“They Designed Their Own Farrowing House”

A Legacy 

The year was 1964. The magazine Successful Farming released their November issue, and on page 92 was an article about Roger and Richard Mulch. They were called Mulch Brothers, and they had designed their own farrowing house for their farrow to finish swine operation.

The Mulch Brothers, Roger and Richard, of Hancock County, Illinois, were pioneers in using slotted floors for farrowing. They first tested slats in ’59. And slotted floors were one of their first considerations when they decided to design their own farrowing facility 2 1/2 years ago. Their only outside help was plans for zone ventilation, furnished by the University of Illinois. What they came up with is a 40-stall building 60×42′. Sow feeding units at each end of the house measure 26×42’…

Schedule: Roger and Richard Mulch farrow pigs in January, April, July, and October. Pigs are weaned at 4 1/2 weeks. Pigs remain in the slotted floor units for 2 months in summer, then go to pasture. In the winter, the shoats are finished out on concrete feeding floors nearby.

–Successful Farming, November, 1964 Issue

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Picture of hard copy of the Successful Farming November, 1964, issue.
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Richard Mulch, 1964; owned by Richard Mulch.

My grandpa, Richard, and his brother, Roger, were innovators of their time. The farrowing house they designed is where I first started doing my part on the family farm. Even at a young age, I would help process and wean piglets with my sisters. Seeing the hard work my grandpa and his brother put into their swine operation is one of the many reasons why I love agriculture.

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Richard in present day farrowing house, June, 2015; owned by me.

The legacy that my grandpa and his brother started can still be seen through my grandpa and my dad, Stephen. R&S Mulch Farms, Inc., utilized this farrowing house along with farming approximately 720 acres of corn and soybeans. After using the farrowing house for 55 years, the sow herd was sold in December of 2016. My dad continues to be involved in the swine industry, feeding 300 to 600 hogs for a local producer through contract feeding.

 

A Farming Family

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November, 2017; owned by me.

Agriculture has and will continue to be a major part of my life. Growing up on the family farm has been one of the most rewarding experiences to help me grow as an individual, and I feel honored to be apart of this legacy.  Being involved with the Mulch Farm has been a very memorable and knowledgeable experience for me. The work experience that I have been exposed to has made me a more appreciative person.

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My family, December 2017

Thanks to how I was raised, I see how necessary it is to work together to reach a goal rather than try and do it on your own.

Successful Farming has recently written another article “The Best Farrowing House Ever Designed”  to follow up on their 1964 issue with the Mulch Brothers. To read the full article and learn more about the history of this farrowing house, please visit https://www.agriculture.com/livestock/hogs/was-this-the-best-farrowing-house-every-designed.

 

About the Author

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Hello! My name is Aleetha Mulch, and I am a Senior at Western Illinois University. I’m from Sutter, IL, and I will be graduating this December with a degree in Agriculture Business and a minor in Accounting. I enjoy being involved on campus, and I am currently in Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority, Ag Council, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and Agriculture Mechanization Club. Thank you for taking time to read my blog, and I hope you enjoyed it!

 

 

 

 

 

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The Influence of Online Bidding Platforms in the Auction Industry

Ever since being a kid following my dad around at auctions has been a blessing for me, and has given me the opportunity to see the auction industry from many views.  Meeting many unique people, working countless auctions, and hearing hundreds of different auctioneers sell from all over America. It is something that I am very fortunate to have been born into, that I always want to be apart of.

Over the past decade we have seen a big shift in the auction industry with online auction platforms being introduced and growing  bigger and bigger each year. However, this is not a bad thing because auctioneers can reach larger audiences with online sales. A lot of auctioneers now do live auctions, and also operate strictly online sales as well.  This allows them to have versatility and decrease the turn around time for auctions. For instance you could have a farm auction one day, and the next day you could have an online sale that you pictured and set up weeks ago. It also allows for the auction company to be diverse and increase their profits.

