Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mike Rowe and the War on Work

If I've never mentioned it, I love the show Dirty Jobs. I love watching people with no agriculture experience try their hand at what most people in the industry and on the farm consider everyday work. I've actually played this prank on a few folks and made them bottle feed calves.

Of course, everyone LOVES to bottle feed calves--they are cute, fuzzy and like to snuggle when it's cold.

What people don't like is the less than cute stuff--like wiping up a calf that has the scours (diarrhea). Or castration. Or holding a cow's head while the vet cuts her eye out, because there's no way to save it (and no that was not me holding that cows head--that was my fiance).

My point is, it doesn't take too long to figure out what folks want to do. Most of the time it has nothing to do with manual labor or getting dirty. This had long been a point I pondered as I was trying to decide what to do with my life--people say to follow your passions, but what if you can't follow your passions? What if they aren't sustainable? What if your passions don't meet the white collar standard of others? What will you do then?

I had an science teacher in high school that was easy to get off topic--we tried to do it regularly. Because of that I don't remember much from that class, but I do remember one thing she told us: You don't have to go to college.

As a middle class American white kid, I was very offended by this statement and took it up with her after class. How dare she discourage someone from continuing their education? Isn't college a right?

Her answer opened my eyes and continues to rear it's snarky head every once in a while. She said, "Jillian, if everyone goes to college--whose gonna fix your car when it breaks down? Who are you going to call when you need a plumber? Not everyone's cut out for college and it certainly isn't everyone's dream."

I was reminded of our conversation as I was watching this video by Mike Rowe. He's shpill on the work profile of America was enlightening. He gave me a glimpse of how different our country would be without those who do the grunt work, those who aren't afraid to get dirty. His speech was inspirational and made me thankful for the people I take for granted--farmers, plumbers, miners, exterminators... It made me re-examine statements I had always assumed were correct (i.e.--follow your passions) and helped me realize that sometimes you have to do, what you have to do.

I hope you take a moment and check out this video and as a result, I hope you are more grateful for the men and women who keep this country running.

Now if you will excuse me, I'm going to hug a plumber. (Well maybe just shake his hand and say, "Thanks!")

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Blog Outlet!

Hey gang! Just wanted to share something amazing with y'all-- it's called AGazine.

 AGazine is the blog outlet for Auburn University College of Ag. It features several Ag Comm students who talk about everything--from AGventures to internships and foreign countries.

So when you get time--check it out. It's definitely worth the read!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Over Simplified and Over Illustrated Synopsis of Peanut Harvest

Most people have no idea what this is.  

And if I had never seen this freaky little
plant that blooms above ground...

and fruits below, I'd probably be clueless too.

It's a peanut plant! 

This is what it looks like "inverted" 
or pulled out of the ground and flipped over...
...and this is what it looks like while it's still growing.

Farmers use a plow with chains to pull up the 
peanut plants and flip them over. This lets 
them dry in the sun til they are ready to be picked. 
Sometimes these plows are called "inverters" or "shakers."

After the peanuts dry, it's time for the "pickers"

Some folks use pull-behind pickers,
others use self-propelled combines,
both work pretty much the same.

The peanuts are taken up the header....

...and are cleaned by threshers inside the body. 
The peanuts fall down on a shaker pan where 
they travel to a auger and eventually to a fan 
duct where they are blown into the basket.
The vines and trash work their way out the back.

If you haven't noticed by now, 
peanut pickin' is dusty business.

Picking is also a very
s  l  o  w

After the baskets are full, the boys
dump the peanuts into wagons that are 
picked up by the local mill.

When I was in high school 
my job was to level wagons. 
I didn't really HAVE to do it, 
but I like to, so I'd climb up in 
a wagon and shovel peanuts. 

Until I met Waldo.
I no longer shovel peanuts.

Snakes are a common sight during 
peanut harvest as are breakdowns...

which often leave the boys scratching their heads... this one. 

Despite the snakes and breakdowns, 
peanut harvest is very rewarding.

It brings out the best in neighbors who always 
make sure farmboys have PLENTY to eat...

...and it helps us prepare for winter. 
We bale the vines for cattle feed.

 At the end of the day, the peanuts will 
get "green" again, meaning the moisture
content increases in the vines making 
picking more difficult. So we quit for the day.

And that my friends, is the super simplified 
and over illustrated synopsis of peanut harvest.

If you have any questions let me know! 
If I don't know the answer, I know one
slightly smelly and very dusty farmer that does.

Keep it between the ditches y'all,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Football gets in the way of blogging...

Hey Gang!

So it feels like forty-forevers since my last post. My deepest apologies for the lack of updates. Instead of writing a long drawn out post about life back on the Plains (which is SEC speak for Auburn University) I figured I'd share a few pictures.

Enjoying the game SEC style--in sundresses!

Auburn University Marching Band--Arkansas State Game

BYOTP: Bring Your Own Toilet Paper---Toomer's Corner
So far this has been an amazing semester, but between football, work and school, it has been nearly impossible to get a blog post up exclusively for this site. But don't give up on me--you will continue to see posts here as well as in a new outlet.

AU College of Ag is launching a new blog site--which I will be contributing to. I hope you'll check out the new AU site to catch my posts and blogs from other ag students.When I find out the "official" link I'll pass it along.

Until then--


Saturday, August 21, 2010

The More Things Change...

I realized this week that I have moved four times in 13 weeks.
I moved from Alabama to Florida.
From Florida to Missouri.
From Missouri back to Florida.
And from Florida back to Alabama.
You would think by now I would have this packing thing down but I don’t. I still have to sit on my luggage to be able to zip it.
But the important thing is—it zips.

