The first part of the program was what they called a ‘general interview’. Dr. Craig Dobbins asked questions of Ross, and John and me about the principles that govern our decision-making and management of the farm. Although none of that could be rehearsed, it was not a difficult thing to respond to those kinds of questions, for we hold that information in our hearts. One of the most interesting questions was, “How do you define success?” And another was, “What are the key principles that guide your management decisions?” I believe every farmer knows the answer to those questions, but may find it difficult to put into words. We provided answers from our perspective. Success? An adequate standard of living, of course, but the intangibles of independence, flexibilty in using our time resources, and opportunities to pursue our many interests are also strong indicators for success. For the “key principles” question, I would say there are 7 factors that we consider to have a rewarding and fulfilling farm experience.
1. Enjoy what you do.
2. Know your per-unit cost of production.
3. Be optimistic.
4. Surround yourself with pleasant and talented people.
5. Acknowledge your dependence on the blessings of God.
6. Know your limitations.
7. Keep a ‘long view’ of your goals
For the second part of the Tour’s visit, the crowd of about 200 people broke into two parts for two sessions of the ‘mini-tours’. Ross explained his history and ideas of his lifetime of involvement with quarter horses. John and I hosted the other mini-tour, where we explained our experience with GPS systems, and other parts of precision agriculture, most notably the prescriptions that control our planting and nitrogen fertilization systems.
At the conclusion, we were quite happy to have been a part of this event. It was a pleasure to get to speak to interested people about our ideas and methods. We hope it is a help to someone in the audience. Of course, you second-guess your specific words, wishing you could say that thing you forgot to mention, or to better acknowledge some person important to you. Speaking of that, I want to express my thanks to our sister Sheila and her husband John Hobson. They came all the way from Rising Sun, Indiana to share the event with us. Sheila brought flowers to decorate the ‘stage’ and John directed the parking. Also, our neighbor, Don Knoy, helped with the parking. We were grateful to see many of our wonderful neighbors in the crowd, many of whom I would say could provide an even better Tour experience.
At the end of the day, after the borrowed chairs were returned to church, and the trucks and the machines were placed back in the barns, we all found ourselves a bit exhausted, but grateful to have been a part of this experience.
Purdue’s website for the Tour: