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The Manure Spreader: Higher edumicated

Tim Moffett for Progressive Dairyman Published on 12 September 2016

They say everyone needs a good education. I am educated. My mom home-schooled me, and I graduated when I was 7 years old; she looked at me and said, “Well Tim, that’s everything I know.”

An education in farming can come in many forms. A formal education can be bought at many colleges and universities, and many of these schools do offer farming degrees. Generally, these are short courses like a couple semesters or a weekend seminar. Actually, it’s shorter than that. They mail you a pack of seeds, tell you to plant them – even if they don’t grow, you have just graduated into being a farmer.



There is an organization out there called “Beginning Farmers.” Good for these people. I wish them all the success. However, how fast are these people advancing from a beginning farmer to just a plain old farmer? I’d say professional farmer, but professionals get paid.

How do you know when you’re not a beginner anymore? Is it when you lose your first dollar farming? Cause that’s day one. Is it when you think you have lost your mind and start to re-think this whole farming thing? That’s day two. Day three is just a blur.

Some farmers are taught techniques and skills from their elders. This type of education is mediocre at best. I’m not saying that we all have slow relatives; I’m just saying look around at the next family reunion and ask yourself: Do I really…?

Occasionally, people try to educate us and we don’t even ask for it. You all know this guy. He stops by your farm, tells you what you should have done and has all the answers. His farm is in shambles, but according to him, he’s Rumpelstiltskin and his farm just spins gold. Stephen Hawking said, “The greatest enemy of knowledge is the illusion of knowledge.” Don’t be this person.

For those of you who might need a refresher course in farming, I recommend purchasing the book Farming For Dummies. The author knew the demographic. That’s why it is written on a third-grade level. The publisher even printed it on a slow press for those of you who don’t read very fast. I read the entire book, and all it said was, “Wake up at the crack of dawn, dig a hole, plant, pray for rain, repeat.”


Sometimes, experience will be the best educator. Like the time my dad wanted to wash the mud off an extension cord with his hands in a 5-gallon bucket of water. He was taught three things during that “class.” First, unplug the chord. Second, dental fillings will spark blue-colored flames. Third, dirty extension cords are acceptable. A free education at its finest.

In the many years of being partners with my brother in the dairy business, we have made some mistakes. When these mistakes had financial losses attached, we always refer to those losses as a “tuition expense.” We just got “schooled” in what not to do, and that was the price we had to pay for the learning experience.

As much as I’ve tried, my accountant says I can’t write off the losses as a “student loan.”  end mark

Tim is a Florida dairy farmer and stand-up comedian. Email Tim Moffett.