Some People’s Kids…

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The last year has been a struggle starting a new business, but as things have gotten busier, it’s self supportive and I found myself needing a new work rig.  I gave it some time and one day, it just happened and the problem was solved.  Now I had my old pick-up and no real reason to own four rigs, so I decided to sell it.  It’s just a 1989 Ford F-250 with a Diesel engine, but she’s a good old rig and I took plenty of time writing the ad to make sure it was accurate and noting anything I could think of, including all the work I’d done to it.

A little time went by and I got a call from a young guy who wanted to see it, so we set up a time for later that day.  I got home from work and shortly after he pulled in and we shook hands.  Immediately I could tell he was trying to seem like a bit of a know-it-all and tough guy, but I didn’t let it bother me and proceeded to show him the old Ford.  I held out the key and stated that I hadn’t started it in about two days, which was the truth, so he could see how it started and ran.  I suppose my first clue should have been that he didn’t know about the glow plugs, but I have many years as a training instructor under my belt, so I explained it to him and told him when to crank it.  Well, he tapped the key and let go.  I don’t know how many of you have ever cranked a 20+ year old Diesel engine, but it didn’t start like that, it takes a little more turning over.  So, I told him to just do it again.  Apparently he didn’t think he needed to ask if he didn’t know something so he turned the key back, not realizing there is a release lever on the column.  So at that point, he just twisted it back harder and I heard a pop.

He tried cycling the ignition again and now it wouldn’t work.  “Hmm, seems like something is wrong with it.” He said casually.  I traded places with him and sure enough, now you couldn’t turn the key far enough to crank the motor.  I got agitated but kept my head as I started working on figuring it out.  “Wellll, if you get it running, let me know and maybe I’ll come back out.” He said nonchalantly as he headed for his pick-up.  He high tailed it, and after it was all said and done, I can start and drive my old rig, but to fix it, the easiest thing to do is replace the steering column.  WHAT??  Yes, that’s what I said too.  I found one a buddy has, but that’s over an hour away.  I messaged this kid again offering that if he paid $40 for fuel so I could get the part, we’d call it square.  His answer?  “It’s not my problem your rig broke.  Find another buyer.”  And nothing since.

Now I know there may be people out there who would accuse someone of breaking things just for a free fix, but the fact of the matter is I take care of my stuff and make a living by my reputation.  Lying to sell an old pick-up sure wouldn’t help that along in a small community.  But how someone thinks that breaking something and then playing tough guy and not taking responsibility is alright is in for a rude awakening.  It’s true what they say, what goes around, comes around.  I for one, sure hope that when it does he remembers it and actually learns a lesson from it.  What I take from this is that stuff is only stuff, it works, it breaks, that’s just life.  It’s the human element that’ll really mess you over, and while I got the short end of the stick this time, it’s fixable, and life goes on.  I’m not going to search high and low for the guy and pistol whip $40 out of him.  That wouldn’t really solve anything.  It’s just another day, there will be more- some good, some bad, but always worth waking up for.

Tips from the Road #1

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I was out at a farm last week and learned something new from a woman who loved her garden and used to have a mole problem.  Locate both tunnel entrances and place one square of chew-able chocolate Exlax in each opening.  Fill it back in slightly to be sure the mole only gets it.  The dose is enough to rid you of the varmint but not to harm household pets and is much safer than poisons.  Now this is my version of her description as to how this is done, she had a much more crude and comical way of telling it, but judging by the triumphant look on her face I’d say it works with a high success ratio!  Maybe it’s a tip you can use!

As I travel the rural Northwest as a mobile farrier, I hear many interesting stories and bits of sage advice.  This topic is where I will share the ones that grab my attention and I think are worth sharing.  Thanks for reading and take care! 

