On July 17th and 18th, 2018, Countryside employees from all locations and departments attended Safety Days in Menomonie. The purpose of this training is to maximize awareness of potential hazards and situations, and minimize harm to employees and those we serve.
To start the morning, the entire group listened to our keynote speaker from Russel Associates who discussed the importance of building a strong culture that incorporates safety as part of the actual job description and not just an add-on afterthought. Our second guest speaker from Eau Claire Energy Cooperative discussed electricity safety. As a group we learned to be aware of what has a charge and what doesn’t, how many volts things like lines on poles and transformers carry, what happens when equipment like a truck or a sprayer gets tangled in a power line, and if it does how to handle the situation when you don’t know if the line is grounded or not. One of the most important takeaways from this lesson was learning that you won’t know if the line is live or not after it’s been torn from the pole, and it could become re-energized while you’re tangled in it, so it needs to be grounded by someone from the utility company. Since the ground may be charged from the line around your vehicle, you should not leave your vehicle if you can help it. If you must leave the vehicle, jump and do so straight down with both feet hitting the ground. We learned how to identify which company the line or transformer belongs to by looking at the information tag and number sequences. We discussed “situational awareness”- meaning, being aware of what is happening around you. Do a check of overhead and underground wires and hazards when driving equipment. Pay attention and be aware of what is happening around you and what you are doing. Always ask for locates for underground wires before digging, call if the locates don’t look right, and to be safe stay 18 inches away from locates in all directions. At home, call 811 before digging, and they will come paint lines on your yard to stay away from. Remember an underground transformer is just as powerful as an overhead transformer. If you have trucks and equipment coming in and out of your yard, call to get the lines lifted- it’s usually done at no cost to you.
Next, employees could choose sessions based on what they were interested in or what was relevant to their departments- whether they’re a driver, a C-Store employee, they work in agronomy or grain or the main office. One that was especially important for us to stay up to date on the latest safety regulations and standards was the OSHA Updates session. We talked in depth about slips, trips and falls- what OSHA is changing to minimize them, and how Countryside can implement changes to keep them from happening. We learned about ladder safety systems and personal fall arrest systems that are being implemented on and around stationary ladders- OSHA has strict requirements for ladder performance maintenance. Personal fall protection includes systems like hooks that anchor you to a line on roofs (for example, we have these at our New Richmond location for when employees load rail cars and have to walk across the cars to open up the lids). In C-Stores, one of the biggest potential safety issues is slips and falls, which can be caused by unsafe or unclean floor conditions, inappropriate footwear, improper hazard identification or insufficient training. The purpose of this session was to eliminate those last two reasons- so our employees are always identifying and taking care of hazards before they can harm anyone. We were taught to look for hazards around our locations such as grease and oil, ice and snow in the winter months, polished floors, improper footwear, loose flooring or poor housekeeping and correct these as soon as possible. Our speaker also went over how the body moves and is affected by a fall before jumping into an overview of ladder safety systems like carriers, safety sleeves, lanyards and connectors. He noted body harness fall protection must be provided when anyone is 4 feet off the ground.
Next door to this session, our own Safety and Compliance Division Manager Dean Danielson discussed how to deliver safety and positive experiences in our C-Stores. He covered things like keeping areas clean, maintaining dispensers and common areas, and more intense topics like handling emergencies, filling out an incident report and starting active spill response. An intricate and often confusing situation, containing fuel spills involves identifying how large the spill is, checking the surface of the spill for porous spots where the fuel could be absorbed, how to prevent the spill from spreading, and who to contact if the spill seems too large to quickly clean up. We also broke down the contents of the spill kit all C-Stores are equipped with and learned how to use them.
Outside, groups got a demonstration of proper fire extinguisher use and a lesson on determining if it is appropriate to use a fire extinguisher on a flame or simply exit and wait for help. Our session instructor told us gas fires are nothing to mess with, a kitchen fire can most likely be smothered (a fire extinguisher will just make a big mess), and paper or wood fires can most likely be taken care of with a water fire extinguisher or hose. Businesses like ours need to have monthly service checks on their extinguishers to make sure everything is in working order, there is plenty of powder in the canister, and the hose is clear. Home extinguishers should still be checked, and you can do this yourself by tipping the extinguisher upside down and tapping the bottom with a rubber hammer to hear the powder move. Everyone in the session got a chance to put out a small contained fire with an extinguisher to practice.
One other session was the driving simulator- shown below, employees had the chance to use a computer program that simulated driving either a semi down the road or a tractor, combine or sprayer through the field. They have a physical wheel that feeds to the screen, and the sprayer simulator has a control pad much like a “real life” sprayer would have. The simulator is going to be implemented in our agronomy department for new employees.
