Easing Farm Chores
Boyd Hastings shares tips and tricks for making routine farm chores easier as you age.
While some aspects of farm chores aren’t difficult, they can be easy to forget, such as closing a gate. To solve the problem, suspend a weight on a rope or chain, and attach one end of the rope to the gate post. Then, attach the other end of the rope to the far side of the gate frame. My father used a blacksmith’s anvil; I use a barbell weight or a milk jug filled with sand. Any weight suitable to the size of the gate will do. Secure the weight in the middle of the rope so it sits just off the ground when the gate is closed. When the gate is opened, the weight will automatically swing it shut.
Elevated Milk Stand
A special bond exists between the family cow and the person who milks her every day. However, if your back is losing its flex and your knees are balking at bending, it can detract from the joy of the process. A ramped platform 8 to 10 inches in height, along with a slightly taller stool, can restore milking to its former time of enjoyment and relaxation.
I use an old wheelchair to bring in firewood. Instead of carrying four or five pieces in my arms, I’m able to fit 20 to 25 pieces in the wheelchair with much less effort. The wheels are smooth, so I don’t have to worry about tracking mud or snow into the house. When finished, the wheelchair folds flat for easy storage. The time and energy saved is amazing. Used wheelchairs can sometimes be found at thrift stores or online swap-sell sites, such as Craigslist.
As we take the time to preserve produce, let us also preserve our backs, knees, and hips. Many fruits and vegetables can easily climb up a fence panel or upright netting, or grow from containers suspended from above.
For plants that don’t climb, an old watering tub makes a great raised bed for low-growing fruits and vegetables. Keep the soil level at about a foot below the top rim of the tub, which will make it easier to cover plants with shade cloth or thermal covering. Remove the bottom drain plug so the soil drains well after heavy rains.
We’re introducing a new department that will feature tips from those living the rural life to its fullest — our readers! If you have garden, farm, or home advice you’d like to share, send an email to Letters@Grit.com, or mail a letter to 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. We pay $25 for each tip we publish.
As we launch Through the Grapevine, we’re also saying goodbye to Facts and Folklore. We’re grateful to the Old Farmer’s Almanac for the many years of advice, astronomy, and important dates they’ve shared with us, and we wish them the best in the future.
Search “reader tips” to see what other members of the GRIT community have been up to lately. You can also look for “Mail Call” to read some of the many letters we receive from audience. We look forward to them each issue.
Reader Letters, July/August 2021
Letters from our readers this month include musings on saffron, homemade noodles, uses of blood meal, and cherishing family time.