Farmgirls Gone Junkin

Now that the weather is user-friendly, Michele & I have been anxious to explore new “junk hunting” sites. A ranching friend invited us out to his place to do that very thing and we siezed the opportunity. Hop in the pickup if you want to come along.

Spring has sprung and my farmgirl pal and I also sprang into action the other day. Our friend, Don, is 70-something and he’s in the process of purging some of his vintage “iron” (and an assortment of other farmy odds & ends). He’s collected old implements and tractors for most of his life and he’s the 3rd generation on the family ranch. So, there is a lot of old-timey ranch “stuff” on hand for “pink pickers” like Michele and I to pick through (pun intended). One of the first things Michele found was the spring skeleton of an old car seat that she thought she’d re-purpose — using it for a message and idea board in her craft room. Picture all kinds of goodies pinned to it with old clothespins. I, too, am in the process of liberating springs [with bold cutters] from an old bed skeleton so that I can make a wreath from some of the springs … and make a few other crafted items from them as well. Like a lot of folks these days, we caught the rust bug. I’ve always liked old things, but my conditioned has worsened. Nowadays, I find myself nearly going off the road if I spy a choice piece of rusty gold out in a pasture.

Before we go any further, please let me introduce you to our “gone junkin” host, Don. Lynn and I ranch out on the plains while Donny’s ranch is nestled in the nearby foothills. Donny had Hereford cattle for many years, but his first love is farming – hay and grain. He’s got hay fields on top of the hills and on the bottoms also. We’ve leased some summer pasture now & then and bought hay from him for several years. He and Lynn are fast friends and Donny is close to the same age as my dad — they’re also old friends from their school days in the early ’50s. I think Donny has known more of my relatives than I have because my mother’s extended family has been in this area since the turn of the century … same as his kin. The photo below was taken last summer when he was helping us load small square bales off of one of his upper hay fields.

Donny has been selling some of his old iron relics and I do mean OLD. Some of it will be sold as scrap iron [prices are good right now] while other old implements are finding homes with like-minded collectors of antique machinery. I’m now an implement collector too … as of today! My first pieces [antique grain drill/seeder and a dump rake] were delivered this very morning — more about that later. Donny is a veteran collector – his favorite being tractors and Boy Howdy he has an impressive collection! Ancient tractors are lined up in rows like soldiers … along the creek bank. Just about all of the out-buildings on the ranch have tractors in them — putting a roof over Don’s favorite old tractors, many of which will start right now and go to work. Going to Don’s places was a real treat for Michele and I, we both love old ‘stuff’ … and not just to have, but to learn about and to hear their story. We heard many stories the other day about where this, that and the other piece came from. Now, you may think I am oddly sentimental, but I’ll enjoy my ‘new’ garden art even more knowing that both of my pieces belonged to Don, his dad and grand-dad. He told me that when he was working on the dump rake as a boy, he’d grab an arm full of alfalfa to make a cushion on the iron seat. Sunflowers and an assortment of other farm-flavored flowers & shrubs will frame and embellish my rustic treasures from Donny’s collection.

Going to Don’s is sort of like visiting an outdoor living history museum. If it is a vintage machine related to ranching & farming, Don knows what it is and he probably has one … or several. Here’s a threesome of antique photos I found that lend authenticity to our adventure. AND, farmgirls are driving two of them: a horse drawn dump-rake and plow [mules in the case of the latter). There were three dump rakes on the ranch and at least a dozen small plows of various descriptions.

And here is another golden-oldie. I think this is a threshing crew — please correct me if I’m wrong. The small building is on wheels also. Was it a bunkhouse? Donny told me that back in the day, the ‘crew’ was made up of all your available family, friends and neighbors. Farmfolk took turns helping each other get their harvest in and they worked round the clock to get everyone taken care of.

We went out to Don’s ranch two days in a row [and I’m not done yet], the first time Don wasn’t there, but he turned us loose and told us to look wherever we liked. SO – WE – DID! No building or grain bin was left uninvestigated. We were in Super-Snoop mode and had more fun than a pile of puppies. Michele would be in mid-sentence telling me something and then stop short, gasp and say, “Oh Oh…look at this!”

