Your Reading List

Making a clean start to 2013

“A clean desk is the sign of a sick
mind.” You’ve no-doubt seen those words printed on a coffee cup in
someone’s office. It’s meant, of course, to mock the overachiever
down the hall with the tidy workspace and allow us to feel better
about on own disorganization.

On the farm, the workshop is a pretty
close equivalent to the office workspace. Farm shops often seem to be

kind of a command post—especially if you operate older machinery.
And toward the end of a hectic growing season, my shop tends to look
a little like hurricane Sandy breezed through it. Tools hastily
pulled from the roller cabinet for a field repair never seem to make
it back to their proper home. Broken parts along with as-yet
uninstalled replacements still clutter the workbench.

And as the cold weather moves in,
restoration projects get crowded off to the side in order to make
room for tractors moved inside for winter storage. The floor, which
gets littered with dirt and debris from repair jobs, could use a good

The result of all that untidy clutter
is my motivation to be in the shop and work on one of my restoration
projects fades away when I walk through the door into that mechanical
disaster area. A clean workspace may be the sign of a sick mind, but

standing amid dirt and disorganization can suck the creativity and
motivation out of you like a vacuum cleaner.

So with some downtime over the holiday
season giving me an opportunity to get away from my office desk—which
is now reasonably tidy—I decided to tackle the job of reorganizing
the shop. Armed with a push broom and a box full of garbage bags it
got to it.

That week’s worth of effort has paid
some unexpected dividends. Aside from the fact the floors are now
clean and tidy and things are organized, I was able to do an
inventory of my tools. Over the course of the last few years I’ve
picked up numerous things to stuff into my roller cabinet. Snapping
up a few things on sale at the big-box stores and adding the odd
auction sale buy have left me with duplicates, triplicates and even
quadruplicate items.

By sorting everything out, I realized I
had enough extra tools to fill a couple of portable tool boxes,
making ready-to-go, emergency field repair kits. No longer will I
have to raid the roller chest on those occasions. Having all those
bargain and lower-quality items in my new field repair tool box is an
ideal use for them. I even found I had an extra tool box to replace
the one I accidentally ran over with my swather in the field last
summer—that’s what happens when you’re in a rush to get back to
work after making a repair.

With my best tools neatly rearranged in
the roller chest, I can now see where I legitimately need to add a
few things. If only I’d had that information before Christmas, my
letter to Santa would have had a few extra “wants” on it.

Now the shop is clean and organized, so
I can get back to work on those restoration projects in a much more
pleasant, neat and orderly environment. There’s even a spot to put
that old, leather recliner my wife deemed no longer suitable for the
decor inside the house, which will make a comfortable place to take
coffee breaks. I wonder if there’s room for a beer fridge to go with

About the author


Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.



Stories from our other publications