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Scoop shovel 2.0

Agriculture.com Staff 02/27/2008 @ 7:02am

The timeworn phrase "kids sure are spoiled nowadays!" has never been more true than it is nowadays.

I blame the so-called "digital age," which led to the advent of the so-called "Internet." Back when I was a kid, the only digits we knew of were those you used to scratch yourself and the term "internet" was only used by fishermen.

Young people are overindulged by all the instantaneousness of our digitalized world. I have a friend who lives in California and who steadfastly refuses to even think about venturing into cyberspace. Our written communications take place via the U.S. Postal Service; the back-and-forth of a letter and its reply takes about a week.

Today's youth wail and gnash their teeth if an exchange of messages takes seven seconds! What if it took seven days?

Long before the Internet was even a twinkle in Al Gore's eye, our family dairy farm pioneered numerous digital protocols that remain in use to this very day.

Take the oats we used on our farm. Oat harvest happened at about midsummer, always during the hottest days of the year. Wagon loads of golden grain would come in from the field, wagons that had to be hand-shoveled into our insatiable grain elevator.

When we complained about this dusty task to Dad, he said we were spoiled and should count ourselves lucky that he had installed elevator hardware that was capable of uploading oats into our granary.

Once a week or so, Vanhoepen Feed Service came out to our farm to process grain into cow feed with one of their truck-mounted mixer mills. These machines hammered our oats into tiny particles, which is why we called them "microprocessors."

The day before the feed truck came I had to shovel a prescribed amount of oats from the granary into a wagon. The wagon was then topped off with ear corn, a process we came to call a "transfer protocol."

The feed truck would pull onto the yard and one of us kids would scramble into the wagon and begin to download the grain into the hopper. Since both ear corn and oats was involved, a diverse set of shoveling methods were needed. We referred to this as "multitasking."

The feed truck driver -- either Clayt or Willie -- would start things off by cranking up the mill's huge diesel engine. If it didn't catch immediately he would cursor mightily, kick the engine, and administer a liberal dose of ether. This was a procedure we called "booting up."

As we scooped grain into the hopper, Willie or Clayt would monitor operations. This involved standing about 30 feet away -- upwind from the dusty, roaring grinder -- and watching us shovel. This job came to be known as System Administrator.

After the feed was processed, a grain transfer protocol installed the ground feed in a granary vector called the "bin." We then began to uninstall the feed using an operational paradigm called FGB, which was shorthand for "Five Gallon Buckets." This was done manually, and it thus occurred to us that we were "servers." And even though cattle are normally browsers, they gobbled the grain in very large bytes.

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