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Editor’s Column – May 6, 2013

So far this spring, with each issue of Grainews I’ve used this space to say something like, “I’m sure the weather will be back in shape before you read this.” But the weather continues to ignore the calendar.

This morning I sent my little boy to kindergarten in a snowsuit — at the end of April! The geese in our dugout are practically frozen in place. They keep looking at each other and glaring. I’m sure the females are thinking, “I told him it was too early to fly north. But would he listen?”

Spring vacation

The only good thing about this unreasonable weather is that it’s given my husband some extra free time this spring. Under normal conditions, I would never have imagined him taking a spring vacation in April. At least not voluntarily.

I didn’t choose the destination for our first (and probably only) April vacation. But Grand Island, Nebraska, turned out to be better than I would have guessed.

My husband had heard that when you buy a new combine and show up at the plant on the right day they’ll let you drive it off the assembly line yourself. But since our combine was scheduled for completion in mid-April, we never dreamed we’d be able to get away. But sure enough — there we were, watching the plant workers put the pieces of the new combine together.

I’ll include a full account of the tour in the next issue of Grainews, but just to start building your interest, here’s a list of four reasons to take your next spring vacation in Nebraska.

1. No warm-weather envy. The plus side of taking your spring vacation in Nebraska is that it doesn’t make you want to stay on holiday forever. If we’d flown to Hawaii and stood on the beach in the hot sun, then come back here to see snow in the yard in April, it would be kind of hard to take. But the weather in Nebraska wasn’t any more co-operative than the weather here. We stood in snow, drove on icy roads, looked at semis in the ditches and wore our winter coats the whole time we were away. It was just like home, but with less colourful money.

2. Factories can be interesting. If my husband had told me in advance that our tour was going to last six hours, I’m not entirely sure he could have dragged me onto the plane. But it was actually really interesting, even for someone that doesn’t know a lot about machinery. I never would have imagined that factory workers would be so friendly, or that the place would be so clean and organized. And I certainly never thought I’d get to take part in a tornado drill. (It’s just like a fire drill, only you get to stay in “safe areas” inside instead of freezing outside in the parking lot while you wait to be counted.)

3. Decorating tips. Regular readers will know that Grainews doesn’t typically focus on home decorating. But when we stopped in at the “From Nebraska Gift Shop” in Lincoln, we saw the counter in the photo at the edge of the store. I’m not sure I know any farmers who wouldn’t want to set up a bar like this in their basement. All you’ll need is a granary sheet, some wood for the top and half a day to put it together.

4. Getting away from it all. Sure, we were looking at machinery and driving by irrigation pipes the entire time we were away. But it was still good to get a break from our own weather worries for a few days before spring seeding finally gets underway.

Dust ups over “Dust Up”

In the April 1 issue of Grainews we ran a story about Brennan Jardine, a commercial aerial sprayer at Nipawin, Sask.

The article said that “Dust Up,” a reality TV-show featuring Brennan Jardine and his father also included his “cousin” Travis Karle. In fact, Travis Karle is not Brennan’s cousin. Travis is a competitor, another aerial sprayer in the area. I should have known better — my husband and I really enjoyed watching this show on the History Channel, and have been hoping it would come back for a second season.

The article also included a quote from the publicity material for the show: “These crop-gun pilots buzz inches above the fields — dodging trees and telephone wires — to deliver their payloads while entertaining roadside audiences with their death-defying feats.”

After the article ran, I had an email from Al Alix, a retired SaskPower employee who now farms near Moose Jaw and is a regular Grainews reader. Al said, “In Saskatchewan, there hasn’t been any overhead telephone wires for 30 plus years. The wires they’re dodging are power wires, which are much larger and stronger then any telephone wire ever were.” Good point Al! I’m always pleased when readers are paying attention.

Elaine Froese

All of us at Grainews are very proud of our regular contributor Elaine Froese. The Women Business Owners of Manitoba have named Elaine as a finalist for their 2013 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

This is Elaine’s 10th year as a certified farm family coach and conflict-resolution specialist, and her 18th year writing for Grainews (yes, that’s 18 years)! She’s a popular conference speaker, and has also written two books: “Planting the Seed of Hope,” and “Do the Tough Things Right: how to prevent communication disasters in business.”

Elaine is not afraid to tackle the tricky side of agriculture. While the topics we write about in the front pages of Grainews — deciding which fungicide to use, buying a new tractor, or figuring out what seed to plant — are very important, the topics that Elaine tackles can have an even bigger impact on your farm in the long run.

Thanks, Elaine, for all of the wisdom and advice you’ve provided for our readers over the years.

In this issue

This is our bug-focused issue. Field editor Lisa Guenther has put together a great roundup of pests to watch for farmers in different regions across the Prairies. After last year’s surprise aster yellows outbreak, we’ve all learned that there’s really no way to know what fresh problems we’re going to be dealing with this summer, but Lisa’s article is a good place to start.

Here’s hoping that it’s finally time for all of us to get out into the field. †

Leeann

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