Farm life encourages innovation

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Little girl

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

— Albert Einstein

From the beginning of time, imagination has propelled the world forward in ways that many would have called questionable and crazy. Lack of imagination and the ability to grasp innovative ways of getting a job done holds the unwelcome possibility of setting us back in terms of progress.

A farm-raised child is exposed to the need for quick and innovative thinking at a far higher rate than the average child. Farm kids were exposed to breakdowns, slowdowns and the need to get back at it without a trip to town, if it could be avoided in any possible way.

Lessons from dad

I watched my dad use tarp straps, wire of various size and strength, baler twine, electrical tape, hand tools and a wish and a prayer to get something to hold together long enough to accomplish a job.

“Tomorrow we’ll fix it right, but for now, this just might work,” I heard him say more than a time or two.

Working beside him, we learned things we didn’t even know we were being taught. My sister, who worked the most with Dad out in the fields and on tractors, can troubleshoot and fix absolutely anything. She can envision what the problem is, along with the solution, before most of us even know there is one.

Milking

I spent more time in the barns, feeding calves and milking cows, because that’s what I enjoyed the most, and I don’t have much to show for it. About the only claim to fame I have centers around a few tiny trophies for first place in a cow milking contest. I’m afraid that’s not going to take me very far in my old age.

Innovation

My father-in-law most definitely had the great gift of imaginative thinking. He grew tired of cranking the old ice cream maker, so he figured out a way to turn the churn inside the old wooden bucket of ice by turning it from manual to electric, long before any such devices were available.

With fewer kids being raised on farms, I have wondered how this will impact innovative thinking throughout this country. Pass down tips and tricks to the younger generation every chance you get. It seems so simple, but necessity is the mother of invention. Necessity now, far too often, just brings another trip to a store. Here’s hoping a former farm kid waits on you when you get there.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.

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