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Manifolds, Manolos and Manure

I like details.  Order.  Advance planning.  Control.  And right now I don't seem to have it. In the very near future I will hop on a plane and fly half around the world.  For a semi-farm girl from the little town of Harvard, it will be a whole new world.  And after 12 days I will hop another plane and fly the rest of the way around the world and back to home.  Looking at the agenda, there's about four other fights ranging in three hours to a lot more that I'm choosing to ignore at this point in time. As the count down to departure continues despite my adamant protests, I've realized that every scrap of paper I own is filled with random notes.  Reminders to make copies.  Reminders to send out materials.  Projects still on the burner.  Items that still need to be located (... um ... passport, where I did I put you for safe keeping?).  Lists that still need to be made.  A single, 44 pound suitcase that still needs to be packed (yes, a single 44 pound suitcase for 14 days). Despite my propensity for control I ...

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My Kids, Agriculture and Ag Tourism

Did you know that cows can eat around 40 pounds of food each day?  Can you believe that as pigs grow, they can eat up to 9 pounds of feed per day?  Isn’t it amazing that horses drink 10-12 gallons of fresh water every day!  If I didn’t know any better I would think we were talking about my three boys, not three animals.  These facts are directly from the Illinois Ag in the Classroom 2011-2012 School Calendar.  When my two college age boys were home for a month this winter break, I felt as though I was feeding a farm full of growing animals.  My grocery bills suddenly tripled each week and my recycling was spilling over the top of the bins.  Yes, it seemed as though I was buying 40 pounds of food and 10 gallons of milk, juice and other refreshments each week.  The similarities struck me as fascinating so back to the calendar I went looking for other interesting facts I might relate to. Horses have sharp ears, keen eyes and a good sense of smell (wow, my boys said the same thing about me during their time ho ...

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Downwind

John Gierach is an American author. He is not in the mega-block buster thriller, mystery writer or fiction novelist category. In fact, his genre has what can be considered a fairly small market…fly fishing. However, he is probably the best known fly-fishing writer of today’s era. You can gain a sense of his books simply by reading a few of the titles…Trout Bum; Sex, Death and Fly Fishing; Dances with Trout; and Standing in a River Waving a Stick. The books consists of essays that focus on fishing experiences, locations, unique conditions, people, humor, and unusual thoughts of random or connected tangents. His audience, while a comparatively small target marketing group, is quite passionate about the craft and has helped Mr. Gierach make a living doing what he loves doing, fly-fishing. So many people wish they could make a living doing what they love instead of what they have to do. I’ve been reading, essay by essay, Gierach’s book entitled “No Shortage of Good Days”. The book highlights the fact that the m ...

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Manifolds, Manolos and Manure

As the New Year is slowly losing its charm and our New Year’s resolve is beginning to or has faded I want to take a minute to look at the more amusing New Year’s resolutions. This year, I will … Stop licking frozen flag poles (that really should go without saying). Spend less than two thousand bucks on coffee at (you finish the sentence). Claim all my pets as dependents on my taxes (Dear tax preparer …). Avoid texting while simultaneously eating junk food, applying makeup and driving with a frosted windshield. Not tell potential employers that I have a problem with their authority while still in the interview (save that one for the post-interview thank you note). And last but certainly not to be forgotten stop eating meat. What? Wait a minute. How’d that last one get in there? As a former co-worker of mine likes to say, “No meat, no meal.” In perennial fashion, Terry Mason now the chief medical officer for the Cook County Health and Hospital System has kicked off January with a plea for county residents to ...

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Ag Literacy

“Thank you for teaching us about AGRICULTURE!” byDiane Merrion As we move into a new year, we continue to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our Ag in the Classroom Program.  It’s hard to believe that it all started back in 1986 and is still growing strong after all these years.  Certainly the world was a different place back then with gas priced at .89/gallon, the average price of a new car being $9,255.00, the Dow closing the year at 1895 and a Tandy 600 portable computer costing $1,599.00.  We were watching(not  TiVo’g) Cheers, Family Ties and Hill Street Blues on television(without HD) and listening to Whitney’s “The Greatest Love of All” or Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” on the radio (not our IPods). Yes, the world has certainly changed over the years, but students are still excited to learn about agriculture and can’t wait for the Ag Presenter to come to their classrooms.  We don’t bring anything high tech or fancy, just corn, wheat, oats and soybeans right from the field to see and touch.  They get to s ...

