I had some serious flashbacks to the teen years when I got an assignment to take some pictures at a Tractor Safety Class in Rushford the other day. Watching some wide-eyed 12-15-year-old kids drive a tractor through an obstacle course and have to hook up the hydraulics of a commercial mower to the back of a different tractor looked like fun and a challenge all at the same time.
As a middle-aged man, the first thing you’re tempted to do is compare what the equipment of today is like to what you grew up on years ago. Of course, the biggest difference is electronics and buttons to push instead of hydraulic levers to yank every time you wanted to do something.
The other big difference is an enclosed cab versus an open air seat. I remember a lot of 90-100 degree days where air conditioning would have been nice, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
I also didn’t know that the hydraulic hoses are now color-coded to make it easier to hook up to a tractor, which is a nice change from the old days.
The kids that took the course had to sit in a classroom for a couple of days before they got to go outside on one of the most beautiful days of the year to take the practical tests. Did you ever have to back up farm equipment before and the implements appeared to do the exact opposite of what you wanted it to? You turn it the OPPOSITE way of the direction you wanted it to go? How aggravating could that be when you first were learning the business?
One of the more embarrassing flashbacks was learning to drive a skid steer. That was always my favorite thing to operate, but the first time I tried to load it up onto the trailer, I forgot you need to take it up backward. You can imagine what came next, right? It winds up on its backside, but all I needed to do was push the levers forward and it was back on all four wheels. It’s probably not hard to believe that it took awhile for me to stop hearing about that one!
I didn’t know this course was federally mandated. You obviously will need the certification to work on farms, but it’s also necessary to work on the big commercial-scale lawnmowers as well, so keep that in mind.