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Goodbye Old Friend

June 28, 2012 5 comments

Today I parted ways with and old friend of many years.  I’ve known and have spent countless hours with this friend since I was a little one myself and know every thing about er.

 I basically grew up with this friend but after realizing this friends time has come and gone, I as well as my Dad and Uncle knew it was time to cut er free, and let er go.

Now this may sound a bit silly at first but hear me out, this friend isn’t a family pet, or a family member, or anything to get too terribly attached to, it’s a piece of Iron.

Yeah, I just might have made you say WTH? in your head, or maybe you get where I’m headed here.  Either way, let me explain:

This Old Friend is a 1980s model 4600 Cultivator:

Ever since I was barely big enough to sit on my Dads or Uncles lap in the tractor cab in the spring, this cultivator was behind me, tilling the dirt, prepping the fields for planting, etc etc.  Through out the years, I can fondly remember a few memories made here and there while pulling it through the field.  I learned (as a kid) that even though you have 4 tires on the main frame, if one goes flat, the others will not be of any help getting you to the other end of the field, they work together as a team.  I also learned how to change a tire on that day.  I can remember leveling off plowed ground with it one spring and coming up on a wet spot in the field, but it didn’t look too bad.  While the tractor made it through it just fine, when this old friend hit the spot, it went down..hard, and almost stopped the tractor as well.  I also remember learning a very important lesson about changing the sweeps (the part that actually moves the soil around when in the field).

NEVER, and I mean NEVER, attempt to hold the sweep bolt down with your finger if you are using an Air Wrench to take the nut off on the other side!

 I’m sure just about every farmer knows what I’m talking about there, but incase you don’t, here’s a short explanation on what happens when you spin that nut off the back side:  Since the front of the bolt is constantly  rubbed by soil, it wears flat, and gets very sharp edges.  Now picture, your finger holding it in place then all of a sudden that bolt spins around at an RPM high enough to slice your finger open in a flash.  The usual result is something like

Son of a *#&$^#&^&@#&@*&&^$,

followed by a lot of blood, water to clean the cut, and electrical tape…farmers dont need band aids 😉

The point is, I learned a lot from this old Red Friend, and will miss it.  Well, I suppose I wont really miss it, but I will miss the memories, life lessons learned  and much more that running this rig in the field taught me.

To loosely quote a conversation between my Uncle and I this past week,  I stated that it is just a piece of Iron, which is true, but he replied (in not so many words)

 Its more than that.  Its your heritage, your memories, it’s where you came from, it’s what got you to where you are today, it’s a part of who you are.

Today, Im finding those words to be very true.

To me this picture says it all.  Years ago, when I was a kid, this tractor and cultivator were perfect in every way.  Today, the tractor and soil finisher in the background are the widely considered to be the preferred tools to use.  I’m not saying either is good or bad, just that everything has its time.  And for this old Friend, its time has come on our farm.  So maybe, someday, my kids will look back on the tractor and soil finisher in the background with memories of their own, just as I am doing now.  Maybe, they will have their own stories to tell their kids (and you), as I do.  But one thing is for sure, they too will eventually have to say:

Goodbye Old Friend, and thanks for the Memories

A week without Facebook, and other Social Media sites: Lessons Leared

April 16, 2012 5 comments

What would happen if you woke up one morning and couldn’t sign on your favorite social media site like Facebook, Twitter, Google+?   How would you feel?  How would you communicate with your friends?  How would it change your life?  Most importantly what would you learn from it?  That is exactly what happened to me.

For the last 2 years,  I have decided to give up Facebook Mobile on my phone for the Lenten time period of the 40 days before Easter.  Now while some of you may be laughing inside at the lack of relevance doing so has to everyday life, I’m sure the majority of you understand how not having mobile access to a major way of communication can affect you once you have already had it.

