How should we #MakeMemoriesPop with our children? The Little Man gets a new toy. I learn I need “coaching” on my TIG welding skills…
I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I’d enjoy being a Dad as much as this. The hashtags we put on all our content is real for our #familyfarm. Yes, we’re peddling popcorn for folks like you reading this. But my favorite part is the #MakeMemoriesPop. We can sell a great product, but a memory is a much more powerful connection than taste (no matter how much better our #AwesomePopcorn may be). This is a memory we made just this morning, something that will live far beyond a bowl of popcorn. I hope it prompts you to think about how you can make a memory today.
It’s a good Saturday morning—for February anyway. Not that sunny, but not too cold. Just cold enough to melt the ice off our roads. That’s great because even our little farmers were tired of spinning out in the long lane to the farm!
Saturdays like this make everyone stir-crazy. We could go play outside and make a snowman with the well-packing snow. But the Sprout at age 3 is apparently winter-cursed (and not in the good Frozen / Elsa way) as every time he goes outside or there’s a wide temperature shift over a few days (which is ridiculously common in western Illinois), we get a cold. And it’s not some sissy little runny nose. It sounds like a wheezing, chimney bellow that’s about to explode. Everywhere we go, we get those judgmental looks by other parents wondering why we haven’t quarantined our kids. But, despite many trips to doctors and specialists, it’s “just a cold that sounds really bad.” #Thanks. So we spend quite a bit of time playing farm on the inside carpet, battling bad guys with nerf guns, and just plain ol’ wrestling (much to Mom’s chagrin).
In short, it was time to do something outside. Ryker has wanted to build up his 1/16 scale farm toys. These are the big ones that invade and occupy lots of precious floor space in your house…but they are pretty awesome. Today, a kerfuffle broke out between the Sprout and Little Man over these toys. In particular, a small wooden toy that Ryker was pretending to be a belt conveyor was actually Bauer’s toy (even though he wasn’t using it). There were tears, shouts, and general mayham from two mini-versions of myself but with a much more maniacal twist. #Ridiculous.
Now, a belt conveyor is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a rubber belt that is used to transport commodities. We have two on our farm. One unloads grain bins into semis and looks like a tube with supports that lift it off the ground high enough to dump into large trucks. The other is a “drive-over” belt conveyor. This one allows trucks hauling our corn, popcorn, or soybean to drive over the belt and unload into another auger or conveyor. It’s a slick machine once you get it set.
It was time to Dad-up and solve this brewing farm crisis. I told Ryker that we should build a conveyor for his large semi truck and auger. I had promised to spend the morning playing with him before huddling down in the basement office doing bookwork (gag) in the afternoon. So this would be the ol’ ‘two birds one stone’ trick. Little Man was pumped.
First, I told him we should draw plans. Then we talked about how we should make the conveyor. Should we use cardboard and hot glue? What about wheels? Metal is stronger but harder to get—do we have scraps at the farm? What about bolts and nuts and ‘wash-arounds’ for the wheels (he is still learning they are called washers or flats). We decided to go to the main farm shop and see what scraps of metal we had. If we didn’t find anything we could use or fabricate, we’d head back to the popcorn shed and sacrifice some shipping boxes for the cause.
Once at the farm, we walked over to the drive-over belt conveyor to see how our plans looked versus the real deal.
After that, we jumped into the farm shop and began looking for “scraps.” Any shop for any blue-collar business has scraps floating around. Leftover angle iron, discarded bearings, nuts and bolts and ‘wash-arounds’ (washers / flats), and many other pieces of junk that would eventually land in the scrap yard OR find a new life on the farm…or in this case, the 1/16 farm. I had an idea that we had some aluminum strips that might just work.
Now for the tricky part. I’m not a great welder. Sure, I’ve come a long way since college, but the real expert is Uncle Matt. Ryker pointed this out. #FaultFinder. But he had a good point. Aluminum requires a special welder called a TIG welder and I have practically zero experience here. I purchased the TIG this summer for the farm because I knew Uncle Matt knew how to use it and could teach me. Well, let’s just say the lessons have been few and far between. I actually had to call Uncle Matt to figure out how to turn the TIG welder on (in my defense, there are two switches and the one I couldn’t see was hidden behind the argon tank at the rear—don’t judge). Ryker’s exact quote—“You need more coaching.” #CaptainObvious So I stumbled thru the TIG welding. It looked terrible, but Ryker kept flashing thumbs-up to me with his welder helmet on.
A few crummy, but effective, welds later and we had the basic shape of the belt conveyor finished. Ryker and I bent it to the shape of the real conveyor and, BOOM, we had a conveyor.
So, how do you #MakeMemoriesPop? One thing I’ve learned is that a change of focus from productivity to teaching makes a great experience. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a perfect Dad. But I view part of my Dad-job-description as teacher—that’s one of the highest callings a man can have is to be a Dad that teaches. I could’ve cobbled together this thing in half the time we did it together. But I included Ryker. In fact while we were there, I taught Ryker how to check the tire pressure in Mom’s car. And I had him help me move the real belt-conveyor so that it could loadout soybeans on Monday. Each little task is an opportunity to teach and help him build confidence. On this building project, I asked the Little Man what he thought, how did he want to do it, what might work and what might not work. It used up more time, but it was time well spent. This crummy excuse for a toy belt conveyor won’t last, but the memory made today will live on.
From our #FamilyFarm to your kitchen and home, we hope you go out and #MakeMemoriesPop.