This photo was taken at a friend’s family farm in Northwest Iowa, but it reminds me so much of one of the many sheds my grandfather had on his farm. My memories of Grandpa’s tool shed are reignited by items in this photo.
My grandparents never used an “Eggs for Sale” sign on their farm, but I remember seeing these signs along the road side during the six-hour car drive to the farm. Grandma had what seemed like a thousand chickens, certainly enough to feed the whole world, but didn’t need a sign to get rid of all their eggs. For one thing, my grandparents lived relatively close to town, were active in the community, and well-known around town. I think my grandma might have “traded” or bartered the eggs rather than “sell” them.
The semi-organized scattering of miscellaneous items that don’t seem to go together also caught my eye. The carpenter’s level, leaf rake, brake fluid and rolls of barbed wire seem to have been left there in the middle of some project, when the farmer was interrupted to “do the chores.” Other items seem to have just found a home where they were last set down. The entire scene has this “I’ll get to it later” look to it.
The smell of the place was almost an exact duplicate of Grandpa’s tool shed — musty, dusty, oil and grease, and a thick layer of dust and debris underfoot to hide the pavement below. Many of Grandpa’s sheds had dirt floors, no pavement, but you couldn’t really tell the difference. His tool shed, however, had a wood plank floor that was raised one large step above the gravel floor of the adjacent 3-sided “garage” where he kept a tractor and large farm truck.
But one very distinct smell was missing from this shed in Northwest Iowa; it was the smell of a blacksmith’s forge — burnt coal, metallic shavings and scraps, and lots of sweat. Grandpa was self-reliant and, out of German stubbornness as well as economic necessity, he became proficient enough to make whatever he needed to make repairs around the farm. I never saw him use the forge, but the odors branded vivid memories in my mind of his tool shed.
Thought for the day: Trust in God, but tie your camel tight. Arab Proverb