Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Never and Always, Ctd...

Here's the list so far.
  • Never try to get too close to a wind mill while rotary hoeing
  • Never use candles for light in hay tunnel
  • Always put a John Deere A in neutral when lifting the cultivator while your brother is adjusting the front shovels
  • Never put an eleven year old boy on a John Deere A to cultivate 
  •  Never throw water on a yellow jacket wasp nest.
  • Always have a fence nearby to climb when weaning calves and sorting the cows off
  • Always let the other guy test the electric fence

And since one of mine sounded familiar, this literary blast from the past (1997) from my Farm Journal archives:

Never, Never

There are a few absolutes in this life. Unfortunately, we seldom discover or believe them early enough to make a difference. However, it remains that there are a few things you should always do - tell the truth, or a close approximation of it, for instance - and several things you should NOT do, under any circumstances.
This list of critical errors for farmers is deceptive. Many seem like reasonable activities that, at worst, cause no harm, and perhaps can save some time and/or money. Oh, be afraid - be very afraid! These are the ways to a wretched end. This then, is my list of things to never, NEVER do.
1. Plant with both markers down. I know, I know - this is a good way to lay off an irregularly shaped field by starting in the middle and planting both ways. However, the odds that you will remember to lift both markers at the end are about 1 in 100 or in my case, 0 for 6.
2. Use the word "sturdy" when describing a woman. While by itself this adjective has many wonderful connotations, mixed into a sentence with a female subject, it can only cause an unfortunate misunderstanding, to be compounded by the attempts at explanation.
3. Assume the power is off. This misjudgment is all too common due to the macho patch-it-on-the-run philosophy that currently passes for manly behavior. 
4. Clean gutters during a thunderstorm. The only time you notice that your gutters are clogged is during a vigorous downpour, but that is not the time to tackle the problem. Once I got so frustrated at the overflowing, bulging gutters, that, at the first hint of a letup, I was out on an aluminum ladder [wait for it - it gets better] with a wire to poke down the downspout. As I reached toward the gutter, one important fact of physics was forgotten: even without a direct strike by lightning, objects in a thunderstorm develop an electrical potential that can be discharged vigorously through exceptionally stupid people. My next memory is lying on my back looking up at the gutter and suddenly remembering the above electrical fact. Even after this electrifying experience, I still have urges to do something when the gutters are pouring over. Now, however, I sensibly go out and play golf.
5. Think you'll remember because it is important. In fact, the more critical the thing to remember, the less likely you will. Bank note deadlines, pump shutoff times, anniversaries - all these can not only be forgotten, but you canforget where you wrote the reminder note for them. Hire someone to help you remember and/or marry her. 
6. Make an offer for fun. The seller may have more of a sense of humor than you.
7. Start a conversation with your loan officer with "Guess what?". Bankers do not enter that profession for thrills and surprises. They thrive on the monotony of predictability. I have noticed my banker tends to hold on to the edge of her desk when I come in for an unexpected visit.
8. Roll an office chair while standing on it. While it seems like a time saver to just ease on down the shelf to the item you are trying to reach, these vehicles are not as stable as you might believe. Too, your balance and reaction times may be a trifle less sharp than you remember.
9. Count on a drought to make your marketing plan work. As silly as this seems, we frequently get caught up in the mirage that higher prices are the only way to make the cash flow sums come out right. And there is no more ambivalent feeling than a drought somewhere else. But the flaw in this scenario is, of course, you. Any drought serious enough to affect the markets the way you hope, will also be sufficient to trip your mind into Drought Mentality. This involves imagining even higher prices and greater profits. Suddenly, too, your own crop looks vulnerable, and selling gets to be extremely difficult. You are placing yourself in a position to act absolutely contrary to your instincts - like having to refuse free food. This is partially why the prices are rising in the first place - selling dries up. Even if you get the “perfect” drought (for me this means most of Iowa), it is most unlikely that you will handle it in any manner that will not leave you muttering about "next time" for years.
10. Ask a friend for an honest opinion about yourself. Finding out what your friends really think about you can only hurt. Your friend is placed in the terrible position of choosing between honesty and kindness. This is like seeing yourself on video for the first time - more self-revelation than you need.
Much of my life has been spent trying to do the smartest thing. I now concentrate on avoiding the dumbest moves. It is not all that easy, either.

Is it me, or is this list being built by sadder-but-wiser old guys?


Anonymous said...

sadder: yes
wiser: yes
old guy: depends on who is counting!


Anonymous said...

The rotary hoed wind mill was known for years as the "leaning tower of Tommy". It was 1976 and I was sixteen. Does that make me old?

The candles for lights in the hay ended badly. Other than we got rid of the milk cows 3 weeks later. I was ten.

I never had to cultivate again. I was eleven.

Surprise, surprise, now I'm a bank farm manager!!