Thursday, September 13, 2012

It's Just a Deer Feeder....Sort Of

Roughly nine years ago, I bought a deer feeder.  I had been invited by one of the members of the congregation I served to go hunting, and I needed to purchase said feeder and a deer stand.  Mission accomplished, even though I didn't bag a deer.

When it became apparent I would be leaving that congregation and moving to Cat Spring, I let my dad have the feeder and tripod hoping he'd use it out at our ranch near Freer, TX.  Dad decided not to use the stand because he didn't want hogs tearing up the pasture, so my deer feeder and deer stand sat for nine years in an outside shed.

Last year, I was invited by one of my current members to go hunting with him on his property.  I jumped at the chance.  I've had a great time getting back out in nature and putting meat in the freezer.  Earlier this summer while pig hunting, my member informed me of an opportunity to go hunting later this year in the hill country.  He said the property out there was rough but good deer country.  He also said they needed a couple of feeders out there.  I immediately thought of mine sitting at my parent's home.

I called my dad and asked him if he still had it.  He did.  I asked if he could bring it up here.  He did.  I was thankful.

But the feeder wasn't exactly in prime condition.  It was covered with several spots of rust.  Around the rim, several places had already rusted through.  I could replace the barrel, but that would come at a pretty good expense.  Dad thought it might last a year.  I had other thoughts.  I wanted to fix the thing up.  I wanted it to last a long while still.  I went to work.

I took a wire brush attachment for my drill, and I brushed the whole thing.  Several places chipped off, but I kept going.  Once I had knocked the major parts of rust off, I went shopping.  I knew some Rust-o-leum was needed, but I found something else--something I didn't know existed, and it excited me.

Apparently, you can buy phosphoric acid (a mild concentration) and apply it to rusty equipment.  The acid kills the oxidation process and stops rust in its tracks.  I applied two coats.  The rust turned black.  The repairs were under way.

Painting was the next step in the process, and with a small can of Rust-o-leum, Hunter Green, I got busy.  But I kept worrying about the rim.  If the rim continued to wear and came off, the feeder couldn't be shut properly.  Again, I'd have the expense of the barrel.  I didn't want that.  I wanted the thing to be almost good as new if possible.  How could I fix those places where it had rusted through?

The feeder needed a new battery, so I headed to one of the local stores.  I found a replacement and then on a whim, I started looking through the aisles.  I came across another item I hadn't seen before.  J-B Epoxy Stik Weld.  It looked like it would fit the bill.  I headed home.

After following the instructions, I molded the weld and fitted it into the places where things had gone south.  In a matter of minutes, I had all the rusted out spaces filled and drying.  The instructions said it would take an hour to cure.

After an hour, I came back, and to my pleasant surprise, the rim was solid as a rock!  The epoxy worked extremely well, and while not looking good as new, the feeder seemed like it could hold up for a long while.

I finished up with the paint, and the feeder looked great.  The solar panel charged the battery, and the motor whirred to life at the appropriate times.  It was fixed and ready to go!

Now, I know it's just a deer feeder, but to me, it became more.  It was something that was broken down, rusty, seemingly on its last leg.  But after some work, some time spent mending what was broken and replacing the parts that were worn out, it became something serviceable--something that could be used for a long time.  Not brand new, but fully restored and functioning. 

I took great pride in the restoration project.  It gladdened me to get my hands dirty and make it work again.

Some say our churches are rusty, worn out, decaying and falling apart, but looks can be deceiving. 


Kathy said...

Uh, I'm a city girl, so maybe I don't understand. Do you put up a "deer feeder," then entice a poor little deer with some food, and then, when it is an easy target, shoot it while it is eating? Is that true?

Where is your Franciscan Spirituality?

Kevin Haug said...


You need to know, I stopped reading right after, "I'm a city girl, so maybe I don't understand."