When an old cowboy’s eyes get misty…

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I was out trimming and shoeing horses just the other day, not much different that any other except it was well on it’s way to being one of the nicest days of the year so far. Spring is finally coming!  I was finishing at one ranch when a neighbor from down the road apiece, we’ll call him Mr. E, stopped by to see if I could trim his old horse up.  I happily said I could fit it in and as I finished hammering on hind shoes he and another old timer swapped stories about cowboying in the Dakotas.  Many of their stories got a good chuckle out of me and helped pass the time.  I finished the horse, and that job, and started packing up my tools, having agreed to meet the man in a bit.

A short time later, I pulled off the highway in front of the Mr. E’s place.  I easily located the horse pen and met him as he ambled over with the halter in hand.  Stooped and shrunken with age, he still easily caught the horse and swung the halter over it’s head.  He led it out and I got to work, quickly cleaning up the winter’s growth on all four hooves.  After finishing, he turned out the gelding and headed for the house to retrieve his wallet hollering over his shoulder that he would meet me back at my pickup.  He was soon there, and asked how much he owed me.  “Thirty dollars” I stated.  He peered at me and said “Seventy dollars?  OK.”  “No, no, just thirty!” I said, more loudly this time.  He nodded and proceeded to thumb through the bills squinting at the old wad of leather in his hands.

Payment completed we got to talking for a few minutes and he inquired how much a full set of shoes was.  I told him, and he explained what his plan was.  He and his wife had a favorite camping place way up in the mountainous back country that they went to for years.  He wanted to make the trip again- but this time to spread some of her ashes.  I could see the old cowboy’s eyes mist up behind the deep, leathery creases on his weathered face and his voice choked up telling me about this place that held so many precious memories for him.  It was obvious to see the pain of losing her and just how much he had and still loved her.  His whole demeanor softened from the hardened man who easily swore every second word in a conversation about bucking stock just minutes before and it pulled at my heartstrings.

It’s not often to see a love like that anymore.  It was an image right out of the bygone days out West, where these tough people made it through thick and thin together, and left an impression like that on the other.  Looking down the road, what else is there?  Time has a way of putting a shine on things and changing what we hold important, and experiences like that make me reevaluate my own priorities.  Maybe it will do the same for you…

The trouble with a kitten is that…

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I adopted a kitten this winter.  She was just a handful of trembling fuzz when I brought her home.  She perched on my shoulder on the drive home in my pick-up eventually working down my arm to the steering wheel where she promptly got tangled up and nearly turned us off the road.  Apparently they do make kitty car seats according to my search engine results- so I suppose I can’t make a bad joke about that…  So, I get her home and she was litter box trained (thank God!).  That would have been quite an experience seeing as I had never done it before.  I sat on the couch and poked at her like a monkey with a new toy; I hadn’t had a cat in years because I’m a “dog person” I tell myself.  Well I got bored with that and she got tired so she curled up on my chest and we both fell asleep. Awww!  Yes, I have been wrapped around her furry little paw ever since.

Well, here we are 4 months, 3 rolls of toilet paper, one glass carafe, and many magazine covers later.  She is definitely the woman of my house, she slaps me if I hit snooze more than twice, yells at me if I get noisy when a buddy stops by, and lets me know I didn’t put my stuff away by throwing it on the floor.  Matilda, I had aptly named her, has grown into quite a calico character, but then she realized she has claws.  Dang it.  Nothing is safe, curtains, couch, puppy, coats on the coat rack, or me!  So I’d had enough.  One morning, as I was sipping coffee from a coffee cup cup boldly stating a local church name, I lost my temper and let a nice juicy swear out in her direction.  I looked at the cup in my hand then considered what I had just said.  “I’m going to Hell!” I said out loud.   Strike 1.  Obviously that hadn’t worked and it turns out she is the only cat I know who would probably join me in the shower if I let her so she just sneered at the squirt bottle and squinted her eyes against the fury of the water stream.  Strike 2!

