Myopia: (n) a lack of foresight or discernment: a narrow view of something
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Tyler Hangs Dead
I'm going to enjoy him. Every bite of him. For the next year and a half, I'm going to think about today as I chew a half ton of red meat.
As of today, Tyler hangs dead.
Tyler was named after a former boyfriend of my daughter*. He was a 3 year old steer that was supposed to go the the butcher in September, but he was the most skittish cow I've ever seen. He would not come near when needed, would not get on the trailer. Twice I had to call the butcher to re-schedule because I simply could not get him loaded. We tried to lure him into the trailer, push him, trick him. No dice.
But last night, after failing all week to get him more than 2 legs in (even though he was eating range cubes out of my hand), I had had enough.
The first thing I tried was to run him along the fences between the barn and the old chicken yard. I got him trapped, rolling a circular bail of hay to block his escape, then tried to force him down the line to the trailer. He seemed to take exception to that, and pushed me out of the way, rolled the bail, and got back into the field. I left range cubes in the trailer which he would eat as far as he could reach from outside, but as soon as I left the house, he'd skitter out into the field (yes, skitter, at 1100 pounds or so - he's huge but has the moves of a pole dancer).
So I talked to my neighbor about using his chutes. All I had to do was get Tyler over there. I got my bucket of cubes and walked him through the back yard to the south field then out onto the road. All he had to do was turn left. He turned right and ran up the road a quarter mile, so I had to get the car and drive past him (I couldn't walk without him running further), then leave the car in the road and follow him home on foot.
I lured him into the barn, where I could trap him with a swinging gate. After half an hour and half a bag of range cubes, I finally got he and Summer (his half sister) trapped in there, and I shut the gate behind him.
Then I was stuck with the unenviable task of pulling the trailer (with the bookmobile, our 12-passenger van) through a tight gate, making a hairpin turn, and then cutting down a section of fence so I could drive out into the back yard and thence to the driveway. Lynn said it would never work. She was right.
The trailer hung on the gate post (not enough room to make the turn) and after I unhitched the van, it got stuck in the mud. Tyler was happily eating range cubes and watching me the whole time through the gate. Laughing at me, the bastage.
So I went back to my neighbor's, borrowed his bobcat, cut down a section of the fence, and towed the van through it. I had the trailer halfway to the barn when it got dark and my neighbors arrived to ask me to join the volunteer fire department**. I left the bobcat (it was stuck in the mud now) overnight, hoping the ground would freeze so I could work. Instead, the clouds rolled in.
It was an hour before sunrise when I got back on it and finally got the trailer (almost) positioned. My neighbor arrived to help. We opened the gate into the barn, Kevin jumped in and made a noise like a snake or something, and Tyler hopped into the trailer like it was his long-lost home. 3 months of work and my neighbor does it in 5 seconds. Thank God for neighbors.
But now I've got to get the trailer to the driveway, so I hooked it (via the safety chains) to the bucket of the bobcat and towed it through the yard (killing one cherry tree that I haven't told my wife about yet) and finally got it to the driveway. Then I called the butcher to double (triple) check that today was the day and sent Nick to town for a can or three of Fix-a-Flat. With Tyler's added weight, the tires did not look good.
I tried cranking the trailer up so I could hook it to the bookmobile's trailer hitch, but it wouldn't go up, and Tyler was too heavy for me to force it, but he did manage to keep it moving enough that I couldn't hitch it even when the front of it popped up as he was running laps inside. I blocked the tires and went for my 10-ton jack.
Upon jacking it up, I cranked the wheel up and found out why it wouldn't lift: there was a piece of metal caught in the rifling. I removed it, hitched up the safety chains and went to plug it in.
This is the first time we've used this van with this trailer and guess what? The plug is wrong. But this trailer is going today, come hell or high water, so I hand-drew a sign in block letters that said "STAY BACK! NO LIGHTS" and taped it to the back of the trailer. Then I pumped up the tires and Nick and I pulled out.
Arma is 20 miles away by highway and about 300 by the back roads, because the only paved road (hell, the only straight road) that runs from here to there is closed. So we headed down the dirt road past the neighbor's house. There were 50 cows and one huge bull standing in his front yard.
So Nick and I located where they had gone thru the fence, got them home, and jury-rigged it as best we could. It was now less than an hour before Tyler had to be at the butcher, so we couldn't stay to do a better job.
We drove the back roads all the way to Arma and apparently the butcher was getting worried so they called my lovely wife, who alas, could not help them: I was so far out in the middle of nowhere that she couldn't call me. She told them to call her if (yes, she said 'if') I made it.
After three (pathetic) attempts, I got the trailer backed up to the butcher's chute, then at last Tyler trotted contentedly down the path which will eventually end at my freezer.
We got back on the road (the one that's closed) and missed the last turnoff before the signs, so we had to drive it...no way could I back this trailer a half mile or turn around on the tiny (and I mean TINY) belt of pavement. But I'm happy to report that there are two very nice new bridges on it and they will both support an F-350 van pulling an empty trailer. I'm sure the county will be happy to know that.
We got it home, and Nick's reward was that he got to drive the bobcat back to our neighbor's (yes, that's a reward for a 15-year-old), after I moved some dirt to make our gates "legal" for the foster care workers***.
Then I took a shower and came to work, 4 hours late.
But Lynn called and said the butcher called her as soon as I arrived**** and let her know I had successfully gotten Tyler off my hands.
"I didn't know you could do that," she said.
Neither did I. And I'll never do it again.
* Don't laugh, the kids named our pigs after our next-door neighbors, too. I never told them.
** which I did... no longer being in the Capitol Monday thru Friday removed my last excuse.
*** apparently, if your gates are more than 12" off the ground, a toddler could get under them, crawl 100 yards to the cattle pond, and drown. But that's done.
**** I was unaware that there was an office pool on whether I would make it... thus the long face on the butcher, I guess.