Thursday, March 25, 2021

Class Use

Sometimes when sitting in a classroom and being stuck at school for hours, I often wonder when will I ever use this in real life in the future? I am usually thinking this halfway through a super hard math class or a confusing chemistry lesson.

Recently in my senior physics class, we were assigned a project to design and build a bridge out of a handful of pieces of various sizes of Balsa wood. Everyone in the class was given the same amount. It is part of a contest to see who can design and build the best bridge that can hold the most weight based on the weight of each individual bridge.

For the past couple of weeks I have put my woodworking hat on and started to design my bridge, along with the help of my dad and brothers of course. Everyone has their own idea, which they think is going to be great. My oldest brother especially thinks his ideas are amazing because he did one similar to it back when he was in high school. I do not know how much to trust his judgment however, because his bridge broke and did not hold a lot of weight. My grandpa has even offered his advice informing me that it would be extremely strong if I were to sneak a piece of metal between the wood. That however, would be frowned upon and be considered cheating on the assignment, but I know he’s right!

We are trying to design a bridge like a piece of strong farm equipment. Specifically like the beam of a head trailer that must support it for long transports or the beam of a planter to hold dry fertilizer, insecticide, and seed. From operating the grain cart last fall, a few of our fields have a bridge that I often say a quick prayer before crossing with a heavy load. I realize how important a good heavy bridge really is.

After countless designs were sketched, the perfect one was finally drawn. I did not realize how many other class subjects were used to create this one bridge. I had to use a lot of math. I had to measure angles, ensure my bridge will meet the height and width requirements, and calculate the perfect length to connect the pieces of wood. I used woodworking when cutting the pieces and countless other skills. It also made me realize how many skills farmers use daily while on the farm. They use a lot of math to calculate the perfect feed ration recipe. They also use math to calculate yields and see if they made a profit and they use mechanical and engineering skills when fixing machinery, especially now as they are gearing up for spring. Much to my surprise, farmers even use physics.

Farmers use a lot of different skills and do so many things involving math and chemistry. They do in fact use what I am learning in school each day. Now, whenever I ask myself when I am ever going to use this in my future? I know that there is a huge chance I will probably use it down the road. This is a good reminder to stop staring at the clock and waiting for the bell to ring. While I am anxiously counting down the days until graduation, I still need to focus on what is happening in front of me, even if that means waiting for the glue to dry on my cool new bridge. ~ Kesley Holdgrafer

Off Season

It is technically the off-season for farmers right now. They are not in the fields at the moment to plant or to harvest. They spend most of the winter in the shop working on various things around the farm and getting things ready for springtime. I have always wondered when do farmers go to the doctor? If you do tell them they should go see a doctor they always quickly reply with the famous saying their pain is a long way from the heart or I’ll just rub some dirt on it. Farmers are always waiting until the last possible minute to head to the doctor or they just avoid it all entirely. However, when it comes to their machinery they will never miss a check-up on that. Even with a little minor hiccup or error code they immediately send it to the “doctors” to get checked out. That office appointment is made in their own shop or at the dealers.

They pull it straight into the shop and put it on the operating table. Meaning the hood is popped up and the toolbox is right at the farmer’s side, ready to be used at any moment. Farmers also make sure their machinery attends every regular check up. Meaning always checking or changing the oil or having a tire appointment to change the tires. Right now spring machinery is in the shop getting checked up on making sure everything is ready come go time.

Next time you have a farmer that doesn’t want to go to the doctor or uses the line it’s a long way from the heart. Remind them of their machinery check-up. Ask them if their tractor had a low back tire would they still just say well it’s a long way from the engine so don’t worry about it? Or would they take it to the doctor’s office, the farm shop, to get fixed?

Good luck, getting your farmer to the doctor for a tune-up, but maybe after reading this it will be easier. However, I hope all of our farmers stay happy and healthy because spring is almost knocking on our door and we must be ready to go.

- Kesley Holdgrafer


These last couple of weeks have been extremely busy for most people. For seniors the beginning of March means deadlines for many scholarship opportunities. For most farmers it means it’s time to sign and file the dreadful but necessary paperwork for taxes. After a long day of work a quick power nap always seems to be the best kind of medicine. However, sometimes it’s hard to find the time to take a nap when you are extremely busy. Well I have the perfect solution.

