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The Manure Spreader: Farm inventions

Contributed by Tim Moffett Published on 06 February 2017

Personally, I think the greatest invention of all time is the outhouse. Before that it was just corncobs and chaos.

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” I’m not sure who originally made this statement, but I’m pretty sure the person was not a farmer.

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We, as farmers, achieve most of our advancements out of desperation. Take, for instance, the guy who invented fingernail clippers: He was literally down to his last two fingers when he quit using his pocketknife to trim his fingernails. He was a Spanish man named Dos Pinkies.

Today, farmers have the technical ability to drive tractors, monitor wells, watch employees and even play cards on their phones. Technology has greatly improved.

I remember a time before the weather app, when we had an almanac. Even named it after ourselves. Then if you needed to know the weather, you would just open the door and look up.

There are few inventions that are considered to have changed history as well as agriculture. However, I feel the need to add some items to the list.

The first major agriculture invention we all know is Eli Whitney’s cotton gin. This invention sorted hulls, stems and seed from the cotton itself, saving hundreds of man-hours in the cotton-picking process. Now, I’m not taking away from Mr. Whitney’s patented machine, but you know what I feel is better than easy cotton?

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An elastic waistband. Thanksgiving and Super bowl parties would not exist were it not for the ability to test the tensile strength and flexibility of your cotton wears.

Ben Franklin isn’t just a pretty face on the $100 bill. He was a poet, politician and scientist – most famous for teaching society that, during a lightning storm, using a kite as a “Hide-A-Key” for your house is not the best choice.

I think we would all agree that electricity is high on our list. However, what is more important than electricity? The ability to turn it off.

“Did you turn the power off?” And the reply is always “yes.” Then ZZZAAAPPP!!! In one split second, the pliers you were holding sparked a flame which singed off your eyebrows, and now you have a speech impediment.

While we are on the subject, the next great invention is the flat-headed screwdriver. I can think of five places right now where a screwdriver is holding this operation together. From starting a tractor to holding an electric breaker in place, this tool is the Swiss Army knife on the farm.

Next on the list is the traction engine, which we later called a tractor. Boy, were farmers ready for this one. Tractors changed the speed and view of everyday farming. Gone are the days of breathing methane and staring at the back end of a mule.

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Tractors are great, but let’s give it up for Harvey Firestone, who was the first one to start putting rubber tires on Allis Chalmers tractors in 1932. Before rubber tire tractors, nobody knew how to plug a nail hole in a tire (with a bigger nail).

Nobody spent an hour a day airing up tires because they saw the price of a new rear tire and nearly stroked out.

Personally, I think the greatest invention of all time is the outhouse. Before that it was just corncobs and chaos.  end mark

Tim Moffett

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