The last couple of months in this space we discussed heat housers and then several different readers shared their own experience with this particular tractor add-on. You never know what topic will bring in the emails responding to a column.
I mentioned this to my 13-year-old son, Kyle. We were in the old shed where the heat houser is still hanging in the corner and I explained to him what it did. I later showed him a picture of one on a tractor and I think this helped him to understand what it actually did.
It is challenging trying to explain something like heat housers to someone who never saw it in person. This would be the same as trying to explain to someone my age or younger how people in the past picked corn in the ear, especially if we never saw it before.
I think all parents have conversations with their children where, when it is over, the parents feel ... well, old. I can honestly say I have had such conversations with my kids in recent years.
A couple years ago, when Kyle was about 11, we were home watching television and we were flipping channels. The movie "Back to the Future" was on. The classic 1985 sci-fi film was at the scene were the Libyans were chasing Marty McFly and Doc Brown through the mall parking lot.
If you remember the movie, during the scene they destroy a small, yellow-roofed, film-developing business building, which as you might remember used to be in most mall parking lots across the country 30 years ago.
Kyle, who obviously was watching the movie WAY closer than I was, asked what that "yellow building" was. I said it was a film-developing business.
He then asked, "What is film?"
This was followed by a 10-minute conversation about what film was, why we used it, how it worked, etc.
I don't know if he fully understood how we used to take photographs, but I know I felt much older after it.
Around that same time, we took the kids out to eat at a restaurant we had been to many times before. In the waiting area, the restaurant had an old wooden phone booth. I didn't know if there was even an old phone in it.
My second son, Burke, 6 at the time, was in the booth with our daughter, Ella, who was about 4.
Burke asked what this thing was and I told them, again without really thinking much about it, what pay phones were and standing in this booth gave you some privacy when you used the phone.
Without even missing a beat he asked, "Well, why don't you just use your cell phone?" Then Ella chimed in, as only a 4-year-old can, "Well, duh!"
From the mouths of babes.
I then tried to explain that cell phone were not invented at this time and this was why we had to use pay phones, but by then they were onto the next subject, not caring about why us old people used pay phones instead of our yet-not-created cell phones.
I think of these conversations with my kids once in a while. Owning vintage iron is one thing, but actually seeing these machines at work is another thing for the younger generation.
On our own farm, I don't think my kids have ever seen us plow any ground. I take that back -- we will plow up terraces once in a while, but never a whole field.
They barely see any tillage. We disk up cornstalks before we plant soybeans, but we plant corn right into bean stubble (unless cows were on it for some time) and probably have done this for 20 years.
The good news/bad news is not all old tasks are gone and out of date.
With herbicides not working nearly as good as in past years, we have walked beans near the house in recent years, not the entire field, but just select areas.
At least the kids don't have sunflowers as big as small trees and large areas of shattercane to cut in the fields like I faced in my youth.
Russ Quinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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