Saturday, October 23, 2010

How Farming Helps Me Pass Math...

I hate math.  With a passion.  With a burning, fiery fury.  I avoid balancing my checkbook if I can and nine times out of ten if I don't have a calculator I am helpless to do any sort of arithmetic.  (Yes, that was an intentional pun...if you can consider that a pun...)


Fact is, my brain just doesn't get along well with quantitative reasoning.  I've made a point to establish resources to help me out when I need it.  Farmboy helps me figure out gas mileage, because simple multiplication and division leaves me frustrated.  Even numbers relating to agriculture leave me a little overwhelmed.  You can tell me the bushels per acre on beans or corn, and I can say, "Wow, that's great!" or "Uh oh..."  You can't, however, expect me to figure out any of the other calculations that BPA could be figured into.  (For non-ag folks, grain is often measured in a unit known as a "bushel."  In most regions, it's the standard of measurement.  Sometimes it's measured in tons per acre, rather than bushels.  However, I ignore that standard of measurement, because I'm used to bushels and I'm already confused enough by numbers without conversion playing a role in my life.  This discussion is officially making me feel inadequate.  Moving on.)

Where was I?  Oh, yeah.  Even ag-related numbers can leave me a little overwhelmed.  Precisions is key in agriculture, from the exact distribution of fertilizer or pesticides, to the amount of feed used, to the population at planting.  (The easiest way to explain "population" would be the density of seeds planted in a row.  High population means thick, close-planted rows.  Someone correct me if I have this incorrect.)

Obviously, there's a lot of jargon in addition to numbers.

Fact is, I hate numbers.  And most days, even farming is unable to make numbers simple and fun for me.

However, in recent months, there's a set of numbers that I've become more interested in than I'd have ever expected.  In fact, I just wrote a paper about these numbers, for my math class.  And I'm sure that paper will be the only decent grade I get in this course for the rest of the term.

So, what do those numbers have to do with farming?  Well, I quote about tracking statistics of Midwestern Gold.  What is this blog about?  Farming.  And farmers.  And corn.  And agriculture in general.  And if it weren't for my avid involvement in blogging, I'd probably have no desire to know what 2+9 is.  (Yes, that is a random example...and it's 11, right?)

I thank farmers a lot on this blog, but today I'm going to thank them for something a little out of left field.  Thank you farmers, for helping me pass my graduation-requirement math class.  Because of you, I should (keyword, should) be one gen ed closer to my bachelor's degree.

Special thanks especially to my good buddy Darin Grimm, who often gets called Data Boy or Data Dude or "the numbers guy."  Because half the time, Darin's the one getting desperate IMs and text messages when I can't figure out some simple problem in my own little noggin.  Check out Darin's blog here...there's often numbers involved.


  1. Well thanks for the callout..

    And you should share the other half of the story. How we're polar opposites when it comes to this stuff. Like how I don't get art/creative things, something your talented at.

    And that there was a day long ago when math seemed more important, than machines pretty much just started doing any calculation thing we needed. And we realized creative people where needed to help a message stand out from the crowd!

  2. Darin, you give me way, way too much credit.

    And you're right; I think it's valuable to highlight how polar-opposite we are in regards to our interests and talents. It goes to show how a common interest like agriculture can create incredibly strong friendships among people who would otherwise have probably no relationship.

    And thanks for being you, Darin. :)