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*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘trailer

Trailer Appreciation

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Boy am I ever glad to have a trailer for the ATV again. This weekend I put it to good use hauling logs out of the woods and cleaning up failed attempts at round bales in our fields.

The neighbors who rented our fields this summer did not have much success trying to get bales out of it. I feel for them. There never seemed to be enough consecutive dry days to finish the job. Instead, the cut hay got soaked by rain. They tried raking it out in hopes of drying the cut grass, but then it rained on the windrows.

Eventually, they enlisted a beef farmer to claim the wet hay, because cows are a lot less picky about moldy hay. He created some relatively ugly looking round bales, maybe since he was working with old, wet hay. By the time he finally tried picking up the bales and hauling them away, five of them fell apart. He just left those where they lay, creating dead spots in our fields.

I guess that is the land owner’s responsibility.

My first challenge in removing the old piles was forking the heavy, wet, moldy hay into the trailer. The second challenge was figuring out what to do with it. I generally use old hay as natural fill, but none of the many spots where we could use fill are easy to reach.

The worst spot was along our property line behind Cyndie’s perennial garden. Instead of being able to dump the load all at once, I needed to empty the trailer one pitch fork-full at a time, carrying each about 35-yards through an obstacle course of low hanging branches and a single fence wire I needed to duck under.

I only bumped my head about 3-dozen times while making repeated trips in and out.

It is super to have the trailer again, but it doesn’t fill or empty itself automatically and it can’t navigate the obstacle course behind the garden. I guess I wasn’t thinking about how much work I have to do whenever I endeavor to use the trailer.

It has me thinking I should have given more thought to that desire to replace the one Cyndie sold.

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Written by johnwhays

September 16, 2019 at 6:00 am

Another Trailer

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Problem solved.

Enough said.

For the backstory, see “Sad Laughter.”

Cyndie financed the purchase of a replacement for the trailer that she mistakenly sold, and she found a way to have it shipped for free.

On to the next challenge.

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Written by johnwhays

June 24, 2019 at 6:00 am

Sad Laughter

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It wasn’t funny, but we found ourselves laughing over the absurdity. I feel a need to rationalize this tale of Cyndie’s-and-my-collective-failure, with more detail than is probably necessary. For those who prefer a “too-long; didn’t read” synopsis: Cyndie sold our ATV trailer, but I had no intention of letting it go.

The confusion between us goes back in two phases: to last year, when I sold our old lawn tractor, and to our current “passing in the night” level of connection lately.

I will give her credit for remembering that there was a trailer I told her we didn’t need anymore. That would have been last fall, when I sold it, along with the old Craftsman lawn tractor. Unfortunately, last week, when she was preparing to sell anything that wasn’t permanently affixed to the barn, she came upon the ATV trailer.

She thought it was the one I didn’t need.

I wrote that she converted the barn into an equine boutique, but among all the horse care products, saddles, and tack, there was fencing equipment, pitch forks, a 100 gallon stock tank, …and a trailer. I didn’t notice it at first.

So, the day after she gets the barn all set up, she flies to Dallas for a conference, notifying me that I had two appointments to cover, for people interested in our sale. I described this at work: My wife went out-of-town, leaving me home alone, and scheduled two appointments for women to come over and give me money.

The response was, “Isn’t that illegal?”

The first customer arrived Thursday night and spotted the trailer that I hadn’t even noticed was there. I told them that wasn’t for sale, and we joked about my wife selling things out from under me. Later, while pouring through multiple printouts of items and prices that Cyndie put together, I found that she did  list the trailer for sale. I was flabbergasted.

She got home in the middle of the night, Friday, and as I wrote yesterday, the morning was all about the weirdness of the fraudulently purchased packages. (One more arrived in the mail yesterday.) While Cyndie was in the middle of frying eggs for breakfast, there was a knock at the door. It was a shopper for horse stuff.

I stayed in the house, grateful to no longer be responsible for trying to price Cyndie’s sale for friendly strangers who want a better deal. A short time later, Cyndie returned and I good-naturedly asked if she sold anything.

There it was.

She sold the trailer, among other things.

“WHAT!!”

I blame myself for not moving it out of the barn immediately when I discovered it. But, it was wedged behind a table of items and I didn’t want to mess up her wonderfully arranged displays. I should have put a sign on it that said, “Sold.”

I should have brought this up for discussion the moment she got home. While we cursed, whimpered, and laughed over what had just happened, I could see the moment she figured out the trailer I didn’t want was the other one. Understandably, she feels just awful now.

That trailer would have come in handy for a couple of chores I did yesterday.

We’ll probably use some money from her horse stuff sale to buy a replacement for the trailer she sold.

I’m trying to laugh about it, …to keep from crying. Sometimes, life imitates sitcoms.

