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 🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡

Brasil ultrapassa o EAU

I keep connected to our Sales Team in Brazil through a chat thread on WhatsApp. This group of fun-loving professionals takes great pride in their work and have a heightened passion for all-things agriculture. Earlier this week, Mario posted a chart that projects Brazil’s leadership in soy bean production.

Mario’s post was immediately followed by several comments and emoticons (applause, high fives, thumbs up) from the team as they congratulated themselves on this milestone.

Not wanting to curb their enthusiasm, I encouraged their celebration of Brazil’s world domination of soy beans, but gently reminded them that the U.S. still dominates global corn production. I punctuated my comment with an ear corn emoticon.

We quickly discovered that there is no emoticon for a soybean and a peanut is a poor substitute. I guess corn also dominates in the emoticon world.


Mow! Mow! Mow!

The prolonged winter created a late start to the mowing season in northwest Illinois. When it finally did warm up (for a short spell) the grass took off and now we’ve had more than four inches of rain in the first 20 days of May. Who can keep up?!

My buddy Kolton is trying to tame the grounds around our buildings and the pasture to the west, but in his rush, he missed a stretch. What’s a girl to do?!

Get out the Woods Zero-turn and finish the job. Considering it all needed to be mowed again the next day, it feels like we should be mowing in two shifts.

Who can keep up?!


Chocolate Towns

Last week, I enjoyed the hospitality of the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and this week, I’m across the Atlantic in Brussels, Belgium. Hershey was the host site of our Dealer Council Meeting, a twice-a-year opportunity to learn about their businesses and ours. Brussels is the home of our European operations, giving me a chance to meet with my fellow Team Members, customers, and distributors. Both are home to some of the world’s finest chocolate.

My visit to Europe was timed to also spend a day in Hannover, Germany, at Agritechnica, the world’s largest — and perhaps finest — agricultural exhibition. In a day, we barely scratched the surface, but we did manage to speed-visit every hall, but one.

What caught my attention? Everything! I felt like a kid in a chocolate shop! However, here’s what I found most photo-worthy: AGCO’s blacked and gray styled combines, sporting both Massey and Fendt badges.

The show returns again in two years, and I hope to have more time to explore. In the meantime, I’m back in Brussels, exploring the sites and sampling the chocolate.


Northern made, southern grown

Sundays are for church, breakfast at Mary’s Market, and grocery shopping. My grocery of choice is locally-owned Woodman’s for their broad selection, but I found last Sunday that their selection isn’t broad enough in one particular category: dark, leafy greens and more specifically, collard greens. Next stop, Valli Produce, our Mecca of international delights and produce galore!

Not only did Valli have collard greens, but they had my new favorite brand!

Since I had picked up Pecan oil in Georgia and since my friend Hillary had shared a jar of her sweetly hot pepper jelly, I now had the critical ingredients for the Baker Farms recipe Chef Holly had prepared in the Georgia Grown booth at Sunbelt Ag Expo:

And here’s the recipe for Georgia Grown’s Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette:

Both recipes are easy, but you have to plan ahead on prepping the greens because they need a lot of chill time to tenderize. Otherwise, the steps are easy!

First, clean the collards by washing them and cutting them in half lengthwise while removing the stems. Stack up several leaf halves, roll them up, and chop them.

Using this technique (which I learned at Disney Institute’s Culinary Challenge while chopping basil for a fierce Bruschetta competition), you’ll quickly end up with a lush bowl of yummy greeness.

Next step, douse them with the oil, salt, and pepper and massage them to start the tenderizing process.

Cover the bowl and stash the greens in the fridge for a long, cold nap. I prepped these greens the night before, which allowed me to sneak out a few for my lunch and save the bulk of them for dinner.

For the final prep, simply add the onions (sweet Vidalia’s of course!), mix up the dressing…

… and serve!

Collard greens pair nicely with oven-baked, paprika and cayenne-spiced chicken wings and a bright Chardonnay.

Bon appetit!


Georgia Grown

Georgia agriculture is one of the biggest economic engines in the state and it’s fueled by a vast array of farm products. At this week’s Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Georgia, I met cattle ranchers, sheep herdsmen, cotton farmers, peanut growers, produce farmers, and more. As a corn and soybean farmwife, I had a lot to learn and I soaked in all that Georgia Grown goodness!

My sister Mokie — who likes to enjoy my travel adventures from afar — challenged me to send selfies of me and products from the Great State of Georgia.

I started with one of the State’s most famous “food” products:

On a walk to the farm show’s field demonstrations, I stopped for some fresh churned Georgia Butter Pecan ice cream:

Out in the fields, I met a friendly Cotton and Peanut Farmer named Larry who taught me all about his crops:

The best part of Larry’s lesson, was the explanation of how peanuts are planted and harvested:

Along the way, I met two fascinating women from Baker Farms who not only taught me about their leafy greens growing and packaging operation, but took me to a cooking demonstration and shared recipes for collard greens. I hope to go back to visit their operation and taste some of the best of Georgia Grown!