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April 1, 2011
The Importance of Communication
By: Joan Ruskamp
We all know communication is very important so that another person not only knows what we are saying but understands what we are saying.
Certain jobs require not only verbal communication but body language as well. I have come to learn the importance of understanding both the verbal and nonverbal forms in relation to farming and cattle feeding.
Before I became a farmer I worked at a veterinary clinic as a veterinary technician. One of the other ladies worked part-time and farmed with her husband. One summer day she was talking about walking beans on her day off. As a city girl who only noticed corn fields as a kid, I was trying to picture what it looked liked to walk beans. Did you walk around a field looking at beans? Did you pick beans-like the garden kind of green beans-and walk around with the bucket? I would learn in a couple of years that walking beans meant walking down rows in a soybean field with a hoe on hot summer days cutting out the weeds. The weeds were competition for the important moisture needed to produce soybeans, especially in conditions where we depend on the rain for all of the moisture.
This was only the beginning of a whole new vocabulary for me. There are many terms and expressions used around livestock and in farming that you need to experience to fully understand them. For example, I went to a chiropractor appointment for some shoulder pain and told the assistant it might be from running the chute. She looked at me puzzled and I said that the chute has levers above my head that help me catch cattle so we can give them vaccinations. When the doctor came in and read my notes he started laughing. The assistant spelled chute like shoot. Even with my brief explanation she still didn’t really understand what I was talking about because she had never seen a chute.
It is apparent that more and more people understand very little about what we do on our farms and ranches because they haven’t lived it. The best route to understand what is really happening on our farms and ranches is to go right to the source. I beg you not to let Hollywood give you the version that brings in box office receipts. We have nothing to hide!