ISA staff member by tree in Iowa

(Photo: Iowa Soybean Association)

The Last Word: Birds of a Feather

January 19, 2022

I don’t have a dishwasher in our farmhouse.

I spend hours at the kitchen sink, hand-washing all of the things used in cooking and serving meals for four children and a husband. We have almost every other modern convenience in our home, but that particular appliance just hasn’t been enough of a priority for us to invest in yet. We will. But for now, I treasure the time I’m forced to slow down.

Standing at the sink, systematically working through the stack of dishes, has become a sacred time for me to think. There’s a window above the sink and a tree outside the window. We’ve put a host of bird feeders in the branches of the tree. The kids even painted birdhouses, and my husband hung them up. The houses instantly became homes.

Just like that, I became a bird person.

Truthfully, I don’t know much about birds, but I’m learning. I’ve gotten to know some of them by their personalities and habits. I’m always happy when a new species shows up to make its introduction. (With the amount of money we’ve spent on bird feed, we could have afforded a dishwasher, but that defeats the point.)

As I stand at the kitchen window, washing dishes and watching birds, I “write.” I compose this column in my head, thinking about you guys. I intend to be thoughtful with what you read on this page. The words I choose to transfer to paper are never written in the office cubicle in where I spend my working hours. This column is always drafted off-site, usually in the early morning hours when the house is quiet, and the coffee is hot. My efforts feel more authentic that way.

Before Christmas, I spent time with the Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) board of directors and other staff members analyzing the future of agriculture during a strategic thought leader exercise. The agricultural sector is poised to undergo a massive transformation in the next 20 years. Just thinking about the future state of soy is both incredibly exciting and overwhelmingly nerve-wracking. There’s so much to consider.

As a long-time ISA employee, I can assure you, the farmer directors working on your behalf are top-notch. This organization is not only ready for this new year; it’s ready for the next two decades. Good things are ahead. I can’t wait to embark on this journey with you.

In the meantime, I’ve got dishes to do. Let me know if you have any bird expertise to share with me.

Be well, my friends.

Ann Clinton