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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.

In The Shop: Reprising Praise For Farmers

Sep 01, 2010

 I'm repeating the same basic theme from a post I made last winter, but it's worth repeating: The skills and knowledge you have as a farmer are more than you comprehend.

If I say, "Turning on the endrows causes combines to throw over because the machine is temporarily running empty," you understand what I'm saying. Today it took me 10 minutes to explain what I meant to a non-farmer. Before he entirely understood what I was trying to say I had to backtrack several times and explain to him what endrows were; why combines ran "empty" on endrows; how combines actually work; why they don't work efficiently if less than full of crop, and...oh yeah, I also had to explain what I meant by "thrown over" when I talked about grain getting "thrown over."

I've had the same problem in the spring when talking about plants per acre, seed depth, the relationship between seed spacing in the row and seed population per acre. Talk to a non-farmer about sprayers and spraying (gallons per acre versus gallons per minute, and the relationship between flow rate and ground speed) and their eyes glaze over in seconds. 

You could do the same to me if you started talking about how the plumbing is buried around your farmstead, or the way the electrical system is wired between various buildings. You either grew up with it or installed it or oversaw the installation. Heck, if you had to write an owner's manual for your farm it would take multiple volumes.  There'd probably be a separate volume just to explain how to bypass the mercury switch to get the grain dryer to work until an electrician can actually get there to fix it.

Think of it this way: If you had to cram all your farming and business knowledge into the head of an 18-year-old town kid, it would take far, far, FAR more than the four years it takes to become an engineer. Or the 8 years it takes to become a lawyer. (FIll in your favorite lawyer joke here...)

So this is another salute to the "owner's manual" to your farm that you have stored in your head. Never underestimate the skills and knowledge you have. As a farmer once ruefully told me, "If I had to pay myself for what I know, I couldn't afford myself." 

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