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The Old Farmer's Inventor's Almanac

For years I have subscribed to a magazine which is published with the main intent of heralding the inventions that farmers come up with.

These may or may not be inventions as such, but instead new and creative ways of doing the things that farmers have been doing since the machine age spawned the need to do things not only easier and faster but better than their neighbor.

Although this is a farm invention magazine, after receiving it for several years, I'm more convinced that it would better be labeled something like "liars, one-ups-man-ship-ers, truth stretchers," and so forth.

The truth of the matter is that market prices have driven farmers to do more faster. It hasn't been that many years since, while Dad was still alive in northeast Iowa, he described a large corn planter that showed up one day to plant the 80-acre field across the road from his house.

"It was 24 rows wide," he said, both awe and disbelief accompanying those words. He went on to describe -- and, since he was retired, I'm sure he watched the entire process -- how many men it took to set it up (since it obviously cannot travel down the road at that width), the trucks that filled it, the tractor that pulled it, the amount of seed corn and fertilizer that it took to fill it. Indeed, they spent most of the morning getting it ready, after which they planted the entire field in a few hours, and were gone by early afternoon.

That was several years ago. A couple of years ago, my brother and cousin and I went on a minor pheasant hunting trip that fall to the home ground. I use the term "minor" because we saw few, and hit none. Over on another 80 of Dad's, which was rented out, we saw a huge tractor pulling what could best be described as three fiberglass septic tanks topped with a giant, multi-legged octopus, all sitting atop a huge chisel plow. Again, while we beat some standing corn for birds, two men, three trucks, and one semi spent most of the morning loading this behemoth. It was, we found after talking to them, there to plow, band fertilizer and pre-emergent herbicide in rows into which corn would be planted the next spring, all plotted by GPS coordinates, and the fertilizer administered per satellite photos of the previous crop according to an on-board computer.

They did the field and were gone by the time we made our drive.

Now in this issue of the magazine of new inventions is a 48-row corn planter. One man with many trucks and a computer programming degree and away you go.

Anyway, that's not the main reason I'm bringing attention to this particular magazine. Every winter, and every month during the winter, some farmer turns some other farm machine into a self-propelled snow blower, and I'm finding my feelings to lie somewhere between admiration and disbelief, jealousy and amazement, desire and denial.

The average text beneath the picture of some behemoth converted into a snow throwing marvel goes something like this: "I had some old angle iron just laying around the shop last week, and a couple of farklelackets from an old axlewhacker that the neighbor gave me, so I disframulated the 300-horsepower engine out of my old self-propelled combine because as every one knows it was too small, and replaced it with a turbocharged modalizer synchronized with a stationary hydrometric flux valve. Because this still wasn't enough to blow snow a mile and a half, I extended the framework with the angle iron and welded in the chronometric phasetron from an old discarded nutralizer, which fired a fourth-dimension nullifier that I turbulated backwards with the drive transmission from a Caterpillar bulldozer to get the torque just right for snow that's at least 12 feet deep. I phase-boosted the nullifier with fuel-oil-soaked hyper-carbonated corn stalks pelleted with a machine that I also just happened to build out of an old John Deere two-cylinder tractor, using one of the cylinders for the compactor, and the other to, well, you know, maximize the rambulator drive.

"Then, I put all this together last Thursday night.

"It's a little too powerful, so after yesterday's snow storm, when I sucked up two Ford cars and somebody's four-wheel-drive pickup truck, I put a reverse-polarized repelling electromagnet that I wound out of old barbed wire out in front of this so I wouldn't turn any more vehicles into scrap iron, although from the looks of some of those pieces flying by, I could have built another one of these machines.

"The whole thing didn't cost anything because I sold enough left over metal to pay for the stuff I bought."

I want one of these.

So bad.

Even more, I want to be the guy who tells this story.