An online sale platform called Proxibid is one of the hottest sites out there right now because of all the services it can provide for auction companies. Proxibid allows either to have a strictly online sale that is open for a certain amount of time, or bidders can actually watch, listen, and bid on a live sale with out being there. While watching the auction buyers can bid on items that are selling at that exact moment. All that is required to sign up for an account, is to enter some general information and billing information to pay for the items that are sold. Auction websites or social media pages can have a direct link to Proxibid’s website.

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People always ask if online platforms such as Ebay, Craigslist, and other online selling platforms will overtake live auctions completely. In my own personal opinion I do not think that they will. I believe that a live auction with the right audience will always bring more money than an online sale. This is because of the interaction between the auctioneer and the crowd. At live auction the auctioneer can stop and talk about an item. This allows the crowd to realize what the item they are bidding on is worth. Making them realize that it is worth more than the money then it is bringing at the moment. I have personally seen this happen numerous times and it almost always works. Bring more money for the item allowing for larger profits to be made.

My name is Carson Bloomberg and I am a Junior here at Western Illinois University from Orion, Il. studying Agriculture Science with a Minor in Animal Science. My dad is the owner of Bloomberg Auction Company located out of the Quad City Area, and where I have been working 100’s of auctions over my lifetime. I am member of the Alpha Tau Chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho and am the current Noble Ruler for 2018. I am also on the Interfraternity Council where I serve as Vice President of Finance. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my blog! (Photo from Proxibid.com)

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Subsurface Drip Line Irrigation

Being from central Illinois I see many row crop fields with irrigation. the most common style of irrigation in my county is a center pivot irrigation system. This is common in my county because we sit on the Mahomet-Teays aquifer, it is easy for farmers to access water with wells then pump the needed amount of water for the crops.

Another form of irrigation is drip line irrigation. this form of irrigation is common on vegetable farms. The irrigation is buried a set number of feet beneath the soil. Subsurface irrigation is plastic lines buried usually every other row to provide a controlled amount of water. The plastic line has holes that place the water where the roots are able to reach is. This water is pumped from a well. The well is dug on the edge of the field and

sub-surface-drip a large line runs perpendicular to the rows on the edge of the field and smaller lines run parallel to the rows. Subsurface irrigation is an efficient way to provide water to crops.

If farmers were to not irrigate their field they would have a potential yield loss. The plants would most likely be fine unless they are in areas that have little rainfall throughout the summer.

A key reason that subsurface irrigation is efficient is that there is no water evaporation. Since the water is being provided under the soil the water does not evaporate into the air and no water is wasted. Also, farmers are able to pump needed nutrients through the lines to the crops.

Some disadvantages of subsurface irrigation are animals chewing the lines, lines busting and tillage. The lines are plastic they can be easily damaged by the pressure of the water being pumped through. Also, animals like ground squirrels will chew through the lines causing issues with the lines. Tillage can also be an issue considering you want the water to be easily accessed by the root system. This means the lines can only be placed so deep in the soil making it harder to till fields with subsurface irrigation.

According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the installation of subsurface drip line can run from $500 to $800 dollars an acre. In areas that the groundwater may be hard to reach or the aquifers are too deep to access, this system may not be the best. It is on the higher side of price per acre. Many vegetable farms will use this system because they are not covering as many acres, so it is more efficient for them to use.

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My Name is Derrick Rabbe, I am a from Mason City, IL. I am a junior studying Agricultural business at Western Illinois University.

Maximizing Pasture Productivity

Are you looking to maximize the potential of your pasture?  If so, then rotational grazing may be your answer.  What this means is that you evaluate the forage quality and quantity while regulating the acreage that the cattle have access too.  Then when that piece, or paddock, becomes around 4-6″ tall you move them to the another one.  This is then repeated throughout the whole growing season allowing for maximum yield from your pasture.

You will see benefits in both your pasture health as well as your herd health.  Forage production will be increased, allowing it to recover quicker from grazing.  There is also less waste because the cattle are forced to eat everything rather than just selective grazing.  With that being said, cattle will even eat some less desirable plants which helps keep pastures more clean.  Everybody likes to get more for less, right?  Rotationally grazing can increase your stocking rate.  If every pasture is converted to this, then the number of cattle that that pasture can handle is increased.  Then the number of pastures could potentially be reduced which would in return reduce your pasture rent in a year as well making your overall operation more profitable.

