Jim Woster

Jim Woster

My younger sister, Mary Alice, who is the educator in our family, sent a fun yet provocative email to her siblings on Christmas Eve. It read, “remember when Dad would take us for a bumpy ride in one of the Jeeps in search of Santa? Now the kids follow his travels online.”

To add to the technological advancement conversation, during our Christmas morning talk with daughter Sara in New York City, I mentioned the Mary Alice comment, and Sara replied, “Westy followed Santa on his phone last night.” I don’t mean to brag but he is only 8. When I mentioned to his Grandma how smart he must be, her answer was short and to the point, “I would guess that 80% of 8-year-old kids are capable of applying the same application.”

So much for boasting, huh? At least she saved me from proclaiming to the coffee group clan the brilliance of a Woster-McManus 8-year-old.

My goodness how the times have changed, but then you folks who live on the land know that better than anyone else. It’s almost impossible to truly grasp what has happened to agriculture since the days of narrow front-end tractors and fallowing for winter wheat. As time goes, I wish the old Stockyards guy could share in the technological advances, but the creator gives only so many talents to each of us and mine is ... okay, I’m pretty good at ... well, if push comes to shove, I can ... I’ll think of something before I end this effort.

As a perfect example of my technological prowess, about six years ago, to demonstrate that their father had moved into their world, I sent a text message to Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Brooklyn with the proclamation, “Look who’s texting!”

Almost immediately Sara, the Brooklyn daughter replied, “My Lord, Dad, a pig just flew by my window!”

I have written before about the importance of the telephone to the livestock business and how many changes have come about. All of us who spent time driving the country roads, calling the office, lining up trucks and everything else that is associated with the livestock business were heavily dependent on Graham Bell’s invention. We knew the location of most all of the pay phones and often had six or seven important business calls upon arrival at that particular location. My favorite was the row of phones located along Highway 34 in Howard, South Dakota. That bank of phones was never or seldom out of service – for whatever reason – very clean and most importantly, each possessed a cord long enough to allow a fellow to make his calls from the comfort of his front seat! Folks, that was living!

At our cattle auction, we had a “booth,” which offered two pay phones and a picture window that allowed the buyers the opportunity to take care of their phone business yet keep on bidding.

I shall never forget when Walt Jansma, the grandfather of Jansma Cattle Co., had the phone company install a receiver by his seat at the auction. After a week or two of all of us pondering this highly unique action, the race was on. Within a couple of months the place was filled with phones and each of us wondering how in the heck we got along before the installation?

Of course. that was followed by the cell phone and the rest is history. Actually, not history because I would suspect in this world of technology, there is more to come.

This is the weekend of the South Dakota Corn Growers annual conference, complete with a full day of education, a top notch social, speaker, silent auction and the Johnny Holm Band to wrap up the day.

It is also a good time for me to extend a thank you to each and every farm and ranch person, who serves on the board of a farm organization or commodity group such as South Dakota Corn. It is time consuming, including the sacrifice of being gone from the place for a few days. It can be demanding and often challenging, as decisions are made by the board involving legislation in Pierre, which research project to fund and other issues of vital interest to agriculture in our state. Be safe in your labors and thanks a million for all that you do.

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Jim is associate editor of Tri-State Neighbor and also works with the SDSU Alumni Foundation.