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BOTTOM LINE Thursday, April 16, 2020 SECTION E

Sharing ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.

Apply #WeanClean philosophy to calves THERESA OLLIVETT

Without a doubt weaning is a stressful time for young dairy calves. They undergo changes to their diet as well as changes in their housing and social interactions. They may also be exposed to a variety of processing interventions. If respiratory disease isn’t prevented, a large number of calves will subsequently experience chronic pneumonia, typically in a subclinical manner. That affects performance and becomes a welfare issue. Calf-care managers should care for young dairy calves with the goal of minimizing the incidence of pneumonia during the pre-weaning period and maximizing each calf’s response to treatment. By doing so we can limit the number of calves that will need to undergo weaning with abnormal and unhealthy lungs. The #WeanClean™ philosophy presupposes that calves with normal lungs – healthy and ultrasonographically clean – will maintain growth during weaning. They will be less likely to require antibiotics for clinical pneumonia after weaning. To maximize every calf’s potential to transition through weaning with clean and healthy lungs, managers need to focus on calf-management aspects that are critical for preventing pneumonia. Provide fresh air, avoid over-crowding and ensure early antibiotic treatment to prevent pneumonia as well as increase probability of a satisfactory response to treatment. Keep in mind there is a significant link between gut health and respiratory health. That means all the management strategies employed to sustain optimal gut health and reduce scours also help reduce pneumonia – and potentially how

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN

Dr. Theresa Ollivett, veterinarian, checks an ultrasound monitor while assessing the lungs of a calf. well each calf responds to treatment for respiratory disease. Several management strategies are critical.  clean and dry maternity area  clean and disinfected housing and feeding equipment  clean and dry bedding that allows for nesting  passive transfer of maternal antibodies  excellent-quality nutrition including milk, grain and water  limited contact with older calves and adults The best way to know if treatment and prevention practices

are adequate and that calves are weaning with healthy and clean lungs is by working with a veterinarian to implement the fourpoint lung-ultrasound strategy of #WeanClean.  Determine how many have pneumonia at the start of weaning. The goal is less than 15 percent.  At the start of treatment consider how many have severe pneumonia when first treated. The goal is less than 15 percent.  At seven to 10 days after treatment consider how many still have pneumonia after the first

treatment. The goal is less than 15 percent.  Do “12x7” scans. Starting at seven days of age, scan 12 calves at seven-day intervals to determine the greater-risk age group. The first three steps serve to indicate if and why too many calves are weaning with abnormal lungs. If too many calves are weaning with pneumonia it means they weren’t treated or they didn’t respond to treatment. If too many calves have severe pneumonia when they’re treated for the first time with an antibiotic it suggests managers aren’t

spending enough time observing for calves that are most likely to contract pneumonia. It could also mean managers aren’t recognizing early signs of clinical respiratory disease. When too many calves still have pneumonia after a first treatment, assessments should be made regarding drug application. Perhaps the correct antibiotic was given but administered too late. Or maybe the correct antibiotic was given at the wrong dosage, duration or frequency. It’s also possible the wrong type of antibiotic was used based on the pathogen causing the pneumonia. For instance mycoplasma bovis is not affected by penicillin or ceftiofur-type antibiotics due to its cellular structure. Mannheimia haemolytica, another common cause of bacterial pneumonia, occasionally appears in the form of resistant strains. The last step of the four-point #WeanClean strategy is the “12x7” scanning. It helps determine the calves most likely to contract pneumonia; that can differ from farm to farm. The information can be used to train calf managers to focus on the correct calves to improve their ability to detect and treat early. In addition the fourth step can be used to establish routine weekly scans of greater-risk calves to treat them before clinical signs develop. Pneumonia in young dairy calves is sneaky. Implementing a #WeanClean philosophy will help calf-care managers quantify lung health and build the necessary framework for troubleshooting problem areas in the herd. Dr. Theresa Ollivett, veterinarian, is an assistant professor at University of Wisconsin-School of Veterinary Medicine. Email theresa.ollivett@ wisc.edu to reach her.

