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Guest Blog

Read about different aspects of the industry from a variety of perspectives.

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Recently I’ve been thinking about the beauty of a farm, especially for those living there. In the space of a few minutes, a farm may continue on or it may begin the slow march towards decline.

Within this last month, I visited with two dairy farmers with two completely different stories. One is about my age, 54, and the other is in his late 40s. Both are second-generation dairy farmers. Both have college degrees. Both have for their oldest children – sons. Both of these young men have college degrees from the same university as their fathers.

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One year ago from this last Memorial Day weekend, I stood in Afghanistan with my fellow warriors from the 10th Mountain Division. General Eikenberry, then the commander of all U.S. forces in that country, told us we were in a land far away so that our loved ones would be safe. In other words, we kept the war here in Afghanistan and in Iraq, rather than fight a war on U.S. soil.

I recently drove the 5 miles from my home in Alma and walked among the gravestones at our small cemetery on a bright sunny day. I began and ended my walk in one corner of the cemetery. Here, warriors having died in wars as far back as World War I are buried. And some have been buried as recently as our current war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Pulling up to the faded-red octagon stop sign, I happened to glance up. I saw the most awesome sight. The indigo-violet sunset floating across the horizon was truly impressive. The downy feather clouds seemed to glow with an aura of cool fluorescent hues. Three majestic blue silos completed the stunning picture.

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Success in the military is described like this: A mission progresses by defining the tasks, obtaining the tools necessary to complete the task or tasks and then determining the metric for defining success. The metric, therefore, is attainable at one level and desirable at another.

Generals have used this model for centuries. All military officers strive for the desirable but often will denote success if the task is attained. We might think of the model this way: Something is better than nothing, but it is not quite everything.

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Spring arrived in a blade of wheat this afternoon. The rebirth of the organic world is here. This is spring.

Of all times of year, spring brings immortal thoughts. The cycling of life from death and then rebuilt as new life through birth is everywhere. We gaze upwards and feel the warmth of the sun. Our pale skin turns reddish and like pigments in plant cells. They are made different when sunlight enters them.

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Recently, a dairyman asked me if I knew the requirements for becoming organic. Naturally, I tried to ease his obvious insecurity with humor. I told him that he’d have to let his hair and beard grow out and start wearing tie-dye shirts with sandals. I also told him I’d be on the lookout for a Volkswagen van, since producers have to use them as their primary means of transportation if they want to become certified.

Of course, in reality, it is a serious (and often sensitive) issue. Nowadays, it seems the line between organic and non-organic producers in this country is about as thick as the line between Democrats and Republicans. Not only are they severely divided, but they forget that they have to work together.

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