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City Slicker Learns To Combine


Most farm boys can probably remember having a good chuckle at a city cousin’s first attempt to drive a tractor on summer vacation. Now, Discovery Channel’s new show “I Could Do That” has taken that general idea and put in on television. One of the show’s episodes will feature a city slicker getting his first chance to try harvesting grain behind the wheel of a new MF 9695 combine.

But the show isn’t meant to poke fun at the ordinary people who get a once-in-a-lifetime chance to operate big equipment they aren’t familiar with. “It’s all about challenging yourself,” says Stephen Grant, the series producer and director of the combine episode.

Grant says a nation-wide casting call was put out to find people willing to challenge themselves behind the wheel — or at the helm — of some big machines. “We were overwhelmed with the response,” he says. People from all across Canada applied.

In all, thirteen episodes were filmed as participants took control of a variety of different equipment for the first time in their lives; and the producers attempted to pair the people chosen for the show with the equipment they were most interested in. “We tried to match them up to the machine they wanted to operate,” adds Grant. The person chosen to operate

the combine, which was provided

by AGCO, is John Ki, a stand-up comedian from Toronto. Grant says Ki had never been on a farm in his life. To familiarize him with the machine, he was given a crash course in how to use it. “We took them (participants from all episodes) to a kind of boot camp to learn how to operate the machinery,” says Grant.

After that, the participants were matched in a competition against a professional operator using the same machine in timed events. For the combine episode, the farm owner started off performing the required tasks and was timed. Ki then was given a “rookie time handicap” and sent out to do the same jobs. The final challenge involved moving a combine into the field, connecting to a header, threshing a set number of acres and unloading the hopper.

The show is hosted by Chris Nelson, who many may remember as Much Music’s west-coast videographer, based in Vancouver.

The series begins on March 24 on Discovery Channel, and the combine episode, filmed on a farm in southern Ontario, will air on May 19. For more information, visit the Discovery Channel’s website at

So who won the time trials, Ki or the farmer? “I don’t want to give it away,” chuckles Grant. Tune in to find out.

About the author


Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.



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