With about 400,000 acres of sugar cane in Louisiana, produced by 650 growers, there’s not a vast industry specializing in tool and implement making for the crop, Gonsoulin notes. “We custom make tools because you can’t pick up the phone and buy this particular tool or that particular tool. We take some things that other people have made and modify them for our needs. It works. It really works well.”

For example, Gonsoulin added a bigger shoe to a parabolic subsoiler to create a larger water channel in his sugar cane fields. “We added disks in the front to chop, and at the back to rebuild the row. So we took the tool that was already made and enhanced it.”

Read George Wedgworth: Fifty years of progress for Florida sugar cane.

The Gonsoulins even produce bearings in their shop on occasion, something they’ve started doing to offset rising costs.

But their hearts are in shaping steel. “On this farm we can build practically anything,” Gonsoulin said.

For example, Gonsoulin wanted his harvest to run more efficiently in wet conditions. He took a Case 9330 articulating tractor, “stretched it” by 8 feet and added a sugar cane dump wagon to the back. He added an extra axle under the wagon to help distribute the weight and carry as much as 10 tons of cane. “The implement was built for the mud,” Gonsoulin said. “When you’re pulling a wagon through wet conditions, the tractors will tend to dig and spin. This way, you’re carrying the wagon, so it doesn’t spin.”

It took Gonsoulin and a local welder about a week to complete the job. “It took a little bit of thinking, but it was fun,” Gonsoulin said.

What Gonsoulin can’t do in-house, he farms out to a local job shop like Vernon Manufacturing. Or he will take a design from a manufacturer like Roll-A-Cone and adapt it for his own use. These shops do a lot of business in sugar cane country and help keep equipment costs down for farmers, even if the end result isn’t always easy on the eyes. For example, a sprayer manufactured by Vernon has a Caterpillar engine with hydraulic drives and John Deere cab on a Case body.

It’s not about looks. It’s about getting the job done effectively and inexpensively. It’s creative thinking, Cajun style.