Control hoof health with teamwork, monitoring, recordkeeping

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eamwork, monitoring and recordkeeping are all important pieces of maintaining good hoof health and preventing lameness on dairy farms. A dairy farmer should be working with his or her entire team, including nutritionist, hoof trimGERARD mer, veterinarian CRAMER and others. We all see lameness as an impediment to progress and sustainability for a dairy. Digital dermatitis is one of the most common issues causing

Protect water quality with efficiency

lameness. Fortunately it’s one of the easiest of all foot diseases to control. The keys are to focus on heifers, use footbaths frequently and to treat appropriately. It’s a lifelong infection. We want to prevent it as much as possible because an animal will have it for life. At that point our goal is not to cure, but to control it to a degree that we can manage and maintain the animal in the herd. Intervention and control strategies should begin with heifers. If there’s no digital dermatitis in heifers pre-calving, the majority of them will remain clear in the lactation following calving. But if a heifer has multiple cases

before calving, the likelihood of digital dermatitis is much more. In treating digital dermatitis, the primary goal is to reduce pain as soon as possible using the appropriate products responsibly at the smallest possible dose of antibacterials such as tetracycline. A number of products are available on the market. Review laboratory tests and discuss potential efficacy with a veterinarian before using any new products. Collecting data on incidence and severity of digital dermatitis as well as other hoof-health issues is another key factor in hoof health. The use of footbaths for

increased incidences of digital dermatitis will bring cases to a more-controlled level. Timing of footbaths depends on a farm’s goals, which products a producer uses and the hygiene on the dairy. Use a “dial-up” approach to run the footbath as frequently as needed to reach the level of digital dermatitis desired on a farm. After that look at ways to reduce costs with fewer or different products as appropriate. Footbaths should be at least 10 to 12 feet long with 24-inch-tall sides to control splashing. The goal with a longer footbath is to increase contact time for cows as they are walking through.

To prevent corkscrew hoofs and sole ulcers routine monitoring and maintenance hoof trimming is important, especially for animals at greater risk. The goal should be to systematically monitor the herd to catch and find lame cows every one to two weeks. There should be someone in charge at every dairy whose job it is to monitor cows for lameness and hoof-health problems. Dr. Gerard Cramer, veterinarian, is an associate professor at University of Minnesota-College of Veterinary Medicine. Email gcramer@umn.edu to reach him.

“... more routine use, better results.” — Matt Nealy

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eveloping a nitrogen-management plan can be a challenge for farmers. They must factor in the dynamic nature of the nitrogen cycle, variable weather conditions, and contradicting messages from public and private sectors about appropriate nitrogen rates. Farmers are facing increasing fertilizer costs and scrutiny to decrease nitrate leaching. So ABBY AUGARTEN it’s important to improve nitrogen-application strategies for increased efficiency and protection of water quality. There are many complexities associated with nitrogen cycling. Using an onfarm nitrogen-assessment tool such as “Nitrogen-Use Efficiency” allows producers to evaluate nitrogen use for their specific systems and soils. University of Wisconsin-Discovery Farms has been collaborating with

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Please see AUGARTEN, Page E2

NEALAND FARMS NEWVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA The Nealy family 400 cows: 92 lbs/cow/day 100,000 SCC “What I like best about Udder Comfort™ is really two things that are related: The removal of swelling and how it helps with cell counts. Since installing the Udder Comfort Spray Gun 2 years ago, we use it more routinely with fresh cows because it is easy and fast to grab the gun and spray it on. The spray gun is more efficient, using 30 to 50% less spray per application. With more routine use, we get even better results, consistently lower SCCs, now averaging 100,000, and savings at the same time,” says Matt Nealy.

Matt is the ‘cow guy.’ He and his father Steve, cousin Tommy and uncle Tom operate the third generation Nealand Farms, milking 400 cows near Newville, Pennsylvania. “Udder Comfort is something we don’t cut when times are tough. Getting the swelling out faster means better milkouts earlier and higher quality milk. In addition to doing every fresh cow for a week, we mark our high-count cows on DHIA and do them too. We tried the knock-offs, but they don’t work. Udder Comfort works.”

