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The winds of change

Progressive Forage Editor Joy Hendrix Published on 31 January 2020

The barn needed to come down. It hadn’t been trusted to hold anything but memories in years, and the old sheep-hauling trucks inside went out of commission more than 20 years ago.

I’m convinced most producers have a barn like this. If not a barn, then an animal, vehicle, piece of equipment or anything that holds more sentimental value than real value.

The barn I’m referring to sat about 100 yards away from the back door of the farmhouse I was raised in. It was visible from the kitchen windows, and it was a staple in the landscape view of the farm for my entire family.

When my mom called last spring to tell me a strong microburst had struck the barn, leaving it in pieces for miles, I knew there would be something missing next time I looked out that kitchen window.

That weathered red barn with the rusting tin roof was where I would run to see the litter of kittens the barn cat had tucked away in the straw. It was where I would take my friends from school so they could feel the warm breath of the horses on their hands as they used their lips to lift the carrots out of our palms.

The barn hadn’t been used for years by anyone; even the barn cat had found a more suitable nursery for her young, but it was still a bit of a shock when I took a trip home last month and the barn wasn’t there.

I believe what I felt in that moment is pretty similar to what a cattle producer must feel when they walk out to feed the herd the first time after their lifelong favorite isn’t there to greet them, or when a favorite tractor that hasn’t run in several years has to be pulled from the barn to make space for one that starts every time.

All of these events are marks of progress. The genetics of that favorite cow are now even more prevalent in your herd because of her years of producing calves. Replacing that tractor means you have been successful enough to acquire more reliable equipment so you can spend more time in the field rather than trying to get a tractor to start. Even the barn coming down leaves space for a more efficient structure to be built.

Change is needed for progress and innovation, although it can be hard to adjust to. Frank Zybach knew this. Zybach is credited with inventing the center-pivot irrigation system. He saw how inefficient and rigorous the work being put into irrigation could be and realized that to reach efficiency, we would need to innovate.

In May, Zybach will be posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Seventy-two years after he finished the first model of his invention, Zybach will be honored for the innovation he brought to the industry.

I challenge you to think of what changes you could make for progress. Whether it’s a major goal or longtime project you want to start working on or a smaller project like cleaning off a desk that has slowly accumulated all the paperwork you aren’t sure where else to keep, focus on a project and finish it. Progress in any amount is progress.

Acquire this mindset now, so when the winds of change come and blow a barn down, you’ll see it as an opportunity to create something more efficient.  end mark

Joy Hendrix
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