Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



All of My Friends

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Backing Up

Ah. The good old days . . .
I had to take a couple of horses to auction.
One of the more painful aspects of ranching . . .
In the old days, when I was ranching with my parents, a truck and trailer (chosen from the selection on hand) would appear magically outside the ranch house, loaded and ready to go.
Oh, the good old days.
This new ranching-on-my-own required much more forethought.
I had the horses.
And the pickup.
What I needed was a trailer.
A rental was indicated.
As an absolute neophyte in this area, I did what one did back then.
Went to the Yellow Pages.
Huh. Did you know there were dozens of companies whose sole purpose was to supply one with the best, biggest, lightest, heaviest, sleekest, cleanest, most-efficient, strongest, easiest-to-pull, prettiest (okay, I added that one), most-amazing trailer in the area?
Well there are.
I chose the nearest dealer.
And a trailer that looked like one of Dad’s.
Better the evil you know . . .
I drove over and, trying to look like I had done this all my life, hooked up to my newly-borrowed piece of equipment.
Okay, that part was easy. Back up the truck as near to the trailer hitch as possible.
Or until the attendant hollered, “Whoa!”
And hook up.
Okay. From that point I was more-or-less comfortable. I had pulled a trailer many times in my life. My real problems arose when I tried something new.
Like backing up with said trailer attached.
This is where I admit that my brother or Dad had always done the ‘intricate’ work.
Have you ever tried this?
Backing up a trailer, I mean.
It’s perverse.
You have to turn the controller vehicle in the complete opposite direction you want the trailer to go.
All the while looking backward over your shoulder.
It’s like trying to write something on a wall behind you by looking in a mirror.
Everything screams at you to turn the other way.
Usually while your spotter/attendant is screaming at you to do it right.
Sigh.
I did make it to the auction.
Horses, truck and trailer intact.
And, after much, MUCH backing up and re-backing up and adjusting and backing up again, and attendants sweating and swearing, finally moved the trailer close enough to the ramp to off-load two confused and rather dizzy horses.
Then I got the heck out of there.
I stopped at the ranch to clean out the trailer.
A nervous horse is a poopy horse.
Just FYI.
And I took the trailer back.
Now, when I had picked up the behemoth, it had been parked among its fellows in a neat line.
Second from the end.
When collecting it, I had only needed to back the truck, hook on, and leave.
Simple.
Returning the trailer wasn’t going to be as easy.
I would need to maneuver it, without scarring its fellows on either side, back into its home.
The key word here is ‘back’.
I was sweating before I even drove into the yard.
The attendant cheerfully indicated my parking spot.
Yep. Right where I expected.
Cue the Hitchcock violin music . . .
I pulled ahead and shoved the truck into reverse.
Then, taking a deep breath, pressed down on the gas.
And slid in as neatly and perfectly as any trailer-jockey out there.
On my first try.
Huh.
The trick then was to try to not look as surprised as the attendant.
And to keep the swagger (mostly caused by relief) out of my walk as I helped unhook.
And to suppress the desire to turn hand-springs on my way back to the truck.
Yep. Sometimes, the planets align.
All things work together.
And one is allowed to feel that sense of accomplishment that goes with a job well (and perfectly) done.
Not often.
But sometimes.
Enjoy it while it lasts . . .



20 comments:

  1. I am learning lots of great things about you, Diane! Keep them coming.

    Love,
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
  2. It takes a lot of practice to get a trailer to go where you want it but you catch on and it becomes second nature. I remember when Dad put a float in the parade, pulling one trailer and pushing the other. I was the chosen driver and people just shook their heads at the very thought that I could navigate the parade doing that.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds like you were a fast learner, Diane! Don't you love when things go better than anticipated?

    ReplyDelete
  4. We pulled pop up campers. Not to be compared to a horse trailer, but objects to back, nevertheless. Dad taught all of us how to back. Well, my brothers probably were born knowing.

    On a family vacation a few years after dad was gone, it was mom and me and six grandkids at Letchworth. I lined it up on the first go and looked up. Six men in a semicircle in front of the car. I laid it in on on one go. They didn't deserve a second chance.

    Know exactly how you felt.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That is awesome Diane... I know it is not easy, I watched my father back up 18 wheeler's many times... there is an art to it... I have to say he was amazing at it but he had been doing it for many years :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. People who can do that - and make it look easy - are amazing!

      Delete
  6. The best time to do it right is when you have an audience.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have enough trouble reversing my overly-large Saturn Aura. A huge trailer holding live animals? I'd join that horse in colon discharge.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sweet!! And well done!
    I'm sorry for the poor dizzy horses though.
    I've never backed anything in my life, bikes are so easy to just turn around.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a bike! It has a trailer attached. Sigh.

      Delete
  9. This is another cute post. I remember trying to quite my husband in trying to get our boat where we wanted it. It was not easy for sure. I can't imagine transporting horses. I love how you bring your story to life and then end it with a smile.
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, LeAnn! Boats. Horses. All equally difficult!

      Delete
  10. I went to an auction like that and it was heart breaking. I am so sorry you had to do that.
    Best to sell them from home, to a good home.
    The rest go to the butcher.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's certainly the most difficult part of ranching. Tough decisions.

      Delete

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