Lots of Learning (and a photo op with Phil Vassar)

In February and March, we dairy farmers attend a lot of meetings.  Some meetings are to take care of business, some are to motivate, and others are to learn.  This week, I attended 2 fantastic events full of learning.

On Friday, I attended the AgStar Women’s Conference in Fulda.  What is AgStar, you ask?  AgStar, to many farmers, is the place to get a loan.  My son refers to their office as the money store.  Anyway, we had 2 speakers.  The first was Jolene Brown, CSP (which means Certified Speaking Professional) from West Branch, Iowa.  These are the take-away messages for me:

1.  Don’t cry over spilled milk.  Clean it up.  (take responsibility)

2.  There’s no right way to do a wrong thing.  Also, an ethics test for absolutely anything you do:  Is it legal?  If I did it, what would my family and friends think?  What if it is on the headlines of the local paper?

3.  The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, it is greener where you water it.  (I suppose especially in drought-stricken times.)

4.  When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

From her stories, I know she has helped a ton of families work out differences and make a plan when generations of families are trying to work together in a business.  For more info, visit www.jolenebrown.com.  Just last week she posted her mantra on Facebook:  “The way you honor the family is by doing the business right. If not, at the end of the day, you will have neither family nor business.”    Do you agree?

Next at the seminar, was Staci Martin, Director of Legislative Affairs for AgStar.  She encouraged us to be a strong voice for the things that matter to us.  She gave tips on how to contact your legislator and make your opinion heard.  Something she repeated often was that, when speaking to an elected official, in 30 seconds, you need to say who you are, why you are there, and why you care.  30 seconds may be all the time you get.

It was a great day of learning and laughing along the way.  Shout out to Aunt Sue for watching Liv and Ava!

On Tuesday, my family headed to the Central Plains Dairy Expo in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  http://centralplainsdairy.com/  We attended a welcome reception with hors d’oeuvres.  And then a Phil Vassar concert, all complimentary to dairy producers.Image

My parents arrived shortly after the concert, so I went to meet them in the hotel lobby.  As we were riding up the glass elevator, we spotted Phil eating at the hotel bar.  So, of course, I tracked him down for a photo!  Just for all my blog readers.

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He has co-wrote songs for several country music artists including “My Next Thirty Years”, “Little Red Rodeo” and “Right on the Money”.    I really enjoy the song he wrote and sang “Just Another Day in Paradise”.

Ava loves music and did enough clapping for the entire crowd.

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CEO of Select Sires, David Thorbahn

We stayed overnight.  The next morning (while Joe took the kids swimming, bless his heart), my dad and I attended a prayer breakfast that served as the official opener for the trade show.    We listened to a dairy farmer, David Hansen from Irene, South Dakota.  He and his family started a mission named “Helping Hands for Haiti”.  Then, the keynote speaker, David Thorbahn gave a message “Agriculturalists:  Called to Feed the World”.

Here are my take-aways:

1.  A Chicken Christian:  One who believes that if they go to church each Sunday and sit in a pew, they are a Christian.  It is the same as a person sitting in a chicken coop once a week and thinking they are a chicken.

2.  The Bible is the best business manual you can get.  It will help you learn to run your business, alleviate stress, work with people, manage money, etc.

3.  We all work so many hours that we can’t deny the importance of taking God to work.  (This will tie in nicely with my Youth Group lesson tonight.)

Now, on to the trade show.  Maybe I need to learn less so my blog posts become shorter!  Hundreds of booths to learn more about various products and tools of the trade, several different break-out sessions to choose from, and dairy farming friends to catch up with along the way.

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I attended this break-out session.  We talked about how crucial it is to make cows as comfortable as possible, especially around the time of giving birth.

Tons of give-aways, not to mention all the cheese and ice cream you care to eat.

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Gotta have a stroller!

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Starbuck’s mocha for free? Okay, you twisted my arm.

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Strawberry!

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Chocolate fountain!

The day ended with a terrible belly-ache for Vince (too much ice cream).  We all had tired feet.  My husband had some new information on lighting for the dairy, among a ton of other things.  Ava was still day-dreaming about the music concert.  Each year there is a breaking point where Joe and I look at each other and say, “Never again.  We are going without kids next year.”   Perhaps, but the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and my memory tends to forget the stressful times.   I already can’t wait until next year.

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