Doesn't power steering make turning easier?

It's funny now. Then it was very disturbing.

But first, April is here. Branding gets done, irrigation starts and dragging is finished, at least out here anyway.

Dragging means a farmer/rancher type takes a very heavy multi-pronged rack like object about 6 feet long and 8 feet wide and drags it across, up and down, pastures where cattle have fed over winter. Dragging breaks up cow pies that have solidified into large Frisbees all over a field. Some outfits have a tractor available powerful enough to pull these heavy metal multi-pronged 6-by-8-foot poop pulverizer. Unfortunately this year, one was not available to me.

Our outfit does have a tractor. It's just old, 1964, and broken. I guess, that is why it doesn't start. And my wonderful (read that as he reads this column sometimes so I have to be nice here) very clever with machinery husband has not had time to fix it.

So I used our 1984, 1/2 ton, 4-wheel drive pickup. The pickup is very similar to our old tractor. Its radio is broken. There is a very large hole in the driver's floor below the gas pedal so I can see the ground pretty good. The backslider window does not close all the way making it like an open cab tractor and the power steering pump leaks bad. A bottle of guaranteed-leak-stopper-a-day bad. Instead of fixing the tractor that would only be used for dragging, my wonderful (see above paragraph) husband decides to fix the power steering pump in the pick-up because I also use it to move hay and feed the cows in the side pasture.

Wonderful husband and son drive the pickup into our huge metal shop and do whatever they do to it. I do not go into the shop unless desperate. Owls live in there, along with mice, pigeons, all kinds of greasy tools, dark machines covered in more grease, chains in oil and junk (read that as collectable antiques if you are creative). The shop is a no mans land for women. I just go in there, get the tools I need and leave. In and out and no one (me) gets hurt.

I take it on faith that when the son and husband spend a whole day working on this power steering pump thingy and I see it parked later beside the fuel tanks that it is running and good to use to stack another load of hay and feed the cows with.

Earlier in the week, while dragging, the truck worked without power steering after a hose broke and this big puff of blue smoke drifted out of the front of the pick-up. So today I didn't think too much was wrong when I still had to use two hands and all the strength in my arms to turn the steering wheel to make a right or left turn. Straight worked pretty good so I drove straight to the hay stack, loaded the bales I needed, drove straight to the cows, and drove straight down the field feeding from the back of the truck. Turning the truck to leave the field was real hard, but I could do it.

I parked the hay-loaded truck in front of the house and when my dear husband (see paragraph 3) came home from work that night he had a very strange and confused look on his face. Yes I had loaded hay, yes I had used the truck to feed with, and yes I did think it turned a little hard. Then he proceeded to tell me he had not finished connecting the new power steering pump and hose and had left some tools on the engine, under the closed hood, which I cannot see through. The tools he had left on the engine were two razor blades, two cutting knives, a needle-nose pliers, a regular pliers, a crescent wrench, a 9/16 monkey wrench, another wrench, a needle, two screw drivers and a white sock.

We looked out the livingroom's big picture window to the field and saw all the cows and calves eating hay along the straight line I had driven and imagined them eating needles, razor blades, wrenches and a white sock. I felt a pinch in my stomach just terrible. The wonderful husband and I walked out to the pickup and lifted the hood to inventory what was missing and what I needed to find in the cow pasture.

And could you believe it, the razor blades and needles were still resting on the air filter. A screwdriver was stuck in some wires and the wrenches and other tools could be easily seen where they had slipped to. The white sock was resting on the battery. I was only missing the black handled cutting knife and found that walking past the hay barn so everything is fine, put back together and funny now.

n Marie Johnson is a Carson Valley rancher.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment