“You want me to drive the farm truck pulling the hay trailer and haul WHAT?”
Yes, I said trees.
I can now add "driving a logging truck and trailer" to my farm wife job description list. This list has grown by leaps and bounds since I retired from my day job.
Last winter, the county road department cleared out trees along the road by one of the pastures we rent in preparation for reshaping the ditch to eliminate a flooding problem. Bill and a friend spent several days engaged in serious chain saw activity, trimming off the smaller branches and root systems. What I was hauling home were the denuded tree trunks. Later, Bill would cut the trunks into logs and run them through the log splitter to make pieces small enough to use in the wood furnace.
OK. I have to maneuver this farm truck with a 24-foot trailer attached out of the driveway and onto the road without:
1. Taking out the mailbox
2. Doing a side-roll into the ditch
3. Turning so sharp the gooseneck hitch breaks—a $4,000 catastrophe!
Yikes! Too many things to watch and try not to destroy. This will require multi-tasking, not one of my talents.
If you've read my essay, "I am a farm wife..." or the chapter "Hay-Fever—Not Just an Allergy" in my book, you already know I can drive the farm truck pulling the trailer loaded with hay bales without getting high-centered on terraces in the field. But someone more experienced always drove the truck and trailer from the field to the barn.
Maybe I’ll just goof around and take a picture while I try to remember the earlier instructions about how to get this rig on the road.
Cricket rides shotgun and provides moral support.
Success! The mailbox remains unmolested; the truck and trailer are right-side up on the road; the gooseneck hitch is unscathed.
We’re on our way to pick up a load of trees.
We arrive at the pasture two miles away. All "STOP" and road name signs are still standing at the corners along our route. Meanwhile, Bill moved the trees close to the road and stacked them in piles using his tractor and the bale fork attachment. I park the truck on the road parallel to the open gate. He’s ready to load.
“You’re not going to secure this wobbly load with chains or tie-downs?” I ask.
“Shouldn't be a problem. You’re only going a couple of miles and will only have two turns. I’ll follow behind at a distance and pick up anything that falls off.” Bill replies.
Did he say “Shouldn't be a problem”? Okey-dokey.
We head for home. I navigate the truck and trailer wide through the first turn and check the rearview mirrors to verify my load is intact. No tree trunks in the road or the ditch. A few minutes later, I approach our driveway and execute another wide turn. Oops! My driver’s side mirror nearly executes the mailbox! Cricket and I make a pact to not tell Bill and seal it with her licking my face.
I make it into the driveway without any more close calls and wait for Bill. Molybolt, the cat, jumps into the truck cab to wait with us.
He gets in the truck and positions it where he wants to unload. He uses the tractor and bale fork to scoot the logs off the trailer.
Now we go back to the pasture for another load. Unfortunately, on this trip there’s a casualty during the loading process. Bill scoops up a couple of trees, one of which has several branches on it. As he drives toward the gate opening, the load shifts and the multi-branch tree falls partially off the bale fork and on the open tubular steel gate. The impact bends the top steel tube in two places, warps the center divider, knocks the gate off one hinge and bends the other. I didn't get a picture of the damaged gate hanging crookedly on one bent hinge, but here it is as Bill moves it out of the way with his bale fork.
Bill keeps the casualty from becoming a fatality by reshaping some of the bent pieces using the bale fork, and by stomping on the top rung. The hinges are straightened and we rehang the gate. We won't have cattle in this pasture until spring so Bill has plenty of time to get a replacement; but, for now, this will work.
When we took the second load home, we brought back a chain saw to remove branches and avoid any more casualties.
Side Note: Bill forgot to notify our pasture landlord about the gate mishap. But one of her family members noticed it and asked her about it. She called one day when we were both gone and left a voice mail message: "What happened to my gate?!" Bill returned the call and assured her he would fix or replace it before spring.
We finish this project with no more gate wrecks. All stop and road signs are still standing. Ditto for the mailbox. I didn't leave any trees in ditches or along the roads. Best of all, we have a huge supply of wood to burn this winter.