The field we can watch him cut is south of us with a north facing slope. If he cuts a third of a field, we know it is going to rain. If he cuts half, we know it might rain (or he got started late.) If he cuts the whole field, we know we're clear & no rain is coming...even if the weather folks predict it. He is always right on. You can't really learn that in books. You can't get a degree for that. You can't down-in-your-bones know, rain or no rain, when to cut hay at the right length of stem from a college education. There is absolutely a value in going to college...not saying otherwise, but we have noticed so much our own selves in farming that has nothing to do with books...it is time, patience, experience, observation, common sense, working it & working it some more until you get it right.
There are so many farmers that we know that have so much incredible knowledge within them from their experience...much more than us. It is what makes everyone's farms so unique; the combination of how we're wired, our experience, our heritage, our land, what is called to us & from us.
We are oft amazed (a small joy) when we are packing out CSA shares & grab just enough of something...it is exactly the poundage we need. That is simply a matter of time. Of feel. Of knowing something.
Or walking down to get the mail, glancing at the field & seeing pest damage at 60 ft away & knowing investigation is needed. It is nice to be able to appreciate progression - however small - in one's abilities to improve on something tangible. We try & combine that with some education, some reading, some problem solving, brainstorming. That creative part of farming, combined with a few years under our collective belts, makes it rewarding.
I know this experience happens in so many professions; but usually, though not always, that experience is rewarded & valued externally by others. I know in many of those professions, all of us tend to be more appreciative of it than when seeing a salty-old farmer on his rusted out tractor cutting hay who knows how to get the job done, how to keep the hay dry, how to make it feed my cows well.