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The cultch pile

Agriculture.com Staff 02/26/2007 @ 7:48am

"A Man Is Defined By His Cultch Pile"

These eight words speak to the hearts of farmers from age 2 to 102. From our first memories of sandbox farming to selling the farm and moving closer to golf courses and medical facilities, we all have the opportunity to choose the location and size of our "cultch pile."

One day during a conversation with a neighbor I was first introduced to the term "cultch." We were discussing his newly landscaped driveway entrance and he pointed out a small display of old cultivator tools and other choice pieces of "junque." His next words have stayed with me ever since. "Every man has to have a cultch pile." A quick trip to the dictionary and you will find this a useful word to dress up the old scrap yard. Dig a little deeper and this sentence becomes a life summary.

My early formative years on our small farm in Wilder were full of good memories of summer barbecues and swimming in the irrigation canal. (Can you believe responsible parents actually let us swim in ditch water and ride bikes without helmets?) I can still picture in my mind the old shop, granary, corrals and of course the "excess material storage area."

On our farm, this originally took up two or three different spots but eventually became centralized into one location. Having lived through the Depression, Dad took great pride in doing his own repairs and maintenance with a minimum of purchased materials. Hence the need for a supply of used iron to choose from.

There were the frames of old sugarbeet toppers and odd pieces of angle iron and pipe. Worn out lawnmowers and cultivator bars were stacked among other well traveled iron. It was like a historical catalog of Dad’s farming career. Each bit of steel had a story behind it and Dad could remember every chapter. Even nuts and bolts were stored in five gallon buckets under the shop bench. With a little digging, we could usually find the right size for the job.

While Dad's collection was admirable, Carol's father Bob held sole possession of the title "Master Collector." With a long stretch of river bank at his disposal and a penchant for the unique and unusual, he amassed an impressive array of historical steel over a 40-year period. An entire Sunday afternoon could be spent poring over the ruins of old tractors, trucks, and cars that had been a part of the family farm. Our children still have fond memories of exploring this historical site, home to quail, cottontails, and dreams.

I still have bits of it myself having scrounged old iron planter lids, remnants of one lung gas engines, and ancient water rams. Even now while watching old 8mm movies of Carol's family we have the chance to see this ancient iron come to life once more. Bob was truly the "King of the Cultch Pile."

When Carol and I started our life together on the farm, I vowed to take a different approach to farm repairs. Bolt bins and parts shelves in my shop helped eliminate some of the farmstead clutter. Our few pieces of farm machinery hardly made a dent in the available parking areas. Slowly but surely as newer equipment was added, our cultch pile began to take shape.

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