February Shuffle

Today’s farming update comes from Ben.

The cold weather this week has thrown off my groove. It was 40’s and sunny last week and I was without a jacket. It’s hard to readjust to temps in the teens isn’t it. 

Still got two ducks! And some wild ones. It rained all day Tuesday, and Wednesday morning there was 10 or 12 squirrels running around together. Up and down the trees, across the yard, digging up acorns, back up the trees, it was fun to watch them playing. I didn’t even know we had that many squirrels. Bailey would have been having conniptions if she’d seen them. 

Years ago, when I was measuring grain bins for the Agriculture Department, there was a squirrel running around inside a bin. The grain was down about 10 feet and the squirrel couldn’t get out. I wrote a note on my report to tell the farmer there was a squrril, squerrel, squierril, “rodent” in his bin. 

There are a few icy spots around the yard yet. It’s kinda funny to see a chicken slip on the ice. And when you think about the ground contact area of a chicken’s foot, they don’t really have much surface area so I guess it’s not really surprising how often they slip.

We had to put our dog Allie down. She was 18 years old we think. We got her as a stray when a sheriff deputy picked her up one cold rainy October night and called me, because I’m on the townboard, and said she had this stray dog that had jumped into her car, and she’s not supposed to have dogs in her car, so I needed to take her. Kelly heard me on the phone talking about a dog and me saying, “Bring it out”. Kelly groaned and rolled her eyes. Just what we need, another dog. Kelly was with me when the deputy got out of the squad car with this little Rat Terrier in her arms. Kelly had a little dog like this when she was growing up, so her heart kinda melted right there. And Allie had a home. We’d never had an indoor dog before. I said she wasn’t staying inside, and she wasn’t sleeping in our bed. Lost on both of those counts, but that was OK. She must have been abused by a man in her first life because she sure didn’t like men at first. And if she did, boy, you were OK. If there was thunder, Allie would climb up on my head. As she got deaf, that became less of a problem. Deaf, and eventually blind, but there was nothing wrong with her nose. And she never lost her spirit or spunk. She ruled the house and the other dogs up until the last day. All attitude. We loved that about her. 

I attended a meeting about growing oats for the food market rather than the animal feed market. It was very interesting. It needs to be much higher test weight to make oatmeal, than it does to be animal feed.  The diagram is from the article Processing of oat: the impact on oat’s cholesterol lowering effect. by Grundy, M, Fardet, A, Tosh, S, RIch, G, and Wilde, P. Food Funct, 2018, 1328-1343.

Representatives from the Albert Lea Seed House, from Grain Millers Inc, and from soil and water conservation department spoke. There are some grants that have been received by RAA – Regenerative Agriculture Assoc, and the county to support cover crops or small grains. There are some hoops to jump through yet, and there’s a huge carry over of oats from 2022 driving down prices. Canada sets the markets for Oats; they’re the largest producer of oats in the world so what they say, goes. 
But it was all interesting and I’ll get signed up for some of it and see what happens this year. 
They provided lunch. Pizza! How about that. 



44 thoughts on “February Shuffle”

  1. So sorry to hear about Allie… I’m glad that I got to meet her once. She was a sweetie.

    I can’t think of any meal that redeemed a meeting. At the top of my list of things I don’t miss now that I’m retired? Meetings. All of them. Please just send me an email. About four years ago, the travel division started an “Account Manager Meeting” with all my peers across three different areas – we met once a month. I can’t think of one that was useful. After one of these meetings I remember saying to one of my colleagues as we left the room “I would rather take poison than sit through these things.”

    “No meetings” was the first stipulation when I agreed to do the special projects I’ve taken on (although contracts still aren’t signed, so my un-retirement may be quite short!)

    Liked by 5 people

    1. VS, off topic, I sent you an email last week regarding renewing our WP blog site but haven’t heard back from you I wanted to check that you really want us NOT to use the friends and family PayPal option. My understanding is only the “Business transaction” payment method incurs a charge. Please clarify. Thanks.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry, I am having serious issues with my email. Because I know I answered you. But I can’t find a paper trail of it now. You’re not the first one it’s happened to. Anyway, WordPress confused me when they changed some of the rules this past summer so go ahead and use friends and family. Thanks.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. He let me sleep an hour longer today, though, as he is usually raring to go at 5:30. If I put him in his kennel and he knows we are at home he will bark until we get up and let him out.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for posting the photos of Allie. That’s a hard one – RIP, little buddy.