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BOTTOM LINE Thursday, April 16, 2020 E2

Sharing ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.

PDPW: Who we are

Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW) is Dairy's Professional Development Organization®. With a vision to lead the success of the dairy industry through education, our mission is to share ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.

PDPW board members elected Thanks to all the Professional Dairy Producers® members who cast ballots for the 2020-2021 PDPW Board of Directors. The nine-member board is comprised of active dairy producers who lead and serve on behalf of their fellow dairy farmers. As a leadership board they

PDPW Board of Directors President Jay Heeg Colby, Wis. 715-507-0030 jcheeg@yahoo.com Vice President Katy Schultz Fox Lake, Wis. 920-210-9661 katylschultz@gmail.com

guide best-in-class education, grow key stakeholder relationships, and advise through committees to enhance unified outreach on matters critical to the dairy industry, to rural communities and beyond. They also serve in leadership positions in other industry organizations as well as within their

local communities. They are a vital part of the strength and success of Professional Dairy Producers. Thanks for that willingness to serve, board members. Each re-elected to a three-year term are Wisconsin incumbents Andy Buttles of Lancaster, Steven Orth of Cleveland and Katy

Schultz of Fox Lake. Other Wisconsin board members are Janet Clark of Rosendale, Ken Feltz of Stevens Point, John Haag of Dane, Jay Heeg of Colby and Corey Hodorff of Eden, along with Dan Scheider of Freeport, Illinois.

ciency provide a realistic assessment tool to help farmers evaluate current nitrogen-management practices. An individual producer can calculate Nitrogen-Use Efficiency for his or her field, and compare that value to Wisconsin benchmarks. The producer can then refer to decision trees to determine if shifts in management would translate to improvements in profitability and water quality. The first step in assessing nitrogen management is to evaluate partial-factor productivity on a field. Partial-factor productivity is yield divided by applied nitrogen. It considers how much the field produced at a given nitrogen rate. Producers with fields with reduced efficiencies have an economic incentive to improve Nitrogen-Use Efficiency. They also need to decrease the risk to water quality. Fields with the least Nitrogen-Use Efficiency

typically have greater nitrogen balance. Nitrogen balance – nitrogen applied minus nitrogen removed – measures the amount of unused nitrogen in a system. Some nitrogen will be lost to volatilization, denitrification and ammonia loss. But the main pathway of nitrogen loss is through nitrate leaching. Therefore nitrogen balance is a good indicator of potentially leachable nitrogen. It’s also a valuable calculation to assess the impact of nitrogen applications on water quality. Fields with partial-factor productivity metrics less than the median of 1.3 bushels per pound of nitrogen can benefit from adjustments to nitrogen management for both profitability and water quality. Within the UW-Discovery Farms dataset, major contributors to reduced-use efficiencies were analyzed and suggestions to fine-tune management

were made. By utilizing the decision tree, producers with reduced Nitrogen-Use Efficiency can determine what the main contributors were to their specific field’s lesser efficiency and what appropriate shifts in management could be. By measuring partial-factor productivity a producer can learn the efficiency category based on Wisconsin-specific benchmarks, understand potential water-quality impacts and determine if shifts in management are appropriate. Visit www.uwdiscoveryfarms.org and search for “nitrogen use“ – the search is under the menu bars – for more information. The next stage of the UW-Discovery Farms Nitrogen-Use Efficiency Project aims to focus research efforts on whether certain management practices can decrease potentially leachable nitrogen. It will assess how to connect potentially leachable nitrogen to real nitrogen losses through groundwater monitoring. The project will offer opportunities for farmers, UW-Division of Extension county educators, land and water conservationists, producer-led groups and others to develop solutions for Wisconsin’s agricultural and water-quality challenges. The research of UW-Discovery Farms is meant to be shared. Subscribe at www.uwdiscoveryfarms.org to stay current on UW-Discovery Farms events and resources.

