Grit Blogs > The Accidental Farmer

When to Call the Man

April FreemanOne thing about farmers and homesteaders: They have a hard time paying someone to do things that they feel they can do themselves. If something breaks, they want to be the one to diagnose the issue, order the parts and repair it.  But, sometimes this can be a problem.

It reminds me of an old Andy Griffith episode. Aunt Bea, frugal as she is, buys a secondhand freezer. She also buys a side of beef to take advantage of the lower price per pound. Things get dicey when her freezer breaks in the middle of a heat wave. Andy tells her to “Call the man!” to come repair the freezer, but stubbornly, Aunt Bea can’t stand the thought of paying someone for this repair. One thing after another happens, and Andy keeps repeating himself, “Call the man, Aunt Bea. Just call the man!” Finally, Andy takes over this project and eventually just buys her a brand new freezer.

It’s hard when you want to remain independent. And, we all know that by repairing something yourself, you not only save money and get the satisfaction of taking care of your own problems, but you learn things too. And yet, when things begin to break on the farm, it’s wise to honestly evaluate whether you need to tackle this repair or just Call the Man.


It’s getting to the place on our farm that time is actually a more valuable commodity than money.  It’s not that we’re rolling in the dough, but we do have a little saved back for unexpected expenses. But, wow, is it hard to dip into that stash! Sometimes, though, it’s worth it. We’re in a very busy season of life with four kids, two of them teens, the farm work, my husband’s full time job and my own part time work. Sometimes, it is better to just go ahead and pay someone else to fix our broken stuff and get on with our lives. A skilled repairman can often fix something in an hour that would take us all morning to tackle.

Specialized Tools and Equipment

Having the proper tool for a job can make all the difference in the world. But, there’s no reason to buy a $200 specialty tool for a job that you won’t be doing very often. Skilled laborers do have these tools and probably use them every day. Those tools can mean the difference between a frustrating battle with the broken object and a simple repair. Sometimes, for your own mental health and your relationships with your spouse and children, you just need to call the person with the right tools to get the job done.

Electronic Components

One frustration for many homesteaders is that too many “simple” household objects have become electronically integrated. Have you recently tried to buy a washing machine or a dryer? It’s quite hard to find something that doesn’t have an electronic panel. And once the electronic panel goes out, your washer is out of business. (As a side note, I’ve heard great things about Speed Queen washers. I’m considering that when my 20-year-old washer finally is beyond repair.) Many household appliances are much the same. These appliances with a small computer as a major part of its operation can’t be repaired by the homesteader. You pretty much HAVE to call the man.

Mental Health

Each day, the average homesteader is faced with an enormous to-do list that can sap the joy right out of life. If you’ve had a season where every time one thing is repaired two more things need work, you may want to just bite the bullet and call the man for your own mental health. It’s so discouraging to wake up with more things to fix than you have time to repair. Get ahead of the game and leave some time to enjoy life.

You’re not a failure as a homesteader if you end up Calling the Man. Thoughtfully evaluate the things that go wrong on your farm and decide what is the best use of your time and money. While it is possible for people to learn to do their own repairs, don’t feel that you’ve broken the Homesteader’s Code of Conduct if you opt out of doing your own repairs.


Photo by Fotolia/Petrik