Barbed Wire by Doug Cooper: Drive till the wheels fall off
I am surprised that there isn’t a reality television show about a ranch. Scenes with screaming and yelling seem to be popular in these programs and that is something that is always available in an inexhaustible supply around most ranches. What might not be believable to the viewing audience is that many solutions to ranch problems make perfect sense within the ranch world. To outsiders a few things we do might seem a little strange and frightening to the uninitiated. In the normal urban world saying that your going to drive a car until the wheels fall off is just a figure of speech. On a ranch, the same statement is literally the truth.
Our cake feeder truck has had a hard life. We bought the truck used quite few years ago. The first owner had installed dual rear wheels on the three-quarter ton four wheel drive truck. We used the truck to pull horse trailers then when it got a little rough we demoted it to hauling our 2,500 pound capacity cake feeder around. After over 20 years we never would have guessed that the truck was a ticking time bomb.
My son mentioned after opening a gate, that one lug nut was missing on the passenger side dual. I thought no big deal, I can fix it after we get through with this little spring storm. After getting stuck a few times I completely dismissed any thought of the obvious warning signs of impending doom. We had a hundred cows in a pasture about six miles from the house so we would slither over there every day and on the way back we would feed another little bunch. As I drove through a snow drift, I felt an odd sensation, looked in the rear view mirror and saw both rear wheels rolling away in the opposite direction. I had driven the truck until the wheels fell off. My son and I had plenty of time to debate the solution to this problem while we walked a couple of miles back to the ranch.
We decided to go back with our front-end loader and lift the sagging corner of the truck up with a chain, then drive the truck in the slowest gear while following along with the tractor. The little bunch of cows in the pasture were very glad to see us so we stopped and fed them. They were so happy that they ate quickly and ran along beside us. The cows were also certain that more cake would come out of the back of the truck and they occasionally tried to get between the loader and the pickup to look. Luckily this game ended after we got our little parade to the next gate. Once we got the broken truck in the shop we could do the screaming and swearing necessary to fix the truck. I would not recommend trying a ranch solution anywhere near the city limits.
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the Oct. 16, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News