Secretary Dan Scheider Freeport, Ill. 815-812-4012 dnscheider@gmail.com Treasurer Janet Clark Rosendale, Wis. 608-341-6709 vafarmsllc@hotmail.com Directors Andy Buttles Lancaster, Wis. 608-723-4712 stonefront@tds.net Ken Feltz Stevens Point, Wis. 715-570-6390 feltzfarms@hotmail.com John Haag Dane, Wis. 608-576-0812 jahaag5@gmail.com

ABOVE: Fields with partial-factor productivity metrics in the reduceduse and reducedto-medium-use efficiency categories have greater nitrogen balances and pose a greater risk to water quality.

Corey Hodorff Eden, Wis. 920-602-6449 corey@secondlookholsteins.com Steven Orth Cleveland, Wis. 920-905-2575 orthlanddairy@gmail.com

PDPW Advisers

Jim Barmore GPS Dairy Consulting Verona, Wis. jmbarmore@gpsdairy.com

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN

Paul Fricke UW-Madison Dairy Science Madison, Wis. pmfricke@wisc.edu Kurt Petik Rabo AgriFinance Fond du Lac, Wis. kurt.petik@raboag.com Andrew Skwor MSA Professional Services Baraboo, Wis. askwor@msa-ps.com

www.pdpw.org mail@pdpw.org 800-947-7379

Fields with partial-factor productivity metrics less than the median of 1.3 bushels per pound of nitrogen can benefit from adjustments to nitrogen management.

Augarten From E1

farmers since 2015 to conduct on-farm nitrogen assessments to better understand Nitrogen-Use Efficiency and potentially leachable nitrogen. With five growing seasons of data collection and 300 fields in the Discovery Farms Nitrogen-Use Efficiency database, benchmarks have been established for various Nitrogen-Use Efficiency categories. They range from limited to greater-use efficiency. Visit bit.ly/2R0XV8n for more information. Given the diversity of Wisconsin’s soils, landscapes and systems – and the prevalence of manure and legumes as a nitrogen source – Wisconsin-specific benchmarks of Nitrogen-Use Effi-

Twohig Rietbrock Schneider & Halbach “Attorneys for Agriculture” (920) 849 - 4999 Legal, business and planning solutions for Wisconsin’s farms and agribusinesses.

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Thursday, April 16, 2020 | E3

LEGALLY SPEAKING

Consider implications of another entity ‌D

ear George: Q: My husband and I are considering diversifying our dairy by adding another entity to the operation; we really want to create additional revenue. What are the legal implications we should keep in mind as we pursue our options? A: While most of our clients believe farm sucGEORGE cess requires the TWOHIG investment of time, effort and financial resources exclusively in that entity, some have added a second business just as you’re considering. With the goal of increasing net income – or to take advantage of the skills of family members and employ-

day-care kennels, or serve as wedding and event venues. Prior to adding any secondary business you must be confident the business will result in increased profits and net cash flow. It needs to be enough to offset the loss of time and resources that would otherwise have been invested in the farming operation. You should also consult with other farmers who have already started a similar business to better understand the risks, complexities, demands and results they experienced. From a legal perspective, a CONTRIBUTED‌ secondary business will create a variety of new legal and liability Custom harvesting is one of many possible add-on businesses that producers can consider concerns. Legal structure – Generally manure-hauling, custom-plant- farm sales of ice cream, cheese, ees – some of our clients have a secondary business should added businesses like seed sales ing, custom-spraying, fertilizing meat and other farm products. Some participate in farmers and/or harvesting services. We or other direct-to-farm sales. markets. Others provide dog also have those who offer onOthers have launched trucking, Please see TWOHIG, Page E4

