Time to clear away clutter.

Farm Forum

What is important in our lives and where is our focus?

In fields, there is leftover residue that is helpful in retaining moisture to help the growing seeds. In our yards and flower beds, we pull away the accumulated leaves to find new growth. Pheasants build nests along fence lines, the eggs a sign of chicks soon to hatch.

Grasses are revitalized. We witness the struggle as new plants emerge from soil and as livestock deliver offspring. Cool and hot temperatures tease our senses as work outdoors takes precedence.

I find there is a lot of clutter in my head and in our house. I’ve recently helped my 94- year-old mom move to assisted living so I have a lot of extra stuff in my garage. Having duplicates can be meaningless but some have an emotional attachment.

Why do I need two flour sifters? I don’t sift much flour anymore. I remember using one of the devices when I was in the pie-baking contest during my 4-H days.

There is a yellow bowl that I used to make bread during my teen years. And a plate with an iris design that was in my grandmother’s house in Groton. They aren’t things I need but seeing them on the shelf reminds me that I’ve learned a lot since I first started reading recipes and making memories on our farm.

Like the sifter, I need to sort through, separate out what is essential versus what is extraneous.

A recent story I did with Michael Dihlmann from Germany brought to mind the many things that end up being forgotten or discarded as useless. Michael was thrilled to find many old farm implements, tractors and combines in junk yards and shelterbelts. He saw value in them. He and his friend Markus were amazed at the wealth of old materials that are abandoned. In their country, old implements are repurposed and old buildings are fixed and renewed. Here, many farm sites remain abandoned as farm families move or pass on to other endeavors. With a history of fourteen generations involved in agriculture, Michael said it is a labor of love to refresh those pieces of equipment vital to earlier days.

When we clear away clutter, the optimism of agriculture shines through. Each spring things are frantic as certain things need to be done NOW and not in two hours. With dry conditions and low commodity prices, the frenzied drive is a bit less this spring, but as the old timers say, “If you don’t put the seed in the ground or the bull in the pasture, nothing will happen.”

At the Ag Fair in Aberdeen, we had the chance to clear away some clutter for area fourth graders. At the event, young people who have little chance to visit farms and ranches learned from knowledgeable Groton FFA members why being a part of agriculture is important.

Understanding why horses have shoes, why tractors are tools and not toys, why baby pigs provide more than bacon and why dust can create explosions in grain bins is vital. It matters to those living on a farm or consuming what is produced on a farm. The future agricultural leaders impressed on the fourth graders that raising livestock is more than cuddling cute lambs or fluffy chicks.

In a time when there are many negative messages about our industry, the event sifted away the clutter and showcased the essentials. Like the mementos of my childhood, we hope these memories will provide a positive framework for the future.

Our industry provides food, fuel and fiber. Is it essential to our way of life. Watching the FFA students embrace and showcase our industry in this way embodies what we do and why we need to be proud, without the clutter.

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