|Max feeding a boar a Gatorade|
I then got to climb from pen to pen with Kirk (my Iowa dad), his friend from Missouri, Jesse, and Jesse’s five-year old son, Max. We spent this time looking at the young pigs, sorting through gilts and sows, and discussing pedigrees with genetic lines that go back to the early nineties. While many people would think that sounds crazy, standing there listening to the conversations taking place, I got to see two individuals talk with passion in their eyes about the swine industry and ways to help it progress. Even little Max was in on it. He came walking over to us after looking at the pens and pens of boars to say “Kirk, you have some very impressive boars.” I just smiled and laughed, thinking that the ordinary 5-year old probably doesn’t talk about boars everyday.
|It takes many moving parts to get the best picture|
The main task of the day was to take pictures of some of the elite breeding stock on the farm. We would wash the pigs and then take them to a big grassy area to capture the perfect shot. It takes a lot of patience, creativity and perfect timing to get those photos, but the end result is highly satisfying. Several hours and over 400 photos later, it was time to call it a day for the pig photo shoot.
As the sun began to set on Saturday evening, Jerra (my Iowa mom) and I worked on feeding the pigs their second meal of the day while the boys snuck in one last picture of a boar before the sun was all the way gone. After finishing up the evening chores, we gathered in the kitchen where Jerra had whipped up my favorite lasagna and cherry pie. Exhausted from a long day at the farm, and full from supper, we all talked late into the night about hogs, dogs and the livestock industry. One quote that resonated with me came from a conversation Kirk had had a few years back with another swine enthusiast. He said “When leaders begin to follow, the breed will fail to progress.” I think that line is one that could be taken and applied to many different aspects of life.
|Kirk feeding sows at the bunk|
As I sit on here on Monday back at school and reflecting on the weekend, I can’t help but realize I have been blessed to have the weekend I did. It’s not very often that you find a warm sunny Iowa day in mid November, with views of harvested corn fields, all while being surrounded by people that share the same passion as you. A wise person once told me “Don’t let school get in the way of your education.” I didn’t know what that meant at the time it was said to me, but after this weekend I finally do. The classroom is a valuable place to pick up facts, but it’s the unscripted days that I have spent in Iowa outside the walls of a classroom that I have learned the most. At the end of the day, agriculture is a way of life, and it’s the people that make it worthwhile.
Until next time,