"So what do you do in the winter, go to the coffee shop every day?" That is a question I often get soon after telling a new acquaintance that I am a farmer and I don't have any livestock to care for.
First, I am not, nor have I ever been a coffee shop type of farmer. Nothing against them, those coffee shop visits do serve a valuable purpose of sharing the stress of farming. I just have never got into that habit.
My time in the "off-season" or winter is spent at meetings, seminars and office time. Let me give you a run-down of my last two weeks as an example.
Monday, January 30: Appointment with the Farm Service Agency to sign up for the 2012 farm program. This year with the high commodity prices these payments are fairly small, but do provide a safety net if prices fall. I spent the rest of the day in my office catching up our personal checking and investment accounts. Many of these chores are not done in the summer when I am tired.
Tuesday: Office time. Today I paid farm bills. They always seem to keep coming. The afternoon I dropped several off in town and went to the chiropractor. PCCP play practice. The Plum Creek Community Players (PCCP) are putting on a dinner theater Feb. 18. Barb wrote and is directing the production. I get to do lights and sound including lots of sound effects.
Wednesday: Symposium at Grand Island by the Nebraska Ag Technology Association. Trying to catch up on the latest tech ideas to reduce costs and increase yields. Lots of new ideas. Drive to Lyons to spend the night with sister.
Thursday: Tiling Clinic at Sioux City, IA. We purchased a tile plow this winter and I need all the help I can get. I will be among the first to tile in this area in 20+ years. Ought to be exciting. Drive to Lincoln to meet Barb after her Environmental Trust meeting. Took daughter out to supper.
Friday: Nebraska LEAD board meeting in Lincoln. Quarterly meeting at the Nebraska Farm Bureau office. Drive home. Go to soup supper put on by Pershing elementary.
Saturday: Hole up with the snow and cold.
Sunday: Church, stream 8:30 service and run video system for 11:00 service. We started streaming our church services on internet at Christmas. We try to stream and record at least one service a week. Still working out the bugs. Super Bowl.
Monday: Office work during day, Elders meeting at 7 at church, Dawson County Farm Bureau meeting at 7:30. Got to both.
Tuesday: Took Mom to doctor for a checkup. Had to wait awhile. Man came in with a nail through his thumb. He got jumped ahead of us for some reason. PCCP play practice at night.
Wednesday: Funeral for Barb's aunt in Winside, NE. This is east of Norfolk. We dropped off my pickup in Grand Island on the way up and stayed in Grand Island Wednesday night.
Thursday: Drove to Lincoln for Nebraska Farm Bureau Leadership Conference. Great conference. Lots of good speakers. Youngest daughter came over for the reception for elected officials and then we went out to supper.
Friday: Conference continued until 1:30. Drove home and went to the girls basketball game. After the game scanned and fixed photos for a power point show honoring a friend's feeding operation. They were inducted into the Dawson County Cattlemen Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Saturday: Optimist Sale. Cold sunny day. Met and talked with all the neighbors while bidding on a few "bargains." Actually brought a couple home. Dawson County Cattlemen's Banquet that night. Helped setup and tear down the screen and projector system.
Sunday: Church followed by pancake dinner put on by the girls softball team. Valentine's dinner that night.
While that is a busier two weeks than most, it is typical of the range of meetings that I go to. Do I have to attend all these meetings? No, I wouldn't have to, but they are an important part of my life. I am always learning, new ideas, new machines, new people. These meetings are my social outlet for relieving stress. Attending fund raising benefits allow us to give back what we have been given in the past. Most of all it's fun.
Now it's time to get this week going.