Yes, it is appropriate to wish you a happy New Year on this first day of 2010. Since I don't know how you welcomed in the New Year last night, if you had to sleep in because it was a late night, that's OK. Or if you are up and about and ready to get started early on the new year, with family or friends, that is also a good way to start the year.
Have you made plans for something special early this year to make the winter a bit shorter? Some folks will be headed for the warmer climate and sunshine of Florida or Arizona. Others will be staying home by the fire enjoying the snow and hoping it doesn't get too deep. An occasional person, like my nephew Dean Parker, may have more ambitious plans.
In fact, Dean, who lives in North Bloomfield, went to the country of Turkey on Tuesday and is in that country now. Dean and his wife, Peg, have a daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren living over there, so he has a special reason for the journey to that interesting part of the world.
Along with his family over there, Dean will be volunteering as an agricultural technical adviser, working with individual farmers. For some time he has be communicating with a young man in Turkey who wants to start a dairy farm. Problem is this man knows nothing about dairy farming and everything that is involved to get established in the business. So Dean has been challenged to try to explain, long distance, what needs to be done to start and operate a profitable herd of milk cows.
Pictures that I have seen of the facilities available for this herd of cows are clean and fairly modern. Few changes would be needed to fill the barn but I didn't have information about the milk facilities or milk house. And sanitation requirements over there are another issue.
So Dean will have his work cut out for him to help get a working dairy farm in operation - if it will be possible. Step No. 1 for this young man is knowing what the market will be for his milk. Without a market that will allow him to sell his milk and make a reasonable profit, he should not go into the business.
Since I'm not sure what other kinds of projects he will work with, I assume Dean will have an interesting month in Turkey. Travel to foreign countries can be interesting, especially if one can get to know the people and work personally with them.
To me, helping people in underdeveloped countries to help themselves is one of the best ways that we can encourage peace in this world. We have so much agricultural technology that could be shared and would help others. But it needs to be practical and inexpensive.
Simple hand tools that we no longer use can be a big help in some areas. For example, what we called a hand corn "stabber" to plant seed can double or triple yields. It is a simple hollow-pointed tool, with seed box above that goes into the ground and plants the right number of seeds in each hill. By our standards, it isn't expensive, but it might be in a poorer country, so we might need to donate them to help. But that would be cheap compared to some of the other things we do.
So as we start this year 2010, let's look at ways we can help others in these troubling times in our country. At the same time, let's support practical, inexpensive ways to help others in much less fortunate countries. One example I am aware of is the Heifer International program. It provides livestock of various kinds that are then shared from the donation of first born to others, along with technical help to care for the animals.
Finally, one way I will start the new year is by cheering for Ohio State in the Rose Bowl this evening. Go Bucks!
Parker is an independent writer for the Tribune Chronicle.