Nearly two decades ago I penned a short "filler" for Farm Journal Magazine titled, "The Ages of a Farmer." Based on personal experience and observation of farmers in my area, it went something like this:
A lightbulb burns out in the barn.
-A 20-year-old farmer gets and installs a bigger lightbulb.
-A 30-year-old farmer re-wires the barn and installs more and bigger lights.
-A 40-year-old farmer hires an electrician to re-wire the barn and install bigger lights.
-A 50-year-old farmer simply replaces the bulb.
-A 60-year-old farmer uses a flashlight when he has to go to the barn.
--A 70-year-old farmer figures darkness is God's way of telling people it's time to quit for the day.
Since I wrote that piece I've discovered similar age-related behaviors and attitudes toward working on, repairing and maintaining farm equipment. In general:
-20-year-farmers and mechanics love to read owner's manuals and study tech books. They may not be fastidious about greasing every zerk and oiling every chain, but they know where everything is on a machine and what it does. They borrow lots of tools.
-30-year-old farmers and mechanics aren't afraid to tear anything apart. They may be less adept at putting things back together. When in doubt, they buy tools.
-40-year-old farmers and mechanics understand that hoists, winches, jacks and other mechanical devices that help lift, carry, and pry are not only for the weak but for the wise. When in doubt, they price tools, then figure out how to do the repair some other way.
-50-year-old farmers and mechanics understand that machinery occasionally makes odd, unusual and unexplained noises that sometimes mean nothing, and sometimes indicate a need for major repairs. They've learned this from listening to their own bodies for the first half hour after they get out of bed in the morning. When in doubt, they borrow
-60-year-old farmers and mechanics focus on repairs that can be done comfortably. They favor repairs that are above knee-high and lower than shoulder-high. They loan out lots of tools.
-70-year-old farmers and mechanics like to lean against tractor tires and talk about repairing farm equipment. They take the same approach toward exercise, politics and sex.