New volatility needs diligent managing

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he agricultural industry has a long-held perspective that working in the business means facing risks beyond one’s control. For decades those risks primarily included weather, the price received for milk, and operating expenses such as inputs, labor and supplies. TIM BAUMGARTNER Through time some of those risks have been addressed and abated. Crop-insurance programs released in the early 2000s helped agricultural producers offset the risk of weather-related events. Increased focus in management areas compelled astute producers to focus on strategies such as better employee relations, increased retention rates and enhanced farm productivity to offset rising hourly labor costs. New technologies in crop genetics and machinery have boosted efficiency and milk productivity to increase profitability. Many of those areas were once thought beyond one’s control, but producers now have ways to effectively manage and bring about at least some degree of certainty. During the past five years there has been a level of volatility in milk prices that has surpassed expectations. Optimistic forecasts came and went without materializing. A long-overdue surge in prices was expected to last an extended period of time – only to collapse with the advent of COVID-19. While no one can say with any certainty how long the current pandemic will last or what will happen with prices, producers do have tools to protect their businesses. Tools exist like Dairy Margin Coverage, Dairy Revenue Protection and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to protect prices and manage margins. They are more effective than the tools available to previous generations of producers. Wisconsin producers enjoy the availability of a strong well-blended infrastructure of academia, a network of professional vendors and suppliers, and a processing capacity unmatched in other areas of the country. For long-term viability risk-mitigation tools need to be employed to ensure the success of farms of all sizes. In the past producers who did an exceptional job of taking care of their cows, crops and land could be reasonably assured of success in the dairy industry. Now the rules are different. It’s not just about managing the cows, crops and land. Management also encompasses working with employees and farm consultants, and wisely handling external relationships and prices, capital and technology. A risk-management plan needs the same level

of ongoing monitoring, diligence and attention as that given a newborn calf. Volatility swings in markets have been too large to ignore; being prepared with a sound management strategy provides the opportunity to weather a catastrophic event. Professionals in the industry are available to advise and assist in decision-making;

they have a vested interest in each operation’s success. Producers should reach out to advisers who can counsel them as to which available resources make the most sense for them. Keep in mind many programs and support systems are presently being developed and will continue to be unveiled. For those

who don’t have an active risk-management plan in place, there’s no better time to start than right now. Tim Baumgartner is a dairylending-team leader at Compeer Financial, a vision sponsor of PDPW.

CONTRIBUTED‌

The volatility of milk prices requires new management techniques.

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PDPW

| THURSDAY, APRIL 16, 2020

Twohig

employees, equipment and facilities. There must also be written contracts From E3 between the new business, and the purchasers of its be operated as a separate products and services. limited-liability corporaTax considerations tion, or as a corporation, – Almost all farmers have for tax and liability purposes. Sometimes it’s best their LLC taxed as a sole proprietorship or partnerto separate the management and equity sharing in ship so reportable income, the new business from that losses and depreciation pass through to the memof the farm. The new enber or members. Most tity may be owned by the farm LLC, by its members often a new business will or any combination of the also operate as an LLC with its tax incidences members. It depends on management goals and the passing through to its member or members. But vision of how the equity should be transferred from if the new business has the new business activity. limited depreciable assets and anticipated taxable Limited liability – You’ll want to determine if income, a farmer may existing liability insurance instead elect to have the LLC taxed as a “C” or “S” policies cover the new corporation. For example business and its activities the new business may – and provides the covbenefit from a corporaerage needed. Most farm tion tax election if it has policies cover only the activities of the farm busi- substantial inventory to account for its income and ness and may not extend to a secondary business. A expenses under the acnew business involving the crual method. That would sale of products may need account for income and product liability insurance expenses when incurred, versus when received to cover claims of injury under the cash method. or damage by the product The new business may be purchaser. To maintain required to comply with limited liability, the farm and the new business must Wisconsin sales-and-use tax laws if it’s involved in be operated as separate the sale of products or cerbusinesses. They must tain services. have separate books, reWorkers compensacords, financial accounts, tion – The new business inter-company leases of

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PEOPLE PERSPECTIVE

may be required to comply with employment laws that differ from a farm’s operations. For instance a farmer generally must obtain workers-compensation insurance if they have six or more employees working on the same day for 20 days during a calendar year, consecutive or non-consecutive. But depending on the nature of the new business, it may be required to obtain workers-compensation insurance if it employs as few as three or more parttime employees. Overtime – Wisconsin agricultural employers are not generally required to pay overtime compensation to agricultural workers if they are directly involved in agriculture – or if the employment services provided by the employee are incidental to or in conjunction with the farming operation. To the extent the new business operation is not considered farming or incidental to farming, the farmer must comply with overtime requirements. That would be true even if the employee provides employment services in both the farming operation and new business. For example if in a week an employee worked 40 hours in the dairy operation and 15 hours in a farmer’s separate custom-cropping business, the employee would be entitled to time and a half for the 15 hours of overtime.