    I think the last come-on we attended where we were bribed with a “meal” served hors d’oeuvres, including bits of pizza. It was pretty good, but I wouldn’t go again…


    Liked by 3 people

  3. I know from experience how hard it is ti let go of beloved pets. Sorry to hear that time came for Allie.

    The last ten years or so, one of my roles as a freelancer was to sketch new product ideas for General Mills as a group of employees dreamed them up. You could call it a meeting. It had a leader and a structure but not Robert’s Rules of Order.

    Anyway, one of the benefits of those gigs, aside from the hourly fee, wa that they generally brought in very good lunches from local restaurants—sandwiches, often, but also Chinese takeout and sometimes a variety of pasta. The lunch I remember most vividly was a variety of dishes from a local Caribbean-style restaurant. Regrettably, they only did that once.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. You’re right— all company meetings aren’t really meetings. For many years, I managed to avoid ours because they were always held on the third Thursday in August which was opening day of the state fair. Every year I expected my boss to give me grief when I ask for that day off, but she never did. Then a few years ago, they moved the meeting to the Wednesday and I no longer had a good excuse. Although one year I did wake up sick – ahem.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    Best Lunches: those old Arboretum lunches—usually sandwiches—prepared by volunteer ladies behind the counter. Those were great sandwiches!

    Worst meeting: The one in which a representative fron the State Department of Human Services came out to give our team the results of an audit of foster care services. We failed it, but we failed it “better than any other county in the state.” Every county failed this audit. Really? I nearly lost my mind on that one. If it is an audit no county can pass, perhaps the problem is some undefined issue with the audit.

    Sorry that Allie’s life is over. That must have been a hard day for you and the family. It sounds like she was a dog that enriched everyone around her. Those Rat Terriers need a job—usually mousing—to be happy. She must have loved being on your farm. We had a Rat Terrier, Coco, who passed on in 2011. She looked so much like your Allie and we remember her fondly.

    When I was a kid, we also had a Rat Terrier , Scouty #2, who found mice in the garage. I looked out the back door to see her flipping dead mice upward, then catching them in her mouth and lining them up on the back patio so we could admire her mousing prowess. I think she flipped them just so someone would see what she had done. We praised her extravagantly, and she had a high self-esteem day.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. …then there was the meeting where the company announced that everyone present was being terminated, including me. It wasn’t the worst meeting from my perspective, as I had seen it coming a mile off, had more than three month’s severence and had set up a home office in preparation but it came as a shock to about half the attendees. The company had changed hands twice and the new owners had no idea what anyone did.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Ben, I liked the oat picture. The most interesting grain we have started to use in our baking is farro, which is a type of wheat that was grown in Babylon 18,000 years ago. I made a wheat bread with whole cooked farro a couple of weeks ago. It sure made some lovely loaves.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Thanks for the comments about Allie. She sure was a good dog, and we were grateful to give her such a happy second life. I’d never had a little dog like that before, especially one that was a house dog.

    One of the things I heard about at the oats meeting was ‘Alley crops’; planting a row of something between fields such as hazel nuts and elderberries. Hazelnuts seem to be a hot up and coming commodity. Course they said that about Jerusalem Artichokes a few years ago….

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Hedges of elderberry and hazelnuts were pretty common between fields on the island of Falster when I grew up. It was under these hedgerows that we’d forage for wild mushrooms when I was a kid. And, of course, we’d pick the berries and nuts when they were ready. I don’t recall if we ever asked permission, but we were never secretive or fearful of discovery, so perhaps it was understood that it was an OK thing to do? I really don’t know.

      Liked by 5 people

  8. So sorry to hear you had to put Allie down. Ending a pets life is such a hard decision to make. Were you able to be with her and hold her as she slipped away? I know you will all miss her; sorry for your loss, Ben.

