Less than two weeks left. Soon we can stop hearing about how bad every candidate is for us. I feel like a teacher separating an elementary recess scuffle when the students start to blame the other for their actions. Enough already. Instead of how bad the other candidate is, how about what you have going for you to do a good job? At least we will not be swamped with TV ads. No time. We are back in the fields again.
    The fields have dried out and the crops have dried down. We are in harvest mode. Our custom combiner called us during church on Sunday to say he was able to fit us in later that morning. We scrambled to pull grain wagons to the fields to capture the soybean harvest. With prices dropping, we have opted to store the beans for now. This is our first time storing beans, so there is a learning curve. Austin and Mark have been questioning the yields. They are much better than expected with all of the problems we had over the growing season from white mold, weeds and aphids. Sometimes things have a way of working out. It will be interesting to see where the corn yields end up.
    While we were waiting to get back in the fields, it left us with time to catch up on other projects. On warmer days, Mark was pressure washing the chopper and haybine for winter storage. I happened to be in the office when a call came in from a student at St. Cloud State University conducting a political survey. Now, I like to answer survey questions if they are done well. One of my college classes was about surveys, questions and purpose. I recognize when some survey questions are skewed to get a predetermined answer to support a particular purpose. I can really mess them up. This poor college student did not know what hit him. I would point out other answer options than the ones he listed. He had to go to his supervisor a couple of times for clarifications. My favorite question he asked was, “Who would make a better leader in government? A woman or a man?” I started to giggle and pointed out a third option. Good leadership is not based on gender. Good leadership is based on character and experiences.
    A good leader also surrounds themselves with a good support staff. My question to candidates is, who is on your staff? Who is going to read the entire farm bill and give you the Cliff notes version? Let us face it. There is no way any legislator can read all 700 pages of a single bill and understand everything in it. That is why they have staffers who specialize in certain areas. When agricultural groups lobby Washington, it is not to talk with the Senator. They will, of course, have their pictures taken to prove to each other that they met. The real person to talk with is their agricultural liaison. This is the person studying the entire bill. This is the person who is whispering in the ear of the Senator.
    We do discuss politics around our table with no major fights. No one belongs to a single party, but we do have favorite candidates we support. My dad said he was a Democrat because my mom’s family was blue blood Republicans. He liked to stir things up at the holiday table for fun. Some of my great uncles would take the bait, and Dad’s face would light up. He hooked a live one and the race was on.
     Sometimes we even combine politics with naming our calves. When we name calves, it is a moment in time captured and then forgotten until two years later when she walks in the barn. When we look up her name, we scratch our heads and wonder why in world did we name her that? Forgetting that two years earlier it was such a cute and hilarious play on words. The name can follow a certain letter or combination of letters for the cow family. It can also follow a theme. All of Christmas Fudge’s daughters’ names started with the letter F. Well there are only so many words you can use, so we started to get creative with the following generations.
     The line went as such: Fudge, Fireball, Firestone, Flame, Flicker and Fire. You get the picture. When it was time to breed Fire, Mark used a bull named Trump. We had no idea of what was to come. In January 2016, Fire had a Trump heifer calf. The Republican party had so many presidential candidates running that year, including a TV reality show host with a catch phrase. We could not resist. So, we named her Ralma Trump You’re Fired. We thought there was no way Trump would get the party endorsement. It was so funny. Two years later, Trump is President and You’re Fired walks in the barn after calving with a bull calf. A few months later, she was fired for not living up to expectations. She took a trailer ride to Long Prairie Packing.
    I know Election Day is right in the middle of the harvest season, but take a moment to go vote. This is not a test with right or wrong answers, but this is a test of our democratic system. We all need to participate in order to keep it working. Let the countdown begin to the end of the campaigning and to the start of working for the good of all.
    Natalie, Mark and his brother, Al, Schmitt farm together near Rice, Minn. They milk 100 registered Holsteins under the RALMA prefix. Their four children are great help around the farm and are pushing Natalie out of several jobs. Therefore she is thankful to have something else to do. For questions or comments please e-mail Natalie at mnschmitt@jetup.net.