Aside from my constant state of unpacking and repacking—I’ve had an amazing summer. I never dreamed I would have the chance to move to “the big city” (as Ma calls it) and work for such an awesome company. I never dreamed I’d meet so many AMAZING people in the short time I lived in the Midwest. This summer was full of new experiences and taught me a lot about myself.
Two questions have kept popping up recently, and I’d like to address both of them here:
Question 1 from Missouri: Do you miss home?
Yes. While I was in STL, especially those first six weeks I missed home terribly. I had just moved 800 miles from the nearest person I knew and I was homesick. Generally when I’m not happy I play the piano or walk around the farm. Since I had no piano or farm—I spent a lot of time walking at the conservation park in Chesterfield…until the grass got so tall I wasn’t sure if big foot was creeping around the walking path or if it was just a mammoth rabbit.
But the short answer was yes—I was incredibly homesick.

Question 2 from Florida/Alabama: Do you miss Missouri?
Yes, I miss Missouri. (To answer your next question: No—I don’t plan to move back.)
This summer was an amazing experience—and after I realized that I wasn’t going to die from the homesickness I experienced those first few weeks, I really began to enjoy myself. Heck—I kinda hated to leave. I made some AMAZING friends (from all over the place—not just STL) and made some great memories.
No one likes change, me especially, but the changes I underwent this summer have shaped who I am and have pushed me toward the person I want to be. They are helping me achieve my dreams. They reassure me. They grow me. And in the change memories are formed—invisible attachments to my heart. So it was with both joy and sadness that I left home—both homes—to tackle the new changes coming my way. I miss both the Midwest and the South.
I’m not sure of the author but I believe this quote says it best: “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter into another.”
Life is about change—and my melancholy/homesickness this summer reflects that. But change is a must—without it we don’t grow.
And if we aren’t growing are we really living?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Secret of Friendship (Bluebell not required...but it helps!)

I have the best friends in the ENTIRE world. No, make that in the entire HISTORY of the world.

Who else has friends that would drive 4.5 hours just to bring Bluebell Ice Cream to one that hasn’t tasted the goodness of that silky dairy substance because she’s been stranded in a city where people believe ice cream should have egg in it*

Yeah, I can only think of one person with friends like that—ME!

A motley crew: Gator, Tiger, Seminole

On a more serious note, I absolutely love my friends. I have four very close friends and only one of those that I usually see on a regular basis; that all changed this summer when I took off on my Midwest Adventure. I was in a new place and had to make new friends; which was awesome—because the friends I made are amazing individuals. I’m just so blessed.

But last night, after 756 miles and 12.5 hours of driving on minimal sleep—I was not expecting what busted through my door---Carly and Shelley.

Carly, Me, Emily and Shelley after a long night of driving

My best friend (and cousin) Emily, along with my fiancĂ© and parents had been hiding the fact that my best friends from high school were making a flying trip from the Swamp to surprise me with four flavors of ice cream. And not just any ice cream—Bluebell Ice Cream—which flows from the banquet table of Heaven and is packaged somewhere in Texas. What ensued were epic conversations about armadillos, love and how to jump off a side mount battery. (Trust me—it’s best if you don’t know!)

Amidst the giggles, random dancing and laughter we discovered something that folks have been searching for all of their lives; people have died trying to understand this—hearts have been broken because of this… and we figured it out over four flavors of ice cream.

We discovered the Secret to Friendship.

Now I’m not just talking about fair-weather friendship. I’m talking about long lasting “I’m still your friend even if you are being a butt-head” kind of friendship; the kind of friendship that gets people through the hard times… through doubts, cold-feet, break-ups, busted windshields and fear. This friendship isn’t for pansies. This stuff has grit. And that grit is what makes us into better people—it polishes out the rough spots.

My friend Shelley is what I like to call a word-smith. If there isn’t a word or phrase that fits what she’s describing she’ll create one. It doesn’t matter that it’s not “technically” in the dictionary—she created it and used it in a proper sentence therefore it is now part of the English language.

One such phrase is “friend-jealous.” One of Shelley’s more practical words—it is used to describe old friends who are jealous of new friends that a mutual friend is making. For example, I moved to St. Louis. I made new friends. One of my old friends is jealous that I have new friends. Therefore this old friend is “friend-jealous.”

Fortunately, I don’t have that problem with any of my close friends; from our ice cream laden discussion tonight we determined this is just a small part of the secret to our friendship.

You see my closest friends and I come from similar backgrounds but hold very different views, standards and make decisions in ways that often times the others don’t understand.

I mean can you honestly expect two aggies, a pageant girl, a drum major and a slightly punk-rock chick that wears cowboy boots to agree on ANYTHING?

The truth is we don’t always agree but we are always open to what the other person says. And if the other person makes a bad decision we don’t judge them. Not saying we don’t tell them what they did was stupid—we just don’t base our friendship on the bad decisions they happen to make.

This openness makes it easy to come to each other without fear. It doesn’t matter if I’ve made a stupid decision, am worried about something or have just acted like an undesirable equestrian animal, I can still come to my friends. We don’t have a friendship of fluff. We have a friendship of grit. We can call each other out on mistakes and we can offer them a hand to help them get back on their feet. We polish each other. We are better people because of our friendship.

Because of this gritty and open friendship the miles that are between us don’t matter. Other friends we’ve made don’t significantly impact our relationship. Our friendship has no fences—we can roam and grow however we need and after our roaming we can always come back to each other. We have a friendship of freedom.

Freedom to be who we are without apology.

Freedom to make decisions and not scorned because of them.

Freedom to live and fail.

Freedom to love and lose.

Freedom to grow.

It is in this freedom that we discover our differences and similarities. Through these differences we are refined. Like stones being polished by grit and water and emerge shinning with glimmering colors that reflect who we are and who we are becoming.

The gang minus Codie--our resident drum major

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17