My big newsletter mistake, The Junk Ranch in review, what’s next for the Farmgirls…
My big newsletter mistake, The Junk Ranch in review, what’s next for the Farmgirls…

My big newsletter mistake, The Junk Ranch in review, what’s next for the Farmgirls…

I’m so sorry, y’all…I’ve had my Newsletter Welcome Sequence accidentally paused for I don’t even know how long, and all those who’ve subscribed in the recent past have not received an email until yesterday.

All I can do is apologize and try to get better at this online thing! 

I discovered it was paused and re-activated it yesterday morning, so nearly a hundred new subscribers finally got in!

I had added most of those manually, but didn’t realize the email sequence was on pause. *facepalm*

So….Welcome, friends! Sorry about the delay. I’m so glad you’re here.


We arrived home Sunday from our first big event of the year, The Junk Ranch, in northwest Arkansas. It was fantastic, the mobile workshop was perfect for the event, and attendance was stellar. I drove down with the mobile workshop on Wednesday and began setup.

My friend Stephanie drove my Dodge down on Thursday with the box trailer, which had furniture, rummage cubbies and crates of smalls. She came in around 11, avoiding the long line first thing in the morning. Mom showed up with the girls on Thursday afternoon, and Mom unpacked and arranged the smalls in our display while I finalized the setup on the metal workshop end. Mom was there with me all day Friday, working the crowd in our booth, haggling with customers and fluffing the space as items sold. The crowd just never stopped. We always had at least one group of customers in the booth. I cut many pieces of custom art but I didn’t get pics of them! Mom had to leave and go home Friday night so she could go to Kansas City and work our space for First Friday Weekend in the West Bottoms. The girls ran the register with me Saturday morning, and Creek also worked the crowd. Then Casey came down Saturday afternoon and helped us break down and lighten the load…we dumpstered some stuff we’ve been carrying around for awhile and got rid of items that don’t serve our revised mission very well. We stayed the night after breaking down and broke camp and brought both trailers home Sunday morning. 

The plasma cutting Live Art was everything I expected and more. I can’t get enough of those great connections I make with my customers when I’m creating on demand. Here’s a rundown of cool stuff I cut for folks, stuff I created on the spot that moved immediately and what wasn’t selling (and came home with us, so if you love something and I said it didn’t sell, just shout out).

I cut a little 12”x12” tile for a young woman who is moving away from Fayetteville because she and her husband are finished with school there at the University of Arkansas…she wanted something small to take with them that would remind her of Fayetteville, so I made a cutout of the state of Arkansas with a heart over the spot where Fayetteville would be on the map. This is something I’ll have pre-cut from here on out, ready to cut a heart wherever you live.

I ran out of hand saws…looking for more! I custom cut names on every one of them. 

I cut a farm name into a pennant-shaped piece of a bulk bin roof.

I cut a sea turtle for the first time…I want to do this again, but larger, with mosaic cutouts in the different portions of the shell, and with more detail to the seaweed and the waves.

I cut a SheShed sign from pebble-stamped tin, then attached it to a piece of weathered MFA barn tin.

I cut three cathedral nativity designs on milk cans and metal boxes. I also sold several of the large tin nativity cutouts that were holdovers from last fall.

I sold Halloween decor. Lots of it. I put a little sign on a shelf full of Jacks that said I wouldn’t be there for the fall event, as I will be at Silver Dollar City at that time, and ran 20% off of fall and Christmas decor. That was a hit. I sold over Jacks in June!!! I have said for several years that as soon as Christmas is over, I need to immediately jump back into making fall and Christmas decor…I finally did it this year…I was making metal trees and wooden tree scenes the last week of December and the first couple weeks of January when the weather was awful and keeping me inside, and when I was able to cut in the outdoor shed, I was cutting jacks and ornate luminary buckets…it absolutely paid off, as I sold many metal trees and tree scenes, and anything that was classified as fall or Christmas was a hit.

