In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
To Wrench Or Not To Wrench...
May 03, 2009
Farmer's attitudes toward do-it-yourself repairs range from those who routinely overhaul their own engines and transmissions to farmers who take their tractors to a mechanic to merely change the engine oil. The odd similarity between both extremes in attitude is that both justify their choices by, "It saves me money."
It's obvious that the farmer who does most of his own mechanical repairs saves himself the cost of paying a mechanic to do the work. What's not so obvious is the financial advantage gained by farmers who prefer to have others do their mechanical work.
I once asked one of those non-mechanical farmers whether he wanted me to do some simple repairs to his equipment, or if he would prefer to save money by doing the repairs himself. His answer offered me a perspective I hadn't considered:
"In the long run, it's cheaper for me to pay you to do the work," he said. "I love to farm, but I don't like working on equipment. What I like, what I'm good at, is marketing and crop production. I enjoy sitting at a computer doing break-evens, or walking through fields scouting and analyzing crop performance. I'm good at those things. I can work on equipment if I have to, but don't especially enjoy it, don't have a fancy shop, don't have lots of tools. I've got neighbors who do all their own repair work, but then pay financial advisors and marketing consultants and crop scouting services to do all the stuff I prefer to do for myself. They think I'm nuts for paying to have all my repairs done, and I think they're crazy to pay somebody to tell them how to do their marketing and manage their crops."
As the song says, "Different strokes for different folks."