- …We Looked REALLY Redneck!
When you close your eyes and picture a farmer, what do you see? A man… in overhauls… with a straw hat or cap from the feed store…driving a tractor…with a wheat straw sticking out of his mouth. Yep, me too.
Now, picture that same fella driving into town. A slightly cleaner cap and overhauls…windows rolled down…arm with a farmer’s tan hanging out the window…straw naturally still in place…faithful huntin’ dog sitting in the back…of his shiny red Volkswagen Beetle…Eeeeeeerk!!!! (That’s the sound of a needle being scraped across an old-school vinyl record. I thought I should explain that sound to the youngsters, who have to look and see if someone hit pause or if the iPod battery died.)
Now, back to our farmer in the ergonomically designed compact car. I know, it sounds like it should be a Far Side cartoon. (Can’t you just picture forty bales of hay, three cows, two pigs, a sheep, and six chickens all tied to the roof?!? Perhaps, we should have a ‘caption that’ contest!) All hilarity aside, this has been my life since moving to the farm. I have a long commute and a fuel efficient (if less than spacious) vehicle.
Liam has a bigger vehicle that’s designed to haul stuff. Seriously, he has a ‘truck’ with cargo space and towing capacity and everything. What is this monster truck? A Kia Sportage. It’s a reliable, comfortable, gas-efficient, four-cylinder SUV. Can you hear the whomp-whomp?
We have two horses, twelve sheep, two pigs, over fifty chickens and turkeys, and currently 18 rabbits (Don’t ask. No, seriously, people get all kinds of touchy about rabbits, so don’t ask.), two giant dogs, and two or three cats. (Depending on whether the ‘resident stray’ is hanging about.) This varied and voracious menagerie expects to be fed. Regularly. Now, envision hauling hay, feed bags, or mineral and salt blocks in an SUV or a Beetle. (If you’re wondering, I can get myself, one (adult-sized) child, and 550 lbs of feed in my Beetle!)
Pause for a moment. The first time I went to the feed mill, the kid who loads the bags realized I was nuts. (I almost said, he ‘thought’ I was nuts, but that would imply he was incorrect. I was picking up a quarter ton of feed in a Volkswagen Beetle. The kid had a valid point!) Anyway, after I showed him how to fit it all in, he was thrilled. It’s become his favorite game to stick the new guys with loading my car, just so he can watch their jaws hit the ground! My car and I are ‘Feed Store Celebrities’!
Liam can fit much more in his SUV. In fact, all that time he ‘wasted’ playing Tetris in 1984 has paid off big time! He can actually fit SIX small square bales of hay in the back of that SUV and close the door! See? The man has mad Tetris skillz! However, hay isn’t the weirdest thing he’s put in the cargo space of that SUV. I think the top of that list would have to be pigs. Yes, pigs. Yes, plural as in more than one pig at a time…in the Sports Utility Vehicle. (I know, right?!?)
We picked up our feeder pigs about half an hour away. Liam lined the small cargo area behind the back seat with several layers of very durable tarps. Then, he deposited two piglets (about twenty lbs each) into the space, rolled down all the windows, and drove home…quite quickly. I heard an interview with the McClung family who raise pigs, recently. Kelly McClung quipped that pigs really do go “Whee-whee-whee” all the way home. Of course, the implication was that they also go wee-wee-wee all the way home. However, let me tell you, that isn’t all they ‘doo’ on the ride home! Oddly enough, the tarp idea worked. After we off-loaded the pork, Liam carefully removed the tarp and opened all apertures to let in fresh air. The next day, there was no sign of the fragrant passengers or their attempts at redecoration.
However, not everything will fit in Liam’s Mary Poppins’ style cargo area. He’s driven down the freeway with desks (yes, two), a water trough, large amounts of lumber, scrap metal for the recycler, and a wicker chest all tied to the luggage rack of the ‘truck’. (Thankfully, these weren’t all at the same time or we would be back to that farmer and his six chickens.)
