(Editor’s note: This column appeared in the Feb. 22, 2007, issue of Farm and Dairy.)
Necessity is the mother of invention. No one knows that more than the American farmer.
One day recently, my son put on an old pair of his dad’s coveralls and was frustrated when he realized one of the lower leg zippers was broken, leaving the leg flapping open in the breeze.
“Ah, that’s no big deal,” I told him. “Just tie some baler twine around it.”
Cort raised his eyebrows and said, “Hey, Mom … good thinking! What made you think of that?”
Ah, youth. There is no way my kids can comprehend what it was like to grow up on a working dairy farm.
I try not to pound them over the head with it too often, because I figure no one wants to hear the refrain about having gotten up at 4:30 every morning before school to milk the cows.
But, because I don’t talk about the details very much, I also realize how little they know about the day-to-day stuff of farming “on the fly” so to speak.
We didn’t have a lot, and we sure didn’t have the time to run to the local store for things that might have made our lives easier.
On a farm, you make do with what you can get your hands on. I learned very early on how to tie a knot that would hold forever in baler twine.
I also learned how to tie a knot that would come undone when we wanted it to come undone.
I learned along the way that there are all sorts of problems that can be solved with duct tape.
My friend Cindy pointed out to me that the wonderful world of duct tape has evolved into all sorts of colors in order to keep us fashionably held together. When farmers say their prayers at night, the invention of duct tape should be right up there high on the list.
I also learned pretty darn young how to put a good ballpeen hammer to use.
The ground feed isn’t flowing in spite of the auger running just fine? Ah, find me the ballpeen hammer and I’ll get it moving!
I was just a little kid the first time my dad instructed me to go get that big hammer with the black rubber head. I wondered what in the world that funny looking thing with the weird name could possibly accomplish.
It instantly became my favorite thing to put to use. I even tried to invent reasons to grab for it.
“This stanchion is sort of sticking, so I hit it with the ballpeen hammer and now it works great!” I remember bragging, as if I had invented the wheel.
There is just nothing like stretchy bungee cords and tarp straps to hold a farm together. In fact, I am not sure that anyone could farm without them.
Bungee cords have also evolved, with every size and every color in the rainbow now available for our use. Every farm truck and livestock trailer simply must be outfitted with various sizes of bungee cords in order to be prepared for almost anything.
Hey, as long as we can hold it all together, we can keep moving forward.
That goes for elderly pick-up trucks and aging tractors, wobbly barn doors and sagging shed floors.
Christopher Lasch once said, “Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success.”
I bet he tacked that note on the wall with duct tape and a ballpeen hammer!
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