I like a good tool, especially one that can help me get a job done more quickly, efficiently and effectively. Two weeks ago, I bought a couple new tools that fall into the good tool category. As a bonus, they made me feel like a real farmer; one of them, especially.
The first tool I purchased was a Tor Rey scale. I had been wanting to buy a scale for a long time and when I got the name of the local company (A-1 Scales & ABM Equipment Company) that sells them to many of the area farmers, I jumped on it. I had been using a kitchen scale to weigh produce, but a kitchen scale is not legal for trade. My new scale is. (Just so you know, in a comparison to the new scale, the kitchen scale was accurate.) All I have to do is send $39.00 to the Oregon Department of Agriculture, along with an application and I am legal. (I just got the application paperwork yesterday; I’ll mail the check today.) That yearly fee, along with a yearly inspection to make sure the scale is accurate, will keep me on track. I don’t have to use a scale to sell produce. I can sell produce by the bunch or individual piece, as I do with some items. But, even when I do that, I like to weigh out some bunches to keep them more uniform. Selling by weight, though, sometimes just makes more sense to me. When there can be a lot of variation in the size of an item, like some winter squash that can range anywhere from 5 to 20 pounds, selling by the pound does make sense. I am not sure that this scale makes preparing produce for sale happen any faster, but it is efficient and effective (and legal) for the job.
My other new tool is the one that made me feel more like a real farmer. I bought 40 new harvest bins, just like the ones that real farms use. Harvest bins may not seem like much of a tool, but having something big enough to hold a good amount of produce is definitely quicker, more efficient and more effective. Before these came, I was using two bins that were a little more than half the size of the new ones. I could fit 3-6 heads of lettuce in a bin. Now, I can fit 10-12 heads. When I need 20 heads of lettuce to fill the days orders, that makes a difference. It is nice to have so many available to use, too. I can fill as many bins as I want, without having to empty any out or rewash them.
Sometimes one new tool leads to another. The harvest bins got me thinking about the next new tool I might need: a flat bed utility cart. It would be nice to carry more than one bin at a time from the garden to the washing/packing area. I have an idea where I can get one…