Staying 'positive on the pile' a challenge this year

Big Iron farm show provided a much-needed boost.

We all have silage piles in our lives—pressing work with a deadline. It might be routine work we tackle annually. Staying positive on the pile is key says Katie Pinke. (Jenny Schlecht / Agweek)

While talking about our upcoming week, my husband said to me, “It’s the time of year that we have to stay positive on the pile.” Years ago, we heard a Sunday sermon during harvest season about staying positive on the pile and it stuck with Nathan and me.

The pile Nathan is referring to is a silage pile, except we’re not chopping corn or driving back and forth on a silage pile to prepare winter feedstuffs for livestock. But many people around us know exactly what staying positive on the pile means. Regardless of your vocation in life, we all know the importance of staying positive when the work mounts.

We all have silage piles in our lives — pressing work with a deadline. It might be routine work we tackle annually. Sometimes we have more help or better equipment than other years. Rural culture quietly pushes through to get the work done. We don’t always share about the piles in our lives, and staying positive while we work isn’t as easy as saying it.

This year, I feel the silage pile of life is so high there’s no way I can drive to the top of it. Or maybe it feels like I’m sinking, rather than packing the pile to force out the air and oxygen to produce good fermentation and well-preserved silage. Staying positive on the pile isn’t as easy for me as it has been in the past.

The most common questions we receive these days are:


  • How’s Hunter (our son) doing? Hunter speaks for himself but happily shares that despite being paralyzed from the chest down, he’s positively moving forward with life, working to complete his engineering degree by next spring.
  • How are you doing? My answer most often is: We’re all doing well focusing on what we need to do next for work, school and as a family, but I am tired. I purposefully rest more and say “no” to most commitments outside of my immediate family and work. The extra rest allows me the energy, healing and ability to climb the pile … and I am not overwhelmed with that sinking feeling.

Here’s an example. This past week, our Agweek team ventured to the Big Iron Farm Show held at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo, N.D. With COVID-19, it is the first outdoor farm show in our region and the first time I had been with a majority of my colleagues this year. While I connect with them daily using technology to produce digital, broadcast and print content and advertising for Agweek, I miss the in-person interactions.
Knowing my husband would be gone for work and our girls had games, I took the Sunday prior as a true day of rest, which I am never very disciplined about doing. I allowed myself to attend church with our family and to not cook a Sunday meal. I did not wash and fold laundry. Instead, I took a nap during the Vikings/Packers football game. I rarely nap. When our daughters went to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for a few hours to babysit, Nathan and I spent time together planning our future home on a farmstead we purchased last year. We drove to a drive-thru for supper. It was nothing extravagant. I allowed myself a break on a Sunday, a true day of rest, to prepare for the week ahead and stay positive on the pile.

Attending Big Iron filled me with energy, more than I anticipated. Despite much lower attendance than a typical year, the conversations felt meaningful as we all had more time to visit with one another. I appreciated the interactions with farmers and learning about their year.

One farmer shared with me he wanted to visit the farm show before he started chopping his corn for silage. I smiled and said, “Stay positive on the pile!” He said, “Oh, the corn is beautiful. I will!”

Whatever your pile is this week, take time to rest, prepare and do your best to stay positive on the pile.

Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.

Katie_headshot2019 (6).jpg
Katie Pinke, Agweek Publisher

Katie_headshot2019 (6).jpg
Katie Pinke, Agweek Publisher

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