Monday, March 15th is National Napping Day. This day is the perfect excuse to curl up in a recliner or couch with your favorite blanket, hopefully with the warm sun shining through the window and take a nice long nap. Who doesn’t love a good nap? This day was created on the day after the return of Daylight Savings Time and it is supposed to give people an opportunity to catch up on that hour of sleep they lost. I honestly wish this day was everyday because I love a good refreshing nap.

My brother Luke also loves a good nap. He is the only one I know who can fall asleep in the most uncomfortable positions such as in the buddy seat of a tractor while planting and not wake up when the tractor hits a big bump. I don’t know how his neck can take all that head bobbing! Most farmers are up bright and early working and often up late at night still doing chores, so they love to get in a good nap whenever they can, especially now before crazy spring hours begin. Sometimes farmers get in a quick nap after their morning chores. They come in to get warmed up saying they will go back out in five minutes, but soon they are passed out on the couch snoring away. Before they know it they have been asleep for over an hour past the time they wanted to go back out. They can even catch a quick nap while sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper. We think he is reading until his snore gives him away. I am more of a recliner or couch napper, preferably with a cozy blanket to snuggle with. My Dad designed our house specifically for warm winter naps as the sun shines brightly in our large living room windows to the South and West. That warm winter sunshine is perfect for napping. It’s officially calving season and you know who also loves naps, newborn calves. Nothing beats watching a newborn calf taking a nap . They look so peaceful all wrapped up in the deep cornstalk bedding.

As we all spring forward soon, I hope you also get a chance to celebrate National Napping Day on March 15th. Just remember to brush your bedhead and wipe the slobber from your chin before heading back out to work!

~ Kesley Holdgrafer

Thursday, February 11, 2021


A couple weeks ago I was filling out a questionnaire sheet for senior year. Most of the questions were pretty simple such as your favorite color, food, and so on. However one specific question stopped me in my tracks. It really made me think. The question was if I could have dinner with any three people past or present who would they be? I spent hours just looking at this question and thinking. The possibilities were endless. Then I thought what if I were to do a farm version of this question. I know right away the three people I would want to have dinner with.

I would sit down with three different generations of farmers. I think it would be amazing to talk to them and hear all their stories. We all know farmers can tell great stories! I would also love to get the chance to tell them about how much the industry has changed. Especially how much technology has impacted the everyday decisions we make. I would show them pictures taken with drones from the sky giving them an overview of their farms and the high tech yield graphs that clearly show wet spots in the field. Then I would love to see their jaw drop when I tell them how much machinery costs and watch it drop even further when I tell them how much good land sells for.

Each generation is so completely different. The ag industry and the world keep evolving with every year. My dad recently experienced just how different generations are last week when he went to get a new cell phone. The lady at the store asked him a simple question. What do you use your phone for? My dad was baffled at the question and answered pretty snarly, to make phone calls. What else could you possibly use a phone for? My dad only uses his phone to call people. However, the new younger generations use their phone for everything and rarely make a phone call at all. They may use their phone to take pictures, get on social media, promote a business, read books, watch movies, and so much more. Every generation is different and continues to change the way we view the world, especially in the ag industry. That is why if given the chance, I would sit down with three farmers, from different generations.

That leaves me with one question. Who would you pick? If you could have dinner with any three people, past or present who would they be? It’s a thought provoking question to answer!

~ Kesley Holdgrafer

Friday, February 5, 2021


It’s my favorite week of the whole year! I am super excited for my birthday on Valentine’s Day and with it being such a short month, I think it is appropriate to celebrate pretty much every day! The month of February is always decorated with hearts and I always think it’s just for me! I will turn eighteen on February 14th and will finally be considered an adult. This is fitting because I have been really busy doing adult things lately, like finishing up farm records, getting ready to file my first taxes, and filling out college scholarship applications. Also while thinking about hearts for Valentines Day, it got me thinking about just how important a heart actually is.

Growing up, I watched my dad give his whole heart to agriculture. It takes a true love for agriculture to feed cattle in brutally cold temperatures. It takes heart to believe the grain markets will turn around or the rain will come to make a crop. It takes heart to be a farmer. It takes heart to feed the world.

