The primary “thing” that makes me “Flicka Rancher” is that I’m the one responsible for the chores when trucker hubby heads out of the yard. Being married to a rancher /long haul trucker means being on my own lots and lots and ultimately here alone to take care of our ranch and all the animals.
I’ve had to learn alot of things “on the fly” and via frantic phone calls or texts to the trucker on the road. Not always the best way to learn things but when do we ever have the ideal environment in this event called “life” and in particular “life on a ranch”?
So, my blog story will be short today as I just wanted to share one of my favorite sights in the whole wide world.
Seeing him drive safe and sound into our yard after a long week away through blizzards and icy roads.
P.S. I guess it’s not so bad being on my own over the past challenging days when trucker hubby brings me treats “from the road”!! This is a favorite sight too …. and tasty!!
Sometimes I get a text or a call from my trucker-hubby as he’s about to drive by home with a load (of cattle) with the invite to come along for a ride. I never give up the chance even if it’s an overnighter. We’re especially fortunate now to have son Tyler fully trained to pick up the reigns and tackle those chores in our absence. We took advantage of him last weekend so that I could accompany hubby on a trip to the south of the province which would be an overnight stay in the Kenworth.
What I came away with was a renewed appreciation of what he puts up with on the road (wild winter weather/rude & impatient drivers-all for another post maybe) how different and limiting the environment is for truckers in the world of COVID restrictions.
On the upside…the traffic is definitely lighter. We would go for an hour almost sometimes and not meet an oncoming vehicle….that’s definitely a benefit.
But the real downside is the lack of rest stops and services for them when they do finally end the day and have time to rest and restore.
We went as far as Picture Butte (5 hours from home) and after he had delivered his load…in the dark….all alone (no employees to help with unloading at the feed lots after 5PM anymore) we camped out at a co-op gas bar/truck stop which thankfully provides a clean washroom/shower building but that’s it. From there we took a chilly “romantic” walk through the industrial area to downtown to find a place to eat.
But that’s the thing….no dining in any restaurants right now under Public Health Orders so a tired trucker has to find an establishment that offers takeout and he/she waits out on the street until it’s ready and takes it back to the truck to eat alone. The hospitality and congeniality they used to find in these places has been taken away from them and it makes for a very, very long day.
So we ordered some donairs for takeout – waited out on the street – then found a picnic table in the dark beside the Scotiabank and ate our supper before walking back to the truck again – back through the dark and empty streets.
He wanted to point out to me too that in Picture Butte back in the day, after he and other truckers in his group had finished their loads at respective feed lots, they would meet at a particular pub for last call. The last trucker in would get the bill. It used to be hopping busy and a good place to unwind, but now…..ghostly silent, one vehicle outside waiting for a takeout order.
This turned out to be a longer post than I usually publish because I guess I wanted to share a message with a little background. You’ve heard it before but I hope you will – “Thank A Trucker”….
maybe just pack a supply of emergency face masks to give to the poor trucker that’s refused entry or service to the only convenience store around just because he/she might have forgotten his/her mask back in the truck at the far-far end of the parking lot…..because – oh yes….that happens.
From time to time I will tag along with my hubby on one of his trucking runs as he tours back and forth from north to south and east to west within the province. He took me down south the other night with a load of cattle that had to be dropped off at three different feed lots.
What would normally be a routine exercise for him, turned into a “Gilligan’s Island” type of adventure…you know the one where the guests head out for a three-hour tour and end up shipwrecked for years and years.
Ah well, I exaggerate now…..
Our adventure began on the delivery to the third feed lot and it was approaching 1AM and it’s dark. It seems dear hubby didn’t really know the exact location of the last feed lot. He hadn’t delivered to this site for years and he would have approached it from a different direction than what we attempted that night. The disorientation begins!
Imagine the degree of difficulty in turning a semi-truck and cattleliner around in the dark, on unfamiliar country roads and even within the city of Lethbridge…..yes, he turned that creature around in a parking lot and even pulled a redirectional u-Turn in the middle of a major roadway within the city. I believe I recall he backed that unit up five different times as we tried multiple directions in our search. And we still had 16 animals on board!
Still lost by 3AM….so we parked ourselves and tried the sleep-thing in the driveway of another feedlot hoping that daylight would bring on some early-riser workers and we would get some directions to our last drop-off point. Yes, still loaded with 16 yearling calves stirring and moving around in the trailer we’re attached to whilst we try that sleep-thing.
Once the beauty of daylight and civilization returns….the lost find their way and the hungry animals get to their feed bunk. Turns out we were only a couple kilometres away from our destination!
Our journey home was less eventful so I grabbed some environmental shots as we rumbled northward.
There are a ton of power poles in the south. These mammoth giants string their way all the way to the north but they are far more prevalent in the fields down there…. they are what is taking us away from good old fashioned coal power-generation. Also along our route we pass one of the last standing coal plants….Sheerness Generating Station. Not quite sure what to think about all of this and what it means for our province into the future.
Of course, we couldn’t get all the way home without one more little piece of excitement. We met up with a wide load….a really wide load…on a small secondary highway with really no shoulders. Again, my hubby amazed me how he can park his huge true and trailer unit on the precipice of the “shoulder” as we let this beast go by.
I was dropped off at home and hubby carried on for another trucking adventure on his own. Somehow, I don’t think he has these kind of episodes when he’s travelling solo. I think I might have jinxed him on this short trip which happened all within 18 hours from start to finish. I also am cured of any thought of getting my Class One License and going trucking!
Back in November of 2014 when I started this blog it was with the intent to relate the adventures I would encounter and endure as I would be alone with the critters and the chores while hubby was out trucking for days and sometimes weeks on end.
Well, shortly after that declaration, my dear hubby decided to retire from trucking and we’ve just spent almost a year and a half home together. I must admit, I’ve had it pretty easy!
Until a week ago….he bought himself a big truck … he’s back on the road again and Flicka Rancher has to pick up the slack.
So now it’s my job to check on our cows in the pastures closest to us. My swamper, Patty came along for the first time and was great company for the eight hours of touring the pastures and driving the highways and gravel roads.
Thankfully, every animal is happy and healthy and probably the biggest adventure endured was getting stared down by our bull when this cowgirl took the opportunity to utilize the “facilities” in the bush!!
What do two cowgirls do on a roundtrip tour on the Alberta highways to pick up bulls , load ’em up and head on home within 9 hours of traffic, torrential rains, glorious Alberta sunny skies?
Why…..we turn off that big old highway..park the bulls….and find ourselves some ice cream!!!!!
Today Flicka Rancher and her favourite, one and only, ever-so-helpful step-daughter Shelby had the privilege of picking up three of our bulls at one of our pastures….4 hours away and along with help from Carol (the Mrs owner of the pasture out there-her hubby out haying) we loaded up those three big boys, turned around and came home to finish off our 9.0 hour truckin’ shift.
Got some more REAL practice backing up the trailer again, gets a wee bit “easier” every time. The REAL practice makes the learning so much more meaningful.
Thinking I might just volunteer for that one again!!! I like the ice cream part!!!