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Downwind

“Downwind”  Spread across my desk are papers, files, sticky notes, pink “important messages” and other “tools” of this craft know as “being a manager”. My desk serves as a giant “to do” list…if I hide these materials by filing them, they may never see light again, I’m afraid. I “hear” that laptops, pda’s notebooks, and other electronics will lead to a paperless system…riiiggghhhttt. As I allow my eyes to drift across my “to do” list that some people call a desk, it strikes me that the biggest piles of stuff seem to related to what government is doing or going to do to our members.  There is a word used by bureaucrats to describe this “doing” to people…the word is “Regulation”. Bureaucrats like that word. Bureaucrats enjoy that word. Bureaucrats need that word…Regualtion is the backbone of government growth and involvement.  Here are 3 quick examples I see from my vantage point from this old, black chair that I am parked in… There is a note from a member who runs a Day Care saying, in part… “By government r ...

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Manifolds, Manolos and Manure

Several years ago I adopted a massive mean looking Maine Coon cat from my local animal control.  Ignoring his apparent hatred for life insurance salesmen, carpenters and painters he’s actually quite a peach complete with buck-teeth. Since the quiet arrival of my blue-eyed daughter he’s gone from king of the castle and surveyor of his kitty underlings to the occasional pillow, tea partner and “pony-ride” provider.  Like her kitty ‘Monday’ he will tolerate just about anything a two-and-a-half year old can dole out. Each morning before her perpetually late parents manage to creep from bed, my blue-eyed daughter opens her door and calls for her kitty.  While we don’t know exactly what goes on, we’ve founded them curled up asleep, ‘dining’ on muffins prepared in her kitchen and scavenging through her sock drawer.  At the end of last year, my little blue-eyed girl overslept and ‘Xanadau’ sat outside her door just willing it to open. To say that my family and I are animal lovers might be an understatement.  But I ...

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"Downwind" - December 2011

I remember the gold-plated offering plate being handed down the rows of pews…a check, a dollar bill, a handful of coins made the little pile grow as it approached. No one was "keeping score" and yet I had this "guilty" feeling because I was empty handed. Sure, I was only 8 years old. Sure, I did not have a job. The rub was…I knew that I had a piggy bank chock full of money and I had a bank account and years of generous birthday gifts from family members. I felt a hand slip a quarter into my hand…how do Moms know so much…somehow, she knew what I was thinking and came in to rescue me. I know that my Mom and Dad and all of our neighbors gathered at church were not necessarily "well-off" financially but that offering plate was full every Sunday. You’ve gotta love a farming community! I remember my early years of 4-H. As a part of our community service, the club would select a worthwhile charity and members of the club would then seek donations. Our selected charity that first ...

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"Downwind" - November 2011

In the world of Bob, there are two food groups. Large Meat Large Potatoes Sure…a salad here or fruit there is handy to supplement hunger cravings...a bit to tide me over until the next real meal. But don’t try to fool my stomach at meal time with that fluff. My stomach demands substance, a hunk of meat and a chunk of tater. My stomach (I named it Vernon) and I have conversations periodically. Vernon growls, rumbles, and grouses…I interpret those communications for others who may be in the area, listening. Vernon is most vocal at 11:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m., and 10:00 p.m. The other day, Vernon expressed outrage at the USDA and the agency’s efforts to limit the numbers of potato servings consumed by school children on a weekly basis to a measly, little two occasions per week. Vernon said (I quote), "What are they thinking? Potatoes are essential for life, a true comfort food, and so satisfying! Potatoes have been good enough for Rohrer’s for generations and look at us…no u ...

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