Category Archives: Business

Already?

Good grief.  Is it pumpkin spice season already?  Is there no product that is not marketed at this time of year without pumpkin spice?  Coffee creamer. Pancake mix. Syrup. Oreos. Cookie dough. Chocolates.  Candles.  And of course the ubiquitous muffins, lattes and breads.  Even if I liked pumpkin, this is just an onslaught.  Every year!

Tell me what you like about autumn.  (Or don’t like.)

That Fall Smell

The farm report comes to us from Ben

Had a good rainshower Monday afternoon. One of those downpours where traffic slows, and windshield wipers are on high. I could see it coming, I was several miles from home and the sky was dark and I was hitting Every. Red. Light. At one point there was some pea size hail, just a few stones, and I was considering my odds… can I make it home? Where should I park otherwise? But I thought I could make it. (Risk taker, remember?)

And then I could see the rain coming. Boy, just a few times in my life I’ve been in rain that heavy. Thankfully only lasted a mile or so. We ended up with .87”. Thankfully no hard winds with it in our area. I did hear reports of funnel clouds in other areas.

Rain like that in the fall is tough; the crops don’t really need it anymore, and the weather is cool enough it doesn’t dry as fast as it would mid-summer. The corn is tall enough the sun can’t hit the soil and it stays wet for a week. And it just makes harvest harder because now there’s mud to deal with. So, we’ll see how that goes.

I was out checking crops last evening and I noticed that fall smell in the air. The beans are coming along. I saw several farmers out harvesting soybeans in the area today. Soybean pods are fussy; they dry out in the late morning or afternoon, but they’ll pick up moisture after dark or with the dew. Plants along the edge of the field might still be soft and mushy, but the rest of the field is dry, and the pods crack open easy, which is what you need to harvest. The corn is still looking good, it’s roughly 30% moisture which means the ears haven’t tipped down yet. Too much rain and it gets down inside the husk and can cause mold issues on the kernels. Once the corn dries more and the ears tip down, rain won’t cause mold issues.

After the discussion last week on PTO shafts, I was thinking about how some other things have changed.

Hooking up wagons or implements is different these days. One of the greatest inventions is the extendable wagon hitch. LIFECHANGING! Back when tractors were smaller and didn’t have cabs, it was easy to just look over your shoulder and you were almost looking right down at the hitch (called a drawbar) so backing up to a wagon was easy and we got real good at getting lined up so the hitch pin would drop right in. And the tractor or wagon was small enough we could nudge it a little bit to make the connection.

With a cab, sightlines changed and sometimes it’s harder to see the hole in the drawbar, so it was harder to get lined up right. Some people have added mirrors to the rear window so when the window is open, it allows one to see the hitch. (I need to do that on one of my tractors).

But now, with extendable hitches, as long as we get close, we can extend the wagon hitch to connect it, then we back up and it locks back into place. It’s wonderful! Especially when hooking a wagon to another implement, so I’m guessing where that hitch is way back there; the extendable tongues are life savers!

I remember the first wagon Dad bought with an extendable hitch. It was a remarkable thing.

Hitch pins too – at first, they were just pieces of straight rod with a washer welded on the top. Or even a large bolt if you were desperate. But again, machinery got bigger.

I made a couple hitch pins in high school welding class; that’s where I learned about hardening and how to temper them so they didn’t wear out so fast.

I had no idea I had so many hitch pins until I got them all together for this photo.

Then seed dealers started giving away hitch pins with an ACTUAL HANDLE on the top! That was another wonderful revelation! Course, on a hill it was easy for that hitch back there to drag on the ground and push the hitch pin right out. I ran one wagon through a fence and down into the calf pen when the pin came out… didn’t break anything or lose any bales, just the wagon. (And had to fix the fence). Lost the pin on the grain drill one day and didn’t notice until I got home and didn’t have a drill behind me anymore. One time the anhydrous tank came unhooked from the applicator. Knew that right away and thank goodness I was on flat ground and thanks goodness for the safety disconnect valve that separated. But getting it all hooked back up again was a struggle.

