Adding some nesting to our boomer mentalities

By Jim Van Der Pol, Kerkhoven, Minnesota — The telemarketer who was trying to convince me that I could “earn” a 90% return to a play on the stock market was surprised to hear that I didn’t deal with criminals. He was so surprised to hear this that he hung on long enough to hear me say that I made my living by working for it, rather than trying to cheat someone else out of it.

Telemarketers, who pop up about three per day on our two phone lines, are closely related to the mosquito in my view. Being a human invention, they may in fact be worse. If we think in Christian terms, we have to reckon with the knowledge that the mosquito is part of God’s creation, and that therefore He is well pleased with it even if we are not. Continue reading “Adding some nesting to our boomer mentalities”

Making do at the end of the easy oil era

By Joel McNair, Belleville, Wisconsin — Talk of $200 per barrel crude oil and seven-dollar per gallon gasoline grabs headlines and earns sound bites, and indeed these things may be reality sooner rather than later. Or they may not.

History and common sense tell us the current oil price trend line will not continue unabated. My own guess, shared by others but still mainly conjecture, is that a severe global economic slowdown created by a nasty combination of U.S. fiscal problems and entwined energy/food price inflation will depress oil demand over the next few years. U.S. use is already dropping, and the rapid pace of growth in India and China will be slowed, although probably not reversed. Continue reading “Making do at the end of the easy oil era”

To succeed, we must plan for seven generations

By Jim Van Der Pol, Kerkhoven, Minnesota — This is the fifth and final column of a series on my thoughts on the impacts our farms and businesses may have upon our families, the communities in which they are located, and ultimately upon the world at large. I started with an illustration of a deflected arrow, went on to talk about our farms and our children, then about labor and technology, value-added farm product-based businesses, and learning to do business with our friends.

This piece is last because I put it off. It is the most intimidating of all, because in it I will try to convince you that all of these things are possible. It is necessarily then about attitude, about core belief, be it philosophy or religion; that is, about how we view ourselves and our place in the universe. Continue reading “To succeed, we must plan for seven generations”

Our hope lies with the ‘one degree deflection’

By Jim Van Der Pol, Kerkhoven, Minnesota — Joel has challenged me to begin to think and write about a better and more satisfying life on our farms and in our rural communities. So this and several columns to follow will assume that we all pretty much know the problems, that we as farmers, graziers and Americans live every day in the midst of the damage and could benefit from encouragement to talk together about another direction in our lives and businesses.

This encouragement I will attempt to provide, but there is an important caveat. We live and farm in a powerful national and nationalizing economy that will not take kindly to any kind of real change, and has immense power to block change. Much of this power inheres in the wants, desires, and thoughts of our own minds, so that we tend to enable this powerful economic structure while it sucks the wealth out of our communities and the satisfaction from our lives. Continue reading “Our hope lies with the ‘one degree deflection’”

Too much ‘cheaper,’ not enough ‘better’

By Jim Van Der Pol, Kerkhoven, Minnesota — I have been thinking about the poster the Kerkhoven blacksmith had hanging on the wall a half century ago, when I would follow Dad everywhere. This was in the mid-’50s, when blacksmiths were still called that, in part because they were not at that time so very far away from shoeing horses. But the horse I noticed was the one on the poster. It was just a line drawing of a horse with its tail raised and a steaming pile of fresh manure on the ground below. Below was inscribed this thought:

Buying quality is like buying oats.

You can buy fresh clean oats for which you will need to pay a fair price.

Or you can buy oats that have already been through the horse.

That comes a lot cheaper. Continue reading “Too much ‘cheaper,’ not enough ‘better’”

Our pursuit of success vs. our boys

By Jim Van Der Pol, Kerkhoven, Minnesota — We are not doing so well with our boys. I know this because I used to be one. Statistics says that boys are twice as likely as girls to suffer and die from physical abuse. They are four times as likely as girls to commit suicide. Learning disabled boys outnumber girls, two-to-one.

Simple observation tells us that most boys reach manhood able to express one emotion only, that being anger. Half of all marriages fail, and in far too many of those failed marriages, the man walks away from the children. Our incarceration rates are now approaching seven per thousand of population, up from a mere one per thousand just 30 years ago. The large majority of prisoners are male. Prison building is our other growth industry along with the construction of suburban McMansions. We have a big problem. Continue reading “Our pursuit of success vs. our boys”