Tuesday, April 14, 2015

FFA 'ing

I spent three days at the FFA State Leadership Conference. When I got home the willows had flowered, that wispy light green smudge that appears across the dark branches and is always the first leafing of spring. It was a lovely greeting. But what I never realized before were the bees! As I walked home from feeding cows today a loud hum came from the trees. In researching, I found out that willows are important as a first food source for bees in early spring. Who knew our humble willow-lined canal had such an important job?

The kids put on another great conference. I helped select the new officer team as part of the nominating committee, or Nom-Com, as they call it. Students representing each of the nine FFA districts in Idaho serve on Nom-Com along with three adults. We put 24 candidates through a grueling interview process that I hope they appreciate later on as a character building event. Only six kids make it on the team. Now that it's history, I'd like to look each candidate in the eye and tell them how heroic they were, winners or not.  

Seth and Anna help run the conference each year since they've outgrown FFA membership. Seth hustles around with a mic in his ear and Anna, with script in hand, patiently guides the officers as they escort students, parents, civic members, teachers, etc. through the curtains and into the spotlight. When Nom-Com finished our work on the last day of conference, I stood in the darkness backstage and watched my kids do their thing. They were too focused to talk to me but I did get a heartfelt hug from each of them. I think I'm even more proud of them working behind the scenes than I was when they themselves were the stars of the event.

And in the final moments of the conference, as the officers were announced and they ran on stage, many in tears, I said a prayer for the kids who didn’t make it – to keep believing in themselves and to continue to grow and forgive. And to the ones who were selected, those who will wear the officer jacket this coming year, a prayer too, for discipline, humility, insight and integrity. Do us proud! 

bee heaven
credit Laura Wilder for the photo:
7 years of state presidents helping out with conference
- finally another girl!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Spring gets Underway

Spring is bearing down on us. Thank goodness Mark is good natured even in the heat of battle. With a suite of chores to attend to each day - feeding, calving, burning ditches, shipping calves and upgrading irrigation facilities, he methodically tackles each task in order of priority and for the most part keeps his positive attitude.

Me, well I worry too much and think I need to have things a certain way. For a few months every spring and summer that’s a fool’s game. Better to take a breath and trust that we’ve done it before - this year will work out just fine too.

I planted two triple rows of peas which made me feel better. Might as well take advantage of an early spring!   

I slipped away for a day and a half to attend a gathering of range professionals organized as the University of Idaho Rangeland Center. We discussed ways to further range improvement efforts in the state. I’m the lucky one who serves in an advisory capacity and gets to give my opinion, then go home and leave the real work to the pros. 

On the drive home I stopped at Massacre Rocks State Park to see how the grass was coming and ran into Kevin Lynott, the manager there. He’s a grass enthusiast like me so we have plenty to talk about. He showed me an implement he designed and had built that is pulled behind a 4-wheeler to assist in broadcast seeding of native grasses. The Backcountry Mechanical Vector (BMV) Sweet 16 features a mower blade mounted on the end of each of 16 arms which are designed to float over rocks and lightly disturb the soil. Following each blade is a length of chain which scratches the surface as well. He runs it before and after broadcast seeding and has gotten great results. All he’s missing now is some cows to maintain the perennials. And he, in fact, agrees with me!

With all the challenges we face as range managers - fire, invasives, endangered species, drought, etc., it’s good to know there are fine people all around the state like Kevin at State Parks, Neil, Amanda and Glenn in Extension, Karen and Lovina at the University of Idaho, and others, all dedicated and doing their darndest to figure out solutions.

it happens every spring

Kevin and his BMV Sweet 16

without cattle hooves to disturb the soil - the next best thing

still cleaning the occasional barn stall and finding beauty there