Find Quick Answers Searching Online for Farming Information

Oscar H. Will III shares his tips on searching online for farming information, including websites for tractor calculations, math and size conversions.


| January/February 2007



haystack computer

The internet can help you research and make farming decisions.

PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/DAVE PILIBOSIAN

Search online for farming information when you need fast homesteading answers. 

The Internet is one of the most valuable tools around my farm because it provides a connection to an incredible body of knowledge, tons of information, and practically all the products I need for the farm or otherwise. I now search online for farming information instead of looking through a parts manual or fencing supply catalog, or even, in some cases, a reference book. When I need information quickly, I can get it. When I feel like wandering around the web on a self-directed path to see what I can see, that’s possible too.

For example: During a quick break from other chores over the weekend, I decided to fill one of our old Cub Cadet’s rear tires with relatively less-toxic alcohol-based (not methanol) windshield-washer anti-freeze to give it some extra weight and traction for the winter. We already have two real loader tractors that dig us out when New Hampshire snows fly, but I recently obtained a miniature V-style snowplow sized perfectly for the Cub Cadet garden tractor, and the child in me really wants to give it a try.

True to my type, I didn’t just head off to the auto store looking for fluid: Instead, I spent some time — too much time, actually — calculating roughly how many gallons of liquid I would need to buy, then figuring out how much weight it would add. Since I don’t know where my handbook of mathematical tables and formulas is and I no longer have a handheld calculator, I turned to the Internet and ended up on a virtual trip that more than answered my questions.

Fast Help for Geeky Calculations

In the back of my mind, I knew that there was a relatively easy way to calculate the volume of a ring torus (a circular cross-sectioned cylinder formed into a circle) and since this shape approximated the tire’s and I was just looking for an estimated volume, I went with it. A quick Google (www.Google.com) search using the term “ring torus” lead me directly to the Wolfram MathWorld website (www.MathWorld.Wolfram.com) and several pages devoted to torus properties, including many formulas to calculate their volumes. After a bit of measuring (on the tires) and plugging values into one of the formulas, I calculated that each tire’s volume was 2,139 cubic inches rounding to the nearest cubic inch. Since asking for 2,139 cubic inches of windshield washer fluid in a rural New Hampshire parts store is a sure way to get laughed at or possibly even booted out, I had to first convert cubic inches to the more acceptable volumetric measure of gallons before proceeding.

I don’t keep those handy wallet-sized conversion tables in my wallet (even though I know that I have several in a drawer somewhere) so I returned to Google for help. Using the search terms “volume conversion,” I was greeted in 0.48 seconds by more than 30 million links to what appeared to be relevant web pages. Since I was in a hurry, I just clicked on the first link and ended up at OnlineConversion’s website (www.OnlineConversion.com), staring at lists containing more inter-convertible units of weights and measures than I ever imagined existed. I quickly selected cubic-inches in the “from” list and gallons in the “to” list, entered 2139 in the input box, clicked on the Convert button and in another small fraction of a second learned that the Cub Cadet’s rear tires contain 9.26 gallons each based on my earlier ring torus assumptions. I also learned that they each contain 296.31 U.S. gills, 0.15 U.S. hogsheads, and 1.85 U.S. buckets, though I doubt that information will ever come in truly handy.





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