Toasters and Farm Kids

The Benton Compound's toaster broke over the weekend. It's nothing major. The little plastic bit that you push down to start the toasting broke off of the metal arm that goes up and down. The toaster still works fine--you just have to press the plastic piece onto the end of the metal arm when you push down. I can still toast my bread, no problem. The kids struggled with the damaged toaster. They didn't have a knack for feeling the way the mechanism engages when it locks into place to activate the heat and to hold the slices of bread in place. They would stop pressing too soon, and the lever would spring back up and launch the little plastic handle back at their faces.

I'm lucky: in many ways, my kids have had an easy life. By the time I was their age, necessity had taught me how to repair hay balers and cattle chutes and tractor carburetors and wire stretchers and everything else on the farm that could break. Things would always break as far from the tool shed as possible. Nothing teaches improvised mechanical repairs quite like a broken hay rake miles from the barn.

By the time I was the age my younger daughter is now, the Farm Crisis was in full swing and I was the primary farmer (and hence principal repairer) since my dad was working off the farm. I never would have dreamed of buying a replacement for something that could still be used or repaired. Enduring or fixing trouble costs less than replacing the cause of the trouble.

I learned my lessons in improvised mechanics well. I've managed to cobble together the toaster well enough over the past few days. The kids have grumbled a little bit, but they've figured out how to operate the dodgy mechanism.

I'm still going to pick up a new toaster when I'm at the store next.