Thursday, May 1, 2014

Old Tools

Every now and again I think to myself that it would be nice to have a shop full of new, matching farm tools and an equipment shed full of the latest in new machinery and implements of husbandry. The thing about old farm tools and equipment is that you never know when something is going to give out in a major way and leave you stranded in the middle of a job. This might be as complicated as a burned out clutch or a blown up motor but it also might be a broken handle on an old hammer or a chain that finally found it's weakest link. There are days when all the old stuff gangs up on me and I wonder out loud where the nearest whiskey store is.

That said, there are a few compensations to working and sticking with the old stuff.  With an amalgamation of tools and equipment from Melissa's dad and grandfather plus a little bit of my stuff with a long history of family usage from Ontario, even new farms like this one bring with them a lot of engendered family history. Thus they have a lot more character than one might expect.

All our farm buildings on this new farm are white with a red roof; the same colour scheme as Windy Hills Farm which is the property that Melissa's dad built out and which is where we started Paradigm Farms nearly ten years ago. Many of my shop tools came from my father-in-laws farm shop after he passed away, and it's a rare day when I'm rummaging amongst my tools that I don't think a bit about him and what he might say if he were here to see the predicament of the moment. When Carter is with me I find myself almost involuntarily telling him stories about his Pop when he picks up one of his tools and asks me what it is.

Yesterday I was hoeing weeds out of the flowerbeds in front of our house. I should have been at it a couple weeks ago and in most cases a more appropriate tool for this task might have been a garden spade. Instead the tool I chose was one of my grandfather's old field hoes. It cleaned hundreds of thousands of feet of rows in it's day and my grandfather's sweat stains have worked their way entirely through the handle. I've added my own share of sweat the past fifteen years but everything I've done with it wouldn't be one part in a hundred of the work it did in his hands.  Unlike all the modern hoes I've tried this one is balanced correctly and the four remaining inches of blade slice through even the toughest weeds with ease. It made very short work of cleaning up the flower beds. 

If by some miracle my granddad showed up here today the only thing I'd be embarrassed to tell him is how sore my muscles were after a half an hour on the hoe blade. I can see him standing with eyebrows raised with his huge hands on his hips and a twinkle in his eye as he made fun of his grandson gone soft. I can also clearly see him following behind to check my work. I'm confident he'd find no problem with that; I might be out of shape but I haven't forgotten years of lessons working beside him, swinging the very hoe I'm using now, in the fields or in his huge garden.

We've got lots of tools from lots of family members and I've got stories to go along with each one. Hopefully one day, forty or fifty years from now Carter will pick up an old tool and it'll trigger fond memories of days spent working with me as well as some appreciation from the stories I tell of all the folks in his family who came and went before him.


Cuffie and Silky doing some early morning grazing

Leo, Chance and Tony hanging out

Donovan and Bergie

Lily and Maisie

B-Rad and Alex

Norman and Dolly were almost lost in the fog yesterday morning

Merlin was thankful for the rain which meant he could roll in the mud

Sam and Sebastian

1 comment:

RiderWriter said...

Your post brought a tear to my eye. I have a few of my dad's tools and wouldn't part with them for ANYTHING. Something about the user imbuing them with knowledge, or knowing they were held in the hands of your loved one... definitely special.