Category Archives: Reflections
Happy New Year! Wishing all of you and your families a wonderful 2015! As I look back at 2014, there are several ag-related observations that I noted throughout the year.
The first observation continues to be the way communities and people in this County/area pull together in difficult times. Whether after tornadoes/wind storms or helping other farm families who had an injured family member or had lost a family member, it’s just a blessing to see the way people pull together to help each other in time of need. It was also a blessing for many who were unable to harvest in 2013 due to the August 1st storm, to harvest fields in 2014, and for many in the area to experience really good irrigated and dryland yields this year.
The dry winter of 2013/14 allowed for very mellow ground during planting time. Often seeding depth ended up ½-1” deeper than intended. The dry winter also didn’t allow for good residue decomposition leading to problems during planting and ensuing stand emergence. Cutting off residue and high rains in May led to unintended consequences of replant situations when residue was moved off of farmers’ fields onto neighboring fields, suffocating emerged plants in portions of fields. I’m not sure what the solution is for the future other than it really needs to be something worked out with neighboring farmers, but perhaps mentioning it here opens an opportunity for future conversations.
Cover crops have been incorporated into more operations in recent years, yet the ultimate goal for using them remains important in determining what species/crops are used in the fields. We also realized the importance of determining amount grazed prior to turning cattle into fields (whether for grazing cover crops or crop residue), as high winds in winter 2013/14 in overgrazed fields led to soil blowing throughout the winter.
The May frost showed us emerged soybeans at the cotyledon stage held up well to the frost compared to the corn. We also again watched Goss’ wilt show up systemically by 6 leaf corn that was injured early by frost or hail in fields where Goss’ wilt had been a problem in the past. We need more research/understanding of this disease. Wheat continues to show us its resiliency as it winterkilled in portions of fields, withstood drought-stress, and then made up yield in the last 4-6 weeks.
Perfect pollination conditions coupled with high solar radiation, low night-time temperatures, and timely rain events were keys to the bountiful corn crop we experienced this year. Soybeans were more of a mixed bag. In walking fields and in conversations with farmers, I think the disappointment in some irrigated yields could be attributed to early/over-irrigation, disease problems, and planting date. UNL on-farm research showed on average a 3 bu/ac yield increase when soybeans were planted in late April to first week of May (regardless if growing season was warm/dry or cold/wet like it was this year) and those I’ve talked to who achieved 80+ bu/ac in the area this year planted in that time-frame. I’m curious if there’s something to planting a 2.4-2.5 maturity early vs. a 3.0+ maturity early as some area producers are seeing strong yields from a shorter season hybrid planted early the past few years. So if you’ve also seen this and/or are interested, that will be an on-farm research project to try next year. Please let me know if you’re interested!
Here’s wishing you a healthy and prosperous 2015!
Every Veteran’s Day is an opportunity to thank those who bravely served to keep our Country free. My husband and I spent some time together late Monday night viewing Facebook posts together of our military family and friends; all of us reflecting on past deployments. There is something about the comaraderie developed during difficult times, yet it is good to reflect on the people who were there with us during those times. Thankful for the “battle buddies” in our lives, for the military members and families who have sacrificed so much through the years and continue to do so, and for my hero! Here’s a few photos reflecting on Chris’ deployment to Afghanistan.
As President-elect of the Nebraska Agricultural Agents Association, I had the opportunity to participate in the Public Issues Leadership Development (PILD) Conference in April of 2014. The goal of PILD is professional development and public issues education. I never had the opportunity to visit D.C. that time of year before and the cherry blossoms were just opening when the group of us from Nebraska arrived. By the time we left they were in full bloom-just beautiful with an amazing fragrance! Our delegation was Monte Stauffer (representing 4-H), Patricia Jones (representing Food/Nutrition), Diane Vigna (representing community development), and myself along with our Dean and Director Dr. Chuck Hibberd.
For me, these conferences are about networking and people and I truly enjoyed seeing my Ag Extension colleagues from across the U.S. The conference was very much focused on celebrating 100 years of Cooperative Extension and the challenges/opportunities Extension faces in the next 100 years.
