Our regular goin’-to-the-pasture rig, a one-ton 4-wheel drive ’97 GMC diesel with 256,439 miles, was in the shop. So we brought out the ol’ standby, a 1969 Ford F-250 three-quarter-ton 4-speed with split rims and a manual choke. It has a B&W turnover gooseneck ball made during the civil war, I think.
My son hooked up the old Ford to the gooseneck trailer, loaded the horses and went to check the cows. They came back, unhooked the trailer and took a load of trash to the dump with the Ford. I returned from the shop with the Jimmy and backed up to the trailer. In the rear view, did the trailer’s electric hook-up look different? On closer exam, I could see the male plug was gone and the wires had been stripped! Oh, no. I silently prayed he’d at least dropped the tailgate before he drove off.
It happens to us all. It’s one of those moments like accidentally drilling a hole in the gas tank, tightening a bolt till the head breaks off or thinking "It’ll hold one more cow!"
My Iowa friend Steve has a history of minor collisions. It’s always entertaining to ride with him. Some farmers of his caliber paint their company name or logo on the truck door — Agri-Beef or Sky View Farms. Steve’s vehicles are easily recognized by their damaged fenders and tailgates.
I remember staring at the back of his fairly-new pickup and asking, "How’s the new gooseneck?"
Then I looked closer. It wasn’t just buckled out like someone had tried to pull it up nor down nor in nor out, it was all of the above. It resembled a Tyrannosaurus Rex’s chew toy!
Turns out he had unhooked the gooseneck, forgot to drop the tailgate and drove off. Next day, tailgate down, he jumped in the cab, glanced in the rear view and backed into the meter pole! He swore someone had moved it while he was in the shop!
A year later, he told me he’d gone out to cut hedge posts and left the tailgate down. After cutting and stacking the posts in the bed of the pickup, he climbed in, put it in reverse and backed into a good-sized tree! His story to this day is it had grown right up behind him while he was cutting!
Last month, we pulled out of his circle driveway and he hit a flat-bed trailer they used to haul their 4-wheelers. I heard a screech, felt a bump and could hear something dragging in the gravel, but it was below our field of vision. However, it didn’t seem to slow the truck any.
"I think you hit something," I said, "Should we stop and check?"
"Whatever," he said, and drove on.
Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public appearances, television and also through his books, cds, videos and website, www.baxterblack.com.