I have a publication called Amazing Farm Inventions lying open before me on my kitchen table right now. The theme of this month's magazine is, " Made it Myself; Ideas Born in Farm Shops". Some of the ideas are pretty off the wall and some are pretty impressive. Clearly the folks who did this obviously like working on equipment in their shops AND they have enough spare time and brain power to think their way through some seriously complex projects.
I find both of these things extremely impressive because I operate at a much more fundamental level than this when it comes to farm equipment. When I jump on a tractor seat early in the morning what I really, really want it to do is start and run for as long as necessary with no problems or interruptions along the way. Then I want to shut it off, go to the house and forget about it until I need to use it again. When my baler isn't tying properly or the middle row unit on my corn planter inexplicably seizes up and refuses to drop seed or I manage to put a rock through the feeder house and sieves on my combine I tend to get angry and frustrated rather than creative. The same thing happens when tires go flat, batteries go dead, pto shafts fly apart or any of the other maladies that plague farm equipment occur on a somewhat regular basis. It's not that I can't fix most of the stuff when it breaks. It's that I get no joy whatever out of the process, especially when everything here is serviced on time and put away ready to go.
Gramps used to say that machines didn't break when they were parked in the shed. I agree but I will take that a step farther and say that machines don't break if you don't own them at all, either. If I could figure out a way to cost effectively custom hire every bit of machinery work done on my place I would happily do so. I'm not one of these guys who farms because I have an iron fetish. Given that a lot of my full time farming neighbours are hiring more and more of their time sensitive machine work done I don't think I'm alone in thinking this way, either.
Don't even get me started on equipment that is so poorly engineered that it's difficult or impossible to service, adjust or fix without dismantling it. If folks like me who buy equipment have to contort ourselves into pretzel-like shapes to change a fuel filter or check the oil it probably isn't going to become one of our favourite tasks. When it comes time to replace it, we will probably be looking at a different brand. Speaking of fuel filters, why is it that none of the tractors I own have an easily accessible fuel shut off valve located on the line somewhere above the filter ? It's easier to soak my arm in diesel fuel every time I change a fuel filter than it is to find and turn the fuel shut off valves on both tractors at this farm. But I digress.
Truthfully, I can't really imagine what it would be like to farm with no equipment whatsoever. Four wheel drive tractors, front end loaders, round balers, bush hogs, manure spreaders, air compressors and innumerable other pieces of equipment make my life tremendously easier than it would be without them, especially when they run right. And when they don't believe me when I say I can turn the air blue with the best of them.
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