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In the Shop

RSS By: Dan Anderson, Farm Journal

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.

You Know More Than Most

Jun 17, 2009
You probably underestimate the invaluable knowledge and skills necessary to be farmer. Things you take for granted, knowledge that you consider "common knowledge" are beyond the grasp of the vast majority of non-farm folks. I say that because in the past year I've dealt with a series of non-farmers who were geniuses in their profession, but virtually clueless about anything outside their areas of expertise. They were absolutely brilliant as health care or financial professionals, but...

-had no clue that "left loosens and right tightens". It's a miracle they could get the cap off their toothpaste or bottle of mineral water.
-were shocked to discover that engine oil filters are not life-of-the-machine components. 
-assumed that positive and negative battery cables were interchangeable when connecting them to batteries.
-couldn't grasp that the blades on lawn mowers, rotary disk mowers and Bush Hog-type mowers have a front edge and a back edge, and that the front edge should be relatively sharp.
-thought that oiling a belt would make it quit squeaking and squealing. 
-wondered how they were supposed to add engine oil to the engine through "that skinny dipstick tube."

So the next time you're feeling inadequate while dealing with some know-it-all non-farmer, take comfort. Between fixing busted equipment, marketing crops, dealing with livestock, juggling triple-stack hybrids, and understanding herbicides and pesticides, the knowledge you use in a single day dwarfs the narrow areas of expertise that make many professionals "experts" in their chosen fields.

Then add in the unique knowledge that you--and only you--have related to your specific operation. Like how you have to jiggle the PTO lever on the chore tractor to get it to engage, or the way you have to push, lift, then turn the ignition key on the mowing tractor to get it started. You're the only one who knows how to get that old Stirrator in the south bin to work right, you're the only one who knows where the water lines run between the house and the well, and you're the only one who knows exactly how to smack the dashboard on your old pickup to turn on the radio.

Never underestimate the sheer genius it takes to simply do what you do, every day.
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COMMENTS (8 Comments)

I've always thought Iowa's greatest "export" was our farm raised kids. Too bad with aging farmers and upsizing of farm size, we're running out of them.....
9:59 AM Jun 30th
dick salter
out in the farm life a friend is some one you get to know very well but you still like them...
4:32 PM Jun 27th
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