You might be wondering what we found…? Well, since you’re wondersome … lots of iron garden helpers – stock tanks for raised beds, iron wheels and gates for climbing beans & such, a twin-sized fancy iron bed set [it might end up as a day bed or in the garden], various galvanized tubs & buckets [for planters], iron bits & pieces for Michele’s birdhouse embellishments, vintage water coolers for my ‘glamping’ trailer, a wonderful ice cream bucket for Michele’s collection … etc etc … and that is the short list. But, on with the story. Michele has her heart set on a 50’s era pickup that is beyond restoration, she wants it for a planter. Perhaps you’ve seen what she’s talking about? You fill the bed and where the engine was with garden soil and then go to planting all kinds of flowers. Oh My, it is a junk lover’s Cutie-Pie show piece! And, as luck would have it, Donny has one that fits the bill — his grandfather’s 1956 International. Donny learned to drive in it. Here ‘tiz below …

One of the household goodies that I came home with is an old clothes drying rack in mint condition — and I plan on using it for that purpose — it’ll be perfect in the screened porch and folds up after you’re finished with it.

Michele was tickled to bits with her antique ice-cream maker. In one of the old homestead houses on the ranch, we were delighted to find a herd of small household things that no one in the family wanted, so, we were given the opportunity to offer some of the antique goodies new homes. Don was the perfect host and he seemed to be equally happy because he knew that all of what was leaving his place was appreciated and would be cared for. I felt honored to be welcomed into his generational personal life. We were careful and sensitive in our pillaging. I mean, you’re pawing through someone’s entire life history. I loved the stories, the history and his splendid sense of humor through the entire day. All of us had fun. He told Michele and I many times that some of the things we liked were his favorites and that they’d probably have to cost more. ;o)

Here are some photos taken during Day One. I forgot my camera on Day Two — sorry ’bout that. This old crane-truck was a lot of fun to take pictures of – the colors being vivid. The now barely readable emblem on the driver’s door says Department Of Agriculture which I think at the time was actually in control of the the Forest Service.

Donny took us to the oldest homestead site on the ranch. The parcel of land where it sits once belonged to another family. Don’s family later bought it. In the ‘new’ house [built after the log cabin], there was evidence of that. There were boxes of photos and letters and other personal effects that will forever go unclaimed. Kind of sad. One particular photo warmed my heart … it was a photo of the elderly man in overalls (standing) and his wife (seated) with her little dog on her lap. They were in the log cabin that he built as a strapping young man. As I looked at the cabin and other log outbuildings (that he built), I wished I could have seen the place when those folks lived here. There would have been a milk cow in the barn, a team of horses or mules being harnessed for another day of work, chickens wandering about, and lilacs blooming next to the house. Freshly baked pies would have sat on the windowsill and I can still smell the fragrance of apples & cinnamon gently drifting on the breeze.

When we walked into the cabin [the roof now caving in], my thoughts turned to the very first night the young couple slept in their freshly built log home. How proud they must have been of what was a real & true monumental accomplishment. He cut every tree, prepared every log, built every door, bought glass in town and then built every window. He built all the cupboards, barn details, corrals and the list goes on. Nothing existed there unless they built it. Imagine pulling a handmade quilt up over you in the evening, the cool night breeze making the curtains dance and knowing that the roof over your head was the work of your own hands. I envy that generation … the self gratification that they enjoyed every day of their lives. Nothing nurtures confidence and contentment better than hard work and living a wholesome life. Unfortunately, it seems that appreciation for this kind of life is cyclic. A culture and a generation (or two) must(?) lose it [along with a lot of other worthy and honorable things] before people regain a humble and healthy attitude of gratitude. Personally, I don’t believe we have to lose it, but the truth is many do lose it. And in all of that considerable loss, they actually lose themselves.

Oh for a simpler way of looking at the world and at ourselves. We’re the better for it, but it is for certain a choice to go there in an era of prosperity where you can get by without earning it. Ok, sorry, I got sidetracked. But, when you get away from the noise & trappings of this era [and we definitely were] and are given such a visible contrast and fresh lesson in lifestyle history, any thoughtful person would feel the same, I think … ?

And then, this morning came … delivery day! Donny called early to let me know he was on his way to deliver my BIG treasures. My husband was on-hand to help with the tractor and loader. Another friend stopped in out of curiosity (we’re right along the highway and he noticed the commotion). My role was to stay out of the way and collect chains afterward. I made a photo collage of the unloading process – the dump rake and the grain seeder. At the moment, our place looks like I’ve taken over as the new junk man in town. My wanna-be yard art is just plain old junk until my garden fence is built and we get things arranged Just So. My beauty-ful garden yard is but a vision for the time being. My [favorite] husband kindly noted the difference in age between Michele [my junkin’ pardner] and myself and now refers to us as “Sanford & Daughter” :o) He and his buddies poke fun at ‘junktiques’. But, later on, when that ole grain seeder is dripping with flowers and looking like the hanging gardens of Babylon or at least farm-art … the naysayers will thin out and zip their lips (maybe). See, the grain bins on the seeder will be Purrrrrrfect planters. Any suggestions?? I’m thinking peachy-pink and deep red geraniums, lime green sweet potato vine, blue lobelia, white vining petunias, portulaca ? … and what else? They gotta be sun lovers!

