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The County Fair, Cattle Mutilators and Ode to de Pickup Truck

June 17, 2008
The county fair meant a lot to me as a kid. The 4-H tours before the fair and all the water fights were the highlight of summer and before I got into high school sports, the county fair was the highlight of the year. We showed sheep and cattle, built floats, checked out the girls from the rest of the county, occasionally slept under the bleachers and shut off the water to the carnival trailers in the morning.

Oh to be a kid again! Did I mention the water fights? I think that was the only reason you washed steers at fair, was to get the water hose. Later I did enjoy watching my sons show sheep at the fair and I pulled their floats in the parade with my "1-ton dually.”

Speaking of trucks, which tends to be what I do, I was thinking about all the things I did with my trucks over the years. In the country, everywhere you go there is a string of trucks, side by side with gun racks in the back window. My gun rack was mostly for the extra coats, hats and maybe a fishing rod. In small towns, pickups are lined up at the bar like the horses were tied up outside the saloon in the old days when my grand uncle John Resler was sheriff in Akron. When you go to church, there they are, some of those same trucks.

New quieter trucks that are coming out today are nice. The older I get the more I appreciate the toys like AC and electric windows that I once would have thought "just something more to break down.” Of course you have to decorate your truck, fancy mudflaps, headache rack, fog lights, (what fog?) After I dropped a few large round bales and salt blocks in the truck bed, I'd have an excuse to get a steel flat bed. The extra weight of the flatbed did make the truck ride better empty. Now it's hard to believe how well the heavy-duty trucks ride, just like a car.

I think I counted 17 trucks that I've enjoyed so far. Some of them I put over 300,000 miles on and could put a starter, u-joints or an alternator on them with my eyes closed. My trucks have hauled horses, cows, sheep, pigs, hay, wool, manure, couches, (but not at the same time), firewood, welders, torches, tools, even pulled my backhoe with the front wheels off the ground and the bucket chained to a D-ring over the gooseneck ball. Yeah my trucks didn't owe me anything when I was done with them. I hauled 3000#'s on the ½ tons, 5000#'s on the ¾ tons and 10,000#'s on the 1-ton. Some of them retired when I striped them down and sold them by the pound.

In high school I use to back my dad's truck in the ditch to load my quarter horse into the stock racks to sort yearlings and cow calf pairs before and after school for $3 an hour. The pickup I learned to drive first was dad's 53 Ford ¾ ton. I learned to do those famous "Jack Rabbit starts” as dad would call them. I enjoyed immensely when my boys started to drive. They would help me fix fence with the dually. It took both of them to push in the clutch to start it. I would wave to them from down the fence line to bring up the truck and I would see their little heads bobbing up and down above the steering wheel when they struggled to push in the clutch. Later on my boys would follow me in the truck when I moved the tractor and baler to a different field. They didn't always remember to turn the corner or make it up the hill so I would get to go back and rescue my young drivers from the ditch.

Putting up hay at all hours of the day and night meant I lived in my truck a lot of the time. This was back in the seventies and eighties. The hay would have a little too much humidity (dew) on the windrows after midnight so I would sleep a couple of hours in my truck and wait for dryer air to arrive. One of these adventures was north of Akron Colorado. If any of you remember the cattle mutilations that happened back then, there was a lot of nervous sheriffs running around chasing helicopters and space ships or looking for dead cows that were cut up mysteriously.

Well anyway I was sleeping in my truck north of Akron and half asleep I started remembering the latest news in the paper, which was a cattle mutilation north of Akron actually across the fence from where I was parked. You know how your mind works, I started worrying about those darn space ships that could be hovering around looking for a cow to cut up and before you know it my head was bobbing up and down peeking out each window in the moonlight trying to spot the invasion from the X-files. Of course my gun rack only had coats and hats on it. So I finally found a ball-pin hammer under the seat. With the doors locked and my trusty hammer I'm ready for those cattle mutilating aliens should they decide to park their spaceship near my baler! But they never came, it was a big hammer! So I jumped on the tractor, it had to be dry enough to bale by now.
I smoked a few cigars in my truck, chased a few coyotes, jumped snow banks, fixed fence, ran over rattlesnakes, and even went on a few dates in my trucks. I remember when they first put those wonderful catalytic converters on trucks, which caused more than one wheat stubble fire. I remember when the "white gas” unleaded gas came to trucks, which started the heavy ½ ton trucks and GM Gentleman Jims and Bo James and the Dodge "Little Red Truck”, Ford had full-size trucks called Rangers and Explorers back then.
I've been in several blizzards in trucks, hail storms, and watched tornadoes there. I miss my one-ton, which had a flatbed, vise, fuel tanks, welder, torch, generator, toolboxes and more. I've changed my share of flat tires in the dark and rain on trucks; of course the easy spare tire mounts came this decade when I rarely have a flat any more with radials. It was a county pickup truck that I raced from Anton to Akron when I got the call that my dad had passed away. My dad only had one new truck his whole life, but trucks can last a long time.
And you know what? MrTruck is now without a truck in Denver, that's just not natural. When I get a truck I like, being a salesman I end up finding someone you wants my truck more than me. Well it's time to start looking for another friend maybe a Dodge, they have a new ½ ton this fall or maybe a Ford, they could use the money, or maybe a...

Written by Kent Sundling, aka Mr. Truck
 

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