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LISA B. POT - JANUARY 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 January 2015 08:57
She came charging into the office like a gust of wind intent on stirring up some action. And so she did. Mel Luymes is a force of nature and in a completely candid interview for this issue, declared “I’m not afraid to make an ass of myself. Life is too short not to share our opinions.”  Ranting is one of her favourite things and her skill at confronting and articulating issues earned her a second place prize in the OFA ‘Reel ‘ Farm Video Challenge. You can read more about it inside.
While chatting with her over chai latte’s at the Queen’s Bakery in Blyth, I was struck by her comment that she longs to overcome apathy. Indeed, she’s the very antithesis of the word with her firebrand rants and youthful drive to command and conquer.
I, however, had a nagging worry that apathy is creeping up on me, inviting me to merely watch and report, rather than be proactive and participate. I’m a little tired, a little jaded, a little too willing to fall into line behind someone else who can voice it better.  Call it complacency. Call it growing older.  Or come right out and call it laziness.
Is it really so terrible to retreat into nature, a novel or a quiet hour of creativity which nourishes my soul? Or just BE a farmer rather than market yourself as one? Terrible, no, but unfortunately isolation doesn’t prompt change. Sometimes you have to get out of that chair, put the novel down and voice your opinion at a meeting. Vote. Write a letter to the editor. Join a political organization. Take a stand!
Or are there less intrusive ways to make a difference for those who veer towards introversion rather than join the extroverts? Another person I interviewed was Andrew Campbell of FreshAir media who encourages farmers to use social media to advocate their livelihood by means of Tweets on Twitter, posts on Facebook and pictures on Instagram.
I’ve long been a Facebook follower as a means to connect with family overseas, celebrate my friend’s joys and achievements, laugh at silly quotes and connect with people who share similar interests. It’s where I link up with my fellow Huron County Tri-Hards and post updates on our Coffeebreak Bible study. It’s a fabulous window of life, all from the comfort of a cozy recliner chair inside the safe haven of my home. It’s more like a gentle breeze than a gust of wind but is it any less effective?
Andrew believes it can be very effective if we are intentional about what we share. He encourages farmers to go beyond using social media for knowledge, social contacts and entertainment and consciously use it to enlighten consumer’s views of farming and food production.  By intentionally sharing pictures of growing and harvesting, milking, family farm life and other aspects of rural living, we can connect consumers to the people and places where food comes from. It’s a big distinction and an opportunity to halt the encroaching lure of apathy to create a fresh-faced vision of advocacy via sharing thoughts and visuals. It’s more subtle but can, potentially, open the door to a very direct discussion on food and farming. It can change perception and how we perceive things affects how we make choices.
Made sense to me.
If, by sharing pictures of our Jerseys jumping with glee on their first day out in pasture in the spring, I can promote the health and happiness of our cows, and give consumer’s confidence that dairy farmers take good care of their animals, then I have affected change. I have altered someone’s perception about dairy farm and promoted my industry as a  trustworthy source of healthy milk for their children to drink.
It is, of course, more important to BE that farmer. The one who is trustworthy and welfare-conscious. Which we are. So why not show it? It’s not boasting when your goal is to inspire and educated.
I still think having someone come to the farm, see our cows, talk to me face-to-face and step in my shoes is more effective. It’s not always possible so being a window is the next best thing.
So I fought the apathy that told me its too much fuss, social media is overrated and who has the time?
I joined Instagram: LisaPot526
And Twitter: @LisaBPot
And recommitted to Facebook.   (While doing so, I wished I’d had the foresight to brand myself with a universal code name to make remembering all my logins easier).
Words and pictures effect change. If they are your gift, then social media is an ideal outlet for your raves and, if you are like Mel, your rants too.◊
FIGHTING APATHY TO ADVOCATE FOR FARMERS USING SOCIAL MEDIA
By Lisa B. Pot
She came charging into the office like a gust of wind intent on stirring up some action. And so she did. Mel Luymes is a force of nature and in a completely candid interview for this issue, declared “I’m not afraid to make an ass of myself. Life is too short not to share our opinions.”  Ranting is one of her favourite things and her skill at confronting and articulating issues earned her a second place prize in the OFA ‘Reel ‘ Farm Video Challenge. You can read more about it inside.
Read more...
 
KATE PROCTER - JANUARY 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 January 2015 08:50
Finally, finally, Harvest 2014 is a memory. There were days when I thought I would not get to write that – or at least maybe not until 2015. But one good thing about bad times is the good lessons that come with them.  While a lot of my lessons are of the “well… DUH!!!!“ variety, some are a bit more substantial.