I, myself, have hauled seventy-five day-old chicks, twelve chickens, three rabbits, 300 pounds of combined dog, one psychotic carsick cat, and fifteen turkeys in my Beetle. To be fair, these weren’t at the same time either. I have a rule about only one type of livestock in the car at a time. The turkeys were babies, the chickens were teenagers, the cat crawled on my dash and up my person, and my favorite dog kept freaking out and kicking the car out of gear. The rabbits were quieter and better-behaved than any other passengers, including my kids. (Rabbits don’t bicker or try to boss my music choices!)
The funniest moment related to hauling things in my car was pretty recent. When I was finally able to drive again and preparing to return to work, I discovered that I had a slow leak in one tire. I took my car to a local shop to get it fixed. When I went in, the good ol’ boy behind the counter greeted me warmly, offered me a drink, and quickly got to work on the tire. A few minutes later, he approached me. I’d been focused on a book and wasn’t paying attention to the workers or my car.
The man’s entire demeanor had changed. He looked as though he expected me to go mad and start beating him about the head with my book. Seeing his face, I was expecting the news that my tire was irreparably damaged. When he reached me, he watched me warily and mumbled. (Actually, he didn’t really reach me, because, he stopped several feet away. He seriously stayed well out of arm’s reach.) I frowned and asked, “Pardon me?”. He mumbled again. It sounded like, “Wissa wassa Fred.” I smiled encouragingly, and ‘pardoned’ again. Finally, he flinched, took a deep breath, and met my eyes. “We had to move the bread.” At this point, I was confused into, “Huh?” He repeated loudly and slowly, since I was clearly hard of hearing and thick, as well as insane, “WE…HAD…TO…MOVE…THE…BREAD.”
CLICK! I suddenly remembered! We get organic non-GMO day old bread from a bakery for very cheap. It makes great pig and chicken feed. Normally, we store it in the freezer, however, there wasn’t room for it all. Our barn cat was getting into the excess. So, the kids put it in my trunk. The poor man opened the trunk to get the lugnut wrench and found 100 loaves of organic non-GMO bread piled on top of the spare. He clearly thought I was one tire short of a full set!
All this ‘farmy’ cargo has some strange consequences. There’s hay in the SUV. No, seriously, there’s hay everywhere! If you sit in the back seat, hay will waft down from the headliner to bedeck your hair and clothing. You’ll also emerge from that seat with various amounts of coastal and alfalfa stuck to your posterior. This is problematic, because, the SUV is the only vehicle large enough to seat our family of five.
Around Christmas, we drive two and a half hours to attend a play with my husband’s family. It is something we all look forward to and dress up for. This means, three adult sized people are stuck in the back seat for a L O N G drive. Poor Grace in her best clothes and coiffed hair is hemmed in by brothers in slacks and dress boots. Presuming she manages to remain unmussed and unwrinkled, she emerges at our final destination only to discover approximately a full flake of hay sprinkled over her very long very thick hair and another clinging to her in various difficult to reach places. It is right up there with Cinderella’s carriage converting to a pumpkin on the steps of the Royal Palace BEFORE the ball!
Our plan was to buy a truck immediately after buying the farm. We had saved up, and we were prepared. However, I had a Humpty Dumpty moment that nixed all plans other than paying bills and recovering. So, we made-do with what we had and tried to see the funny side of things. I’m finally well again, so we’ve been swimming toward the financial surface. We were just beginning to rebuild our ‘decent farm vehicle’ fund, when we were blessed with the unexpected boon of a well-loved, well cared for pick-up. It’s an actual pick-up, folks! I mean it has a bed AND a trailer hitch!
The day we brought the pick-up home, we used the last bale of hay. Liam is so proud of that truck. He stood a little straighter, knowing he could pick up hay in an actual pick-up! He was so happy to know we would no longer be redneckified. He woke the next morning filled with anticipation. He could easily get ten or fifteen bales, and there would be no smug looks from the seller.
Then, he looked out the bedroom window. Can you hear the whomp-whomp (again)? It was bucketing with rain. I turned away my smile and managed not to ask for clarification of the words he muttered. I was still hiding a grin as he climbed into his trusty SUV and started off to collect six square bales of perfectly Tetrised coastal!
Are we the only ones who sometimes feel that life’s soundtrack is ‘whomp-whomp’? Slightly funny, slightly sad, but always indicative of plans going slightly awry. What is your life’s soundtrack?
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