Tag Archives: tractors

It Goes Both Ways

Our trip to Brazil with the AFBF PAL Class 7 has shown us a lot of different things. There are numerous similarities between our two countries: land size, diversity of crops raised in different regions, the feeling of being over regulated. But one critical lesson learned was, despite our similarities, there are differences in the two countries and cultures from which both countries can learn.

It Goes Both Ways - PAL Class 7 Outside John DeereOn our last day in Sao Paolo, we spent the day with John Deere, a very recognizable name at home in the U.S. At their corporate offices in Indiatuba, we met with Greg Christensen, an Iowa native who has seen the benefits of going outside his comfort zone and working for his employer in a foreign country. Though not fluent in Portuguese, Greg is thriving in this foreign environment. Most international companies, like John Deere, require upper level managers to speak English, making the transition easier for Greg. He’s been able to pick up enough Portuguese to order us the delicious lunch we ate while visiting John Deere, but more importantly, he’s brought the expertise of being an American-trained employee to this developing country and expanding market.

John Deere has been in Brazil less than 20 years, yet it holds the #1 market share in combines and sugar cane harvesters – not too bad for a relative newcomer. Where they are in unfamiliar territory is in the tractor market. In the U.S. “green paint” may be enviable, but in Brazil tractors are referred to as “Masseys,” the obvious market leader. Regulations are a major reason for this deficit in the tractor market: 60 percent of all components of a tractor must be produced within Brazil.  Additionally, they are lagging behind the U.S. market in sheer size of equipment they can offer, another by-product of government regulations. Brazilian farmers want bigger equipment, and John Deere is trying to meet that demand as quickly as possible.

It Goes Both Ways - PAL Class 7 Outside John Deere FactoryWe also visited the new John Deere factory outside of Campinas. This facility was so new that we were the first group to tour it. There we met with another American, Chris Chitley, a John Deere veteran from the Dubuque Iowa plant. Chris has been in Brazil for two years making this factory a reality. The new plant is brightly lit – including skylights – a vast difference from the Iowa facility. It is a relatively small facility, so all components are brought in as needed so extra parts aren’t cluttering the production lines. According to Chris, they don’t try to excel at everything, but instead focus on three core competencies at this facility: large scale welds, painting and final assembly.

While we were visiting, a group of employees from the U.S. were training their Brazilian counterparts. Although there are a few language barriers between the two groups, the trainers said they were having no problems teaching their students proper procedures. John Deere has been able to find local talent to perform the work at this plant, so they won’t need to move anyone new into the area.

While Chris is getting used to his life in Brazil, he said there were plenty of differences in the office compared to the U.S. Here, everyone is much more laid back, and he starts every morning by walking through the facility, shaking everyone’s hand and talking to them. If he were in the U.S., he would start his day by walking straight into his office and getting to work. He says the cultural differences have led him be on the production floor more and, in turn, have made him a more accessible boss.

Americans, by nature, think we do everything the best way, and in some areas we may. Our regulations, while at times bothersome, are minimal compared to other countries. As farmers, we are the envy of other countries because we have access to the most advanced equipment. We also produce this equipment in a timely manner so it is available to the masses as opposed to a few. But Americans have a tendency to stay in our little comfort zones. We keep our heads down and begrudgingly get the work done. Brazilians, on the other hand, travel to the U.S. for school and to experience life outside their country. They take that knowledge back home and put it to use. Brazilians enjoy their workday by enjoying their fellow employees. There’s a lot to be said for both strategies, but the truly successful will find a way to mesh both ways of life together!

 

Joy Davis and Adam Hinton are members of PAL Class 7. They are blogging about their experiences in Brazil with the PAL class. Joy is a fifth-generation farmer and rancher in Texas, where she and her family farm wheat, corn, grain sorghum, forage and produce cattle. Adam and his family own a farm supply business, coffee business and an insurance agency in Kentucky.

 

Tradition…what does it mean?

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to travel to visit my grandparents to help them celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. Sixty years of marriage is a huge monument for any couple! It touches a little closer to home when it is your own grandparents whom you have watched as their love grows, and hope that your marriage can match their happiness when you have been married 60 years.

