Illinois Farmers Channel a “Do-It-Yourself” Mentality
The morning showcased the DIY, or “do-it-yourself,” nature of our farm: I finished the W-2s without an accountant’s help. The guys wrapped up a busy week of using our own semis to deliver our own corn to the ethanol plant. That task created a pile of tickets for me to log into our self-created record-keeping system. Thankfully, a vintage, 8-foot diameter head of a windmill inspired my office productivity from its space on the wall behind my desk. Our guys modified and installed the beloved farm relic recently in one of our more unusual DIY moments.
Soon after, Mom and I looked out the window to see our guys using a tractor to tow our oldest semi-truck to the home farm after it broke down nearby. Over lunch, we discussed the time commitment to fix it ourselves versus hiring our favorite truck technician to tackle the task in much shorter order.
DIY experiences on the farm crop up frequently and seem to provide enough fodder for a reality TV show. Don’t be surprised to stop by our farm shop to find a guy or two up the rear discharge area of our combine for pre-harvest maintenance in August. You may catch a few of us building cattle fence down the road on a June morning. Or visit in January to see some of us tracking grain inventory or analyzing cost of production with self-formulated spreadsheets.
Farmers wear many hats, but high-tech equipment and the complexity of bookwork prevent us from wearing as many as desired. We rely on trusted agribusiness professionals to fill in our skill gaps or time constraints, whether agronomists, accountants or service technicians. In particular, today’s sophisticated tractors, planters and combines prompt us to hire technicians (not mechanics) with special tooling and schooling for certain tasks.
But we always first consider whether we can or should DIY as the need or want. Our parents and grandparents engrained the ethic of self-sufficiency in us when we remodeled our childhood farmhouse, and Mom taught us to scrape and paint barns. We saw Dad apply our own nitrogen fertilizer and watched Grandpa repair tractors.
We DIY because we can. The deeper reasoning seems part heritage, work ethic and skill, and occasionally the desire for a job done a certain way. Sometimes availability comes into play, and a large reason remains economics. We literally cut expenses when the guys cut our 20-foot drill in half. The alternative option would have cost the trade-in plus cash to purchase a 10-foot drill that we desired for planting wheat and grasses.
Instead, DIY delivered.