Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ag Hall of Fame, Vacation Worthy

Last week I had a meeting at the Agriculture Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs. There are many places that fascinate me and this is one of them. I am not sure how many times I have been to the Hall of Fame, several over the past twenty years or so and I never fail to see something new and this time was no exception. The Hall of Fame has a new director, new direction and new life and it is something everyone should go see.
Of course my favorite part is all of the old farm equipment on display. I jokingly told those around me that it was like going into our machine shed and there may have been some truth to that. Like any farmer the old implements, tractors and combines of the past catch my attention and I try to think about what it must have been like to use them. My conclusion is that farming now is pretty cushy compared to back then.
I started my tractor driving career on an open tractor, but I was raking hay and that hardly compares with plowing, disking or planting. I just barely remember Dad combining with an old Massey combine with no cab. I don’t really remember the combine, just Mom’s strict orders for us to stay out of Dad’s way when he got home and to give him a clear path to the shower. I also remember not recognizing the dusty, greasy guy who hastily made his way to the shower.
I could and have spent a great deal of time studying the old equipment and reading the signs in front of their display. Yes, I am that person in a museum. I read everything and if you want to get through one in a hurry, I am not the person you want to go with.  Rushing through the Hall of Fame with me is not an option. If you have any background in agriculture and any knowledge of equipment this section will hold you for quite a while.
The Hall’s newest exhibit and one of the biggest feathers in their cap is a sculpture donated by Bayer. It was made for the Farm Progress Show and is constructed entirely of recycled materials. I must say that the pop bottle corn is really eye catching. I am not usually one for art but this display alone is worth going to see. More importantly it also marks a partnership with Bayer that will lead to even greater things.
The Hall of Fame also has a number of old structures like an old railroad depot, blacksmith shop and school that are neat to walk through and get a feel of what it must have been like a hundred years ago. The building I found most interesting was the old farm house and outbuildings. It is set up just like a turn of the century farm and offers an experience of farm life from that era to school kids.
Speaking of kids, that is what I think is the most exciting and holds the most promise for the Ag Hall of Fame. They have been working on various projects involving children from nearby schools. They have also forged a partnership with Kansas State Research and Extension Master Gardeners to start a gardening project. This is exciting because it involves urban youth who get a glimpse and taste of agriculture and what it is like to grow food. That is where the Hall of Fame can have its biggest impact.
This project also has a display garden complete with more signs to side track those of us who are into such things. They have also added a bee keeping exhibit that is really buzzing (sorry, I just couldn’t help myself). If you want to see something really odd and cool ask the staff to show you the plow in a tree. Yes, a plow in a tree. It is my understanding that the plow somehow had grown into the tree and was suspended twelve feed off of the ground before the tree died. It is worth the extra effort to see.
I know we are all looking for quick easy trips this summer and the Hall of Fame is just that. It is also relatively cheap, well unless you include it with a trip to the Legends Mall just a couple of miles to the East and then it might be a rather expensive trip. In any case, the Agriculture Hall of Fame is one of the best kept secrets in our neck of the woods and I highly recommend exiting I-70 to take a look.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Rain, I Am Not Going to Complain

Monsoon season is upon us. Yes, it is wet. The first topic of conversation with anyone is about how much it has rained in the past couple of weeks. Honestly, I am not sure. Each day seems like the movie Groundhog Day because every morning I walk outside and dump between a half inch and an inch of rain out of the gauge. I have forgotten the total, and it probably wouldn’t matter because I can’t count that high anyway.
The next topic, especially from my non-farming friends is if I am tired of the rain yet. My immediate answer is a resounding no. I am a long way from complaining about the rain. Sure all of my soybean seed is safely tucked away in the shed and the brome grass is getting more mature by the day. Things are going to be really busy when it does dry out, but I am not going to complain.
 I am tire of the mud. Just this morning I walked out into the pasture to retrieve the kids 4-H steers. That is a story in and of itself, but we will leave that for another time. Each step brought the squish of fully saturated soil and suction against my rubber boot. Oh by the way, I also discovered a hole in my left boot, there is nothing worse than wet socks. However, I refuse to complain about the recent rains.
I have moved the animals in the lots several times and built temporary fences just to give them dry places to lie down. Still the lots are nearly deeper than my knee boots, yes, the same knee boots with a leaky left sole. I believe the animals are even more tired of the mud than I am. Still you will hear no complaints about the rain from me.
Each morning I clean wet feed out of the lamb feeders. There is nothing that burns me more than wasting feed and cleaning wet feed out of feeders has to be one of the worst jobs on the place. Each night I lay in bed and my knees ache from walking through the mud (it has to be from the mud, it can’t be because I put too much strain on them). Even then, I will not complain about the mud or the rain that made it.
OK, so you get my point, I will not complain about rain. Sure I might whine about it, but I will not complain. My theory is if we complain too much, it will cause it not to rain again for a very long time and we will all complain about how dry it is. I will not be responsible for scaring the rain off. It is easier to try to figure out what to do with too much rain than not enough.
I also have problems complaining about the rain when many of my Western Kansas friends have so desperately needed rain for the last several years. It is good to see them getting some of this precipitation and I will not do anything to jinx them. Maybe they can grow the crops they so desperately need.
After all there are few things better than going to sleep with raindrops falling on the roof and the smell of rain coming through the window on a light breeze. Right now I am enjoying the croaking of the frogs and the babbling of the creek right outside my window. The pastures and trees have never been greener. It is all very relaxing.
We need all the relaxation we can get because we know just how busy it will be when it does finally dry out. Any of us who have lived in Kansas for any amount of time know that the next drought is just a few days away and that will lead to a flurry of pent up work that needs to be done. Then we will all be wishing for a rainy day to rest up.
Most of all I am reminded at times like this of something Dad is always telling me. There is no reason to worry about the weather because there is nothing you can do about it. That won’t keep me from grumbling when water seeps through that left boot or whining when my knees hurt at night. But it will make me appreciate the rain and not complain about it. Well that is for now anyway.