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Downwind

Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

My First “Ride”  Most Americans hold great nostalgia about the first car they owned.  Your first “ride” usually wasn’t the best, flashiest, nicest, or coolest. Many times, it reflected a piece of one’s personality: “how fast it would go, how cheap it was, how great it cornered, how practical it was, how ugly it was, how many times it broke down, how many people could fit in it, etc.” Perhaps it was a true “classic”…a Gremlin, A big boat, a Ford Pinto, a Chevy Chevette, a VW bug, a station wagon, or the a perfect color for a rattletrap.  That first ride provided a great feeling of independence; you didn’t have to ask your parents to borrow the car any longer! Prior to my “first ride”, I was fortunate to have access to farm vehicles of various types and sizes. I remember the Farmer’s (my father) 1976 F 100 Ford pickup truck that my brothers and I borrowed for several years. This truck was really attractiv ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

DIY a Farm Attitude  “Do It Yourself” (DIY) TV shows flood the cable networks. My father, The Farmer, would probably say that farming is just one huge, never-ending DIY project.  Building, repairing, fixing, constructing, and creating is every day on the farm. Being part of the unpaid labor (I was worth it) on the farm, I was fortunate to be involved with many DIY projects during the years. A special thank you goes to the sharing nature of the Farmer. Here are a few quick DIY examples that I still carry skills (scars) from today… ·        We took a massive section of roof off of a confinement chicken grower building, hauled it 5 miles using a tractor and to jack it up 14 feet to set it on top of telephone poles that we had stuck in the ground. A DIY machine shed! ·        We tore down a barn and saved the wood and the roofing tin to construct a new shop (to complete DIY projects in comfort and s ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

The magic of rejection What is the “magic” that makes some organizations successful (my favorite baseball team!) when others fall on their face (my favorite football team!)?  Fairy dust? Money? Voodoo? Leadership? Just blind luck? I want my favorite organization (Cook County Farm Bureau®) to have the “magic” to enjoy unbridled success for members. In April, I took an Executive Leadership online course to explore the topic. Of no surprise, disruptive change and the extreme pace of change was forefront. Change is inevitable. The organizations and leaders that have the skills to steer through change will survive and adapt. And those that don’t change become Blockbuster Video, Blackberry, Woolworths, Circuit City, Montgomery Wards, Pan-American Airlines, Pullman Company, MCI WorldCom, Oldsmobile, Compaq Computers, and DeLorean Motors. Did those companies plan to fail or fail to plan? Something that prevents organizations from changing and evolving is leadership’ ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

“Give me the boot” When I was in high school, many years ago, hog prices were ridiculously low. For every hog we sold, we lost money on it. The price of hogs had a direct and lasting impact on my family’s standard of living during that period.  There was no money floating around for new clothes (my Mom actually made my prom suit for me), trinkets, frills and trappings. I can recall my work boots were so beat up, with ripped seams, that my most of my foot was exposed. The Farmer (Dad) handed me a roll of duct tape. Every few weeks, I would re-wrap my boots with a fresh layer duct of tape to keep my foot in and the mud out. Which boot does not fit? Bonus: I did not realize at the time that duct tape footwear was quite stylish and becoming! It was on the farm that I learned about boots. Boots are made of leather with lots of eyelets and steel toes. They are scuffed, stained, used and sometimes abused. They’re made of cowhide or, on those special occasions, ostrich or gator. In ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

March Madness In the farm circles, the preparation for the planting season can be described as “March Madness”. Think of it as a giant collaborative project with many moving parts… making sure farm equipment is repaired, greased, and ready to roll, suppliers in tune with the supply orders, seed in stock, deliveries of products received, advisory services in place, hired help on the payroll, weather cooperating, time available, and so much more. When I was growing up, I did not fully comprehend that these many moving parts were being managed by my father as he prepared to move into planting season.  I was in the mindset of “Just tell me where and when to drive the tractor, Dad”.  I guess I thought planting season just happened magically, with the turn of the calendar.  Admittedly, I was more concerned about that other March Madness: high school and college basketball. While I enjoy the spring planting season, basketball’s March Madness has always been a m ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

