I Hate the 400 Meter Dash…But….

We have established I love to run marathons, I loved running XC, and I loved pole vaulting but frankly it should be understood that I hate the 400 Meter Dash.   In track my goal was to never run longer than 100 meters or the length of the runway which ever was shortest but at times my coach had a different idea.   Mr. Freeman, in his wisdom or sick sense of humor, would make the pole vaulters run the 4 X 400 meter relay at the end of a meet – Pole Vaulters.   (To Mr. Freeman’s defense we had a quick group of vaulters)

The 400 meters, you run for one lab around the blasted track as fast as you can.  As a marathoner I laugh at the distance until I remember sprinting the whole thing and then everything changes.   The first 100 meters is a run in heaven as I turn the corner in 11 seconds sure of my ability to give the same effort for 300 more.  Then at the 200, somewhere around 23 seconds,  I realize I’m just 1/2 way into the ugliness.  I start to panic, but not extremely, because it is just 200 more meters…then it happens.  I hit the last corner to the straightaway and my body says STOP YOU’RE NUTS.   My arms start moving into positions God never intended and certainly don’t resemble running form, my head mysteriously tilts to the side and my month opens to ghastly proportions, my legs have 500 lbs weights attached, my bowels proclaim it is time to “go”, and then everything moves in slow motion as people pass me to the finish.     I hate the 400!

As I reflect on the horror of the 400 meters I know in life we have those same moments when the last 50 meters are exhausting and everything is going in slow motion.  It is in those moments when I remember where my hope, strength, and peace come from – they don’t come from a bottle, a pill, a extramarital affair, but hope, strength, and peace come in with true relationship with Jesus.   The Bible says he will give me strength for the hard times, peace during crazy, and joy when it doesn’t seem possible.   I hate the 400 but I sure love Jesus.

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Trusting God and the Pole Vault – It is One Awesome Fall!

There are times something like a smell, taste, or picture takes you back to a previous time in your life.   I recently found this picture of me pole-vFeatured imageaulting in high school.   The mullet/Bill Clinton hair with the short-shorts was just a bonus to the real story of my pole vaulting journey but it can be summed up like this: 7th grade through 10th grade was trying to vault right handed (I am left handed) and it was really bad.   My coach finally figured out the problem and I finished my carrier holding the school ready for 10-years.

In high school and since people would ask, “Why do you pole vault” the answer for most vaulters – “it is one awesome fall.”   There is really no other feeling in the world like throwing your arms back and just letting go!  Letting go and just letting the mat catch you underneath. * Seriously even right now my heart rate is raising thinking about the power, the air, and the fall.

People ask “what’s it like to be Christ-follower?”  There are churchy answers I can give but to me it is jumping and throwing my arms back.   The same freedom I felt in the air in high school is the same freedom I feel when I trust Him with every step because He knows best anyway.   My life has had its ups and downs, right and wrong decisions, but after almost 42 years I am confident that when I let go instead of holding on He works it out.

Trusting God and the Pole Vault – it is one awesome fall!

*Note I did miss the mats completely once while attempting 13 feet my junior year, put a hole in my foot because I almost missed them, and have countless times smacked by body with a pole but those are for another time.

Botany & others if interested

When we look at Photosynthesis what is your favorite part of the whole process and why?  (at least 3 good sentences and then respond to 2 classmates)


The 4R’s of Nutrient Stewardship & Beyond

In the world of soils, crops, and nutrient management we talk a lot about the 4R’s (http://www.nutrientstewardship.com/what-are-4rs/4r-principles).   The basic principle boils down to using the right SOURCE, at the right RATE, at the right TIME, and in the right PLACE.   The science behind these 4 simple words is amazing and can be both simple and complex at the same time.   I can have all the resources in the world but if I don’t take into account these 4 things I will never maximize its effectiveness.   We could really nerd it up if we wanted to and frankly we probably should, however…..

The concept goes beyond agriculture and could be used in so many areas of life.   I have been doing some reflecting the last couple days looking at many areas and one of them is discipline.   Discipline, needed for correction type, is not enjoyable.   I have given and received it at times in my life and it is just not fun.   As a dad I have brought the wrong everything and the outcome was in no way the change in behavior I was hoping to receive.   For example, I used to give cause and affect educational speeches that included “if you don’t pick up your bowl (the little responsibility items) you will end up in jail”; instead of a good conversation and corrective course it would end in laughter or glossed over eyeballs.   (I am trying to improve)

My bottom line thought is this – as I Christ-follower I believe He is in charge and through the Bible and the Holy Spirit He is going to make me into what He desires – I may not like it when it happens but He will always us the right SOURCE, TIME, RATE, and PLACE to discipline unlike me.

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Ode to the Brillant

There are times in life when you stumble across (or the divine puts in front of you) those that inspire you.  I have had several people in my life fill this description but one lately stands out.  I can’t put his name in the blog because frankly the powers of big brother in his country track his name and progress, however PhD Candidate JK (and his wife RK) are worthy of my support.   Here is why: (just some of the reasons)

He has followed his vision and dreams without compromise.  This vision and dream have kept him below the poverty line for years yet his family lives contentment and peace regardless of the circumstance.

He is a brilliant scientist who despite my own PhD can without question research me under the table.  His ability to fully take the academic and pick it a part to achieve the perfect expression of the scientific method is amazing.   His research in soil microbiological genetics WILL revolutionize agronomics as we know them.  He really could win the Wood Food Prize in the future.