From my personal experience rotational grazing may require more effort and time, but it pays for itself.  The time spent in the pasture is by no means a waste.  This allows you to closely access your cattle for health issues such as pink eye.  Also, by keeping the cows on fresh grass it helps them supply better milk to the calves, allowing for a bigger and better looking calf at weaning.  When you place a recently weaned calf out of a rotationally grazed pasture next to one where the whole pasture was grazed, there will be a noticeable difference between the two.  We also see that our grazing season is extended which cuts back on the need for hay.

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My name is Justen Woods and I am a senior at Western Illinois University. I am majoring in Agricultural Science with a minor in Agricultural Business and I will be graduating in December of 2018.  I did not grow up on a farm, but have worked on one since I have been going to school, which is where my interest began to grow about the industry.  I have since bought some of my own cows that I run with my bosses cattle, which are rotationally grazed.

(All picture are my own)

Friends of Farmers: Giving back, one farmer at a time.

Have you ever felt like your purpose in life was gone? After quitting my job of 4 years at a nursing home in my home town, I felt as if my purpose was gone. My job there was as an activity aid and it was my pride and joy working with residents. I would call bingo, I would paint the ladies nails, I would make the new residents feel at home, but my favorite part was visiting with them and getting to know them and making their day. After I lost that when I quit, I had to find a new way to fill that void. I did that by starting a group called Friends of Farmers.

Agriculture is part of me and I wanted to show my local farmers how much we thank them for all the hard work they do. The long days and night they put in so we can have food on the table. This idea came up at 2 a.m. with my roommate when we were talking about how much I struggled with that sense of loss. I guess you can say some of the best ideas come at weird times, because this one did. It all started out as talk, then I put those ideas and thought into action.

The main thing I wanted to do was to go around to the local farmers and pass out treats in the afternoon. I know when the afternoon hits they all need a little pick-me-up to keep the day flowing. So with that goal in mind, that is what I did. I made three batches of cookies, I put together a mix with M&M, peanuts and candy corn, water, and apples that were donated by Tanner’s Orchard in Speer, Illinois. I made tags to go on the bags of treats with the Friends of Farmers logo and a quote from Thomas Jefferson, that says “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.” I chose this quote because it has a lot of meaning behind what farmers do everyday. Growing up on a farm I can say that I have gained a lot of happiness and good morals. Agriculture is the future and we need to invest in the future. I wanted to put my logo on something so that the farmers would know that I was starting this organization and that I wanted to keep it going. That I was invested in showing them my appreciation, so I made stickers for the little notes that I hand wrote, for a personal touch, and attached them to the baggies with treats in them.

The second thing I thought about was, how in the world am I going to pay for all of this? I am a broke college girl, with no money, but I really want to do this! My mom did do a lot of donating with supplies for the mix and cookies, but how was I going to pay for the water and something to put the mix and cookies in? That when I thought I should make t-shirts and try and sell them. So that is what I did, I made t-shirts with my logo on it and the Thomas Jefferson saying on the back. I Posted it on Facebook and asked family members if they wanted to buy a shirt to help support me in my cause. I sold a total of 32 shirts within a couple weeks. With the all the shirts I sold and the profit I made off of them I had enough money to buy all the supplies with extra money for next year. That money is in a tin can for next year.

My next thought was that I wanted to do was inform the younger generation on what farmers do and what agriculture is. Yes, I have grown up in a rural community, but not everyone knows where their food comes, and how it gets to their table. So the next thing I needed to think about was who can I get to help hand out these treats. I babysit a couple of young kids and my family from Minnesota was down and there are two young boys there. So I thought I would take four kids with me the first time and see where it got me. I then thought of a plan on how I was going to educate them on agriculture. So, after every stop we talked about something new. One question I asked was do you guys know where your milk comes from? I didn’t want all the questions to be all about grain operations, because not all of our food comes from corn and soybeans.