While we all dream about those seasons when the sun shines every day (except the days when we need rain), and the corn comes off the field at 15 per cent, seasons like 2014 teach us things that we don’t get to experience otherwise. For example, I learned not only what white mold looks like in soybeans, but also what a pummeling it can give to your yield. I had never seen the small black chunks, referred to as “rat crap”, in our beans before. But I can’t imagine a better description for it.  Add one more consideration to the list of things to think about when choosing varieties.
Lesson #1: Sometimes, it is the things you don’t know you don’t know that get you.
When you finally decide you can’t wait any longer for the beans to get dry in the field and you switch to corn at 10:00 at night, don’t just abandon the flex head out there thinking you will be back before long. Put it under cover. It might rain and freeze ten times in the two months between now and the small window of opportunity you have to go back and pick those beans up. That way, instead of using a crow bar to chip away the ice that has encased the auger, you can spend that one entire sunshiney day combining.
Lesson #2: Plan for the worst-case scenario.
While I was whining to any of my friends who would listen about what a time we were having getting a new dryer functioning, the first question everyone asked was… “Did you already pay for it?” I felt like an idiot saying yes, that I thought that when you bought something, that was part of the deal. Sigh.
Lesson #3: There is a directly proportional relationship between the necessity of new equipment and the number of glitches between paying for it and successfully using it.
I will probably never forget that night with the -20oC wind chill as we worked with our local dealer for hours trying unsuccessfully to get that thing up and running, only to discover that it had come from the factory wired incorrectly, with errors in the electrical schematic, and a virus in the software.  On the positive side of the equation, I know much more about this piece of equipment than any other on our farm through all the trial and error. Now if I can just remember the right stuff instead of the wrong…
Lesson #4: You learn a lot about how things work when they don’t.
This experience also made me aware of the Farm Implements Act. Brought into effect by the Ontario government in 1990,  “The act helps give farmers confidence in the quality, reliability and safety of new farm machinery when purchasing or leasing, and in the service they can expect from their dealers and manufacturers.The act assures dealers that if the dealership contract ends, they will not be left with expensive inventory...” More information about the Act can be found on the OMAF website at http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/ english/engineer/fiap/fiap.htm#1.
Lesson #5: Sometimes help is available if you know where to look.
I got an up-close-and-personal lesson on how little snow will block up a combine if all the conditions are right. “Right” being… snow just at the proper temperature to hide in the leaves, successfully take a ride inside and then stick there.  Just imagine the perfect snow for snowmen, snowball fights, and building forts. Yep – there it is – inside the combine.  Peering in from the backside, it may look innocent and fluffy, but as soon as I optimistically tried to blow it out with a blast of high pressure air, I realized that stuff wasn’t going anywhere without a fight. But that was OK – there was lots of time while the snow was building up to a foot deep outside to squeeze myself inside and chip it out slowly.
Lesson #6: All snow is not created equal.
I remember last year having cold feet a lot of the time, but never having a chance to do much about it. This year, with all the hurry up and waiting we did, I was able to find an awesome pair of insulated rubber boots that kept me warm and dry. Putting in a pair of insoles with memory foam kept me walking at the end of a 16-hour day.  No more old-school felt liners that get jammed up in the bottom every time you put them on. These Baffin Ice Bears with safety features, good treads, and a ­–50 degrees celcius rating made my feet feel as if they were toasty and warm by the fire. The best part is that I found them within a five-minute drive of home.
Lesson #7: Nothing is quite as bad if your feet feel good.
Probably the best lessons of Harvest 2014, though, came from my Dad, ever the optimist. No matter how bad it seems, he can always remember years that were much, much worse. “You think this is bad? Well in 1992, we had to make half the corn into silage and then mix the 40 percent grain we combined with it. Then we had to… ”
Lesson #8: Remember, things can always be, and have been, worse.
And while the wind screamed outside and I anxiously tried to peer through the sheets of snow, fretting about how we were going to bring 2014 to a close, he was absorbed in glossy brochures from the seed companies, planning about how great 2015 is going to be.
Lesson # 9: Keep your chin up, next year is bound to be better.◊
LESSONS LEARNED FROM A LONG, OVERDRAWN HARVEST
BY KATE PROCTER
Finally, finally, Harvest 2014 is a memory. There were days when I thought I would not get to write that – or at least maybe not until 2015. But one good thing about bad times is the good lessons that come with them.  While a lot of my lessons are of the “well… DUH!!!!“ variety, some are a bit more substantial.
Read more...
 
MABEL'S GRILL - JANUARY 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 January 2015 08:45
“Christmas came early at our place this year,” said Cliff Murray as he sat down at the morning coffee session the other day.
“Do you have one of those family things where people get together anywhere after November 1?” asked Molly Whiteside as she filled his cup with coffee.
“No, my early present was that good weather that finally let me get my corn off,” said Cliff. “For a while there I thought I was going to be providing very expensive snow fence for the township.”