I had a lot of JUNK with me there as well. A farmhouse apron sink, lots of galvanized containers, old farm tools, and a tall rack loaded with kettles, pitchers and teapots. The sheet metal was a hit. I sold many pieces with no cut in them. 24”x24” pieces and 24”x48” pieces. People like to hang them on the wall just like that. I moved out a lot of junk, but it was all ‘smalls’…I didn’t sell any furniture at all…I put the furniture back in the studio to use there for staging my art…it’s all the fingerpainted stuff I did back in the wintertime…the Queen of the Garden waterfall chest and the Desert Moon dresser and lingerie chest. I tossed three pieces of furniture in the dumpster, but I pulled all the drawers out first, as they’re so handy for making improvised shelving and for packing up and moving junk around in preparation for an event.

I had a lot of really great burlap sacks with me. I only sold a couple…I think I dropped the ball on signage and I should have run a sale on them.

I cut a 30-gallon rusted metal drum with a great big University of Arkansas razorback on it. I pulled that drum out of “Death Row,” the junk pile at the farm that has been accumulating for 40 years. The bungs had been pulled from it, so residue from whatever had been stored inside was long gone, and honeybees had taken up residence at some point. I dumped old comb out of it when it got a bunch of rainwater in it sitting out in front of the junk shed.

I had planned to take that barrel, cut it with something awesome, then mount it on a miniature water tower stand and wire it for lighting. I ended up selling the barrel, and I used the water tower stand to display the sheet metal on the second day of the festival. It was so perfect for that. I leaned the pieces of metal against all 4 sides, then hung smaller cutouts from the framework at the top. It worked really well. Customers could easily see the metal-stamping patterns and look through the sheets safely. It has inspired me to design a structure quite similar, but I’ll be able to break it down flat, for displaying at events in the future.

I had a little red metal shotgun cleaning kit that I had cut the words “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!” out of the bottom side of the box. The lid had the logo of the cleaning kit company on the outside and detailed instructions for using it on the inside. A man in my age demographic bought it. I suspect his childhood flashed before his eyes, as mine does when I see or hear a snippet from The Christmas Story.

I’ve been saving this odd-shaped metal planter for some time. It just looked too new, and I didn’t know what exactly to do with it. This spring, it got left in a tub that filled with rainwater, and it rusted up right nicely. I cut the handle off of it, turned it upside down and cut “We’re ALL mad here” out of one side. It looked like the Mad Hatter’s hat from Alice in Wonderland. It sold less than an hour later. 

I love love love being in a setting where I can connect with people, and especially the ones that are snapping up the stuff that I worry is weird and no one will buy it. The ‘shoot your eye out’ and ‘mad here’ pieces probably fulfilled me the most, as they were just little fun tries at giving an old item a second life, and both turned out to be home runs.

One lady loved the copper sheet metal, and she had me cut a cotton boll from a 24″ piece of it. “Just make it so that my husband can tell what it is.” I replied “Cotton farmer, is he?” “Yep,” she replied. There it is, my first ever cotton boll. It’s neat, but as always I see room for improvement in my design…I should make the leafy parts larger on the next one.

Copper cotton boll by request.

The Junk Ranch and KC First Friday were BOTH this past weekend. We’ve got an off week now, then we’ll be on the road again with the mobile workshop at the PRCA Rodeo in Stockton MO June 17-18 and Junkin’ for Jewels June 18 in Lockwood MO. The following week we’re at Baker-Spain Stampede in South Greenfield MO the 22nd-25th. Then the following weekend is July First Friday in KC West Bottoms, where I hope to be setting up again with the mobile workshop. After that, we’re home for over a month, preparing for quarter 4 and Silver Dollar City. 

~June 17-18 PRCA Rodeo, Stockton MO

~June 18 Junkin’ for Jewels, Lockwood MO

-June 22-25 Baker-Spain Stmpede, South Greenfield MO

~July 1-3 LIVE ART, KC First Friday wkend

~July 16 Live Art @ my studio/shop, Lamar MO

~Aug 5-7 KC First Friday wkend

~Aug 24-28 Lamar Fair Live Art @ my studio/shop

~Sept 2-4 KC First Friday

~Sept 17 Live Art @ my studio/shop, Lamar MO

~Sept 21-Oct 29 Silver Dollar City Harvest Festival, Branson MO

I have three spots open next week for 2-hour workshops. It’s just beautiful out here of a morning, so if you’d like to do a metal project with me, go to my website home page and check out the DIY Workshops link in the Shop. There’s also a button on the home page that goes directly to the Workshop category.