I had some positive and negative feedback. I will start with the bad, we stopped at one farmers field where they were sitting taking a break for the day. I thought this will be perfect, well it ended in some rude comments from the farmer, and some kids scared. How do you tell kids that not all farmers are that way. It was tough, but you tell them the next one will be much better. Now to the good, all but that one farmer all were surprised and thanked me and the kids right back. I think the best one was when I had a former teacher tell me that, one of the farmers was at a church function with her telling everyone how he loved how I did it and that it was so nice and that water was just what he needed. The next was when a former classmate messaged me later after we stopped at the field where he was and said thank you so much for the treats, they were great and it made my day. All the feedback I got made me want to keep doing this every year. The kids’ reactions to this day also keeps me wanting to do this. They all told me they had a lot of fun and thanked me for taking them along. I think their favorite part was when we were at a farm and they were handing out the snacks and the farmer was unloading and we handed him snack for all of the people that were out in the field with him. He let them get in the straight truck and honk the horn, they were all grinning from ear to ear. It was a fun experience for both them, me and the famer.

My next year’s goals are to get more kids to get involved and learn about agriculture. I was at another community service event that my community puts on during Christmas and I talked to the local Girl Scout’s leader. I told her what I was doing and how I wanted to get kids involved. I asked if they could get a badge for doing this and she said “of course they can get a badge for anything.” She gave me her contact information so I can get ahold of her when the time comes. I am really excited for next year to get kids involved, even more excited about getting young girls involved as women in ag are becoming more and more prominent.

The next thing I want to do is go into the Farm Bureau and the local extension office to get more teaching ideas for kids.  Being in FFA and doing Ag in the Classroom, I know they have techniques to use for younger kids. I want to take some of that information with me to some of the Girl Scout meeting to teach them about agriculture. Getting ideas from them will help me better to teach them about agriculture in a simple manner that they will understand because they are of all ages in Girl Scouts.

I have some big plans for next year and I can’t wait to see them through. I am finding some new ideas besides selling t-shirts for a fundraiser, to raise money for next year. My last and final thought to put in here is if you have any questions or want to start something like this in your home town, do not hesitate to get ahold of me. My email is: abrianneholler97@gmail.com. Even if you have more ideas for me please share, I am always open to new ideas of doing things and bettering my organization!

If you are wanting to start your own organization in your home town here are some things to think about: reach out to your community for help, there is always someone to help you. Think of ways to raise money for supplies. Map out your stops before you go, this will make the trip go smoother. I wouldn’t take more than four kids with you at a time as they can be a handful at times.

Contact info:

Name: Abrianne Holler

Email: abrianneholler97@gmail.com

School email: an-holler@wiu.edu

 

IMG_0532Hi, I am Abrianne Holler. I am a junior at Western Illinois University. I am studying agriculture science with minor in Agronomy. I’m from Henry, Illinois and have had the opportunity to grow up on a small family farm. That is where I get most of my interest in agronomy. I look forward to a career in the agronomy field with hopes of having my own farm someday, as well as helping and bringing new ideas to the family farm.  I thank you for taking the time to read through my blog, and I hope it provided some sort of value to you!

 

Veterinary Feed Directive and what it means

 

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In the last few years, it has been nearly impossible to open and read any Ag news
publication and not see an article about the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) and the changes by the Food and Drug Administration. When the Veterinary Feed Directive went into effect in 2017, it impacted nearly everyone in the livestock industry. Depending on whom you ask this has been a good and a bad thing.

Typically, the new regulations are not well received by the producer, who has been using
these over the counter products for years in an effort to raise healthy animals. As of January 1, 2017, every livestock producer who uses an antibiotic that is considered important to human health, such as penicillin or tetracycline, now has to comply. The regulation covers not only antimicrobial drugs administered via feed, but also water, but does not include injections. This also covers animals not intended for food consumption (AVMA, 2016).  This rule change has even affected every retailer that sells these products and every veterinarian as well as any feed mill.

