Downwind"The plan, and born in a barn"
As we enter 2024, I thought I would share some details regarding our plan for the Co-Operator publication throughout the year. It remains our goal to continue providing the publication in two different formats: hard copy sent to you through the United States Postal Service and electronic version sent to you to your electronic mailbox using the wonders of the internet. The electronic version should land near the first of the month. The hardcopy should land in your mailbox around the first week of the month if all the various pieces come together and the USPS cooperates. There are a lot of moving parts!
I want to compliment our Cook County Farm Bureau staff members who all contribute in some way to the monthly Co-Operator publication that all members receive. Kelli serves as the key office coordinator and administrator, pulling all the details together every month and making sure we stay on schedule, communicating to the various production entities and coordinating the many moving pieces. Bona, Katrina, Debbie, Kelli, Linda, Julie, Melanie, and Jill submit materials and copy each month including programming, foundation information, ag literacy, membership, classified ads, and much more.
We have individuals that provide great columns for members of the organization, and I have pleaded for their return in 2024…
Bona Heinsohn (Manifolds, Manolos, and Manure) who provides tremendous insight through her writing including government as it relates to agriculture, policy that the organization is working on, farm related issues, and a glimpse of life on her farm.
Katrina Milton (Planting Seeds) who connects daily life with the wonders of agriculture and how it fits into many educational opportunities for young people and adults alike.
Joanie Stiers (At the Farm Gate) who writes about farming and life from farm plains of central Illinois. I marvel at Joanie’s amazing abilities, in a few short words, to take life experiences on the farm and relate them to things that we all appreciate and care about. Always a good read!
Each of these individuals enhance your Co-Operator reading experience on a monthly basis and provide you with something to look forward to in your mailbox.
From personal experience, I know that coming up with an interesting, readable topic each month is not always easy. Bona, Katrina, and Joanie do it every month and they do it well!
Speaking of columns, I will try to scratch out Downwind each month in 2024. My 37 year “habit” of writing the column each month is hard to break. Life kindly provides topics for me to write about when I least expect them (see segment below). Publicly telling stories on myself keeps me humble.
The Co-Operator 2024 will continue to include “Ag Adventures for Families” (going on our 25th year of this feature), foodie news, the latest on conventional and urban agriculture, the ABCs of food and spices, and great activities for kids and adults alike. Another fan favorite, we also plan on producing the May “buy local” pull out shopping guide.
I thank Ashley who serves as our content editor and proofreader. Years ago, I received from a member (a former English teacher), a copy of the Co-Operator that was red marked and “graded”. Based on what I received, we rated high for content but very poorly on accuracy, spelling, and grammar. That’s when we went out and found Ashley. Ashley has raised our presentation and quality, and she turns around the proofreading review quickly in amazing fashion!
The Illinois Farm Bureau Marketing Department lends to us their amazing talent in set up and graphic art creation. They take our pile of information and turn it into a readable and attractive publication piece! We love how intuitive they are as they understand what we are trying to accomplish more than we do!
About 1.5 years ago, we began using P & P Press out of Peoria to provide the printing service for the hardcopy Co-Operator and have found their print product to be clean, crisp, and timely.
Of course, for hard copy delivery, we depend upon the post office to put it into your mailbox. We know that the post office gets a bad rap at times, but we thank all the postal delivery folks who happen to be reading this for placing the Co-Operator in mailboxes throughout the county. Special request – if you can do anything about the ever-increasing postal rates, I’d appreciate it.
It is our mission to serve members. The Co-Operator publication helps us meet that mission. We hope the Co-Operator provides you with smiles and entertainment, agricultural information and knowledge, farm memories and nostalgia, and enthusiasm about food and those that produce it.
Since I have a little space left for this month’s column, let me tell an “I’m an idiot story” of myself. Last month, the Illinois Farm Bureau held its annual Friday – Monday statewide convention in Chicago. I always attend to provide our Farm Bureau leadership delegation support. My wife attends for the weekend portion of the event to provide me support!
However, because my wife still teaches school, she leaves the meeting early on Monday, taking the train from Chicago. Therefore, we always need to park her car near the train station in the vicinity of her school.
On Friday evening, I packed up my vehicle with clothes and supplies and left the house to pick up my wife at the train station where she left her car. Three days later, when my wife came home following her Monday day at school, she called to let me know that the garage door was open. That’s a garage door that is a part of the house. That’s a garage door that allows access to the house. The garage door had been open since I left three days previously.
Apparently, I wanted to tell the entire neighborhood to “Come on in! Whatever is ours is also yours!”
The average temperature last month was in the 30s. Winter in northern Illinois.
The garage has a heater fueled by natural gas. The heater is controlled by a thermostat in the garage. The thermostat is set for 60°. Did I mention it was winter and the door was open? For three days, that garage heater attempted to warm the garage (or heat the entire outdoors around the house) to a temperate 60°. I’m pretty sure the heater ran nonstop. Wonder if there is a maximum billing limit program offered by Nicor?
I can hear my father’s words, “Were you born in a barn?” echoing in my head. Yes, I believe I was.