Monday, January 28, 2013

Relationship Building Exercises - Ranch Edition

 "How big a deal was it for you to be home today?" asked my boyfriend over the phone the day after Christmas.
Immediately concerned, I asked why, and was informed that he got stuck while feeding and doing his rounds upon returning from my family's Christmas celebration. Since we had left my car in the town he was scheduled to deliver hogs to, and his other pickup was in the shop, we literally weren't going anywhere until we got him un-stuck.
I called home, and found out it was no big deal if I stayed. He walked back to the house, gathered me, his tractor, chains and two hay bales up, and off we went, with me suspiciously calculating how big of a predicament he had gotten himself the entire time he was adding to the gear pile.
We arrive to this:

Well, not this exactly, but pretty close. I didn't snap a picture at first because it's always important to gauge a man's temper level before you start snapping photos of something like the truck he got stuck. Experience talking on that one.
The story was that he had needed to drive to the bottom and check on his heifers because he knew his sister had been making them walk to the top of the hill (I was thinking his sister got some serious points for intelligence on that decision).
The thing with a ranch guy is, while he would never leave his place in the hands of someone that wasn't perfectly capable of doing whatever needed doing, it's also inevitable that, upon his return, he will see the need to check every-single-thing, and thus assure himself that while whoever was left in charge did fine, it was a good thing he got home before any more time passed and anything went wrong. It's just how they are, and what makes them so good at their work.
So, with this line of thinking, he determinedly drove off South Dakota's Mount Everest, which was covered in a little coating of ice and a couple inches of snow. Then, he couldn't get back out.

We arrive on the scene with the tractor, and put the front bucket down to prevent us from sliding down the hill, after he backs his truck to the bottom.
I was less than comfortable with the situation because I was raised with men who also got into such scenarios, and required my help to get out of them. As a result, my nerves go into overdrive when exposed to things like ice, steep hills and embankments, and mud combined with speed.

Upon reaching the bottom upright, he proceeded to place one bale in the back of the pickup. Attempt one was for him to drive the pickup out, which I fully supported over me being pulled out in it.
At least the heifers all showed up to watch, so he knew they were all fine and dandy, and accounted for.

 We chained up the tractor, and discussed me driving it, for the first time, up the slick hill. Again, with the usual rancher jargon of "you just have to watch for...." we soon agreed that should he make it out, perhaps it would be in his, mine and the tractor's best interest if he walked back down for it, and we saved the driving lesson for at least level ground.
Good call.
Halfway through chaining up, as he's watching me, he laughed and said I sure know how to chain up a tractor. At which point I reminded him of my male relations, and the history I have with such situations as the one he is in now. This is met with more good humor, and I decided that taking pictures will be fine.

 Off he went in another attempt to get out without being pulled.

 Without success. My heart fell when he undoubtedly got good and stuck, halfway up the first steep part of the hill.

 So we prepared for Plan B, which included towing the pickup up the hill with the tractor, in hopes of finally reaching the top and getting on with our day.

 This is the view after his attempt with the haybale in the back. We maneuvered the tractor into place, got the chains hooked up, and proceeded up the first steep stretch to a level area. He continued on, heading up the second steep section of the hill, me being pulled along behind in the highly recommended gear of choice, helping as much as possible when not spinning out.

It's what happened before this picture that would be considered the climax of our story. As he continued up the second steep section, and I began up it, the hay bale came off the back of his tractor, right about where you see the hay on the ground in front of the tractor in the photo.
I was understandably, instantly concerned as a four-foot round bale bounced directly in front of my windshield, and my boyfriend unknowingly continued pulling me right up the hill to meet it.
Fortunately, he looked back and stopped, then slowly backed up, and the bale, which must have had one string on it, kind of exploded and reduced its bouncing to a slow role by the time it bumped into the passenger side of the truck's grill guard.
Ok, bale off, lets get out of here.
Except, he said he was going to spear the bale again with the back of his tractor. I thought he was just teasing me, but soon realized he was serious.
My good humor dipped, a lot. I mentally considered walking to the top and watching him mash his own pickup with his own hale bale. But, that's just not what you do, so I got back into the line of fire, and prepared to save my camera while wondering, not for the first time, how a man's mind works. I mean, the hay bale coming off once was clue enough to me as to the likelihood of the setup to work...

 But, it did work the second time, thank goodness! We arrived at the top, me with a rapid heartbeat, but otherwise none the worse for wear. Then, we proceeded to drive over where his sister had been feeding and give them the hay bales, getting a good chuckle out of our morning experience.

The cows, in true bovine spirit, watched the whole thing.
Then, the following evening, we continued our bonding process when I got the flu, which lasted three days.


  1. Well, at least you had experience enough to be a helper - not a hinderer (not sure if a word...). After almost 25 years of marriage - I'm still wondering how a man's mind thinks. We have clay soil, one time, my man had 3 things stuck in the field and proceeded to use our car to try to pull one of the 3 out....I begged him not to, but guess what? We had 4 things stuck in the field. We laugh now...not then though...Blessings from Wisconsin.

  2. Can totally relate! Been in situations like this before, and I understand what you mean about figuring out their temperament before you start taking pictures! Glad you both got out unscathed!

  3. Oh my gosh, you are living my dream! Excited to read more of your blog.