“Sticks for Dinner? No. Thank you.” Today (2/16/17), as I write this month’s column, the local and national news is abuzz with the “Day without Immigrants” protests in which a number of restaurants and businesses across the country closed to demonstrate the importance of immigrant labor and immigrant people in the United States. Farming and agriculture in the United States depends on labor in order to provide food for this nation’s people…immigrant labor is an important part, especially in certain types of farms. What would happen if farmers decided to hold a similar event… a Day without Agriculture? What would that day look like? Would anyone care? Would anyone know? Would there be marches on Washington DC? Would there be Riots on the street? I don’t think so. Our food, fiber, and fuel system (fortunately) comes with plenty of bulk handling, warehouse storage, and freezer space…one day of “no farming/no agriculture” may have litt ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

Downwind by Bob Rohrer Hey James Bond fans… Do you remember the opening scene of the 2006 movie Casino Royale (with Daniel Craig as 007)? Bond chases a man through a construction zone /building in Madagascar.  (Nothing unusual about Bond chasing a guy in a movie)  However this chase scene is more unusual…the man who Bond is chasing is an expert Parkour-ist with wonderful agility and speed. Amazing! Parkour is the sport of running, jumping, climbing, balancing, flipping and rolling rapidly, usually through an urban environment.  When you see someone with extreme parkour skills, like the man that Bond was chasing, it seems as if the person glides and flies through areas that a normal person would have trouble walking and climbing through (like a lead footed Bob Rohrer for example).  People with this ability to Parkour seem to be able to defy gravity. How do they do that? Parkour requires extraordinary skill and the trade-off is seemingly broken bones, a smashed face, and se ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

Farming is a very dangerous profession.  There are times that the Emergency room should be known as the farmer’s best friend. The farming Rohrers have called the ER “friend” a number of times. Take my father, the Farmer, for an example. Here’s a guy in his upper 70’s that still climbs grain bin ladders and works on, in and around farm equipment.  He has had a few emergency room visits in his life. Most recently, over the Thanksgiving weekend!  Afterwards, I told my father, the Farmer, “You need a much better story”!  Here is the “true” version… My father, the Farmer, was an excellent ping-pong player in his day. I can still remember, as a kid, a great trophy on his dresser that he won while in the Army. My dad put a ping-pong table in a room in the basement.  My siblings and I spent hours playing in that basement, honing our pong skills and still getting “thumped” game after game by the Farmer.   I do ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

Farm Bureau is not Free Beware of the Word “free”.  Free advice.  A Free meal to listen to the pitch for the condo. A Free puppy. Winning a free car (taxes are only $10,000). Free, complimentary hotel breakfast. Free friend labor. Free usually comes with a cost. A few years ago, my wife and I were offered a “free” hot tub from one of her coworkers. All we had to do was “simply pick it up”. The message was “the hot tub works great but is being underutilized”. Another weak moment…we needed a hot tub like a kick in the head. The “simply pick it up” process was immediately complicated…multiple personalities of our family/friend helpers, the borrowing of a trailer and equipment, logistics, and hot tube size challenges. I recall many hands moving the giant, awkward monolith off a deck, through narrow fence gates, onto an undersized trailer, through  flower gardens (by rolling it like a snowball) to its new home… the b ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

“take a dirt vitamin” “The 5 second rule” is a rule I can live by. I refer to, of course, a reference to dropping food on the floor or ground and picking it up quickly so that it is still safe to consume.  It is a rule that we have followed in the Rohrer household for decades (although we are not real concerned about the standard of 5 seconds). I am quite flexible in applying the rules…five seconds, five minutes, five hours… just wipe it on the jeans and good to go. A little dirt is fine but I usually try to pick off the dog hair. When I am grilling hot dogs, I have unscientifically determined that 12.5% fall in the ground (1 out of a package of 8). I kindly protect my guests from dirt and germs by wiping off the “guilty” dog. Never has been an issue but I do watch for grimaces. I read that a new study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, has found that bacteria can contaminate food in anywhere from 1 to 300 seconds depending on the foo ...

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