Having Fun With The Kids

18 Oct

We have an old Gehl chopper box that we use for filling our silos with haylage and corn silage.  We also use it for putting up lots of corn stalk bedding in the fall for our dairy cattle.  We bought it about twenty years ago used.  At that time it was at least ten years old already.  Since we were heavily in debt then, we couldn’t dream of buying new!  But that didn’t bother us, we were so thankful to find a nice used one in excellent condition.  We knew that we had to live within our means, so we got it.  We’ve never regretted it.  If more Americans today would live within their means, it would save them a lot of heartache and grief.  

It has been a very reliable piece of equipment these many years.  Apart from a few break downs it has served us well.  We have sought to take excellent care of it so that it would last.  Most chopper boxes the age of ours have been junked out long ago.

But, after over thirty years of dependable service, things do wear out.  The cross conveyor chain that unloads the feed and bedding into the blower or elevator was wore out.  Since the rest of the box looked really good yet, we decided to fix it instead of getting a different box.  We knew by doing this it would save us a lot of money.  So I, along with my kids, Catherine and Joshua decided to fix it.

Well, the job turned out to be a lot more expensive and difficult than we had expected.  New parts have gone up drastically in price in the last few years.  As we got tearing it apart we came to see that we needed more parts than what we had originally figured.  Plus, other parts had to get welded up and rebuilt at a local blacksmith shop.  By the time we had paid for the new parts and the blacksmith’s bill, we had spent over $1000.  Far more than what I had planned.

As I said earlier, it was more difficult to do than what we had expected.  When sprockets have been on shafts for over thirty years, they don’t want to move!  That’s where a neighbor with a cutting torch and forty ton press comes in real handy!

Well, we got it all apart.  We then got the new parts from the implement shop along with the rebuilt parts.  The day came to put it all back together.  A lot easier said than done!  But, we did get it done and working excellently.  Along the way, we ended up replacing all the roller chains that drive the box too.  I originally figured it would take a couple days to fix, but it ended up taking over a week and being much more challenging.

Was it worth doing you ask?  Absolutely.  Hopefully it will run another thirty years.  There was a big dividend with it too.  What was that you ask?  The fun I had working on it with my kids!

I was impressed, every day the kids wanted to get the chores done as fast as they could so that we could get to work on the box.  They also didn’t want to spend any extra time eating dinner.  They greatly enjoy fixing stuff with Dad!  Especially when they can see it’s necessary and profitable.  They think its great fun.  They would rather do that than play a game.  I must admit too, that I enjoy fixing things with them.

I have let them help me, ever since they were old enough to hand me wrenches.  I have always sought to treat them with love and respect and teach them all that I know.  Because of that, I have two wonderful helpers now.  The Bible is certainly correct when it says in Prov. 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

I must say it is truly wonderful working with my family here and enjoying it every day.  As we have followed the Scriptures over the years, we all have been greatly blessed.  If you will do it in your family, you also will reap the rewards of a life blessed by God.  I know that I have.  I also will look back fondly at the time I spent with my kids fixing our old chopper box up, every time we use it.

Tom Heck, his wife Joanne, and their two children, Catherine and Joshua, own and operate a 35 cow, 159 acre dairy farm in northwestern WI.  Contact Tom at:  lifeonthefamilyfarm@gmail.com  Copyright © 2012 by Tom Heck.  All rights reserved.

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