I was visiting with a friend of mine who is in charge of maintaining large equipment – semis, fertilizer spreaders, and sprayers – for several locations of our local elevator.
He told me that the elevator has a hard time hiring young employees at an entry level, that it is difficult to find young people who can understand what needs to be done and get the job done.
My experience has been that employers enjoy hiring farm kids because they have grown up working around machinery and livestock. They have the ability to size up a job and get to work with little supervision.
They aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, understand the importance of seeing a job to completion, plus know that timeliness is also important.
The teenagers of today almost seem indifferent to settling down and getting to work.
When I was 16, the friends I had, plus myself, couldn’t get to the driver’s license issuing station fast enough to get our licenses.
I see teenage males of today are not in any hurry to get their driver’s license and have the attitude of “I’ll get it eventually.”
And what about the actual learning of how to drive?
Once again, farm kids get the advantage.
Being able to drive is a requirement growing up on a farm.
There are things to move, errands to run, and jobs to be done, so the ability to drive is a requirement.
I am willing to bet many of today’s farmers’ earliest memory of driving is on their pedal tractors.
My pedal tractor was a Farmall M that I wore the tires smooth on 20 feet of sidewalk and on the concrete floors of a few sheds.
About the age of 8 or 9, I wanted to drive the real thing and I had my eye on my dad’s John Deere A.
I begged and begged to drive it around the farm. I wanted to go cruising on the John Deere A.
My dad was practical and could not see any useful purpose in my trip to nowhere.
Finally, one summer afternoon he said I could drive it around the farm after he and Jerry, the hired man, had their afternoon coffee.
At last. I was impatient and they seemed to be taking their time having their afternoon coffee.
I decided to go outside and sit on the tractor seat where it was parked next to the gas barrel and in front of my dad’s 1948 REO truck.
I could not drive the tractor until they showed up, but I did know how to start it, so I did.
The engine was warm and it started on the second time it turned over.
Then the tractor started moving forward until bang, it crashed into the REO truck after moving about three feet and now the rear wheels were slowly digging their way down as they spun in the dirt.
The idea of a parking a tractor and leaving it in gear was a new thought to me.
My dad and Jerry came running out of the house. Jerry jumped on the tractor and jerked back the hand clutch to stop everything.
Now my ride was done so I did what any boy would do.
I blamed Jerry.
That didn’t work very well and I retreated into the house to my bedroom, teary-eyed and devastated.
The REO truck had a crinkled front bumper until the day my dad sold it many years later. It was my reminder that I am not as smart as I think I am.
Let’s call it an education and let it go at that.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.