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By Staff | Mar 10, 2017

Last week, I wrote about my dad singing while he did his chores when I was growing up on the farm.

That was the audible part of the memory. There is a visual part that is just as strong.

I remember him singing while he was working and my strongest visual part of my memory of both hearing and seeing him is of him holding a scoop shovel or carrying a bushel basket and singing.

The shovel and basket were important tools for taking care of the cattle, pigs and chickens.

This was in the days of ear corn. The scoop shovel pushed the ear corn in the grinder for both pigs and cattle. The bushel basket carried the ground feed to the animals.

Bushel baskets were useful for many other things such as bringing in a litter of newborn pigs that needed to warm up inside the house.

As the shovels and baskets wore out, they were replaced just as quickly.

Besides the wear and tear of being used, after a year or so they would rust out and a hole was both a weak spot and a leak making the shovel or basket almost useless.

I believe my dad actually wore out his shovels and baskets and the rust was the finishing touch. I remember seeing both shovels and baskets in the scrap metal pile.

That was when they were made of steel. But then a great thing happened. Baskets and shovels were made of aluminum.

I was young enough to remember using the steel versions and then the aluminum replacements. The difference was noticeable to me, even in my limited ability because of my youth.

I can only imagine how much my dad enjoyed the lighter weight tools as he did the chores each day.

I remember him counting the scoops of ear corn he threw into the grinder and the number 200 comes to my mind. Two hundred times with an aluminum shovel had to be less strenuous than two hundred times with a steel one.

When he carried a full basket, he put it on his shoulder to carry it. Once again, the lighter weight aluminum basket had to be appreciated.

Then there was the advantage of not rusting. Lower weight and longer life – I can see why there were no more steel shovels or baskets once the aluminum became available.

We have advancements to make our jobs easier such as auto steer, comfortable cabs, apps that can measure and control just by looking at our phone, plus large machinery that lets one person cover a lot of ground.

But for my dad, a technological breakthrough was when bushel baskets and scoop shovels went from steel to aluminum.

That was a reason to sing.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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