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Would You Want This Job? Hard work, middle of Kansas (jobdig.com)
25 points by whatwoulddadsay on May 26, 2008 | hide | past | web | favorite | 42 comments

I spent 18 years in a rural farming community and this seems phony. Any farmer who is that dialed in and successful has already been doing what all the other farmers in america do: use seasonal & migrant labor. The "free beef" part really pushed it past the point of believability. It reads like the author is practicing his writing skills to land a gig writing polemics for the National Review.

Assuming it is legitimate, this job sucks because whomever accepts it is becoming an indentured servant for a land-owning farmer.The skills the person learns are not transferable to any other occupation, and no other farmers are hiring this sort of person. If something goes sour in the relationship, the worker doesn't just lose a job, he loses a house and is stuck in rural Kansas.

This was at a family reunion, maybe he was kidding about the free beef, but it sure didn't seem that way at the time. He is working himself to the bone. And, I am not trying to land any gig. GLH

I apologize if it was legit. This is a hard position to fill. Mostly because farming is more of a lifestyle than a "job." It is going to be hard to find someone interested who didn't grow up in the culture, even if the pay and perks seem good.

Just read this over again, and want to make sure you realize it is not a free home to KEEP, just one to live in while you are working there. It was not my intention to get into any debates, but I found it interesting because my day job has to do with the employment industry and I was feeling frustrated with how hard it is for people to find great jobs. This just hit me at the right time, and I thought you would like to read about it, is all.

"He is working himself to the bone."

Why is he doing that?

Why do people do anything? This isn't uncommon, though; plenty of people here work themselves to the bone on their software projects. When you own your own business, you get ahead by working.

It makes him sound like some kind of hero, though. Maybe he is, but in general, I think ruining one's health through working too much is not a good idea.

This highlights the fact that there are quality, good paying jobs in the US. A good portion of the unemployed are unemployed because they overvalue their skills or aren't willing to make changes necessary to become employed.

I find this article to be interesting in light of your comment. It's about 20-somethings scrimping, working crappy jobs, lots of sacrifices, just so they can live in NYC:


I'm sure that it's a quality job, but most people are more interested in a quality career, and they generally perceive that not too many quality careers happen in rural Kansas. Not that aren't any, but there are probably exponentially fewer than in the nearest large city.

If food prices keep rising, there'll be a lot of quality careers in Kansas.

Since the food prices are rising primarily due to the price of gas, perhaps there'll be a lot of farming jobs (even careers!) nearer to major cities.

I am under the impression that people around me have taken a "Start Trek" life for granted:

* Food magically appears in stores

* Water magically flows from taps

* Trash magically disappears

That could explain why reality-checking jobs like farmer are off the radar. Why, aren't there robots or something doing such things?

"Why, aren't there robots or something doing such things?"

I'm actually kind of curious about what is preventing this equipment from actually becoming a robot:

'“I can teach them easily,” he says. “My equipment is goof proof, it has to be.” By that, he means that an employee need not even know how to drive straight, the tractor is guided by a sophisticated guidance sytem hooked into three satellites. “If I overlap six inches on fertilizer or seeding,” he says, “it wastes nearly $10,000.”'

What's the need for a human being in the machine at all? What could he or she do in there but screw things up?

They need humans driving the tractor for the same reasons we aren't all commuting to work in robot cars and buses.

I thought there are robot harvesters guided by GPS already?

(Because people can't stand the thought of robots touching their food with their shiny metal robo-claws!)

Farming on private property is an entirely different scenario than having robot vehicles on public roads. I doubt he'd need anybody's approval to set things up that way.

It would also help if robots that could do the work actually existed.

In most scenarios where robots would be replacing human labor (especially in safety-critical areas like trucking), the engineering problems are a lot more tractable than the political ones.

GPS-guided farming seems like one of the simpler scenarios, and if finding labor is as difficult as the original post claims, one of the more likely ones, as well.

I don't get why most everyone on HN assumes all hackers are < 30, have no family, and would give their left nut to live in a big city or The Valley.

I know plenty of middle-aged experts in the computer industries with wives and kids who love it out "in the country" and wouldn't trade it for anything else.

While there's a lot to be said for the bling and bang of living in somewhere like NYC, Seattle, SF, Chicago (my hometown! :D), or the valley; there's a whole 'nother side to the coin that involves a quite family life away from the city and the people.

The majority of "the valley" is suburban and there is absolutely no glamour to living in San Jose. An hour from Palo Alto, and you're in Gilroy, a rural community in the middle of nowhere.

