Monday, March 31, 2014

Ode to Alan

Our friend Alan teaches on the other side of the state. He always has plenty to do manning his ag shop, a new home and an active family. But even so, he carved a precious 4 days from his spring break vacation to help out on the ranch. He’s been coming to “help out on the ranch” for over twenty years.

He’s a mechanic extraordinaire and likes nothing better than to come rescue us when we have a major (or minor) equipment breakdown during haying season. He’s on a first name basis with the local parts store guy. He’s a smooth-as-silk semi truck driver and tractor operator. And he’s all pro. He hauls his power washer over on occasion to clean up our well used equipment. He wears coveralls, eye and ear protection and vinyl gloves - habits I wish Mark would pick up! I know our disorganized shop sends him crazy, but he doesn’t mention it, and keeps showing up to sort through our asundried tools and work his magic on this and that.

He helped us build our home, has a rock solid work ethic and is always joking and enjoying himself. He and Mark working together can figure anything out. He's the kind of guy you want in your corner.

This weekend it wasn’t mechanic work, but tending cows, fixing a downed wire and repairing a water trough that took his talents. The weather turned wintry and we had a split crew feeding the cows. I was driving, and as he and I were leaving the yard for another field of cows and calves, he asked if I could navigate okay in the heavy snowfall and foggy windows. I assured him I could and not three minutes later slipped into a ditch with the ’73 International. After he pulled me out with Gary’s 4-wheel drive, we again got stuck taking straw to the calves over uneven ground. He had to take over the wheel and get more aggressive than me. He didn't even dump the load.     

If that wasn’t enough, when he was working on the water trough, face first in a sand pit maneuvering the stand pipe into place, I got locked in the barn and he had to rescue me. He even took the door knob apart and got it working again.

There have been many times he's helped us through challenging days. We might be moving to summer range and we’re about to open the gates and put several hundred pairs of cows and calves out on the road. There’s watering facilities to set up, bulls to haul, fencing to shore up and yards to guard. Or it might be branding time. There’s wood to haul for the branding fire, panels to set up to make a temporary corral, cows to feed and a herd to bring in and work. Whatever we’re anticipating, it looks a whole lot brighter when Alan drives into the yard. Just don’t ask him to get on a horse.  

his other forte, castrating calves

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