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01/21/2014 @ 6:33am

If you’re going to be a farmer, you need to re-invest if you’re going to keep improving your operation.  A new combine can cost a half million dollars, a big tractor a quarter of a million…you can spend money pretty fast.  Hey, I know all about that sort of thing.

I had to buy a new pitchfork for the chicken coop.

I’ve never bought a new pitchfork before.  Back when I had a bunch of hogs if I needed a pitchfork I’d go to a farm auction.  On the first rack there would usually be a bundle of beat up pitchforks.  Most of them would have cracked handles, but there would usually be at least one good one, well worth the $2.00 they would cost.

As long as we’re on the subject of auctions…what’s up with making up a bundle of pitchforks, a bundle of hand saws, etc., etc.  Who needs six dull handsaws?  Why not make piles with one pitchfork, one hammer, one saw, and one shovel?  I mean, I know there are people who want to know who killed JFK, but personally, I’d really like to understand that auction thing.

Anyway, I had a pitchfork for cleaning the chicken coop but I think it was used to tend a fire or something similar, because all the temper was out of the tines.  If you picked up something heavy they would droop sadly downward.  

Not so useful.

Buying a new pitchfork was not an easy decision.  What with the ducks scribbling graffiti on the walls and slopping through the water, the pen was a mess and needed to be cleaned.  However, a new pitchfork cost $26.00.  I get about three dozen eggs a week and I figure my net profit is about seven cents a dozen.  To recoup my pitchfork investment is going to take me about two and a half years, and that’s if I don’t have any more raccoon issues.  I stopped in and talked to my banker like I’ve done a thousand times before and he told me they’d be willing to stand behind me.

He didn’t say how far behind.  I should have asked.

Don’t get me wrong.  Unlike most of my equipment purchases in the past I didn’t actually have to borrow money to swing the deal. I had a little money put aside so I was able to just write a check for the whole amount.  I tried not to swagger, but I think it’s permissible to take a little pride when years of hard work pays off with a measure of financial stability.  

I hurried home with my purchase.  We were having a small break in the weather and my manure shoveling experiences, going back to about 1968, have taught me that a thawing day in January is a jewel beyond price.  I fired up the loader tractor and scurried down to the chicken coop with a scoop shovel and my brand new pitchfork.  It worked splendidly and by dark I had the coop cleaned and the fowl rebidded in clean shavings.  I glanced through the window and the soft gleam of the heat lamp showed contented birds nestling down in clean bedding right up to their giblets.  I opened the door, searched out five fresh eggs and headed for the house.   

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