If you’re ever dreading Mondays, I strongly suggest you spend it with the Rock County Farm Bureau members in Luverne, Minnesota. Mondays will quickly become your favorite day of the week.
I departed Sunday morning to head to eastern South Dakota; below is my drive through Kirk valley, north Pringle on my way out of town (the Kirk barn is on the left, and our hay ground is on both sides of the highway).
Monday morning on August 8th, I woke up with intense jitters knowing that later that evening I would be speaking in front of a crowd for the Rock County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting. I had mixed emotions of excitement and worry about how my guest speaking would be received and how I would do but I had stuff planned to distract me from my nervousness.
On my agenda for the day, I planned a short drive down to a poultry farm in Ellsworth, Minnesota before I met up with the Rock County Farm Bureau President, Pete Bakken. A couple in Ellsworth had read a column I’d written regarding a 9 foot chicken in Pringle and wanted to buy it for their farm. A couple of years ago, they came out to Pringle to haul it back to their yard to landmark their farm. This is me standing next to the chicken that was once perched on top of my car on my wedding night. It’s been all spiffed up for Luitjens’ Poultry farm.
My next stop was back in Luverne to meet President Pete for lunch but ended up temporarily lost. All the roads looked a lot like this:
Before I made too many turns on roads that all looked the same to me, I decided to swallow my pride and pulled into a farmer’s yard to ask for directions. I was greeted by a kind farmer who said I didn’t need the map and easily directed me back to Luverne.
Pete and his family met me for lunch in town and then was given a tour of the Luverne area farms—of which the owners would be attending the Farm Bureau Meeting that night. The afternoon tour was one of the highlights of my day. I even brought my work boots just in case we would be doing any walking around on the tour, but didn’t need them. Within an hour of spending time talking cows and cattle management practices with Pete, my butterflies had migrated far away and I was very calm. Every Rock County Farm Bureau member I met had an easy-going personality that rubbed off on me and really put me at ease.
Part way through the tour, I got to meet Farm Bureau member and vet, Erin deKoning of Rock Veterinary Clinic, whose idea it was to ask me to guest speak. The three of us spent the afternoon exchanging stories about cows, how each of us calve out and run cattle, and what kinds of issues each outfit deals with. I got to see the BLAC-X (Bakken Land and Cattle–X is their brand) cattle operation
and Binford Farms, meet more people, and exchange more cow tales. I even got to see heifers of mutual friends of mine and Pete’s that came from the Carl and Kari Sanders ranch back home.
When it was time to get ready, Erin generously offered her place to change and get ready. How many guest speakers get that kind of offer!? The whole drive to her farm, we exchanged with each other the beauty of living in old farm houses: few outlets, tripping breakers, only one small bathroom, small kitchens, no mud rooms…finally! A woman who could sympathize with me!
We arrived back at the Blue Mound Banquet Center early so I could make sure I had everything squared away before I spoke. The Farm Bureau secretary, Rebecca Binford took very good care of all my needs from the moment I accepted the invitation to speak until we parted ways for the evening.
We had a wonderful meal before a few Farm Bureau people spoke and then I took my turn up front.
Even though I had set high expectations of myself that I wouldn’t rely on my notes or fumble through my talk, I did both but survived and managed to get some laughs. The best part about the whole evening was all of the wonderful people who came up to me afterwards—I think nearly all of them—and gave me the encouragement, support and thank yous for speaking; making me feel like it wasn’t a total bomb.
The experience was one I don’t regret doing and was reminded once again that people in agriculture are the best in the world. I felt completely surrounded by people I considered friends and neighbors. I was in a safe environment and in good hands for stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something new.
Everyone was too nice to me to feel bad about how it turned out, and I didn’t. The Pringle souvenirs I brought as door prizes were a big hit: two Hitchrail t-shirts, the Hitchrail’s very own steak sauce and bloody Mary mix, Pringle Poacher t-shirt and the boobie prize: a feed sack full of baling wire (which I discussed in my talk) signed by my husband that read, “May this wire help you as much as it does me. Art Kirk”
Leaving the company of such good people was a little sad, but I’ve gained many new friends from the adventure I consider the highlight of my summer. Where else can you go a stranger, speak to a crowd, and come home with a bag of sweet corn, complimentary ball caps, and lots of new friends inviting you back? I assure you, you only find these kinds of people in agriculture, and I’m proud to be one of them. It was the kind of welcoming and send off most guest speakers never experience. Thank you Rock County Farm Bureau members for such a wonderful time. I will always be proud and appreciative that my first speaking engagement was for you.