Out On The Mudline
John Deere Provides Training At NWCC
By W. P. Sissell
My Grandson, Parker, for most of his spare time during the past six or eight weeks has been working on the conversion of a one time lawnmower into a mud racer. Yesterday, Tuesday, was the day for the race and I was invited to attend.
Parker is a student at Northwest Community College, enrolled in the John Deere program. The program is a story within itself. His instructor, Mr. Jeremy Massey, uses this particular venue as a teaching tool toward the end of the first semester.
All the young men in the class were 18 and 19 year-olds. As I watched the antics of these young Americans I was carried back many years—to army basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia.
The Race Site
We followed Parker to Mr. Massey’s home out in the country northeast of Coldwater. The setting was beautiful. The entire farm was covered in luxuriant green ryegrass with a herd of steers grazing. They did not really welcome our presence but moved to another location and continued their grazing. As we neared the location of the race we had pulled in behind another racer which turned out to be the only other racer present although several others were just left at home.
Parker and a friend had been to the farm previously with Mr. Massey and used a large tractor to make sure there was sufficient mud. On the way from the house to the mud ditch there were several ditches to be “navigated.” In the first navigation Parker got stranded and damaged his lawnmower creating a problem that ended his racing. This left only the one reconditioned mower. The boys had fun. The young man with the mower crossed the muddy ditch in several directions usually “spinning out” and needing help. On one crossing, in the deeper mud, one wheel spinning and the other still, Parker stepped out and lifted on the non-spinning side. The wheel immediately started too spin, throwing a plume of mud which covered Parker almost completely.
Amid the laughter and back-slapping that followed—Parker trying to get his glasses cleaned—someone else came flying down the bank to land on hands and knees—belly flat—in the mud. This was the beginning of several others getting into the mud bathing.
After Parker got that mud bath his friend suggested that he try out his mower (Parker had found a cracked transmission on his mower). Parker agreed and daringly tried a second high speed entry into the muddy (now a morass) ditch. On this second try the bumper of the machine caught in the mud and flipped Parker headfirst into the mud, over the front of the machine. This pretty much ended the racing with Mr. Massey towing both the mowers (after the flip the second mower would not run readily) back up to the loading dock.
The Northwest Community John Deere Building
We followed Parker back to the Northwest campus. Parking in front of the John Deere Building and finding that it was still open we asked if we could walk through. After spending most of the afternoon with Mr. Massey, we now spent a very informative hour with his counterpart Mr. Shane Louwerens. Mr. Louwerens answered many formerly unanswered questions for Parker’s mother and dad.
In the one lab the one tool that piqued my interest was a device for testing hydraulic pressure. Many years ago I had to go to Greenville to a special shop to test an injector pump—now its available in this teaching lab. As we walked around to the other lab there was, according to our guide, in excess of two million dollars worth of machinery placed there by the John Deere Company.
When we entered the second lab there were two giant combine without the headers. Their height amazed me for it reached close to the ceiling—about twenty feet. Mr. Louwerens said his nick-name for them was “the garbage collectors” for when they brought them over to the lab people along the streets ran out with their garbage cans. These “garbage collectors” of Mr. Louwerens are a story of their own. This is for those of you who deal with computers. He told us that if we wanted to put an additional light on one of those combines (I’ve done it many times on older ones like we have in the shed) we would have to get one of his trainees—(or the equivalent) to come and hook the light up. If we tried to do that alone it would shut the entire combine down. There are three computers involved with the running of the combine.
The building, which cost over a half million, came via a federal grant. The John Deere Technical Training Program is the only one in this part of the country. They have students from all over the U.S.A. and once our young men get their training here they may find they may be employed worldwide.
This was my second visit to the campus since retiring. It has changed a great deal—but I can still locate the place where Nannette and I spent the summer in a trailer located in a cotton field on the west side of the campus.
Visit your Community College sometimes—they’ll be glad to see you!
Our wish for you is a great week. The wind is huffing and puffing outside The temperature has dropped about ten degrees since we got up this morning. Thanks for your encouragement. You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606 or 662-563-9879.