Did you know:   Over 700 Billion minutes a month are spent on Facebook, 20 million applications are installed per day and over 250 million people interact with Facebook from outside the official website on a monthly basis, across 2 million websites. Over 200 million people access Facebook via their mobile phone. 48% of young people said they now get their news through Facebook. Meanwhile, in just 20 minutes on Facebook over 1 million links are shared, 2 million friend requests are accepted and almost 3 million messages are sent.

via: Facebook Statistics

Now, I didn’t give up FB entirely, I could still go on my computer and catch up with everyone later in the day, so it was really no big deal. Having said that, I decided to take giving up Facebook to the next level for this year by giving up Social Media Entirely for 7 days!  Check out my previous blog on the subject, Giving it Up.

For the 2012 Lenten season I decided to go on a week-long Social Media Detox.  The Social Media Detox consisted of 7 days of absolutely no Social Media, including Facebook (except for my farm Page) Boucher Farms, Google+, StumbleUpon, Twitter and more.  I also decided to give up Social Media based online games such as Scramble, Words With Friends, and more.   In order to eliminate the temptation of playing a game or signing on the sites, I simply deleted the apps from my phone.  As you can imagine, staying away from social media for a week wasnt the easiest thing to do, but I am proud to say I did it and learned a few things from it like:

  1.  While it is nice to keep up with friends on FB and other Social Media sites throughout the day, there is really not a need to be constantly updated on my phone about whatever it may be.  It can wait till later.
  2. While I may missed out on a few things here and there on FB and other Social Media Sites throughout the day, I quickly discovered how much time I actually had during the day when I didn’t sit down to mess with my phone or computer.
  3. While I missed conversing with my Social Media Friends, I found myself spending more quality time with the ones who matter the most to me, my family.
  4. Social Media based games are a blast, but I didn’t really miss them.
  5. Since I deleted the social media apps from my phone, I basically turned my smart phone back into a regular phone.  I discovered after being used to having the world at my fingertips, having a basic phone is NOT an option for me.

So what are the lessons learned? 

  1. Social Media has its very important and ever-expanding place in today’s world of communications, however it also does not have to be constantly “checked in on.”  The viral video of the day can wait till the end of the day.
  2. Quality time is quality time.  Weather it be on a Social Media site  or with family and friends, make the most of the time you have and try not to mix the two together.  Honestly,while there are times when they work well together they usually interfere with each other like oil and water.
  3. Social Media games like Words With Friends, and other fun apps are great, but only use them to pass a few minutes of time.  Dont let time escape you while you are using them.

It’s easy to sit here, typing on my computer and state the lessons I learned, however as we all know actually living by them can be difficult.  So here’s my plan. 

I plan on checking FB, Google+ etc in the mornings, and at night, after the kids go to bed.  This doesn’t mean I wont post a pic or two from my phone throughout the day and check a notification or two, from time to time, but it does mean I wont be on as much in the heart of the day. 

Like I stated above, It can wait. 

“Letting it wait” has proven to save a lot of time which I can use to achieve other things in life including the most important thing, spending time with family.

I should add a note too,   I’m not against Facebook or other types of Social Media, in fact I believe they are a great communications tool which when correctly utilized has unlimited potential to bring people together and make the world a smaller and smaller place.  However, it does have some side effects like pulling the Social Media contributor away from the people who are around them, physically.  Achieving the balance of the two is the challenge.

As the old saying goes…”Everything in Moderation”

Thank you for reading, and God Bless!

Giving it up, a 40 day Facebook and other Socail Media Detox

March 21, 2012 3 comments

Since I was a child, I was always taught that I should give up something for lent, which I do to this day, and I am not alone in this philosophy.  Most people Ive talked to about it say they have given up one of their favorite things such as certain type of Soda Pop, a type of candy or candy all together.  Some others have instead pledged to do something positive for the season.  For example, spending more time with family, a young sister being nicer to their brother, etc.

