind by Bob Rohrer Hey James Bond fans… Do you remember the opening scene of the 2006 movie Casino Royale (with Daniel Craig as 007)? Bond chases a man through a construction zone /building in Madagascar.  (Nothing unusual about Bond chasing a guy in a movie)  However this chase scene is more unusual…the man who Bond is chasing is an expert Parkour-ist with wonderful agility and speed. Amazing! Parkour is the sport of running, jumping, climbing, balancing, flipping and rolling rapidly, usually through an urban environment.  When you see someone with extreme parkour skills, like the man that Bond was chasing, it seems as if the person glides and flies through areas that a normal person would have trouble walking and climbing through (like a lead footed Bob Rohrer for example).  People with this ability to Parkour seem to be able to defy gravity. How do they do that? Parkour requires extraordinary skill and the trade-off is seemingly broken bones, a smashed face, and se ...

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