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Your Most Important Tool? A Pencil!

By   /  July 10, 2017  /  Comments Off on Your Most Important Tool? A Pencil!

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Turns out that the same ribbon you use to wrap gifts is great for flagging your building site.

My son thinks he is building a clubhouse. He doesn’t realize that he is a farmer in training. The sort of planning he is doing reminds me and Kathy of the sort of planning that farmers, or everyone, does.

There’s a spot he’s got in mind for the clubhouse, under the canopy of trees, up a little hill from the creek. He measured out the clearing, tying ribbons to sticks to stake it out. He drew out plans, calculating the materials he’d need. He spent a lot of time figuring how tall it should be, and how much of a peak the roof should have. (We pointed out that he’s likely to grow and may want to be able to stand up inside next year.) There are some old windows, and shingles and paint from previous projects that he can use, and he checked the swap shop at the dump for anything that might help out.  Online, he priced out the cost of materials, re-jiggering plans to fit his budget.

Supply List – and no he’s not going to “steal” a painted gate latch. He will buy a “steel” painted gate latch. 🙂

It won’t be cheap to build this clubhouse, but he’s been saving up, and his brother and sister are going in on it with him. His dreams are pretty big, and he wants to get things growing faster than his allowance might allow. He’s going to be ten next week, and he’s asked for some financial help from the Bank of Mom & Dad rather than any sort of birthday party. By the way, he’d also like a ride to the hardware store to pick up the supplies.

Knowing this is going to be a long road, there’s a thrill to watching him plan, get excited, get realistic, and get creative. Planning is one of the first things that we truly have to learn on our own. We also learn how to go to technical experts for advice (Dad, what thickness plywood should I use? How deep should I dig the holes for the footings?). Seeing him poring over pages of lists, calculator in hand, I think, this is how things happen. An idea, a dream, and a plan.  He’s going to learn about building, and about using different tools. And the first tool, and probably most important, is a pencil.

Thanks for reading and for penciling things out!

Rachel and Kathy

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  • Published: 1 month ago on July 10, 2017
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  • Last Modified: July 13, 2017 @ 4:11 am
  • Filed Under: The Scoop

About the author

editor and contributor

Rachel's interest in sustainable agriculture and grazing has deep roots in the soil. She's been following that passion around the world, working on an ancient Nabatean farm in the Negev, and with farmers in West Africa's Niger. After returning to the US, Rachel received her M.S. and Ph.D. in agronomy and soil science from the University of Maryland. For her doctoral research, Rachel spent 3 years working with Maryland dairy farmers using management intensive grazing. She then began her work with grass farmers, a source of joy and a journey of discovery.

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