The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Schmitt: Thinking Out Loud – "Farm Boy Logic"


As a mother of 3 boys and 1 girl, I have discovered the boys have a completely different way of problem solving. Katie and I look at problems in a very similar manner. We understand how to get things done and move on to the next project. We can just look at each other and know what to do. Then I look at how the boys solve a problem and go “really?” “What were you thinking?” But to them their logic makes complete sense. When they were little, hammers solved many problems. Round peg in square hole. No problem. Just pound a little harder. Bent metal. No problem. Find a bigger hammer. Pesky sister. Big problem. Hammers don’t work in this situation according to their mother. They learned that hammers apparently don’t solve all of life’s problems.

It seems when the boys hit their early teens, common sense and logic goes out the window with their childhood toys. Our family doctor was telling me about the time on his southern Minnesota farm when he and his brothers challenged each other to test the electric fence. Now most farm kids will touch a hot wire with their fingertip just once and the lesson is etched in their memories. Dr. Peter says boys take it one step further. He says they had to test the theory of what would happen if you “watered” the hot wire. That is when the lesson becomes engraved on their nervous system! I call it farm boy logic.

Michael had a classic case of farm boy logic during Homecoming week at school. He and Andrew haven’t had their haircut since State Fair and were looking a little shaggy. They decided to have Andrew’s sister “buzz” them and leave them with a Mohawk to celebrate Homecoming. A problem arose when Andrew was nominated for Homecoming King. They adjusted their plan to have their haircut after coronation on Sunday evening. Much to everyone’s delight, Andrew was crowned King! The plan would have to change again because he couldn’t sport such a wild haircut as royalty.

Not one to let a “good” idea die, Michael came up with another plan. After our 4-H club meeting the next evening, he asked Kayley if she had heads for her clippers. Once she said yes, he was on the road to her house for his haircut. Now keep in mind, Kayley has never cut hair before. Her clippers were her topline clippers for cattle.

We held our breathe as Michael walked into the house from his “appointment”. I must say that Kayley did a very good job of blending from short hair to long hair. Luckily, Michael didn’t have her engrave an “R” or racing lines on the side of his head. She also didn’t shave him very close on the sides so it looks natural, except for the shocks of locks on top. I asked him why he let Kayley cut his hair. Without missing a beat he said, “because she does a great job on her heifer’s topline.” Farm boy logic.

Michael is thoroughly enjoying his senior year of high school, despite the growing pressure to select a college and declare a major. At parent/teacher conferences, many commented on Michael’s enthusiasm and care-free spirit. I asked him about his new attitude. He says he is living in the moment because he will never be here (in high school) again.

As we wrap up another growing season, may we all take time to enjoy the moment, for we will never pass this way again. Watching the biggest harvest moon rise on the horizon. Snuggling with little kids under a grandma’s quilt on a hayrack ride through harvested fields. Bringing in the last wagon of corn from the field. Breathing in the cool smell of flipped soil behind the plow. Surviving another growing season with everyone safe and sound. Now, I wonder if Kayley will finish clipping Michael’s hair.

As their 4 children pursue dairy careers off the farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their Minnesota farm. (Natalie grew up in Stronghurst, the daughter of Becky and the late Larry Dowell.)