Saturday, December 31, 2011

God Has A Sense Of Humor

Okay, what follows is a true story. Some of the details might differ slightly from being retold for 20 years, but the story is true.
Back when the Mall Of America was fairly new, it was a bit of a novelty around here, a destination. So a family that hails from about 40 miles west of where I live, made it their Christmas shopping destination. Dad and Mom, one of their married daughters, and her husband leaving in the early morning hours to spend the day in Minneapolis.
The daughter and her husband leave their rural home, drive to the parents farm where Mom has breakfast waiting for them. After about a half break for breakfast, they got back into their still slightly warm vehicle, and are off on their day.
After driving for about a half hour, everyone notices an awful smell coming from their car. I mean bad, really bad. So bad in fact, it looks like they might end up stopping to attend to this. But after another half hour, everyone decides that the smell is getting better, and they forge on.
Upon arriving at the Mall, they parked in one of the upscale parking ramps, and went in to spend the day.
About 3 pm, with all their money spent, and their time used up, they head to the parking ramp to go home.
As this small group approached the ramp, the automatic doors opened, and they were greeted with the same stench that they had experienced on the drive up. Obviously, it was coming from their car. When they opened the hood, they found that during their breakfast stop, a cat had crawled on the car's warm engine and had met its' untimely demise. So they emptied out a shopping bag, grabbed a ice scrapper, and a tire iron and cleaned the remains from the engine. Upon finishing this gruesome job, they closed the hood, set the bag down, and walked back into the Mall to clean themselves up.
Now the story got interesting. As this small group returned, and approached the automatic glass doors to the ramp, they see a lady in her mid 40's scanning the ramp. Seeing no one, she walked across the ramp, and steals the bag containing the dead cat off of the hood of their car. She makes a right turn, heads right for them and enters the mall, walking right past them.
So now what to do? The two couples decide almost immediately that they need to see her reaction, and start to follow at a safe distance. The shoplifter walks quite a distance through the mall, and enters a set of restrooms near the food court. The guys are telling the women that they should follow, and the women are telling them in no uncertain terms, that that isn't going to happen, when a scream like someone is being axe murdered comes from the restroom.
Now, not far from this restroom is the offices for security. Doors blow open and into the restroom they go. They find the shoplifter passed out on the tile floor. And she isn't coming to. So the EMTs are called in, and when they can't get her to come to, they haul in a gurney to take her to the now waiting ambulance. The EMT's truss her up like a Thanksgiving turkey on a backboard, plop her on the gurney, and out the doors she goes.
The couples are watching all this unfold, quietly taking in all the events, when an EMT comes running out of the restroom. In his one hand is the woman's purse, in his other hand is the shopping bag containing the dead cat. He runs up to the gurney, stuffs the them between her knees, straps them in and off she goes to the ambulance.
So somewhere in the Twin Cities, there is a EMT crew, still wondering why on earth some passed out woman had a dead cat in her Nordstroms bag.
And yes, I think God has a sense of humor. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Passing of an Agvocate, and Getting in Trouble in Church

So yesterday I got to usher in church. Not a difficult job. You show folks to their seat, hand out bulletins and hand out kids bulletins to the children. Well, yesterday i handed out the kids bulletins to a bunch of adults. Some college age "kids" got them, as well as some of the kids from my high school youth group. Everyone involved got a big smile on their face, and a nod or wink. I was a little worried that not everyone who would see me laughing in church would think it was funny.
The thing that occurred to me was that we so often take too much of our life too seriously. Like a church service. I believe laughter is a gift from God. How often have you laughed, I mean realy laughed in church? Me neither.
I've often told people that I want the punch at my funeral to get spiked so we can hopefully loosen up a bunch of buttoned up Dutchmen. Yesterday, and in the past I've had folks volunteer to spike the punch.(My only worry is that no one is going to dare drink the stuff.8)). But the conversation did get me to thinking about my funeral and who would show up. Would they mourn my passing, would they talk about things like the weather, or would they share the fun/laughs that we had together. I'm hoping the latter. Because as a Christian, upon my death, I get to reap the ultimate reward that Christ has offered us. Eternal life. It should be a party. I mean, the cops show up, kind of PARTY.

Then I open up my SM today and find out that Chris Raines, meat professor, agvocate from Penn State died in a car crash last night. His twitter handle was @itweetmeat. I'm not sure if I met Chris or not, I met so many people this last summer at the #AgChat Conference. But from everything, everyone is saying about Chris, he blessed those who came to call him their friend. He led a full but too short life. The accolades are beautiful and bountiful.
 Which lead to this thought. Why do we wait for someone's death to let the world know how they have blessed us? What would happen if we flash mobbed those in our life for being a blessing to us. Granted, like any good thing it might lose some thing in translation, but let each of those who have touched our lives, know what they mean to us? And that our lives are richer for having known them.What if we picked a Brent Boersma day? Or a Kelly Rivard or Alec Winmill Holiday to let them know they are something special?  Somedays we could all use that kind of encouragement.

