farming tools barbed wire bailing twine

By: Austin Snedden

A cattle rancher’s day-to-day tasks run the gamut of job descriptions, a cattle rancher’s truck reflects those multitude of duties that may need to be undertaken. A rancher’s pickup truck is a masterpiece of functional chaos. From plumbing to fence repair, from mechanics to office work, my truck has it. Not to mention the personal items that are essential for an array of tasks such as snacks, water, coats, coveralls, rubber boots, gloves, and multiple pairs of sunglasses and hats. I may not be able to find it, but my truck has it. As a matter of fact, I often think I could just drive my truck to the site of a natural disaster and run a relief effort off the stock in my truck alone. 

The contents of the back of the truck is rather straight forward, and by straight forward I mean that when I apply the brakes, the multitude of items in the back of my truck come straight forward. To the untrained eye the back of a rancher’s truck looks like someone had added something to the bed of the truck every day for two years while never taking anything out. Turns out, the untrained eye is correct. The “come along” and the hi-lift jack are best buddies; they ride over there by that empty aluminum can. They have a lot in common, they both require half a can of WD-40 to operate, and they both enjoy blackening the occasional fingernail. Both tools can be very helpful in a pinch, and ironically, both tools really have an affinity for creating a pinch. Every hi-lift jack, often referred to as a “sheepherder jack” by ranchers, has its own unique combination for operation. Some require the bottom pin be manually pulled, and some require the top pin to be manually pulled, either way it lures ranchers’ fingers into the danger zone. I have seen the occasional jack with a pristine paint job riding permanently attached to the back of a jeep in town. This prop is a distant yuppy relative to the rust coated gem that rides in the back of a rancher’s truck.

Over there in that coil of rope is an assortment of pipe fittings, right next to the pipe wrenches. That float valve that is completely calcified from hard water I am going to clean up when I get some free time. That toolbox right there in the middle might have what you need, you just need to hit the top at the same time you flip the latches to get it to open. The “T” posts ride in the front when the truck is going downhill, and ride in the back going uphill. The “T” post driver is the rover, it roams all over the truck bed. The post driver is the free safety of the truck bed; it wanders all over the bed looking to hit whatever. The free safety post driver is probably the reason you have to hit the top of the toolbox to get it to open. That thing will even blitz the quarterback if you open the tailgate parked on a hill.

By far the most common items in a rancher’s truck would be barbed wire and bailing twine. There are not enough words to describe the love hate relationship that a rancher has with these items. Barbed wire is such a useful management tool, but sometimes it has a way of getting under your skin, both figuratively and literally. Bailing twine is a great fix for many things that need to be tied, but every three strings represents money you no longer have. In the truck bed, twine and barbed wire are vicious enemies. It is impossible for them to ride in the same truck bed without becoming embroiled in a gnarled, twisted battle. Often times the battle between the barbed wire and twine becomes so heated that all the other contents of the bed become involved and it becomes impossible to remove one item from the truck bed without everything coming out in a wire-twine-tool melee. If you ask to borrow something out of a rancher’s truck, he probably has what you are looking for, but don’t be surprised if you hear:“Yes, and would you like some barbed wire and baling twine with that?”

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