John Deere in Moline, Illinois

Last week a group of young farmers headed back to the freezing cold weather to Moline, Illinois to enjoy some good old John Deere hospitality and see where all these green machines that we tend to favor (on our farm at least) get their start.

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We were able to tour the Harvester Works Factory, Tractor Works, and Engine Works while on our three day adventure.  While I was there I realized that John Deere isn’t too different from our own farm back here in Oregon, for instance we both are the World Headquarters…

IMG_0693aPhoto outside what they call the “Rusty Palace”IMG_0723Photo of the front of our farm office….the door also reads…

IMG_0722Also another thing we have in common, they employee over 67,000 employees all over the world.  We employee 4 employees, who all love to travel all over the world!  Wow what similarities!  But in all seriousness I do have to say that John Deere started out in 1837 as just that, a family company.  And in many ways they are still holding true to core family values, even as such a large company that builds equipment for so many industries.

IMG_0709I was impressed by the thought to the future of prodcution.  It was something that was mentioned everywhere we went.  How do we feed the world in the safest and most prodcutive way possible?  They had displays with research showing what they were tracking and what they cared about.  A lot of is as you can see in the pictures below go over how to reduce our use of natural resources, and how do we continue to use technology to our hungry populations advantage.

IMG_0711 IMG_0712 IMG_0714 IMG_0715Another subject that was continuously seen was John Deere’s commitment to be always be linked to the land.  Linked to those farmers who are using their products, relying on their products, and then going out and feeding the world.  Throughout their headquarters even they had artwork that displayed just that message, like the mural below depicts.  It all started with some dirt, a plow sheer, and an idea of how something could be done just a little bit better.

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I don’t have any photos of the actual manufacturing being done, they didn’t allow for photos to be taken while in the factories.  I will say though that the level of efficiency and production was truly incredible.  And if you ever find yourself back in Iowa or Illinois I would take the time to check out what is happening in those small little towns with such large factories.

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IMG_0689Also I wanted to extend a big thank you to Pape Machinery & John Deere for hosting such a great event.

America’s Best Young Farmer & Rancher

Last week Matt and I along with my parents headed east, before the crazy weather thank goodness, to attend the Annual DTN/Progressive Farmer Ag Summit in Chicago.  The reasons were a little for fun and a little for business.  The first reason though was that I was very honored to receive an award from DTN, Progressive Farmer Magazine & John Deere for being one of America’s Top  Young Farmers and Ranchers for 2014!  I can’t even tell you how incredible it was to receive this award.  I am part of the fourth class who can be proud to say they are America’s Best Young Farmers & Ranchers!  The award recognizes not only your work on your own farm or ranch, but also what you do in your community, for your industry, and beyond just the day to day tasks that keep you plenty busy on a farm.

I have to say that being honored for something that I am so passionate about, well,  it was all very humbling.  As I was sitting up there listening to the short bios of the other award recipients I kept thinking about how each and every one of us, award or not, wouldn’t change a thing about what we’re doing.  All of us are doing what we love, we’re working hard because we’re passionate about being good stewards of the land.  Although all of our stories were very different, all of our backgrounds diverse in many respects, the one thing that remained obvious is that we all are proud of what we do, and we all were genuinely grateful for this honor.  And even beyond that, we’re all under 40 years old; this is the next generation of farmers that you’re looking at right here in the picture below.

1457610_10202747228431528_1222457964_nThere will be more written about each of the award recipients in the February edition of Progressive Farmer, so I’ll keep you updated once it’s up and you can see what I mean about these other amazing farmers & ranchers that I’m standing next to.  You can read a little more about each of us in this article posted right after the award lunch, click HERE.

The program at the annual Ag Summit was very interesting.  I have to say that I expected a lot more just corn and soy bean focus (since most of the people at the conference were from the Mid West aka Corn & Soybean country) but there were many topics and speakers that spoke to all industries.  For instance the President of the Dallas Federal Reserve, Richard Fisher, spoke about fiscal policy and was very candid about how he felt about where things are going today.  “The time is upon us to obtain a more humble monetary policy.”  Other topics included land prices, weather, commodity pricing in the future, etc.

We did get to go off in and around Chicago to have some fun while we were there.  So for the non-business business…we were able to visit with a few friends who farm west of Chicago, Katie & Andy Pratt.

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We thought about seeing the Bears game (it was -12 out) so we went to the Bulls game instead!

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We headed up to the top of the Sears Tower, 103 stories!

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Matt stayed near the middle of the building 🙂

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Took a cab and saw “The Bean”

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Decided to be tough and walked back to the hotel…then realized that we might actually be getting frostbite (we are wussy…but we made it!)

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And had dinner with a T-Rex named Sue.

