A small, family farm in Wisconsin

Making Do and Getting By

It’s time to harvest wheat here, and I was going to write an informative little post about the ins and outs of getting wheat off the field and to the grain market.  While writing it in my head, it morphed in a slightly different direction.  I’m going to write about Lee and the other farmers who are trying to make a living on a very small farm, and how they do it. 

combineThis is Lee’s combine.  It’s  used to take grain off the fields.  Wheat, soybeans, corn, oats and many other crops are harvested using a combine.  A new, 2009 combine starts at $250,000.00.  Lee bought this very used combine by bidding on it on eBay.  Yep!  They sell farm equipment on eBay.  I don’t remember exactly how much Lee paid for his eBay combine but I think it was around $2500.00, plus the cost to have it transported here from Iowa.  Here’s where the “making do” part comes in.  People who are farming on small acreage buy used equipment and implements, and keep it running by using their own mechanical expertise and ingenuity.  I think every farmer must be a Rube Goldberg cousin.   Lee has boxes, cans, and containers full of nuts, bolts, belts, parts, wires, washers and gaskets.  He throws away nothing, just in case he might need it someday.  If he needs parts for machinery he can go to one (or all) of the used implement dealers to look for a junked machine like his.  If he finds one, he takes his tools out of the truck and removes the part/s  he needs.  The implement dealer then gives him a price for the part.  Machinery parts are incredibly expensive so it’s a good thing to find them used whenever possible.

Tractor RepairOne of our tractors needed some major work done, so Lee did as much of the work as he could, and a free lance mechanic came to the farm to do the technical stuff.  He saved a lot of money doing it this way versus taking the tractor to a dealer for repair.

In this time when frugal living is an experiment for lots of folks, for farmers it’s a way of life and always has been.  We waste nothing, and we get by with what we have.  I’ve always had tremendous respect for my husband’s work ethic and his determination to make a life off of the land.


Comments on: "Making Do and Getting By" (1)

  1. Hank Henley said:

    The ingenuity of family farmers amazes me. I’ve seen the same thing with Teri’s cousins who are family farmers in Iowa and are always making do with what they have.

    I guess that’s why Lee and Teri’s cousins are still in business while so many farmers aren’t.

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