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During a recent work day on the farm helping my father and uncle, I was digging a trench under a shed, where a water line would be place to water our pigs.  A backhoe was too big to fit under the roof, so the digging had to be by hand.  I needed a pick ax to loosen and pry up the large cobble rocks so common to the area.  My dad suggested that I look in the back of his pick up truck.

The tool I found turned out to be much more than a just another pick,  it was THE pick ax.  You see, in our efforts to teach our kids some of life\’s most important lessons, Roxanne and I have told and retold the story where this exact tool symbolized the grit, determination, self reliance, and work-ethic that we want our kids to gain.  I had been meaning to search the sheds to find it, and now here it was, in my hands!

The story began a few years ago when after months of coaxing, my mother and father finally convince my grandfather to move in with them.  He had been a widower for years,  and was mostly wheelchair bound due to his knees and hips being \”gone\”.

Immediately after relocating, grandpa\’s drive to be productive pushed him to look for things he could do to contribute to the family.  Each day he would arise early, dress for the day, eat, then \”go to work\”…and he always found work to do.  My parents had long talked of turning part of their ranch into a family park for big family gatherings and reunions.  Grandpa caught the vision and decided to take matters into his own hands by clearing the area of sage brush and trimming all the dead branches from the many cedar and pinion pine trees.

Never asking if he could help or if there were tools available, he found an old rusty pick ax head without a handle.  Having learned resourcefulness during the depression, he looked till he found an old discarded baseball bat which he whittled down with his pocket knife into a handle.  Then Harry Thayne went to work.

Everyday he wheeled his motorized wheel chair the 100 yards or so from the house and somehow, with a crutch, shovel and pick, started the process of clearing.  While his strength was probably 10% of what it once was, \”can\’t\” or \”too much work\” were not in his vocabulary.  By the end of the summer there was a huge pile of brush and limbs to be burned, and the edge of the ax had been polished till it shone from use.

As an excavator, my dad had all the equipment to do the job in under an hour…but it wasn\’t about getting the job done.  It was about work, being productive, and loving your family enough to serve them each day.  What took grandpa an entire summer could have been physically accomplished in minutes with a backhoe.  But this story would never have been generated, and the symbol of his legacy would not have been created.

The wood of the old bat will be glued together and fully restored.  It will then be placed in a prominent spot in our home as a reminder of the value of work and the undeniable fact that hard work, and for me especially physical work, produces purpose and satisfaction that can\’t be found anywhere else.

Please enjoy the rest of the articles in this month\’s issue focused on helping children learn to work.  I hope you will find it inspiring and thought provoking as you work along side your families this summer.

To Your Family\’s Happiness!

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