On the Point

Spring through fall, our country life extends to the north woods of Wisconsin. Nearly two years ago, we bought a rustic fishing cabin on Beautiful Lake Alice — a cabin that was once part of a resort known as Al’s Point. Al’s was our family destination every July during “Cat Vacation.” Back then, and perhaps they still do, Caterpillar (my dad’s life-time employer) shut down for the last two weeks of July and many Peoria families would flee to “the land of sky blue water” (shout out to the Hamm’s Bear) in northern Wisconsin.

Traveling to our little 450 square-foot cabin is like coming home to me. Because I spent so many weeks of my childhood and teen years on this sandy point, lake-side living feels normal at a time when the world is anything but normal.

This past week, I’ve been working from the cabin. Through the power of Microsoft Teams and my incredibly talented co-workers, we strategized, collaborated, and created as if we were in the same room. I connected with Team Members across the United States, Europe, Brazil and even China… sitting right here on Al’s Point.


One Tractor, Two Friends, Three Hours, Twelve Yards

Spreading mulch is an overwhelming project when tackled alone. Bring in a tractor with a loader and a couple friends and an afternoon of sweat equity yields beautiful results.

Twelve yards is a lot, but not enough to cover the house, garden shed, and chicken coop beds, plus trees, vegetable garden fence line, and barn plantings. Four more yards are on order!

Next chore: getting out the spade and trimmer to cut in those crisp edges. I suppose we should have done that first, but I couldn’t resist the immediate transformation of fresh mulch.


And So It Begins

First Day of Planting 2020_CaseIH 290-Kinzie Planter

Farm Log: April 26, 2020 the official first day of planting.

Capturing this detail reminds me of my grandpa Tony, a first generation American and son of Italian immigrants who settled in the rocky Ozarks of Southwest Missouri. He recorded every detail of farm life on a wall calendar (free of course, because depression-era survivors knew how to stretch every penny) that hung on the back porch. Number of eggs collected. Birth of a calf. First day of planting. These were among the many details captured by Grandpa Tony. My father-in-law, Menten, also kept a farm log. His was in a pocket planner (free of course). Menten’s notebooks also documented farm activity. Number of hay bales stowed in the mow. Birth of a calf. First day of planting.  And, his were also sprinkled with family milestones. The day a grandchild was born. A wedding was celebrated. A funeral was commemorated.

In these delightful digital days, we have blogs, YouTube channels, and Instagram. A prolific bounty of visual documentation that the whole world can enjoy. And in this digital age, the next best thing to running your own equipment is watching other farmers run theirs. Thanks for that, MN Millenial Farmer, Stoney Ridge Farmer, Welker Farms. We love your farm logs. We weathered another winter watching you farm and now it’s time for us to roll.



Sage Abounds

Each year, I am blessed to travel to Brasada Ranch near Bend, Oregon to participate in our company’s Leadership Training program. The business topic for this particular module is Marketing and Strategy, so I have the joy of being a “sage on stage” and sharing our approach to New Product Development with the cohort.

As we gather in the high plains dessert, surrounded by scrubby sage brush, I can’t help but link the symbolism to the “sage” intentions of the program: developing wisdom, creating goodness, becoming grounded as a leader. The surroundings inspire!


From Products to Politics

The diversity of my work continually motivates and amazes me. After 20 years in this industry, one would think that I’d be used to the span of my assignments. Nope!

I started my week, with eight hours in the Yukon, traveling with three Co-workers: our newly-hired Tech Services Reps, Brandon; Product Manager, Anthony; and our VP of Engineering, Rob. Is there a better way to bond personally and professionally than a road trip? Perhaps a 4:00 am hotel evacuation for a fire alarm (false, thankfully).Tuesday morning, our crew joined up with the rest of Woods Team staffing our display at Ohio Farm Science Review. I loved that everyone responded immediately when our show manager, Jenn, handed out rags and squeegees and put us to work wiping the dew off equipment. A love of shiny orange metal and pride in our equipment unites us. In fact, perhaps the only thing that trumps “product pride” is the people that sell and use them. And, that’s the magic of trade shows: connecting our products with people who have a job to do and want to get it done right.

The capstone on the day was dinner at Villa Nova (order the gnocchi!) with dealer friend Howard Violet and two of his team members to celebrate the birthday of our District Manager, Super Dave. How much do our dealers love our DMs? Enough to make four stops to find a last-minute birthday cake!

Wednesday started with a flight to Washington DC to join the Association of Equipment Manufactures (AEM) annual fly-in. I arrived in DC, just as an Honor Flight was disembarking. God bless America!

Thursday’s schedule was stacked with seven meetings with elected officials to share AEM’s positions on agriculture (pass USMCA), infrastructure (shore up the Highway Trust Fund), trade (end tariffs) and workforce development (support training for trades and technical workers). Trekking through the hallways of Capitol Hill and having candid conversations with our officials reminded me of the importance of free speech and an accessible government. There’s a lot to hate about “the swamp,” but we do have a voice. God bless America!

We wrapped up our advocacy efforts at the White House, meeting with Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in the Roosevelt Room. He seemed as interested to hear what we had heard from our Wednesday meetings as he was to share the Administrations perspective on our issues — and why they struggle to get things done in Washington.

All-in-all, I’m logging this week with five hearts on the scale of how much I love my job. I’m grateful for the support of my team, co-workers, boss, and AEM — the makers of a five-heart week.

AKL 🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