Friday, February 06, 2009

Time Means Nothing To A Hog

Midwest Producer Jan. 2, 2009 Edition
by Cliff Morrow

In the past week I read a short column about a famous actor who related a story about his first job. He said that at 21 years of age, he had finally got an acting job and for the first time in his life, time had no meaning. He enjoyed it so much that the clock was irrelevant.
That was an epiphany for me. It explains the thinking of most of the people who read this column across the great states of Kansas and Nebraska. Growing up in rural areas, whether working on the clock or not, or whether living on a farm or not, there is a mentality that says the job is the important thing. The time on the clock means nothing. As a farmer, you are fully aware, that if the seed doesn’t get placed into the ground at the right moment or during the right window of opportunity, there will be no crop to harvest or at best it will be greatly reduced. So the threat of bad weather that could cause a rain delay of a few days or even a few weeks will keep you on the tractor for as long as it takes to get done planting.
The same thing applies to the fertilizer, and cultivating, and spraying, and the mowing, and the baling and the list goes on. Each job, in turn, has its time or season to finish. You can’t look at the clock. The job needs to get done no matter what the dial on your wrist might say.
Almost everything we do as farmers is governed by the weather. We try to beat rain, or we pray for it. We buy hail insurance in case there is bad weather. We buy sprinklers in case it doesn’t rain. We buy crop insurance in case it does rain, too much…or because it might not rain enough.
Then fall comes and we forsake all things to keep the machinery running. The clock doesn’t matter. It’s your livelihood at stake here.
Every conversation up town starts with a question. “Are you done planting, or picking corn?” “Did you get the hay put up before the rain?” “Are you done calving yet?” No one asks if you’re working too many hours. What are they really asking? They are asking if the job is done yet. Because our ‘clock,’ is a calendar.
I remember my Dad in a discussion he had with one of his neighbors back in the 1960’s. Our hogs were on a dry lot and Dad had switched from ground corn to a pelletized feed. It was a complete ration and got the hogs to market a couple of weeks faster. It was a pretty high powered ration for back in those days and more expensive feed than a grinder mixer would produce. The discussion was about feed and Dad was sharing this news with the neighbor. “You might be able to get your hogs to market a month sooner.” Our neighbor replied, “Art, time means nothing to a hog.”
Time means nothing to farm folks either I would guess.
We often hear of large companies wanting to expand into the Midwest because of the work ethic of our citizenry. That might be another way of saying we don’t watch the clock around these parts. We watch the calendar instead.

20 comments:

Lanny said...

Nice piece.

bobbie said...

Very nice piece.
I've never watched the clock myself. There are those that do and those that don't - everywhere - not just on farms, Cliff. And if you love what you're doing, or if you know that what you're doing really matters, you just never think of the clock.

Gette said...

I think that means I'm a hog. I don'r know quite how I feel about that. I'll get back to you...

Paul Nichols said...

All that is right. Nice.

And about the pics below: I really like the words "...at the next Blogstock."

We'd like to make a reservation, by the way. Put us down.

Ralph said...

Good stuff, Cliff.
Ralph

Marla said...

Great article Cliff! Work ethics are good around here, except for the building I now work in!! HA!

Lucy Stern said...

You are right Cliff, that job has to get done....I do believe that farmers have a greater work ethic than the normal Joe.....Thanks for the post, it was great!

EV said...

Hmmmmm. Thanks for taking my thoughts to a better place, time and ethic. I just came from watching the news.

Granny Annie said...

They only want to expand to the "work ethic of our citizenry" because they want to understand the meaning of ethics and in the process, destroy it.

Scarlet said...

Work until the job is done. We need to see more of this kind of work ethic in Miami.

And we need more jobs!!

Jamie Dawn said...

This essay gives us a glimpse into the thinking of the midwestern farmer. When a person works until the job is done, does that mean they don't take breaks for pedicures?

:-)

Rachel said...

Farmers have it rough but you are your own boss, but bossed by the weather too! Very well said Cliff. I'm sure all the Midwest farmers that read this said, "Amen!"

Sue said...

Some have to watch the clock. When you are expected to be at work at 7:30, take lunch ll:30-12:30 and get off at 4:30, keep the hours near 32 (4 day weeks). You do have to watch the clock. Since that is my schedule, I have to watch the clock.

Peter said...

I think you'd "make it" as an Aussie farmer too Cliff if you ever want a change.

Jerry said...

I can honestly say, in all my years of dealing with hogs, not a one ever seemed to have a deadline....or so they'd have us believe.

Those dastardly hogs.

Shannon said...

Really good stuff. We don't get those questions here. We are a dying breed, no one cares that rain is coming or not coming, as long as the new housing developments are going up. Our deer corn buyers don't even understand why the price went down from summer to winter!

Jim said...

Wow Cliff, this is good! Did Marilyn write it for you?
Time of the day can't mean much to the farmer, time of the season means so much. Got to keep the crops on schedule. Livestock too (some people have them).

The only jobs I ever has that time mattered at work was at NASA. For some reason they always wanted lift-off at T minus zero.
Time also mattered to me in the Army. I made sure that I cut my fingernails on Government time.
Some other things too, many people paid their bills and ran their small businesses on NASA time.
NOT ME, IT ONLY DID NASA THINGS ON NASA TIME. AT SAN JACINTO COLLEGE ONLY SAN JAC STUFF TOO!
I am a work-a-holic, my kids are as well.
..

nora said...

I guess I fall in to the hog category also. I watch the clock to make sure I get to the next job on time.

I think life on the farm prepared me for a life of working against deadlines.

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