My dear husband just walked in and told me that I would be cheating you out of the best part of the junkin’ adventure if I failed to tell you about … The Deal where the rubber met the road … the art of dicker (which I stink at) … the tongue in cheek money joust. And, finally, the financial transaction. I was fairly warned. Lynn and Donny have more fun going back and forth buying, trading & bartering. So, knowing I was in for a contest of wit and sport-picking, I put on my game face and entered the arena. Don is an old pro at this and I know he was toying with me like a cat with a mouse :o) After the delivery was complete, Don said sternly that it was time to talk turkey. He asked how much I was willing to pay for all of my rare and valuable antiques. I offered $500 (believing that to by my top offer). Then he said how about $600, no $700. Lynn had told me just to say ‘Ok’ to whatever. Hmmm, Ok. Don likes the sport, the thrill of the hunt. So, as I’m gulping down the idea of a $700 payment for JUNK, he tells me he wants cash – not a check. So, again I say ‘Ok’ and head to the bank in town. “Be right back”, I said. I returned with seven crisp one-hundred dollar bills and handed them to Donny and he then walks over to Lynn and says, “Now, I can pay you for that hay rack for my flatbed trailer.” Lynn pockets the money and tells him that he bought it at a mutual friend’s auction. Donny asked how much he spent. “Twenty bucks.” Donny laughed out loud. We all snickered and enjoyed the drawn out country-fried prank. In the end, no real money was exchanged. Trust really is everything when you deal with people and no one knows it better than farmers and ranchers. I think they knew it first. I thanked Donny for his time and delightful hospitality. Then, he unceremoniously left … with the flatbed loaded with the hay rack. That is when I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Yes, I admit, there for a few minutes I was sweating cannonball sized bullets, fearing that I’d spent $700 on my junky gems. :o{ But, in the end, it was pretty painless. I’d only been had by both my husband and Donny … and ohhhh, were they ever pleased with themselves over that. Now you know the rest of the story.

Ok, in the middle of pet projects and little adventures, the rest of a person’s life goes on and so it is with us. We’re midway into calving season now, new babies are born every day. Also, my other farmgirl pal, Anita, helped me to succumb to temptation. I had almost talked myself out of buying a handful of babygirl pullets. Almost. I told her this. A real friend will step into enabler mode if you give them half a chance. She came through like a champ! For my birthday, she delivered a handmade potato basket that four little Buff Orpingtons fit perfectly into. So, here are some springtime baby pics fresh from me to you. A newborn baby heifer, still wet …

And my baby buffies. Baby chicks have the cutest little fluffy bums!

Well, farmgirls, it’s time to put a fork in this article. It’s done! And, we have a super nice day here in Wyoming. I’m going to quit you for now and go plant some potatoes in a tub … and ride my pony through the cows later. Thanks for joining Michele and I on our junkin’ safari. I hope you got a good taste of the fun that was had by “Sanford & Daughter” :o) Happy Trails until next time. ~ Shery

  1. Marlene says:

    That was a wonderful trip back to my grandmother’s farm. While I was reading your blog I forgot where I was. I’m sure there are still some treasures on the farm that would have my name on them if I were there. Thank you.


    You’re welcome, Marlene :o) Thank you for the kind comments. That my simple words could take you to another place that you lovingly remember… … well, there is no nicer compliment. shery

  2. Brenda says:

    What a fun day for you and your junkin buddy! My sister and I go junkin but not in such a large way. My dad has been a small engine mechanic for Case Implement for over 40 years. (Not really sure if it is called Case anymore) He is semi retired at 76 years old. He has built 3 or 4 tractors out of old tractor parts and used to take them to tractor shows. He would have been in heaven if he would have been along with you on your picking day. Have a great weekend Shery!

  3. Maureen says:

    I don’t know how you do it, but after reading every post, I’m ready to move next door. Kindred spirits I guess. Keep up the good work and fun!


    The kindness of farmgirl comments melts my heart and makes my dayssss. Thank you from my most innermost parts :o)  shery


  4. Terry says:

    Be still my heart.

  5. Jan says:

    So where do I sign up for such an ADVENTURE??? Yes, I would bet that many of us would have been crawling all over the place with you.
    My husband and I just went on a small road trip down into southern Idaho and we happened on to an old sign attached to a building that said ‘in and out’. It had been an old motel back in the day and I wondered just how many people had stopped and tried to buy it! It just gave me a large CHUCKLE…American Pickers would have stopped and haggled.

