ReachOut: At The End Of The Day


Things that last less than 100 weeks:

  1. My gym attendance
  2. Most TV shows
  3. The aging process of a fine cheese
  4. Every relationship I had with a girl in high school
  5. Two cropping cycles
  6. The line at the DMV (but barely)
  7. Second grade (yes, I made it though in one year)

Today, friends, I am proud to say that this article escapes this list.  What you’re reading right now is the 100th installment of the Reach Out series and it seems to me a fine time to turn around and see where it came from.

Mike Zwingman

Mike Zwingman

I had the idea for this series long, long ago, but fear basically kept me from writing it.  I was afraid of the time it would take, the commitment, the possibility of rejection (see “high school girlfriends” in list above).  When a higher-up finally tasked me with it 100 weeks ago, it felt like a punishment.  Like I’d shot my mouth off or slighted someone unknowingly and now they were going to stick it to me, and make me write.  Every.  Freaking.  Week.

But here I am, humbled by the reality of this milestone.

This is a tough article to write because on one hand, I want a parade and fireworks and an admiralship in the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska.  On the other hand, this is just another article, like a birthday is just another birthday, and I’m chastened by the things that people endure for far more than 100 weeks, like deployments overseas.

That thought is so chastening in fact, that I nearly just skipped mention of this milestone and wrote a nice, boring article about Ascend and baseball metrics (which I’m certain will show up as article #101).  But there are so many people to thank, and I have learned so much by this experience, that ignoring it felt inauthentic and like a wasted opportunity.

Just a few things bring me just absolute joy: my daughters, my dog, planters, and when somebody tells me that they read my articles.  I am endlessly amazed that anyone cares what I think.  And I am endlessly grateful that anyone cares what I think.  Because of this, I have become a better agronomist: I have read more and studied more to be sure that what I write is valid.  I’ve had to learn to make high level science accessible and useable.  More importantly, because of this, I’ve become a better person: I’ve grown in patience and perseverance.  I’ve learned discipline.  I’ve learned to laugh more at myself (because if not, this series wouldn’t have survived past article #4).

ReachOut: At the End of the Day from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

I learn from you, my friends, every week and my list of writing maxims is added to continually:

  1. Don’t be too serious—they don’t like it.
  2. Create a little discord—it’s a good thing.
  3. Timeliness is a win.  Passion is a win.
  4. Winter drags on.
  5. Don’t quit taking it to them re: planter speed/recreational tillage/etc.
  6. Math is painful—share the pain.
  7. Don’t promise a series—it never happens.  (Except for one that did, about planters, of course.)
  8. When in doubt, be self-depricating.

I haven’t loved every article I’ve written.  That’s a reality of writing every week.  I’d rephrase a lot of what I’ve written if given the chance, but I wouldn’t take any of it back.  I’ve done my best to push this series toward genius, rather than letting it dither as just some place to run my big mouth, though I realize that rarely, if ever, have I achieved even glimpses of genius.  It’s okay.

It’s okay so long as I’m responsible to you and responsible to our trade and responsible to our earth.  You know that I’m not a farmer.  My legacy to my daughters won’t be land or equipment or a successful business.  I’m an agronomist.  My legacy is the research that I do and how I enact it in the world.  This article is part and parcel of that legacy, evidence that I tried to make a difference.

It’s a pain, but a great honor to write. And an even greater honor to be read.

So thanks to the team who makes it possible week in and week out; thanks to the person who gave me the gentle nudge to just do it already; and thanks to you all who give five minutes of your precious time and humor my little project here.  You all are in my heart and my head, my motivation and audience and I endeavor to write yet another week.