Pull up a chair and I'll tell you about understanding the critter known as the farmer.
You may have noticed that farm folk are ... odd. Although most are reticent at first, once you get to know us we exhibit some rather exaggerated personality quirks. I think you've already noticed the farm humour. Today we are going to start with stubbornness and the martyr complex.
It is axiomatic that there is never enough money and time on a farm. The most obvious solution to this is to do it yourself to save money, and do something "clever" to save time. Like all obvious solutions, it's usually the wrong solution.
Of course nobody wants to start all over again once they have put a lot of effort into a task, even when it becomes abundantly clear that the shortest distance between two points is not a shortcut.
Thus is born stubbornness.
Having spent all summer pulling approximately 10,000 nails from the salvaged boards of the barn shed, who wouldn't want to let everyone else know the extent of your contribution to society. When others try to outperform you in this regard, it is useful to recount the amount of pain and suffering you endured to complete your mission. After all, that's subjective and can't be accurately measured for comparison.
Thus is born martyrdom.
What else did we do that is just plain stubborn? Well, we got the barn shed down and apart by hand and by garden tractor. We also pulled a lot of weeds. That may not sound like much, but it was red-root pigweed and there was a lot of it.
Maybe some pictures would help.
A Manly Day at the Farm
Weeds Growing Like Weeds
All of this goes to show that you can't just assume people on a farm know what they're doing. What is perhaps more unnerving is that lots of people on large, powerful equipment don't necessarily know what they're doing. A word of advice: Stay well back of large equipment on the road. Then move farther back still. A case in point is when a large trailer in front of us lost a round bale of hay that was the better part of a ton. Round bales that size are used because they are easier to make and easy enough to move with a tractor. Round bales also, of course, roll downhill towards any hapless people following in their car. Fortunately, unlike the Coyote in the Road Runner cartoons, we knew enough to move aside rather than keep running away in a straight line.
Dealing with this sort of thing requires not only the correct attitude, but the correct manner of speaking. In rural Canada, there are two kinds of acceptable speech. These are overstatement and understatement. Overstatement is used with family and close friends as outlined above. Understatement is used at all other times.
For example, when confronted with an implacable round bale it is best to pretend that you just came along and saw nothing. Or you can concoct some sequence of events that would remove any and all blame from the unfortunate hay drovers. Some points can be awarded for creativity but don't overdo it. Outrageous attempts at deflection are in poor form when a patently false explanation will do. Remember -- understated.
Here are a few other pointers to understanding the fine art of understatement.
When you ask someone about how to do something you've never done before, often you don't get much of a response. That's okay. It usually isn't anything personal against you. Often they don't want to admit that it turned into a complete fiasco the last time they tried it. Or perhaps they don't know. Or maybe the battery is dead in their hearing aid. An appropriate tactic to try is to suggest a course of action. After all, you and I certainly have no pride or we wouldn't be city-folk trying to farm. A common response to any suggestion is: "You could do that." At first, this may not seem very helpful. What it actually means is: "Only a complete idiot would do that." So it is actually a very useful response.
In a similar vein, when asking about someone else, you will often hear the phrase: "Yeah, I know him." This is the complete opposite of "Yeah, he's alright." It's a small community. People are reluctant to explicitly say nasty things about others.
There is lots more, but it would take far too long to explain it all here. We'd be happy to tell you all about it. If you ever want to come by, we're easy to find. You see, wire fencing has an up and a down. Our first attempt to install fencing resulted in our putting it in the wrong way. It didn't help keep the smaller critters out, but it helped the community at large by providing convenient directions. "Just turn at the place where they got the fence in upside-down."
That says it all.
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