CONTRIBUTED

Without firm foundations both people and houses lose strength and future possibilities.

Build firm foundations for future

T

George Twohig is a partner and attorney at Twohig, Rietbrock, Schneider & Halbach S.C. in Chilton, Wisconsin; the firm focuses on agriculture and agri-business. Contact george@twohiglaw.com for more information.

house … well to this day it triggers the strongest of memories. The floors were all hardwood and in surprisingly good shape, at least compared to the rest of the house. But because of the foundation there was a significant slope to the floor, especially in the living room. Once a week we would need to move the furniture back against the wall on the uphill side of the room because it would slowly slide downhill across the room. What’s significant about this story is the importance of a firm foundation. We were the last people ever to live in that house. The poor foundation led to so many structural problems the house could not be repaired without addressing its foundation. So instead

know how many memories would be forever planted within us because of it. That old brick house had three floors, including a basement that could only be accessed from the outside. We never opened those basement doors for fear of what we’d find in there. Most of the windows on the third floor were broken. We didn’t really need any of those rooms anyway, and it made for some good bird hunting. Our living quarters were confined to the first floor, which was not really in that bad of shape – especially when compared to the rest of the house. Because of its poor foundation, the old house had many problems. The walls were full of cracks; the windows were no longer square and leaked as a result. The floor in that

he strength and longevity of a building is entirely dependent on its foundation. When my wife, Pam, and I were first married more than 37 years ago we moved into our first HANK house. We WAGNER were eager to start our new journey together; the thought of moving into our own house was exciting. The house wasn’t really ours; it was included as part of the employment package from the farm for which I was working. But we still looked at it as our place. We put our pictures on the wall, our clothes in the closets and our limited furniture in the rooms. Our first house was one of a kind. Little did we

Please see WAGNER, Page E5

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THURSDAY, APRIL 16, 2020 |

E5

FROM THE WOODLOT GREG GALBRAITH

Syrup lore reaches across years T

he history of my woodlot syrup shack began with my grandfather cooking syrup in a stone cooker, with cement chinking holding the stones in place. He’d watch the pan while sitting in an old abandoned Plymouth – smoking his corn-cob pipe with his black-andtan dachshund Smokey on his lap. As the years passed he gave up tobacco and Smokey went to the “happy hunting grounds in the sky,” as my grandfather would say. It wasn’t long before he had another dachshund to replace Smokey as his companion during syrup time – the new one named Schneider, an all-brown model. After my grandfather died my uncle built a dandy syrup shack next to where the old Plymouth sat. He upscaled production to 300 trees and cooked in an evaporator inside the shack. He was a scientific man who I’d bet used physics and calculus to design certain aspects of his evaporator. The flue in particular had a series of pulleys that allowed him to raise it to the peak of the hip-roofed shack from the shed floor. He also mapped the maples in the woodlot and kept a log of refractometer readings that measured the sugar content of each tree. He gave some of the trees names. My cousin told me, “Dad didn’t tap for the science. When he was in the woods he felt close to his own dad, to his past, to friends and family.”

