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Sept/Oct 2007 – From Hogs to Hyundais

I don’t know who to be most angry with: the people who use our farm as a no-cost warehouse for their old cars and machinery, or myself for not being high-minded and just ignoring the matter. What I do know is that every time I walk by the orphaned autos that have somehow found a home on the farm I work up a righteous lather, akin to what you feel when someone horns into a lineup ahead of you. Sure, it’s not a big deal in the scheme of things, but on principal it really irks.

Why should we have to store my wife’s cousin’s VW Beetle, or his friend’s skeletal truck cab?

What would they say if I asked them to keep our ailing, chime-coloured ‘83 Ranger in their suburban yard?

What sound would the VW make if I dropped it off the bluff with the front end loader?

I know our situation isn’t unusual. Drive by farms from PEI to Vancouver Island and you’ll see more tarped and stored motor homes, speedboats and cars than a single farm family could ever account for. No sooner had my friend Mark purchased a small farm near here than he was assaulted by what he described as a kind of Desert Corps of fiberglass cruisers and aging Winnebagos owned by the extended family. All that was missing was Field Marshall Rommel. “A phalanx of junk,” Mark called it. That was four years ago. Most of the stuff is still there.
It gets worse. A fellow at an Edmonton farm show told me that truckloads of stuff were dropped at his property. Among the items was a hairy sister-in-law. He was still trying to get rid of her.

Which brings me to common stories about goods that people leave:

  • they are valuable/rare. (Must be treated carefully.)
  • they will be put to use “in the next few weeks.” (A 25 year old fiberglass boat, in December? Who’s kidding who?)
  • the owners have been meaning to bring by a side of moose/2-4 of Lucky/help in the garden as payment. (Never happens.)

Actually, there are two issues here. One is the irritation of having other people’s stuff on the farm. The other is the royal affront shown by the junk’s owners when asked to remove it. Let’s see if I have this straight:

  1. if, when asked if it is okay to store stuff on the farm, I say no, I’m an arse;
  2. if, after storing someone’s stuff for years on the farm for free, I ask that it be removed, I’m an even greater arse.

Will someone remind me how I’m supposed to come out okay in this?

Actually, I know the answer. I’m supposed to be more charitable. I’m supposed to chill. There is plenty of room at the farm for Dorsets and Dodges, Hyundais and hogs. I should be pleased to help the extended family, and their friends, and even their friend’s friends. If only I worked harder at removing bad thoughts from my head, instead of the old cars from the farm, we’d all be happier. The spirit of cooperation should reign. Farm folk helping city folk. True charity. Contentment.

Congratulations to contributing writer Ray Ford. His feature article, Tractor Time (Mar/April, 2006) won Silver in the How-to category at the National Magazine Awards. Ray won a Gold in the How-to category at the 2006 National Magazine Awards for his feature, Fencing in Rough Ground (Jan/Feb 2005).