Sessions included discussing how to determine public value of what we do and the debate continues to be how do we extrapolate information and who gets the credit. I think Nebraska is on track with much of what we do in this area as we’ve had many similar discussions here. There were also discussions about the relevance of Extension and the need to share information several ways; again, I think we have people in Nebraska leading the way in this effort. But it is critically important for ALL of Extension to be repackaging our information several ways to reach our customers where they view information.
We had the opportunity to interact with National Institute of Food and Agriculture program leaders to express the critical needs for the people we serve in hopes of influencing where research and extension initiatives should be focused in future grant releases. We also spent a large portion of time discussing different bills of importance to all of our States and determining the key messages we wished to share on the Hill with our Congressmen and Senators.
Before the bus started moving we were working on plant identification for a client. Then we learned about the status of Emerald Ash Borer among other pests at the Douglas-Sarpy County Extension Office. By the end of the presentation we were considering getting a meat thermometer and recordable Hallmark card! (will explain later).
Along the way, John Wilson provided an update regarding the flood recovery efforts from the 2011 flood. He mentioned at Gavins Point Dam, the lake would have drained every 25 hrs. when releases were occurring for the flood. He was involved with an effort in putting together a webinar that involved 25-30 agencies and 14 speakers from 5 states. During the recovery there were 2″ to 25′ drifts of sand in fields. One piece of ground that was reclaimed cost $125-150K and needed 7 excavators for a month. One 300 acre piece of ground that wasn’t reclaimed was going to cost $10,000/ac. to reclaim it.
John Hay provided an update regarding wind energy. He pointed out the different types of towers along the way as we passed several wind farms. Facts included: a 1.5Megawatt wind turbine can run 1000 homes each and the gear box is turning 2000:1 compared to the blades. Iowa is #1 in percent of electricity produced from wind power (20%) and it costs $3-6 million each to install a wind turbine (essentially double the cost of how many megawatts). The life span of a turbine is 20 years with a maintenance cost about $0.05/kwh. When considering efficiency, wind turbines are 40-50% efficient vs. coal power (35%), nuclear (35%), cars (25%); so they’re more efficient at converting free energy into electricity but they are less cost efficient than those other energy sources. Windfarms also typically pay for themselves in 5-10 years.
Our first stop was at Hawkeye Breeders where we saw their semen storage facility that essentially had enough semen to fertilize every cow in the U.S. They ship all over the world and their primary customer is the dairy industry. We also toured their semen collection facility and got the coolest pen from there.
From there we stopped at Blue River Organic Seeds and were surprised to learn that all their organic seed research is done conventionally. They provide organic seed for corn, alfalfa, soybean, and various forages and are looking for more growers. We also learned about PuraMaize which was developed by Dr. Tom Hoegemeyer to essentially block pollen from outside sources to maintain purity.
That night we had supper with faculty from Iowa State University talking about programming efforts there, including their manure programming, ag economics, and Roger Elmore spoke of the corn programming there. But before that, a few of us took advantage of the 45 min. of time to get a few geocaches in the area 🙂
Video released from the Department of Defense. With everything going on in the world, I don’t have much else to say right now…except this. Today I’m remembering those who lost loved ones on 9/11/01 in my prayers. I’m praying for the many military members still serving this great country away from their families today-and praying for their families serving bravely without them on the home-front. I’m so thankful for those willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for my freedom. And through everything going on right now, God is in control and has a plan and purpose for all. May God continue to bless the U.S.A. and may we never forget 9/11/2001!
It’s been an interesting few weeks. Last week I was continuing to receive calls about considerations for drought damaged corn. Then southern rust arrived in the area earlier last week. Followed by the tremendous August 1 storm that affected so much of our County.
is how I’ve felt these past few days-and I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you whose crops were affected! It’s just a sickening feeling walking into field after field and driving around the County seeing the storm damage every day. I’m so sorry for those of you who have lost your crops! As I look at the crops, though, I’m a little puzzled at the way things are laying, the twisted plants….things aren’t all adding up for “straight-line winds”.
