Written by Paul Penner Wednesday, 25 July 2007 07:24
In the business world, a 15-minute break from work at mid-morning and mid-afternoon is the norm. In agriculture, the work at hand determines the length and timing of the break.
A work break on my farm generally consists of stopping at the water hydrant for a refreshing drink when the need arises, or if on the tractor, a five-minute pause in the field to relax while checking machinery.
There are other, so-called work breaks in the farming world that may or may not be justified according to the work being done. They occur at the local coffee shop, if there is one, or nearest convenience store, like the Ampride convenience store on D Street.
One might find a gathering of like-minded folks in other locations as well. I happened upon two groups in the past month—at the dining area at Vogt’s Hometown Market (breakfast or noon mealtime) and the Lehigh elevator.
The purpose is mostly to socialize while taking that “much needed” break from work.
Most groups like these are very informal. Yet the one at Lehigh is organized enough to have created a name for itself, a.k.a. “Double Circle Day Care.” These people have a great sense of humor. If you leave this group without feeling good about life, even if the markets are down and the cows got out last night during a rainstorm that flooded the basement on your 10th wedding anniversary—which you forgot—it’s your own fault.
Attendees at these daily “club meetings” usually have much to say about almost anything, such as politics, the markets or what happened to that ugly looking field down the road.
They also tell stories about what happened to a neighbor or themselves.
A member of the Peabody branch invited yours truly to a mid-morning session one rainy day, five or six years ago. The topic of conversation centered on two farmers’ experiences while on a trip to Nebraska to pick up a 70-foot grain auger.
The image of a long auger speeding down the interstate highway, passing every vehicle in its path, is one I will not soon forget. Nor will I forget the sounds of laughter in that little corner cafe.
Before the laughter died, another participant reported he sold two grain augers within two hours to a farmer. It seems the first auger had a mind of its own as it unhitched itself from the truck and made its way off the “on” ramp of the interstate highway and landed at the bottom of the ditch in a tangled heap.
Can you imagine the conversation later that evening between the farmer and his wife?
“Did you get the auger you wanted?” “Yep.” “What’s this bill for? They double billed you!” “Nope,” is the reply. “Bought two augers.” “Where’s the other one?” “Don’t have it here just yet. Have to go back and get it. Help me load the cutting torch and bottles, OK? Oh, and hitch up the gooseneck flatbed as well. Don’t forget the tie-down straps and winch with the long cable.”
The key to a great experience at a coffee break meeting is having a good attitude. Everyone brings something to the table. Either they have a good story to tell or they enjoy hearing one. Each is welcome to add his/her perspective to the story along the way, so one never knows what will happen next.
Perhaps another good joke or story will find its way out of the cobwebs of one’s mind.
Speaking of cobwebs.... Not long after that Peabody experience, I attended a wheat growers’ board meeting. As we waited for the noon meal to arrive, the grain auger story came to mind. Soon, others chimed in with experiences of their own. The somber mood that prevailed in the meeting elevated everyone’s spirits and we were able to conclude the meeting on a brighter note.