The Feb. 4 special section of Tire Business focused on OTR and farm tires. I was asked to tailor my column to this subject as well.
Now, I have to tell you that I don't know much about farming, but I did grow up in the Garden State (New Jersey), which is home to a lot of truck farms. (No, they don't grow trucks. They grow vegetables for the market.)
While my family lived in suburbia, I did see a lot of farms that my parents pointed out during car excursions around the state and also visited some dairy farms that sold ice cream during these formative adventures.
However, my eldest sister, Jean, graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in nursing in 1958. Her first job was as a visiting nurse to farmers in southern New Jersey. She provided health care to these farmers and the migrant workers who lived and worked for them temporarily on their farms.
I shall never forget the day she brought home a piglet that a farmer had given her as thanks for the care she had given his family and workers. She promptly gave the baby pig to me (age 8) and my next elder sister, Linda, who was 10.
If you didn't know this already, pigs smell really bad, so my mother told us we could not bring the pig into the house until it had a bath and smelled a whole lot better.
So we gave the pig a bath in the garage and raided the bathroom medicine cabinet for every bottle of perfume, cologne, aftershave and toilette water it had and dumped it all on the pig after scrubbing it with lots of soap and water.
Have you heard the expression, "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig"?
Well, there's another truism I discovered: "You can put perfume on a pig, but it still smells like a pig."
We named that pig, kept it in the garage, walked it up and down the street on a leash and gave it loads of love and attention, but by the end of the week Jean had to return it to the farmer.
We also had a rooster sometime later. We named it, kept it in the garage, walked it up and down the street on a leash, and gave it loads of love and attention but by the end of week, it too was returned to the farmer. And that is as close as I have ever been to being a farmer.
So I thought what would be interesting is to learn something about farming and specifically farm tires and share that information with you.
Farming is hard work (don't I know it). It takes a lot of power to force a plow through tough soil and turn it over, to push a seed into the ground and make it grow, to water the crops when it doesn't rain, to chop down the weeds that grow with the crops, harvest the crops and separate the wheat from the chaff and the corn from the husk.
In the olden days, all this work was done by farmers, their families and their horses and/or mules. but in the early part of the 20th century, machines began replacing animals.
In fact, by the 1930s, machines were being developed for every step of the growing process. Plows were mounted directly to tractors so they could be lifted out at the end of a row; grain drills and corn planters got better at distributing seed accurately and quickly; the tricycle tractor was invented that enabled farmers to drive cultivators through closely spaced rows, and in 1935 the first wheat combine that could be operated by just one man was invented.
Advances in steel manufacturing resulted in stronger and cheaper steel so many implements like harrows, used to break up dirt clods and root up weeds, that were made primarily out of wood with steel teeth mounted in them, were replaced with machines built completely from steel.