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AMY KIRK: Having one's very own junkyard

There is a reason why our ranch has its very own junkyard. The term "junkyard" is just to mislead others about its real purpose -- it's a redneck rancher's spare parts and materials warehouse.

The big and bulky items that are stored down at our junkyard out of sight are oftentimes parted-out or resurrected for reuse in a different form later on. When ranch ideas turn into projects, the first thing my welder-husband does is rummage around the junkyard for usable materials he can scab off of something else. Running to town or the nearest big city is not very convenient or handy when the Hubs wants to bring his innovative idea into fruition urgently. The junkyard is his preferred go-to source for many ranch project plans because it avoids sending me on a half-day round trip to the city, risking that I'll get the wrong materials, and spending money.

The junkyard is a rancher's playground. Okay, more like a rancher's wife's playground. I oftentimes discover "treasures" there and find the majority of materials in the burn pile and scrap metal piles located there for my rustic and distressed-look so-called projects, but our junkyard is a vital component to our ranching operation.

As I've mentioned before, ranching families like ours live out the motto of the Marine Corps. daily: "Improvise, Adapt, Overcome." We are always partaking in one or a combination of, improvising, adapting and overcoming something. Our ability to carry out any of these is oftentimes achieved by repurposing resources from our junkyard.

It's the first place my hubby went to create our amped-up ranch improvements like the black Toyota and Dodge pickups' big game intimidator grill guards, the hay-hauling rack extensions that he built for the 30-foot flatbed trailer and the converted dump truck bed-turned-large-capacity-water-hauling-trailer. He has welded all sorts of clever cow and ranch task-related conveniences I love that were derived from junkyard scrap, including the retractable ATV calf-packer rack, ATV calf packer sled and numerous ATV accessories. One or the other of our four wheelers have a custom travel mug holder, half-horseshoe replacement gear shifting pedal, spotlight stand, sorting stick holder that doubles as a mock roping saddle horn (for use in doctoring cows or calves on the range), metal box for storing fencing materials and a barbwire spool holder.

Of all the junkyard innovations he's welded, my all-time favorite is the creep feed chute system. With feed stored upstairs, we're now able to fill feed buckets at ground level where we feed our heifers instead of packing, with extreme caution, five gallon buckets of feed down the rickety barn steps. It's a chore I don't dread anymore, because the junkyard repurposed material created a time-saver for packing buckets up and down the steps, and eliminated the safety-hazard steps all together.

The items in the junkyard are the perfect resource for my husband's system upgrades and improvements, because they satisfy his pocketbook hoarding tendencies. In an intense project-building mode, the junkyard has also provided him with a plethora of iron scrap to carry out his welding project plans instantly, satisfying his need for instant gratification-type projects.

Even though we've been married 19 years now, I always know sparks are gonna fly with my husband whenever he says, "I'm goin' to the junkyard to look for somethin'."