This past year was a great one for both me and my blog, mainly because the blog is a personal one I guess. I have had a lot going on and I have shared a lot of it here on the blog. As I wrote this, I really enjoyed reviewing 2012. So while most of you may scan through it and pick and choose what you read based on things that you may have missed or really enjoyed, the process was a great one for me to go through as we ring in the New Year.
The Top 12 Posts by the Numbers
- The Measure of a Man — Kevin Eblen was 10 Foot Tall – The fact that my friend Kevin Eblen was loved far and wide was something I’ve known for years. When I sat down thinking about the loss all of us suffered when he died suddenly, it was really me processing the information and grief. I have been blown away by the sense of community that came from my sharing my personal connection & thoughts. The fact that thousands of people read this and that dozens felt compelled to contact me personally was a clear illustration that putting your heart out there can have healing powers. I love that its proved helpful to others, it sure has been for me.
- Cotton 101: What does a cotton plant or field look like? – Since the reason I started blogging was that many people haven’t had the chance to learn about cotton as a crop, this post ranking up there as the second highest post for 2012! What’s really cool is this pictoral post was a big draw in 2011 too — it was published in March 2011 after all! Love that so many people are interested in what a cotton plant looks like so this year I did a short video post on the topic.
- I’m Farming and I Grow It (@LMFAO Parody Video) Stories Behind It – The Peterson Farm Brothers came out of nowhere and have rocked the online farming world for sure. And I’ve had the chance to get to know Greg too. The passion he and his brothers have for their plants and animals is captivating. So much so, I wrote another post when I met Greg and Nathan in August for their live show of “I’m Farming & I Grow It” and again when they launched “Farmer Style” parody of PSY.
- Hurricane Isaac Dumps a Foot of Rain on Louisiana Farms and It’s Still Raining – Watching what was happening as Louisiana and Mississippi farmers braced for Hurricane Isaac was one thing, but as it dropped a foot of rain and I saw photos, I had to share. It’s amazing what Mother Nature throws at farmers as they go about growing the food that sustains us.
- Why Would a Farmer Put a Sign on a Cotton, Corn or Soybean Field? – This is a question that few farmers think of but it seems clear that people find it of great interest. This post was something that I was asked to write based on sharing some information from Illinois Farm Families. It seemed that some folks were looking for a good explanation about whether the signs denoted ownership or something else. Glad I could put my decades of being in the seed business to good use. It sure was a quick post to write!
- Paying Tribute to “Just a Farmer, Plain & Simple” – This post just keeps going. It was written in March 2010 after my friend Mike Haley spent some time telling me about his granddad. It was clear his granddad and other farmers deserve a tribute and the poem that was read at the funeral was something I wasn’t familiar with. It is such a great tribute and it seems that search engines help other people find it for their farmer friends & family too.
- What’s happened to Blackberry? Is anyone buying them? – Quite frankly, I wonder if more people read this post than bought Blackberry products this year. #nuffsaid
- What do cows eat and why? – Great guest post I asked large animal vet & friend Kathy Swift to write for me. I didn’t have a clue how diverse the diets of cattle were and why, but I have to say, she taught me a lot!
- Top 10 Cotton States in Area, Production, Yield & Value – It seems that stats I take for granted — things like how much cotton is grown where — is something that interests folks reading my blog. Will be sure I update this in the future.
- What Does Popcorn Look Like as it Pops? – On a lark, I put this together when I saw this really unique view of popcorn being popped. It really adds a different perspective on the crops popcorn farmers like Brandon & Zach Hunnicutt , Brian Scott aka The Farmers Life and Ryan Weeks produce.
- Why do they call the Dead Sea the “dead” sea? What makes it unique? – In 2011, I had the opportunity to join a group going to Israel and jumped at it. The Dead Sea was one of the most amazing places I have ever been and I guess other people find this wonder of the world intriguing enough that search engines have brought them to my post. Love remembering the trip and the great people I met on it.
- Cotton 101: How a Cotton Gin Works – In elementary or junior high school we all learn a bit about inventors and Eli Whitney and his breakthrough cotton gin is one that we always learn about, seems people are still interested in learning how a cotton gin works, pulling seed from lint.
Stand-Outs for Me
What stands out for me when I think about 2012? Several things that didn’t show up in the stats — so frequently the case. So let me run through a few big buckets:
I started off 2012 making a meaningful resolution which was a bit different for me. The post talked about how I was working on my health, with a focus on my weight. It has largely been a personal journey, with many friends and family encouraging me along. I’ve updated folks on progress a couple of times — giving a mid-year review and pointing out some of the weight loss tools I’m using. I’ve been really successful in losing weight in a slow and steady way which tends to provide people a greater chance of keeping the weight off. I feel great and have found a pretty good rhythm most of the time (though some travel is challenging and I need to exercise more). Although I still have a good bit of progress to make, I was getting large t-shirts at Christmas time instead of the XXL t-shirts I was wearing last year. That feels awesome!
I have had a good year in terms of social media too. The biggest accomplishment here is probably putting more real names, faces and voices to the people in the community I have here on the blog as well as on Facebook and Twitter. It is so easy to move a conversation along once you know a person beyond 140 characters! These meet-ups happened in various ways — attending meetings through work, personal travel, social media conferences and more.
