Oh, the iron on the farm. Tons of it. Literally. There’s a pile of metal here, a pile of metal there. A ditch full of metal in this place, little piles of scrap behind sheds, enough to fill a shed over there. Why do we have all of this? How many freezers and refrigerators and washing machines have been owned by my family since the ’50’s?
This is really a question of resource allocation. I have a fair amount of wealth in the form of steel but this thinking could also apply to wealth in the form of oil. It is already wealth. Just sitting there. The scrap has value and is valued. But is it what I need? Do I need savings in the form of rust in the pasture? Would I make a better return if I converted that metal to cash then deployed that cash to buy productive assets like additional cattle? Or sheep? Or fencing? Or a new pond dam?
The wealth contained in the various iron piles doesn’t have to be spent off-farm. We can just turn it into a more valuable resource here at home. And that is important. We can’t simply mine the wealth out of the farm so we can buy a newer, larger TV or a luxury car. That money needs to go into productive assets…that wealth needs to exist tomorrow….needs to be multiplied tomorrow. Trees that make more trees. Cows that make more cows. Clover seed that makes more fat cows.
And I think this can be applied closer to home. In the home. Heck with the farm. How much sCrap do I have laying around the house I can just get rid of? How many bad farming books I won’t read a second time? How much rotten science fiction? Lame leadership books? Completed Bible study workbooks? Do I need seven different Latin textbooks? What about our collections of …well…collectibles? What if we realized the value of those objects (great or small) or the value of the space they consume and, instead, deployed those resources on more productive assets? What if I got rid of enough junk that we could live in a smaller house?
Returning to the farm (or the garage) we can go further! Do I really need that tractor? What would I do without it? In your suburban yard, do you really need that riding lawn mower AND that treadmill? What if you sold both and got a push mower? Just sayin’.
Mom and dad just went through an exercise of throwing away 10 things each. Well, they started doing it. It would be much easier to just go to your neighbor’s house and throw away 10 things. No emotional attachment. Not a good idea but it would work really well. It’s always easy to spot junk when it belongs to other people.
Here’s to streamlining our needs and cleaning up 8 generations worth of trash accumulated in the ditches. Wish me luck.