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Written by johnwhays

April 28, 2019 at 6:00 am

Exhausting Effort

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Yesterday was an unplanned effort that turned into an all-day haul. This is how it came about…

We were looking to double the amount of hay we have stored for the winter in our hay shed. Using just our pickup truck to move 41 bales at a time over the summer, we had accumulated under half of what we are comfortable having for the winter months.

It made most sense that we should find a trailer to haul more bales per trip, so Cyndie contacted our neighbor.

His immediate response was, “Not right now.”

He had a car loaded on the trailer and didn’t want to take it off. Maybe next week, he said. Okay, we can live with that. Then a day later, after I had spent half a day covered in spider webs and dryer lint (the hose venting to outside needed replacing) and half a day mowing and cleaning the mower deck of moldy grass clippings, I was desperately looking forward to a long soaking shower.

The second I turned on the water, Cyndie said our neighbor just arrived to drop off his trailer and wanted to show me some details of the hookup. Surprise! She told him I had just stepped in the shower and he said he would be waiting down by the trailer.

I barely got wet, then dried off and jumped into clothes so I could hustle down to greet him.

He generously provided his ball mount attachment to fit the coupler and guided me through all the safety connections. We are so very lucky to have him for a neighbor.

With trailer in hand, we suddenly had a different itinerary for our Saturday. We ended up making two trips to transfer a total of 240 bales of hay for the day. That involves stacking 120 on the trailer, strapping them down, anxiously driving to our place, unloading 120 bales, lifting 120 into place inside our shed, and then driving back to do it all again, a second time.

Keep in mind, the bales appear to get heavier with time, as our bodies fatigue. The second batch of bales are harder to lift, and I need to climb higher in the shed to stack them on top of the first load.

Since we were trying to fit our two loads into the hours our hay seller was available –basically, the hours in a day– this effort came with nary a break. As I finished stacking the first load, Cyndie hustled up to the house to put together sandwiches for a lunch we could eat in the truck at 1:00 p.m. while driving back to pick up the second load.

After a non-stop day awash in dusty, scratchy hay, I was looking forward, even more than the day before, to that long soaking shower to calm my itchy skin.

It was a soothing finish to a full day of exhausting effort.

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Written by johnwhays

October 1, 2017 at 8:27 am

Sheer Luck

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In the midst of a series of days with unfortunate events, there is always the possibility for a little luck. Sometimes, even a lot of luck. Before I describe my recent brush with some happy happenstance, I will regale you with the latest unfortunate incident that I was given an opportunity to experience yesterday afternoon.

It is probably immaterial to the point, but it means a lot to me and helps provide some reference for how much frustration potential existed in this situation for me to explain that I left work early yesterday to get a jump on cutting the over-grown lawn at home. MondayNight

The weather was dry and sunny, perfect for mowing, and that contrasted sharply with the expected weather for the days ahead. Monday was my best bet, so I made it a priority to get home a little early to cut the whole yard all at once.

After completing one pass around the perimeter of the front yard, the mower deck suddenly became very sloppy beneath the tractor. I stopped immediately to check things out, expecting and hoping that a mounting clip had probably come off. That wasn’t the case.

I don’t know why, but one of two mounting brackets on the deck had completely broken off. It was no longer attached at all. End of mowing, just like that. A wave of “It figures” and “What else could go wrong” washed over me.I made two calls: One to “my welder,” Gaylen, who didn’t answer, and one to our friend, George. I guess my first dose of luck was that George was home, available, and willing to try welding the bracket back on for me. This meant that I needed to unhook the borrowed trailer from the truck and go find Cyndie to help me load the deck so I could take it over to George’s.

While disconnecting the trailer, I set a locking pin on the bumper of the truck. Then I forgot about it and drove up to get the mower deck. Cyndie helped me hoist it up and closed the tailgate. I trucked over to George’s and we picked up the deck and put it on the ground for welding.

He worked his magic and successfully attached the bracket and patched up holes. That wasn’t luck. It was good old-fashioned generosity. He dropped what he was doing to help me, and took on a task that required skills and equipment that he rarely uses.

IMG_iP1484eWe loaded up the deck and I drove back home, backing into a hill so I could slide the unit off the truck by myself. As I was rolling the cover of the pickup bed back into place, I stepped over the tailgate onto the bumper. The surface felt strange under my foot.

I looked down to find the locking pin still sitting right where I had placed it when I disconnected the trailer. It hadn’t moved a bit, despite my cruising down the road at highway speed, stopping, turning, loading, unloading, tailgate up, tailgate down.

It’s sheer luck, I tell ya.

