Saturday, February 19, 2011

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers!

One of the best ways to find out the answers to your questions is to go to an authority on the topic.  If I have a question about cattle I go to Glen or his dad O.D.  If I want to know how much medicine to give O when he has a bad cough, I ask his doctor, or call my dad the pharmacist.  When I do this I sometimes get a straight forward answer, like one teaspoonful.  However, sometimes I not only get answers to my questions, but I also gain a practitioner’s perspective.  I learn how they do it, why they do it, and why it’s important.

Over the last nine years I feel like I’ve learned quite a bit about the cattle industry.  I am in no way an expert or authority, but I have a good foundation from which to work from.  It is a completely different story when it comes to crops.  Thankfully I have friends in the industry that are more than happy to answer any question I throw at them, whether they are tough questions or something they’ve known since birth. 

Glen’s time spent serving on the MFA, Inc. board of directors has helped with my education.  Each year the board spends a couple of days touring different parts of the state so that they may visit their different locations and see the “lay of the land.”  Last week they went to New Orleans and visited some companies that MFA does business with so that they have a better understanding of what all goes into, for instance, fertilizer manufacturing.  They got to see how product is moved up, down, and around the mighty Mississippi before it is sent out on ships like this one.    

They gained a better understanding of the immense size and operation it takes to unload a river barge of soybeans to be shipped overseas.  (Do you see the bobcat in the top right corner?  That gives you an idea of how big this barge is!)

You see, even those who have a great understanding of their own industry need to be constantly deepening their understanding of the ones they interact with.  This is something I try to instill in my students.  Education doesn’t stop when the bell rings at the end of the day, or the last strains of pomp and circumstance are played.  You have to be willing to make yourself better and learn, even after you leave school. 

So here’s my point.  Do you want to know where your food comes from?  What is involved in the raising of our cattle?  What they eat, where they live?  Do you have questions about some of the things you may have seen floating around the internet or heard about?  Be a lifelong learner.  Ask an expert.  Ask an authority on the issue, someone who is out there every day taking care of their animals.  Ask someone who makes sacrifices for their animals and who understand the sacrifices those same animals make so that we can have food on our tables and our children can afford to go to college.  Ask a farmer! 

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