Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

No Charge for Cuts

Posted on | February 18, 2010 | 3 Comments

This story begins with a tarp.  Specifically, a tarp on a chicken coop.  Not exactly glamorous, but stay with me.  Now if you’ve worked with tarps (and if you own a farm or have a spouse who drives a pick up truck and wears work boots even in the summertime then I know you have!) you understand that there are some basic rules to proper tarp usage.

First of all, a flat tarp is a bad thing.  Flat tarps are what the rain gear industry refers to as “water resistant”.  That translates into “you will get wet wearing this item if you travel for any distance further than from your front door to your car.”  Similarly, a flat tarp will deflect water for about 2.5 seconds before a puddle the size of Lake Michigan forms in the middle, causing the tarp to collapse or rip in the center, and soaking whatever valuable you were trying to protect.  Bummer.  So all tarps must have sufficient slope so that the water runs off in an expeditious manner.

Furthermore, tarps should be attached with a strong but easily removable device, generally, a bungee cord.  If you tie down a tarp with rope, twine, or an incredibly tangled and otherwise useless roll of kite string, there will be problems.  Primarily, the fact that any time you want to lift the tarp you will have to untie all those knots that you spent many laborious hours tightening to withstand hurricane force winds.  Well, let’s face it—you will have to cut the knots and retie the whole darn thing.  Bummer.  Go with the bungee cords.

So, on this particular day I was removing a flat tarp, tied down with kite string, from the top of the chicken coop.  (How else did you think I came up with the above rules?)  I had a plan to create a real, honest to goodness, gabled roof that would support the tarp in an attractive and effective manner.  The chickens were in support of this measure and agreed that they would provide more than 3 muddy eggs a day if I resolved the issue of a waterfall occurring over the roosting area every time it rained for longer than 5 minutes.  Of course, the chickens are always promising more eggs in return for some sort of favor.  Honestly, the farmer/chicken relationship feels a bit like an ugly dwarf dating a high maintenance supermodel.  Bet you can guess which one I am.  But I digress…

Off I went to Home Depot with a need for furring strips and 2X4s to construct the rafters for my new, improved tarp support.  It took me 20 minutes to select the proper 2X4s as the length of the boards was, for some strange reason, listed in inches.  Huh?  How many people go into a home improvement store and request a 96 inch long board?  I had to dig out my coupon calculator and divide everything by 12 in order to find the 8 foot long section.  How embarrassing.  I suppose the same people who devised measuring long spans of wood in inches also decided that a 2X4 should be a board with the actual dimensions of  1.5 inches by 3.5 inches.  What a sick, sick world we live in.

But the whole point of this story (I know you thought it was never coming) occurred as I was standing with my carefully selected 1.5X3.5s in front of a large board cutting device at the end of the lumber aisle.  I was aware this device existed.  I just figured the cost was prohibitive and I had my own circular saw at home that I could use for free.  This particular day a customer service rep was actually poised at the machine (amazing) and said “Do you need me to cut any lumber for you, ma’am?” (a miracle).  I was about to make a sarcastic comment like, “No, but where the hell were you last week when I spent an hour in the plumbing aisle looking for a sink drain stopper and kept pushing that big red HELP button without any response?”, but I stopped myself.

I smiled sweetly, tried to look helpless, and asked, “How much does it cost per cut?”  Using the Jedi Mind trick, I tried to force him to say any amount under 40 cents.  40 cents per cut was about all I could justify for a cut since 1) I do have my own circular saw, 2) I know how to use my circular saw, and 3) I am incredibly tightfisted.  I figured under $2 was a bargain for four cuts and no need to haul the extension cord, the circular saw, the safety goggles, and the saw horses out of the tool shed (Just kidding about the saw horses.  Does anyone really use those things?).

Instead, he grinned affably and said, “No charge for cuts, ma’am.”

At first I stood there, amazed by my own powers.  Then it really sunk in:


My life flashed before my very eyes…….

…the duck shack by the pond that leans to one side because I built it from scrap lumber and had to settle for uneven legs since I didn’t know how to use a circular saw yet….

…the corner post sticking out three feet higher than the rest of the chicken coop because it was the last board I had left and I didn’t know how to use a circular saw yet….

…the door to the brooder room with an eye-gouging jagged edge from breaking the furring strip over my knee instead of cutting it because I didn’t know how to use a circular saw yet….


…the day I learned how to use a circular saw and an emergency eye wash kit because I cut my first board without safety goggles and kicked poisonous pressure treated lumber splinters into my eyes….

…the day I learned to check both sides of the lumber you’re cutting with a circular saw for any old hardware because if you try to cut through an old nail, it will break the blade as well as send a broken iron spike into the ground two inches from your flip flop….

…the day I left the circular saw plugged in on the deck while I carried a piece of  lumber to the barn and almost peed myself when I heard Middle manage to start up the saw, despite its numerous safety features (note to self: tool manufacturers know nothing about the determination and dexterity of children under age five)….


…the 5 gallon water bucket with the bottom cut off from when I turned it upside and used it a saw horse….

…the kids’ Little Tikes picnic table with a corner cut off from when I used it as a saw horse….

…the real wood adult-sized picnic table with a corner cut off from when I used it as a saw horse….

…the telephone pole used as a mulch barrier for the playground with a chunk cut off from when I……(do you see where I”m going with this?)

“MA’AM?  Do you want me to cut those boards for you?”

I snapped back to reality and realized the customer service rep was still waiting for my response.  For a moment I considered pulling down board after board and requesting cut after cut just because it could be done!  Because I was set free from the the danger and destruction of the circular saw!  Because I rejoiced in the beauty and precision of pre-cut lumber stacked neatly in the truck bed!

I took a deep breath, and said,

“Yes, please. Can you cut these boards into two foot long pieces for me?”

And off I went to construct my gabled roof  with just the use of a drill, screws, and some perfectly cut lumber.  While attaching the tarp to the rafters I wondered how long  Home Depot has had this policy of free cuts.  But I quickly pushed the thought away.  Never dwell in the past.  It’s a cold and desperate place.  Where you have to pay for cuts.

© Stevie Taylor 2010. All Rights Reserved.


3 Responses to “No Charge for Cuts”

  1. kmmykat
    February 19th, 2010 @ 10:15 am

    It occurs to me that you may have uncovered another one of those well kept secrets from “man world”…..there probably will be repurcussions for that helpful associate for having divulged the secret from “the others”….

  2. Michelle
    February 19th, 2010 @ 2:08 pm

    Oh, my. That is so funny. Thanks for the giggles. Your comments about the chickens promising more eggs in return for some sort of favor reminds me of that book, “Click, Clack, Moo”. One of Andrew’s favorites.

  3. Jessica
    March 19th, 2010 @ 9:29 am

    I laughed so hard reading this!!!

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