Author of Fearless Fiction
With a retired farmer for a husband I know a little about John Deere Dreams. There’s a song by this title by Joe Diffie.
In the Wisconsin farming community John Deere is the highest grossing implement company. These expensive machines are often leased and paid off by doing haying and planting jobs on other farms. This helps pay for a $500,000 debt for a large piece of equipment. We know several farmers who work like this, while also keeping a working farm running at home. The hours are endless during the summer months, when hay, corn, soybeans and wheat needs to be harvested.
Not so long ago a tractor was much admired and sought after by small farmers who did everything the old way, sometimes with horses to pull an old disc or plow the farmer had rigged up to run the farm. It was only after reaching a financial point so that a new tractor could be paid for, or desperate need to run a paying farm that people actually mortgaged their farm for the much-needed implement. John Deere was the name of choice, but there were many companies to choose from, including Moline, International Harvester, Ford, New Holland, Massey Ferguson and others.
The plight of the farmer has always been weather. If it’s good and there’s plenty of rain, the farm does well and funds itself for another year. If the dreaded drought or insect infestation occurs, a farmer may have a rough year, try in vain to make up the loss, and sometimes loses the farm. What a sad occurrence to see an auction sign in front of a farm that was once productive, only to see the stoic owners watching their prized, hard work being sold to the highest bidder.
We need farms. So many children today don’t even know where our food comes from. Milk is the main source of farming in Wisconsin, and since there are very high standards, a farmer really feels the pinch if he/she can’t keep their grade up to get top money for their milk. When a cow goes “dry” it gets a rest until it calves again, where after she returns to the milk line. Unproductive cows are sold at auction, often to be slaughtered for hamburger. Bull calves get shipped to veal farms, or bought by farmers for breeding purposes. No longer are new calves suckled by their mothers, but are put in calf houses (much like a dog house) where they are bottle-fed. Heifer calves are well taken care of so the farmer can receive top dollar for them when they are of age. They are replacements for cows that are too old to be milked or a diseased cow.
When farmers keep their barns and pastures clean, the cows are in better shape, therefore, the milk is of better quality. Once the raw milk is housed in the bulk tank, a large milk truck picks up and delivers the milk to be homogenized and put on the shelves for consumers. Grade A is the best, with Grade B being used for cheeses and such.
I went to a goat farm once and was very impressed with the cleanliness of the milk house and barn. The goats are well taken care of, as they are very prone to disease, and if that happens, the farmer is not able to sell the milk. Most of it goes for goat milk, goat cheese and yogurt. One disease could wipe out a whole herd of goats. They pick up illness much quicker than cows. The particular farmer I visited with my husband was spotless. The goats were fun to see and pet, but they have a very important job to do. The farmer told us that he has ten children to do the barn chores and milk while he works at a regular job in town to make sure they have enough money to run the farm. Milk machines milk the goats and the filtered milk goes into the bulk tank, where again it is picked up by truck and delivered to the factory.
It is a badge of loyalty for farmers to wear John-Deere inspired hats, shirts, jackets, belts, watches, clocks and logos for their trucks. My stepson has an entire room dedicated to his collection of John Deere items. He’s very proud of his collection and no doubt it will bring a good amount of money someday, should he ever decide to sell it.
This obsession with John Deere equipment can be directly compared to writers. Often, we wish for things that are out of reach, such as high paid cover illustrators, editors, publishers and software. Sometimes we can survive by changing the way we do things and come out with the same results. We have to sell many books to buy the expensive piece of equipment or help we crave. That doesn’t mean we should quit. Farmers are a good example of this. When things are tough they work harder to keep their farms working and productive. Shouldn’t we be doing the same? What do you think? Are there any instances you can think of when the John Deere is out of reach but you climb to the top anyway? I’d like to hear about it if you have.
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