Earlier this summer, my wife and I enjoyed a road trip to South Carolina for a wedding/family visit and then a stopover to hang out with our army son in Washington, D.C. I enjoyed seeing our country’s different types of agriculture as we whipped through the countryside. While in D.C., we headed to Mount Vernon, the home of President George Washington. I had never toured his estate, despite a number of visits to our nation’s capital, and I looked forward to learning more about Washington, the general, the president, the family man and especially the farmer. Farming and agriculture were extremely important to this founding father.
George Washington once said, “Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful and most noble employment of man.”
He also said, “The more I am acquainted with agriculture affairs the better I am pleased with them, insomuch that I can find nowhere so great satisfaction, as in those innocent and useful pursuits.”
Washington was a visionary farm owner that enjoyed experimenting with farming practices to advance agriculture.
A display at Mt. Vernon showed a soil box replicating an experiment that Washington wrote about in his diary in April 1760 with the goal of determining the best soil for growing various cereal grains. He used five different soils with additives: cow manure, horse manure, sheep manure, river mud and river sand. He watched the growth and changes of the cereal plants in these plots throughout several months until harvest…early soil science in action!
In 1788, President Washington said prophetically, “I hope, some day or another, we shall become a storehouse and granary for the world.” His words have come true and the United States became and is still vital in feeding the world. Unfortunately, that role is being threatened today.
The current trade war driven by President Trump between the United States and China, Mexico, Canada, Japan, the European Union and other countries is threatening the American farmer’s abilities to play the role of storehouse and granary for the world. Soybean, hog, corn, beef and many specialty commodity prices have plummeted seriously damaging these farmers’ ability to cover their costs and make a living. Once those markets are lost, recovery takes time, if recovery ever occurs.
Below is a “picture” of what a trade war looks like from a soybean farmer’s perspective.
That last month is UGLY!
George Washington was a pragmatic farm trader (the revolutionary war was fought over trade and taxes after all), but not an isolationist…
Incidentally, did you know that George Washington was a successful distiller of whiskey following his service as president? He believed in value added farm products!
There has always been a tendency in society to place blame on “the other guy”…remember Adam and Eve?
It was her fault.
He said it was ok
The devil made me do it.
The dog ate my homework.
Donald Trump is president.
…IT’S NOT MY FAULT!
When humans invented computer systems, smartphones and other electronic decision-making systems, we were provided with a whole new way to pass the buck of blame. Computer error. Bad data. Smart meters. Software glitch.
Every day, I write a lot as a part of my job. I am not a fast typist. What is the exact opposite of fast? Because that’s what I am. I type at a snail’s pace through a special hunt and peck, one finger method that is the envy of none.
The solution for me in recent years has been voice recognition software on my laptop. I speak, and words magically appear on my computer screen. This has been a tremendous saver of time, paper, pens and frustration (not to mention the hand cramping).
However, I have learned, the hard way, that my voice recognition software is not infallible by any means. The words that I speak, while magically appearing on the screen, are not always the intended word or words that I spoke into the software.
Last month’s column was a wonderful example. Readers may have questioned, “Does he know the difference between…Verses and Versus? Borrow and Burrow? Leaches and Leeches? Sentiment and Sediment?”
The answer is “Yes” but apparently my ultra-smart, fancy software does not know the difference.
So, the lesson here (not hear), should I decide to accept (not except) it is PROOFREAD YOUR WORK, BOB!
However, I am very fortunate to have some readers of this column that provided proofreading services for the month and helped me become better educated on the attributes of proofreading. To those members, I say thank you (especially those of you who had fun with me!).
I did have a sit-down lecture with my software on the importance of using the correct word choices and accurate phases and I feel like I got through to it…Problem solved?