In spite of how difficult things look right now, I can’t help but wonder if we were spared from something much greater?
The follow passage in the Bible has been my go-to during times of drought and difficult times in farming. I was going to share this in a drought post…but I feel it still applies with as many partial and total crop losses we’ve experienced in the area.
Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! Habukkuk 3:17-18
In the midst of trying to provide advice, it’s nice to know that God has everything already figured out and that He’s always in control. Even in the midst of this, He is always good!
Every time the Remembering Our Fallen Memorial was mentioned, I would get goose bumps. Every time I would mention it was coming to our Clay County Fair, my eyes would moisten.
Our Extension Office moved out to the Fair early on Wednesday so we could be ready to stand with flags while the Memorial was escorted to our Fair. The loud roar of motorcycles approaching was soon followed by an amazing site of over 40 Patriot Riders from Omaha to Hastings escorting the Memorial to our Fair. It was incredibly touching watching them ride in. Local TV and newspaper crews were on hand to capture the event. July 11th would mark 9 years since the passing of Clay County residents Jeremy Fischer and Linda Tarango-Griess due to a roadside bomb in Iraq.
That day I just observed the scene from a distance. I knew I needed time alone to go through the Memorial later. That time came Sunday morning as it was quiet at the Fair.
Over 80 service men and women from Nebraska have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Joshua Mann was younger than me, but attended the same high school that I did. Patrick Hamburger was in the Chinook Helicopter group that often flew into the base my husband was stationed at in Afghanistan in 2011. Jacob Schmuecker was married to a gal I group up with in my home-town church. I didn’t know Jeremy Fischer or Linda Tarango-Griess but many in Clay County and the area did.
This Memorial is striking and different because it’s about viewing the faces of the fallen. There are other pictures added of their lives and people leave additional tributes at the Memorial as well. Scanning the QR codes to watch the tribute videos and reading letters left behind by moms, spouses, relatives, friends, coaches, and fellow service-members brought me to tears. We must never forget that freedom is not free!
A special thanks to Laurie Jarzynka and her family for organizing the honor escort and getting this Memorial at our Fair. I will leave you with a video I captured of the Memorial. May we never forget those that paid the ultimate sacrifice for our Freedom and the families left behind! God bless all our men and women in uniform and their families and God bless the U.S.A.!
This year marked my 10th Clay County Fair. It was bitter-sweet in a way as I have watched this group of youth from their pre-4-H years through graduation this year. It’s neat seeing the young men and women they’ve become, ready to take that next step in life towards college and careers! Rachel and Kristen, our interns, helped us greatly in different ways which was a blessing; it was another smooth fair overall!
Also bittersweet is the fact that this was Cindy Strasheim’s last Clay County Fair as a UNL Extension Educator as she plans to retire in December. We will miss her and if you see her around, please thank her for her 29 years of dedication to the Clay County Fair and serving our constituents here!
I realize I say this every year, but we wouldn’t have fair if it wasn’t for all of our 4-H and FFA leaders, families, and youth-so thank you all for your hard work and efforts with your projects and the many ways you volunteer at fair! Thank you to our awesome fair board who we greatly enjoy working with and who keep our fairgrounds looking great! Thank you to Deanna, Holli, and Cindy for the long hours of preparation and also during fair in ensuring everything ran smoothly! Thank you to our 4-H Council and all our Superintendents for working so hard in various capacities during fair and throughout the year! Thank you to Tory, Kris, Teri, Karla, and Megan with the Clay County News for sticking out all the shows in the heat to cover the fair for us; we truly appreciate your support! Thank you to Lonnie Stripe for auctioneering, all our auction buyers, plaque and award sponsors, and donors for supporting our 4-H and FFA youth! Thank you to everyone who made the 2013 Clay County Fair a success!
Today the Nebraska National Guard Agribusiness Development Team 3 (NE ADT3) would be reunited with their families! I found myself going back 10 months ago to the day after Memorial Day 2012. That was the day several of us were reunited with our soldiers and airmen from NE ADT2.
