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,