1. My little family attended Salute to Ag Day at the University of Illinois football game this weekend. The game was great, if a little toasty, but the College of ACES tailgate was the best. Good people. Good times.
2. Friday night, my niece, Kaity, and I attended the ACES College Connection event, where they handed out various awards. Among them: the ACES Family Spirit award, which went to the Wright family. They were a farm family of 10 boys in the early part of the century, and sent six of them to the College of Agriculture at U of I - many during the Depression. Four graduated, some went off to war(s), cousins followed in their footsteps and another 22 children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have since graduated - many from the College of Ag/ACES. That is, in a word, impressive.
3. Veterinarian K.T. Wright, of the aforementioned family, spoke about his family and what they've all gone on to do in various sectors of agriculture. Again, impressive. And it made me think about connections. His dad worked FBFM records with Ed McMillan's dad; Orion Samuelson emceed and mentioned how he had worked with somebody else for pretty much forever; one of the 4-H award winners told how he was mentored in 4-H by a former Illinois Director of Ag (Gordon Ropp); closer to home, my dad has sold cattle to Max Armstrong's dad. Conclusion: this is the stuff that makes agriculture a family.
4. Have you heard of this? Thoughts?
5. Hold the phone: it rained Saturday night! The first lightning and thunder cracked at 3:27 a.m. and rain fell and I struggled to figure out what these foreign sounds were. Then the littlest superfan appeared at our bedside at approximately 3:28 a.m., and rain fell - hard - for the next hour and a half. Our power blinked and everything! It was awesome. Our last measurable rain came sometime during the last week of July. This one might just have saved the beans, which up until now, looked beautiful from the road but had BBs in the pods. Rain amounts varied drastically; we got 3.5 inches at our house, 4 inches at the farm 3 miles up the road; neighbors to the north of there got 4.5, and it ticked upward to 6 inches north of Avon. Ten miles west of us got maybe an inch; fifteen miles to the east got 4/10. Which is to say, it was a narrow band and we were fortunate. We've missed every other one this summer and it felt good to wake up this morning, smell rain and know we'd caught a break.
6. Instagram. Do you Instagram? I kind of love it. But I like photos. And especially farm photos. If you're there, follow me at @hspangler. I'll follow you back and we'll be photo friends and it will be fun.
7. Jenny Dewey and Mark Rohrich got married this weekend. This is noteworthy because they are agriculture aficionados who met via social media and AgChat circles. She's from California and he's from North Dakota, and they got married in Montana. The photos are beautiful and filled with sunflowers and come on: that's just a cool story. I hear they live-streamed the wedding for their social media ag friends about the country but I can't confirm: at that point, I was driving home from a football game with three small sweaty children, my niece and my mother-in-law. Best wishes to the Rohriches!
8. Love this: Betsie Estes is a Chicago mom who participated in the Illinois Farm Families' Field Mom program last year. She came to the Farm Progress Show a couple weeks ago. We messaged a little about getting together and she said, "I'm sure we'll run into each other." And I thought, that is so cute…she has no idea. But that's ok! And you never know; I did run into my childhood best friend's parents at the intersection of Central and Third streets but never did bump into Betsie. That's ok, too; she had a full day of speaking and media obligations. And then she came home and wrote this. It's worth a read and it's a reminder of the good stuff that program is generating.
9. At the end of our long day of tailgating, football watching, touchdown cheering, ice cream eating, band watching and car traveling, we were talking with our littlest superfan at home that evening and someone mentioned the Illini win. She stopped in her tracks. "Illinois won? Really?" Further confirmation that life must be so very confusing when you're five.
10. Sunday night, we kicked off the new youth group year at our church with a 50-foot homemade slip and slide. It was a blast and only maybe three people actually wound up bleeding. We call that a win. We also have several photos and videos that should be useful for insurance purposes. Incidentally, what is it with farmers and this stuff? One of our most recent Master Farmers built a similar slip and slide for his youth group's kickoff last week, to such a scale that it apparently required the farm's water trailer. I also have vivid memories of my husband and his college buddies building a waterslide in the back lot at Nabor House, which may have involved black plastic, plywood, straw bales, a sump pump and some minor electrocution. Their memories may not be quite so vivid. And that's all I'll say about that.
11. Ok, I lied. I thought of one more: If you're a College of ACES grad living in the greater western Illinois region, you should consider joining us for an ACES in Places alumni event next week. It's at the Wyffels Hybrids seed plant on September 17. We'll have tours and I'll have a few words to say. Register here. I-L-L, baby!