If It Ain’t Broke


There’s that old saying, “If ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And then there’s our ranch this past week, where if it ain’t broke, it probably doesn’t belong to us. We have one tractor with a broken rim for which no one seems to have a replacement, and another with a leaky hydraulic hose on the bucket. One four wheel drive pickup in the shop because it won’t start if the temperature dips below forty (yes, that is a problem here in September), another four wheel drive that makes an ugly crunching noise if you drive it forward. A combine with an alternator that only charges when it feels like it and a square bale hauler that keeps eating its own chain. Even the camper trailer has a broken jack.

With all the equipment on the disabled list, harvest and hay hauling ground to a halt. While he worked his way through the line up of busted things, my husband sent my mother and me out to load up the salt and mineral feeder and transfer it from the south pasture to the north pasture, since we’d moved the cows earlier in the week.

And of course I hit the ruts at that tricky creek crossing wrong, high-centered, and knocked one of the tie rods off the front end. Not sure what a tie rod is? No matter. Just picture a pigeon-toed Ford. Picture us walking the mile and a half home. Picture my husband’s face as I, from a safe distance, explained how I’d managed to break one of the last functional pieces of machinery on the ranch. Then I ran.

Mid-morning the next day he informed me that he had wired the tie rod back together and the pickup should be okay to drive, so I could go ahead and take the salt on over north to the cows. Not the worst chore since it was a gorgeous, crystal clear day and the view of the mountains from that pasture is especially nice. And there’s cell service from a couple of hilltops along the way, so I could take my phone along and post photos to Twitter. Multi-tasking at its best.

So I put out the salt and mineral, took my photos, then began to meander home, stopping on those all important hilltops to wait for my photos to upload, oblivious to the fact that two miles away my husband was watching as he unloaded a grain truck into the bin on the top of the ridge. What transpired went something like this:

Me: Stop, check email and twitter, upload photo.

Husband: “Oh, hell, the wire on the tie rod must’ve come undone.” Shuts off grain auger, lowers truck box and jumps in pickup. Gets halfway down the ridge when he sees me start moving again. Decides I must be okay. Turns around. Goes back to grain bin.

Me: Gets halfway across the pasture, sees an especially striking patch of rose hips. Stops to take and upload a picture.

Husband: Barely gets the auger started when he sees me stopped again. Assumes the pickup has really broken now because I’m out walking around. Jumps in his pickup and starts down the ridge again. Sees me get back in the pickup and start moving. Stops. Curses. Decides whatever the hell I’m doing, if the pickup doesn’t get me home I can just walk.

Me: (at lunch) Wanna see the cool pictures I took this morning?

Him: (growls)

Sheesh. Men can be so touchy.


Kari Lynn Dell – Montana for Real