Wednesday, June 27, 2007

In the Dark

Tomorrow four cull ewes are going to Bowser Meat Processing to become summer sausage.

Hitch the trailer, load the sheep, off we go...simple, right?


The truck DIED, entirely dead, about an hour and a half before I had to be at work today. At the Post Office. Through a small miracle, the tow truck came, hitched it in double-quick time, got it to the mechanic's where my nephew's car was waiting to be picked up, and I got home in time to finish chores and be at work on time in my nephew's car.

Through another small miracle, my mechanic (who is WONDERFUL and no, he doesn't want any more customers) was able to fit the truck into his busy schedule and fix it quite reasonably. I suspected I'd be putting a new battery in it for next winter, but that wasn't on today's "to-do" list.

So then my nephew's car wouldn't start after I got off work at 8:30 p.m. A co-worker gave me a ride to the mechanic's shop so I could pick up the truck. I'll deal with the car tomorrow.

By the time I get home it's getting pretty dark. I hitch the trailer (which, single-handed, requires extreme patience--back a little, get out and check position, get back in, adjust position, repeat) by headlamp. I've learned to stand a piece of plastic pipe next to the trailer hitch so that I can see where it is--helps a LOT.

The hitch never settles properly on the ball without rocking the trailer back and forth a few times with the truck. Finally, it's in place. I lock it down, rig safety chains, and connect the lights. This is all so much smoother than the time I was out in the snow rewiring the trailer hitch the night before a sheep delivery...progress, one step at a time. Isn't it nice when trailer lights work like they're supposed to? Oops, one last step--remove chocks from trailer tires.

But before loading the sheep, I need to take the trailer down to the corner gas station and air the tires. The price of air has tripled!!!! since the last load of sheep; I don't have enough quarters so I hike across the l-o-o-o-n-g parking lot to the gas station to trade 2 dimes and a nickle for the quarter that the machine requires.

Then back home, pull into the back yard, and put the trailer exactly where I had it stored before, in order to turn the rig around to back into the loading chute...oh, I mean UP to.....

But not so fast. Go re-read "The Speed of Light", OK? The grapevine-infested tree branches near the loading chute have grown so much, and their weight has pulled them down so much, that the trailer will no longer force its way through/under them.

At least the trailer makes an OK work platform. Get the loppers, climb onto the open tailgate, lop branches as high as I can. Remove tree branch from top of head. Retrieve headlamp from tree branch on ground. Jump down, drag branches out of the path of the a spot out of the way at the moment, but one that I need to mow soon so will have to move them before that can happen.

NOW it's time to back up to the chute. That's the easy part...probably because it's the most essential and expected. The rest of this operation (tires with slow leaks, low-hanging branches, etc.), mostly "shouldn't be" (at least I know what the problems are, and am slowly working towards lasting solution like stock racks for the truck bed). Sometimes it takes a few tries, but hanging my headlamp on the ramp gate is a brilliant idea--I can see exactly where I need to--BUMP--be, except depth perception is "iffy". Actually, I manage (another small miracle) to push the ramp back into its proper position, after the sheep have gradually worked it out a bit from the loading pen.

Ah, minor details.... The sheep aren't IN the loading pen yet, and I've just put the truck and trailer smack in their usual path to the barn. There is a narrow, dark passage on the back side of the truck where they can fit through...but will they? Toss behind them, and a bucket of grain in front of them, convince them that it's in their best interest, at least for the moment.

A few minutes later, they are all marching up the ramp. I shut the trailer gate, pull forward, put in a bucket of water. They'll rest there tonight, and we're ready to head to Meriden about 5:15 tomorrow. With any luck I'll remember to drop by the feed store on the way back, for mineral

Never a dull moment around here.

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