So here goes. Erin, Elizabeth, Troy, John, Kari, Kelly, Elliot, Kaycie, Haley, Laura, Jordan, Sam, Thomas, Derrel, Jay, Marcus, Ray, Brett, Brent, Eric, Dani, Ryan, Jessica, Cal, Steve,Joelle, Shane,Lynn, Dawn, Myra,Janice, Alec, Darin, Brooke, Marie, Ward, Megan, Elizabeth, Lee,Seth, Claire, Cody, Justin, Jon, Michaela and Jeff..............
You mean.this to me ........
Volume one is gonna be really long.................

Monday, September 12, 2011

Does Agvocacy Matter?

So first for the history lesson. I started this blog for work intially, based on a series of conversations that I had with a young vegetarian on the east coast. Now Megan would argue that she isn't on the east coast, but she's a lot closer to it than I am, so east coast it is. I met her because of some volunteer work I do with teens, and responded to a blog she wrote, and then I commented on a blog she had about animal agriculture. That started an eight month back and forth correspondence on animals and farms.
  Megan has never been to a farm, although she lives in a largely agricultural area. The city she lives in is only about 15,000 people. But she and I exchanged thoughts and ideas on "factory" farming and anything else that happens on the farm. To Megan's credit, she came to the table with an open mind, and was willing to talk. Understand that for the first 6 months, I didn't know anything about Megan other than the size of her home town and her first name. Meagn would ask questions, and occassionally, post requests for questions for her farmers friends on the PETA board. A few others farmers chimed in after the story was picked up by a local paper, but in large, it was a conversation between Megan and I. At one point I printed out our back and forth conversation, it was 72 pages long.
   I'll admit to wondering what she thought of the talks more than once. At one point she even asked me,"Why the interest in me?" My response was that she had allowed me to see what went into the thought process of an animal rights person, and I appreciated it.
   As time went on, the length between responses got longer, and it has probably been nearly two years since we last talked.
    So last night, I was pleased to cross paths with Ms. Megan on FaceBook. We got caught up on school and such, and then I asked the question that I wanted to ask for quite some time.
   "What was the thing that you learned during our conversations that you didn't know before?"

Megan,"one thing I learned? hmm... well... I think I probably learned more about other activists than about cows XP I learned that..... it seemed most ar activists just jumped to conclusions and didn't really want to learn on their own about how animals are really treated.... sometimes peta can be a little biased... maybe exaggerate a little :P and it seemed to me that most activists don't understand that. i didn't understand that either."

    Megan took some heat for even talking to farmers on the peta page. But she was cool with it, way beyond her years, cool with it. In all, she's a pretty cool kid.
    Megan is a young lady, she's still in high school. She's kind of fallin out with the whole AR movement. Life gets in the way some times. Veiws do change.  But she took the time to ask questions, and I for one am really glad we talked. I consider her my friend. Thanks Megan.
Oh, and yes, Agvocacy Matters.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Deep End of the Pool

So I did it. Threw my name into the running for the AgChat Foundation Agvocacy Training 2.0.
Then they did something entirely unexpected, they said come on down. Crap, now what?
I mean I'm flattered, but these folks are techies. bloggers, and experts in the social media field. They speak foreign languages like twitter and Quora. I'm a feed salesman who talks to...... well, my customers mostly.
I'm really interested in seeing how they are going to train someone like me. Heck, some teens changed to screen saver on my droid and three weeks later I'm still needing to get that changed.
But I do share a passion to tell the story of agriculture with those removed from the farm and how their food gets to them. I'm a firm believer that each of us owes that to our industry. Times and methods of communicating are changing, and we can be the "I remember when" guy, or embrace the change.
I'm gonna try embrace it, I'll keep you all posted on how that works out. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Why Teenage Guys Are Like Earrings

Okay, for starters, I don't have an earring. I am however married with two daughters and they all do wear earrings. This all started with a conversation I had with a young lady at the Hopeline.She was dealing with a bad breakup, and had to remove an earring to get the phone close enough to hear over the noise around her. It then extented to some kids from youth group, and so here we are.
Teenage guys are like earrings. How?
  Young ladies like earrings because they are cool, and fun to hang around with. But what exactly do they do for young ladies? Not so much, but they do draw attention to young ladies, make them feel attractive, and special.
   Most young women start out with earrings that appear to be studs, but on further examination, they are really pretty simple.They will get used to them, and look at them as old friends.
   But sooner or later, the time will come for an upgrade. Something a little flashier, something a bit upscale.
So she will spend some hard earned money and get a hot set of earrings. Some time passes and everything is great, she feels really good about how these earrings make her look and feel.
    But one day, the young lady loses one of these expensive earrings. Panic sets in, she tears the house apart looking for it, trying to locate this lost earring. She loses sleep, can't focus, needs to have this earring back. Being without it will suck, suck big time. People will tell her to forget about it, move on, and this advice will without fail, tick off the young lady even more.
   But as time goes by, the hurt will change, and turn in something different.
Then one day, the young lady will be wandering through Kohls', and see a new set of earrings. Pretty cool earrings. Earrings that will make her kind of forget about the set she lost. And compared to the set she lost, she will wonder why she wanted the first set in the first place.
These earrings might or might not be the set of earrings that she falls in love with for the rest of her life.
  But slowly the realization sets in that the beautiful part of this equation that God created, has always been her.
Not some stupid earrings, but a beautiful young woman.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Telling The Ag Story from a Dad's Veiw

