I’ve always been fascinated by how quickly time can fly by, especially on the farm, and how small amounts of time spent repeatedly can add up into hours, days, weeks….
Let’s provide some examples. A mere 15 minutes per day adds up to a staggering 91.25 hours per year—that’s 3.8 days, and 5.4 “awake days” if you figure on sleeping seven hours per night.
Numbers like these provide a strong incentive to perform tasks as efficiently as possible. Not quickly, mind you—haste makes waste. But efficiently, without wasting time unnecessarily.
Certainly farmers ought to have a healthy appreciation for efficiency. It seems like there are never enough hours in a day to get done everything that we would like to get done.
Working efficiently takes on many different forms. It might involve creating dedicated toolboxes for various projects (like fencing repairs), so when an issue pops up, you don’t have to spend time gathering the right collection of tools and supplies from all over your farm.
Or—and this is a big one—it might require eliminating small and barely noticeable time drains around the farm that add up to big time savings.
Go with the Flow
Let me give you an example. I recently came to the conclusion that the heavily used yard hydrant in my farm’s barnyard no longer delivered the water pressure it once did. It was a subtle change, but filling water buckets, jugs and tanks was taking longer than in the past.
It’s easy to let these small time losses slide. But again, they really add up. If I’m spending an extra five seconds filling a 5-gallon bucket, and I fill 20 of these buckets per day, that’s 100 seconds per day and more than 10 hours per year. I can get a lot of other projects done in 10 hours!
So the other day, while waiting for a 35-gallon leg tank to fill, I examined the mechanics of my yard hydrant’s handle. A rod running down a vertical pipe in the ground determines how much water flows through the hydrant. The higher the rod is raised by the handle, the more water flows through.
A small gear is supposed to determine how hard the hydrant can be turned on. But even though the gear was set to allow full pressure, the handle didn’t pull the rod as high as it should.
After studying the handle, I realized the issue was the connection between the handle itself and a pivoting part on which the gear is installed. The length of the connection is adjustable by screwing the pivoting part and handle closer together or further apart.
Clearly they weren’t screwed together tightly enough.
Take a Minute to Save Hours Down the Line
Once I stopped and thought about it, I vaguely remembered adjusting the length of the connection during a previous hydrant repair job, not realizing it would affect the water pressure. I quickly disassembled the handle, shortened the connection and put it all back together. I was delighted to find my yard hydrant delivering strong water pressure just like the old days.
I probably spent 20 minutes adjusting the handle. And 20 minutes can be hard to set aside on a busy day, especially when my yard hydrant was technically working fine. But I’ll gain back those 20 minutes (and many, many more) thanks to the water-dispensing efficiency offered by proper hydrant water pressure.
The takeaway? Go ahead and spend the time to save time. If 20 minutes can save you hours over the course of a year, that’s a terrific return on time investment.