Watch for an updated beekeeping journal coming out this week, and go check out what I’ve journalled so far this spring about my lovely ladies, my hardworking honeybees. The white clover is absolutely loaded with blossoms, and I think it’s safe to say this week that the flow is on. The nectar from white clover in the spring makes the clearest, loveliest honey of all seasons.

Our garden grows well. We have 12 rows of sweet corn at the farm garden. I planted 5 varieties of cukes, but after a week am seeing no sign of germination. I wonder if the rain and cool has drowned them out and rotted the seeds. Need to go dig around and see if they just haven’t poked through the ground yet or if they’re mush. Planted lots of watermelon and cantaloupe same day and got it all mulched. Casey and I stopped by there Monday evening and only saw a couple melon babies emerging from their mounds. Pole beans are up! First time I’ve gotten a good stand in 3 years. I think I always put them in too early. Tomatoes are all looking good…we had to replace two or three that perished from all the rain the week after we planted them. Got them mulched and caged.

The garden at the homestead looks good. It’s raised so we don’t worry so much about things drowning as we do at the farm. Peas planted on last year’s tomato cages are climbing and loving the extended cool weather. I just hope they produce before the weather turns too hot. Shallots and onions look fantastic…I mulched between the rows with cardboard and magazines hoarded over the past year, then covered that with straw. We have tiny squash and zucchini. Won’t be long before we are drowning in the things and I’m leaving sacks full of them on the neighbors’ porches like a thief in the night and offering them up as a regular product at the studio on Saturdays.

The truck I bought to pull my mobile workshop trailer is in pieces. I feel at fault; I should have had it sent to a shop for thorough diagnostics before I purchased it. I bought the truck understanding that it probably needed a new turbo, but I’m told an inferior aftermarket air box is the reason this truck has many issues besides the turbo. It needs a new air filtration system. So much dirt has ran through it that things are just eaten up. The block needs to be bored out, then rebuilt with new pistons and rings to fit the new bore. The turbo should be black, but is buffed shiny from all the dirt and the fins are worn out. I can save $1500 here by going with a reman turbo vs a new one($4000), but that doesn’t provide me with much comfort. The oil cooler and the high pressure pump that go between the block and the turbo should also be replaced, bc if they fail in the future, the truck will have to be dismantled to this point again. If I replace them now, I can avoid those labor charges in the future. Same for the turbo assembly. It’s around $400-$500 to replace all the pipes in the assembly, but again, if one cracks in the future, the cab has to be pulled to replace it. I’m going to have almost twice as much in the godforsaken truck as I paid for it by the time it’s all over, but as it is now, it’s only worth between $5000-$6000. I’ve already put $5,000 into in by replacing the injectors. After these repairs, I should be able to get a long life out of it, and this shop has a 3-year warranty, so I can at least drive it until the warranty is up and then trade it off for something newer. However, it has made life so stressful and hard lately that I wonder why things like this happen. I have to ask friends to pull my trailer to my events and bring it home afterward. I hate asking for help. I’m the one that helps others; not the other way around. It’s a good thing I have beautiful things in my life like my marriage, my kids, spring on the farm, my art and the honeybee happenings to keep me occupied and busy. The truck is out of sight and out of mind until I can raise enough funds to pay a deposit on the repairs, then it’s a minimum of 6 weeks before I get it back. I have four events remaining this month to make it happen. I can do this. I have to make it happen before Silver Dollar City.

My Dodge is for sale, listed on fb marketplace. It needs a flatbed on it to improve the appearance, but has a lot of good miles in it yet. I need to sell it to pay for some of these repairs or at least just the deposit so I can get things in motion on the Ford, but I’d say I’m going to have to reduce the price to get any hits on it. Two people have saved the listing and nearly 300 have viewed it, but I haven’t gotten any inquiries.

Life goes on y’all. We all do hard things and have daily heartbreak, but we trudge through it and become better people on the way. I’ll be better on the other side of this truck thing. It’s forcing me to liquidate things that really should be liquidated if I want to truly focus on the metal art. That’s the silver lining here.

Until the next status update, I hope you’re finding the silver linings too!


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