My grandparents’ last 60 years have been based around their faith, family and the family farm. We come from a true farm family. We have spent countless hours milking cows, harvesting crops and picking rocks as a family. I never would have guessed that some of the best hours of my life growing up would have been spent in the dairy barn, followed closely by being on the hayrack and picking up rocks. It seemed fitting to have our family picture to celebrate my grandparents 60 years of marriage taken on the rock pile. This is one of the rock piles that was created by generations of a farm family working together.

Tradition...what does it mean - Photo

It is quite a phenomenon, really, that for some reason rocks in the fields seem to grow from year to year. These rocks need to be picked so they do not damage the equipment that is used to harvest the crops or hurt the farmer as he/she is out in the field walking. In the spring after the fields have been planted but when the crops are still small in nature, my brothers and I would spend countless hours picking rocks. Each spring we would cover every acre of the farm picking up rocks and putting them on a hayrack, which was then driven to a “rock pile” where we would unload them and start the process the over. This has been a process that has been passed down through the generations. Mom, alongside her brother and sisters, and years before them my grandfather alongside his father, also picked rocks on some of these same fields every spring. Even though each year rocks are picked on every acre, you can be assured that there will be more rocks to pick next year.

The tradition of agriculture is also something that has been passed down through generations from my grandparents and their grandparents. My grandparents were blessed with 5 children, 14 grandchildren and, so far, 7 great-grandchildren. You can see the pride in my grandparents’ eyes when they comment on how proud they are that 5 out of their 6 adult grandchildren have also chosen careers in agriculture just like them. I am extremely grateful to my grandparents for bestowing their work ethic, love of the land and the need to be thankful to the man above for all the blessings I have been given. I would not be the person I am today if I had not had the family time milking cows and picking rocks!

Learning to Ride the Farming Roller Coaster

Have you ever heard of the phrase, “Life is a Roller Coaster?!?” This describes the life of a farmer very well. I am Crystal Wooldridge and I didn’t grow up on a farm, so adjusting to a farmers way of life has been a learning experience for me! I have been on my husband’s family farm for four and half years now and seem to have settled in pretty well. It did take a little getting used to, but I’ve learned you just pick up, go with the flow, and help where help is needed and WHENEVER it is needed.
 
Last spring everything was going great. We had 46 new heifers that we were raising to calf in the spring of 2012 and the hay meadows were looking great. We got all of hay equipment serviced and started getting geared up for an amazing hay season!! We have on gentleman that works on the farm with my husband who has been there since he was 16 years old. He is now 70 and can’t quite do everything that he used to. So, when it comes to cutting, raking, and baling the hay – Marty and I do most of it but he has a few friends that will come help him during the day while I am at work. Before I leave my office, I change into my hay baling clothes, and head to the field. We had some very late nights last spring. We baled about 400 acres – 1,500 bales – from the middle of April to the middle of June, mostly by ourselves!
 
It took me about two years to convince Marty that I could do this!!! He just didn’t want to ask me to come work in the field with him after spending a long hard day in the office. I kept telling him that it was a different kind of work for me! I enjoy getting on MY tractor with the radio going (and air conditioning) and just raking away. There were many evenings I had to make him turn on his lights, just so we could finish and get those last 10 bales baled!! He then accused me of working him too hard.
 
I have to admit that I was glad to see the end of that first cutting, but I had no idea it would be the ONLY cutting of hay for 2011. Around August or September, Marty tried to cut one field but it just wasn’t worth it. It was the first field we cut for the year and we only got a fifth of the bales we got out of the first cutting. He decided that was it, no more. We were officially in a drought, the worst drought in 11 years. Going into the fall, we started feeding cubes with my newest wedding/anniversary/birthday present – the cuber or the cube wagon. We fed cubes three times a week for about 2 months with minimal hay, until we HAD to start feeding a full serving. We then started cubing twice a week and putting out hay.
 
After about 150 days without rain and 100+ days with 100+ degree temperatures, we started getting about one inch of rain a week for quite a few weeks in a row. Then we got a couple of inches a rain once a week for a few weeks in a row, and we have never been so happy to see this wonderful rain falling from the sky! Over the next three months, with lots of rain and mild winter, the pastures are greener than they have ever been and the cows are “happy cow!!”
 
Around March 7, 2012, the 46 heifers that we were raising started calving. As of today, we have 4 left!!! We are currently in the processing of getting our hay equipment serviced and getting geared up for an AMAZING hay season. We have a new tractor and a new baler this year, and we are hoping to break them in right next week.