THE TWO DOLLAR WHEELBARROW

30 Oct

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By:  Tom Heck

The Two Dollar Wheelbarrow

                Many years ago, shortly after we bought our farm, I went to a farm auction that had lots of stuff for sale by a farmer who was retiring.  One of the things that came up for sale was his old wheelbarrow.  It was a heavy-duty one that had been welded up some, leaked in the corners, but was still in good solid working condition.  I knew I could sure use it on my farm.  The auctioneer opened up the bidding on it for one dollar and immediately somebody said, “Yes.”  Then he asked for two dollars and I raised my hand.  Then he asked for three dollars and I held my breath.  To my amazement, nobody raised my bid so the auctioneer said, “Sold.”  I had just bought a two dollar wheelbarrow.

Over the last 22 years, we have used it for lots of work on our farm here.  From hauling dirt and rock, to hay bales and feed, we have used it for a tremendous amount of work here.  I’ve done a little bit of welding on it over the years, but pretty much it’s been trouble free.

This last spring, I had to replace some of the old bolts and washers holding the thing together with new ones.  I told the kids then that we could buy a new one and that I was sure we had gotten our two dollars worth of use out of it.  “But, Dad”, they said, “Why spend all that money on a new one when we can fix up ‘Old Dependable’?”   Well, it’s hard to argue with my kids, especially when I’m of the same mind-set that they are, so we fixed it up.

A month later, Joshua was hauling a load of shale rock with it that weighed between two and three hundred pounds when the wheel rim bent sideways.  Considering it is probably 40 to 50 years old and fairly rusty it’s not surprising.  Actually, it’s surprising it made it this long.  We were all disappointed to see it.  I told the kids, “It’s definitely time to buy a new one now.”  Their reply, “But can’t we fix it up some way?”  I told them, “I don’t think so; it’s time for a new one.”  Needless to say their faces were down cast.

A few days later we went to a store that sells wheelbarrows.  I had my mind made up that we were going to buy a new one.  They had several on display, but we were greatly disappointed as we looked at them.  They were all built so cheap and light.  I said to my family, “They will never stand up to the work we have for them on our farm.  I’m not buying one of these.”  The kids agreed with me.  Joanne said, “What are we going to do then?”  I answered, “I don’t know, but I’m not buying one of these that’s built so cheap, it won’t last.”

So with that we continued walking through the store and came to a place where they sold wheelbarrow tires.  I thought, “Here’s our answer.”  They cost 30 to 40 some dollars.  I told the kids that that was a lot to stick into a two dollar wheelbarrow.  But they thought it was worth saving.  But, as we looked at them we saw that the rims were built so light, that they would never stand up to the loads we put in our wheelbarrow.  So again I said, “No.”  I left the store in frustration, it’s sad that sometimes in America today, it’s impossible to buy a quality built item.

Later that day, Joshua came up to me and said, “Could we use an old steel wheel off of the chopper hay head that we got junked out up in the woods?”  I thought on it a minute and said, “It might work.”  Needless to say, we were desperate to find an answer to our problem.  Well, we went up there and after a fair bit of work we got both steel wheels off of the old junked out hay head.

We got them and the old wheelbarrow in the shop and went to work.  The kids were very eager to help me, since they didn’t want to see Old Dependable junked out.  They thought I was going to put one steel wheel on it, but I said, “Why not put both of them on it?”  So that’s what we did.  A couple hours later we rolled Old Dependable out of the shop.  It looks like we’re going backwards in time since it originally came out with a rubber tire and now it has two steel wheels on it.

Since then we’ve used it a lot and it has worked great.  I told the kids that we spent about two dollars on new nuts, bolts and washers for it so it had better go another 22 years so that I get my money out of it!  They laughed and agreed.  Looking at it, we think it might make another 22 years.  I’m sure it will go a lot further than one of those new ones that we looked at.

Sometimes it’s hard to throw old things away that have special memories with them.  The kids think it’s pretty special, that the two dollar wheelbarrow we started farming with years ago is still working.  It’s hard for us to throw stuff away that has worked well over the years if it’s possible to fix it up and keep it working.

And what is more amazing and special is that God loves to take broken, hopeless people and rescue them and then fix them up and use them for his glory.  That’s what the Gospel is all about.  I know this is true, because I’m one of those that He’s saved.  The wonderful news is that He will save anybody who cries out to Him.  He never throws anybody away.

     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.comImage

   Photo caption:  Our steel wheeled wheelbarrow.

  Copyright © 2013 by Tom Heck.  All rights reserved.

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