Looking for something to put under the tree for the farmer in the house? Or perhaps you’re just looking for something to make the job of farming a bit easier. Here are three items that have made our lives easier and they might work well for you as well.
A WATER-RESISTANT TOOL BOX
The first is a water-resistant tool box. Notice I don’t say waterproof. Water resistant is the word. I think that means that the rain and snow should be kept out but it might leak if it’s under 250 feet of water. Usually, it doesn’t rain that much here so it should work quite well in this country. And it’s much better than the one I was using before.
You’ve probably had a tool box just like my old one. You load your tools up in it every spring and toss it into the back of the pickup. After about four good rains you look inside for some vital precision-made tool and see the only waterproof part on your old tool box is the bottom. The top will let in every drop of rain that comes even close to the tool box but the bottom is sealed tighter than a bank vault. As a consequence your tools are soaking in an inch or two of rusty water and look more like artifacts from the Titanic than the precious tools that you need right now to fix something.
Here’s the story on this new tool box. We were wandering through Sears one day and I spotted it. It’s a heavy-duty plastic tool box with a water seal around the lid. It’s made by Stanley and called a “FatMax.” The price was $35. That’s a small price to pay to keep the tools out of the weather.
THE BLOCK HEATER TESTER
Here’s a nifty item that will save you some grief. It’s a block heater tester. You’ve likely had as much fun as I’ve had checking block heaters. The first really cold night someone suggests that maybe you should plug in the car for her. Of course if you’re like me this is the furthest thing from your mind until at least January. So first you find an extension cord. It’s buried out in the shop tangled up in a ball. You get it out in the cold and because it’s the cheap cord you bought for $9.99 at the discount store it immediately becomes as easy to untangle as a box full of wire coat hangers. Of course the car is 49 feet away from the plug-in and the 50-foot cord, once you get it untangled, is like one of those retractable air hoses. When you finally get it plugged in and try to reach the car it only stays plugged in long enough for you to take two steps and then it unplugs itself. Many hours later when you find another cord and finally get it to stay plugged in, you wonder is the block heater even working?
You listen closely for the tea kettle hiss that you like to hear. Is that the block heater or is it a car driving down the highway? Or is it the furnace running? Around our place you likely can’t hear it over the coyotes howling and yipping or the dog barking back at them. Maybe the cord isn’t any good, you think. Then you search for something to test the cord. And on it goes.
This is where you need a block heater tester. Just plug it into the cord and plug the block heater into the tester. If the green light comes on you have power to the tester. If the red light comes on as well you have power and the block heater is drawing power. We got this from one of our parts suppliers and it’s available for under $30. There are other makes and models out there as well as this one.
Think of all the time and energy you’ll save with this new device. Perhaps you should mention all this extra time you have to the household manager in case she has something that needs doing. I’ll leave that decision up to you.
Now that the tools are protected from the weather and the car’s plugged in you probably think all your needs have been met. Not likely! In this age of rampant consumerism there’s one more item that you should have in your tool box.
How often have you been working in the dark and needed two hands to do a job and someone else to hold the light so you can see what you’re doing? With the high price of help these days the thrifty farmer can no longer afford to have an extra person on hand just to hold flashlights. So what do you do? Quit working after dark? Try to do the job by Braille? Hold the flashlight in your teeth? Yuck! No way! It was under the seat of the grain truck and you know what it looks like under there.
Here’s the solution. It’s called a Cap Lite I believe. (I threw the package away so that’s my best guess.) This handy-dandy little item clips to the brim of the cap that any self-respecting farmer wears and has five bright LEDs to light your way. Its bright enough for most jobs but don’t try and use it for a headlight on your tractor. And for you fashionable non-cap-wearing farmers you can also get a headlight that straps to your forehead to do the same job.
I used my Cap Lite this spring to help fill the drill boxes after dark. They’re also great for servicing the combine or any time you’re working in the dark and need two free hands. Around the shop you can use it while you’re hunting for that lost part under the workbench. Its uses are as endless as the number of lost parts under my bench.
Both items are available for around $10 at any place that sells nifty gadgets.
So there’s three handy little things to make your life roll along a little more smoothly. Enjoy the holiday season and get ready for that big crop next year.
RonSettlerandhiswifeSheilaandtheir sonsBenandDanfarmandrunarepairand salvagebusinessatLuckyLake,Sask.