Safety Days is such an important event and training for our employees that we make sure everyone from all locations and departments attend. We take pride in our facilities and our employees and want to be sure that everyone who comes into those facilities walks out without harm. Customer service is at the heart of everything we do, and that goes beyond quality products and good prices- that includes your safety, first and foremost.
Why plant food plots?
Planting food plots is the single most effective way to attract, grow and keep deer on your property on a year round basis, if you have the food you’ll have the deer. We completed a 5 year radio-collar study on deer and food plots and found some astonishing results. We found that deer that have a relied upon year round food source (food plots) spent 95% of their time within 1/2 mile of that food source and most of that time was actually spent within 1/4 mile, thus proving the effectiveness and importance of planting food plots. This also means that whether you hunt on 40 acres or 4,000 if you can offer a year round, relied upon food source, you’ll hold more deer on your property. We recommend planting 5-10% of your property in food plots, as studies show that is the amount of food it will take to sustain your deer herd for an entire year, with average deer densities. If you have 40 acres…then roughly two-four acres should be planted…if you have 100 acres than 5-10 acres should be planted and so on. Now we realize, not everyone has the equipment or ability to plant that much food, so ANY food is better than no food. If all you can plant is a 1/4 of an acre in front of a tree stand, then absolutely plant it…your deer will thank you for it. You might consider planting a Spring food source in that plot (Red Zone, Trophy Clover, No Sweat) and then re-planting it in the late Summer with a Fall/Winter food source (Honey Hole, Slam Dunk or Lights Out) to keep your deer coming back all year long.
What to plant?
When planting food plots there is a lot to consider and one crucial component is planting food sources for Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Although you may only hunt in the Fall, your deer herd needs to eat year round and there are certain food sources they will desire and need depending on the time of the year. Since deer need to consume different nutrients throughout the year we recommend planting 50% of your food plots in year round, long lasting perennials like our Trophy Clover Mix and Mini Max Clover Mix and 50% of your food plots in annual hunt plots (Fall and Winter forage) like Honey Hole, Slam Dunk, Fall/Winter/Spring, Lights Out, Red Zone and No Sweat. This program will offer your deer a year round food source, increase the amount of deer that stay on your property and provide them optimum nutrition. During the Spring and Summer months when bucks are growing antlers, fawns are nursing and does are producing milk deer crave and need high amounts of protein in their diets to maintain their health and to maximize body and antler growth. If a deer can consume a diet of at least 16% protein they can maximize their health, body, bone and antler development. Studies have shown that A 4.5 year old buck fed a 16% protein diet can grow antlers 15-25 inches larger (Boone and Crockett Score) than a 4.5 year old buck fed only a 6% protein diet. It’s science…if you can provide them the nutrition that they need, you can grow Bigger Bucks and Healthier Deer on your property. Therefore, you need to plant food plots high in protein during the Spring and Summer months and we offer three food plot mixes that are high in protein. Two perennial mixes; Trophy Clover Mix (30%+ protein) and Mini Max (20-30% protein) will last 3-6 years and one annual mix, Red Zone (30%+ protein) will provide this crucial Spring, Summer and Fall feed. As the weather turns colder deer will begin to focus their consumption on food sources that have a higher energy content so they can prepare for the breeding season and ultimately survive the winter. Fall Hunt Plots high in energy are not only vital to the health of your herd, but can offer great hunting opportunities in the Fall and Winter. Antler King® Food Plot Mixes such as Honey Hole (turnips and brassicas), Slam Dunk (radishes, peas and brassicas), Lights Out ( oats, turnips, brassicas), Fall/Winter/Spring (fall rye, winter peas) and No Sweat (oats, rye, brassica, clover) can offer your deer herd premium food for the Fall and Winter months. Turnips, radishes and brassica plants will turn sweet after the first hard frost and deer will seek these sweet, energy-filled food sources during the colder weather. Food plot mixes with oats, rye and peas will offer both energy and protein, vital for pre-rut and post-rut deer to sustain their weight and overall health heading into Winter.
How do I plant food plots?
A nice mix of Spring and Summer protein sources and Fall and Winter energy sources will provide deer the nutrition they need to survive and thrive and will keep more deer on your property on a year round basis. If you provide food, water and cover your deer will not have to leave your property.
