- Associated Press - Friday, January 13, 2017

JASPER, Mo. (AP) - The name “Junkyard Farmgirl” sums up local farmer and artist Angie Gastel McGuire’s business, but “do-it-yourself master” would be a fitting subtitle.

McGuire starts her days by getting her oldest child off to kindergarten, then heads to her workshop to kill time while the sun comes up enough to warm up the cab of her old farm truck, The Joplin Globe (http://bit.ly/2jw6xEG ) reported. The heater doesn’t always work, but she prefers to use that truck because the cows know it.

Once the frost burns off, she heads out to feed and tend the herd; most come running when she approaches, eager for the buckets of grain she filled and loaded into the truck earlier. She looks them over, worries over three orphan calves, checks on a heifer she said has screw foot and drives out to the far side of a field where a cow is alone with her new calf.

When chores are done, she’s back in the workshop filling customer orders and tinkering with new ideas, all with an infant wrapped snug under her coveralls.

“I usually have a more intimate knowledge of what’s going on with my herd, but I’m a little out of touch since I just had a baby. It’ll come back,” said McGuire.

She knows farming isn’t often associated with women, but she said she loves it and wouldn’t want to do anything else. McGuire grew up in a farming family in Jasper near the home she now shares with her husband, Casey, and their daughters.

“I know I have the intelligence and the mechanical skills to do anything anyone else can do, and you’re never too old to learn something new,” said McGuire.

After graduating with a degree in agricultural communications from Oklahoma State University in 2002, McGuire worked in Memphis, writing for a local newspaper, working as a greenhouse supervisor for the Dixon Gallery and Gardens and running a landscaping business.

She moved home to Jasper to work her family farm, bought her first cows in 2009 and began amassing what many would refer to simply as “junk.” Outbuildings are lined with broken ladders, rusted machine parts, weathered boards from razed sheds, crown molding salvaged from renovated houses and even a couple of broken down pianos.

McGuire looks at her collection and sees junk, but in her eyes, her trash is all treasure. Her junk enables her to create art, teach classes and pay her mortgage.

“Some people want new things, but I want old everything,” McGuire said. “Some people have a hard time looking at things and seeing that they could be beautiful. The creative part comes easily to me. I see something and I can envision what else it could be.”

In her workshop, chipped enamel pot lids become whimsical snowmen, old windows get a facelift with vinyl lettering, rusted fuel cans come alive as jack-o-lanterns oozing personality and chicken wire fits just about anywhere.

“I don’t think this is something that’s a passing fad. We’ve had a cultural shift toward thrift,” said McGuire. “I think when someone makes that shift, they stick with it.”

Junkyard Farmgirl is a popular vendor at craft shows. McGuire said she often spends shows running back and forth to her trailer parked outside the venue in order to keep her booth stocked.

Customers also know they can seek out Junkyard Farmgirl for the raw materials they need to create their own versions of popular projects. She has plans to open a storefront in Jasper, partly to have a place to store finished projects.

Although Junkyard Farmgirl began in 2012, McGuire only started teaching classes about a year ago, when materials were coming in faster than she could use them. She led classes and seminars when working at the Dixon and said she had forgotten how much she enjoyed teaching.

“It was a big leap of faith to start doing classes, but teaching adults is enriching for me,” McGuire said. “Kids don’t get my sarcasm.”

Her humor, creativity and easygoing attitude in conjunction with her power tool and welding skills make for packed classes. In a recent metal class, McGuire taught students how to spot weld to make metal art, saying, “I’m not a professional, but I can teach you.”

It was a quest for metal that recently led McGuire on what could easily have been a wild goose chase. After hearing about a factory in Nevada that might sell seconds of its stamped sheet metal, a hot commodity in craft circles, McGuire didn’t hesitate to make the drive. Her effort was rewarded with a pickup truck full of shiny new metal panels that, under her creative care, would look rusty and weathered in no time.

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Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, http://www.joplinglobe.com

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