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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Sep 24, 2010

I continue to be amazed at how much we become the people who were our parents, even when we say we are determined to not be like them.

From my own observations, I will say it seems that telling a woman, “You are just like your mother” will produce a frown; while telling a man, “You are just like your dad” will result in at least a half-smile, maybe more.

Those are mere observations on my part and there is nothing scientific in them. They are broad generalizations and I believe they are, in general, true.

However, your experience may vary and you are welcome to disagree or even dismiss my assertions.

The reason this has come to my mind is that I have been hearing my dad in myself lately.

He had a 30-year head start on me and it seems that about 30 years after his behavior, I am doing the same things.

At my dad’s peak years of his farming career, he expanded aggressively with borrowed money enlarging his cattle feeding operation.

When he was finished, there were six silos and a lot of concrete with a good-sized pole barn, which remain in place today.

He built a hog confinement house in the ’60s for farrowing and finishing. He always enjoyed farming with the latest tractors and bought machinery as he needed it.

In his later years, he quit buying most everything. However, he was generous to the end in the two things he cared for the most – his family and his church.

My favorite memory of his frugalness was during the ’90s when he put his entire farm into the conservation reserve program except for 60 acres the U.S. Department of Agriculture said he had to crop. He raised on those acres the crop he always enjoyed raising, corn.

This was during his time of increasing thriftiness. He had two John Deere tractors that were already old, a 4010 and a 4020, that he hitched each to a gravity box during harvest.

Because of the CRP acres, these tractors sat idle most of the year. When it came time to replace the batteries, he did not want to spend the money on two tractors that sat still 320 days a year.

During harvest each morning he would use the battery charger to jump start the tractors and leave them running the rest of the day. In his mind, diesel fuel was cheaper than batteries.

Here I am 30 years behind my dad and I am at the same place with my attitude of “I don’t want to spend my money on that.”

Most of the time, I am quite cheap except for a very few favorite things.

My son who is 30 years behind me talks about buying things that we are in need of, especially machinery upgrades, and my answer is in the area of, “Maybe someday, but not today.”

I have become my dad. And in my somewhat defiant way, I cannot think of a better person to emulate.

My son is ever closer to being in charge and then he can go into debt for what he believes is important.

In the meantime, I am sitting on my billfold.

My dad was right. Diesel fuel is cheaper than batteries.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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