Well I certainly didn’t have a hard time coming up with something to write about this week. After being prompted by our Facebook post the other day about ranch trucks, I have known for days what I was going to write about. Trucks. Ranch trucks.
We have more trucks than my wife has toes, so this should be easy.
I should start with the feed truck as it is one of the most visible vehicles around the ranch. A flatbed single cab of indeterminate milage, we use it primarily to feed large bales of hay out to the horses. This truck, a lovely shade of blue and dent, gets used every day, all summer, and sometimes even starts when you need it.
As the punching dummy of the fleet, it has been run into almost everything out in the woods, be it rock or tree, and shows it. Regardless of the level of abuse, this mid-eighties truck is a perfect example of what every ranch truck should be, beat to hell for over twenty years, and still ready for another 20 of the same. Legend has it that we traded a load of firewood for it.
Probably the next most visible truck is the infamous green Dodge. Single cab, short bed. With only about 180,000 miles on the odometer, it is the new kid in the fleet. It has it share of dents, for sure. Heck, the drivers side door doesn’t even really close, so wear your seatbelt. But what sets it apart in my mind on the abuse scale is that I have seen this truck not only upside down, but underwater, too. Fortunately, Tom the mechanic had sunk numerous vehicles before, so knew exactly what to do to get it back up and running after it went swimming. I have fond memories of this truck, as it used to be mine. I drove it all over the west, and had some great adventures in it, until I traded it to the ranch for two saddles. My old dog George loved the Dodge, and used to spend the day sitting in it, patiently waiting to go for a ride. The ranch got a screaming deal if you ask me. But at least I still get to see it all the time.
Although not technically a truck, the shooting van qualifies out of sheer ranchiness. For those of you not familiar with it, it is a late nineties Ford 15 passenger van with about eleventeen million miles on it that has only one real duty. We drive it to the shooting range and back, hence the name “shooting van”. I did not capitalize that intentionally, as the bald tires, iffy brakes, spiderwebbed windshield, and filthy interior would only qualify this vehicle as a taxi in Guatemala, but certainly not qualify its name as a proper noun.
The last one that comes to mind is probably the least visible trucks on the ranch. At least, I hope it is the least visible. The trash truck got its name through the same unimaginative process as the shooting van, but it actually does occasionally get used for more than just trash runs to the dump. A 1986 International flatbed with well over 300,000 miles on it, the trash truck has outstanding brakes. No really, it does. Unfortunately, the brakes are about the only thing that work. None of the electrics work, so you better be back before dark. It doesn’t have fourth gear, either, but the others work reasonably well, so you really only have to deal with no fifth gear until you are pointed downhill. Third gets you about 35 mph, but hope for a downhill, because this truck starts to shake like a drunken shopping cart at 30 and only gets worse until you hit 45 or so, where the shaking stops. At 45, though, the wandering starts. You can turn the steering wheel almost a quarter turn without changing direction at all, so at 45 you have to saw at the wheel constantly just to go in a straight line. I define successful trips in this thing by simply making it home. Somehow, on your successful return, the sun seems to shine brighter, food tastes better, life seems… Happier.
But you know what the best thing about this truck is?