Editor's Note: Monte Tucker's editorials are from an Oklahoma farmer/rancher's point of view. Tucker writes a weekly column for a couple small town newspapers. This column reminds us of how farm equipment has changed in one lifetime. The humor is typical coffee-shop story telling that farmers have shared over time.



I was flipping through one of the 26,000 agriculture magazines I received the other night when I spotted a 48-row John Deere planter! If you're not too familiar with farm equipment, this planter is 120 feet wide! It is capable of planting an entire football field, including the end zones, in 45 seconds. The article said this planter can cover 100 acres an hour! You could plant an entire quarter section of land in under two hours. To put this into perspective, such a planter can plant more corn in one hour than my Granddad in the mid forties could plant in a month. Simply unbelievable!



I am reminded of stories that my Granddad would tell me when I asked him about how they ever got anything done. I remember him telling me one day what he told my Grandmother when he came home with his new "M" Farm-all tractor. He told her that there wasn't anything else they could put on a tractor. He said, "this tractor has an electric start, a power lift and lights!" That was new technology then. Now there are tractors that communicate with satellites while the tractor drives itself to within less than an inch of accuracy and tells the farmer how the planter is running while changing the seeding rate according to a pre-loaded map. I wonder what I'll tell my grandkids some day?



I have to share a story about a conversation my dad and a neighbor had a while back at the local co-op. They were talking about the new and the old as they discussed mules vs. auto-steer. Auto-steer is what I talked about a second ago where a tractor is guided by GPS. You simply start the tractor down the next strip, push a button and the tractor drives itself. When you get to the other end, a buzzer rings and you take control of the tractor and turn it around for the next swath. The neighbor, Gale, said that we have finally come full circle. My dad was a bit puzzled, but Gale continued. He said he could remember his dad cultivating crops with mules and a two-row, mule drawn cultivator. After lunch, Gale's dad would get a bit sleepy and dose off while the mules walked down the row. When they got to the end of the field, the mules would simply stop, he would wake up and turn them around and continue his nap. Gale argued auto-steer wasn't new, we just re-discovered it.



Another story comes to mind. A friend and I were talking at the field's edge one day while wheat harvest was going on and his Great-Granddad was sitting in his old faithful Chevy pickup as we leaned against it. Tuff and I were trying to imagine what it was like to ride on one of those early made tractors with no cab, no back rest, arm rests or padding, not to mention no A/C or radio. All while pulling a 6 foot one-way. We talked about how you could have gone all day and still been able to spit across what you plowed. Dave, in all his wisdom, smiled big at Tuff and I with a little tobacco in his teeth and said, "Boys, it beat staring at a mule's @#% all day!"



I'm Monte Tucker, and that is what's under my "putting it into perspective" hat!



Monte Tucker is a farmer and rancher in Oklahoma who writes a weekly column for a couple small town newspapers.