#2 Grit and Perserverance

posted on Sunday, January 15, 2017

As early as 4:00 a.m., our leaders are up and making notes and plans for the day, between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. our farms awaken and feeders rumble to life. By 7:05 a.m., most everyone’s plans for the day have changed as maintenance, transportation, health services, nutrient management, warehousing, feed and human resource teams begin fielding calls from farm managers and supervisors. A few of our finishing supervisors are headed back home to regroup after answering 3 a.m. alarm calls, and the first round of our owner/operators begin dropping off trailers at the market wash after hauling two or three loads to the packer through the evening and wee hours.

Transporting, feeding and caring for animals happens 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No holidays, no vacations, no sick days. The shelter we provide protects our animals from the rain, snow, ice, heat and predators, and the technology we utilize gives them an almost precisely comfortable environment. But the reality is…nothing about this job is easy.

Ice and snow can throw a monkey wrench into weeks and months of planning, significant winter events require employees to spend the night inside the farms while supervisors and special project teams are working their way in, clearing out driveways so feed and livestock trucks can get access and new teams of employees can get in and provide relief.

This spring and summer brought flooding to many of our rural communities, and while this season’s tornadoes thankfully left our farms alone, fires caused damage to a nursery farm in central Iowa, a sow farm in northern Iowa and a GDU in southern Iowa. We were incredibly thankful that no people or pigs were injured, and extremely grateful to the firefighters in the communities of Corning, Creston, Lenox, Lyle, Riceville, Rowan, Belmond and Clarion for responding quickly to put the fires out. You guys are fantastic.

Many caretaking teams, optimistic about their sow health and farm’s performance, took big punches to the gut after hearing their farms had broken with PRRS.

Technology glitches, mechanical things break, pipes freeze, farms get short staffed, and all of the extra work created by depop/repops and remodels takes a toll on our construction, production and transportation teams.

Tonight most of our state is under a severe ice and winter storm warning. Thank you to our caretakers and teams in advance for moving up loads and feed deliveries and getting out to the farms early today and staying the night. Everyone be safe.

When it comes to these challenges we are not unlike any other farmer or livestock producer, in Iowa or in any other state. This is tough work and it’s not for everyone. Through these challenges we learn a lot about what it takes to be caretaker—it takes an exceptional amount of grit, a whole lot of courage and the ability to pick yourself up after a fall and keep going. It takes a high degree of care, a lot of teamwork, a commitment to always doing what is right, and an accountability to get the job done even when the day is challenging.

Through these challenges we’ve also learned how to be tough, how to get better, how to help each other out, how to respond to setbacks and how to learn from our mistakes. It’s these very things that make us strong and sustainable. We also know we have some of the toughest and most dedicated employees, contractors and owner/ops hand’s down, which is why we have made this the #2 highlight from 2016. Everyone be safe out there.