When I was in Clover Kids I got the opportunity to raise my first bottle calf. I gave my whole heart to my first calf. Since then I have raised multiple calves each year and have loved every one immensely. I have realized I love agriculture. It is in my blood, pumping from my heart.

I am also no stranger to heart problems. My little brother was born with a heart condition and has had numerous procedures and medications over the years to control his extremely high heart rates. It took great faith in new advanced medical practices to believe in the high tech cath lab ablation procedure to fix his heart when he was only 4 years old. I’m happy to say he has been heart-healthy ever since.

It was also a heart attack that took the life of two of my uncles, both at the age of 50, one of which was my godfather. Watching my family go through the shock of losing them so suddenly at such young ages taught me to live everyday to the fullest and to always follow my heart.

Our hearts are extremely important. They are what show our passion. They allow us to follow our dreams. Most importantly it takes a healthy heart in order to accomplish all of that. I hope you all have a Happy Valentine’s Day and that you spend my favorite day doing what you love! 
 ~ Kesley Holdgrafer

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Farmers and Chefs

Recently while I was doing my annual livestock records for FFA I realized something while I was making lunch that day. I realized livestock farmers are kind of just like a big chef. When I was filling out my records with feed cost I was flipping through what my dad likes to call his Bible, his cattle binder filled with all his feed rations, feed cost, cattle weights, and prices. I had to write down all the rations for different weights of cattle. It actually reminds me of a cookbook.

During harvest season I helped my grandma in the kitchen. It wasn’t until then that I found out how much work it was to create the perfect recipe. Certain ingredients at specific measurements are mandatory if you want your cookies to come out of the oven looking like cookies. My grandma even made me my own little cookbook of my favorite recipes. She wrote down all of the recipes and put it in a little notebook for me. Since then I have been attempting these creations and if our fire alarm in our house could talk it would definitely tell you I have had multiple fails. If you asked my brothers they would say it’s okay, but it definitely doesn’t taste like grandmas no matter how exact I follow that recipe book.

All livestock farmers have their own recipe book. Not every ration they mix up is like the ration the next door neighbor uses. However, just like in a recipe book, each entry is designed to get to the same end goal. To fill you up. Every livestock farmer does it differently, but their livestock always reach their market weight and get full. So livestock farmers if you have always said you can’t cook, I believe you are fibbing because you cook up a mean ration for your animals everyday. They must like it too if they keep coming back to the bunk for more. Happy recipe testing, although my brothers claim I still need more practice!

- Kesley Holdgrafer

Change is Good

For some people change is bad. Most people like to keep everything the same. However with the crazy times we are living in right now, nothing is the same. The way we go about our everyday life is changing. We have even gotten much better at accepting these changes. Farmers have always been good at adapting to various situations and they know that plans can easily change in an instant. I think it is because farmer plans tend to revolve around the weather and we all know how fast an Iowa forecast can change!

This past week I had to adapt to change because my plans changed within a moment's notice. I was on my way to Oklahoma in the Cedar Rapids airport when my flight got cancelled. It was a crazy day. I had to quickly change airlines and airports. I was headed to the Cattlemen’s Congress, which was actually a change in venue for the Denver National Western Stock Show. Even locally, we have had to adapt to change. The pandemic is not allowing big gatherings, so the Clinton County Cattlemen will change their agenda as well. Their usual steak dinner banquet with an auction is now a drive thru ribeye meal.

Farmers have learned how to make changes on the go and many are used to it, however they haven’t accepted other things that need to change. Farmers usually dislike new clothes. They stick to their original uniform; plaid shirts, jeans, and boots. It’s never a good day when their favorite work boots have been discontinued and they must break in a new style, especially if their new boots give them a blister! Which reminds me, that’s my new nickname. When I got home from Oklahoma, I quickly changed my clothes and headed out to the cattle yard. My brothers were working some new cattle they just bought. As soon as I got in the yard, Brad was letting a calf out of the chute as he hollered, “Hello Blister!” I must’ve looked confused as he quickly explained, “You always show up when the work is done!” I would really like to change my new nickname but I must admit it was funny and I was really glad it was the last calf! 

~Kesley Holdgrafer