Life Lessons - Installment Number "Five"

July 2012 At the risk of repeating myself, in recent months, I have been reflecting upon various life lessons I've learned over the course years of farm life as a youth and young adult. These life lessons have impacted me throughout my life and have determined my lifestyle choices, decisions, attitudes towards life, and much more. Every one of us can find moments, good or bad, in our life that taught us a lesson that has stuck. I apparently had a lot of such lessons! It seems that I've used a number of these life lessons in recent months as examples for my children. I am trying to give examples of why character matters, decisions make a difference, safety is essential, and work ethic means something. I'm not sure that any of it has made any impact with them or will necessarily make an impact on you, the reader. However, writing about these life lessons has brought back many memories and smiles for me (and other members of my family). So please indulge me as I put on paper the next installment of life l ...

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Calling All Sox Fans...or Kansas City Royals Fans

Image Cook County Farm Bureau is hosting their annual “Farm Bureau White Sox Night” at US Cellular Field on Tuesday, August 7, 2012 vs. the Kansas City Royals.  Tickets are specially priced at only $18 for lower reserved seating.  Please order tickets by calling 866-769-4263 or visit  All County Farm Bureau members are welcome!  HURRY….seats are limited.

The economic impacts of regulating housing for livestock

Appeared in the Sunday, July 2, 2012 edition of the Chicago Tribune, Business Voices section. Submitted by Mike Doherty, Senior Economist and Policy Analyst,  Illinois Farm Bureau Egg prices in Europe are 67 percent higher now than they were a year ago. Production is down by an estimated 15 percent. European restaurant owners and families are driving into neighboring countries to buy eggs. The situation there is not a result of runaway inflation. Rather, it was triggered by a government mandate on how chickens are raised. Congress is being asked to approve similar legislation here. Based on Europeans citizens’ concerns for animal welfare, the European Agricultural Commission banned conventional cage housing systems for egg-laying hens – systems in use for decades and that, until recently, housed 75% of all laying hens worldwide and 95% of the layers in the U.S. Since January, European producers have been required to house chickens in so-called furnished cages or raise them cage-free. Because the decision ...

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Pride As I drove home from my oldest son’s college graduation, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride.  He did it!  No, WE did it as David L. Boren, President of University of Oklahoma, stated in his commencement speech.  Yes, the students shouldered the challenge of succeeding, but the parents, families, professors and many others contributed to the outcome as well. As with any successful endeavor in life, few can achieve results without the help of others.  I was thinking back to when he first left home and entered this new territory called “college” in a state he’d never been to and a town he was unfamiliar with.  He knew no one.  As he managed his way through the newness of every day, others came to his aid and became his friends, mentors, bosses and buddies.  The parent in me was proud of his fortitude to stick with it when faced with homesickness, difficulties with calculus and macroeconomics (to name a few) and everyday social choices one must make in college.  He made it through, with the help of ...

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Small Town Heart in a Big City.


Just another tractor sitting around at my family farm. This is why I can tell the difference between an H and a M

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Life Lessons - Installment # "FOUR"

June 2012 In recent months, I've been reflecting upon various life lessons I've learned while growing up on the farm. Based on the response of readers, there's apparently a bunch of you that can relate! We all have experiences that affect the way that we live our lives. Some are good experiences and some not so good but either way, they shape, mold, influence, and guide decisions, thinking, and behavior.  Now, as I look back upon some of these stories and experiences, they serve to be not only fun memories of ways that I can share cause and effects with my children. (My brother John, after I dedicated last month’s “lesson ”to him, sent to me a note saying “brings back some good memories, seems like we didn't need anything fancy to entertain us” ).  So true, Bro!  I thank the readers as I relive and share some of the “not-so-proud and somewhat embarrassing occurrences” in my life that seem to have made me who I am today. So, with that Preface, it ...

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Manifolds, Manolos and Manure

Sitting at the Dev International School in Nilokheri, India a colleague and I agreed that never again would we growl about hosting a farm visit for foreign dignitaries or other organizations despite how busy or involved in other projects we are. The greeting we received from the parents, families and school personnel was both overwhelming and humbling.  Our group joined the school and community for a presentation, reception and traditional Indian greeting after touring a nearby fish and chicken farm.  Only the group from Illinois seemed to realize that it was, in fact, an eighty-six degree, cloud-free Sunday afternoon when we visited Nilokheri. Throughout our visit to India, we were constantly impressed and humbled by their welcomes and willingness to open their homes, businesses and minds to farmers and farm professionals from Illinois.  To say that we felt like unwilling rock stars might not be too far from the truth. Nary six weeks later and a half a world away, our promise to never again growl about ar ...

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We Appreciate All Teachers

We Highlight “ALL” Teachers This Month May is here! It’s a month I’ve always loved as the weather turns warm, the planting season is upon us, and many celebrations occur including May Day, Cinco de Mayo, the Kentucky Derby and Mother’s Day. I know as children we don’t always appreciate our teachers, but during the week of May 7th, we all celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week. What teachers stand out in your mind from the past? One of my most favorite teachers was Miss Spark. I still remember her from 1st grade as if it was yesterday. She was patient, kind, smart and so beautiful (as I recall). Then, flash forward many years and there was Dr. R., my Geography Professor. Oh how I remember him. For those of you who don’t know, I am “directionally challenged” so having my final exam in Geography requiring you to name hundreds of random places on a world map was not my thing. Not one of my more favorite teacher memories. Most of us can remember many of our teacher’s names and recall stories about them and ...

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Ryan Getting Back to Her Roots.

Countryside, Ill.- Growing up basically ‘out in the middle of nowhere’ has shaped Justine Ryan into the young and independent person she is today. She feels being a farmer’s daughter has its perks, especially when mediating her future. After leaving the rural community of, Wyoming, Illinois, Ryan is planning on getting back to her roots with the help of Cook County Farm Bureau. Growing up she was surrounded by agriculture on a 4800 acre farm about 20 miles north-west of Peoria, Ill. In Wyoming she was introduced to agriculture through her high school education and for several years was an active member of 4-H. Her brothers chose FFA, however, Ryan became a confident leader through Student Council and held a state office. Never letting anything hold her back after high school, Ryan left for Eastern Illinois University. Today Ryan is a determined junior with a good head on her shoulders. Ryan decided to attend EIU because of its size. She quickly fell in love with the Department of Communication Studie ...

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Life Lessons - Part 3

May 2012 In recent months, I have been writing about various installments of the life lessons I've experienced on the farm. These Life Lessons now help guide my life, influence my decisions, affect my thinking, and subtly control my behavior. These stories also frequently are used as examples when I'm trying to influence my children's behavior and choices (ineffectively but I keep trying). These stories have also served to be fun memories now, although at the time when they occurred, they typically were more likely negative in nature. Thinking about these lessons has been enjoyable to me, bringing a smile to my face on a number of occasions and I hope they will do so for you as well. Lesson six: Let wild cats stay wild! This little lesson is dedicated to my “little” brother, John! John is three years my junior and while growing up, was my partner in crime, confidant, cohort and sometimes my conscience. Consequently, we did nearly everything together growing up including working, playing, dr ...

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