So I asked myself, what should I give up for this Lenten Season this year?  I tossed a few ideas around, but then I came back to what I gave up last year, which was my Facebook Mobile ap on my phone.  I understand some of you may be laughing right now, some of you may be rolling your eyes or maybe you get it.  Yes it sounds silly.   However, I found that I was spending an, well lets call it, unhealthy amount of time on FB Mobile.  The result was less quality time spent with my family and less day-to-day productivity on my farm.  So I decided to give up Facebook Mobile again this year for lent.

Now before you say, boy that’s easy, I will honestly say it’s not!  Picture yourself staying in touch with your friends throughout the day every day, then all at once, nothing.  Only phone calls, no FB texts, no profile updates, no viral video recommendations from that kid you went to grade school with who you don’t really know at all and so on.   We all know how Facebook can suck you in, and its hard to ignore.

As of today, its been about 3 weeks since I’ve last been on FB Mobile.  At first I was concerned I would be missing out on all the stuff going on on FB every day.  I thought Id miss out on the news and pictures my friends post.  What I found was that I was actually missing out on more when I was on the Ap as much as I was.  I missed out on family, on work, …..on everything.  Now I’m not saying FB or other social media is bad, in fact it has its place, but in moderation.

Going into the week before Easter, I plan on taking another huge step.  For that week, I have decided to delete my Twitter, Google+ and FB aps from my phone and will not be on their websites unless totally and absolutely necessary.  I call it:

The Facebook and Other Social Media DETOX Project.

For those 7 days.  I will fall off the social media grid in every capacity except for this blog.  Thats right, No FB, No YouTube, No Tweets, No Words with Friends, No StumbleUpon, No…well you get the idea.    For those 7 days my smart phone will basically be used as regular phone, with only Phone Calls, Text messages and a few (non online) games in use.  After being an active part of social media for years now, this wont be an easy thing to accomplish.

 I encourage you to join me in this Project and post your thoughts in the comments below.  

It all Starts this coming Monday and ends on Easter Sunday. 

Feel free to check back to this blog often as I will periodically post how things are going and post a summary after Easter is over.

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

As a disclaimer: I must say I dont believe Social Media is bad in any way, in fact it has become an awesome force in changing the world of communications, however, I believe sometimes, we need to step away from it to see what is physically around us.

Meet a Farmer, via Social Media

February 15, 2012 12 comments

Today, less than 2% of the population are farmers and the average person is said to be 3 generations removed from the farm.  However, even though less and less people are involved in farming these days, it is becoming easier for consumers to stay in touch with those who produce the food products they depend on every day.

Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and the popular Pinterest.com, seem to be the online places to be these days.  It seems almost everyone has a social media account on at least one of these sites and those who don’t have one definitely know someone who does.  Common uses for these sites are to keep in touch with friends, family, post pictures of a child’s achievements and more, but have you ever thought of using those sites to get in touch with a farmer and learn where your food comes from?  Doing so is a growing trend in social media.  Consumers who are concerned about where and how their food is produced are now talking to the farmers who grow their food products daily through social media.

With well over 350 million active users, Facebook is arguably the most widely used social media tool on the web today.  People from all over the world, from varying backgrounds constantly use the site to convey their thoughts from day-to-day.  Farmers from across the country are also on Facebook and are ready and willing to tell their story as well.  Countless farms of various types have their own Facebook pages so consumers and other farmers alike can see what they are doing, how they are doing it and why.

Some examples of Farm related Facebook pages are Organic Valley, The Farmers Life (IN. Grain Farm)  , Haley Farms (OH. Cattle Farm),  Gilmer Dairy Farm , Fair Oaks Farms (IN Dairy Farm) , and Boucher Farms (IL Grain Farm), just to name a few.

With 100 million new accounts opened in 2010 alone Twitter has proven its place in the social media landscape.  Every Tuesday night on Twitter from 7pm-9pm CST, about 125-175 farmers and non-farmers alike, take part in a discussion called #AgChat.  Each week the discussion has a different general topic surrounding farming, food production and agriculture in general.  The discussion is moderated by a different person each week and everyone is welcome to chime in with their thoughts on the subject.  Topics of conversation have ranged from Ag Policies to Biotech Crops to Feeding our Ever Expanding Population to name a few.  The discussions are always educational and usually result in great conversations with other Tweeters after the chat is over. Everyone is encouraged to participate.