That, I said, was enough of that.  No more scratching allowed.  I furiously logged onto Ebay and bought a fancy emery scratching board.  I rubbed my hands together like an evil villain as I completed my purchase and anticipated it’s arrival.  The big day came and I hastily parked my pick-up and marched in the house like a man on a mission.  Hmm.  The fuzzy tailed thing with the bell goes in which hole?  Oh wait, it only cost $22.95 so it doesn’t really fit in any of them.  Why did I buy the cheap one?!  Don’t panic, she still likes it.  YES!  She is on the scratch board now, playing but this is how it works, right?  Oh no..  Now the fuzzy thing broke and its halfway across the kitchen with my cat right behind it completely ignoring the scratching apparatus.  This amazing thing had come with a little baggie of catnip as well, so with my beat up, callused hands I gently urged the bag open and it promptly exploded.  Matilda was in heaven!  I was on my hands and knees, dirty cowboy boots splayed out, desperately trying to sweep up the magic recipe to the emery boards success as my cat rolled and purred oblivious that she was thwarting my efforts.

About that time one of my good friends came to the door and looked down at my pathetic pose and the little pile of catnip at my fingertips.  “What are you doing?”  he sputtered at me.  Strike 3…  As I write this I look at that cat emery board sitting on the floor.  I hear the refillable pads are pretty cheap to get- except that mine is in like-new condition (except where my dog licked a hole in it, but that’s a whole other story..).  Oh, that reminds me, I need to give her her first shots- but before I do I had better trim her claws…

Back in the saddle!

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Howdy everyone!  I have decided that I have time once again in my busy life to ease back into blogging.  I took the last 9 months or so and started my own business, and I tell you, that boss of mine is a real… Oh wait a minute!  But seriously, I have missed writing and seeing so many of my blogger friends continue on has been a constant reminder and motivation.  Now, as always, the views mentioned herein are my own humble opinions and you will probably see a few repeated topics that I hold near and dear, but mostly it boils down to one hard-working, straightforward, country gentleman’s point of view.  Please feel free to comment on any of the topics as your feedback is appreciated (and it helps fuel my next online tirade!).  Thanks for reading the Back 40!

Wordless Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

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……

Headin’ for Summer!

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Ah my favorite time of year, but let’s not forget the gettin’ here!  Moving cattle, branding, farmers pushing their equipment to their limits to get crops in, and all the other organized chaos after the snow melts and Spring sets in.  I love life in rural America, no question about it, the sounds, smells, and the people.  So I made up my mind that I wanted a new career and get back out of the office to the places I love.

I have a good job at the Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab, and even a second job as a hand working with the university cattle as well as helping out my buddies with stock and anything else when needed, but, what rewards are there without a little risk?  Anyone who follows my blog probably thinks I fell off Planet Earth in mid-February, but no, between work and setting up plans for my business, there just hasn’t been time.  I decided to follow my life-long interest in farrier science and horses in general.  I’ve trimmed and shod a few along the way, but by no means am I any expert, so I am off to school across the state next month for two months.  I am very excited, and finding that I fit the needs of small business operation well – especially when I have an interest in what I am doing, coincidentally.  I plan to ranch on the side probably starting next Fall or Spring, but that’s not on a large scale…yet.

There is a larger scale, long term plan for my business, but I won’t go into detail here.  I have discussed the topic at length with retired and active farriers, veterinarians, and random horse owners, and know that it is indeed one of those “dying” trades that is not being filled as most retire-  much like large animal vets that I have mentioned in past articles.  It is unfortunate, but true, the technology field has absorbed such a large majority of my generation and those younger that we are going to be lacking in a lot of ways in many professions just like the lack of farriers we see today.

So, like always, it takes awhile for me to get there, but I do have a point!  Is there something you’ve been itching to do?  A new opportunity to follow that may benefit you or your family?  Maybe this is the year for you to do it like it is for me.  Remember the old saying “Make hay while the sun shines”?  Well, it’s true, so pull your hat down tight, nod you head and take that leap out of the chute!  Thanks for reading!

If you are interested in seeing more, please visit www.facebook.com/highcountryhorseshoeing.  Thanks!

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