Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Midnight Rescue

It was a week ago that I was sitting at the Blackfoot team penning and branding. I had been looking forward to that day for so long because I planned to absolutely nothing.  Just sit.  And take pictures. 

It didn't start so simple since The Rancher and I were doing it solo.  Normally the whole family comes out and we have more than enough help.  But The Buckaroo is madly in love and decided to go branding with his girl instead (but really, who could blame him?  A weekend of branding is always a great time!).  What really took away the help was the fact that Cowboy E was in the hospital in Salt Lake, so he wasn't around and neither was Rancher Sr.  That left the babies and I to be the help that day.

Of course we are the best help he's ever had, but only so much can make up for missing water troughs, a screwy chute set up, and wound up heifers.  It took some time, but we got the heifers ready and out for the sorting.

Once we got things running it was a pretty typical hot, sunny day at the fair grounds.  The Rancher's  Sidekick had to check everything out and The Rancher Princess could barely keep up.  We fit in a few naps and lunch in between switching cattle and cheering for dad.  Everyone had to take a turn sitting on the horse and we roped everything in sight.  And I did have a few minutes to take some fun pictures (forthcoming, I PROMISE).  

The day ended up long, and just when we thought we were to the end of our busy day things got a little crazy.  We left for home about 9:30pm, later than we had anticipated because we had such a great turnout.  Things were going good until just before Rockland, about 45 minutes from home.  All of the sudden there was a weird knocking sound in the motor of the semi.  I figured something must being going really wrong if it was loud enough for me to notice (I could never double as a mechanic...), especially in my tired, worn out state.  I looked at The Rancher to confirm my suspicions that we were in trouble and yep... he had that oh-crap-don't-let-this-be-happening look on his face.  Of course we were part way up the hill and it took all the power the broken down semi had to make it to the top.  I might have been saying, "I think I can, I think I can..." all the way up...

The Rancher jumped out to look under the hood to see what was happening (and borrowed my phone for a flashlight since it was dark at the point) and saw that oil was shooting out one side (if he was telling you the story he would tell you where, but you already know that I can't tell you those details of the story!).  The final diagnosis was that something had broken and that semi wasn't going to make it home. 

Hmmm... what is a rancher, wife and kids supposed to do with a dead semi and a bull wagon full of tired, sore, hungry, thirsty heifers.  I dunno either... Call the calvary, I guess.  So we did.

First we called The Buckaroo (who had managed to make it to the tail end of the branding earlier in the night) to turn around and come get myself and our tired kids.  To make it a little more tricky, his phone was dead so we had to call his girl (she was following him home for the weekend) to get him to stop and turn around.  Then we made a call to some of our dearest friends and neighbors, who farm and have their own semi.  We interrupted their night to beg them to come and save us.

It ended up that they needed a little saving (thank goodness for brothers that live close by!) of their own because their semi was dead and had to jump it to get it started.  Not a very good way to start a midnight rescue.  But the pair of them got it running and headed out.

The Ranch Boss must have had a moment of inspiration because he called us just as we pulled off the road to see how things were going.  When we explained what was going on, he jumped in the ranch truck and had the sense to throw in some blocks in the back, just in case. 

Once everyone arrived the fun began.  They had to unhook and jack up the trailer, still full of heifers.  And that wasn't as simple as it sounds.  These jacks aren't ones that you can adjust.  Its a one time guess to have them up to the right length.  Being on the road they had to add in the blocks The Ranch Boss brought to make sure they didn't break through the asphalt.  You can imagine that 30,000 pounds of pressure on two small jacks could present some real issues.   Once the trailer and jacks were set, they were able to limp our dying semi off the road and out of the way. 

The next step was to hook up the rescue semi.  Again, not as simple as it sounds.  this semi wasn't as tall as ours (apparently we have big tires- once again I can't tell you the details...).  The guys had to rig up a sort of ramp to get the back end high enough that they could hook on to the trailer and get the jacks off.  That only took like 4 tries...

Finally the rescue crew headed home and made it to back up and unload in the dark.  I quick jumped in my mom-mobile to help shine a little light on the unloading chute to hopefully make it a little easier for The Rancher to back up to. And here I have to throw in how awesome of a backer-upper (is that even a word? I just made it up...) The Rancher is.  He backed that semi up in dark and hit it right on the first time.  Amazing! Who knew such a skill existed!  All that was left was to convince the worn down heifers to unload.

What began as a long fun, long, hot day turned into an even longer, exhausting day.  But we made it, thanks to some incredible friends and neighbors.  I'm pretty sure that I owe those boys some brownies!

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