So I've an incredibly busy week ahead. Not that I'm complaining, I'm rather excited about it.
The Central Plains Dairy Expo starts tonight and runs until Thursday afternoon. 
Part of the fun of the next couple of days will be watching as the ag community interacts with their consumers.It starts tonight with a concert by John Michael Montgomery. The dairy community is going to be welcoming the public to the concert. The price of admission for the general public? A donation to a local food bank. Yep, that's it. They also get to rub elbow with real dairymen and women. It's going to be a good night.
The trade, honestly is a favorite of mine. I know it's still work, but there is also a great sense of community that goes on at an event like this. People we may not have seen for a year or more, kind of like a family reunion. There will also be a bunch of folks coming through the trade show to see what this whole "cow thing" is all about. Most of our "tourists" will be kids from area schools getting a look at the tools and equipment we get to use. It's fun to see the look on a kids face when they stick their finger into one of the inflations on a milking machine.
One of the parts that I'm really proud of, is that fact that my daughter and two of her friends are going to be working for the Central Plains group this week. Three very cool young ladies with a passion for animal agriculture. They represent a bright future for agriculture, and make a dad proud at the same time.
So while it will be incredibly busy,  I get to share some of the passion that I feel for the dairy industry with my daughter and her friends.
So if you see three cute young women working for the Central Plains Dairy Expo this week, know that somewhere at that show, there's a really proud dad.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


So when you get asked what you do, what you are passionate about, how do you respond? A friend of mine, when asked that question, answered it this way," What do I do for a living? Or what is my passion?" Interesting take on what we do versus what we love.
So what do you love?
When I get asked that question, it's pretty easy to ramble on for quite a while. Agvocacy is a passion. Few things get my heart pumping like the job of telling our(ag) story to those who don't know anything about what we do. It's my feeling that it's the responsiblity of each of us, and I feel strongly about that.
Or I can discuss my love of working with teenagers. For some reason they've allowed me into their world, and I've enjoyed their friendship.
But why can't we go on and on about the ones that we are really passionate about. The ones we love.
I don't tell the world about my wonderful wife nearly enough. And she is the one person in the world that I'm most passionate about. Why is that? I know that we can't all be as passionate about my wife as I am, that would just be weird. But it's in all of us to let them know that.
I'm reminded of and old west river South Dakota rancher, who no one had ever heard tell his wife that he loved her. His explanation was that he had told her that the day they got married, and until that changed, his word was good.
We find special days to get flowers, send gifts etc, but do those in your life theat you feel passionate about, know how passionate you feel about them? Try tell them again.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Poisoning the Well

In the February issue of the Readers Digest, a book review from the New York Review of Books was quoted. The topic had nothing to do with animal rights, and in fact, I have no idea what H.L. Mencken's book Prejudices is about, but part of the quote was insightful. The reviewer was explaining the difference between honest and calculated vitriol. "In today's jargon, Mencken, by eloquently proclaiming views certain to offend so many, would be called a polarizing figure. Whereas today's polarizers, however, are professional well- poisoners who spend vast sums for opinion polls to determine how to best inflame the masses for political advantage." Sounds to me like what we have going on with animal agriculture these days.
The animal rights crowd has come up with a group of terms that allow for no debate or consumer education. What reasonable person wouldn't be against extreme confinement, gestation stalls, veal crates, battery cages, puppy mills or animals being force fed antibiotics to keep them alive? I mean really.
But these terms aren't truthful when it comes to the debate, because it shuts off the debate. It's like asking someone if they are in favor of stricter laws against domestic violence. You have to say you are, or you are a horrible human being. You simply can't ask the question, "Are the laws on the books today inadequate?", without looking heartless.You are nearly forced to answer in the affirmative.  
A recent quote from an animal rights site said it this way, "99% of the public are for humane treatment of animals." I guess that would have to include animal agriculture, because we care for animals, but the impression left is that the 1% are those raising the animals, and they don't care.
So it falls to all of us to tell those out there who don't know about raising livestock, how things are really done. That means it is the responsibility of EACH of us. Have you taken that opportunity to tell someone how a farm works. Some friends and I have been working with a Facebook page called The Truth about Agriculture. Discussions have ranged from alternative farming methods, to gestation stalls to horse slaughter. Great views and diverse opinions. It's usually respectful, I've only had to apologize once.