By Barb Determan

It’s a few months into 2018 and I feel like I just wrote out my new year’s goals. These past 90 days have gone by in a blast! Well, there have been several blasts and I was pondering each when I worked on those goals. And believe it or not, the blast is as applicable today as it was January 1.

The first blast I was considering was over New Year’s weekend when our thermometer at the farm in Early, Iowa, read -22 several times. That’s 22 degrees BELOW zero actual on the thermometer, not wind chill. That cold blast was a real wake up call that it is Iowa and it is winter. We had nasty winter weather throughout January, February, and into March. In fact, I can’t remember as many times when we’ve had most of us working from home while Ann manned the office. Thank heavens for her determination to make it when the rest of us can’t.

The second blast I’ve encountered this winter is a variety of learning opportunities! In January, I joined a group traveling to Europe to study African Swine Fever to see how the spread is being handled in countries with pork production. It’s pretty obvious this dreaded disease spreads through several routes and countries are handling it in different manners.

Three of us on the trip went a few days early to visit the beautiful city of Krakow, Poland, and the gut-wrenching Auschwitz Concentration Camp. It was a sobering reminder of why we must be vigilant about our freedoms and respecting all of humankind. The trip included visits with pork producers and government representatives from three countries – Poland, Germany and Denmark. We even spent time at one of the world famous Danish truck washes. They take that responsibility very seriously.

Iowa Pork Congress was my third blast. It’s so great to work with awesome customers at the event and spend free time with friends from the pork industry in Iowa and neighboring states. It will always be one of my highlights of the winter.

Another opportunity came at the end of January lasting through the beginning of February. I represented the United States Animal Health Association at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Annual Meeting and Trade Show in Phoenix. Attending cattle health committee meetings to learn about the issues facing cattlemen throughout the nation and the research into those issues was enlightening for me. And as we said, “What’s the pig girl doing at the cattle meeting?” Sharing ideas and learning, of course, just as we do in many opportunities. By the way, it was great to see fellow Sac County farmers – the Smith Family from Nemaha – being honored as one of the top six environmental stewards in the nation. Way to go Smith family!

Another blast is the celebration of Ann’s 30th anniversary being with Heartland Marketing Group. How many of you can say you are still with the same company as you were when you graduated from college? Not many I suspect! But thankfully we can say that about Ann. Her dedication to our clients at HMG has been off the charts and made us the success we are today! Plus, she’s just awesome to work with! Thank You Ann!

The last blast I was thinking about at the beginning of the year was my December birthday. Yep – it was a big one! HUGE in fact. Some people retire at this birthday, others perhaps go to part-time and others just keep going! I am blessed to have an awesome staff at Heartland Marketing and great clients so the choice was easy for me. I decided the birthday was just a number and I’m charging ahead.

How about you? Have you had any blasts hit you this winter? In the meantime, stay warm until spring comes, spend time with new adventures, enjoy friends and family, and most of all, celebrate all the blasts that come your way!



It’s March! Do you know what that means?! It’s time to start planting your garden! If you’re like my fiancé, you started planning the layout of next year’s garden at the end of the previous year’s harvest.

Layout and Design: When gardening, the design and layout of the garden is crucial to various plant’s survival. How much room will a certain plant need to grow to its potential? Does it do well with a certain other plant? Does it need to be in shade or sunlight? How many should you plant based on how much it will yield? Designing a marketing campaign needs the same attention when it comes to layout and design. What colors and typefaces will represent your campaign? How will your design look on different platforms? How is the design comparing to other designs competitors are using in the same market? Too much design and it becomes busy, and the message is lost. Too little design and it will lose its professional look and feel.

When canning produce, you are taking an existing item and making something new out of it, like taking tomatoes and making spaghetti sauce. You should treat your design work the same way and give an existing design a fresh revamp to meet your audience’s needs. Your audience will be attracted to elements that look good, and the design is typically the first thing they will see. Give the right impression. After all, you reap what you sow. So, sow something great!