Much ado is in the news and social media referring to some younger folks as an entitlement generation. On some issues I agree with this a bit, but is it just because I’m getting old myself? Born in 1965, I am a bit young to be a baby boomer, but grew up with them. A bit old to be generation X, but grew up with them as well. Could this explain why I’m often accused of multiple personalities and confuse my children and nieces/nephews as to whether I’m their grandpa, parent, uncle or playmate? Enough of that, let’s put this in agriculture timelines and perspectives.

The “greatest generation” saw a great deal of physical changes in agriculture production:

1. They farmed with horses and did most all livestock chores by hand. I think of all the stories my dad and uncles told about all the materials of production being scooped or pitched in or on, then out or off.

2. They grew up in the Great Depression, were affected firsthand by WWII, and then experienced a boom in babies and agriculture post war.

3. Tractors, electricity, and technology greatly changed their duties of labor and productivity measures. What a miracle some vaccines were.

4. They lived number 3 from the beginning, and some now have driven or at least rode in an auto-steer tractor and variable rate planter or combine capable of tracking all field data. What a change from planting with horses and check wire, or pitching bundles onto the rack and into a threshing machine!

Even in my lifetime I have used a pitchfork a great deal, handled many small square bales, witnessed little pigs get laid on before using farrowing crates, and cultivated for a summer with a 2-row on the Farmall H. (Although in 1977, I think this may have been Dad’s lesson in nostalgia for me.)

When training/teaching someone, many will avoid giving the reigns to someone younger because “the new machines are so big and a mistake could cost so much.” I’m sure my dad cringed when thinking of a youngster damaging a good stand of corn. That may explain why we didn’t put the old 4-row on the M for me! One thing I appreciate so much today is the ability to communicate during the day vs. early morning or late evenings spent on the telephone. I shouldn’t complain. My ancestors could only write letters!

Farm transitions

I occasionally hear, “The kids have it so easy these days, with the modern shops, barns, machinery.” Would it be fair to say that has been a similar statement many generations have used when referring to any generation younger than them? Whether plowing 8 acres/day with a Farmall or spraying 1,000 acres in a day, a day’s work is still a day’s work when measured by productivity. (But simple power steering is nice.)

Do you as a parent/grandparent wish for your children to experience the hardships that you experienced? I hope not all of them. You took the knowledge, experience and growth that your prior generation gained and built on that. Or on the flip side, do you find yourself being an “entitler” and not want them to experience any stress or financial hardships? Didn’t many couples farming today begin with two off-farm jobs using lights morning and night? Wait, many of us still are!

As with anything, a proper balance in advancement should be recognized and sought to achieve in stages.

It is society’s responsibility to provide an opportunity for the next generation by teaching them versus competing against them. Sustainability requires a focus on training our replacements versus only personal gain.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago — the next best time is today. Please think of that into 2020 and beyond.

I’d like to wish you all a happy and prosperous upcoming year, but true prosperity cannot always be measured in a graph, ratio or percentage.

If you would like some assistance in managing the financial aspects of your operation through thorough recordkeeping, analysis, benchmarking, farm enterprising, etc. We are enrolling farms/ranches for Spring 2020. Please contact us at 1-800-684-1969, or 605-995-7191 or

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