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Published May 10, 2011, 08:01 AM

The little things make the difference

TOWNER, N.D. — I’m beginning to think I’m a “glass half full,” not a “glass half empty,” kind of guy when it comes to positive attitudes. Of course, I’m not altogether sure why the glass is at that mark, if it’s to my credit for filling it up to that point or if it’s my fault for sneaking a drink and draining it down to there.

By: Ryan Taylor, Special to Agweek

TOWNER, N.D. — I’m beginning to think I’m a “glass half full,” not a “glass half empty,” kind of guy when it comes to positive attitudes. Of course, I’m not altogether sure why the glass is at that mark, if it’s to my credit for filling it up to that point or if it’s my fault for sneaking a drink and draining it down to there.

Maybe it’s because of my upbringing, but I’m pretty appreciative of the little things in life, and, in our life, most of the things we have to appreciate are pretty little. We don’t often find ourselves having to react to a new yacht in the yard, an all expense paid trip around the world, or a high yielding oil well in the back yard.

There are, however, plenty of little things to brighten our day.

Time value

I’ve found that my level of appreciation grows exponentially the longer I’ve denied myself something, big or small.

The happiest part of my day May 5 was getting the trolley track hung back up on the front of our old wood framed barn that we still use for the horses and cattle. I think it lost most of its lag screws and anchoring a good year or so ago.

I finally got tired of lifting that heavy wooden door and dragging it open every time I wanted to go in the barn, so I took a timber to beef up the top framing and buried some six inch lag bolts to get things back on track.

We were working cattle nearby that day, and every time I looked over at the barn door, I smiled with pure satisfaction. Sometimes, I’d walk over to it just to slide it open, and then slide it shut again. I added some oil to the track and the joy of it all was nearly overwhelming. Guess it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

Playground, please

I’ve passed that on to our children, too. Long term denial of something simple to crank up their appreciation meter.

We have plenty of play space here on the ranch, but not a lot of playground style equipment. I did convert one of our old F10 Farmhands into something that would hold a couple of swings, but we’ve had no real swing set in the yard.

We’ve driven through the city neighborhoods where every yard has one of those $500 or $1,000 playsets from the local big box home store. I always wonder if they considered sharing one of those elaborate playsets amongst a few families rather than have one after another in every yard. Would have been tough on the sales quota for the local big box, I suppose.

Our kids understood they wouldn’t be getting the $1,000 model with the integrated rock climbing wall for our yard, but we did buy an old swingset from some friends in town for $25 when they were dismantling it for an upgrade.

Being dismantled, it sat in our yard about as long as my barn door sagged on the ground. It laid there long enough for me to drive over part of it with the tractor while I was pushing snow last winter.

My wife and I finally dug the bolts out of their water-filled bucket and put it together this spring, complete with a modification or two to account for the pieces I flattened.

You’ve never seen three kids happier to see a $25 swingset than ours were when we snugged up the last rusty bolt.

“Thank you, Dad for putting our swingset together,” my six-year-old said as I tucked him in that night. “You’re welcome, son,” I said, as I smiled about the simple pleasures of an old swingset that swings and an old barn door that slides.

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