Bionic farm resolutions for 2008


Television in the 1970s gave us The Six Million Dollar Man, starring Lee Majors. As the show’s opening announcer told us each week, Majors was: “Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.”
The phrase “we have the technology” became part of the decade’s slang and may even sneak into today’s conversations, although few probably realize where it originated.
Looking at 2008 and beyond, the phrase takes on even more meaning, as technology transforms our daily lives in ways we couldn’t fathom in 1978 when Majors’ bionic man went off the air. Heck, we couldn’t have fathomed some of these changes 10 years ago in 1998!
So what’s that mean for you on the farm? Your New Year’s resolutions will have to make you “better, stronger, faster” to keep pace.
1. Get back to basics. The Babylonians were the first to make New Year’s resolutions, to celebrate the start of the new planting cycles. On their lists? Return borrowed farm tools and pay off old debt. Sounds like a good place to start.
The USDA estimated farm business debt to be about $215.2 billion at the end of 2007, a new record for the fourth consecutive year. The good news? Farm asset values exceed the increase in farm debt.
No matter how high tech you’re headed, heed the old maxim: Prepare for the next valley when you’re at a peak.
2. Learn a new skill. I’ve let my journalism skills get rusty, and the new multimedia genre has almost passed me by.
We are determined to take our storytelling and news abilities to a new level in 2008 through online video, audio and slide shows. But to do so, I need to kick it into high gear and learn a new skill.
There’s some aspect of your farm enterprise that is crying for a new skill, for new knowledge. Learn it. You’re NOT too old. My parents just bought a new Dell computer. They are both 80. Try another excuse.
3. Make new friends, but keep the old. Get rid of your independent, “I can do it all by myself” mindset. Make new professional contacts inside and outside of agriculture. Network. Ask questions. Challenge yourself. Put together an advisory team and pick their brains. Post a question on an online forum.
The results may be wonderfully surprising.
4. Embrace change through 10 words. Futurist Jim Carroll has a list of “10 Great Words.” I’ve shared them with you before, but they’re always worth a new look. They can make you bionic. Better than you were before. You have the technology.
(Editor Susan Crowell can be reached at 800-837-3419 or at


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