    Reading how much everyone hates meetings, I think I must have been fortunate. Either that or I have a high tolerance for them. It could be, too, that most of the ones I’ve had to attend weren’t that awful. It could be, too, that I have just forgotten how awful they were.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. At the law firm I had to attend Monday morning Governance Committee meetings every week. These meetings could be pretty intense, and only a cup of coffee to ease whatever discomfort one might have. Five senior partners and me. It was my responsibility to prepare the agenda for the meeting, take notes, and keep us on track during the meeting which usually lasted a little over an hour. Depending on circumstances, this could be a breeze or a nightmare.

    Members of the Governance Committee were elected annually. It was considered a vote of confidence and trust to be on the committee, and to some extent, it was also a popularity contest. It was telling that, although my particular Nemesis among the senior partners was a member of the committee four of the six years I worked there, he was never the managing partner. I thought it extremely interesting and informative to watch the interactions between these high powered attorneys with big egos. (After I left the firm, I was told that the managing partner at the time of my hire, in addition to being the corporate attorney of one of the firm’s largest clients, was also working for the FBI. Now, whether or not this is true, I don’t know. He was such an easy going, even tempered, and thoughtful man that I would have never guessed him to be a spy, but the idea intrigues me.)

    In addition to the GC meetings, we also had monthly dinner meetings with all of the partners. These were usually held at some downtown restaurant, the Minneapolis Club, or the Minneapolis Athletic Club. These were generally much less contentious, with excellent food and wine. I don’t remember any specific meal, they were all excellent. I do recall, though, that on one of the annual retreats – to which all of the associates were also invited – one of the younger more flamboyant partners treated everyone to vintage Chateau Lafite-Rothschild wine with dinner. Unlike Chris, I’m no wine connoisseur, and I suspect that the treat was not fully appreciated by most of us, although we could probably all nod in recognition of the name.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. I like our morning meetings with my Youth and Family Team to see what crises have occurred with our kiddos overnight, and to see what our various plans fir the day are.

    The most hateful meetings are those joint meetings between my Youth and Family Team, County Social Services, Juvenile Court, and parents/guardians moderated by a fifth entity who insists we all discuss the positives that have occurred since our last meeting. It is fortunate that we are all on-line during these meetings, because I want to commit bodily harm on the moderator. Sometimes, there are no positives to discuss.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Best. A South Carolina meeting of ceramic tile experts from the United States (why me?) was awesome. Ribs and chicken. Hot and spicy. Much indulging.
    Worst. A South Carolina meeting of experts from the United States at breakfast (why me?) No indulging.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. sorry to hear about the ducks, particularly feeling it for you having to put your dog down nothing harder

    i’ve never been in a corporate structured world where meetings are called that I’d have to attend and listen to the BS that goes on most of the meetings I get called into our yearly, sales meetings, analysis, meetings, that sort of thing, or I go to group sessions, where new ideas are tossed about and discussed and comments are made on how to go forward or improve or whether it should be buried and I enjoy those kind of meetings I got addicted to them for a while and was doing probably 10 start up meetings all week trying to figure out how to grow my start ups know I am driving around in the car and I have only my own brain to work with and I develop the ideas but there’s something special about having other people contribute

    The food at those startup meetings was always phenomenal. You had companies that were backing the start up people because they were interested in harvesting the IT and developmental people as well as the new ideas people so I got said lots of really good food, however whittling it down to vegetarian options versus all the total options, or sometimes a challenge.

    Ben, once again, thanks for your weekly update. Your entries always feel like you’re sitting down and having coffee and just discussing what’s been going on there a joy to read and I appreciate you taking the time to do them for us. Please keep it up.

    Liked by 6 people

  13. I’ve had many good meals when attending conferences. I am always more receptive to whatever is being pitched in a meeting if I am well fed.

    Probably my favorite meeting with food featured a large chunk of nice wuality Parmesan cheese, served with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Very simple and delicious.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. I remember tagging along with Husband on some trips to IT seminars, back when he was working on mainframes – St. Louis, Toronto, San Diego.,, They would sometimes have a special dinner that spouses were invited to – the best was a BBQ on a riverboat in St. Louis.

    Liked by 2 people

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