The purge

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We have made it through the messiest part of the remodeling project. Our old house had smaller rooms that had just enough room for a couch, recliner and oversized chair. We plan to make two rooms into one by opening another wall to expose our staircase, creating one big room to gather and relax where everyone can sit together. The plan includes hardwood floors and also a fireplace — gas not wood.

We moved out barrels of dusty plaster and lathe, pulled up carpeting and old, unlevel wood flooring. Our carpenters told us that every old house they work on has similar issues. The floor needs to be leveled, and extra support for the fireplace is needed.

The new beams and jacks would be put into the area of the living space down in the basement. Our basement has been full of decades of collections. I shuffled boxes, totes and bags from one side of the basement to the other. I opened boxes and reminisced about the old treasures from our childhood or further back to what our parents had left us that was stored because we just couldn’t let it go. There were boxes of taxes that need to be saved, a beer can collection and farm hats. Who would have thought those hats would be slowly falling apart with age. The foam cushion around the rim has started to crumble. Those were sorted into piles, save, donate and toss, only to be boxed and bagged up to move to the dumpster, donation center or to the other side of the basement on a shelf.

Well, we must be cool, because we have a bunch of coolers. There are small ones for farmers to take to the tractor with lunch in it. Then, those medium ones hold a couple six-packs of soda or beer, and the large ones are used for events to hold lots of soda and beer, with ice. There are even a few extra large ones for the hauling of processed chickens, beef or pork to get home from the butcher.

In the back corner, there was the sewing and art supplies from when I was a 4-H leader, as if it all had been frozen in time. That area was a great place to store the ceramic items and art work my kids made. Some items were masterpieces of childhood dreams that had to be saved; others were bowls or cups made from clay that didn’t flare up any emotion.

There were the shelves of jams and jelly, apple sauce and pear butter. The jars need to be opened and washed, and the hard work will go out to the gutter to be spread on the fields. It was as depressing as it was exciting, clearing a shelf to put more stuff on. We all worked together to get it moved and cleaned out because the carpenters needed to work in the basement the next day.

Egg cartons? Yes, those have to be saved. There are times when the chickens lay several dozen a day. Do I really need to have 200 cartons?

What about all of these pens and pads of paper? Those were collected by Duane’s mom, some of those companies have gone out of business, and I do the same thing. At every farm meeting and expo, I bring home more stuff that gets stashed in the drawers. If in doubt, throw it out.

We purged the basement, then the pantry, and now, we are onto the office. There seems to be a theme with many of the items that we have stacked and stored. All are farm-themed promotional items, like seed corn hats, herbicide coolers, tractor brand jackets and coffee cups.  They are gifts given to us to use and treasure, or to put on a shelf to forget.

We actually use promotional items like T-shirts, sweatshirts, sunglasses and socks. I am waiting for a brilliant company to start to hand out boots, and on the toe, it could say, “Stepping out ahead,” with their product. Those would never get put on a shelf.

As we put many items in donation boxes, we thought of the person who will see these items as a treasure and put them on their shelf, in their drawer or, who knows, sell it on the internet. We need these treasures gone to make room for the carpenters for now but also for other stuff we will stash in the years to come.

Tina Hinchley, her husband Duane and daughter Anna milk 240 registered Holsteins with robots.  They also farm 2,300 acres near Cambridge, Wisconsin. The Hinchleys have been hosting farm tours for over 25 years.

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