Dateline: 2 February 2014
Many years ago, every little rural community had at least one blacksmith. He was the go-to person when a farm tool broke or someone needed something custom-made out of metal. The village blacksmith was a valuable part of the local economy.
The rural community I live in does not have a blacksmith but we have the modern equivalent...a husband and wife who are machinists. Their shop is on a rural road a few miles out of town. It is next to their horse barn and their home. They are the go-to people for many local farmers when something breaks. In many instances, they can fabricate a part, or make a fix, faster and cheaper, and better than it would be otherwise.
This local machine shop has done a lot of work for me in recent years. They help me fabricate some of the chicken plucker parts and wheel hoe parts that I sell. I am persuaded that there is nothing they can't do, and do very well.
Last summer I was picking up some chicken plucker flanged shafts and was talking to my friend, the very capable machinist, and I told him I regretted not pursuing an early desire of mine to be a blacksmith. His reply surprised me….
"Well, you can't do everything!"
I thought about that a second and said, "I suppose you're right."
He then told me that there is a famous quote from Clint Eastwood that was in one of his Dirty Harry movies... "A man's got to know his limitations."
I had never heard of the quote before and decided to look it up on YouTube. Sure enough, it's there and you can see it At This Link.
So it was that my machinist friend, a guy who I look at as someone who can do just about anything, advised me that a man can't do everything and that I need to know my limitations. I've been thinking about that ever since.
Perhaps this is now in the forefront of my thinking because I went through a bout with the flu a couple weeks ago and it really took the wind out of my sails. Instead of waking up in the morning, raring to go, with a list of things I wanted to get done, I woke up and felt like going back to bed. My get up and go had got up and went. I was in something of a mental fog for for a couple of weeks. And I had a cough that refused to go away (still got it). It was kind of depressing.
All of this has led me to make some decisions that are, to some degree, making me feel better. For one thing, I have decided to stop making and selling Whizbang cider press parts. The HDPE plastic components I've sold for the past five years are among the most time consuming to make and least profitable products I sell. I'm getting the last of these parts that I have materials for all made now. Once they're sold, I won't have to worry about making them again.
I am thinking about no longer selling Planet Whizbang wheel hoe kits. I have enough in stock to last this year but if the Classic American clothespins continue to sell, and I work on developing that aspect of my business, I will stop selling the wheel hoe kits.
I have purchased a high-quality (expensive) counting scale for the purpose of counting out the poultry shrink bags we sell. Marlene and I have been counting the bags in increments of 25 and it is very tedious work. After buying a lesser quality counting scale online that didn't do the job, we contacted a company that sent a salesperson with an appropriate scale right to our house and we were able to see that it did the job. The new scale will save us a LOT of time and effort.
I have decided to have a smaller garden this year. The fact is, in recent years, I've planted large gardens that I've not had enough time to properly care for, and it has really bothered me. So, for the first time in a long time, this deliberate agrarian will have a deliberately smaller garden. With the time I save having a smaller garden, I hope to be able to develop some permaculture guild plantings among the apple trees I planted last year.
I have one more new Planet Whizbang product to introduce this year. It is a simple and fun product that will not require a lot of my time to produce and sell. After that, there will be no more new products for this year.
I have no plans to write any more books. There was a time when I figured I would write and publish at least one new book a year…. for the rest of my life. But after twelve books, I have no plans to write and publish any more. That will probably change in time. I would like to put together another garden idea book, but it will be years from now if I do.
I have come to accept that I will never become a blacksmith. Nor will I learn to be a leathercrafter (something I was focused on a lot this past winter). And I will never make a braided wool rug. I will never have a milk cow or a team of horses. I will never get a portable saw mill. I will never pursue so many crafts and ideas that have crossed my mind in the past. But I'm still holding on to the idea of building a stone wall—something I've dreamed of doing most of my life (and I now have enough field stones to do it).
This isn't to say that I've given up on my dreams. Not hardly. I'm just looking at the reality of my age (56), all the things I have to do, and my decreasing capacity for productive work— and I'm prioritizing. After all, a man can't do everything, and he has to know his limitations.