 Some farmers who tweet are

@kansfarmer, @okCableGuy, @sunflowerfarmer , @Katpinke , @BoucherFarms , @JeffFowle , and @farmerhaley .

Google+ and Pinterest are new comers in the Social Media world.  Both sites are growing in size but as many of you know Pinterest has basically exploded in popularity, and yes, Farmers are on it too.  While most searches and “pins” on the site seem to be about crafts, household items, and travel, a simple search for Agriculture or Farming will easily put you in touch with a farmer who produces your food products.

Lets not forget YouTube. YouTube is a place where many of us have visited to see one video or another, but soon find ourselves watching something totally unrelated to what we came to watch in the first place.  From EHow, where you can learn to do basically anything via video, to that viral video of a kid singing a song, YouTube covers it all, including farming.  A simple search for farming will bring up countless videos of farms including one by Chris Chinn (familyfarmer ).  In the video “Truth about Modern Pork Production”  she explains, in detail, how her modern pork production facility works on their family farm.  Other farm related YouTube channels provide education on modern grain production, organic farming and urban farming as well.

Last but not least, blogs are all the craze today.  Sites like tumblr.com and wordpress.com have countless blog post entries every day covering all sorts of subjects.  Agriculture is a growing part of the blog world.  Many farmers are using blogs to communicate with consumers today to better explain how and why they do what they do.  Three great AG blogs are “Common Sense Agriculture”, by Jeff Fowle, “Agriculture Proud” by Ryan Goodman and “The Farmers Life” by Brian Scott.  Bryan, Ryan and Jeff are professional Farmers and/or Ranchers who share their day-to-day lives and opinions with their ever-growing community of followers.

No matter which social media outlet you prefer to use, the farmers who produce your food products are there to answer your questions.  They are easy to find, and will be there to give you an honest answer, straight from the source.  The next time you are updating your Facebook status, or tweeting a tweet, look up a farmer and learn about where your food really comes from.

Today’s Farmers may make up only 2% of the population but their occupation directly affects all of us.

If you have any farm or food production related questions please contact any of the farmers listed above or leave a comment on this blog.  Thank you for visiting Off the Cobb and God Bless.

Which Came First, The Chicken or the Egg? and the Unexpected

January 24, 2012 1 comment

This past Monday, I posted a “Thought of the Day” on Google+,

Thought of the day, Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Post the most logical response you can.  Lets see who comes up with the best one.

It’s an age-old question, no one has really been able to completely answer.  Theories on the subject are like…well you know…,everybody has one.

Being a Monday morning, I posted it as a joke, but also asked for commenters to post their most logical response.  I thought there may be some comical responses about chickens antics and such, along with one or two more serious ones. 24 comments later the conversation had turned into one of the best convos I’ve ever had on Google+ as well as other social media sites I’ve ever been on.

The conversation started out with some great comments, ideas and thoughts then became more serious and deep in nature, which I totally did not expect.  Afterall I just asked a simple question, jokingly.  Subjects such as religious beliefs and evolution were discussed without any issues arising (which are common on these subjects in the social media world).  The conversation was open, understanding, respectful, and heard by everyone involved To sum it up, the entire conversation was educational for everyone.

My point is, we can all learn something from this.  We can learn what true communication really is.  We can learn that true communication can happen over social media and education can take place.

  We can learn that with respect, communication, and education, understanding of each other will happen, almost instantly.

 Did we learn “Which Came First, The Chicken or the Egg?” , probably not, but we had a great conversation trying to figure it out.

Whats your theory on “Which Came First, The Chicken or the EGG?”  post it in the comments below, lets see who can come up with the most logical response!

Thank you for reading, and God Bless.

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