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All I want for Christmas is a sprayer that works

All I want for Christmas is a sprayer that works

Posted: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 9:27 pm
By: By JIMMY WILLIAMS Special to The Messenger

I’ve quit asking for manure for Christmas. After all, the kind Mennonite friends with the big chicken farm at Osage are happy to sell me all I want. So, no problem. Then, too, boulders are out of the question any more. I’m too old to deal with them, and Santa is too old to deliver them anyhow. That still leaves plenty of possibilities. For starters, I really wish for a garden sprayer that actually works. I must have a dozen or so of them, crowding my potting shed and garage, and if I can find one that produces even a pitiful squirt of insecticide or herbicide I must be satisfied with it. I have bought mostly inexpensive ones, but on occasion have broken down and, out of frustration and some nebulous hope, paid good money for a supposedly better one. Same old thing. A few times around the place and bubbles begin to emerge from one of the hose joints, then a jet of deadly poison flies into my face, annuling any effort, via rubber gloves and other safety paraphernalia, at safety. So, a sprayer that really does spray where it’s supposed to would be nice. Repairing garden sprayers is a science in itself and mostly an exercise in futility. I have fooled with them until I was blue in the face, to no avail. In desperation I tried to hire a hydraulic engineer to repair all my sprayers, once and for all, but found no takers. Most of them could design mighty water dams but would not take on a garden sprayer. Then pruners. I have a clay pot full of them in my potting shed, aka voodoo room (don’t ask). Most of them work, after a fashion. My favorites are a couple of classic Felco bypass pruners, as they should be, considering the price. From Sweden, Felcos have been the standard of the trade for many years. The characteristic red handles identify them, but the heart of the machine is the quality of the steel cutting blade. Swedish steel has long been known for holding an edge and the blades on Felco pruners are no exception. And, the blades on Felcos are replaceable. So far, so good. If you can stand the price, go with Felco. There are flies in the ointment. For one thing, those replaceable blades cost more than at least a couple of pairs of cheaper pruners. Everything about Felco is pricy. The worst thing about Felco pruners is the woefully inept blade lock mechanism. A little lever is employed to lock the blades shut when the pruner is pocketed or put away for the day. In a heavy pruning session, the lever is more or less in constant use. The lever is stamped, not cast or machined, from flimsy metal, with a barely raised detent for thumbing to open or lock the blades. This thing doesn’t do justice to the quality of a Felco, and why they have continued to make them this way for all these years is beyond me. I have, in fact, replaced the locking levers on my Felcos with ones from worn-out cheap pruners. Even $4 discount cheapos have better lock levers then Felcos. So, a pair of Felcos with adequate lock levers would be nice. A shovel. Spade, rather. I have two old round-point spades from time immemorial. They have been used so long and sharpened so many times they are worn down almost to the point of uselessness. I keep using then, though. Why? You can’t get another like them any more, at least not that I have been able to find. These spades have almost straight shanks, not the severely canted ones that virtually every spade found on the market today employs. The latter necessitate a severe lean forward from the user in order to dig straight down. My straight-shank ones allow such digging from an erect and much more efficient position. I hear of a spade called a “rice shovel” that has a straighter shank than most and also has holes in the blades to allow air to escape when digging in wet mud. This might be the answer, but I don’t know the ramifications of the holes, whether advantageous or not. So, Santa, there you have it: A couple of revamped Felco locks and, say, three garden sprayers that work, along with two or three straight shank, round point spades. Not a tall order, but don’t forget the firecrackers, fruits, nuts and candy. And don’t forget all the other children, and especially my little sisters. ——— From Poor Willie: A merry Christmas to all, and here’s my advice: Ask for plenty, but keep being nice. Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column. Published in The Messenger 12.23.08

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