President's Message: Weathering the Storm

Posted by Kenyon Gleason on 6/16/22 9:09 AM

Kenyon Gleason, NASGW President

One of the greatest things about going home is all the things you remember about your past. It’s like the fog clearing on a bright and sunny morning.

As I write this column, I’m “home” spending time at the farm I grew up on in North Dakota. In the middle of our time here, we got a soaker of a rainstorm. Over three inches of rain came in just a few hours. Pretty much anywhere in the country, when you get that much water, that fast, it usually leads to some pretty good flooding. When you consider the fact that the waters were just receding from the last heavy downpour, it made the flooding seem even more dramatic.

From a purely farming mindset, you generally do not want to look negatively on additional moisture. But when your fields are flooding yet again, following one of the wettest spring seasons you’ve had in some time, it can be a little trying on your patience.

But from a child’s perspective – certainly mine when I was a kid – the aftermath of a big rain event was usually a big opportunity.

You see, where I grew up, we didn’t have a pool in the back yard. Our pool was the stock dam (muddy swamp) in the pasture or occasionally, the much larger lake (giant slough ringed with cattails) a few miles away. And on rare occasions when the river was low, we’d spend some extra time swimming between the muddy banks of the Sheyenne River.

But when it rained, a lot, we suddenly had a whole new selection of swimming pools… most of them in our roadside ditches and the grass in our yard made a great slip-and-slide into these “pools.” Many times, it would even still be raining but I’d still join my three brothers for some redneck swimming.

I can’t say my mom was ever happy about the impromptu swimming suits we used, which often consisted of our pants, socks, shoes and shirts, but she was probably a little relieved that she was getting a break from the many shenanigans that only four brothers can find. We were a lot to keep up with, so I’m guessing she was willing to let it slide.


It all got me thinking as I watched the remnants of the storm clouds roll away and the new swimming hole in the ditch beckon me in, of just how carefree and wonderful that time was… and is. Growing up on the farm we certainly didn’t let the storms of life get us down – we usually turned them into something good.

One could hardly argue that we’re faced with plenty of storms in our life today and that our industry is faced yet again with some torrential downpours. As the activists scream for gun control, and the politicians try to placate their constituents with more meaningless and ineffective gun laws, those of us in the industry are left to deal with today’s onslaught of political theater. We’re left to wonder why the laws we have today are so clearly ignored and so clearly under-enforced.

But of course, it’s easier to blame something that can’t talk back. It’s easier to blame an object than to get serious about discussing how societal and cultural decay is leading to a growing lack of respect for life, morals, values and humanity in general. It’s much easier to say “the gun’s at fault” than it is to admit that evil exists and we must do all we can to stamp it out.

We are all mourning the senseless and tragic loss of life from the recent shooting events. Not one single person that I know isn’t mortified and horrified by what’s happened in our country and what’s happened in classrooms and grocery stores and anywhere else evil has struck.

Will more laws help? Likely not. Criminals don’t follow the laws we have. Will more policy-making politicos hell-bent on winning their next election be our saving grace? I kind of doubt it.

Our country was founded on a very big promise…

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” – United States Declaration of Independence

To continue to make this promise real for all Americans, we must find a way to talk to each other rather than shouting back and forth through social media or on the network news.

Some might accuse me of being a bit too romantic or stuck in the ideals of the past. I’d call myself a pragmatist, with a healthy understanding that we all need to work harder at being better people. We all need to work harder at forgiveness and compassion. We all just need to work harder at being human.

As we do that, I hope that all of you are preparing and planning for the upcoming celebration of the July 4th holiday. Enjoy your time with family and friends and celebrate the greatness that still is the United States of America. Together, we will weather the storms.

Until next time,

Kenyon Gleason
NASGW President

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