In short, a veterinarian now has to see the animal and diagnose it before the animal can receive the antibiotic. The feed provider keeps a record of every sale that contains antibiotics. This does not leave out the feed manufacturers, who are busy reformulating much of their feed and mineral products to comply. This regulation affects literally every person in the production of livestock in one way or another. The livestock producer is certainly the person who will feel the biggest impact from this mandate. As they are the last person in the line of production who cares for these animals, the producer has the ultimate responsibility to take care of their animals to the best of their ability. This mandate takes control of freely feeding antibiotics out of the hands of the producers, and puts this responsibility on the backs of the veterinarians.  By doing this the vet-to-client relationship has strengthened immensely. The feeding practices of producers are being forced to change also. The antibiotic is no longer to be fed as a preventative feed, to keep the cattle healthy, but rather as a prescription feed, to be fed after the animal is already ill. This is hard for livestock operators to see, because as a producer, the main goal is to keep the animals as healthy as you can at all times. Now instead of preventing illness and keeping the herd from suffering, the producer must wait until an animal is ill to have a veterinarian come to the farm and diagnose and prescribe the use of antibiotics. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is more of a golden rule that a livestock producer lives by; the VFD is going against this time old tradition.

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According to the VFD final rule, a producer’s veterinarian will fill out the form,
specifying the farm and animals to be treated, the drug to be used, its feeding rate, and the duration of treatment. The veterinarian will also indicate an expiration date on the VFD, which can’t exceed six months. Some drug labels may allow for a number of refills.
It will function similarly as when you go to your doctor because you are sick. Your
medical doctor then writes a prescription that you take to your local pharmacy. However, when the VFD drug category was created, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (the Act) made it clear that VFD drugs are not prescription drugs. This category was created to provide veterinary supervision without invoking state pharmacy laws for prescription drugs that were unworkable for the distribution of medicated feed (FDA, 2015).
Once the producer has secured the copy of the VFD, they will have to show proof of the veterinary approval to the feed salesmen or whomever they are purchasing their feed from. After the feed salesman provides the producer with the appropriate feed additive, the feed salesmen will have to keep a copy of the VFD, along with a sales receipt of sale of the product in his or her personal store record.
This puts an added expense on the farmer, having to pay for a vet visit or farm call along with the paperwork required for these essential antibiotics. It also places a toll on the small town rural veterinarian who is short staffed.

This also puts added pressure and liability on to the veterinarian, because they are now responsible to formalize this very simple task. If a vet does not actually see the animal that they are prescribing the antibiotics for, they are then breaking the law. In addition, the VFD limits extra label use. “Extralabel use” (ELU) is defined in FDA’s regulations as actual or intended use of a drug in an animal in a manner that is not in accordance with the approved labeling. For example, feeding the animals a VFD for a duration of time that is different from the duration specified on the label, feeding a VFD formulated with a drug level that is different from what is specified on the label, or feeding a VFD to an animal species different than what is specified on the label would all be considered extralabel uses. Extralabel use of medicated feed, including medicated feed containing a VFD drug or a combination VFD drug, is not permitted” (FDA, 2015). In some ways, this ties a veterinarian’s hands because the minor species of animals have very few labeled products available to use.
This issue is not only of concern to the people who are feeding and selling the product; it will also raise many questions for the companies who manufacture the products. Companies like Zoetis, a drug company and Purina a feed manufacturing company, have to change their whole supply of products. Now that the producer cannot buy a product freely, these companies are limited in what they are able to produce. The VFD forces these companies to discontinue some of their products that were conveniently combining antibiotics with other types of feed.

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The impact of the VFD was first seen in common over the counter products sold in feed
stores. Medicated milk replacer was one of the first feed-grade antibiotic products to fall under the Veterinary Feed Directive. Typically, after the initial feedings, a dairy calf is placed on milk replacer, which is often medicated. When the new rules started, for any dairy farmer to put a calf on medicated milk replacer, he is now required to get a VFD from his veterinarian, fill it at a distributor who has registered that specific prescription with the FDA and ensured every qualification of the directive is met, then keep the records of that transaction for two years. Instead, most companies that manufacture milk replacer have changed their formulations to make it over the counter ready, without antibiotics.

So, what happens when the dairy producer suddenly has a calf that requires medicated
milk replacer over a long holiday weekend? It certainly isn’t the same-day process of
walking into the local farm store and buying it off the shelf; the dairy farmer isn’t able to call distributors with last-minute requests under the new regulations.

