Way back many years ago, riding in the combine was always an awesome experience — we had a Massey Ferguson 410 that when I was little had enough of a ledge behind and to the side of the seat that I could ride right up there like it was made for me — it wasn’t like today where there was a seat for the rider. Anyway, it was always a pleasant experience for me when I got the opportunity to ride along, I was all in.

So, these days in the fall of the year in my role as seed salesman I get to ride in a lot of combines and learn a lot of things. Last week, I got to ride with two of my favorite people in Danny Newell and Jim Tibken. When I ride with Danny, I always get a chance to talk about sports and other worldly problems, actually I think if some of the politicians were to ride with us, they would gain quite a bit of insight on how things should be done. I also got a chance to see Denny Newell, Dan’s dad — I think that day it might have been his birthday, not sure though, he seems to have a lot of birthdays.

One of the hot topics if you will in the ag industry is finding enough seasonal or temporary workers who can work that four to five weeks it takes to plant, or in this case, harvest the grain. Both Danny Newell and Jim Tibken are blessed with people to help them. Dan has his dad, sons Dylan and Dre, and his nephew Travis. plus a couple of friends, Joel Jacobsen and Hoser that’s Steve Sisler for those of you who didn’t know. Jim has sons Tucker and Brook who help him. We discussed the shortage of people to help — that will be a real problem in years to come. My friend, Bob Anstey, whose middle name is apparently spelled Allen, (he can be a bit sensitive sometimes) has a variety of different helpers who come and help him at different times. I think the reason he has it so good is his charming personality and sunny disposition — it just seems to attract good people. One problem I have when riding with Dan is he is always wanting to bring up a call that was made by one of my crew when Dre was the center in AJSA football and moved the ball -that is a penalty — I didn’t call it, but he has a memory that is very long and somewhat selective so therefore I take the abuse. I also got to spend a good deal of time in the combine with George Behrends who drives son Curt’s combine while Curt hauls all that Channel corn that does so well to the bins. It is always very enlightening and George is always very hospitable.

Back to my ride with Jim Tibken — however you color it, Jim has been around for more than a few harvests and seen many different things, which is what I wanted to pick his brain about. I believe we finally decided that Jim has been through 55 harvests, almost as many as years I have been around. That is very impressive. We talked about horses involved with harvest — Jim hadn’t participated in any of those, but told me that he did remember they planted their potatoes for the garden with a team of horses. I know that seemed hard to believe as we were in Jim’s big twin rotor New Holland combine — we think technology has changed with cell phones, iPad and such, but imagine a farmer who was used to horse drawn plows jumping on some of the modern machinery. I was also fortunate enough to talk to Jim about his farming background — his daughter Shara was in Germany at the time on an exchange program through her job. The family name Tibken is of German descent, and is quite popular to this day in Germany. And she was doing some research and despite hitting some dead ends she was able to find the old Tibken family farm where Jim’s family had immigrated from and it dates back to the 1550’s — yeah, I guess you could say Jim has a little farming in his blood. I only hope I can get around and look as good as Jim when he told me his age. I almost laughed because I thought he was pulling my leg, but then I did the math in my head of how old I was and remembering him from his softball playing days in Massena and yeah he could be that old. And by the way, Jim was a very good player and a great competitor on the softball diamond. And for any of you that think Jim might be slowing down. he has the boys Tucker and Brook and Tucker’s twins Logan and Landon will be old enough to help “Papa” out before long, so I don’t think the farming way of life is in any danger of falling by the wayside in the Tibken family. Part of the reason they are able to do as much as they are is because they have great wives — Pam, who is Jim’s wife is a retired school teacher (insert don’t you have to be old to retire) and Tucker’s wife Kim, who is a great marketer in her own right, to feed them and look after the kids and grandkids, no small task in itself.

It is sometimes sad when I am out and about selling seed and there is a grower here or there who has farmed their entire life and has no children even remotely interested in farming despite the fact that there father has a very good set up and they could basically work their way in to the family business. No, farming isn’t always fun, but then neither is any other job in the world -there will always be days that make you want to pull your hair out, but when you are a farmer you can definitely see that you are getting something done. It is an honest way of life not an easy one and you can’t control a lot of what you do there anymore than you can in anything else because the weather is involved.

On a footnote, I have had more than my fair share of doctor’s visits this year with a knee replacement in February and a total shoulder replacement in August, however recently when I was at the doctor I told my favorite nurse Amber that I am a proactive advocate for my providers, like a one man walking advertisement because I hear people squawking all the time about how bad their doctor is. Well mine are all awesome -Dr. Weresh, Dr. Berry, Dr. Davick and the whole physical therapy department at CCHS — because if I don’t say something nice Kathy Denning might really hurt me -I still have therapy left on my shoulder. All kidding aside, I have been up there so much this year I am not sure they do not have a special area just for me and they are all awesome. Anyway Amber informed me she was not my provider. I quickly informed her it was a package deal that she came with Dr. Berry and that is that, it’s like that everywhere- the doctors are great, but without the nurses and physicians assistants because I can’t forget Brandi Lawson and Zac Hollingsworth, Dr Davick’s and Dr. Weresh’s P.A.’s respectively, they wouldn’t be able to be as great as they are without them. This is probably why when my wife takes me to an appointment to see the doctor she has “the talk,” so I don’t say anything to embarrass her. I said, “Sure honey, I will behave so you don’t go ‘all Bob’ on me.”

Have a great Thanksgiving. Enjoy your family and friends and hope the Hawks and the Chiefs get their poop in a group real soon!