Co-op Owners Invited to the
Ukiah Natural Foods Annual Meeting
First Screening of Greenhorns…
a documentary exploring the lives
of America’s young farmers
and their vision for the future…
~Greenhorns Book Signing & Sales~
Co-Editor Paula Manalo
Mendocino Organics CSA
at Mulligan Books Table
~Live Music and Food~
Co-op Board Election Results
Ukiah Senior Center
2 – 5 pm
499 Leslie Street
From ADAM GASKA
Mendocino Organics CSA
Tackling a Beast
Adam Gaska grew up in Redwood Valley and owns Mendocino Organics, a diverse biodynamic farm. He enjoys farming vegetables, grain, feed, and hay with his tractors.
I find myself once again staring at a beast covered in dust and grease. No, I’m not looking in a mirror. I’ve got my hands in the belly of our beast, a John Deere 4020. Lucky for us, there are just a few old, cracking hydraulic hoses in need of replacement. It’s going to set us back only a couple of hours of wrencing, straining, and cussing to find the problem, and a hundred dollars to solve the problem. That’s a pretty cheap way to appease the diesel-burning gods these days.
Growing up, I never thought to be a mechanic or a farmer. Sometimes things just work out the way they want, personal thoughts in the matter be damned. In high school, what I really wanted to be was an engineer, and my academic path was geared accordingly. The problem was, my class schedule easily filled up with math and science with room to spare. Not really being a jock or an artsy or performing type, my options were pretty limited, so I settled on auto sop. I figured, what the heck, it’s closer to math class than choir is, and it’ll help me later in life. I’ll be able to save a few bucks b making minor repairs on my own car or at least know enough not to get ripped off by a shady mechanic. Throughout my high school career, there always seemed to be room to take another vocational class, like welding.
Once I came to the realization that I wanted to farm, those classes actually paid off. Not only did I learn to fix a few things, but I also felt comfortable hanging out with and learning from the older, chaw-spitting farmers who became my impromptu mentors. Sometimes the best gifts don’t come in little boxes with nice little bows; sometimes they wear dirty coveralls and say tings that’d make your grandma blush.
There are plenty of places to learn how to fix farm equipment aside from seasoned vets (although that’s really where it’s at). Many community colleges have vocational-education courses in mechanics and welding. The local tractor dealers, where I’ve found myself more than once, are a valuable resource. generally, the mechanics there don’t mind answering some of my questions.
Besides my roundabout education, I’d say my next best investment has been in tools. Whether it’s a mechanic’s bill or an invoice for a good ratchet set, it can be written off on my taxes. A good set of tools, along with a bit of education, will serve me for a lifetime. Trust me — if you plan on farming for your lifetie, you’ll need both.
I get the hoses put in place and tightened up. I turn the old gal over a few times, and vroom, black particles sprinkle the air. I inspect the job and I’m pleased; no more leaks, and neither the patient nor the doctor is the worse for it. Although I usually don’t walk away from any task looking clean and tidy, today my tools and my experience have served me well.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t fix everything. Usually I know when something is beyond my skills and that I must enlist the help of someone wit stronger magic than I have. Fortunately, by keeping up with routine maintenance and dealing with small problems before they become bigger (and more expensive), that doesn’t happen often.
Today I’m victorious, and I ride my iron steed, breathing diesel smoke and not leaking hydraulic fluid, off into our next season.