Meandering Thoughts

Meandering Thoughts

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Backing a 16 Foot Stock Trailer

We live on a small farm, Richard and I raised our three wonderful children on this little farm.  We have been here for 34 years and our roots are deep.  I grew up not a half a mile away, by the way the crow flies, actually there is just a field between the two houses.  If it weren't for the woods I grew up in, we could see the house easily from where we live now.  I think about the "roots" and wonder what propelled us to live in this particular house.  This home we live in was moved from the field that is between where I grew up and where we live now.  Just now in my meandering thoughts, I will tell you, it was also the house Richards great-grandparents lived!  Wow, the roots are really deep..............

We always had critters on our farm and a small corn field.  We raised hogs for more years than I can count.  We also, of course, had a horse or two.   Twice a year our six sows would have baby pigs and the cycle continued for years.  Some years were good, with wonderful litters of healthy piggies and some were not.  Usually the years we had great growing and plentiful pigs the market price for hogs was low.  The times we had smaller litters, that didn't seem to thrive, the price was high.  Do you know today, hog market prices are not that much different than they were thirty years ago?  You can bet your bottom dollar that unless you grew your own corn, that feeding a hog costs more today!  And it certainly costs more to produce a bushel of corn to feed that hog than it did thirty years ago.   That is all I'll say about that, this isn't about the farm crisis or political agendas!

Our children always had hog projects in 4-H.  They also had lambs to show and we even fed steers a couple years.  When my children were in their young teens we started taking horse riding to the next level and competing in competitive trail riding.  When this happened it also changed our trucking needs.  As it was, when we took hogs to market, we used a cattle truck with a ramp and side rails to load the hogs.  It was always a struggle to get hogs to climb that ramp.  They had never done anything but walk on level ground, who would think they would want to climb a ramp into a truck.  Things changed when we got the stock trailer.

Richard was an Ag. teacher in the local schools and classes made it impossible for him to be home on market day.  Which meant I had to back the 16 ft. stock trailer up to the barn, plug all possible exits to keep the hogs from escaping while trying to load hogs that were around 220 lbs.  There is no real way of knowing their weight, unless you have a scales and we did not.  You just learned to have a good eye for weight of a hog.

Now I must say I took a different approach to loading hogs than my husband would.  Only because he was strong enough to "handle" them and my way of doing it is to let them all out and they would be curious enough to jump in and out of the trailer without any assistance.  Then I would slowly sort the smaller hogs back into their pen and leave the 220 lb hogs to explore the isle way and trailer.  This worked most of the time.  Every once in a while a hog that needed to be in the trailer would slip back into the pen with the smaller one and I'd have to start again.  Sometimes this process took an hour or more, amazing how easy it was if you were patient!

When we first got the 16ft. trailer and I had to haul horses, I was terrified about having to back it up into a camping spot.  I'm sure you have all heard the line, "practice, practice, practice"?  I had to learn.  Richard wasn't going to be there every time I needed to back the trailer.  I learned by trying to put the trailer in it's home parking spot one day and ended up backing and pulling forward the entire counter clockwise circle in our barnyard before I got the trailer in it's place.  I would have learned nothing if someone would have been there helping me, I had to do it to learn it!  Of course, I may have mentioned before, men who help don't share the hand signals with women.   It is impossible to interpert what their hands want you to do through a mirror, IMPOSSIBLE!

Knowing now that I can back a trailer and load market hogs, you will understand how funny the rest of this story really is.   I took a load of hogs to Springfield stockyards, I'd never done more than ride along in the past and had no idea of the protocol to unload.  I pulled my rig into they yard with all the other trucks and trailers and had to go inside to see where they wanted me to back the trailer to unload.  I opened the door to the office and there were 4 men sitting there calmly talking about something, they all stopped talking when I came into the office, all eyes were on me and one man said with a smirk on his face, "I suppose you'd like us to back your trailer?"  I stared at them with amusement and said, "Just tell me which gate you want me to back up to and I'll do it thank you."   

I don't know if I've ever backed a trailer so perfectly!  Pulled up only one time and put it squarely flush to the gate!  I got out and the man said, "I guess this isn't the first time you have backed a trailer."   I could only smile............

1 comment:

  1. --Of course, I may have mentioned before, men who help don't share the hand signals with women. It is impossible to interpert what their hands want you to do through a mirror, IMPOSSIBLE!

    LOL! I've never figured out what that windshield wiper dance my husband does means! The only signal of his that I understand is the "Oh S---! Stop NOW!"

    My backing performance is much better when I do it alone.