Farm families – you know how it is. It’s just as big of a crisis when you’re small as it is when you become a little larger and can’t find what you need (or can afford) out in the implement lots.
The truth is, when you need something that you can’t find or afford, then your skills of craftsmanship are called to the forefront.
The same thing happens with the youngest of farmers.
Our children are all grown now, but how I remember the days of cleaning up the living room after our children had been farming there for a whole winter’s day.
While I could see no rows of corn or soybeans in front of me, I was often reprimanded in the way that only a preschooler could reprimand as I walked across the floor with a load of laundry.
“Mom! You’re walking on our corn field!” they would shout with obvious disgust. It was a cardinal sin, and one worthy of a thousand lashes with a wet noodle.
An apology later, followed by haughty looks of distain, and it was all better again. I’m sure they couldn’t believe I could just smash their corn like that.
Our children had the same problem their dad had once in awhile, as they needed implements to get the farming done.
Now and then they resorted to their thin stick toys, connector toys and small plastic building block toys to put something together.
But sometimes the most valuable farm implements and commodity containers came straight from the kitchen.
You probably never knew that yogurt containers make perfect sprayer tanks that mount onto toy tractors, holding the magic potion that eradicates corn field (and living room carpet) weeds. (That may or may not say something about my house cleaning habits.)
It used to be so amazing watching our boys assemble and finely tune a hand-made, front-mount sprayer boom. Using their stick toys that come in varying lengths (and that all can connect to each other), they figured out how long the boom needed to be based on how many rows they wanted to spray at a time. (Of course, this took a little bit of discussion to find out from their dad how many rows he could spray at a time.)
They then went to their toy room – their machine shed in the house – and made their sprayer boom, complete with banders, just like their dad used in real life, figuring out a way to make brackets to hook it to their tractor.
It was quite a sight to behold and was like watching a farm masterpiece come to life out of nothing.
Leonardo DaVinci had nothing on our boys.
When the crop farming became successful enough that they could branch out into raising cows along with their pigs, it meant that they would need a silo if they were going to do it the way real cattlemen did it.
One day when I placed a can of potato chips on the table, it became obvious to them that the slender tall can would make a perfect silo for them to use on their cattle farm. The usual farm invention discussion ensued between two kindergarten-aged boys, and from that day on, those chips were known around our house “silo chips.”
To this day I can never see a can of those chips in the grocery store without thinking of them as silo chips.
Our boys made many farm implements and accessories out of their own creativity and enjoyed it enough over the years, that one of them did a 4-H presentation on how to do it.
He was in high school by then, and it was fun to see him show other children how to be creative in that way.
When you put hundreds of miles on your hands and knees getting the crops in and out in those early growing years, you learn just like the big boys do, to get by.
No wonder that imaginative farm kids grow into imaginative, good farmers.
Even if they have calloused palms and knees on their way to doing the real thing.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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