If you don’t have equipment, don’t be deterred as we offer both perennial and annual mixes that will grow and thrive in a minimum or no till environment. As long as your pH is adequate (5.8-7.0) and the plots receive some rain and sun you can grow food plots virtually anywhere with a little bit of effort. Once you’ve chosen your plot location spray Roundup on the existing vegetation to eliminate competition when you plant your plot. Come back 7-10 days later and if you can, “rough-up” the soil with a steel garden rake for better seed to soil contact. Otherwise, you can broadcast one of our minimum/no till mixes into the dead or dying plants and as they continue to wilt they will act as a mulch for the newly spread seeds. Once it rains, this moisture will push the tiny seeds down to the soil and with a little sun your plot will begin to germinate. Mixes such as No Sweat, Mini Max and Honey Hole are great for minimum and no till situations and just need proper seed to soil contact, rain and sunshine to thrive and grow. The more you can do to create an optimum growing environment (lime, fertilize, till, etc) the more you can expect from your food plot.
To help you establish the most successful food plot program available we’ve created an easy to follow “7 Easy Steps to Planting Food Plots”, DVD, Video and Brochure that can be found on our website. www.antlerking.com
You can check out the 15 minute video and brochure by following this link: Food Plots in 7 Easy Steps.
Any questions regarding this article contact Jason Karshbaum either email email@example.com or call me at 715-279-2283.
The Spring 2018 issue of the Countryside Compass features articles on calf health and nutrition, fly control in beef cattle, a new technology known as Merchant Ag at all Countryside Agronomy locations, a feature on our new Director of Feed Operations, as well as a section on our small engine departments and tips for how to get the best ROI in your fields.
Countryside Compass Magazine Spring 2018 Version
Countryside Cooperative is committed to the communities it serves by maintaining a skilled and educated workforce to serve its members and patrons well into the future. Countryside Cooperative is pleased to announce our 2018 $500 Scholarship Winners.
- Megan Baier (Ted and Susan Baier) – Durand High School
- Shae Baier (Ted and Susan Baier) – Durand High School
- Claire Bee (Scott and Jessica Bee) – Mondovi High School
- Jillian Boles (Jay Boles) – Prescott High School
- Michaela Erickson (Mark and JoAnn Erickson) – Amery High School
- Emily Flaskrud (Allen and Margaret Flaskrud) – Mondovi High School
- Hunter Fredrickson (Dave and Teresa Fredickson) – Independence High School
- Lauren Frokjer (Ronald and Tracy Frokjer) – Unity High School
- Marie Haase (Jason and Rose Haase) – Osceola High School
- Marsha Heck (Dale and Mary Heck) – Durand High School
- Erica Kinnard (John and Sarah Kinnard) – Menomonie High School
- Michael Livingston (David and Lynette Livingston) – Augusta High School
- Deanna Meyer (Derrick and Debbie Meyer) – Amery High School
- Rachel Moseley (Linda Giese-Moseley) – Osseo-Fairchild High School
- Claire Raethke (Charles and Lisa Raethke) – Pepin High School
- Austin Raymond (Jason and Jessica Raymond) – New Richmond High School
- Calvin Rosen (Dale and Margo Rosen) – Clear Lake High School
- Benji Schaefer (Randy and Stacy Schaefer) – Eleva-Strum High School
- Rachel Seifert (Jon and Tracey Seifert) – Pepin High School
- Cordell Stanek (Greg and Jennifer Stanek) – Augusta High School
Click here to learn more about Countryside’s Scholarship Program.
We hope to go live with Countryside Cooperative’s new operating software March 5. This means fewer mistakes and more certainty that products you want will be on hand at your nearest Countryside location. It also means easier-to-read statements and, eventually, a place on our website where you can find all your account information.
After nearly a year searching for the right system, we finally found Merchant Ag by EFC Systems of Nashville. Merchant Ag is a software system specifically designed for agricultural businesses with product areas like agronomy, feed, energy, retail and c-stores, plus a myriad of locations. One thing we expect Merchant Ag to do is help us get as paperless as possible, to reduce expenses and errors in billing.
With this new software, we can run a real-time perpetual inventory that tracks individual products rather than just categories. We’ll know at all times what we have on hand at all locations. We’ll know what our real gross profit is—rather than estimating it—and we’ll be able to do a better job of having products on hand when and where you need them.
Instead of writing products down when you bring them to the counter, each product will have a bar code that can be scanned, so there is no human error. The price will be correct.
With Merchant Ag software, our bulk fuel and propane drivers will invoice customers electronically, right on the truck. We’ll eliminate a lot of paperwork, and turn our time and attention to improving customer service and helping you succeed.
Now, as I said, Countryside Cooperative expects to go live with its new operating software on March 5. But, that doesn’t mean everything will be perfect. When a big software change like this is made, it usually takes some time to get the bugs out, so please be patient.
Sometime in March, Countryside Cooperative will send you samples of the new statements with an explanation of how to use them. Stay tuned!