If you wanted to be safe, you put a clip in the hole at the bottom of the pin. If there WAS a hole for a clip. IF it stayed when going through cornstalks.  Again, tractors and implements have gotten bigger Now I use locking pins that might be 5/8” or even 7/8” diameter. And the big tractor has something called a ‘Hammerstrap’ hitch that’s about 1 1/2” diameter. And it will actually drop itself in! (if I back up straight and hit the hitch of the implement just right. It works pretty well and it makes me laugh when It does).

In this photo the PTO shaft is the round thing above the hitch.  Bigger tractors might have a pin as big as your wrist. If you imagine the pull on these machines when they’re in the ground, you can imagine why they might need a pin this big.

Duck Report. The three older ones and the younger ones are just starting to hang out together. And nobody goes in the pen anymore; they just hang out down here by the pond.

I saw a duck get a little air the other day… just a few feet, but I’ll bet it’s coming soon.

What do you remember changing your life? What’s coming soon for you?

By Any Other Name…

Names are a big deal in my business.  You have to have legal names for air ticketing, names for namebadges, nameplates for dinner seating, names on awards – sometimes one person can have four different names in these situations. 

Over the years, I’ve seen some doozies.  One couple asked for “Chief” and “Boots” on their badges – the client said no.  I’ve had requests for Princess, Houdini, Sport, even the Big Lebowski.  Several times participants have “exaggerated” their titles when they register for programs.  It’s always pretty clear when someone’s title shows up a President of their company.  I did have someone once type in “Grand Exalted Poombah” – guess he thought we didn’t really need the information and he could have some fun. 

The best name I ever came across was Waightstill Scales.  His nickname was Booger. And the company that he worked for had an award named after him since he was their top salesperson of all time.  The Booger Scales award.  And his namebadge?  You guessed it, Booger Scales.  I kid you not.  I think you’d have to be really confident to carry that name your whole life and then to give it to your son, whose nickname was Waighty.  Waighty Scales.  I swear, I am not making this up.

What’s the funniest actual name you’ve heard of someone having?

Consequences

My company takes the current situation very seriously.  We all got a nice chunk of award points (worth merchandise and travel) for sending copies of our vaccine cards to Human Resources.  There was a HUGE drawing in July for all the folks who had sent them in; a gal in the call center won the grand prize:  $10,000.   In addition there have been several parties (outside on our lawn) that have been specifically for folks who’ve gotten their shot.  This puts us at 88% on campus.

Every Monday morning there is an email with the “rules” for coming to the physical office and listing out the most common symptoms.  Among the rules is “if you’re not vaccinated you must wear a mask when you are in one of the buildings.”

An associate got fired two weeks ago.  Her team had come into the office on four occasions for a day and none of them has masked.  This gal eventually told someone on the team that she had not had her Fauci Ouchie.  Took just a day for that tidbit to get up to HR and she was let go that Friday.  While I never root for anybody to lose their job, I’m glad my company is standing behind what they say.

What’s the most epic way you’ve seen someone quit or be fired?

Dangly

Pre-pandemic I used to go to two craft shows a year in the Twin Cities – one on the State Fair grounds and one out at the Shakopee race track.  Hard to believe but with 40 vendors or so each, there wasn’t much duplication.  Except for Craft Fantastic.  They sell the makings for jewelry and they always have an inexpensive “make `n take” at each show. You start by choosing a piece of artwork, then you glue a glass tile on top of it.  After the glue dries, you trim off the excess and stick your tile onto a tray.  Then if you want a necklace on which to hang your goodie, they’ll give you one and if you want more components for other jewelry, they certainly have those as well.  I’m sure at some point I signed up for their emails but I don’t remember seeing them before pandemic. 

I have at least 10 of these necklaces from over the years although I don’t wear them often.  I like rings and I adore earrings, not as big a fan of necklaces and bracelets.

The emails started to seep into my consciousness a few months into pandemic.  Every month or so, they offer a “weekend designer” kit.  It is all the items you need to make a variety of things – usually in a theme.  I’m having a hard time keeping away from these, especially the earring collections.  They must be assuming that folks are making and selling these items because each kit makes WAY more than anyone needs.  I have given away quite a few pairs of earrings, necklaces and bracelets but that still leaves me with at least 30 more pairs of earrings than I had at the beginning of pandemic (and believe me when I say, I already had way too many earrings at the beginning of pandemic).  All dangly.  Chinese New Year earrings, Fourth of July earrings, Valentine earrings, Winter/Christmas earrings, Halloween earrings and then a large assortment of floral patterns.  Did I mention that they are all dangly?

