Thursday, April 15, 2021

Chewing Gum and Baling Wire

Generations of farmers have been known for the ability to innovate so they can fix a thing that is broken so that it holds together long enough to get a job done.  Anyone who has farmed has worked with a tool that was held together with "chewing gum and baling wire" or "spit and a prayer."  And, for that matter, everyone who has farmed has probably come up with their own "farm hack" to adapt a tool or fix something that has broken.

Here are a few items we employ to deal with all sorts of situations on the farm.  If you have worked on a farm you're either going to laugh because you've been there/done that or you'll sneer and claim you have got by with less or have a better solution.  Frankly, I can live with that!

 A few resources I am not talking about this time around.

The T-Post

As far as I am concerned, it is hard for a farm like ours to have too many t-posts.  Of course, the primary function of a t-post is to hold up a fence.  And, if you have livestock or poultry, fencing is a critical part of the operation.  But, did you know the t-post has numerous other functions?

The most obvious uses are pretty close to fencing.  Staking up a tree, holding up some cattle panels etc.  But, a good, solid t-post can be used as a lever to help move a large rock or break something loose from the frozen ground.  We've used t-posts to help us put our mobile high tunnels back on their tracks.  

And, let's not forget that the t-post sitting by the side of a field can be pressed into service to break out the dirt clod that formed between disks on a harrow.  

And, like many other things with some rigidity and heft - it can always serve as a hammer... sort of.  For that matter, is there a raccoon in the hen room?  T-posts aren't the best piece of armament a farmer can have in that situation, but it can be pressed into service.

As a side note: T-posts are not recommended for use as a mulch.  Grasses, in particular, always find a way to grow around them and will eventually obscure your t-post mulch project.  Then, one day, you will forget about the project and try to mow down that tall patch of grass.  

Yeah.  Not a good solution.

Bungee Cords

Bungee cords or straps are all-purpose fasteners around our farm.

Door latch stopped working?  Bungee to the rescue!  Need to hold that tarp down?  Bungees!  Load on the trailer piled a bit too high?  Use those bungees to help hold it all on there!  Mailbox knocked off of the post?  Use bungees to put it back on there until you can get around to a better solution!  Want to keep that chicken from flying out of the pasture?  

Ok.  Maybe bungees aren't the answer for everything.

And, of course, they almost work too well and we don't get around to fixing that latch or the mailbox.... until the bungee finally breaks. But, you all know what to do when that happens?

Grab another bungee!

Lengths of Metal Pipe

A good piece of solid metal pipe can be an excellent "persuader" on the farm. Like a t-post, they can serve as an impromptu hammer or cudgel (you could use the word shillelagh if you are Irish - or if you just like the word).  But, even better, they can provide leverage for that lug nut that just will not turn on the hay rack's wheel.  You can get leverage to get a balky top-link on a tractor to turn and you can always let your pet elephant use a piece of pipe as a straw.

What, you don't have a pet elephant?  Why not?

Need to run a hose across an area where you know you're going to need to drive the tractor several times while the hose is being used?  Run the hose through the sturdy pipe to protect the hose in the area where the tractor has to go.  Ok - this is a good solution, but if the hose is longer I often forgo this because it takes a while to run the hose through the pipe.  Instead I .. uh... just drive over the hose.  

Yeah, Rob, good solution.  Pfffft.

Old Boards and Wood Blocks

Sometimes when I want to clean up some of the outbuildings, I look briefly at all of the odd pieces of wood that I have decided to hold on to.  It's kind of like most people and cardboard boxes.  How many of you have a closet that has a pile of boxes that you haven't recycled because... well, because it's a GOOD box!

Scrap wood has many uses on our farm.  

Scrap or old lumber has provided us walkways when we get so much rain that every path is pure mud.  We regularly use wood blocks to hold something up off the ground and we wedge a piece of wood onto the mower deck to hold the blade in place when we tighten or loosen them.  

Is the ladder or scaffold off level?  Wood blocks to the rescue!  Need to keep that item off of the wet cement floor in the garage?  Well, these wood blocks can get things off of that for a time!  Wood blocks can hold a door open (and closed).  They can be used to make you a couple inches taller when you need to stand in one place and do some work on a surface that is a bit too high for you.  You can tack up a scrap of wood to close up a hole that a raccoon or mink might get through in the hen room.  Or, if you need a temporary bit of extra shelter for the broilers from a particularly cold wind, you can manage to slap something together with scrap or repurposed lumber that will help.

You can even build a fire if you want one.  

Lost When On the Road

After working at the Genuine Faux Farm for as many years as I have now, I find that I often feel a bit lost when I am on the road and visiting some other location.  I can't tell you how many times I've thought, "I'll go grab that piece of pipe I keep in the corner of the Truck Barn and we can fix this..."  Then, I realize I am many miles away from the farm and the Truck Barn... and my precious piece of pipe!

The real winner was the time I thought I could go to Chumley, our pickup, and grab a bungee out of the back to help someone out at a farmers market.... when I was on the island of Kauai...  No, I had not succeeded in driving my truck there.  So, never mind.

So, if you look in the back of a farmer's truck and you see wood, bungees, pieces of pipe and a t-post - you know they're prepared for all sorts of things.  

It might not be pretty.

But, it will probably work - for a while.

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