What an interesting year we’ve had so far! The weather has been somewhat pleasant these last couple of months (knock on wood) and it’s been one of the coolest springs that I can remember. I’m not complaining one bit… I prefer the cooler weather!

After our 2nd Annual Inman Antique Expo, we’ve been hard at work getting ready for our 26th Annual Inman Farm Heritage Days (Sept. 15-17, 2023). Per usual, we have a million projects in line for the new show and are having a fun time getting them done! We’ve cut, bound and got up oats to use in the threshing machine at the show, planted, plowed and fertilized both sorghum (for the syrup mill) and corn (for the grist mill). 

Mr. Greg Thompson even came out on a pretty weekend to operate the old dozer he left at the farm (he operates it during the shows when the dragline is being demonstrated) and leveled out terraces across the road from the showgrounds so our parking areas will be more easily traversed. It’s a beauty and we were lucky enough to also get some millet planted and packed in the areas before the rain came in as well.

Another thing we’re looking to do (and can hopefully get done before the show) is getting a YouTube channel for Inman Farm Heritage Days up and going with different informational videos about our various exhibits on the farm. We recently recorded the antique binder at work and then Dad did a couple of videos explaining how it all works and a little history about the machine as well. With the help of our Inmanites, Chris and Macie Gibson, we hope to have the video online soon for y’all to see!

Our newest and biggest project to the farm is adding a bathroom to the property! We are using an old grain bin as the shell for the facility and I personally can’t wait to see the finished project. We’ve taken the idea from our cousins and theirs is so beautiful and unique. I hope to recreate some of the incredible décor and ingenuity they used in ours. 

The project idea started after the 25th show last September and has been brewing in both mine and Dad’s minds for a while now. We met with the folks from the county to see what we needed to do in order to make this a reality. As it’s a new project idea, we were met with a few roadblocks, but everyone seems to be working with us to make it all possible. 

After meeting with our neighbor, Ron Sanford with T Square Remodeling, we came up with a design that we think will be user friendly and plumbing friendly too! Once the plans were drawn, they were sent off to the county for approval, along with the all the affidavits for our utilities, and we had that within the week. It was all coming together nicely. 

After a short hiatus, we got started breaking ground on the site and Darryl Coleman came by to talk us through what we needed to do to build up the site to get everything prepped, level and where we would have a good area for our footings too. Dad brought in truckload after truckload of red dirt from the area we dug with the dragline two years ago.

 (PICTURED LEFT: Dad and Darryl discussing the next steps after getting the layer of grass moved off the site)

I jumped on the old 165 Massey Ferguson with a grader box blade on the 3-point hitch and began smoothing it out. It was a long, tedious project where my OCD was finally beneficial. (Ask Dad about how much he loathes me cutting grass because I want it ALL cut and looking uniform and that takes me HOURS to do.)

Darryl brought back his nifty laser level for us to use and taught me how to use it. It was fun to see how close we could get the ground to level over a 25-foot area with our antiquated machinery. I’m pretty sure if we had and if I knew how to operate a Bobcat, it would have been a much shorter process and would have been more accurate. I would come in to work around 7:45 and immediately jump on the tractor while one of my dogs, Luna, waited patiently in the car for me. I was about an inch off from level from where I needed to be in the long run, so I took that as a win!

(PICTURED RIGHT: The almost finished grade before we started digging the footings.)

We had to dig footings that were at least 16″x16″ all the way around our 18′ base for the bin. This is a chore in and of itself when your bucket on the backhoe (AKA “Big Bird”) is 24″ wide. Needless to say, we have an extra-large footing now.

(PICTURED LEFT: The first dig for the footings.)

Once that was done, it was time to get the rough plumbing in the ground. Ronnie Sanders and his friend Bob came out to help us with this. Mr. Ronnie did the plumbing for our other bathroom on the showgrounds many, many moons ago and he still works just as hard today as he did then! He can definitely out-work us, especially with his mattock… and that kinda broke my spirit. But I managed to survive and continued on with the project at hand shortly afterwards.

(PICTURED RIGHT: Photographic evidence of Mr. Ronnie Sanders outdoing all of us.)

After Mr. Ronnie and Mr. Bob left, we got to work on the remaining portion of the project: rebar, gravel, plastic, wire and formboards! Sounds like a lot to do still before our first inspection… and you’re not wrong. Our neighbor, Ron, called in to see what we needed to get done for our first inspection and scheduled it for the next day. To say we worked extra hard that day, night and next morning would be an understatement. 

Using Big Bird and the rock traded out for the show by Larry Bailey and Concrete Supply, Dad scooped in bucketful after bucketful of rock to ensure we had a 4″ base for the concrete to be poured on top of. This is a very interesting task when using a rake and going around the pipes sticking up for the commodes and sinks. But we managed to get it done and broke out the laser level, yet again, to make sure we were still level. (This guy is also worth its weight in gold too!)

We bent 5/8″ rebar that’s just over 30ft long around trees to get them as circular as we could and did this enough times to get us 3 circles (inner, middle and outer) times 2 (one layer of 3 rings sits on top of the other)! There are these nifty little carriages you place the rebar on to get it off the ground and then we tied with up with little wire twisty-ties and used Dad’s antique bag tying tool. (That bad boy was a lifesaver and I will be looking for about 5 more of those on my next antiquing adventure I go on since it’s worth its weight in gold!)

After I left later that evening, we were fortunate for the help that showed up to get everything else done. Chris and Darryl both arrived just in time to help Dad complete the remaining rough stuff: laying plastic over the gravel, putting the wire over the plastic (also a fun chore maneuvering around and over the pipes), and then getting the 4″ formboards in a “perfectly imperfect” circle for the elevated base of the grain bin.

Stacey Coleman, Darryl’s brother and longtime supporter of the show (you may remember him as the guy selling the chickens and other critters at the show years back) with Coleman Lumber Co. came in clutch by cutting plywood into 4″ strips for us so it could be manipulated into a circle without breaking. The guys staked these in the ground and the, using the handy-dandy laser level, made sure it was all level again. (I’m not sure what we’d do without Darryl’s prized possession.)

(PICTURED LEFT: Finished project ready for inspection.)

Now, the fun part. Inspection time.

As the gentleman from the county pulled up, Dad called me and told me to get out of the ditch and drop what I was completing (adding a few more carriages and twisty-ties to the 2nd round of rebar circles). I gladly did and started talking to our now good luck charm, Bekah Thurman, who had come by to measure something we had at the farm. We chatted a bit and then, as she was about to leave, she looked at me and said, “I think you’re good to go. He’s passed you guys!” To be 100% positive, I walked over to our inspector, our contractor and Dad to hear for myself the good news.


To be continued… (I know you’ll be waiting with bated breath.)