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Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.


Haywire: Devices Break Down

If anyone from Texas ever tells you that something went “haywire” it usually means that a mechanical or electrical device has stopped working properly, or altogether. Broken machinery now leaving you a lot less comfortable than you were just a minute ago when it was only making a "funny noise." Once in awhile haywire also refers to a troubled, “misunderstood” neighbor having a really bad day, but we try not to rehash the “Padgett Prom Princess Pummels Presbyterians” headlines from a couple years ago. Automobiles, household appliances, children’s toys... they all go haywire at some point, which means you either get a new one, get the old one fixed, fix it yourself, or do without. We do a lot of “fix it yourself” around my off-grid house in the country. Sounds noble, I know, but really it’s because I’m a cheapskate. Money is meant to be used for purchasing only things you enjoy, such as more chickens, more fertile chicken eggs, a new incubator, more housing for chickens, and a few more pullets should do it. I couldn’t fix the incubator. Cheap crap.

chickens

Oddly enough, “haywire” likewise refers to a universal replacement part you’ll need to fix the confounded machine hellbent on making your life suck. To fix the busted machinery, gather up some duct tape, a screw gun and a handful of metal roofing screws, and plenty of haywire (hay baling wire). These three items will mend just about anything you can manage to break or let wear out if your Mechanical Creativity Quotient (MCQ) is up to snuff. The McGyver character MCQ was genius level. (Play along, please, it’s a thing I’m trying to start.) Hay bailing wire, made from a metal alloy and extruded into lengths of hundreds of feet, is wrapped and tied tightly around large bales of hay in many shapes and sizes. A bale can hold together for years. Baling wire can also be used to temporarily piece broken machinery parts back together in almost every application, especially situations where you’re stranded 65 miles from town, or your means of cooling off the house in the middle of a scorching Texas summer grinds to a loud, screeching halt. If Necessity is the Mother of Invention, hay baling wire is her apron strings, tied tightly to all things in need of fixin’.

baling wire

Here’s a recent example of how my philosophy of “fix it yourself” kept me out of hot water, at least temporarily.

"The swamp cooler went haywire last night so I had to fix it in the dark. Better give it a look-see before we take off," I remembered as Joe Don and I were headed for town early one Monday morning.

I hate it when that happens,” quipped my running buddy Joe Don, a man of few words but my longtime friend nonetheless.

“The bottom pan finally rusted out and that bracket holding the pulley broke loose.”

“Did it wake y’all up?”

“I’ll say. Man, it sound like a alley cat three-way at first, making a high-pitched, squealingest racket you ever heard. Couple minutes later the belt jumped off and shut her down.”

“Hot last night.”

“Hotter’n two rats humping in a wool sock. Weren’t no two ways about it, I had to get up and fix the darn thing.”

“That new girlfriend of yours looking at you funny?”

“Didn’t take long, did it? I found one of those tin foil turkey roasting pans leftover from the chili cook-off in the kitchen, kinda flattened it out and covered up the rusted out part on the bottom of the cooler. Sealed her up with some duct tape, silicone, and a few screws, then I tied the bracket and pulley back in place with that haywire there, put the belt back on and voila, cool breezes.”

“Reckon she’ll hold up?”

“Don’t see why not. If it was gonna give up the ghost for good, you’d think it would’a happened in the first 100 years.”

“Don’t make ‘em like they use to.”

“Good thing we’re still making hay.”

“Otherwise wouldn’t be no haywire.”

“And I’d be hot as a road lizard.”

“And looking for a new girlfriend.”

Fix it yourself. A good policy to keep if you’re living on the farm, off-grid, way out in the country, or downtown New York City for that matter.

Everything goes haywire at some point.


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