News From the Farm | November 11, 2019

One has to love a bargain- it may be a personality virtue – re-use, recycle, repurpose. Or maybe it is a malady that drives profligate hoarding or the accumulation of another’s junk; or being blind to eyesores; or an overactive imagining about future time that will be allocated for turning straw into gold. In my troubled view, my straw is generally junk steel. 

Admittedly, I have gone on a spree of imagining about good deals for too long.  As a result, my steel resource pile is a bit too big, the list of get-to-it projects enough for a couple of lifetimes.  The good ideas to be built from that pallet of auction junk become magnificence in my imagination as I raise my hand.  When I get it back to the farm, the filing system for my expanded resource base has not been well organized.  Where did I put that widget?  I know that I have one around here somewhere!

My last will and good-humored testament may give away the piles of bargains that have been hauled up to the farm in order to save some money down the road. Someone will probably need to haul it away. I am hoping, at that time, that the price of steel will be sky high and they will eulogize me as a visionary. I also hope, at the time of my demise, that the remaining full bellies will realize the incredible satisfaction gained when a part can be re-discovered from a pile of things that were $10 at an auction and may save, say $50. This justifies the wait, the rust and the inventory management for the years that bargains lie in wait in order to be made manifest into something greater. 

Here at the farm, we don’t often buy new.  We cut, weld, strap together, repair and modify our way to workability, forgoing the gleaming paint and flashiness of an off-the-lot piece of equipment for that savings and self reliance coming from repurposing someone else’s hand me downs.  We drive the equivalent of 1980 Ford Galaxy 500’s in our tractors, drive the early development of a round wheel in our pickups, drag ‘I-could-make-that-work’ equipment around the fields, and boast some of the most creative chicken tractors in the western hemisphere. Chicken Tractors – not at all a tractor – save for the wheels underneath being easier to roll if they have air.

If the frugality/good deal gene can be passed down, my son Rye, may have inherited it, manifesting its glory in his deft maneuvering through the Craig’s list sphere, to his assortment of cobbled together abodes-de-cluckers for the more than 1200 laying hens that he and his sweet wife Becca rotate around the farm. They continually remind all of us of how those birds are conferring wildly profound benefits to our farm, chomping on insects, scratching and working soil furiously, hunting and destroying weed seeds, and all the while plopping out wonderful orange yoked, soft brown, white, and blue eggs – the bargain of 2 legged bargains.

The latest addition to the rolling egg cart’ns are two Champion travel trailers, purchased for $400 each from a distressed going out of business, lost my land lease egg producer. To say that they are khaki colored eyesores would be an understatement.  Yet beauty is in the eye of those with a plan to make the less than ordinary into a functional, efficient and predator resistant abode. It certainly took a great deal of vision in this instance, as the floor was ripped out, and the realization that the floor somehow was key to the integrity of the whole, and the whole became entirely unstable, and a confession was extracted about a near death experience as the unstable whole shifted… and yet the vision remained. That floor was replaced with a Craig’s-list originated galvanized mesh floor, then collapsing aluminum siding was re-lifted into place by a couple of just right pushes and screwed in tight.

My fertile imagination could traffic in junk steel – or a junk Champion Travel trailer with a faux veranda and windows offering predators like skunks, hawks, bobcats and eagles a place to view their prey.  Kinda like kids looking at the pastry shelf at the coffee shop – a bargain built into a too good deal, a functional tool that advances eyesore to elegance. 

So we now have the pictured Champion as part of our “don’t be too proud but be practical” list of equipment. Here is where you can come in. We need a name for it, this -trove de oeuf – and we have a naming contest going as of now. 

Other Full Belly chicken tractors have names like Lay Lady Lay, Happy Eggs for Sail, Eggscargo, Winnebeggo, Huevos Rancheros, Cheeper by the Dozen… We will accept every bad egg pun for consideration.  A very qualified team of highly skilled judges will choose the best name to be painted on this Champion and will invite the winner and family to the farm for a night, along with 2-dozen fresh eggs to be plucked, still warm, from the feathery bottoms of our chickens and some veggies that are being equally plucked from the fertile soils of the farm. 

A contest of wit and whimsy! In addition, we hope to change beige brown into a Jackson Pollock be proud statement, using old paint on the shelf from the farm, in a bold free-for-all of reuse and repurposing old paint into egg/cluck/plucky art on a cart. So, give us your best and become part of our eggistential eggsperience.

By the way, we also have an older tractor that is getting its transmission replaced with a $500 deal of a laying around 40 year old transmission that the guy said was good when he took it out.  That tractor needs a name as well. It is now called ‘de bo’ but you could also name it! Fabulous prizes to be named at a future date….

Back next week with a more meaningful Beet. Have a great week.

— Paul Muller

PS. On a more serious note check out an article by Didi Pershouse called “Why Communities should invest in Regenerative Agriculture and the Soil Sponge” – a great synthesis of how good farming practices can alter what many think are looming catastrophes.