    I have to admit that awhile back we cleaned out the back garden area and my husband hauled a nice chunk of old rain gutter to the dump (much to my dismay). Sure enough, we went to a local garden show and there was the cutest garden shed, complete with a nice rain gutter planted full of annuals. NOW, we are the ones looking for sections of old rain gutter to hang on the garden fence top..

    Just wanted to let you know that the older that I get, the more I appreciate and crave anything with some history!
    Happy junkin’!


    I think you nailed it, Jan. I’ve always like OLD shtuff…but the older I get, the more sentimental I become over things with good memories attached.  shery

  6. Deena says:

    I would love to have a day like that. I can’t wait to tell my daughter about the old truck flower bed idea, I can see her doing that when she settles down. I wonder if she would want it a Chevy, because that is the only truck to have, or a Ford to prover they are only good for a flower bed?
    My little cowgirl turned 21 this week, got her first apartment and will be graduating in a month with a AS in Diesel Mechanic and a second in Welding. She is working on a bus driver license too. Last summer she painted her own 1972 Chevy truck with a spray can (well a number of spray cans). I will have to forward your blog to her.
    Thanks for a great shopping trip.

  7. Carol Norwood says:

    Shery … I couldn’t wait to read today’s blog – the subject "Junkin’" caught my eye! How lucky are you to have access to this wonderful junk, and, better yet, to the stories that go along with each piece. And Don has to feel good about passing it on to someone who he knows will love it as much as he did. The photos are fabulous and it looks like you are going to have lots of fun putting those implements into place and planting just the right stuff in them. I can’t wait to see the finished product. By the way, that clothes dryer is exactly like the one my Mom used when I was growing up! Love it!

  8. KimberlyD says:

    When I was a little child we lived not too far from 2 great places to explore and play at…the town dump…and the junk yard my friend parents owned car galore and school buses to play in! Both within walking distance, on a country road! And I want the clothes drying rack!!! LOL! Then end this with aaaaaaawwwwww on newbie calf and puff balls chickies!

  9. Julia H says:

    Thank you!

  10. Kelly says:

    Wonderful story and pictures. Looking at those old pictures of the women with the horses, wagons and plows, really made me wonder what their life must have been like. You are so creative. Happy calving.

    Hi Kelly, My grandmother told me what it was like. "The gold old days was mostly a lot of hard work, but I sure miss it."  Thanks!  shery



  11. Ellen Gerard says:

    I so enjoy your tales and pictures. Look forward to them all. Wish I was closer to go junking with you! Thank you! Ellen

  12. Debbie says:

    Howdy Shery!
    I finally had time to sit still and read through your post uninterrupted…I was right there with you all the way to the " story " about pay’n up! Just like a couple of ole cowboys to string you along. My Texan relatives ( the men mostly ) are all like that… they’ll pull your leg if ya let’m! We had a few Buffs in our first flock and I miss them… they are pretty birds and good layers! I’d have done my share to convince you you needed them too! What are friends for? I remember so many places out west like the one you went junkin at. I loved imagining what those hardworking people felt as they completed their home…Yes, satisfaction beyond measure I suspect. Keep up the good work my dear! Loved it all! xo Deb

  13. Grace~katmom says:

    Hey Shery,
    I luv ‘Junktiquing’,, and plan to get into mischief this coming weekend w/4 of my Trailer Gal~Pals (if it doesn’t rain)… Isn’t it the best feeling to find that 1 thing, that thing you were not looking for, and yet there it is,,, & all you can utter is, "Oh WoW!"

    I too have a vintage portable drying rack,,, I hang vintage hankies, doillies & aprons from it.
    In my mind I can see farm wives drying baby diapers by the fireplace on these sweet racks.

    Happy Trails… & by-the-by, I am having a ‘Trailer Slumber Party’ this weekend on our property… maybe you can talk Michelle into a vintage trailer & then you can have a Slumber Party too! Or come over to Spokane & join us!
    Wagons HO! :>)


    Hi GRACE! Loved hearing from you. I so enjoyed the photos you sent some time back. I envy your travels with your galpals. My trailer is ready to go. We’re think the first part of June to break her in. Hope your summer is full of Glampiong fun.  shery

  14. Joan says:

    Shery, Shery, Shery what a joy it is to visit you – would love to in person some day but until then thanks for the writing, pic’s and the love you have for life.

  15. Nessa cowley says:

    That’s amazing what fun! I have exactly the same clothes dryer which I bought at a market here in Australia – I put it in front of the fire in winter and it fits so much on. Great find!

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