Our family was sorting out the pieces and parts of my parents' life last week as we worked to neaten up the now vacant property. It's interesting what some people choose to keep and what they toss away.
My folks were both born on farms and lived the farm life until they purchased a small resort in northern Minnesota. They made the move in 1971 and brought with them things that evidently they thought they might have a use for down the road. Some of the items they never used in their nearly 40 years at their new digs and some did come in handy.
My dad for some reason decided to bring along a pair of giant pinchers that were used to castrate cattle. Those pinchers hung on the garage wall for 40 years and never found a use. I had seen how they were used and it gave me an uneasy feeling to think of the poor bull calf who had to undergo the procedure.
You could say that I sympathized with the critter. I asked Dad what he intended to use them for and he told me he thought they would be good for trimming the lilac bushes. But he never used them that I knew of.
My mother, a product of the Great Depression era, got rid of almost all the farm's antiques at the farm sale. She had no great affection for anything old. I remember her remarking that she had to grow up with old stuff that was half worn out and she wasn't taking any of those items to her new home.
Out went the buffet, the giant cast iron kettle, the old picture frames and anything else that had some age on it. I was glad that I secured the old Winchester shotgun that my grandfather had shot prairie chickens with many years before.
Many of the items that were saved included most of the tools we used on the farm. A set of giant socket wrenches, a huge pipe wrench, a beat up anvil, a post hole auger and miscellaneous tools used to fix equipment on the farm were all brought along.
In the years to follow, all those tools were used at the resort. One reason farmers usually made a go of it after buying a resort was that they could fix almost anything themselves. And, a resort required constant fixing.
When one turned the water on in the spring there would no doubt be water geysers sprouting at various locations around the resort grounds. There were always electrical outlets that decided to quit working and toilets were renowned for leaking on a regular basis.
If you didn't know how to fix stuff on a small resort yourself, you were in trouble.
As we sorted through the garage we found numerous Prince Albert tobacco cans stored neatly on two shelves. Inside the cans were assortments of nuts, bolts, screws, pins, and washers. A farmer never tosses anything because they know that eventually, they will be searching for just the right size bolt or nut or washer.
I smiled as I flipped one of the lids open and found it full of bent nails. It brought back a memory of the day Dad put me to work straightening used nails. I must have complained that there was nothing to do and he found me something to do. I didn't make that complaint again.
We brought our Maytag ringer style wash machine when we moved north. The old machine had washed untold numbers of diapers and work clothes over the years on the farm. And it continued to chug away in the basement of the resort house, cleaning the bundles of sheets and pillowcases that the resort cabins produced on a weekly basis.
I would guess that when the time comes for my daughter to sort out my life's accumulation of things, she'll come across things that she will wonder why I kept. She'll find rusted fishing tackle that I thought I might use someday, a broken boat propeller that I thought I might fix one day, a hunting dog training electronic training collar that I thought I might use if I ever purchased another hunting dog and probably a can or two of deer attractant or repellent.
She might find a worn out lawn mower blade or two, a dated license plate from my first boat trailer or probably a duck decoy or two showing that they were at one time peppered with shot from a hunter who shot low at a drake mallard duck.
Things I just couldn't stand to toss away, but never did find another reason to use. Just like the items my folks could not part with when they moved away from the homestead.
I still get sympathy pains when I look at those big pinchers that hang on the garage wall. Only an ex-farmboy can relate to that. And, they don't work well for pruning lilac bushes. Just FYI.
See you next time. Okay?