Summer S’mores

The coming of August has always been my signal for the beginning of my favorite season: fall. I know many of you may say, but there’s still a month of summer left!! While this is true, I still cannot help but to think fall is on its way. Sure, I always hated the thought of school starting midway through the month, but there were so many other things to look forward to when those crunchy leaves start to cascade down! I LOVE football season, crunchy leaves to pounce on (yes, I’m still a small child at heart!), the smell of fresh cool air, fall festivals, the Scenic Drive, fall harvest and of course bonfires!  Out of all of these great things, bonfires have to be my absolute favorite. Nothing beats sitting around warm, dancing flames with friends and family just enjoying the view and the company. In close second to flames and friends is the classic S’more! Trust me when I tell you this girl loves her chocolate and marshmallows, so what could be better than the two combined on graham crack ...

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Life Lessons - Chapter 6

August 2012 I am sitting in front of my computer again considering my childhood as I write another column that focuses in on life lessons from the farm. Everybody who pops their head into my office probably thinks that this effort I'm putting forth looks like daydreaming but no, I'm working!  As you know, I've been writing about growing up on a farm and the lessons that I learned from both positive and negative experiences. These lessons impact my daily life today. For those of you who are growing weary of my recollections, my apologies to you. Don't panic, only a couple more months to go! Lesson nine: Work and then play…Sometimes in that order! The rumor on the street is that the profession of farming is hard work. This is a collectively shared belief most non-farm people have and I am always quick to agree. When I was growing up, we certainly felt like we worked plenty hard a bit too frequently. In fact, I found myself wanting to be an anti-work leader. However, to be honest and forthrigh ...

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Ag in the Classroom - Summertime

Summer, swimming and staying out late..... OR, is it Kids, Camps, Call of Duty?  As summer is in full swing, I can’t help but notice the lack of activity during the days and nights on my suburban block.  During the day it is hard to tell that school is no longer in session as I’ m not hearing the voices of children up and down the street,  the sound of balls crushing bats, or kids counting to 10 and yelling “ready or not, here I come”.  These sounds used to signal summer break and the freedom of children to spend their days and nights outdoors versus being stuck inside at school.  I asked some co- workers what recollections they had of summer and here’s what they said. “As a kid I would spend my summer with my friends going to Lawn Aqua pool (local pool), swim at a friends pool, playing at the park, going to McDonald’s or just hanging out at a friend’s house.  I would typically leave the house in the morning and not go home until ...

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Weather, or Not

Everyone has at least one common interest with a farmer and it is weather.  Farmers are far more concerned about weather than the average person is.  For instance, most people contemplate whether they will need to apply more sunscreen than usual.  Farmers, on the other hand, tend to worry about how weather impacts their crops.  Some can only imagine what a farmer views when he glances out into the horizon.  A farmer’s future is practically balancing on fate because weather is highly unpredictable. This summer’s strange weather pattern has brought on more than just heat, sunscreen and sweat.  It brought devastation throughout theUnited States.  According to it was predicted to be a hot summer for theRockiesand Plains.  Wildfires have stricken theRockiesand plant loss has hit other parts of theU.S.  While observing these various weather patterns it only adds to year’s of training that a farmer in weather, markets, futures, heading a ...

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Life Lessons - Installment Number "Five"

July 2012 At the risk of repeating myself, in recent months, I have been reflecting upon various life lessons I've learned over the course years of farm life as a youth and young adult. These life lessons have impacted me throughout my life and have determined my lifestyle choices, decisions, attitudes towards life, and much more. Every one of us can find moments, good or bad, in our life that taught us a lesson that has stuck. I apparently had a lot of such lessons! It seems that I've used a number of these life lessons in recent months as examples for my children. I am trying to give examples of why character matters, decisions make a difference, safety is essential, and work ethic means something. I'm not sure that any of it has made any impact with them or will necessarily make an impact on you, the reader. However, writing about these life lessons has brought back many memories and smiles for me (and other members of my family). So please indulge me as I put on paper the next installment of life l ...

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Calling All Sox Fans...or Kansas City Royals Fans

Image Cook County Farm Bureau is hosting their annual “Farm Bureau White Sox Night” at US Cellular Field on Tuesday, August 7, 2012 vs. the Kansas City Royals.  Tickets are specially priced at only $18 for lower reserved seating.  Please order tickets by calling 866-769-4263 or visit  All County Farm Bureau members are welcome!  HURRY….seats are limited.

The economic impacts of regulating housing for livestock

Appeared in the Sunday, July 2, 2012 edition of the Chicago Tribune, Business Voices section. Submitted by Mike Doherty, Senior Economist and Policy Analyst,  Illinois Farm Bureau Egg prices in Europe are 67 percent higher now than they were a year ago. Production is down by an estimated 15 percent. European restaurant owners and families are driving into neighboring countries to buy eggs. The situation there is not a result of runaway inflation. Rather, it was triggered by a government mandate on how chickens are raised. Congress is being asked to approve similar legislation here. Based on Europeans citizens’ concerns for animal welfare, the European Agricultural Commission banned conventional cage housing systems for egg-laying hens – systems in use for decades and that, until recently, housed 75% of all laying hens worldwide and 95% of the layers in the U.S. Since January, European producers have been required to house chickens in so-called furnished cages or raise them cage-free. Because the decision ...

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Pride As I drove home from my oldest son’s college graduation, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride.  He did it!  No, WE did it as David L. Boren, President of University of Oklahoma, stated in his commencement speech.  Yes, the students shouldered the challenge of succeeding, but the parents, families, professors and many others contributed to the outcome as well. As with any successful endeavor in life, few can achieve results without the help of others.  I was thinking back to when he first left home and entered this new territory called “college” in a state he’d never been to and a town he was unfamiliar with.  He knew no one.  As he managed his way through the newness of every day, others came to his aid and became his friends, mentors, bosses and buddies.  The parent in me was proud of his fortitude to stick with it when faced with homesickness, difficulties with calculus and macroeconomics (to name a few) and everyday social choices one must make in college.  He made it through, with the help of ...

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Small Town Heart in a Big City.


Just another tractor sitting around at my family farm. This is why I can tell the difference between an H and a M

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Life Lessons - Installment # "FOUR"

June 2012 In recent months, I've been reflecting upon various life lessons I've learned while growing up on the farm. Based on the response of readers, there's apparently a bunch of you that can relate! We all have experiences that affect the way that we live our lives. Some are good experiences and some not so good but either way, they shape, mold, influence, and guide decisions, thinking, and behavior.  Now, as I look back upon some of these stories and experiences, they serve to be not only fun memories of ways that I can share cause and effects with my children. (My brother John, after I dedicated last month’s “lesson ”to him, sent to me a note saying “brings back some good memories, seems like we didn't need anything fancy to entertain us” ).  So true, Bro!  I thank the readers as I relive and share some of the “not-so-proud and somewhat embarrassing occurrences” in my life that seem to have made me who I am today. So, with that Preface, it ...

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