This year was also the year that I jumped into the world of self-hosting my blog! That was definitely a move that changed things and while I’ve had a few bumps along the way, I have really enjoyed the move and think that the tools available to me through self-hosting are helping me build this blog. I have more plans for the coming year too starting off quickly with a 365 project that will chronicle some of the many faces and places I get to see in 2013.
- Meeting the Tweeps at the Cattlemen’s Conference #CIC12 #NCBA12
- More Fun Spending Time with Cowboys & Cowgirls at NCBA
- Meeting Corn, Soybean, Wheat & Sorghum Farmers — The Faces of #Classic12
- Why You Really Need to Participate in the State of Now!!! #140conf #140confDM
- Hope to See You at 140 Conference State of Now for Ag #140ConfAgIowa
- Two Major Social Media Events You Need To Attend #SMBSTL & #SmallTown2012
- Looking Forward to an April Trip to Iowa for #140conf!
- #AgNerd T-Shirts That Grabbed My Eye in Kansas City #ACFC12
I have had some incredible travel experiences this year and have learned so much at the same time! Friends I’ve met through agriculture and social media welcomed me into their homes and showed me around their farms and ranches. I’ve written up some of those trips and am continuing to write them up but I have to say, the indelible marks on my heart are much greater than the blog posts I’ve written and photos I’ve shared but the blog posts help share the experiences. So the travel experiences that stand out in 2012 include:
- Hawaii — What a way to start a New Year! I went for work and was able to take a few days vacation while I was there too. The vacation came first! I had the chance to see my favorite fiber growing in a tropical location — yep, during vacation on the Big Island, I came across a cotton plant in Hawaii! We stumbled on some of the best fish tacos this world will ever know thanks to a food truck a park ranger pointed us to. Another great meal came once I had gone to Honolulu to get started with the Farm Bureau meeting… it was at well-known chef Alan Wong’s The Pineapple Room and I had met the farmer who had grown the greens for my salad. Some of the work posts you may enjoy seeing too — they were posted to the Farm Bureau blog or Monsanto’s Beyond the Rows.
New York with my nephew! — The fact that I had the foresight to give nieces and nephews a trip for their 16th birthdays that we get to enjoy together still reaps dividends. The trip was a great chance to see a city that I love with one of the great people I love. Having had years where the Empire State Building was on the horizon, it was especially nice that Kazu picked New York. We had lots of time to see the sights, talk about things that matter to us, let travel teach us all sorts of things and enjoy quite a few great meals! We saw the Manhattan Skyline and the Statue of Liberty from the Water and I even admitted that I was Changing Ideas on When People “Get Old” and the Sexes
- North Dakota — Having never been to North Dakota, I can say I have checked that one off my list. And not just once, I went three times this year! Not sure what I was waiting on, but I have to say, the experience was awesome. I’ve shared several stories on the trips, the titles/links follow:
- Can Southern Hospitality be matched in the Dakotas?
- City Slicker Working Cows? A Dakota Vacation Experience
- Weaning Calves on the Hadricks’ South Dakota Ranch VIDEO
- Parenting on the Prairie Photos from my Dakota Vacation
- Learning About Sunflowers Right From the Farmer Who Grows Them
- The Impacts of Climate Change on Me This Week
- Well Damn! I Just Realized I May Have Channeled Willie from Duck Dynasty!
- California — Thanksgiving vacation was a real change of pace for me this year — I flew into Portland, Oregon and began a series of adventures by staying with a college friend. In just over a week of vacation, I was able to visit friends in lots of different places and see so many different sights that I’m still reminding myself of things I need to write up…. and I’ve written lots already!
- My Vacation on Instagram — Pick a Photo, Any Photo
- A Progressive Vacation & Absolute Flexibility in #Travel
- A Rainbow in the Cascade Mountains
- Birds Dance to Celebrate Thanksgiving
- Truly Thankful on My Birthday
- Video of Giacomazzi Dairy Farm Inspires a Visit Even If Delayed
- Every Picture Tells a Story — Raisin Farms in the San Joaquin Valley
- Every Picture Tells a Story — Burnside Skatepark in Portland, Oregon VIDEO
- A Great Cheeseburger in Downtown Portland & A Bloody Mary Bar
- What’s up with that green screen? Who’s talking about what?
What a year!
Looking through all of this, I am truly thankful that I decided to capture things as they happen. Sure I miss some really great things during the year, but the blog provides a great touch point throughout the year. And getting started with the 365 project, capturing faces and places I get to in 2013 will help round things out some more! I’ve signed up for the official challenge at http://365project.org/jplovescotton and will share them on my Google+ stream as well. Thanks to a tip from Judi Graff aka FARMnWIFE I am considering using the Photo Journal App on my iPhone to periodically make them into videos. We will definitely see what 2013 brings in photos here on the blog!
What can I do better?
I love constructive feedback so I didn’t want to close this post without asking what you think I can do to improve things. Please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments or if you’d prefer your suggestion be kept private, you can put it in this form which will mail me the message.