I’m trying to cut back – most of the emails get deleted without being opened – but every now and then I spot a kit that is a little different than a kit I’ve had before.  I’m hoping that now I’ve made earrings for all the major holidays, I won’t be tempted.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

What would you want buried with you so you could use it in the afterlife?

We All Scream

I’ve started reading Snopes.com again because some of the stories flying around are just begging to be fact-checked.  Yesterday I discovered the Lionel Richie and Tyra Banks have teamed up to create a new ice cream flavor.

Points awarded since I KNOW who Lionel Richie and Tyra Banks are – lots of news stories I see online these days are peopled with folks I’ve never heard of (and frankly, don’t WANT to ever hear of).  The ice cream is called All Night Long and is vanilla with crumbled cookies, caramel and little chocolate fudge hearts.  Apparently Tyra Banks has an ice cream line called Smize Cream.  Who knew?  I had to look up Smize – something to do with her signature smile when she was on that model show.  I won’t be trying it any time soon as they only way you can get it is to have it shipped to you or to live in Los Angeles.  I am not paying shipping for ice cream.  Not moving to Los Angeles either.

Reading about this reminds me of when our own Beth-Ann won the Kemp’s Flavor of the Year contest with her Mini-Donuts Ice Cream (back in 2013) and when we all got together to celebrate and to try it out.  I know that they only do the flavors of the year for 12 months, but I’d love to see Mini Donuts come back.  I’m not even sure that Kemps did a flavor of the year this year or last?

Do you have a favorite ice cream?  If you had an ice cream named after you – what would it be?

Their Just Desserts

When I was growing up, families in my town who had a lot of money were often looked upon with distain if they demonstrated any public flaws or hoity-toityness.

In the current town in which I live, there are many quite well to do families who face similar scrutiny, none more than the following head of a local family who was recently discussed the media:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/tommy-fisher-rio-grande-texas-private-wall-for-sale_n_60fb856be4b0733516268d21

I know there is a certain satisfaction to see such folks as the Fishers show themselves for fools. I know that one of my personal struggles is to not rejoice when this happens, but gosh, it is hard not to do so. Pride and greed are sure downfalls for many.

Who were the folks in your communities when you were growing up who were judged for their wealth? What are your favorite desserts?

Meeting Minutes

Husband is the secretary of our local food pantry Board of Directors. He started out as a simple volunteer on Thursday afternoons, and then they wrangled him to be on the Board.

Due to COVID, all the meetings have been held on Zoom since he started as the taker of meeting minutes. That means he sits at the dining room table and listens intently and writes notes as fast as he can about who said what about which issue. People interrupt one another and don’t identify themselves before they speak or vote. He tries valiantly to type as accurately as he can the proceedings of the meetings. It takes hours of typing to get a rough draft, and then more time correcting the minutes after the other Board officers have perused the document and made their corrections.

The proceedings of the regulatory board of which I am a member are audio recorded so our office secretary can leisurely transcribe them. I have suggested to Husband that they do the same. He isn’t sure they have the technology to accomplish it. I think they do. It may take some wrangling on my part to help him with this. Sometimes, being the secretary is a real pain!

What happened when you had to take meeting minutes? What are your experiences on Boards? Who was the best secretary you ever encountered?

Marizy Doats

The Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

It started out so well– no rain in the forecast and, while the swather always makes me nervous because I know I am on borrowed time, we were making good progress.

Me, and the dragonflies, and the barn swallows, and the butterflies, just being out in the fields. It wasn’t that hot Saturday morning and I got three fields, or about 9 1/2 acres cut out of my 25 acres of oats. Back out on Sunday afternoon and a good breeze and cut another field of about 5 acres and moved into the last field, about 10 acres. I made one round, and there was a clunk and forward momentum stopped. It stopped on the right wheel anyway, the left wheel kept going. The machine makes a lot of noises and most of them make me nervous. This machine, a John Deere model 800 swather is from the 70s. They’re built like a tank, have a Chrysler ‘Slant 6’ engine (with a reputation of being bullet-proof), and they run forever except when they don’t.