Today I was remembering bouncing up and down while holding hands with other military spouses watching the bus with our military members pull up. I remember seeing my husband get off the bus and running to his arms. I remember that even amidst all the family members and friends gathered that day, the military members were always gravitating towards each other-looking for each other. Sure, they were excited to be home too….but their best friends….their battle buddies who they’d spent the past year with was who they felt most comfortable with at that moment.
I remember how tired they all were-how they all just wanted to go home…and yet how quickly they all missed each other. I remember so many things being overwhelming to my husband…crowds of people and everyone asking him the same questions, going to Golden Corral after we left the welcome-home event and him being overwhelmed by the amount of food available to eat (he ended up eating very little), going to a grocery store where we have such a variety of EVERYTHING and having so many choices…
We truly are so blessed in the U.S.A. and take these blessings for granted everyday!
As I drove to the welcome home ceremony today, I thought back on this post and how I left many of you hanging about what happened next. Honestly, I’ve started many draft posts but struggled to know what to write or really what to share.
Many think that once our military members return that all is right in our world. But the reality is that while there’s a honeymoon period, there’s also a great deal of hard work to make reintegration occur. You see, military members and their families have been living in two different worlds the past year. My husband and his comrades were living in similar to Biblical times working with great people but yet always had to be on guard for the enemy. I was living in a fast-paced techno-savvy world trying to hold everything together here. We both were fortunately forming bonds with military buddies and spouses that will last a lifetime. I was safe at home with my dogs. He and some of his comrades had close calls with death.
I will never know…
what it was like for him to leave home and everyone he loved to serve a Country that he loves and was willing to lay his life down for. To work as hard as he could so he could go to bed exhausted in hopes of not missing the home he loved so much. He will never know what it’s like on this end…to have everything in our home remind me of him, to spend endless nights and go to countless events alone, to hold my breath at every bit of news I hear from overseas, and to continually say silent prayers throughout the day for all our military members and their families. But these are the sacrifices military members and their families are willing to make to defend the cause of freedom. We love this Nation and are so proud of and thankful for those who are willing to defend her!
Since the deployment, I learned that it was hard for him to want to connect with home and me. His coping strategy was to not connect so he could focus on the mission and not think about home or worry about how things were going here. (He now would never recommend this strategy to any military member!) My coping strategy was to send him letters and packages-to show him he was loved and missed. But lack of communication is hard on a marriage and it takes time to re-build that. I would say for many military couples, reintegration is even harder than the deployment and separations themselves. We all have good intentions for a good reintegration…we learn what to watch for and have resources available to help…but the reality is that we’ve been going two different directions for a period of time. It takes work to bring those lives back into the same direction again. But it’s worth the effort!
One way that helped us get away and start communicating again was to attend a Family Life Weekend to Remember Event. There are discount rates for military members and their spouses and there are special locations where there are military emphasis breakout sessions for military couples to talk about military specific issues such as deployments, separations, addictions, etc. It really helped us to start that conversation again and I would encourage any married couple to attend one!
I smile everytime…
I see my husband going through his Afghanistan pictures with the sweetest smile on his face. I know he misses it…he misses the daily work with his buddies and the difference they were making in the Afghan people’s lives. My husband took lots of pictures and video with his helmet cam. As he shared his stories, I realized how much I take for granted. His buddies and us wives have also often gotten together as the guys have spoken at various events. Those are good things-things I will continue to encourage.
I’m so thankful God allowed my husband to be on that deployment with great leadership and friendships. I know he’d go back in a heartbeat-especially if he could go with the same people he served with. I think of these Agribusiness Development Teams’ mission to provide for a sustainable Afghanistan…to teach the people how to feed themselves and provide for their families…of the successes that have been achieved. I’m praying for a sustainable Afghanistan and hope that one day-maybe in 10 years-my husband and I can both go and see the places he was, meet the people, and hear the stories of how their lives were changed as a result of our brave men and women serving.