I came very close to murdering dear Farmer John this weekend.
I don’t think I have to tell you that farming is a very small margin business, and the margins are even smaller when one is just starting out. I use every ounce of knowledge gleaned from my MBA to keep The Beekman in the black. Though I plan for incidental expenses, the contingency fund is perilously small.
Farming equipment is very expensive, so it is not uncommon for one farmer to borrow a piece of equipment from another. This weekend, we borrowed a rotary tiller attachment from our neighbor Peter so that we could plow the pumpkin patch that we will sow in the coming weeks.
I know from speaking with Peter that this is an expensive piece of equipment (these are the types of things that we farmers often discuss). In fact, the price is well over $2000.
We sent Farmer John down the road on the tractor to fetch the attachment. He came directly back to the farm and proceeded to till the pumpkin patch. Done with this project, he jumped down from the tractor and surveyed the tiller attachment, noticing that the “stand”, a square stainless steel rod painted John Deere green, was missing from its designated holding position. (You are technically supposed to remove it before using the equipment.)
Where was it? How many innocent goats would have to be sacrificed to pay for it? Would this start a decades-long feud between Peter’s clan and The Beekman? We picked through the field with a pitchfork and rake to no avail. It was like finding a needle in a haystack. (Have you ever heard that used more literally?) I hopped in the truck and drove up and down the stretch of road between the two farms hoping it had popped out and was lying on the side of the street. Not there. I even went up Peter’s driveway and made small talk while I sheepishly looked around his yard. Nope.
Dusk came and so did a huge rainstorm thus ending our search for the evening.
The next morning, I started searching the internet for a replacement part dreading to learn how much it would cost but knowledgeable of the fact that the equipment had to be returned in the condition in which it was given.
By afternoon, I was calculating how many light bulbs to unscrew in the barn so that we could stay withing our monthly budget.
As Farmer John was finishing the evening milking, I suggested that we take one last look through the pumpkin patch.
Josh’s parents happened to be visiting from Wisconsin for the week. Jackie, his mother, has an uncanny ability to spot four leaf clovers from a mile away. In fact, in the five minutes it took us to transverse the yard from the house to the heirloom vegetable garden, she found three of them without even trying.
Certainly with this laser eye acuity she could be of some help in The Search for the Missing Tractor Part. Not three seconds after walking into the field, Jackie innocently said “What’s this?”, pointing to the tip of a shiny green object sticking up from the ground.
And as quickly as that, the mystery was solved. Farmer John was saved from my murderous rage, and we all lived happily ever after (at least until next weekend)
Mistakes happen in any business, of course. Stay tuned to this blog and you are sure to see many of my own (thank goodness Farmer John doesn’t like to blog)