Friday, June 15, 2012

backing up trailers

My Dad always believed that a "woman's place was in the home."  Don't worry about the logic of that statement, since his wife did a "man's" job at the elevator.  His belief applied to me since I was his daughter and he made the rules.

Because of this, I didn't go work cattle or help with any of the outdoor chores.  Dad didn't even want me to see him pull calves or repair prolapsed uterus's or castrate cattle.  It just wasn't "seemly" for me to see such things.  It caused several arguments between he and I during my teen years.  I hated his old fashioned views and believed that I could do anything I wanted to do.  Granted, I didn't really want to work as hard as Dad and my brother Steve did.  I disliked someone telling me I couldn't do something.

I still tend to be that way.  If you want me to do something, just tell me I can't do it.  Cause, I can guarantee that I will do it, just to prove you wrong!  Because of these "old-fashioned" beliefs, I never learned how to back up a trailer.  I never needed to.  Dad or Steve pulled the trailer.  I was just a passenger.  I never really even wondered how one backed up a trailer.  I assumed it was no different than backing up a car, except you had something behind you that you had to watch out for.

Then I started dating Kevin.  Who had a boat.  That we took to the lake.  Where Kev asked me to back the trailer into the lake so we could load the boat.  He assumed that being a country girl, I knew how to back a trailer.  I certainly didn't tell him anything differently.  Heck, how hard could it be?

So, I got out of the boat, went and got the Bronco, and attempted to back the trailer.  My first problem was there were lots of guys standing around near the boat ramp watching me.  My second problem was that stupid trailer just wasn't going where I thought it should go!  I had no idea how to get it down that ramp.  I'd try to back it up--straight back--and it would move from one side to the other.  I'd pull forward, get it straight, and try again, and it would move to the other side.  I couldn't figure out which way to turn that wheel.  I'd turn it to the left, thinking the trailer would go to the left, but it would go to the right.  So I'd turn the wheel the other way, but it still wouldn't go where I wanted it to go--straight down that ramp!  All those guys were watching me and I knew they were laughing at me because I couldn't back up that darn trailer.  I finally got mad, and embarrassed and turned the bronco off, got out, marched down to the edge of the boat dock and told my boyfriend that he'd just have to do it himself.

He laughed at me, then tried to placate me by calling me "darlin'" and  went up and backed up that trailer, slick as you please.  He made it look so easy.  Which didn't help my mood any.  I informed him that I would never back a trailer, and to never ask me to do so again.

He didn't, for many years; until the kids joined 4-H and had livestock.

Because Kev's job required him to drive 150 miles a day, getting the livestock to the fair, and to the weigh-ins, became my responsibility.  Kev always backed the trailer up to the gate for me, and I'd get the critters loaded up and would pull the trailer to town.  If I had to back it up anywhere, I would con my friend, Kim, into backing the trailer for me.  She knew how to back the trailer, and didn't make fun of me for not knowing how to do it.  This worked well until one day Kev said that it was time I learned how to back the trailer.

Ugg.  I hate having him teach me something because he'd get frustrated with me, I'd get frustrated with him, and we'd both wind up mad.  But he made me do it.  I got so I could back up the trailer if I had lots and lots of room because I'd have to pull forward and back up several times before I manged to get it where I needed the trailer to be.  Kev would be supportive, but would also laugh at me because I always got flustered and usually mad.

These past 2 weeks, Miss Kat and I have been going to the Hill and have been loading the barn tin on the trailer to haul to the salvage yard.  Kev told me that I'd have to be careful because I might have to back the trailer.  I assured him that I'd manage to do it without backing that trailer.

I was wrong.  The first day, I needed to back that darn trailer.  Since it was just Miss Kat and I, there was no one else to do it.  It took me a very long time, and several passes, but I finally got that darned trailer backed up and turned where we needed it.  We went down two days ago for another load and I backed it where we needed it.  This time, I didn't have to pull forward nearly as often.  And today, we went again.  Today, I only  had to pull forward once, and that was at the salvage yard.  Yes, I not only backed up the trailer, I did it in front of men who are not related to me.  And they didn't laugh and I didn't get flustered, and I got it in one shot!

I call that success.

I still haven't backed the trailer up in front of Kev, and I imagine when I do, I'll be nervous and will mess up simply because of his presence.  Now that I can back the trailer, I can't imagine there's not anything I can't do!  I am woman, hear me me back up the trailer!

Monday, June 04, 2012

Ridin' Miss P

It rained here Saturday night.  Not a lot, but we don't turn away any drops of rain.  I do know what caused it to rain...

I rode a horse

It's been 10 - 12 years since I've ridden.  Both the horse and I survived the momentous occasion.

Kev got up Saturday morning and asked me if I wanted to go to the ranch with him to pick up rock.  Since I think the ranch is just about one of the prettiest places on earth, I jumped at the chance.  He loaded up the trailer while I got dressed and we hit the road; leaving my sunglasses and my camera at home.

When we got to the ranch, Dad was on horseback, cutting out a sick yearling from the herd.  I could watch him ride and work cattle all day.  He might be pushing 70, but Dad still sits tall in the saddle. He wasn't very happy to have another sick steer, because he's lost several from this shipment.  He likes to keep his death rate less than 3%, and this shipment of cattle is ruining his percentage.  We helped him doctor 2 steers and I fed the other sick ones he had doctored yesterday while Dad and Kev drug out and disposed of a steer who died in the night.

After we helped with the sickies, Dad asked me if I wanted to ride his mare, Puta to the stables.

Did I hear him right?  Did  he just ask me to ride the horse to the stable, and did he really call her Puta?

Puta is a not-very-nice word in Spanish.  I was flabbergasted that my father said that word, and that he named his horse that word.  He informed me that yes, it was her name, and no, he did not name her.   (I decided to call her Miss P.)

I jumped at the chance to ride to the stables.  Fortunately, I was wearing my boots, so I was good to go.

Normally, Dad's work horses are 16 hands tall.  Apparently, over the last few years, he's decided he likes to be closer to the ground, and Miss P is not 16 hands tall which meant I could actually get my foot up in the stirrup without any trouble.  Dad's legs are still a little longer than mine, so I couldn't get my feet completely in the stirrups which mean Miss P would have to stay at a walk.  Dad assured me that she's a good gentle calm horse, so I didn't have to worry about her deciding to run off with me.

I headed towards the stables leaving the men to do whatever they were doing.  But, I forgot exactly how to get there.  Did I have to go clear back to the house? Or could I cut across the pasture and go in the back way?  I looked around and decided to take one trail that looked like it would circle back to the stables and we headed out.

Miss P wasn't really eager to go where I pointed her, but she acquiesced and we headed the junk pile.  Ugg.  I should have listened to the horse.  I apologized to her, and let her have her head and we headed in the right direction.  About this time, Dad and Kevin came back up the road looking for me.  They'd already been at the stables, and not seeing me there on on the road, got worried and headed back hoping I wasn't laying dead somewhere in the grass.  It was nice knowing they had such faith in my riding abilities...

They then made me pose for a photo, which Dad took using his phone.  (And which I hope never gets transferred to any other device or printed.)  The way they acted, you'd think I hadn't been on a horse in 10 years or so... I rode down to the stables, and we turned Miss P out with the other horses.

My day of riding was over.  But, I'm thinkin' that I just might not wait another 10 years to ride!