In a lot of ways Silicon Valley is rural/very suburban and far removed from big city life.

I think 'rural' is going a bit far, but it would be fair to characterize the valley as "All the drawbacks of a big city with non of the benefits".

+ venture capitalists and SF

Never said how many 18 to 20 hour days. Depending on this answer, this could be an excellent setup for a software startup. Work double shifts during planting and harvesting, single shift and part time the rest of the year. Live for free, write software the rest of the time. Bank everything. All you'd need is broadband and some deposit slips. By the time your software was done, you could be your own angel.


My impression is that this is a fairly common model for communes - farm work during the some seasons, spend the rest of the year working for cash or on some big project.

If you strip out the cultural differences, communes and start-ups have a lot in common. I don't see why a start-up/farm couldn't work in this way, just so long as you don't try to launch a product in September.

According to Craig, he has advertised with the local workforce centers who attend nearly all the job fairs in cities within driving distance. Not to mention the online job boards, farming magazines, etc. I just thought we all might be interested in a middle America, ie farming dilemma right now, in light of all the woe is me talk on the media. The one person is right...there are jobs,maybe not where you want or need them. It could be a great life for someone.

He did mention 20 hour workdays, though. I personally struggle with 8 hours :)


8 hours is a lot for me too. However, right now I'm sitting on an unsteady (swiveling chair), struggling to hammer another key under intense pain (carpal-tunnel syndrome), in a frigid (air-conditioned) apartment. I think if it wasn't for this harsh working environment I could work longer hours. Maybe I'll give that farm guy a call.

Can't be the wages? I bet there is a price for which many would consider it. For example, if he paid 2000000$ per year, I would consider it (for a while).

If he really is advertising well, interviewing people and not getting results the offer is simply too low. There must be some factor that we can't see from this blog post that is visible to the people he's interviewed that makes this job NOT worth the money he's offering.

He's probably full of shit. These employers make deliberately ridiculous recruiting efforts so they can prove to the INS there are no domestic candidates and they need worker visas. They post the ads in tiny low circulation classified sections and then come up with specious disqualifications for any domestic applicants.

This smells just like a case last year where a PR piece pushing liberal immigration law backfired. A guy who owned a lawn service company did his bit for the cause blathering on about how he couldn't get ANYONE domestic to work for him for something like $10/hour. He needed illegals. Well it turned out, he wasn't advertising anywhere and was just directly recruiting illegals. When this piece got even a little circulation native born Americans were lined up around the block asking him for work.

I think if I were a lot of people, yes. This is a more appealing option to me than getting paid $9 an hour to be a door greeter at Wal-Mart. With free housing and food and $80k a year salary, it wouldn't take long to become independently financially stable.

Could you outline his attempts at finding applicants? Where has he advertised this open position? I find it hard to believe there's nobody in this small town, or a neighboring county/state that is interested.

yea i think he needs to improve his applicant finding skills

its not like people don't live in small towns anymore... there are thousands of people working in mcdonalds in tiny highway towns that would kill to get paid 80k a year

I know plenty of South Africans that would go for this, in fact I know a guy who was "migrant" worker in the states. Drove a harvester. Two of my other friends worked for a traveling Carnival in the USA.

They all got to see a large portion of North America, and saved some money in the process.

Maybe pay someone to hand out cards to homeless people on the streets of big cities. A google-like bus shuttle to get people to/from every month or two, since you will likely cycle through people rather than retain them for a year.

Let me be gentle about this. I think Craig is primarily looking for someone with the skills to practice dedicated work. Homelessness develops one's skills in different areas. I don't think working long hours in ag country would be a good match for big-city homeless folks.

You mean to say that homeless are lazy and have no work ethic?

That's true of most homeless, I think. But a small minority of them probably are good physical laborers who just lack the ability to find good jobs. I wonder how one could weed these out of the general homeless population.

Unfortunately, a sizeable percentage of homeless also suffer from mental illnesses that directly impact their ability to hold down a job. A friend of mine who works at a metropolitan hospital constantly sees homeless people there, by their entrance not to beg but because they want to be admitted, to get treated, to get off the streets.

I'm only speaking about the experience, not the people themselves. If you want to learn how to live workfree (I think that may actually be a thing) in the US, being homeless on the streets of Santa Monica would teach you a lot. But if I was Craig, I'd be looking for the guys who work at a Hormel plant in Kentucky instead.

Hey, will your mate take an English speaker with no intention of working legally, who doesn't want to pay tax, with no intention of staying longer than a year?

I'll do it for 250k a year

Hmmm, nope.

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