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By Staff | May 1, 2009

Planting potatoes is a favorite time of mine. It begins with me cutting up seed potatoes for planting. It seems to work best to sit outdoors on an overturned bucket.

As I work my way through one 50 pound bag of potatoes, the empty burlap bag becomes my cushion for the next bags.

Each year we seem to do it a bit differently. Sometimes planting day comes up rather quick and potatoes are cut at the same time of planting. This year was easier to plan with a favorable weather forecast. We began cutting up potatoes on Monday. Working at it whenever we had a free moment.

It definitely is a pleasant job just to sit outdoors positioning myself out of the wind. I hear the neighbors in their fields doing preparation fieldwork and planting corn. My own husband and son are doing the same work elsewhere.

The sounds of nature are all around me. It gives a great opportunity to reflect on the sermons from the Sunday before.

We attend a church that doesn’t have an evening service. This permits us to visit other area churches at night. It is really quite interesting to note that we drive past these church buildings all the time.

We know what they look like on the outside, but have no clue on the inside unless we get invited to a wedding there or need to go to a funeral at a church.

A week ago we visited the country church I had grown up in about 45 miles north of where I now live. The minister was a fill-in pastor who entitled his sermon, “Getting Back to Basics’ using the text of Exodus 20, otherwise known as, The Ten Commandments.

He left us with much to think about. As my knife cut up potatoes it came to mind that it sure would be nice if all those around us followed those ten basic rules of life especially those in rule over us. Life would be so simple.

Like a prairie grass fire, it has to start some where, so that means in application it must begin at home.

The hottest, windiest day of planting I took some time off to attend a dairy meeting in Orange City. The last six months have been especially hard for them financially. Lots of factors play into it, but you hate to see anyone investing so much time and equity into a business and not make a living.

Before the week’s end, there came news of swine flu. Another dagger into the farming community. Fact is the OIE – The World Organization for Animal Health – says the name swine flu is not justified. To quote “The virus has not been isolated in animals to date. It is not justified to name this disease swine influenza. In the past, many human influenza epidemics with animal origin have been named using their geographic name, eg. Spanish influenza or Asiatic influenza, thus it would be logical to call this disease “North American influenza” This is a virus that has swine, avian and human virus components.

No one does not get it from eating food. It is transmitted by human-to-human contact. The name is damaging and misleading. If people would just washing their hands and stay home when ill, the worst case scenario would never happen.

None the less we see a drop in farm commodity prices, which hopefully will have recovered by the time you read this. The sad result is there will be more consolidation of those who produce our milk, meat and crops. That is something that concerns me immensely, because it hurts to see farm families forced out of business. We all feel our livlihoods are threatened. That is something that concerns me immensely.

Corn and potatoes are planted, the rains have been good for them. The first goose nest is in the process of hatching. There are rays of sunshine, if I look for them.

Vander Schaaf is a Farm News staff writer from northwest Iowa. Reach her by e-mail at renaefarmnews@gmail.com.

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