Hello food producers. Can you feel the tension building across the apparently barren land? The added chatter in local coffee shops, the parts trucks moving out from dealerships around the country...it's almost palpable. You're about to embark on the best winner-take-all game in the world - food production.
As March winds up toward spring you get a sense of that excitement building - it's not a dread of long hours and challenges, it's the underlying excitement of being part of something bigger than yourself - agriculture. As our Southern friends are already hard at it, they might miss what Midwesterners enjoy - the move from bitter cold to warm spring mornings that bring planting season. Each region has its joys.
Next week is Ag Week when folks around the country get a chance to think about where their food originates. Some don't understand the answer and want to bring back a kind of agriculture we know isn't possible. At the same time, you're getting smarter every year about the resources you use to produce more pounds of food from each acre than ever before.
I know this is an equipment column, and look at what's happening there. From bigger machines (really a Class X combine!) to electronic innovations that push your productivity through the roof. Perhaps those long hours in the planter are less odious these days because you have auto-steering installed (I know I'd like it).
As you turn the wrenches to tune-up the planters, sprayers, drills and spring tillage tools I know you're whistling while you work. This is what you're in the business to do and you're ready to get seed in the ground and watch tender shoots break through the soil surface. There's really nothing quite like rowing new corn on a spring morning - those emerald plants have a glow all their own.
So my figurative hat is off to all readers this week (I don't wear hats) as you prepare to plant. You know the challenges ahead, you've done this before. Given the past three years - flood, cold, heat - it's a clear chance you're ready for anything.
Just do a couple things for yourself and your family. One, rest when you can so you stay sharp, and safe. Two, look for the fun in all the hard work: the quick laugh with your spouse over some off-hand comment or inside joke; or the yucks you get when talking with family and employees about the work and what's happening.
Let's enjoy a safe, productive season 2011.