There’s a sense of spring on the farm.
The weather’s cold, and there’s ice at the edges of the creek, but the days are getting longer, and the to-do list is growing by the hour.
It’s a good time of the year. There’s snow on the ground and hope in the air.
As we prepare for the busy season ahead, we make sure all is organized. We spend a lot of time making sure all our tools are in the right places. Just as a surgeon doesn’t want to have to look under the table for his scalpel, the lowly ditch digger doesn’t want to search for his shovel.
The process isn’t what you’d think.
It’s quite slow.
Our tools are bristling with memories. We tend to hold them and do a lot of thinking.
Our favorite tool to hold is the simplest.
We hope you know what a digging iron is. In fact, we hope the calluses on your hand know what this powerful tool can do. But we’re in a fine mood and will forgive you if you don’t.
Our digging iron is heavy. It’s nearly as tall as we are and weighs at least 40 pounds. When a shovel needs a bit of help, this chunk of metal is there to do the job. It breaks up the dirt and makes room for the shovel.
What’s wonderful about this tool is that we never had to peel a label off of it. It never had a UPC sticker attached to it. And its value will never go up or down as Trump fights with China.
Nope. This old iron was handmade by our great-grandfather well over a century ago.
It’s a crisp example of Know-How that’s as fine as any piece of art you’ll find at the Met.
Don’t believe us? Try to make one.
DIY or Die
Our iron is hammered into a perfectly shaped hexagon, with a fine hardened tip that begs to lift an ornery rock out of its lair.
Many factories today couldn’t create such a strong specimen… let alone most hands.
But what do you care? This is our chunk of iron. Stop by and we’d love to let you use it, but chances are it means nothing to you.
You see, that iron represents one of the core foundations of this project.
We talk about more modern notions of Know-How quite often. We talk of the myths and lies surrounding our healthcare… we muse about the dangers of handing our brainpower to a machine… and we love (probably a bit too much) to poke holes in our government’s disdain for anything that approaches Know-How.
But we rarely get to the core of it all.
Our culture rarely opens its eyes to the simple things that built our great nation.
If we lose that Know-How, we’ll lose a whole lot more than an old digging iron.
That’s why we’re adding the fourth piece of essential Know-How to our list of 12 things every person must know.This one’s a bit broad, but it’s crucial.
You must know how stuff is made.
We’re not talking about the engineering complexities of the Buick in the driveway. And we don’t expect you to know just how your microwave’s magnetron functions (watch out… it’ll shock the heck out of you if you try to find out). But we should all know the basics of what it takes to get that $50 Ikea chair to your living room.
It’s why we embarked on a bit of an odd job this week.
We’re making a foundry. And if we do it right, it will double as a handy forge.
If you don’t know the difference, well, that’s our point.
Those two tools helped build this great nation, and they’re still critical to making the world go ’round today.
And while most folks these days know who wouldn’t host the Oscars and why… they couldn’t tell you just how their teapot on the stove was made.
That doesn’t make much sense.
It makes us dull. It ensures we’re a helpless cog just doing what the gears around us force us to do.
Ignorance = Susceptible
We’ll probably burn ourselves with our new forge. We’ll probably appear in a few pics without an eyebrow for a few months.
But I bet our great-grandpa cussed a time or two as he hammered out that timeless tool of his.
We’d be lucky to make something somebody cherishes – not for its sentimental value but for its utilitarian might – a century from now.
If you want to go to bed tonight a better person than when you woke up, do this. Look around and ponder what it took to get the things that surround you to you.
If you don’t know… find out.
We guarantee it will lead you to smarter decisions that are based on real-world Know-How… not emotional hype (see today’s Rooster’s Crow).
And if you want to help us dig a few ditches this spring… the invitation is open.
We’ll even supply the tools.