The Hundred Years War between England and France has nothing on me and my husband. We’ve fought for at least 35 years about whether something should be stored in the shop or in the garage.

Jaynes lynn
Emeritus Editor
Lynn Jaynes retired as an editor in 2023.

If it’s stored in the shop, then it’s his job to organize it. I use that word loosely – he has drawers that haven’t been opened in 10 years, but he claims to know what’s in them. Ha! So do I. Mouse poop, that’s what.

If it’s stored in the garage, then I have to store it and trip over it and move it behind the Christmas tree decorations and the camping gear and the other really important stuff.

This ongoing war has taught me one thing: There is at least one activity husbands and wives should religiously avoid, and that is cleaning out the shop together.

I recently tried to “help” my husband clean his shop. I started with good intentions and tried to respect his space by asking him about each item as to whether it should be scrapped or not, but I soon found it was much easier to just wait until he wasn’t looking and then throw things in the trash.

He’s a squirrel; there’s just no getting around that. He doesn’t throw things out. I do. I thought I was doing him a favor.

However, I’m now feeling a tad guilty. Especially since I recently needed some itty-bitty part to re-secure my car door panel, and wouldn’t you know, he had squirreled away just that part in the mouse-ridden pockets of that shop somewhere.

So, to assuage my guilt, I’ve dedicated the column this month to farmers, mechanics, their tools and shops, in hopes that some other errant wife can also find the perfect holiday gift (in addition to the mice bait).

I asked Andrew Overbay of Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension and Bob Lounsberry of Lounsberry Farms in Columbus, New Jersey, what three tools they cannot do without and why. This was the list:


There are many tools that I would not want to do without, but to pick only three, I would say:

  • My pocket knife. I use it daily in many different ways.

  • A good pair of vise grips. My third hand. They hold onto anything and can hold everything together. I’ve even used them as a hammer.

  • My Delmhorst hay moisture tester. No guessing as to whether the hay will keep or not.


  • Chain hoist. I am 6 foot 4, so I use the hoist to bring things up to my level, and it also helps to lift items, leaving no “footprint” on the shop floor that needs to be worked around.

  • ½-inch drive impact wrench. I cannot tell you how many hours this has saved me, but it is substantial. Not for all applications though.

  • Cordless impact driver. Better and handier than a cordless drill, easier to load and no chuck.

Q: What is one tool in your toolbox with an ‘underestimated’ value?

Lounsberry: A flat-head screwdriver. I can use it as a screwdriver, a pick, a pry bar, a punch, a paint stirrer, a chisel, a scraper, a hitch pin, an emergency starter for my tractor (not highly recommended), to dig and draw in the dirt – and the list goes on and on.

Overbay: Not exactly in the toolbox but right beside it – a quality push broom. A clean shop is a pleasure to work in because it helps to ensure that tools and equipment find their way back to where they will be looked for at next need.


A clean floor is safer and gives you maximum floor space, which is a premium in my personal farm shop – plus I always seem to find something I was looking for and may have needed to find in the future.

Q: What are you grateful for?

Lounsberry: I am most grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of three generations of farmers – grandfather, father and son – twice in my life. As a child and into my 20s, I worked with both my grandfather and my father.

They taught me such valuable lessons, shared the best information and tips, and told the best stories. As an adult, I was blessed to work with my father and my son, to once again have three generations together, learning from each other. Today, both grandfathers are gone, and I am thankful to have my son working with me every day.

Overbay: I am most thankful for the time I spent with my dad – who was a dairy farmer for 25 years following a 25-year career as a factory-trained mechanic with International Harvester – as his farming partner and sidekick.

We lost Dad to a farm shop accident in November 2005, so his accident reminds me to take time to be safe and make sure you go home at night.

It is tough to encapsulate all the things he took time to show me, but it also needs to be said that he did take the time to teach me and I am thankful for his patience especially while building our family farm from the ground up.

He demonstrated that the best way to get something done was to get started and stay with it until it’s completed, and he also showed me the value of taking time to do the highest-quality work possible.  FG