Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gainer's Adventures at the Farm Show

Gainer decided to get a John Deere education and help out at the Western Canada Farm Progress Show in Regina, Saskatchewan last week.

As it turned out, he was a very busy gopher.

He enjoyed a cold one while taking in the Stanley Cup playoffs with a rival.

He single-handedly saved Regina from environmental disaster when he tackled a hydraulic leak head-on... long live kitty litter.

He's now a LiquiSystems expert and welcome in Australia anytime he wishes to visit.

Learned all about combine optimization from our Solution Specialist.

Gainer ain't afraid of no Gator....

Maybe this gator... 

He's a certified air seeding specialist, thanks to our ConservaPak expert, Al!

Friday, June 10, 2011

No Gnomes Here

I am very fortunate to work with a team of people at John Deere, who are tight-knit and also very good friends. It affords us the opportunity to really have a lot of fun when we are together, and we look forward to meetings and events as a result. I don't think we have anything truly special. It's always the people that make the difference. I heard quoted once; "I won't miss the zoo, but I'll miss the animals." We have great animals.

Speaking of animals, we recently welcomed a new animal to our team, literally.

'Gainer' the gopher, is known to most flat-landers as the mascot for the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team. Like Santa Claus, he has many helpers all over the country, including this Gainer, who grew up in our Canadian manager's golf bag. Last week, Gainer decided to venture out into the world on his own, checking out of the hotel and leaving life in the golf bag behind.

Thus, begins the adventures of Gainer...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Camping & Disaster Planning

Be Prepared. The Girl Guide motto we try to instill within our energetic, future young ladies through activities, such as camping.

We recently finished up weeks of camping prep with out unit. We cover the basics you would expect, teach our girls how to make a proper bedroll and pack appropriately. We repeat the motto over and over, and we hope they have remembered something and will show up to camp not completely unprepared. Doesn't sound very positive does it? Unfortunately, it seems to be the reality of working with children from low to mid-income, split parent homes. But I digress.

Of course, we also hope we're providing them with an understanding of the importance of being prepared, which, among other skills, they will take with them further in life.

Yet, how can you ever help them prepare for disaster? Flipping through an ag paper today at lunch, I came across this photo from a dried-up rice paddy in the radiactive zone in Japan.

Employees of Fukushima prefecture's agricultural industry department walk on the dried-up rice paddy which was devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Soma, about 50km from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, May 11, 2011. REUTERS / ISSEI KATO PHOTO
It reminded me of an article I read last night about a Saskatchewan farmwoman waiting for the flood. While, in turn, reminded me of a story of a little boy in Joplin, MO, who was hit by a flying toilet in the Joplin tornado and owes his life to a bike helmet. Each story hit home for me in the same way. I am not a mother, but I do have kids. 10 little girls whom I care and want the absolute best for, in addition to my niece, who is as special to me as a daughter. Can you ever teach them what to do? If you could, would they remember?
Passing these thoughts around more in my mind, I realized we do teach them the basics. In case of fire or an accident, we arm them with not only what they need to know, but how they can help specifically as children. Hopefully, what they take away is also an understanding of how to react and make fast decisions in the face of emergency. While we will never have the full, undivided attention (they most fondly recall "Karl with a K", the training prop from their first aid training), perhaps in the face of emergency adrenalin would bring it all back for them.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

My White {Milk} Space

I milked cows for the first time in months recently. Time spent on the farm has become less frequent in recent years, and with the addition to my brother's family I am all to happy to babysit instead of visiting the barn. As I squatted to attach the milking machine, I realized the significance milking cows once had in my life. This was my "white space".

Growing up, I was active in school clubs and 4-H. Many ideas, projects and speeches were born in the barn. I would ponder problems and churn ideas, all-the-while washing, wiping, attaching and dipping. The process of preparing and milking was almost robotic, despite paying attention to each individual cow, and it allowed my mind to wander. I would dash to the milk house to find a pen and scratch my ideas down on the paper towels meant for washing udders. This continued through university, and my paper towel chicken scratch, complete with the distinct aroma of dairy barn, would often accompany me back to Guelph.

It was my version of the bar napkin. Milking cows was my white space time. The mental barriers were down, ideas brewed and ripened, and I came away energized to put them into action. They weren't all good ideas, but they were usually the seed I needed to start nurturing a speech or event into it's final, finished state.

I still find this white space time, but it's even rarer than my farm visits. Sometimes, I'm on an airplane, or I send myself out for coffee, dinner or a drive for no other reason than to think. It takes more effort to do though, and maybe milking cows regularly again would advance my work and life now, as it did for school and extra-curriculars then. It's a concept I've considered since the realization a week ago and I must say, the idea is enticing. Have you reverted back to any past-times lately? How do you incorporate white space into your life?