One can see that the final ruling from the Veterinary Feed Directive is affecting everyone in the livestock industry and will continue to due so for years to come. While the VFD is not a new thing it has certainly made some changes to the way people are used to doing things. This regulation is all in attempt to meet the ongoing concern and fear that the public has towards the use of feeds containing antibiotics in livestock production. Even though this ruling has come with much discussion and debate, the end result was an implementation date of January 1, 2017 (Zoetis, 2016).

A little about me

320 picture (2)  My name is Luke Daniels, I am a junior at Western Illinois University majoring in ag science with a minor in animal science.  I grew up on a small farm near Shelbyville Illinois raising beef cattle and quarter horses.  This is where my love for animal agriculture was started.  I am a member of a few organizations on campus a few of those being Hoof and Horn club, Ag Vocators, and Lutheran Student Fellowship.  Western Illinois has been a great learning environment for me and I am thankful for all the people who have helped me along my journey.  I hope you enjoyed my blog and thanks for your time.

Sources

American Veterinary Medical Association. 2016. The 123’s of VFD’s. Available at: https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Pages/VFD123.aspx

Food and Drug Administration 2015. (Released December 17, 2015). Fact Sheet: Veterinary Feed Directive Final Rule and Next Steps, FDA. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/ucm449019.htm

Zoetis. 2016. Helping you understand the changes. Available at: https://www.zoetisus.com/responsible-antibiotic-use/vfd.aspx

 

Curless Flying Service & Farm Air Inc.

Curless Flying Service is not just a aerial application company. It is also a dealer of Air Tractor planes, parts and services called Farm Air Inc. Harley is the only Farm Air operation for the midwest. This being the only one we have a lot of planes that  come and go. From that being other Agriculture pilots coming to get their plane getting, parts and or a 100 hour inspection and or annuals. The hanger that we call Farm Air is where our

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Farm Air Inc. is where planes come for service

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planes are stored as well as customers planes if they need to stay over night. As you can see in the picture below it is a very large hanger that can hold many planes. If you would like more information about Farm Air Inc. you can go to this link (http://farmairinc.net/)

Mid-May to early August are what I look forward to after the spring semester of college is over with. For the past five summers I have been apart of the loading crew and maintenance at Curless Flying Service. Curless Flying Service is located in Astoria, IL, and it is owned by Harley Jo Curless.

 A typical day before we start to get into the busy part of the season will consist of maintenance on the load trailers and as well as the planes. For the load trailer maintenance we go over all the pumps to make sure they can get the chemical from our mixing tanks, to the plane without a seal of something going bad, and also to look over the hose we use to make sure there are no cracks or holes. 

When we start to get busy, usually with that time being the last week of June through August. During this time we will work from the main airport at Astoria from there we go to Canton, Macomb, Beardstown, Pittsfield and Quincy, IL. That is just the Illinois airports we also go into Missouri and make stops at Mexico, Bowling Green, Canton, Lewistown. Memphis and Hannibal, MO. We will occasionally make a stop on Iowa at the Keokuk Airport. From which these are the airports we spread fertilizer and spray chemicals out of. When the busy season is in full swing a typical day starts by arriving at work around 5am and will not be back home till 9:30pm or 10:00pm. We work seven days a week during this time, we have a little saying that, “We do not have a boss, the corn, soybeans, bugs and mother nature is our boss now.”

 

While working for Curless Flying Service I have learned about responsibility, leadership and hard work. This past summer I was given the task of making sure all of our work from the Hannibal, MO airport was done correctly from mixing the chemicals myself, making sure the company (like FS, CPS and MFA) we were spraying for had the right product and show up on time. This is also where the leadership comes into play, we had two new workers who had never been around this type of work. So I would have to teach them how everything works and to also make sure they are doing them right. There is a lot of money that can be wasted if a mistake happens that costing the company hundreds or thousands of dollars. Hard work has been instilled in me from a young age but this job is truly hard work, with all the hours you work and all the traveling involved.

My name is Seth Kessler, I am a junior at Western Illinois University. I will be graduating in the spring of 2019, with a bachelor degree Agriculture Business.  I will be working for Curless Flying Service for the summer of 2018.

 

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