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Written by johnwhays

July 26, 2016 at 6:00 am

Two Worlds

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In the constant ebb and flow of change that has occurred for Cyndie and me in the almost 4 years since we moved from the suburbs to rural life on a horse hobby farm, there are waves of intensity that can be both invigorating and disorienting. I’m probably just tired from a pattern of not sleeping optimal hours every night, but lately things have been mostly disorienting.

Yesterday, while filling out the schedule of customer orders at the day-job, I received a new Purchase Order with a requested delivery date that I immediately perceived to be past due. Wondering how that could be, I checked the date it was sent and interpreted that as being a week old.

I marched up to the boss’s office to investigate how this could have happened, only to embarrass myself in discovering that my mind was off by a week. The order was sent and received with yesterday’s date and they were asking for delivery next Wednesday.

Never mind.

Obviously, I was not living in the moment. My calibration gets a little off when spending hours of intense mental energy trying to fit weeks of work into limited days of available labor, several months into the future. It gets compounded when trying to do so while simultaneously burdened with trying to self-teach lessons on how to properly (read that as “legally”) load and secure heavy cargo on a trailer.

My poor little brain is surfing on the crest of one of those waves of constant change with regard to the horse hobby farm gig. We have adjusted our hay plans this year to trying to purchase all of next season’s inventory and not use any of what we can cut and bale off our field. This year’s crop on our front field is growing more weeds than grass.

We are negotiating with two sources for small square bales and trying to work out movement of goods. Cyndie called the trailer dealership in town to inquire about short-term rental of a flat-bed. It just so happens that our next door neighbor, John, works there. He said they don’t rent equipment, but offered to loan us the use of one of his trailers. He’s got two of them.

DSCN4953eWednesday night, John stopped by the house to discuss details and I learned very quickly how out of my league I was. When we bought the truck, I didn’t know there was a difference between a trailer hitch and a ball mount. My rather narrow experience from years in industry is in electronics manufacturing. It was intimidating to learn the significance of details involved with trailering commercial-sized loads like the one I already moved last week, which I had done without proper knowledge.

Yesterday, Cyndie took our truck in to have the trailer dealer install a brake controller. Last night, our neighbor stopped by and dropped off his trailer in front of our hay shed.

I’m trying to shift mental gears from the day-job world to the hobby farm world, and reviewing the Wisconsin laws for securing and trailering heavy cargo. We are also trying to plot a course toward improving the crop of hay we hope to grow for ourselves.

Don’t ask me what day it is today. I’m feeling a little disoriented.

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Written by johnwhays

July 22, 2016 at 7:11 am

Another Source

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The air is completely still outside this morning. Maybe that is why my internet connection is more stable today than it was yesterday. The signal is not being disrupted by waving tree leaves.

The calm is in contrast to the disruption swirling in my mind. We have been stretched into another batch of new experiences over the last two days, taking us places we’ve not been, introducing us to new people, and giving me an opportunity to pull a flatbed trailer behind our sometimes trusty old pickup.

I’ve never done that before.

Luckily, I didn’t need to do any backing up.

We own horses. We need hay. Over the now several years that we’ve been on this equine adventure, that’s the key priority that pushes me into doing tasks for which I have no previous experience.

Last year I was feeling pretty smug over having found hay to purchase and hauling it myself in small batches with the truck, and augmenting that with bales from our own field. Now I have come to understand that what we purchased wasn’t considered prime quality fodder by our horses, and we’re admitting to ourselves that our field isn’t yielding much better.

Cyndie checked with new acquaintances and then made a connection with another hay grower. Grass hay is the term used to clarify what we are after for our horses.

I was on the far side of our property yesterday, trimming the 4-foot tall weeds that have grown along the southern border of our back pasture, when Cyndie and Delilah appeared and interrupted me. The new hay source was available immediately and leaving town for a two-week vacation tomorrow. We had to act now.

Suddenly we are checking maps and venturing down dead-end roads among farms that don’t get many visitors, looking to connect with someone we won’t know when looking at them. Kids on bikes check us out immediately, when we pull in a driveway and try to figure out where to go.

DSCN4954eWe are not surprised to discover Lonnie is friendly guy, and the kids are his grandchildren who live across the road and they love to help with hay. Mostly, they like to talk while we toss and stack bales. Lonnie offered up his flat-bed trailer to allow us to haul a hundred bales in one load and off we dove into another of my firsts.

I relied on his method of stacking and strapping to secure the load. He generously offered to come rescue us if any of the tires went flat on the trip there or back. How reassuring. I noticed he put a registration sticker on the trailer before we hooked it to the truck. I guess it hadn’t seen any road use for some time.

We made it most of the way home before a middle bale worked loose and dropped off the front. I had just turned off Highway 63 onto a rural road, so the drama was moderately reduced. I know now that we should have used that 3rd strap he considered putting across the load, but didn’t.

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Written by johnwhays

July 16, 2016 at 8:16 am