The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.


'Election Time'

10-22-2018 Column

Less than two weeks left! Soon we can stop hearing about how bad every candidate is for us. I feel like a teacher separating an elementary recess scuffle when the students start to blame the other for their actions. Enough already!

Instead of how bad the other candidate is, how about what you have going for you to do a good job? Just a thought. At least we won’t be swamped with TV ads.

No time. We are back in the fields again.

The fields have dried out and the crops have dried down. We are in harvest mode.

Our custom combiner called us during church on Sunday to say he was able to fit us in later that morning. We scrambled to pull grain wagons to the fields to capture the soybean harvest.

With prices dropping, (This was in 2018), we have opted to store the beans for now. This is our first time storing beans, so there is a learning curve.

Austin and Mark have been questioning the yields. Much better than expected with all of the problems we had over the growing season from white mold, weeds and aphids. Sometimes things just have a way of working out. It will be interesting to see where the corn yields end up.

While we were waiting to get back in the fields, it left us with some time to catch up on other projects. On warmer days, Mark was pressure washing the chopper and haybine for winter storage.

I happened to be in the office when a call came in from a student at St. Cloud State University conducting a political survey.

Now, I really like to answer survey questions if they are done well. One of my college classes was about surveys, questions and purpose. I recognize when some survey questions are skewed to get a predetermined answer to support a particular purpose. I can really mess them up. This poor college student didn’t know what hit him. I would point out other answer options than the ones he listed. He had to go to his supervisor a couple of times for clarifications. My favorite question he asked was: “who would make a better leader in government? A woman or a man?” I just started to giggle and pointed out a third option. Good leadership is not based on gender. Good leadership is based on character and experiences.

A good leader also surrounds themselves with a good support staff. My question to candidates is, who is on your staff?

Who is going to read the entire farm bill and give you the Cliff notes version? Let’s face it. There is no way any legislator can read all 700+ pages of a single bill and understand everything in it. That is why they have staffers who specialize in certain areas.

When ag groups lobby Washington, it isn’t to just talk with the Senator. Of course they will have their pictures taken to prove to each other that they met.

The real person to talk with is their ag liaison. This is the person studying the entire bill. This is the person who is whispering in the ear of the Senator.

We do discuss politics around our table with no major fights. No one belongs to a single party but we do have favorite candidates we support.

My Dad said he was a Democrat just because my Mom’s family was blue blood Republicans. He liked to stir things up at the holiday table for fun.

Some of my great uncles would take the bait and Dad’s face would light up. He hooked a live one and the race was on.

Sometimes we even combine politics with naming our calves. When we name calves, it is a moment in time captured and then forgotten until two years later when she walks in the barn.

When we look up her name, we scratch our heads and wonder, “Why in world did we name her that?” ...forgetting that two years earlier it was such a cute and hilarious play on words.

The name can follow a certain letter or combination of letters for the cow family. It can also follow a theme. Case in point. All of Christmas Fudge’s daughters’ names started with the letter “F”. Well there are only so many “F” words you can use, so we started to get creative with the following generations.

The line went as such: Fudge, Fireball, Firestone, Flame, Flicker and Fire. You get the picture.

When it was time to breed Fire, Mark used a bull named Trump. We had no idea of what was to come. In January of 2016, Fire had a Trump heifer calf. The Republican party had so many presidential candidates running that year, including a TV reality show host with a catch phrase. We couldn’t resist. So we named her Ralma Trump Your Fired. We thought there was no way Trump would get the party endorsement. It was so funny. Two years later, Trump is President and Your Fired walks in the barn after calving with a bull calf. A few months later, she was fired for not living up to expectations. She took a trailer ride to Long Prairie Packing.

I know Election Day is right in the middle of the harvest season, but take a moment to go vote. This is not a test with right or wrong answers but this is a test of our democratic system. We all need to participate in order to keep it working.

Let the countdown begin to the end of the campaigning and to the start of working for the good of all. 10…9….8….7…


As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota. (Natalie grew up in Stronghurst, the daughter of Becky and the late Larry Dowell.)