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Corn+Soybean Digest

In The Hayfield

This week I was back at Virginia Tech. We spent three intense days in the hayfield with 280 round bales, and 1,500 square bales. Including a few tense moments I enjoyed an extended father’s Day weekend and all the hay being put up without any rain.

From The Hay Wagon
The week was interesting in that our two boys, their friends and a neighbor’s laborer (a Virginia Tech University student) assisted in putting up the hay. While loading hay I asked the young people if they liked farm work. Their response was yes, despite 90º heat and stifling humidity.

The reason it beat flipping burgers was that farm work was outdoors and constantly changing. It allowed them to have responsibility for and to operate some sophisticated farm equipment. And, it gave them a sense of teamwork and accomplishment. They also said the pay was good.

One undergraduate from Virginia Tech, who was an animal science major, swapped stories with me about our shared farm visits in South Africa. He said he really liked the sense of security that the U.S. offers rather than farms operated with the threat of takeovers.

As we finished up and the sun was setting on the mountains, I had to reflect. It was an enjoyable three-day experience where the generation gap disappeared and our minds were renewed as we worked for a common goal. I found that young people are very much global thinkers – even in the hayfields. And when given a challenge, some guidance and responsibility, they do respond and are very coachable.

Management Tip
I found it most successful to separate the tasks of the two brothers (my sons). When each had the responsibility of their own crew and truck, it was amazing how much more work was accomplished. In my travels I sometimes see this going on at other family farms.

Close Call
Many of you heard about the tornado that touched down in Siren, WI, last week. Their siren had been struck by lightning and was scheduled for repair soon, so it never sounded that day. Thanks to local forecasters almost everyone got the warning they needed to take shelter, despite the out-of-commission siren in Siren. We extend our deepest sympathy to those four who died.

My research assistant’s brother-in-law, Steve, is a cook in one of the local restaurants there. (You wouldn’t believe me if I told you the name of the place is called Adventures.)

He survived but only by taking himself and several customers with him into the cooler. They did get a warning. And they came out to find two trees in the eatery, but at least the building was still standing.

That is more than can be said for the rest of the town, which almost completely lost their Main Street. He now has almost no competition. (Scouting reports say he already was a great chef so he didn’t need the help to wipe out competition!) As our tornado season gets into full swing, keep an eye on those unfriendly skies.

Perspective Of The Week
Healthy financial farm sectors need to export approximately 30% of total production, which is already particularly important for the crop sector. A 5% variation can mean the difference between strong or weak farm net incomes.

Sports Perspective
To all the readers of this column, check out Newsweek’s article on Tiger Woods and his use of peer advisors. His methods can be applied to any top-level manager.

Next week I will be back on the road. Tune in to find out what I’ve been doing.

Final Note
Thanks for all your questions and comments. Remember, it’s only the stories and questions that don’t implicate your neighbor that I can publish.

My e-mail address

Editors' note: Dave Kohl, Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist at Virginia Tech. He currently is on sabbatical and working with the Royal Bank of Canada.

To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures click here

This online exclusive is brought to you by Soybean Digest

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