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Having family there to support me was amazing.  Plus it was very interesting talking with other farmers, many times about succession planning, and having both generations there to speak to our experiences was so helpful to the conversations we had.  Plus my dad was able to boast that, “I’ve only taught her half I know and she’s already getting awards!” (haha!)  So thank you to DTN, Progressive Farmer and John Deere for this wonderful experience!  It’s something that I will never forget and forever treasure.  It will also always be something that I will look back on and make sure that I’m still doing my best to be one of America’s Top Farmers!

A Costa Rican Adventure

Everyone kept making the comment that while Matt and I traveled off as Mr & Mrs Frketich to Costa Rica for our honeymoon, “Maybe he will be your lucky travel charm, and nothing bad will happen?!”  I would just laugh and respond with a maybe, knowing full well that Matt’s lucky ability had a long road ahead to fight my life long curse of disaster.  So as we traveled down south, I was just waiting for the ball to drop.  But then it never did, the whole trip down there went smooth…security  was a breeze, all flights read “On time”, things were going great…until the fateful fishing day.

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We were heading out onto the ocean for a half day trip, 4 hours of catching Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and whatever else seemed hungry that day.  It was about 2 hours into our excursion, when we got into a ball of fish and were reeling them in as fast as we could!

Here was the drill…

  • Line goes zinging out
  • Deck hands grab the pole
  • They hand the pole to you, and yell, “REEEEEEL!”
  • Reel it in as fast as humanly possible
  • Flop the fish into the boat
  • Grab the next pole that is zinging and REEEEEL!
  • Meawhile the deck hands are pinning the fish in the corner of the boat, unhooking them and throwing them below.

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It all went very seamlessly…until it didn’t! And here we are…I was reeling in a fish, Matt was just finishing up with his, when the captain gave a whistle and Matt grabbed his pole to reel in the next one.  The Captain’s pole had an 8 inch plug with two treble hooks on it (old rusty treble hooks, with very large barbs).  Matt reeled the fish in (with ease…he is quite an expert) landed the fish on the deck while deck hand Gustavo grabbed the middle of the plug to unhook the fish.  Middle is the key word here, one treble hook above his hand…flopping, wild, insanely mad large mahi mahi on the bottom treble.

The fish flops its way out of his grasp barreling downwards, while the top treble hook buries completely into Gustavo’s hand, bloody murder screaming ensues.  Luis (other deck hand) runs to help and grab the head and tail of the fish.  The fish is still too strong, so Matt grabs onto the middle.  Matt has a front row seat to the mayhem that is going on in Gustavo’s hand, he can see the tip of the hook an inch away from where it has gone in just ripping around under the skin like crazy!  Gustavo is still screaming.

I’m standing there, totally unhelpful and not sure what to do.  I took one picture, then felt bad, but now I kind of wish I had documented the whole scene a bit better! The captain jumps down, grabs a filet knife and cuts the mouth of the fish, allowing the hand to be free from a flopping wild animal but not of the quarter inch barbed hook that is still holding on.  What happens next is not for the faint of heart.  Gustavo was sitting on the back of the boat finally feeling a bit of relief but I’m guessing still worried about the next step, get the hook out.

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Then Matt offers up a plan that to me sounds genius…cut the hook where it’s connected to the plug, then push the hook through.  With a barb that big, it’s the only way.  I’m all for this plan, Gustavo is nodding his head, Matt’s patting him on the back…we are all in agreement that this is the only way.  Until one small detail hits, Gustavo doesn’t speak English, that poor guy has no idea what we’re saying; the brilliant plan became just gibberish.  And so just as I’m handing Matt the pliers to cut the hook, Gustavo takes a deep breath and starts to pull the hook out backwards, against the barb!!  All the skin on his hand is fighting the hook, his whole body is shaking and he’s screaming like someone who has been shot….I cannot imagine how much this must have hurt!

Finally the hook pops out of his hand, Gustavo still has his eyes closed, so even as it comes out of his hand he continues to pull.  We yell, “STOP! WOAH WOAH! ALTO!”  He stops pulling and we all look down at his hand, and the hook didn’t come out alone, yes folks…there is a tendon attached, wrapped around the barb!!  Matt again with a pretty good plan is going to try to help him loop the tendon back around the barb.  But in a split second Luis, without hesitation comes from left field, filet knife in hand slices the tendon completely in half!  We could not believe our eyes!  And just like that it was all over, with half of the tendon hanging out of his hand Gustavo went under the deck, sprayed on some hand sanitizer and was ready to continue the day.

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Matt and I still couldn’t believe it, we offered to let him go in to shore, but no, “we paid for four hours of fishing and we were going to get four hours of fishing.”  Gustavo was pretty quiet for awhile, but the pain must have somewhat subsided because after about 2 hours he did finally laugh at the joke that we caught 6 tuna, 10 mahi mahi, one needle fish, and one 150 pound Costa Rican!

It turns out that we still can’t go anywhere without some sort of adventure.

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