“You suppose you could have got them to pay you something if the corn had to be left out all winter?” wondered Dave Winston. “It certainly would have cut their snowplowing costs, for sure.”
“Be kind of nice to get in on some of those government contracts,” said George McKenzie, “like those aircraft plants that charge $15,000 for a hammer.”
“That’d sure be better than the price of corn this year,” said Dave.
“I wonder if the elevators have ever had a year before where they had to worry that corn drying was going to interfere with the Christmas holiday schedule,” said Cliff.
“Well I hope the weather’s better in 2015 than it was in 2014,” said George. “This climate change business is no good at all. I want to go back to global warming and get a hot summer.”
“Or at least not have a winter like last year,”said Cliff. “Just the thought of last year makes me wish I was one of those snowbirds who head to Florida.”
“I don’t know,” said Molly. “When you see what can happen if you have health problems while you’re down there, it makes winter here seem a lot better. Did you see the story about the woman who had her baby prematurely and had hospital bills of a million dollars that the insurance company wouldn’t cover?”
“Talk about a million-dollar baby!” said Dave.
“Well I’m not pregnant so I guess I’d be alright to go south,” said Cliff.
“But what else might they get you on,”said Molly. “From what I hear it’s sort of an insurance roulette. The insurance companies are happy to take your money, no questions asked, but when you need them they find all these reasons why they don’t have to pay.”
“Some lawyers are no doubt making a lot of money finding the loopholes,” said Dave.
“Enough money they can afford their vacations in the sun,” said Cliff. “And since they wrote the fine print in the insurance policies, they know how to cover themselves.”
“The insurance companies make the lawyers rich and the lawyers keep the insurance companies rich,” grumbled George. “All the fat cats get together.”
“Yeah, but bet they’re not as fat as that cat on TV,” said Dave.
“You mean Grumpy Cat,” asked Molly.
“Grumpy cat?” asked George.
“Yeah, apparently there’s this cat that has this grumpy look and it’s making a lot of money in commercials and movies on the internet,” explained Molly.
“Like $114 million in the last two years!” said Dave.
“You’re kidding? $114 million?” said George. “I’m in the wrong business. I only feed people.”
“But can he catch mice?” wondered Mabel.
“If he earns $114 million his owners are probably catching mice for him!” said Cliff.
“The world on the internet gets stranger and stranger,” said George. “Some cat can make $114 million even though you’ve never even heard of it before, and all it’s got going for it is a grumpy look on its face. It’s not fair.”
“Yeah, it’s discrimination in favour of cats,” said Mabel. “I mean George has looked grumpy for the last 30 years and nobody’s paid him two cents, let alone $114 million.”◊
THE GANG AT MABEL'S TALKS ABOUT EXPENSIVE SNOWFENCE, TRIPS SOUTH
The world’s problems are solved daily ’round the table at Mabel’s Grill.
“Christmas came early at our place this year,” said Cliff Murray as he sat down at the morning coffee session the other day.
“Do you have one of those family things where people get together anywhere after November 1?” asked Molly Whiteside as she filled his cup with coffee.
“No, my early present was that good weather that finally let me get my corn off,” said Cliff. “For a while there I thought I was going to be providing very expensive snow fence for the township.”
Read more...
 
KEITH ROULSTON - JANUARY 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 January 2015 08:40
Prompted by the actions of a couple of high-profile business leaders, the problem of finding a proper work/life balance has been getting a lot of discussion lately. It’s an area where farm families have an inherent advantage.
Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, started the discussion when she admitted in an interview: “If you ask our daughters, I’m not sure they will say I’ve been a good mother.”
Mohamed El-Erian caused even more discussion when he quit his very, very well-paid job as the head of a $1.87 trillion dollar California investment company so he could spend more time with his young daughter. The decision was made, he explained later, after his daughter presented him with a list of 22 “milestones” in her young life that he had missed because of work.
Part of this pressure on working parents is because the bar has been raised on what it takes to be a good parent. Back when I was growing up nobody probably used the term “good parent”. People were just parents, struggling the best they could to pay the bills and feed and clothe their kids. There may have been a few “bad” parents who worked young children too hard or took discipline too far (and that’s a lot further than a swat across the backside) but there wasn’t much of a definition of what a good parent was.
My childhood provides a neat example of the advantage of having a farm parent. For about the first half of my years growing up, I had both parents at home. In my preschool days (and there was no kindergarten then) I spent my time following either my father or my mother. I’d tag along when my father fed the animals in the barn and milked the cows, when he fixed stubborn equipment (where I learned a colourful vocabulary) and even went with him to farm auctions or the salesbarn. In the house I watched my mother preserve the season’s harvest, prepare meals and make Christmas cake. I learned a lot, including from both parents, an early sense of self-worth carrying out what small tasks I was capable of at any given age.
