Charlie Flindt is well known to Farmers Weekly readers for his regular column – but the Hampshire farmer now also writes an exclusive column about farm kit, Charlie’s Angles, for Farmers Weekly’s sister website Power Farming.
He writes about all matters machinery, kit and equipment – as his latest contribution on the subject of the trusty farm calculator shows.
“Once upon a time, there was a calculator.
It sat on the shelf of WHSmith’s in the Eldon Square shopping centre in Newcastle upon Tyne. It was a very happy and proud calculator; it represented the cutting edge of calculator technology – for 1982. It had a whole bunch of complicated functions, the latest LCD screen, and a price tag to match.
One day, it went home in the pocket of a student who had forked out the best part of forty quid for it – a not inconsiderable chunk of his grant.
It then spent a couple of years working its socks off – there were complicated equations in mechanics of solids, thermodynamics, and fluid flow dynamics that needed solving. Life was non-stop, and our little calculator could not have been busier – or more content.
But suddenly, in June 1984, everything went quiet… very quiet and very dark. The little calculator was thrown into a box. The box was carried into a farmhouse attic, where it sat, with only the mice for company.
And then, one day, there was light… movement… and the little calculator was lifted out of the box. “Hurrah!” it thought. “I’m going to be busy! My logs, my tangents, my reciprocals; they’re all ready to go again!”
Alas, it was not to be. The little calculator found itself in a tractor. A cold, wet, noisy tractor, with only the rats for company. And yes, it was used again, but hardly to its limit. It added up seed bags used. It divided them by hectares, it divided that by 2.471. It would divide litres of fertiliser by hectares, and then convert to kilogrammes of nitrogen… hardly very demanding stuff. “But, hey,” thought the little calculator. “It beats being in a box.”
As the years went by, its health started to suffer. Some of the buttons got a bit sticky; it wasn’t designed for all that damp, dust and splashes of fertiliser. Sometimes, especially on cold days, the screen would light up in a series of random dashes, as if in a fruitless message of quiet complaint. “But hey,” the little calculator still thought. “It’s better than being in a box.”
But then, not long ago, it found itself being retrieved from the tractor. It couldn’t quite understand what was happening as it was dusted off gently. As it warmed up in the farmhouse kitchen, its screen started to work properly. Next thing it knew, it was on the dining room table, surrounded by textbooks – A level maths and physics and chemistry! The little calculator couldn’t believe it.
“Right,” said a man’s voice. “Now I’ve got a proper machine, we can solve these. You’ve got to resolve these vectors into two perpendicular directions, along the x-axis and the y-axis. What cosine 60?…”
The little 30-year-old calculator couldn’t have been happier.”
• Read more from Charlie Flindt, see a find-and-compare tool for every new tractor over 50hp available in the UK, plus find detailed articles, pictures and video on the Power Farming subscription website.