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Becoming a real farmer

Agriculture.com Staff 11/07/2006 @ 9:25am

My neighbor Doug stopped by the other day. Doug wanted to see our new drier system in operation. Doug is my neighbor who likes having new machinery and I would like to have what he trades in.

Doug gave things a look over and told us he figured out the other day he was now a real farmer. I told him that must be because his wife has a good job in town. That is how it is around here.

Doug graduated from high school in 1981 and has since wondered when he would be a real farmer. He knew the other day that he had become real farmer when he realized he had sold his corn cheap and bought diesel fuel when it was high.

I knew what Doug meant. We delivered the first of this year's corn crop to the ethanol plant on a contract from last January. Here we are with $3.00 cash corn and more for the future. The contract was for $2.17, but last January $2.17 looked good.

I also bought 2,000 gallons of diesel in September for $2.77 a gallon on a Monday because I thought World War III was on the horizon after watching the conflict between Israel and the Hezbollah during the weekend. I did not buy it at the peak, but I was close.

What does it take to be a real farmer? I believe I got the answer over the weekend. Doug's definition was a good start.

My son has a friend who likes to help here on weekends. He is good with machinery and likes running the combine and four-wheel drive tractors. He was employed as a farm equipment mechanic for a while and is very good about maintenance.

The first weekend he was here, he was running the combine harvesting the corn. Partway through the day, he checked the rock trap by opening the door underneath the head and as it was now cleaned out, he climbed up the ladder into the cab and went to work.

He went across the field and when he turned around on the end, he saw a trail of ears of corn behind him. He forgot to close the door on the rock trap. Eight rows of corn from one end of the field to the other were laying in an area one row wide.

My son's friend felt bad and I told him it reminded me of the time when I left the unloading auger on as I drove across the field. I discovered what I had done when I reached the far end of the field and saw the yellow string of corn leading back to the wagon. What can you do? Mistakes happen. Try not to let it happen again.

The next weekend he was back in the combine and while distracted, he ran the unloading auger into a tree breaking the hydraulic cylinder that swings the auger in and out. Fortunately, an employee at the local dealership was willing to unlock the door so he could get the needed parts. His experience as a mechanic made the repair job go quickly and we were back in operation.

I told him I remembered combining several years ago along some trees in a grove and looked back at the unloading auger to see it at an angle that was not normal. It was then I remembered I had it swung out all the way, before I drove past the trees.

The next morning he was back in the combine and we were at the bin site unloading a wagon. My son's phone rang and when he was done talking, he looked at me and said, "He's got the combine stuck and he says it's sinking as we are talking."

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