Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Yes, I Am Still On The Face Of The Earth

My blogging rate has slowed down of late. Probably because schoolwork is setting in. I still have to do research about the causes for the decline and fall of the Roman Empire for Dr. Bibbee for tomorrow. Don't worry, Dr. Bibbee, it will get done. I like learning about the Roman Empire. I've just had a lot of stuff going on yesterday and today.

I went to the book club meeting in Lafayette today. Free lunch! Free food is always the best kind. And this was some very good pizza. And THEN they had a dish of mini candy bars! I officially LOVE you, honors program guys! Yes, I am a chocoholic. And not very apologetic about it, either.

I didn't really have many ideas for making the Honors Program more starfish-like, however. All of the suggestions and reasons put forth were valid and worth consideration, I felt. However, I don't really know how to implement starfish techniques. I think personally I am more comfortable with a spider-like network (if only because the simple logicality of it appeals to me) but I appreciate horizontal, not only vertical, communication in such a layout (Dr. Bibbee pointed this out Monday... or was it Friday? ... with his little chart on the board with how the Roman Empire worked under Caesar Augustus. Everyone reported to their superior, and the superiors ultimately reported to Augustus. That worked great as long as they had a good, capable emperor. With insane emperors, however... you get the picture.) Anyway, I think I operate on a bit more of a starfish-like pattern. I really don't know. It's hard for any person to truly know themself. We're a little too close to ourselves to analyze ourselves completely without bias.

Anyway, now for the obligatory part of this post.

Tonight our speaker was William Lee, a commercial farmer. Cue happy dance of joy on my part! As soon as I saw the slide of a tractor and planter, I knew this would be a good speaker for me. Everyone else may have been sitting there with zero comprehension or close to it (and perhaps nodding off a little, especially in the back), but I was sitting in the front with rapt attention. I come from a family of farmers! I live on a farm! I like hearing about farms!

In fact, I was probably the only person wishing that Mr. Lee would get more technical with his discussion! If he had started listing the model and year of every piece of equipment he owns and described in great detail its function, I would have loved it. I love hearing about equipment and the differences. My only regret is that it goes in one ear and out the other. I can't hold onto it. If I could write it down, however, with nice little charts and mnemonics, maybe I'd remember it all better.

Anyway, Mr. Lee does primarily row-cropping (and I understood that term even before he explained it!!!!). He has about 3,000 acres, some of which are near International Paper's Courtland mill. I don't know if his are the fields that have the very neat irrigation system with the pipes-on-tires contraption that wheels across the field, but, whatever. It was neat meeting the owner of fields that I have driven past.

Towards the end of the forum, he showed us some pictures of his equipment. They were all green. They were all John Deeres. After several green John Deere tractors, a very impressive green John Deere 12-row planter, a green John Deere sprayer (he said it could do 600 acres in a day!), and other green mobiles, he said, "This is not a John Deere commercial." To prove his point, his next picture was of his homemade soil-sampler mobile, which had been painted red, white, and blue. He said, "I took a picture of it because it was not green." It was a jeep-y thing he bought for $1000, cut a hole in the floorboard, and rigged up a thing so he could take a soil sample without climbing on and off of a four-wheeler. Very ingenious, I thought. It even had a GPS. Cool.

He also had a picture of a John Deere combine picking cotton, and then sequential pictures of said combine unloading a bale of cotton without stopping. The bale looked like the big round bales of hay, but I had not known they had machines to make such bales of cotton. It was very cool.

Mr. Lee didn't get around much to talking about values, but he did mention that he believes strongly in conservation (ironically, they use herbicides to kill the straw they use for cover...). He said he believes in 'leaving the land in a better shape than he found it', which is a very good goal.

He also had a quote by Benjamin Franklin, which was the only part of his talk in which he spoke too quickly for me to write it down. (Most of the time he spoke rather slowly and had a delightful Southern accent that is nice to listen to after so many doctorates... no offense meant. But I really like listening to the Southern accent and secretly regret that I don't have more of one myself.) So I can only paraphrase the Ben Franklin quote. It went something like this: "There are three ways by which nations gain wealth: one, by war, as the Romans did, which consists of plundering other nations; two, by commerce, which is mostly stealing; and three, by farming."

Mr. Lee did try to express that farmers find some sort of transcendental satisfaction in their work that is lacking in other professions, a sort of quiet inner joy that farmers have and which drives their efforts. He even said he couldn't express it as he would like, but I think I know what he means. Did you know that the only profession divinely mandated by God in the Bible is that of farming?



In Pace Christi,


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