About a year ago, a farm went up for sale a mile away from us, and now we have a pivot. Just to be clear, we had nothing to do with the farm, and the farm had nothing to do with us. We certainly didn’t buy it, and the acreage didn’t have a pivot on it anyway. All these details don’t change the fact that the sale of that farm is responsible for the big sprinkler sitting just east of my laundry room door right now. It also demonstrates the unpredictable nature of the executive leadership of this farm operation.

Coleman michele
Michele and her husband, Dave, live in southern Idaho where they boast an extensive collection of...

Years ago, Dave and I actually lived in the little house that sat on the corner of the for-sale farm. Seems like yesterday, but the baby girl we had at the time is now 26 years old. Dave had just finished his degree, and we had sailed into town on nothing more than fumes. We certainly couldn’t afford much. Still, we hoped to find something close to family but not so close that the neighbors could be into our business. The little two-bedroom paint peeler fit the bill. It was older than old even then – the kind of quality that rattles when the wind blows – but due to the charming dilapidation of the establishment, the price was right.

When the farm went up for sale these many years later, my nephew bought it for all the same reasons we had rented the house those many years ago. It’s great to have family close but not too close – a delicate balance that requires a certain amount of acreage to maintain. Right off the bat, nephew decided to take the old house down. He is not one to let the dust settle on a decision, so he contracted the job and the house was gone before we could say, “Welcome to the neighborhood.”

Nothing is of more interest around here than someone else’s business, especially if it involves big machinery, lots of noise and collapsing infrastructure. As resident uncle in the neighborhood, Dave was up to date on all the details of the whole operation. Of primary interest to me was the den of snakes they found living underneath the house. Of course, no one knows when those snakes moved in, and I tell myself that it is highly unlikely they were there 26 years ago. If they were, I never saw a sign of them. Doesn’t matter. Every time I think of the brief six months we were in residence there, I think of those snakes. They may not have been my roommates at the time, but they might as well have been.

The whole point of this story is that the demolition cost less than Dave thought it would. Unknown costs are a looming impediment to anything getting done around here and, on the flip side, nothing is more attractive to a farmer than a project that actually comes in at less than he was afraid it would. As far as farming goes, this actually might have been our first run-in with that feeling. Suddenly, tearing down our old barn seemed like a possibility. In fact, it became an urgent necessity instead of a perpetually future project. Dave got a bid, then a date, and just like that, we had no choice but to finally finish cleaning out the barn.



To be clear, we had been cleaning out that old milk barn for over 20 years. I swear, we pulled more junk and fossils and treasures out of it than could have possibly ever fit into the old cavern, but somehow it was never empty. We didn’t even manage to finish the job in the end. Didn’t matter, of course. Before I could say excavator, everything was gone. Twenty-five years of fretting resolved in the flash of a day.

Dave couldn’t get over the empty space the excavator left behind. He was so proud of it, he’d go outside and just watch it. Of course, in all that watching time, he began to think more and more about phase two. Without the barn in the way, he could merge the two adjacent fields into one, as had always been his plan. And of course, once the two adjacent fields were one, the next logical step would be to put in a pivot.

When he first broached the subject with me, the line he used was, “In the next five years, we maybe could look at getting a pivot.” The men from the pivot company showed up the next week to start a bid. I have to admit that the timeline fell well within Dave’s five-year plan. I can also tell you there’s no bid that comes in “way under what you were expecting” with a pivot.

“So Dave,” I asked, “Explain the math to me. We couldn’t tear down the barn because you were afraid it would cost too much, so once we ate that cost, we bought a pivot?”

I don’t have to tell you that it has been like Christmas every day around here ever since. Was Dave this excited about being born? I doubt it. He wakes up every day with pivots in his eyes and a spring in his step. Me? Not so much. I know what is coming. I know what is spinning around inside that ball-capped head of his. Everywhere he looks, he’s seeing new pivot possibilities. That five-year plan? I guarantee I haven’t seen the last of it yet.