Here around Langdon, being a "modern" farmer has meant different things to different farmers.
Being modern for Grandad meant more steel in his plow. When Dad was a modern farmer, he adopted wheeled farm tractors as replacements for sorrel mules. I can't remember seeing his mules, but I remember when he added power steering to his "M" Farmall.
Shoulders and back made strong (and sore) by scooping corn, pitching hay and hauling hard on the reins got a reprieve. That's when Dad called the family outside so we could see him turn the steering wheel with one finger.
I became “modern” with my own tractor when I got an air-conditioned, sound-insulated cab with a stereo. Then, decades later, satellite radio, Bluetooth, four-wheel-drive, and global position satellite guidance.
Dad turned his steering wheel with one finger. I don't even touch mine.
Something that hasn't changed is long days in the field. In the old days we were out of sight and out of mind, because neither Dad nor I had any idea what was happening with the family at home.
Things have changed again – this time with communications.
First bag phones. Then flip phones opened up. They were perfect for keeping one hand on the steering wheel and both eyes on the row. One simple motion could answer a call or end it. A lot of farmers still have them.
Today farmers who want more can have smart phones and tablets. We use them in ways Dad never dreamed possible. Closest thing he had to up-to-date information was an old AM radio he stripped from a junk car and mounted behind the tractor steering wheel. He had to put a bucket over it if it rained, and, turned up loud as it would go, it was still barely audible above the sound of the engine.
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