This week marks one year since Chip Hines passed away. He provided us with so much great information and advice, so I wanted to honor him again by sharing one of his many great articles.
Many men suffer from this un-researched affliction that is somewhat prevalent in the cattle raising community. This problem has been around for some time, but with the encouragement of high input ranching it really took off and has gotten out of hand.
Getting hooked is easy. A certain amount of men seem to have an extra “iron” gene, which leads to a dependence on machinery. Couple this with the desire to make labor intensive jobs easier with a machine and all is lost. It is an easy trap to fall into. It is like any other addiction (can’t say no). It starts with thinking this one “simple” little machine will save hours of hand labor. Then the next step is something much bigger and more powerful. A piece of equipment will allow greater leisure time for fishing and family.
This may sound plausible, but it just doesn’t work that way. Men are married to their iron and if they aren’t operating it, they are repairing it, chasing parts for it or fueling and greasing it. Saving labor? Nope. The machine begins to own them and they can’t get away from its grasp. A true addiction begins in this fashion.
Iron disease is mainly a “guy” thing (spelled testosterone). This dominant gene may have been a mutation that started when the first cave man picked up a rock and made an arrowhead. Since few women have the same level of feeling about machines, I suspect they either did not acquire the gene or long ago managed to delete the DNA with their innate (definition derived from the constitution of the mind) abilities (sorry guys).
Another possibility for the reliance on iron is that some guys like the smell of diesel smoke. It is invigorating, giving them a sense of power. They know they are going to get something done in a hurry. Time’s a wasting! Is it possible there is something “addictive” in diesel smoke that keeps guy’s hooked and they can’t handle the withdrawal period that goes along with non-use of their big toys?
Several years ago in a conversation with a Kansas banker (plug in banker from state of your choosing) I elaborated on my thoughts of over usage of machinery and the high level of inputs in our industry. Complaining this was not only unnecessary, but also downright self-defeating. He disagreed, saying,”machinery dealers and others are a part of the community and we are all in this together.” I run that thought around in my head for a couple of days and wrote the following:
THE RANCHERS VOW
From this day forward, I pledge to support my tractor, pickup, hay machinery, feed and pharmaceutical dealers through good times and bad, through drought, blizzard, flood, low prices and high interest, till bankruptcy do us part.
Funny and yet not so funny, as to a great extent, this is what we have been doing. Look at your yearly expense sheet. Does it make your knees weak? Pretty good chunk of change isn’t it? Wouldn’t you like to keep more of this in your pocket?
Since this is a guy problem, women are at quite a disadvantage trying to combat the situation and it is worse than they realize. Ladies, how often are your marriage vows re-affirmed? At 25 years? At 50 years? Did you know your husband re-affirms the machinery vow yearly? Did you think he was taking in the yearly equipment show to just look, touch, ogle, admire and idolize the latest behemoth? Heck no! Whenever you see a tight cluster of guys around a salesman, rest assured, he is leading them through the ‘VOW’! With a system like this you don’t stand a chance.
I personally had a moderate reliance on iron for a time, but was able to kick the habit. This took time, but I knew I had to win. Three things helped me. I began a study of the natural world and realized we did not need to do all these things for the cow. Labor saving came not from machine use, but by not having a machine.
Next I found that I could work in my shop on some mechanical or welding project and get a fix without affecting my whole operation. Then I instituted a self-help counseling program when nothing else worked. Whenever I was having a severe attack of dependency I would sit down in my office and read through a big stack of fuel and repair bills. That usually did the trick. It’s very powerful reading which I recommend to all who have this affliction.
What the is “Great Cattle Break of 1974”?
It was the beginning of a big downturn in cattle prices.
RE: “Labor saving came not from machine use, but by not having a machine.” I have a friend who refuses to buy a lawn mower. He never misses the job of cutting lawns and has more time to gather mushrooms.
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