When he died the evaporator was eventually sold, leaving a vacancy that can never be replaced. Now I’m the owner. I use the sugar shack for my woodworking shop and storing my small-scale syrup-making equipment along with remnants from the farm I recently sold. This year I retired the large unwieldy pan my grandfather fabricated to downsize to a 2-foot by 3-foot by 7.5-inch-deep stainless pan perfectly sized for tapping 40 maple trees. I had plenty of syrup after making two early batches. But with trying to practice social distance I thought the woods was the best place to be, so I went ahead and made a third batch. I’m always looking for an excuse to go to the woodlot – and now I have one in COVID-19. I guess that’s taking “looking on the bright side” to a new level. It was March 24 when I stood watching the boiling sap with a ruralite neighbor and lifelong township resident. We were being mindful and staying a good 6 feet apart. The fire began to fade a touch. “You need one of those iron rods with a hook on the end,” my neighbor suggested. “Everyone had one; I bet there’s one in your shack.” After knocking around in there for a year I didn’t specifically recall seeing one, but I hadn’t explored all the various hand-tooled relics such as the adzes and canthooks that lined the walls. Sure enough a nice fire iron

Wagner

relationships molded our individual character traits, morals and values that are From E4 firmly planted. Like that old house each of being repaired it was of us probably has cracks demolished. The story relates to all of and leaks in our lives that us – and our foundations. aren’t bringing forth the Every one of us has a foun- positive outcomes we desire. We may be frantically dation that is comprised of personal habits, beliefs, attempting to repair or handle certain problems thinking patterns, expecand challenges only to see tations, and a past that them repeated again and influences both present again. As was the case with and future more than we may realize. While growing that old house, we’ll discover that if we don’t make we were each impacted the investment in ourselves by parents, other family members, teachers, class- to fix our foundation first – or establish a solid one mates, friends, enemies from the outset – we may and innumerable other be tempted to quit trying. relationships that estabAccess to sound advice is lished what would become available all around us; seek personal foundations. information on developing Whether good or bad, skills and serving others. our prior experiences and

GREG GALBRAITH PHOTOS, FOR AGRI-VIEW

A 90-degree bend on the end of a fire iron allows Greg Galbraith to draw coals and burning wood back toward the opening of the firebox.

My hope is that in some small way I’m keeping this agrarianthemed culture alive by being a participant.

Conversation around wood smoke and sap steam are an element of rural culture worthy of preservation.

A fire iron is a simple tool that can be found hanging on almost any syrup-shack wall. was on a wall stud, hanging from a 20-penny nail. It was sturdy with a nice handle and a 90-degree bend

Listen to a podcast, watch a YouTube video, read a book or call a mentor. Each of us needs to surround ourselves with resources to strengthen that foundation. Be willing to consider the foundation’s value. It’s impacting each of us as well as all those around us – not just now but for generations to come. Hank Wagner is a dairy producer and a John Maxwell Team teacher, mentor, speaker and coach. To learn more about nurturing thankfulness, consider reading Hank’s book “Teachable Moments: Lessons from Africa.” It’s available online at amazon.com and at most book stores. Contact hwagner@ frontiernet.net for more information.

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on the end. My neighbor gave me a quick schooling for using it. It’s particularly handy for dragging coals

and wood back toward the opening of the fire box. “That way you get a nice even boil of sap along the entire length of the pan,” he said. He swept his arm across the length of my pan to emphasize his point. It worked like a charm. Earlier we had discussed how well the sap was running despite the fact that the temperature was just a tick warmer than freezing, at 34 degrees. “It’s the west wind,” he said. “The canopy is swaying just enough to cause a vacuum effect. It draws the

sap up through the trees.” It seems every year during syrup season such discussions occur over a pan of boiling sap. My hope is that in some small way I’m keeping this agrarian-themed culture alive by being a participant. There’s unmeasurable worth in such exchanges ignited by glowing coals and the sweet steam rising from the sap pan to disappear into the sky above the woodlot. It serves to maintain a connection to those who’ve gone on before us in ways as small as running one’s hands across the patina on a forgotten hand-forged tool made by an ancestor. Greg Galbraith and his wife, Wendy, sold their dairy farm after 30 years of grazing cattle. He now has 20 acres of his grandfather’s original farm with a sugar bush and cabin. From there he writes about the evolving rural landscape. Visit www. poeticfarmer.com for more information.

Are we missing something? Let us know topics or stories you would like us to include. Email agriview@madison.com with ideas!

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