Home & Shop Companion #0069
Good Tool Sheds Make Good Neighbors
by Stephen Bishop of Shelby, NC
[An OLD FARMER chews the cud with a YOUNG FARMER, while both sit on benches in front of an Ann Taylor store at the mall. The two talk the finer points and intricacies of a farmer’s hardest task, tool wrangling. FYI, this bit of make-believe took place in the good ole days, pre-COVID, when husbands patiently sat outside of women’s clothing stores and made small talk to pass the time.]
OLD FARMER: “What type of tools you run?”
YOUNG FARMER: [his feet surrounded by bags of various shapes and sizes, full of great deals in the latest women’s fashion] A little of everything – Craftsman, some Kobalts, even a few DeWalts. Been trying to cull out the Pittsburghs, but I’ve got more of ‘em in my tool shed than I’d like to admit.
OF: Well, it takes a few generations to stock a good tool shed, but you gotta start somewhere. I remember when I was about your age: I had the wildest bunch of tools this side of a rodeo chute. Never would stay put.
YF: Sounds like my hammer. Gets out, and I’ll spend half a day hunting it. Usually, it’s laying somewhere in knee-high grass, but one time I found it over in my neighbor’s front yard, hanging on some shrubbery.
OF: Some ole hammers are more trouble than they’re worth. Yep, it’s best to load the ornery ones up and consign them at a junk sale. Had one hammer I never could trust around a nail – a finger nail, that is. Turn your head for just a split-second, and it’d take direct aim for your thumb. I finally lost a thumb nail to it, and that’s when I said enough is enough. Yep, hardly anything meaner than an old claw hammer.
YF: Yeah, my granddeddy once got gored in the backside by a claw hammer. Really, he sat on it accidentally, but he said it had the same effect.
OF: It happens to the best of us. Last week, I got lassoed by a wild water hose, but really my feet just got tangled up. It’s hard to pick your feet up when you’re an old man like me.
YF: Well, if you ask me, water hoses are the worst. Never will coil right, and then they get lost in the winter and I never can find them come spring – unless I happen to be bush hogging and then I find them shredded and wrapped up tight around the bush hog blade.
OF: That reminds me of the old saying: A good tool shed is ladder high, wrench tight, and hammer strong – and if you keep any water hoses, it best be water tight – they have a way of slithering through the smallest openings.
YF: Ain’t that the truth. Never heard that one before.
[At this point, the YOUNG FARMER’S WIFE walks hurriedly out of the Ann Taylor Store, bags dangling from her side, with a panicked look on her face.]
YF: What’s wrong?
YOUNG FARMER’S WIFE: Just got a call from Nell – several wrenches got out and are rampaging through her shrubbery. She said if we don’t get back fast and get them caught up, she’s going to pepper them with birdshot. I think you forgot to close the tool shed door again.
[YOUNG FARMER jumps up from bench, scrambles to gather all the bags at his feet, then gives a little nice-to-meet-you nod to the OLD FARMER, who nods back.]
OF: That’s farming, son. Just remember: Good tool sheds make good neighbors. Now y’all take care, and good luck getting the wrenches caught back up!
Stephen Bishop is an SFJ contributor and writes about agrarian antics from Shelby, NC. You can find more of his farming misadventures at www.misfitfarmer.com or follow him on Twitter @themisfitfarmer.