A rancher’s ingenuity
It is no secret that many farmers and ranchers border on the verge of being hoarders. Many of us hate to waste anything and often stockpile things that may seem like junk to others, but to us those worn-out bald tires that the tire shop was going to charge us to dispose of are salt feeders that are nearly indestructible. This resourcefulness often comes out of necessity. New parts are very expensive, and with tightening margins in many of the commodity markets, every dollar that can be stretched counts. Chances are you can go onto almost any farm or ranch in this country and find a stockpile of things that most people would call worthless, but on the same place you will find a tub sweep leading to the working chute that was repurposed from an old grain bin.
Many of us in the ranching world have learned that everything can be reused or repurposed into something else. While folks in the big cities are being charged an extra dime for their plastic grocery bags, we simply look at those as an increase in price in trash sacks for the bathroom. Being thrifty and economical are things that the American farmer has mastered. Like the beef that we produce, nothing is let go to waste. Many of us heat the shop with the paper trash from our houses going into the stove built out of used 55-gallon drums. After the corn crop has been harvested, cows graze the stalks and deposit free fertilizer onto the field for the next crop.
Agriculture was “green” before it was a term used by politicians and environmentalist groups to attack our way of life. Almost every farmer or rancher I know has the creativity and the ingenuity to create things from nothing. Nothing goes to waste on the farm. I had a good friend who once crafted an overhead cake bin from two rod weeder cultivators and the grain hoppers from some old junk combines. Sure, he could have gone out and bought one, but who knows how much money he saved himself and his operation. My dad makes feed scoops out of used oil filters for semi-trucks. They only cost him his time and a few bolts to attach a handle. They last a lifetime and are quite useful since they quit putting coffee in tin cans. On this ranch we have a fire fighting skid that can be loaded with a bale bed that I fabricated out of some scrap iron, a 300-gallon fertilizer shuttle, and a pump picked up at the hardware store. A rig like this would have cost thousands at the farm store, but with a little of my time and some elbow grease, we have a usable tool created from parts we had on hand.
Recently my own ingenuity was put to the test as I hauled a load of cows home from the sale barn. A tire on my trailer blew out and it was at that point I remembered I had loaned out my bottle jack to a neighbor and hadn’t gotten it back yet. Thankfully for me the gas station I had pulled off at had a stack of firewood outside the store. With three pieces of wood to drive the other axle onto, I was able to change the tire and be on the way.
My point to all of this is to be in production agriculture, you must be resourceful. You must use every tool that you have available to you, and sometimes you make your own tool to get the job done. Don’t settle for disposable everything, reuse and repurpose things to suit your needs so that you might improve your operation in a cost-effective way. That’s all for this time, think twice before you go to throw something away and remember to keep tabs on your side of the barbed wire. God Bless.
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