The Farmer/Rancher Tool Kit
by Charles Oz Collins
Anymore, when I open a farm and ranch magazine it is with a mixed sense of awe and anxiety. The array of tools available to today’s farmer – computer driven, satellite linked, genetically altered – both impress and concern me. I worry about a day soon when tools will use ranchers and farmers, rather than the other way around. When such thought occur I retreat to my memories.
Do you remember when the tool box on your tractor, and certainly the box on your pickup, held all the tools you needed? The trusty (and sometimes rusty) companions could be counted on to fix whatever need fixing. Of course, I would be one of the first to acknowledge that a good dose of ingenuity was also required to get the most out of simple but essential tools. Take for instance:
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Nearly as handy as pliers were adjustable wrenches. By far my favorite was that glorious “knuckle-buster” the crescent wrench. Often referred to as the Swedish, Dutchman or Nebraskan socket set (depending upon the audience present), this was a tool of many uses. In roughly descending order of importance and frequency of use, the crescent wrench was:
– Shop hammer
– Small sledge hammer
– Claw hammer
– Truck tire pressure tester
– Pants sagger
– Lug wrench
– Rust loosener
– Pry bar
– Calf trough ice-breaker
– A bender or straightener of long bolts, soft pipe and sheet metal
– Farmer caliper (bolt gauge)
– Hex-nut rounder
– Wire tightener
– Nut buster (when fitted with a pipe cheater).
A tool of a more specialized nature was the wondrous Vise-grip. As the name implies, it was a portable vice, but much more. The Vise-grip served long and well as:
– Welding clamp
– Ground cable clamp (for welder)
– Fence wire clamp
– Clothes line clamp or tightener
– Hydraulic hose clamp
– Hog nose-ring crimper
– Rope weight (for throwing rope over a truckload of bales)
– Copper or aluminum tube semi-straightener
– Nail puller (for nails with missing heads or clenched-over ends)
– Slow socket set
– Screw driver cheater
– Replacement handle (for periods up to three years) for ” pickup doors, pickup windows, tractor cab doors, tractor cab windows, tractor gas levers, brake pedals, gated pipe shutoff valves, granary doors, back porch doors and outhouse doors.
In two weeks ” watch for Part 3:
The irrigating shovel
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