Over the past six years as I’ve slowly developed the farm, one of my biggest challenges has been organization. Each project has brought its own tools, sagging boxes of leftover nails and screws, batteries, scraps of wood, half-used buckets of stain, engine oil, etc.
At first I stored most of this in my small toolshed, but in 2009 I transformed the toolshed into a sauna for DH to mark our 25th wedding anniversary. Since then all of it has been scattered in various heaped piles in my office at home, the barn hayloft, the unfinished future mudroom, and in the case of many tools, the backseat jungle of my truck.
Two years ago the school relocated its maintenance garage, and lots of items were up for grabs. Among them was this sorting shelf, which I snagged off the burn pile.
When I first arrived at the school thirty years ago, the “maintenance garage” was actually a narrow tool room about the size of a walk-in closet. I’d go down there sometimes to borrow a hammer or beg for a jump start for my Chevy Chevette from Leonard, the maintenance man. Leonard was one of those people in blue Dickies who seem able to drive everything and fix anything. I’d find him there sitting on an overturned five-gallon bucket, talking to John, the farmer of that era.
At that time the sorting shelf held plumbing parts. All of its cubbies had cunning little wooden partitions to sort a myriad of galvanized and copper elbows and connectors.
It was otherwise not a work of art. Clearly it was an item banged together in a hurry to solve a problem, out of miscellaneous boards that had originally been used for something else. This meant the overall carpentry was necessarily a bit rough.
However I know all about solving problems under time pressure with less than perfect materials. The shelf was strong and functional — and to a haphazard person like me a cubby system is irresistible. It represents a dream of organizational calm.
This one had the nice added benefit of reminding me of my youth and dear Leonard and John.
Luke helped me lift the heavy shelf into my truck and carry it to the farm, where it sat waiting for me to have time to address it. Eighteen months later, that day finally arrived.
I do not have plumbing parts that need sorting. Though one might say I live in General Mayhem, I am particularly overrun by bits and orts having to do with electric fencing. Rolls of electrical rope, tape, and twine, connectors, energizers, batteries, T-post insulators, nail-on insulators, rotating corner post insulators, terminal insulators, compression springs, harp clips, clamps, fence testers, eye bolts, staples, wire links, gate hooks, and more. Not to mention several dozen fiberglass posts for temporary fencing, plus all their screw-on insulators.
I decided the cubby shelf would become Fencing Central.
To freshen its look before installing it in the new garage, I painted it with leftover white paint. While it was drying I cut a ten-foot sewer pipe into lengths and bolted them together to hold fiberglass posts.
In the photo, only new, unused posts are in the pockets. In the next few days, when the last of my temporary fences are put away, the pockets will resemble vases of flowers, each crammed with posts bristling with bright yellow insulators.
Next I labeled all the cubbies with the label-maker Lucy gave me last Christmas.
Et voilà, it was finished. Fencing Central.
This year it’s almost exciting to put things away.