April 7, 2010

As you fire up the tractor for spring tasks, check the toolbox.

If you’re a highly organized individual, you may take inventory of the toolbox before tackling each new job. Working on a farm where you might toil on a dozen different tasks in a day’s time (three planned and the rest occurring on the fly), taking inventory and restocking before each is not an option.

For example, it might be nice to finish disking last year’s corn stalks before fixing the fence. However, if not fixing the fence means letting the cow herd graze and trample the newly emerging alfalfa, you stopped disking.

For that reason and others, a typical tractor toolbox probably held a fence pliers (a multi-purpose tool you should never be without), large straight edge and Phillips screwdrivers (also work as pry bars and punches respectively) and adjustable wrenches (if lucky, both a crescent and a vice grip).

Look closer and you would see cotter pins, various lengths of wire, staples, nuts, bolts and washers. It is that extra hardware that will come in most handy when you least expect it. It is amazing what you can do with a piece of wire when needed.

While it would be nice to think even these tools will always be handy, the reality is that they won’t. Most often the tool that is there is the one you needed and finally went back to get for the last emergency. So don’t sweat what’s in or not in the toolbox. Take a deep breath of fresh spring air and get to work. If a problem comes up, do what farmers have been doing for millenniums…improvise. 

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