But times were tough and finally, unable to make ends meet from the farm alone, my dad took a factory job. He would disappear each weekday and though he might talk a bit about what was happening on the job, I had no idea what he was really doing while he was away from home. The factory was nearby where my grandmother lived but looking at it, none of the secrets of the life inside its walls were visible. I got to know my dad much less from that time on because I was missing access to this substantial part of his life.
I’m reminded that farm families aren’t immune to getting the work/life balance wrong. Some people can be workaholics in the barn or on the tractor or combine just as they can in an office in a skyscraper. Sometimes the job before us can seem so important that family life can be pushed to the side. We all need to make time for good times with spouses and children.
But the great thing for farm children lucky enough to have one or both parents at home, is that even work becomes something of a family experience, as long as it’s not too hazardous to onlookers. Farm kids also get a healthy understanding of the relationship between working and the reward, monetary and otherwise, it brings. It’s not like the parent who goes missing from the child’s life for hours at a time and the money that’s mysteriously “just there” when the pay cheque is deposited.
Wise farm parents can also use appropriate farm work to build a work-ethic that will benefit their children for the rest of their lives.
So if you’re lucky enough to be a full-time farmer, you and your kids are blessed.◊
FARMING A GOOD PLACE FOR A HEALTHY WORK/LIFE BALANCE
By Keith Roulston
Prompted by the actions of a couple of high-profile business leaders, the problem of finding a proper work/life balance has been getting a lot of discussion lately. It’s an area where farm families have an inherent advantage.
Read more...
 
LISA B. POT - DECEMBER 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 December 2014 10:29
In elementary school, even high school, we had to put up our hands and politely ask for permission to get a drink or use the washroom. It struck me as absurd that someone had to authorize my body’s needs...that I needed permission.
For those of us who are highly independent, requiring permission for activities we know to be necessary or true feels like an impingement on our freedom, even though we understand the need for boundaries and control.
However,  I am discovering a positive spin on permissions of which two can be found in this magazine.
Snowmobilers have to buy a trail permit to snowmobile on Ontario trails. This is a perfect example of the benefit of permissions for both the snowmobiler and landowner.  Living with the rail trail on our farm, we get a lot of snowmobilers passing through the farm. Having purchased a permit for the right to do so, they are respectful and appreciative of the access their trail permit provides. Their ‘permission permit’ protects them and us.
Permissions also come in more subtle forms that free us from personal or cultural expectations which fill our lives with shoulds.
While interviewing snowmobilers, I realized they use their sledding time to relax; a powerful permission to escape work and worries.
Another permission came from Dorothy Henderson in the cookbook story. I had confessed to her that cooking isn’t my favourite activity. My mother and sister are fabulous cooks but I struggle being confined to a kitchen. I do cook because I have six children and I want them to eat healthy, balanced meals. But creating an entire meal is sometimes a burden.
Dorothy advises struggling cooks to prepare just one dish and supplement the rest of the meal with prepared foods from the grocery store. What a freeing permission! Just make what you can and as you gain skill and confidence, preparing the family dinner will become easier.
The same happened when I started running. Being a first-born with competitive and perfectionist tendencies, I believed that I should be able to immediately run 10 kilometres without undue effort. It was not so. So I took a dozen or so books out of the library and came across the Jeff Galloway Run-Walk-Run method which advocates stretches of walking during a run. The strategic walk breaks give runners control over their fatigue and can actually improve times on race day.
It is an authentic approach to running that enabled me to run 10 km races and longer without pain and exhaustion.
These ‘permissions’ allow our conscious brain to overcome subconscious expectations of our own behaviour. Permissions can empower us to make choices that are right and true for us, restoring joy in our approaches and improving our attitude and motivation.
Winter and Christmas offer their own sets of permissions. Snow brings work but once the laneway is blown and chores are done, a land resting under a white blanket gives farmers the chance to take a break.
Christmas adds to it. Statutory holidays give us direct permission to spend time with family and friends. Christmas itself allows Christians to openly and loudly celebrate their faith in a culture that would rather we be quiet and innocous followers of Christ.
Permissions. May you be blessed with many this month! ◊
PERMISSIONS CAN BE EMPOWERING
By Lisa B. Pot
In elementary school, even high school, we had to put up our hands and politely ask for permission to get a drink or use the washroom. It struck me as absurd that someone had to authorize my body’s needs...that I needed permission.
For those of us who are highly independent, requiring permission for activities we know to be necessary or true feels like an impingement on our freedom, even though we understand the need for boundaries and control.
However,  I am discovering a positive spin on permissions of which two can be found in this magazine.
Read more...
 
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