We’re using wrong wire

The Best of Stubble Mulch

BROOKINGS – Our world is wired, they say, but from the look of things, I think we’re using the wrong wire.

It should be baling wire that’s empowering all of today’s fancy tech gimmicks that require constant maintenance.

Never mind that baling wire also inspired the description of someone who might be a few pints shy of a gallon, or “haywire.”

Baling wire once held everything in its proper place, but you don’t see much of it anymore. And that might be why the world seems to be headed for heck in a hand basket armed only with iPads and iPods.

Global events are flailing, flapping and flying around out of control, and we all sit around enamored with our world-wired gizmos in hand and wonder why.

Baling wire was at one time used to hold hay and straw bales together before twine nudged it out of the snugness business. Farmers freed the bale by clipping the wire with pliers.

And if they just threw the wire helter-skelter and didn’t hang the lengths on the fence to wait for future employment, it sure played hobs with manure spreaders and a host of other machines and animals.

Baling wire was everywhere.

I read recently of someone recounting what she took from her parents’ farm on sale day. She left with some small pieces of furniture, a couple of gunnysacks with the old feed store logo on them and the shiny scoop shovel her father preferred.

Now, she wrote, she wishes she’d taken a hundred feet of baling wire instead.

Baling wire had a thousand uses after it had served its intended time embracing a rectangular bale of hay. It was the duct tape and Gorilla glue of our yesterdays.

Our old Chrysler with a hood as big as a helicopter pad was literally held together with baling wire. Shelves in our garage hung from baling wire.

When a latch broke on a four-buckle overshoe, baling wire was called to serve. It also somewhat steadily held the black, round stovepipe in place in our living room.

Our screeching screen door hook was fashioned from a loop of baling wire, and a hole in the screen was patched – sort of – with baling wire. The heat lamp in the chicken house dangled from lengths of baling wire anchored to a rafter.

A bent hook of doubled baling wire held a plump, upside-down rooster while the feathers fell before Sunday dinner.

The wooden-handled windmill brake was imprisoned in the off position by a loop of baling wire wrapped around the mill leg.

One of the rites of manhood was for a boy to be asked to get out of the wagon or car and open the fence-wire gate. It had no hinges. It was held in place by loops of baling wire at the top and bottom of the support post.

The trick was to push your weight against the gate post that was held in those baling wire loops and flip the wire loop up over the gate post.

Opening the gate was the fairly easy part.

But closing it sure separated the men from the boys.

Years ago when we drove in our rattletrap, baling-wired Model T from the metropolis of Wessington Springs out to Uncle Ed’s farm, my dad would go on a baling wire hunt after dinner before we left for home.

He worried that a day might come when we’d run out of baling wire so necessary to meet the little emergencies. It was needed to wire the rain gauge to the fence post, repair the broken garden rake handle, hang a new set of license plates on the front bumper, snug firm the brake arm on my old second-hand bike or hold mom’s tall hollyhocks in an upstanding position out on the sunny side of our house.

In the 1930s, baling wire kept the world’s wheels from wobbling.

Now, apparently, it’s something else that’s fouling the old manure spreader.


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