Pet Peeve

Please excuse me while I take a short break from healthcare and blow off some steam.

As a farmer, I’m often sent surveys from the government and from ag suppliers.  These questionnaires ask where I get the expert knowledge necessary to make important farming decisions.

  • Who scouts your fields for diseases and pests?
  • Who determines the amount of fertilizer you apply?
  • Who decides the chemicals you should use to control weeds and insects?
  • Et cetera
  • Et cetera

These questions always annoy me.  “I DO” is almost never one of the choices on the long list of government agencies, ag suppliers and outside experts.  The implication seems to be that I’m a stupid farmer who isn’t competent to make decisions affecting my farms.  I should be relying on someone else.

As a farmer, my profession is to scout my field and make decisions about fertilizer rates and chemical applications.  If I lack this key knowledge necessary to run my farm, I should get another job.  I also believe I am more motivated and competent to conserve the soil and water on my farm than is any outside expert (although I do appreciate the technical advice provided by the NRCS and SWCD in designing conservation practices).

Given the events of the last year, maybe the federal government should be shifting more of its survey efforts into finding out where the leaders of Wall Street and our big banks get their advice — since their ineptitude almost destroyed our financial system.  The farmers I know are competent professionals.

Setting up a website and starting a blog

For the last five years, my TO DO list has included “set up a website.” A couple of weeks ago, the WSJ featured a section on websites for small businesses. The article motivated me to buy a “domain name” and get started.

Why am I setting up a website? Over the last 25 years, I’ve written articles on many topics related to wheat farming. See the different sections listed above. A few of my articles were published in farm magazines, but most were just sent to people who I thought would be interested. Often, I could think of about 60 people who might read the article. The great advantage of the web is that it makes publishing to this very small audience possible and easier than mailing articles. I can email the link and the person can download the article if he or she is interested. Also, it provides a way my articles can be accessed by people who may be interested, but who aren’t on my distribution list. Finally, a website is a place where I can post classic articles by other authors that aren’t easily available elsewhere. The articles by Bob Drynan and Larry Lev are examples.

I hope to post new blog entries once a week or so during the parts of the year that I’m not too busy farming. I know from my own experience that readers are more likely to check a blog if new material is available on a regular schedule — so I hope to fall into some kind of pattern.

I am interested in experimenting with a blog for two reasons. First, the PNW wheat industry has some excellent websites. However, I’m not aware of any that post regular commentary. Perhaps there is a hole I can help fill.

Second, we are all carrying around “great” ideas in our heads and being forced to write them down can be beneficial. When I was president of the Oregon Wheat Growers League in 2001, I was required to write a column for the magazine. I made a list of ten ideas I thought would be interesting. When I sat down to write them up, I was surprised to find that most weren’t really very interesting and could be discarded. I cleared out a lot of mental clutter during that year. I hope this blog will have the same good effect.