We’ve all heard the old expression “you get what you pay for”. And I would be the last one to argue that isn’t true. More than once I’ve tossed out a cheap pair of shop gloves that tore or started coming apart on the first day of use.
I’ve actually thrown out cheap wrenches too, which I picked up at a discount tool store for a price I just couldn’t resist. I thought putting them into the toolbox on the tractor would be a good idea. I’d only use them on those times when I was caught in the field and needed to make a quick, simple repair to get going again. That would avoid a trip all the way back to the yard and breaking out “the good wrenches” in the shop.
On one or two occasions I found myself grabbing one of those cheap wrenches and torqueing on a stubborn bolt, only to have the wrench actually snap. Now, I know I can do a respectable bench press, but I would not claim to be able to ever snap something made of chromium steel in half, at least anything forged to any acceptable standard.
I used my throwing arm to launch a couple of those crappy wrenches across the field and into the nearest bush. I followed that up with a promise to myself to never bring home such garbage again. But, you know, it’s hard to walk down an aisle in a tool store and see those bargain-priced tools just sitting there. In my mind I hear them begging me for a new home.
Over the years, I’ve become better conditioned to ignore those imaginary pleas, and I have steadily upgraded the quality of what now lives in my tool chest, all the while keeping that you-get-what-you-pay-for mantra in mind.
But this past week as I walked the aisles of the Manitoba Ag Days show in Brandon, I realized I was getting a lot more than I paid for there. I sat in on a couple of short seminars that were free to attend, and the knowledge being made available to any farmer who cared to walk in the door and sit down was worth much more than the cost of fuel to drive to the show.
And judging by the lack of empty seats during a few of those presentations, I’d say many others have realized that too.
Many farm shows these days are putting increased importance on those kinds of presentations. The quality of speakers I’ve had a chance to listen to over the past year or two has been remarkably high. A lot people who have expertise in particular areas and also happen to be farmers have graced the speaker’s platforms and dropped a lot of useful information on crowds.
Listening to Lance Stockbrugger, a chartered accountant and producer from Saskatchewan, talk about leasing versus buying machinery at Ag Days was a great opportunity.
He broke down the debate better than I’ve ever heard before, sorting the wheat from the chaff that often surrounds that topic, and he provided some hard and fast information producers could use to make that decision on their own operations. That kind of advice usually comes at an hourly rate when you walk into an accountant’s office
Total cost to attend his presentation: $0. Total cost to get into the Manitoba Ag Days show: $0.
As long as you can avert your eyes from those show special prices on a variety of must-have (good quality) tools for your shop, you really can get something for nothing at a farm show.