Sometimes on the farm, we need to improvise

It all started with the need to put the generator on a concrete slab in order for it to pass inspection. I built one from cement blocks, but apparently, not good enough. "Just cover that in concrete and it will be fine." Really? I built a form, no bigger than 4` X 4`, from old plywood, pounded in 3 stakes per side, screwed the plywood to the stakes and then, wrapped a tie down ratcheting strap all around to make sure it didn't move. Off I went to Home Depot on the hottest day of the year (so far) to buy concrete. I looked for something to mix it in; a flat container. Something I could mix the concrete in. "We don't carry anything like that. Would you like to rent a cement mixer?" Now, in fairness, they had no idea that I had neither a trailer hitch nor the desire to haul a cement mixer 50 km to the farm... and back. And I am cheap; nay, frugal. "I'll figure something out," said I. At the farm, armed with 8 bags of concrete, I thought about digging a hole and just mixing the concrete with water. I could just fill the little form by shovel. Staring at this hole in the ground, I started wondering: ``How does a cement mixer work anyways?`` You pour concrete and water into a rotating barrel. This is a winery. I have 5 gallon buckets with tight-fitting tops. Maybe that would work... I emptied a bag of concrete into the bucket, added the required water, popped the top back on and then, rolled it around on the ground for a couple of minutes. Presto. Mixed concrete. Work, it did. As a bonus, I picked up the bucket filled with freshly mixed concrete and poured the contents exactly where I wanted them to go. Using a waste piece of 2 X 4 as a leveling tool, I managed to do a half-decent job on that slab. I`m fairly certain it's good enough to pass inspection. Sometimes, we just have to wing it. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Louis Gaal is the winemaker (and spouse of the ever patient Claire Faguy) at Blue Gypsy Wines in Oxford Mills, Ontario Canada, 45 minutes south of Ottawa. You can find this raving lunatic using the BlueGypsyWines Facebook or Twitter account. Visit them on the web as well at

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