It’s a machine I use only for cutting oats. It cuts the standing oats and lays it in a row; a ‘Windrow’. It gets used a day or two per year. But there’s no one in the area with a swather, so I had to find my own about 6 years ago.

Took a while to diagnose what was going wrong and it turned out to be just a chain off. Well I’ve fixed that before and it’s kind of a process but it’s not bad. Except this one was jammed in there and it was bad. Kelly came to help when I called her for a ride home. I was hoping to be all done cutting by 8:00PM, it was 8 o’clock when we gave up and went home. A few things to do the next day so it was about 4 o’clock when I went back out to work on it again.

I was down to plan “G” or “H” by this point. And that also revealed a wheel bearing going bad. Well, that would explain why the chain had come off. We did finally get the chain out and installed again and we felt pretty good about ourselves.

I had to decide: can I finish cutting on this bad bearing or do I need to attempt another major repair out in the field and replace the bearing. I decided to take my chances, because that’s what farmers do. Except this time, I only went about 10 feet and the chain was off again. And again, it was 8 o’clock at night. We went home and I was back the next day with some more tools. I don’t know how many trips I made back home to get ‘Yet One More Tool’ for this repair. I even took the Oxy-acetylene torch up there to heat up the wheel hub. I’m a little nervous using a torch in the middle of a dry field of oats, but I wasn’t really cutting anything or making sparks, I was just heating up the wheel hub to try to get that off the axle so that the bearing can come off the axle. Nothing has been apart for 50 years I presume. I worked for a few hours and gave up and called the John Deere dealer. It felt as though a huge weight was lifted off my chest because now this isn’t my problem anymore.

The plan was to start combining that oats that was already cut on Tuesday afternoon, however, the guy with the truck needed his trucks to haul corn so he couldn’t make it. He said he would have a truck out here Wednesday morning. With no rain in the forecast for weeks, it didn’t seem like a problem. And then it sprinkled Monday morning, not enough to hurt anything, and it sprinkle Tuesday morning but not really enough to hurt anything and then we had a thunderstorm warning Tuesday night– where the heck did that come from? And I got about 2/10 of an inch of rain. So now we’re not combining on Wednesday either. Could have been worse, it was a pretty bad storm with some pretty gusty winds and heavy rains, but we just got the edge of it and then it built up south of us and I saw some hail damage and some corn flat on the ground from that.

It’s not ideal for oats to get rained on when it’s cut, but it’s not the end of the world, depending. I leave 4 to 6 inches of stubble for the oats to lay on so that it gets some air underneath. And that works pretty well. Light rains like this followed by some sunny days with a breeze and it will dry out again and can be combined with minimal loss. The heavier the rain, the more grain is shelled out on the ground. There have been a few years I had to go out with the hay rake and tip the windrows over. That knocks off a lot of grain. However, the people who take the straw like it because there’s less grain left in the straw if I have to handle it before they get it. Everyone has their own silver lining, don’t they?

So that’s where we are at the moment, hoping the mechanic will get the swather fixed, hoping it holds together for another 10 acres, well really, I want it to hold together for the next number of years.

I’m just about ready to open the one show in town and I’m just starting to work on another show. Remember the song about home improvement from the LGMS and at the end he says, “Now I can go out and mow the lawn!”? That’s kind of what I feel like.

But the beans are looking really good, they’re almost waist high, lots of flowers, lots of pods. 316 GDU’s above normal. The corn ears have already determined their length and girth and now they just need to fill out. If they’re stressed by weather, the tips won’t fill. Be interesting to see how it does this fall.

Often corn will have two ears on them, but only the one really develops completely.

The baby ducks arrived from California after a 2000 trip. These are some well-travelled ducks! I was worried about them making a trip but there were two little Dixie cups taped inside each box that presumably had some kind of food nutrient in it. Lost two of the 40. They were busy little ducks! The first day pretty much all they did was eat and drink.

 What’s your most critical tool that you use the least?

Overheard at the Grocery Store

Standing in the canned vegetable aisle (wondering why nobody has turnips right now, either fresh or canned).

Woman #1:  Just feeling blah all the time.

Woman #2:  Are you drinking enough?

Woman #1:  Water?

Woman #2:  Liquor.

I couldn’t help myself; I laughed out loud.  Then they laughed too.

Any good belly laughs lately?