His faith is steadfast – that is all I can say about that.

He is a generous giver when he has nothing to give.   JK will give you the shirt off his back even if he only has 1 shirt.

It was a privilege to take classes with,  study along side, and get to know his great family.  This little post in a twist of internet fate gets right to his email box despite the blocking of WordPress by the country so this is purely a public encouragement to him and his family.

Keep going my friend we are continually thinking about you.  Your journey is worth it.

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What’s a hectare?

One of the common questions we get comes when dealing with measurements in agriculture.  The first is what is the difference between an acre and a hectare, whats a hectare, why us it, can I convert etc. The first difference is acres are used in the Imperial (American System) which takes up 43,560 square feet (13277 square meters) while a hectare is part of the metric system.  A hectare is not part of the International System of Units (SI) but is the scientific standard for area.  A hectare is 10,000 square meters (107,639 sq ft) which is also the size of the international rugby field.  (a little fact I got from Google)

What if I want to convert from acres to hectares?  When going from acres to hectares divide your acres by 2.471 example: 5 ac / 2.471 = 2.023 ha

OR you can go the other way and convert ha to ac by multiplying your ac by 2.471 example: 2.023 ha X 2.471 = 5 ac

How can I determine how much my garden, land, pot or crate is in acres?

1) find the your area in square feet by using the formal Length X Height

2) Then DIVIDE that by 43,560 sq ft (1 acre) – then from there you can convert to hectares.

Example 25×25 = 635 sq ft / 43560 = 0.o143 acres or / 2.471 = 0.0058 hectares.

Hope that helps – Dr. Dirt aka the Poopsmith

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The Voice Results are in and Anne Hathaway has a malfunction….

The Voice results are in from the TV show and according to Google over 100,000 people have searched for the results since last night and even more have tried to understand why Anne Hathaway was foolish, yet there has not been enough searches for Brazil finds Mad Cow, Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), to cause a trend in Google.   It is true that on December 7, 2012 Brazil, our main competitor for beef exports, announced it had a cow test positive for BSE.  This cow went down 2 years ago and they just now received the final test results.  (this is another issue but it seems odd that this is barely hitting media outlets but if it was in the US the world would be outraged) http://uk.news.yahoo.com/brazil-moves-calm-mad-cow-disease-fears-003000257.html    This particular case is unique and complex with both a positive and negative test, it was an older cow that could have died from other old age causes, and the lab was backed logged in getting results to the appropriate authorities.   The US cattlemen are pushing for Brazil to be listed as a BSE country like the US (http://r-calfusa.com/), Japan cancelled Brazilian imports and Russia is probably not going to, while the US remains silent, for the most part.  In my opinion we are still safe but the two year lag was unnecessary…now here is the bait and switch…

Global Food Security is a complex issue that goes beyond tonight’s dinner table.  The weather, markets, a random pest, the work force, politics, access, education, extension networks and countless other issues outside of whether you are in a developed or developing nation converge to key play roles.    The issue is complex and needs to be looked at from all sides with all players.  Having BSE in an exporter nation like Brazil or having 30 years of rice imports into Haiti from outside groups are just examples of larger topics playing a factor in food security.  The grand challenges of food security keeps me pacing my office because I want to be part of the solution not part of the problem.

As the person who directs the agricultural division at Convoy of Hope I am always trying to find ways to communicate the issues to the people around me. Kindly, before you see who won the Voice or whether or not the Seahawks won the Superbowl take a minute and answer this question for me.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear food security?

Thanks The Poopsmith aka Dr. Dirt

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The Field Season

I loved this time of year as a kid.  I would spend time driving around the orchard on the Honda Trail 90, watch the Peterson’s harvest Christmas trees next-door and ship them to the Midwest, work at the mink ranch during pelting season and help Bomps close up the tractor.    As the cold damp rainy weather set in until 4th of July it was time to make account for the field season.  The ups and downs, the blessings, lessons learned, winterize the equipment, and determine what to do for the next field season if blessed to have another one.

I have come to think of life in the terms of a field or growing season.  In American agriculture and climate we are always trying to lengthen the season but in the end we generally get just one.  This past growing season has been filled with blessings, challenges, and adventure, however it is the next growing seasons ahead that have me striving forward.  Why?

The general consensus is that roughly 870 million people in the world are still chronically undernourished and 16 million of those are from developed countries (FAO, 2012 (1)).  The world population is primed for an increase of 9.1 billion by 2050, which will demand a 60% increase in agricultural production. This increase has to also take into account the good soil that remains, sustainability, economic viability, yield increases on existing land, and the ongoing debates over the use of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organism) and total effect climate change on farmable lands (FAO, 2012 (2)).

As we roll into 2013 I am reminded that 2050 is just 37 field seasons away.  If seasons remain reasonably stable when the first tractor breaks ground in 2050 I will only be 76.    As I look to the next growing season as a person who deals with farmers and some of the 870 million chronically undernourished daily I am reminded of the lesson I learned growing up – every growing season is different and growing season matters.

Therefore, if I going to impact 2050, whether I am the husband, dad, scientist, farmer, preacher, or runner THIS next field season must be better than last because the last season is in the field notes and almost closed.

Preparing the Soil for Harvest

FAO (1) The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012.  The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012 is published jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme. Released October 8, 2012.

FAO(2) World Agriculture Towards 2030/2050: The 2012 Revision.  ESA E Working Paper No. 12-03.   Released June 2012.   

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