Push Through

As a runner, or human, it is difficult at times to push through the wall.  Stress, exhaustion, no protein, or any other factor can all be reasons we want to quit or take the easy way out of a situation.   On a recent run I stumbled across this fascinating scene: Pushing through the wall   A single stalk of grass bursting from the blacktop.   If we want to start processing the amount of time, energy, or stress involved in making this happen – it is breathtaking.  For all intense purposes – THIS IS NOT NORMAL.  As the soil science part of my brain started to analysis the situation for nutrient deficiencies, rooting depth, competitive advantages…I was struck with this thought…

This plant was created to be fruitful and multiple, to thrive in its environment and nothing was going to stop it from fulfilling its purpose.  We are each created for purpose (Ps 139:13-18).  I was created both on purpose and for purpose but many times I let “blacktop” or the “wall” stop me for experiencing the full impact for what I was created. *honest moment (sometimes I just forgot to have fun or am lazy)

Excluding a random wayward driver, this grass should go to seed and the cycle will continue as it was designed.

Lessons: 1) If we stop when it is hard we will never get to the finish and experience the joy on the other side.  2) If a plant can honor it’s creator so should I.  3) If I am struggling I should take a moment and reach out to my Creator because He is listening and ready.

Happy Running and Observing

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Counting Train Cars


Growing up on the cherry orchard my grandpa had several ways of handling his slightly overactive grandson and one was counting train cars.   The train would pass by the orchard and rattle the house at least 2 times a day.   If you have ever lived next to train tracks some days it is noticeable and others you can’t even remember it passed.   I don’t know if it was a strategy for dealing with me or just something fun but he would always want to know how many train cars were on the passing train.

I would run to the end of the road count the cars and then he would ask “how many Jake?” As a kid I was fascinated by his ability to tell me so much about the train based on the number of cars.   This one was going to Canada or this one came out of the mid-west….I don’t know how he knew all the information expect him being Bomps, but it taught me something.   In those moments of counting train cars Grandpa taught me every car mattered.

Every train car was important…just as every person is important.   Jesus taught us that in scripture but also by example.   He us told about the good Samaritan,  He stopped to heal the blinding woman, He stopped to point out Zaccheaus in the tree, and told the children to come to Him.  If you are struggling with worth today…remember Jesus told us

Everyone matters – Everyone has purpose – Everyone Counts.  

You matter – You have purpose – You count. 

image credit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mid-Continent_Railway_Museum

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The Pea Viner

  There are times in my daily routine on the job were something will take me to a moment in my past.  As with most of us moments like these can bring laughter, sadness, smiles, anger, or regret.   Today, smiles and it was the Pea Viners –

For most of my childhood next to the orchard was a pea field.  When it was time to harvest you could hear them before you would see them.   The convoy of pea viners coming down the dead end road to harvest the bounty of those fresh green little pods.    On my end it was game time – I would run to the shop to get a lawn chair, run in the house put on my robe (don’t ask), and Grandma would bring me hot chocolate.   For the next 4 hours or more I would not move an inch, as these marvels of modern agricultural machinery would put me into a trance of wonder.   (side note: every couple years some driver would have pity on the kid in the chair and I got to ride in the harvesters) As it got dark they would turn on their lights and Vouch (the dog) was huddle up next to me until Bomps or Grandma Ag made me come inside for the remaining of the harvest.   Hours upon hours of watching the pea viners and this is what I remember – although it was perhaps a little strange my family embraced my love for the pea viners.

Awww the pea viners – one of those things that still makes me smile, alot.



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Anger, Goat Pee, and a Recycle Bin

Last night I kindly ask the boys to put things in the recycle so it would be ready in the morning.  My oldest came running into the house wanting me to be “nerdy” and look at this dead wasp he had found on the deck.   I looked at the wasp but then realized the boys had still not finished the job….it started to brew inside and I said can’t you even finish a simple task, as I went to put a piece of box in the bin.   Then it happened I opened the bin in disgust only to find my other boy stuffed inside JUMPING to scare me.  I jumped back like a wimp and slammed the lid on him.   Anger subsided and they finished the job.

It reminded me of a story from 6 years ago when I was in graduate school when a new running group had been established at WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser, WA.  On any given day there was the potential of 4 or more runners heading out for a nice lunch run around the roads of the beautiful Yakima Valley.

On one of those days everyone’s schedules was a little different making running alone necessary.  The thing about our running routes was the amount of dogs who like to come and greet us alone the way.  Depending on the day we would each take turns yelling at or rushing the dogs giving them the scare of their lives…or at least reminding them they make us nervous.

That day however, there was no one to help deflect the dog attacks, it was just me.  The beginning of the run was relatively calm with less then normal dog action but all of a sudden one of the usual suspects started running from the front porch to make my leg into his lunch snack.  Normally, the 4 foot fence keeps him at bay but that day (of course when I was alone) he jumped the fence without hesitation coming to hunt me down.  In that moment of panic I could see my new Brooks GTS 10’s being ripped in two and my new Brooks “short shorts” pulled to my ankles tripping me into ball of shame in the middle of the road.  Somewhere out of my inner most soul it came, the loudest, most gnarly exclamation I have ever made “Go Lay Down”.  The dog’s hair rose throughout its back and stopped dead in his tracks retreating to behind the protection of this fence.

In was in that moment of pride and relief I noticed that in the adjacent field the 15 plus goats were eyeing me down and peeing in unison.  (As a former goat owner I have seen this response before)  The urination in fear response is a classic.

With my running gear unharmed and firmly around my waist I finished my run and returned to the world of graduate school with the ever present reminder that my voice and face are capable of making goats pee.

On any given day, especially without protein, Joash in the recycle bin could have turned me towards anger instead laughter.   I have to remember my voice and face are capable of not living James 1:19-22“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

May my anger never reach that point with my kids because that is not how I, as a Dad should ever be remembered.

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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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